Up in the Mountains

It is beautiful here in New Mexico.
Jet took us up to Pajarito Mountain so I could take some photos.
Of course, there was not a lot of skiing going on up there.
The aspen trees around the lodge were beautiful.
There were green trees *everywhere*.
I could have spent hours hiking here.
You know, if my body was in shape adjusted to the high elevation.
It’s amazing how many trees there are.
The road we took to the mountain was very steep and curvy.
This view is of the land that was burned in wildfires several years ago.
See how the land is scorched?
You drive across this bridge to get into Los Alamos. 
You just don’t get this kind of view in Dallas, Texas.
Thanks for looking!

Before and After

I’ve been getting lots of compliments on the photos I posted yesterday of my niece, River.
Yes, folks, the girl has a pair of bloomers on her head.
I thought I’d take a moment (we’re getting ready to leave for the zoo) to show you the before and after photos.
I got a “real” camera for Christmas and have been playing with it learning to use it ever since.
One thing I quickly discovered is that a good camera can take good pictures, but it takes some photo editing to make them *great.*
Here’s the SOOC (straight out of camera) shot:
It’s a little dark and the colors really aren’t very vibrant.
So, I used Photoshop CS3 and the Pioneer Woman Actions to give it a little boost.
First, I ran the “Fresh and Colorful” action. I run this on practically every one of my photos.
Then, I gave it a little “Boost.”
For the final touch, I had to do something with her *eyes*. Aren’t they gorgeous? PW’s “Bring On the Eyes” action is perfect for giving them a little sparkle.
Seriously, guys, these actions have changed my life.
I’m going to link up this post with the Before & After meme on Pixel Perfect.
Go check out all the cool shots other photographers have taken.

Thanks for looking!

Rolo Pretzel Turtles

Remember back in February when my niece moved to Denver?
During her last weekend in Texas, we made these Rolo Pretzel Turtles together.
I don’t know why I never posted this, but as I’m in New Mexico this week, I thought it would be a good post from way back when.
These are so much fun to make — you can have your kids help!
And the chocolately carmel goodness of the Rolo candies is *fabulous* combined with the saltiness of the pretzels.
Rolo Pretzel Turtles
Salted mini pretzels
Individually-wrapped Rolo chocolate candies
Pecan halves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lay the pretzels in a single layer on a foil-covered, flat baking sheet. 
You don’t want them touching each other. Give ‘em a little room.
Unwrap the Rolo candies. 
A few may be sacrificed during this process to satisfy hungry babies. That’s ok.
When you’re ready to move on, grab a Rolo and place it on top of a pretzel.
Repeat until all each pretzel has a Rolo.
I like to think of them as little top hats.
Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the Rolo candies are just beginning to melt.
Take ‘em out of the oven and push a pecan half on top.
Or an M&M.
Be adventurous.
Sometimes, I squiggle a little white chocolate on the top.
I felt rebellious that day.
(PS – Be sure to eat any left over candies. We don’t want those to go to waste!)

Review: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book for quite a while.
I loved The Twilight Saga and I was so excited to have the chance to be in that world again.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer is written from the perspective of a newborn vampire that is part of the army that attacks the Cullen family in Eclipse.
Bree played a very small roll in Eclipse and I was curious to see how Stephenie Meyer would develop this minor character.
It was disturbing at first to see through the eyes of an actual newborn — the thirst, the disregard for human life, the disconnect from that previous world.
I think that Stephenie Meyer did a good job of showing us how the newborns viewed Seattle as their playground, and the humans they encountered as simply food.
I now understand why the newborns followed Riley so blindly, and the conversations in Eclipse make a lot more sense.
I really felt for Bree and I thought she would have made an excellent addition to the Cullen family, if Jane had spared her life.
I wonder if Stephenie Meyer will expound upon some of the new characters she introduced in this book. I would love to see what happened to them.
This was by no means a great literary feat, but I enjoyed getting to see the Twilight world from a different angle.
You can read this novella in its entirety online until July 5 here.
Or, you can order it from Amazon here.

Just Playin’

Last night, we got a fun surprise.
My niece, River, came to visit!
This morning, after she woke up, Nanna went through her clothes.
And River found these bloomers.
Of course, she had to put them on her head.
She didn’t quite understand why I was intent on taking her picture.
I think this look epitomizes her personality.
She’s thinking: “Reenie, whatchyou doin’?”
Or something like that.
She found one of Jet’s candles and was pretending to blow it out.
So cute!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.
It’s a chance to showcase the book we can’t wait to get our hands on!
This week, I’m eagerly anticipating the release of Heidi R. Kling’s debut young adult novel, Sea.
Here’s the description from Amazon:
Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder — something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.
But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.”
This sounds like a great read in a part of the world I’ve never been. It will be fun to immerse myself in that colorful locale through this story.


Luckily for me, Sea will be released June 10.
It’s available from Amazon here.

What about you? What are you waiting on this week?


Now They Call It The Cadillac Ranch

On our way to New Mexico, Mom and I stopped at the Cadillac Ranch just outside Amarillo, Texas.
I had heard about this place my whole life.
I don’t know what I was expecting — maybe some neon signs pointing the way or something? — but it wasn’t this.
The place wasn’t even marked. We would have missed it if we hadn’t been looking for it.
But it was still really cool.
These cars are just stuck in the ground out in a field on the side of the Interstate.
They’re covered in graffiti.
Empty spray cans litter the ground from where people have left their mark.
We found one that was half-full, though, so we could leave ours.
Nanna and Reenie were here. Word.
Here’s Nanna.
And Reenie.
Hey, we were in our traveling clothes…
(I *love* my comfy Aggie flip-flops!)
There was graffiti on *everything*…
The sign at the entrance…
The gate going in…
Well, everything on *that* side of the fence…
It was super-fun!
Speaking of Cadillacs…
This lovely gem (complete with mannequins) was parked outside a random house on the Interstate.
Of course, we had to stop to take photos.
But then we hit the road again!
Thanks for looking!
A Texas gal all the way, I just couldn’t miss the chance to see the Cadillac Ranch on my trip to New Mexico!

Review: Hex Hall

I picked up Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins on Friday afternoon before Memorial Day.
I finished it the next day.
This is one of those books that sucks you in and doesn’t spit you out until you’re through.
Or maybe, that’s just me.
Rachel Hawkins’ debut young adult novel is about a young witch named Sophie Mercer who is “sentenced” to attend school at Hecate Hall after an accident involving a love spell, a nerd and the most popular guy in school goes wrong at her school prom.
Soon, Sophie learns that there’s much more to life among the Prodigium (witches, warlocks, faeries, shape-shifters, and the occasional vampire) than she’s bargained for.
It is so easy to relate to Sophie. I found myself laughing at her sarcasm and rooting for her when she comes up against the leading witches at the school (think Regina George and the Plastics from Mean Girls).
The book flows extremely well and I found myself reading slowly the last few pages just so the adventure wouldn’t be over.
Rachel Hawkins’ open and honest writing really make this a great story. I felt as if I, too, was walking down the halls of Hecate Hall, hoping to get a look at the brutally handsome Archer Cross.
This is a quick read you definitely don’t want to miss!
It’s book #2 in my 2010 Debut Author Challenge.
Hex Hall is available from Amazon here.

Limelight Blueberry Muffins

These blueberry muffins have just a *hint* of lime. 
They taste fresh and sweet — the perfect summer breakfast.
Limelight Blueberry Muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp grated lime rind
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 6 oz container plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Make a well in the center of the mixture.
Combine sour cream, canola oil, lime rind, lime juice, vanilla extract, egg whites, egg and yogurt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
Add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moist.
Spoon the batter evenly into muffin cups.
Sprinkle fresh blueberries onto the top of the batter. 
I pushed some the blueberries down into the batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in the center.
Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Halloween Projects