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July Blog Challenge…”Spirit”

Vegas StrongVegas Strong. It is a promise, a bond, and the spirit of a community pulling together. Las Vegas is not just my home, it’s where I was born and raised.

I saw most of the signs that are now in the Neon Museum when they were glowing in front of hotels. I remember when Sunset Park was the edge of town going south and hardly anything was between Rainbow Blvd. and Mt. Charleston. When I was a kid, Green Valley, Anthem, and Summerlin didn’t exist, and the water level of Lake Mead was 20 feet higher. In other words, I’ve seen a lot of the town’s history.

Vegas is known for its bright lights and the craziness of the Strip and Downtown, but there is much more to the city than that. Residents don’t live in the casinos–yes, I’ve been asked that. Our community, like any other, has had its share of tragedies–the Thunderbirds crashing during an exhibition, the MGM Grand Hotel fire, and several severe flash floods–to name a few. The tragedy of October 1, 2017 was unreal. My heart goes out to the people affected that day. I don’t want to recap the events of October 1, I want to write about the spirit of the community after it happened.

In my lifetime, I’ve never seen Vegas, a city where the population is so transient, rally together like they did after Oct 1. It was truly unbelievable. Residents went above and beyond like never before. The debut of our  Vegas Golden Knights hockey team couldn’t have come at a better time. They really did help to boost our community spirit after something so horrific and give us something to root for. A city united. Finally. Unless you’ve been a resident of Vegas for any amount of time, you may not understand. #VegasStrong

The above painting was done at a fundraiser hosted by Pinot’s Palette in Henderson, NV.

This Blog Challenge is hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup.

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Blog Challenge for June

The Herding Cats & Burning Soup June blog challenge is Growl.

 

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This challenge isn’t a challenge for me. As the zookeeper of the Kirchner Zoo, I hear growling, barking, and meowing daily. I always get asked “Why do you have so many pets?” I love animals and have been involved in rescue for a long time. I’m the neighborhood go-to person when a stray shows up. My zoo is made up of rescues, and sometimes, it just works out that you can’t find another home for them. That’s okay. Fortunately, my husband loves animals, too. I can’t imagine not having them in my life. Yep, they’re lots of work, but I don’t need to buy them shoes or send them to college, so it’s all good—I have two human kids as well that wear shoes and go to college.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ll let the beautiful faces of my furry kids do the talking after I answer the most asked questions about them. Yes, Rebel and Starla (11 years old) are twins (Aussie/Labs). Chanel is 14 years old…she used to be solid black. No, I didn’t Photoshop Fireball’s ears…they are really that big. She’s a one-year-old chiweenie (Chihuahua/Dachshund). Yes, they all get along.

Rescued animals are not damaged. Shelters are packed with wonderful animals who are looking for a shot at happiness. If you’re looking to adopt, consider a rescue.

GROWL

May Blog Challenge

May blog picture 2

Herding Cats & Burning Soup’s monthly blog challenge for May is “organize.” This one is a tough one for me. I’m organized…and I’m not. I could do better at organizing, but who has the time? Actually, that’s a bad excuse. Prioritizing my organizing helps me to get the job done. I’m better at prioritizing than organizing, and even with electronic calendars and reminders, I still use paper checklists. My current checklist is: drips plants, spray statues, white jeans, video footage, fairy jar, and organized blog. At first glance (or even second), my list may seem insane, but I know the codes.

Before I break down my list of items for you, I’ll explain “prioritizing my organizing.” Many things can be organized or re-organized from time to time such as my purse, tennis bag, art desk, pantry, etc. Of course, it’s impossible to organize everything in one day, so I put unorganized items on a Things to Do list (once the chaos disturbs me enough). I choose a few tasks per day to accomplish and cross them off the list. Usually, by having the list stare me in the face on the kitchen counter, I will get everything completed by the end of the week. The time of day, amount of energy I have, and amount of time I have to complete the organization all fall into play to prioritize the list.

Drips plants. I live in a desert. Plants require a drip/sprinkler system unless you grow cactus. I have three new pots with flowers that require drip lines. Time required to complete the task – 10 minutes. Obviously, this isn’t a nighttime project.

Spray statues. I’ve had some outdoor bunny/raccoon/squirrel statues that my dogs (as puppies) turned into apocalyptic zombies. I’ve hidden the statues’ flaws (missing feet, missing eyes, missing ears—you get the picture) for years behind flowers. I recently bought a tub of air-dry clay for $6 and fixed all the statues’ flaws I also re-painted them. Now, I just need to spray them with an acrylic sealer. Time of day to spray – obviously daytime but not when it’s not 100 degrees. Time to complete the task – 3 minutes (2 minutes to shake the can, 1 to spray. Repeat.) It’s only taken 10 years to get to this project.

 

May blog picture

The critter apocalypse is almost over. Bunny #2 needs paint. They all need acrylic spray.

 

White jeans – I need to hem a new pair of jeans. I’m not the best at sewing, so I need a lot of time and patience. Time required – should be 15 minutes, but we shall see.

Video footage – I need some video footage of gross bugs to complete my book trailer for Kiss from Hell. Yes, you read that correctly. I even went to a pet store and asked the manager if they had any bugs in the back. You read that correctly, too. Who knew they used frozen stuff for the reptiles? Frozen bugs won’t work. I need squirmy, slimy critters scurrying around. I plan to call my brother in law and see if he’ll get some bug footage. He came through with the awesome cemetery footage for The Zombie Next Door trailer. Purchasing video footage online is expensive. Calling my bro-in-law is free. Time to complete the task – 15 minutes. With a three-hour time difference, I have to time the call correctly.

Fairy jar – Pinterest is evil. I have pinned so many fun projects to try. I actually made a fairy jar already, and it turned out pretty good. If you get the automatic turn on/off battery operated tealights, they make fun nightlights. I told my neighbor I’d make one for her two girls. I think they’d like it. Finding a good jar is the biggest issue with that one. I’d say it takes an hour to complete because of waiting for the glue/paint to dry.

Organized blog – Here it is–completed. It jumped to the top of the list when I knew what I was going to type. I can cross it off my list. If you’d like to join the Herding Cats & Burning Soup blog challenge, the rest of the monthly prompts are:

June– Growl

July– Spirit

August– Beginning

September– Escape

October– Trees

November– Truth

December– Shine/Sparkle

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Blog Challenge

Teacup cinnamon

I haven’t done many blog challenges, but this one sounded fun—possibly because I’m enjoying a beautiful 80° day outside, which always puts me in a great mood. 

Herding Cats & Burning Soup Presents – BLOG ALL ABOUT IT Blog Challenge 

This 2018 blog challenge is easy because each month has a different prompt. The prompt for March is Favorite Scent and April is Art. For the challenge, you can review books, interview authors, post pictures, share recipes, or get creative as long as you can weave the theme of the month into it. Since I only just found this challenge today and March is almost over, I’m keeping my post simple. I promise a more creative one for April. If you’d like to participate, you can sign up for the challenge here.

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MARCH Challenge  Favorite Scent: Cinnamon

 To me, no scent is more wonderful than cinnamon filling a room, especially when the spice is baking in my oven. I like to put cinnamon sticks in hot apple cider and tea as well as bake desserts with apples and cinnamon. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking is a close second on my favorites list. To get the two great smells of cinnamon and chocolate together, I use the Rich Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake recipe from Taste of Home.

 

 Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 cup butter, softened

1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar (divided into batter and topping)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup milk (I use almond milk)

1 cup chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)

¼ cup chopped pecans (I don’t add these)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 In mixing bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and 1-1/4 cups sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add the dry and creamed mixtures alternately with milk. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9-inch springform pan. Combine the pecans, cinnamon, and remaining sugar and sprinkle over the top. (I also sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips).

 Bake at 350° for 50 – 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen and remove the side of the pan. Cool completely before cutting. (We never do that!)

Writing Tip

 As a writer, I weave scents into my writing for my protagonists and readers. For instance, in my Dagger & Brimstone series, one of the characters, Arloe, loves lavender and uses a lavender shampoo. When her boyfriend Racer smells lavender, it immediately makes him think of her. When Racer and Arloe smell sulfa, they know a demon is nearby.

Next month’s challenge – Art!