Computer Woes

Just letting you know that I'll be MIA for a bit.  My computer is acting dysfunctional and is in obvious need of a therapeutic session.  I called Staples and found out they're offering free PC Tune Ups this week.  This looks like my big break...unless of course what's wrong with my computer falls outside of the Tune Up domain.  Oh well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  Also, for many of you, I haven't been able to comment on your blogs.  Some of my Google features have also been acting a muck, so that's why I've been silent.  Maybe the technicians have a magic wand and can fix that too.  In the meantime, no matter what your craft form may be, ....
[Image Source]
Off to back up my files,

Monday's Feature: Robert Trujillo

Meet Robert Trujillo.


AE:  Who are you?   
RT:  My name is Robert Trujillo and I sometimes go by the name "Tres". I'm a visual artist from Oakland California.I am a man of color, a father, a music lover, and a lover of solutions to challenges.

AE:  What is it that you do/make? 
RT:  I have taken on a lot of titles over the years. Most recently illustrator and muralist, but I'm feeling more like a storyteller lately. I tell my stories on walls, paper, and other things. When I do illustration or crafty stuff like light switch plates I often work alone, but when I paint murals I paint them with my crew, The Trust Your Struggle Collective. Besides that, I make little things on my Etsy store to sell.

AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
RT: I have been doing artwork for a long time, since childhood. But I started to take my mural/illustration work very serious within the last 10 years. I started as a little kid making drawing, then I became a teenager obsessed with Graffiti art. Then, I began to fuse the idea of figures, letters, and political messages into my work in my early twenties. Throughout my mid twenties I became very interested in stories that not only featured people of color, but told stories that had yet to be told.

My motivation for doing what I do is kind of spiritual at times. I practice my art, I believe in it deeply.It brings my solace, happiness, strength, and a voice that cant always speak with words. I like to paint murals or large pieces because it its free to the viewer; anyone can come and see it just by walking by. And if a person really appreciates it, they'll tell you so. That motivates me. I'm also greatly motivated by telling stories about my life and from my imagination. If i'm not careful, I can get caught up in a "reactive" , responsive, or frustrated state when it comes to the state of storytelling in book, animation, or film format. So instead of complaining or highlighting what is "bad", I want to imagine the world I want to see, and show it to anyone who will listen.

AE:  Where can we find your work? 
RT:  If you type in my name and the words illustration, art, or murals my work should come up. If you're in the Bay Area, I can show you more living breathing examples though. 

AE:  What is your website/contact information? 
my portfolio is at
my blog is at
or you can email me 

Robert's work is absolutely amazing, and I can't wait to get my very own light switch plates.  Please give Robert your support by visiting any of his sites.  :-)

Peace & Love,

Twisted Glory

So, this past weekend, I finally had the opportunity to henna my hair and experience my first attempt at using indigo.  I have been curious about indigo for a while, but a bit skeptical since it is color, albeit natural color, but I just wanted to do it correctly. 

You've seen my henna regimen and I would have loved to show you my indigo one but I dared not stain my camera in an attempt to do so.  Simply put, here's what I did:

Henna and Indigo Treatment
  1. Applied henna to my hair for about 4 hours.
  2. Rinsed most, but not all of the henna out.  Apparently indigo needs something to adhere to and henna is the best option.
  3. Mixed enough warm water to 100g  of indigo until I had a yogurt-like consistency.
  4. Applied the indigo to my hair in small sections making sure to get full coverage.  Indigo was left in for 2 hours.
  5. Rinsed the indigo out.  Rinsed the indigo out.  Rinsed the indigo out.  (Yeah, apparently, I kept missing spots; my hair is so so thick.)
  6. ** Some tutorials suggested not to do this, but I did it anyways:  I washed my hair using my Shea Moisture Moisture Retention Shampoo then completed a deep conditioning session with Shea Moisture's Deep Treatment Masque. (Some say that doing this will not allow the indigo to give you the darkest black color because you're washing it out.  They suggest just rinsing out the indigo, applying a moisturizer, and possibly washing it a few days later.  I know my hair and I disregarded this step and washed anyways.  So what if I don't get the jettest of blacks; I just want to make sure the stuff is out of my head.)
  7. Can you believe this?  I actually purchased a hand-held blow dryer and lightly blow-dried my hair (which I haven't done in years) before twisting my hair.  I needed it stretched because of time constraints and a special project I was doing.  (Details on that later.)
  8. Finally to twist, I applied a little of the Deep Treatment Masque and sealed my hair with the Jamaican Black Castor Oil.  I already know I love that product.  And the lavender scent is fabulous!
  9. Wearing a twist-out until the next wash day.  (To keep the style fresh, at night I'm lightly misting with rosewater and retwisting using a light oil like jojoba.)
I've gotten a lot of compliments on this style and it is one of my favorite styles, although it can be a bit time consuming.  It's also a hairstyle that truly depends on the weather.  Any signs of rain and I might as well hang it up because the moisture will cause major shrinkage!

Ok, onto the big reveal...

Whenever my twists (especially in the bangs area) get to where they won't hold the twist much longer, I just pull the bangs back into a headband and keep on rocking the style.  In these photos, the twists are four days old.

Happy Friday,

Sneak Peek

Over the weekend, I dibbled and dabbled into some of my new arrivals.  Just wanted to give you a bit of a sneak peek.  :-)


 Until then,

Moment of Silence

Today, this blog is taking a "Moment of Silence" in honor of all the loved ones lost, both near and far. 

[Image Source]

Peace & Love,

Classic Tomato Soup w/Grilled Cheese Sandwich + another

I can't shake the soup kick that I've been on lately, so instead of fighting against the urge to get my soup on, I've decided to embrace it.  My latest soup has been the Classic Tomato Soup.  I've tasted a tomato soup perhaps only once before.  I used canned tomato soups in other soups or had tomato soup with other food items in there, but never just a plain old tomato soup.

I saw a recipe on Pinterest (of course) and remember I'm trying to be not just a pinner, but a doer, so I have to make some of the recipes I pin.  This one was definitely not a disappointment.  One double-surprise was that the dish called for Pomi's boxed tomatoes (surprise #1) and I was actually able to find them (surprise #2) - on sale (that was just an added bonus).

So what do you eat with a tomato soup?  My first thought was a grilled cheese sandwich, so that's exactly what I made.  We might be having more of a spring-like winter, but my freezer is stocking up on soups for a reason.  You can never count out Mother Nature.  :-)

Classic Tomato Soup
(recipe here)

* BTW:  I actually did puree this soup.  Normally, I skip that step because I don't want to deal with hot soup in a blender and I don't have an immersion blender; however, I made this soup on one day and pureed it in the blender on another.  Problem solved.

I think I'll freeze some of this soup in servings small enough to use as the base for other tomato-based soups and ditch some of the canned soups.  Oooh, this is something worth trying during the summer when tomatoes are more abundant.  Do I need to get my mini-garden going again this summer?

And while I'm on the subject of tomato-based soups, I need to add that somehow I forgot to tell you about the Taco Soup I made about two weeks ago.  I never photographed it, so I'll show the pinned image and list my ingredients/modifications below.  To view the original recipe, clicked on the pinned image.

Source: via Libby on Pinterest

My ingredients/modifications:
meatless crumbles
kidney beans
canned corn
green chiles
tomato sauce
Rotel tomatoes (hot)
taco seasoning packet

Dumped it all in the crockpot and cooked it on low for 8-10 hours.  Topped each serving with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese.  Ate it with Tostito scoops.  Delicious!

* If I had to do it all over again (and didn't have to go grocery shopping specifically for this), I would have added black beans as well.

Linked to:

Buen Provecho,

On the Road Again

[Image Source]
This past weekend, a friend of mine and I took a road trip to the western part of Virginia.  It was one of those let's-make-the-most-of-this-even-though-we're-here-officially-for-business trips.  Although I've not traveled to every part of my state, it's amazing how you can immediately tell when you've crossed the state border.  In an instant, everything looks different.  The roads, the scenery, everything.  With each curve of the road, I could tell that we were somehow climbing gradually up the mountains.  People talk about the beach as if it's the most relaxing place in the world, but me, I prefer the quiet of the long as I'm not snowed in.  :-)

We drove up at night and snacked on homemade trail mix (recipe to follow) along the way.  The mountain air was crisp and clear.  And with the aide of a GPS, the places we chose to visit were relatively easy to find.  (Do you remember taking road trips with nothing but a map?  I think we were smarter then; using true map-reading skills and common sense, but with the GPS, there's not much thinking involved.  But I digress...)  On this trip we had a few weird encounters, probably because we had the word "outsider" stamped on our foreheads, but other than that, no problems.

[Image Source]
On our way back, we stopped at this mall, and one of the first stores I saw was Tui Na Master Inc.  There, they specialized in acupressure and reflexology.  And they were having a sale.  We promised to come back, and we did, although I'm the only one who got a service.  I asked for the 10 minute service, but the man looked at me and said, "30 minutes."  "No, I'm not sure I have time...," I went on.  But he looked straight at me and repeated, "30 minutes.  Better."  So who am I to argue?  I got the 30 minute service.  And he was right!  He kept focusing on my neck area from time to time, but that was no surprise to me.  Afterwards, he said, "Your neck.  So tight!"  My stress goes to my neck and let's not forget that I carry my purse, my tote bags for work, etc.  It's a wonder I'm not lopsided!

I had never heard of acupressure before, but after that service, I'm definitely looking into it.  If I weren't almost 4 hours away, I'd go back there again.  Maybe next time!

And as promised, my easy peasy trail mix recipe:

Libby's Trail Mix Recipe
2 c dry roasted peanuts (no-salt)
1 c dry-roasted almonds (no-salt)
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c raisins
1 c dried pineapple (chopped in bite-size pieces)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients in an air-tight container.  Shake to combine.  Enjoy!

* Of course, Trail Mix is one of those types of dishes where you put in whatever you like.  I used what I had.  Making my own Trail Mix prevents me from having to pick out the ingredients in the store-bought ones that I don't like.  :-)

"...And I can't wait to get on the road again." Willie Nelson

Until next time,

K. Rock's Chicken Pesto Pasta

The great thing about following a lot of blogs is coming across great recipes and/or craft ideas.  It's such an inspiration.  Some time ago, I stumbled upon K. Rock's blog - Food Stamp.  Her blog features food that gets her stamp of approval.

A dish that caught my eye was this chicken pesto pasta.  I don't know if there's an official name, but that's what I'm calling this dish.  With her permission, I'm giving you K.Rock's recipe.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

chicken sausage
bow-tie (farfalle) pasta
jarred pesto sauce
baby tomatoes
salt & pepper (to taste)

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  In a separate pot/pan, cook the chicken sausage.  After both are done, combine the ingredients in a pot and add your jarred pesto sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Then add your halved baby tomatoes to the dish and warm through.

* My mods:
First off, I used the mini farfalle pasta.  My chicken sausage was pre-cooked, but frozen, so I opted to boil mine.  I removed the casing because I've never liked casing on sausages.  Then I chopped the sausage into quartered pieces.  I didn't use the tomatoes because I didn't have any, but I know that the addition of the tomatoes would be a lovely combination of flavors.  Plus an even more appealing photo.

I will say that although I had never had chicken sausage before, the kind I used for this dish was sooo good!  It was Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage.  There were bits of apple in there and a hint of maple syrup.  Too tasty.

So here's the dish.  Super quick and very tasty!

Linked to:

Buen Provecho,

Monday's Feature: Niki Lopez

Meet Niki Lopez.

Alice O ALice is photography and digital art - more info
Concrete Jungle is from my new series of small recycled artwork - more info
Formation is a painting - more info
Olokun is a painting - more info

AE:  Who are you?   
NL:  Niki Lopez.  I am a stay at home Mom, multi-disciplined Visual artist, and Graphic designer.  I also teach art twice a week to children at a local non profit center for the arts.

AE:  What is it that you do/make? 
NL:  Commercially I am a contract graphic and web designer.  I am a painter, photographer, and all around creative person.  My work has been exhibited through out South Florida, New York, and California.  Last year, my art was juried into a group show at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.  I have also curated and produced several art exhibits and events in South Florida.  Currently, I am working on a new series of small works and small recycled works of art that uses marketing flyers repurposed as small canvases.  Made specifically for my Etsy Shop.  (blog post here).  Some of my work has been donated to certain non profits to use as a part of their fundraiser initiatives.  Commissioned works include murals, portraits, and custom painted converse. I also do some photography, digital art, as well as painting live at events.

AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
NL: Ever since I could hold a crayon in my hand I have been doing art.  My mother stockpiled Crayola 64 and drawing paper.  She always encouraged me that it was better to make a card with my own art and poems than to buy from the store.  I went to school and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Graphic Design, however I have always had a passion for art, and though I'm primarily self taught and experimental, I have been painting for over 6 years.  My first official art show came shortly after moving into a art community where I have been since 2008.  

My motivation behind my work is the emotions, the story telling, the research, and the process of making the work.  Sometimes I am portraying different parts of me or my story or a direct reflection of a mood or feeling.  Others are more research and educational as I love to explore and include various cultures and stories not always known or talked about.   I love  to paint.  I love finally relaxing into a rhythm of brush strokes and color and often times guided by music.  Some of my work has celestial connection or references aliens but not in a spooky way more so as a part of life, evolution, and just further exploring the notion of other life forms outside of our planet.  Sometimes its reflecting me and a feeling of being different.  

AE:  Where can we find your work? 
NL:  I am on many of the social media groups as well as have a shop on Etsy, and facebook:

(graphic design and photography) 

AE:  What is your website/contact information? 

By her work, you can tell that Niki truly is an multi-disciplinary artist!  It still continues to amaze me as to how many ways artists express themselves.  Please give Niki your support by visiting any of her sites.  :-)

Peace & Love,

New Arrival

Look at what came in the mail on yesterday. Oh boy!

Jamaican Black Castor Oil (lavender)
Natural Organic Indigo Powder
Pure Bentonite Clay

Happy Saturday,


Sometimes surprises are good.  Sometimes surprises are bad.  Aren't you thankful for the good surprises?  Well, recently, I received one of those good surprises.  I went to the mailbox and noticed a slip indicating that I had a package of some kind.  And it would be during a holiday weekend, so I had to wait extra to reveal the mystery.  I was so excited.  Who would be sending me anything unannounced like this?

After it's long travel (one month!) and my short wait (since I didn't know it was coming), I received the most amazing surprise....all the way from Mexico!  Yes, my dear friend, sent me a package of yummy woven fabrics in traditional Mexican style and some more of the mercerized cotton in beautiful, bright colors.  I have wrapped myself up in the fabric more than once and dreamed of what it will become.  :-)

Thank you, CT!

Still smiling,

Butternut Pumpkin Soup

Some time recently, I became a follower of Nikki's blog, Everything Under the Moon.  On her blog she has link parties on Mondays for different things like recipes, crafts, tutorials, etc.  I've only participated in two link parties on her blog, but in doing so, I've come across some really lovely blogs.  On one of them, I stumbled across this recipe for Butternut Pumpkin Soup.

For a while I kind of fell off of the cooking/baking wagon, but lately I've been filling my stride.  You know I love recipes where I can use the ingredients I already have.  Now I can see the beauty in having a stocked pantry and keeping it that way.  The only thing I happened not to have was a butternut squash, but that was an easy remedy.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to the Butternut Pumpkin Squash Soup recipe found on the "Little Rays of Sunshine" blog.

You'll need the following ingredients, then head on over to "Little Rays of Sunshine" to get the deets on this dish:

unsalted butter
extra-virgin olive oil
a small onion
pumpkin puree
butternut squash
low sodium chicken broth
kosher salt
black pepper
heavy cream

p.s.  Doesn't this dish kinda look like baby food?  Still good though.
Bon Appetit,

Choco-Banana Overnight Oats

When I was completing the 20/20 Challenge, I was always on the look-out for quick, healthy, and delicious breakfast solutions.  Some time ago, I stumbled across The Healthy Foodie blog, and one of the first recipes I noticed was the one for Choco-Banana Overnight Oats.  What are overnight oats, I wondered.  What is millet?  Chia seeds?  Is that like the seeds from the Chia Pet toy?  Buckwheat groats?  What?

So, I made a trip to Whole Foods and purchased what I could find.  So I got the millet and the chia seeds.  I left the buckwheat groats alone, as well as the carob chips.  Not that I wasn't willing to try, but I was looking into cost-effectiveness.  The millet could be purchased by the pound so I could get a little sampling, but I honestly didn't want to pay a lot for something I wasn't sure I would even like.

Choco-Banana Overnight Oats
(serves 1)

So basically, here are the ingredients I used:

  • ½ ripe banana, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp millet
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tbsp chocolate flavored protein powder (I had some chocolate flavored Boost protein powder in the pantry - go figure)
  • ¼ cup milk (I use the original-flavored almond milk)

To not steal Sonia's thunder, please visit her blog post to see how these ingredients should be combined.  But seriously, it was super quick, quite delicious, and something I will try - but not everyday.  I love chocolate, and even though this chocolate dish is not sweet (except for the little sweetness from the protein powder and the banana), a girl can only do so much.

I'd love to know if you decide to give it a try.

{without the milk}

{with the milk; thereby milk some yummy chocolate milk}

Linked to:

Bon Appetit,