Thursday, July 30, 2015

Escape Down Under Giveaway

I have to make this quick or I'm going to be late for work, but I wanted to share about this giveaway. There's only eleven and a half hours left so don't wait to enter!  The author is HY Hanna, better known as Hsin-Yi from the Big Honey Dog blog where she wrote about her Great Dane Honey.  I've been following her blog since 2008 or 2009.  She's an awesome blogger, dog owner and trainer and now author!  I've loved every single one of her books that I've read so far.  I'll be doing a review on this book when I finish it in a couple of days on my other blog.  To enter go here (

Monday, July 27, 2015

30 Before 30 - #1 and #26 Complete

I'm lumping both of my plant goals together.  :)  First up is indoor plants I can't kill... so far so good, but I won't promise I won't kill them eventually lol.  I'm trying really hard though.  Lots of research!  I did a post with more information on these plants along with pictures from Google here, but finally here are pictures of my actual plants.  :D

Hubby got me a plant light with a timer!  It's awesome!

My aloe in the foreground.  

I've almost killed my aloe by over watering and by putting it under direct light too quickly causing sunburn, but this survivor has come back better than ever after each mistake.  Love aloe!

My assorted succulents.  Not sure what they are besides the Jade.
There were others, but these are the ones that have survived.
Fingers crossed they last hehe.

My hens and chicks!  I have to figure out how 
to repot the chicks... I'm scared of killing them!

My Spider plant.  

The tips burned from not letting my water warm up to room temp, but now that I fixed that it's doing well.  I still need to repot it into a terracotta pot.

This is a cutting from the cactus I've had for six or seven years.  
I don't know what kind it is.  Those other pieces are Jade plant 
leaves that I'm trying to root.

My short snake plant, Peperomia and peace lily.

Peace Lilies

I've had the peace lilies for over six months now and they were doing fantastic, but after repotting them I'm having trouble with wilting... even after watering they don't stand all the way back up.  Not sure if it's the soil, too much water, too little water... working on it. Hope I can save them.

Peperomia!  Love this thing!!  It loves low light and neglect.  :)

Snake plant also loves low light and neglect.  
The lighter part wasn't there at all when I got this one.  
It's doing so well!!

The other peace lily... I hope I can save them...

Cast Iron Plant.  Loving this one!
It also love low light and neglect.  :)

My tall snake plant.  I love these!!  It's taller than my drawing desk.  :)

My indoor hanging succulent that is on my porch right now.  
It's doing great!  I've had this one almost two years.
I have no idea what it is!!!!

The only one I totally failed on was the Jade plant... I still have pieces of it that I'm trying to root, but it's not going well.  It makes me sad because it was one of my favorites.  I might try again later.

Next up is my garden.  It's actually part vegetable garden and part flower garden all thrown together.  I love it!  Since the front of my house is parking and the tornado shelter we decided to make the side yard our garden area.

We marked out where the fence will go with landscape paint.  It's a weird angle because of the shop building across from our house.  Also yes we still have to paint the rest of our siding dark brown lol.

 Then we brought in topsoil and aged horse manure as a base for...

 ... some leftover sod that was given to us.  :D

 We put out as much as we had and decided to make the rest a garden for now.

 This is a few weeks later showing how much the sod has grown.

 We planted our gooseberry bush that we've had for years in the corner.

 Then we planted all of my flowers and veggies that have been in pots on my porch all spring.
 Notice how small the tomatoes are so you can compare it to later pictures.

 Ornamental peppers are pretty, but also edible and very HOT!

 My Salvia loves being in the ground and has grown a lot!

 This is a really cool flower from my mother in law.  I forget what it is but it's so pretty!

 Hubby tied up the gooseberry so we could mow around it.  
I liked it when it was sprawled out better...

 Jackal posing in front of the garden a while later.  
Look how much the tomatoes have grown!

 My pretty Vinca love our hot, humid weather!

 The tomatoes have gotten taller than the peach tree!

 My geraniums that I had in pots for a couple 
of years are doing great and about to bloom!

 This is my first time growing Vinca. It's so pretty!

 Look at how much my flowers from my mother in law have grown!!
I love the colors!

 The purple sweet potato vine has gotten huge too.

 Here are some of the ornamental peppers turning purple.

 Tomatoes!  Our first ripe tomato got eaten by a box turtle on the fourth of July hehe.

 Some of the tomatoes are shaped really weird!

 Our peach tree is several years old, but it's only been in the ground about two years.  It put on a ton of peaches this year, but they didn't get very big and one limb even snapped.  Oops.

 Jackal photobomb!

 So obviously my garden isn't fully grown, but since my birthday is in the middle of summer it will have to do for my list.  There are more peppers and eggplants, but I forgot to get specific pictures.  I'll update again when we get the fence up around our yard and when the plants are mature.  :)  I almost forgot to say.. the other flowers in my garden are Shasta Daisy, Butterfly Bush, Lantana and Delphinium.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

30 Before 30 - #29 Complete

I finally found time to sit down and write my 40 Before 40 list and it was fun!  Aging is often not very fun, but I'm excited about this list so that makes it something to look forward to instead of something to dread.  :)

First I want to say eventer79 made me laugh with the comment about putting "make a list" on my list.  You just don't understand how much of a list addict I am!  I love making lists.  I'm one of those people who writes a "to do" list and then when I do something that wasn't on the list I add it just so I can mark it off lol.  I have post it notes full of lists stuck to the wall next to my desk.  :)  So thanks for making me laugh eventer79!!

For my 40 Before 40 list I decided to break it up into categories.  It helps me stay organized and helps keep things diverse because all of my lists tend to be very Chrome oriented to the point of excluding other things.  So without further rambling, here it is.

40 Before 40


1.  Visit the Grand Canyon
2.  Ride on a sailboat
3.  Visit Canada (do you need a passport for this?)
4.  See, pet or swim with dolphins
5.  Ride a train on a multi day, multi state trip

Try New Things I've Never Done Before

6.  Ride/drive a jet ski
7.  Try Paintball
8.  Become confident driving a standard on the road (because I still haven't......)
9.  Go kayaking on a river instead of a lake
10. Donate blood (yeah haven't ever done this... always been afraid of needles, but I'm getting over it with my annual blood work)
11. Ride in or drive a convertible
12. Get a massage
13. Do a color run 5k
14. Drive a horse in harness
15. Try something new that hubby has never done, but always wanted to try even if I've done it before so we can do it together (thought that sentence would never end huh?)


16. Learn 1000 ASL signs (100 down, 900 to go hehe)
17. Own and learn to use a DSLR camera
18. Relearn how to play piano (especially Fur Elise and Disney songs) and play grand/baby grand piano
19. Complete the 2015 Reading Challenge and read 500 books between my 30th and 40th birthday
20. Take my art to a show of some sort, like a fair
21. Paint a picture of Chrome, Jackal and Storm (separately, not one big picture)
22. Learn to draw humans!
23. Learn more about illustration and possibly do the illustrations for one of my own stories
24. Complete a whole sketchbook and participate in challenges (such as 365 challenge or 30 day challenge or a sketch a week for a year or draw the first thing you see on Pinterest)
25. Have someone other than family read/review one of my completed novels


26. Take Chrome and Jackal camping (together or separate)
27. Reach Jackal's goal weight (50-55lbs)
28. Haul Chrome in a trailer to someplace other than the vet (separate from the camping trip)
29. Teach Chrome to neck rein
30. Take lessons on Chrome (doesn't matter what discipline) or go to a clinic
31. Teach Chrome to bow
32. Gallop Chrome
33. Photo shoot on Chrome in a dress
34. Compete Chrome in something (dressage schooling show, trail challenge, anything I want)
35. Teach Chrome and Jackal 5 or more new tricks and get a video of them all

P.S. All of those apply to Rocky too if hubby is interested in doing any of them.  :)


36. Finish our house
37. Have a new horse trailer
38. Build a horse barn!
39. Buy/adopt or rescue a Papillon
40. Have my own miniature horse!

Something I thought was really cool is that I wrote a list in September of 2013 and just now when I looked back over it I realized I completed some things on it already!  I walked a half marathon, visited the Kentucky Horse Park, took a tour through a cavern and learned calligraphy!  Two of those even got added to my 30 Before 30 list hehe.

So there's the list!  I'm really looking forward to checking them off!  ;)

P.S.  I almost forgot to mention I reorganized my bucket list page (link here) and even put up a video of me petting a shark that I've never shared on the blog. :D

Monday, July 20, 2015

30 Before 30 list updated one final time...

Since I'm down to less than a month before my thirtieth birthday I'm going to have to revise my list again.  For those who haven't been following my progress on my 30 before 30 list, I'm updating it as my interests and circumstances change because I started it late (in 2012, giving me three and a half years to complete it instead of ten) and because I'm using it as a way to try new things, not as a way to either succeed or fail at a set list of things I thought up a long time ago.

The main reason for the change right now is that my hubby fell at work and tore his rotator cuff.  He may need surgery.  That means things like paintball and camping are out because he can't use that arm.  Finances and time are limiting factors as well.  So here we go...

The ones I'm changing:

Take Jackal camping
Take Chrome on an overnight camping trip
Finish house (I can do the painting, but there is other stuff I can't do by myself and I'm just not going to have time...)
Gallop Chrome (because I haven't had time to ride there is no way I would feel confident enough to gallop him anytime soon)
Stand up on Chrome's back (haven't had time to ride or practice, because of work and his cut ear)

The ones I have left:

Learn archery, bonus if on horseback
Learn a new kind of dance (have this almost done, just need to get video)
Grow a garden at our new home (this is as done as it gets for mid year, just need to get a post up)
Do a photo shoot with me and Jackal (just need to find the time to do this... I kept putting it off hoping he would lose some weight)

The new ones:

Find some houseplants that even I can't kill (I have them and so far so good, just need to get pictures)
Get soil samples from the pasture tested and make a plan to improve pasture (sent it off, waiting on results)
See Triple Crown Winner (I had this listed as a bonus, but since a spot opened up I'll just put it on the actual list)
Eat something I've never tried before, bonus if I cook it (any suggestions for something good, but uncommon that I might not have tried yet?)
Write a letter to myself that I can open in ten years (I've always wanted to do this)
Write my 40 before 40 list (yeah I'm kind of cheating by putting this on the list, but I do need to write it!)

Hopefully I can find the time on the weekends to get these things done before my birthday!  Fingers crossed!  I'm looking forward to doing my next list since I'll have the whole ten years to do it and I can be more adventurous.  :)

Here is the new list.

1. Find some houseplants that even I can't kill.
2. Stand in two places at once (state lines). COMPLETED 1-3-13
3. Go to a live horse race. COMPLETED 1-16-2012
4. Learn calligraphy.  COMPLETED 7-18-15
5. Get pasture soil samples tested and make a plan for improving pasture.
6. Actually see a horse win the Triple Crown COMPLETED 6-6-15
7. Ride/drive a horse drawn carriage/wagon/sleigh. COMPLETED 9-13-14
8. Learn archery, bonus if it's on horseback.
9. Go to the Kentucky Horse Park and meet fellow bloggers. COMPLETED 4-25-15
10. Print out a coffee table book of my photos. COMPLETED 11-14-2012
11. Learn more about photography. COMPLETE
12. Learn 100 signs in American Sign Language.  COMPLETED 1-1-15
13. Do something special for my fifth wedding anniversary. COMPLETED 4-26-14
14. Learn some sort of dancing (belly dancing, ballroom dancing, etc.)
15. Do a photo shoot with Jackal.
16. Experiment in different mediums (graphite, charcoal, watercolor, etc.)!  COMPLETED 7-4-15
17. See cross country in person, like WEG or Rolex.  COMPLETED 4-25-15
18. Train a horse from weaning to basics under saddle.  COMPLETED 11-4-14
19. Eat something I've never tried before, bonus if I cook it.
20. Eat gluten free for a year. COMPLETED 6-24-15
21. See a polo match in person.  COMPLETED 9-13-14
22. Write a letter to myself that I can open in ten years.
23. Take a trail ride off property in the snow. COMPLETED 3-5-15
24. Ride a purebred Friesian! COMPLETED 2-17-14
25. Teach Chrome a new trick with clicker training.  COMPLETED 7-18-15
26. Grow a garden in my new home.
27. Find a suitable horse for my hubby to start riding with me again.  COMPLETED 5-20-15
28. Learn to swim. COMPLETED 7-4-13
29. Write my 40 Before 40 list.
30. Go kayaking! COMPLETED 7-10-13

To see all of my other posts about my 30 Before 30 list click here.

Sorry this is all I've been posting about lately.  The deadline is approaching and I'm scrambling to finish.  Once I'm done with this I'll try to get back to posting other stuff again.  :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

30 Before 30 - #25 Complete

I taught Chrome a new trick using clicker training yesterday!  He now knows how to give kisses!  :D  It's so cute!

Here's the video.

My thirtieth birthday is looming closer and I'm running out of time to finish my list, so I'm trying to cram as much into my weekends as possible!  :D

Saturday, July 18, 2015

30 Before 30 - #4 Complete

A friend let me borrow her calligraphy pen so I could see if I like it (I do!), so I've been practicing.  She showed me the alphabet last year and I've been practicing off and on since then.  Most of what I've done is the alphabet, people's names, letters, etc.  Not really stuff I want to post, so today I decided to do some song lyrics (do you know the song?) to show you.

I am awful about keeping my lines straight so I drew lines on the paper lightly in pencil... and they still aren't straight LOL!  I need more practice with that and with holding the correct angle with the pen throughout the whole sentence.

For fun here is a short video clip of me writing the title of another song.

I messed up on the S because I let the angle of the pen drop.  Bad habit. Working on it.  Anyway it's a lot of fun so when she wants her pen back I'll have to buy one of my own hehe.  :D

To see my other 30 before 30 posts click here.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

30 Before 30 - #16 Complete

Number 16 on my 30 Before 30 list is experiment in different mediums.  I have tried graphite, charcoal, oil, watercolor, soft pastels, markers, micron pens and colored pencils so I'm going to call this goal complete.  :D  This has been one of the most fun goals!!  I have so enjoyed exploring all of these different mediums.  I'm going to share my favorites from each category.  To see art I've posted before check out my art tag.  If you have any other suggestions for fun mediums to try, let me know.  I'm game to try anything if it isn't extremely expensive.  :)


I LOVE charcoal!  I think it is my favorite!  It's a little messy compared to graphite, but I just love it.  These are in the order that I drew them.

Using a friend's reference photo of the Tetons.

 Reference found on Google.

 Reference found on Pinterest.

  Reference found on Pinterest.

  Reference found on Pinterest.

 Reference was friend's pictures.

The last one is a drawing I did of a friend's dogs.  All of the dogs are gone now so I couldn't get new pictures.  I had to use her photos (there was a photo for each dog, they were not all in the same picture) and they were not ideal for drawing from.  It was a challenge and although my drawing isn't great I feel it truly caught the personality of each dog.  I framed it and gave it to her for her birthday.

Colored Pencil

Colored pencil is not my favorite.  It's way too tedious!!  I think with some more practice and patience I might learn to like it more as I get beyond the elementary stage.  These are my three best.

 This is tiny... not 8" by 10" lol. That's just a photo cropper around the edges.
The reference for this one was a real apple.

Reference picture was several images from Google that I borrowed aspects from.  Since it's a dragon (I LOVE dragons!) I had leeway to modify to my heart's content hehe.  It's nice to get away from realistic art sometimes.  I think this was the first time I'd ever used burnishing.

 I forget what reference I used.


Graphite is my second favorite medium (charcoal is first).  This is the one I'm most comfortable with because I've been drawing with pencil since I was a little kid.  Learning to draw with charcoal really helped me figure out the values for graphite.  I especially love it since getting my new Tombow Mono Erasers!  I love them!

 I don't remember where I got the reference for this one.  
I drew this one a year ago when I first got back into 
drawing after taking a break for years and years.

 Reference found on Google.
I loved the fine details on this one.

This is actually graphite and charcoal.  
My first attempt at mixing mediums.
Reference was found on Pinterest.

 My absolute favorite!!

This one took MONTHS to finish because I would spend a whole day working on one big cat and cub, totally burning myself out because of how tedious it was, then I would take a break (months long lol) before doing the next one.  I did the black leopard and cub today and it's not really finished, but I wanted to include it.  I still need to do some blending and I really need to fix the cub's leg, but I'll get to it eventually.  :)  Once I'm done editing all of them, I'm totally framing this and hanging it up. :D  I got all the reference pictures from Pinterest.  The layout and quote are from my own imagination.  The size is 11" by 14".


I forget what markers I used.  This is the only one I've done (I think) and it was a lot of fun.  I drew the butterfly  and flower outlines in micron pens.  You can see more about those below in the Zentangle category.  I looked through a bunch of butterflies on Pinterest, but this was mostly made just from my imagination.


I actually really enjoy oil (I wish it wasn't so expensive!).  This is probably my third favorite medium. It is a steep learning curve for me because I haven't done much in color.  Most of the art I do (graphite, charcoal, zentangle, etc.) has no color.  Learning to use color has been a huge challenge for me!  I had a lot of help from a friend on these.  It will be a while before I can do oil independently I think.

 Reference is a friend's picture.
Sorry it's tilted.

 Reference was actually from my very own photo of the lake where we used to live.  :D

 Reference was a friend's photo.  I love this one!


Learning to use a sketchbook was harder than I ever imagined!  I am such a perfectionist that I have a hard time loosening up and just sketching.  I have finally learned to just go with the flow and not overthink it.  If you're an artist and have never used a sketchbook I highly recommend getting one!  Also I am brand new at drawing humans... You can see my beginning sketches at the bottom of this picture.  Humans are hard!!  My favorite is totally the little cartoon animals.  They are so fun! I even named them hehe.  You might have to click on the image to read them.

Soft Pastel

Soft (or chalk) pastel feels a lot like charcoal, but with color (color is a challenge for me lol).  I LOVE it for sunsets, but the fruit was very difficult and I had a lot of help from my friend (when I say help I mean pointers, I did all of the actual drawing).  This is extremely messy and some are toxic to breathe so I don't think it's something I'll use a lot, but it sure is fun doing sunsets with silhouettes.

 This was my first time drawing on tinted (pink) paper!

LOVE this!  This was only the third one I ever did.  I used charcoal on the trees and branches.  This was so much fun.  I don't remember where I got the reference picture.  Probably from a Google search.

 The reference from this was an actual pear.

Let me tell you I HATE drawing fruit.... but it really is good for learning... but I hate it haha.  Also these are hard to store... using the spray fixatives is risky with pastel...  anyone have suggestions for storing or displaying these without ruining the drawing?


Watercolor is HARD!  It's probably my least favorite.  Mistakes can't be fixed like with oil, graphite and charcoal and I'm too much of a perfectionist for that!!  This is the one and only watercolor I've done haha.  I got the reference from Instagram.  I really love this style of watercolor painting, but I can't figure out what it's called...  is there a name for this style?  It's so fun.  Mine didn't turn out as three dimensional as the reference was.  There was also some color muddying... ugh.  I love pure, bright colors!  My friend helped me with this too.  She says if I stick with it I would probably love watercolor....

LOVE this style, but it's so hard!!  At least the dorsal fin looks 3D.


I LOVE Zentangle!!  If you've never heard of it, click here for an explanation.  It's a lot of fun to just zone out and draw these.  I use micron pens for drawing (no erasing!) and graphite for shading.  I sometimes find images for the main design (i.e. butterfly), but the patterns are all from my imagination (I mean how I used them was from my imagination.. I learned the actual patterns from here).  I think one reason I enjoy this so much is because there is no right or wrong way and you don't have to be constantly checking a reference picture so it's really relaxing.  Some people find it too tedious, but I thrive on it.  Love it!

 I used a reference picture for the birds and limb, but I added a bird, drew the leaves, did all of the pattern and did the word from my own imagination. This was one of my favorite.  A lot of fun.

 Jackal!!  Reference was my own photo.

 This is a mech I drew for my hubby.  It's from the game Mechwarrior Online.

 A rabbit I drew for my mom.  Sorry it's blurry.  
I gave it to her so I couldn't take another picture.

 Siberian Husky in memory of Storm.  
That's my wedding favor crystal rose sitting beside it.

 It says Tangent.  I did this one completely from my own imagination with no reference picture.

I found the tiger on Google, but the rest was from my imagination.
This was my very first Zentangle lol.  I don't start off easy hehe.
The background was done with color pencil.

For people not familiar with art I want to mention that I mostly draw from reference pictures.  I don't enter art shows so it's okay that I'm not using my own photos (I hope the people who took them don't mind being my inspiration...).  Learning to draw purely from imagination is VERY difficult (for most people, especially me), but someday I do plan to be able to draw without reference pictures.  I may not be able to for the realistic art, but illustration would be a lot of fun. I've always wanted to be able to illustrate my own novels.  That's a future goal.  Maybe it can go on my 40 Before 40 list!  :)

Now for anyone interested in the process of drawing, I want to share some pictures.  I almost always take pictures of the process of my drawings.  The pictures are awful, cell phone pictures, but they are good enough to show you the process.  I would love to do those speed drawing videos like you can find on YouTube (if you haven't yet you really should watch them... so cool!!  Here's one of my favorites (in oil and acrylic) if you want to see it (link), but that's just too much work haha, so I'll stick to photos.

This is my Marlin charcoal drawing.

 Start out by laying down the background.

 Draw out the outline. As you can see there's lots of erasing 
and redrawing to get the proportion right in this stage.

 Start drawing in the picture.

 I tend to focus on the darkest darks starting out.

 Drawing in more details.

 Getting close, just have to finish the belly.

 This is the stage I am so bad about stopping on...

 ... but with a little more work...

 ... darkening the darks and using the eraser (your best friend) for highlights...

 ...oh and bubbles, lots of bubbles... get a really awesome final drawings.  It's all in the details! 
I took this picture today so the lighting is better hehe. 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing my artwork.  I've had so much fun over the last year learning to use all of these mediums.  Every single new medium I used taught me techniques that improved my graphite drawings.  I feel like every time I pick up a pencil/pen/brush I learn something new.  Nothing would make me happier than sitting around creating art all day (well with breaks for riding horses hehe).  Too bad about that thing called a job lol.

P.S.  Happy Fourth of July!!!!