Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was just in the middle of painting a polar bear's ears when I stopped and looked at my desktop. I wondered if Santa's workshop was as messy as mine, but regardless, I thought a quick snapshot would be fun. A sparkly mess is way more fun than a boring blank work surface anyway, right?

Ok...back to painting! :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tomatoes are coming out of my ears!

I've got lots on my to do list, but I had to take a break from it all yesterday to process all the tomatoes I plucked from my parent's garden the other day. And boy did I process! Two huge tubs and then some, was blanched, peeled and squeezed. It was rather nice to be in the safety of the kitchen while hurricane Irene blew and spit and cried right outside the window. I watched movies on my little kitchen TV while I was elbow deep in a sink full of tomatoes and it was quite cozy.
All of these tomatoes now fit neatly into the fridge and await Ben to work his magic and transform them into his delicious sauce...so yummy I could (and do) eat it with a spoon! Yum!

I hope everyone survived the storm unscathed!
All you easterners were in my thoughts yesterday!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm back!

Ben and I are finally back from the honeymoon and are just over the moon with how much fun we had. We took tons of photos and it was hard to edit them down (although made slightly easier by my tendency to take blurry pictures), but I wanted to show you a bunch of them and tell you of our adventures in Costa Rica!

We started off in San Jose and was surprised at how European it felt, despite the palm trees and hoards of squawking green parrots sprinkled on the ledges of buildings like pigeons. Nice architecture and cute garbage cans. My favorite was the wheel barrel the maintenance guy was pushing around the park.

This may look like a ramshackle place to live, and maybe it is, but these people didn't look poor.

Look at the nice ride this guy has. I wouldn't mind owning a nice motorcycle. Vroom vroom! But I think I like his pile of pretty sticks better.

During our first day there we visited the Land of Oz. Or at least that's what it felt like. This red paved road lead us not to the Emerald City, but on a winding journey through the cloud forest, which also reminded me of a particularly challenging level of Super Mario Brothers 3. The mist and moisture in the air made us feel alive and the vines very well possibly could have reached out at any moment and wrapped themselves around our legs. ...maybe.

That thought didn't stop me from adventuring off the beaten path and onto one where I had to duck and almost crawl. It led to the edge of the mountainside with a pretty view of the sulfur lake below that our guide claimed would melt your hand off if you stuck it in the "water".

Our next destination was Torteguero, a very remote place on the Caribbean side of the country. The only way to get there was by plane or boat. We took the boat, which went fast and still took an hour and a half to reach the village. I couldn't imagine living in such a remote place, but it was spectacular to visit. We saw a sea turtle lay her eggs at night and return to the ocean. I saw schools of speckled puffer fish around the dock. Fiddler crabs, weird looking spiders, giant spiders, crazy plants, a bald chicken, armies of leaf cutter ants and funny little huts. But the strangest thing I saw in Torteguero? A random creepy clown head trash bin in the middle of the village. Weird.

We took multiple boat tours and saw and experienced amazing wildlife. Monkeys jumped over our boat from tree to tree...I really thought they were going to fall into the water! Caimans and crocs (one guy fed wild crocs by hand...eek!) Buzzards and herons and egrets and spoonbills. And sloths!! I swear that the top middle picture shows a three toed sloth holding tight to a tree top. So cute!

We spent lots of time driving on the up and down winding roads of Costa Rica and saw many amazing things from our window. Like this tunnel of sheer cliffs thick with vegetation.

And this herd of water buffalo (domestic, not wild). What? You only see one buffalo? There are about a dozen more buffalo wedged inside a narrow ditch. And believe it or not, that one last buffalo manages to squeeze herself into the ditch as well. Weird!

Our next stop was Arenal. This was the view from our cottage. The Arenal volcano was amazing and sooooo huge! It was looming wherever you went!
We also got to sit in the hot springs, which was this amazing series of pools that were hot hot hot! They even had lounge chairs and bar stools that were under water. We were at the top of the mountain in the highest volcano heated pool when the rain forest unleashed it's name sake and lightening and thunder and sheets of hard rain poured down. It felt good while we were still sitting in the burning hot springs, but the fear of lightening had us out in a jiffy. We ran down the hill until we stumbled upon a little building with people hiding from the rain under the eaves. We looked for a clear spot for ourselves and as we circled the building, we found a door. I didn't think twice to open it and inside was a completely empty sauna. It was a like a hidden treasure that the crowd outside had missed in plain sight. It was a very nice place to wait out the storm. :)

The flowers were amazing. This is only a teensy portion of the unusual specimens we saw.

The pastures and fields and rolling hills were breathtaking.

We even got to see an iguana tree! A tree you could pluck iguanas off like fruit! The tour guide explained that a nearby restaurant throws out their leftovers and so the iguanas have made a permanent home there. There were hundreds of them! Big too.

On our way to our final destination, we stopped at some hanging bridges, which could have been my favorite part of the trip. Long bridges, way high up in the canopy with sights and views to behold. But of course my favorite part was seeing all the creatures and creations of the rain forest.

Including some strange trees. Like the top left corner photo - a giant tree like fern! Very prehistoric.

We saw plenty of bugs along the way too. Colorful cocoons at a butterfly farm. Big beetles and strange hairy spiders.

And can you believe the jagged terrain of this landscape?? It was so hard to walk on!

Just kidding! It's a tree trunk! A very thorny, ouchy one.

Handsome Ben.

Our last stop was on the Pacific Coast in another fairly remote location at an utterly breathtaking resort with a pool that went on forever and an ocean so warm I didn't have to hesitate before jumping in!

And the tide pools were heavenly!!! When I was a kid I had to decide which of my passions to make a career out of...art or animals. I chose the former of course, but boy...when I find a good tide pool, it's impossible to pull me away. I found sea slugs, sea cucumbers, sea stars, cone snails (very toxic), conches, blennys (who are very curious little fish and stared at me the whole time I was in their territory, it was quite funny), and a huge variety of crabs, and so much more!!!

And boy did I see crabs. Hermits crabs filled the beach after dark and I went out there with my head light and watched them scurry about. Ben and I also ran into a very defensive crab (on the left) in the dark and didn't really get to see what he looked like until we saw the photo Ben took. Good thing we didn't step on him! And during our stay in Torteguero, we had a crab neighbor (middle) who was considerably far from the ocean, but didn't stray far from his hole in the ground.

And the food was really great! I'm a sucker for buffets, which we had a lot of (you get to have a little bit of everything) and during our stay at the luxury hotel, they happened to seat us at the same exact table three time in a row, so of course it became "our" table.

We had a great time and are glad to be home and settling back into normal life (I can't believe August is almost over!). I'll be working on Halloween goodies soon, so stay tuned for an update!! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Here are some sweet and funny photos of Ben and I on our big day. I promise, as soon as I get some photos of the decor and all the fun stuff, I'll be posting them. :) I'll see you when I return from our honeymoon (in about two weeks), after which I'll be in full swing Halloween mode...yippee!!

Sometimes love is funny. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Whimsical Wedding

Thank you so much for all of the congrats and well wishes! It really means a lot to me. :)

Here's a little peek at the barn. We don't have too many pictures yet...but I can't wait to see what our amazingly talented photographer has in store for us in a few weeks. I'll post some sweet photos of Ben and I at the ceremony soon.
What a wedding day it was. Whimsical, with some real miracles of mother nature involved. It started raining as guests were arriving and I was feeling bummed and worried that we'd have to have the ceremony in the barn, instead of in the field. My dad had "called it" and was making preparations to arrange the ceremony inside. So many people had worked hard to prep for the outdoor ceremony and the weather gods must have been listening to our pleas because the rain let up as we were scheduled to start the ceremony. A cheer from the guests in the barn arose when my dad announced that "we're doing it!" I was giddy and so happy and none of the other details mattered. My crepe paper streamers had to be taken down after a bit of a soaking. The haybales on the wagons and in the field had to be flipped and the white fabric taken off, but with a little teamwork from the guests, it was no problem. My dad's head was still thinking of all the logistics while we were waiting for our music and was ready to walk down the aisle holding up the back of my dress until I grabbed his arm. The ceremony, performed by Ben's cousin was funny and heartfelt and two of Ben's groomsmen put on a musical performance that surprised me and all of the guests. People couldn't stop talking about it and I felt so touched. Ben and I were in the wagon on our way back to the barn when the rain started again and I felt lucky to have that small break so we could show our loved ones our love for eachother in the way we wanted to. The rest of the night it poured but everyone had a great time eating a delicious vegetarian feast, dancing to a live Blue Grass band and chatting away with new friends and old.

It was a day to remember and alas...it will take a little time before I get used to saying "my husband" and "Oh hi, I'm Crystal Sloane." Perhaps I'll practice during our honeymoon. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm Married!!!

Ben is my love and my dad is so amazing for helping me pull off a wedding so dreamy....
This photo of my dad and me is one of my favorites. :)

Monday, August 1, 2011