Fall and Winter Creative Pursuits

Hope everyone had a good end to 2021. I haven’t posted in a bit, so here’s a catch-up on some creative activities from the past couple of months!

I love to carve pumpkins near Halloween. This year’s sea turtle pumpkin was inspired by a photograph taken on a trip to Hawaii and printed on metal. It’s hanging in our dining room and I happened to look up when I was trying to decide what to carve. The graveyard scene was inspired by my desire to practice my carving technique. Both pumpkins were carved using linocutting tools and there are very few sections that are actually carved all the way through the flesh. Super fun!

My next creative endeavor involved edibles (not that kind;). My friend holds a holiday treat exchange each year around the holidays. Each person makes something festive and brings six of the treat for each person attending the party to take home with them. This event has ended in many a sugar coma for me. This year I had some time and my parents were in town, so I convinced my mother that she wanted to help me make six different batches of cupcakes and icings. It was delightful baking with her for two days and the resulting cupcakes turned out delicious. Most of the cupcakes and frostings were based on recipes, but I used my tried and true “taste as you go” method for making tweaks. If anyone wants recipes, let me know in the comments and I’ll post them as best I can replicate.

  • Chocolate cherry cupcake with chocolate cherry bourbon buttercream frosting
  • Apple-lemon cupcake with rum buttercream frosting
  • Banana cupcake with dark chocolate drizzle
  • Carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting (GF)
  • Pumpkin spice cupcake with ginger buttercream frosting and candied ginger sprinkles (GF)
  • Vanilla chiffon cupcake with peppermint buttercream frosting and crushed candy cane sprinkles

Our family had a bit of a hard time with Christmas presents this year. What do you get someone who can easily buy what they want themselves, or someone who just doesn’t want much? Well, I went with the, ask and then modify, strategy. My mother requested some highball glasses for the house. Lucky I took her with me shopping, because what she decided she really wanted were some double old fashioned glasses. Well this is what they turned into:

I used multi-surface paint (FolkArt seems to be the most common brand out there and the only brand at Michaels) and then baked them in the oven for 30 minutes to cure the paint. Supposedly they are top rack dishwasher safe, but I’m not sure we’ll ever actually risk it. I used a collection of online images I’d found as inspiration and then free-handed the designs on the glasses. Think I might need to do this with some of my own glasses. Next time I’m going to try birds! Or maybe more flowers!

The last creative endeavor I want to mention is my 2021 Creative Writing Challenge, that I finished on December 31. In 2021 I challenged myself to do some creative writing. Last January I created 52 prompts for myself to work from. I drew a prompt randomly each week and then wrote something in response. It could be in any format, fiction or nonfiction, poem or short story, and could be any length. Most turned out to be fictional (fantasy, sci fi, and contemporary) short stories between 600 and 2000 words. A couple are longer and I might turn them into full length novels or novellas. If you’re interested in reading some fun creative writing, they are all posted on my other blog A Cup of Creative. Here’s a couple of teaser prompts to pique your interest:

  • Write about someone who gets proposed to five times on Christmas Eve
  • Write about a character who makes a dramatic life change to pursue a goal they’ve secretly always wanted
  • Your pet dragon turns into a person
  • Start your story with two characters deciding to spend the night in a graveyard
  • Missed connections: Craigslist – find something to inspire a story
  • Write a space adventure story that features a visit to an alien marketplace
  • Start your story with someone admitting a secret and end it with someone telling a lie
  • Quickly write down the first five words that come to mind. Create a story using these as the main ideas (time, motorcycle, dog, playhouse, dolls)
  • Write a post-apocalyptic romance
  • Write something inspired by a recent dream you had
  • By the time you got outside, the leaves were on fire

Here’s to more creative endeavors in 2022!


Board Game Night

There is a board game group in Montevideo that meets once a month for an all-night game extravaganza (8 PM – 8 AM). People bring games, food, drinks, and fun.

We attended said extravaganza this weekend and had a blast. We were among some of the first people there (chalk that one up to not embracing the late night culture), despite the fact that we were fashionably late and walked around the neighborhood trying to find the address. Turns out the place was just above a group of men grilling over a fire in the street. The board game group rents out a space that looks like its made just for their purposes. There are numerous chairs and tables to set up board games on, a microwave to heat up food, and a fridge. The A/C doesn’t work so well, but at least there are bathrooms.

The first game we played was a card game with creeper zombies and random keeper objects like donuts. It’s one of those games that you only want to play every once in a while and by the end you remember why you haven’t played it lately. It took forever for someone to win.

While we battled it out with our zombies, there was a near-steady stream of people arriving (maybe a group every 20 min or so). By the time we finished with our zombie game the new arrivals had already started other games, so we started another game (Agricola) with the same group of people.

I had never played before and our Uruguayan friend explained all the rules of the game to me in english. So much for learning board game vocabulary. It seems like many of the games that people brought were the english versions, but that may have been because when our friend visited us in the states he bought an extra suitcase to fill with board games to take back to his friends.

A large group of people arrived around 12:30 with cupcakes decorated like the board game, Settlers of Catan. I ate some wheat.

We left shortly after their arrival, although it was clear that the party was really just getting started. Next month we’ll be prepared by bringing our own munchies, caffeinated beverages, and our own board games to share!