First snow of the year

Well, we just got our first snow of the year. It melted off quickly but I can sense what’s coming…yes… soon the tides of pumpkin spice shall recede, and upon an icy wind will ride the wafts of gingerbread and peppermint mochas. Prepare yourselves. Minter is coming.indexminter


NaNoWriMo Prep – Meet Bridget Branigan!

Bridget Branigan is the main character in the novel I’ll be writing for NaNoWriMo, she’s from a very old family, but her family just inherited a very old house from their grandmother. Her parents want to send her to some preppy boarding school now that they have money, but Bridget feels that they’re abandoning her and being lazy parents.

She’s about fifteen, is fairly short, and has wavy, brownish-blonde hair. She’s fairly stubborn and tends to get upset easily.  She loves cold weather and playing in the snow.

Well, there’s the main character anyway. Some of the other characters will be fun to write, I won’t do bios on them since they’re pretty tied in with the plot I have planned.

National Novel Writing month is soon!

I’m kind of excited (and kind of scared) to announce that I’ll be attempting to write a novel in the month of November for National Novel Writing month. It’ll be a rather cross-genre book, it’ll be somewhere in between sci-fi, historical fiction, and paranormal. I’ll keep you guys posted, I won’t be putting up any of the prose until it’s finished, but I’ll put up some sketches of the main characters soon. Wish me Luck!

Back to the Future: Fashion of “2015” Cosplay

As many of you may realize, today is “Back to the Future day”, the day that Marty McFly  and Doc came to the future from the 1980’s. That means – you guessed it – cosplay time! This time, I’ll be cosplaying as some random teen from the 2015 shown in Back to the Future.

Since I’m still a student and completely broke, that means using what I have on hand. In this case, I happen to have:

1 Vinyl tablecloth

A bag of makeup (basically any colors will do, as long as they don’t coordinate)

A blue tank top

90,673,145,267 staples and a stapler

Glittery wrapping paper

So I started off with just cutting out a huge rectangle (in this case 40″ wide and 17″ tall so it would be a mini skirt once hemmed). I needed the costume to have that “Futuristic” look and feel to it so, yes, the vinyl does do a good job with that. (Cosplay tip: Vinyl doesn’t breathe, I recommend not using it too close to your body unless you’d like to smell like Chewbacca after a few minutes of trick-or-treating)

Cutting out and

Cutting out and “hemming” the vinyl tablecloth with a stapler. Yeah, I’m that cheap.

One plus side to vinyl is that it doesn’t fray, the downside is that it is neither fire proof (watch it around jack-o-lanterns) or as I previously said – breathable.


So… much… GLITTER!

The nice thing about the wrapping paper is that it glues rather nicely, if I had glue. Which I didn’t. That’s why it’s is stapled too, along with just about 90% of the costume.  Now the hard part is getting it to fit. When you staple up the side, make sure to leave a gap so you can “gather” the skirt at the top with a ribbon

I didn't even know that I had blue eyeliner. Apparently I did.

I didn’t even know that I had blue eyeliner. Apparently I did.

Now, when doing the makeup, more is better. The more colors, the more glitter, the more layers – just more of everything. I used a lot of blue. You might theme your assemble with yellow or orange or maybe the entire rainbow. For the lipstick you should probably do something bright and fun, all I have is red, but neon colors such as yellow or purple would probably fit in just fine. (Cosplay tip: don’t stab yourself in the eye with the eyeliner crayon, it hurts.)

The earrings turned out fun because they’re actually two pairs of earrings that I looped inside one another to get that bubble affect . You might find some actual earrings to wear that would work better.

No amount of face powder will get rid of that glare.

No amount of face powder will get rid of the forehead glare.

My trainers finished off the look. The skirt turned out rather nice and…I’m going to apologize in advance for any retinal or vision damage caused by the blinding glare radiating from my skin in this picture.

What not to do when making Meringues

As most of you realize by now, I’m taking a cooking class. Just as the title says, I’m making meringues. Or at least trying to.

The recipe I’m using is a pretty simple one that comes from the McCormick website. Now, my class just finished up a unit on food safety. So…. what’s wrong with this picture?


You want foreign-object contamination? Because that’s how you get foreign object contamination.

If you guessed something about the hair… you’d be correct. In my rush to finish my school project I forgot to use a hair net. After getting my hair up, we went on to the next part of the project.

Mixing. Chef tip: There’s a fine line between ‘stiff peaks of meringue’ and ‘bath tile grout’. It seems my Mom’s mixer has three settings: Barely moving, Medium, and ‘about to clobber passersby with frosting chunks’.

Resist the temptation to eat. Salmonella isn't delicious, and most of the time it has nothing to do with salmon.

Resist the temptation to eat. Salmonella isn’t delicious, and most of the time it has nothing to do with salmon.

After the initial mixing, I decided to add food coloring and fun flavors, but after my ‘deep burgundy’ ended up more like ‘Sunburned in Miami’ I decided to keep it simple and stick with pastels.

The cook time is about 45 minutes, but you have to let them sit in an hour so that they cool down. If the cookie is hot enough to cook the egg mixed in it, it’s hot enough to cook your tongue.

You didn't believe me about the

You didn’t believe me about the “pink” color. did you?

Meringues are one of those rare foods that should never, ever, ever in the name of all good things in this beautiful world be made from chocolate. Why’s that? Well, just take a gander at those glistening, shining piles before they go in the oven. Now imagine them a dark brown. Appetizing, no?

Cue high-res, yellowish picture of the finished product.

Cue high-res, yellowish picture of the finished product.

All in all, they tasted pretty darn good. Nothing caught fire this time so I’d say this lesson was a success!

Autumn leaves in Minnesota

I spent a great afternoon with my family at Oxbow Park. Minnesota is absolutely beautiful in the autumn. Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Image Copyright Margaret Bell 2015

Image 2 Copyright Margaret Bell

My Mom found this neat leaf.

Image 3 Copyright Margaret Bell 2015

The Zumbro River

The Zumbro River

A rather artistic picture of a jumping spider.

A rather artistic picture of a jumping spider.

An elk.

An elk.

Maggie versus the Quesadillas

It started as schoolwork.

Being an online student isn’t easy – it’s actually much harder than my last school was – and seeing as we don’t have “Classrooms” we’re supposed to be in, our teachers give us “labs” as a form of assignment. These “labs” could be anything from studying physics to going on a thirty-minute run.

In my case, it turned out that my Culinary Arts teacher wanted me to make quesadillas. Simple, yes? Indeed. The recipe for a simply, easy quesadilla is as follows;

2 flour tortilla wraps

2 cups shredded cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil.

Use the oil and cook the tortillas until they’re kind of crispy. Then add the cheese and layer on the second tortilla. Melt the cheese. Done! Easy peasy. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, it would be nice to know how one is supposed to flip a quesadilla when your younger sister hasn’t done her dishes yet and all you have for utensils is a pair of aluminum salad tongs. Aluminum salad tongs aren’t meant for flipping quesadillas, they bend in weird directions and pierce gaping holes in the tortillas. Luckily I happen to be talented in the arts and crafts and was able to repair the holes by filling them with copious amounts of cheese.

After sorting out that mess, I finally figured out that I’d forgotten to add the chili peppers, which were sitting on the counter behind me in a juicy pile. My cooking style is somewhere between the Swedish Chef and Shake-n-bake, so I’m not particularly organized. Also, here’s a chef tip for you; never rub your eyes after cutting chilis.

It also doesn’t help that the stove is possessed. Maria thinks that the stove is a Decepticon, but I kind of doubt that. If the stove were sentient I would have heard it cry for mercy during my cooking. The burners occasionally do this silly thing where the temperature goes from “simmer” to “depths of Mordor” within a minute. Another Chef tip: The flash point of olive oil is 207 degrees Celsius.

After I pried the well-done quesadilla out of the pan with only minimal damage to my mother’s kitchen and my sanity; I had a halfway decent lab project to turn in and an okay dinner.

Next up…. cake!