Changes at Circo Luma

So, I spent a very frustrating evening switching from a free blog to my own domain.

The Rolling Stones pretty much wrap up how I felt at the end of the process.

Please head on over to, update any bookmarks, and if you were a follower hit ‘Follow Me’ on the right hand side again. Thank you so much!

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

DSC_0253That up there is a banana cake with whipped peanut butter frosting.

I actually call it crack frosting, because it’s so incredibly delicious. You’ll want to put it on thick and then put your face in the bowl to lick all the extra bits up. I’m not kidding when I say that this stuff is addictive. It was fantastic on this cake, but you should try it on brownies.

No, really. You should.

banana 1

Banana Cake

2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 stick soft butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
4 very ripe bananas
Vegetable oil spray
Cinnamon sugar

Prepare a cake pan by greasing it and then dusting it with cinnamon sugar. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add beaten eggs and mashed bananas.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, then pour into the pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Turn out onto a rack and let cool completely before frosting.

This is a rich, dense, not-too-sweet cake with great banana flavor.

DSC_0254The Best Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting EVER

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 stick soft butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
Milk or cream

This is so easy. Just whip together a cup of smooth peanut butter and a stick of room-temperature butter. Use real butter, not margarine. Think about what happens when you whip cream (magic) vs. whipping vegetable oil (not much of anything). Mix with a hand mixer for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Blend in the confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until it’s all incorporated. I stir each 1/2 cup in before blending to avoid creating a snow storm in my kitchen. At this stage, the frosting will be thick, almost like a dough. Blend in milk or cream 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is light and whipped and spreadable. I added about 3 Tablespoons to the frosting in the pictures above.

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

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Shared at: Blessed With Grace, Take-a-look Tuesday, Homemade Tuesdays, Anti-procrastination Sunday, Tutorial Tuesday, Too Cute Tuesday,

Thinking About Roller Derby

I wanted to love running.

Ben does. Practically every single one of my Facebook Friends does.

I gave it seven months. During those seven months in 2011, I ran about five days a week. By the time I finally quit, I could barely move. My legs and back hurt so badly, not just when I ran, but all the time, that I couldn’t stand up from my bed by myself. It never got better. The benefits never came close to outweighing the pain.

So, I quit. I had plans for a major relay race (the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey) that I bailed on. It’s taken me a while to recover psychologically from what felt like a major personal failure, but I’m ready to take on fitness again.

One more thing: fitness doesn’t equal weight loss. Sure, some people might find that their natural body size is smaller than their current body size if they add regular exercise and HAES-style eating to their life. Others might find that they actually settle at a higher weight.

The benefits of exercise are still there, even if the size of your body doesn’t change.

Let me repeat that.

The benefits of exercise are still there, even if the size of your body doesn’t change.

So, my goal is to exercise in a way that is fun and makes me feel good. I love to swim and I love yoga, but I want to try something in a group. I saw that my local community college is offering a Roller Derby basics class. How fun would that be? I love the idea of having a Roller Derby name like Ellen Page did in Whip It. I love the idea of going fast (something that never, ever happened with running!) and kicking ass and belonging to something bigger than myself.

I want to give Roller Derby a shot, even though I’m pretty sure that it will end up something like this:

Roller Derby is one of those sports that require quite a lot of equipment. Skates, of course. Safety gear. Maybe some cute tights with stripes. Luckily companies like Roller Skate Nation have starter packages that can save you some money. I like this one:

I think the green is pretty. I can kick ass in pretty skates, right? Right.

Roller Derby leagues usually have gear that people who want to try it out can borrow. My problem is that I have huge feet and I’m pretty sure that there won’t be an extra pair of size 12 skates. That means I have to make a pretty decent money commitment before I even get to try Roller Derby. The package above costs about $230, including shipping. I have never, not in years of looking, seen a pair of quad skates in my size at thrift stores. I could probably get cheaper skates, but I think that quality skates with good support is an important part of Roller Derby.

Roller Skate Nation sells skates in sizes up to a men’s size 12, which is a women’s 13. That’s great for people like me, who have big feet. Roller skating for everyone! That’s pretty awesome. Now all I need is a fresh meat kit, health insurance, and to gather up my nerve.

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This post was sponsored by Roller Skate Nation. While I’m very grateful for their support, the ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

OOTD: Dinner and a Movie

I went to see Jack the Giant Slayer and out for Indian food with a friend on Sunday. It was a little drizzly, but felt like spring, so I was excited to wear something pretty instead of bundling up for a mountain winter.


I was so excited when I saw this yellow-and-cream striped skirt show up in my size on eShakti’s overstock page for $30, shipped. I am in love with it over all, but it’s a little big for me and way, way too long. Like ankle length, instead of calf-length. You can see in this picture that it’s pulled up almost to my armpits under my top. I’m still trying to get a handle on the standard sizes there. I’ve bought 26 and it’s too small, and even a size 28 top that was too tight across the bust. This skirt is a 28 and it almost falls off me. Their customized sizes are the way to go for sure, because I feel like this was probably a return from someone who was several inches taller than me.


The top is just a Kelly green cami from Kohls that cost about $7 on clearance, and the jean jacket came from Savers for $8. I love the little pin on my jacket. I got it for $1 from Salvation Army on President’s Day.


The little black flats were on sale for $5 at Payless this week.

I loved this outfit, even though looking at the pictures, I’m a little shocked at how clearly visible the top of the skirt was under the cami. It wasn’t obvious when I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ll need a looser top, I guess. Also, I think maybe I can alter the skirt a little to fit me better. Take it up two stripes, maybe, and in at the waist a little.

DSC_0279* * *

Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

Sunday Love (9)

Peter Hoang & Nerissa Goco : Sharing is Caring

Our living room has one very tall, vaulted wall that is in desperate need of of a large piece of artwork. I love this DIY project.

This is why I need Pinterest. I never would have thought of painting upholstery on my own!

adding monsters to thrift store landscape paintings chris mcmahon (2)

Monsters painted into thrift store paintings? Are you kidding me? I must have one of these. I may have to recruit my super talented daughter to paint the monster for me.

Homemade Goo Gone

With as many thrift-store sticky labels I peel off things every week, I need to make this. STAT.

Crockpot Grinders

Slow cooker hot sandwiches. Yum.

Kindle cover from a vintage book. Awesome.


Writing tips from Hemingway.

DIY celery. Love this.

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

How To Refresh Wood

DSC_0229I found this vintage message center made of awesome at Savers for $1.50. It needed a little work, but it was totally worth it. In particular, it needed a new cork board, and the wood was a little sad and dry. In the picture below, you can see especially on the chalkboard side that it was just in need of attention. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but whoever owned this first probably had it in their kitchen, and then stored in a garage. It had an icky greasy, dusty film when I bought it. I was able to get a lot of that off with Pledge, but it was still not perfect. Plus, when we took out the old cork board, there was some iffy stuff behind it.

Let’s just say, it needed a good cleaning.


Here’s what I used:

DSC_0225Murphey Oil Soap, Watco Rejuvenating Oil, Howard Feed-n-Wax, 000 steel wool, rags out of a cotton t-shirt, and water. I mixed 1/4 cup of the Murphey Oil Soap in a bucket of about a half-gallon of water, then used a rag first, followed by the steel wool to clean the frame. Always rub with the wood grain, and don’t soak the wood too much. You don’t want it to get water logged. I dried it off with a dry rag right away.

Here’s how it looked after the Murphey:

waxIt looked so much better just with cleaning that I almost stopped there. I went ahead with the oil though. Believe it or not, the hardest part of the whole project was getting the cap off the oil can! Once I (finally) did, I put a little on a piece of steel wool and rubbed it in with the grain of the wood. The steel wool helps get the oil into any scratches or nicks in the wood. The instructions said to let it sit 10 minutes and then dry it with a rag. I was a little afraid that the oil was just going to sit on top and get all sticky, but the wood must have drank that stuff in, because after 10 minutes there wasn’t much to dry off.

Here’s how it looked after the oil. The difference wasn’t huge, but the wood just seemed healthier afterward. I’m glad I went ahead with it.

oilFinally, I put a little of the wax on a soft rag and rubbed it in all over. Can I just say first that this stuff smells amazing? The best smelling cleaning product ever. The instructions said to leave it for 30 minutes, then buff it with a dry rag.

I was a little surprised by what a difference the wax made. It gave the wood a beautiful glow. Here’s how it looked at the end, with the original picture right under it for comparison.



Excluding waiting times, this whole job took me maybe 15 minutes. The results were kind of amazing. The oil and wax each cost about $8, but I only had to use a tiny bit for this project. I’ll be able to refresh several pieces of furniture without buying more. I bought them at Home Depot. Murphy Oil Soap is widely available. I bought mine at the grocery store for about $4.

We bought a four-pack of cork board squares at Wal-Mart for $5 and cut one down to replace the warped original cork.

Overall, I spent $27 on the board itself, plus all the materials to fix it up. I was left with the vast majority of the Murphy Oil Soap, Watco oil, and the wax, plus three cork boards. I’m going to call this about a $4 project. Not bad!

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

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Shared here: Check Me Out Saturday, Show and Tell Saturday, Saturday Nite Special, Saturday Spotlight, Think Pink Sunday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Not Bad Sunday, Coastal Charm,

My Thrifting Week: 3/1/2013

PicMonkey Collage

I had a great time at the thrift stores this week. Here’s what I found:

DSC_0182I’ve had my eye out for some cups or mugs to use for the project I Sunday Loved a few weeks back. We can get some pretty strong winds up here in the mountains, and I plan to hang my cups from my balcony railing, where they could get knocked around in the gusts, so I didn’t want glass. I saw these pretty blue, speckled tin mugs and snapped them right up. Perfect!

DSC_0181These little cuties might be my favorite find of the week. I’m starting to get a little collection of mid-century salt and pepper shakers going, without really trying. Seriously, who could pass these up?

DSC_0183DSC_0180Three notebooks. I love the travel one the most. And the little one on the right had a few pages of someone’s very detailed plans for a wedding blog. Usually the thrift store rips out used pages in old notebooks. That makes me kind of sad, so finding them in tact is always like a special bonus treat.

DSC_0178I might have to get my science-fiction on over spring break.

DSC_0174I am in love with these Temperware plates. I found four dinner plates and four salad plates. The patter is called Fire Flower, and it’s much more orange than shows up in the pictures.

DSC_0177A set of pretty little ramekins. I love the brown flower pattern.

DSC_0172I’ve had my eye out for a dino to use to make the bookend I Sunday Loved a while back. I love him especially because he reminds me of the mascot for the book blog I write with my friend Brian.

DSC_0189This kind of garden 3-D needle work is so 70s and reminds me so much of my mom, who used to do it herself. She hated French knots! I found this lovely piece at Salvation Army for $3. So much work went into it, it makes me happy to give it a good home.

DSC_0190I hemmed and hawed and hemmed some more over this Franciscan platter and covered dish in the Winsome pattern. I love Franciscan ware, but I wasn’t sure about this pattern. I went ahead, figuring I could sell if I got it home and didn’t like it. It’s a little more refined and lady-like than my normal style, but the lines are great.

DSC_0191Last week I found a tiny little butterfly needlepoint kit, and this week I found an orange poppy flower in the same line. Yay!DSC_0210I found some great albums this week. Best part, they were at the Goodwill bins, so they only cost $1 each. I found two Beatles albums, Abbey Road and 1967-1970, two George Carlin albums for Kevin, The West Side Story soundtrack, The Rolling Stones, A 1984 compilation album, The Graduate soundtrack, and the soundtrack to More American Graffiti.

DSC_0211This might be my favorite find this week. I am constantly on the look out for a non-toy globe, and I’ve never seen one that wasn’t super expensive. This one cost $4! And it’s gorgeous.

DSC_0212I’ve never seen Oventex pans before, but I found these three small bread pans this week. They’re so beautiful. Who knew a bread pan could be so lovely? I don’t think I can get them clean enough to be food safe, but I’m thinking maybe planters?

DSC_0213I was on my way out of Savers and the little Vera caught my eye. Four beautiful napkins. I’m not sure if these are vintage or newer replicas of vintage, but I love them either way.

DSC_0214As soon as I saw this weird little jacket made out of a towel, I knew that Ruby would adore it. It cost $1.50, and is perfect for after her bath. The colors are amazing. She gave it two thumbs up! (I love Michael Jackson photobombing over her shoulder LOL)

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

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Shared here: The Thrifty Grove, The Nifty Thrifty, Magpie Monday, Mod MIx Monday, Thrifters Anonymous, Thrift Share Monday, 2nd Time Around, The Weekly Thrift,

Slow Cooker Carnitas

DSC_0204Carnitas is basically slow-cooked pork, pan fried until it’s nice and crispy. It tastes amazing, and the best part is that it’s super easy to make. At our house, we turn it into a burrito bowl, which is basically a tortilla-less burrito. You could use it in tacos or actual burritos, or use the meat to make a chili or stew.

What you’ll need:

2 pounds of carnitas meat
Season salt
garlic powder
Citrus fruit

Olive oil

1 1/2 cups white rice
2 T chopped cilantro
2 cloves chopped garlic

Sour cream
Shredded cheese
(Basically, what ever you’d put on a taco or burrito)


What to do:

Let your slow cooker do most of the work. Put the pork in the bowl and season with season salt and garlic powder. If you can’t fit it all in one layer, season each layer. Zest a piece of citrus fruit into the pot as well. I’ve used lemon, lime, and orange, and they all taste fantastic. Cut the zested fruit in half and add to the pot as well. That’s it. You don’t need any liquid with the meat. I cook on high for an hour, and then on low for six to eight hours. You want the meat to be fall-apart tender in the end.

Heat a large frying pan with enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Take the meat out of the slow cooker and shred, removing any remaining fat.


Put the carnitas meat in the hot oil, spreading it out into a layer. Now, just leave it alone while you cook the rice. You want a nice, crusty, crunchy layer on the bottom and tender, soft meat on top.

Add 1 1/2 cups of white rice to 3 cups of water. Throw in the chopped garlic and cilantro, as well as the citrus fruit halves from the slow cooker. The fruit will be very cooked and soft, and it will have absorbed some of the flavor of the meat broth and give that to the rice. Yum. IBring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let cook for 20 minutes, until the rice is soft. Stir the cilantro and garlic in.


When the rice is done, the meat is done. I swear, it’s like magic.Take the lemon out of the pot and give the rice a stir to distribute the garlic and cilantro.

Put some rice in each bowl and top with meat and shredded cheese, where it can melt a little. If you’re having a big bowl, you might want to put a little rice and a little meat and a little cheese, in layers, then repeat, so you’re not left with a bowl of rice when you get done with the toppings.


We always put the toppings out and let everyone make their own the way they like it. I really love to make this on days when I’m at school until just before dinner time. I get to eat something scrumptious, even though I’m mentally exhausted, and feed my family something that didn’t come out of a box, even though I’m not home all day.


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Shared at: Time Travel Thursday, Crafty Soiree, Catch a Glimpse, Full Plate Thursday, Creative Juice, Rhinestone Beagle, The Busy Bee, Thursdays Treasures, Frugal Friday, Foodie Friday, Show and Tell Friday, Friday Favorites, Lovely Crafty Weekend, EBTKS, Friday Favorites, Bloggy Reading, Weekend Re-Treat, Six Sister’s Stuff, Recipe Sharing Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Made By You Monday,

Favorite Finds: February 2013

I’ve been keeping a list in my Smash Journal of a single, favorite thrifting find each week. I thought it might be fun to put those into a monthly post.

Here are my favorite finds of February 2013:

DSC_0128A record player, after years of searching.

DSC_0149A sweet little bamboo bird cage.

DSC_0133A whole collection of Heller tableware, in awesome juicy colors.

DSC_0138Adorable daisy afghan.

DIY: Changing a Lamp Switch

A few weeks ago, I bought two vintage lamps at the Goodwill Bins store for $3.

DSC_0130When I got them home, one worked like a charm and one wouldn’t turn on. (Goodwill had a testing station, but no light bulbs. What?) I was upset, because I love the art deco shape, the cool peach color, and the smoothness of the paint under the glass of these lamps. I wanted both!

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Lamps have very simple electronics. When you take one apart, what you basically have is the cord running up a tube from the base to the top, attached to a simple switch that the light bulb screws into. The switch is in a case that pops open to give you access. That’s it.

DSC_0157The cord has two parts. Each part wraps around a screw on the switch, which is then tightened down. Think about battery cables, only without polarity so it doesn’t matter which side of the cord wraps around which screw.

DSC_0158If you take apart the familiar switch casing (right), you’ll be able to take out the actual switch (left.) The screw you see facing you on the switch is where one side of the cord goes. The only tool you need is a flat head screwdriver.

DSC_0160 A new lamp switch cost about $3 at Home Depot. It never occurred to me before, but lamp switches come in standard sizes–because light bulbs come in standard sizes. In the picture above, you can see Kevin tightening the screw on the wire. We wanted to make sure it was the switch that was the problem, and not the wire. If it had been a wire, Kevin would have cut the receiving end off a simple extension cord and striped the wires to replace the existing lamp cord.

DSC_0162No need! The new switch did the job.

DSC_0165The bottom of the switch case goes in first, then the switch is wired and put in place, followed by the top of the switch case, and voila!

DSC_0166All fixed, and for less than five bucks, including the lamp, plus about fifteen minutes of work. I’ll never worry about whether or not a cute thrifted lamp works again.

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I shared this here: Coastal Charm, Tuesday’s Treasures, Take a Look Tuesday, Homemade Tuesdays, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, One Project at a Time, Make it Work Wednesday, Hooking up with HOH, Weekend Wander, Simply Creations, Frugalicious Friday, Weekend Show Off,