Thursday, October 31, 2013

How I Almost Lived In The Interplanetary Capitol of the Universe

Okay, so since today is Halloween I thought it was the perfect time to share a weird true story with you guys that involves aliens and a small town. It is Halloween after all. ;)

This story is actually about the tiny coastal Texas town I live in called, Palacios. A town I have lived in all my life and am just about getting ready to leave in a couple months. So no better time to tell this odd story and dedicate this post to “the city by the sea”, as we are called. I actually stumbled onto it online some years back and was a little stunned. Those who live here or who have lived here may already know it.

In October of 1973 the Mayor of Palacios, W.C. Jackson, decided to invite extraterrestrials to our lovely little city by the sea. Saying, and I quote, “No one has ever made those fellas welcome”. Such southern hospitality, right? In fact, he was so intent on making sure they felt welcomed that he actually sent a letter to President Nixon asking for him to grant the permission to proclaim the City of Palacios as the “Interplanetary Capitol of the Universe”. Yep, I kid you not.

keep calm

Well as you can probably guess, Nixon denied Mayor Jackson’s request. A letter was sent back to the Mayor stating that “it would not be in accord with Presidential policy".

And so that’s how I almost lived in the “Interplanetary Capitol of the Universe”.

Why did Mayor Jackson feel so strongly about this, you ask? Did he have a “close encounter of the third kind”? Was he an extraterrestrial himself? Or is there just something in the water here that slowly makes you go crazy (would explain a lot)? I don’t know. These are all good questions. What I do know is that… the truth is out there.


Happy Halloween, lovelies! :D

(story sources: here & here. Picture sources: here & here.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes & Halloween Playlist

I can’t believe Halloween is tomorrow! Feels like it just snuck up on us. I couldn’t let this fun holiday pass without making some Halloween cupcakes! Plus, I had these super cute cupcake liners, sprinkles, and picks that I had to get some use out of, right? ;)


One of my favorite fall dessert combinations is pumpkin and chocolate, they are just a match made in heaven. So when I came across this recipe I knew I had to give it a shot. I decided to make two different kinds of frostings for a little variety: Maple Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. These cupcakes just taste and look like the season to me.

So put on the Halloween playlist below the recipe and bake some of these lovelies for your trick or treaters! But if you decide to be selfish and keep them for yourself, I won’t judge!

Happy Halloween! :)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Maple & Chocolate Buttercream Frostings -

(Recipes adapted from: here & here)


These cupcakes are light, fluffy, and super moist. The warm flavors of the pumpkin, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice pair perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate chips.



Both frostings are a great compliment to these cupcakes. With the maple frosting, I left out the cream cheese and just added a whole stick of butter instead. It turned out just as good, very creamy, and fluffy. The maple flavor didn't come through as much as I was hoping but I'm pretty sure that's because I didn't have any maple extract and had to rely solely on the syrup. But it was still really delish! Very much the taste of fall. Though a little on the sweet side, I will say.

The chocolate frosting is my go to recipe. It's basically an adaption of Hershey's one bowl buttercream. Over the years I just started doing it this way and liked it better than the original. But feel free to use your favorite chocolate frosting recipe. It’s so good on these cupcakes! As I said before, chocolate and pumpkin are just meant to be. And while the maple rocked, I think I like them better with this frosting. It's rich, creamy, chocolaty, and fluffy.

I was going to go more elaborate on the decorations. I was very ambitious and had planned to make these cute white chocolate spider webs & chocolate spiders for the top. But alas, it was not to be. It looked so easy but mine were either turning out too big or too weird. Probably because I was trying to use a piping bag and tip instead of a squeeze bottle. So I got frustrated, threw the first batch in the garbage, made them again, got even more frustrated, threw the second batch in the garbage... and settled on sprinkles, candy corn, and little candy pumpkins for garnish lol.



In spite of that, I still think they turned out pretty cute & festive! Hope these cupcakes make your Halloween even more delish!

Cupcakes -

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup mini chocolate chips
candy corn, candy pumpkins, and sprinkles for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pans with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter at medium speed until creamy. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cloves. Set aside.

Gradually add both sugars to mixing bowl, beating well. .Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture, beating just to combine. Add vanilla and pumpkin beating until blended.

Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter between muffin cups. (You should get approximately 18.) Bake for 18 to 20 minutes and let cool.

Maple Buttercream Frosting -
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the syrup, extract, pumpkin spice and sugar. Mix on low for a minute and then on high until creamy. NOTE: If your frosting is too thick you may add water but only a teaspoon at a time. This recipe is only for 12 cupcakes. Double recipe if needed.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting -
1 stick butter
3-4 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tbsp. heavy cream or half & half

In a medium bowl beat butter till light & fluffy. Add in cocoa and beat till incorporated. On low speed, beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Add in vanilla and heavy cream and beat 2-3 minutes till fluffy.

Pipe or spread chocolate & maple frostings onto cooled cupcakes. Decorate as desired.

Halloween Playlist -



What is Halloween (or any holiday for that matter) without some awesome tunes? I wasn’t sure if I was going to make another Halloween playlist this year. I was pretty proud of the one I made last year (which you can listen to here) and I thought I might be just repeating a lot of the same songs. But I started to think of and find so many good ones! Thus, volume two, if you will, for your Halloween pleasure!

Halloween 2013 by Krystal Rodriguez on Grooveshark

Thursday, October 24, 2013

“Fall” EP by Jon Foreman (revisited)

Fall EP Jon Foreman

This beautiful collection of songs by Switchfoot frontman, Jon Foreman, may be 7 years old but it’s definitely a gem worth revisiting! Especially since we are in the fall season it’s the perfect time to pull out these lovely tunes once again.

I remember downloading this EP, Jon’s very first solo project, right when it was released at midnight in November of 2007. I had been anticipating this EP for a while so there was no way I was going to wait till morning to buy it. Needless to say, I instantly fell in love.

Six songs all reflecting everything I love about Jon’s songwriting. Songs filled to the brim with so much depth and meaning. But this time somewhat softer and more sparse in sound with cello, clarinets, harmonicas, acoustic guitar, and soft piano. A little different than what you typically hear on a Switchfoot album.

Jon said that since his favorite season is fall these songs ended up reflecting the that. And you can definitely hear the season floating in between every single note.

"The Cure For Pain" is an honest, somber tune about facing the pain in your life, "Heaven knows, heaven knows I've tried to find a cure for the pain. Oh my Lord, to suffer like you do. It would be a lie to run away". The romantic & reflective "Southbound Train" features Jon on harmonica and acoustic guitar as well as the talented, Keith Tutt, on cello. The creative use of a pillow and breathing for percussion gives the song a train like sound.  "Lord, Save Me From Myself" is an acoustic, harmonica infused plea to be saved from the traps of this world, "My eyes have seen the glory of this hollow modern shell. And sex is a grand production but I'm bored with that as well. Ahh, ahh, Lord, save me from myself".

"Equally Skilled" is a folksy tune with lyrics taken straight from the scriptures in Micah. "Moon Is A Magnet" is my personal favorite. This song with its beautiful bass clarinet and somewhat odd time signature just steals my heart everytime. Its jazzy sound & quirky lyrics make me smile. Closing track, "My Love Goes Free" is a soft piano tune about letting go. You can hear the heartbreak in Jon's voice as he repeats the line, "If you love her let her go". A perfect ending to this lovely project.

I'm continually inspired and amazed at Jon's songwriting as well as his heart for God and people. He’s sort of a hero or role model of mine, if you will. But I’ll spare you any more of the cheesy stuff lol and just say that whether it be in Switchfoot, his solo music, or in his side band, Fiction Family, he writes honest songs filled with so much beauty and truth.

Jon Foreman Fall EP by Krystal Rodriguez on Grooveshark

This was the first of Jon's seasonal EPs released over the course of 2007 & 2008. To purchase "Fall" click here. To purchase "Winter", "Spring", & "Summer" click here. Do yourself a favor and check them out. Trust me, they're all amazing.

"In this way I feel like the creative process brings me closer to God. As a creator of a song I get to take all these broken fragments of failure and chaos and weave together something beautiful and meaningful. Decay. Death. Pain. Fall. And if God is a songwriter then these fallen leaves of mine can be redeemed." -  Jon Foreman

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Makes You Something?

Yesterday I came across a comment by a girl on a social media site, it was really sweet comment she made about her husband. But something about this comment, which maybe to most people sounded romantic, struck me. She said that without him she would be nothing. I mean, I'm happy that she obviously has a great husband and marriage, that's wonderful. But nothing? Really??

I don't know, is it Hollywood that makes us think that this is romantic? I honestly just don't get it. I wanted to tell her, you are so much more than you think. We all are.

It just got me thinking about all the fleeting and false things we tend to place our whole self worth and identity into. Think about it, all the things that we have could be gone tomorrow, there are no guarantees in this life, and then who would we be? Would we be less than?

It begs the question, what really makes us important? What really makes us worthy and valid? What makes us something instead of "nothing"? I know these really are the kinds of questions we like avoid, right?

A lot of us, myself included, fall into the trap of thinking if we don't have certain things that others do that we aren't valid and worthy. That we're nothing. We think when we finally have the good job, money, the tiny waist line, the husband, the big house, the 3.5 kids and cute little yorkie that we will finally be someone, something. We will be seen as worthy by others and most importantly, ourselves.

 self worth

But what if you never get those things? Or what if you get them but only for a brief time and then they're gone?

I have to ask, who are you without that person? Who are you without that job? Who are you without the money? Who are you without the house? Who are you without that talent? Who are you without those friends? Who are you without the perfect number on the scale?

What makes you something? What makes you worthy and valid?

I know for me a relationship with a God who made me in his image (Genesis 1:27), who calls me His child (John 1:12) , who calls me His beloved (Ephesians 5:1), who calls me the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 7:6), His treasured possession (Philippians 4:8), and says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), is where I strive to find my self worth.

A God who loved me so much before I was even alive that he sent his only son to die for my sins just so I could spend my forever with Him.

Now this, this is my (our) true identity. This is what makes me something. Even when it seems by the world's standards I have nothing or am nothing, I know that's a lie.

brennan manning

The truth is that anything else we put our self worth and identity into is a house built on sand. It can all too easily crumble and fall. The only thing we can count on to be constant is the love and worth that can be found in our Savior. 


Let's not forget that we don't need anything in this world to be those things. We are daughters and sons of a beautiful, creative, loving God. We need to find our identity in Him. We are worthy, we are valuable, and we are something. Not because of who we are or anything that we’ve done, but simply because of Him and who He is.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Glitter Pumpkins (An Easy Fall DIY)

Fall crafts have become one of my (many) favorite things about this time of year! There are just so many fun DIY’s on Pinterest to get your house all ready and decked out for the season. This is the second year I’ve made these cute glitter pumpkins and I’m sure I will keep making them every year. They are so fun, festive, and super easy peasy.



I made these lovelies with my sister over Skype yesterday. Skype crafting, baking, and cooking sessions are kinda like a new tradition we started. It’s become our thing since she now lives in the peach state so we can keep doing all our favorite hobbies together. I think we both loved how our pumpkins turned out! And it was the perfect day for some fall crafting since we Texans finally got some cool, breezy weather! Hallelujah!

If you want to do this project all you need is: Pumpkins – we used real ones but you could probably use fake ones if you want. Modpodge, fall colored glitter, and sponge brushes.



Just cover the pumpkins with a layer of Modpodge and coat with your choice of glitter. Let dry, shake off any excess, and give them a place in your home!


So pretty and could not be simpler! :)


Pumpkin obsessed?… Just a little.


Think it’s safe to say that fall is upon our home lol. ;) Hope you’re enjoying this lovely season!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

Hey lovelies! Well I think the Blogtember challenge must've tired me out a little because I took like a (unintentional) two week blogging break lol. And here I was all jazzed to keep blogging regularly... yeah, typical me. But I'm now back and with a delish recipe for all you foodies out there! Another Italian dish... don't know what is up with me and Italian food, it's kinda all ever I want to cook.

This easy lasagna recipe is one of my favorite meals and has become a staple in my home. It’s lasagna with a twist, chicken instead of ground beef! If you’re a chicken lover like me this is definitely for you! Plus it could not be simpler to whip up!

You might be skeptical of lasagna with chicken but trust me, it actually rivals the traditional version.

Creamy Chicken Lasagna -
(recipe found @


Cream cheese, shredded chicken, chicken bouillon, and mozzarella cheese make up the creamy filling for this lasagna.


In the interest of full discloser, the spaghetti sauce I used did have some beef in it, so it wasn’t completely beef free. Thus why you can kinda see it in the picture. But it actually worked really well with it.

Top it off with some more sauce, mozzarella, and a generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning and put this baby in the oven!

010new !


Serve with some garlic bread and dig in! :)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 cube chicken bouillon
1/4 cup hot water
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
Italian seasoning, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles for 8-10 minutes, drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.  Place chicken in a saucepan and boil for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove from saucepan and shred.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Dissolve the bouillon cube in hot water. 
In a large bowl, combine chicken, bouillon water, cream cheese and 1 cup mozzarella. 

Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Cover with the chicken mixture and top with 3 lasagna noodles.  Repeat layers.  Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella.  Sprinkle on Italian seasoning , to taste.  Bake for 45 minutes. Makes 6 - 8 servings.