Monday, January 31, 2011

Spread the Love

Valentine's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Okay, maybe I'm a little biased because I'm with the love of my life and he treats me very well throughout the year AND on this special day. But regardless, I wish there was "Valentine's Day Season" like there is "Christmas Season" because I could keep up the hearts and other V-day decorations for months. I wish I had expendable cash to spend on pink and red flowers for throughout the apartment and I can't wait to pack heart-shaped PB&J's in kids lunch boxes someday. I might whip up a batch of Red Velvet cupcakes for J and I (and to share) and maybe I'll find a way to include Ollie in the festivities.

Here is the decorating I've put together for this year in our apartment. Our lovely entry shelf that I decorated for Christmas, fall, and introduced when we first moved in is now the lovely home to a few easily updated candles. I had three plain red candles laying in a drawer and with a little white card stock and thread I love how they turned out. I simply cut out the paper hearts, used a needle to thread them on the string and wrapped them around the candle. I attached the ends by melting the candle just slightly on the side, sticking the end of the string through the melted wax and letting it harden over.
Also using card stock and some red construction paper I made an easy paper mache "XO" for our entertainment center. They were completely free and gave me something to do to occupy my time one afternoon. Once they were dry I covered the outside with a couple coats of modge podge to give them a glossy finish.
I've also redone the frame that hangs above our couch a couple times before (same previous links as the shelf from above) and I have to admit, I felt like I was back in elementary school making this project. I used an empty frame, removed the glass and placed scrap book paper on the inside. To make the heart I cut squares out of red tissue paper that were approximately 1.5 inches on all sides. Then using the end of an unsharpened wood pencil (you know, the classic yellow ones) I wrapped the square around the base, dipped it in a little watered-down Elmer's glue and placed it onto the cardboard heart I had cut out. I repeated and repeated the process making sure to glue them close together so you couldn't see the white cardboard from underneath. I glued the finished cardboard-heart combo to the scrapbook paper and used some left-over red ribbon to hang it. I love the finalized texture of the paper heart.
My final project, that I finished just yesterday, was this love-ly (haha get it, love, Valentine's day.... I'm dumb) throw pillow. I got the image and printed it from this site. It's supposed to be used inside a cute frame but I decided to use Freezer Paper stenciling (I wrote a tutorial here) and put it on a pillow instead. A little scrap muslin fabric to make a pillow case, some black, red and white fabric paint mixed together and some hand-stitching later and I had this cutie. I was able to reuse my Christmas red and white pillow and I love them together. I like the "love" pillow enough that it might end up on our bed after V-day.
So what about you, do you decorate for Valentine's Day?
Do you love the love holiday?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Crafty Nook Case

If you've read my blog for a while (and checked out my I'm Reading What? page) you might have learned that I am the proud owner of a Barnes and Nobel Nook. J got it for me for Christmas last year and I have been obsessed with it ever since.
I take it with me everywhere so I have to protect it from the randomness (like pens, bobby pins, spoons, chapsticks) that might be laying in the bottom of my purse. However, while the Kate Spade or Jonathan Adler cases are adorable, I'm not about to spend $30 (let alone $85) on something like this. So with my trusty "50% off one item" coupon in tow, I headed to Joann Fabrics last night and this is what I came up with.

I picked this fabric because it was on the clearance rack is a home-decor fabric so I'm hoping it will be more sturdy than a normal cotton fabric. It's tougher but still elegant and I love that the base color is black. I hate when purses and wallets of light colors start to look dingy after not too long.

I used my coupon to splurge on an impressive clasp to close the case. I was originally searching in the aisles for a plain button but when I saw this one I knew it had to be mine. Granted I cringed a little while I saw that a single clasp was over $4 but since I only needed a small amount of fabric I knew my coupon would go towards this.
I lined the inside of the case with off-white fleece so that it's extra comfy for my Nook. And it will hopefully remove dust and/or fingerprints from the screen in the process.
Since the outer fabric was tough and the fleece was thick, I had a little bit of trouble sewing on the top flap to the back of the case. This lead to some awkward stitches showing through on the inside and the black thread on white fleece didn't look so pleasing. So I hand stitched a little message on a scrap of fabric and attached it to the inside.
This is the back of the case and while I wish I would have managed to place the flap between the fabric and the fleece pieces, I made this work. I made sure to attach it very well since it's on the very outside.
I bought 1/4 yard of each fabric which cost me around $2.20 and with the discounted clasp, this project cost me under $5! I have a good amount of fabric left over too. Maybe I'll make another case but I don't know anyone else that has an eReader so for now I'll hang on to it and wait until a project strikes my fancy.

Now I'm off to read :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thankful v1

I am thankful....

+ that it's Friday and I don't have class or work or anything specific I have to get taken care of today. It feels nice to have a day to myself to watch reruns of ANTM and maybe do some crafting.

+ for the interview that I have with Panera on Sunday morning. I really need a job since I only have class Tuesdays and Thursdays and could always use more moneys. Wish me luck.

+ that I took one of these bad-boy mondo hair clips (they're about as big as my thumb, for reference) and some scrap fabric and made something cute for my hair. I constantly pull one side of my hair back and this looks much better than a few plain bobby pins. Plus it cost me a total of $0.25! The pack of four was a dollar and I used fabric I already had.

+ I also made this braid headband while I had the hot glue and felt out. I've been trying to not use heat (aka blow dryers/straighteners/etc) on my hair lately so this is a perfect way to dress up a messy bun.
+ that I have made such amazing connections with the people I work with at Hospice. Every week I feel like my volunteering is appreciated and recognized by each and every person there and it makes it that much more worth it. I have had some awesome experiences there and hope to continue making memories and strides in health care.

+ that my birthday is in officially 8 days! A whole day just for me? Yes please!

+ for an easy semester this spring. After studying for the MCAT and then studying some more last spring and then working on applications from about the end of June until the end of December, it's nice to have time to relax. There's nothing I have to do or should do. There's nothing pressing on my mind or stressing me out and I am beyond thankful for that. Thank you 9 units of class, let's make it a great end to undergrad!

+ that I found a nail polish I bought a while ago and completely forgot about! How does that happen? Finger Paints "Hue Left A Message" is a sparkly mauve-pink with white sparkles. I like that a single coat could be fairly sheer to use over another polish and that three coats can make it opaque to wear alone.

+ last but definitely not least, for my amazing little family. I love spending time with my two boys and I couldn't be happier. J has been so amazing to me lately I feel like I'm falling in love all over again. And our Ollie boy is such a perfect angel and I can't imagine our life without him now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Breakfast Recipe

I'm normally a huge breakfast fan... of any kind. Omelets, pancakes, breakfast burritos, pastries, yum. Give me any of it (and a latte on the side) and I'll be a happy girl. But I've been having a weird obsession with muffins lately. Just ask J. Starting Friday I would wake up and ask him to bring me a honey oat (or zucchini walnut) muffin to me in bed. Unfortunately, we had no muffins so this morning I was on a mission.

I must make some muffins!

When I was at the grocery store yesterday the blueberries were on sale. They're never on sale! Buy 1 get 2 free, yes please. So I pulled out my trusted Betty Crocker cookbook and made a new version of the classic blueberry muffins I've made many times before.... Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Muffin Batter
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. fresh/canned/frozen blueberries

Streusel Topping
1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbs. firm butter/margarine

[1] Mix milk, oil and egg until blended.
[2] Add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder at once. Mix until moistened. (make sure not to overmix)
[3] Fold in blueberries
[4] Combine dry streusel ingredients in small bowl.
[5] Cut in butter with pastry blender or two table knives in opposite directions. Should be clumpy.

This is how my streusel was turning out. I don't know if my butter was too firm or if I'm just horrible at using two knives to mix but it clearly wasn't working for me.
I decided to just have at it and stuck my hands in the bowl. I basically kneaded the ingredients until it was all mixed (and the butter clumps were gone) and I think it came out great. Messy, yes, but it did the trick.
[6] Fill muffin cups with batter and sprinkle each with about 1 tbs. streusel mix.
[7] Bake at 400*F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
[8] Remove immediately from pan and let cool
[9] EAT!
It is not my fault if you are drooling at this point. I'm sorry.
They turned out absolutely fabulous. They have just the right amount of crunch on top from the streusel and are warm and gooey on the inside. I love how much better fresh blueberries taste compared to frozen ones so if you can splurge (or catch the sale) I highly recommend the fresh ones.
I was able to make 16 medium sized muffins (the recipe said 12). Now the hard part is going to be not eating all of them today. I promised to bring a few to class tomorrow to share and I have to stick to that! I'll limit myself to a few or three and know that I can always make more later.
Happy muffin Monday everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fun Outing Friday

Today, this little guy and I went on a hike. It's a gorgeous upper 70's day here in SD and I figured he needed a change of scenery than our typical walk route. So we packed up the water (for him and for me), collapsable bowl, and potty bags and were off to Mt Cowles.

Isn't he just too dang cute. Good thing his bowl was empty. Silly dog, you don't stand on that.

This was early on in the hike. Wanna know how you can tell? His mouth is closed... aka he's not panting like a mad dog.

We only went 1 mile up because mom was tired we were a little crunched for time but it was still a great view.

This is the panting I was talking about. And yes, his tongue hangs out the side and drips/flings drool everywhere when he's like this.

I think we need to do this more often. He loved it and was flying down the mountain at the end.

I love going out hiking because it's a great work-out for both of us and the scenery is definitely better than the inside of the gym. We had a great time on our hike and I want to go back again soon before it starts getting too hot outside. Maybe J will come with us next time.
TGIF everyone, have a great start to the weekend!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day #2

This is the second post from my 30 Day Challenge....

Something you love about yourself


I love that I can be hard on myself and be content at the same time. I know that sounds odd... why would I want to beat myself up and criticize myself instead of giving myself inner encouragement. And how can I be happy if I'm always striving for more.

I am just about to start my final semester at SDSU, in fact I just now (like 5 min ago) applied for graduation for the spring. I cannot believe how fast the time has gone but I know for a fact that I wouldn't be where I am today, I wouldn't have accomplished everything I have and been able to dream so big if it wasn't for my never give up mentality. I never stop something I start, in all types of circumstances. I will graduate with my BS in Cellular & Molecular Biology. I have finished all secondary applications to the best of my ability for medical school. I rocked my first interview of the season. I will continue to put my relationship with J at the top of my priority list. I will get to the gym as often as I can. And just as importantly, I will take the time (scheduled into my busy life if need be) that I want for myself.

Being tough on myself gives me confidence. It makes me realize and remember that yes, I did everything I could have possibly done. And I try to always remember, when I'm cramming for finals, worrying about money, upset, stressed, hurting or lost, that I am the best I can be. I am the best girlfriend, student, daughter, friend, confidant, applicant, and self. More often that not, my plate is filled to the brim with responsibilities. (Even on my last few days of winter break I've been making to-do lists) But I take pride in knowing that it's filled with things that are a priority to me. And by accomplishing everything I set my mind to I know that I am pleasing myself and only myself in living the life I want to have.

I know you're supposed to do this challenge 30 days in a row but hey, this is my blog so I'll do it however I like :-)
In case you missed Day #1, here it is.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dialect Vlog- Say What?!

I'm jumping on the band-wagon and doing the Dialect Vlog that has been circling the blog-sphere. I don't sound as cool as some of the people *cough*thoseinthesouth*cough* (at least I don't think so) so bare with me here.

Plus I realized I make odd faces when I talk on video. Do I really make them in real life? So if nothing else I hope you're entertained by that. I also apologize for the shining of my earring at the beginning. Note to self, don't wear large gold earrings while recording a video as the sun is setting/shining through the window. Oops, my bad.

So here is the list of words and questions:

Aunt, route, wash, oil, theater, iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught

1. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
2. What is the bug that curls into a ball when you touch it?
3. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
4. What do you call gym shoes?
5. What do you say to address a group of people?
6. What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval shaped body and extremely long legs?
7. What do you call your grandparents?
8. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
9. What do you call it when it rains while the sun is shining?
10. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen (although I don't think many guys actually read this besides J but if you do, hello!) Why did Vimeo choose that split second to show for my video by the way? I look lame. I realized after I watching this that the only thing I say that's odd (at least to me) is apparently the word mayonnaise has no "o" in it when I speak.


Homemade Gift for Guys

J's family has a tradition each Christmas where we exchange a homemade gift. Each person makes something, wraps it without a tag and we draw numbers to pick presents. It's sort of like White Elephant but we don't do the trading business for simplicity sake. We've had some awesome gifts in the past and definitely a few duds. This year was definitely the best year so far, everyone had awesome ideas and we all walked away happy. I decided to make something for the home but something that was fun and goofy too because that's how his family is.

My gift when to J's cousin C and the Mustache Glasses now have a good home.
Supplies Needed:
- 8 pint glasses
- Acrylic paint for glass
- Small paint brushes
- Images and printer
- Cookie sheet and oven

[1] I wanted to do mustaches because they're funny but you can do whatever you want. Patterns, small flowers, polka dots, names or initials. I decided to print mine out because I'm horrible at drawing and I wanted to get them all perfect.
[2] I taped the image to the INSIDE of the glass in the position I wanted. This way I was able to paint right on top of the stache without having to do a lot of cutting to make stencils.

[3] I used American Gloss Enamels paint in black
[4] Each glass required 2 coats of paint. It was a little difficult to make the edges perfectly smooth while the image was taped inside so I did one light coat to get the general shape and then removed the paper. It looked something like the below picture and definitely needed a second coat to be completely filled in.
[5] Not too long later and I had this awesome set. I love that they're all different. It makes it into a really cool set. I let them dry according to the directions on the pain that I used.
[6] The trick to making them not scratch off when you use and wash them is to treat them in the oven. These directions were also on the paint bottle but you place the glasses in a cool oven and heat it to 350*F. Once the oven is heated you leave them in for 3o minutes and then turn the oven off. You let them cool in the oven and then remove them.
Now they're ready for some water, milk, or adult beverage :-) Hope you enjoy your glasses C!

Custom Napkin Rings

So this post is definitely a little delayed and for that I apologize but I have a good reason. I made these awesome napkin rings as gifts for my mom and J's mom for Christmas. I didn't want to spoil the surprise so I am just now doing a post on them because I had to share.
I got the idea from Amy @ Positively Splendid and I knew I had to make some myself. They were super easy but a little time consuming for me. She does a great tutorial so follow the link above to get all the specific details. I'll share the basics and also what I did differently.

Supplies Needed:
- Empty and clean pop cans (yes I call it pop, don't judge me)
- Scissors
- Hot glue
- Spray paint
- Scrap fabric
- Embellishment (buttons, beads, ribbon, fabric, etc)

The hardest (and most time consuming) part was definitely cutting the tops and bottoms off all the cans. I found it a lot easier to do all of one step completely before moving on. Ex I would trace all the petal pieces before I would cut any out and I would make sure I had all the petals for each flower before I started assembling them.

I didn't have a corner rounder so I put the curves onto the original cardboard piece I used to trace. That way they would all be the same. Be careful when you're hot gluing the pieces together, the metal is definitely a heat conductor and they got pretty warm sometimes. I used three coats of spray paint for each flower and one coat on the backs too. The backs weren't necessary but I didn't want to be able to see the aluminum on the other side.

I wanted mine to be simple so I used a little silver ribbon for under the flowers and a few simple plastic pearl beads. I made two sets of 8 and wrapped them in simple gift bags. I love how they turned out and I love how many ways you can make them unique and fit your decor.
If anyone ends up making some of these for themselves I'd love to hear about them so let me know.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Things I Learned in Waikiki (part 2)

(1) There's no better view of Waikiki and of the island of Oahu than from the top of the Diamond Head crater. You must climb it.
(2) Do the stair-master at the gym. A flight of 99 steps in a little space with people hurrying behind you and others coming down right next to you it definitely daunting.
(3) Cab drivers can be nice guys and can give you good deals every once in a while. And a cool cab by yourself is much better than a hot crowded bus when you're hot.

(4) Cherish your traditions. Happy 3.5 years baby!
(5) You don't need to spend $50 on a cover to get into a hotel bar to have a good NYE. The top of the Hyatt with more low-key people and a few pina coladas is perfect.

(6) Partial ocean views and a hotel a few blocks off the beach are definitely worth it. In a place like here how much time do you spend in the room anyways? So save your money.
(7) Sipping on apple cider vinegar or putting it in ginger tea can help when you have a stomach ache.

(8) A bath of water and a few cap-fulls of bleach can help with poison ivy, poison oak or other irritating plants.

(9) You'll never realize what's just down the street until you go look. It's like we got dropped in the rain forrest and we were only a few minutes out of the city.
(10) There are rituals you can never experience but they are still amazing to see. Each rock was handed from person to person over a 25 mile stretch by the first people to reach the Hawaiian Islands.
(11) Antipersperant makes bug bites and sun burns stop itching and hurting.

(12) Some people know too much for their own good.

(13) Moving 15 feet out of the tunneled wind can be a matter of life and death if you're lost in the wilderness.
(14) When you're in love, cherish and enjoy every second of your time together.
And in case you missed Part 1, you can read it here

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things I Learned in Waikiki (part 1)

[1] Try to keep your cool when you've landed in paradise and are minus your checked bags. A shower can always wait.

[2] Every sunset will be different.
[3] And every sunset will be gorgeous.
[4] But every sunset will be better when you're on the beach with the one you love.[5] Mai Tai's taste much better when you're looking out on the ocean and they're made with the freshest juice available. It doesn't help that they can be $9 a pop.

[6] Sitting around doing nothing for a few hours while you wait for your turn on the ferry to the USS Arizona memorial can be fun. Relaxation is good for the soul.
[7] A free hot dog never hurt anyone.

[8] There will always be time for quite. For remembrance. For patriotism and for loyalty. And most importantly, for respect.
[9] The Gulf disaster gave a different light on this sort of occurrence. But it's important to consider the situation you are dealing with. Here, these oil leaks are beautiful and mystic.
[10] It's acceptable to pull out the big guns :-)
[11] A cloudy day in Hawaii is not the end of the world. Running through a ridiculous rainfall with soaking jeans and tennis shoes and no umbrella can lead to lasting memories together.

[12] Always pack an umbrella or a rain coat. You never know when you might need it.

[13] And it's also acceptable to people watch. Even if it involves making up your own versions of their lives. Just remember not to be mean.
[14] When the sun does shine you must head to the beach. And even though the water is still cold here, you must fight it anyways and get in to swim.


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