Saturday, December 31, 2011

A jump start on my resolutions- Pantry Re-Do Phase One and DIY chalkboard project

It's that time of year... time to think of all the things I have been too lazy to do, and resolve to do them now that it is a new year.  The concept works well with my whole "I'll start tomorrow" thought process problem, AND bonus! New Years is on a Sunday, so it is a nice "beginning" of a new week as well.

So... on my resolution list is to get some of the closets in our house organized, and once I saw the awesome pantry re-do at House of Smiths, I decided it was time to get started.  It can be an early birthday present for the hubs.

Plus... just look at this disaster.  I am almost embarrassed to post this.


The first thing I did was make a trip to Home Goods for mason-like jars with hinged lids and baskets, and to Michael's for Chalkboard paint.  I was pleasantly surprised with the mason jar selection at Home Goods and the big jars were cheaper than Wal-Mart.

I was just going to do black chalkboard labels... but good 'ole Martha had a nice blue color that goes with the accents in my house that I am wanting to play up a little more.  I also bought reusable stencils to help me with making the boxes nice and straight... and will eventually use to stencil words onto the mason jars once I buy more paint.

All I did was section off the space with painters tape... and use a sponge brush to paint it on.  The directions call for 2 coats, and say to wait an hour between in order to dry.  And because I listened, I had to redo almost all of my jars.  Wait until the paint is COMPLETELY dry before adding the next coat, or it slips around on the glass and creates cracks.

I also recommend removing the tape right after your second coat... be careful when pulling it off, as the paint will peel off the glass if you aren't careful.  As you can see I had a little difficulty with the paint staying put... I used an exacto knife to scrape it off.

Here is what they look like when finished... not bad!

And a couple of close-ups...

Now onto my pantry... I took that disaster up top, and put it all on the counter.  I had my book out in case I got bored.

I used my jars for my bags of sugar, flour, salt, etc.  Much better than it spilling all over!  I organized my shelves for breakfasty stuff (coffee, oatmeal, cereal), baking, cooking, and canned/dry foods. 

Baking shelf

Cooking Shelf

Canned/Dry Goods shelf
 And here we are... SO much better!  Now I know where all my spices are, what canned goods I have, and can find things without making everything fall off the shelves.  I don't have the bottom 2 shelves done yet, because I have to clean out another closet for that stuff to go there :)  I think I will be adding an "Ava" shelf down there, so she can begin to be independent with snack time and snack choices.

I am excited to continue the project... just like House of Smith's, we are thinking to add a blue/teal door to give our kitchen a pop of color.  We will see how it all goes!

Happy New Years!  This is the year... I can make my resolutions come true!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Busy Bee and my December Birchbox

Whew! It has been a busy day... I am in the middle of my pillow project after crying about cutting Ava's baby outfits.  I suddenly regretted cutting her coming home outfit, even though it was stained in the front.  Plus it made me think about how little she was, and how much she has grown this past year.  Oh how I adore her and everything about her!

I also started a pantry renovation project that I will share soon... but for the next few days, I have a little girl that deserves her mama's attention... right now her job is to be my baby, and my job is to be her mama.  Only a few more days till I go back to work, so I need to soak up all my Ava to last me until Spring Break!

In the meantime... here is my December Birchbox for the fellow product lovers out there.   I love to stalk in a non-creepy way follow the advice of Kate at The Small Things, so when she recommended that the product junkies out there try Birchbox... I was in like Flynn.  Whoever Flynn is.  So I got the November Birch Box, and enjoyed the concealer and the face wash (though it is a bit drying)... but then cancelled because I decided I didn't need a bunch of samples.

Then December rolled in, and Joe (aka my Jack, Mr. Sprat) and I decided no gifts to each other for Christmas.  So of course I re-enrolled.  Long story short, the shipment was delayed due to a snafu with Birchbox's suppliers, so I just got my December box...  here is what I got this month:

I now have this cute lip gloss from Jouer (it does not look that pink when on) which is a pretty little pop of color.  And I LOVE Oscar Blandi's dry shampoo.  I have the powder form, which works wonders for Day 2 hair... and am really excited for this spray form.

The next time I am in 'da clubs, I can use the Show Stoppers.  Just kidding, actually I think for us busty ladies, it would be great for button down shirts, to stop that peekaboo gap, or I have a dress with ruffles in the front that reveals a bit too much when I am sitting down.

I already drank the Boost, and it is sort of like Emergen-C... meh, I liked it but wouldn't need a box for $28 bucks when Emergen-C is $9.99.

The Ambre Nue is not my scent... and actually Joe and I were having trouble deciding if it was a men's fragrance since they call it cologne.  But no, it just is a stronger smell that is not quite my scent personality.

Finally, the bronze shimmery dry oil, for face OR hair.  Hmmm... I guess when I am clubbin' I could glisten.  But I forgot again I don't club anymore (uh, or ever?).  Because I am now a coug... or at least a panther. Rawr.  But really, I think I will give it a try and see if it makes my hair shiny, and then give it a whirl next time I go to the movies in case it looks scary.

Ok... time to stop messing around in blog-land, and go read an actual book!  I have to finish it by Saturday in order to accomplish my Goodreads goal of 52 books this year!  I better giddy-up! (I don't know what is with my awesome slang tonight... I think I am tired.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Very First Sewing Machine! How to get started.

(I need to work on my indoor photography)
I mentioned that I received a sewing machine from my mom for Christmas this year... but I did not mention that it is my very first one!  I am so excited!  I just know that soon I will be designing my own line at Wal-Mart, just like Martha.  Except I would want to have my line at Target.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of the Brother CS-6000i.  It has 60 different stitches... and the best part, is that it is sew easy.  It even says so on the box.  Not only is it easy, but it is also sew advanced AND sew affordable.  Those marketers at Brother are such a bunch of joke-sters.

Here is another photo of the machine out of the box.

 Look at all those stitch options!  I can make leaves!

Now... I have a confession.  It took me until yesterday to get it out of the box, and today to try to wind the bobbin and thread the needle.  Why? Because this is some intimidating stuff!  Not only is this my first sewing machine, but I also have never even been around someone using a sewing machine!  And on You Tube... there weren't any videos of what to do with my model.  It took me more than an hour to figure out something that should take like 5 minutes.  So I made a couple videos.  If you are a beginner, take a peek.  I will probably re-do these after awhile once I hone my video camera skills.

Here is the one on How to Wind Your Bobbin, and How to set your bobbin.  (Using the machine's fast bobbin winding system and quick set bobbin)

And on on How to Set the Upper Thread and Thread the Needle. (Using the needle threader)
This video cracks me up because for like 30 seconds all you see is my hand while I can't get the hook to catch the thread.

My first project attempt is to be a pillow for Ava... one with her bitty clothing cut into letters.  We will see if I can figure it out!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Apple, Manchego, and Fig Panini

We received a Panini maker for Christmas, so have been trying out different paninis for the past couple nights.

Tonight, for me it was Granny Smith Apple, Manchego Cheese, and Fig Butter on Italian bread.

Before the press... note the Trader Joe's Fig Butter in the background.

After the press with my Sauvignon Blanc.  Nope.  It does not look impressive, not even a little bit.  No one on Pinterest would pin this little panini! But still, it was darn tasty!  The sweet of the fig paired really well with the tart apple, and the salty cheese.  I will definitely make this again.  Maybe with a different bread that can hold the ingredients a little better.  I would also be interested to try this with Brie cheese (I know, so original).

But this is seriously easy... you literally spread the fig butter, slice the cheese, and peel and slice the apples and stack it all in there.  A 5 minute dinner that is a party in your mouth!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Desserts

Whew! Well we made it through Christmas, and all of my preparations seemed to pay off... except for my poor sick little girl, who was not her happy little self these past two days.  But she got to eat ice cream, so I think that in the end it was all ok!  And I was happy because I received a sewing machine from my mom (even though I do not know how to use it), AND my desserts turned out!

As shown above, I made Layered Peppermint Cheesecake from Southern Living.  This cake takes forever to make!  Do not expect to whip this thing up in an hour.  You have to make cheesecake, cake, and the frosting with cool downs and freezing of parts, so it really is a make a few days ahead of time sort of dessert.  That was why I was so upset that my cheesecakes broke and I had to go to the store in order to re-make everything.  But all in all it is an awesome cake, very decadent, and it looks fancy.  The frosting is a white chocolate mousse.  Don't forget to keep whisking during the cool down (I whisked every 5 minutes or so)!

Recipe by Melodie Belcher; Lagrange, Georgia,
Here are the ingredients:

Peppermint Cheesecake Layers:
  • 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2/3 cup crushed hard peppermint candies 
 Sour Cream Cake Layers:
  • 1 (18.25-oz.) package white cake mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
White Chocolate Mousse Frosting:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnishes: White chocolate curls, peppermint candies

1. Prepare Peppermint Cheesecake Layers: Preheat oven to 325°. Line bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy and smooth. Add 3 eggs, l at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add flour and next 3 ingredients, beating until blended. Fold in candies. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place cake pans in a large pan; add water to pan to depth of 1 inch.

2. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until set. Remove from oven to wire racks; cool completely in pans (about 1 hour). Cover cheesecakes (do not remove from pans), and freeze 4 to 6 hours or until frozen solid. Lift frozen cheesecakes from pans, using foil sides as handles. Gently remove foil from cheesecakes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and return to freezer until ready to assemble cake.

3. Prepare Sour Cream Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat cake mix, next 3 ingredients, and 1/2 cup water at low speed with an electric mixer 30 seconds or just until moistened; beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.

4. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

5. Prepare White Chocolate Mousse Frosting: Cook 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add morsels; cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes), whisking occasionally.

6. Beat cream and 2 tsp. vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually fold white chocolate mixture into whipped cream mixture, folding until mixture reaches spreading consistency.

7. Assemble Cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Top with 1 frozen cheesecake layer. Top with second cake layer and remaining cheesecake layer. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired.

Peppermint cheesecake and sour cream vanilla cake layers.  Yep... it is a five layer cake!

I also made Chocolaty Peppermint Cupcakes from Better Homes and Garden.  These were great, but I accidentally used regular size chocolate chips, and it really added to difficulties with getting the cupcakes out of the tins without falling apart, and also when cutting in half... so moral of the story...get the mini sized chips!  I also felt the batter was a little on the "dry" side, so might remedy that the next time I make these.

We were not lacking in desserts this evening!

Chocolaty Cupcake Batter:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup cold water
2 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
Creamy Peppermint Frosting
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candies

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

2. In a very large bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and water to shortening mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

3. Thoroughly wash beaters. In a large bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold one-fourth of the beaten egg whites into chocolate batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining beaten egg whites. Gently fold in chocolate pieces. Divide among the prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

5. Up to 4 hours before serving, prepare Creamy Peppermint Frosting. Cut cupcakes in half horizontally. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the frosting onto the bottom of each cupcake. Replace cupcake tops, pressing gently to spread frosting to edges.

6. Place the 1/4 cup crushed candies on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll sides of cupcakes in crushed candies to coat the exposed frosting. Pipe or spread the remaining frosting onto tops of cupcakes. If desired, sprinkle with additional crushed peppermint candies. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Creamy Peppermint Frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, combine butter, marshmallow creme, and peppermint extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency. (I added 2 teaspoons of milk here)

For Christmas Eve I had made the Eggnog Trifle from Taste of Home... to be honest I wasn't in love with it, because it is made with raspberry preserves.  I tasted good, but not quite the taste I was looking for in a Christmas dessert.  I also made the dish with a huge trifle bowl, so I wasn't able to layer it as much as I wanted.  But the whipped eggnog and cream part tasted pretty good.


3/4 cup cold milk 
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding milk
 2 cups eggnog 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped, divided 
1 loaf-shaped angel food cake (10-1/2 ounces) or sponge cake 
1 cup raspberry jam or preserves
 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Maraschino cherry halves


1. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix until blended. Gradually add eggnog; mix well. Fold in extract and 1 cup whipped cream; set aside.

2. Cut cake into 1/2-in. slices; place a fourth in a 2-qt. serving bowl. Top with 1/3 cup jam. Spoon 1 cup of eggnog mixture over all. Repeat twice. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

3. Fold sugar and vanilla into remaining whipped cream; spoon on top of trifle. Garnish with cherries. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Now... time to relax and enjoy my other favorite present... a gift card to Barnes and Noble so that I can restock my Nook!  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

What a great day, despite Ava being sick with an earache and fever. Poor baby! Luckily her Godfather and uncle is a Pediatrician and he can help make it all better. By present opening time, Ava seemed to feel much better, and was even learning that opening presents is pretty fun!

I am excited for more family time tomorrow... And if my desserts turn out, I can post pictures. So far I am cautiously optimistic... I just have frosting left to make!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Prep Take One!

Grr... I am trying to make 3 desserts and a veggie dish for upcoming family Christmas parties this weekend. Which resulted in me going to the store at 11pm like this...

With blue flip flops on, and in my Christmas jammies.  Without my hair brushed.  Who have I become?
And why, you may ask?  Because I was in the middle of making this delicious Candycane Cheesecake Cake (from Southern Living), when I go to check on Ava and forget it in the oven.  So my beautiful cheesecake layers now look like this:

I love when I spend hours on food prep and it doesn't work out.  Now not only do I have to stay up till all hours in the morning, but I also have everyone at Dominick's thinking I completely gave up on life.  Haha!  Oh well! Tis the season!

Here are a couple of more disasters from today:
What happens when you try to whip cream while holding the bowl since the mixing bowl was in use.

And whole wheat pretzel rolls that didn't rise since I was supposed to use INSTANT yeast... active does not equal instant.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries

For today's Christmas party, I was asked to bring a warm vegetable. I really didn't want to go to the store, so I just used things I had at home. This dish looks like Christmas and smells amazing!

1 butternut squash
2 large Honeycrisp apples
1/2 bag of fresh whole cranberries
Lemon juice
Apple juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel, de-seed, and cube butternut squash, peel and cube apples, rinse cranberries. Toss apples with lemon juice to reduce browning. Melt about 1/3 stick of butter, then add in a few tablespoons honey, and cinnamon. You can adjust how much of this you use to taste and depending on how big a dish you make.

Toss butter mixture with apples and butternut squash. Spread apples and squash on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes. You are looking for a golden caramelized color.

Next, I put the apples and squash into a casserole dish and added a little more of the honey-butter mixture. I added in the cranberries and a couple tablespoons of apple juice (just didn't want my apples and squash to stick to the casserole dish) and cooked covered with foil for about 15 more minutes. (Variation: I bet some chopped pecans or other nut would taste great with the honey-butter mixture, sprinkled on top at this point, they would be like candied nuts)

Smells delish! We will see how it goes at the party.

Update:  It went over well at the party, and tasted a little like the warn insides of a pie.  Since the dish was done before it was time to leave for the party, I just left it covered in the oven with the oven set on warm... this made everything all soft, so if you are looking for a crispier outside, take it out of the oven after it is finished.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Workin' It... and another lesson I've learned.

This is totally me:

     I took a couple of new workout classes this week, and although mentally, I might have thought it would look cute giddy-uping like a cowgirl while pretending to whirl a lasso (this was during Piloxing)... in reality it looks like you are having convulsions.  Or are just a huge moron.  Or both.  Thanks goodness for the elderly gentleman trying to do this move, so I was not the only one who looked out of place.  I saw the photo above on Pinterest, and it totally applies to me.  In fact this might have been me as a little girl. There is nothing like a class in a room full of mirrors to douse you with a high dose of reality.
     But I digress... for this week my goal is to work out four times... and as of today, I have worked out three times.  Three times while on my Christmas "break", and while it is my sweets and lazy loungin' time of the year.
     Monday I tried a new class at our park district.  It is called Kettlebell... if you haven't tried it before, you basically lift a ball shaped weight with a handle on it about a million times.  Yep.  One million.  In the class, the "go to exercise" is 3 different sets of exercises that you do while squatting.  You start with 12 of each, then 11, then 10... you get the picture.  You do this between every pyramid of all the other exercises you do, and all exercises follow that 12, 11, 10, etc. format.  It really was a great workout, even though I had to rest my arms a few times.  The great thing about this workout, is that if I go a couple more times, I could totally replicate the workout at home.  And since I like to be cheap when it comes to workouts, this is ideal.
     Yesterday, I tried another class called Piloxing... I was hoping for a little more on the Pilates side, but it was like 98% boxing and 2%  pilates.  My aching muscles from Monday were not thanking me.  And the Piloxing class... was even harder than the Kettlebells.  Seriously, that horsey cowgirl gallop is hard, especially if you have to whirl your imaginary lasso (who comes up with these moves?).  But again, I made it through... all the while cursing my lumpy looking figure in the dance class mirrors.
   What did I learn this week?  Well, for one, with all the success I have had this month, mirrors don't lie.  I still have a long way to go.  I mean a really long way.   But even more importantly, these classes were at 5:30 AM. I woke up at 5 AM on two of my days off... and it felt great.  I loved actually getting up and getting my workouts over with... and loved that I didn't roll over and say, "meh, it was only $5 for the class".
   So in a few minutes, I will shut my computer, and go work out, despite the fact that I would rather read a book.  And in my mind, rather than the holding on to the image of myself during Piloxing, or that little girl above, I will remember this:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Detox Week Three Recap

Phew!  I made it though the third week.  When I weighed myself, I was down 3 more pounds, for a grand total of -15 pounds these past three weeks.  I am thrilled, although I must say I was hoping for more than 3 pounds this past week.  If I had just lost 1 more  pound, I would have been into my next set of 10s, which would have been my lowest weight for quite some time.  But, I suppose there is always next weeks weigh in!

This past week was a hard one, after feeling really successful with week two.  I felt "not hungry - hungry" a lot this past week... where I wasn't really hungry, but wanted to eat something.  I had a hard time feeling satisfied with my meals, and I was battling a lot of cravings.  My other confession is that I only worked out 3 times this past week, although my goal was for five.  I can't help but wonder if those 2 more workouts would have equaled that one extra pound I was looking for.

Besides feeling hungry, there was a couple times I went out to eat and had a hard time finding "legal" food on my diet... restaurants are great at sneaking sugar and butter into their dishes, so even when I ordered what I thought was healthy food, I would think to myself... "hmmm, I think there is butter in here!"

So what to do now?  My plan is to continue to eat as I have been on the purification plan for the rest of the month... with a few exceptions.  I have 3 Christmas parties this week, and while I will not eat every dessert there is to be seen, go up for second helpings of cheesy potatoes, or eat loaves of bread... I am also not going to begrudge myself  a little something off my plan.

Workout goal for this week is four days... woo hoo, I already have one day down!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

DIY Etched 'Christmasy Words' Wine Glasses

I used Instagram Lomo-fi... trying to get more detail to see the words.  I need to work on camera skills

While at Hobby Lobby, I found this amazing, yet rather dangerous, cream that will etch glass for you.  It is called Armour Etch.  If you go buy it, do not forget to cut out a coupon from their website!  The large bottle was $20 without the coupon.  Armour Etch is super simple to use... just takes a bit of planning if you do not have a Cricut or Silhouette (which I do not).  I had been planning to try to paint some wine glasses for my mom for Christmas, but then thought etching words into the wine glasses might be even cooler.  Here is how 'joy' turned out:

Joy using Hefe from Instagram.
Overall, I am happy with the way they look, although the words would have been much more crisp if I had a silhouette rather than having to hand cut with an exacto knife.  My hubs said the hand cutting makes them look more "vintage" ::shrugs:: Works for me!

Here is what I did, first I used 72 pt font (Garamond) to print out Christmasy words, like joy, merry, believe, noel, peace.  I then cut a box around the words, and taped it to contact paper.  I then also cut out a box around the word on the contact paper, and taped the whole thing down on my cutting mat.

Once I taped it down, I cut out the insides of letters first (like o, e,) and set the inside part aside for later.  I then attempted to cut carefully around the edges.  This is when I realized that serifs are NOT my friend. Pretend you didn't notice the wonky letters.  Also, it is hard to cut curves with a straight knife.  Just saying.

Once I had all the letters cut out, I peeled the paper word off of the contact paper to make sure it cut all the way through, and then peeled the backing off the contact paper.  I placed the words on the glass at a point I thought was a little more on the straight side.  Once the contact paper was on, I just pushed bubbles out with my nail.  I also carefully placed the inside of the "o" and "e" on (using the exacto knife for placement helped).

Ignore the dirty windows.  They were clean until the farmer took his corn out, and now dirt always blows on them.

You then slather the cream on, and wait 5 minutes.  Rinse it off with warm water.  Do not touch it, or try to eat it.  The warnings on the bottle are giving me anxiety attacks... like I might accidentally swallow some and etch my stomach.

And voila... some cute etched wine glasses for Christmas dinner!

Instagram Brannan

Now... in the picture above, you might notice that my Joy cup has a red bottom.  I decided to attempt to paint the bottom red... we'll see how it looks when dry and baked.  I used tape around the stem in order to try for a clean line.  The paint I am using is called Vitrea 160 (by Pebeo).  It is a transparent paint... in Pepper Red.  I am using this paint because if you mess up, it easily wipes off before it dries.  Also, because after it dries you bake it in the oven, the glasses are then washable and more durable.  I think it is actually dishwasher safe too, but I would have to double check.

The great thing about this project, is that it is relatively inexpensive, even with the more pricey Armour Etch.  I used a 40% off coupon bringing it down to $12.  This bottle could have made like 100 wine glasses, so I will be etching LOTS of stuff soon.  I have plans for that cream! The wine glasses I got at the Dollar Tree for, yep... a dollar each.  The paint was $5.  Contact paper was like $3. 

All in all, a successful DIY for me!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Night on the town.

Tonight we went out to a nice dinner at Grand Geneva resort for my mother in law's birthday. I had been thinking, "I hope my Birchbox comes today, and I hope it has a nice berry lip gloss in it to wear tonight.". Of course it didn't come. BUT I did find my old (and I mean OLD) Smashbox lip stain. I think it is from like 4 years ago. Now that I confessed that, I think that sounds gross.

Photo taken with Instagram- while riding in the car.
I was happy with my face (well at least my makeup), and was even rocking a sweater dress with a belt and some boots. I was even good with my appearance until I looked in the full length mirror when I got there. You see, usually I wear my tall Uggs with the outfit... But to be fancy, I wore my leather boots that are more lower calf length (which got my husband's approval).

So picture this... Slouchy leather boots up to lower calf, tights, tunic length sweater, belt... I looked like freaking Peter Pan. So I kept calling out, "Peetah" like Wendy in Hook. Then my hubs asked me where Rufio was. Grrr.

At least my lips looked nice.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A shorty...

Not much to report today, except that I just wasted over three hours on a photobook that didn't save. It even dumped the pictures out of the storyline. I am fuming.

On the plus side, I think this gift I got from one of the kids at school is such a cute idea... It is even in a glass container! And is filled with white chocolate popcorn! It is so cute, it is ok that I can't eat it right now. Hands off hubs!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I should have thought of this ahead of time.

I found one thing harder than initially starting this cleanse and enduring the dry taste of the protein powder (until you get used to it... and then weirdly start to like it).

Being on the cleanse while weathering psycho carb craving roller-coasters because it is "that" time, and all I want is a loaf of bread.

Seriously, I feel like a crazy person.

And then, today was our program's Christmas celebration, and so there were cookies everywhere I turned. Ugh. I need someone to slap me back to reality. I'd ask my husband but he is vacuuming right now. Yes at 7:45 at night. And that is sort of refocusing where I want that slap to land (I am resisting making a winky face here).

Anyway, excuse my little rant... But I am not looking forward to my Sunday weigh in, because usually I gain a few during these days. Not the motivation I am needing! Especially with all of the Christmas parties and family get togethers next week.

And speaking of motivation... Writing about how I am feeling, and receiving the comments and words of encouragement has made all the difference. It is hard to go about this process when feeling like you are doing it all alone! So this is my thanks to those of you that have been encouraging me and trying to make things easier for me these past few weeks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You Go Girl! Struggling Through Day 17

Yep.  You Go Girl!  This is what my Dad had my mom text me on my way to work out this evening.  It always strikes my funny bone when he takes on valley girl slang.  And after being around my sister and I for all these years, he has some pretty choice terms down for the times we need a little smile.

I think today, that is exactly what I needed.  A little pick me up to let me know that someone is in my corner.  Because despite all the success I have been having, today was a real struggle.  I am wondering if this is partly because I may have accidentally ate sugar?  I went out to that great little shop that I ate at this past Friday... in hopes for more Hearts of Palm Salad.  Unfortunately it was difficult to find something that was "legal" on my plan.  I settled on 3 items that did not appear to have dairy or breading in it, and had their Asian Coleslaw (minus the peanuts, it had no mayo or dairy), Caprese Salad (minus the mozzarella), and Lentils.  After eating part of the coleslaw, I realized the sweetness was more than just due to a special vinegar... and that I probably just ate sugar.  Drat.

Then I tried the lentils, and though I asked, they seemed a little creamy and salty... so then I wondered if I ate butter too... and then my old, "well I already messed up the day, so maybe I should just ____ (insert eat something deliciously naughty here) since I blew it" reared its ugly head, and I have been fighting the mental battle all day.

But I made it home, and made it through dinner.  And because I felt like I messed up, I also worked out for longer than I had planned.  And though today sort of stunk mentally... I am proud of myself for sticking to it in the face of a potential "mess up", and for overcoming those mental barriers that are always there ready to bring me down.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Christmas tutu for my little girl.

I love all of the little tutus out there for little girls.  They are really adorable!  Just look at how darling Ava was in her 1 year photos:
Photo by Amy Tripple Photography
 On my quest to find an adorable fall tutu, I looked carefully at how they were made.  This particular one had a crocheted band to make it into more of a dress, but really it was just a bunch of tulle tied around a band.  And for that... I paid $50 dollars.  I know... remember though, I have a hard time finding deals.  Good thing I used it for her Halloween costume too!

I wanted another one in Christmas colors-- red and white-- sort of like a candy cane.  And so I thought to myself, I bet I could give it a go... here is what I came up with.

2 rolls of tulle (red and white)- I bought the Wyla brand at Joann's in their wedding section. $2.24 each.
1 package of elastic- I bought the 3/4 inch, and it was about $2.50
1 spool of satin ribbon - about $2.00
** Did you catch that this was like $10 to make?  Less once I factor in I did not use up all of my supplies.

I found it easier to cut a bunch of the strips all at once.  Once I determined my length I just used that strip as a template.  Width-wise, I just cut the strips in half.  I would layer several in a row and then fold it over several times to make it easier to cut the width.  Cutting tulle is a little bit annoying sometimes- don't say I didn't warn you.

For size, all I did was measure the elastic around a pair of Ava's pants, and overlap about 1 inch (I wanted it to be tight enough to not fall off).  I then cut a length of tulle, and held it against her pants to try to gauge it at about knee length.  I figured as it got fuller, it might get a little shorter.  Remember that you are going to fold the tulle strip in half, so you want to double the length from the waist to the knee.  See below for my horrible hand-sewing job.  But it is sturdy so it will be fine.

It is difficult to tell, but I tied 2 strips of red to 1 strip of white... in order to knot around the elastic, all I did was fold the tulle in half, place the strip behind the elastic with the loop upside down, bring the tulle around the elastic and pull it through the loop.  You can sort of see all of the "knots" in a row where I pulled the tulle through.  Make sure all of your "knots" are all on the same side of the elastic.

Once I finished the hours of tying tulle (while watching movies at night), I turned the tutu inside out (so that all the little knots were on the inside) and tied a little bow on.

Very easy, even if it does take a bit of time!

Once I figure out how to get Ava to stand still, I will have to add a picture of her in her tutu... it looks adorable on her!