Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Care Package

Time to put together another care package for Ben. I thought I'd give him some items to help get in the holiday spirit before finals time is upon him. The kit includes:

Mini Christmas tree with decorations


Candy, sugar cookie mix and cookie decorating supplies


Chili supplies (I'm giving him this at Thanksgiving. I couldn't afford to ship canned goods!)


Gift wrapping kit and a gift for Peggy.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Calling a DQ Pumpkin Pie Blizzard Lovers

One of my favorite fall sites is the poster outside the local Dairy Queen proclaiming that the pumpkin pie Blizzard has arrived. Last night, I decided to make pumpkin shakes to enjoy while we carved pumpkins, and if you love pumpkin pie Blizzards, you will love these!


Pumpkin Pie Shake 
(Makes appx. 3 servings)
5 oz. canned pumpkin (about 1/3 of can)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/3 cup milk
1/4 gallon ice cream
8 vanilla wafers crushed

Combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin and milk and then add sugar mixture. Pour the pumpkin mixture into blender and add ice cream. Blend until combined. Add vanilla wafers and blend until combined. Pour into glasses, top with vanilla wafer chunks and whipped topping if you wish and enjoy.

Pumpkins and Power Tools


Last night Blake and I carved pumpkins. Blake did all of the hard work. He not only grew the pumpkins in his garden this summer, but he scoped out the insides, my least favorite part.


After carving my first pumpkin the old fashioned way, I was feeling lazy, so I decided to try using my cordless drill to write Happy Halloween. It was exactly what I hoped - easy. And as a bonus, it turned out!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Managing My Make-Up

A few weeks ago, my Mary Kay consultant Alice sent out an e-mail about an upcoming sale. I have had the same basic "look" for about five years and thought it was time to update. My loot arrived in the mail today.


Usually, I only order one or two things at a time, so I was a little overwhelmed trying to figure out how to store all of these little gems. Later in the day, I came across an old computer disk container and an idea clicked:


The metal casing containing most make-up sticks nicely to magnets. I placed the magnet inside an old computer disk container for a slim compact that easily fits in my make-up bag. It is also nice because unlike most compacts, it will still work when the size or shape of the containers changes. This is all you need to make a make-up case:


  1. Container for a 3.5" floppy disk that is no doubt still lurking in your office. You could really use any container that your make-up fits in.
  2. Magnet
  3. Double stick tape
Trim the magnet to fit inside the disk container and attach it to the bottom of your container with double stick tape. Arrange your make-up on the magnet. Make-up that comes in plastic containers can usually be pried out of the container pretty easily, exposing the metal casing.

This post has appeared here:
I'm an Organizing Junkie

Thursday, October 14, 2010

9 Things That Have Kept Me From Posting

Life has been busy. Good, fun busy, but busy. So, if I haven't returned your phone call or replied to your e-mail, here are my excuses.

1. First, I got together with my former co-worker Linda for dinner last week. We could routinely fill hours each week talking, so imagine how much we had to say after a month.

2. Last Friday, Blake decided to have a camp fire with his classmates, and we didn't get to bed until 3 a.m.! Actually, I'm kind of impressed considering we're almost 30.

3. Then, I did engagement pictures for Jared and Christie on Saturday. I squirm with delight when people ask me to do their photos. I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night color correcting, which was a good excuse to do something I enjoy. Below are some images.








4. Ben and Peggy were in town last weekend. So after photos, my brothers and I all gathered along with our significant others for dinner.

5. By Tuesday night, I felt like I was neglecting Blake, so I made him pumpkin whoopie pies with maple frosting. I didn't get a picture, but if you like pumpkin, I strongly suggest heading over to the Brown Eyed Baker for the recipe. Here's a picture of Blake's cat getting into the Halloween spirit while I was dropping off the cookies:


6. After I delivered Blake his whoopie pies on Wednesday, I went to a class about saints, which was actually really interesting. For example, I learned that the expression, "devil's advocate" comes from the saint evaluation process.

7. Tonight Megan invited me to stop by for dinner, and I'm not about to turn down tacos.

8. I'm starting to get back to my groove in terms of work. It feels great but it also means that work is creeping into my free time as I edit things during my bus ride or brainstorm while I'm supposed to be doing something else. Speaking of work, here's the basked I put together for the United Way silent auction. Great thing about a new job is that you can use all of the silent auction ideas you got from your old job! I reused the apple basket: apples from the orchard, apple wine, apple butter, caramels, caramel dip and apple pancake mix.


9. I've also been getting ready for a trip to Washington D.C. with my mom. So far, all I've done is made sure that we are cleared for security for our White House tour. Hopefully tomorrow night I'm in the mood for laundry and packing because we fly out Saturday!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trash to Treasure: Lounge Pants

I'm pretty basic when it comes to sleepwear - t-shirts and pajama pants. I also feel very ungrateful if I don't use a gift. So, I was in a bind a couple of years ago when I received a nightgown for Christmas. The material is extremely soft and I thought I'd wear it when I first opened it. But, after sitting unused for two years, I finally moved it to the Goodwill pile this summer. Then a couple of weeks ago, I logged into Facebook to find a Tip Junkie tutorial on making yoga pants from t-shirts.

I rescued the night gown from the Goodwill pile, and in the time it took me to catch up on the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy, I took the night gown from this:


To this:


Monday, October 4, 2010

Halloween Celebrating Begins

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and although October has just started, I'm already into the Halloween spirit thanks to my Halloween decorations, which are courtesy of the spiders living outside my front door and Blake's garden.

To help spread the spirit, I decided to send Ben his second care package and while I was at it, made some extras to share with Blake and the rest of my family. Each package included:

Sugar cookies

Bone-shaped pretzels 

1 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 cups flour (reserve 1/2 cup for kneading)
1 egg scrambled

Mix together salt, sugar and flour. Dissolve yeast in water and combine with flour mixture. Knead in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Shape, brush top with egg and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown.

Popcorn balls

12 cups air popped popcorn
15 large marshmallows
1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar or 1 small pkg. jello (flavor of your choice)

Combine marshmallows, butter and brown sugar or jello in a small sauce pan. Put on medium heat and stir until melted. Pour over popcorn, mix until coated and shape into balls.

Oreo truffles

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 pack Oreos
Vanilla or chocolate candy coating (my initial intention was to add orange food coloring to vanilla candy coating so they would look like pumpkins. For reference, food coloring makes the candy coating clumpy)

Crush Oreos and combine with softened cream cheese using a mixer. Shape into balls and freeze for 30 minutes. Melt candy coating and dip the balls in the coating. Place on wax paper until the coating hardens.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Photo Frame Calendar

For Megan's birthday this year, I made her a photo frame calendar I found on Martha Stewart's website.


It was really easy. Also, I bought the frame at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon and had the hooks on hand from a previous project, so it was really affordable. My largest expense was the photo printing.


I printed one photo for each month with much help from Megan's friends and mom.


Martha wasn't so on top of things with this project and only had calendar templates for 2010. With the end of the year just around the corner, I decided to design my own. I designed them to be 5x7 so I could print them on photo paper. It's sometimes easier and more affordable to get good quality color on heavy stock if you have your design printed as a photo instead of taking to a print shop.

Download the calendar now

This post has appeared here:
Tip Junkie handmade projects

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Birthday Bike Ride

My dad and sister-in-law share a birthday and have made a tradition over the past few years of going biking to celebrate. The plan this year was to camp at my parent's cabin and go biking on Saturday. Unfortunately, rains and flooding resulted in a change in plans.

Here are this year's participants:

Because couldn't make it to the cabin, my parents had everyone over the night before biking for a grill out and games. Get a closer look at the cake

The change in plans wasn't so bad when we saw the weather on Sunday.

Blake was not only sick, he fell while biking and then slipped and fell in the basement. Not a good day for him :(

Monday, September 27, 2010

Camping Cake

I was on cake duty for dad and Megan's birthday bike ride. Because the original plan was to camp at my parents cabin and go biking on Saturday, I thought a camping themed cake would be a perfect fit for the occasion.

Here is a run down of the items I used to decorate:



It didn't occur to me until I finished the cake that tubing weather and falling leaves weather differ by approximately 20-30 degrees. Oh well, they are still cute!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Care Package #1

Theme: Don't let the girls drive you crazy

My little brother is in college and sent me a friendly reminder a couple of weeks ago that he hadn't received any care packages this year. Who was I to turn down a poor college kid's request for candy? I decided to go with a theme because I love themes. Ben and his friend Jake are living in a house with 4 girls this year, so I brainstormed some ideas to help make living with girls easier. Here is what I came up with:


  • Homemade stress ball when the girls get on his nerves
  • A movie to make it easier to "listen" to their problems
  • Ear plugs for when the girly screams are too much
  • Tissues to make him appear sensitive when there are tears
  • Chocolate to make them easier to live with when they have PMS
  • Cleaning supplies for the hairspray-covered bathroom
  • Subway gift card for some night when he really needs to get out of the house

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When Life Gives You Raisin Bran...

you make granola bars! On one of my more recent (though short-lived) health kicks, I bought a box of Raisin Bran. After being passed over for Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Bunch of Oats and other sugary goodness, the box was nearing the end of its useful life. Being my mother's daughter, I didn't want to waste it, and at this point it was obvious that I didn't want to eat it. So, I added some sugar and honey, and called them granola bars. They are actually rather delicious!

Raisin Bran Granola Bars


6 cups crushed Raisin Bran
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup honey
2/3 vegetable oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, honey, oil and brown sugar. Pour in Raisin Bran and mix until coated. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool, remove from foil and cut into squares.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crabbiness, Chocolate, Crafts and Cooking

Last week I took my car in for what I thought was a quick maintenance visit, and I ended up leaving with a $1,000 repair bill. Needless to say, I was crabby. Thankfully, I have awesome friends, and when I drove up to my house, there was a box sitting on my doorstep from a chocolate company. My friend Katie had sent me chocolate covered fruit to congratulate me on my new job, and her timing could not have been better!


I decided to ride the good-mood-tide and scrapped my to-do list for some crafting and cooking instead. I found Martha Stewart's recipe for Frozen Melon-Margarita Pops earlier in the week and thought it was the perfect treat for the extremely hot weather. However, I didn't have Grand Marnier, so I had to improvise and mine ended up more like Frozen Melon Sex-on-the-Beach Pops.

Frozen Melon Pops

3/4 cups tequila
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup grenadine
1/2 cup lime juice
18 watermelon slices

Stir together the first four ingredients, then let the melon soak in the mixture for 15 minutes. Place sticks in the melon wedges and freeze.

When I finished up with that, I made a washer necklace. I still have to take pictures, so I'll post that later this week!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Job, New Necklace

First, some great news. In late July, Mayo Clinic offered me a job. And, what communicator would not be thrilled to get paid to write about the miracles happening at Mayo and to work with a brilliant communications staff? As icing on the cake, this job brings me one step closer to living near my family and Blake. While I'll definitely miss my current job and am grateful for all of the guidance and support from my current co-workers, I'm very excited to start my new adventure at the end of the month!

Moving on to the necklace

Blake and I have a wedding coming up in a few weeks, and I was looking for some new accessories to go with my wore-it-a-million-times black dress. I found this great necklace tutorial from Random Thoughts of a SUPERMOM. It was easy to make and cheap! For only $6 I'm adding a little something different to standard wedding attire.

Here's a close-up of my necklace, and make sure you stop by Kelli's blog to check out her creations (she did a bracelet too) as well as a great step-by-step tutorial!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Four Fabulous Bathroom Organizers

Here are some non-traditional bathroom organizers that I absolutely love!

1. Picnic supply organizer - It works great for storing all of my frequently used supplies - hairspray, combs, contact solution. Best of all, it makes it all look good enough to leave it out on my vanity to make it easy to access and put away when I'm rushing to get ready in the morning.



2. Quilt rack - I've shared this on my blog before, but it works so well I wanted to share it again. I simply added a few hooks to a shelf designed to display a quilt. It works great for towels and robes, and as a bonus the shelf provides extra storage.


3. Old candle jar - I cleaned up an old candle jar, filled it with rocks and it works fabulously for holding make-up brushes. This idea also works great for toothbrushes!


4. Coat rack - In college, I actually used my coat rack to hide coats behind my bedroom door. Now, it's reappeared in my linen closet and works great for keeping my hair tools organized and easy to access!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FREE Electronics Recycling!


I got the fun task of getting rid of my parents old computer earlier this week. Fortunately, I found out that Best Buy recycles old computers for FREE! I had to pay $10 to recycle the monitor, but they immediately gave me a $10 gift card. So, the worst part of the experience was lugging the ancient monitor into the store without dropping it! I recycled my laptop at the local recycling center a couple of weeks ago and it cost $20.

They take all sorts of stuff - TVs, DVD players, cell phones, ect. If you need to recycle anything, I'd check out Best Buy's e-cycle program.


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