Monday, May 30, 2011

Graduation Party

This past week has been super busy with my son's graduation and then preparing for his party. I haven't been online much and I didn't do any blog makeovers. I decided to make cookies on a stick for the party, which were a lot of work. I had never made them before, so I was in close contact with a friend who has been making them for years. She gave me a GREAT recipe and then I searched for some video tutorials on decorating. I came across KarensCookies.net, which had some icing recipes and tips. Michaels had a buy 2 baking products get 1 free sale this past week, which helped with keeping costs down. I actually ran into a lady that owns a cookie bouquet business at Michaels and she helped me find graduation cookie cutters and gave me some good tips on products. I looked up her shop online and was SHOCKED at the price of a cookie bouquet~ $64!! That was with 7 or 8 cookies. YIKES! I spent a lot less than $64 for all my ingredients and supplies and I have enough stuff to make several more batches in the future! I ended up overestimating the amount of cookies we needed and there were LOTS leftover. I made 220! (plus the ones that got scarfed down before I decorated them!)I also make little candy diplomas. I got the idea from Chrissy's Crafts. You take Smarties candies and wrap paper around it and tie it to look like a diploma. They were cute!I set them in a glass bowl on the gift table.Despite the cookie dough not having enough flour and the cookies spreading a little during baking, they turned out really well. Icing allows you to cover up imperfections. The few cookies that really didn't have much of a shape left got either a Congrats or a big C for the high school.Here is a close up of one of the bouquets.I got LOTS of compliments!! Well worth all the time I put into them...and the lost sleep!See what the juniors did? They ate some of the numbers and then turned 2011 into 2012! LOL!

Here are some of the guest enjoying lunch with the bounce house in the background. The bounce house was in use for the entire 5 hours of the party! I got permission from the city to block the street for the party.The teens moved inside to play Apples to Apples and then all crowded into my son's room.And the garage got turned into a mini skating rink!
As you can see, a good time was had by ALL! We were exhausted and fell into bed as soon as we cleaned up last night. We finished cleaning up this morning and the rest of the day as been spent relaxing!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Making Leis

In Hawaii it's a tradition to shower a graduate with leis. Our oldest was born in Hawaii, and while we live in the Midwest now I thought it was fitting to give him a lot of leis for his high school graduation the other night. I made 4 types of leis: flower, ribbon, money, and candy. I searched all over town for blue carnations (or places that would spray them blue) but nothing was in stock and if I had to order them it was going to be quite expensive. I knew he'd only wear the lei for a short time (he wasn't allowed to have any on during the ceremony) so I didn't want to sink much money into it. While at a graduation party the other night I noticed some little girls cutting peonies from the host's bush to take home. I then realized that I could make one for free. I cut about 6 suitable flowers from my friend then texted another friend for permission to cut some from her yard. She only had pink, but I didn't think my son would mind if I alternated pink and white. I noticed a neighbor had a huge bush of white ones which I got permission to cut. I ended up doing a pattern of two white and one pink. I threaded some embroidery floss on a long needle (mine was about 4" long) and cut off the stem and pierced the flower through the back of the flower and pulled it through, pushing each flower right up against the one before it. You can see a great video tutorial on how to make a flower lei here. The lei was gorgeous and quite heavy. My son was sooo excited and took pics of hit and texted all his friends. He proudly wore it in all the pics before the ceremony. Because the flowers were so heavy and they were losing moisture they started to shrink up (it was HOT inside the ceremony hall and he left it in a friend's tuba case) and slide down the string. But he was still proud to wear it after the ceremony.
The next lei I made was a ribbon lei. These are made out of the school colors. It looks complicated, but it's pretty easy to make. I found a video tutorial on how to make this here. I ended up having to make a 2nd one because I started out with 3 yards of ribbon which will only make a small one. I used ribbon that was only 1/4" wide and it turned out great! These rolls of ribbons were 2/$1, so another affordable lei!!

Then I did a candy lei. I've made these several times back when we lived in Hawaii. I got a roll of cellophane (but you can use seran wrap too), candies, and curling ribbon. I used royal blue, light blue, and silver curling ribbon. I picked candies that were wrapped in blue and that wouldn't melt in the heat. I got my supplies from Dollar Tree, so once again an inexpensive lei. View a video tutorial for making a candy lei here. He pulled this lei apart and ate it, so no pic!

The last one was a money lei. Traditionally these have a bunch of dollars, but being frugally minded I ended up getting a kiddy necklace with big light blue beads from Dollar Tree, the curly ribbons in school colors, and then crisp dollar bills from the bank. I ended up using 18 one dollar bills, but the whole necklace was $20. This video shows you how to fold the bills here.
Here he is with all the leis on!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

$15 Target Gift Card Giveaway CLOSED

The Target Gift Card Giveaway has ended. After verifying the entries, I wrote all the names down on pieces of paper and had my son daughter pick a winner.Congratulations to @NoOrdinaryFamily1. I'll be in contact about the gift card!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Congratulations!

Congratulations to my son for graduating from high school last night!My son was born in Hawaii and it's a tradition there to shower the grad with leis.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Yummy Chicken w. Shrimp

On the way home from my hubby's graduation last week we drove through a town to find a place to eat. There wasn't much besides fast food, but we finally stumbled upon a Mexican food restaurant. It didn't look super authentic, but we were hungry! I went ahead and devoured a bunch of chips & salsa~ bad for my lo-carb diet, but I did search for a meal that would be OK. DH got grilled steak with shrimp and I got a grilled chicken with shrimp. There was a layer of cheese between the chicken & shrimp. We decided to make something similar at home.First we pounded some chicken breasts thin. Then we grilled them with a little butter in a skillet on the stove. In another skillet we stir fried up some large shrimp. Then both were done we put the chicken on a plate with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese and then put the shrimp on top. Oh my, how yummy! We will be making this quite often!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

That seems to be my motto. I am full of ideas and I just don't have the time to implement many of them. I know that I am not alone in this. Seriously, we all have things to do and not enough time to do it all. It was just a few years ago that I thought that I was not a very busy person. I was able to step up to volunteer opportunities and take the time to relax and read. I can't say I took care of all my responsibilities at that time (I tend to procrastinate and don't keep up very well with housework) but I had the time to do it if I wanted. I was full of ideas then too, most I didn't see through but I always had a good reason/excuse for not doing something.

So what has changed over the last year or 2? First and foremost my business has been very steady. I always seem to have a wait list for my blog design services. I love running my business and I can fit it in whenever. BUT~ that means my office is always open. There are days I could work from the time I wake up til I go to bed and still leave clients waiting. I run my biz off a laptop so I am able to take my work with me. I usually work when my daughter is at dance class or my son is at piano lessons and various other places. When I have some down time at home, it's usually spend doing some blog related work. Not much reading going on!!

Second, my kids are getting older and busier! I'd like to be more proactive and plan ahead, but I'm often just reactive and am racing to get them to their next activity. And my kids are not over scheduled at all! I thought with the teen starting college soon that we wouldn't have activities for him that keep us busy. Well, with him getting into the Marching Illini and there being 8 home games this fall...there will be lots of trips to Memorial Stadium! One of the band perks is free tickets for your parents!! Of course we will want to go to all their other performances too. We plan on traveling if the football team gets into a bowl game too! w00t!

The youngest will start Kindergarten and be in school all day, which should free up some time for me (although I plan on volunteering in her school a lot) but that means our evenings and weekends will be busier. I'll have to get my work in during the day to free things up for family time.

So you get an idea of how busy I am. Which isn't that busy compared to a lot of people. It's just times like now when my brain is full of ideas that I feel overwhelmed. Case in point~ my son graduates from high school on Tuesday and then his party is next Sunday. I've come up with some great ideas for both events. I've shared this ideas with my son and he's excited...so I am committed to doing them. Since he was born in Hawaii I am making him several leis for graduation (although he won't be able to wear them for the actual ceremony!) and I am doing cookies on a stick bouquets for his party and a few other fun craft ideas. I keep thinking of more stuff for the party...and I just don't have time to do it all. Hahaha...story of everyone's life, right? Bigger concerns surround the weather...which right now says 30% chance of rain. We are having a block party and will be setting up a bounce house out in the street, and bad weather will really put a damper on the party. It's possible to move the party to Memorial Day, but we'd have to make a decision early enough to notify everyone.

I probably feel overwhelmed right now cause I am tired. I spent much of yesterday and today cleaning and organizing the house. Shocking, I know! My goal was to get everything upstairs in it's place and I've come out a little short. I just needed to put my feet up! I'll get my sorted piles put away tomorrow and finish the main room downstairs. That will have things all straightened for dusting/mopping/scrubbing this week. We don't have a lot of extracurricular stuff going on this week...so that leaves time for grad/party prep. I do have quite a wait list going right now and will be taking a few days off, so I feel pressure from that. I am not really stressed...just the wheels are churning in my head! I always want to take some vacation day from my normal life to catch up on things I've put off and to do some of those creative fun ideas that I am always conjuring up. LOL!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reality Wrap

Survivor~ It was Boston Rob's game to win. No one had any respect for Natalie as she was Rob's puppet and they loathed Phillip. Except for Ralph who was about the same age and a little crazy like Phillip, so he had a little man crush on him. I really thought that Rob had made a bad move by voting out Grant in the previous ep, but it turned out to be a good move. He kept the girls knowing they might turn on him but he thought he could win immunity. His gamble paid off. Did you see the faces of the contestants at the reunion? I think this season took a major psychological toll on many of them. In the past it was maybe 1 or 2 contestants, but this season several took a blow...Russell, Grant, Matt, and a few others. So who do you think will be the returning contestants for Survivor: South Pacific. Hearing that name I want to call it Survivor: South Pacific - The Musical. LOL! So will we see Phillip v. Coach? Will Russell be back to cry again? I think it's got to be more recent contestants, but maybe they will dig way back. Rupert? Cerie? Yao-Man? Who will it be????

Celebrity Apprentice~ I had forgotten that they did interviews to determine who the final 2 would be. The strongest survived~ Marlee v. John, which is what I predicted. Marlee does seem to hold back and has let Meat take a lead, so her lack of assertiveness might hurt her. I do believe that John Rich will win it all. I am enjoying Richard's commentary on the last task. Think that Trump is going to get him a day pass from jail to be at the live finale?

This will probably be my last wrap of the season!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rapunzel Crafts

My daughter is obsessed with Rapunzel thanks to a play we went to last month and the movie Tangled. I saw a cute craft tutorial online on how to make a Rapunzel hair clip holder. I had some issues with my sewing machine, but this is how it turned out.I had my hot glue gun out to finish it up so I decided to make a few new hair clips. The panda came from a cupcake ring and the carrot was from some Easter candy.I also found this shirred Rapunzel fabric at the store, which I quickly stitched into a cute dress with ribbon straps.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother's Day Revisited

No recipe for you today as I didn't try anything new this last week, but I have some overdue Mother's Day photo to share. Each year we have a picnic at a local park on Mother's Day. The weather always seems to be perfect and Eric takes photos of the kids & I together. Not sure if the teen will participate anymore as he will be off in college, but hopefully he will. Here is this year's photo and then a comparison of the last 5 years. Oh how the kids have grown!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Commencement

My hubby finished his master's degree in December and we celebrated with a big party right after the new year. He did his degree online from University of Illinois in Springfield. They don't have a mid-year commencement, but he was eligible for the spring ceremony. We drove down to Springfield yesterday and he stepped foot on campus for the first time. We enjoyed a brunch for online grads before the graduation ceremony. There were online grads from as far away as California & Florida who came for the brunch & ceremony. It was a great day and I am very proud of my hubby for working so hard to complete his advanced degree. Here are a few pics from the day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Restored - Giveaway Extended

Blogger was having issues and was down for a while so I have decided to extend the UVSkinz giveaway through tomorrow night. I will approve entries and the pick a winner on Sunday. If you had any entries later on Wed through Thursday morning you might want tohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif check and see if they are there and repost them if they are not. Blogger was supposed to restore all posts & comments, but I am not quite sure if they did or not.

I am super busy the next few days so I won't be ready to post the next giveaway (or even post in general) until next week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reality Wrap - Week 12

Survivor~ Rob is going to be shaking in his shoes...I think the tribe will split and the power will go to whomever wins immunity. They've got to know that someone found the idol and unless stupid they should know it's Rob that has it. He sure worked his @$$ off to win that challenge. I thought that he was going to pass out and fall down the stairs after Jeff checked him. I know that Matt & Ralph thought that Mike was dumb to give up his reward to the tribe, but I think it was a smart move. He wins a little favor with them (most of whom will be on the jury) and he doesn't get caught up in the emo of it all.

Amazing Race~ Boo hoo hoo~ it's over!!! I love, love, love this show. That last leg was pretty brutal...they just kept going and going. And then to have to ride bikes 7 miles in the wind. I had predicted that Zev & Justin would win, but I was wrong. Once they were out I thought that Jen & Kisha had the best chance to win. You live & die by the taxi, and Gary & Mallory died by it. Their guy was clueless! Jen & Kisha were in the best shape, so they would have smoked Gallory if they were out front. I enjoyed this season and look forward to next.

Celebrity Apprentice~ Because AR was 2 hours I didn't get it watch it live. I was super busy yesterday and it took me nearly 5 hours to get through the 2 hour episode on Hulu. I kept having to pause it to answer the phone, attend to the kids, drive kids around. I was glad to finally get done and even happier that Star was fired. She was a strong competitor, but Trump saw her ugly side. It was my way or the highway with Star and she just didn't have the creativity/versatility to stay. And Nene was a piece of work. Buckling under like that? She should have kept fighting!! I figured the final 4 would be John, Meat, Star, & Marlee, but it wasn't so. I am guessing that next week will be 2 on 2 and that both from the losing team will be fired. So unless Trump mixes them up, then it won't be Marlee vs. Rich in the final 2...which is who it should be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Italian Chicken

I made this recipe the other night for dinner and my family GOBBLED it up! They have requested this be put into high rotation now. It's another recipe from Linda's Low Carb Recipe Site.

ITALIAN CHICKEN

8 chicken thighs, skin removed (we used breasts)
8 ounces tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 ounce can mushrooms, drained (we omitted)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 ounce

Mix everything except for the chicken & cheese together. We cut our chicken into strips, put them in a casserole dish, covered them with the tomato mixture, then topped with the cheeses. The recipe says to microwave it, but we baked it at 350 for 30+ mins. YUM!! Sorry not photo...we ate late and it disappeared FAST!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Prom

Last night was prom. My son looked quite handsome and had a GREAT time!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Knitting for Charity

Do you knit? If so, check out this amazing pattern that a friend of mine made. It's the Asian character for Love. 100% of the proceeds of the sale of this pattern go to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan. The pattern is $5 and you can purchase it here.
© Sarah Barbour

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Sparrow Fund

Custom Blog Designs
For the month of May I will donating 10% of my blog design income to The Sparrow Fund. If you've been considering a blog makeover or need some blog services, please check out what I have to offer here. The Sparrow Fund provides grants to families for preadoption counsel, in-country support, and post adoption support. The following businesses will also be donating 10% of their May sales. Check them out!

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