Friday, May 31, 2013

Top 10 Crafts

Just wanted to let everyone know about an update to the blog! I've now added a 'top 10 crafts' page (see the tab at the top of the page) that I listed my top 10 favorite crafts that I've done. I will continue to update it frequently based on new favorite crafts that I do.  I also plan on doing a 'top 10 recipes' page, so keep checking!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

End of Year Gifts

Yesterday was the last day of school for our kiddos, and today was the last day of work for my assistants and me!

WOOHOO IT'S SUMMER AND I SURVIVED MY FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING!

So to thank my wonderful assistants for all their help this year (seriously, I couldn't have made it through without them) and to say 'farewell' to the kids, I made some little gifts.

For the assistants, I made these beach bags and had all of our students put their handprint on and sign their name.  Now, to do this, I had to figure out how to sneak away all of our students in small groups to a place where my assistants wouldn't find them and the bags could dry out of harm's way.  Ironically, this project would have been a lot easier with some assistance! :)
All I did here was paint each of their hands with fabric paint and stick it on the bag (yes, I got to hear 'That tickles!' 17 times in a row).  I then had the kids write their names under their handprint in pen, and I went over it later with fabric paint.

Later, I added beach towels, a picture of our class, some drinks for the pool, some chocolate, and a gift card.  This would be a great teacher/volunteer/room mom gift!




For the kids, I found this adorable idea on pinterest.  All I did was buy packets of Kool-Aid powder (4 for $1 at the grocery store), add a strip of folder fabric paper to the top, print out a label for the front and a note for the back, hole-punched, and added a crazy straw.  It was super easy, super cheap, and I know the kids loved them.





Finally, we have the end-of-year gift for myself.  Just kidding. I just didn't want to do a whole new post for these babies.

On Monday we had some friends over for some smoked meat, and I whipped up this easy dessert.

No-Bake Nutter Butter Butterfinger Bars from TheDomesticRebel

These bars were super easy to make (I could do it in like 10 minutes as they were putting food on the table).  All I had to do was blend up some nutterbutters, add some melted peanut butter chips, condensed milk, and butterfingers then press it in a pan and add nutterbutters to the top.

WOW. It was an 8x8 pan.  There were 9 pieces. There were 6 people. Each of us had one piece. Then we had to put the other half of our piece back after nobody could finish it.
This dessert was SO rich... it was like eating a massive nutter butter cookie! It was delicious, but I should have cut smaller pieces.
That's it for now. I'm OFFICALLY starting my summer right... now.  So get ready for craft/blog madness.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Braids, Braids, Braids!

So I've been really into trying new hairstyles lately, and the majority of them have been focused around braids.  I love braids because it's something neat, quick, and pretty to do with my long hair.


Here are some of the braids I did this past week:

Triple Braid from JoinTheMood
To do this braid, I made a fishtail braid on each side of my head and one in the back, then I braided them all together in a regular braid in the back.  My layers made my side braids a little too short, so the braid had to stop pretty far up.  I just added a ribbon.




4 Strand Braid
The four strand braid I kind of figured out by myself. I'm sure you could look up directions online, but I just split my hair into four even pieces, and went from right to left weaving the far right piece of hair over, under, and over.  I would then take the newest far right piece of hair and do the same thing.







5 Strand Braid from LongHairStyleHowTo
This braid was more like weaving, and it was pretty hard to finish.  This was my first attempt, but I look forward to trying it more and getting the system down.







Mama and Baby Braid inspired by fab-doll

For this braid, I did the above four-strand braid as a mini on the side of my head.  I then braided it into a side fishtail braid on the same side. I love the way it turned out.








My brother's wedding is coming up in a few weeks and I'm going to attempt to do my own hair.  This means that I will be playing around with new hairstyles! Get ready!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bridal Shower Gifts, Towel Cake Tutorial

My future sister-in-law's bridal shower is this weekend, and I was trying to find a good gift from their registry without experiencing the internal failing of just buying a gift instead of making it.  So I developed my own towel cake.

Best of all, I created a tutorial for you!
 





Towel cake tutorial from Amy Spears



I also made this wedding day survival kit in a craft organizer that I found at Ross.  This is inspired by a blocked pin on pinterest.

I included most of these items:

Band-aids, hair spray, straws, snacks, tequila, goo-gone, baby powder, lotion, medicine, q-tips, cotton balls, wipes, lint rollers, flip flops, static guard, high heel pads, tissues, safety pins, sewing pins, clothes pins, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, floss, chap stick, screwdrivers, etc.

I then decorated the outside.


This is the inside.

Can't wait to give it to her!

Pre-Summer... Fail!

Just as I finish posting my first week of my pre-summer challenge, I look through my pictures of everything I've done in the last few weeks and decided I just failed the challenge.

Yes, I tried lots of hairstyles.  Yes, I tried lots of outfits.  Yes, I tried a few recipes and home things and crafts, but not on particular days.

So here's a little summary.


Hairstyles:




 First, I tried this half french braid tuck.  To do this, I french-braided only the top half of my hair (I stopped at the bottom of my head where I would usually make a pony) and I put the rest in a ponytail.  I then did a 'topsy turvey' tuck and flipped it through.  Just a little twist on my usual braid or tuck style.
 Next, I made this attempt at a fishtail braid pull-back (I'm totally making up names for these as I go along) inspired by the picture from CacaoCocoa.  To do this, just make two fishtail braids on the side of your head and connect them in the back with an elastic.  Then take a small piece of hair from underneath and wrap it around the elastic.  Secure with a bobby pin.
My 'wrap' didn't go so well and it ended up just looking like a knot.  It also looks a little crooked in the right picture.  Oh well, kept my hair out of my face!





Next, I tried this modern bun that seems perfect in the picture on pinterest from JettingtotheWedding.  This was one of those frustrating mornings where I was late to work because I was fumbling with my hair.  The whole bun thing wasn't working so well, so I surrendered and just did my usual topsy-turvy flip, just upside down this time.  I added a headband. You know I've given up when I add a headband.



Last but not least, I will tell you about my wonderful fiance.
He's so wonderful for a few reasons.  First, he bought us tickets to Disney for Valentine's day.  Four days at Disney... we got to go to every park.  Then, he let encouraged me to buy this tiara in Epcot's Mexico AND he let me wear it around the park that day.  AND he wasn't embarrassed to be seen with me.  AND THEN he let me wear the tiara AND dress up like Belle when we went back to Disney the next week.  And let's not forget that he didn't run away when I refused to speak anything but French in Epcot's France. So here's my dress-up Disney Princess Hair.

Belle Bun with Tiara inspired by, well, Belle.  To do this hairstyle, I curled my hair using one of those magical curling sticks (not the wands... the new things without the clamps).  I then put half of my hair up in a pull-through bun after teasing.  Then, I added a tiara of course!















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Outfits:


For this outift, I matched white jeans with a white tank, black cover-up, and black sandals. The cover-up is from Forever21, the jeans are from Victoria's Secret, the Sandals are Macy's, and I don't know about the shirt (sorry!)

For this outfit, I was going for a casual Snow White theme for our Disney day.  I matched blue shorts with a red shirt and a yellowish cover-up.  I wore a red and gold headband in my hair and carried a red purse. Sorry about the clothes on the floor.... we were in the middle of laundry!


On this day we went on a casino cruise and I was going for a casual boat-y theme.  I paired white cruise sandals with my Victoria's Secret white jeans, Rainbow off-the-shoulder shirt, and red tank.  I wore the same red purse from Disney (yes... still working on laundry).


 This was another Disney princess inspired day... Ariel! I wore this to school one day.  It was a purple shirt, green skirt, shell necklace, fishtail side braid, and gold shoes.


And my belle outfit from Disney last weekend! I found this dress for $10 at TJ Maxx... So comfy and cute!  I also found sparkly gold sandals in the same shopping trip.  I included a tan purse and clipped a red rose to it.



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Recipes

Half-Baked Ice Cream Cake

This cake was inspired by a recipe seen on pinterest from isavea2z.  Because I was making it for my roommate who's a big half-baked ice cream fan, I decided to make it my own by making it half-baked.

Ingredients needed:  12 ice cream sandwiches half chocolate half vanilla (I used klondike bars... little did I know these were NOT ice cream sandwiches. The cake was still delicious, but this recipe would be much better with the cake-like ice-cream sandwiches), 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons white sugar, 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons water, caramel magic shell syrup, chcolate magic shell syrup, 1 tub cool whip.

To do this, I first whipped up some egg-less cookie dough using this recipe from allrecipes.  

Next, I stacked the ice cream sandwiches (klondike bars), filling each layer with chocolate and caramel syrup to make a glue, as well as cookie dough.  I stacked the sandwiches so that one layer was chocolate, one was vanilla, and so-on.


At the end, cover the whole thing in cool whip and drizzle syrup on top.  Finally, sprinkle with the remaining cookie dough.


This was delicious!!!






Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad from lifeonleroy




I made this as a dish for a luncheon at school... it was perfect because it didn't need to be re-heated and could just be placed on the conference room table as the lunch was starting.  I followed(ish) the recipe... I doubled it and kind of eyeballed everything... but I would have used WAY less hot sauce. It was a little too hot for my taste, but lots of people loved it.




Not Your Average Fruit Dip from half-baked baker



I made this dip for another event at school.  I subbed out the coffee liquor for Irish cream because... well... I didn't really know the difference.  This was delicious, too!



I also have some amazing bridal shower gifts to share for my future sister-in-law's upcoming shower. It's so exciting, I had to put it in its own post.

Enjoy!
Amy










Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pre-Summer Challenge, Week 1

The first week of my pre-summer challenge is over, and I'm excited to share my projects from this week!

Monday is when I tried a new hairstyle.  I tried this side twist fishtail braid from beauty-tutorial and fell in love.  It only took about 10 minutes to do, I absolutely love fishtails, and it stayed all day! This will be a common hairstyle now, I can feel it.









On Tuesday, I tried a new outfit.  I worked in my denim shirt that I had only ever worn over maxi-dresses and paired it with a tank, simple black shorts, and teal sandals to make a comfy and cute outfit.

















On Wednesday, I tried a new recipe.  I cooked this Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken with Broccoli (recipe #127) from what2cook.  Now, I enjoy sour things and I especially enjoy lemon, but if I were to do this recipe again I would use about 1/2 of the lemon juice that I did.  I'm not sure if I didn't use enough chicken or what, but WOW this chicken made the back of my jaw hurt and reminded me of warheads.


I also tried this Spinach, Mushroom & Feta Crustless Quiche from budgetbytes later in the week.  It was delicious and not too hard to make, but it didn't stay together very well once out of the pan and re-heating it definitely turned it to mush.

















On Thursday, I attempted to make this cute bow sweater from pinterest, but I only ended up ruining a really comfy sweater and wasting an hour and a half.  It didn't turn out nearly as well as I wanted.








Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were my home/jumble days and I tried a few different tricks that had been sitting on my to-do list.

First, I took a tip from pinterest to fill one of these dishwashing loofahs with 1/2 dawn and 1/2 vinegar and keep it in the shower.  Wipe down the shower while you're in it every so often to never have to deal with a day full of shower-cleaning commitment.  It's too early to see how well this works, but I'll keep you updated.

 

Next, I tried another tip from pinterest to pour 1 cup of salt mixed with 1/2 cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by a kettle of boiling water in order to unclog your drain.  Our bathroom sink has been draining really slowly for awhile and I thought this would help.  It didn't seem to help right away, but I'll see over time.  I might just need to stick a hanger down there and pull out all the inevitable hair.


Third, and my favorite, I made a food passport that came from thespottedfox.  Logan and I had been talking about trying new restaurants for a long time, and I suggested that we attempt to try every restaurant in our little town.  When I saw this idea for a food passport where you write down 50 restaurants you haven't tried, I new it was the perfect solution.  I spent a big chunk of the day today going through different apps such as urbanspoon and yelp to find all of the restaurants in our town we hadn't tried.  Well, I got up to about 43 before I gave up and said 'to be continued'.  We live in a pretty small town and I've lived here practically my whole life, so I can't say there's many options left out there.  I'm excited to get started!

Last, I tried out this pillow whitening technique where you wash your pillows in a mixture of hot water, dishwashing powder, bleach, laundry detergent, and borax.  Except I didn't have any borax.  Here's how they turned out:


Honestly, not that much better than they started.  Maybe I needed the borax.  At least I'm confident they're clean now!


That's it for the first week. I know I'm a few weeks behind on updating, but I've been sticking with it and can't wait to share all the new things!

Amy