Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Tinsel Garland Wreath

Hello, hello. It's New Year's Eve! I have another New Year's craft to share with you today- a super easy wreath for your front door.

Introducing... the Tinsel Garland Wreath!

I'm usually not a big fan of things that are too sparkly or ultra-feminine, but it's NEW YEAR'S! If you can't have a bit of shimmery girliness on New Year's, when can you???

This wreath will cost you next to nothing, but will provide you with plenty of shimmer and holiday spirit!

Now that Christmas has come and gone, retailers are marking down Christmas decorations- get some tinsel garland and some festive ribbon. Then, head to the crafts section and get a wreath form- either foam or cardboard. You could even make your own!

First, begin by securing one end of the garland on the wreath form. Either knot it or tape it. Next, wrap the garland around the wreath form until the entire wreath form is covered. If you have plenty of garland, you can wrap it tightly- of you only have one pack, wrap it loosely.

Finally, cut a piece of festive ribbon, loop it through the wreath, and either make a knot or a bow!

Feel free to add other embellishments! I personally love how simple it is- just the right amount of sparkly tackiness.

See you in 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Polymer Clay Fortune Cookies

Hey, folks! I hope you all are having a fabulous day, enjoying the last few days of 2013. I've had a great year, but I'm very ready for 2014 and I'm so excited to see what it has in store for me. I have a feeling that it's going to be my best year yet!

While most of us are probably thinking of goals and resolutions for the new year, a little good luck certainly couldn't hurt anyone...

These Polymer Clay Fortune Cookies are super cute and could be just the luck you need for a fresh start in 2014!

First, begin by rolling the polyer clay with a smooth drinking glass. I started to use a wooden rolling pin, but realized that a porous surface might not be best for clay that can have negative effects on your health. Continue to roll out the clay until the clay is even and about 1/8" thick. With a circle-shaped cookie cutter or the opening of a drinking glass (I used a regular mason jar), make a circle and trim any excess clay with an exacto-knife.

Gently fold the circle in half. Using both hands, gently bend the clay down over the edge of a drinking glass until you form a fortune cookie shape.

Once you are satisifed with the shape, bake it in an oven (or toaster oven) for about 30 minutes at 275* or according to the directions on the clay package.

Feel free to add your own fortune before baking! Just place your fortune in the middle of the circle prior to folding. Be sure to cover the fortune with foil so it doesn't burn!

These Polymer Clay Fortune Cookies would be so cute as favors at a New Year's Party, weddings, and many other celebrations. The possibilities are endless!

Tips & Tricks

Line the baking pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.

Do not overbake the clay!

Open the windows or door and turn on a fan while using the clay- wash your hands after handling the clay.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

[Super Easy] Homemade Peanut Butter Fudge

I hope everyone is having a fabulous holiday!!! I've really enjoyed having some time off from work and getting to spend some quality time with Babe. We've been watching our fair share of Christmas movies, indulging in great food and tasty treats, and I've finally had time to make some of the things on my ever-growing list. 

First up, Peanut Butter Fudge!!!

I have a real passion [a sad passion] for peanut butter fudge. You guys, I love the stuff! It's the only type of fudge that I like and it's something that I rarely treat myself to.

So, in honor of Christmas and over-indulging, I decided to make "the good stuff" for the very first time-- Homemade Peanut Butter Fudge. This recipe is so easy- I don't know why I haven't gotten around to making it sooner!


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 teaspoon vanilla


Grease an 8" x 8" pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and milk to a boil. Once it begins to boil, cook for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the pan and allow the fudge to cool until it is set.

Recipe Source

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

"May you have peace on your lips and in your hearts."
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

[Super Easy] Glass Snow Ornament

It's Christmas Eve! I can hardly believe it!

I know it's a bit late for Christmas crafts, but I wanted to share this Glass Snow Ornament with you-- when you're shopping the after Christmas sales and you see clear glass ornaments for 75% off, you can make some super cute ornaments for next year!

This ornament is so easy to make. There aren't really any directions involved-- just three short steps. 
1) Take the top off of the glass ornament.
2) Fill the ornament with "snow"- I got my glittery "snow" for just 10 cents a bag after Christmas last year!
3) Tie a ribbon onto the ornament and hang it on your tree!

Merry Christmas to all of you! May your Christmas be filled with peace, love, and happiness and may you be surrounded by the ones you love!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Week Recap + Blondie Recipe + Last Minute Holiday DIY Projects

Hello, hello! I hope you all had an amazing week and an even better weekend. It got so warm here that we nearly turned on the AC; it certainly doesn't feel like Christmastime, but I'm fine with that. The forecast says that it will be colder by Christmas, but we'll see :)
We were thrilled that the bridge opened last Sunday. We definitely took advantage of it and did a little last minute Christmas shopping on Tuesday.
It's so funny to explain to people that this is our highway:

And a trip up north meant that there was a trip to The Good Life Gourmet.

And an annual stop by the Poulos family light display. It's amazing!
Kitty's acting like her normal self again!

And I made White Chocolate Blondie Bars for the Knitting Group. They're always a crowd pleaser!

Slowly getting decorated for Christmas!

Better late than never! Right?

The Christmas Countdown we made last year
And finally... the Mason Jar Snow Globes I made last year- so easy and so cute!

Are you ready for Christmas?
Other than waiting on a few more packages from Amazon, I'm all ready! I've not done my usual holiday baking this year, but my waist line is totally fine with that. Besides, having a full-time job, even as a Fitness Coordinator, means that there are lots of goodies laying around :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sequin "Christmas Present" Ornament

I hope you all are having a great weekend and are soaking up plenty of holiday cheer! I have a super easy, yet cute craft for you today. When I was in elementary school, my mom and I would make these Christmas Present Ornaments to give to my teachers at Christmastime. These ornaments are really so simple that anyone can make them. And while they might be a bit tedious to make, they're totally worth it- they look absolutely gorgeous hanging on the Christmas tree.

These Christmas Present Ornaments start with a cube of foam. White craft foam or green floral foam will both work- just cut the foam into cubes (2 to 2.5 inch squares are what I use). Next, gather the rest of the supplies: sequins (at least two different colors), sequin pins, ribbon, and a floral pin (corsage pin). All of these supplies can be found at your local craft store and online.

Starting at the corner of one side of the cube, begin by pinning the sequins across in even rows, making sure to leave room for the different color sequin (which will look like ribbon). Repeat the process on the other sides of the cube, making sure that your "ribbon" sequins line up correctly.

Once all of the sequins are in place, make a bow with the ribbon and secure it in place with a floral pin.

To hang the ornament, attach clear fish line, hemp, string, or another piece of ribbon to the top of the ornament. I have found that it works best to secure whatever I'm using (fish line, string, etc.) underneath the floral pin.

Any plans for the weekend?

I'm off to do some food prep for the week and get ready for the Christmas Parade this afternoon- everyone from work is participating, so it should be fun! I'm looking forward to some hot chocolate afterwards :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chocolate-Peppermint Ganache

While I'm a huge fan of American Buttercream atop my cupcakes, I rally love the smooth and clean look of ganache in its glaze form. And since it's December, the only way to make ganache even better is to add some peppermint extract!

Ganache is so easy! I used to be very intimidated, but there's no reason to be. Ganache is made up of chocolate and heavy cream- that's it!


12 ounces chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon peppermint extract


In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the heavy cream for 2-3 minutes, or until the heavy cream starts to boil. I recommend stirring the cream every so often.

Once the heavy cream is piping hot, pour it over the chocolate in a separate bowl and stir until well combined (I used a whisk). The process of pouring the hot cream over the chocolate instead of heating the chocolate ensures that the chocolate doesn't burn- I've had some pretty awful experiences trying to melt chocolate!

Once the mixture is nice and smooth, add the peppermint extract and stir until well combined. Let the mixture cool.

Once cooled, either dip the cupcakes into the ganache or spoon the ganache over the cupcakes (or cake). I dipped mine twice, allowing the ganache to set-up in between coats.

Tips and tricks:
If you're going to add toppings, let the ganache set-up first. Otherwise, you'll have a mess!
This recipe is plenty for 24 cupcakes. In fact, I bet you could do 48 with it.
Refrigerate the leftover ganache and make truffles with it! Let it chill overnight and form the ganache into small balls to make truffles. Roll the truffles into cocoa powder or chopped nuts.
If you're wanting a whipped ganache, just whip the mixture like you would if you were making whipped cream- no extra ingredients necessary!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Broccoli Tree

My friend, Mary Beth, has a very unique Christmas tradition. Instead of a regular ol' Christmas tree, she decorates a Broccoli Tree. This year, she shared her tradition by sending me home with a Romanesque cauliflower and some decorations, and now I want to share the tradition with all of you. This would be a fun project for kiddos while they're on holiday break and it would make a cute center piece for your next gathering!
While I was tempted to eat this new-to-me vegetable, I decorated it as instructed. If you've never seen a Romanesque cauliflower, here she is...
Mary Beth gave me a box full of decorations for my "tree"
And here's the finished "tree"- so cute!
Do you have any non-traditional holiday traditions?
Oh, great news: our bridge has re-opened and I couldn't be happier! It's the best Christmas gift ever!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week Recap

 Hello, hello! Happy Sunday! I hop you are enjoying the weekend.
It's been a while, I know, but I've been so busy. My work schedule has changed a little and I'm adjusting, but I've also had a sick kitty to tend to.
I've held two Christmas Cookie Decorating events at work for different age groups... they each had their own plates of cookies, decorations, and icing (red, green, and white).
It was funny to see how different these kiddos were- some wanted to decorate all of their cookies and take them home to share with their families, while others ate every single one and licked all of the icing off of their plates...
In the winter months, I lead the "Walk Through Winter" program at work. Three days a week, members of the community meet up, I drive them to the spot of their choice, and we walk for 3-5 miles. It's nice to get out of the office, especially when the weather's gorgeous!
We've had some of the most gorgeous sunsets lately.
And my kitty's starting to act like her "old" self again!
My first Nature Box arrived. I had a 50% off code and got my box for just $9.95. It was a great way to see what all the hype was about. At 10 bucks, the box is a steal (especially since I can't buy these products locally), but I don't know if I'd want to pay $20 per box for things I might not like... I'm just picky like that. While babe liked everything in the box, I loved the Vanilla Macaroon Granola and the Pistachio Power Clusters the best.
Are you ready for Christmas?
I'm as ready as I'm going to get!
It hasn't exactly felt like Christmas here on the island. I haven't even mailed the first card- I need to get on that ASAP. We're still without access to our bridge, and the ferry is sort of impossible. While things could certainly be worse and I'm so thankful that we're safe and we have all of the essentials, I miss leaving the island to go Christmas shopping, Christmas-light watching, and doing the festive things that we usually get to do. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime!
And as for the blog, I'll try to get back into the habit of posting more regularly. We'll see how that goes...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Race Recap

I forgot to mention that our bridge (the only way to drive onto our island) was closed last Tuesday. It was deemed unsafe- it's 50 years old and severe erosion has taken place, which has caused the sand around the support structures to be scoured away.
This meant that I had two choices. #1: I could stay home and the money I spent on a hotel and the race would be wasted (not to mention 2 months of training)... or #2: I could suck it up and take the emergency ferry.
I decided to go with the later, and planned on taking the 12:00 ferry so that I could at least teach two fitness classes before leaving the island. I arrived in line at 11:20, thinking that I arrived with plenty of time to spare, but I was so wrong... I did catch the 3:00 ferry and after a 2+ hour ride and a 30 minute drive to where I would have otherwise ended up on the other side of the bridge, I was on my way to Virginia Beach. I made it to packet pick-up with 15 minutes to spare!!! So, what would have been a 3 hour drive turned into an 8.5 hour event...
But, on the bright side, local restaurants were quick to take advantage of a bad situation- they had employees walk from car to car, passing out take-out menus and delivering the food to your car while you waited in line! It was so nice to get a mocha delivered to my car :) 

Life on an island...

The start of the race- a rainy and windy morning.

Despite running most of 6 miles in the rain and about 4 miles of running into 18-20 mph wind on the boardwalk, I finished! 

And a cup of beer never tasted so good!

Post-race party

I am so glad I decided to run the race. I felt so much happiness after crossing that finish line and getting a hot shower (conveniently located next to the finish of the race), knowing that despite a few obstacles with training and traveling, I did my best and I'm so proud of myself. I'm still not a very fast runner, but my time has greatly improved since my races over the last few years and running is beginning to be more of a "love" thing instead of a "love-hate" thing.
Any big race plans in your future?
I think I'm ready to sign up for a February race already!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ham and Cheese Lasagna

Do you ever get tired of cooking the same thing over and over again? I do. Chicken seems to be a protein staple in my house, but sometimes, I just need a break from it. This Ham and Cheese Lasagna recipe is perfect when you're looking for something different to cook or when you have leftover ham.

Ham leftovers from your Christmas or Easter dinners will never be the same!


9-12 lasagna noodles, cooked
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used fat-free)
1 cup cottage cheese (I used fat-free)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 cups finely chopped cooked ham
1/2 package mushroom slices
1 tablespoon dried parsley


Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the mushroom slices about halfway through.

Blend in the flour until the onions are well coated. Add the milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and just beginning to bubble, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the cottage cheese and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir until melted. Stir in the ham and parsley. Remove from the heat.

In a 13" x 9" baking dish (sprayed with non-stick spray), arrange three to four lasagna noodles and top with 1/4 of the ham mixture. Repeat to create three more layers of noodles and sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top.

Bake at 350*F for 40 minutes. Remove lasagna from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.


I hope you all have a great weekend! Any big plans?

I'll be heading to Virginia Beach this evening for my 10-mile race tomorrow... I'm so excited and nervous at the same time. I hope the training has paid off :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Easy Dinner Idea + Candy Cane Christmas Ornament

Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

After so many festivities lately, I wanted to make a super simple dinner the other night. I began by boiling some whole wheat pasta and cooking some Italian turkey sausage. While they were cooking, I prepped some tomatoes and spinach.

Once the pasta and turkey sausage were cooked, I combined everything in a skillet and added some light Alfredo sauce. I cooked the mixture on medium-low until the spinach began to wilt and the sauce was heated through. This dinner came together in no time at all! Though it definitely satisfied me, I'm not sure how I felt about the tomatoes- maybe next time I'd add mushrooms instead.

And now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, I feel that it is totally appropriate to share a super easy holiday craft with you- Candy Cane Christmas Ornaments! These ornaments are so easy to make and they're super inexpensive.
These would make a cute holiday gift for teachers, co-workers, friends, and family. And of course, they would look great on your own tree. These Candy Cane Ornaments would be great to hand out to your neighbors with a plate of holiday cookies and would make a great addition to your holiday gift-wrapping! The possibilities are endless!
You only need a few supplies: red beads, white/clear beads, a pipe cleaner, and a pair of scissors.

Start by cutting the pipe cleaner in half and folding over one end of the pipe cleaner.

Next, start threading beads onto the pipe cleaner. My pattern was two red and two clear.

Once you are finished beading the pipe cleaner, fold over the other end of the pipe cleaner. Bend one end of the pipe cleaner to make a cane. You now have a candy cane ornament- easy peasy! 

When do you usually begin to decorate for Christmas?

We usually put up our tree on Thanksgiving, right after we've had our big meal  and cleaned up all of the mess. I'm a slacker this year, so the tree is still not up and decorated, but... it will get done this week for sure!