Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I Decided to Try AdSense

**I'm already having really frustrating issues with adsense, so I don't know if the ads are showing up or not right now on my blog!!*

I've had my blog up and running for the past 2.5 years, and in that time I've written 684 posts, started a project 365 blog (which is about to have 2 months worth of pictures uploaded to it, so you might want to check it sometime around Wednesday if you're interested!), began writing in 3 other blogs (My Twenties Blog, my church's blog, and my own personal blog which I keep as a journal), and met hundreds of amazing women!! I really never ever thought I could become so close with so many people I've never met. But that's another post for another day.

All that to say, blogging has become such a huge part of my life! I love it, and it's the hobby that I'm most obsessed with...Pinterest is currently catching up to my obsession with blogging, but again...another post for another day. Why am I having such a hard time staying on subject?? :-P

I've been playing around with the idea of adding AdSense for awhile. Why not make a little extra money from something I love to do?? But part of me knew I would feel like a sell-out. However, with the changes in our lives that are about to take place (I know I've been hinting at these changes for a long time, but I'm waiting for one more thing to arrive in my mailbox to make it official before I want to go completely public with the announcement. So there's a little hint for you at least ;-)) I knew every penny would make a difference. So that's what made the final decision to add it.

If you don't know, AdSense is something you can easily add to your blog for free. You just click on the word "Monetize" on your blogger dashboard, and it will take you through the process of adding it. Basically it just lets Google put ads on your page, and you get a certain amount of money every time someone clicks on one of those ads. I think the amount varies depending on what the ad is.

All that to say, I hope you guys will still visit my little old piece of the internet, even though I have become a sell-out (just kidding!)

Do I expect to make tons of money through this? Absolutely not. I know my blog doesn't have a huge following. But every little bit helps!

If you don't have AdSense on your blog, I would encourage you to check it out. Why not make a little money doing something you love??

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Today I am thankful for the veterans, and those currently serving in the military. I praise God that I can live in a country where I am free and safe, and I'm so thankful to the people who have fought for that freedom.

We have had a lovely weekend so far celebrating Memorial Day, and essentially, the beginning of summer (although I still have a week of work left before it's officially summer for me!)
Nothing says summer to me like a big pitcher of lemonade! The first of the year for us :-)

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday baking cookies for a picnic at Luke's parents' house. I made chocolate chip...I'm happy to say that after 3 years of marriage, I have finally mastered the skill of making good chocolate chip cookies! haha...
We went to the picnic in the afternoon, and had a great time! We had burgers, hot dogs, fish, homemade curly fries from the fryer, and birthday cake and ice cream for Luke's Aunt. It was delicious!I especially enjoyed the fish. Yum!!

We spent the day talking, eating, and playing games. It was great, because it really felt like summer!Me and Luke's cousin Jane got whooped, two times in a row playing Sequence. Oh well, it wasn't our day I guess!

Luke and I both have the day off from work today, so when we got home last night, we stayed up late watching a movie. It was nice to not have to worry about getting up early on Monday. Of course, we are both so used to getting up early we were only able to sleep in until 8:20. Oh well, we tried :-P

I spent the morning today working outside, weeding and cleaning things out. I just can't keep up with it all while I'm working full time! Hopefully it will get better after next Friday when I'm done! We have this cute little stone along our walkway that Luke's aunt made us last year. She made one for every family, and of course we got an Ohio State one! haha...She made it out of old pottery that used to belong to Luke's great grandma (I think!! I need to figure out if that's right or not!) We love it :-)
Plans for the rest of the day include more work on the house and yard, and later we're heading to a bonfire at my parents' house. Should be another good evening!

How are you celebrating Memorial Day?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week in Review

Luke has taken on a little side job mowing lawns in the evening. Consequently, I haven't been able to see him as much as normal :-( However, for some reason I've found that I get a lot done when I'm home alone, so this was a pretty productive week.

Sunday 5/22 - We went to church as usual, and then headed to Luke's grandparents' house for lunch. After lunch, we all went out and looked at the spot where they will be putting a new house, which was exciting! Later, I went to my grandparents' house to celebrate my Grandma's birthday. And after that, I watched the third Pirates movie with Luke, and then immediately left for the theater where we watched the 4th Pirates movie in 3D. My thoughts on the movie: meh...it was just more of the same from the first 3. I think this series has been played out. I really, really love the first movie, and like the second a lot, but the third and fourth just weren't that great to me...they were nothing new I guess.

Monday 5/13 - I went out shopping with coupons, and was really excited to save a lot of money! Later, Luke and JC went to the Indians game so I stayed home and got about 20 things checked off of my to-do list, and half of them were done while I watched The Bachelorette! So it was a productive evening in my opinion :-)

Tuesday 5/14 - On Tuesday I had a nice visit with my grandma after work, and then made a quick early dinner for Luke before he dashed out the door at 4:45 for a night of mowing. I spent the evening tackling more items on my to-do list, reading, and making these cute paper flowers.

Wednesday 5/25 - I barely even remember what I did Wednesday, so it must have been pretty boring. I spent the evening alone for the most part again, and got some things done. Wednesdays always seem to be so boring! I did make a delicious Olive Garden copy-cat salad for dinner for myself, and it was pretty delicious!

Thursday 5/26- This day I had another great grocery shopping trip where I saved more money! I spent the rest of the evening the same way I spent all my evenings this week.

Friday 5/27 - This was track and field day at my school! So I got to work the 3-legged race. It was a fun day, but being outside all day had me feeling pretty miserable with my allergies. In the evening I went out to see The Hangover Part 2 with Luke and 4 of his guy friends. I am not proud that I saw it, and it was definitely pretty inappropriate. Much worse than the first one. I usually make it a point not to watch R-rated comedies, but I made an exception for some reason. Although it was funny, definitely not worth watching again. After the movie, we all went to Applebees for a late dinner. Luke graciously paid for both of our meals with a gift card he had received for his birthday, so that was nice! Overall I enjoyed the evening. It's fun crashing guys night every once in awhile...hope they didn't mind! :-)
Saturday 5/28 - I had another library meeting in the morning which I was late to because I slept in. I was so embarrassed! And while I am often a little late, I NEVER EVER sleep in when I'm supposed to get up for something. Like, I have not done it in 4 years of working at the job I'm at now. I haven't been feeling well, and I guess I was just super tired and somehow turned my alarm off instead of pushing "snooze." Anyway, the meeting was good! I spent the rest of the day clipping coupons and cleaning the house. We grilled burgers and had fries for dinner in the evening, and spent the rest of it just chilling out together. We've both been pretty under-the-weather this week, and Luke is just plain exhausted from working so hard!

Milestones this week: I seem to have come out of my blogging slump. I'd been in one for awhile and it was starting to feel like a chore. But something clicked and I've been finding more time to do it, and it's fun again! So yay!

Movies I watched: Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (B) and 4 (B-), and The Hangover 2 (C)

Books I'm reading: Still reading Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs...I hope to finish it next week because I've been reading it FOREVER! And finished 2 Chronicles in the Bible.

Songs I'm loving: (there are a lot...apparently I listened to a lot of music this week!) Come Alive - Barlow Girl, Mistakes - Kutless, Unbreakable - Fireflight, You - Britt Nicole

Favorite picture:
This was taken on Friday on the way to the movie, and I thought the sky looked really cool!

Things I'm looking forward to next week: Memorial Day picnics, having a day off, finishing out the school year!! Our last day is Friday! And getting the final preparations in order for the library's grand opening next Sunday!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How to Stretch Your Dollar

Couponing is addicting, and I can easily see how people can become obsessed. When your receipt prints out at the grocery store or drug store, and you see how much money you saved, you definitely get a little rush.

When I began couponing, I noticed the savings were spilling into other areas. I got so excited about saving money with coupons, I wanted to save money other ways too! So I decided I'd try to post some updates on how I'm doing with my couponing and saving, and also share the tips I find along the way!

Today I want to share something really simple, but it's something I struggled with for a very long time after we got married, and that is using what you have, and not letting things go to waste.

Since Luke and I don't have kids yet, I just have to cook for the two of us. For the first couple years of our marriage, I threw away WAY too much food, because we simply couldn't eat it fast enough. I feel like in the past few months, I've gotten much better at using what we have. Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way:

1. Freeze what you know you can't eat now. When I make lasagna or a big casserole that the two of us will never be able to eat quickly, I try to freeze as much as I can. Not only does this prevent food from going bad, but it also helps me later on down the road when I've had a long week and don't feel like preparing a whole meal.

2. Don't buy too much of one item (if it's a perishable product) just because it's on sale. I was really guilty of this before. If something was on sale, I would buy a lot of it, not taking into consideration the fact that we may not be able to eat/use it all before it expired. This one has become easier as time has gone on, because I have a much better idea of how much of a certain product Luke and I can use/eat in a certain amount of time now.

3. Keep a list of possible meals you could make with the items you have on hand. This has been so helpful for me! I keep a "note" on my iPhone of all the meals I can make with the food/products I have on hand, and the ones that I plan to buy the following week. That way, I don't forget about something I have in the fridge or cupboard. I plan on spending between $55 and $60 next week on groceries. Out of those groceries, plus whatever I have left at my house, I can make 9 meals! I thought that was pretty good! This helps me use up what I have, and also makes meal-planning so much less of a hassle.

4. Make meals that have similar ingredients during the same week. For example, I ordered some meatballs from a fundraiser that one of the kids at my school was doing. Later, I looked in the Giant Eagle add this week, and Italian Sausage is on sale. So I will plan on making meatball subs one day this week, and Italian Sausage sandwiches another day. That way, I will probably be able to use up all the sub buns I buy this week, instead of leaving a few of them to sit in my cupboard and go bad.

5. Eat your leftovers, and keep your refigerator clean and organized. I was really, really not good at this when we first got married. I would put leftovers in the fridge, and completely forget about them. Honestly, there were times when I would throw away a whole tupperware container because it was too gross to try to clean out! But luckily, I've gotten much better at this, too. I try to clean out my refrigerator weekly, and keep all of our leftovers at the very front of the shelves so we don't forget about them.


And just for my own records, I'm going to keep track of how I'm doing with saving money, and I'm going to try to post the amount of money I saved weekly. So for the week of May 22, 2011, here's how much money I saved:

Walgreens: Saved $4.25 in coupons and store sales

Giant Eagle: Saved $22.59 in coupons and store sales

Total Saved This Week: $26.84

Not bad for my first week back in the game! And for the first time in MONTHS, we are staying under budget for groceries for the month of May. (Okay, it was only $.18 cents under budget, but hey, it's better than being $30 over!!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

When the Rain Comes

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Ohio, we have had the most brutal and depressing spring that I can ever remember. Up until about a week ago, it felt like it rained every single day! There were only a few days in the months of April and May that were sunny.

It got to the point where I was starting to feel really depressed. It was hard to be happy when everything was so gray and muddy. I was tired of being indoors, going stir crazy. I was tired of dealing with our flooded yard and high grass that we couldn’t mow because the lawn was so wet.

Along with the gross weather, I have been feeling sick since the beginning of April. I’m pretty sure it’s allergies, because I don’t think a cold can last for 6 weeks. Ha! I was constantly congested, my eyes were itchy and watery, and I would have random, violent coughing fits that would leave me unable to breathe.

Needless to say, this has NOT been a fun spring. Not in the least.

But this week, things started to change. We’ve still had a few thunderstorms, but for the most part, it’s been sunny and beautiful. Along with the better weather, my allergy symptoms seem to be getting better.

I noticed something funny sometime around Wednesday: I had never in my life felt so happy and excited about the weather. I had never felt so appreciative and thankful for the warmth of the sunshine before.

I have looked at this week as such a precious blessing! I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much if I hadn’t gone through all those days and days of rain.

Life is the same way. Sometimes it’s just not fun, and circumstances can be depressing. But if we didn’t go through the storms, how could we fully enjoy the sunshine? God’s blessings are so much sweeter to us after a period of “rain” in our lives.

As much as it hurts sometimes, I am ultimately thankful for the storms that God has walked me through, and is walking me through right now. I think about the day when the rain will stop, the clouds will part, and rays of sunshine will break through. That sunshine will mean so much more to me than it would have if I hadn’t endured the storm.

I love the Song “When the Rain Comes” by Third Day. This part hit close to home the last time I heard it:

“When the rain comes you blame it on the things that you have done. When the storm fades, you know that rain must fall on everyone. Rest awhile, it’ll be all right. No one loves you like I do. I can’t stop the rain from falling down on you again. I can’t stop the rain, but I will hold you ‘til it goes away.”

If the sun is shining on you today, don’t forget to praise God! I’m sure you have probably gone through a storm of your own not too long ago (my pastor always says you’re either about to enter one, you’re in the middle of one, or you just got over one). So praise God that He brought you through it to a place of beauty!

And if you are in the middle of the storm, know that God is using it to make you stronger, and to pull you closer to Him. And as soon as the storm ends, you are about to witness something amazing, and you’re going to appreciate it so much more. You can’t have a rainbow without the rain!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

DIY Paper Flowers

One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to complete 6 do-it-yourself projects. I have now completed 4. #1: curtains. #2: Initials in pretty frames. #3: "Bride to be" banner. And I'll be sharing number 4 today!

I had this extra frame lying around my house, and I wanted to do something with it other than just fill it with a picture. So here is what I came up with:
It makes me happy! It's perfect for spring, and feeds my recent obsession with the color yellow :-) I also love that it's so 3-dimensional. The best part was that it was extremely easy to make.

There are so many things you could do with these paper flowers! You could use them as an embellishment for almost anything: headbands, hair clips, bookmarks, pins...the possibilities are endless.

I found the tutorial at my favorite design/craft website ever: Jones Design Company. and HERE is where I found the tutorial for the flowers. PLEASE check it out...she did something so cute with the flowers!!

Next do-it-yourself project on my list to tackle? The wall stencil in my bedroom. I quit when I was halfway finished, and am now regretting my decision to ever start it. Oh well, too late now!

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Today I'm bringing you a recipe that is probably the most disgustingly unhealthy thing in the entire world, but it's absolutely delicious:
Do you notice a theme with all my recipes? They are always very tasty, but never, ever healthy! What can I say? I'm just glad that I'm finally getting the hang of this cooking thing now that I have almost 3 years of marriage under my belt...I haven't been too worried about whether or not my recipes have been HEALTHY. Maybe I should, but not today! Because I have to share this recipe with you first.

My mom's birthday was on Friday, and Julie and I used to make her an ice cream sandwich cake for her birthday all the time when we were younger. It was easy for us...we couldn't mess it up like we could a real cake!

Here's the recipe:

12-24 ice cream sandwiches, depending on how large you want your cake to be. I used a square pan, and 12 ice cream sandwiches were enough.
Whipped Cream
Chocolate Syrup


1. Put a layer of ice cream sandwiches covering the bottom of the pan.

2. cover the ice cream sandwiches with a layer of whipped cream, and then drizzle a generous amount of chocolate syrup on top.

3. Put another layer of ice cream sandwiches on top of all that.

4. Top it all with more whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and as many peanuts as you want.

(Random sidenote...with all the layers, I like to call it chocolate lasagna).
There you have it: a simple dessert that even a child could make :-) But oh, so delicious! Try it next time you need a quick dessert idea!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why Keep a Prayer Journal?

Since sometime around Christmas, I have been keeping a prayer journal. It has been such a good thing in my life, and today I wanted to share a little about it.

I write in my prayer journal every morning (well, I'll be real and admit that I do miss the occasional day if I'm running late or something. But ideally it would be every day). I start out by writing down thanksgiving and praises for God's greatness and all He has done. I love starting out this way because I hate feeling like my prayer life is nothing more than a string of requests. Next, I pray for whatever is on my heart and that God would use me and take control of every aspect of my life. For me, it is important that I pray this daily, because I've found that if I don't surrender daily, I will try to take things into my own hands. And nothing good comes from that. Finally, I pray for specific prayer requests for family and friends (that includes blog friends! ;-))

Overall, writing all of this in my prayer journal takes about 10 minutes each morning. Not a very long time at all, but it has made such a difference in my life!

Here are some of the advantages of writing in a prayer journal:
  • Since I do it in the morning, it really gets my day started off on the right foot.
  • I have had times in my life where I felt distant from God. At the time, I thought it was because He had pulled away. And sometimes maybe it was (more about this in the next bullet point). But mostly I think it's because I had pulled away from Him. Making a conscious effort to write in my prayer journal daily has helped me feel close to and connected to God.
  • That being said, I really do think there are times in life when God does pull away a little bit to test our faith - times when He doesn't let us feel His presence as much. During those times, sometimes it doesn't feel like God is hearing our prayers. Writing them down makes them feel more concrete, if that makes sense, and reminds me that God really does hear me.
  • It helps me stay focused and prevents my mind from wandering.
  • It strengthens my faith. When I look back over the past 6 months in my prayer journal, (I always date my prayers, by the way!) I can see all the prayers God has answered and what He's done in my life,and it definitely increases my faith.
Starting my prayer journal has transformed my quiet time, my relationship with God, and my life. If you are like me and struggle with finding real, quality time with God and also have a wandering mind, I encourage you to start a prayer journal today!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back to Couponing

Have you seen the show "Extreme Couponing" on TLC? Oh my goodness, craziest show ever! People will literally buy of $1,000 of stuff and pay less than $10 for it!

I think it's borderline crazy to cut out 97 coupons for something like barbecue sauce, and proceed to buy 97 bottles of barbecue sauce. I don't care if you CAN get it for free...do you really need 97 bottles?! Seriously, leave some for the rest of us!

Anyway, rant: over. As crazy as I think these people are, they HAVE inspired me to get back into couponing.

My plan for couponing this time around is to only buy things with coupons that can be matched with a sale or another coupon. I will try to start a stockpile, but just a small one, big enough to fill the cabinet in my bathroom. Anything I can get beyond that for pennies or for free, I will donate. Anyway, in a nutshell, my goal is to not pay full price for anything, to start a small stockpile, and get as many items or free or less than $1 as possible. I know I'll never be like those extreme couponers, and I'm absolutely fine with that!

I spent a big portion of my free time this weekend making my game plan for shopping this week. I picked up two newspapers with coupon inserts, and clipped all the coupons for products that I use. Then I went through the weekly ads for Walmart, Giant Eagle, and Walgreens to see which coupons match up with sales, and which items had store coupons. Sometimes a manufacturers coupon will match with a store coupon for even more savings. Also, Giant Eagle has e-offers which are coupons you find online and virtually "clip." The savings go directly to your store card when you buy that product. So next, I found which manufacturers coupons matched with the e-offers (there were a lot!) After that I made detailed shopping lists for all the stores I planned to shop at, on my iPhone (Luke and I love the "Our Groceries" app). I had noted which ones were on sale, and which ones I had a coupon for. Then I sorted them in the order in which I would find them in the grocery store (OCD much?) Finally, I put the coupons I knew I would be using this week in envelopes, a different envelope for each store.

My goal is to get every detail figured out BEFORE my shopping trip. That way it's quicker and easier, and I don't miss anything.

So did all my hard work pay off? I Shopped at Giant Eagle tonight, and here is a breakdown:

Bought: 37 items
Cost before discount: $80.00
Cost after coupons and store discount: $57. 41

(28% savings)
(plus $4 in coupons printed out for my next shopping trip!)

Now, I'm sure coupon veterans look at that and think it's nothing. But I'm just getting back into the swing of things, and I was pretty proud of myself!

I didn't score anything for free today, but here are some notable deals I found for $1 or less:

Knorr Pasta or Rice Sides:
$.50 off when you by 2, doubled (Giant Eagle doubles coupons up to $1!)
Final price: $.89 apiece

Bounty Paper towels:
$.25 off coupon, doubled
Final price: $.89

Suave Professionals Shampoo:
on sale for $1.50 apiece w/ store card
$.50 off coupon when you buy 2, doubled
Total price: $1 apiece

(Okay, this last one's not less than $1, but I thought it was a great deal. There are certain brands that I don't like to compromise on, and I love Dawn Plus dish soap because it keeps my hands so soft! I don't have a dishwasher, so I need to be careful what dish soap I use! Anyway, this brand Is usually very expensive, and I normally pay over $3 for it)
Dawn Plus Hand Renewal dish soap:
$.50 off Giant Eagle e-offer, + $.50 coupon, doubled (total savings: $1.50 off)
Final Price: $1.69

I'm feeling pretty good about my savings! I know I'll get better as time goes on, and as my stockpile grows, too. Speaking of my stockpile, here are its meager beginnings:

I have trips planned to Walgreens and Walmart later this week, and I can't wait to see how much I can save! The good thing about couponing (besides saving money, obviously) is that it makes shopping like a game or a challenge. It makes me dread it just a little bit less :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Week in Review

Sunday 5/15 - After church, Luke, JC and I went out to lunch at Q City Diner again, and it was delicious! Luke and I then did some boring grocery shopping, and after that I spent the entire afternoon and evening chilling on the couch and watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother. I had had a whirlwind of a week before with Julie's shower and everything, so I really needed Sunday to be a day to relax! It was nice.

Monday 5/16 - After work I met with my Aunt Beth to talk about library stuff, and then spent the rest of the evening working on projects and watching more HIMYM. Pretty boring stuff!

Tuesday 5/17 - Tuesdays always seem to be so boring. I can't even remember what I did! But I think it was much the same as Monday + some grocery shopping (no fun!) Oh, and we watched Pirates of the Caribbean in order to get ready for the 4th one!

Wednesday 5/18 - In the evening, the library committee at church spent about 3 hours shelving all the fiction books in our church collection. The library is opening in 2 weeks, so we have a lot to do before then! After that, I met with my sister to talk through some wedding details. This ended up being a late night!

Thursday 5/19 - I started the official countdown on my board at work to the end of the school year. This was one of the highlights of my day, because we're really getting close to the end! Then in the evening, some people came over to our house to watch the season finales of The Office and Parks and Recreation. I've been sick for about 3 weeks with what I think are allergies, and I literally had to leave the room multiple times because I was laughing so hard, it was throwing me into coughing fits! I think it might have been the best Parks and Rec ever. Did anyone watch it? Ron Swanson in his circular table and swivel chair just killed us! (Although, admittedly, it was not quite as funny as Ron's drunk dancing last week :-P)

Friday 5/20 - This was my mom's birthday! So after work I went grocery shopping and cleaned the house to get ready for a little family party. We ate pizza and ice cream sandwich cake (yum!), watched the Indians, and hung out together. Mom got a Nook, so she was pretty excited!

Saturday 5/21 - I had to get up early in the morning to go to the church and work on more library stuff. Then I spent most of the rest of the day clipping and organizing coupons, and making grocery lists for the week. I really want to get back into couponing, and I came back with a vengeance! Later in the afternoon/evening, we went to the wedding and reception of Mitch and Kayla, some friends from church. It was a great time! The reception was held at the same place where my sister's will be held in a month, so it was nice to see it ahead of time. When we got home, Luke and I watched the second Pirates movie. It was a full but great day!

Milestones this week: Got back into couponing!

Movies I watched: Pirates of the Caribbean 1 & 2 (A & A)

Books I'm reading: Finishing up 2 Chronicles in the Bible, and got back into reading Here Burns my Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Songs I'm loving: When the Rain Comes - Third Day, Broken - Lifehouse, Porcelain Heart - Barlow Girl

Favorite picture from this week:
Pretty sure this picture speaks for itself :-D

Things I'm looking forward to next week: Going to see the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean movie, end of the year festivities at school including track and field day on Friday, and hopefully some more warm [but rainy :-/] weather.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What I've Been up to

I was so looking forward to life slowing down after Julie's shower, but it just hasn't yet! However, I am MAKING time to post today. However, all I can muster is a bullet list, because I'm about to fall asleep. so here's what I've been up to:

~ Watching all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies! Luke and I are going to see the new one on Sunday night so we have to catch up on the first three! We watched the first one on Tuesday, we'll watch the second one tomorrow night, and the third one Saturday night. After these long, hectic days, it has been nice to relax for a few hours at night and watch a movie with Luke.

~Working on the church library. Since our church just rebuilt a wing of our building, we got a new library! I am on the library committee, and we have been working hard for a few months, entering all of our books and resources electronically, along with shifting our entire collection of books to a different section of the church: the new, beautiful library. It has been a big project, and it feels so good that the library is so close to being opened! On Saturday we will load all of the nonfiction books. This excites me, and I think that officially qualifies me as a big nerd.

~Nearing the end of the school year. We have two weeks left! The year has gone quickly, but I've had a heavy workload and some students who require a lot of extra guidance and attention. I'm ready for a break, and I'm definitely counting down the days!

~ Receiving my sister's wedding invitation in the mail! Oh my goodness, it's so cute! She designed them herself. I can't show the whole invitation because there are way too many last names and addresses on there, but her's a little detail on the RSVP card...I love the bird!

~ Blogging over at My Twenties Blog. Hop on over there to see a post devoted to my favorite color for spring and summer!
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Wow, I just looked at the clock and it's after midnight! I'm going to sign off since I have to wake up in 6 hours! Have a happy Friday :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Cooking Wednesday: Truffles and Cake Balls

For my sister's bridal shower, we made truffles to give away as favors, and I think they were a hit!

I decided to make three different kinds of truffles: oreo truffles, chocolate cake balls, and red velvet cake balls.

I will start with the...

I can't for the life of me find where I originally found the recipe for these, so I can't really give credit where credit is due, I guess. But I'm going to share the recipe anyway. These are to-die-for, but I'm pretty sure just looking at them will make you gain a pound or two.

1 package Oreo cookies
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
2 (8 oz) packages semi-sweet chocolate baking squares


1. Crush up the Oreos. Then mix them together with the cream cheese in a medium bowl until well blended. Roll the mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter.

2. Heat the chocolate baking squares until melted and smooth.

3. Dip the balls into the chocolate. This is the hard part. I think I have yet to find a great technique for this, but the best thing I've found is to drop the ball into the chocolate, roll it around, scoop it up with a fork, and lightly tap your wrist so the excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. (This is definitely the most difficult, time-consuming and frustrating step!)

4. Set the truffles on wax paper until cool, then refrigerate until firm.

5. Decorate to your hearts content!! This is by far my favorite step.


As I said, the other two kinds of truffles we made were cake balls - red velvet and chocolate. These were delicious! But they didn't set up quite as well as the oreo truffles, and were much harder to work with.

I found the recipe on Bakerella's website, so instead of typing out the recipe, here is a link to the page.

We had a truffle-decorating party a few days before Julie's shower, and we had lots of fun! Julie even came to join us...but mostly to watch, and to "taste-test" the mess-ups ;-)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Julie's Bridal Shower

I know I said I was going to post more often last week, but then blogger had all of it's issues during the only free time I had to write last week, so this time it's really not all my fault! :-P Now that my sister's bridal shower is over, I'm sure I'll have a lot of free time to post!

Anyway, Saturday was the shower! I was so excited to plan it for her (along with my mom and some help from the bridesmaids and family members!) Her wedding colors are black, white, and teal, so we wanted to go with that for the shower too. Except, we used black, white, and a mixture of different blue colors.

I was so stressed out the week of the shower and had a few breakdowns due to the fact that I've been extremely sick with what I think must be allergies, and also the fact that things just kept going wrong. But in the end, everything seemed to come together, and I think Julie really enjoyed her shower!

So here is a breakdown of the shower:

We had the shower at the brand new cafe in our church. It is a beautiful little room with a fire place and a whole wall covered with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out into the canyon. I thought it was the perfect place to have it!

Ham and chicken salad sandwiches (in croissants), veggies and dip, fruit, crackers, and cheese. I am so thankful to everyone who made food, because it turned out to be so delicious!

We kept it simple here: lemonade, water, and my mom brought her Keurig so people could make different kinds of tea or coffee. It worked out great!

Going along with our summer-y theme, instead of cake or cupcakes, we served strawberry shortcake for dessert (my mom's idea) made by my Aunt Beth, and my cousin Rachel made whipped cream to serve with it. It was TO DIE FOR. The picture speaks for itself.

For favors, we gave everyone a bag of homemade truffles in the wedding colors, wrapped in little baggies with blue ribbon. We made Oreo truffles, and two kinds of cake balls using Bakerella's recipe. A post devoted to the truffles is coming your way on Wednesday! I think they were a hit :-)

I guess we wanted a classy/summer-y/slightly country feel to the shower, so we went really simple for the centerpieces: Mason Jars filled with daisies and tied with a blue ribbon. I originally wanted to dye the Mason Jars blue, because I found a tutorial online. However, the glass dye I needed was too hard to find, so we ended up nixing the idea. I think they turned out cute anyway, and I currently have one in my dining room and one in my living room. We had a lot left over. I love daisies...daisies are the friendliest flower (name that movie!)

We also used some other flowers (I forget what kind these are!) to decorate the counter where all the food was. In a blue Mason Jar...at least we had 1!

We just had two games: 1.) Trivia about Julie and Andy. Some were questions about the wedding and their relationship, and some were things that happened to either Andy or Julie, and guests had to guess who matched with what items. If that makes sense. We added some funny ones to keep it interesting. Like the fact one of them (COUGH julie COUGH) wrote all of her letters upside down until she was 6. I'm sure she'll be super happy I put that out for the world to see :-P

2.)We also played bridal BINGO, where you fill in the BINGO board with things you think the bride will receive as gifts, and then check them off as she opens them.

For the prizes I just bought soaps or candles from Bath and Body Works.

Mom and Julie made this amazing sign using stick-on wall decals. Isn't it awesome? (Julie, like me, loves birds, and is using some understated bird details in the wedding)

And I made this "Bride-to-be" banner with ribbon and scrapbook paper. My mom added the tulle bows to the sides.

I made these food labels out of more ribbon and scrapbook paper

Random pictures from the day:

This is me arriving at the church about 2 hours before the shower started. I was so relieved to have made it to the day of the shower with no major catastrophes! As I said before, I had kind of a rough week leading up to Saturday, so it felt good to be able to just enjoy it all with Julie on the day of the shower. All the stress was gone at this point!

The bride-to-be looking excited as the guests arrive
Pictures were hard in this room with the huge windows!

My cousins: Stacey and Anissa (both bridesmaids), my cousin Rachel, and Stacey's holding my newest baby cousin, Elin (Rachel's daughter)

Julie with her sea of gifts

...opening them...

And about 45 minutes later...

The happy couple! Andy came at the end to help Julie ship all of their loot to Akron

Here's a shot of Julie with all of her bridesmaids:

And one more shot because it's so cute: my cousins Hudson and Elin...apparently all the excitement wore them out! Too cute.

Overall, it was such a great day! I hope Julie enjoyed it, and I'm so excited for she and Andy to begin their lives together. The wedding is on June 25, so it is coming up pretty quickly! After the wedding, they are going on an 11-day trip to Scotland! I may be slightly jealous...

Congratulations, Julie and Andy!