Life's great journey is made up of day by day delights.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Closing One Door, Opening Another

Hey, Hey! So it has been a hot minute since I have posted anything. A few reasons as to why:

1. Time.

2. Family.

3. Holidays.

4. Work.

5. And the biggest reason was a lack of connection to this blog. That may sound a little odd, I understand, but this blog had kind of become a burden to me which was the complete opposite of why I had started a blog in the first place. This was meant to be somewhere I could be me and share and learn and grow. Instead I put insane amounts of pressure on myself which resulted in sub-par posts that were not very frequent. It just became increasingly difficult to write when, from the beginning, this was not exactly the site I had planned it to be. I had good intentions for writing but I also admired so many other bloggers out there that I just felt lame in comparison so that added another layer of unnecessary stress.
Also, there is another blog out there with an almost identical name and I didn't want to a) offend that person thinking I had copied off of them. I truly didn't know it existed till after I had created mine. b) I didn't want people looking for me to find her or vice versa. Just makes an already jam-packed system a little more confusing and who needs that?!?

So, in conclusion, I will be closing this blog here shortly and any account tied to it (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

However, I have taken a step back and feel more confident in the material that I want to write about. A clearer picture is in mind of what my goals are for a blog so in the very near future I hope to see all of you at my new blog named....... the latest in nest keeping and bargain hunting on the fly! 

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Fun, fun!

Thank you to those who have followed and read, I really do appreciate it!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Literary Appetite & A Family Trait

I come from a family of readers. As a child, Mom would try and try to make me read books. If I refused, as a young child, she would then sit me down and read to me. One way or another, by golly, she was going to get books absorbed into my brain. Of course I now understand she wanted me to enjoy and love books as she did but at 8 or 9 it seemed she was urging for the sole purpose of torture. One evening, as my uncle was in town, I remember coming down to the family room to see him reading the dictionary of all things. It blew my mind then and, I must admit, it still kind of does but at the same time I feel it revealed a hunger for knowledge and that was something I so admired! Through the years, my aunt has always had books as constant companions. I feel like she has read every book in the world...from the classics to the unknown's, she seems to have known them all.
Although I wish I had embraced this family trait earlier, I am glad I have done so now. My eyes have been getting a work out this month as I have read 8+ books. One reason, beyond genuine enjoyment, for this obsession is because I am a night owl and my Kindle makes it possible for me to soak in a good read which, eventually, leads to a good night's sleep. For a true book lover, the Kindle or any other e-reader might seem like an abomination. I get it, I do. There is something so amazingly comforting and good about holding a paper back. Smelling the pages, feeling them turn. But there is much to be said for a Kindle as well such as portability & accessibility. I can hear of a book or think of a topic, search it, and within seconds it can be mine. Regardless of your stance, I fully encourage you to embrace books and the worlds they can take you to.
I think a book becomes good when it can stick with you...become a part of you somehow. These 3 have done just that for me.

1. Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer
My aunt and Mom have spoken of Georgette for years like an old comrade, encouraging me to seek her out and accept her friendship as well. I hadn't done so until my sweet aunt sent me a copy. I read, I embraced, and I love. If you are a fan of Jane Austen then this book would do for you perfectly! Georgette is so thorough with the details of the time period yet adds just the right amount of humour to make one embrace the semi-daunting terminology without fear. The characters, the scenarios....all seem impossible but it's a book and it's fiction and it's written so well that it makes it all okay.

2. War Brides by Helen Bryan
I stumbled upon this book on my Kindle one sleepless night. I'm always hooked when a book, fiction or non, involves World War II. If that is your weakness as well then this book should be added to your personal library immediately. This particular book is fiction but could have vary easily been a reality because, like Georgette Hyer, Helen Bryan pays great attention to detail of the time. I absorbed this book within a day or so because I was so drawn by all of the various character's lives and how they seemlessly began to blend together. Friendship, adventure, heartache, and strength are just a few of the threads that make this quilt of a story beautiful.

3. Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
Another late night find, Julie and Julia was a perfect distraction from the random thoughts that tend to fill a person's mind at all hours of a sleepless evening. I was drawn in by both stories, not directly related but both interesting as they are. I felt I could relate to Julie, in a sense, to the point at where she was in life. Still kind of figuring life out for herself and having a few crying fits along the way. On the other end of the spectrum, I was drawn to Julia, a seemingly polar opposite of myself making her all that more magical. Like Julie, I am now a fan of Julia Child and find her a true treasure! AND it has inspired me to try my own French cooking adventures while picking up some of the language along the way. P.S.- I found the movie version in the $5 bin at Wal-mart today and loved it!! It is a bit different from the book, as most book to movies are, but it was beautiful and it will be a definite go-to on a rainy day. And really, aren't those the best kinds of movies anyway??

I hope that you try these gems out! Or, if not these, seek out an adventure that can easily be found in your local library or online e-source. If reading is a family tradition, like it is for me, carry it on!

Have you read any of these?? What are some books that you would recommend? Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES.....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dollar Bin Diva: Fabric Tote Bag turned Fabulous

Hello, World! HAPPY FRIDAY!!! This week I am giving a little twist to Dollar Bin Diva by doing a makeover. What is life without a little variety? ;-) I snagged this fabric tote for 3 buck-a-roo's (at Target, of course) and fell in love! A big fabric tote like this comes in handy for all sorts of occasions: picnics, roadtrips, school, groceries, work, etc. This particular one is great because it easily folds up and is secured by a clasp. That is one things I often find irritating about other reusable bags is getting them to fold up nicely when not being used. Although, I love this, I probably should have waited a few days to get a better deal. Kicking myself for not waiting till this lovely was half off, I decided to lift my spirits by doing a little upgrade to the bag!

The fantastic before.....
With a few spare rosettes from this project, some discount ribbon from Hobby Lobby, and a little paint, I took this simple gray bag to fabulous in a matter of minutes.

The even better after!
 Here is what I did:

* Bought a cheap stencil from Wal-Mart, taped it on, and sponged on some white paint. It isn't perfect and that is fine with me. I still love the end result!
* Cut ribbon to size and hot glued along the thread line (front and back.)
* Glued on remaining rosettes.

Tadah! It was just that easy! I can't wait till I can use this out & about but in the meantime I am going to use it store my travel pillows.

Snug as a bug in a rug!
It is projects like this one that show you really can make the ordinary, every day items more unique with not spending an arm and a leg. You just need to get out there and give it a whirl! You might be surprised what you come up with! :-)

Find any great deals lately?? Or have you done any fun upgrades to a normally plain item? Share with the class! Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES....

Monday, July 23, 2012

No Sew Pillow Cover

Happy Monday, Everyone!! Normally this is my Color of the Week day but the product I used today was such a nightmare I couldn't dare show you. Worry not! A fab new shade should be popping up here on the ol' blog in a few days. In the meantime, feast your eyes on this! KA-POW!

You might remember the pillows to your left from this post. Yep, the pillows on the right are the very same. I loved the fact that I found these for only 50 cents but I did not love the colors. Correction, I liked the colors just not the material. Crapalicious but I can't complain when I practically paid nothing.  So I set out to Hobby Lobby, armed with a 40% off coupon, for something different. Tons of options were at my disposal but I chose a simple, gray jersey. Jersey is fantastic because it is so soft and comfy (perfect for a pillow, don't ya' think?) AND it doesn't fray which was even better for what I had in mind. Not a natural with a needle or sewing machine I am always drawn to making it appear that I am otherwise. An optical illusion, if you will. Once I had the material in hand I honestly had no clue how I was going to cover these. I google'd it, I youtube'd it but all to no avail. Finally, this morning, I had had it! I wanted to start (and finish) this project of mine. I went in blindly, totally wingin' it, but came out super happy with the end result. Let me tell ya', if I can do this so can you! Just follow these easy steps. :-)

I recommend jersey material because of it's versatility.
This becomes your cord to tie the ends.

At this point, have the side of the fabric you want showing facing upward.

I love these little velcro stickers! They come in very handy for a variety of projects.

I did sew a little here....I know, I know. The title says "no sew." You can totally skip this step. I did this on only one pillow because of my aversion to a needle and thread. From here on out hot glue is the way for me! ;-)

LAST STEP: HAVE FUN!!! I shopped my house and used spare ribbon and leftover scraps of fabric to make little rosettes. Bling the pillows out to whatever your taste might be! I just put thin lines of hot glue over the "hem", placed a ribbon over and went from there but you can do it completely different if you want to which is what makes a project like this wonderful! :-)
All in all, I am pretty happy with these! I paid around $8 for this project (pillows + fabric) because I had most of it already. I have a few flowers left which I am itching to use. Maybe they will make an appearance soon?? ;-)

Was this tutorial helpful? What is a go-to method you use to give an optical illusion? Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES....

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Canning for the Modern Day Woman: Breakdown

Hellooooooo! Happy Saturday!!! Consider this a part 2 from my original "Canning for the Modern Day Woman" post.  Canning is a really fun and gratifying hobby to have. One of the awesome things is that it actually goes beyond a is almost like it meets a primal need. The need to store and supply for yourself and those you love. Down the road if, Heaven forbid, we or someone we know, runs into hard times, we won't be without a necessity to life. FOOD. And really, I could go on and on about how it taps into my soul but I figured you're here more for the canning breakdown as opposed to my epiphanies? Yeah, that's what I thought. ONWARD!!

So like I briefly explained in my previous post, canning, although fun, is a bit time consuming. I will say that the more one cans, the easier it does become. You just have to understand a few important basics (which I conveniently found here.)

1. Prep is key!
a. Clean all surfaces and utensils. Now, I am probably a little nerdy about this one but I literally clean every possible tool and surface I might use. Sanitation is uber important because, if not done correctly,
you may not kill the bacteria and germs that can naturally reside. If you let those linger in the jars, they
may not seal properly which can lead to spoilage of food.....clearly not the point of canning. A big part
of killing the ickies is understanding what you are canning and how to boil which leads me to my next
b. Some simple science and chemistry knowledge is required to properly can and succeed. I bought this
book for about $7.00 and it has been a life saver. Highly recommend picking the Ball Blue Book
Guide up! Example: Strawberries are naturally acidic so they only require being canned in a water
canner (i.e. a giant pot). It takes less heat and pressure to kill any bacteria partly because of the acidity
in the fruit. However, if you want to can, say, meat, then a pressure canner is required. It can
carry more germs and it is not naturally acidic (according to a pH scale) so it can't terminate those
germs on it's own thus the pressure canner! The meat falls into the low acidic category on the pH
scale. The canner raises to a certain PSI to eliminate the germs and create a proper seal.
High acidity = water bath canner. Low acidity = pressure canner.
c.  Have the right tools on hand: clean jars and lids, funnel, magnet stick, headspace/air bubble tool,
rubber coated clamps, knives, cutting board, clean towels, spoons, cheesecloth (for jams), thermometer (for jams & candies), pressure canner, water bath canner, racks for canners so jars do not touch
immediate surface (racks typically come with canners), and timer.
2. Choose what you are going to can!
This is a given but it ties into the prep part. Is what I am canning going to require the water canner
or the pressure canner?  If you are not quite sure, reference the recipe and a good canning book.
3. Can, can away!

A few nights ago, Hubby and I decided to make and can some vegetable soup. So glad for his assistance because it would have taken a lot longer without him. You are probably thinking, "It is just soup...what is so hard about making that??" It is not that it is difficult, just time consuming because canning recipes tend to call for larger portions so you can make a lot at once, store it, and eat as needed. We bought fresh produce (another key: keep what you are using fresh, fresh, fresh!) and immediately went home to start. If we weren't going through a rough summer and our garden had thrived the way we had wished we could have used our own produce, which I recommend whenever possible. I o.c.d.'d my little heart out in prep...

(and lids)

(and lids)

Heat water then place jars and lids inside on the rack. It is important to have the jars and lids fully heated before filling with yummy goodness.
 ......then we got to chopping the vegetables while we let the jars and lids sit in heated water (after having been washed). The jars must be hot because hot mixtures are usually poured in. You don't want the jars cracking due to a big temperature change. We put our sliced and diced veggies in a big pot with some water and seasonings then let get to a simmer/boil for about 15ish minutes.....

 Following that, we retrieved the hot jars...

Popped a funnel in, poured in the veggies and yummy broth.....

Cleaned the mouth of the jar (there must not be any debris or cracks), measured the headspace (distance between top of food to top of jar), removed air bubbles, plopped on lids....

 Secured lids, and placed all jars in pressure canner. The recipe called for the canner to be at 10 PSI.

To achieve that, we had the canner sitting on a burner on high and watched as it slowly rose to 10 PSI. We then made sure we had a steady heat and set our time for the allotted time which just so happened to be 1 hour and 25 minutes! Once the jars had been in there for the time needed, we turned the heat off and let them sit there till the gauge went from 10 PSI back down to 0. Only then could we remove the lid and then gather our jars. Many times the jars will have a white powdery coating on them which is due to oxidation.

Simply clean them up and they are about set. All of the lids must have a secure fit. They cannot move, wiggle, or jiggle. Throughout the day you may hear light pop sounds...that is a good thing. It is the last little bit of air escaping and the process is done! You will want to store your jars in a cool, dry place. I recommend a cabinet or pantry away from the oven/stove. Then, some cool, autumn night, when hunger strikes, you will be armed and ready with some delicious food that YOU made. You know exactly what is in it and what it cost! ENJOY!!!

For the full recipe, please visit Ball's site here.
 I am so excited to eat our soup in the cooler months!  I have a lot more ideas up my sleeves so stay tuned to check them out. Have you tried canning before? Do you have any tried and true recipes? I'd love to see them! :-) Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birch Box: July 2012

It's my favorite time of the Birch Box was waiting in my mail box today. YIPEE!  If you are wondering what happened to a post about my June box and all of the goodies within....well yeah. Me too. I must have inhaled too many fumes from my recent nail polish obsession and spaced it. Sorry, Kiddos. Hopefully you will forgive me and just soak in the gloriousness of this month's arrival.

I am honestly super stoked about this month! The folks at Birch Box chose a great theme for July: The 5 Senses of Summer!! All of the items are directly sensory related. Go ahead, take a peek!

edited via, via
The 5 Senses of Summer
 This is such a fantastic theme because summer is truly a season that is jam packed with things that stir the senses. We see the bright sun, smell the fresh flowers, taste the sweet flavors, feel the grass beneath our feet, and we hear birds chirping in the trees. The five senses are also covered in this month's box.

edited via, via
1. Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint This little gem falls into the category of touch, I believe. It makes your skin feel "natural" and "dewy" while still providing coverage. I tested a little spot on my hand and this product definitely does what it claims.

2. Oscar de la Renta Live in Love Perfume Live in Love obviously covers the smelling sense. And may I just say it covers it beautifully? This epitomizes a perfume to me. I don't think I would have initally chosen this scent myself but the more I am wearing it, the more I am enjoying it.

3. Larabar Uber Bar I love a good granola type bar and I also love Larabar brand so I was a happy girl when I discovered this in my box. This bar is the Cherry Cobbler flavor and packed full of flavor it is! This puppy is stuffed with goodness: cherries, nuts, and other natural awesome treasures. Taste sensation covered? CHECK!

4. Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Olive One thing I love about Birch Box is that they introduce the consumer to cosmetic companies and their products. I, myself, have never heard of Eyeko but now I am so glad I am acquainted. Eyeliner is one of my signature pieces in my make-up bag but I typically go for a gel liner. I may not after trying out this baby, though. It is so easy to use, the color is very strong, and it dries quickly (i.e. no smudging). UPDATE: I have used this the last few days and I. AM. OBSESSED. It is amazing and lasts all day. L-O-V-E.

5. Earbuds...This was an unexpected treat! For the sense of hearing, they sent hot pink and green ear buds along with a link to find some great playlists. I am so excited to use these at the gym!!

6. Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens I have mentioned before that I am a girl with skin issues so when I saw these blotting linens I was pretty stoked. I hate the middle-of-the-day-attack-of-oily-skin. This has always been a bothersome issue with me so I can't wait to try these out and see if they help beat that shine that tends to consume my face come 3 o'clock. I'm not the only one with this problem, right?!?  Just realized, this is a 6th item....maybe it ties in with touch?? If you're smarter than me and have a clue, let me know.

You all know I love great beauty products and this month's box did not disappoint. The only downside is that I can hardly wait till next month!!

Are you a Birch Box fanatic like yours truly? What looks like the best product this month?? Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Color of the Week: Rose Bud

Hey, hey! Hope you all had a great weekend! Besides feeling a little icky sicky, my weekend was great!! Got a lot of deep cleaning I wanted to get done, celebrated Eric's birthday (I rocked some faux lashes a la Real Housewives style), and continued the celebration in his hometown of Cincinnati. Good times, good times. But enough of that....let's get on to the color of the week!

A few weeks ago, someone commented that they wanted me to find a metallic rose color. A shade that would work if you wear red OR pink. She had a favorite but would soon be running out and her particular color was discontinued. Wah, wah. Sensing an adventure, I jumped at the chance to discover a perfect fit! Hopefully I didn't disappoint. Anonymous, this is for YOU!

VIA, Rose Bud from Pure Ice, # 969 cp
Meet Rose Bud! This little lady is a super sweet, fun addition to any beauty collection. A metallic-ish rosey color that definitely works with red or pink and let's be honest, Ladies! Finding a color that can work both ways is always tough. I am really enjoying this color and it makes me feel ultra feminine. I got this little gem at Wal-Mart for a buck and some change. PERFECT! P.S.- I totally took this bottle all over the store, putting it next to red items then next to pink to make sure it worked. Apparently, I have to bring a little crazy wherever I go.

Anonymous, I hope this is the color you were looking for. Enjoy! :-)

What hue is on your nails this week? Is there a shade you are looking for but can't find? If so, message me and I will see if I can help!! :-) Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Skinny Girl Trapped: Baby Steps

This is a post I have really debated on writing. I may regret it but I am hoping that I grow from it instead. I admit now that I am will hold back in the beginning of all this.....I probably won't spill my beans about this topic in it's entirety until I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. By doing that I am going into to self-protect mode AND I am sparing you, my readers, a hysterical mess of a woman. :-)

I have always felt, especially as of late, that I am a skinny girl trapped in a fat girls body. Many things have contributed to this thinking but those are more for my "light at the end of the tunnel" days. ;-) So here I am at a place in my life that I want to run far, far, FARRRR away from. But I can't really run until I begin to take those baby steps. So I itty, bitty step at a time. My first step?

I did my research and made a plan by using these sources as my guide.


He and She Eat Clean

Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Diet

I stumbled onto Jamie Eason's info one day while randomly web-browsing during a down time at work. I read it. It made sense. And then I thought I was crazy. "This chick wants me to lift weights? Eat 6 meals a day? Is she insane?.....Or am I because I am actually considering doing this?"  I may have been crazy but it's one of those rare times that crazy works. From there I found He and She Eat Clean which led to the Eat Clean Diet. I'm no pro, I have TONS much more to accomplish but here are some changes I have seen just from doing this for a few weeks:

1. I have shed some pounds. Whoot, whoot!
2. My hypoglycemia is under control. This is a big one! I am sick of my blood sugar dropping and interrupting my life.
3. I feel kind of...awesome! I ate some "healthy" fast food the other day, kind of last minute and unplanned. (Bad, Anna! BAD!) Although "healthy", I knew it didn't follow my guidelines and I felt so sick! My body was like, "Ew! ANNA! What are you doing to me??" That was such a big sign to me that eating clean was right for me!

I also realized that this is not a diet. It is a lifestyle. So much changes (naturally and by choice) once you intro these concepts into your day to day life.

Again, I am no-pro. I have much to learn and it will be a long road ahead. I'm still a skinny girl trapped....well more like a skinny girl that is trapped but was given some water and bread and is now surviving, planning her day of escape and revenge. Encourage her, tell her she can do it. Just don't bake her a cake with a file to break out because she will eat it. The cake. Not the file. :-)

Phew! I feel better. I put it out there. I am going to try to update "Skinny Girl Trapped" at least once a week so if you want to lose weight or just plain feel better, be sure to check out my blog!

Have you tried any of these plans? What other options have you tried? Whatever your goal, just keep your head up! You can do this! UNTIL NEXT TIME, HUGS AND KISSES...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Colors of the Week: Water Street Blue + Empire State Blue

For this "Color of the Week" I have the blues! The ab-fab blues. NAILED IT! ;-) I chose both NYC products this time around. I really love the quality of their nail polish. It is typically pretty durable and is ALWAYS a great price. I'm talking $1.79 and less, People! I mentioned in this post that they often have coupons as well making them an even better deal, believe it or not! Even if you can't strike a deal, these usually fit into most budget's and always look great. Take a look...

For weeks now, every time I pass these colors in the nail polish section, I grab them...then put them back. Then grab them...then put them back. Thank goodness these aren't puppies! Their hopes would surely be crushed by now. Apparently I wasn't taking my own advice of "just going with it." I kept thinking I wasn't brave enough but then finally I put them in the cart, paid for them, and brought them home. The vicious cycle is over. They are mine and we couldn't be happier together! The main color is New York Color's In a New York Minute "Water Street Blue" which is a deep, sky blue shade. This series of polish is great for a girl on the go because it dries so fast but with a smooth finish! Then for a bit of variety I used New York Color's Long Wearing "Empire State Blue." This blue is a deep blue as well, mirroring the main color, but it is also kind of a teal or complete green in other lights. I am totally in love with this color and may rock it all by it's lonesome soon. Or maybe mix it with a purple for a peacock color palette....what do you think?? Let's get a closer look at those bottles, shall we?

via,  Water Street Blue - 296

via, Empire State Blue -140 
Yeah, I've definitely got the blues but I've replaced a harmonica and a soulful voice with a nail file and clear coat. I'm so excited because an anonymous commenter asked if I could find a particular shade. I will be on the hunt this week and hope to deliver soon. :-)

What do you think of this week's selection? Thumbs up or thumbs down? What color are you rocking this week??? Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES....