Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coo Coo for Coupons

Once in a while, a coupon comes along that’s just too good not to use. This week, thanks to my friend Bethany, I stumbled upon a jackpot of a coupon. Pier 1 was offering a printable coupon on their website for $10 off a $10 purchase. A crazy good deal! If I could find something for $10 it would basically be free! Holla! I printed out a bunch of coups for my co-workers, my Mom, my sister and myself. Gotta share the wealth! The thing was, we only had two days to use them and the fine print specified one coupon per person per visit. The bargain hunting wheels in my head starting turning. There is a Pier 1 near my work and a Pier 1 near my house. There’s no reason I couldn’t shop at both, right?  I also wanted to help my sister pick something out. Long story short, I hit up 2 different Pier 1’s, twice a day, two days in a row. Does that certify me as a coupon nut? I prefer to think of it as being thrifty! I ended up with three new treasures for next to nothing.

Deal #1: a large heavy silver tray with faux leather handles, originally priced $44 (who would actually pay full price?), marked down to $11.18, minus $10 coupon, drumroll please….I paid a whopping $1.27. That’s right, a buck and some change for a beautiful silver tray! I walked out of the store on a major shopping high. This tray will come in handy and be a decorative piece in our home.

Deal #2: a large glass storage jar with a lid and chalk label (I love these), originally $14, minus $10 coupon, I paid $4.32. What a steal! We’re currently using it to stash our cork collection until I find the right craft for them. Yes, we like wine.

Deal #3: the matching small glass storage jar with a lid and chalk label area (so cute!), originally $10, minus $10 coupon  = FREE! They were giving stuff away! Literally. This time, I kinda felt like I stole something, because I didn’t even have to pay tax. I kept expecting someone to stop me at the door and say, “Not so fast crazy coupon lady.”  But it didn’t happen. I’m using this one for my button collection.

That’s the story of how I scored $35 worth of cool stuff for $5.59. Shop with me and you’ll go far. Thank you Pier 1. And thank you Bethany for sharing such an awesome coupon!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Instagram Effects with Adobe Photoshop

The Instagram app is all the rage right now if you have an iphone. It's a fun way to take and share beautiful photos with filtered effects when you're out and about. However, I don't have an iphone. Shocking, I know. But I do have and imac with Photoshop, which is the mother ship of photo effects and filters. And I know how to use it (but who doesn't these days). I found a tutorial for creating Instagram effects with Photoshop. If you're old school like me, and want to jazz up your photos, give it a try. We don't need no stinkin' iphone. 

I tried the "Nashville" technique, found here, with a beach shot we took in the Dominican, and gave it a vintage look. Cool right? It instantly looks like it came out of my parents 1974 olive green vinyl photo album.

Here's the original before. 

I've been using Photoshop for 10 years and I am still learning new tricks and ways to do cool stuff. Photoshop really is like magic. You can remove zits, cover up bald spots, correct red eye, crop someone out (or add someone in), change the color of your shirt, repair a crack in the wall and a million and one other fabrications. Now if only I had a magic wand or rubber stamp tool to carry around in my purse...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ice Cream Cake

It's summer. It's hot. What could be better than ice cream? Ice cream cake. That's what. My husband isn't a big fan of desserts, but he does like ice cream cake. So that's what I made for his birthday. It's really easy to make an ice cream cake if you've never tried it before. Basically, all you to do is later your favorite ingredients in a pan and stick it in the freezer. Done.

My ingredient line up: French vanilla ice cream, double stuff sandwich cookies (Wegmans W O's or Oreos), Reese's Peanut Butter Cups mini's, whipped topping and rainbow sprinkles. These are all things that Andrew likes, but you can use whatever ice cream or candy you choose. The vanilla ice cream balances out the sweetness of the cookie crust and candy.

Once you're ready to start assembling the ice cream cake, leave the ice cream on the counter to start softening, while you work on the crust. After a few minutes, transfer the ice cream into a bowl and give it a little stir to help soften the center. Just don't let your ice cream completely melt into soup!

Meanwhile, place the sandwich cookies (Oreo's) into a large zipper bag. I used almost the whole package, except for about 7. If you want a thinner crust, use fewer cookies. Now mash them up! I used a meat tenderizer and carefully pounded them until they were crumbly. Don't be afraid to pulverize them. Once they are crumbly enough, add 2 Tablespoons of melted butter to the bag, reseal and mix with the cookie crumbs. This will help them stick together and create the crust.

Empty the cookie crumbs into a 13x9 inch pan. I like to use a metal one with a snap on lid. 

Using a piece of waxed paper and a meat tenderizer (or potato masher or a glass), flatten the cookie crust into the bottom of the pan until it's even and fills in the corners. 

Chop up the peanut butter cups. I used about 20-25 mini's. 

Fold the peanut butter cups into the softened ice cream. Spread ice cream mixture into the pan on top of the cookie crust.

Smooth it out, evenly distributing the peanut butter cups. Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden ice cream. 

After the ice cream has hardened a bit in the freezer, take it out and add the whipped topping.

Decorate with sprinkles or however you like. Cover and return pan to the freezer for a few hours (or overnight) so everything freezes.

When you're ready to serve your amazing ice cream cake, you can take it out of the freezer a few minutes ahead of time to soften a bit, so it's easier to cut into pieces. Then proceed to sing "Happy Birthday" and enjoy some delicious million calorie dessert! 

1 gallon ice cream (French Vanilla)
1 tub whipped topping, thawed
1 package of Oreo sandwich cookies
1 bag Reece's Peanut Butter Cup minneatures 
Rainbow sprinkles
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lazy Sunday

The temperature has been in the 80's and 90's for most of July. Whoo hoo! I guess we're experiencing a bit of a heat wave. I'll take it! It really has been HOT, but I would choose it over any other weather typical of update NY! 

Last Sunday, Andrew and I got a new blow-up pool to cool off in. Yes, technically it's a kiddie pool. But it does the job. Sunday was also the women's world cup finals, U.S. vs. Japan. Andrew thought it would be the ultimate lazy Sunday to combine the two. Kiddie pool + world cup game = ultimate backyard relaxation. 

Complete with his laptop set up on a tray table, umbrella duct taped to a chair and snacks. What more could you ask for? 

Andrew is very creative when it comes to "fun." Anything involving sports, games, music, movies or TV is right up his alley. 

This was our old "fancier" blow-up pool, which had a filter and room for a few floats. It cooled us off for three summers. This year we had to let it go. One too many holes. I kinda miss it. Especially since it's not here to cover up the giant dirt circle it left behind. Our new pool is much easier to set up and put away. Wow, look at the difference in color of our grass in these photos. Lush and green compared to brown and dry. We could use some rain.

Today, is my fun-lovin' husbands 29th birthday. Happy birthday love! I have a feeling it will be another lazy lounging type of Sunday (especially after his party last night). You are really loved by your friends and family! Especially by me. I am thankful to call you mine. Even if you act like a karaoke fool once in a while :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

No Complaining

It's so easy to complain. If you're anything like me, it's second nature. Why does negativity come so easily? It seems to surround me. One could argue it's our culture. Our "me" attitude. Our innate desire to get more, be more, do more. When are we truly grateful? Content? I'm preaching to the choir here. I take so much for granted, daily. Not because I want to or try to. It's our sinful human nature. "I was born this way," to quote Lady Gaga (but with a more accurate song meaning). 

Then there are moments in life that stop you in your tracks and make you remember how fragile this life is. How much you really do have to be thankful for. How little you have to complain about. The loss of a loved one. A family member with cancer. A tragic accident. A terminal child. It's very hard to make sense of these things. Sometimes I find myself choosing not to think about it. Not to feel. Because it's too difficult. I don't like pain. I think a common reaction is to ask God, why? But the truth is, God is there through it all. The good and the bad. The wonderful and the difficult. God knows it all, sees it all and is faithful through it all. Never changing. "The LORD is good to all: and His mercies are over all his works." Psalm 145:9. The reality is, we live in a fallen world, plagued with sin. None of us are guaranteed heath or happiness or exemption from pain or sadness. Many of us are so blessed with gifts (and they are gifts, from God) such as heath, a loving family, a spouse, a home, a job, a vehicle, food to eat. Yet we often take these things for granted. Myself included.

It's really about perspective. This life is short. It's also fragile. I am reminded of that saying, "Life is fragile, handle with prayer." A play on words with a lot of truth. I couldn't do this life without my Savior, Jesus Christ. Being able to wake up every day, knowing I am loved and forgiven, by the Creator of the Universe, is the hope that I hold on to. No matter what happens in this life, how difficult or how wonderful things may be, Heaven is waiting for me when my time is up. I don't want to spend my days complaining. What do I have to complain about? I'm forgiven! My sin has been paid for. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8. Talk about love. I already have the greatest gift I will ever receive - salvation. Complaining and having an ungrateful attitude is like a slap in the face to God. I'm the one who needs a slap in the face at times (figuratively speaking of course), to remind me who God is and who I am because of who He is.

My prayer lately is to have a more grateful heart, and to decrease my complaint department. It's easy to look at what others have, wishing for things and comparing myself. But that only plants seeds of discontentment and greed in my heart and mind. I want more of You God, and less of me. Recent events among friends and family have caused me to take a closer look at what's really important in life. My daily note-to-self is "No complaining!" Which usually lasts for a few minutes. But I figure if I keep telling myself, it will start to sink in. Who's with me? 

This post is a bit more serious than my usual topics. I have been encouraged by friends and other blogs to be honest and more "real." Which is both exciting and scary. I want this blog to be one that I would want to read. I'm going to try to share more "me" and show some more guts out here. 

Today, I am especially thankful for my family and friends, including those of you who took the time to visit read this. Life is fragile. Love the ones you love.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Amber Waves of Glass

I am the happy owner of a beautiful set of amber vintage glassware, gifted to me by my very thoughtful friend and fellow blogger, Kimi, in exchange for some of my sewing services. I think I got the better end of the deal! Kimi and her sister Christy, also a fellow blogger and very thoughtful friend, knew how much I like unique color glass things, and thought I would like these. I love these. Thank you, thank you, thank you! They belonged to Kimi's husband's grandmother, which makes me feel like part of the family now. Such a pretty color. Especially when sunlight hits them, which is why I took some photos outside at dusk. I'm a photographer wannabe. 

Two goblets with handles and four without. 

A beautiful cookie jar/cylinder with lid, which I plan on using to hold silverware and such at parties, like Kimi and Christy did. This is my favorite piece.

They happen to go nicely with a light amber glass bowl that I already have. I could see these creating a lovely table setting. 

As if that wasn't enough, I also got 3 bonus juice glasses with tiny yellow dots on them. How cute are these? I think I'll be using them for orange juice in the morning. 

I feel so blessed! This really made my day. I better start sewing to hold up my end of the bargain...

Monday, July 18, 2011

International Air Show

Over the weekend, we went to the International Air Show for the first time. It took place on part of the runway at the Rochester International Airport. I didn't really know what to expect, except that there would be different aircraft to look at and the Navy Blue Angles would do tricks in the sky. Andrew really wanted to go, so we went on a fun date on a very hot sunny day (I have a bad sunburn to show for it). It was a lot of fun as well as really interesting. We got close up look at a variety of aircraft and learned about the people and vehicles who take to the skies and a little bit of history. We snapped a ton of photos. It was hard not to with so many cool things happening overhead.

My husband appropriately wore his aviators. I think he would make one good-lookin' pilot. 

When we arrived, aircraft was lined up all over the place. We didn't know where to go first. 

This enormous C5 caught my attention. I've never seen a plane this big in my entire life. The nose and tail were opened up so people could walk through and see the inside. 

The wings were so large, they offered quite a bit of shade. People planted their chairs underneath and took a break from the scorching sun. Including us. Where's Waldo? 

Looking at a plane this size, and knowing it's capable of flying up in the air, while carrying a ton of weight, boggles my mind. I can't let myself think about aerodynamics for too long because my brain can't comprehend it. I'm not going to pretend I know the names of all the planes we saw or what they're capable of. I do know that it was very cool. And flying is pretty awesome.

We saw helicopters.

Top Gun looking jets.

Small planes.

And historic planes.

There were people parachuting and doing amazing formations in the sky.
And planes doing tricks.

There were even a couple of Nascar cars (my nephew Elijah will appreciate this).

Later in the afternoon it was time for the much anticipated Blue Angels to take to the sky for the main event! I got a photo with one of the pilots before the show.

All 6 lined up, ready for take off.

What these planes and their pilots are able to do is absolutely incredible. The precision and technique is sick. At times their wings were only 8 feet apart, flying through the air in unison. Faster than the speed of sound. By the time we could hear them overhead, they had already flown by. I'll let these photos speak for themselves. Very impressive and very cool to watch. And some good photography by my husband.

If you ever have the chance to see the show, I would recommend it. Especially if you're interested in aircraft or have kids that would love this kind of thing. There were a lot of military personnel from all branches. Local veterans who have served were recognized. It definitely reminded me how many people are out there on a daily basis, wearing the uniforms and doing extremely difficult jobs, so that we can continue to live and enjoy the freedoms we know and love. Freedom isn't free. I am personally thankful for the men and women who selflessly sacrifice their time and their lives to preserve and protect. "Thank you" simply is not enough.