Black Friday

Black Friday is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of occasion. The idea of waking up in the middle of the night to fight huge crowds to take advantage of some great deals is capitalism at its finest! (Well, sort of. I think I actually heard that it’s not good for capitalism, but that’s not really the point.) It’s also people being just plain crazy. But I just love it! That’s half the fun of Thanksgiving! I’m a very by-the-book kind of girl, so shopping the morning after Thanksgiving just feels like the right thing to do!

This year was weird though, because a lot of the stores opened at midnight. But being a very by-the-book girl, I had a hard time staying up late to go Black Friday shopping at night. That seemed too weird for me. Since I was pretty much just going for the fun and festivities of the occasion, I skipped the midnight fiasco and decided I was just going to head out for the early morning deals. I had no idea that skipping the midnight rush would change the entire environment of Black Friday shopping. 

I was going for fun, but there were two things that I did actually want. The first was a Cake Pop Maker, which was on sale at JCPenney for $8.99 after rebate.

The second was a grandma sweater (for me of course) with a funny little pun embroidered on the front, which was on sale for $15, also at JCPenney. 

I got both of them without a problem. Apparently these were not hot items. I was shocked, too.

I got to JCPenney a little after 4 AM, which was one of the few stores that opened at 4 instead of midnight. The parking lot was full, not packed, and I actually found a pretty good spot without even trying. I walked right in, found the two things I needed fairly quickly and went to check out. I was shocked to find that there was hardly a line at all. The entire experience probably didn’t even take me 20 minutes.

That was all I really wanted, but I figured since I did get up early, I should probably make my way out to the west side and hit up the mall and maybe Best Buy. I couldn’t believe how empty it was! The mall lot was at least full enough to make me park in the back but Best Buy’s was almost empty! There were no lines at the registers in either Macy’s, Bergner’s or Best Buy! I was free to roam, try on some boots at my leisure and stroll down the aisles at a pace determined by me, not the swarms of people around me for once! It was bizarre. It didn’t even feel like Black Friday! It was refreshing and disappointing at the same time. 

So, I got home and had obviously worked up an appetite, which works out perfect when it’s the day after Thanksgiving because there’s so much food in the fridge! I made my own version of Starbucks’ Granda’s Turkey Sandwich. I used a left over roll and then put on honey butter, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce! Could their possibly be anything better to come home to?! I thought not. 

I rounded out my day with a bake session to test out my new Cake Pop Maker. I attempted to recreate Starbucks’ Rocky Road Cake Pops. This was my test run, but I’m super excited to blog about my adventures in Cake Pop Land once I master the art and pin down an awesome recipe. 

I hope everyone had an awesome Black Friday, whether you’re a lover and bravely faced the midnight crowds or a hater and stayed home eating cookie dough and watching Elf. Either one sounds lovely!

Giving Thanks

I grew up with three brothers, eight cousins, three grandparents, three aunts and three uncles — just to name a few. Not a huge family but not a small one either. We were scattered around the midwest, but come the night before Thanksgiving, we were all drawn to Poplar Bluff, Missouri like magnets to my grama’s fridge. The whole family would come together for bumper pool, pinball, staircase slides, street football, organ playing and of course a gigantic Thanksgiving dinner. The festivities all seemed so elaborate. Maybe they were or maybe my memory has been warped by the sands of time, but I guess all that really matters is my fond memories of growing up with a family who loved each other. That’s something that I probably took advantage of at the time, but the older I get, the more I’ve noticed how thankful I am for that. Granted, I want to punch some of them in the face sometimes, but at the end of the day, they were the ones who had my back.

Thanksgiving has changed a lot. My grandparents moved out of Poplar Bluff, my family moved to literally opposite ends of the country and my huge feast was tailored down to only include my parents, one brother and Gramps. But no matter how much the scenery changes, the point remains the same. Thanksgiving is for remembering how blessed we are and being thankful for the people and things we have that we might not recognize enough throughout the year.

Today, I’m thankful for a lot of things. So today’s Inspired post highlights some of the most inspirational people I know.

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I am thankful for my parents, who raised four pretty awesome kids.


I am thankful for my kind-of-annoying-but-also-pretty-great big brothers (and Kayiu!). (And Mike of course, who’s pictured later)


I am thankful for the best boyfriend a girl could ask for.


I am thankful for my incredibly determined, strong-willed and beautiful best friend.


I am thankful for my other best friend.


I am thankful for old friends.

I am thankful for new friends.


I’m thankful for my super-cool grampa.

I am thankful for the strongest little girl and sweetest little boy in my life (and their equally wonderful parents).

I am thankful for my cousins who grew up right along side me and are off doing great things!


And everyone else who has stepped into my life in any way!

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I hope that everyone has had a lovely day with the people they love most!

T-Shirts and Long Days

I swear that there is some conspiracy among clock makers who decided to make time pass twice as slowly on the day before Thanksgiving. As it seemed like everyone in the world was leaving for their holiday travels, my coworker, Maja, and I sat at our desks watching time creep by. Hearing people leave the office one by one and knowing that we were in it for the long haul — or at least until 4. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about staying at work. If I really wanted to leave early, I probably could have, so no pity necessary.) It made for a very long, very slow day in Coworker Services.

But I survived! I’m writing to you today aboard the Union Pacific Northwest Metra line. I’ll be meeting my brother in Arlington Heights and riding with him back to our home, sweet home. I’m leaving behind my sparkly, big city for a holiday in good ole Rochester, Illinois. Good bye crazy traffic, hello country roads! Good bye public transportation, hello car! Good bye high-rise apartment, hello high school bedroom! It’s not that I’m not completely in love with the city, but I am still incredibly excited to go home!

As I was packing yesterday for my trip, I tried to open my bottom drawer and realized that I could barely get it open because it was stuffed-full of t-shirts. University of Illinois shirts, shirts from every city I have ever (or known anyone who has ever) been to, shirts that I made with puff-paint, the list goes on and on. Looking at my pile of shirts made me remember this cute idea I found online to turn an old t-shirt into a flower decoration. Problem solved!

Or so one would think. As I pulled t-shirts out of my drawer, one at a time, unfolding each one and analyzing its value, I kept finding reasons to hold on to each one. Some reminded me of track meets, others took me back to adventures I took with friends and some were reminiscent of my meaner days (Operation Ice anyone?). I got to the bottom of my drawer and realized I had accomplished nothing more than making a huge mess and discovering that I’m probably a hoarder.

But at this point, I was already set on making the t-shirt flower! So I opened my craft cabinet and realized that I had just enough fabric left over from a purse I made for my (practically) sister’s christmas present last year. That would have to do. I think a t-shirt would have made a cuter flower, since it’s the same color on the front and back, but I think this way worked out just fine. This idea was inspired by this t-shirt flower. I modified it slightly. It looks like a lot of steps, but really, I just took a lot of pictures.

Material

t-shirt (or other cotton fabric)
sturdy paper such as card-stock or a thick magazine cover
scissors
glue (fabric glue would probably be better, but I just used Elmer’s white glue)
felt circle (I didn’t have any felt, so I just used a piece of thick construction paper)
silk ribbon

Directions

1. You will need to make a flower stencil. Start by folding a piece of thick paper in half. I used the cover of a magazine.  

Then fold over about a third of it.

Fold in the other third.

Cut it at an arc. 

Unfold it into a flower!

Trace the flower with permanent marker onto the backside of the fabric.

Do that eight times and cut out your eight flowers.

Fold each petal in half, and then in half again. Dab a bit of glue in the corner so it will hold. Pinch it tightly for about 15 seconds so that the glue holds and it doesn’t unfold.

Cut a circle out of felt or thick construction paper. Don’t use crummy paper or it will get soggy. Frost it with glue.

Attach four of the folded petals in a layer on the circle.

For the next layer, attach three petals on top of the first layer. 

Take your last petal and fold it together a little bit to make it a cone shape. Glue it a little bit to secure it.

Glue the cone in the center.

Put a large blob of glue on the back of a button and secure to the middle of the flower. (How cute is this heart-shaped button!?)

Put a little glue on the center of the ribbon and glue to the back of the flower.

Ta-da!

Attach it to a scarf or a blazer, tie onto a vase or top off a pretty present with it! 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey 2.0

Last Thursday, I divulged my mom’s classic candy turkey recipe. I brought the finished product to my fellow HR coworkers at CDW, and they were a huge hit. However, after seeing an Oreo alternative, I got a request from one of my peers to try my hand at the new turkey: Turkey 2.0. I am not one to back down from a challenge. So I picked up a package of Oreos and Hersey’s Kisses and went to work.

Honestly, I think this version is a little more work with not enough payoff. Everyone at work though seemed to love this version too, so maybe it just comes down to whether you’re a striped shortbread person or an Oreo person. Check out the new and improved version below and let me know what you think! 

[PS I’m sorry the pics are so dark! I was working at the kitchen table and didn’t realize how crummy the lighting was!]

Attach a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup miniature to an Oreo cookie with chocolate frosting.

With frosting, secure the turkey “body” so that it is “sitting” on another Oreo cookie.

Give your turkey a Hershey’s Kiss head.

Take two candy corn and cut the yellow part off of each one. These will be your turkey’s feet! Attach the feet to the peanut butter cup.

Take the orange and white part of the candy corn that are left over from the feet and secure with frosting to the peanut butter cup for its wings.

Break off the white parts of four candy corn and secure with frosting to the top of the vertical Oreo cookie.

And then you have Turkey 2.0!  

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This version of the turkey was inspired by this post on Pinterest. I didn’t include the eyes and nose, mostly because I didn’t have white frosting for the eyes and figured a nose with no eyes would be silly. I also just realized that the wings are upside down which might be why my turkey looks a little like a penguin. Whoops! 

Turkey Treats

As tempted as I am to succumb to the appeal of Christmas that’s already starting to coat this city, everywhere from the lights on the trees outside of CDW Plaza to the seasonal section of CVS, I will hold off for at least on more week. Today’s craft is so darn cute that you literally will want to eat it. 

I got this idea from my ridiculously crafty mother. I modified it just a tiny bit because I liked Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups more than the cream-filled something-or-others that my used to use. But other than that, this edible craft is brought to you courtesy of my lovely, little mother.

Today I will show you how to turn these items into a darling Turkey Treat.

The procedure is pretty self explanatory, so I’ll primarily let the pictures do the talking. 

Use a little chocolate frosting to glue together two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures together.

Attach the Cups to half of a graham cracker with frosting.

Attach a striped shortbread cookie.

Add a candy corn “face!”

Decorate with a little pumpkin!

And you’re done!

To give as presents, try cutting off the zipper part of a Ziploc bag and secure the baggie closed with an orange ribbon.

I took mine into the office and didn’t want to individually wrap them. To ensure a safe transport, cut a paper towel to fit the bottom of a baking pan. Sprinkle the bottom with granulated white sugar to provide extra traction for your little friends. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Holiday Sneak Peak

I recently discovered a disgustingly addicting website (that apparently everyone on the planet knew about except me until three days ago) called Pinterest. I’m a crafty girl, but I’ve surprisingly never been big on crafty blogs. Most of the crafts I’ve stumbled upon either don’t have enough pictures (and we all know that I love pictures with my blog posts), the supplies are too expensive or there are just a few too many steps for me to follow without losing interest. 

Pinterest doesn’t have any of those problems. First off, Pinterest is almost exclusively pictures. Not just that, but it’s chock-full of photos of all different shapes and sizes with a bottomless scroll — hence the addictiveness. Some of the supplies might be expensive, but there are so many ideas to choose from that there are usually five more cheaper ideas to follow the first. And lastly, the steps usually fit in the photo’s caption which means they’re usually not that hard to follow. My hours spent on Pinterest in recent evenings have reminded me about a very important changing of the seasons.

Now that Halloween is over, Christmas trees are filling the department stores, lights are twinkling on all the trees once dusk hits downtown and the glorious Red Cups are back at Starbucks. 

Christmas is officially on its way. I know that it’s only November, but that doesn’t stop the aura of the holiday from taking to the streets and the stores covered in glitter.

While my boyfriend considers listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving sacrilege, I’ve been including it on my Pandora shuffle since October 1. There are very few things I love more than Christmas — in fact, I’m pretty sure that list is limited to my birthday, my boyfriend and my family — and if you ask me, nothing shows love more than a little arts and crafts time. 

So while I’ve been exploring Pinterest, I’ve been strategically selecting a series of crafts that will take this blog by storm in the coming months. And since Thursdays only come along once a week, there are only seven craft posts left until Christmas, and that means I’ve gotta get on it! So starting next week, my holiday posts will begin! I hope you’re even remotely as excited as I am! 

So this is me, going Pinterest on you. Check out some of the craft ideas and delicious sounding recipes that I will be featuring right here in the coming weeks. I will not only be making the crafts and snacks below, but I’ll be teaching you how do it too, along with the lessons I learned along the way. And as always, more stories than you can handle. 

Who’s ready?!

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I have one allotted space for a Thanksgiving craft, and I’ll give you one hint: it’s a sweet, vegetarian version of this little guy! Even cuter, actually!

I’ve got the inside scoop on some of the simplest, sparkly decorations in the book. I’ll show you how to make them, where to put them and how to make it look even better without trying any harder.

Make your own mittens in under 10 minutes?! YES, PLEASE! 

As if these delightful Kissed peanut butter cookies weren’t good enough, you will flip over the holiday version. 

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Alright, team. I hope that was enough to get your crafty holiday juices flowing. There’s plenty more where that came from, too! I tried to leave enough up to the imagination, because what fun would it be if I spilled the jingle bells all at once?! Cheers to the holidays! I can’t wait to share them with you!