Create your own Oscar gift bag!

Aviary Photo_130691367743670724This year’s Oscars has again made the news for the extravagant gift bags, boasting $168,000 of giveaways. Gifts include an $800 candy buffet, a “glamping” vacation, makeup, furniture, liposuction and even a vibrator! While the rest of us will likely never be given a prize quite so grandiose, you can put together your own glamorous gift bag for far less than $168k – even less than $5 – with inexpensive, and even FREE items that will make your friends feel extravagant too! 

The gift bags I made were actually made for my Singles Awareness Day Party – a Valentine’s Day alternative for my wonderful single girlfriends (and one married gal whose husband was ecstatic to get out of V-day responsibilities). But you can create these for your next Oscar party, bridal shower, baby shower, or any other gathering. These gifts turned out better than I could have ever hoped for! Here’s how I did it:

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15 things you should do in 2015

Yeah, I know. Resolutions are so last year… Ha! In all honesty, I don’t really believe in making resolutions. I don’t know of anyone who makes a resolution and actually keeps it. Nearly everyone fails by mid-January anyway and then just gives up. I think it’s better to identify things in your life you want to do and just work at doing them. Set dates if you want, turn them into goals to meet, however you want, but I promise I won’t judge if you don’t get to everything. Of course, I think you should. And please, share your stories with me! I’d love to hear which of these ideas you take to heart.

One last note: this list is dedicated to all my single ladies, but is really applicable to everyone.

262919_10150337448083296_1774068_n1. Explore a local ‘hood. Have you ever spent time wandering the downtown area of your local town? Ever thought about actually stopping in one of those towns you drive past on the way to somewhere else? Do it! You might discover your new favorite restaurant. Or find the perfect gift. Or even meet some new friends.

2. Learn something. Take a class – cooking, bartending, pole-dancing, scuba diving – keep expanding your brain and your life experience.

3. Make something with your own hands. Cook a fantastic meal from scratch. Sew a decorative pillow. Pinterest is full of great ideas – find one that interests you and make it!

4. Travel somewhere you’ve never been. Go as close as the next state over, or travel to a distant land. Take in the scenery, marvel at the architecture, learn about the culture.  However you do it, get out there and see the world!


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Miss America 2015 Live Blog

I can’t help it, I LOVE watching Miss America. I used to watch it with my sister and my dad growing up – we’d make fun of the contestants and the stupid things that are said, and the inevitable blunders. I know, it’s mean, but was a great bonding experience. As an adult I continue to watch and taunt from my living room. This year, after a full day of watching football, I was settled into my comfy chair and was going to watch with little fanfare. Until one golden nugget from Miss Texas (I think, camera cut off the sash), and decided this year warrants a live blog. So, here goes:


8:53pm – “This sounds a little odd, but right before I go out, I think of puppies and kittens because it makes me happy inside.”  No dear, doesn’t sound odd at all….

Live Show

9:02pm – Miss California “from the avocado capital, holy guacamole, I’m Marina Inserra, Miss California”

9:02pm – Miss Colorado “from the highest city in the country, I’m talking elevation, people!”

9:03pm – Camera had to tilt down for Indiana – wow, she’s short!

9:04pm – did you know Louisiana has four seasons? Football, hurricanes, Mardi Gras and crawfish.

9:04pm – Ooh, and we’re arrogant. Soon-to-be Dr. Massachusetts at Harvard dental school.

9:05pm – Reality TV whore alert!  From American Idol to Miss America, it’s Miss Mississippi

9:05pm – Really Missouri, the only claim to fame for your state is the hometown of Walt Disney??

9:06pm – Oh, Miss Nebraska, never wear a leather dress again. Is that a baby bump?

9:07pm – Ok, now THAT’s a reason for a state to be proud! Thank you Oklahoma for giving us Chuck Norris!! Or maybe Chuck Norris gave us Oklahoma?

9:08pm – Miss Utah, I don’t give a rats ass that your favorite snack is green jello.

9:09pm – OMG, Miss Virgin Islands “Just like my braces, I’m here for a year!”

9:09pm – Seahawks shout out from Miss Washington, who, unlike previous years, is pretty cute!

first semifinalist – Miss Idaho.  Who promptly falls to the ground. Note, she wore her insulin pump outside her dress for the intros.

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Open Letter to Single Men | Top 10 List: how you can improve your dating profile pictures

Dear Single Men,

The past year and half or so, I’ve been trying to pursue you through online dating. It’s not easy, let me tell you. While I’ve had a few good dates, and made a friend or two, I’ve also been abducted (true story), had a guy who thought it’d be funny to run over baby bunnies with a lawnmower (yeah, seriously), and the guy who said he was ‘about average’, but couldn’t fit into the front seat of my car. But the one thing that annoys me the most are the ridiculous things you men think are appropriate for profile photos. The photos are the first area of your profile that a woman will look at, which means they are the most important for a first impression. And yet, I find your photos as a whole to be serious lacking.

With that in mind, here is my top ten list of how to make the best impression with your photos:

10. Do not include photos of yourself with all of your ridiculously hot guy friends. Unless it is clear that you are the hottest. But even then, it is always best to not leave a girl wondering if your friends are single.

9.  Do not take a photo looking up your nose. This is the most unflattering angle. This easily adds 10-20 pounds to your face. And, besides, a woman really has no need to know how many boogers are in your nose. Your photos should always be straight on, or slightly above looking down, which is the most flattering angle.

8. Have more than one photo! One picture is not enough. Show your interests, what you like to do, hanging out with your kids (if you have them) or doing something adventurous.

iStock_000005096565_Small 7. Wear clothes in your photos! (I’m leaving out the obvious – you know you shouldn’t send pictures of your junk to a lady unless she asks. We don’t wanna see it.) I’m talking the less obvious rule that there is no way to make shirtless photos not look douchy. Especially if you’re on a boat!

6. Photos from 10 years ago are off limits. Don’t make us guess which photo is really you.

5. Your primary profile picture should be your best picture. Not the one of you wearing a hat with half your face in shadow. Not some weird selfie in your car (why do men do this?!). Not the photo of last new years after you’d had 6 drinks and look like hell.

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Easy, adorable, no-sew re-upholstered footstool

beforeafterUpholstery is one of those DIY projects that can be really easy or really tough! I’ve done a couple chairs (one here), one with help from an upholstery class. I have a recliner I’d love to reupholster, but I am definitely not experienced enough to attempt it. However, there are some very simple upholstery projects that require no more than a staple gun, glue gun and some scissors – these include most dining room chairs, benches and footstools. These are the upholstery projects I – and you – can do!

Awhile back, I picked up this ugly footstool at a thrift shop for $5. I was drawn to it because the lid opens to reveal storage – reminded me of a mini piano bench. And the stool itself was in great shape – the wood was not scratched, the hinges worked perfectly, and it really seemed like it had never been used. (Probably because it was ugly!)

I had some leftover faux fur from a cape and muffs I had made for a friend’s wedding. I knew the fur would be perfect for this little bench that was just screaming for a girly makeover.


  • Faux fur or other fabric – enough to cover with a couple inches overhang on each side to staple down
  • Fleece
  • Padding (I used the existing padding – it was still in good shape)
  • Staple Gun
  • Screwdriver
  • Glue gun
  • Sample-size paints from the home improvement store
  • Primer
  • Paint brushes – small brush, larger brush and sponge brush for ombre legs

Step One: Prep
Remove the hinges and all fabric from the lid. Determine if the padding from the lid is in good enough condition to reuse. Clean the wood with TSP or similar cleaner. Sand wood with fine grit sandpaper to scuff up any stain or paint.

DSCF0516Step Two: Primer
Primer is key, especially if there was an existing finish on the bench. I had plenty of leftover primer from other projects. You can also use a paint/primer combo – but if you do, I recommend a little heavier sanding first to get through the existing finish. Coat the body, legs, and inside the storage area with primer. Odds are, the legs of the bench unscrew like mine did. I unscrewed them to apply the primer and paint to the body and then loosely screwed the legs back in to paint and primer those also. This keeps primer and pain from gunking up around the tops of the legs.

WP_20140317_010Step Three: Paint
Again, I had some leftover white paint from other projects. For the pink, I went to Lowes and got a $3 sample paint in a darker pink. My bench had a groove running along the bottom edge. This was perfect for me to paint pink. If you don’t have any such details, you can always use painters tape to create a stripe. Or just keep it solid.

For the legs, I wanted to do an ombre pink, starting darker at the bottom of the legs, moving lighter as I went up. I used a couple paper plates to mix the dark pink with the white to blend three shades of pink. Starting with the lightest shade, I painted the entire leg. When that dried, I started a third of the way down or so with the medium pink paint and a sponge brush, blending in the medium pink. Then, after that dried, I sponged on the dark pink. It turned out as good as I had hoped.

DSCF0575Step Four: Cover with fabric
Cut out the fabric you’re using to cover the top of the bench. Make sure you leave enough overhang on each side to fold over and staple down. If you are using faux fur as I did, there is a definite trick to cutting the fur without making a huge mess. DO NOT USE SCISSORS! Use a razor blade or knife to the back of the fur to cut just the backing. (see here for more instruction). Once you’ve cut to size, put the padding between the lid and the cover. Wrap the cover fabric around and staple down to the lid. I found, with the fur, that I did have to trim the fur a little shorter to have the staples stick better. Also, with thicker fabric, you may need to trim out the corners for them to lay a little flatter.

Step Five: Finish
To make the inside of the lid a little more appealing, I covered the center with white fleece. I trimmed the fur so that the fleece laid flatter, and then used a glue gun to attach it to the underside of the lid. Then, screwed the hinges back on and DONE!


2013 in Review

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I last posted. I’ve thought about it a lot, but just never sat down to write. Had a few hosting issues along the way, too. But I’m back!

So, how was your 2013? Mine was pretty good! I actually did a lot of the things I set out to do the beginning of 2013. Here are the highlights:

  • I finished remodeling my kitchen – March 2013

kitchenbefore kitchenafter

  • I remodeled my bathroom (with tons of help from dad) – December 2013

bathroombefore bathroomafter

  • I visited a new place I’d never been to: Alaska – August 2013


  • I went paragliding of the edge of a mountain – August 2013


  • I joined an online dating service and went on a few dates and met good peeps.
  • I even ate new vegetables!

Of course, there are a number of things I said I’d do that I didn’t do. I didn’t lose those 10lbs in 2013, although I’m working on it now. I didn’t get my PM certification, but am working on that too. I kept my house clean, but only in between remodeling projects. And I still have shows on my DVR from 2012. But, hey, you can’t keep all your resolutions, right? What would you resolve to do the next year?

I have no real resolutions this year. I hope to travel more. I hope to get in better shape. I hope to meet a special someone. And, I hope to spend a little more time with my blog. Have a few ideas lined up in my head – is there anything you want to see?

Thanks for coming back!


Reviving that plain old knife block

WP_001213Ok, so maybe the appearance of your knife block isn’t the biggest concern you have. It wasn’t mine either. But, after renovating the kitchen, having that ugly lump of wood on my beautiful new countertops was just a bummer. I’ve been wanting to experiment with chalkboard paint, and decided this was the perfect way to try it out!

What you need

A wooden knife block. If you don’t have one already, every thrift shop in the country has a few on hand. Pick one that matches the knives you have – or pick knives to fit the block!
Chalkboard paint – preferably spray paint



First, thoroughly clean the knife block. If you have TSP, this is best, as it will remove any grease stains. Let it dry.

WP_001215If your knife block has a magnet in the back for extra knives (mine did), you should cover the magnet with masking or painter’s tape.

Coat the block with the primer. If you’re using a spray primer, I would put two to three coats on. If you’re brushing it on, one coat should be sufficient. Follow the instructions to ensure sufficient dry time.


WP_001218Once your primer is dry, spray on the chalkboard paint! I do recommend the spray just because knife blocks are such odd surfaces, with all the holes. The spray will just coat easier. But feel free to brush it on also.

With a spray, you’ll need to do 3-4 coats. It is always best to do very thin coats with the spray, as it can easily drip or run down the sides.

Let the paint dry completely. Remove the tape, if you used it. Decorate the sides with chalk, put the knives back in and voila! A fun update to your kitchen counter!



(Oh, and yes, I did write “Caution! Sharp!” on the knife block. I need reminders like those!)

Adventures in speed dating

A few weeks back, a coworker of mine, Kelly, invited me to join her and a friend for speed dating. Honestly, I didn’t think speed dating was actually real. I thought it was just something they did in movies. You say speed dating, I think 40 Year Old Virgin:

This is what speed dating is all about


But despite that, I have committed to trying new things, and this actually sounded like fun. And then our coworker Robert decided to join us too. We tried to tell him that he’d be going in with two less options if he joined us (he already has our numbers and we’re not interested!), but that was ok. Then, another team member suggested we needed to have questions prepared. I was not even thinking about that! A quick shout-out to my Facebook friends, and I had some questions prepared (more on that later). Kelly and I also talked a bit about how we should probably check in throughout the night and make sure we didn’t write down the same names. Dating the same guy could be awkward. We decided on rock/paper/scissors as the deciding factor.

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The best way to store Christmas lights

WP_001096I love Christmas decorations!  So the first week of January is always sad for me – it’s when I have to take down the tree and the Christmas decorations. This year, I discovered an infinitely easier way to store Christmas lights.

Every year, we all have this same issue – all the Christmas lights are in a big tangled mess. It takes forever to untangle. And you know some don’t work, but you have to get them untangled to figure out which string is having the issues. Well, there is an easier way – and it’s cheap!


WP_001098WP_001099First, take a cardboard poster tube. It should be relatively stiff cardboard – a paper towel roll might work, but may also be too flimsy. A one and a half to two inch diameter poster tube is perfect. Note: for a 100-light string, you will need about a one-foot length of tube. Cut a 2-inch slice into each end of the tube. Slide the female end of the string (the side with the outlet holes) into the sliced opening. Tuck the end into the tube.

Start wrapping the light string around the tube. Keep the light bulbs sticking out away from the tube, rather than tucking them under the string. Continue wrapping around the tube, keeping the string pretty tight together.

When you’re done, tuck the female end of the string into the slice you cut on the other end of the tube. Repeat with all your lights. These tubes are easy to stick into a storage box and store until next year. And, even better, when you pull them out of storage next year, all you need to do is pull the plug out from the tube and plug it in to the wall to see if the lights are all still working. No untangling needed!


I Hate New Years Resolutions!

So, I suppose this year I’ll make a few. Every year I avoid making resolutions or goals. I hate the idea that just because it’s the new year, I have to come up with some big plans to improve myself. Unfortunately, this year, I have a lot of ideas of things I need to do. So, this year I’ll be different and I’ll make a few goals. The ‘experts’ will tell you that you need to not only make goals, but also a plan to achieve them. To help with that, I’m going to divide mine into smaller chunks… divide and conquer? Here goes (you can also find on my Pinterest board!)

Daily Goals

  • Be open to new people and new experiences. Too often, I stay home rather than take advantage of that offer to attend a party with people I may  not know too well. But maybe those people could become great new friends – I won’t know unless I try. And new experiences – if I have the opportunity to take a class or try something I’ve never tried, I will do it!
  • Floss my teeth. Dollar Tree has these awesome disposable flossers. Only a dollar! I can do that.
  • Use moisturizer – at least on my face. Elbows if I remember.
  • Exercise at least 4 times a week. Gotta aim for daily, even if it’s just a few crunches.

Monthly Goals

  • January: Don’t spend any money on anything frivolous or unnecessary until I’ve lost 10 lbs.
  • Try one new vegetable a month. In November, I tried brussel sprouts. And those were good. Thankfully, my friend Stefeny is an awesome cook – she’ll have to help. If I don’t like the veggies when she makes them, I won’t ever like them.
  • Clean out one area of the house – Computer room, closet, cupboard, etc. Pick one a month and clean it out.
  • Delete anything in my DVR that is over 6 months

View to the oceanYearly Goals

Travel somewhere I’ve never been before. I’d love to go so many places – Alaska, Norway, Florida Keys… I guess even if it’s boring old Walla Walla, WA, I need to see somewhere new.

Get my PM certification. I’d like to do an actual course for this, but even if I just study online for it, I’m gonna get it this year!

So, what about you? What are your goals for the year?