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:

Pre-Show

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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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

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

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  • 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!

Lisa

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!

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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?

It’s the premiere of Dancing with the Stars!!

The day we’ve all been waiting for! Well, at least I have! It has been awhile since I’ve been so excited for the start of a DWTS. I love the cast – especially Jaleel White (as already noted!) and Maria Menunous.

8:03pm – And kicking off Season 14 of DWTS is Maria! I loved the montage – her laugh is hilarious!

8:06pm – She’s actually pretty good! Hooray!

8:08pm – And Bruno declares her delicious! I see 3 sevens coming.

8:10pm – Bingo!

8:14pm – Jack Wagner… as Becky says “So far, I’m not a fan.” He comes off as kinda an arrogant jerk. And looks a bit like David Bowie.

8:18pm – So, he’s doing ok. They always give the old guys the ballroom dances to start with instead of the latins. Makes sense, but would love to see him suffer! And, on a side note, I so want Anna’s dress!

8:19pm – Carrie Ann must have a soap fan – she’s doing her happy dance. Me…. meh. He’s ok, but not that great. Becky is predicting 7s and an 8 from Carrie Ann.

8:24pm – That’s crap! 2 8’s? No way!

8:25pm – Donald Driver and Peeta what?? Megatron? That’s it. She’s Peeta Megatron.

8:28pm – Becky: “I think she’s Australian” Lisa: “No, I’m pretty sure she’s decepticon” David (Becky’s hubby): “What does she turn into?”

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Spring is almost here! It is not to late to start planting seeds for a home-grown vegetable garden!

When I was a kid, I hated my parents’ garden. Mostly because it restricted where I could play, required me to weed, and determined the direction in which I could blow dandelions. But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to love the feeling accomplishment found in growing my own vegetables. The accomplishment is even greater when I start those vegetable plants from seed. Sure, you can buy plants, but it is cheaper, more satisfying, and you’ll have more selection if you start from seed. (and no, that’s not a picture of my garden. Wish it was though!)

Each year, I find myself planting later than I should, but it is still not too late! You, too, can start your own vegetable garden!

Here’s what you need to start:

1. Seed starting kit. I like these. You can find them at all home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware), as well as many drug stores, Walmart/Target and other home stores.  They come in various sizes – from 9 – 72 pellet sizes. I also like them because you can keep the plastic container and buy pellet refills. But, if you don’t like that option, you can also purchase small pots and potting soil and start seeds that way.

2. Seeds. Determine what you want to grow and buy the seeds. Some people are picky about organic seeds, name brands etc. You can find most seeds in the stores listed above, or at local nurseries.

3. A way to label. Always mark your seeds somehow – whether drawing a grid on paper, or by writing on markers. Seedlings tend to look similar and unless you know the difference by sight, you’ll want to know what you’re growing!

4. Water and Light.  Keep your seedlings well lit and watered. More on this later.

Getting Started – When to Plant

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My dream has finally come true! DWTS Season 14 Cast Announcement

Since Season One back in 2005, my dear friend Becky and I have watched Dancing with the Stars religiously. Every year, as we wait for the new cast announcements, the conversation always turns to “Who would be in your dream cast?” And my answer, since day one, has always been Urkel. And today, my dream has come true:

STEVE URKEL IS ON THE CAST OF DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 14!!!

I am seriously so freakin excited, you can’t even believe! Ok, fine, so it’s really Jaleel White, who played Steve Urkel (and in later seasons, when his muscles wouldn’t stop growing, Stefan Urquelle). I was so hopeful last year when I saw him starring (and dancing!) in Cee Lo Green’s video for “Cry Baby.” I love him! All I can hope for is that he doesn’t turn out to be a complete douche-canoe!

As for the rest of the cast… not bad! For the first time since Season 9 (with Donny Osmond), I’m actually really excited about this cast! Here are the rest of the stars, in order of how excited I am to have them on the show!

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