Thursday, January 31, 2013

Revamping the ol' blog

Hi Friends! 

I got a surprise call from my boss today telling me that I didn't need to come in.
Aren't surprise days off the best? 

I figured I'd put my time off to good use, and since I have been working on learning Corel Painter (and I've actually learned a few things) I will be changing the look (and maybe the name!?) of my blog. I am pretty excited about these changes and I hope you can be patient while it looks all crazy in the process. 

A peek at my crazy workspace

I am the type of person who learns by doing so it will definitely take me a little while to get it all together, but in the end I think I'll be much happier with it.

My brain has been overflowing with creative ideas to incorporate (and with my limited knowledge of Corel and coding,) it's going to be a lesson in persistence, I'm sure.

Feel free to share your ideas and/or lessons in coding!
They'd be much appreciated

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Food For Thought

I watched this movie on Netflix many months ago, but impact it made on me is pretty tremendous. I know it's been out for awhile, but if you haven't seen it yet, please stop reading and go turn it on. This movie really brings to light all of the atrocious things that corporate food companies are doing with our food.
(If you can even call it that after the stuff they do to it.)

Now to all my vegetarian/vegan friends out there, I respect your choice, but I urge to reconsider. If of course the reason you don't eat meat is health related and you must abstain, then go right ahead.

However, if you choose not to eat meant because of the cruel ways animals are treated (and I agree) then start supporting stores that sell meat from animals that are treated fairly, given no antibiotics, & fed normal diets (when I say normal, I mean things that they would eat naturally. Grass, feed, etc.)

The more demand for these products, the more production - thus more animals will be treated well!
What's that? If you all tell people to treat me better, they will? Sweet!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This movie also reminded me of the impact we make on the earth in general.
Now, I'm a proud tree-hugger (no shame), but in the hustle and bustle of life I know we all forget to do out part sometimes.

Here I've created a list of things I do regularly that are super simple:

  1. Don't use produce bags - they are a complete waste!
  2. Bring your own grocery bags - Tons of companies give them out for free advertising & if you can't find any of those, there are always inexpensive options at your grocery store. Plus it makes carrying groceries infinitely easier, because you can put the bags over your shoulders!
  3.  Eat at home! (At least every night for dinner) - this helps you know where your food is coming from, saves you TONS of money, is a healthy choice, and develops the relationships of those you eat with! (Family, roommate, friend, etc.)
  4. Eat your leftovers. This should be common sense, but many people throw away extras instead of saving them for lunch or dinner, or even a snack for the next day. It can save you time to prep more once in the beginning of the week and eat the rest throughout, plus it can save you money and keep unnecessary trash from going to a landfill.
  5. Reuse & Recycle plastic bags -When I buy meat I use a plastic bag to bring it home, then I use it as bathroom trash bag. Also, most plastic bags are recyclable now, so at least throw it in the recycling bin if you're not going to use it again.
  6. Buy local whenever you can - This not only helps the economy & local families and business owners personally, but it has a lesser impact on the environment (since the food travels a shorter distance) and in many cases is actually more beneficial to your body (i.e. local honey can help with seasonal allergies).
  7. Use your own travel mugs - We have a couple in the house to take coffee/tea out, and two that are always in our car for when we're on the go and need a pick-me-up. (Also, most coffee shops offer a discount for people who bring their own mugs. Another money saving tip for you!)
If you don't already do these things, I encourage you to start now and soon they will be such a natural part of your routine you won't even have to think about it!

Here is a slightly more complicated list, but still very important if you can figure out a way to make them work:

  1. Compost! - So many things can be composted and put right back into the earth! It is a great way to fertilize your gardens, as well as keep those landfills less full. (Because who really wants thousands of GIGANTIC piles of trash lying around?) I am still trying to work out the logistics of composting in apartment living, but I've learned a few new things recently that should help me get the ball rolling. One, two, & three are some great options for other apartment dwellers who want to make composting a part of their daily routine.
  2. Find other uses for packaging - I've been known to save many containers and jars for various crafts. Some jars are also great for collecting any excess oil from cooking that shouldn't be poured down the drain.
  3. Recycle & Donate - (duh) Nowadays you can recycle just about everything & I fear that many people don't take advantage of recycling enough. Everything from batteries to televisions to coffee makers can (and should) be recycled if they aren't functioning. And if they are, drop them off at your local thrift store or Goodwill. (Donations are tax-deductible!)
(I was happy to recently find out that Pittsburgh has a pretty great recycling center just a few miles from my apartment. So, despite the fact that the bin outside my apartment is only for glass and aluminum, I can still recycle a bunch of other things!)

I know this was more like reading a short book than a blog post, but now you can go watch Food, Inc. & not have to worry about reading for a little while ツ 

Keep loving our one & only earth!

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Craft

I've had a craving to carve my own stamps for quite sometime now, and since Christmas brought me craft store gift cards & some spare time, I am happy to say that I've been able to dive right into this new craft! 

A few posts ago I showed y'all a photo of my first stamp, a paper airplane, and now I have some more goodies for you.
To make these stamps I used a Speedball Carving tool (which can be found online or at any art supply), & a few X-acto knives. I carved onto Speedy Carve (rubber) & old corks.

I've sort of become addicted to making stamps, and I'm pretty happy about it.

I have yet to figure out what to mount the actual stamps to yet, but I'm sure it'll come to me.

Feel free to leave some ideas below, too!

P.S. If you'd like a custom stamp, shoot me an email or leave a comment below. I'd love to start sharing my fun new hobby with you!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A nanny & an educator, all in one!

Sorry, that loud noise was me tooting my own horn.
(I kid.)

Anyway, I spent this past week with two sick kiddos and a lot of time to fill with activities that would be stimulating for them, and allow me a few moments to recharge.

I found a set of wooden letters amongst the copious amounts of toys and decided to have the 4yr old find the letters to spell some basic 3 letter words.
This activity helped with his letter recognition, spelling, & reading, and took all of 2 minutes to set up.

Oh, and it kept him busy for about 30 minutes

Then, for the little guy (18months), I created a simple "toy" to help his fine motor skills further develop. I think I had seen something on Pinterest with pipe cleaners and color matching, but since they didn't have pipe cleaners (and the skills to really match colors, yet) I adapted the idea.
I took an old bread crumbs container, poked a few holes in the lid and grabbed a handful of un-sharpened pencils and Q-tips.

I started him with the pencils, since they are larger and easier to hold and then added in a few Q-tips as we went along. 

To say he LOVED this activity would be an understatement. It was a HUGE success with him and he just kept wanting me to open the lid, dump out the supplies, and let him "play" again. He would smile and giggle every time. It was pretty adorable.

Here's to keeping the kiddos engaged!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recipe Cards

For over two years I've been wanting to make recipe cards 
and get my meal planning off of my phone and into the kitchen. 
(Seems more appropriate, doesn't it?)

I kept telling myself to wait until I got a handy program like Photoshop or Corel Painter, because it'd be easier and better looking.
Well, I got one of those handy programs last week, and guess where I made these recipe cards this afternoon. . .
. . .MS Word. True Story.
"Why?", you ask

Well, it's a lot harder to learn Corel Painter than I thought it would. 
Lame, I know, but I'm just so comfortable with my old ways. 
(Which leads me to my next project)
Learn Corel Painter
If any of you have tips/tricks please share!
(Or if you can just run a class and let me attend -fo free- that'd be great, too ツ)
 What do you guys do as far as recipe cards/meal planning/eating, ha!
I'd love to hear,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

...and we're back!

From where you ask? 

Well, this past month Dave and I have been on what I like to call "visit-the-family-for Christmas/Birthday/Winter-vacation". Basically what that means is that we drive from Pittsburgh, pit stop in Philly (to catch up with some wonderful friends! & celebrate Harry Potter themed Christmas, of course). Continue on to New Jersey for a week to visit with my in-laws, whom I truly love spending time with (especially since I have no siblings of my own, sad face.) Then move on to Long Island to see my family and celebrate my birthday. Whew. 

During this time, despite the fact that we both took our electronic devices with us, we were pretty disconnected from the internet world.

It was rather refreshing.

Then, as if spending three weeks away from home (and internet) wasn't exciting enough, after our long drive back from Long Island to Pittsburgh, we went with four other couples to a cabin in the mountains not far from Pittsburgh.

We went hiking, played games, watched movies,
All the good stuff!
Here are some visual stimuli in the event you didn't soldier through all those words
(no hard feelings)

That being said, I'm back and here to stay.
I am going to be taking this blog more seriously from now on, as well as doing some other new and exciting things (see below!)

See you soon!