Peep, Peep! Happy Easter Goes the Bunny!

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Peeps are so cute, it’s kind of hard just to eat them. Making a Peep wreath is the perfect way to showcase their cuteness on your front door.

The only materials I used to make this wreath were a Styrofoam wreath ring, some ribbon, a variety of bunny Peeps, glue gun, and miniature Styrofoam glitter eggs.

Peep Wreath

I wrapped the ring with two types of ribbon.

Peep Wreath

Then I just made a pattern with the Peeps and eggs and glue gunned directly onto the ribbon. If you like looking at Peeps as much as eating them, then this one’s for you!

Peep Wreath

The Best Kind of Cake… No Calories!

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Everyone can use some extra cash, right?! There are many examples of “money cakes” out there, but for whatever reason, I find all the green color kind of unappealing. I wanted to make a more colorful cake, but with the same amount of cash!

Most of the items can be found at the dollar store, and being that I did not want just money, I decided to include nail polish, nail stickers, a nail file, and a necklace with the Birthday girl’s initial.

Money Cake Supplies

First, take the dollars you’ll be including in your cake and roll them. It doesn’t really matter how tight you roll them as long as the elastics fit over them. Once you put the elastics around them, the dollars will expand to fit, making it the perfect tube to work with. I also took some scrapbook paper (pink chevron) and made some rolls to give a break to the harsh green color of the dollar bills. These are used as spacers between the rolled money (one scrapbook roll, two dollar rolls, etc.).

Elastics & Money Roll em up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a styrofoam plate or a paper plate, cover with a poster board of your choice. This will be the base of the cake. I went with black and glue gunned some white ribbon to make some icing.

Money Cake Base

Taking two of the large circular floral foam, I cut them in half and remade them into oval shapes using floral wire. I knew I wanted a different shaped cake to hold the nail polishes. On the second one, I attached another piece of the poster board so that there were layers.

Cake Layers

Taking the third and final large circular floral foam, I hacked it into a smaller circle. Yes, I said hacked. Have you seen my previous problems with cutting?! It’s okay though, because this project is very, very forgiving when it comes to mistakes. I also added two packages of smaller styrofoam (white) circles that I left in the plastic packaging. They came in twos, so four total.

Cake Layers Going on Up

This is where the fun part really starts. I covered the layers with plain pink scrapbook paper to go with the chevron pink striped dollar rolls and started to wrap the layers with ribbon (a purple and a shimmery white).

Ribbon Time

Ribbon Time 2

See? The hack job is totally disappearing.

…Which leads me to the edges. They too, are all messed up looking, but I took some black beading strands and glue gunned them to make some pretty trim! I also added some fake purple flowers to go with the theme.

Cleaning up Ugly Edges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that my cake was all set, I just had to add all the details. I randomly placed the nail polishes and I actually put a dot of hot glue on the bottoms to make sure they didn’t fall off. The bottom layer which had the majority of all the bills were secured with a white ribbon. To make sure that stayed, I glue gunned a small dot on the chevron rolls to the ribbon as I went. This made it super easy! I made a small cluster of bills on the top of the cake, which I also secured a white ribbon around, only I attached it to the surrounding nail polishes with some of the glue. This is where I also built a little pole that included the nail stickers, nail file, and necklace. As a final touch, I stuck a “Birthday Girl” pin into the side (from Amazon) and took a long bamboo skewer that I attached some Pop Rocks to with a little sign I made that said, “Sweet 16 Rocks”.

Finishing Touches

This was a big hit, and spent most of the night as the centerpiece for the table of gifts. This money cake takes very little time to bake and is very easy to make adjustments to any imperfections. If you know someone that would appreciate a cake without the calories, then this one’s for you!

Final Money Cake

Mocha

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Mochas, Mocha-chas, Mocha-chio, little marshmallow, little fat bear, mud face, mocha-hontas, mocha-dotties, chico chico, Mokitas, Mokes, Mo ka ka, Fatty Paddy, little chiquito, panzone, baby, sausage seal, old man whiskers, little bears fan, little blue eyes, moco loco, Mocha James the cat, pequeno, babbas…

As you can see, you had many nicknames. I don’t know where all the chubbier ones originated from as you had a slender build, but you responded to most of them.

Window Mocha

You were unique with a capital “U” and with an exclamation mark! You were a rare cross of a cat, a puppy and a human. You exuded intelligence, curiosity, love, humor, and ingenuity that I have never seen in an animal. It’s difficult to steer from being biased, but these traits were affirmed by everyone that met you; a cable man making a service call, a family member or friend dropping by, vets and specialists, and complete strangers all cooed over you and confirmed your simply remarkable traits. You gave so much in your short life. This is your story…

On a particularly average night, I heard a small meowing outside that could only resemble that of a kitten. Being an animal lover, I quickly ran outside and to the side of the house where the meowing was coming from and there, sitting in a world amongst giants, was you. You were beautiful. I could tell though that you were hungry, dehydrated, and scared. When I slowly approached you, you darted off into the dark, but you were hesitant to leave the yard and instead circled the property several times. No amount of food, promises of a warm bed, or a declaration of peace would change your mind that night and you ultimately vanished into the dark world. I figured that we would not meet again. However, fate did intend for us to meet again as I found you the next day in the empty lot. You were a pitiful sight. You sat in the tall grasses with your paws tucked nicely underneath you with silent meows exiting your mouth. I suspected you would not last long in the rugged terrain and this time you did not give up much of a fight and was easily caught.

Kitten Mocha

You were bathed (which surprisingly you didn’t mind too much), fed, given water, and had the chance to relax. I had to go to LAX that night and not wanting to leave you, I simply took you. I used an over-size purse, wrapped you in a towel, and you slept the whole time walking around the airport. You completely crashed out.

Mocha- Purse

My intentions for you were to nurse you back to health and find you a loving home, but upon buying you supplies after supplies, and the affection you offered so quickly, I knew… you found your home in me.

Baby Mocha

You quickly became a little ball of energy filled with purrs, playfulness, curiosity, love, intelligence, and I quickly gave you a “voice” in all conversations I had with you.

These conversations were always present when it was time to take various “dress up” pictures.

“Mocha, let me take this one picture and then we will be done. It’s time to send out Holiday cards!”

”Okay, mommas, please hurry up and take a picture. You get one shot!”

Easter Mocha

 

Summer Mocha

…And your outtakes were pretty funny too. You usually decided to play with the props after you gave your one good shot.

Santa outtake Mocha Outtake Mocha

Many people would find this kind of talk absurd, but unless you’ve had an extraordinary cat such as yourself, I don’t expect many to understand the sort of bond that we had.

Your shinning moment was when you were featured as one of the pets on people.com. How many cats can say that their picture was hob-knobbing next to a celebrity?! You stayed humbled. 😉

Celebrity Mocha Kicking it on People Mocha

I was completely jealous of your ability to stretch out and take naps in the most peculiar ways. They didn’t always look so comfortable, but hey, who am I to judge?

Stretch it out Mocha Flexible Mocha Snore Mocha I sleep anywhere Mocha Sweet Dreams Mocha

We took the best selfies together.

Outside Selfie Mocha Shhh Mocha Cheese Mocha Snoozing Mocha

You were friendly, not aggressive to other animals. I only heard you hiss once in your life and it even surprised yourself.

Mocha Kisses Gojira I love you chick Mocha

You were a small male cat and must have been the runt of the litter, but even though you had a sweet disposition, you were fierce and acted like a watchdog whenever you heard a noise from outside. Your ears would perk, you would jump up to look, and promptly saunter off to investigate. I’m not sure what you would have done if you encountered true danger and ferocious beasts and giants, but I appreciated your protection.

Hanging with my Pals Mocha

One of my fondest memories of you is that whenever I would get up in the morning and go to the bathroom, I would shout out, “C’mon potty partner!” and you would come for wherever you were and whatever you were doing and run into the bathroom and burst into purrs. This was our morning routine and I always looked forward to it every morning.

You loved playing hide and seek. You would squeeze under the dresser and upon me coming into the room I would say, “Where’s Mocha?!” and I would simply see your tail flicking back and forth under the dresser. I would then say, “I guess he’s not in here” and as I would walk out you would dart out from the dresser running past me clearly in complete satisfaction that you had me “fooled”. You would hide under tables and run out nipping the back of my leg and take off to hide under the dresser. You also liked to crouch down near the doorway, wiggling back and forth as if you were getting to pounce. Upon hearing, “Ready…. Set… GO!” You would take off running the gauntlet of furniture and objects with agility and speed.

You were my homework buddy, confidant, playmate, and would sit patiently behind me as I cooked. You were fascinated with the oven and the dishwasher.

Life can be cruel and unfair, and unfortunately it was to you in your last month. You came down with a sickness that has no cure, no answers, no hope and ravaged your beautiful body and soul. You were stoic and fought until you could no longer take it anymore and needed help with ending the suffering. It was obviously harder on me than it was on you, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. You gave so much in only 2 and a half plus years; I can only imagine what would have been. The rooms are now sad, empty, strange, and quiet. This is only a glimpse into your life and only a snapshot of who you really were. I hope, above all, that there was in fact something good waiting for you. I miss you Mocha… and I always will. You are too special of a cat to forget…

Paws Mocha

Mocha James the Cat- August 29, 2011 to April 3, 2014

Congratulations to the Class of…

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I needed to come up with a grad gift for a young man graduating from high school. I didn’t even know what guys liked when I was in high school, and not much has change from then! Ha. Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of the two-liter pop bottles people transform into gifts floating around. In particular, I got some inspiration from visiting Nancy’s Craft Spot.

I took a green two-liter bottle as I thought it gave it a cooler look than the clear ones.

Green Bottle

Here are the goods I stuffed it with: 100 Grand candy bars, Payday candy bars, Grad glasses (from the dollar store), and $30 dollars in one-dollar bills (not pictured).

The Goods

You have to cut a “trap door” as I like to call it, in the bottle. Some suggest making a sideways “u”, so basically a “c”. Others, however, choose to cut saloon style doors. I made the sideways “u”. You can kind of see the opening above the “r” and the “a” of the glasses.

Trap Door

Once the bottle was stuffed, I did put a little piece of tape to the trap door just to make it a bit sturdier.

IMAG2774 Stuffed Bottle

I cut off the plastic ring that’s by the cap and I actually spray painted the cap white just so it gave a cleaner feel to it. I bought a 2013 tassel (from the dollar store) and attached it under the cap. I then covered the hole by wrapping a construction paper border around the bottle. The congratulations emblem on an elastic band was from a gift card box I found at the dollar store (it fit perfect!).

Bottle

The grad and his family loved it! They didn’t know at first how I managed to get everything into the bottle. I just said it was magic, but that didn’t last long! 😉

Grad Bottle

Goal! Touchdown! Score! Hollywood Style…

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I’m going to be putting up some “reviews” (if you wanna call them that) every now and then of some television tapings. I’m the type of person that likes to see what’s up before attending. Read on if you’re like me!

ESPN SportsNation

Tickets available via 1iota
Age: 18+
Attire: Sports gear mandatory
Location: ESPN Studios in LA Live
1011 South Figueroa
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Parking: Standard Parking lot, 709 Olympic Blvd. (corner of Olympic Blvd. and South Flowers St.) Complimentary voucher
Meeting place: P2 level of the East garage in LA Live (they have signs-it’s literally in the parking garage)

You’re almost guaranteed a good time if you go to a taping of ESPN’s SportsNation. Unlike other traditional talk shows and late night television tapings, there is a great deal of interaction and more relaxed attitudes when it comes to cell phones and engagement with the talent. The show is also much more intimate. There is only room for approximately 25 people, yet you don’t have to wait a ridiculously amount of time nor show up super-duper early to attend.  30 to 45 minutes ahead of time are reasonable times to show up (unless otherwise noted on your ticket).

Tickets are available through 1iota and I have found (from attending numerous shows) that the particular 1iota crew working SportsNation is excellent. They are some cool people who engage and chill with you in line and even during the breaks between segments.

The current hosts are Charissa Thompson and Marcellus Wiley. They have various guests ranging from athletes (duh) to movie and television actors/actresses. What I can appreciate about this show is they encourage loud energy and for you to engage with the guests and the hosts. Other talk shows and late night television want that energy, but it’s all very rehearsed and they have heavy rules on yelling things out (see my future posts about those shows). If you want your two seconds of fame, you will usually see yourself a couple of times throughout the taping when it airs.

IMAG2103 Hosts & Athletes

The show also takes care of parking for you via validation (score!). Even though these are free shows, it’s nice to see a show take care of its fans.  Once again, you’ll see what I mean in future posts in regards to parking and cost when you attend other shows.

When I first went to a SportsNation taping, they indicated on 1iota’s page that everyone attending would receive a swag bag, which in actuality, everyone received a t-shirt. Now the website says that only five fans will receive a t-shirt and I have yet to attend one since then. I’ll update when and if I go again. When they have special tapings, they give out some SportsNation swag.

IMAG2697 Swag

Their dress code is casual, but states that you must wear sports gear (jerseys, t-shirts, hats, etc.), and they say that they have the right not to admit you to the show if you’re not wearing this kind of stuff. However, the first time I went, there was only one girl who was not wearing any sports related clothes and they just gave her a SportsNation t-shirt to wear. Another time I went, half the people were not wearing sports gear. They were sat at the back of the bleachers (least likely to be seen on TV). So even though you should wear some sports attire, you’ll most likely still be able to see the show without it.

Now it comes to the almighty cell phone (to some people anyway). You can bring them into the studios and you can even discreetly snap a couple of shots during the times that they are not filming. Just don’t be that person that’s going to ruin it for everyone else, by needing 100 plus pictures so that you can post them on every social media site!

SportsNation

The taping is about 1 hour and before you enter the studios, you go through a security check where they wand you and check your purse if you have one. Depending what time you get there, you’ll be in and out within an hour and a half to two hours.

So get ready sports fans for some great fun when you attend a SportsNation taping!

** The information in my reviews are strictly my own observations based on my own experience at the show and simply observing my surroundings, talking with others attending & the staff. I try to take note of key points so that I can bring you the most accurate information!

When Grandma Gives you Lemons… you Make Really Cool Stuff!

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My grandparents have an amazing lemon tree that has been going strong for years and years. They range in all shapes and sizes and I am so thankful that I don’t have to pay 79 cents per lemon at the local grocery store.

My grandma recently gave me three bags of lemons, more than I knew what to do with them. But alas, this “problem” didn’t last long. Here is what I did with my endless (seemingly) amount of lemons!

Lemons

Lemon Pepper

Basically I took ¾ cup of rainbow peppercorn (waaaay too much!), crunched it up a tad and added it to a small bowl. I then zested and zested…and zested until there was enough lemon mixed among the peppercorn.

Pepper & Zest

I put the mixture on a baking sheet and baked on the lowest setting until the lemon zest was dry.

Pepper & Zest oven

I pulsed the mixture in my Magic Bullet until it was fine.

Magic Bullet

I bought some small jars from World Market for $1.99 and stuck a chalkboard label sticker to them. I used a liquid chalk marker for the writing. The chalk markers are awesome!

Lemon Pepper

Lemonade

As I was zesting lemons for the lemon pepper, I juiced those same lemons to make lemonade.

Zest & Juice

Juice those lemons until you have 1 ½ cups. I took ½ a cup of sugar and 1 cup of water and put it in the microwave until the sugar dissolved. You’ll definitely want to add more sugar if you want a sweeter lemonade. Once that mixture cools, add it to a pitcher with the lemon juice and add water until the pitcher is full. It took me about 5 ½ to 6 cups of water. Add some ice cubes and a lemon slice for garnish and you have a cool refreshing drink on your hands!

Lemonade

Light Lemon Cheesecake

I don’t know where I originally got this recipe, but I have been using it for years and it’s delicious hot out of the oven or cold from the fridge! It’s not overly sweet and tastes great with strawberries or raspberries on top.

Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 tbsp. light margarine or butter, melted

Combine cracker crumbs and margarine/butter and press into bottom of an ungreased 9 inch spring form pan. I don’t use a spring pan anymore unless I’m making a fancy version for an event or guests. I just use a plain ol’ cake pan! I don’t measure out the butter or cracker crumbs either as I just eyeball it as I go along.

IMAG2290 Graham Cracker Crust

Filling:

3 (8 ounce) packages low fat cream cheese, softened

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

¾ cup egg substitute

1 (8 ounce) carton sugar-free, fat free lemon yogurt

Beat cream cheese, flour and sugar until light and fluffy (I beat for at least 20 minutes). Gradually add lemon juice and egg substitute. Beat well. Fold in yogurt. Pour into crust. Cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until center is almost set.

IMAG2297 Cook and Uncooked

YUM!

Lemon Cheesecake

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I made these from a recipe I found on Thibeault’s Table. I followed the recipe accordingly except I didn’t bother making the sugar glaze for them. They tasted pretty good albeit missing some poppy seeds as I didn’t have much to add to the recipe!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin

Summertime Lemon Wreath

This wreath turned out great, but it was driving me bonkers trying to dry out the slices! I took some lemons and cut them into thin slices. I put them in the oven on racks on the lowest setting. I rotated them, but when they started to brown I took them out and put them in the sun. I even returned them back to a toaster oven trying to get them to dry out. Eventually they did, but it took many hours to do so, at least 6-8 hours.

IMAG2321 IMAG2322 Dry Slices

I took a 17 mm x 63 mm x 298 mm styrofoam wreath and attached the lemon slices with straight pins. It really starts to come together when you have a few attached and start layering them. For the inner circle, I used the tiny slices of lemon and some that I cut in half so they would fit nicely. When I was done, I glue gunned a ribbon loop on the back (but I would suggest doing that first), and three feather butterflies on the front of the wreath.

Summertime Lemon Wreath

Yellow is my new favorite color. 😉

Spring has Sprung… in a Jar!

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Are the birds singing? Can you smell the flowers? It must be spring (in this region anyway)! I created some spring/Easter jars that turned out better than I expected.

You’re going to need jars (I went with the budget friendly mason jars and a random jar I already had).

Mason Jars

You’ll also need some spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum ® Painter’s ® Touch) for the lids of the mason jars. I also went with a primer to make sure that the color would coat nicely.

IMAG2194 IMAG2186

I found these beauties at the dollar store. At the time, I had no idea what I would use them for, but they came in handy!

IMAG2176

The most difficult items to find were the plastic rabbits for the top of the lids. I searched the toy sections, dollar stores, and party store for them. I finally found exactly what I was looking for on Etsy.

Plastic Rabbits

I took some random Easter candy and distributed it in layers with Easter basket grass in the random jar. I took the multi-colored eggs and put them in the smallest mason jar.

IMAG2110 IMAG2172 IMAG2174

Now I had the idea to put a milk chocolate Lindt Gold Bunny into the large mason jar. There was a problem, it didn’t fit into the jar…but that didn’t stop me! I put that little guy in the sun for about a minute to soften it a bit. I gently pressed his toe-sies until he could fit into the jar. I put some tape on the bottom of him to secure him to the jar. Once he was in there, I added some Easter grass around him and a piece of the colored branches that I found at the dollar store. I chose the branch color based on the color I was going to paint the lid (oo la la… color coordination!).

IMAG2178 IMAG2180 IMAG2183

Once the spray paint dried on the lids and the plastic rabbits (I had to do multiple coats), I glue gunned the rabbits to the top of the lid. For the random jar, I glue gunned a glittery styrofoam egg.

IMAG2217 IMAG2200 IMAG2202

I had a bird ornament that I found at Michaels for $1.99. Just like the Lindt Gold Bunny, I put it into one of the big mason jars. I changed the ribbon on it to a sheer pink one and I glue gunned the ribbon to a button that I attached to the bottom of the lid (so it would hang in the jar).

IMAG2208 IMAG2219

These were a lot of fun to put together and I was happy with the way they turned out. If you’re looking for a gift for someone or just want to spruce up your digs, then this one’s for you!

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