Glitter Gift Boxes

27 Dec

The holidays are almost over, and as you may have noticed, I have had quite the hectic month and have not been able to post as often as I would have liked. My apologies, but if you are a crafter like me, I promise I’ll make it up to you.

You see, the true reason I have been MIA all December is because I have finally taken some time to wind down and get back into crafting… also I moved into a new apartment and have had crazy work schedule, but those aren’t as important. I love making crafts because it is so satisfying to make something beautiful for your home, and because they make great gifts. I love the feeling of knowing that someone truly enjoys something I made just with them in mind. That is why every Christmas I opt to make my Christmas gifts instead of buying them. It is a tradition I started back in college when I had more time than money, but now that I am in the opposite situation, I chose to buy everyone something I thought they would like, and also make them something small that would be one of a kind.

I have had a lot of fun making t-shirts for my nephews in recent years and will share those photos and directions in a post in the near future. However, this year I have been on a glitterizing kick ever since I found some blogs about how to breathe new life into old shoes by covering them in glitter. I tried it and it was awesome, so naturally I did what any crafter with a new glitter obsession would do, I glitterized everything I could from picture frames to earrings to candle holders. My “aha” moment came when I decided to incorporate my new technique into this year’s batch Christmas gifts.

Almost every year, I make a box of candies for my three sisters, full of different flavored truffles and chocolates. In the past, I have used tins, wooden boxes, paper-mache boxes and wanted to do something different. I had been toying with the idea of using something that could be reused such as clay flower pots, but when I came up with the idea of glittered boxes, it seemed like the perfect pretty, reusable box.

My materials consisted of plain white paper boxes, three different colors of acrylic paint, multi-colored glitter, Modge Podge decoupage glue, some paintbrushes, and a few single earrings in need of re-purposing.

First, I mixed my decoupage glue and glitter in a plastic Solo cup. I didn’t have exact measurements, I just tried to aim for the consistency of glitter nail polish, without getting to goopy.
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I painted the lids with a thin coat of my glitter paint and let them dry completely. I repeated the process until the entire lid was covered with glitter. Once I was satisfied with the overall result, I went back and touched up any sparse spots.

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While I was waiting for the lids to dry, I painted the bottoms of the boxes with acrylic paint, using one or two coats on each. I love acrylic paint because it dries so quickly and streak-free, and it usually provides good coverage with just one coat, but if the paint is a bit on the sheer side, I just tint it with some white paint and it does the trick pretty well.

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I had these three great earrings which all happened to be in the shapes of flowers. I had lost one from each pair and had been holding on to them, just in case I happened to find them somewhere or I thought of something else to do with them. Their day had come to be free from the bottom of my purse and becoming the finishing touches to my chocolate boxes.
I measured my boxes and found the center point, poked a hole in the mark, and glued the earrings in place, bending the spokes that poked through the bottom of lid.

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My sisters loved their boxes, and I had a blast making them, unfortunately I can’t say the same for their contents. My back is still stiff from all the work I put into those candies, which is why I only make them once a year.

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Look out for my other crafty posts coming soon! Domino keychains, ombre candle holders, and paint and bleach t-shirts are coming your way.

Wishing you a sparkly New Year!
Cris

P.S. my glittered shoes cracked and peeled after the first time I wore them out, so I don’t suggest this technique for heavy wear items. Does anyone have a better technique to apply glitter to shoes? I was very excited about them and hoped to do it to more shoes in the future.

Video

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from Scandal

9 Dec

I’m officially 4 days into my mid-season detox from Scandal. Some other dedicated fans I know are coping by switching to Shonda Rhimes’ other drama, Grey’s Anatomy in the meantime. Me? I’m revisiting past seasons for inspiration.

Sometimes when I’m having a crappy day, I find myself whispering to myself, “You’re a gladiator in a suit!” I’ll be the first to admit to quoting Scandal in my head for motivation. But even though I feel deep down I was meant to be a “gladiator in a suit,” sometimes I just feel like someone’s bitch in business casual…can you sympathize?

You’ve been in the same place, too—maybe you’re stuck in a relationship with someone who’s just not on your level or living in a city that doesn’t quite fit you. Maybe you can’t seem to land your dream job.

I used to be the person who blamed everything else for being stuck in that rut. I bounced from job to job, working my tail off, but getting nowhere nearer to being happy with my career. I’m willing to bet you have a serial dater friend who’s jumped from one miserable relationship to the next without ever finding “the one.” We say to ourselves, “I’m better than this! I’m a gladiator!” But when it comes time to act, we’re stuck in neutral.

Then it came to me one night while procrastinating on an article pitch, of course by watching Scandal. Throughout the second season (and yes I did watch the whole second season in one night…no judging!) there’s this not so subtle motif of “What do you want?” going on.

Edison begs for an answer from her when Olivia rejects his marriage proposal for the second time: “What do you want?” Again near the end of the season, Harrison corners Olivia when they’re on the cusp of her affair with Fitz being revealed: “What do you want? What is your endgame?”

It was like dreamy Harrison was speaking right out of the screen to my heart: I didn’t lack the motivation or the talent to achieve something better for myself. The fact was, I just didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t have a clear endgame in mind.

You can stop beating yourself up over whatever rut you’re stuck in. The fact is, once you figure out what you truly want, the steps to your ideal job, relationship, or whatever get a hell of a lot clearer.

So stop pretending that your dreams don’t need dealing with—sit down, pull out a pen and paper, and be completely honest about what you want for you. Like Harrison said: you’re on notice and you don’t have a lot of time.

Special thanks to http://www.youtube.com/user/ScandalousGladiators for this video!

Weekend Hangover

26 Nov

Happy Monday to all!  Thank goodness this week is Thanksgiving because I need a few days off, big time.  I know, I know, the week just started, but with today being a kick in the ass type of work day and my moving day getting dangerously close, I am already in need of a mental break.

Today was one of those days where everything seemed to be working against me. I woke up when I received a phone call from my coworker asking if I was going into work today. I work an hour away, and one of the big deal guys from our department in headquarters was going to be going in to check on us today.  I sprang out of bed and nearly gave Hugo a heart attack, tearing through our half packed house in a frantic rush.  I was ready and heading out the door a whole ten minutes later, I locked the door, turned around, and found myself face to face with our firs big snowfall of the year.  It snowed my whole drive to work.  I counted five accidents and two cars stuck in the snow.  My already sluggish one hour commute took a nervewrecking two hours and fifteen minutes.

Luckily there were no further incidents today, but as I mentioned earlier, my moving to do list is getting to be a extremely overwhelming and there just are not enough hours in the day.  But how did I end up in this mess of a situation in the first place, you ask?  Well, let me explain, I am the victim of a weekend hangover.  You know, one of those weekends you leave all your worries, workouts, and to-do list behind, only to wake up with a headache and sick feeling in your gut Monday morning.

I like to own up to the consequences of my choices, however, this was not entirely my fault. I had the intention of staying home to pack this weekend and meeting two of my sisters and my niece for a concert in Chicago on Sunday, but Hugo convinced me to go home for the weekend since my parents only live twenty minutes away from my sister in Chicago. Plus he wanted some alone time to wind down from his hectic work week, and no doubt have a chance to play his new PS4 without guilt.  So off to Chicago I went.

I spent my first night at my sister’s place and we went out for dinner and drinks at this really good place called Dusek’s on 18th St.  We probably ate about three dozen mussels before moving on to a rich risotto dish and churros with a spicy chocolate ice cream, and of course a drink or two, or several.  Saturday morning my sister and I drove the 20 minutes into Indiana to visit my parents.  There we caught two basketball games, one was my nephew Julian’s 7th grade team, and the second was my nephew Andres’ first game with his fourth grade team, before heading to a chinese buffet for dinner with some family.  This place had at least fifteen types of sushi and sashimi that was actually quite good.  I don’t even want to begin to try to guess how many pieces of sushi I ate, I just know after dinner I was ready to take a hiatus from sushi for at least a month or two, or so I thought.  After that, we still went to my eldest sister’s house for a few hours, shopping, and went to take my sister back home in Chicago before finally getting to my parents and heading to bed around midnight.

My last day was Sunday, concert day. I woke up an hour and a half earlier than I had originally planned, joined my parents for mass, and caught one last game. This time it was my nephew Lalo’s indoor soccer game, which was pretty awesome to watch since he is eleven and was playing on the fourteen year-old team. Around 2 pm, my sister and niece stopped by my parent’s house and followed me to my other sister’s place in Chicago. There I did everyone’s makeup until we were all rock concert ready.

The whole reason we were going to a concert was to see Paramore, my niece Lala’s favorite band, for her fifteenth birthday.  We asked what the birthday girl wanted for dinner and surprise surprise, she requested sushi.  We decided to to go Butterfly, a BYOB sushi and Thai spot, and since we were taking a cab to the concert, we stopped to get a bottle of wine for the adults. The food was pretty awesome, as always.  We got crab rangoons, pad thai, spicy basil with tofu, a couple sushi rolls, and mochi ice cream, my fave.  And of course, I stuffed my face, sushi rolls and all.

Feeling full and content, we went over to the concert only the realize we had to stand outside in line in the cold.  Anytime you go to the Windy City after October, bring your hats, scarves, and gloves, something I didn’t think to do.  The opening band were some guys Hellogoodbye, whose lead singer had the same dance moves as my sister G, basically none, but hilarious to watch none the less.  The second band Metric was really cool, a funky electronic rock with a spunky lead singer and some catchy tunes, but Paramore took it to a whole other level.  Their lights and effects were crazy good, and they know how to give their fans a good show.  My niece almost fainted every time she recognized the next song. Hayley Willams, their lead singer, was funky and cool, and headbanged so hard and so often I was blown away by the fact that she was still able to sing.  They actually reminded me of No Doubt in their earlier days, but with a bit more rock. I expected them to play a solid 45 minute set, but was surprised yet again by their performance that clocked in close to two hours. It was such a great experience to be there with my sisters and niece. I could’ve lived without the girls behind me screaming in my ear, but I guess that’s part of the deal. I had only heard a few of their songs before the show, but I will definitely be adding them to my Pandora stations. I ended the night by waving down my first cab, picking up my car, and driving back to Milwaukee, finally settling into bed after 1:30 am.

A cool clip of last night’s concert, Paramore perfoming their song Now.  Unfortunately this is not my own video, my spot wasn’t this close and my camera quality sucks.

Metric performing Help, I’m Alive.  This was my first time even hearing of them, but I really really liked this song.  The visual isn’t the greatest, but I wanted to show her playing the tambourine.

That brings me to my hangover, not from liquor, but from having too much of a good time.  My lack of sleep over the weekend caused me to sleep through my alarm that was set at 6 am, thanks Hugo.  In all seriousness, it is no one’s fault but my own poor planning, but it was totally worth it, minus the stress of being two and a half hours late to work, which I never ever do.  Luckily, everyone at work was cool about it, so now I just have to tackle the next beast, my move into my new place on Saturday, but I’ll worry about that when I get back from Thanksgiving at my parent’s on Saturday morning.

Happy Thanksgiving! And I hope you all take weekend off now and again, the hangover sucks, but when you look back on it, it is worth it, without a question.

Thrifty Threads: My Love for Used Clothing

21 Nov

When it comes to clothes, I love searching for the perfect piece at a good price. For me, I’ve usually hit the jackpot for that combination by purchasing used clothing. I stocked my professional wardrobe right out of college with skirts and pants from Goodwill. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved the thrill of finding a trendy pair of jeans at a fraction of the price at Plato’s Closet. I don’t buy all of my clothes used—I have a weakness for buying staples like tank tops and basic shoes on sale at Target. But for me there are several advantages to buying clothes used.

I love for jeans in particular to be a little broken in, so buying them pre-owned puts any jeans in the fast lane to being my favorites. When you’re buying pre-used jeans, my number-one tip is to check the inner legs and seat for wear and tear by holding them up to the lights. As a girl whose inner thighs of her jeans wear out before anything else, I have to make sure the previous owner didn’t get a jump start on that for me! If your jeans get holey in other spots first, check those out before buying so that you get the most wear out of the fabric.

In the case of dresses, I like getting ones made of quality materials and having them altered to fit me perfectly. All in all, I spend less on a dress that fits me to a T than I would buying one new from Macy’s or H&M. There is nothing that makes me feel more confident or more comfortable than a well-fitted dress. Proof? When I was in college, I bought a Banana Republic dress for $10 used. I spent about $20 altering it (think more than just a hem but also changing up the waist and the sleeves a bit). I have worn that dress at minimum once a week for the past 4 ½ years and it’s still in great condition. What’s more, I’m still reaching for that dress on good days and “fat days”, because it makes me feel great.

Lastly, if I want to buy a trendy top or accessory, I feel less guilty spending money on it if I get it at a used price. A few years ago, I found an olive green oversized purse with some badass fringe details at a used clothing store. I figured the purse would last a season or two because it didn’t look like great quality, but it was fun and versatile. It was the kind of bag that can update your style to keep up with current trends…but the not kind of bag I would want to drop lots of money on either. And sometimes you strike a goldmine, because that same cheap purse has survived carrying my schoolbooks, my laptop, changes of clothing on weekend trips, and more for three years. I eventually removed the fringe because I got tired of feeling like Ke$ha with that purse…but for less than $10 bucks, I’d say that purse has earned its spot in my closet!

Do you buy used clothing? What are your tips for making the most of your thrift-shop finds? Let me know in the comments below!

Chili for a cold day

11 Nov

I enjoy good food. I enjoy cooking. I hate messy kitchens and spending an already busy evening trying to get a good meal together. If you’re like me, then what you want is an easy prep, minimal clean-up, delicious meal that will be enough for you to eat leftovers for days. That’s why today I’m posting one of my favorite recipes, and it’s perfect for the cold weather. I usually use my basic cooking knowledge, some basic recipes, and tweak them a bit to make dishes exactly how I like them. Today’s recipe for chili, which I usually make with either ground turkey or beef, but it works just as well without meat if you’re vegetarian.

Chili
This is a hearty, colorful chili that is full of vegetables and protein. This recipe uses a 4 qt. slow cooker or crock pot and cooks over the span of several hours. If you don’t have one, I highly suggest getting one since they are extremely useful, there are tons of recipes out there that can be made in slow cookers, and they can be fairly inexpensive at stores like Target or Walmart. However, this can definitely be done in a big pot over the stove, it might just require a little more of a watchful eye. The other great thing about this is that you can virtually use whatever you have on hand. Feel free to switch out some of the beans or vegetables for others, or add as many different veggies as you’d like. I’ve tried it a few different ways, and it’s all good.

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 can each of: red kidney beans
Pinto beans
Lima beans
Gandules (Pigeon peas)
Black beans
Great Northern beans
1/2 carrot, diced in small-medium pieces
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
½ cup fresh corn kernels, or frozen and thawed
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 tbs. minced garlic
1 packet Goya Sazon, with cilantro y achiote
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1.Brown meat in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook down for several minutes until browned and starting to crisp a bit, breaking the meat apart as you go. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large plate lined with a paper towel to absorb grease.
Lower the heat and add the onions to the skillet, moving constantly so it won’t burn. Cook for about two minutes until it begins to turn transparent and add the minced garlic.
Cook about another minute and then remove from heat and set aside on top of meat.
*Note: If using ground turkey there probably won’t be enough grease left to fry the onion, add just a little oil so that it can cook without burning.
Lightly brown the zucchini in the same way.

2.Open and drain all of the cans of beans and set aside.
Set slow cooker temperature to High and add in all of the beans, zucchini, celery, carrots, corn, meat and onions, tomato sauce, and Sazon, mixing well as you go. Set on High, the chili should be done between 1-3 hours depending on the slow cooker.
Add in salt and pepper to your liking, starting off with smaller amounts because these seasonings develop flavor as they cook. You should check on it and taste it every 1 ½ hours or so to see whether it needs more salt or pepper. When it is just about ready, I like to switch it to Low and let the flavors develop together for a while before serving.

I usually make a quick batch of cornbread or beer bread muffins to serve it with. This is such a great hearty meal and the leftovers taste even better. I especially like reheating it with butternut squash, tomato, or roasted red pepper soup for a delicious day-after meal.

Provecho!
Cris

Why I Never Want to Stop Playing Soccer

6 Nov

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A lot of people are surprised to hear that I’m still playing soccer several times a week at the ripe old age of twenty-four.  They’re even more shocked to hear that many of the women in the leagues that my team competes in are well past forty and still leaving my teammates and I in the dust. Friends will ask me, “When are you going to be done with soccer?” not to ask about the end of the season, but wondering when I’ll finally hang up my cleats for good.

It seems like some people think that sports stop being age-appropriate somewhere around the end of college, at least for women. That I need to start acting my age and start doing serious things like getting a gym membership or signing up for half marathons or doing hot yoga. I’ve tried that though. I’ve zoned out while bobbing up and down on the stair stepper and watching Kardashian reruns. Friends have dragged me on seven-mile runs through the hills of southern Indiana.

But all of those exercise plans last about two weeks, until I remember that doing awkward aerobic dance moves to bad Daddy Yankee remixes doesn’t even make me break a sweat. Or until I get tired of my runner friends’ claims that if I stick with it long enough “running becomes sooo addicting.”

When I play soccer, I don’t have to force myself to go to practice or games. I get excited about packing my bag with my jersey and my shin guards on game days the way I never got excited about packing up my yoga mat. I put up with running sprints at practices or rainy, miserable games because I know I can look forward to a beer shared with teammates afterwards.

My point isn’t to demean yoga, or zumba, or 5ks or any of the other perfectly viable fitness alternatives I’ve mentioned here. If you’re a gym rat, I am truly happy for you and admire your discipline to haul your ass to the gym every day to sweat it out. If your thing is zumba, that’s cool and I wish I wasn’t paralyzingly self-conscious about shaking my ass in front of a room of 20 other people in exercise tights.

I love soccer so much that I literally can bring tears to my own eyes thinking about what I love about it: teamwork, the creativity and spontaneity of the game, the way I can make friends almost anywhere if there is a ball at our feet. But I won’t bore you with that, because maybe that’s how yoga makes you feel. Maybe you crave the rubbery smell of your mat the way I have a weird love for the smell of a muddy field in springtime. Maybe you feel free in zumba class to let loose in a way that you don’t anywhere else. Maybe the regimen of lacing up your sneakers every morning and jetting off into the dark on a 5 am run is what gets you up in the morning.

The point is to find what exercise you really look forward to doing, and do it as often as you can. I’ll eventually have to move on to less competitive soccer leagues. Someday I might even get tired of this sport and want to move on to the calm world of yoga. Or maybe someday my rickety knees will demand that I take up something safer, like swimming or table tennis. But at this point, I don’t want to put an age limit on my passion, and I don’t plan to ever stop doing what I love.

No Longer the Last Resort – Online Dating in Your Twenties.

31 Oct

In the spirit of Halloween, with all its weird, creepy, fantastic, and downright scary surprises, let’s talk about another one of life’s equally unpredictable and strange phenomena: online dating. We all know someone with a good “catfish” story, a tale of an online creep, or maybe even someone whose match turned out to be a real fairytale ending. Opinion among friends my age seems to be mixed–those who live in big cities seem to rely heavily on sites like OK Cupid or apps like Hinge and Tinder. Others who live in smaller cities or college towns still consider it to be something for older singletons approaching their forties, more like a last resort than a staple in the dating scene. If you’ve never delved into the world of online or app-based dating, let me demystify it with a few pointers I’ve heard from the dating pros in my circle.

One of the big drawbacks to online and app-based dating is the potential to put off meeting in person for too long. Jackie, 26, of Illinois, recalls one of her strangest online dating experiences:

“I had been talking to a girl on OK Cupid for several weeks, and we exchanged phone numbers. But every time we made plans to hang out in real life, she would bail on me. Then suddenly, a strange girl started showing up at my workplace all the time. She didn’t look anything like the girl on OK Cupid, so I didn’t put two and two together until she later messaged me on Facebook, confessing that the OK Cupid girl and the girl stopping in my work all the time were one and the same. She was hiding in plain sight while avoiding hanging out.”

 So how do you weed out the matches that aren’t serious about going on a real-life date? Luckily, Jackie had a happier outcome not too much later on OK Cupid:

 “I got a message one night from a girl who lived in my part of town. We had some shared interests, so we messaged back and forth a couple times. Then suddenly she invited me to grab a coffee together—right then. We met at a coffee shop in our neighborhood and we’ve been dating ever since…after less than five online messages.”

Maybe Jackie’s story isn’t typical or advisable for everyone, but spontaneity definitely has its upside. Don’t put off getting together too long in real life. The longer you spend texting or messaging someone, the easier it is for it to fizzle out before you really get to know each other.

Of course we all know that online anything lets us put an idealized version of ourselves out there for the world to see (don’t deny it, you know you untag those Facebook photos that show off your double chin, too!) Aside from watching out for the people out there that are outright deceptive, do you keep an eye on the way you’re presenting yourself too? I don’t mean avoiding using fake or old photos of yourself, or inventing an alter ego. I mean being too agreeable or vague about your interests.  

It’s hard to sum yourself up in those little boxes on OK Cupid without sounding corny or inauthentic. Everyone on OK Cupid seems to love cooking, outdoorsy activities, all kinds of music (except insert one: country, rap, death metal…etc.) The phone app, Tinder, is even worse: you get a sentence or two and 5 photos to describe yourself! So of course you keep it broad to get the most matches.  You don’t want to go scaring someone off with your affinity for The Dixie Chicks or intricate board games before you even meet in person, right?

A friend of mine found herself on a first date with a guy she’d met through Tinder. They both loved basketball, beer, and even had similar careers.  She thought he was a pretty good catch. But halfway through the date, she found herself getting a little bored with the conversation:

When I caught myself nodding enthusiastically at his dislike for ‘movies that have to mean something,’ I realized I was bored because I was mostly agreeing with everything he said. I was nodding along about how much I liked Talladega Nights and conveniently keeping quiet about how much I love quirky foreign movies with subtitles. I didn’t want to sound pretentious and scare him off, but I wasn’t being honest about what I liked.” 

In transitioning from the casual, light messages you might exchange through an app, remember that your first few in-person dates are the place to push beyond the basics. Don’t be afraid to disagree on things—worst case, it will bring the relationship to a quicker close. And that’s okay, because who wants to waste their time talking about something that bores the crap out of them? In the best case, it will help you two figure out faster what you really have in common.

So if you’ve been curious about trying online dating but you’ve been scared off by the horror stories…take it with a grain of salt. Be careful, be honest, and have fun! (And of course, report back to me in the comments or on Twitter @somelikeithot9 with all your juicy stories!)

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