Tuesday, July 26, 2011

$20... check!

I just crossed another thing off of my list and it was the easiest thing ever. One of the things on my list was to give away $20 to someone in need. I originally thought, "I'll just have a gift card ready and when I see someone in need I'll give it to them." Easy enough... 1. I haven't gotten a gift card yet. (I'm a big fan of giving gift cards to McDonald's or somewhere so someone can get food rather than giving straight up cash which can be used for... whatever.) 2. I live a pretty sheltered life and haven't really been around someone in need lately. (I'm not proud of that. I need to get out more.) So, I decided to find somewhere online that I could give to and I remembered this organization I had heard about called Kiva.

Kiva, to use their own words because it's more eloquently put than I could ever put it, is "a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty." Basically, the organization sponsors people who need loans to start businesses, get their feet under them, etc. You loan them $25 (which joins with a lot of other people's $25), and they actually repay the loan, and when you get the money back you have the option of withdrawing it or reinvesting it in another loan. So great, eh? I chose to donate to two different loans: one was for a woman from Rwanda named Dativa who needed money to buy "foodstuffs" which she sells in her store. She's hoping that her business succeeds enough to buy a home some day. The other was for a woman named Blanca who is trying to expand her wood pallet recycling business here in the United States.

Anyway, I just thought the organization was pretty cool so I encourage you to check it out! Also, I thought I'd give you an update on my list. I have 20 days including today to go. Here are the things that are yet to be done:

-Spend at least 10 minutes a day for a whole week trying to learn how to play the guitar.

-Make a pretty cake.

-Send someone flowers.

-Spend an evening in a coffee shop having a "quiet time."

-Learn how to use my gosh darn camera.

-Write a song.

-Lose 5 pounds. (Let's say I gained a little, or a lot while on vacation, but I did lose some last week...)

-Read 4 books. (I have one left to read.)

-Make 3 funny/encouraging/ridiculous videos for people's Facebook walls. (One left to go.)

-Write down the beauty of the day every day until my birthday. (Working on it...)

I've got some work to do!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dreaming of light.

When I think about my future, I don't really picture myself having lots of money, or a big house, or luxurious types of things. I can't really imagine myself doing anything that would make me rich, and I'm really ok with that. (Unless I become a famous rockstar, but I'm not holding my breath... ha!) One thing I do dream about is having a beautiful home, doesn't have to be big and grand, just somewhere that I can take over and make into a space that fits me and my creative eye. That's one of the reasons I love Design*Sponge, because it gets me excited for a day when I have my own place. The pictures inspire me (let's be honest, I don't read a word that is written.) Like these pictures from a Sneak Peak from today. Design*Sponge has started this thing where people say what they love about their homes. This particular homeowner said: "What I love most about my home is the light." I love the light in these picture and no matter how big or how small my home will be someday, I dream that it will have light like this.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Closet... check!

Joy the Baker inspired me to make a list, a list full of goals: some to better myself, some to learn things that I want to learn, some to love on the people around me, but they are all goals. My dad has recently started setting some goals for himself as well, three a week. Today we were discussing what an impact setting goals can make on your daily life...

...and my afternoon was the perfect example. I kind of lounged around this morning, then decided I should do something productive. I knew that on my list there awaited for me the daunting task of cleaning out my closet. I really didn't want to do it, but I knew it needed to be done. So: two hours, two bags to give away to Goodwill, four loads into the recycle bin and one bag of trash later: I did it! And it kind of made my day! Setting goals and achieving them is great!

The Before:

The After:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hunt for Dulce de Leche.

One of the things on my list was to surprise someone with cupcakes. I've had the idea of who I wanted to bake cupcakes for and what kind of cupcakes I wanted to bake for quite some time. Who is it you ask? My dear friend Jessie. Quite a while ago she said (at least I think she did, it was a really long time ago) that she wanted me to make Joy the Baker's Dulce de Leche Cupcakes for her. So, that was the plan. The only problem? Where the heck to find dulce de leche...

I went to Whole Foods once to find it thinking, "Whole Foods has all sorts of crazy foods, they'll have it." I looked everywhere and couldn't find it. So then I went online and it was going to cost me like 20 bucks to get some and have it shipped to me. So I went back to Whole Foods, looked around for another 30 minutes and couldn't find it. I was about to walk out the door and try to make it myself from evaporated milk (word is that it's impossible to do that way) then I decided to ask a guy who worked there. He looked around with my for a while and no luck. Then... he went and asked his co-worker and ta da! they found it!

After all that work I finally baked the cupcakes. They were crazy rich, but pretty good. Hopefully Jessie liked them. Even if she didn't, I suppose it's the thought that counts. I searched all over the place for that stinkin' dulce de leche! (Pardon the lame pictures. I was too lazy to get my camera so I just took it with my iPod.)

Monday, July 18, 2011


(The view of home when I pulled in from work tonight)

Last week I posted about how great it was to get away and spend some time on vacation. Vaction was glorious. Flat out wonderful. But I also love being home. So, since I made a list of Five Things I Love About Vacation, I thought I'd also make a list of Five Things I Love About Home. Here goes...

Five Things I Love About Home:

1. Our couch. We (and when I say we, I mean my parents, because yes, I am one of those 23-year-olds who moved back home after college and is still there) have this big, comfy, suede-like couch and it's wonderful. The first thing I did when walking in my house after vacation was plop down and relax.
2. The smell of home. Everyone knows what home smells like to them even though it's an indescribable scent. I love the smell of home, although I don't know what it is exactly.
3. My bed. I slept in a bunk bed on vacation. The place where we stayed was wonderful, but I'm not going to lie and say that I slept well, because I didn't. Last night I slipped into my egyptian cotton sheets and slept like a baby. I love my bed.
4. The solitude of my own room. I'm a people person, but it sure is nice to be able to say, "Goodnight!" and head up to my room for some good ol' fashion "me time." I haven't had that in a while; last night I listened to some good music and painted my toe nails and it was fantastic.
5. DVR. I watched a solid 2 hours of So You Think You Can Dance last night, and have episodes of Friday Night Lights and Food Network Star waiting for me. I love DVR.

Man, it's good to be home...

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The above photo is a pretty good depiction of what my life has consisted of the last week. I've been on vacation with my family since Saturday and it's been pretty glorious. Some friends of the family let us stay at their vacation home in Watercolor, Florida for free and man, we are soaking it up.

Five Things I'm Loving About This Vacation:

1. Beach time. The beach has actually been covered in seaweed, which is kind of a bummer, but there was one glorious morning that the seaweed randomly disappeared, and it was wonderful.
2. Reading on the beach. There is nothing like reading on the beach with the sound of the waves surrounding you, the feeling of water and sand beneath your toes, and the cool breeze keeping you perfectly comfortable.
3. Eating out. I like cooking and I love my mom's cooking, but it's fun to go out and try different places. My favorite so far: this place called Bud and Alley's that was overlooking the beach and had some delicious chicken scallopini.
4. Playing games. My family, if we are on vacation or not, is a game playing family. But we've played TONS of games this week so far, including: Hand and Foot, Five Crowns, Nertz, and Hearts.
5. Escaping life. I think I will be ready to return to the routine of line, but it sure has been nice to escape for a few days.

I'll for sure continue enjoying this life style for the next couple days. But I'll also be eager to return to my beloved Kansas City on Saturday.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


My good friend Corrie, who moved back to Portland last month, is having a baby in August and her family threw her a baby shower so I wanted to send her something for the shower to let her know I'm thinking of her. I didn't want to buy some lame gift off of a registry. Who really wants to ship a silly baby toy or a bib you can buy at Target all the way across the country? I wanted to make something for her...

Corrie's asked me a while ago to knit her husband (my good friend Rob) and son Justice matching hats, and I still intend to do that, along with one for the new little guy who is on his way (he'll be named Thelonious, Theo for short), but by the time I'd thought of the idea (ok, actually Jessie thought of the idea) there wasn't enough time to knit three hats. But I wanted to make something else. I had this idea involving pennants in the back of my head that I'd seen a friend do something similar before. Then all of a sudden this flashback of my 9th grade art teacher Mrs. Morton teaching me how to paint with watercolors popped in my head. Once there, I couldn't rest until I tried to pull off what I'd envisioned in my head. After many attempts, I finally got close enough and made the product below. Pretty simple, but that's how I like things... simple. Hopefully Corrie will be able to put this in Theo's nursery some day and think of her friend Abby who loves her and misses her dearly...
(My many attempts...)
(The finished product... Don't mind the Netflix movie underneath. It was Becoming Jane.
Kind of a let down, just in case you were wondering... The movie that is, not the project.)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Growing less picky each day.

Some would call me a picky eater. I know people who are pickier than myself, but I suppose there is quite a long list of foods that I'd prefer to do without. (Seafood, pickles, mushrooms, tomatoes, sour kraut, mustard, most red meat, coconut, most nuts, ...) Clearly I'm not so picky because I still find plenty to eat and could afford to go down quite a few notches in my belt (if you know what I mean...) Though, I must say I don't enjoy being picky. I'd prefer to be able to order anything off of a menu than being limited to the items that avoid the list above. So, I get excited when I get up the nerve to try something new and I actually like it!

The main reason I'm telling you all of this is because I was encouraged to try something new a couple of month ago by my dear friend Mary and I was sure I wasn't going to like it, because I'd tried it before and wasn't a fan. But. I tried it. And I loved it. And now... I can't get enough. What is that, you ask? Chai! I love chai things now! I'm sitting at the airport waiting to fly to Florida and enjoying a wonderful iced non-fat chai tea latte from Starbucks and I'm just about as happy as can be.

Anyway, cheers to chai tea lattes and the growing list of things that used to be "no ways" but now are "heck yeahs!" (Onions, peppers, asparagus, Chinese food in general, cooked fruit, pineapple, ...)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Check it off the list, babay!

So, I did it! With the help from my dear friend Jessie, I finally decorated sugar cookies with royal icing. For those of you who are not bakers: it's not your standard icing that you spread on with a knife... it's fancy. You've got to do all these crazy things and all this crazy prep work (which Jessie pretty much did all by her lonesome; have I mentioned she's awesome?) but it was fun and looks pretty! Jessie and I both decided that we like normal frosting better (if you want to see my favorite recipe for sugar cookies with normal frosting, go here) but it was still a fun experience trying something new and expanding our baking horizons...

Anyway, number 19 of my 24 Things Before 24 Years is officially checked off the list! (I have also met three new co-workers AND have been writing down the beauties of the day AND have written two letters. I'm on a roll...) Here's a picture play by play of the royal icing experience... (Also, you can go here to hear Jessie's take on the experience.)
Here's all the crazy stuff that decorating cookies with royal icing requires. Well, at least according to Annie's Eats it is. And we love Annie, so we went with what she said.
Step 1: Outline the cookies. Easy enough, right?

Step 2: Kill some time by drinking slushie. Here's my beautiful friend Jessie.

Step 3: After waiting an hour and drinking lots of slushie, we filled it in! We attempted to do the marbling effect that yet another baking blog showed us how to do.

Check out all of those cookies!
Some intense decorating going on here...

Let me interpret Jessie's face: "This is disgusting!" We later decided she was being a tad dramatic but truth is, royal icing just isn't as good as the other stuff.

Tada! Jessie's favorites that she decorated.
Jessie's favorite's closer up. (Yep, that's a swirly dinosaur. Don't act like you're not jealous...)
My favorite's that I decorated. Not sure if you can tell, but that's a beach ball. In honor of my trip to Florida tomorrow!

Can't wait to keep the list coming! (P.S. Joy the Baker totally commented on my post about her. Kind of made my day, ok, maybe my week.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

24 Things Before 24 Years.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love Joy the Baker. Her recipes look delicious but honestly... most of the time she's a little too... fancy (for lack of a better word) for me. She makes things like this and this and this, and yeah, they look great, but are a bit fancy for my tastes. What I do love about Joy the Baker is just her: the things that she says, what she appears to live for, etc. She made this list of 30 things she wanted to do before turning 30 and I grinned all the way through it because I was so inspired. So basically... I'm going to be a copy cat. Today is July 5, my birthday is on August 15, so I have a little over a month to complete the list. I don't have a lot of time on my hands, so it's a simplified version of Joy's list (apparently I just decided she and I are on a first name basis) But anyway... here's my list.

24 Things Before 24 Years:

1. Mail 5 people hand-written letters.*
2. Surprise someone with a batch of fresh cupcakes.
3. Spend at least 10 minutes a day for a whole week trying to learn how to play the guitar.
4. Make a pretty cake like this one or this one.
5. Send someone flowers.*
6. Spend an evening in a coffee shop doing nothing but self-reflection/spending time with that one pretty special guy that I pray to (Jesus).
7. Compliment 2 strangers.*
8. Enjoy 3 beach sunsets.* (Stolen from Joy and I can actually do it because I'm headed to Florida on Saturday! Yeehaw!)
9. Learn how to use my gosh darn camera.
10. Take someone out to lunch.*
11. Write a song.
12. Play marco polo and sharks and minnows in a pool.
13. Clean out my closet.*
14. Lose 5 pounds. (That's going to be rough considering I'll be on vacation and will gain probably 7 while I'm away...)
15. Give someone in need $20.
16. Read 4 books.
17. Ride a bike at least 5 miles.* (Let's be honest, it probably won't be all at once.)
18. Blog at least 10 times. (Today counts. So what if I'm a cheater...)
19. Finally make some sugar cookies with royal icing.
20. Introduce myself to 5 people I don't already know at work.
21. Tell 15 people why I'm grateful that they are in my life.*
22. Make 3 funny/encouraging/ridiculous videos for people's Facebook walls.
23. Paint something for a friend.
24. Write down the beauty of the day every day until my birthday.*

Wish me luck! I'll try to keep you posted as I go...

(*Items with asterisks are the ideas that I stole from Joy.)