Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tip Tuesday 8: T-Shirt Shenanigans

So last Monday night, this happened:

That's right. We (the Sparkle Sisters) represented our love for JT at Soldier Field in these awesome hand-crafted t-shirts. I mean, if he was going to notice us, we had to do something to stand out, right? Neon, blinging, off-the-shoulder shirts seemed like the answer.

Regardless of how ridiculous we looked, we had as great a time in the shirts as we did making them. If you've never used iron-on materials to make a shirt, I totally recommend it. So easy and fun!

We went to our local craft store and picked out our $4.00 shirts, a pack of colorful glitter iron-on paper, and 2 packs of iron-on letters. We followed the directions on the packs of iron-on materials and were able to create these cuties:

But we didn't stop there. I found a tutorial video on YouTube which helped us to make our shirts off-the-shoulder & look distressed.

So basically, now we want to quit our teaching jobs and open a t-shirt business. But seriously, the possibilities are endless with iron-ons & off-the-shoulder shirts! Turn a blank shirt into your own personal message board...take that old t-shirt in your drawer to a new level with a few snips of your scissors. Do your wardrobe a favor and get craftin'.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Photos 29: Chicago

On Wednesday I returned from a fabulous 4-day vacation in Chicago. It had been 9 years since I'd last visited the Windy City, so needless to say it was long overdue. 

While our main reason for going was to see our man Justin Timberlake in concert with Jay Z, my friend Jenny and I did manage to squeeze in some shopping, walking along Navy Pier, and a White Sox game. Here are some of my fave photos from our visit to Chi-town:

I'm happy to be home, but I'm already thinking about when I can get back to the fine city of Chicago. It was a great way to wrap up my sweet Summer.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Photos 28: The Best Year

I really feel like it wasn't that long ago that I was writing this post about my McNugget's first week of life. And yet, here we are, just 3 days away from her 1st birthday. It is not hyperbole when I say that this has been the best year of my life. 

I fell in love with my sweet niece the instant I held her, and I fall in love all over again each time I see her. 

It has been a true joy watching her grow and change these past 12 months...

1 month old: We were already BFFs.

2 months old: The first time she smiled at me.

3 months old: She didn't quite have her shopping stamina yet.

I knew she had to have these purple sequin cat ears for her first Halloween.

4 months old: She had some serious conversations with Sophie the Giraffe.

5 months old: She loved her penguin onesie & her daddy-daughter time.

Santa said she was on the "very nice" list for her first Christmas.

6 months old: She learned how fun a snow day with Aunt Jackie could be...and we learned just how photogenic she really is.
Kriech-Higdon Photography

Cupid was good to my little Valentine on her first V-Day.

7 months old: She really started rocking some hair bows.

She was a lucky little leprechaun on her first St. Patrick's Day, wearing the first item of clothing I ever bought for her.

8 months old: She got to witness the Cards make it to the Final Four while we vacationed in Gatlinburg.

9 months old: We celebrated her first Derby Day at the Cafe.

10 months old: She loved eating beats & watermelon.

11 months old: She showed what a big deal she really is, starting to stand up on her own.

I have loved getting to know my little McNugget over the past year. I love how goofy she is. There's no doubt she's one of us.

I love that she's a little fashionista already. She has a matching bow for every outfit.

I love how she knows what she wants and isn't afraid to tell us, with a pointing finger, with a grunt, or by saying "nummy nummy nummy" over and over again.

I love how ticklish she is and how she laughs so hard she makes herself have the hiccups.

I love that she's already a Cardinal fan and that she refused to sleep the night of the basketball championship like she knew that they were going to win it.

I love that she loves to dance. "Wobble" is her favorite song and she will stop whatever she is doing when you sing it and start to drop it down.

I love that people thinks she looks like me. I will never get tired of hearing it. 

I love how she smiles with her whole face, squishing up her nose and squinting her eyes almost shut.

I love that she loves the water, whether it's her bath, the lake, or a pool. Again, there's no doubt that she's one of us.

I love that she knows how to pray, and then claps for herself after she does it. I love that when you ask her about her "brother" (Pete the pug), she squishes up her face and snorts just like him.

Is there anything I don't love about my McNugget? Just one. I don't love how her first year has flown by. Though it has taught me to cherish every moment I get to spend with her. 

It has been the best year of my life, and I know that whatever else may happen, getting to be her aunt means there are many, many more wonderful years to come.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tip Tuesday 7: Shower Power

There is no chore I loathe more than cleaning the shower/tub. I would seriously rather clean the toilet any day over the painful task that is cleaning the shower. My knees & my back would agree. 

So when I saw the image of a scrubbing wand hanging in a shower on Pinterest (from the Pin Busting blog), I knew I had to try it.

Basically you buy a wand that's typically used for doing the dishes and fill half with Dawn dish soap and the other half with vinegar. Then, while you're already in the shower cleaning yourself, you also clean the shower. 

Let me just say, I'm so glad I found this! Each time I'm in the shower, I pick one section to clean so that by the end of the week, it's all done. I used the Antibacterial Apple Blossom Dawn, and haven't smelled the vinegar at all. It's good stuff, y'all.

Gone are the days of back & knee pain (well, at least from cleaning the shower). Thank you, Pin Busting, Pinterest, Dawn, and vinegar.

Happy cleaning, everyone!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Friday Photos 27: The Best Is Yet To Come

If yesterday you went to sleep feeling like something in your life was missing, it's probably because I forgot to post this week's edition of Friday Photos. My sincere apologies! Basically Summer rolls around and I lose all track of what day it is. I promise not to let you down again, dear readers!

On a positive note, some time between Tuesday and now, this little blog reached over 10,000 views! Thanks to everyone who has ever checked it out!

I've been thinking about the future a lot lately and this seemed like the perfect time to reflect on all the good things on the horizon. Don't get me wrong: I'm not trying to rush my life away.  Summer is going by way too fast and I plan to soak up every free minute that I have until the first day of school. Plus, it won't be long until I can't tell people that I'm 31, so I'm in no rush to get closer to August. 

With that being said, I do like the idea that some of the best days of my life have yet to occur. In the next few weeks, I have a feeling that I'm going to experience some of those "best days", starting with Holiday World. 

Joey and I have no problem reverting back to our middle school selves the second we enter the park. Between the water slides, the roller coasters, the Santa sightings, and the possibility of meeting Pat Koch again, we just can't contain our excitement.

Speaking of excitement, JT + Jay Z is happening in 9 days!

I don't think Chicago can hold the elation that Jenny and I have in our hearts for this concert. Never in my life did I think I'd actually get to see Hova himself. And if you don't already know how much I love Justin Timberlake, then this is obviously the first time you've visited this blog. So yeah, the best IS yet to come.

And while we're on the topic of the BEST, my little McNugget is about to celebrate her first birthday! Honestly, I have mixed emotions about this, because while I have loved seeing her grow and learn so much over the past 12 months, it makes me sad to think how quickly the days have passed since this moment:

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to celebrating this special milestone with my sweet niece and couldn't be more excited to see what the future holds for her.

Fondly remember your yesterdays, enjoy today, and know too that the best days are yet to come.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tip Tuesday 6: Breakfast Bars, Naturally

Those of you who wake up in the morning, get ready (I'm talking take a shower, dry your hair, and put on make-up) and can also sit down and eat breakfast at HOME, you are my heroes. I never get up for work with enough time to do anything but grab something and scarf it down in the car.

Hence, I love the convenience of granola bars. What I do not love are the chemicals (most of which I can't pronounce) in the ingredients list of said granola bars.

Luckily, my awesome sister-in-law, Kate (author of Southern Dwellings blog), found a delicious recipe for "Chewy Granola Bars" on Casey Leigh's blog. Kate made a batch at home and brought them with her to the lake last month. For me, it was love at first bite, and needless to say, I had one for breakfast (and for a snack) every day we were there. 

Kate altered the recipe a bit, using mini chocolate chips and cranberries, as opposed to sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I made my first batch a little differently as well, so keep in mind that this recipe is flexible and you can substitute your favorite ingredients.

I gathered the following: natural peanut butter, organic honey, coconut oil, natural oats, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, almonds, peanuts/pecans, and dark chocolate chips.
No crazy chemicals in any of these ingredients, folks!

Let me break it down:

1. Melt 2/3 cup honey, 1/2 cup coconut oil, and 1 cup peanut butter in a medium saucepan on low heat.

2. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of oats and 2 cups of remaining ingredients (here is where you can substitute your favorite seeds/dried fruits). 
I saved the chocolate chips for last so they wouldn't melt in the warm mixture. Stir well.

3. Place mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 pan (if you want thicker bars, you can use a smaller pan). Optional: sprinkle chocolate chips on top.

4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating. Cut bars to desired size. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

And there you have it.

Yu-um! Not only are these breakfast bars all-natural, they're delicious! They might even motivate me enough to get out of bed in time to enjoy them at home--maybe.