• March 1, 2017

    GM Appreciation Party

    Feature-Image

    March 4th is GM appreciation day!  If you don’t know what a GM is, you probably won’t care too terribly much about this post (sorry).  For those who do, please let me encourage you to celebrate your GM and the hard work they put into making your game nights entertaining, difficult (but not too difficult), and fun!  I’ve never been a GM myself, but I am married to mine and can tell you first hand that they pour their heart and soul into creating great games.  My husband spends a lot of time thinking about the game, writing stories, and planning encounters for the game.  He sleeps with his rule books next to the bed and has notebooks and more computer files dedicated to the game than I will probably ever know.  When he’s not planning games, he is watching other people run games on YouTube to gather ideas and improve his style.  On game weekends, we spend the whole day cleaning, prepping for the game (music, game board, etc), and generally feeling anxious about how things will go that evening.  All of this takes a lot of time and energy and I really don’t think the players in our group (or in many similar groups, from what I’ve been reading online) have even the slightest inkling how much he’s invested in the story.  So, I threw him a little GM appreciation party at our last game night (there’s no way I could pull it together for the actual day since we already had a game night scheduled for the weekend before and people are too busy to get together two weekends in a row).

    Decorations

    First, I decorated using fun party stuff I had already.  I also used templates from minieco to make paper dice that hung down all over the room.

    Close-Up

    Then, I planned the menu.  I made a tavern stew (I added 2 more cups of beef broth and lots more spices), chocolate truffles (I found inspiration here and here), and the other players provided hard cider and some of hubsters favorite snacky foods.  The decorations and food were a big hit and a lot of fun, too!

    Mini

    It was a great night and I really enjoyed putting everything together for my hubby and GM.  He works so hard, he deserves to have something nice to appreciate everything he does!

  • February 8, 2017

    Manly Valentine’s Ideas

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    I don’t know how your man feels about Valentine’s Day, but mine hates it.  It’s not that he doesn’t love me or want to show it, but the idea of being made to spend a ton of money or make some grand gesture just for the sake of a holiday makes him crazy.  He’s not really a sappy kind of guy… very sweet, but not sappy.  This is a little unfortunate because I like the idea of a day dedicated to thinking about love and the person you love.  So, to help you ladies who know what I’m talking about, I’ve come up with my top 5 ideas for a Valentines Day that is romantic, and manly, enough to please everyone.  *grin*

    1. Steak Dinner

    Food is the way to every man’s heart and what could be more manly than a steak dinner?  Of course, if he’s a vegetation or doesn’t enjoy steak, you should probably think about substituting this with whatever his favorite food is.  Whatever you choose, you can make a special meal yourself (or, even better, together!) or you can reserve (in advance!) a seat at a favorite restaurant.

    2. Gift basket with his favorite beer/cider and snacks

    Remember how food is the way to a man’s heart?  Well, I’m pretty sure snacks and booze are a close second to an all out meal for most guys.  Ideas for things to include: a bottle or two of beer or cider, a growler with a coupon for a fill, and snacks (jerky, cookies, mixed nuts, dark chocolate, etc.).

    3. Massage

    Pretty much everyone I know enjoys a good massage – whether you send him to a professional (or go together with him as a date) or give him a more intimate experience yourself, he’ll enjoy being nice and relaxed!

    4. Something from his favorite movie/show/book/comic

    If you’re looking for something a little more tangible – something you can actually wrap up and give to him – you might look to his fandoms.  Search for artwork, Pop Figures, or t-shirts/hoodies that reflect his favorite characters.  Etsy is a great place to find this kind of gift.

    5. Something to support his hobby

    Look to what he spends his time on.  Things like art supplies, games or game accessories (eg: headphones, miniature figures, manuals, dice, etc.), gym stuff/sports gear, and fishing/hunting supplies will be a big hit.

    The most important thing about Valentine’s Day is to pay attention to your fella and do something nice that reflects his interests.  I don’t know any men who love red and pink hearts or fancy, overpriced flowers… so rather than getting wrapped up in the commercial side of the holiday, get wrapped up in things that will show you’re genuinely supportive of him and his stuff.  And if he’s any kind of decent guy, he’ll happily do the same for you!

    <3

  • December 28, 2016

    December Round Up

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    Whelp, looks like I managed to miss most of December, huh?  *sigh*  My goal was to have a homemade Christmas, which we did… but I totally underestimated how much time that would consume!  So, here we are with the monthly round  up and I’ll try to touch on everything we enjoyed this past month!

    dining-room

    nativity

    As soon as Thanksgiving was over (ok, ok, ok… a little, teensy bit before it was really over) I pulled out all of my Christmas decorations and went to town on our house.  And since I felt like we needed a little extra cheer this year, I found a pencil tree to put in our entry way too!  So.  Two trees.  I threatened to put up a third, but lost the oomph to do it.  Ah, well, there’s always next year, eh?

    little-tree

    big-tree

    2015

    Then it was time to get started on my Homemade Christmas goal from my 30 before 30 list!

    ornaments-in-progress

    stitches

    The first craft I started was these beautiful Nordic inspired ornaments.  These became gifts for family and friends and were a lot of fun to make!  We also decorated our own home with them – we tried to stick to a red and white theme this year and they added something really special on the tree.

    cookies

    In addition to ornaments, we gave friends and family Christmas cookies.  I made so. many. cookies.  And I learned how to use a cookie press (I think I need one of my own now…) for Danish vanilla cookies.  Oh, and the bread!  I made eggnog bread  and monkey bread for Christmas morning!  I was in the kitchen a lot this December!  *nods*  So glad my folks took care of us for Christmas dinner!

    crafty-nativity

    Another craft project I worked on was this beautiful nativity.  I’ve always been frustrated that I can’t find a realistic nativity with Middle Eastern people – Jesus was not white, ya’ll!  Anyway, I loved the concept of the silhouettes, so that solved it all for me!  :)  Click here for full instructions and info on where to get the vinyl designs.  The last step is to spray the glass with Frosted Glass spray paint stuff… but it’s been so cold this December, I was afraid the temperatures would ruin the paint.  Next year, it’ll be frosty glass!

    socks

    Another favorite thing I did this month was the Secret Santa at work.  I always get too into it, but it’s really fun to spoil one of the amazing women I work with and let her know how much I appreciate her!  And I’ll admit, I kind of like being spoiled by someone else too!  Anyway, the most hilarious gift I received this year was socks with bandanna wearing corgi’s on them.  So silly – I really love them!  I think Ollie approves too…

    ollie

    I didn’t have a lot of time for things other than all the crazy Christmas shenanigans, so I didn’t really consume much media.  I did make it out to see Fantastic Beasts  and Where to Find Them early in the month and Rogue One the weekend it came out.  I also caught Hairspray Live on NBC and I read one book for book club – Yes Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson.  We stayed home a lot and watched old Christmas movies while I worked on crafts too, so that was fun.

    frosty

    And there you have it!  I’m pretty sure that’s all I’ve got for this month!  Sure felt busier than it looks like it was… but I learned my lesson!  I will start Christmas crafts way earlier next year!  I hope you enjoyed your holidays this year and felt the love of friends and family.  Best wishes for a safe and happy new year – see you in 2017!

  • September 7, 2016

    Hair Cut for a Cause

    Pony-Tail

    This may  not seem like a very big deal, and really it’s not, but I got my hair cut over the weekend.  What makes this worth writing about is what happened afterwards!

    You see, I’ve been growing my hair out for about 4 years and finally decided it was time to say goodbye to the heavy curtain that pulled me down and made me look a little bit depressed and far too young.  It’s strange, but it took all summer for me to finally feel ready to part with it even though it really didn’t do anything for me.

    Back

    Anyway, the important part is the after part!  Now that I have a ponytail that’s not attached to my noggin, I’ll be mailing it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program to be made into a wig for a woman who has lost her own hair from cancer treatments.  I haven’t known anyone while they were going through chemo, but cancer has touched my grandmother, dad, friends, and co-workers in various ways and to various degrees.  I can only imagine what it’s like to involuntarily surrender ones hair to the treatment and how alienating that must feel sometimes.  I think about the people in my life and the stories I read online or in magazines of courage and strength and I think about how hard it must be to have to be strong.  To have to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how uncertain the path.  And then I think, if something so small to me could make life a little more “normal” or a tiny bit more bearable for someone, then I should give it freely and openly.

    Side-View

    And so I do.  I chopped it all off with the hope that my heavy burden might help another feel lighter and free to be herself again.  I share this, not for recognition or praise, but to encourage you to do the same if you are able.  Give what you can to make this world a little happier, a little less dark, and little more free.  Sow seeds of love and peace – our world needs all the good we have to give.

  • July 15, 2015

    Top 5 Things on Etsy

    As you may or may not remember, my birthday is coming up at the end of this month and I am super excited!  I generally try not to get too overly excited about these things, but I’ve gotta say, my grown up birthdays have been way better than most of my childhood birthdays.  So, let’s just say I’m making up for lost time!

    Anyway, if you’re looking for something awesome to get me for the big 2-8, here is a list of my five favorite things on etsy right now.  ;)

    First up is this amazing corgi t-shirt by yayforfidgetart:

    Corgi TShirt

    yayforfidgetart

    It looks so soft and comfy, plus there is a very classy looking corgi which I find amazing and hilarious.

    Next up is this print with one of my many favorite quotes from the I.T. Crowd (if you haven’t seen this series, drop everything right now and go watch it!):

    Damn Good

    The Geekerie

     

    And now, some more prints!  *grin*  I couldn’t choose just one to represent Ben Byrd’s artwork, so here are three of my favorites:

    Hagrid

    Hagrid and his new dragon

     

    Cutepunk

    Cutepunk Octoship

     

    Walsh

    Wash flies Serenity. He is a leaf on the wind

     

     

    I am becoming a big fan of this style of jewelry.  I love the raw edges and bright colored stones!  It’s a perfect balance between polished and natural that makes me really happy.  *grin*

    KmichaelStyle

    KmichaelStyle

     

    And last but not least is this beautiful papercraft of Totoro from Will Pigg:

    Totoro

    WillPigg

    I love the perfect detail he puts into his pieces – every cut creates texture and movement that you wouldn’t ever dream could come from paper!  He must be the most patient man in the world to create what he does!

     

    So, there you have it!  My top five favorite things on Etsy!  Now, get shopping!  ;)

  • May 6, 2015

    Essential Oil Bath Bombs

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    My friend Joanna over at youtube.com gave me this fantastic recipe for bath bombs using essential oils and I am so excited to share it with you!  These bath bombs have made my skin so soft and I really love how easy they are to do!  With Mother’s Day coming up, why not whip up a batch and share some rest and relaxation with your Mama?  *grin*

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup baking soda
    • 1/4 cup citric acid
    • 1/4 cup starch (corn, tapioca, or arrowroot)
    • 1 tablespoon epsom salts
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 3 tsp water
    • 10 drops of essential oils
    • Small candy molds

     

    Instructions:

    1. In a large glass, ceramic, or metal bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients.
    2. With a fork, work in the coconut oil, leaving some chunks of the oil.
    3. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine water and essential oils .  Add the mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time – stir quickly as the mixture might start to foam a little.
    4. Once all ingredients are combined, press it firmly into each mold and allow to dry overnight.  Store in an air-tight container, preferably made of glass.

     

    Pro-tips:

    Make sure you press it in the mold really good and tight, this will help the bath bombs stay together better and for longer amount of time.

    Use whatever oils you prefer – I liked the calmer fragrances  like lavender  because I tend to take baths to relax, but if you want to toss one in your shower in the morning, go for something uplifting like wild orange.  Or, if you’re struggling with a cold or allergies, try eucalyptus to open up your nose during a hot bath.

    These bath bombs won’t hold their shape forever, so don’t make too many in one go unless you take a lot of baths.  *grin*

     

    Bath-Bomb

  • February 18, 2015

    Galentine’s Re-Cap

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    I love being a woman.  I love all of the things we get to do and say and be.  I love dressing up and looking nice.  I love kicking butt when nobody else thought I could.  I love making beautiful things and sharing them with others.  I love being friends and sharing life with other women.  I love the women in this world who aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and become amazing role models for the rest of us.

    One such woman is Amy Pohler.  I have loved her in SNL and Baby Mama, but her portrayal of Leslie Knope in Parks and Rec is by far my favorite character of hers!  I love Leslie’s tenacity, enthusiasm, and the way she so deeply loves and commits to her friends.  She’s the woman who knows how to play the corporate/government game but doesn’t let it get her down.  She’s the one who never gives up.  She’s the woman who makes cakes and cards and plans whole day excursions for the birthdays of her office-mates.

    This is a woman who is all in all the time.

    I watch her and think to myself, “how can I be like her?  She is smart and fun!”

    So, this year, I took some notes from her playbook of loving on the people you love:

    What a great idea, isn’t it?  Galentines day?  I love it!

    *grin*

    The trouble I have, though, is that so many of my dearest lady pals live far, far away from me.  We all started out in a tiny Colorado town and were as close as any girls could be.  But, as we grew up and outgrew that tiny town, we were scattered to all of the ends of the earth.  Literally.

    This makes Galentine’s Day brunch a little difficult, so instead I decided to send cards to each of my favorite girls to let them know I miss them.  I admire them.  I am so happy that they are happy.  None of us have built a life like another of us – one has kids, one just left the military, one took some time to drift before jumping in to a career in art and beauty, and one writes this blog.  We’re all so different, and that is what I love about us!  Despite different life choices, we remain good friends.  We are finding ways to stand the tests of time and distance.

    Maybe Galentine’s Day is a little corny, but I think we could all use a little more corny in our lives.  There’s nothing like knowing how much someone else adores you and wants you to be happy, no matter how that looks for you.

    I think this is a tradition I want to start and keep up.  And I think next year I will try to be a little more organized and get my local gal-pals together for some actual brunch and celebrating each other.

    Mmmm-Cake

  • December 3, 2014

    Giving

    blackfridaycrowd

    Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, the saintly answer to the greed and ridiculousness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I don’t know how long Giving Tuesday has been around, but this was the first time I had heard of it… and I like it.

    I have never been able to understand how people can spend a whole day with family and eat and enjoy the company and share the things they are thankful for and then go to WalMart or Best Buy to buy a bunch of stuff.  The practice makes me sad.  Like, my heart actually hurts when I think about it.  It’s not even about the shopping and the stuff so much as it is how people treat each other when they are out on Black Friday.

    I don’t get it.

    To now have a day that is about doing good and making a positive change in the world we live in, well, it makes my heart hurt a little bit less.

    If you missed the Giving Tuesday memo like I did, don’t fret!  Just like you can continue to shop and get good (probably better) deals after Black Friday, you can also continue to make donations and make the world a little nicer.

    This Christmas season, I am feeling tugs on my heartstrings to give locally.  I look around my community and I see hidden hurts, hidden needs, and real struggles.  I know people who don’t have enough food or money to pay rent.  I know people who can’t afford to heat their homes.  I know people who are sick and hospitalized or hurt and scared for their lives.  So, today, I want to encourage you to give to your community.  Give what you can, even if it isn’t much, because what seems like a little to you might actually save someone else.

     

     Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts.  Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.  Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.  For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41-44

     

    Picture from: The Huffington Post 

  • July 12, 2014

    If I won the Lottery…

    I don’t play the lotto very often because it doesn’t usually work out for people (seriously, how many people actually win that stuff? ), so the likelihood of me ever winning is slim to none.  However, if I did somehow manage to come into a great deal of money in a sudden fashion, I would do several things.

    First, I wouldn’t tell anyone.  My husband would know, obviously, and probably my parents… but that’s it.  I don’t have any interest in false friends and long lost relatives asking for a cut of the my pie.  It’s my pie, damn it!

    Second, I would invest most of it.  Super boring, I know, but I want to have a good retirement.  And an early one if I can swing it.

    Third, and I know this sounds cliché, I would donate a portion to worthy causes.  Not sure at the moment what those causes are… but after research and soul searching, I would find something to invest in that would decrease world-suck as much as possible.

    Fourth, I would take a portion and go on a trip.  The trip would obviously depend on how much sudden money I ended up with… but I’m thinking Europe.  Or maybe New Zealand.  Somewhere interesting and relaxing and beautiful.  I would stay as long as possible.

    Lastly, I would still work.  If it was enough that I could live off the interest of my investments, I would find something part time.  Or volunteer.  Just, something.  I can’t be idle for too long or I get a little crazy and depressed.

  • December 18, 2013

    Tis the Season

    Mantel-2

    It’s that time of year again.

    Snow.

    Cookies and snacks galore.

    Cheerful lights on every house.

    Santa ringing his bell at you in front of every store you have to go in.

    Santa almost always makes me feel guilty because I never give my money to him.  I hate the pressure he puts on people – standing there in the middle of the doorway, eyeing you down as you pry your cart apart from the 100 other frozen ones, ringing his stupid bell – when all they are trying to do is get some milk and go home.  I usually run past him as fast as I can with as little eye contact as possible.

    You probably think I’m horrible.  Who withholds their loose change from Santa?  And at Christmas?

    The truth is, I prefer to give to organizations and charities that I actually understand.  Places I feel confident that my contribution isn’t going to fund the CEO’s summer home.  Places I feel connected to – led to give to.  Pressure and awkward social situations should not be the main motivation for giving.

    About a year ago, Stuff You Should Know’s How Stuff Works podcast covered this very subject.  Listening to Josh and Chuck talk about it all gave me peace that I’m not a horrible person for dodging Santa every time I run out of milk.  Rather than give in to the social pressure, I have done some research and learned about the charities I support.  Now, I can give confidently, knowing that my hard earned money goes to the people who need it.

    If you’re looking for a cause to support this holiday season (and all of the time!), but don’t know where to start – or if you have a cause you care about, but want to know about their ethics and spending – I recommend starting with Charity Navigator.  Charity Navigator has a great list of national and international organizations and breaks down pertinent information to make deciding to support (or not support) something easier.  Then, they rate each charity based on their financial performance – what percentage of their income is spent on what, and their accountability and transparency overall.  You can also see how much the organization has earned and what their expenses are.  Charity Navigator really is a fabulous tool for making an informed decision.

    To make this whole giving thing even easier on you though, I will share my favorite charities and strongly encourage you to throw lots of money at them.  *grin*

    Lumos

    Lumos  was founded by author, Joanne Rowling with the aim of eradicating institutions throughout Eastern Europe designed to house children who are poor, disabled, and/or have behavioral concerns.  Many of these children belong to families who want them, who love them, and who would never give them up without their government telling them it’s the only way.  Lumos works to promote education, social programs, and adequate health care.  If governments took the money spent on institutionalizing children and instead invested in social services aimed at keeping families together, millions of children would be able to grow up with the love and care of their families instead of the cold reality of the institution.

    Samaritan's-Purse

    Samaritans Purse is a Christian based organization that provides spiritual and material aid to people all over the world.  They provide crisis support as well as ongoing aid to people in need.  As a supporter of their work, you can choose specifically what you want your money to go to.  For instance, you can provide vocational training for a woman, hot meals for children, or livestock and vegetation to a family.  Each area of giving is easy to locate on their website and goes into detail what your money will give to a person or family in need.  They even break things down into the different countries they are able to work with, so if you feel particularly attached to Vietnam or Kenya, you can pick something that will directly benefit people in those places.

    Kiva

    Kiva is super unique in that it is a lending based organization, not necessarily giving based.  It’s called microlending and basically how it works is that you locate a person or group who need some money to achieve a goal – school tuition, supplies for their business, seeds to plant their crop.  You lend them the money they need (or part of the money they need) and they follow through with their goal.  Once the person on the receiving end is able to repay you, they do.  When you have your money back, you’re free to take it back or to find another person to lend it to so they can achieve their goals.  99% of all Kiva loans have been repaid; it’s a beautiful cycle, really.

    Not to sound too much like a bell ringing Santa, now, but I really do want to encourage you all to give what you can to make the world a better place. Whether it’s a monetary donation to a big international organization, food at your local food bank, or time spent volunteering at a homeless shelter in your area, doesn’t really matter.  Giving of yourself and your own resources grows you as a person.  It promotes positivity in the world and gives people from all kinds of backgrounds and histories a chance to improve their circumstances.

    Give where your heart is.  Do something meaningful this Christmas.  Share your blessings with as many people, in as many ways as you can.