"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist." -Oscar Wilde

Thursday, July 11, 2013

America's Birthday

I realize the Fourth of July was a week ago, but this is literally the first chance I've had to sit down and write something. I'm a workin' girl these days. I'm not really a fan of the Fourth of July- I think people make a big deal out of it for the wrong reasons, using it as a reason to stay up late, drink, spend a lot of money on fireworks, and party with friends. This year I was able to spend the Fourth with my family, which was awesome considering last year I was working at the dog kennel.

My family and I decided to go for a hike at a beautiful state park with lots of waterfalls about an hour from our house. Leaving our house at a reasonable time is a hard thing to achieve at out house. We like to stay up late and sleep in too much. After my dad and I got up early to weed our garden with instructions that everyone was to be ready to go by noon, sure enough, we didn't get there until 3 in the afternoon, and after a late lunch, we decided to hike around a little bit.

In order to see the waterfalls, you have to hike down into a canyon, so walking up hills can't be an issue or its bad news.  After hiking down an over-populated trail to see the parks most well-known waterfall, we decided to keep hiking. Since we had just eaten lunch, we didn't take any water or food and our cell phones didn't have service. We had a map with the length of the trails and how many waterfalls were on them, so with that, we set off. Well, it turned out that the lengths of the trails on the map were incorrect, as my dad and I were able to figure out from years of running and knowing how far it feels to go a certain distance. As we walked, we kept going downhill, and although the waterfalls were pretty, after two hours of walking we started to get a little worried. 

Finally, we came to a fork in the path, and, because our two options weren't marked, we spent ten minutes or so consulting the map and finally made a decision hoping it would take us up and out. There was another group pushing a stroller that had stopped at that point too, and we passed them as we made our decision. Eventually, we knew we had made the right choice, and also heard the other group behind us as well. We made it into a game to stay in front of them because we refused to be passed by people pushing a stroller up the hills! Finally, after 3.5 hours of walking the trees started to thin, and with that, we climbed into the car and drove home. There was a lot of sleeping in the car on the way back. Even though we were tired, the hike was incredibly beautiful and the sheer power of the waterfalls is absolutely incredible!

After we made it home, the rest of the evening was just spent setting off fireworks and watching other ones. Pretty uneventful, but after the excitement of earlier that day we were about done with adventures. It was fun to spend the day with my family, and I realized how thankful I am to be home for the summer! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Balls

We're having a nice heatwave here in the Pacific Northwest, and of course I have a sweet tooth. I can't/don't want to use the oven, so I decided to try a no bake desert. Of course, I turned to Pinterest, and after being totally overwhelmed by the number of pins associated with no bake desserts, I decided to make something that was easy, with ingredients I knew were in the pantry. Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised with the result.

These are perfect. Sweet. Chocolate-y. Peanut butter-y. Healthy. Filling. Easy. Fast. Cheap. It doesn't get any better than that. Copy down the recipe. I'll wait while you grab a pen and paper. You won't be disappointed.

No Bake Peanut Butter Balls
(Original Source: http://www.snack-girl.com/snack/no-bake-peanut-butter-ball/)

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 peanut butter (I used crunchy, but either will work depending on what you want)
1/4 cup maple syrup
chocolate chips

Pulse oats in a food processor until flour- like. Add other ingredients and pulse in food processor until dough forms (mixing in a bowl works too!). If dough is too dry, add water or more maple syrup. After dough is mixed, mix in chocolate chips if desired. Roll the dough into golf ball size balls and enjoy!

If they last more than 10 minutes, the leftover balls can be refrigerated for a cool treat later!

Another bonus: all you need is a food processor, medium sized bowl, and a spoon. I love easy clean-ups.

You're welcome. (I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post, but by the time I had a chance to take one, the balls were gone. I think they're pretty self explanatory, and there's pictures on the original post!)

Instead, in honor of the sunny weather, I think this picture is a good fit. I took it a few years ago on a beach trip with my family, and its just so beautiful. I never get tired of looking at it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Selling of Stuff

As I alluded to in my dresser redo post, I love garage sale-ing, especially when I am on the hunt for Pinterest- inspired materials. More memorable than the great things I've found so far this garage sale season are the memories, stories, and conversations that have started from strangers buying stuff from each other.

I was on the hunt this weekend for lace (tableclothes, runners, doilies, etc.) that I will be using as a stencil to spray paint the top of various pieces of furniture. At a moving sale, I found a very pretty lace runner. As I handed the lady fifty cents, she teared up, telling me to take good care of it because it was croceted by her grandmother. Well, of course I won't be using that one as a stencil!

I was also looking for old records, and after several garage sales I found a whole box for that an older man was selling for three for $1. I only needed one so I can turn into a clock, but after a quick Pinterest search the other two will be melted in the oven, and cut and molded into butterfly shapes for wall art. Yay!

At that same sale I somehow started a conversation with an older man, who I eventually found out worked in construction and had built buildings on my college campus. He had just moved to Oregon from Washington because the job market was slow up there and he had just gotten a big construction job down here. As we talked, we both decided that this discovery was kinda weird. It was fun to talk about it though because I miss my college friends and even the beautiful campus where I live for nine months out of the year a lot. Because I was thinking about my friends after this conversation with a complete stranger, I decided to text them to hear about their summers so far. The way this all worked out is almost unexplainable, but I think the random connections we have with people and the way a friendship can develop from those is really cool.

My favorite find from this weekend were these hand painted tiles from Mexico. They immediately caught my eye, and I bought four. They're so unique, pretty, and I think just a really cool cultural item. It makes me wonder who painted them and under what circumstances. I think I should of bought a few more now, especially because they were being sold for only a quarter a piece. I've decided when I have a bathroom to redo I'm gonna find some more tiles like these and use them as a back splash! For the meantime though, I'm gonna put those little felt pads on the bottom of them to use as coasters!

Well, that was my weekend in a nutshell. Too bad it's already Thursday and another weekend will start tomorrow and then I'll have more to write about. Anyway, have you found anything unique/interesting/memorable at a garage sale that you just had to have? Leave me a comment- I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wall Art

Used to posters lining my walls at school, I decided I needed cheap and theoretically easy (although it took a little longer then expected) wall art. After cleaning out my room, I had a large stack of magazines, and, after an easy Internet search, I found some 6" letter stencils, and printed and cut them out. (I used freealphabetstencils.org. Just beware of the popups!) Then, I searched the ads in my old magazines, and proceeded to trace the stencils onto the interesting and intriguing landscape and patterned ads I found. Here is the final result (sorry about the below-average image quality, it does look much better on my wall!):

Ta-da! Easy wall art that costs virtually nothing, and you can use any quote or saying! (I used Hebrews 6:19). A previously blank spot on my wall is now updated, interesting, and memorable with this easy DIY!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Teen Dance

Last night I worked my first Teen Dance at the YMCA. My designated job, assigned upon arrival, was to patrol the dance floor, which turned out to be a very interesting experience to say the least. The students were 5th-8th graders from two different middle schools. I observed and realized far too many things to not make a note of them, so what follows is a brief summary of the night:

  1. I got asked to dance by probably a 6th-7th grade boy on a dare. Of course I told him "no" because that is against the rules. His friends clapped after he asked me. 
  2. Middle schoolers are taller than I remember. Most of the kids were taller than me, or maybe I'm just shorter than I like to admit. I blended right in with them. Good thing I was wearing my staff shirt.
  3. I had three different boys literally dancing in circles around me multiple times throughout the night. I ignored them and they eventually stopped. My coworkers, who gave them the attention they were seeking, weren't so lucky. Just one of many instances were my education classes are preparing me well for working with kids (as they should be!).
  4. During the slow dances, my fellow "dance watchers" decided to start counting how many people kissing we saw. Throughout the night, we counted five different couples (?) kissing. A few of them appeared to be couples and a few were dares (I know because I witnessed the whole dare play out. Middle schoolers don't hide planning, whispering, and scheming very well). THEY ARE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. Something seems wrong with that. Geez.
  5. My coworkers and I had a ton of fun both getting to know each other better and making fun of the kids at the dance and their hilarious antics. 
  6. When the DJ announced that he was going to play the last slow song of the night, the various groups started to hook each other up with people to dance with. Some kids were still planning as the song ended, so they missed their chance. It was pretty funny as the couples lined up as they danced, all the girls shoulder to shoulder and same with the boys, practically standing on lines of the basketball court. 
  7. I was shocked with the selection of songs the DJ chose to play and how well the kids knew the songs. Most of them were Top 40, overplayed garbage. 
Overall, I had a ton of fun, many stories to tell, and I'm so glad the middle school years are behind me! As an added bonus, it was the easiest money I've made in awhile!

Friday, June 14, 2013

An ugly dresser redo

Since being out of school for the summer and itching to start a new project (before I started working...) I decided my room needed a dresser to store clothes that I had accumulated after being at college for nine months and also as a place to keep my ever-growing craft supply. After searching Craigslist for a few weeks, I finally found this beauty for 5 bucks about 10 miles from my house. Well, it doesn't get any better than that, so I bought it without much thought. You never know what you're gonna get with Craigslist, and, sure enough, just like almost every Craigslist purchase, my mom and I got a kick out of the fact that the people selling it were graduating college students, moving out to go back home, and there I was buying it. As I was handing them money, we talked about college and majors. Funny how things get new homes.


Now, there was a reason it was only $5. It was unstable, the handles were broken, it smelled like old people and cigarettes (not sure how that happened considering the girls we bought it from...), and, frankly, it was pretty ugly. After some sanding, nails and wood glue, a few coats of spray paint, the genius idea to go to Sherwin Williams and get expired wallpaper books (thanks, mom!), a couple bottles of Mod Podge, and a sale on handles at the local, trusty Fred Meyer (only $1 a piece!!), the redo cost me probably $20 and 6-7 hours of work. Anddd the after shot:

Yeah, I know, it doesn't even look like the same dresser. Trust me, it is. This just proves that a dresser meant for the junk yard can become a usable, attractive piece of furniture (along with giving me the faith that I can do it!). So, get inspired and creative, find some great deals (hit up garage sales, Craigslist, and thrift stores!), and don't be afraid to DIY!