Friday, January 27, 2012

Cookie Monster, You've Met Your Match.

Are you ready for this? I know you've heard of cake balls. They're scrumptious little delicacies that are a combination of a crumbled cake and frosting, dipped into something yummy. Well, this girl is taking it a step further. That's right--cookie balls.

Now, I've had these in the past in the form of Oreo balls, and they were to die for. But I wanted to try something simple, so I opted for Sugar Cookie instead. And can I just say--not as simple as it sounds.

To start off, you're gonna need the following:

  • 1 (16 0z.) package of cookie dough
  • 1 brick of cream cheese
  • about 3 bricks of almond bark (or whatever you wanna dip it in)
The first step is easy. You just bake the cookies according to the directions on the package. Homemade dough would definitely be better, but if you're in a crunch or just lazy (that'd be me), you can just buy the store kind. The key to the baking is to get the cookies crispy, but not burnt. That 'mushy gooey melt in your mouth under normal circumstances' cookie just won't cut it here. It's ok if they don't look pretty. See, here are how mine turned out:

Next, you gotta chop 'em up. Tiny pieces people. Luckily my amazing sister has this pretty cool little thing called a Ninja, and with the push of the button in two little bursts (literally!) we had our crumbs.

And then, you add the cream cheese. There's no measurement really, just add dollops and mix it in until it's a nice creamy, moist texture.

And then, you get your hands dirty. Form little balls with the mixture, placing them on a platter. After that's done, stick them in the fridge (or freezer depending on your time limit) to get them nice and firm. This makes it a lot easier to dip them in the coating.

Speaking of coating, go ahead and get out that almond bark (or whatever you prefer). After your cookie balls are dry you can heat that stuff up (which was easier said than done in our case) and get to coating!

You can see in the pic above that it was pretty rough for the little cookie balls. That almond bark gets HOT, so we ended up just kind of rolling them around in it, plopping them down on a platter, and going back over them while they were sitting there.

And though they may look a little rough, they tasted pretty good!

The whole batch made about 18 to 20. So if you're planning for more, then just double up the cookie dough. One package of cream cheese actually lasted for two packages of cookie dough for us, so keep that in mind.

Happy Snacking! :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Campus Tour

Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of your imagination....

Ok so I'm not really sure why Willy Wonka and his dreamy song popped into my head when I started writing this. But nonetheless, Marci and I took a stroll around campus and I thought I'd share some of the beauty with you.

Here's Marci posing in front of some of the large men we found on campus. Just to clarify, I'm referring to the huge metal statues. Yeesh. But anyway, campus is famous for it's "random art", and we just so happened to find some--you guessed it--pretty randomly along our path.

Ok next is the Architecture Building. Or as I like to call it, the Rome Building. It's pretty easy to see why. Obviously, part of Rome is sitting on top! I actually learned recently that it IS possible to get up there. Hmm...Apparently one of the fraternities on campus used to do their yearly initiation rituals up there. And somehow, in all 20+ years they never got caught. That is, until a couple of years ago. Security was shocked to find them up there dressed in "fraternity ritual apparel", and had no idea they'd been doing it for so long. HA! Needless to say, their chapter was penalized and couldn't operate for like a year or something. That just goes to show you...don't trespass on Rome.

I guess we just went at a good time of day, because it was really pretty walking around!

It's too bad we didn't run across any of the "campus bootification"or get any snapshots of the "libeary" while we were out and about. That's mainly a joke I put up in honor of my Dad. The first time I ever came to campus was on a 'College Day' in High School, and he brought me. Our tour guide had quite the way of pronouncing things on our tour, and my Dad wouldn't quit cracking up. Which made me crack up of course. I'm pretty sure she didn't like us very much after that. Ah, well. Memories.

And just for fun, here's a shot of Marci in the bookstore a couple of days later....

Her first day, actually. Fun :)

Well that's that. I know it was kinda short, but maybe you can see why I like campus so much...

And I wouldn't be a true Cougar if I didn't leave you with a


DIY Wall Photo Montage

I've been wanting to do this project for awhile now, and I finally got around to it!

Here's where I got my inspiration: Pinterest. Bet you didn't see that one coming, did ya?

Now, I'll go ahead and say right now that mine does NOT look like that! Although that would have been nice. I just went for a much simpler/cheaper version.

First, I looked up how much the wire hangers (featured in the link above) would cost.  At IKEA they're about $6 for one line. Assuming I would need 4, I quickly opted for something cheaper. I just so happened to come across (yeah right--I went on a hunt!) some wire at Hobby Lobby. Much cheaper.

As for the clips, I REALLY wanted to go with THESE cute little guys, but at 24 for $4, I opted for the cheaper route and again, Hobby Lobby came through for me with some that were (nearly) as cute.

And at 50 for $2, they were a much better deal!

For the main panels, I went to the ReStore and picked up two matching, dark brown side board panels for a whopping grand total of $1. Big spender, I know.

I got lucky and had some Command Strips left, so mounting the wood on the wall was no biggie. After I measured and decided how long I wanted them to be, I got the help of my amazing boyfriend to cut away on those boogers  boards. They were definitely boards. The boogers was just a silly reference.

Then, I attached the command strips, unstuck the backs, and put 'em up.

They're the kind that 'snap' together, so I went ahead and 'snapped them' so that I could get them hung up correctly on the wall. And then when the deed was done, they just 'unsnapped' so I could attach the wire. Pretty handy, I'd say.

So attaching wire. Fun. NOT. At first, I tried just measuring and snipping, and taping them to the back of the boards. Easy, right? WRONG.


The tape actually held pretty well for the cheap stuff. Under normal circumstances I would have opted for hot glue, but I didn't have the option at the time. The problem came when going to re-attach the boards to the wall. Some of the wire I measured incorrectly (bad Jessica) and so when I tried to stretch it, it came undone. After about 10 minutes of trying to fix it and getting frustrated, I went with Plan B.

Yep, that wire got taped right to the wall. And it worked even better that way, too! Plus you can't even see it once the boards are hung up. 

I also re-cut some wires to make them a little bit longer, then wrapped the excess around the tape, seen below. 

Then I added another piece of tape right over that, to sandwich it in there. Not only did it hold better, but it also helped once I started hanging things up. The extra weight of the clips and photos weren't much, but that 'hook' catching on the tape definitely made a difference. 

It was also much easier to adjust and straighten the wires this way. You can see that I left them a tad loose. I wanted it to look more 'rustic' than perfect. 

Next step was to add the clippies. It was pretty easy. They just slipped down over the wire. I put 11 on each line, because I wanted some extra leftover and I wanted them to be alternating, beginning and ending with the same color. I'm just particular like that. I also knew that there was no way 11 pictures would fit on the length I was using, so I wanted some left randomly on the lines for a cuter effect.

Next came the pictures. I honestly just went random. I had a bunch of older pics that I wanted hung up there, so I started with those, leaving 'swirlies' (those are the clips) in between where I wanted them. Some pics even got hung up using one 'swirly' on each corner. Then when I was satisfied, I just popped the boards back on and was done.

Not too bad, right? SO...

What did I like most about this project? Definitely coming across all those pics I forgot I had. Oh, the memories.

What did I like least about this project? That stupid wire. It worked ok, but it was a little too flimsy for my taste.

What would I have done differently? I think I would have liked the boards to have been a tad longer. They're ok though. I just misinterpreted how the photos would hang. I would also have probably gotten a little bit thicker wire.

And as far as the breakdown of prices go:

  • 2 wood panel boards ---------------- $1.00
  • Wire ----------------------------------$2.50
  • Hanging clips--------------------------$2.00
  • Command Strips (already had!) ----- $0
  • Pictures ----------------------------- priceless! haha
          Total --------------------------------- $5.50

So there you have it. Like it? Hate it? Let me know!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

School Days Are Back Again

Well, after quite the scare, I can honestly say that I'm glad to be going to school. Weird, I know.

But, God knew what He was doing, and as soon as I FULLY trusted Him, everything came through. Easy peasy, you say? Hardly. But anywho....check out the update on my Bring on the Scheduling post, 'cause it got updated....

So I know I've gotten behind again, sorry! When everything calms down I'll be able to sit down and share with you all the fun stuff that's been going on. I'm just dropping in to simply say that I haven't forgotten about posting. It's been nagging me constantly since last Friday when I listed out all the things I have to talk about on here ;) I sure hope that doesn't scare you away!

So for now, have a great day, and try to keep outta this scary weather!

PSST! Be sure to also check out my DIY Jewelry Holder post--it got updated as well :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

DIY Jewelry Holder

I know you're excited about this. I sure am.

So in my previous post I explained how I came across this great idea on Pinterest, and decided to do a mash up of my own, and also how I came across all the materials for the project. Just as a recap:

  • large wooden (empty) picture frame --- $3.40
  • a piece of siding ------------------------- $0.54
  • screen to go inside the frame ---------- $6.47
  • shower hooks (previously owned) ------ $0.00
Which brings the total cost to --------------- $10.41

Not bad, not bad. Also, remember that I only ended up using about .50 cents worth of the screen, which I have another use for already, so it turned out not so bad. You could definitely go cheaper if you only get as much as you need. Plus this turned out much bigger than any I've seen for sale in Claire's or other places like that, which retail from $10 to $15 a pop. So I'd say we got ourselves a good deal.

Alright, now it's about to get messy. 

First off, I gathered all my supplies together. You can see here that the wood of the side paneling matches pretty well with the frame, which is what I was going for, so that's a good sign.

Next, I had to determine how I was going to use the hooks. The way they were made, they ended up being sort of backwards for how I needed them. It appeared that the metal part was just super duper glued into the back of the plastic, seen below.

So, my first thought was that I could bend the horizontal piece that attached to the plastic, up, to make one vertical piece that I could then attach to the siding. In my head, I wanted the flower above the hook. So, with the help of my brother in law Jimmy, we set to it. Unfortunately, the hook couldn't really stand all the pressure being forced on it, and snapped in the bending process.....

So, on to plan B. I somehow managed to grab the metal right at the base (nearest the plastic) and pull it every which way until I heard the cracking of the glue. Then, with a little pressure and pulling and twisting, it popped right out! Victory!

And so, with those two 'samples' to the side, I started in on the main part. Borrowing my brother in law's handy dandy saw below, I went after that side panel.

 Firstly, I laid the panel board across the back of the frame, marking where I wanted the cut. And then I got to sawing. It cut pretty easily, and fit perfectly within the back of the frame. You can see that I used tissue paper of all things (hey, it was right there when I needed it!) to do the cutting over. Since we were inside an apartment, it made clean up much faster.


With that step done, I needed to finish separating all the hooks from their plastic attachments. Using a pair of pliers/wire cutters, I proceeded to duplicate what I had accomplished with the successful sample above. I was aiming for 5 or 6 hooks to fit along the bottom of the board, and I had only 8 hooks, so I knew I had to be careful. Unfortunately, one of those 8 was the first disastrous sample, so I'd be cutting it pretty close. So just to summarize, I will tell you that all 5 made it, with 1 to spare. But it wasn't exactly perfect. Out of those 5, only 1 more actually popped out like I had hoped it would. The other 3, to my utter dismay, basically shattered under the pressure.

 But, thanks to the help of some amazingly awesome Modge Podge that I had handy, they all fit back together literally seamlessly. You can see in the picture below the white of the Modge Podge from my generous application, just to be safe. But it dried clear, so now you can't even tell it was broken.

So, with some of those pieces drying, and the hooks all detached, I now had to attach them to that side panel board. First, I tried to eyeball how many I actually wanted on there. I decided, as you know, 5. I then decided how far down I wanted them to be, which you can see below. You'll notice that the far right hook is laying down since it's not attached yet, and the left one is being held up by your's truly so that I can see how it'll actually look.

And so now that I knew how it'd look, I got out the hot glue gun to start warming up while I measured.

Measuring, you ask? Yep. Have I mentioned I'm a Type A? So this had to be spot on. After measuring the entire length of the board and subtracting from both ends what would be covered by the frame, I made 5 evenly spaced marks along the back with a pen. 

Then, just to get a good visual, I laid the plastic pieces from earlier above the marks so that I could see what it would look like. After I was sure that it looked just right, I started the process of attaching the hooks.

First (and please excuse my Modge Podge covered fingers) I lined up a hook on the mark, across the bottom of the board. You can see that it hangs over a little on both sides, so I just pulled it forward (towards the side that would be showing) until it caught on the small ledge that you can see on the hook. No wonder they were so hard to get out of those plastic pieces!

Then, I put a big ole dab of glue in the area that the hook would be, and pressed the hook down into it, again pulling it forward to catch on that lege.

The trickiest part was definitely making sure that the hooks weren't going crooked when you looked at the board like it would be hanging up. After each was glued down, I went back just for good measure and glued over the top of each hook where it was attached.

And, voila. It was all done.

The next step was pretty easy. I just took the plastic pieces and laid them out across the board, above the hooks. Then lifting each one, I placed a small dot of hot glue on the board and pressed the piece into it. I could have easily used more glue, but I wanted to use less so that if I ever needed to change how it looked to match my room, I could easily pop the pieces off and replace them. Eh, eh? I know, pretty smart.



And now for the screen. It was pretty simple. I unrolled a bit, laid my frame over it, and cut it. Done. It was easy to follow the lines on the screen to make a nice clean cut. I cut a little extra around the edges just in case. No one would see the back, anyway.

And next, I attached the pretty-fied siding board onto the frame. It was a little tricky just because of the ledge on the top and bottom of the board, but I ended up just attaching a good amount of hot glue to the ledges and pressing them into the back of the frame. You can see that I left space for the hooks to not be hitting the bottom of the frame. Plus, I liked it a little elevated like that.

Finally, I attached the screen to the frame. Now be sure that in this process, you're pulling the screen pretty tightly across the frame. It's ok to have a little slack, but too much and the earrings will make the whole thing sag. Instead of stopping once I reached the board, I decided to just go all the way down with it. Why waste good space? I know there are plenty of earrings that can hang in between those hooks!

Now, because I'm keeping it real, I will be honest and tell you that we ran out of hot glue. I know, should have checked supplies in advance. So I attempted to use just a stapler to attach it. 

I was really afraid that the pressure of the stapler onto the tiny ledge of that frame would make it crack, but it actually held pretty well. I wouldn't suggest it, though. After stapling down about half way, I decided to just wait until I got more glue sticks and finish it then, just to be safe. Oh and by the way, the best method I found with the glue was to lay down a good line across the ledge of the frame, and then press the screen down into it, going back across the top for added security if you want. But make sure you have something to use to press the screen down into the glue, cause that stuff gets H O T !

It also works pretty well to just stretch the screen out and lay hot glue OVER the screen. It goes through, and sticks pretty well that way, too. Just don't linger with the hot glue gun, or your screen will melt :(

So, there you have it. Your own pretty jewelry holder. Now in all honesty, I haven't completely finished it, and definitely haven't loaded jewelry into it yet. I'm hoping to get that done this weekend sometime. But here's what it will look like once it's all done.

Earrings through the screening and necklaces from the hooks. I'm pretty excited about it.

Let me know what you think!

***UPDATE!!!! Here it is hung up with some jewelry on it:

And golly no, that is not anywhere NEAR my entire collection!

See? Told you I could fit earrings in between those hooks. It works well for the larger ones I own.