where did I go?!

This isn’t a question I think you are asking… more a question I’m asking myself.  Where have I been the last two months?!  I’m not even sure I know the answer.  I miss my blog and the urge to write is making my fingers itch.  So back in the proverbial saddle.  I feel a bit rusty though…

A brief rundown of my what I’ve been doing:

1. The holidays.  I headed back to WA like I do every year.  This was different since it was essentially a “Very Brady Christmas”.  My sister in law and brother in law came from Paris, and these were simply two of the folks joining in on the festivities – there were many others.  I will be honest, I was slightly apprehensive.  It all seemed so BUSY.  Of course, I worried needlessly.  It was an amazing visit.  I will write a full post because my family deserves more than a paragraph in a recap.

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family

2. I greeted the new year with sickness.  I’m thinking this is my new thing.  For the last few years, I’ve come back to MI and within a few days, come down with an ailment.  Planes man… they are flying germ buckets.  I then proceeded to pass along my troubled immune system to office mate.  He has had his revenge though because now he is getting sick AGAIN and I am about a day or two behind him.  The little virus critters are taking hold.  We are passing disease back and forth and I am lysol-ing the entire office.  We share the same phone and same bin of pens.  We are a biology experiment gone wrong (or gone right depending on which tests you are running).

3. Job searching, resume writing and new career finding.  This is definitely one of the biggest changes I’m currently undertaking.  I’ve known for a while this was the direction I was headed but now I’m actually making some progress.  Back to the great Pacific Northwest for me and it includes a career shift.  I’ll miss higher ed but I’m eagerly anticipating a different challenge.  The cross country move, while necessary, is some scary business though!

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4. Work.  Work always seems busy for anyone and everyone I know.

5. Actually cooking!  I have a post that is mostly written on this and I’ve been impressed with myself.  I realized it’s been some time since I was cooking meals and it was having a detrimental effect on my overall eating habits.  A blueberry muffin, blueberries and skinny pop are not the best dinner combination.  I wouldn’t say I committed to cooking dinner, rather I did it one night and then kept going from there.

Tatertot-copy
I love this dancing tater tot

6. I’m working on talking my sister and brother into doing a sibling 1/2 marathon.  I am slowly convincing them of what an amazing idea this is!  It means I need to get a move on with getting back into shape.  My current shape is more blob-like.  And I have no muscles to speak of.

7. Lastly, I’m still eating ice like mad.  I was doing pretty well with taking some iron pills and then I forgot them over break.  I’ve been a bit of a failure with reincorporating them into my med routine.  This weekend – I’m going to fix this.  I’m going through oh so many cupfuls!

giphy
this is me

An invigorating post, eh?  Really, I needed to finally hit “post” – side note, whenever I say this word, I can hear my Michigan accent.  Very strange.  Happy weekend!

bits and pieces

This is one of my new favorite commercials:

Why?  Because as I shared many, many posts ago, my dad convinced a dear family friend, who was a ‘tween at the time, to cut the head off of the party pinata and put it in my bed.  Brilliant.

pinata head
LOVE

I bought a bag of the mini Reeses trees as I like the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.  Some of the other versions of Reeses either have too much peanut butter or not enough.  I take these things very seriously.  I opened one up the other night and found the tree shape to be quite lacking.  I seem to remember them putting more effort into the shape once upon a time.

Are you familiar with the blog Hyperbole and a Half?  If not, please stop reading mine and go to hers.  Well, in the name of blog self-preservation, you can wait until you’ve finished this post.  Where was I?  Yes, yes… I STRONGLY suggest reading the Kenny Loggins story.  My sister loves it too!  I suggested this to another person and their response was, “do I need to have an extensive knowledge of Kenny Loggins?”.  No.  You don’t.  I’m pretty sure there was some kind of age reference/joke in there since I don’t even know if this 20 yr old knew who Kenny Loggins was/is.

I also love her (the author’s name is Allie) drawings and much like Natalie Dee, I’m sure you’ve seen many of hers and not known who they belong to.  This one?

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Yep, Hyperbole.  One of my current favorite drawings from this post, is below

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this is my screen saver on my phone and computer

Given my obsession with the t-rex and our similarities, I adore this.  I also think there are an array of emotions that can be inferred from this lil’ gal’s face depending on my mood (or yours), so it works for me.

Oh and read the party post, too – again, I laughed and laughed.  In addition to laughing so hard I was crying, I’ve been moved and identified with Allie’s serious posts.  I recommend reading those, too.

Yesterday was a bad ulcer day.  So bad in fact, I was clutching my stomach in pain.  And audibly groaning.  I ended up having to go home for the day.  My favorite “joke” is, Pepto Bismol chewables are the after dinner mint for those of us with ulcers.

this is a decent depiction of how I felt yesterday

Finally, I have this carpet in my living room that NEVER.LAYS.FLAT.  It always ends up scootching its way under my couch since my living room carpet is very thin and there isn’t anything for the area rug to hold onto.  I’ve tried everything to keep it in place.  I’ve tripped a number of times but yesterday morning I hit the ground.  Hard.  Thankfully, I’m short so I didn’t smack my head into the concrete wall!  Nothing really damaged, a few aches and pains but seem to be okay.  My brother, being the supportive type, posted a few of these on my fb page when I shared:

if she was flipped, this is what I looked like

My family loves me!

Edited to add today’s events:

This morning, I was putting my shoes on when I felt something scratching the back of my thigh.  I scratched it through my pants but it didn’t help.  I thought it might be a tag or something, so I pulled my pants down (sorry for the tmi) and reached back to grab the offending itchy object.  It was not an object, it was this:

so much hate
so much hate

No, No, NO!!  I legit YELLED/SCREAMED and flung it.  I hate these stink bugs, so not only did I touch it but it was hanging out in my pants for an undetermined amount of time.  The horror.  I still get the shivers thinking about it.  And I think it might have bit me.

It’s the (un)luck of the Irish, I tell ya…

deep breath

Like most people, I was/am saddened by the terrorist attacks – all of them. I feel sorrow and true disgust at the horrific events that don’t seem to end.  The attacks on Paris sent my heart racing.

My brother and sister-in-law live there.  Many of my new friends and my new family live there.  I felt like I got punched in the stomach.  Thankfully, my brother is currently in New York but I panicked thinking of my sister-in-law and the others.  Given my propensity to think the worst (which has increased since my mom passed suddenly in 2011), I was so scared.  I’m beyond grateful my sister-in-law, family and friends overseas, are safe.

this is my SIL, Sabrina in NY with us in 2012
this is my SIL, Sabrina in NY with us in 2012

The anxiety hasn’t completely left me – I know, surprise, surprise.  I woke up today all kinds of out of sorts.  It was going to be a very packed day and it felt daunting.  I was supposed to do a PT session on my own today and this was somehow going to fit into my lunch break, in-between back to back to back meetings.  All of the stomach acid.

I made the executive decision to skip the PT session – I can still fit it in before my actual session on Wednesday.  I was able to catch up on some administrative tasks, which had been sitting on my to do list, taunting me.  I also realized I wanted some comfort food.

and some comfort memories – my dad and I in Paris this summer

Well, I realized it yesterday but I had to work so I had popcorn for dinner instead.  But tonight – tonight I wanted to feed my feelings.  I’ve been craving meat (not chicken or turkey), probably related to my iron deficiency, and I found my way to a stroganoff recipe.  How could I forget about stroganoff?!  I’ve only made it one other time in the last 12 years – crazypants!

I searched pinterest and found a recipe that satisfied my gluten-free needs.  Did you know cream of mushroom soup has wheat in it?  I wasn’t sure it would taste as good without that ol’ standby but I should’ve trusted.  The recipe I used was from Simply Recipes.  This was all homemade and business!

No pictures of my creation because stroganoff doesn’t photograph well.

Also, I ignored the salt recommendations, because I thought I was smarter?  You probably still could if you wanted to but I found I needed to add salt afterward.  I also practically doubled (or maybe more) the paprika because paprika and I are tight.

view from Sacre-Coeur in Paris

The stroganoff hit the spot.  Not only did it satisfy my taste buds but it was nice to go through the routine of cooking.  I haven’t cooked in a long time and making this bad boy was calming.  P.S. Read all of the directions before you start!  I had to scramble a bit.

Tomorrow is another filled to gills work day.  But I will have stroganoff leftovers waiting for me at the end of the day.

My thoughts continue to be with the victims of all of the attacks of this last week and previous ones.  I have so many dear memories from the two weeks I spent in France this summer celebrating my brother’s wedding and it hurts my heart to think of all of this devastation.

pancakes are jerks

First and foremost, today is my grandma’s birthday!

gr kate and my sister - I adore this picture!
gr kate and my sister – I adore this picture!

Happiest of Birthdays to a wonderful woman!  Seriously, everyone she meets loves her oodles and oodles.  I just got lucky to be her granddaughter.  People are jealous.

I have some odds and ends to share…

1) My stomach decided to stage a violent protest today.  Last night I made some brownie overnight oats.  It’s been on my must try list for some time and I was motivated last night so I made it.  These were some highly anticipated oats, my friends.  It made two servings and when I tried some today, I found them pretty rich.  I wasn’t sure if I totally dug them or not and then was only able to manage 1/2 of the serving before I put it back in the fridge.

before I delved into what I was hoping was chocolatey breakfast goodness
before I delved into what I was hoping was chocolatey breakfast goodness

It wasn’t long before my stomach starting picketing.  Now, I can’t be sure the oats were the culprit.  They did have a fair amount of milk in them (I used evaporated milk since I was out of almond milk – I use it for cooking).  I hurt for the rest of the day and I still can’t be sure if I feel better because my stomach is sore from the manic cramping.  The question… do I try the oats again to make sure it was them?  Or do I throw out the batch?  I’m conflicted.  (I got the recipe here)

2) I ran/walked 5 miles on the tready on Saturday.  I had a wicked dizzy spell in the middle of it so when I jumped back on for another 5 on Sunday I stuck to walking.  Still a bit woozy so I’m thinking I was dehydrated?  Yesterday I planned on a few more miles but gave into the siren call of my couch.  I still managed 3 walking miles for the day.

3) I made pancakes this weekend.  I was craving them and after the run I wanted a GIANT pancake.  Naturally, I chose a small frying pan and filled that sucker with batter – I wanted a super thick pancake.  I’m sure you might want to face-palm me right now because you guessed it – this bad boy took FOREVER to cook!  Oh my gosh!  20 minutes later it still had a gooey center, so I started scraping the done part off in order to try to cook it in mashed up pieces.  It was a pancake massacre… that still had a soft-batter center.  Thankfully butter, syrup and ham helped to hide the not-quite-done-parts.

this is a great illustration of my pancake sadness… and confusion

The thing is, this is the second time my pancakes have been mini-disasters.  The first time, fine, I tried to put together my own batter with flour and some odds and ends.  Not happening.  But this time I used a box mix!  The rest of the batter still didn’t cook very well even though I made them smaller/thinner.  I used Krusteaz gluten-free mix.  At this point I’m sticking to the Bisquick gluten-free pancake mix – those were more successful.  It was a bit tough on the ego to mess up pancakes, hence my firmly placing the blame on the pancakes themselves.  Jerks.

I thought I had more.  I guess I don’t.  But please weigh in on my question:

Try the oats again in order to not waste food in case they weren’t responsible for the loads of pain I suffered today?

positive happenings

Thankfully, my post on Monday doesn’t reflect my entire week – only certain parts of it.  But this is normal, especially this time of the year with work.  We are gearing up for our “end of the year” and there are days where it doesn’t let up.

However, there have been some really high points!  So I will detail those here:

1.  I ran/walked 102 miles in March.  Considering my back has been a jerk face, I’m really proud of this.  Being in New Orleans helped a ton because, get this, we walked 54 miles during that time!  Holy red beans and rice!

2.  I helped/went with my buddy who bought a new car.  Very exciting indeed.  It’s nice to go with someone who is spending money because I can get the same retail therapy benefits without spending my own money.  Kind of handy.  And I was the first passenger – I felt all special.

3.  Still plowing through LOST.  I’m seriously invested and last night came close to ugly crying through an episode.  Digging this show – nice work J.J. Abrams.  Although, I will admit to wanting to write him letters asking him WHY on many issues.  That might  be stocking though…

good advice with regards to this show

4.  My shoe inserts came!  Tonight I will get to use them for the first time.  I have high hopes/expectations for these.  Probably too high but this is my personality.  Also, a good back-cracking appointment with Dr. Chiro.

5.  I didn’t go into detail just yet about my great tarot card reading experience in New Orleans – post coming soon.  I also got a candle from her a few days prior to the reading.  She asked me a couple of questions and then picked it out for me.  As the candle burns there are charms in the wax and they represent a certain something – whatever comes to your mind first.  My first charm came up – it was very fitting.  Seriously, I was over-analyzing and I said to myself, “I just need a sign” and boom!  I got one.

6.  I need a new battery for my Misfit Shine.  This means I’ve used the heck out of it!  Yay me.

7.  Back on the gluten-free train after my vaca.  Monday I was in the throes of a lack of gluten detox and it was ROUGH.  I seriously had the dumb.  And the grumps.  I’m feeling better though, emotionally and physically.  Friday and Saturday I could feel some of the depression increasing and while I’m still trying to rid myself of a “heavy” emotional state (it’s the only way I can think of to explain it), I’m doing better.  I’m looking forward to feeling lighter in a few days.

8.  I got the sweetest giftie from my grandma in the mail – a super endearing note and a small puzzle piece charm with the words “I am loved” on it.  It was perfect timing – another sign I needed.

gr. kate9.  I had a nice mini interval run on the tready on Tuesday and I’m planning a longer one tonight.  I’m going to sweat out this gluten and the negativity I’ve been wallowing in today.

10.  I also have some amazing friends.

My brain tends to notice/remember the adverse happenings and I’m working on changing this.  I know much of it is habitual.  I started this post groaning about the parts of the week that DIDN’T go well.  Then I hit delete.  Smart move.

Do you have a habit of noticing the negative first?

no expectations monday and a bit about my mom

So today marks 3 years since my mom’s passing.  I was going to write a post about her but I can’t seem to find any of the right words.  I’ve tried every year since it happened and nope – not working.  But I am going to pepper this post with pics of her, despite them not having much to do with the content.  I will write about my Monday instead.

me and mom
me and mom

Yesterday, I woke up and did not want to get out of bed.  The weekend had been full of work so I never felt rested.  I was cranky (I always feel this way the day before and day of the anniversary) and under the covers was a much better option then facing the world.  Nevertheless, my responsibility was to plan the end of the year holiday shindig and it just happened to be yesterday.  I was one giant grinchy ball of “holiday cheer”.

As I was getting ready, I decided I wasn’t going to have any expectations for this Monday.  Typically, I would have grand ideas/hopes/expectations of how the party was going to turn out.  I would worry that no one would have fun, the food wouldn’t work itself out and I would be an epic failure.  There were other items on my to-do list that had to be finished as well and originally, the Monday had to roll out PERFECTLY.

Then I just said f*&^ it.  I decided no expectations of this Monday and even bolder, I wasn’t going to have any expectations of myself.  I know, right?  Clone Amy has stepped in once again.

strange, yet funny rearrangement of pictures of my mom from an art show
strange, yet funny rearrangement of pictures of my mom from an art show

I left all of the decorating to my committee members (who rocked by the way) and I went to grab the main dish.  It went faster than anticipated.  On Sunday, I was trying to figure out what to bring and picked up some clam chowder from Costco.  When I was buying it, I felt like a lazy jerk.  On Monday, I realized this was a good idea and it didn’t matter I hadn’t crafted it in my own kitchen.  When some of my coworkers were getting on the worried side for a small item or two, I decided to brush it off.  We didn’t end of up playing one of the games as originally planned and I even rolled with this one.

No expectations.

I cut myself some slack as I drove through McDonald’s for my second cup of coffee.  For being slightly bitter there weren’t any gluten-free desserts at the potluck and for feeling frustrated with some folks who were giving me grief.  When I came back to the office, I plowed through pieces of my final large project and just got it done.

LOVE this pic of my mom and brother!
LOVE this pic of my mom and brother!

Then I wallowed some in my apartment, soaking up some relaxation and conversations with my dad and sister.  Running had been on the agenda but I didn’t want to and I allowed myself a guilt-free pass.

All in all, my lack of expectations turned out well.  I got a very sweet giftie from one of my supervisees and an extra one from another co-worker.  I for real got 5 hrs of “restful” sleep last night – this is more than I’ve had in 3 weeks.  I delegated pieces of my project and just embraced my limitations for the day.  I’ve decided I highly recommend it!

I’ll end this with one of my favorite pictures of my mom:

me, mom, heid

blog post stew vol. 7.5

My life is pretty boring right now – at least to other people.  Talking about work non-stop is not a theme for this blog so instead, it’s another volume of blog post stew!

1.  I made mug macaroni and cheese.  Or “easy mac” if you will.  I didn’t have any milk so I searched pinterest over to find one that didn’t need any.  I found this one and it was really good!  Heed my warning – the water bubbles EVERYWHERE in the microwave.  Put a towel under the mug or put the mug in a bowl.  It was a mess.  I also put a bit of butter in with the noodles right before I added the cheese; either way is good.  It was even creamy without milk.  Oh and rinse out the mug immediately; it’s a bitch to clean.

I think I’ve used this before but it’s too perfect… I’m still thinking about its lovely mac/cheesy goodness

2.  Simon decided to vomit all over the apartment yesterday while I was at work.  On my bed, on my couch (thankfully he got it on the blanket), right at my front door – and a few other places.  Poor little dude didn’t feel well.

3.  I’m currently fiddling with my coffee recipe.  It makes me feel unsettled – I need my coffee routine!  Haha, I’m such a maroon when it comes to my coffee.

During Aug, my coffee consumption goes up by 33%

4.  I’m working on using small pockets of time.  I get stuck in the mindset of, “I don’t have enough time to start/do/work on” whatever project.  It’s the same way I feel about running – that if I don’t have time to do 5 miles or so then it’s a waste.  Yes, silly.  With regards to using these small time intervals, I’m concentrating on seeing what I CAN accomplish.  For example, I paused a tv show the other night and washed my face so I would be ready for bed later.  I was heating up dinner in the microwave last night and I washed my coffee cup and made my morning coffee.  I washed a couple of other dishes, too.  Yes, there is still silverware to be washed (man, I hate washing forks!), however, I just bought myself an extra 4ish minutes in the morning.  For this sleeper-inner, that’s A LOT!

5.  I’ve been going to bed fairly early lately!  In fact, last Thursday night I fell asleep at 9:15 pm.  All last week I turned the tv off at 10 pm and then readied for bed.  I’m going to try to shorten the getting ready part so I can be in bed even earlier.

6.  Grocery shopping on a Sunday… avoid it if you can.

7.  I went through a car wash yesterday!  I’ve never done it in my own car before!  Seriously, I’ve always been nervous I wouldn’t know what to do or I would crash into the side or something.  I’ve washed my car but just never been through the machine.  I LOVED IT!  Haha, best $6.00 I’ve spent in a while.

8.  Here’s a picture of my sister, niece and soon to be sister-in-law flashing some WA pride at my dad’s wedding.  There will be more random pics of my recent travels in future posts!

btw, my soon to be sis-in-law is French... let's blame that instead of the wedding champagne for the 4 finger "W"
btw, my soon to be sis-in-law is French… let’s blame that instead of the wedding champagne for the 4 finger “W”

little miss whines a lot

First of all, I wish the title of this post was, “little miss wines a lot”.  Maybe this weekend…

Back when I was a small tyke, the “little miss and mr. men” books were very popular.  We bought one called “Little Miss Bossy”.  I am fairly certain I liked the fact she was a blue (my favorite color) character and she looked cute.  Maybe it was because she wore boots – these are all possibilities.  Never did I imagine what a mistake this was…

this isn’t little miss bossy boot’s best side – I doubt I was ever this bad!

My family always said I was bossy and when we read the book about “miss bossy boots” they latched onto the (almost) literation and it became my nickname.  Whoa.Is.Me.  I am still called “bossy boots” to this day.  I perfer to say these were leadership qualities displayed at an early age but no one buys it.

Why the long intro?  Because I’ve been feeling like “little’ miss whines a lot” all week.  No, this isn’t an actual character but it should be.  Frankly, I want to punch everyone in the face and I am simply irritated.  IRRITATED!  There is no one specific reason why.  Honestly, most were a bunch of #firstworldproblems.  I was going to whine to you all but  you’ve been saved – sort of.  I spent the last part of my day listening to someone whine incesisently so I didn’t want to put you through that torture.

this is me… all week long

So I revamped this post a bit!  Ordinarily I would go for a run to sweat this mood out but I’m feeling kind of crummy.  I recognize I say I don’t feel well quite often and there are a variety of reasons for this.  I’ll jump back into things this weekend for sure.

A run is also sort of out of the question considering I don’t have a sports bra clean.  My laundry mountain is out of control.  I don’t even remember the last time I did laundry but I think it was Jan. 2nd.  Maybe.  I’m getting low on clean clothes!  As in, it’s almost time for bikini bottoms as skivvies!  I am both lazy and bratty: I don’t want to walk outside in the freakin’ arctic blast!  I did finally come up with a decent brilliant idea of getting the laundry to the laundry room without breaking a hip on the ice.  I’m going to use one of my big older suitcases on wheels and roll it back and forth.  I am good at using my resources well and considering the amount of laundry this will save my back.

nope, no idea

Other than these silly annoynaces I just feel out of sorts.  I need to pull my head out of my bum.  I got to catch up with a dear friend last night and haven’t woken up late once this week!  I’ve had bacon for dinner three times this week.  I have a wonderful bottle of wine for the weekend.  I picked out races to sign up for and will be registering very soon.  I also don’t have to pay for my own heat which is huge during the aforementioned artic blast.

perhaps I’m a bit too excited for the wine – if this is possible

AND I paid for my running coach!  I still can’t believe I went through with it!  I’ve thought about it for a while and thought I would never be able to afford it.  Or that it was only for runners who were really good.  Or it would be something where I talk about it but am too nervous and allow it to get in the way of my goals.  It was kind of like registering for Dopey – I just did it, refusing to consider there was a possibility of failure.

I will never tire of this picture
I will never tire of this picture

Most of the time, in the midst of all my whining I do remember the positives!  Not to mention, I still have ice cream left!

extra! extra! read all about it!

Today’s post is brought to you by the best cup of coffee I’ve made in weeks.  And my strange shirt with deer on it.  Oh and my tasty cookie with frosting that I had for breakfast.

I’ve had some interesting happenings this week and I figured saving them for one post was a good idea.  That way it seems like I am whining less… hopefully?  The other day Simon woke me up at 4:30 am.  This is not unusual, however, he comes up and walks by my face and IT SMELLED BAD!  Great.  TMI but Simon is a long-haired kitty and at times poop gets stuck to his bum.  I figured this was the issue and quickly got up and scrubbed his bum.

this is a fair assessment of both of our feelings… btw when I looked up “cleaning a cat’s butt” an article stated that a cat’s behind is his health barometer. weird.

Later, I came home and found poop on the floor.  I do feel sorry for the little guy though because about a 1/2 hour later he puked his guts out.  Kitty stomach flu.

(Strange pic ahead!!!)  Then my (male) co-workers and I were discussing birth and the placenta.  We had a disagreement so I looked up placenta online.  And I found this

yep, it’s a teddy bear made from the placenta. I am now torturing my co-workers with it because that’s the type of person I am

I showed my other male co-worker and he said at first he thought it was a pastry teddy bear that just needed some powdered sugar.  I took so much sick delight in telling him what it really was!

The other night I was attempting to balance my beautiful BLT (minus the L), with a can of pop while getting Simon’s toy for him.  In slow motion my BLT hit the carpet.  So sad!  And no, I don’t do the 10 second rule on carpet especially with a pet.  Plus there was the aforementioned poop issue!

this is exactly how I felt – james you get me

There was some stress at work this week hence the cookie for breakfast.  Wednesday, I got home and locked the door behind me.  It was hermit time.  Thursday when I got done at noon(!!), came home, took care of some things and left for a run.  10 big fatty miles!  It was a great run that boosted my Dopey training confidence.  It was also amazing weather 39* and dry.  To not run would be slapping mama nature across the face!

To be honest, I was tempted to hang on the couch again but then two things happened: a) my friend texted and helped kick my butt in gear and b) I realized I didn’t like the underwear I was wearing so I would get to change it after running and then showering.  I am absolutely serious.

It’s been a strange week.  Monday was the two year mark of my mom’s passing.  I wrote a post about it but not sure if I will ever hit publish.  It’s easier this year than the last and I have conflicted feelings about this.  I know healing is important and I am grateful for it but…

I’m looking forward to heading back to WA on Monday!  I’m going to stock up on my favorite blend of coffee, smother my family in x’s and o’s, run and relax.

get your holiday craft on!

Holiday gift/wish lists are going up on blogs everywhere.  I’m sure others are doing what I’m about to do but I thought I would flex my creative juices along with getting some use out of my pinterest obsession.

Even though I procrastinate like crazy, I love making Christmas gifts.  Finishing them is a completely different story but the following are some ideas I’ve come across or done myself.  Maybe they will provide some inspiration for the person who is difficult to buy for or even the person who already has what they need/want.

1.  Sprinkle or confetti ornament:  I love this idea.  My mom had TONS of sprinkles at the time of her passing and my sister and I divvied them up.  They are crazy cute so this would be a great way to use them.  The clear empty ornament balls are approximately .99 each and sprinkles are $1-$5.00.  This giftie can be used year after year and is easily customizable considering the wide variety of sprinkles.  The link and picture shows how the blogger coated the inside of the ornament with a varnish.  I’m simply going to fill the bad boy with sprinkles or confetti.

I think this one calls for some kind of varnish but I'm just going to fill this whole thing up
ooooo – so pretty!

2.  The tie-flannel blankets:  Yep, these are a great standby!  It has appeal for all sexes and all ages – I think this is one of the reasons I like it.  The flannel isn’t always cheap but JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby have weekly coupons.

aww - my sweet niece and I making my sister's blanket
aww – my sweet niece and I making my sister’s blanket

3.  T-shirts:  at least 6 years ago, my student staff wanted to make t-shirts for a team event.  They got the t-shirts and took a Sharpie to them.  I still have mine and the ink is still visible.  Designing your own t-shirt is easily personalized with a fun saying/design.  Like I said, Sharpies work, I’ve seen bleach pens, and spray paint also works.  I’ve used cotton t’s but tech t’s are also possible.

3b.  Pillow cases, tea towels or any other fabric-y item:  two years ago, I inked some pillow cases for my student staff.  I used fabric pens and a stencil.  They looked good, if I do say so myself.  I actually got this idea from my mom years ago when we did this at one of my birthday parties as the activity and party favor.  Some of my friends still have theirs!

I made 12 of these bad boys!
I made 12 of these bad boys!

4.  Glasses (plates, bowls, whatever):  I’ve seen stemless wine glasses on pinterst that have been painted and they look awesome.  The wine glasses are nifty and mugs are very cute.  The key here is to get the right Sharpie pens or the ink smears and disappears.

5.  Photographs:  My brother is a professional photographer and I LOVE his photographs.  I’ve asked for plenty of them for gifties in the past.  But you don’t have to be a super pro!  My niece also has the eye and has taken some beautiful shots.  If you’ve captured a cool picture, print it and frame it.  Who doesn’t love some art?

get it? she has “the eye”? yep, I’m a dork

6.  Photograph words/letters:  I feel badly for the person who first came up with this idea because now I’m ripping it off… but so have a bunch of other folks so my guilt is mitigated a bit.  Have you seen the collages of words or names spelled out with photos of objects that look like letters?  They are really neat!  This does take some creativity and time but is well-worth it!  My friend sent me the bottom set of pics two years ago after everything with my mom.  There are TONS of ways to create your message!

eyeloveewe6b.  I also love taking a framing mat and cutting the inside out of it in a certain shape or letter.  I made these for my staff once – I took the mats down to Hobby Lobby’s frame section and they cut out a block “W” (this was done very quickly and cheaply by the way).  Then I put pictures and copies of funny memories of the year in the negative space.  Popped it in a frame and yay! a neato gift!  I love a good monogram!

7.  Framed recipe cards:  I love this idea and my friend recently did it in her kitchen – she framed recipe cards that family members had created in the past.  What a wonderful way to honor a relative’s/friend’s memory!  I am so doing this for my own apt with some of my mom’s recipe cards.

8.  Medal hanger, cute decoration and other subway lettering wall hangings:  okay, so that was a TERRIBLE title but bear with me.  A medal hanger really isn’t that tough to make if you aren’t looking for a metal one.  Some wood, and twist in hooks and shazaam!  A medal hanger!  Then you can personalize it however you want!  Even if it isn’t capable of holding 20 medals, who cares?  I also see very cute wooden creations with song lyrics, poems or quotes on them in stores all the time.  Again, these can easily be crafted with a trip to the hardware store and then a craft store.  Did you know Lowe’s and Home Depot will cut the wood for you?  I know you can get the wood pieces at the craft store as well but make sure it isn’t warped.  Sometimes they aren’t in very good shape.

9.  Scrubs, bath bombs and aromatherapy:  There are quite a number of recipes for scrubs and bath bombs online.  I made the scrub/bath salts two years ago and they were adorable.  Aromatherapy is also a useful idea!  Bath and Bodyworks sells this lavender spray to spruce up your linens before bed – it smells wonderful and gives bedding a sense of luxury.  Not to mention lavender promotes relaxation.  But guess what?  It isn’t cheap.   Make it yourself!  Lemongrass has a calming effect, peppermint energizes – the list continues and can be made into spritzes, bath products or a sachet.  What I like about these ideas are once you buy the supplies, you can make several gifts from the stash.

aromatherapy10.  Lawn games:  Have you heard of bags a.k.a cornhole?  This lawn game is wildly popular here in the midwest so a few years back I made my boyfriend at the time his own set.  I did have some help as I don’t have ton of tools.  Then I asked my artsy friend to draw the logo of his favorite football team on it.  Great scott!  It looked fantastic!  You can also make a ladder golf set or a game of washers.

11.  Create an exercise dvd:  either film yourself doing some workouts (this would definitely take a lot of time!) or put together a dvd filled with a variety of routines and/or videos from a bunch of sources.  I’m sure there are some copyright issues here but maybe if you aren’t selling it?  Look into it a bit <— yes, this is my “legal disclaimer”!  But seriously – how is this any different from making someone a mixed tape in high school?!

I wouldn’t say all of these presents are super cheap, which I think is a common misconception concerning homemade gifts.  That being said, there are ways to keep some of the suggestions  on the lower end of the expense scale.  The dollar store has quality options or online stores provide decent deals.  The other expense is your time!  I tried to pick ideas that wouldn’t require weeks of work.  In fact, the lawn game idea is what took me the longest (and cost the most) out of all of the above suggestions.  Oh wait – the word photographs could take some time too.  The other trouble I find with making presents is many options are geared toward women.  A couple of the above are an anyone option but this is tricky.

mine will be a bit better than this!

The biggest thing is not to add more stress to your holiday!  I’m making some this year because I was stumped on gift ideas beyond items that were completely out of my price range.  Or I did find something and am using a homemade gift as a stocking stuffer.  I enjoy the creative process so this is my idea of holiday cheer!