Archive for ‘On the side’

October 18, 2011


Life has been a little bit hectic and I haven’t had much time to blog (or sadly, be very crafty)..   But I did discover this amazing website called Pinterest a few months ago. Pinterest is basically a “virtual pinboard” or a image-friendly “favorites folder” where you can save (“pin”) and organize things you like.. like craft projects, photography ideas, recipes.. and soo much more.  Its right up my alley (yes, lately I’ve become addicted to it) I know I will appreciate saving all of these ideas for when life calms down a little bit and I can actually carry out these amazing projects that I’ve been stock-piling into my boards.

Click the link to see what I’ve been pinning on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

September 9, 2011

Mickey Mouse Oreo Cookies

I wanted to make as many mickey mouse themed treats as I could… well, I think I succeeded!

Thanks to Kathie Cooks I was able to follow her simple directions and make these delicious little treats.

What you will need:

– Double stuffed oreos

– Red chocolate melting chips (Wilton chips are great, plus they are found at most craft stores and you can use a coupon)

– Dark chocolate melting chips

– lollipop sticks

– wax paper or foam (I substituted wax paper for foam.. I stuck the lollipop sticks in the foam to dry)

Melt red chocolate melting chips in microwave, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip the bottom half of each Double-Stuffed Oreo into the red chocolate. Gently slide a lollipop stick directly through the center of the Oreo cookie (through the white filling in the middle) and stop just before it comes out the other end. Lay on waxed paper for the red chocolate to dry.

Hint: If you are having troubles with the Oreos breaking, pop the Oreos in the microwave on defrost for 10 seconds before you dip them in red chocolate and insert the sticks so the centers will soften up and the stick will slide right in.

Rub a dark chocolate melting chip on the side of a hot kettle to slightly melt it, and gently insert between the biscuits. Repeat for the other ear. When the icing is dry, add two dots of white icing (I used a tube of white icing) for Mickey’s buttons. Store in an airtight container, and refrigerate if the weather is hot!

If you want to give them as party favors, pop each one into a cellophane bag, then tie a little ribbon at the bottom.

Photo Shoot with the cookies:

June 4, 2011

Engineering + Photography, who would have thought!

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as usual.. I apologize! I’ve been wrapped up with school work and creating new headbands…. okay, so more crafting then studying.. but we can blame that on the hot weather and the summer carefree attitude that goes along with it! Sam, however, has been a blogging maniac… So I’ll take this opportunity to introduce you to Sam’s Blog:  His blog encompasses his love for engineering and his newest hobby: photography! A few months ago Sam starting itching for a new camera (usuallly I’m the one with the itch.. I’m pretty sure he has bought me a new camera for my birthday for the past 5 years..) Finally we decided to buy a “really good” camera.  Almost instantly the camera brought out the engineer in Sam. He had to know how it worked (exactly) and what he could do to take the best pictures possible.  So far, I’ve been really impressed with what he’s captured! But, I’ll let you take a look for yourself.

Say Cheese! Photo from Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington
May 16, 2011

Crossing the finish line

Today I walked my first marathon! We finished the Pittsburgh half-marathon (13.1 miles) in 3 hours and 4 minutes.  

Now our goal is to partake in a few running events around Pittsburgh this fall in preparation to run the half-marathon next year.  The Great Race is September 25th 2011.  Here is a list of other running events over the summer and into the fall.  The Mutt Strut  also looks like it could be a lot of fun! 
April 20, 2011

Easily Distracted

Less than 24 hours and my second semester as a graduate student will be completed! That being said, I am having some major motivation issues! (plus I am very easily distracted) After watching multiple youtube videos, cleaning the kitchen, and googling different home decorating ideas, I realized that my blog could use a lilttle sprucing up too.  Please don’t mind the “construction” as I redecorate my blog (as well as our home).  Now back to studying…. perhaps.  🙂 

March 28, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This recipe starts off as a pretty standard white bread recipe with a bit of extra sugar and then you add the swirls of cinnamon. Adding the cinnamon swirls is pretty easy with you simply rolling the dough out, sprinkling on the cinnamon and then rolling it up to form a log. The hardest part about this recipe is all all of the waiting, especially when the bread is in the oven filling your place with the those amazing fresh baked bread aromas.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Buttered
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
A light, fluffy and moist bread with swirls of cinnamon.

Servings: makes 1 large loaf

Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, salted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins and/or walnuts, optional
  • 1 egg and milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter into it without boiling, remove from heat and let cool until it is luke warm
  2. Mix in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Mix in the milk.
  5. Mix the flour and salt and beat half of it into the milk mixture until combined.
  6. Beat in the remaining flour until combined.
  7. Knead the dough until smooth, adding more flour if it is too sticky.
  8. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. (Tip: Warm the bowl first by filling it with hot water and drying it out just before use.)
  9. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out so that it is as wide as your baking pan and about 18 to 24 inches long.
  10. Spread the butter over the dough.
  11. Mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the dough.
  12. Roll the dough up into a log.
  13. Place the dough into a grease loaf pan, cover and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  14. Mix the egg and milk and brush it over the top of the loaf.
  15. Bake the loaf in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

I have never baked bread before, but this recipe definitely looks do-able and delicious. 
I can’t wait to try this one out!
February 18, 2011

24 ways to boost your mood

Winter blues. Cabin fever. Vitamin D deficiency.  Because the long, cold winter months have the ability to put a damper on our mood, I’m taking the time to blog about 24 ways to boost your mood! Hang in there people, spring is right around the corner! Ready, set, recharge! 

Hang with Happy People

Just being near a positive person is enough to make you smile: Having a friend with a sunny disposition living within a mile of you increases the chances of your being happy by 25 percent, according to a study from the University of California, San Diego. Researchers suspect that happiness is contagious; glass-half-full types tend to be nicer to everyone around them, which makes those people pleasant, and so on. Catch the smiley vibe by regularly joining your most cheerful friends for a run.

Burst into Action

Don’t just stand there waiting for the microwave to beep: Launch into a turbocharged set of jumping jacks. Or put the phone on speaker when you’re holding for customer service and de-agitate with a few sun salutations. “These little exercise bursts improve blood flow to the body and the brain,” says Geralyn Coopersmith, an exercise physiologist and author of Fit + Female. “Doing them throughout the day can really perk you up.”

Stop Stress

Savor the zesty scent of an orange and you could feel instantly relaxed. According to a Japanese study, the citrus fruit contains linalool, a compound whose odor has been shown to lower stress levels in animals.


If you’re on your third straight Law & Order episode, turn it off already! After analyzing data that spanned 34 years, University of Maryland researchers reported that people who described themselves as “somewhat happy” watched 10 percent more hours of TV than those who rated themselves “very happy.” The theory: Being glued to your flat screen may temporarily entertain you, but it isn’t particularly satisfying in the long run. Worse, the tube time takes away from more fulfilling activities, such as a yogaclass and a picnic with friends.

Get Firm, Feel Fab

Muscles move more efficiently when they’re toned, giving you a spring in your step. No time for the gym? Do a speedy routine that quickly targets the most and the biggest muscles, says Michael R. Bracko, an exercise physiologist and director of Dr. Bracko’s Fitness, a consulting service in Canada. Try a dynamic combo ofsquats (do them pressing your back into a stability ballagainst the wall) and dips (sit on a chair, slide your butt off it, and move your body up and down). Do three sets of 10 to 15 reps three days a week and you’ll see and feel a difference.

Chill Out

For a natural energy drink, blend grape, acai, or pomegranate juice with crushed ice. Nutrients are absorbed into your system faster via a beverage that’s cold versus one at room temperature, says Steven Pratt, MD, author of SuperHealth.

Speak Your Mind

Next time a friend aces a race, don’t just congratulate her. Tell her she’s amazing, that you’re impressed by her Wonder Woman powers, and that you’re incredibly proud of her, and you’ll feel quite awesome too. When you respond to someone else’s good news in a superenthusiastic way, you spread that positive energy to yourself as well, says Shelly Gable, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Eat for Energy

Grab a snack that contains protein and carbs before your next jog. Try these treats from Dr. Pratt and Jennifer Iserloh, author of Secrets of a Skinny Chef.
  • Hot chocolate: Heat 8 ounces vanilla soy milk in a microwave for 60 seconds and add 4 tablespoons 100 percent cocoa powder and dark honey to taste.
  • Trail mix: Combine dark chocolate, dried blueberries, raisins, and almonds.
  • Banana-chocolate smoothie: Blend 1 medium banana, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 cups ice, and a dash of cinnamon.

Buy Yourself Flowers

Why wait for your guy to treat you? A bouquet can put you in a good mood — and even give you an all-day energy boost — regardless of where it comes from, according to Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff, PhD. When we see flowers, our brains may instantly conjure festive memories. Put a vase of gerbera daisies on your kitchen table to start your morning right.

Go Nuts

A handful of almonds, pistachios, or walnuts can reenergize you postworkout. All tree nuts contain arginine, which stimulates blood flow, allowing nutrients to move more quickly to your muscles, says David Heber, MD, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition in Los Angeles. Plus, according to studies, the act of repetitive chewing, such as crunching on nuts, enhances serotonin production, which can improve your mood.

Rev Up Your Playlist

The more motivational your tunes, the quicker you move and the more calories you burn. In fact, research shows that music tempo can increase your endurance by 15 percent.

Do It Bright

Yellow has been called the color of optimism and joy. Consider a buttery hue for your walls or a rug or scatter a few pillows in a sunny shade on your couch.

Bring the Outdoors In

Nothing energizes like nature. Hang a large wall mirror opposite a window and you’ll expand your view of sky, grass, and trees. “These visual cues stimulate you,” says Vern Yip, an interior designer and a judge on HGTV Design Star.

Top It Off

Sprinkle these spices on your food for a lift that lingers: Cinnamon can stabilize your blood sugar, leading to sustained energy; cumin may raise iron levels; and coriander can help calm by elevating levels of the nutrient magnesium, which gets depleted in times of stress.

Stretch Your Limits

Overwhelmed at work? Try this move from trainer Nicki Anderson, owner of Reality Fitness in Naperville, Illinois, to relieve tension in your spine and neck.
  • Get on your hands and knees, exhale and slowly inhale for six counts as you round your spine; hold for four to six counts.
  • Exhale slowly as you bring your spine to its original straight position.

Capture Your Winning Moments

And keep them where you can see them, like on the fridge or your desk. A snapshot featuring you with a big smile reaching the finish line or hiking a tough mountain trail will improve your mood and trigger goal-oriented thinking, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Give, Even Just a Little

Five dollars truly can buy you happiness. People told to spend that amount on a friend or as a charity donation reported feeling better at the end of the day than those told to use the money for themselves, a study in the journal Science found.

Create a Fitness Inspiration Board

Clip out pictures and words that inspire you (your favorite athlete, a yoga chant, you on a gorgeous running trail), make a collage out of them, and hang it where you can see it, suggests Patricia Isis, PhD, a board-certified art therapist in Miami. Every time you lay eyes on it, you’ll feel good.

Sip Smart

To beat an afternoon slump, b pour yourself a rejuvenating cup of green or black tea instead. The caffeine in the brew will give you a boost and the amino acid L-theanine will enhance your concentration, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. To maximize the benefits, Mark Ukra, owner of Dr. Tea in West Hollywood, California, suggests steeping the leaves for two minutes.

Lend an Ear

For a quick hit of energy, vigorously massage from your lobes to the tops of your ears with your index fingers and thumbs for about 30 seconds. “In Eastern medicine, the ear is a microsystem of the body,” explains Stephen Brewer, MD, medical director of Canyon Ranch Health Resorts in Tucson, Arizona, and a certified acupuncturist. “Massaging certain parts of the ear can affect different areas of the body and may increase your energy.”

Lose the Blues

Here’s some slim-down motivation: A recent study in the journal Obesity found that depressed patients on a weight-loss program not only succeeded in ditching around 8 percent of their weight but also reported significant improvement in their moods. The psychological lift may be due in part to an increase in participants’ self-esteem and body confidence.

Breathe Energy into Your Day

“Breath of fire,” a breathing technique that yogis have used for thousands of years, is said to boost the function of the pituitary gland, which nourishes the blood. Simply inhale and exhale rapidly through the nose, each breath equal in length to the one before. After two to three minutes, you’ll feel refreshed, renewed — and ready to tackle the next item on your to-do list.

Laugh a Lot

Who knew that your dad’s dorky jokes served a health purpose? Studies suggest that laughter can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and increase endorphins. What’s more, there seems to be no difference between real and forced laughter. “I tell clients to giggle when they’re sitting in traffic,” says Ronel Corbin of ESPA International, who runs a laughter therapy program at the One&Only Palmilla resort in Mexico. “It really will make you feel better.”

See the Light

The quickest get-happy solution: sunshine. Stepping out to enjoy it not only increases levels of vitamin D, which researchers believe helps fight depression, but also activates special receptors in your eyes that regulate your body clock and mood. Just be sure to put on SPF if you’ll be outside for more than a few minutes.

February 16, 2011

a hoot a day

Today’s Hoot:

Past Hoots:

Get Inspired
Jen Peter’s is a graphic designer and owls are her favorite subject to illustrate.  As a creative outlet she posts a new “hoot’ everyday on her blog.  Check out A Hoot A Day to see what kind of hoot she will come up with next! 

February 13, 2011

Be my valentine cards

February 10, 2011

Stress reduction kit

Our life has been moving at lightning speed.. between work, school, demolition, and studying it seems like we have no time for ourselves or for each other. It is hard to not become too stressed or tired, overworked or run-down.  There are definitely times when this stress reduction kit would come in handy. 

There are also times when it is necessary to step back and look at the big picture.  To “stop and smell the roses”, even if we need to take a few minutes out of our busy day to do so. 


As for Sam and I.. we are going to take this Valentine’s weekend to slow down and spend time with each other.  

We are off to Ohio to see Jerry Seinfeld live! 🙂