Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Candle Holders

I am a regular candle user. We go through them every few weeks in my home. Not to mention, just about every room has its own candle. Who doesn't love the Bath & Body Works Slatkin & Co filled candles?!

Considering we go through these things every few weeks I began to notice how many jars were tossed in the garbage. So, I figured I'd try and put them to use. Instead of purchasing expensive bathroom containers for Q-tips, cotton balls, and other things I decided to create my own. The nice thing about these candles is they come in different sizes too. Oh, and they include a lid, even better!

- I took a candle that was no longer being used and cut the excess wax out of the bottom. 

*It helps to stick it in the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden the wax. 

- I removed the labels so that there is no evidence of it being a candle. 

- Lastly, I cleaned it out real good with windex and a sponge.

There you have it... So easy peasy and totally cute!

Local Outreach

Changing lives one backpack at a time.

Seven years ago the dream began of providing backpacks filled with school supplies to needy kids. The project began with 100 backpacks. The employees in my moms office quickly embraced the program. As of this years deliveries they have provided 2500 backpacks to kids in three school districts.

Thanks to a partnership with Fresno County Office of Education, the employee contributions are matched dollar for dollar by the Wells Fargo Foundation.

I tip my hat off to this woman, my mom, for her hard work and determination. She started a ministry that puts a smile on a child's face.

Each backpack was stuffed with everyday school supplies...

dry erase markers.
erasers & highlighters.
colored pencils.
glue sticks & scissors. 
and of course a little tissue...

Each year more people find out about this incredible act of service and volunteer to either donate money, help distribute the backpacks, or stuff them. It's been amazing to see her co-workers get excited to participate in this simple life changing event.

It was fun to hear each principles plan for the backpacks. At Eaton Elementary in Fresno Unified, each of the 17 teachers received 5 backpacks for their classroom. While at Hidalgo, in downtown Fresno, the backpacks will be used as "back to school night" prizes for the students.

I don't know about you, but there is nothing greater than the joy of giving. Such great joy. Sincerely helping those in need and allowing it to change your life. I pray that the love of Christ shines through to the families of the children receiving the backpacks, principles at each school, and the co-workers in my moms office. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Chapter

Two o'clock in the morning I wake up to my step mom having contractions. Here I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of a little brother. Dad quickly tells me to go back to sleep. An hour later... He taps me on the shoulder, it's time to go to the hospital.

Thirteen years go by and there he is, entering his first day of High School. High School... it boggles my mind to even say it.

Of course I couldn't walk him to school this morning... because he's cool. And cool kids don't need their sister walking them to school, especially when your THIRTEEN. Although; I have this feeling, actually not just a feeling but certainty that he appreciates my interest and excitement for this new stage of life. (even though he'll never admit it, men!)

I'll admit though, tears filled up my eyes thinking of all the time that has passed watching him grow up to be the teenager he is now. As I got ready this morning to head out the door, I was reminded of how precious life is. He's not little anymore. He doesn't need glue sticks, crayons, & scissors for school. He's going to learn about things much greater; life lessons, responsibility, character, and commitment.

As I was driving I whispered a prayer, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave nor forsake you" (Deut 31:5,6). Never hurts right?!

I haven't figured out how time zooms by so fast, but what I do know is, this guy has a lot going for him and it's only the beginning of a new chapter.

I'm proud to be called his sister.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Old to New

I love transforming things.

Have you ever seen something so ugly its cute?

like these...

Ugly right? Well, to be honest I totally fell in love with these candle holders when I first saw them. These lonely twins were hanging in the window of a thrift store and I about died. My brain started going a million miles an hour (like normal) pondering what I would do with them, and where I would hang them.

They ended up coming home, dusty and gold. ICK! Some of you may or may not know, but I love spray paint. Weird, right? I don't snort it or paint designs on freeways with it, I just use it for crafts!

So today I purchased some black satin Krylon spray paint and went to work on these bad boys.

Tah dah.

They turned out marvelous and I have just the right spot for them in my home. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Country Girl at Heart

Last week as I was hustling out of church a couple stopped me and asked me a question. It took me a minute to respond. I stood in silence for a second, felt the butterflies building up inside and then agreed to help.

The question was to take their engagement pictures. 

I quickly warned them that I do have some experience taking pictures of food, but not people, ah! Not to mention, she's a photographer herself. (insert: high pitched squeal).

I decided to take my camera and a friend of mine out to an area that I love. 


I dream of a home on a ton of land, that requires a ton of maintenance (sarcasm). No but really, I would love to live on acres of dry, long, dead grass that sway in the wind as I look out my kitchen window. Beautiful. 

There's only 1 problem. I hate rodents. Mice, lizards, ground squirrels, you name it. I don't like them and they don't like me. I haven't figured out how living in a country home on a ton of land would not have rodent issues. What I do know is, I don't have to worry about it right now. (thats another post coming up)

I have the greatest friends, always willing to help a sister out. Miss Mary was kind enough to be my model for the day. It was nothing but fun, sweat, apricot ale, and giggles. The day was complete. 

For a rookie photographer like myself, I think they turned out pretty good. I'm still fresh with picture taking let alone editing, yikes! This gal's photos didn't need much. A little brightening here, a little contrast there.   

Needless to say, in a few weeks I will be taking pictures of two lovely people who will be tying the knot next year. Pictures are a beautiful thing and capture life's greatest moments. I'm feeling humbled that I get to share this with them.  Until then, I will have my fair share of practicing. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Clock Is Ticking

Today was one of those mornings, running just didn't seem appealing. I ignored my alarm twice, denied a phone call and just continued to sleep, or at least try. I tried convincing myself that this is my last week of vacation and to soak it up.

Finally, I decided to crawl outta bed with my left leg so numb I couldn't walk. Wow, maybe I really don't have to run this morning, since my legs are sleepy too. Well, I was wrong. Within 2 minutes the leg woke up. There was no longer any room for excuses.

Out on a run I went.

In less than 2 months I will be running in the Two Cities half marathon. When I ran my first half marathon last November my goal was to finish the entire race without walking. (I did, yay!) This year my goal is to finish with a better time and try to avoid feeling like I died.

A friend shared with me an amazing training program last year called SmartCoach Training Plan. It was a complete lifesaver in helping me achieve my goal. This program is designed to fit each and every individual by asking simple questions like "what goals you're looking to achieve", "how hard are you willing to train", "how many miles do you run a week", and so forth. It was the best thing for me. It kept me from over-training and getting burnt out on running. If you are considering training for a race in the near future I totally suggest giving it a try.

One thing I've noticed about my running is... If I push myself on the days I don't feel like running, it's usually (not always) my best day. Running is a challenge for me. It definitely doesn't come natural. Regardless how much I train, I have my difficult days too. I think that's what I love about it. I enjoy challenging myself in areas I know can improve.

Running is a new me. It's a lifestyle change that I want to continue for the rest of my life. By joining a local running group Sierra Challenge Express, making running a weekly priority, keeping my playlist up to date, and using it as therapeutic tool, has made it something I thoroughly enjoy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Yumalicious... anything with the word bacon in it is hands down delicious. This is one of my favorite appetizers to make for these reasons:



requires few ingredients. (3 to be exact)

melts in your mouth.

If you haven't made them before I'm releasing the recipe to you...You're welcome. (Not that you are incapable of getting it somewhere else, I'm just that nice.) This is a crowd pleasing appetizer that even non date lovers enjoy. Another awesome fact about this tasty bite is that it can be wrapped up in advance and cooked when ready.  There are several variations on how to stuff these guys. I prefer parmesan cheese although; bleu, jack and many others work well too. So take advantage and pack dem' dates with your favorite stuffings.

Serves 20

20 pitted Medjool dates

10 pieces of bacon- halved

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

After pitting each date stuff them with the cheese you prefer. Then, wrap a half piece of bacon around the date. *Editors note: use toothpicks to hold the date and bacon together.

Lay the dates 1 inch apart on the foiled baking pan. (Spray the foil with Pam Cooking Spray to ensure stick-free dates)

Bake the bacon wrapped dates for 30-40 minutes or until bacon is crispy. Remove from the oven and let them drain on a paper towel for 5 minutes.

Once cooled, this tasty bite can be served immediately.

So there you have it. A simple, award winning appetizer, that most everyone will enjoy. At first, your guests might think they are pigs in a blanket or as my cousin would say "giant raisins".  Just tell them to close their eyes, open their mouth, and enjoy the ride. Cuz it's THAT good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fig Fest

Never thought I was a fig fan, until today. Meandering around to several different booths sipping on vino, listening to a local band, and eating figs set the mood straight. Not just plain raw figs but a variety of fig creations.

Here it is... a lonely fig.

And more... lonely figs. 

It's a dangerous event, since you're not quite sure how much wine the body is consuming. Little sample here, little sample there, with a fig bite in between.

Several restaurants were showing off their version of fig inspired food. Trelio, a local favorite restaurant won with a Creme Brulee Stuffed Fig dessert. Yummmmmmmmmmy.

Have you ever had a chocolate dipped fig, sprinkled with walnuts? Well I did, and to say the least it was phenomenal. I would have gone back for thirds & fourths if I wasn't concerned about looking like a crazy woman.

Little did I know, a local company Bouquet of Fruits creates this delectable treat. They provide whole fruit gift baskets that can be shipped across the United States. 

The event was very well organized and fun. Fresno State was a great venue with trees providing lots of shade. The food was a hit too. 

Note to self: Arrive earlier next year, as the food was almost gone during the last hour. 

Mom & I enjoyed our afternoon, tasting wine and sampling creative fig foods. My calendar is already cleared for next years Fig Fest

Next time I'll take a picture WITH wine IN the glass.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

One Leaves Another Returns

It's amazing what true friends can do to our lives. They are placed in us for specific reasons and we don't always know the exact reasons why. 

After hearing the news a few months back that a great friend of two years was interviewing for a job back east I knew I was gonna lose something. Someone who was a weekly lunch buddy, Starbucks drinking friend, running partner, yogurt eater, gluten free advocate and strong Christian sister. She decided to set forth a dream and accomplish it. 

She did it. 
Sarah & I after my first half marathon! Thanks to her support!
Before her departure for Boston, we discussed ways to make it special. I decided to throw a baseball themed party including her soon to be favorite team the Boston Red Sox.

I got out my craft supplies and the eminent Cricut machine to make the magic happen. 

Candy Buffet was totally a hit! 
Hours later a fabulous party was taking place with; peanuts, hot dogs, brisket and the best bubble gum ever, Big League Chew. 

She said her farewells or as she would call them "see you laters" to the friends she met over the past couple years. 

Packed up her bags and headed east. 

I know she will be blessed with great things as she moves on with this endeavor. God rewards those who follow His will, and that I am certain. (Hebrews 11:6)

Call me selfish but I miss her.

A few weeks go by... I met with a lifelong friend for a margarita and some lunch. One of those friends you haven't seen for months but the minute you're together its like you pick up right where you left off. 

She moved away and recently moved back to start her career. We both share so much in common and enjoy every minute we're together. Not to mention we live 1 mile away from each other. 

Even though I've said "see you later" to a close friend (who I know I will be visiting) the Lord has reestablished a friendship that was missed. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Events

I cant even believe it's already August... where has summer gone?! It's been a very active & eventful one to say the least. Here is a recap of a few of the fun things I did!

I helped a friend out with her two kids this summer. They are totally fun and outgoing. We went on countless bike rides and trips for coffee. (I'm teaching them about Starbucks while they're young :)

I love our local farms. We have several in the Central Valley. The kids really enjoyed walking around the Fresno State farm but most of all they enjoyed the experience of milking cows! 

Water balloon fights rock, of course! 

Instead of going to a paid (overrated) crowded, smelly, poopy diaper infested, dirty water park. We stuck to a local, small splash park right up the street. Not only is it clean but they also have shaved ice! Kids love it, and so do the adults! 

You caught me! Enjoying a shaved ice.

I watched some Major League Baseball live! Went to Universal Studios, Washington on a train (21 hours to be exact, YIKES!), Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and several others. 

Trip to Washington was all around amazing! I think the fam figured out its been 10 years since I last visited. I was way overdue. I loved everything about Seattle besides the rain.  I almost stole the hanging flower baskets but remembered I was returning home on a train and oh, its illegal. They were jaw dropping beautiful. 

Cousin Molly, isn't she super cute?!
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was a quick, fun day trip. I hadn't been there in 15 years at least. I think I've figured out I'm a little too old for creaky wooden roller-coasters. Definitely felt like I had subdural hematoma immediately following the ride. (In case you were wondering, I'm better now). A friend and I had an opportunity to be in a Dolphin show, but because of a delayed response we missed our chance. Bummer!

For those of you who know me, I highly dislike hotdogs but I ate this anyway.

I should probably consider winding down on my vacationing considering school & work start back in two weeks. There are two more mini trips planned in those two weeks though, so we will see. What can I say, I just LOVE summer and I LOVE being busy! 

 What are some things you did this summer?