Friday, March 30, 2012

Pigeon Forge Spring Break trip

Chad and I had a nice little trip to Pigeon Forge for Spring Break. Gotta love the cheesiness of Pigeon Forge.

So what did we do right after we checked in at our hotel? We went to a theater and saw The Hunger Games. Loved it! Not as good as the book, but when is it ever? We ate at a place called Smoky Mountain Brewery. It was our first time there. We ordered the soft-baked pretzels with beer cheese dip. Yummy! I got chicken tenders and fries--my usual standby. My meal was good, but I was still pretty full from eating so much popcorn at the movies. Before we headed back to the room, we stopped at Nom Nom's Cupcake Factory. I got this Almond Joy cupcake. It was divine. Seriously, one of the best things I've ever tasted.

We just hung out in the room the rest of the night. I got up early the next morning, thanks to some kids running up and down the hallway. I was eager to get our fun-filled day started! Chad, however, wanted to sleep all morning long. I couldn't get him up until about 10:30. Once we finally got going, we started our "Kid at Heart" alphabet date. We'd been stuck on the letter K a loooong time. It turned out to be a fun date, though!

Our first stop was Adventure Golf right on the Parkway. It's not the nicest or well-kept course. But it's the one we always play at because it's close to our hotel. Plus, we only paid half the normal amount because of the "Buy One Get One Free" promotion before noon.

I will say... Chad wasn't feeling it. He said it was way too early for it. He wasn't even trying and took the maximum amount for most holes. He straightened up a little by the end, but there was no contest. I, on the other hand, got a hole-in-one on TWO different holes. I did go way over par on a few holes, but overall, not so bad.

Chad kept score. I couldn't understand his system at all--slash marks, plus and minus signs, etc. He figured up our scores at the end. I easily won--yay!

Our next stop was the arcade. I seriously love going to the arcade. I know, I know... it's a waste of money. It's a guilty pleasure, though!

We played a few rounds of Skee-ball.

Chad played a couple of arcade games. Then we both moved on to the "ball drop game." I think it's called Monster Drop. Basically, you press a button and it drops a ball into a hole.

There are different values on the hole, from 1 to 50 tickets. There's also a jackpot--which I hit twice! Once it spit out almost 250 tickets and the next time it was around 100. Chad couldn't stand that I hit two jackpots, so he had to keep playing until he hit two, too! We ended up with a LOT of tickets which meant a LOT of points.

But I had my eye on a Hello Kitty plush. We didn't have enough for that, so we decided to come back and play again later. (And yes, I realize I could buy one at the store for much less--but where's the fun in that?)

We took a break from the arcade and ate lunch at Big Daddy's Pizzeria. We got a small cheese pizza and split it. It was okay--not the best or the worst we'd ever had.

We decided to drive to Gatlinburg and walk around for awhile. I always loved going in those shops when I was younger. We definitely did some window shopping, though--no purchasing except for ice cream at Chocolate Monkey.

We got Krazy Kolors ice cream--and it turned our mouths and teeth blue! It was very yummy, though. It was Blue Bell ice cream, so you know that's good stuff!

After we got tired of walking around, we drove back to Pigeon Forge and went to the room for a little while to rest. After about an hour or so, we went BACK to the arcade to finish up. Chad kept up his winning streak--he hit two more jackpots! I didn't fare so well this time. We ended up with more tickets this time than the first time, though.

Added together with the 2,691 from the first trip, we had over 6,000 points! That means we won over 2,000 tickets in all. That was enough to buy my Hello Kitty, a koosh ball thingy, a mini-deck of cards, and a pencil.

We went shopping at the Tanger Outlet Center. You know me... I love a bargain! I couldn't find much--just three shirts at Old Navy and these rad shoes at the Adidas Outlet.

After shopping, we went to a place called Blue Moose. It's a restaurant supposedly "famous" for their burgers and wings. Well, I was mighty disappointed. Overpriced and not so tasty. The fried pickles were decent, though.

We ended our night with three of my favorite words--Hot Doughnuts Now. Love me some Krispy Kreme!

We had to get up early the next morning to check out of the hotel. Our stay was short but sweet! I had to stop at Nom Nom's to get some more cupcakes to go. Yes, I paid $16 plus tax for 6 cupcakes. That's a splurge for me.

I got an Orange Dreamsicle.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

Peanut Butter Cup.

Milky Way.

Cherry Cheesecake.

And another Almond Joy.

Some of them didn't hold up so well on the ride home! It was over a two hour trip since we had a couple of stops. I shared them with Chad and my parents. I did sample a little bit of all of them, though! Not as good as that first Almond Joy cupcake. I think they dried out a bit. The icing was definitely the best part!

I wish we could've stayed a few more days! Maybe we'll get to take another trip later this summer.
Now it's back to business as usual. I'll spend the rest of the weekend planning lessons, trying to finish up my Easter decorations, and hopefully working on our taxes. I can't put those off much longer!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sweet Spring Break!

Whoa. It's been such a long time since I've posted! I've still been working, working, working. Teaching is such a demanding job. It's not something I can leave at school with me--I often drag home hours of work each week. I'm not complaining, though. It's what I chose for a career and I feel like I wouldn't be as effective of a teacher if I didn't spend some time working outside of normal contract hours. I love that teaching lets me exercise my creativity! I've still been making things on a weekly basis. But instead of crafty stuff for our home, it's stuff to share with my students.

Anyway! We're on Spring Break next week. Counting weekends, I have 9 glorious days to relax, rejuvenate, and have fun! Oh, and to get caught up on things.

Here's how my first day of Spring Break went:

I woke up at 7:30 to the sound of thunder and a spastic dog in the bedroom. Our Yorkie, who is absolutely terrified of storms, somehow opened up the bedroom door and was trying to jump up on our bed.

After we calmed her down, I went back to sleep and finally woke up at 9:45. This made me too late to go shopping with my mom and grandma. I spent most of the morning browsing Pinterest, catching up on DVR, and rereading The Hunger Games. I want a refresher before I see the movie next week.

My mom brought home McDonald's for lunch. I ate that and watched some NCAA basketball with my hubby. Afterwards, I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open! I took about an hour to hour and a half nap. I called my mom to see if she'd cut my hair, but we decided to go out to eat supper at a local country cookin' restaurant instead. We brought my husband and my dad along with us, as well. :)

I spent the last part of my Saturday evening deciding on my shopping list for my weekly couponing trip. Which, by the way, I have to update my couponing blog, too! I've gotten so far behind.

Now that you've had that not-so-thrilling update on my first day of Spring Break... I hope to get caught up this week! My to-do list is about a mile long. But I have a few projects I was proud of and want to share. I need to share about my Motivation Marbles, Valentine's Day goodies, and St. Patrick's Day mantel. I hope to create something for Easter this week, too.

So, until then... Happy Spring!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Baking

I decided to bake some things for Valentine's Day for my family. I think I had 6 baskets of baked goods in all. I got this bright idea before I started working again--so I didn't have as much time to make everything perfect. I forgot to take a picture of the finished basket. Boo! Here's what went inside the baskets, though.

Pillsbury Sugar Cookies--these were a great deal!

Brownies with red M&Ms candies on top. Shhh, they were Christmas M&Ms.

Chocolate covered pretzels. I used Wilton candy melts for these--and they were out of a clearance Christmas candy-making kit.

And peanut butter Rice Krispies with Dove chocolates in the middle.

I also had various candy mixed in--Hershey's Kisses, Russell Stover hearts, Reese's hearts, Snicker's hearts, etc. All of that was purchased on my couponing trips. The baggies and cellophane bags were from Dollar Tree.

Overall, the baskets were a big hit! Everything tasted great and my family loved them. I'll definitely do this again in the future. :)

Hubby and I had a great day. We went out to dinner after I got home from school. Then we delivered our baskets to our family. We spent the rest of the evening together relaxing. He surprised me with flowers, Breaking Dawn dvd, and an Adele CD. I gave him a gift card to Game Stop so he could buy the game he'd been wanting.

I love taking close-ups of flowers. So pretty!

I'm lucky to have such a great husband and family.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day Mantel

I decided to get a little festive for Valentine's Day!

We didn't decorate very much for Christmas. I couldn't get to my decorations because of all my teacher stuff in storage. Ugh! Soooo, I thought we'd bring a little cheer into our home by decorating for Valentine's Day.

I guess the whole thing cost around $10--minus printer ink.

I needed 5 black picture frames from the Dollar Tree--two 5x7 and three 8x10.

One 8x10 was for the Conversation Heart Art I made a couple of weeks ago. Another 8x10 was for a wedding photo collage I was able to print for free at CVS (thanks to coupons!) The third 8x10 was for a printable. I found a TON of cool Valentine's Day printables courtesy of this link on Pinterest. The 8x10 was found at Eighteen25. I made sure to find a frame that could be turned horizontally.

The 5x7 frames were a little weird because they had mat insets. So, technically the frame was a bit larger than 5x7. I had to trim the pictures down, so that's why the spacing is a bit off. I found the 1 Corinthians 13 subway art at The Girl Creative and the LOVE printable at Sprik Space. The Sprik Space link is amazing, by the way. It had 15 free printables in various colors! Awesome.

I bought two artificial carnations at Walmart for 94 cents each. I happened to have two empty red plastic bottles that looked pretty cool. One was from Herbal Essences shampoo and the other was from Arizona tea. I liked how they looked, even if the bottles didn't match!

Finally, I made a wreath. I'm not super stoked with how it turned out, but it's not completely hideous. I used a small floral foam circle from Dollar Tree as my form. I'd never worked with floral foam before. I didn't know just how much dust would come off of it. I'd definitely go with styrofoam if I had to do over.

I started by tying a knot with the yarn, and then wrapped it completely. It was far from perfect--I tried to keep it as tight as possible, but I still had some spaces. I ended up going over the wreath again a few times to add a little depth. The third picture is of the back--thank goodness that part isn't visible!

I cut a piece of black and white polka dot ribbon and placed it around the top of the wreath. I put a dab of tacky glue near the top of the ribbon and held it together for a couple of minutes. I didn't glue it all the way at the top because I wanted to cut a little slit in the ribbon to hang the wreath on a nail.

I ended up adding a black flower for decoration. The flower is actually a hair elastic/pin. I just stuck it through the yarn and will remove it before I store the wreath.

So that's my Valentine's Day mantel! I hope to change it out each month. I'm going to put all my printables by month in an expanding file and reuse the frames. I'll try a different wreath approach next time. A ribbon wreath would be fun!

New job = less time for blog!

I've been fortunate enough to be called back to the interim teaching position I had in the fall. Yay! I love Second Grade. I've been very busy with planning, grading, and all the other stuff that comes along with a teaching job. Needless to say, my craftiness has had to take a back seat.

I'll still find some things to do and post periodically. As long as Pinterest is around, I'm sure I'll find inspiration.

I've done two additional crafts I'll post about later. I planned on making Valentine's Day baskets full of baked goodies, but I'm not sure if time will allow it. I've done fairly well with walking. I only walked three days this week, though. It's hard hopping on the treadmill after being on your feet all day at work! My water intake is not so good. A morning that starts at 4:55 requires caffeine. I'm at least drinking one bottle a day, though. I've been reading the Bible every day. I'm still in the Old Testament--1 Kings. Cleaning and organizing? That's kind of joke. We'll do our Alphabet Dates, but at the rate we're going, it will be 2025 before we finish them.

I'm still keeping my blog--I just won't have as many posts for the time being. Soooo, my new year's resolutions will probably be null and void. It's hard to make time for all those things when working full-time! But trust me... I'd rather have a job. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Treats

This shouldn't be called Baking Extravaganza because there was no actual baking involved. But I'm leaving this sugary deliciousness in the Baking category.

I made peanut butter rice krispies... and they were absolutely delicious! I found the recipe from this pin on Pinterest. Check out the original source on Cooking with K. They're called Corey's Treats on there.

Here's what I started with-- a box of Rice Krispies cereal, Karo syrup, peanut butter, sugar, Hershey's Kisses, a large sauce pan, and wax paper. Super, super important to use wax paper for easy clean-up! I went ahead and lined two baking pans with wax paper so they'd be ready when the mixture was done. (No baking involved, though! Just used these for a nice, flat surface.)

The recipe said this would make 48 treats. So, I counted out 48 Hershey's Kisses. Yes, they're Christmas ones, but they were still good. It's just January, you know. Of course I tested one out for quality assurance.

I unwrapped all 48 kisses. Yummy.

I measured out 4 cups of Rice Krispies. (I recently found this HUGE Pyrex measuring cup in my cabinet. I'd forgotten all about it. I love it!)

Next I added 1 cup Karo syrup and 1 cup sugar to my sauce pan. I brought it to a boil then removed it from heat.

Then I added 2 cups of peanut butter. Two cups of peanut butter equals roughly 1 jar. I stirred it until it was nice and smooth.

Here comes the fun part! Add in the Rice Krispies and stir until they're completely covered. This was easy for awhile--but then the mixture got really thick! My wrist was tired from stirring before I got it all mixed up.

Next, I spooned the mixture on to the wax paper. I didn't end up with quite 48--I think I had 33 in all. I guess I made my treats a little too large. I ended up having to get another plate lined with wax paper to make them all fit.

As soon as I spooned out all the mixture, I pressed a Hershey's Kiss in the center of each treat.

See? Here are the leftover Kisses.

I let them cool completely. And let me tell ya, this was hard--they smelled wonderful!

These little things were absolutely delicious! A perfect little sugary, gooey, chewy treat.

They were dangerous. I had to give a few to my parents and grandparents or I just knew hubby and I would eat the whole batch ourselves. 

I stored these babies in an air-tight Pyrex dish and they held up very well. They didn't dry out at all. Of course, they were gone in two days.

Would I make these again? ABSOLUTELY! They were so, so good. Check out Cooking with K for the full recipe.