Sunday, January 20, 2013

Project Update

Well, it has certainly been a while.  I intended on blogging regularly.  It hasn't happened.  I have been thinking of new things to try and do though.  My latest idea has been to utilize the tools I already have in the kitchen, versus trying to get new tools.  I set my sights on my trusty rice cooker! 

Stay tuned for different recipes to make with your rice cooker!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It is your birthday? Here's a gift on us.... Gifts and discounts for you on your birthday!

Birthdays are supposed to be pretty darn special.  Heck, most places usually use that date as a way to identify who you are!  Why not take advantage of some of the perks associated with birthdays?! Here's my list of special offers or gifts for you on your birthday!

Cost: FREE!  

Materials Needed:
  • Computer
  • e-mail
  • Printer
  • Smartphone (optional)
Approximate Amount of Time:
  • ~5 minutes per submission 
How to do it:

All you really need to do is keep your eyes and ears peeled during the year for free reward clubs or e-mail subscriptions.  You may end up with a few extra e-mails in your inbox throughout the year, but hey, if they're going to give you a gift on your birthday that isn't so bad is it?  Just make sure you keep your address updated, as some stores only send you your gift through the mail.

Anthropologie sends you a discount card to use the month of your birthday if you are a member of their club ANTHRO.  The discount is even applicable to sale items!

Pirate's Dinner Adventure has a discount code on their website that allows free admission during your birthday month.  There are restrictions that are listed on the website. 

Sephora changes their gift yearly.  Last year it was a Philosophy body wash.  This year it is two mini Sugar lip balms.  Drop in to Sephora and show your Beauty Insider Card (click to sign up) or give them the e-mail associated with your account during your birthday month and the gift is yours! 

Benefit cosmetics offers a free brow service to you on your birthday!  Visit any of their Brow Bars for your gift.  No membership or subscription is necessary for this one!

Swagbucks gives you a few extra bucks if you are already signed up (see my past post about this little gem here).

Panera loads a birthday gift good for 60 days on your MyPanera card.  You must have a MyPanera card and have it registered. 

Godiva Boutiques gifts you with a free piece of chocolate during your birthday month.  They will also send you a coupon via e-mail for $10 off a purchase online or in store to use during the month of your birthday. You must be part of the reward club in order to get your gifts.

Bare Minerals gifts you with a free FULL sized eyeshadow (the color is predetermined) if you're a member of FAB.  You can redeem your gift online or in one of their boutiques.      

Ulta sent an e-mail out letting everyone know there would be a gift for 2014.

I'll keep updating this list and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Before there was Pinterest, there was this website...

I'm not going to lie.  I waste a ton of time on Facebook and Pinterest.  Before there was Pinterest, there was a website titled, "This is Why You're Fat".  The title is pretty horrific and possibly offensive to some.  Nonetheless, I find the content utterly mesmerizing.  I could look at this site for hours a day.  The site is a compilation of photos of outrageous food accompanied with captions.  Some of the items aren't that far fetched (really? McDonald's holiday pies?! Those are just delicious, not food cray cray!) while others are just gross (like the the Bacon-copia that contains 1 pound of scrapple and blood sausage).  There's even a wikipedia page for it!  Now, if you've visited the old site, you'll see that it no longer exists :(.  I have to say that this tumblr page isn't as great as the original, but is still entertaining.  If you're looking for something else to waste some time, I highly suggest perusing this site.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Earning an unconventional income

Life is a journey right?  Right now, mine has put me in a bit of an unusual situation.  For a quick recap, my partner in crime (aka husband) graduated with his PhD and got a job (yay!).  It is an awesome opportunity for him professionally.  This new job has my crime buddy working in various site locations for one full year.  Housing and vehicle costs are covered for this one year!  Unfortunately, I don't have a job that will allow me to be out of the area which means unemployment for me :(  We're almost 4 months into the first of 3 locations and I've found that I really need to feel like I'm contributing to this household with a job.  I've needed to figure out creative ways to get around our temporary living situation to find work.  I'm not making nearly as much as I was with my more traditional job, but something is better than nothing, right?

Materials needed:
  • Internet
  • Various profiles (one per site being used)
  • Time

Approximate Time Needed: Varies 

oDesk is pretty straight forward.  You are either a client (individual who is posting a job) or a contractor (individual looking for a job).  You set up you profile, take a few online tests, and then start applying for jobs.  When you apply for the job, you are basically trying to outbid others for the position.  They have both fixed rate jobs or hourly jobs.  There are pros and cons to both types of work and their website does a pretty good job of explaining what type of job might be best for you.  I've been hired for one job so far.  I'm not going to lie.  The jobs aren't hard, but it can be a little tricky getting the job.  I wouldn't expect to easily get a minimum wage job that you can do from home.  There are people who bid on jobs all day and are willing to do the work for $1-$2 PER HOUR.  Coming from a salaried position, that can be quite a bit less than what you may be used to making.  The company does a good job of giving you pointers during your first few applications and when you create your profile to help you become successful.  If you're persistent, you could easily make a couple of bucks.  

Task Rabbit is another site where people post jobs and you can apply to complete them.  The application process is a bit more daunting.  I'll be honest, I haven't been successful with this site.  I honestly haven't even set up my account all of the way.  One of the big differences with this site is that they require you to have a video interview as well.  This is the one thing I have yet to complete.  It seems as if the jobs are easier to obtain than they are on oDesk.  It might be easier to get the jobs once you pass the tests, but I'll let you know once I get to that point. 

MTurk stands for "mechanical turking" and is run by Amazon.  They are tasks that need human interaction for and cannot use computers to generate the answers.  You sign up and start turking away!  You can be paid directly to your desired bank account, or you can put the money into your Amazon account.  Their tasks are called "hits".  You won't be making dollars per hit.  You're making CENTS per hit.  There are a few dollar hits, but not nearly enough to make a substantial amount.  Luckily with the hits, there are easy an are usually only a few questions.  You can get quite a few done once you get the hang of it.    

Good luck and happy job hunting!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

DIY Piñata!

This stared when a friend of mine asked me if I knew where she could find a certain destructive-type-bird-game themed piñata. I personally hadn't seen any, but I knew of the shape she was looking for and offered to save her a few bucks (or a lot of bucks because I come to find out that this themed item can run approximately $50 per piñata) and make one. Luckily the birthday boy chose a pig! I had been itching to repurpose some newspaper I had laying around and cut them into strips of random sizes for easier manipulation when trying to build the pig.

Here's how I did it:

Materials Needed:
  • Newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Balloon/beach ball
  • Glue (I used PVA glue)
  • Tissue paper
  • Masking tape
  • Bowl
  • Medium paint brush/sponge
  • Box cutter
  • Water
  • Wire/Hanger 
  • Cardboard
Approximate Amount of Time Needed:
  • About a week
First, fill a large bowl with equal parts of water and glue. If it looks too runny add a bit more glue. If it looks too thick, add a little more water. The mixture should look and be the consistency of milk. ***I chose to use a glue over a homemade paste that uses flour because I needed this to hold up for a while and I didn't want it to go rancid*** Place some of your strips of paper in the bowl to briefly soak.  Depending on the type of paper, your strips might start to descinegrate and will be difficult to use.  In the meantime, inflate your balloon or beach ball. I think a balloon might be easier to use because of the removal trouble I had with the beach ball, but the beach ball doesn't have as much waste because you can reuse it. 

Secondly, start covering your balloon.  Leave the spot where the knot/plug is open so you can remove the balloon later.  I would try to place your strips in even layers.  You don't really need to shape your creation just yet.  Keep building your layers until you are happy with the thickness.  You may want to create a few layers, let it dry a bit, and continue with the layers until you've reached your desired thickness to make it easier on yourself.  Hang to completely dry (this may take a few days depending on how many layers you made.  Don't throw everything out just yet!  You might need it to further bring your creation to life.  

Next, pop/deflate your balloon once your creation has dried.  You'll know it is dry because it will feel lighter and have no soft/wet spots.  Pull the balloon out of the inside of the pinata.  If the balloon is sticking to the inside of the pinata, gently pull it away.  Cover the hole with your glue/paper strip combination or use some making tape and paper strips.  Once that has been completed, you can create and attach other features (eyes, ears, etc.) with paper and tape.  

Now,  cover your pinata with your colored tissue paper.  Some people like to make it flat and use squares of tissue paper with glue.  I made fringe out of the tissue paper to give the pinata a little more life and character since this was for a child's birthday party.

Finally, cut a square in the back of the pinata to allow you to put your goodies inside.  Before you fill the pinata, use wire to create a hook for you to hang your pinata.  You may need to anchor the wire on the inside of the pinata if it is heavy or if you are using a weaker wire.  Fill your pinata and whack away!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

That's HOW much?! Where to find less expensive ways to fill your spice cabinet

I'm going to confess, this post is more of a tip and not an "idea".  I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this sneaky way packaging and placement of products while in the grocery store.  Had it not been for the unique living situation I'm in for the next year, I probably wouldn't have even noticed.  But I am.  And I noticed.   Here's what went down...

I needed some spices to make chili.  After a recent foray into making my own pulled pork, I had most of the spices I needed (red pepper flakes, chili powder, pepper, the list continues...).  What I didn't have was cumin.  So I aimlessly peruse the grocery store for cumin and a variety of other items.  I've done this already this week looking for cinnamon (which I already purchased at my previous trip to the store), so I'm pretty familiar with this store.  I get to the aisle labeled "spices" and look for the cumin.  I know which brands are the least expensive due to my previous wandering and searching during the week.  I find it.  It's marked way more than I'm willing to pay.  I decide I don't really need cumin for my chili after all.  I continue to peruse the aisle.  I see the traditional Latin spices ahead of me.  I take a look to see what's new.  THEN, it happens.  I see a ton of spices that I don't have because they were too expensive at the other end of the aisle!  I couldn't believe this. 

There are differences.  The packaging is the biggest one.  The variety is also another factor.  You're not going to be able to find every single spice from the other section in this section.  However, in my opinion, I very rarely need fancy packaging for cooking at home.  I haven't tried the product yet, but there doesn't seem to be a quality difference (I'll be sure to edit this post as soon as I try it).  If I can stock my pantry with the same product for less, why not?

Want to see the difference?  Take a look!

The cinnamon in the left photo, on the left side, is 1oz. and on SALE for $2.23.  The cinnamon in the right photo, in the center of the photo, is 1oz. and is REGULARLY priced $.99.  How mind boggling is that? 

Shopper beware.  If you have some extra time in your day and wouldn't mind saving a buck here and there, keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Green House

I realize that it isn't really prime time to set up a greenhouse, but I started this post months ago and never got to post it for a number of reasons (all being my own fault).  Here it is, better late than never, right?

I had all of the materials to make this greenhouse.  It cost me nothing to recycle or use what I already had.  I was a little skeptical of if it would really function, but it definitely did.  You'll have to excuse the lack of real photos.  The gardeners at our apartment complex destroyed the greenhouse frame with the leaf blower before I took decent photos.

Cost: FREE!  

Materials Needed:
  • Box lid (I used a bottled drink box lid from a Costco purchase)
  • Foil
  • Transparent tape
  • Yarn or twine
  • Floral wire (if you don't have this, wire hangers would probably work, but you'll need to unwind them first)
  • Scissors
  • Yard stick or a Ruler
  • 3 Clear newspaper bags (This is the over wrap that comes with your newspaper.  If you don't have that, plastic wrap or dry cleaning plastic would work)
Approximate Amount of Time:
  • ~45 minutes 

How to do it:

Step 1: Start with your base.  Line your base completely with foil.  This will prevent your box from molding and falling apart.  Your seedings will sit on top of the foil.  Please see image below if you need clarification. 

Step 2:  Lay out your floral wire to be measured for the wire frame to your greenhouse.  Use your yard stick to determine your desired height for your greenhouse.  You don't want your frame too high, or it will be difficult to get condensation to build up.  I made mine around 9.5 inches high with .5 inches for bending.  Measure from the bottom of your base to the hight you want your greenhouse to be.  Cut or bend the wire to the appropriate length.  Bend one end your wire in the shape of a hook.  This end will be used as part of a joint for your frame.  Do this four times.   

Use your yard stick to determine the length and width of your frame.  Use your base as a guide (the frame measurements should be almost identical to your base).  Your floral wire may not be long enough and you'll have to join and lock two pieces together.  I did this by making a wire with two hooked ends and I was able to join and connect the hooks to make a piece of wire long enough.  Reinforce each of your joints by wrapping it securely with tape. You may need to play with the position of the hooks when they are joined together to form the correct shape. Do this four times until you have constructed a wire frame.  

Step 3: Attach your wire frame to your base.  Do this by placing the wire frame inside the box.  It should fit almost perfectly.  Measure the length, from the bottom of your base to the top of your frame, and the width of each of the four sides of your base.  Also, measure the length and width of the top of your frame.  If you're using newspaper over wrap or dry cleaning plastic bags, cut it open down the seams to form one rectangular piece.  You may have to play around with your over wrap to fit your frame.  If you don't have enough material, you may need to supplement with plastic wrap.  I had to assemble a few pieces together to cover one of my panels completely.  I made sure all of my seams were sealed with tape and it did not seem to cause any problems.  Cover your entire frame with plastic using tape to secure the plastic to your frame.  ****NOTE: Be careful when placing your tape.  The plastics listed tend to be thin and may tear if you try to remove a piece of tape already placed.**** I found that it was easiest to place tape along the frame to do this.  When you complete this portion of the greenhouse and place the wire frame inside the base, your wire frame should remain inside the base and the plastic covering should remain on the outside of the base.  This sounds harder than it is to make happen.  You'll just need to make sure you do not have tape extending all the way down your wire frame.  Try to keep the plastic taut against the frame.  

Step 4:  Use your yarn to add support in any areas your frame may need support.  The plastic may sag too close to your base.  It is in these areas you need to add support.  You want some circulation.  I found that I needed to string some yarn between my wire on top.  Attach the yarn to the wire underneath the plastic. You can tie a knot to hold the yarn in place or use tape.  You may also need to place a small piece of tape in the middle of the top on the plastic where there is no wire.  This will securely attach the yarn to the plastic keeping it from sagging.  This is entirely up to you.     

Step 5:  Place your frame covered in plastic back in your base.  Use your scissors to make holes or "vents" in the top of your covered frame.  Evenly space your vents.  Be sure not to make them too large.  The purpose is to allow for circulation.  I also found that I could water my seedlings through the vents and did not need to disassemble my greenhouse.         

Step 6:  Seal the bottom edges of your plastic covering to the base with tape.  Be sure to reseal if you remove the frame and covering while tending to your seedlings.  You're done!

Leave a comment if you have any questions!