Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

It’s Foodie Pen Pal reveal day.  Ummm….do you have any idea that that means?  It’s this really cool program where you send a food package to someone, and in turn, someone sends you a package.  Before you send your package out, you contact your pen pal to get a little information on them: their likes, dislikes, preferences, etc, etc. etc.

You send the package in the mail.  O…M…G….  People still use snail mail.  It's so exciting to find something in your mail box that isn't a bill.

Here’s the package I got this month from Ilona, who blogs over at Ilona's Kitchen.  I let her know that I LOVE POPCORN, but never mentioned my unhealthy infatuation with Cracker Jacks.   Jiffy Pop!  I’ve been telling my monkey about this for months and never bought it.  Thanks to Ilona, we get to try it! The gummy worms were great too -- I actually threw them in the Monkey's lunch bag.   

I wish I had taken a picture of what I sent to Lauren, but guess what? I don’t have to, because she wrote about it here.  I found from her site that she is a health enthusiast, and she told me she liked peanut butter.  It only made sense to send her peanut butter Girl Scout cookies!

If you are interested in becoming a Food Pen Pal, click here.  You do not have to be a blogger -- you just have to love getting surprised in the mail, and be committed to sending a box to another pal.  The maximum you spent on the package is $15, plus the shipping.  It's so worth it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To Infinity and Beyond

The end of any Girl Scout meeting must include snacks.  There is an unwritten rule stating such.  I wanted the girls to be able to make something, but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of cleaning things up.  I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head, so I went to my new best friend à Pinterest.  I came across a pin, which led me to this site.  I have since found that a lot of Girl Scout leaders had also pinned it.  It’s a pretty popular one.

When I explained to the girls what we were going to do, I heard a lot of this: “Eww!!” and “That’s gross!”.  They were provided with their directions, and silence filled the room.  It took them just about five minutes to make the snack, and even less time to eat it.  After they were finished, I heard a lot of this: “I liked it.  Can I have more?”.  Bonus fact -- without knowing it, the girls had worked on one of the requirements necessary to earn the Brownie Snack badge.

My Monkey, the astronaut

Astronaut Pudding

Materials Needed:
  • Box instant pudding
  • Whole milk
  • Ziploc bags
  • Scissors
  • Measuring spoon and cup

Scoop 1 tablespoon of the pudding mix into the bag.  Pour ¼ cup of milk in the bag.  BE SURE THE BAG IS SEALED!  Gently knead the mix until the pudding forms.  Snip off one of the corners, and squeeze out the pudding from the bag.  No utensils are needed – just like how the astronauts eat.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Silent Sunday

Phillie Phanatic in buttercream form
I'm so ready for Spring Training to begin
Another idea from Pinterest

Friday, January 25, 2013

That's How the Cookie Crumbles

Selling Girl Scout cookies can be a cut throat business.  Really, it can be.  Think about it.  Troops are basically in competition with other troops to sell the most cookies.  You try to get the better booths, and you try to get them at the best times.  Some girls try to get to the school staff before others do.  God forbid you live in a neighborhood saturated with scouts.  I feel bad for my neighbors. Part of the Girl Scout law is to Be A Sister to Every Girl Scout, but sometimes it feels likes it should be Every (Wo)Man for Herself.

I have to push those thoughts to the back of my mind, because the cookie sale is the biggest fundraiser that the girls do.  The money made helps to run the troop, and to help continue to provide great programs for the girls.  The Monkey joined scouts when she started Kindergarten, and over the past four years, she has taken part in many fun and educational activities.

Can I offer you a cookie?

I found myself searching Pinterest each night to find the next great idea for the cookie sale, and I discovered that everyone else had the same idea.  Sell door-to-door, put a sign on the lawn, decorate your wagon and walk around the neighborhood, gift wrap the boxes, include thank you notes….the list is endless.  I pinned every suggestion I found, but was never WOW’ed by anything.  Until I found this picture.  This would be a great way to “advertise” at a booth.  Problem is – it was the picture only, and no instructions.  Not a problem.  I’m a Girl Scout, so I am prepared for anything. 

Our new Miss America, the beautiful Thin Mint

I made the costumes in an afternoon, and posted the photo to Facebook.  Everyone thought it was cute, and I have been asked by several people how I made them.  Hopefully other leaders will be able to follow these instructions and make costumes for their booths.  I’m sorry that I did not take pictures to show how I did things, and I apologize for the graininess of the only picture I did take.

Thin Mint
1 yard brown felt (I had this cut at Jo Ann Fabrics)
2 sheets white felt
2 sheets black felt
½ yard pink felt (this will be used for the Thin Mint & the Caramel DeLite cookie)
White puffy paint
Green satin ribbon (found at Jo Ann Fabrics)
Hot Glue
Foam board or heavy cardboard
Box cutter (or heavy duty scissors)

Caramel DeLite (sometimes called Samoas)
1 yard light brown felt
2 sheets white felt
2 sheets black felt
Pink felt (leftover from the Thin Mint)
Brown (leftover from the Thin Mint)
Purple satin ribbon
White puffy pain
Hot Glue
Foam board or heavy cardboard
Box cutter (or heavy duty scissors)

These are the instructions to make the Thin Mint. 

·         Using your scout as a guide, “eyeball” how large the actual cookie should be.  I was fortunate to have an extra large serving tray that I used as a guide.  Draw the circle of the board, and using your knive/cutter/scissors, cut the circle.
·         Lay the circle on top of the brown felt, and cut the felt to be one inch larger than the circle (that make sense?).  Basically, your felt should be larger than the cardboard.
·         In small sections, begin to hot glue the felt to the cardboard.  At this point, you are wrapping the felt around the cardboard.  Do this until the board is completely wrapped.  Turn it over so the felt side is facing up.
·         Cut two large eyes from the white felt, and glue towards the top of the felt circle.
·         Cut out two small pupils from the black felt, and glue on top of the white felt.
·         Draw a smile on the pink felt, cut it out, and glue to the cookie shape.  At this point, you should have a happy looking cookie.
·         Take the green ribbon, and cut it a bit longer than the length of the cookie.  You want it to be able to wrap around to the back of the board.  This will be the cookie sash.  Once cut, hot glue to the cookie shape.  You now have what looks like a Miss America cookie.
·         Cut another strip of the green ribbon large enough to comfortably fit over your scout’s head, and hot glue to the back of the board.  It should look like a large handle.
·         Using the white puffy paint, write the words THIN MINT on the green sash. The paint needs about four hours to dry so be sure to leave it alone!

The Caramel DeLite is made exactly as the Thin Mint is, except I used purple ribbon, and I cut “squiggles” out of the extra brown felt.  Those squiggles are supposed to be the chocolate part of the cookie.  As for the sunflowers I put on the costumes – we had an old flower arrangement that we decided to throw away that morning.  I thought it would “pretty” things up, so I glued them to the cookie.  You can do the same thing, or let your imagination run wild.  Do you have a Brownie troop?  How about putting a Brownie Beanie on the cookie?

Really?  How can you resist?

We used these for our booth last week, and received many compliments on them.  The girls wore them without being asked to, which is always a good thing.  My daughter did have one complaint – the ribbon around her neck bothered her.  I plan on putting some felt around that portion of the ribbon, in the hopes that will help.

To my fellow leaders out there that attempt this craft – best of luck!  I hope you find these instructions useful.  Please be sure to share pictures, as I would love to see what you come up with.  And for those currently participating in the sale – Happy Selling!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm A Loser, Baby!

In 2011, I took part in Philadelphia’s Magazine Be Well Philly Office Challenge.  In a nutshell, it was a contest between six companies in the tri-state area.  The team that lost the most weight during the three months would be considered the winners.  My team consisted of me, and nine of my co-workers. 
Of course we were the winners, because I have never been a loser.
I lost 18 pounds during that contest.  That was pretty impressive, but what I think is even more impressive is the fact that I got my butt doing some exercise.  It started slowly  -- the monkey and I would take walks around the neighborhood before dinner.  Then I joined the YMCA and started to go during my lunch hour at work (even that is pretty impressive).  My family would go to the Y on a Friday night to take advantage of the fact that no one else was there.  Apparently, people have things to do and places to go on the weekend.
Unfortunately, my exercise routine came to a screeching halt the night we were announced as the winners.  I went back to the Y a few times, but didn’t really put any effort into it.
That was 2011.  It’s now 2013.
My office is having its own version of this contest, and I signed up.  It started last Thursday, and it lasts until March 21st.  Truth be told, I’m not looking to lose a lot of weight.  Of that 18 pounds I lost, I only found 5 of them back.  I joined to maintain my weight, to learn how to follow a healthy lifestyle, and to help support my teammates.
Our weigh in is every Thursday, so I’ll keep you updated on my status (which will hopefully be good).  I was hoping to post a before photo, but my computer is acting up right now.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's results, and I'll also include a picture.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Out With the Old, and In With the New

I was thinking back on the events in my life that took place in 2012, and thought I would share them with you.  I'm starting with February because I can't think of a thing that happened in January!

February brought our 2nd Wing Thing for Autism Speaks.  It's another fundraiser we hold for the organization.  We have three categories -- children, women, and men.  I never truly compete.  I just like to sit next to Jennifer and eat lunch.

In March, I took the day off from work so the Monkey and I could visit the baby animals at the local farm.  The momma pig had just had her litter, so we spent a lot of time in the barn -- 2 hours to be exact.  One of the babies was a super runt, and she had a lot of trouble eating.  The farmer let us stay and watch how he took care of her, and they even let the Monkey pet her.

April didn't bring many showers, but it did bring us our third Disney Cruise.  We sailed on the Disney Dream, and it definitely lived up to its name.  We sailed to the Bahamas, and also spent the day at Disney's Castaway Cay.  It was a great vacation, and we are always planning wishing for a next one. 

The beginning of May was a bit hectic.  We returned from our cruise just in time to prepare for Bubby's Buddies Beef-and-Beer.  My family has been holding this event for the last five years to raise money for Autism Speaks.  It's a lot of work, but it so worth it -- plus it's just a great time.  That reminds me, it's time to start planning the next one.
May is also the time to celebrate the Monkey's birthday, and this year, it fell on Mother's Day.  It also fell on the day after our Beef-and-Beer.  Poor kid -- she was ticked she had to share my day, and she had to deal with a slightly hung over mommy and daddy. 

June brought the end of the second grade.  It also brought the opportunity for me and the Monkey to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts in Washington DC.  We "Rocked the Mall" along with thousands of other scouts from across the country.  We met scouts, old and new, from as far away as California.  It was a long and hot day, and I think this picture sums it up.

July was a bitter sweet month, as I had to say goodbye to my aunt, uncle, and three cousins.  The decided earlier in the year to start a new life and move to Florida.  They are not just family -- they are more than that.  My aunt is 10 years older than me, and we grew up in the same house.  She's my best friend, and saying good bye to her in the parking lot of a restaurant was one of the hardest things I had to do.

The Monkey discovered how much she loves crab while spending some time in Ocean City MD in August.  This is a huge discovery for a kid that only eats noodles.

September meant back-to-school time.  Third grade here we come!

September is also when our family takes part in the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event held at Citizen's Bank Park.  As you can see from our team shirts, we've been walking together since 2007.

October brings around my favorite time of year.  I love the fall.  We visited local pumpkin patches and farms, and went on many a hayride. I also got a new camera!  One of the reasons I like the camera is because my husband does as well.  I now have someone taking my picture!

We went back to Florida in November, and spent Thanksgiving with my family.  It was such a great time, and went way to fast.  I have so much to be thankful for, but this year I was super thankful that I got to see them again.

We actually had a white Christmas this year.  It snowed on Christmas Eve, and the Monkey got to make a snowman with her Uncle and cousin.

And now its 2013.  I'm excited to find out what this year brings.  Happy New Year!