80’s Throwback – NKOTB & Rubik’s Cubes

Big news friends, big news. Very exciting things here. After weeks of annoying the crap out of my dear friend Meghan (who is forced to share a desk with me at work) I finally solved the Rubix cube! Every time I would get close, I’d either panic and mess it up, or I’d mindlessly alter the cube. But not today. Today, the great mystery was solved, and the excitement was so high, I dropped the cube in my tea. Yes I drink enormous cups of tea, but no matter. The solved cube is draining, and Meg doesn’t have to hear me get frustrated with the toy anymore. Did I cheat by following the instructions? Absolutely. Does that fact minimize the accomplishment? Nah, I’m fine with it. My glorious triumph was sort of fitting this week. Apparently I’ve been on an 80’s/90’s nostalgia kick, because this past weekend I got to see New Kids on the Block in Atlantic City.

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When I was little we played “guess the song” a lot. One of us would put on a Walkman and mime out the lyrics motions to whatever song was on the radio. No one ever knew what the hell my dance moves meant, unless it was ‘Hanging Tough’ or “The Right Stuff.” It felt like a little victory every time I was lucky enough to happen upon one of the two. I’m sure sometimes my sisters were sweet enough to set me up with one of the songs, too. I was about 4 or 5, and these were the first songs (as in, not nursery rhyme songs) I knew all the words to. Granted, the majority of the lyrics to both songs are Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, but a 4 year old still feels pretty cool when s/he knows ALL the words to a REAL song that’s played on the RADIO. My nephew can attest to that, I’m sure. His favorite group is The Wanted, and he knows songs by them that aren’t even played on the radio (Thank you, YouTube).

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New Kids on the Block bring up all kinds of nostalgia, so when my friend told me she had an extra ticket, I was all over it. My Pandora was set to NKOTB radio and my love for “Didn’t I” was revamped. I polished my nails neon pink and bought some neon hoop earrings. But I wasn’t prepared. If I had more time, I would’ve ordered a shirt online, but there was only a few days to spare. I searched  high and low for an NKOTB shirt, but after withstanding a half dozen strange looks and another half dozen polite “oh no, we’re all out of New Kids on the Block shirts right now,” I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own shirt.

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I mocked up their logo in neon colors on Photoshop and printed it on t-shirt transfer paper. I picked up a bright orange $3 t-shirt from Michael’s and ironed on my creation. The iron burned the white part of the logo a bit, but I think it gave it the “vintage” look. On the back of the shirt, I oops-ed touched the paper to the hot iron, so my NKOTB became NKOTE. Oh well. After I cut the color and the sleeves of, I cut a few holes in the shirt for fun. I made a bracelet with the scraps from the sleeves and color and some bright blue cloth from another old shirt by braiding the pieces. I was pretty proud of my in-a-pinch-crafty-work, and did mental back flips of joy when people asked where I bought my shirt.

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The concert was a blast. It was so much fun was so silly. My friend Gina even brought old NKOTB trading cards for potential autograph, just in case we were to bump into them

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Our seats were fantastic, but we spent more time at the stage than at our seats.

I got to shake Danny Wood’s hand after he thoroughly impressed me with his break-dancing skills.

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Joey McIntyre sang “Please Don’t Go Girl” to me, and only me. I had to tell him I am happily married and he needs to move on. What we had was magical, but I’m not 5 anymore; our time is over. He took it well.

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The concert made me feel like a little kid again, and I wasn’t even a mega huge fan. On the other hand, my oldest sister, Nancy had the concert video, tapes, the sheets, trading cards…I could go on. I had a blast at the concert, but I missed my sisters. I’m hoping NKOTB doesn’t stop this tour streak they’ve been on so I can relive my childhood again with my sisters. Next concert, I think I’ll make a dress 🙂

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Reasons to Celebrate: cats, Anniversaries, and Showers

For such smart creatures, cats are pretty dumb. I think of them as that kid in school who gets straight A’s but believes there’s a pool under the gym.  I happen to think that my cat Buschkii is exceptionally smart. She actually comes when I call her name, she seems to understand that the red dot comes from the laser pointer, and she knows that when it’s time to get a treat, she has to bring her treats through the cat door so the dog won’t get them. I’d say that’s pretty smart. Yet while Matt and I were away, Buschkii was accidently let out and was missing for 5 days. These weren’t just any 5 days. These were 100 degree, can’t breathe humidity, sweltering sunny days. I wasn’t just worried about the heat. There are a lot of cats in my neighborhood, and they love to hang out in my yard, fight, and potentially spread diseases to my pure and innocent pet. I didn’t blog last week because I spent all my free time looking for her.

I called the animal shelter, but she wasn’t picked up. My sisters helped my hang posters in my neighborhood, and my neighbors had a sighting of her on day 4, but it was almost midnight and we couldn’t find her in the dark.  Day 5 was mine & Matt’s 3 year wedding anniversary. Before we left for dinner, I checked the side of the house and there she was, except when I ran to her, she ran deeper into the thorn bushes.  Now why would she do that? It’s not like I’m a stranger. I feed her. I love her. I braved my bare legs to thorns and poison ivy, and she ran. She wanted to be found. She meowed like crazy whenever I’d search in the wrong area. But she still initially ran from me. Because she’s a cat, and cats are the dumb smart kids. But I love her, and the dog and I celebrated her return with a mini dance party.

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Buschk got out because we were away for the weekend for our anniversary. We stayed at Renault Winery. We took a short tour and tasting. Seeing the old equipment and learning how wine and champagne is made was fascinating, but the best part was at the end of the tour when we tasted the wines. Dinner was at their gourmet restaurant. The decor was a bit dated, but the booths were inside giant wine barrels. It was very cool, and the food was absolutely delicious. On our actual anniversary, we had dinner at Cafe Italia, one of our favorite places. Between finding Buschk and all the good food, it was a fabulous anniversary.

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I also celebrated the future wedding of my cousin AnneMarie to my friend Kevin at AnneMarie’s shower. AnneMarie and Kevin are two people I can’t imagine with anyone but each other. I remember when my Mom and sisters had the idea to set them up, and I’m so excited to finally see them tie the knot! My sister Maria will be the maid of honor at their wedding, and she enlisted me to help her with AnneMarie’s shower favors. We made tiny towel cakes. It’s a pretty easy process. For a 2-tiered cake, you need a dishtowel, a washcloth, ribbon, and 2 miniature wooden utensils.

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1: Fold the washcloth in half lengthwise, then fold in half lengthwise again for a long panel.

2: Roll the cloth into a cylinder and set aside.

3: Roll the dishtowel lengthwise, but stop at the middle of the towel.

4: Roll the other end of the towel towards the middle. The dishtowel will look like two tubes.

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5: Now place the rolled washcloth on top of the dishtowel tubes. Make sure the washcloth is sticking out over the dishtowel.

6: Begin rolling the dishtowel towards the other end (with the washcloth inside of it).

7: Stop when you are almost finished rolling. The dishtowel will have what looks like two little legs sticking out.

8: Tuck the “legs into the top and bottom of the roll.

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9: Now you can stand the towels up. This is the basic look of a cake.

10: Now to dress it up, hot glue (or double stick tape) a ribbon around the base of the dishtowel. Make sure you don’t get any glue on the towel – Remember that your fold should hold the towels together, not the ribbon.

11: We also used the Cricut machine to make pink circles with white hearts on them to cover up where we glued the ribbon.

12: Finally, stick the utensils into the top washcloth, and there you have it!

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My mom, sisters, grandma, cousin, and I got AnneMarie & Kevin their kitchen table, which was a bit big to bring to the shower, so I left a note that said we got it inside a menu box I made. I usually make take-out menu boxes for people’s house warming gifts and showers. It’s super simple to make. I have the Cricut machine and use the Lite Fast Food Cartridge to make the food items on it, but you can also use scrap booking decals you can get at Michael’s.  Just Modge Podge the decals onto a wooden box, and either paint the phrase “Let’s Order In” on the box, or use decals again. I like to match the box to the kitchen. The red and beige box I made for myself. Make one for yourself in whatever style you like 🙂

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Happy July 4th Weekend!

Happy Independence Day, and happy long weekend to some of us. This is one of our favorite holidays. We get to spend time with our friends and family and enjoy the weather with no pressure of having to buy gifts and no one judging you for slipping into hot-dog induced comas.

One of the dishes I made for the day was pulled pork. The recipe is super easy, and thanks to my Aunt Barbara. All you need to do is put some pork shoulder in the crock pot (fat side up) and cover with root beer. Cook on low overnight (8 hours). Pour out the rootbeer and shred the pork with a fork. This part is basically effortless at this point. After you’ve shredded, add in a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. Tada! Perfect pulled pork.

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It’s O.K. to let the dog have a small piece before you add the sauce. Don’t judge me, with eyes like that, who can say no?

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For the 4th, we celebrated at my sister Maria’s house. I thought it was “just us” and a few friends, but I always forget how many people that actually turns out to be. At one point we counted 90 people. Holy crap. That’s a lot of people, and that’s a lot of food. I think the grill was on for 6 hours straight, then we gave it a break for about an hour and turned it back on. We stopped cooking around 10pm. It was wonderful.

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I also brought some festive, Red White & Blue sangrias. Most people don’t know that the great state on New Jersey isn’t all manufacturing and  actually beautiful, and yes, there are farms and wineries here!  Blueberries and cranberries are two major fruit crops in New Jersey, and Valenzano winery uses them to make some tasty wines.

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Base Sangria:
1 cup juice
1/2 cup rum or brandy
1 bottle wine

Fruit:
1 pear
2 oranges
1 nectarine
1 apple
lemon
lime
frozen berries and grapes

In the “Red” sangria I used Cranberry wine, cran-grape juice, and Captain Morgan rum. The “White” sangria was made with white wine, white grape juice, and Cruzan Mango rum, and the “Blue” sangria was made with blueberry juice, blueberry wine, and blackberry brandy.

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Make the Sangria at least two hours ahead of time and chill. Use the frozen berries and grapes instead of ice.  Be careful; this stuff creeps up on you!

Today’s the last day of the long weekend, and we’re celebrating at Mom’s pool. Oh how I love the summer!

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Texas Craft House

blood, sweat, and glitter y'all