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Happy Halloween Witches Hats and A Spoonful of Sugar

31 October 2012

Witches Hat Treats on ToBeMrsCollier

Another  treat that I've prepared for the Halloween party tonight are Witches Hats seen above. They are super easy and cute, if I do say so myself! All you need are Keebler fudge shop cookies, Hershey's kisses and a little frosting. Invert the Keebler fudge shop cookies so the chocolate side is up. Place a ring around the center hole in the cookie with frosting. I went with a chocolate frosting just because I had just completed the Halloween Owl Cupcakes and didn't want to be wasteful. Some use a colored frosting like green, purple or orange in the spirit of Halloween but you select which is most comfortable and affordable for you. Place a Hershey's kiss on top of the frosting pile and voila! You have witches hats! 

Over the last few days I've shared the pieces that make up this fantastic costume! If you haven't guessed already I'm Mary Poppins! This timeless character, who is practically perfect in every way. Many thanks to those who have contributed to successful execution of this project. 

Happy Halloween! Shall we begin?

Happy Halloween! Halloween Treats

There are several things I'd like to share with you today. The first is this awesome cupcake decoration idea seen above that I found on Pinterest. I know many of you out there have seen awesome decorating ideas such as the infamous "Cookie Monster Cupcake Fail" see below but this one is no joke. Consider it Pinbusted!!

Cookie Monster Cupcake Fail

Not only are the cupcake owls super cute, frankly I can stop laughing every time I look at them, but they can be decorated in ways that are bigger than Halloween. Think of a Harry Potter themed party. White owls with a touch of grey could be used instead. Here's how I made the cupcake owls. 

Start with a simple box of cake mix or make your own homemade chocolate cupcakes from scratch. Big Red, the name of my blender did a wonder on the batter making it super light and fluffy. Bake the cupcakes as instructed on the box. You could definitely experiment with flavors aside from chocolate but the dark color of the cake allows for focus on the decorations.

 I would recommend baking flatter cupcakes that just fill to the brim of the cupcake holder. I had very "tall" cupcakes after they were done and it would be more uniform if they were flatter. Allow the cupcakes to cool so that the frosting doesn't melt (one large problem in the Cookie Monster Fail). In the meantime take 1 box of Reese's Pieces (around $1 at Walgreen's) and separate them by color. Browns and Oranges to keep and yellows for you to eat on the job. Additionally, take a package of Oreo's or some other cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie and separate cookies into the "cream side" and the "not cream side." Crush the "not cream side" up for cookies and cream ice cream! The "cream side" will become the eyes. Place one brown Reese's Pieces onto each "cream side" cookie. Set aside.

Frost your cupcakes with chocolate frosting. For ease, I went with store bought. Once frosted, gently place two cookie eyes on your cupcake so the Reese's Pieces are near the middle of the cupcake but leaving a little room. This is where it becomes important for the cupcake tops to be flatter. Then, place one orange Reese's Pieces vertically to create the beak/nose. And voila! You have really awesome owl cupcakes!  

Halloween Costume Crafting Countdown Day 1

30 October 2012

A little spray painting on a Fall day
This is the cherry on the sundae! I found this straw hat at Goodwill and with a little spray paint, it was transformed into a classy piece. And a necessity for my costume. At the cost of approximately $10 and a glue gun I was able to achieve the classic Edwardian hat faux-look. 

The final product

Halloween Costume Crafting Countdown Day 2

29 October 2012

My costume handbag
I found this little doosie at Goodwill for $6. Not only is it the perfect size but I can fit so many items inside. Actually, it will function as trendy overnight bag in the non-Halloween world. Who doesn't need a carpet bag?!

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

I'm sending a shout out today to the best dad in the whole wide world! Dad, you are one of the best friends that I have and will ever have. From the hundreds of games of Cinderella and pushes on the swings in our  former backyard while I was growing up to the thousands of laughs, there isn't anyone that I would rather spend time with to this day. We are kindred spirits, you and I. And I'm not stooooopit! 

Moments before the doors were about to open

Me: "Tell me something funny before I get sick"

Father/Daughter Dance "You've got a friend in me"

Chili and Bird Surgery

Fallin' for Nashville
It couldn't feel more like fall right now in Nashville. Temperatures have plummeted into the 40's and 50's as the afternoon high. I know, disgusting! Hence, the chili. It is a fun pun. We are chilly so the Colliers had chili for dinner. I love a quick chili. I diced red onion and heated them in the bottom of a stock pot. I added a can of Kroger tomato sauce, one can of chili beans (hot) and one can of red beans. Mix them all together and simmer for 20 minutes or less! We prefer to top the chili with either sour cream or shredded cheese but crumbled corn bread is also delicious. 

You must be scratching your head about the bird surgery part. Well, I have had fantastic luck at my local Goodwill lately. This morning, I discovered this great little ceramic bird. It is very Anthropologie and vintage but had Scotch tape holding it together in three large pieces. For only $0.50 I couldn't turn the offer down. In comes the bird surgery. Besides, I imagined that it would fit perfectly with the mantle design I have been constructing. More on that later! 

A little bird told me...

A little craft glue fixed the little bird right up! And it found a perch on our classic pile of books decorating our mantle space. I'm trying to achieve a rustic or antique look by incorporating worn classic novels, medical books and hand-me-downs from my family in Memphis. 

Finishing touches on the mantle

Halloween Costume Crafting Countdown Day 3

28 October 2012

The glue gun is out!!!
I'm putting the final touches to my Halloween costume and over the next few days I am going to be revealing teasers or snippets, if you will, until the big reveal on Wednesday! This costume is one of my favorite characters of all time and I've thought long and hard on how to execute it perfectly. By the way, it is a complete DIY project. 

Every piece I've either found in my closet, purchased from Goodwill or engineered as shown above at my kitchen table. Oh! And there was some spray paint involved. Any ideas what it could be?

An Original Renato de Arauj piece of art, a Thrift Store Treasure!

27 October 2012

ebay listing
I stopped by the local Goodwill to finalize my Halloween costume and stumbled upon this awesome piece of art. It looked incredibly unique and had a signature by the artist so I made the $2 purchase and took it home with me. Similar to the Enid Collin's Box Bag, I learned a little about this work entitled "Papagaio" which means parrot in Portuguese. That already becomes handy because my sister-in-law is actually from Brazil and speaks fluent Portuguese! Not that I could have an entire conversation about parrots or anything but I enjoy learning about her culture. Pieces such as this don't appear to often on the Internet from what I can tell. Only 3 of them have appeared on ebay recently from the New York area. I love to sit and ponder how this piece of art ended up in my hands. Did someone know Renato de Arauj personally? Did someone venture to Brazil often and picked this up as a souvenir? Was it a couple on their honeymoon? Is this a famous artist in Brazil? How many were made since the one I have clearly appears handmade?  

I was bummed that I was unable to learn more about the artist and his history but the piece is beautiful and if it ends up in our home, well fine with me!   

365 days to a better Me: Week 5

26 October 2012

It is Friday and you know what that means! It is time for an update on my fitness goals. As of this morning I am only down one pound since last week but I haven't done a fantastic job avoiding sweets thanks to awesome chocolates imported from my home city, Chicago. Actually the first 5 to 10 pounds are often the easiest to lose so it isn't really shocking that I'm not seeing the pounds peel off. In fact, I love the stability of my current number on the scale. For this week, I plan on doing several planks and stretches each day to increase my flexibility (I even started tonight).

I also want to decrease my risk of heart disease, which runs in my family, by walking/running 30 minutes each day. I find it frightening to have something like heart disease looming in my genome waiting to "pop up" whenever it damn well feels like it. Although I might not be able to control my genetics I can focus on diet and exercise which are the only ways that I can prolong or prevent the manifestation of the disease.  

The one improvement that I have to brag upon is my commitment to keeping my nail beds happy through application of Vaseline each night. This is a trick that I learned from my manicurist, David. Can't wait to report on the upcoming week!  

Enid Collin's Box Bag, a Thrift Store Treasure!

Talk about some awesome vintage discovery! I was shopping for the final pieces of my 2012 Halloween costume at the local Goodwill and stumbled upon this fantastic little box. I loved the color and couldn't figure out what a Box Bag might be for. The shape is like an over-sized recipe box but in the lid there is a mirror and there is a plastic handle. There were remnants of where jewels had been stuck all over the design. For a small investment I took it home with me and began to research. 

Turns out there was a lady named Enid who in the 1960's started a trend of making handmade purses such as this out of wood as well as canvas/cloth. Apparently she started selling in her local hometown of Medina, Texas and it escalated from there. I mean, how could it not? The designs are fun and funky making each piece a conversation starter. Over the years she developed many designs and often had signed pieces personally which collectors eat up! This particular piece is likely from the late 60's or 70's which features the sun logo instead of the dancing horse logo. It was also at this time that I learn Enid had sold her company.   

This Cable Car piece has currently been listed on ebay. 
Has been sold. 

Pinbuster: My house smells great!

The weather here in Nashville has been flipping between nearly summer and almost winter so the Collier house has taken on a funky sort of smell. I found a remedy for the smell that promises flavors akin to the signature fragrance of a Williams-Sonoma store on Pinterest. It is an incredibly easy, "set it and forget it" all natural approach. The ingredients are one lemon, water, a pot for boiling, a tsp of vanilla and a few branches of rosemary.

Slice the lemon and place all of the ingredients into the water. Bring to a boil for 30 minutes and allow the smells to diffuse throughout the house. I kept the pot on the stove for 24 hours but the absolutely maximum to keep the stuff around is 48. Apparently, it begins to get funky as the sugars ferment which in essence defeats the purpose.    

The house smelled great, just as the recipe promised. I would highly recommend varying the flavors such as nutmeg and apple slices for a fall smell. Maybe some Chai spices for Christmas? See what you can come up with! 

Style Watch:Briefcases

25 October 2012

I'm currently savoring this awesome eye candy for the academic world, briefcases. There is just something about a leather briefcase that just makes me "ooh" and "ahh". I am hoping to acquire my own soon! Here is a collection of pretties that I want to share with you today.

A trip to Louisville and Mr. Collier's Doppelgänger

24 October 2012

HIMYIM doppelgängers
A doppelgänger is your "look alike" literally a walking copy of yourself. If you are a fan of "How I Met Your Mother" like we are, we know that finding a doppelgänger is no easy task. Some people have the privilege of having a celebrity doppelgänger making it much easier to find. Sometimes they can be interpreted as signs from the universe, as in HIMYIM but recently on a trip to Louisville to visit a lifelong friend we found Mr. Collier's doppelgänger! I know! 

Mr. Collier's Doppelgänger
I swear as we walked around Lynn's Paradise Cafe in Louisville, I saw Mr. Collier's doppelgänger and I, his wife, had to do a double take! The challenge was to get a good photo to document such a momentous event. That took a clever move on my part and the fantastic photographer, Stevie. I had her take pictures of me trying on quirky glasses and despite numerous pictures the dude wouldn't turn around. Improv sneezing seriously does the trick! It was such an exciting discovery and it only took a 3 hour drive to find him! Now, we just have to wait to find mine!

Yummy Banana Bread!

23 October 2012

TobeMrsCollier Banana Bread
I had some bananas that had taken that wrong turn and ended up in the freezer. Banana bread is always the go-to in that particular situation for the Colliers. A quick search landed me on Simply Recipes, a blog of tasty recipes if that doesn't completely give away the fact that I loved the banana bread recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Combine 2 to 3 mashed bananas and 1/3 cup of melted butter (use the real thing, don't cheat yourself) with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 couple drips of vanilla extract to the banana mixture. Mix.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda and a pinch of salt on top of the mixture.
  5. Add 1.5 cups of flour and mix. 
  6. Pour mixture into a pre-greased pan (I did two so that they would be thinner).
  7. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top of the poured loaves.  
  8. Cook for one hour (20-30 minutes for the half loaves that I made).
Let me tell you as soon as I added the vanilla, our home instantly smelled amazing! This experience only amplified while the loaves were baking in the oven. Truly,  fresh baked pastries and breads is the best smell in the world!

Busy, Busy and Busier!

I woke up this morning finally feeling rested for the first time in several weeks. I realized it has been quite some time since I last posted on my blog. I know, sad right? Well, I'm back and I've got a couple awesome posts coming your way including the launch of a new blog project!

365 days to a better Me: Week 3 and Week 4 combined update

11 October 2012

So last week I was sick, really sick. And had to cancel all of my barre and other fitness activities while I sat on the couch drinking hot toddies. What's funny is that despite not working out I still maintained the three pounds that I lost during week 2. And that was with a lot of honey and snacking while at home. 

Now it is week 4. I am back to 96% healthy and going back to BarreAmped tonight. I still cough from time to time but overall I feel pretty good. This past weekend I put on some of my old jeans that were tight and uncomfortable and the loss of now five pounds really has made a difference! Success!

What I hope to accomplish this upcoming week is to integrate more fitness into my routine and cook a whole chicken (wait for that upcoming post)! I aim to keep these five pounds off and maybe bring it down another one or two pounds. That would bring me to the weight I was after our mission trip

Natural and DIY Ceramic Stove Top Cleaning

10 October 2012

I had a free Saturday and so I spent the better part of a morning cleaning up the kitchen. I recently stumbled upon a natural way of cleaning the burnt "gunk" from our ceramic stove top. Normally Mr. Collier and I use a Scotch Brite enzymatic product that involves a lot of scrubbing. So I figured that I would give this a try. First sprinkle baking soda on the affected areas. The amount that I used ended up being WAYYYYY too much. Take the "a little dab will do it" approach.  


Then you fill a bowl with Dawn dish soap and hot soapy water. Take a rag or hand towel that you feel comfortable using and soak it in the water/soap bowl. You can sort of see the bowl in the right hand side of the picture below. Wring out the rag so that it isn't dripping wet and lay it over the sprinkled baking soda as shown below for 15 minutes. This would be a perfect time to tackle the floor or empty the dishwasher. 

After the 15 minutes has expired, I would recommend you putting gloves on for this part, you move the rag around to make a paste out of the baking soda. Since I used too much baking soda initially  it was quite challenging to wipe it all off. But I did notice that the stains on the cook top were coming off without very much scrubbing at all. The downside of this procedure is that I found the baking soda to linger for some time. It took multiple rounds of wiping with both a dry and wet towel before all of the baking soda was gone. But the cooktop was clean! This pin works! 

Top Ten Cleaning Must-do's for any Renter!

09 October 2012

You've signed the lease and secured the apartment. The landlord or leasing company is scheduled to slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls and the cleaning crew is on standby. But have you ever noticed there are some key areas that these folks always appear to miss? We'll I've assembled the Top Ten Cleaning Must-Do's for any renter. Consider repeating this regimen each year for spring cleaning.

1) Washing Machine-If you are lucky enough to find an apartment with a washing machine and dryer,  unless you've unwrapped it yourself, consider how many other lucky tenants there were before you. A great how-to on one of my favorite blogs, One Good Thing by Jilliee outlines a great and efficient way to clean your top loading washing machine with hot water, bleach and white vinegar. I followed these directions because I never considered to clean the washing machine! There is soap in there all the time right? True but in reality skin cells, bacteria and fabric remnants are caked on the inside. You seriously will be shocked how disgusting the water looks in the second soaking step!

2) Behind the Stove and Fridge-Take the time to pull them both out, vacuum the back of each, wipe down the walls or cabinets and mop the floor. Surprisingly, most cleaning crews don't make it behind large appliances. In fact, when we pulled ours out the first time, we found mouse droppings indicating we were susceptible for little friends during the winter. 

3) Vent covers- Think of all of the dust that collects on your bookshelves and on the tops of hanging picture frames. Well that same dust and grime also circulates through your air vents. In addition to regularly changing the air filters in the unit, one of the first things that you should clean with hot water and Dawn soap in the bathtub are the vent covers. Unscrew them all (putting the screws in a safe place) and throw them in a sudsy bath of hot soapy water. Scrub and let air dry, in the sun preferably. If you have allergies consider placing cheese cloth at the opening of the air vent before replacing the cover.

4) The Kitchen sink- My grandma always told me that if your sink is clean, then your house is clean. That extends beyond maintaining the stacks of dishes. It is critical to your health to keep your sink as sanitary as possible. Either using a cleaning product like Scrubbing Bubbles, make baking soda into a paste or vinegar with hot water to deep clean the sink. I've even seen some use fresh lemons not only to cure the garbage disposal smell but remove some of the stains around the drain.   

5) The microwave- The easiest way to clean a nasty microwave while sanitizing your sponge is to get your sponge soapy and microwave it around two minutes. The steam loosens the "gunk" off of the sides of the microwave making it easy to wipe it clean with a paper towel. Be careful to let the sponge cool before removing it or you can get burned. This only works for non-metal sponges.  

6) Inside the refrigerator- Clorox wipe the heck out of your fridge giving you a clean slate to add your own food. Why is it that the shelving in the door has all sorts of gunk built up from the ketchup run off or balsamic vinegar leakage? 

7) On top of the stove and in the oven- Starting with the ceramic stove top. I recommend using either ScotchBrite scrubber for cook tops or checkout my pinbuster post on using Baking Soda for cook top cleaning. For the inside, I'm turning to One Good Thing By Jilliee again. She had a post on how to loosen all of the gunk caked on the sides and whatnot of the oven with a pot of hot water and ammonia. I plan on trying this as a pinbuster for validation-stay tuned! The same can probably be done for the oven racks with a little Dawn Soap.  

8) The dishwasher-There are several methods out there speaking to cleansing the dishwasher. One method involved placing running a cycle with a lone cup of white vinegar in the top rack of an empty dishwasher to disinfect. The one caveat to this treatment, however, is that your kitchen and apartment could potentially smell of vinegar for the remainder of the day/weekend. Speaking to the stains, a Kool Aid treatment posted by RealSimple promises to loosen the lime and water deposits so they can be easily removed without scrubbing. 

9) Fan Blades- Drape a pillowcase around each blade which scoops the dust into the pillowcase instead of onto your bed, furniture or floor. My second favorite option, on sheets-changing day, is to use the Dyson to vacuum the blades. Sure, some dusk crud might fall onto the sheets but they are destined for the washing machine anyway!   

10) Shower head- I recently posted a pinbuster post on cleaning the shower heads in your bathroom. It is simple, cheap and effective. Utilizing the natural cleaning properties of vinegar and baking soda with a little bit of time you can get shiny, flowing shower heads.

I hope you enjoyed these DIY cleaning tips for any new renter. After a few moves to new apartments, it sort of becomes habit to hit this hot areas. If you have any other great tips or areas that you recommend need cleaning when you first move in, comment below! 

Etched Glass Project

03 October 2012

Etched glass is an easy DIY project provided that you have the patience to keep the glass destroying chemical in the right places. This project is also incredible versatile providing that you have an unlimited supply of glassware. In comes the Dollar Tree and Goodwill! You can get champagne flutes, drinking glasses, and bakeware for cheap. Personalized glassware is always a flattering gift whether given to wedding parties to commemorate the day or for Christmas gifts with family names on baking dishes so that they always get their dishes back. The first link I've posted below has a "how to" by The Creative Imperative.

Help! I've got a cold!

02 October 2012

Hot Toddy!
I'm sitting on the couch home from work with a cold. I've always had horrible allergies and they often 
transition into sinus infections or colds into the fall. So here we are. Tea and medication has always been my go-to home remedy but I found a Pinterest post on home remedies and thought it was in line with my Pinbuster idea. One of the seven ideas included lemon, honey, an ounce of whiskey and hot tea. Also know as a hot toddy. Being a Kentucky fan, I substituted bourbon for whiskey in the recipe. Using a tip I learned from Rachel Ray, I extracted the lemon juice, added a tablespoon of raw creamed honey and added a green tea bag. One minute later in the microwave, my warm throat-soothing concoction was ready! 

Results: I've tried several remedies to make my throat feel better including gargling with warm salt water and antiseptic spray. I can honestly report that after a few sips my throat feels is less dry feeling and now it doesn't hurt to swallow. This totally works!! 

Cleaning the Shower head

01 October 2012

I've been slightly addicted to Pinterest lately. Since Mr. Collier and I are renters there isn't much beyond styling/staging of our townhome, recipes and cleaning that I can control. I wanted to try out some of the cleaning tips that I have stumbled upon to see how effective they actually are and if they make cleaning more efficient. Reading that back sounds reminiscent of a 6th grade science project.

The first is the shower head cleaning trick. Simply put, you add 1/3 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of white vinegar into a gallon sized Ziploc bag. I found that doubling this recipe raises the volume enough to cover the shower head in our bathroom. Slip this over your shower head and secure it with a hair tie, rubber band, or a wire tie. Wait for a few hours or overnight and the shower head is promised to be clean and have much better flow! 


I like the natural disinfectant properties of this cleaning combination. I always feel weird getting into the shower after it has been sprayed down with store-bought cleaner. I'm never sure all the chemicals have been washed off. Using baking soda and vinegar totally eliminates this issue. 

I soaked the shower head in our master bathroom shower for four hours and found it to be shinier but I wouldn't recommend leaving it for an extended period of time because the baking soda can cake on. It was a very easy treatment. A very inexpensive "set it and forget it" method. I'm not sure if it increases the flow but the shower heads definitely appeared cleaner!