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Birds Nest Cookie Treats for Easter

29 March 2013


Hello friends! I cannot believe that it has been literally one week since I've made a peep on this blog. [Get it? Peep, like the candy!] It has been a busy week with birthday plans and Easter egg hunts to deal with. But, I'm back! And in a big way. 

Today, I'm guest blogging for my friend, Kristin @ w/milk and sugar. There are just so many things to be excited about! First, this is my first guest blogging experience. Second, I really like Kristin. We've never met in person but she has been very supportive of me by answering questions and leaving thoughtful comments here @ToBeMrsCollier. Lastly, it is almost Easter! So "wow" your guests and friends by making these easy and adorable birds nest cookies. I saw them all over Pinterest for the past few weeks and you know what, I busted it! Making cute little nests are totally doable! 

My "The Office" Birthday Party!

The Official Invitation: Sent by the Head of the Party Planning Committee
This week, I entered my 27th year of living on this crazy planet! I feel like I'm a stone's throw away from 30. Being that it was my birthday and I've had some pretty killer birthday parties in the past, I decided to host a party themed after my favorite T.V. show of all time, The Office (U.S.). Turns out, The Office first aired on March 24th, 2005 which would mark the 8 year anniversary on this particular occasion! It took some major planning but it went off without a hitch! As I'm sure you are all aware, it is the last season of my favorite show; making it much more timely. I started planning my party by doing a little research on what has previously been done at other "The Office-themed" Parties. Office Tally had a great feature from a fellow Office Lover which inspired some awesome food selections. 


My Save the Date: When you are a busy PhD student, you have
to get your attendees locked in early (that's what she said). 

Last year, at my murder mystery dinner party it was required that attendees dress in costume, however, this year I decided that it would be a much more casual event. In lieu of dressing as characters, I created some name tags so that each party-goer could be a character. If you check out the link below, you can print out these name tags too! 

http://bit.ly/WZxw8X

Now...onto the party details. I've been watching The Office since 2008 and recently started jotting down ideas when it comes to how The Office celebrates birthdays, memorable moments and my favorite episodes to incorporate them into the party. First, I ordered this awesome Office Kit which included both a Schrute Buck and Angel's Creepy Baby Poster. I took those and made them wall decor objects along with partially inflated balloons akin to Dwight's Party Planning decor for Kelly.

Dwight's Decor

My Decor
My delicious birthday cake

Then I had to start thinking about the menu. The cake was an easy choice because of the episode where Dwight and Jim assume the rolls of party planners. But what was everyone going to eat? If you looked at the invitation closely, you probably guessed that pizza was the main dish but in what other ways could I honor all of the wonderful episodes that have graced the show these last 8 years? 

The Spread

Just to highlight a few dishes, I included a homemade pretzel bar in honor of the Pretzel Day episode. I used a fabulous (and easy!) recipe from Alton Brown. Further, I had to have a bowl of Kit Kat Bars in honor of Andy Bernard. Other food items included cheese puff balls and fruit with mixed berry yogurt for dipping!







We continued the night by previewing two of my favorite episodes including "Fire Guy" and "Threat Level Midnight". Others making the cuts included "Fun Run" and "Michael's Last Dundies." To wrap up the party, we played a game where participants in teams were asked to generate a list of as many "that's what she saids" in one minute. The prize, a DUNDIE!!! It was a great party and way to spend my first night of 27!


It's Friday Ya'll!!!!

22 March 2013

It is the Friday before my birthday and it already feels like it is going to be a great day! I'm currently jamming to my favorite Friday song of all time:


Fun fact about me and this song: I chose this song as my "toss the bouquet song" at our wedding!!


Top 5 DIY Home Weekly Pinterest Pins

20 March 2013


Happy First Day of Spring!! Well, sort of. According to the date, it is. As far as the temperature here in Nashville, you have got to be kidding me! I realize as a former Yankee transplant that I should be "immune" to the cold (or at least that is what EVERY Southern Bred individual tells me) but that protection packed its bags and left me about two years after moving south of the Mason-Dixon line! I digress. Spring is ahead and I've kept that in mind in pick this week's Top 5 DIY Home Weekly Pinterest Pins. Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest as well as Bloglovin' if you haven't already!  

Upcycled Ottoman
I would be shocked to find out an ottoman is made of two pieces of wood and some batting! But look at how cool this turns out for a fraction of the price of a brand new ottoman. 



Pallet Shelving/Wall Display
I am a huge fan of rustic pallet wood, if you haven't figured that out already! 
                 


Organize Outside Toys
Spring is coming and the nice weather will show up eventually! Why not be organized and prepared in easy access containers for the little ones? I think these galvanized tubs look awesome with their big labels! 
   


Favorite T-shirt Wall Art
Everyone has their favorite T-shirts from trips, college, intramural team sports, teams, etc. But when they run ragged what do you do with them? Until now, I would have responded with,"Make a T-shirt Quilt." But think how cool a room would look with a wall of canvases covered with your favorite T shirts which have seen better days? T-shirts could be perfect decoration for a bedroom or rec room.  




Cheap Shelf Construction for Organization
These shelves were made for about $60 and really bring the room together. 




New Take on the Spice Rack
Everyone buys McCormick spices! Why not take some broom closet organizers and make it easier on yourself to find that cumin or apple pie spice that is always buried in the back of the spice cabinet? I love this idea!!!


The Five Sins of a Couponer

19 March 2013

Hey guys! So I've been doing this coupon thing for a while now and out of all the "do and don't" lists out there...here's another one! Obviously this is better because it is a living list that I have generated after making all of these mistakes. Well more like the five sins of a couponer or couponer-to-be. 

One, Purchasing items that you do not use or need in your home just to purchase on a deal.
     You can get a lot of merchandise on the cheap when it comes to couponing and matching store deals but is it always worth it? The short answer is, NO. Just because you can does not mean that you should. Not only does it push you towards breaking your budget on things that might never be used before expiration, but it is sort of wasteful. Believe me, I know how hard and addicting it can be to score a great deal. It is a high and a significant sense of accomplishment! I think I placed this "sin" at the number 1 position because the first year of couponing, I went a little buck wild! I was buying all sorts of stuff that we didn't need and never got around to using. That drains money and apartment storage space!


     Think of those "Extreme Couponer" shows. The couponers' basement/garage/inventory storage spaces are typically lined with RubberMaid shelving stocked to the brim with cleaning supplies, body wash, mustard and canned goods. Sure, you could argue that they've purchased all of the body wash/cleaning supplies they could use for the rest of their lives but why? There has to be some level of turnover and a healthy balance. Otherwise it is a waste. So choose wisely and make sure that what you are purchasing actually has a purpose. 

Two, Skipping out on Sunday papers and coupon websites.
     The basis for couponing is having the right coupons during the best sales. In order to accomplish this, it is critical to stay on top of buying Sunday newspapers and printing online coupons. For me, it is a minor investment for the $1.75 newspaper each week as I usually cover that cost in my savings. In addition to the weekly paper, check websites such as RedPlum, Coupons.com, and Target to print online manufacturer and store coupons. Be sure to print two copies of each which is the limit per IP address. 
    Maximize deals by getting some friends together and have a coupon swap or start one at your local library. Inevitably, you will have a lot more coupons that expire before being used. That's alright! There are many organizations that allow couponers to send their expired coupons to army bases where they are valid up to six months from their expiration date. 
     A new app called Ibotta is another place where you can earn cash back from buying products even after you use store and manufacturer's coupons. Savings are deposited directly into your paypal account.  
     
Three, Not keeping a tab on your inventory. Letting things spoil, expire, accumulate without being used.
     Sin number 3 speaks very closely to Sin number 1. We've recently started to meal plan as an additional layer to our couponing and savings. The main reason is to use what we purchase in efforts to reduce food and financial waste. Mr. Collier is very good at organizing our inventory spaces so that within a few glances, we can quickly assess our deficiencies before a trip to a store. We also have a list on the fridge to jot down items when they run out. Keep tabs on stuff and stay organized! 
     
Four,  Paying more than $1 for toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, condiments, per roll of paper towels or toilet paper, pasta, frozen vegetables.
     It takes a bit of adjustment at the beginning of couponing to become familiar with the price trends on your favorite items. In those times, I jumped too quickly to purchase items when the deal wasn't right. As a good rule of thumb, don't spend more than $1 on toothpaste, manual toothbrushes, dental floss, condiments, pasta or frozen vegetables. The same goes for individual rolls of toilet paper and paper towels. If you save on nothing else then shoot for couponing exclusively for these items.       
    After we came home from Christmas, Mr. Collier didn't have a toothbrush at home and we had no backups. So I got up early and ran to Walgreens to pick one up. Can you believe that a toothbrush is about $4!!! I couldn't believe it! Especially when I normally pay around $1. I totally felt ripped off but he had to have it. Don't waste your cash, be smart and watch the deals!

Five, Not putting your savings to good use.
     Couponing takes time. What is the point of taking the time to prepare, make lists, collect and cut coupons if you don't put all of the savings to good use? First consider your budget. In our home, we have $300 allocated each month for groceries. Start there and track your savings. Then put aside the difference each month into a separate savings account or jar for a rainy day fund. You'll be shocked to see how those savings grow into a pretty sweet nest egg. You can use it for a vacation, an extra evening out or save it over a prolonged period for an even bigger splurge! 

Follow Me On Bloglovin'

14 March 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Happy Pi Day!!

source

Why, hello again! And Happy Pi Day!!! Pi Day is one of those random nonsense traditions that I hold dear and celebrate each year. I think back my to my time in high school where Mrs. Werner, the math teacher would bribe us with Pie to celebrate Pi Day if we were cooperative, did well enough on our quiz or turned in all of our homework. I suppose the tradition henceforth stuck. There is something to be said about a day that commemorates a mathematical symbol culminating in one of the ultimate nerd holidays (besides May 4, May the 4th be with you as I learned from the grocery checkout person last night and Mole Day on October 23rd). Still, Pi Day in on my top three favorite holidays list following shortly behind Christmas and my birthday! So yeah, I'm pretty hard core. I've even flown back to Chicago to have my favorite Pi at a restaurant called Baker Square to commemorate the holiday. 

How does one celebrate Pi Day? Well, by eating Pie of course! Last night, Mr. Collier and I stopped by Harris Teeter on the way home and picked up a key lime pie to indulge in tonight! It doesn't matter the flavor, the style or the size as long as you are eating Pi you are good to go! An additional challenge would be to learn a few more numbers in the string to show off how cool and smart you are when people ask what Pi Day is!  

Here are my brief guidelines for celebrating Pi Day the right way:

3-The number of pie slices one must eat today.
.-Get my point?
1-There is only one Pi day each year.
4-The number of people that you will convert into Pi Day celebrators after offering them some Pie. 
1- 1:59 p.m. commemorates 6 digits in mathematical Pi.
5-People will think you are crazy for celebrating, but that is half of the fun!
9-How many years that I've celebrated Pi Day!! 

Top 5 DIY Home Weekly Pinterest Pins

13 March 2013

Wa-Waaa-Waaa Wednesday? I can't believe we're here again! Alas, I've found some really interesting pins this week to really bump up the home improvement.

Ombre Stairs
Truly, in what instance is ombre a bad choice?


Pallet Side Tables
Finding the wood is the easy part but
taking them apart is the real challenge. 


Foam Board Shelf Liner
I hate the look of my wire shelves so why not use cheapo foam board to
 spruce it up a bit? You can pair your wall color to a funky pattern as shown
in the picture to make your pantry or closet pop!


Conversation Art

source
This room looks super busy to me. Focus only on the art over
the mantle. Look at how the multiple colored shapes livens up the room. And it appears to be an easy DIY project for under $50. 


Shapes Curtains
Change them out for holidays or as an accent to a bedspread. Think trucks or
bold colors for a boy's room or shimmery stars for a girls bedroom. 

Top 5 DIY Home Weekly Pinterest Pins

06 March 2013


Happy Hump Day!!! I've got 5 good ones for you!

source
Paint a compass on just about anything!!!



Doormat or stepping stone pattern made from river rocks



Sewing table into minibar/drink table! 


source
Attach some ribbon to napkin rings as a different take to curtains!

source
I hate the look of shoe racks in my closet. This would be a friendly alternative
if your heels are tall enough to fit around the curtain rods.

New Year's Resolutions Update!

01 March 2013

40% of people give up on their New Years resolutions in two weeks. So how is everyone doing after 8 weeks? Are you still riding the high of the clean slate or are you bruised from "falling off of the wagon"?

On January 1st, I aimed to accomplish/maintain five new years resolutions and here are my successes and failures as of March 1st.
  • One for health: I am going to continue my pursuit of a better me by increasing my exercise habits, reducing my sugar intake, cutting carbs and substituting tea for coffee after 8 a.m. I will be working on staying hydrated throughout the day keeping my tummy full and my system clean. 


    03/01 update: It has been two months and I am two pounds away from my wedding weight. I have been attending BarreAmped weekly since the New Year started but this last week I went twice! If you are wondering, yes, it hurt! Stairs are my enemy.  It is currently Lent and I have given up high fructose corn syrup meaning that I have to shy away from candy, most processed food and baked goods. This hasn't had an effect yet on my weight loss goal but it is certainly keeping me healthy! The caffeine substitution that I wanted to do has not been accomplished. I love my coffee in the morning wayyyyy too much! I have been drinking tea in the afternoon at work not for health but because my window leaks and it is freezing sitting at my desk! 


    01/08 update: It has been one week since I made this goal. In that time, I've worked out at the gym twice. First was an intensive BarreAmped workout with my dear Lori. It kicked my butt seriously for the rest of the week. Sunday I had some free time and took a Zumba class the student recreation center. Despite having so-so experiences in the past, I can report the class was rather lively. I think I shall return this coming Sunday, perhaps make a "thing" of it. I plan on going to Barre on Sunday and then perhaps Zumba or yoga early next week!

    01/01: Reflecting on my current health routine, I can definitely see a difference since the summer. Not only am I five pounds away from my wedding weight (almost a year ago) but I am routinely using lotion to keep my skin hydrated and strong, taking vitamins daily and flossing nightly. A huge improvement from this summer and even a year ago. I am a firm believer in taking care of your body as a method of preventative medicine. As of Thursday of last week, I can run a mile in under 14 minutes. Don't laugh, it is much faster than someone sitting on the couch!!! 

  • One for wealth: This year I resolve to reduce my frivolous spending on clothes, coffee, snacks and groceries. All savings will be set aside and left untouched. Mr. Collier and I are hoping to save enough to get a down payment on our first home in the coming year or two. That and we may have to make a car purchase if his truck decides to bite the dust.

    03/01 update: I received a bank alert this morning informing me that I have $35.00 left in my personal spending account if that sets the climate for how my finances are doing. This month I have struggled because Mr. Collier had a birthday. He wanted to attend the U.S. Women's Soccer game so I bought the tickets ($64.00). I also got a pedicure for the first time in months ($38.00)! So these two things offset my budget for the month. BUT BUT BUT! I have not spent more than $5 these past two months on coffee from the little shop at work! Instead I'm drinking tea or brewing my own K-cup in the departmental Keurig.

    Regarding my 52 week money saving challenge, I have been keeping up with it. But I'm concerned.  Instead of paying into savings a little each week, I've been taking the sum of the weeks off of the top of my budget each month. In other words, come December, I'm not sure how I am going to set aside $250 when my total monthly allowance is $200!!! I haven't figure all that out but I'm sure I'll come up with some solution. 
      
    01/08 update: I have not purchased one coffee at Suzie's, the coffee bar down the hall from my lab all week! I even have a free coffee that I am holding onto for a day where I cannot take it! I made one coffee purchase through the whole week at ABP when I met up with a friend but I used my discount mug. There were no clothing purchases made this week but rather tons of purging at our home. Wait for those blog posts upcoming! I've been packing extra snacks so that I don't have the craving to buy during the day.

    Another financial thing I did this week was begin the 52 week challenge that has been circulating all over the internet the last week. The idea is that every week a little bit of money is set aside so that in the end of the year there is quite a sum left over!  


  • One for me: This year I resolve to spend quality time with the Lord each day in prayer, bible study and prayer journaling. I spent some time throughout the year working on a daily bible verse and devotional in my Christian walk blog but I could always improve in daily renewal in the Spirit.

    03/01 update: I am still in the Women's Wednesday night Bible Study at church and have been reading the book, staying on task or reading ahead. I love the study of "What Women Fear" by Angie Smith.  I'd highly recommend it to all of you! I have also been posting more regularly yet inconsistently on my blog. At the beginning of the month I wrote about God's love for us with Valentine's Day on the horizon. This resolution definitely needs more work!

    01/08 update: Wednesday nights at our church starting tomorrow is hosting a new women's study and my friend Morgan and I are going to participate. I have also been receiving a bible verse each Monday from a coworker to help align my perspective each week. Finally, I have started incorporating praise and worship music into listening selections during the day. 93.9 F.M. in the car and the Contemporary Christian station on Pandora are two of my favorites. 

  • One for humanity: This year I resolve to spend one day per month volunteering and giving my time to those around me. When I moved to Nashville I joined Hands On Nashville to seek out volunteer opportunities but unfortunately, I've never followed through on that one.

    03/01 update: I love this resolution! On Feb 2nd, I went to Second Harvest Food Bank to volunteer. With about 35 other volunteers, we sorted over 10,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise ended up in the trash at the local food stores in town. These items are non-perishable but may have some dents but as long as the food is protected from the outside, they are still able to be used. 300 pounds of food was discarded to trash because it did not meet our guidelines. But it was amazing to see how much a group of people could accomplish in two hours! I'm signed up again in the middle of March! 

    01/08: My friend Catherine from church and I were talking about our New Year's resolutions and it became clear that we both wanted to do something for others. So, we decided to sign up to help at a local food bank in Nashville called Second Harvest which provides meals to families and individuals in need. We settled on going one Saturday per month starting in February. If any of my Nashville friends are reading this and are interested in helping out with us, let me know!

  • One for my marriage: This year I resolve to spend less time saying,"yes," to every person and their mother that asks me to be a part of something and spend more time with my husband. And by time, I mean not in front of the T.V. True, quality time. I want my marriage to be as beautiful as my wedding was.



    03/01 update: Mr. Collier and I have definitely spent more time together in the past two 
    months but I still  haven't mastered the ability to say,"no" to things. I wake up earlier now so that I am able to blog or take of my online obligations before he wakes up in time for work. I feel like I'm sacrificing that way for my marriage. We also attended a married-people event called Romance and Roses.  It was a great event! There was dinner, some dancing AND a magician!!  The theme of the event was "Did You Say Something" which encourages communication between you and your spouse. I love events like these because it is a way for Mr. Collier and I to hear the same information without feeling attacked by the other. It is a neutral marriage information session where we can both access, process and discuss our thoughts and feelings.  A recent development is that we have decided we would go on a vacation this summer! We have no idea where but it is essential for our mental health in that we are both attempting to completed our doctorates in the next year.   
               
01/08: This week I've said," no" to at least two obligations in order to spend more time with Mr. Collier. I've reserved blogging and internet browsing for when we are not together such as in the morning and have made a conscious effort to have quality time with him in the evenings. We have a big date night coming up on Saturday in celebration of our one year anniversary and morning and have made a conscious effort to have quality time with him in the evenings. We have a big date night coming up on Saturday in celebration of our one year anniversary and I'm really looking forward to that!