Newest Social Media Addiction

I'm still pretty high on Instagram (check it out here) and Facebook and Twitter will always be my old standbys, but this new Vine thing...oh boy...it's really fun!  It was a free download from the app store and I've been playing around with it for the past few days. I might be hooked.

Check out a few fun looping videos.

Here is my son playing frisbee with our dog:

Two of my boys demonstrating a wrestling move:

And an example of how 40 degrees seems like summer to kids in Pittsburgh:

What is your favorite app of the moment?


Tutorial Tuesday!

DIY Desk Organizer:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake:

Streamline Your Mail:

CLICK PICKS (last week's most clicked links):

#1   Free Dress Patterns

#2   How to Eat Without Spending Money

#3   Make the Perfect Fitting T-shirt

 Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog 

address) using the subject of your tutorial to generate  interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios


Pinterest Pass or Fail?

So, I've been busy trying all the pins I save every day, just not very good at reporting back to you!

I was feeling crafty last week and one of the first pins I saved to my Soul Sister's Projects Board was this Plastic Spoon Flower (originating at duitang.com)...because nothing says girlfriends like holding plastic spoons over an open flame? Who knows.

Look how cool this flower looks! Look how easy this tutorial is!

Yeah, not so much.  Here are my "petals":

I tried several times but never got anything useable, just these charred black, curled up spoons.  AND I almost set off my smoke detector and I think there is also a hole in the ozone layer directly above my kitchen.


What pins have YOU tried lately?



Legalized Marijuana?

I attended a drug and alcohol seminar for kids moving up to the high school with my son last night (disappointingly, there were less than 40 kids from his class of 300 in attendance) hosted by the Pittsburgh Drug Alliance

As a little aside, this program was excellent and showed a video of several kids and their parents who died from drug overdoses all within 10 miles of my home.  Very powerful to recognize names and places from the video.  Yes, I cried through most of it, embarrassing my 14 year old.

There was a panel of recovering addicts who were interviewed in the front of the room and the closing question for each was "Do you support legalizing recreational marijuana?"

I felt really stupid when I realized I didn't know this has been proposed.  But learned, this bill has passed in some western states like Colorado and Washington.  I really need to read the paper more...

So, it's Feedback Friday...

What do you think of legalizing recreational marijuana?


I Want to See That "Movie"!

Is it totally crazy that the two movies I really want to see this season are actually commercials??

Is it even crazier that I get tricked in the beginning of each commercial and still think they are movies??

So, anyway, I'm dying to see the fun, quirky comedy called Connecting Flights:

And, now I'm dying to see the Prabal Gurung for Target movie:

Anyhoo, my Soul Sisters and I did see an actual movie last week in an actual theater!  We went to a noon showing of Silver Linings Playbook on Tuesday (which happened to be $5 movie day, WOOT!).

Because we were "sneaking out" to "play hooky" we were discussing if we would spill the beans to our husbands.  As we entered the theater (thinking it would be empty at noon on a Tuesday) I was making a big show of stuffing my ticket into my mouth to eat the evidence as we rounded the low wall into the theater...
which happened to have stadium seating...
and we were entering in the center of the theater...
and the seats were packed with a sea of blue haired ladies...
who all stopped and looked down at us in unison...

So, we did the only think we could do - we burst out laughing, ducked, and ran back out of the theater!  We were pretty out of control with all the laughing and tears and it took a bit to get under control but we pulled it together enough to get ourselves seated.  We were whispering a bit during the trailers about which movies looked good and everyone in the seats around us was dead silent  UNTIL the trailer for Quartet came on!

Holy smokes! Those old ladies started pointing and giggling and making plans like a bunch of teenagers who just heard a Justin Bieber concert announcement!  So....we started laughing again.  Honestly, you can't take us anywhere!

Well, we loved Silver Linings, of course.  Here is my favorite scene:

What movie should we see next?  Side Effects looks good!


Tutorial Tuesday!

Dollar Bill Origami:

5 Minutes to Clean Headlights:

 Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog 

address) using the subject of your tutorial to generate  interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios


My Frugal (Cheap?) Tissue Trick

It's tough because the small boxes of Kleenex are oh so cute...

And the big boxes of Kleenex are so ugly - but cheaper...

So I refill the small, cute boxes I keep in the powder room for guests.  Shhhhhh!!!

Did I just cross the line from "frugal" into "cheap"?

Do you refill anything to keep the cuter container?


Dieting for Kids

I was torn when I watched this story on ABC News about mother, Dara-Lynn Weiss, who put her 7 year old daughter, Bea, on a diet after learning that she had gained 26 pounds in one year and was diagnosed by her pediatrician as clinically obese.  She wrote about it in Vogue magazine this month.

The diet is called Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right and teaches children to choose foods and gauge nutritional value based on color, rather than calories: "green light foods are nutritious, yellow light foods are eaten in moderation, and red light foods are occasional treats"

In one part of the article which the public found most controversial, Dara-Lynn talks about a birthday party her daughter attended.  Dara-Lynn and her daughter agreed ahead of time that she was allowed a slice of pizza and a piece of cake, however, when her daughter then approached the dessert table for more sweets, Dara-Lynn intercepted her and told her that she had already eaten what she they had agreed upon and wasn't allowed any more.  Sometimes this resulted in a "heated discussion" as her daughter argued with her to have more.  Some readers considered this public humiliation.

Bea started out at 4'4" (52 inches) and weighed 93 lbs.  I'm trying to visualize, so my son is 54 inches and weighs 65 lbs.  You can see below the child on the right:

I don't usually voice my opinions during Feedback Friday, but I'm still trying to figure out what the issue is here?  In my house that is called parenting.  Am I alone in this opinion?  I'm trying to picture my son above 2 inches shorter and almost 30 lbs heavier and not thinking we had a problem.

It's Feedback Friday...

Do you agree or disagree with Dara-Lynn Weiss' decision to put her daughter on a "diet"? (is "diet" the trigger word here? would you feel differently if the word "diet" wasn't used?)

Do you monitor what your children eat and does it matter if you monitor for health or for weight gain?

Have you ever had an argument with your child in public when you have said no to sweets?


The Dreams of Millions

When news broke this week about wrestling being eliminated from the 2020 Olympic Games I just couldn't wrap my head around it!  I'm disappointed, angry, sad and every emotion in between.

I have to speak up for the greatest sport my kids have ever participated in and hope that if enough people do so, we could make a difference.

Wrestlers are some of the toughest, most stand up people I know.  It's an intense sport that demands mental toughness alongside physical toughness.  When you are on the mat you are working to improve yourself as well as contribute to a team.  When your arm isn't raised as the winner, it's time to go back to work.  In fact, wrestlers often seek out others better than themselves to provide a challenge and help them improve.

They work, they sweat, they lose, then they win.  When you lose a match, it's all on you.  You can't turn around and blame a team mate for a poor pass or bad block.  You look within yourself and accept that your opponent was better - you change your goals and vow to improve.

Kids learn to work hard, accept responsibility, set goals and work toward them.  It's the ultimate sport of accountability.  What better tools to give your kids to go out and face the world? 

Our kids also play football and lacrosse, but let's face it, those sports are not available to everyone.  They are expensive and require expensive equipment.  Even if you are the best you can be, you have less than a 1% chance of becoming  pro football player.  Any kid from any town can wrestle with $30 shoes and lots of heart.

Wrestling is accessible, the sport's athletes are accessible - not for autograph signing but really teaching the next generation.  Olympic wrestlers have come to my own town for a very nominal fee to work with and teach the kids that are up and coming.  They sweat with them, they cheer for them, they sit on the mat and talk with them.  They don't sit at the other end of the table and simply sign autographs.  They are real athletes who pass on their knowledge for the love of the sport.

To remove a sport that formed the backbone of the first Olympic games is a travesty.  To even consider replacing it with a sport like wake boarding is so sad.

If you want to help petition to get wrestling back into the Olympic games, please consider signing this online petition HERE.

If you tweet, use the hash tag #SaveOlympicWrestling and spread the word.


Tutorial Tuesday!

Goldfish Valentine:

Superhero Onesies:

Mixed Metal Industrial Pendant:

CLICK PICKS (last week's most clicked links):

#1   Lavender Hearts

#2   I HATE Trophies

#3   Painting with Salt and Glue

 Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog 

address) using the subject of your tutorial to generate  interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios


Tiny Treats

Sometimes when you are hosting a party, ordinary desserts can be elevated by simply scaling them down.  Bite sized is always fun AND you can justify eating one of each!

Here are some examples of some ordinary desserts I made into tiny treats for a recent party.

Above, I have individual Lemon Curd Cheesecakes. You could use mine or any cheesecake recipe and make individual servings by using cupcake papers.  I used crumbled shortbread cookies mixed with a bit of melted butter and pressed them into the bottom of the papers for a crust, then baked.  Ordinary graham cracker crust would be fine.  After they cooled, I added fresh berries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar to dress them up.

My Thanksgiving standby, Eggnog Pumpkin Pie, became tiny tarts after baking in a tiny muffin pan.  Use prepared crust or try Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust like I did.  A dollop of fresh whipping cream tops them off...these were so good!

 Simple Spiced Nuts can be set out in bowls or served in paper cones.  The crock pot version of these nuts is making it's rounds on Pinterest, but don't bother.  Using a crock pot was actually MORE labor intensive and the texture was lacking compared to my original recipe.

Oreo Truffles transformed into pops are an impressive treat that requires 3 ingredients!  Rather than going to the trouble of propping them up to dry, I dipped the bottoms into real chocolate jimmies and let the bottoms flatten so they could stand upright.

What is your favorite dessert that could be transformed into a tiny treat?

For more great ideas, check out Tidy Mom!


Bad Lip Reading

I just stumbled upon this YouTube site called Bad Lip Reading and watched an interpretation of Beyonce's inaugural performance that had me laughing like a fool in an empty house in front of my computer! 



Superbowl Commercial Fave?

I didn't have a team in the Superbowl, just a deep, intense dislike toward one of the purple teams who shall remain nameless.  So for me, the Superbowl was all about the food and the commercials.  We  settled down with wings, hot pretzels, and homemade nachos Sunday night (did you know The Today Show had a segment on how to make nachos on Friday...whaaa???).  We watched commercials, routed against purple, and watched Beyonce (the Big Guy pronounces her name "Boy-ance") shake her money maker until the lights went out.

Anyhoo, I'm not going to say what my favorite commercial (neeeigghhh!) was, I don't want to skew the results of this unofficial poll and saddle  you with my own feelings.  But I'm dying to know your favorite horse - I mean commercial!  So feel free to pop a beer and gallop on over here to share your fave Superbowl Commercials!  Heck, tell me the one's you hated too!

It's Feedback Friday...

What was your favorite commercial of Superbowl 2013?

What commercial did you NOT like this year?


Mixbook - the good, the bad, and the ugly

 As team photographer for my boys' wrestling team, it was my responsibility to come up with a gift for each team member using the photos from the season.  Last year, we made a photo CD for each child, and we will still make one to show at the banquet, but photos on a CD just aren't as accessible.  I wanted something the kids would pick up and really look at.

My boys LOVE the Shutterfly books I've made in the past, but they were too pricey for a whole team of 61 kiddos.  We started hunting around for a small version that was affordable and stumbled upon a company named Mixbook that had 4x6 soft cover mini-albums for $6.99. Now this is doable!

I made each book with the same photos at the beginning and end and changed out 3 or 4 photos of each wrestler in the center.  It was pretty cool how I could arrange photos into collage or scrapbook pages.  I used these features sparingly since I wanted the photos to be as large as possible. Also, I could have a 20 page album for each kid! Bonus!

So, let's see...we've got price, page arrangement features, and lots of pages under the "Good" column.

The pictures came out crisp and clear, and it's a cute little size.  Also "Good".

My order of 60+ books came 10 days before they were scheduled!  Good, good, good! Thank goodness I didn't buck up the extra $35 they were asking for to rush delivery!

The "Bad and the Ugly" falls all on the shoulders of shipping prices.  Here is the 5 lb. box that measures, 9x5x6 inches that arrived today.  What would you imagine a box this size would cost to ship?  Well, I ship my 12 lb. frame boxes that measure 22x22x4 inches every week for around $15.00

Mixbook charged me $92.90 to ship this tiny box from California to Pennsylvania!  I contacted the  customer service department to question the shipping price and they referred me to the shipping charges explanation page of their website.  I checked it and sure enough, it was calculated properly according to their policy.  Too bad I didn't think to check that page BEFORE making the albums.  It wasn't until I'd added everything to my cart and did a double take at the shipping charge that I investigated.  It never would have occurred to me that one small box of albums shipped all together would run almost $100 to ship.  So, shame on me?

Since I had already spent weeks arranging photos in 60+ photo books, I worked it out to pay their exorbitant shipping charges...very grudgingly.

So, yes, I got ripped off on shipping charges and Mixbook is dancing their way to the bank with $92.90 from our non-profit wrestling team of kids aged K-6 but I have tiny memory books to help the boys (and one girl!) remember wrestling season 2012-13.  Thank goodness I was able to find a coupon online to help absorb some of the shipping costs!

**Obviously I wasn't paid or compensated in any way to write this review for Mixbook.**


Tutorial Tuesday

Ruffled Pillow:

DIY Floorcloth:

Easy Tag Blanket:

CLICK PICKS (last week's most clicked links):

#1   Perfect Baked Fries

#2   How to Make a Plain Wire Loop

#3   Thrifted Earrings

 Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog 

address) using the subject of your tutorial to generate  interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios


Seed Bead Knock Off Bracelet

Join the Soul Sisters today for a crafty lunch date to make Tory Burch inspired Seed Bead Bracelets!

This tutorial is pretty simple, you will need the following supplies:

Seed beads (I used 30 gram)
Leather cord
Shaft buttons

I wanted to end up with an 8 inch bracelet, so I started with a 24 inch piece of cord.

I doubled the cord and knotted a loop in one end. The size of your button will determine the size of the loop you need to tie.

I threaded the cord through the button at the opposite end and tied with a square knot

Then I knotted the cord again just below the button.  After all these knots are tied, my 24 inch cord became an 8 inch bracelet.  Check it out:

Next, you will need a length of seed beads.

I ended up needing a length about 4x the length of the bracelet, so about 32 inches. Better to cut off a nice long piece of thread to be sure you don't run short!  I just used ordinary button thread.

I began by knotting the thread and threading the needle.  I pushed the needle through the knot near the loop and began adding the seed beads...lots of seed beads...

The key to random is to throw your colors together and thread them the way they lay in the container.  You could also use one or two solid colors like these Tory Burch bracelets, but I'm a random kind of girl.

Next, I began winding the threaded seed beads around and around and around the leather cord. 

around and around...I found it easier to clip one end of the leather and begin winding the beads.

One I reached the end, I pulled the needle through the cord at the button end and knotted it like this:


Now, since this is our Soul Sisters day, you can check our our antics around lunchtime by following along on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram ("hopestudios1").


Sheriff David Clarke

Matt Lauer brought an issue to the "panel of experts" yesterday regarding a PSA from Sheriff David Clarke encouraging citizens to take a certified safety course to learn how to use firearms to defend themselves until the police can get there.  You can hear the entire PSA in this news report I found on YouTube here:

Here is a transcript:

"I'm Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal...your safety. It's no longer a spectator sport; I need you in the game, but are you ready? With officers laid-off and furloughed, simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. 

You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back; but are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We're partners now. Can I count on you?"

Public outcry has varied from support to outrage.  Where do you stand on this particular issue?

It's Feedback Friday...

What is your impression of the PSA from Sheriff David Clarke?

Your Skin Fix, December Edition