Saturday, November 22, 2014

Halloween Cookies

Happy belated Halloween everyone!

Halloween just so happens to be Emily's favorite holiday. So I figured, what better way is there to celebrate than by making more cookies!

For this batch, we opted to make Jack Skellington heads, Biology bats and pumpkins (for a more traditional approach). For those of you not in the know, Jack Skellington is the main character from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" movie. It's one of Em's "go to" movies, but I must admit that have never watched it.

You may also be questioning... what in the world is a Biology bat??? Let me explain. Emily attended her first Biology lecture with several hundred other students and, shortly after class commenced, a bat started flying around the hall. The bat stayed for the entire lecture (science geek that it was) and Em later discovered that Animal Control came and released it back into the wild. The bat cookies were adorable, but I quickly came to realize that I needed to condense "Biology" to "Bio" as I just couldn't make the entire word fit on the cookie for the life of me.

It is also worth mentioning that we used a different royal icing recipe for this batch. Oddly enough, everyone that tried these cookies seems to prefer this icing to the one used for the graduation, U of I and cupcake cookies! I think that we have found a keeper!

Birthday Cupcake Cookies

Hello everyone!

My daughter moved to U of I shortly before her 19th birthday, so I wanted to make her a special batch of decorated cookies to enjoy with her new friends on campus. After perusing Pintrest for ideas, Maureen came across an adorable anime-ish cupcake cookie design which I knew Em would love.

I attempted to do the "wet on wet" technique for the cupcake wrapper stripes, but that was much easier said than done. The orange royal icing was drying faster than I could apply the pink! All-in-all they turned out adorable... not to mention yummy!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

High School Graduation Cookies

Shortly after posting the U of I cookie post, I realized that I had neglected to blog about Em's high school graduation cookies!

This was the  very first time I had ever attempted sugar cookie decorating and this project was a collaborative effort between myself, Maureen and my mom. Elmwood Park High School's colors are black and gold, so we opted to keep with that color scheme for the diplomas and graduation caps.

Some of the cookies didn't turn out quite as perfect as I would have liked, but everyone at her graduation party found them to be quite tasty!

Monday, October 20, 2014

College Send-Off Party - U of I Cookies

Hello everyone!

I know that it has been an extremely long time since I have blogged! (My apologies.) However, I am happy to report that my daughter is now completely settled into her freshman year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a Biology major.

Before officially becoming "empty nesters", Maureen and I found a fun (and time consuming) hobby to keep us occupied until our next trek down south for a campus visit. Cookie decorating!

Prior to Em's departure for college, we threw her a little send-off to celebrate the occasion. Unfortunately, we were not successful at finding a suitable "I" cookie cutter or stencil to make these cookies perfect. So... we opted for making round cookies and, using this icing recipe, we decorated the cookies freehand.

They didn't come out quite as perfect as I would have liked, but my hopes are that our decorating skills will get better with a little more practice. Everyone at the gathering had a great time and the cookies went like hotcakes. Especially with a yard full of teenagers!

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's fitbit!

I, like so many others, have been trying to focus on losing weight and leading an even more active lifestyle throughout the past few years. I've been actively trying lose the extra poundage through dieting and exercise but progress has been a lot slower than expected. (Likely due to the fact that I am now in my 30's and suspect that my metabolism is non-existent.) Enter the fitbit!

This nifty little gadget had been given to me by Maureen for Christmas. It is a small pedometer like device on steroids which tracks steps taken, floors climbed, calories burned, distance traveled, and activity level. But wait... there's more! The device syncs with the base unit wirelessly every few minutes and loads all data to their website. The site ( graphs your progress and tracks your weight loss allowing you to earn virtual badges for exceeding certain goals. To date I have received badges for 5,000 steps taken in one day, 10,000 steps taken in one day, and 10 floors climbed in one day. Some may find earning badges to be sort of silly but I have found it to be a fun way to push myself even further. Of course, having a few extra days off of work for the holidays allowed me to visit the Museum of Science & Industry and take in the lights at Brookfield Zoo which earned me more steps than I would have taken if stuck at my desk all day long!

The device also tracks your sleep patterns.  Not really sure what role sleep plays in the whole weight loss scheme of things but it must be important. So far I have learned that I like to sleep... a lot. According to the device, I don't even wake all that often throughout my slumbers. While I do not really know what it means I can at least say that I excel in the sleeping department!

There are other facets to the website which I am trying to be better at utilizing such as logging all meals but I always find that to be cumbersome and time consuming. Luckily, if you had previously used a fitness tracker such as Lose It you can easily transfer that data over to the fitbit site so there is no need for double-entry.

All-in-all I am COMPLETELY addicted to this thing!  If you are like me and need that little extra incentive to stay on track I highly recommend fitbit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Welcome Home!

Good evening everyone!

Once again, I know that it has been quite some time since I last submitted a post. Unfortunately work, travel, preparing for the looming holidays, and completing my very first college course has gotten in the way. (I got a "B" in the course by the way.)

Before jumping in to the details on my latest shopping trip I want to extend a very warm welcome to my sister, Amy, and her husband, Paul! They arrived in Chicago earlier this evening all of the way from their home in Florida. Hopefully, the weather remains nice and mild for their visit.

I recently went to Walgreens to cash in on some Rewards Bucks and Jingle Cash and snagged the following:

  • (2) packages of Halls cough drops
  • Tin of Carmex Healing Cream
  • Dentek toothbrushes
  • Revlon Top Speed nail polish
  • Goody bobby slides
  • re-nu contact lens solution
  • Salonpas pain patch
  • Advil
  • Advil PM
  • (3) packs of Trident gum
  • (2) bottles of Maalox
  • (2) bottles of Nature Made vitamins
Total spend out of pocket = $3.88
Rewards Bucks and Jingle Cash received back = $23.00
Essentially, they paid me $19.12 to take those items out of the store!

Must start planning on my next CVS visit as the Extra Care Bucks received on Thanksgiving are due to expire!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rewards Cash

Hello everyone!

I have received a couple of comments from my followers wondering when I would be publishing another post. Unfortunately, things have been rather crazy lately with preparations for the upcoming holiday, work, school, watching the Bears season go down the tubes, etc. However, I needed to make a special trip out to Walgreens after my Lions Convention Meeting this evening to spend the Rewards Dollars I received over the Thanksgiving holiday. (They were due to expire this Friday.)

Needed to get a little creative with this shopping trip as Walgreens had released a separate sale insert which my trusty couponing website had missed. I would say that the planning for this venture had taken a few hours primarily due to the fact that I never received the Super Saver insert in the 12/4 paper. If anyone had received this packet checkout, create a login, and click on "Walgreens" as you can get some pretty sweet deals. If you are not at all interested in couponing I would gladly take your 12/4 Super Saver insert off of your hands. (I was actually tempted to go on eBay to see if I could buy one off of somebody because I am coupon crazy!) BUT I digress...

Tonight's haul included the following:

  • Windex
  • (4) Dawn dish detergents
  • (4) Sharpie markers
  • (2) 4-pack Walgreens AA batteries
  • (1) 4-pack Walgreens AAA batteries
  • (2) Aveeno body washes
  • Loreal face cleanser
  • Garnier face cleanser
  • (2) boxes Alka Seltzer Plus tablets
  • (2) packages Pledge wipes
  • (4) Degree deodorants
  • Veet facial wax strips
  • (2) Nivea lip balms
  • (2) 3-pack Schick disposable razors
  • (6) Nestle Christmas candies
  • Aquaphor lip balm
  • Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste
  • Garnier moisturizer
  • Revlon Top Speed nail polish
Now... This trip did not go exactly as I had planned. Of course, I did not realize that some of my items had rung-up incorrectly until I got home. (I will be stopping at Walgreens on my way home tomorrow to resolve this which should net me a credit of about $9.99.) 

Total amount spent out-of-pocket = $25.04
Total received back in even MORE Rewards Cash = $11.00 PLUS Jingle Cash for $20.00 off of a $30.00 purchase!  WHOO HOO! This would ultimately make my out-of-pocket expense, once the aforementioned discrepancies are resolved, (-$15.95.)!!!