Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011 and Unresolved Resolutions

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 31:  People toast their wine glasses as the annual New Year's Eve fireworks display illuminates the sky over Sydney Harbour on December 31, 2009 in Sydney, Australia. The 2009 into 2010 theme is 'Awaken The Spirit' with over 1.5 million people expected to gather around the harbour to watch the 12 minute show.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images) Downloaded from islamizationwatch.blogspot.com for use on http://www.thefamousashleygrant.com/

Today we say goodbye to 2011. We all get to start fresh in 2012 with new resolutions, new hope, plans for the future, etc... Personally, I am leaving 2011 with dirty dishes in the sink, dirty clothes in the hamper, unsorted mail, unfolded clean towels in a basket, Christmas gifts that still have not been put away and what some would say is the worst part of all many failed resolutions from 2011.

I used to get really angry with myself for failing at resolutions each year. Some of them for 2011 included things like have a clean and organized apartment 24/7 (I don't have the kind of time needed to clean this much-but I will work harder to clean more often), get 100% out of debt (we didn't make enough money in 2011 for this to be possible-hopefully 2012 will bring new opportunities for income), fly to Europe (debt plus lack of income equals no ticket to Europe-and no we won't get another credit card just to go. we only spend the money we have now), cook at home more often (how can I cook if I am not home-well, this was a bad excuse so I'll work more at this), work out every single day (let's move on) and then list goes on and on. I'm thankful that it finally donned on me that resolutions should be things we hope to aspire to, not things that we should feel like failures for not completing.


My problem has always been that I set resolutions, standards and expectations so extreme that no one could actually pull them off without some degree of difficulty. Then, I get so mad at myself for not completing them that I sink into a stupid depression over nothing. In other words, I set myself up for failure every single year.


So, this year I'm setting goals and creating a list of resolutions I think I can actually manage. Here they are, my 2012 for all of you to enjoy and possibly take on yourself:


1. Be more positive about everything.
2. Do my best to achieve long term goals with careful planning and execution rather than unrealistic expectations and tight deadlines no sane person can meet.
3. Try to forget the past, look to a better future and be willing to change/ apologize when I'm wrong.

That's it. That's all. I have covered exactly what I feel I should for a new beginning and hopefully a better life.

Resolution just sounds like a negative word to me with all the bad connotations it conjures up...so ...What are your hopes for 2012?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolution #1 for 2012: Get organized!!!!


One of my massive problems has always been disorganization at home. The funny thing is when I am working in a business or at a friend's house I keep everything as neat and orderly as possible. However, at my own home I tend to just throw things wherever they will land and then out of sheer laziness I leave them there.

I was watching a show on  the DIY network a few nights ago and there was a statistic that the average person spends a year of their lives looking for misplaced things in their homes. Not a day, not a month, but an entire YEAR!!! This was a wake up call that hit me like a ton of bricks because I realized how much time I waste looking for stuff.

I began researching ways to organize my tiny space and remembered my pal Kim Sonefeld of Hummingbird Invitation Studio had an awesome idea to organize toiletries. She put them in a shoe organizer. BRILLIANT!!!

With this in mind I went to Wal-Mart and found three shoe organizers on sale for $5.50 each and bought em all! I have one on my bathroom door, one on my closet door and one in my pantry. The one in my panty is actually working out quite nicely and is making finding my sauce bottles and what nots easier to find. Best part is it freed up an entire shelf in my pantry and I'm now using what was wasted space. See:


Now that I have reclaimed three spaces that were simply not being used, I am looking for other ideas to continue organizing stuff. I can't wait to have a place for everything and everything in its place.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Portfolio Spotlight: Irish 31

As my days at Metromix come to a close I'm learning how to load all of my articles to a digital portfolio so that folks can still see them even though they are not always going to be live on Tampa Bay's Metromix. Here's the bar review I wrote about Irish 31

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 12

These 12 days have flown by! Figured I would end on something simple and fun-Custom Gift Card Holders

Items you will need:
1. Red, green & white felt
2. Glue
3. Christmas stickers, beads, glitter and/or sequence
4. Posterboard
5. Scissors
6. Glue
7. Black marker

How to:
1. Draw some shapes onto posterboard a little bigger than a gift card. Shape idea include: stockings & mittens (like shown in the pic), Christmas Trees, gingerbread men, etc... Just keep in mind you will be creating a pocket to hold a gift card
2. Cut out the shapes & trace them onto felt with black marker. You need two matching pieces of felt for each card holder
3. Using a line of glue around the edges, glue the two pieces together to create the pocket.
4. Using stickers, beads & accessories decorate the gift card holder however you would like.

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12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 11

Sorry for the delay in posting this. Day 11 was a little nuts for me!

so...here we are at Day 11-stockings

Items you will need:
1. About a yard of fabric
2. Sewing machine
3. Poster board
4. Batting for quilts
5. Pencil
6. Scissors
7. Thread for sewing machine
8. sewing pins
9. Ribbon
10. Fabric pencil

How to:
1. Draw an outline of a stocking on the posterboard as big as you want it then cut it out
2. Using the fabric pencil trace the stocking template onto the fabric. You will need 4 pieces.
3. Cut out the fabric
4. Cut out 2 pieces of batting about 1/4 inch smaller then the 4 fabric pieces.
5. using sewing pins to keep everything in place stack 1piece of fabric on top of a piece of batting and then another piece of fabric creating a sandwich. Sew together removing pins as you go.
6. Repeat step 5 with the remaining pieces
7. Sew the two "sandwiches" together
8. Turn the stocking inside out to hide frays
9. sew a loop of ribbon on to hang

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 10

Christmas tree earrings downloaded from http://www.orientaltrading.com/

Today's craft is Christmas Tree Earrings
I would recommend buying the kit and following the instructions in it. The kit is on sale for just $5.99 right now and you can buy it HERE 

Other crafts for the 12 Crafts of Christmas:
Day 9 Wooden ornaments
Day 8 Beer Glasses
Day 7 SnowGIRL ornament
Day 6 Red Ball Snowman Ornament
Day 5 Christmas Wreath
Day 4 Snowman Banner
Day 3 Candy Cane Ornament
Day 2 Polka Dot Votive Holder
Day 1 Snowman Votive Holder

Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 9

Today's craft is wooden ornaments. Jo-ann's is selling wooden pieces in the shapes of footballs, hearts, footballs, apples, etc... The painted ones are $0.59 each and the unpainted ones are $0.29 each.

For the football pictured here I purchased one that was already painted & added a USF sticker to make it perfect for a Bulls fan! The apple I painted and added words. Then, I added string to the Bulls ornament & ribbon to the apple & had 2 quick & simple ornaments in less than 15 minutes :)

Items needed include:
1. Wooden pieces
2. Acrylic paint
3. Ribbon & string
4. Stickers & glue
5. Any other adornments you want on your ornaments
Forgive the low quality image. I will add a nicer one as soon as I get access to my computer!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Finally Something Good Today!

Got my All Access pass for Jingle Ball! Cannot wait to photograph this concert! Its gonna be a blast & just picking up the pass alone has made my day!!

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12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 8


12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 8- Beer Glasses!
Okay okay, so this isn't my best work, but it gives you the idea of what you can do as a gift for a guy! The Dollar Tree has these awesome beer glasses and they have some beer mugs as well that when painted make a great gift ;) Give it to him with a 6 pack of his favorite beer and he won't even notice if the art on it isn't perfect. Bonus tip: If you want to give him an assortment of beer visit a tap house that sells by the bottle and get 6 different bottles to give with the glass!


Items you will need:
* White Folk Art Enamels Paint
* Black Folk Art Enamels Paint
* Q-tips
* A Beer Glass
* Assorted brushes
* A cookie sheet
* An oven
* Styrofoam Plate
* Rubbing Alcohol

Instructions:
1. Clean the exterior of the Beer Glass with rubbing alcohol.
2. Pour a little paint onto the Styrofoam Plate and paint any image you want onto the glass.  Don't paint the bottom. Let it sit to air dry 30 minutes.
3. Pour another color of paint onto the Styrofoam Plate. After letting the first layer dry paint additional colors on top of it. For example-in the above photo I painted the white layer for the cards first and let it dry before adding the details in black. Let is sit to air dry an hour
4. Place a cookie sheet into a COOL oven and place the air dried painted candle holder onto the cookie sheet.
5. Close the oven and set the oven to 350 degrees. Then set a timer for 40 minutes.
6. When the timer goes off turn off the oven immediately and leave the item in the oven until it is completely cooled down.
7. Once the oven is cooled down voila! you have a hand painted Beer Glass! Add beer and you're all set!

Other crafts for the 12 Crafts of Christmas:
Day 7 SnowGIRL ornament
Day 6 Red Ball Snowman Ornament
Day 5 Christmas Wreath
Day 4 Snowman Banner
Day 3 Candy Cane Ornament
Day 2 Polka Dot Votive Holder
Day 1 Snowman Votive Holder

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 6


Day 6- Snowman Ornament. Okay okay...if you have not figured it out by now...I really like snowmen. Maybe it's because of my frustration over the fact that in Florida we can't build them?

Items Needed:
1. Red Ball Ornament (You could also use green or blue. Silver and Gold don't work as well with the paint)
2. Sponge brush
3. Assorted paintbrushes (Could just use Q-tips for a simple snowman)
4. White acrylic paint
5. Black acrylic paint
6. Orange acrylic paint
7. assorted acrylic paint colors for the hat
8. Red fabric ribbon (again could use a different color ribbon depending on your preference.)
9. Styrofoam plate

Instructions:
1. Pour a little white acrylic paint onto the Styrofoam plate. With the sponge brush sponge a circle onto the front surface of the red ball ornament. Let it dry for a few hours.
2. Pour a very small amount of black paint and orange paint onto the Styrofoam plate.
3. Then with either a q-tip or a brush paint on the nose with the orange paint and then eyes and mouth with black paint. If you don't want to "draw" or don't think you can create the details just use dots for the black eyes and mouth. Let it dry again for a few hours.
4. If you are happy with just eyes, nose and mouth and having a simple snowman, then feed the red fabric ribbon through the hook on the top of the ornament ball. Tie it into a bow so that you can hang it on the tree and you're done.
5. To add extra detail use additional colors to paint a hat onto the snowman, then dry again, add the ribbon and then hang it on the tree ;)


Other crafts for the 12 Crafts of Christmas:
Day 5 Christmas Wreath
Day 4 Snowman Banner
Day 3 Candy Cane Ornament
Day 2 Polka Dot Votive Holder
Day 1 Snowman Votive Holder

Peppermint Hot Chocolate at Felicitous!


I frikkin' love Felicitous Coffee House! I wish I had the ability to move closer to USF so that I could visit this place more often.

Trying to get in the holiday spirit? Stop by and order a Peppermint Hot Chocolate with whipped cream. Yum! The large cup with the peppermint syrup and whipped cream was $4.55 with tax and worth every penny. So tasty.

As for the cup it came in...zebra stripes and chocolate syrup in zebra pattern on top of the whipped cream...hmmm...coincidence? I think not!

More on Felicitous:
I did a business shout out on them in Creative Loafing when they first opened, a Cheap Eats write up a few months later on Tampa Bay's Metromix and have mentioned them as often as possible on facebook, on my blog and on About.com.

They have free wi-fi, great pastries and desserts and some of the best frozen frappes I've ever tried!

Felicitous is located at:
11706 North 51st Street
Tampa, FL 33617
(813) 988-2828

Monday, December 5, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 5

wreath. Day 5 of 12 Crafts of Christmas

Now before you all freak out on me and run away with your tail between your legs, you should know that making a wreath for Christmas is much easier than it looks. All you really need is to figure out the colors you want in it and that is the hardest part.

Items needed:
1. Green Wreath- Joann's sells these as cheap as $1.99 during its sales for the season!
2. A bow. You can either make it by hand or they sell lots of premade ones
3. Ornaments. There are lots of little trinkets that are perfect for wreaths in the floral section at Joann's that you can get as cheap as $1 each or less depending on the sales. The floral picks that have flowers and other adornments attached to a long piece of green wire have always worked best for me. The above wreath has about 12 floral picks in it along with one big bow
4. Green floral wire
5. Wire cutters or heavy duty scissors that can clip wire

Instructions:
1. Place everything on top of the wreath to see how it will look. Arrange it and rearrange it until you think it looks perfect. I often will take a picture once its perfect so that I remember how it looked as I'm securing everything to the wreath.
2. Insert the floral picks into the wreath one by one and twist the wire around the back to secure it.
3. Add the bow to the top, middle or side. Whereever you like it and secure to the back of the wreath with floral wire.
4. For added security I often go back with floral wire and wrap it around my picks and my bow just to make sure that while its hanging nothing falls off. Some folks I know will secure it with a hot glue gun. I personally don't because I prefer to change out the picks annually so that my wreaths are different each year.

Other crafts for the 12 Crafts of Christmas:
Day 4 Snowman Banner
Day 3 Candy Cane Ornament
Day 2 Polka Dot Votive Holder
Day 1 Snowman Votive Holder

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Real Reason People Have Kids

Sometimes I wonder if the real reason people have kids is so they won't feel strange buying kids toys that they actually want to play with.

I'm walking through the kids toys at Target and seeing all kinds of fun stuff I want to play with. The problem is I don't have children and it would be awkward walking to the register and having the cashier say something like "Is this for your little boy for Christmas?" Then I would have to give the odd response of "No, I just want to play with legos! Leave me alone!!!"

If you have kids, have you ever bought something for your child so you could play with it? Or if you don't have kids but wanted a toy to play with would you buy it anyway?!?

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 4

Snowman ornament. Day 4 of 12 Crafts of Christmas
Wooden Snowman Banner:
Why make it difficult by finding all the supplies when you can just buy the Wooden Snowman Banner Craft Kit from Oriental Trading Company? Buy this awesome kit HERE and you can make 12 Wooden Snowman Banners. They can either be used as hanging decorations on the wall or ornaments on a bigger tree. Final products end up being about 6" in length. They are so cute and come with instructions for the best way to put them together.

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 3

candy cane ornament Day 3 of 12 Crafts of Christmas

Day 3. Sorry I'm posting this a little late, but hey- it's still December 3 in California for a little while longer. Therefore-here is Day 3's Craft!

Candy Cane Ornament:

Items Needed:
*Pipe Cleaners
*Red Beads- the three pronged beads are preffered
*White Beads- again the three pronged beads are preffered

Instructions:
1. Cut a pipe cleaner in half and at one end place a red or white bead and wrap the pipe cleaner around it once to secure it.
2. String the beads onto the pipe cleaner. Red, then white, then red, then white until you get to the end of the pipe cleaner.
3. Secure the last bead on the pipe cleaner by wrapping it with the end of the pipe cleaner.
4. To form a "cane" simply bend the pipe cleaner into a J shape.

Friday, December 2, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 2


Today's Christmas Craft is green and red polka dot candle holders.  See day 1 HERE

Polka Dot Candle Holders

Items you will need:
* Red Folk Art Enamels Paint
* Green Folk Art Enamels Paint
* Q-tips
* A Glass Votive Candle Holder
* A cookie sheet
* An oven
* Styrofoam Plate
* Rubbing Alcohol

Costs to expect: Enamels paint is about $2 each. You can get votive holders for $1 or less at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree.


How to:
Super simple!!!
1. Clean the exterior of the Glass Votive Candle Holder with rubbing alcohol.
2. Pour a little green paint onto a Styrofoam Plate. With a Q-tip paint dots onto the glass in whatever pattern you would like.
3. Pour a little red paint onto a Styrofoam Plate. Now take the Q-tip and make red dots on the exterior to foll in the spots where there is no green paint. Let is sit to air dry an hour.
4. Place a cookie sheet into a COOL oven and place the air dried painted candle holder onto the cookie sheet.
5. Close the oven and set the oven to 350 degrees. Then set a timer for 40 minutes.
6. When the timer goes off turn off the oven immediately and leave the item in the oven until it is completely cooled down.
7. Once the oven is cooled down voila! you have a hand painted Polka Dot Candle Holder! Add a tealight and you're all set! (Giving it as a gift? Place it in a little party bag and twist tie it shut-you can get 20 at Wal-Mart with twist ties for just $0.97- then either wrap it in a gift bag or give as is.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

12 Crafts of Christmas-Day 1

snowman candle. Day 1 of 12 Crafts of Christmas

In an effort to prove that you don't have to be Martha Stewart to make gifts by hands for folks I took a page from the Dealicious Finds site to show the readers of The Famous Ashley Grant and Tampa Bay Freebies my 12 Crafts of Christmas!

So, without further adieu...today is Day #1!!! The Snowman Candle you see at the top of this post is easier than you can imagine to make!

Items you will need:
* White Folk Art Enamels Paint
* Black Folk Art Enamels Paint
* Q-tips
* A Glass Votive Candle Holder
* A Sponge brush
* A cookie sheet
* An oven
* Styrofoam Plate
* Rubbing Alcohol

Costs to expect: Enamels paint is about $2 each. You can get votive holders for $1 or less at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree.


How to:
Super simple!!!
1. Clean the exterior of the Glass Votive Candle Holder with rubbing alcohol.
2. Pour a little white paint onto a Styrofoam Plate. Sponge it onto the exterior of the Glass Votive Candle Holder. Don't paint the bottom. (For best results dab the sponge to coat the surface, don't stroke in lines.) Let it sit to air dry 30 minutes.
3. Pour a little black paint onto a Styrofoam Plate. Take the Q-tip and make black dots on the exterior to create a face. Let is sit to air dry an hour
4. Place a cookie sheet into a COOL oven and place the air dried painted candle holder onto the cookie sheet.
5. Close the oven and set the oven to 350 degrees. Then set a timer for 40 minutes.
6. When the timer goes off turn off the oven immediately and leave the item in the oven until it is completely cooled down.
7. Once the oven is cooled down voila! you have a hand painted Snowman Candle Holder! Add a tealight and you're all set!
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