Hot Chocolate Mix

I know it’s only Mid-November  but I’m already in the Christmas spirit. I’m ready to pick out the tree and hang some lights, the whole sha-bang. This year I decided to take a cue from my Mother-in-law and be more neighborly.

My in-laws are the type of people that when you are at their house, they are constantly trying to feed you. You will not go hungry if you’re in  their house. They live out of state and every time we visit them, I gain weight. Ha. Not to mention, my mother-in-law sends us a ton of homemade candy every Christmas. A few years ago we spent the holidays with them. On Christmas Eve, we all loaded up in my Father-in-law’s truck, drove around the neighborhood and stopped at each house. My Mother-in-Law would get out and hand deliver homemade candy to her neighbors. This was so inspiring and genuinely kind.

I’ve thought about doing something for my neighbors, since I witnessed my Mother-in-laws act of kindness. However, I’ve never actually gotten around to doing it until now. I decided that this year I would make something to give my neighbors. Today I’m going to show you how to make Hot Chocolate Mix. It’s really simple and will put you in the Christmas Mood.IMG_9748

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

3.2 Cups of Nonfat Dry Milk

2 Cups of Powder NonDairy Creamer

1 8oz Container of Cocoa Powder, Sifted

2 Cups of Powder Sugar

2 Cups of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Chopped

4 Medium Size Decorative Covered Containers

 

First you’ll want to wash out your containers and set them aside. Next, in an extra large bowl combine the dry milk, nondairy creamer, sifted cocoa powder, powder sugar and chopped chocolate chips. (As an alternative or an addition to chocolate chips, you can use crushed peppermint and/or tiny marshmallows) IMG_9752

Stir until it’s completely mixed and put it in the tightly covered containers. You can make it as simple or as decorative (I bought my containers from Dollar Tree)IMG_9763

The Hot Chocolate Mix is good for up to 3 months. Add a tag saying: For one serving place 1/2 cup of mix in a mug and add 1/2 cup of boiling water or warm milk. Enjoy!!! IMG_9764

Replacing the Back Glass on an iPhone 5s

              I’m far from a tech genius. So when I decided to replace the back glass on my iPhone 5s myself, instead of forking out the 150 dollars to have the entire back replaced, it’s safe to say that I was little apprehensive. I knew that if I messed this up I would be spending a lot more that 150 dollars. After watching a ton of youtube videos, I had the confidence I needed to repair it. It was actually much easier than I ever would have thought. However less than 48 hours later I dropped it on concert and cracked the back glass, again. (Lucky me! Ha) Today I’m going to show you how simple it is to replace the back glass on and iPhone 5s. IMG_9724

Here’s what you’ll need:

Safety Glasses

iPhone Repair Kit:Amazon.com

Replacement Parts:Amazon.com

Hair Dryer

Boxcutter (optional)

Air Duster (optional)

         First you’ll need to power down your phone. Then put on your safety glasses. Next take the hair dryer and heat the bottom glass until it’s hot to the touch or for one minute. This loosens the glue behind the glass making it easier to remove. Take the small flat head screw driver, that came in the kit, and put it at the edge of glass.(You can also use the boxcutter to try and get in-between the glass and the edge of the phone) You’ll want to start working away at the glass until a chunk comes out.IMG_9732IMG_9727

Stay along the edges of the glass. Once you’ve removed all of the glass, scrape the left over adhesive from the back. This will allow for your new glass to sit as flush as possible.  Then if you use Air Duster to make sure there are no small particles of glass left in it. IMG_9734

Grab your replacement bottom glass and peel the paper off the back side and stick it in there. Then just like that you are finished replacing the back glass. (If you order your replacement parts from a different company, make sure that they either have an adhesive back or that you purchase adhesive strip) I always like to turn my phone on after I’m finished to make sure that it everything is still woking properly. IMG_9735

         Once you’ve done that power your phone back down. Grab the hair dryer and heat the top glass until it’s hot to the touch or for a minute. You  need to be more cautious while removing the top glass. (If it looks important don’t touch it) Like on the bottom glass you’ll want to move around the edges. IMG_9740

In about the center of the glass there will be an electronic ribbon. You have to make certain that you don’t accidentally rip it off. Take the flat head screw driver and hold the ribbon down and slowly remove the glass above it. You’ll want to remove the camera lens. (If you bought your replacement from another store, you’ll want to make sure that yours has a lens with it or buy one separate. Also you can clean up your old one and use it) When that’s complete continue to remove the glass until it’s gone. Then scrape the left over glue out of it and use the Air Duster to remove any small debris. IMG_9743 Next you’ll grab your replacement glass peel the paper off to expose the adhesive side and pop it in. Your phone  is now fixed for 14 bucks, saving yourself 136 dollars. Not to bad if I do say so myself.IMG_9746

If you need more of a visual representation of how to replace the back glass to your iPhone heres one of the videos I watched:Youtube.com

Fishing Bear Diaper Cake

Every time someone in my family finds out they’re having a baby, I volunteer to make the diaper cake for the baby shower. I really enjoy making them. I’m related to a lot of outdoorsy, country people, so my past diaper cakes have included a tractor and motorcycle. The cake I’m making today is simpler in design but still absolutely adorable.   IMG_9702

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Packs of Diapers (I used luvs size 1, 48 count)

*you’ll only use half of the second pack

Medium/Small Stuffed Animals

1 Variety Bag of Rubber Bands

3 Ribbons (2in, 1.5in, & 1in)

3 Onesies

Scissors

3 4oz Bottles

Stick

Twine or String

Rubber Ducks, Fish and Frog (Bath Toys)

Fishing Hat

Hot Glue Gun

Pacifiers in Plastic Case

3 Layer Cake Pans (Large, Medium, & Small)

3 Bundles of artificial Cattails

OPTIONAL:

Green Construction Paper

Fabric (I used end of the roll fabric from Hobby Lobby)

Cardboard

First, you’ll want to start with the bottom layer. Roll a diaper up and secure it with a rubber band, then place it in the large baking pan. Continue rolling diapers, until the pan is half full. Next you’ll place the bottles where you want them in the layer and keep adding diapers until it’s packed. Once you’ve done that, take 3 large rubber bands and wrap them around the entire layer. Remove the layer from the pan and set it aside.

IMG_9703                         IMG_9704

                 IMG_9706Then you’ll want to start on the middle layer, it’s a lot like the bottom layer. Fill the medium pan until it’s half full. When you’ve finished that, you’ll want to roll up the onesies and place them where you want them.  Then you’ll go on putting rolled diapers in the pan until it’s full. When that’s done put 3 large rubber band around the layer and remove it from the pan.

You’ll want to fill the small pan with rolled diapers. When it gets full, take 3 large rubber bands and place them around the layer. Take the layer out of the pan and set it aside.IMG_9708

Next you’ll want return to the bottom layer. Measure the 2in ribbon around it. When you have it measured and cut, use the hot glue gun to glue the ribbon to itself. Next glue the 1.5in to the 2in ribbon where it meets and then the 1in to the 1.5in. Make sure the ribbons are centered. (You could also pin these at the seams with a straight pin)

IMG_9712

When that’s finished stack the layers. Put the cattails inside the rolled up diapers on the bottom layer at the back. Then place the stuffed animal on top of the cake, with the hat on it’s head. Next you will you’ll take your stick and tie the string to one end of it. The empty end of the stick goes into the top layer of the  diaper cake, in front of the stuffed animal. Make sure the string is long enough to reach the bottom of the cake with a little wiggle room. Attach the toy fish to the end of the string. Place the pacifier box on the top in front of the bear. Place the other toys where ever you want you want them. IMG_9717

OPTIONAL:

I can never do anything small and that includes diaper cakes. I feel as though a base to a diaper cake just brings the entire thing together. It give it a little something extra and helps support the over all look.

Take some cardboard (I recycled the box my son’s pull ups come in.) Cut it down to the size you want then cover it in fabric. Make sure to glue it on the back side of the card board. It gives it a more polished look. IMG_9722

When that’s done take some green construction paper and measure out different sized circles. Then cut them out. Once you have them cut out, cut a small “v” into each one to make it more closely resemble a lily pad.  Place your diaper cake on the cardboard, then arrange your lily pads the way you like. Once you have them in position tape them to the fabric covered cardboard.  Place the toys where you see fit. There you have it ladies and gentlemen a fishing bear diaper cake.

IMG_9723

What the Whole30 did for me.

IMG_6025To fully explain what the Whole 30 did for me, I’ve got to talk about my journey.  Like a lot of people, I’ve always struggled with my weight. In 2010, I spent a semester in Chicago. While there I decided to become a Pescatarian (a person who maintains a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish, eggs, and dairy products.)  I worked out 7 days a week, and counted my calories religiously. I lost 45 lbs by doing this. The only down side is that I became obsessed. I would count calories in gum, and beat myself up for going a couple of calories over my 1,500 limit for the day. I worked out constantly, even when I was ill. I never stopped, and it wasn’t healthy.

When I returned home me, and my now husband had just started dating. Life happened, and I slowly started gaining my weight back. After being together for 3 years, we found out that we were expecting. I walked 3 miles every day until the weight from carrying my son caused me to pull a muscle in my stomach, and the pain would no longer allow it. I remember sitting in my OBGYN’s office, crying, and telling her that I was worried about gaining weight. She looked at me, and said “Brandy, you’re having a baby, you’re going to gain weight. It’s inevitable. Just be mindful of what you eat.”  I took that as an “okay I can give into every craving that I have.” I ended up gaining 70 lbs during my pregnancy.

After my son was born I instantly dropped 24 lbs. Then I had the Mirena (an IUD) put in, which was the worst decision I have ever made. I could write an entire blog about all the side effects I suffered from, and why no woman should ever get it.  One of those side effects was not being able to lose weight. I would work out, and go days without eating, and still lose nothing. There were times that I would restrict myself to a miserable amount of calories, and still the scale wouldn’t move. I know that these aren’t healthy measures of losing weight, but I was desperate. After suffering the side effects of the Mirena for 8 months I had it removed, and instantly dropped 5 lbs.

I tried going back to being that Pescatarian that counted calories, and working out like before but I was exhausted. The little bit of energy that I did have was dedicated to caring for my son. I tried other things too, like just counting my calories (the correct way), a beach body program, plexus slim, diet pills, and spark. (To name a few.) I’m not saying these things won’t work for you, they just didn’t work for me. I know several people who have been successful with these programs and products, I however, did not have the same results.

It wasn’t until I saw pictures from my sons second birthday party that I realized how big I had gotten. That’s when I had an honest conversation with myself. I wasn’t happy with how I looked or how I felt. Then I thought about the possibility of my son having to grow up without me because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I thought about my husband having to be a single dad. It shattered my heart. I knew I’d have to do something about it, something unlike anything I had ever done before. So, I started doing some research. I kept coming across these words “Clean Eating,” “80/20,” and “Paleo.” But what the hell does that even mean. I think some health gurus forget that not all of us are well versed in health, and fitness terminology. So I did a little more digging and found a reference to The Whole 30 Challenge Book. I started looking a little deeper, and liked what I was finding. Then I went to Amazon to read the negative reviews because that’s how I decide if something is worth buying or not. The negative reviews were mostly about petty things like “It took too long to ship” “Too long to be a diet book”  and  “Too big of a commitment”. So I bought it. It is a pretty lengthy book, however that’s because it’s teaching you about how to certain foods can affect your body, how to cook, and that overall health and well-being out weighs the number on the scale. Also it is a big commitment, but isn’t anything worth doing a big commitment?

I did my first challenge in July, and the first 10 days were so difficult that I almost quit on several occasions. However, once I made it past the “carb flu”, I felt wonderful and I had a ton of energy. Then came the ultimate obstacle; taking my son to a birthday party. There was homemade ice cream. Ice cream is my absolute favorite when it comes to desserts, and it was homemade which made it that much harder to resist. I stood my ground and was able to say no to the ice cream; I never would have been able to do that before the Whole 30. I was so proud of myself. As the challenge went on, I noticed that my skin was clearing up, that I looked less bloated, my sugar cravings were almost entirely gone, and I had a new-found confidence. I finished the challenge in August. Day 31 rolled around, and I stepped on the scale to find that I was down 17 lbs! But in all honestly, the weight loss was just an added bonus. I did all of this without having to count calories, measure my food, or starve myself.

This program taught me that there is no such thing as bad food. There is only food that makes you more healthy, and food that makes you less healthy. For the first time in my life I’m not crippled with regret and guilt because I have a brownie, or a cookie. I have a healthy relationship with food, and that’s a great feeling.

I’m currently on my second round of The Whole 30 Challenge, day 15 to be exact. I wanted to do one before the holidays, and I have plans to do another in January. So, if you’re looking for something that really works, teaches you how to make better choices, kills your cravings, and gives you a new outlook on life. I recommend giving The Whole 30 Challenge a chance.

IMG_6025

The Best Banana Nut Bread

Before I got pregnant with my son I didn’t care for bananas at all. It wasn’t the taste but the texture. However when I was pregnant, I constantly craved them. One night the craving was so strong I decided I was going to make banana nut bread from scratch. Go big or go home, right? That’s when I found the Sugar & Spice by Celeste recipe and I’ve been using it ever since, with my own little twist. It’s truly the best banana bread I’ve ever had. I know that you’ll love it. Also this recipe makes two loaves of this delicious goodness. So you can give one to a neighbor/friend or you can keep them both for yourself. 😀

IMG_9985

3/4 Cup of Butter, Softened

1 (8oz) Pack of Cream cheese, Softened

2 Cups of Sugar

2 Large Eggs

3 Cups of All Purpose Flour

1/2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Salt

1.5 Cups of Mashed bananas (4 Ripe Bananas)

1 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Baking Tips: Toast Pecans at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Also if you’re like me you never have ripe bananas, you can throw those in the oven at 350 degrees until ripe.

With an electric mixture beat the butter and cream cheese together until creamy. Then slowly add the sugar to the mix until it’s fluffy. Next add the eggs one at a time, beating until blended. Gradually add the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients to the mixture at a low-speed. You’ll stir in the bananas, vanilla, chocolate chips, and 3/4 of the pecans. Spoon the batter into 2 greased and floured  8X4 loaf pans. Then put the rest of the pecans on top of the batter.

IMG_9991IMG_9999

IMG_0002IMG_0004

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until you can stick a wooden pick or fork in it and it comes out clean. (The sides will also be pulled away from the pan.) Then cover with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Cool bread in pans for 10 minutes. Then remove it from the pans and let cool for 30 minutes. Slice and Enjoy!IMG_5940

DIY Count Down Picture Frame

My husband’s job takes him out of town for work. Now that our son is getting older he’s started asking when Daddy is coming home. I decided now to was the permit to make a countdown.IMG_9962

Things you’ll need:

8×10 Picture Frame

Vinyl (If you order from Pink Alligator Designs you can get a 10% discount use the code: HandyBrandy10 )

https://www.facebook.com/pinkalligatordesigns/?fref=ts

Scrapbook paper/ Card Stock

Glass Cleaner

Dry Erase Marker

Ruler

If you use the Wet Method you’ll need:

Spray Bottle

Scraper

Microfiber Cloth

Towel

You’ll want to clean the glass of your picture frame first. There are two ways to applying vinyl. The wet method and the dry method.  Below are two links demonstrating both.

Wet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEAIJevzz9Q

Dry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqSIMNGgw6k

I’ve never applied a vinyl before I decided to use the wet method because it gives you a little wiggle room to adjust IMG_9963if need be. I also had the vinyl mirrored so that it would be on the inside of the glass. I didn’t want to my son to trying to peel it off.

Once your glass is clean you’ll want to do a dry fit your vinyl and mark/measure where you want it to be. When you have it IMG_9975marked you’ll want to peel the backing off of the vinyl very carefully. Then you’ll spray your glass with water. Make sure you have it in the position you want it and lay it down. Like I said before you’ll have a little wiggle room if using the wet method.Spray the back of the vinyl generously.

IMG_9976Next you’ll want to squeegee all of the water out from between the vinyl and glass. I didn’t have a scraper so I used an empty gift card to get all the water out. Honestly this the most tedious part of this project. I know that I spent a good 45 minutes doing this.  When you’re finished you’ll want to wait at least an hour to take off the transfer paper. Letting it dry for 24 hours would be ideal and makes it extremely easy to take off  the longer you let it dry the easier it will be.

While I was letting that dry, I cut the stock paper to size by using the back of the picture frame as measurement. I cut several sheets so I could store them right behind the one I’m currently using and then when I get bored with that one I can just change it out.IMG_9977

I waited the hour to peel off the transfer paper. It was more difficult because it hadn’t dried long enough. Once I got the transfer paper off, I dabbed the glass dry and reassemble the frame. There you have it, a count down picture frame. IMG_6388