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Well its been a while since my last post so let’s catch up. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post..

- I Started a new job as Outreach Development Manager at Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois where I am trying to bring our  Girl Scout programming into schools, community centers and housing units.
– My husband and I took a trip to Chicago and I crossed U.S. Cellular Field off my list of stadiums I have yet to visit. (And got to see good friends..always a plus)
– I took a week-long trip home to attend my hometown music festival, Steamboat Days, which I haven’t been to in 3 years.
– During that week-long trip I held a yard sale at my mom’s house for which I went through boxes and boxes of childhood memories.
– I rode a Segway. The same segway, actually, that Justin Beiber rode when he was in St. Louis and apparently crashed because he was texting.
– I started a 5 day cleanse which lasted 2.5 days.
– I attended my husbands 10 year high school reunion.
– I found out one of my best friends ever is going to have a baby. (So happy but yet…so scary)

OK, Now that you’re caught up, I’ll go back to the new job part.

My supervisor and I have been doing a program at a Children’s Home in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. From what I’ve read the home originally started as an orphanage a million years ago and since the needs of the community have changed it is now a home for runaways and/or troubled youth. I’m not exactly sure how the girls get placed there…If the parents send them there or if the system does. And I’m not exactly sure what the girls do to get placed there (they aren’t allowed to talk about why they are there to anyone but their therapist…not even each other) But the girls range from probably 14-18.

Now..I’ll admit I was a little hesitant about going there. After all…I had NO IDEA what these girls did to get in there, AND they’re teenage girls which is a whole other kind of dangerous. I thought they would be mouthy, have a bad attitude and sit with their arms crossed rolling their eyes at the thought of doing Girl Scouts (much like I would have been at age 16.) But after being there the first week it was very clear these girls were nothing like that. I was more than surprised.

These girls sat quietly, were engaged, answered questions, laughed, all got along and respected us and their surroundings. A few even gave us hugs as we left and thanked us for coming. Really?  I thought. I guess a change of surroundings can change anyone. Some of these girls I could see that in the right surroundings and situations they could be problems, maybe being egged on by their peers. But other girls were quiet as can be, polite and even seemed innocent.

Ever since I was younger I had this fascination about why people are the way they are. I people watch ALL the time. Make up stories about people and families in my head. Try to determine their life story. I want so badly to know the stories of these girls so that I can understand why they are in the position they are in. Have they had a horrible home life? Were their parents really strict and now they’re rebelling? Was everything at home perfect and they just ended up with the wrong crowd? Have they been abused? I know I’ll never know the answers to any of those questions but I still try to figure out their story in my head when I’m there.

I’ve now visited the home 6 or 7 times and actually enjoy going there. I like watching the girls continue to learn life skills that will hopefully help them when they leave the home and go out on their own. I like to think that we are instilling some values in them that they can use in the real world. After all….that’s what Girl Scouts is all about, right? I guess the old adage is true…don’t judge a book by its cover. Noted.

I’ve recently been a co-host of a couple of baby showers and have of course made some Pinterest projects. And have actually invented a couple of baby shower games that I thought I’d share since I’ve had many requests.

Catchphrase: Celebrity Mom Edition (Pin)

So this is a mix between Catchphrase and Taboo. Everyone splits into teams of 2. Each team is given 5 cards with the names of famous/celebrity moms. One person on the team will be trying to describe the name on the card without saying the names of the kids, husband, or father of the kids while the other person has one minute to try to guess as many of the 5 cards as they can. Once the minute is over, assess who has guessed the most and trade the cards. You can eliminate teams or continue the rounds as many times as you want, keeping track of each teams cumulative score and then the team that has the most wins.

TO DO:

I’ve provided the Word Document (So that you can continue to add names as more celebrity moms have babies.) You can get that here. The font may not show up so you might want to either download Broadway font or make it any kind of fun font you’d like.

Once you get it printed and cut out you can just glue them onto any colored card stock. I did multi-colored pink cards. For extra durability you can also laminate them if you think you’ll be using them over and over.

Don’t Forget the Lyrics: Nursery Rhyme Edition (Pin)

This one’s easy, if you’ve seen the show Don’t Forget The Lyrics. Basically everyone gets some kind of noise maker (whistle, kazoo…). The first 2 or 3 lines of the nursery rhyme are read off and whoever blows their whistle first can finish the nursery rhyme. You can keep track of who had the most and that person wins. Or you have give out little prizes for each person who gets one right. There’s probably a lot of different ways to play it so feel free to experiment!

For my noisemakers I used lip shaped whistles like these:

And the the Word Document is here

Personal WELCOME BABY Sign (Pin)

I simply made letters spelling out “WELCOME BABY LASTNAME” each being a page big. I printed them on white card stock and had crayons available for when people arrived. Each person would decorate a letter then we hung them up with string and clothes pins. It serves as decoration for the shower and then the sign is the mom’s to take home with her. The Word Document is here.

Now for the Pinterest projects!

I made these “cupcakes” out of receiving blankets, washclothes and bibs. Pin is here.

And the grand finale…something that never in a million zillion years did I think I could actually make..a Diaper Motorcycle!

Boom! I actually had a BLAST making this and was so proud when I was done that I actually did it. I also have to give credit where credit is due. Although I found the idea on Pinterest I used this tutorial.

I had a great time being a part of these showers and am excited for more chances to be crafty and creative!

Today officially marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Girl Scouts. Starting with 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia on March 12, 1912 Juliette Gordon Low created an organization that 100 years later would serve 2.3 million girls. The organization would be a place where every girl every where would develop physically, mentally, and spiritually.

While Girl Scouts played a minimal role in my childhood life, it has played a massive role in my adult life. After being placed at my local Girl Scout office (GSEIWI) through a staffing agency for a temporary position, I transitioned into a permanent position and even went on to work for two other councils (GSEM & GSCM) in two other states. I was constantly inspired by co-workers who had been with the organization for double-digit years and who have committed their life to the organization. I was deeply touched by volunteers who generously gave so much of their time and energy (and sometimes even their own money) to serve their Girl Scout Community or Girl Scout troop.

I have made many good friends who started as co-workers through Girl Scouts some who I haven’t seen in years but continue to have contact with. These people all have a special place in my heart. The experiences I gained while working at Girl Scouts will follow me throughout my lifetime. And while working at my local Girl Scout council now didn’t work out geographically, I have never ruled out working for another council. I can honestly say that working with Girl Scout staff and volunteers enriched my life in ways I never knew a job could.

So Cheers to another 100 years of building girls of Courage, Confidence and Character who make the world a better place!

Support your local Girl Scout Cookie Sale Here

Find a local Girl Scout Council Here.

Ever since I helped with a program for Girl Scouts where the girls made homemade dog biscuits and catnip toys to donate to a local shelter, I have been in LOVE with the idea of making my own dog biscuits. BUT until recently, I’ve never had a pooch to make them for. So when I came across this recipe I couldn’t resist.

The recipe is super easy and you can make multiple batches by just multiplying the recipe. For mine, I tripled the recipe since I was making doggy bags (pun intended) for my friends’ pups.

You can find the recipe here. And of course, the Pinterest Pin here

What you need:

1 c. flour

1/4 c. oats

1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (I couldn’t find this at my local grocery store…so I left it out)

1/2 T baking powder

1/2 c. creamy organic peanut butter (I figured that regular non-organic peanut butter was good enough for me, it’d been good enough for the dogs.)

1/2 c. milk (Since I didn’t know the dietary restrictions of all the pups I was baking for (including my own), I used non-dairy Almond Milk instead of regular milk. )

1T olive oil

1T applesauce

What you do:

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl

Add wet ingredients, mix well.

Knead into ball.

Roll out dough to 1/2″ on wax paper.

Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.

Place on unlined cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes.

They turned out really well and Camden LOVES them.

Hopefully the other furballs will love them just as much!

So we have a new addition to our little family – Camden!

Bruiser meet Camden. Camden meet Bruiser.

Camden Sowers

Sock Monkey didn't stand a chance.

She loves naptime with Daddy. Prior to this it was just her front paws sticking out from under the covers.

She’s been doing great since she’s been home with us and we’re pretty excited. On a related note: if anyone has any good advice on getting a resident cat and new dog to coexist, it’d be greatly appreciated. :)

A Reflection on 2011

Well I certainly didn’t think I would be sitting here writing this on December 31 outside on my patio in 60 degree weather. But I also didn’t think a lot of things would happen in 2011 that did.

In my book, 2011 will probably go down as an “alright” year. Even though I have had several things to be thankful for and happy about this year. But first, a look at my 2011 New Years Resolution.

I made a New Years Resolution in January to start running. Of course since I didn’t have a gym membership I had to wait until March when the weather cooperated to begin progress on my resolution. In April I competed in my first ever 5K Run. I started the race confident that there was no way I was going to run the whole thing since to date the farthest I had run at one time was 2 miles. But I kept chugging along and eventually I got to the point where I didn’t care how much more I had to run, I was in it for the long haul. I finished with a not-so impressive time. But…I FINISHED. I have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever had that kind of feeling before and all I knew was I wanted to feel it again. So throughout the year I participated in several 5K Races and continued to run on a regular basis. This year will mark the only year I have actually kept the New Years Resolution that I made in January.

The most notable event that happened in 2011 was my husband and me buying our very first home. It was a tedious process but not much of a long one. We ended up buying the first house we toured. Being homeowners has definitely changed us, I believe. We now know what it feels like to take pride in our home. Whether it’s with landscaping, decorating, (future) remodeling or even with hanging Christmas lights it’s definitely been something that we’ve both enjoyed and has brought us closer together. After years of running around the county it’s nice to be settled for a little bit.

Career wise 2011 was stressful to say the least. I spent much of the year at a job where I was frustrated and unhappy all the time. It was taking over me and I knew eventually I had to do something about it. After numerous interviews and disappointments  I finally started a new job in October. The day I turned in my resignation letter was one of the top 3 best days of the year. A huge weight lifted and I felt like all the stress in my life had finally left me. It’s amazing how greed and money can make people so ugly. Now I have a job with no stress  and a generous time off schedule. And I’m finally content.

2011 was also the first full year of us being back in the Midwest. So that meant numerous trips home to see our friends and families and even trips to places that are special to us that we finally got to share with each other, like Mizzou for me and Wrigley Field for him. It’s been really great being back closer to the places and people we grew up around.
I’m definitely looking forward to 2012 and everything it has in store for me. I haven’t quite settled on a resolution yet but I’m sure I’ll update when I get one.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy new year and a FABULOUS 2012!

Mint Oreo Truffles

I found these on Pinterest and HAD to make them ASAP. (Pin is here) Everyone keeps asking for the recipe so I thought I’d just post it. They’re pretty much the exact same as the Oreo Truffles but with the addition of the Mint. If you’re on a diet for the holidays….this recipe might not be for you. It’s impossible to eat just one.

What You Need:

1 package Mint Oreo cookies

1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)

1 pkg Vanilla Almond Bark

1 teaspoon peppermint extract (I used mint extract and it worked perfect)

Green food coloring

What You Do:

Crush 4 Oreos in a small bowl – safe for later

Pour the rest of the package into a large bowl and smash with the back of a spoon (I used my stemless wine glasses since the bottom was round. Worked perfect)

Stir in cream cheese

Roll into small balls and place on wax paper (before I rolled mine into balls I let them sit in the fridge for 15-20 minutes so it was a little easier to roll them

After they’re rolled into balls, freeze for a couple of hours.

Melt the Almond Bark in a saucepan (I used my fondue pot) add food coloring and peppermint or mint extract as desired (I recommend tasting it to make sure it’s minty enough but not too overwhelming)

Dip the frozen balls into the Almond Bark and place on Wax Paper, spring some of the 4 Oreos you set aside in the beginning and boom! Mint Oreo Truffles.

As with the Cake Truffles you can make these any color you want. Red and Green would be great for the Holidays!

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