Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Somebody That I Used to Know

Ingrid Michaelson, one of my favorite artists, just redid this song. Here's the original and her version.

The video is a bit stupid, but the original music video was borderline inappropriate for all ages.

And here's Ingrid's new version:

Love and Tuesday,
Leah Joy

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Twas the Monday Before Christmas

And I was not feeling upset at anything or anyone. So I couldn't write a Monday rant.

End past tense.

I have no idea what to expect in this post; I am going to start typing and see what forms. If you can't handle a journal-entry style blog, you should stop reading now.

So many words are running through my head: things I'd like to type, things I'd like to say, things I should put in a song, and things I should do.

First of all, I'm thinking about being a morning person. It's been really difficult. When we went through pre-marital counseling we discussed morning person vs. night owl. I am undoubtedly and uncontrollably a morning person. Caleb said he could be whatever he needed to be. While I'm sure that's true, I'm also sure anyone can be whatever they need to be for a while at least, but they are still what they are. And while he's not the stay-up-until-three type, he's much more of a night owl than I am. So for the last few weeks, I've been trying to be more of a night owl. I've stayed up until 11:00 or later with him. And then to compensate, my body - which normally only needs 8 hours of rest - sleeps until 8:30am. The whole getting-to-bed-late and getting-up-too-late thing makes me tired the rest of the day.

I've always felt better in the morning. When I was a kid, I would lay in my bed early in the morning and sing.

So last night, I went to bed before 9. Not because that's what I plan to do in the future, but because I knew it would take me longer to fall asleep and because I was at the deep level of tiredness where you can only cry. And I vowed to get up between 7 and 7:30 this morning. Which, by the way, I broke. I got up 5 minutes before 7. I felt groggy for about 1 minute, and then my mind started rolling with a to-do list for today - I have so much time! I can get so much done!

Today is laundry day. And I'm going to work out on the Wii Fit (Yes, I'm just that trendy). And I need to create some sort of snack/treat for Caleb's group of teens meeting tonight. But I'll have time to wash all the dishes (I didn't wash dishes starting Saturday morning through Sunday night - I usually don't until Monday morning because weekends are so busy - but we went through an inordinate amount of bowls and there were all 12 of our bowls lined up in the drying rack). And I can organize the "pantry" shelves again - they need it. And the refrigerator. And the whole house. And vacuum. And clean the bathroom. And scour the sink and the microwave and the toaster oven.

Getting up at 7 (6:55) makes me feel like I can conquer the world in a day.

And then tonight, I'm going with my mom to the airport, where we'll pick up my uncle, aunt, and cousins from California. Some of them I haven't seen in 3 years and I am SO excited!

And the funny part for me is that where they are right now, it's 4:30 in the morning.

I have a ton more on which I could ramble, but I'm actually going to get my day going, start a to-do list, and wash some dishes.

Random Fact: I get way more done when I have a to-do list written out than when I don't.

Love and Lists,
Leah Joy

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wristwarmers and a Mini-Rant at Myself

These are so easy it seems silly to write about them, but I love making these and wearing them so much.


Fact about me: When I first try a project, if it doesn't turn out well, I keep the bad one for myself. Then I make tons of good versions for other people before I ever (if I ever) get around to making one for myself.

Examples of this:

Knit Scarves: I learned to knit with a package of rainbow yarn. I made a striped scarf that is pretty wobbly for the first couple of stripes. I dropped a few stitches along the way. I keep this scarf. Not until 4 years later did I ever bother to knit myself a scarf, and at that point it was a huge treat. I made it out of Lion Brand Homespun bright red yarn. I knit it over the course of a summer. It should never take one a summer to knit a scarf, unless one is just learning or very busy, neither of which I was. I only bothered to finished the project because I needed my needles for something else.

Crochet Scarves: Some girls taught me to crochet so I thought I'd make a purple scarf. The first 4 feet are wobbly. More stitches, fewer stitches… it's really quite dreadful. I kept it for a while, then realized it was horrible, so I got rid of it. However, since then, I have crocheted literally dozens of scarves for friends. I have exactly two scarves that I have made for myself (the rainbow one and the red one).

Knit Hats: My first attempt, I made the Medium size, figuring that most people have a medium head. Apparently most people have a small head, because that size works. But I still keep and wear my medium size and have not bothered to make myself a regular size hat. I have made at least 11 hats for other people.

Dishcloths: I tried 5 patterns before I found one I liked. I keep all my practice ones. I give the nice ones to other people for wedding presents.

Wristwarmers: My first pair were way too big for me. I wore them maybe twice, because they were seriously just too big. Since then, though, I have made 3 pairs for other people.

So, just so you know, I bought yarn in all the colors of the rainbow and have already made myself a crochet scarf. I am also going to make a hat, wristwarmers, and a flower scarf.

But now, back to wristwarmers. Really easy.

I used stockinette stitch (Knit a row, purl a row, repeat ad nauseum).

I meant to cast on either 36 or 38 stitches (I can't remember which) but somehow cast on 37, so that's what I used to make these.

Using stockinette stitch, make a rectangle that will stretch to fit around the widest part of your hand. I like mine snug, so that's why I make them that way. You could make them bigger.

Make two of these rectangles and leave a long end. Use the end to stitch up the side to make a cylinder. Leave a space for your thumb.

That's all. So easy and wonderful. The stockinette stitch gives it a very beautiful, even fabric - and you can use either side.

Love and Knitting,
Leah Joy

P.S. I just noticed that these shots give you a great view of my tattoo. Maybe I'll write about the meaning behind that sometime.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Here's the recipe I didn't really like, but Caleb did like, and I probably only didn't like it because homemade caramel doesn't sit well in my stomach.

I quartered the recipe because I didn't want to make an entire batch if it wasn't going to turn out well. It did turn out well, but I'm still glad I quartered it. I didn't have any sea salt, so I sprinkled a pinch of regular salt on half of it and left the other half without salt. I honestly didn't notice any taste difference. The pretzels already add the saltiness.

The recipe is fairly easy as long as you watch your butter and brown sugar closely when making the caramel. I had to remove the pan from the heat a few times to ensure no boiling or burning.

Well, if you like homemade caramel, and you like sweet and salty mixes, you'll probably like this. If you try it, leave a comment and let me know if you like it or not!

Love and Salt,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Wednesday Ramble

So I missed yesterday's post, but I'm sure you can get your own YouTube fix if you really want to. Besides, I have mostly good reasons. I was at my parents' house baking and decorating approximately 10 dozen cut-out cookies until nearly 3:00, and then I had dishes to wash, some very boring training videos to watch for a program my husband wants me to learn, and then I just didn't feel like blogging anymore.

But posts are about to get scarce for a bit anyway. On Monday evening, my California relatives are coming to Michigan (which still has no snow for them, despite my ice-cube flushing). And then two weeks of partying shall commence. Seriously. We have parties on the 20th, 22nd (maybe), 23rd, 24th, 25th, 27th, and 31st.

This week I'm preparing goodies for what I've been calling our "Cookie List". You know, those friends for whom you want to get something, but feel a gift is inappropriate/unnecessary/over-the-top. Or for your neighbors. You know those of whom I speak. You have your own list, probably.

So this year, instead of making cookies, because I always make cookies, I'm trying something new. I've got two popcorn recipes (a s'mores popcorn and a chocolate popcorn) and of course the cake batter truffle recipe. I bought a bunch of cellophane wrap to put them in and then I still have tons of ribbon to tie them closed. (Do you know how weird cellophane is to find? Okay, yes, if you go to the dollar store first - not so hard. But Meijer has the same amount the dollar store sells - but for $3.49! That's over 3x the price!)

I actually had another recipe I was going to include, too. It's a caramel-pretzel-chocolate bark. It sounded really good and so I tried the recipe last night, just 1/4 of the original size. It smelled great, looked great... and then I tasted it. Caleb says it tastes good, not his favorite kind of treat, but he really liked it. And I didn't. And then I remembered that I don't like real caramel... like, the homemade kind. (Those wrapped up ones are great... stuff inside chocolate is great....) So, I don't think I can make that recipe, simply because I can't give to other people something I myself don't know if I like.

Ooh, on Monday I wrapped some Christmas presents. Caleb has purchased wrapping paper in the past (after Christmas, when it's really cheap) and so I found some in the closet. I was having so much fun being frugal that I made bows out of the too-small-to-wrap-a-present scraps.

And I finished my rainbow hat. It's pretty.

And that is all.

I hope to see you tomorrow... maybe I'll share the caramel-pretzel-chocolate bark recipe with you and you can tell me if you like it or not!

Love and Christmas!
Leah Joy

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Monday Rant: I vs. Me

Here's something I see a lot:

"Can you go to the store for Leah and I?"

"He gave it to her and I."

"Don't shoot Ricky or I."


I refuse to teach Remedial Grammar 101. There are websites for that, and I suggest you check them out if you struggle with these problems.

However, this is a problem of people trying so hard to use proper grammar and failing because they don't remember the difference between nominative and objective pronouns.

As a child you said, "Me and Tracy went to the store."

Your mother corrected you: "Tracy and I went to the store, dear."

And so the next time you might have said, "Tracy and me went to the store."

And your mother would correct you again, "Tracy and I went to the store, dear."

And so while I'm wondering why we always use a trip to the store for grammar lessons, you learned that "me" is not an acceptable pronoun when used after "So-and-so and".

So now you say, "Tracy and I went to the store," which is correct.

But you also say, "Can you go to the store for Tracy and I?" which is incorrect.


Here's an easy rule: Take out the other person and the "and".

Would you say, "Can you go to the store for I?"

No, you wouldn't.

Nor should you say "for Tracy and I."

This difference is the nominative vs. objective pronoun rule.

What are nominative pronouns?



1st Person



2nd Person



3rd Person



These are used as subjects. "I went to the store," "You went to the store," "He went to the store," etc.

Objective Pronouns are:



1st Person



2nd Person



3rd Person



Now, you can't mess up with the 2nd person, which is why perhaps you love to write in it.

But you use these objective pronouns if, get this, the pronoun is the object of something, say a verb or a preposition.

That is why we say "Can you go to the store FOR Tracy and ME?" "Me" is the object of the preposition "for".

That is also why we say "Don't shoot Ricky or me" because "me" is the object of the verb "shoot".

Get it? Got it? Good.

Now go forth and do ye likewise.

Love and Grammar,

Leah Joy

Friday, December 9, 2011

Flower Scarf

Okay, so I love these flowers. I could make them all day and put them on everything in the world. I'd wallpaper with them if Caleb would let me. Coasters! Pot holders! Ornaments! Fake Doilies! These things are so versatile and pretty!

So I decided to stitch them together into a scarf. And I was thinking it'd be cute, but not this cute! I'm actually overwhelmed by how cute this is. I've never made anything this cool!

And again, this is a really easy project, but I'm going to give a tutorial anyway.

As usual, make a billion of these flowers. Once you've finished wallpapering your entryway, you'll need 20-25 of them in coordinating colors. You decide what coordinates. :)

I picked three colors (light blue, dark blue, and purple) and then stacked up the flowers in color piles.

There are two ends to the yarn. The first one (probably somewhere in the middle of the flower) should be woven in when you start. You'll be working with the other end.

Thread your yarn needle with the end of the yarn. Weave it through the edge of a petal until it comes out the side just past the peak of the petal.

Using two or three stitches, attach to the peak of the petal of the next flower. (Make sure that flower's yarn end is at the opposite end.)

Weave the yarn back through the valley between the petals and come out at the beginning of the next petal's peak.

Using two or three stitches, attach to the peak of the other petal on the next flower.
Tie off and weave in end.

Repeat 1-5 until the scarf is as long as you want it.

I thought I'd use 24 flowers, 8 each of 3 colors, but when I got to 21 flowers, I realized it was a good length. I could have gone 3 longer and not had a huge problem, but I decided not to, since it's a gift for someone a little less long-of-torso.

That's it!

Love and Scarves,
Leah Joy

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're Still Sick, But Here's a Good Recipe

I've started using Pinterest, and you can feel free to judge me all you want, but I found my cake batter truffles recipe there, so I choose to enjoy it. My sister-in-law found this recipe for cinnamon roll cake, and it is so easy to make and so delicious.

When I make a recipe for the first time, if I've had it before or if it's fairly easy, I pretty much trust the recipe unless there's a weird ingredient or something. However, Caleb likes me to test out recipes on a trial audience before I make them for parties or anything. It just so happens that he leads a group of high-schoolers twice a month and a group of college students every Sunday. What better test audience than teenagers and college kids, right?

So I made this recipe on Monday for the High School group. I cut it into 24 pieces and then ate one, because I can't send something new (even to high-schoolers) without trying it first. I was being kind. Besides, there was one piece where I hadn't swirled the cinnamon/brown sugar mix in all the way and it got a little burned. I wouldn't want anyone to have to eat that part. So I cut that piece for myself and then died of joy and happiness.

At the end of the evening, the cake pan came back with (miraculously) 9 pieces left. I got some raving reviews and then I ate 2 more pieces. This cake is just like cinnamon rolls, except maybe better because it's so dang easy to make.

My family is having a breakfast theme for our Christmas dinner and I am so making this cake.

I didn't and wouldn't change anything about the recipe!

Love and Butter,
Leah Joy

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Importance of Hydration, Among Other Topics

Drinking water is so important! It's easier for people to remember in the summer because it's so hot outside and they want something cold to drink. But in the winter, when we're already cold, we don't really want to drink something cold. Here are three things I know, without being a science-person or doctor:

1. Water helps your blood flow more easily. This will keep you warmer. Therefore, drinking water actually keeps you warmer.

2. Drinking water can cure (or at least ease the pain of) headaches, UTIs, tight muscles, and other problems that I've either never had or am not willing to admit I've had.

3. Drinking water helps stave off or get rid of sore throats and colds.

Other important things to do when you have a cold are:

1. Get lots of vitamin C: oranges, clementines, and other fruit - also Vitamin C supplements if you have them or can afford them.

2. Take echinacea (again - if you can afford it).

3. Tea with honey.

4. Get sleep! Rest is important!

Keep hydrated, but it doesn't all have to be water. I love drinking water as much as my husband loves drinking milk, but as long as your body is getting fluid - and as long as some of it is water - you will feel better. (Try not to drink too much soda, though; that stuff is terrible for you.) I like to drink juice in the morning; I like tea and hot chocolate, too. Just keep drinking! (But not coffee, because that dehydrates you. Okay, fine, you can have your coffee, but drink lots of water, too!)

This has been a preachy post with Leah, because her husband is sick right now.

Good news, though! Our Christmas dates are finally working out! I love Christmas, and I'm totally fine with the whole "Relatives are in town, drop by anytime and we'll hang out" thing, but when it's an organized party/gift-exchange - I like to have the date and time down!

Love and Laundry Day,
Leah Joy

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shameless Plug for a Friend

It's a YouTube Tuesday! So I'm going to post a video by a new friend I just met this week. She and Spike (Caleb's friend) came over on Friday night to play Mario Kart and paint their own touch-screen gloves. We just became friends on Facebook and I immediately watched all of her YouTube videos. (Okay, I had to bake for an event first, but then I watched them all while working on a hat.) And apparently she read through my blog. So now that we've e-stalked each other, I think we'll be really good friends.

She mostly vlogs, although she's posted a couple of her singing. She's really funny and awkward, so I like her a lot. If you like funny people, or vlogging, or red-heads, you will like her, too!

I picked this video from August because it's especially funny and I'm a list-maker, too.

Love and a Lack of Snow,
Leah Joy

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Monday Rant: Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Our apartment is very dry. Caleb and I were thinking we'd like a humidifier because it could cut down on sore throats and late-night nose bleeds. I figured since we had a ton of money to Bed, Bath, & Beyond (thank you, wedding gifts!) we should see if they had a good one. I shopped around on their site and compared their products to ratings on Amazon and finally decided on the Crane Cool Mist Drop Shape Humidifer. I checked availability in stores and they said it wasn't available yet (this was a month or two ago). I called in to see when it would be, and they said they were just getting the humidifiers in because they're a seasonal item. I should check back in a week or so. Okay, I'm a reasonable woman; I can wait. For weeks, I continued to check their website, but for some reason, this top-rated, reasonably-priced humidifier (available in 5 attractive colors) is not available in stores.

On Saturday, Chloe and I were heading to Bed, Bath, & Beyond anyway, so we checked then. Nope, it's not just a website fluke; they really don't carry this supposedly wonderful product. I told Caleb that they don't have it in the store, so he told me to order online. Sure, we'll have to pay the $8 shipping, but at least we'll have a nice return policy from BB&B. So, last Tuesday morning, I added the humidifier to my online cart, found my gift cards, and got ready to purchase this thing.

I had to enter my name and address of course, choose my shipping method (if I want it in the next 2 days it will cost an extra $30, though), and then I finally got to the Gift Card page. It says, "Need to apply more than 2 Gift Cards? Call 1-800- GO BEYOND for assistance. " Now, of course I have to apply more than 2 gift cards. It's a $58 purchase, plus tax. My biggest gift card is $25. I was thinking of applying 3. But okay, if this is some security thing, I can call. No big deal.

Dialing… Dialing….

"Thank you for calling 1-800-GO BEYOND. Your call may be monitored for quality assurance and training purposes. To locate a store, press 1. To speak to a bridal consultant, press 2. To enquire about a gift card, press 3. For sales and customer service, press 4. If you are a Bed, Bath, and Beyond store, press 7. All others, please stay on the line."

Okay, I think, is this a gift card question? Press 3.

"Please enter your gift card number."

24 digits later: "Your balance is $25. To hear your balance again, press 1. To return to the main menu, press 2."

Oh good gravy, Seriously?

Press 2.

"To locate a store, press 1. To speak to a bridal consultant, press 2. To enquire about a gift card, press 3. For sales and customer service, press 4. If you -"

Press 4.

"For online purchases, press 1. For customer service, press 2. All others, press 5, or stay on the line."

Which one? Oh, what the heck. PRESS 5.


"Hi this is Lydia. Thank you for calling 1-800-GO BEYOND. How can I help you?"

"Yes, I'm trying to purchase something online, and it said that if I have more than 2 gift cards, I should call this number."

"*chuckles evilly* Oh yes, just to tell you that you can't use more than 2 gift cards online. The store can scan unlimited cards. Is there a store near you?"

"Well… sort of…. I just figured since the product isn't actually in the store, it'd be easier to just have it shipped here, instead of me driving all the way out there and then still paying shipping."

"Great! So you can just go there and they'll take care of you!"

Wow, you're not listening OR helpful.

"Ok… thanks…"


ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You made me go through a whole freaking phone menu and speak to a very unhelpful lady just to tell me that I can't use more than 2 gift cards online? Why can't you just put that on the website? "Need to use more than 2 gift cards? Sorry, we don't have that capability yet, but we're working on it! Meantime, please visit your semi-local Bed, Bath, and Beyond and we'll charge you exorbitant shipping prices even though you had to drive all the way out here just to order something we don't bother to carry."

I just want my husband to stop having bloody noses at night. Is that too much to ask? I want my time back.

Dear Bed, Bath, and Beyond,

I was willing to put up with your horrible registry process (seriously? The lady followed us around the entire time pushing fine china and cloth napkins on us like they were cocaine). I even put up with your stupid in-store credit that comes in receipt form. Even Target puts it on a card - even when you tell them you're just going to pick something out right now - even when it's only $7. I put up with your online registry checker that can't count (86 gifts desired, 72 gifts purchased, 0 gifts remaining. Wow, great math!). But this? This is ridiculous! You wasted my time with your stupid phone menu. You're going to waste my gas because I have to drive 20 miles out of my way to anywhere just to go to your store. You're going to waste $8 of my money on shipping.

Why must you carry such great products and then be stupid and annoying? Stop doing one of those please.


So you know what I did? The next time I had a trip to 28th St, I ordered the stupid thing and asked to have it shipped here. And they didn't, but if they had asked if I had had any problems, I'd have just keep my mouth shut because I hate confrontation and it's not the cashier's fault anyway and she's probably had a bad enough day already working in such an annoying store.

Love and Humidifiers,

Leah Joy

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sequined Flower Ornaments

Every year my family makes ornaments en masse to give as gifts or attach to presents. We've made bells from communion cups, bead wreaths, bead candy canes, pop tab ribbon wreaths, and beaded wire stars, just to name a few. This year, I decided to do my own. These aren't really difficult, but I'll give you instructions anyway.
(AR, please don't copy this for you guys, because you will be getting one for Christmas from me!)

To start, crochet as many of these flowers as you want. Leave at least one of the tails at least 6" long.

I'm using them for another project, too, so I just kept going and going and then picked out 20 green and purple ones.

(These are already finished ones)

Now, gather:
-Crochet flowers
-Thread (we used metallic gold and silver)
-Yarn needle
-Sewing needle (NOT a yarn needle)
-Mini sequins in various colors
-Lots of patience

1. Tie off the tails to be a hanging mechanism. Depending on the lengths of your tails, either weave them both toward the top and tie them together a few inches from the top OR weave one end in and double the other end back and tie off.

2. On the back side of the first petal, attach the thread. Put the needle through to the front and sew on a sequin. Tie off on the back of the petal. Trim the thread close to the knot.

3. Repeat for other five petals.

These are so cute, and fairly simple to make, but a little tedious to complete, so either do them one at a time, or have a lot of patience!

Here's a bad picture of one hanging from our ceiling lights (there is no room for a tree in our apartment).

Love and Sequins,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

Have you ever had cake pops? Me neither. But I'm going to make them sometime. And on Monday night, I made the non-pop, no-bake version of them.

Also known as Cake Batter Truffles.

1. We only have salted butter, so I dropped the salt. That's pretty standard, anyway.

2. We didn't have yellow cake mix, so I used the holiday Funfetti. The sprinkle package that comes with it is the perfect amount to mix in to the batter.

3. I didn't have almond bark, nor did I want to go out and buy it. I wanted to make this RIGHT NOW. (You know what that's like, girls, right?) So I mixed chocolate chips with a little bit of Canola oil. I didn't put any cake mix in with that, either. I was finishing up two already opened bags of chocolate chips, so it was just a little bit under 12 oz and I added about 2 tsp of oil to that. I had hardly any chocolate leftover at the end, and my last few look like I scraped the mug with them (because I did) but they still taste good. Plus I didn't waste any chocolate, and that's the really important part. :)

So yep. Mix up the batter. Form into balls and place on wax-paper-covered cookie sheet. Make room in your fridge (move both gallons of milk, the juice, and all the leftovers) and then chill them for a while. Melt your chocolate. I don't have a microwave-safe container the right size, so I used a mug. It wasn't the ideal width, but it worked. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to spear the ball with the fork and then dip it, so I tried that the first time, but found it was easier to just drop the ball into the chocolate, roll it around with a spoon or fork, and then lift it out on top of the fork. Tap off the extra chocolate and then place back on your wax paper. Add sprinkles and chill!

Here are some pictures of the sprinkle mixes I used. The sugars don't show up as well on the brown chocolate, but they add a nice contrast to the adorable trees.

Are these the cutest or what?:

Then eat and enjoy. Funfetti is a very sweet cake, so these definitely aren't something I'll be eating 14 of in a row, but they're still really good.

These are so easy and cute. I want to make themed ones for every party ever.

Happy No-Baking!

Love and Chocolate-Coating,