DIY Thrifty Gift

No one likes showing up to a birthday party without a gift. But at times there are reasons beyond your control for not being able to have one. Perhaps you couldn’t find the coveted jewelry they wanted, completely forgot about the party until day of and didn’t find anything gift-able, or, worse yet, didn’t have the money to get anything. But what if you could make a sentimental, heartfelt, and enjoyable gift for just under $10?

Back in November of 2011, I had just started seeing my boyfriend at the time, J.S. We were planning to celebrate his 25th birthday with a low-key dinner and bowling night, but of course I wanted to get him something special as his girlfriend. In late September, I took a trip back to California for family matters. At the airport, preparing to go back to Texas, I realized that both my debit card and driver’s license were missing. I was fortunate enough to have enough information on me to make the flight back home. However, my two cards were still missing. 

I got that all sorted out eventually, but in the meantime, I had NO idea how I was going to get a gift for J.S. with just $30 cash in my name for the next week or so. I decided that I wasn’t to spend more than $15 on his birthday (gift and bowling included), that way I saved the other half for gas, food, and other necessities until my replacement debit card came in the mail. I did the math and decided I needed to save at least $6 for the bowling alley. But what could I get for under $9 at such sort notice that really meant something?  

And so began the gift that actually impressed my boyfriend and showed him how thoughtful I can be:

 

The Thrifty Gift: Riddles and Rhymes

Total cost for this gift: $7.86

Total time spent: 1 day

Appreciation towards gift: Undoubted

 

The riddles and rhymes gift became a combination of Pinterest pins involving inexpensive gifts. I whipped them all together with a few of my own ideas for a 6-piece gift. Each piece had a numbered riddle attached. A note in the gift explained that he was to start with #1 and work his way to #6, trying to guess what each gift was based on the riddle before opening it. Each object inside was tailored towards a specific item he had mentioned liking in passing as we dated. It’s perfect for those celebrating their 6-month-iversary, 6 year anniversary, or a birthday with your significant other. (Please forgive the terribly unfocused pictures. As you can imagine, it was a pretty hectic week, and I hadn’t quite figured out my phone’s zoom and focus features just yet! But an out of focus example is better than no example,right?)

 

Wrapping paper: $1 at Dollar Tree

Ribbon: leftover ($1 at Dollar Tree)

Greeting card covers used as numbered riddle cards: leftover ($2.50 at Staples Center)

I noticed that a set of thank you cards I already had somewhat matched the polka dot pattern of my wrapping paper. So, I used scissors to cut off the decorative front and pasted the riddles on the back of it.

 

J.S. had told me that he doesn’t drink much soda pop, but when he does he prefers Coke Zero. So, using this information, I added the soda riddle to a wrapped up single bottle of Coke Zero. 

Coke Zero: $1.32 at gas station

Total so far: $2.32

 

J.S. had also mentioned his fondness of pistachio nuts over others. I thought the cheesy but cute riddle was a great touch to giving him that snack.

Pistachio Nuts: $1.25 at grocery store

Total so far: $3.57

 

The boyfriend never mentioned liking Rice Krispy Treats, but I couldn’t help but add this one in! 

One Rice Krispy Treat: $1 at gas station

Total so far: $4.57

 

I was always stealing his gum, so I thought this was a great way to repay him for all the times he attributed to my minty breath.

Orbit gum: $1.29 at gas station

Total so far: $5.86

 

Alright, to explain this one I have to let the cat out of the bag. J.S. and I actually met on Plenty of Fish, a free online dating site. I had just moved from California and was looking to meet new people, friends or otherwise. He had been in Dallas from Michigan for some time with no luck in meeting the right person. And there you have it. I threw in some Swedish Fish candy to the mix in order to add this clever, personal riddle.

Swedish fish: $1 at Dollar Tree

Total so far: $6.86

 

 

 

This last one was by far my favorite item of the bunch, and actually the most cost-efficient! I found out through a random Pinterest posting that it’s possible to create your own, printable subway art at Wordle. Using terms I knew about J.S. in the few months we dated and taking advantage of the extra Matte photo paper I had on hand from a previous photography course, I created a keepsake he still displays in his room. 

Photo paper: leftover ($4.99 at Amazon and eBay)

Picture frame: $1 at Dollar Tree

Total for gift: $7.86

 

The boyfriend was touched that I had put so much thought and effort into this gift; it didn’t matter the cost. I, personally, would be so appreciative if someone took the time to set up a gift like this for me. The ‘ole saying “It’s the thought that counts” really rings true in this case.

All of the riddles (save for #5 and #6) are available for print from The Dating Divas.

If you try this out, let me know how it works out for you! I’d love to see your completed gift sets! 🙂

 

Sarah’s Aloha BBQ Chicken

Once in a while I try my hand at creating a new, exciting dish to spice up my home-cooking schedule. There is only so many times one can roast a chicken the same way before it gets dull!

Last week I struck some luck and created a recipe that was a sure winner in my book. I had been craving fruit all day and wanted to incorporate it into my dinner plans. Now, while I would be perfectly fine with a bowl of fruit for dinner, I’m pretty sure any nutritionist and my dear nurse of a mother would scowl at me for doing so. I love the mixture of tangy and spicy flavors, so I decided to pull out some seasonings to create my 5-step masterpiece:

Sarah’s Aloha BBQ Chicken

Ingredients (makes for two servings):

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Can of Pineapple Rings
  • Juice from Can of Pineapple Rings
  • BBQ Sauce (I used Kraft Hickory Smoke BBQ)
  • BBQ Rub (I used Weber “Smokey Mesquite” Rub)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Oven-safe Dish

Directions:

1) After thawing and cutting off excess fat from your chicken breasts, apply your choice of BBQ rub liberally to your chicken, rubbing the spices in with your fingers. Place both pieces into an oven-safe dish (I used corning ware) and set aside. At this time, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.

 

2) Open the can of sliced pineapple rings and empty the juice contents into a mixing bowl. Set aside the can and pineapple rings for later. Then, gradually mix in your BBQ sauce of choice until your mixture has a somewhat-thick consistency. You don’t want your mixture to be too soup-like (as a reference, I used half the bottle of BBQ sauce in order to achieve my desired consistency).

 

3) Cover the chicken breasts with the mixture you have just made, saving 1/4 cup of the mixture for later use. Cover the remaining sauce and place in your fridge. Then, slice the pineapple rings in half and place them over the chicken and the mixture.

 

4) Cover your oven-safe dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the pre-heated oven for one hour. Then, remove the aluminum foil, pour the remaining mixture over the pineapple rings, and cook uncovered for 15 more minutes. This will allow for the pineapples to caramelize and retain the savory flavors of the sauce.

 

5) Allow 10 minutes cooling time to give the chicken a chance to reabsorb its juices. Then, serve with corn-on-the-cob, baked beans, or your BBQ side dishes of choice. Bon Appetit! 

 

Mahalo for checking out this recipe, let me know if you try it, and how you liked it! As always, I’d love to see pictures 🙂 ALSO, if you liked this enough to want to try it later, PLEASE pin it! 😉

 

PS: I tried this same recipe out on my family. They all LOVED it! I used 8 chicken breasts (quadrupling the rest of the ingredients), and all but one-half  of a chicken breast were gobbled up by the end of the party 🙂 I know YOUR family will love it to! It’s the perfect main dish for a luau/Hawaiian theme party.

ADOSsig

DFW Bloggers Meet Up Fall 2012

On Saturday, September 08th, Julie from A Beautiful Day, Taylor from Goings On in Texas, and I hosted the first ever Texas Bloggers DFW Meet Up at A Piece of Work in Fort Worth!

DFW Bloggers Meet Up – A Piece of Work

The hostesses of the night

The eventful night was filled with goodies to munch on…

Wine to be enjoyed…

 

… and paintings to be drawn!

 

I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with and getting to know my fellow DFW Blogging gals. We truly are a little blogging community. Every woman I talked to that night was so kind, gracious, funny, and downright sweet! We may be online blogging pals, but rest assured my friendships with these ladies were truly affirmed that night. It’s funny how bonds can be made through a little computer screen, isn’t it?

I had the pleasure of meeting the following ladies that evening:

Julie at A Beautiful Day

Taylor at Goings On in Texas

Nicole at Three31

April at Red Dirt Mama

Becky at The Java Mama

Crystal at Mason’s Mama

Amanda at Princess of the Panhandle

Jill at Nokoikonomia

Holli at Holli’s Hoots and Hollers

Kristen at Few of My Favorite Things

Lauren at The Crazy Life of LT

Samm at Little House in the Big D

Cynthia at Oh So Pinteresting

 

After a fun-filled night of blog talk, story swaps, painting, and wine, we all finally said our goodbyes and went our separate ways for the night… BUT, not before grabbing our take-home souvenir! Julie did a beautiful job decorating the keepsake boxes that held the homemade cupcakes I made for the event:

 

All in all, it was a fantastic time, and I can’t wait for the next one! Thank you ladies for making this past weekend one to definitely remember! 🙂

 

Oh, and PS, just so it’s out there as photographic proof that I DID paint something in my life, here’s me with my attempted painting from the evening’s workshop… I think I’ll stick to my art skills on cupcakes! haha 😉 

 

ADOSsig

Dashing Dishes: Sarah’s Skinny Pizza

I’ve dedicated my time and efforts towards eating clean since January of 2012. I technically started over a year ago, but took baby steps. In January 2011, I began to cut out fast food restaurants from my daily routine. Then, I started portioning my desserts and snacks. In January 2012, I began to count calories and make a diligent effort to stay around 500 negative net calories each day. If you’re looking to do this, sites like Calorie Count and My Fitness Pal are great resources to use. While I have grown knowledgeable of most calories values in certain foods and no longer feel the need to watch the numbers, I still use the former website when logging my weight monthly. 

With that being said, often times my biggest “cheat” craving is pizza. I don’t know what it is about the delicious dinner pie that gets me wishing I had 500+ calories to fill for dinner, but I can get the urge to eat a slice at any time of the day. Since I know how costly pizza can be to one’s diet, I decided that there has to be a way to meet my craving and still feel good about it, too. And so, I introduce to you today’s Hearth-Healthy Culinary Creation:

 

Sarah’s Skinny Pizza

 

Nutrition Facts: 

202 Calories, 13g Protein, 27g Carbohydrates, and 100% Delicious! 

Ingredients:

  • 1 multi-grain tortilla
  • 1 slice fat-free cheese (I prefer Swiss or cheddar), cut into small squares
  • 2 tbs low-sodium marinara sauce
  • 1/4 green bell pepper, cut into slivers
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, cut into slivers
  • 1 slice low-sodium turkey ham, broken up into bite-size pieces

Prep Time: < 5 Mins 

Cook Time: < 5 Mins

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Build pizza ingredients on top of the multi-grain tortilla. Start with the sauce, adding the cheese squares, then the toppings you desire. To keep it low-calorie but extremely tasty, I suggest toppings like bell peppers, olives, and/or even some pineapple chunks.
  3. Place your pizza on a flat baking tray (a cookie sheet or pizza tray will do, as well.)
  4. Place pizza in the oven and cook for a few minutes (time will vary depending on amount of topping).
  5. Watch your pizza through the oven window. When the cheese is fully melted, the edges of the tortilla are golden, and the toppings look crisp but not burned, use an oven mitt and remove the baking tray.
  6. Let your pizza cool for 1-2 minutes, then enjoy!

 

Sarah’s Skinny Pizzas are perfect for a small lunch meal to fix your craving without compromising the calories. I typically enjoy them with a few pieces of fruit on the side and a glass of water or Snapple Diet Iced Tea with a wedge of lemon.

If you try it out and/or change any ingredients, let me know! I’d love to hear your feedback 🙂 Stay healthy and Bon Appetit! 

ADOSsig

Dallas, Get Your Grub On! – Grub Hub Service Review

* The following blog post is comprised of my own opinion, and is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form by Grub Hub or The Wok – Chinese Restaurant. *

Well, as most of you know (either by relations to me, reading my previous post, or being psychic), I was horribly sick a few days ago. Since then, I have been weaning the pain and sickness off by sticking to a pretty bland, low-acid diet. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure I aggravated the lining of my stomach that day, as it has been voicing it’s anger at me ever since.

Today was the first day I didn’t feel completely bonkers when I woke up, and so I decided that it was a good day to update y’all with a new blog post! I wanted to share with you my random Dallas find on that sick day.

I couldn’t keep anything down on Thursday. Not only was I sick to my stomach, but towards the middle of the afternoon I was also starving and dehydrated. When speaking with my mom on the phone, she suggested I get some sort of soup, and while that seemed like a great idea, I knew there was no way I would make it to my car, let alone a grocery store or restaurant. My kind, wonderful boyfriend suggested I get take out, and offered to pay for a place if I could find one.

After trial and error, I came across Grub Hub (GH) through an internet search and my prayers were answered! For only a $2 delivery fee, they were able to bring me egg-drop soup from The Wok in Dallas. Talk about delicious Chinese food for such a steal! While GH requires a minimum of $10 purchase from The Wok, the soup was only $1.50. I decided to order a second soup for my boyfriend, a Sprite soda for $1.00 in case my stomach needed more calming, a single order of an egg roll for $1.00, and a Cantonese meal plate for my boyfriend for all of his hard work at calming me during my sickness. He picked out the “Chicken Lo Mein” for just $7.95.

After tax, delivery fee, and tip, my total came out to just over $18, and I was able to purchase this all online from the comfort of my bed. The best part? Not only was I able to keep the soup down and finally get some nourishment, but the Chicken Lo Mein was so large, it fed both my boyfriend and I for the whole next day! We were so impressed, we both agreed I needed to share this find with my fellow Texas bloggers (although we were much too ravenous and began eating the food before we got the chance to grab a decent picture for blogging purposes, sorry!).

If any of y’all are ever in a situation where you can’t move from the house for whatever reason but need food, I strongly suggest Grub Hub and The Wok restaurant. It was that much-needed, small little light at the end of the tunnel from a crappy, sick day. It should help you feel better, too. Bon Appetit, Dallas!

ADOSsig

DIY T-Shirt to Tank Tutorial

A Step-by-Step Guide to a New Workout Wardrobe Essential!

BEFORE: “Drab!”

 

AFTER: “Fab!”

Have a few old t-shirts laying around and don’t know what to do with them? If you’re a girl who likes to look good, work out, and not spend a fortune doing either, then this is a craft designed for you! These rugged-looking tanks are a hit at the gym, and can be made out of any jersey cotton t-shirt. They’re also a great bikini cover-up in the summer, as they cover you adequately but allow your body to breathe during that dreadful heat. Follow this step-by-step guide for a DIY (Do It Yourself) racerback tank, and turn that “DRAB” t-shirt into a “FAB” workout essential! Let’s get started:

For this craft you will need:

An old t-shirt to cut up
A pair of scissors

Step 1: Cut off the shirt’s collar. 

Follow the perimeter of the collar and cut just below the stitching. 

 

Step 2: Cut off the sleeves. 

How far in you go is up to you. Remember, the farther in you go, the smaller your tank’s straps will end up being. When you determine how far in you would like to cut, follow the curve of the sleeve’s stitching as an example.

When you finish cutting the first sleeve, fold the shirt in half and follow your first cut as a guide for the second sleeve in order to keep the tank symmetrical. 

Step 3: Cut off the t-shirts hem. 

Most t-shirts have a double hem at the bottom, giving them a clean finish. To achieve a more rugged look, cut off the hem completely, but be sure to save the scraps.

Step 4: Cut the loop. 

When you finish cutting the hem off, you should be left with a long, skinny loop. Using your scissors, cut the loop in order to create a long, ribbon-like string.

Step 5: Cut the stitches off the string. 

While stitches can give fabric a finished look, you will need to stretch this string later on, and the stitches will prevent you from doing so. Cut the string all the way down, being sure to cut closely to the stitch line. You can go ahead and put the stitched fabric in the scrap pile, but hang on to the folded fabric string.

Step 6: Stretch! 

This is a fun part. Using both hands, stretch out the string so it becomes thinner and begins to curl. Have fun with it! When you’re done you should end up with a long, slightly-rolled string. 

Step 7: Turn the back of the shirt into a “Racerback”. 

I love racerback tanks because they show off my shoulder blades, and essentially all of the hard work I’m doing to strengthen my upper-back muscles. To achieve this look, cut a “U” shape into the back, allowing it to expose more skin. Use your scrap from this as a guide to cut the other side the same way in order to keep your back symmetrical.

Step 8: Cut a V. 

In order to make skinny straps, you need to get rid of excess fabric. Cut a deep “V” into your racerback. The bigger your “V”, the skinnier your straps in the end. Try not to go past your mid back. 

Step 9: Wrap the V. 

Take the skinny, rolled rope you created earlier and tie a double knot around both of the “V” straps, about three fingers in from the top. Wrap the rope around the two straps over and over until you come to a few inches left of rope. You can double up on the wrapping in order to create a shorter “knot” in the back. When you finish wrapping, tie another double knot at the end. Cut off the excess rope strands at the top and bottom.

Step 10: Alterations. 

Do you prefer V-necks or U-necks? High-to-low hem, or hems with higher sides? Use this step to alter your shirt and give it your own flair. I created two shirts and gave them each a slightly different alter (finished products are down below on Step 12). In the example pictures below, I chose a high-sides hem. To do this, fold your shirt in half, and cut a diagonal line, starting low in the “middle” folds of the shirt and going higher as you get to the edges.

Step 11: Stretch some more! 

Take a look at your tank so far. It looks good, but it’s not finished just yet! Try on your tank, and let’s focus on getting those straps a little more long, lean, and loose. Pull down on your shirt from all sides in order to stretch it out a bit and add to the rugged, workout look. 

Step 12: Flaunt it. 

Do a happy dance, because you have just finished your DIY workout tank, and are now ready to go flaunt your thrifty attire at the nearest gym! Try your hand at a few more, and do something different each time. Try a different hemline, skinnier straps, a different neck cut, etc. Check out these two I completed in a matter of minutes!

Slightly lower U-neck line.
Medium-sized straps, high-sides hemline. 

 

Low U-neck line; High-to-low hemline.
Small straps, extra deep V-cut in back! Lookin’ good!

Hope you enjoy this 12-step guide! If you try it out, be sure to let me know! Post a picture link in a comment, or mention #ADashofSarah on a Twitter/Instagram pic! Good luck, stay healthy, and stay FABulous!

Is there anything else you’d like to see? Another DIY wardrobe guide? Another t-shirt alteration? Perhaps some home decor craft guides? Comment and let me know! 🙂

ADOSsig