Penny's Passion: August 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Five on Friday - August 29, 2014

Well, if you wanted to get something done in August and you haven't done it, you better get on it because this month is winding down!  This month has flown by and I have to admit, I'm looking forward to Fall.  Don't get me wrong, I've had a great summer.  But there's something about Fall that's comforting to me.  I'll tell you what else is comforting -- that today is Friday and I have a three day weekend comin'!  Here's this week's Five on Friday.

1.  About Me
I finished my "About Me" page.  Pop over and give it a glance. 

2.  Giveaway
This is the very first giveaway I've been a part of!  If you'd like to participate, here's the details.
For starters we are handing out $180.
That's a lot of moola that I surely wouldn't turn my nose up to.

 Secondly, the winner will get to choose any pair of darling earrings from Emma & Sophia.
Yes please.

And thirdly, a Big Spender ad space on A Fresh Start on a Budget's blog.
Not too shabby.

Check out all of the darling gals below and get entered!!

3.  Apothic Dark
My favorite seasonal wine is back at Sam's!!  One wine critic writes, "Heady nose. Mostly smokey black raspberries with a hint of chocolate and blueberries. Medium finish, medium minus tannins, light sweet aftertaste. Very tasty.".  My personal review is, "Tastes great.  I love it.  Two thumbs up!".  It's under $10 -- if you like red wine you should consider picking up a bottle.

4.  Mascara
I had a bad case of "I deserve this" on Saturday when I was out and about running errands, which led me to purchase this new Urban Decay lush lash mascara.  At $20, it's more expensive than I usually spend on mascara.  I've been using it all week and I can honestly say I'm in love.  Hey, if people on Bachelor in Paradise can fall in love in 24 hours, I'm entitled to love this mascara after using it for a week.  Doesn't smudge or leave black goo in the corner of your eye.  Anyone else have a mascara they can't live without?

5.  Watch out!
Some People Pictures, Photos, and Images for Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter
 Have a great holiday weekend everyone!  Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you back here next week.
Linking Up With:


Hey guys -- just wanted to remind you of the fun giveaway I'm participating in this week.  Here's what you can win:
For starters we are handing out 180 dollars.
That's right - $180.
 Secondly, the winner will get to choose any pair of darling earrings from Emma & Sophia.
Yes please.

And thirdly, a Big Spender ad space on A Fresh Start on a Budget's blog.
Not too shabby.

Check out all of the sponsoring sites below and get entered!!

Linking up with Annie and Natalie for Thoughts for Thursday. 
Also linking to Jacqueline at Stylin in St. Louis.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Recipe Sharing

Tonight I'm headed to church for a women's club meeting.  Each month we gather to share good food and good thoughts.  Almost all the women in this group are older than I am -- many in their 70s and 80s.  They are a fun group to get to know and I walk away feeling energized.

Since I work during the day and will be headed to the meeting straight from there, the dish I take needs to be something I can whip up the night before.  This month I'm taking this Cookie Dough Dip I've had pinned on Pinterest for quite a while.

Cookie Dough Dip Recipe

Prep time
Total time
The most delicious recipe for cookie dough dip you've ever tasted.

Recipe type: Dessert, Appetizer
Serves: 12

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.
  3. Serve with graham crackers or apple wedges.
Do NOT use reduced fat cream cheese as it may cause your dip to have the wrong consistency.
Robyn wasn't joking when she said the prep time was 10 minutes.  And the taste test Eric and I did after making it was very favorable, too.  I'm sure this dish will be a hit at my meeting tonight! 
Linking up with:
Emily and Kate for Tuesday's Recipe Swap
Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen
Let's Be Friends Blog Hop with The Dwelling Tree and Southern Beauty Guide

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekending and a Giveaway

Monday is here already?!?  This weekend was a good blend of work and play.  It was hot folks.  I mean like heat index of 106 hot.  So the heat did help keep me inside and doing some chores I've been putting off for years quite a while.

Friday night I got the honor of helping a good friend babysit her three adorable grand daughters.  One of them is 3 and the twins are just a few months old.  It was so fun listening to the 3 year-old tell her stories while cuddling a baby!

Saturday I ran some errands and finally picked up the Sally Hansen nail gel (that doesn't require the light).  This stuff is supposed to stay on your nails for 2 weeks!  Painted my nails on Sunday so the clock is ticking -- we'll see how long it lasts.  Anyone else tried it?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish Duo

Sunday night we attended the Jeff Beck/ZZ Top concert and sat outside.  Thank goodness there was a great breeze blowing most of the time.  

Dusty Hill (left) and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top brought their Texas-boogie blues to an almost-full Starlight Theatre on Saturday.

And that puts us at Monday morning.  To start the week off right, I'm participating in a giveaway.  Who wants some cold, hard cash?!?  I'm teaming up with my blog friend Amy and below is her post on the giveaway.  Please join in and good luck!

We are making it rain up in here.
{Keep the real rain drops away, until the field is baled into hay. #farmproblems}

My truly lovely sponsors and I have some dope prizes to giveaway.
Any by dope, I mean sexy.
And by sexy, I mean ah-mazing!

For starters we are handing out 180 dolla-billz.
That's a lot of moola that I surely wouldn't turn my nose up to.

 Secondly, the winner will get to choose any pair of darling earrings from Emma & Sophia.
Yes please.

And thirdly, a Big Spender ad space on A Fresh Start on a Budget's blog.
Not too shabby.

Check out all of the darling gals below and get entered!!

Have a great week everyone! Linking up with Leann, Meghan, and Biana for some weekending fun.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five on Friday - August 22, 2014

This week has had an odd overtone for me.  I work in Ferguson, Missouri.  Yes, the same Ferguson you've been hearing about on the news where the protests have been happening for a double-digit number of days.  While I appreciate the right we have as Americans to voice our opinions, it greatly saddens me to see so many businesses being damaged and looted.

Glad to finish up the work week and head for the weekend.  Here's this week's installment of Five on Friday.

1.  Limoncello
I plan on whipping up a batch of limoncello this weekend.  As you can see from the recipe below, it takes several days for this concoction to brew -- but it's soooo worth it!  Thank you Debbie for sharing your recipe with me.
10 lemons
1 bottle vodka (750 ml)
3 ½ cups water
2 ¼ cups sugar

Remove the peel from the lemons (a vegetable peeler works well), using only the yellow peel, not the white pith. Pour vodka into a pitcher and add the peels. Cover and store at room temperature for 5 days. Dissolve sugar in water in a saucepan on the stove (medium heat). Cool and pour into vodka and lemon mixture. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight. Strain and discard lemon peels. Can be kept up to 1 month in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

2.  Closet Doors
I have a room dedicated to my crafting stuff.  I need an entire room because I have so much junk crafting supplies.  In the attempt to make the room bright and cheery, I decided to add a splash of color to my closet doors.  Simply cut foam board the size you need, cover with fabric (I wrapped it around the back and taped it), and hot glue to the closet doors.  Instant color!

3.  Free Printable Notecard
Check out this beauty!  Leo + Lamb is offering this download free until August 31.  You can personalize it to fit your needs and it's available here.  Hummmm, let me think -- do I know anyone getting married I could make some for??  Why, yes I do.  And you don't have to use this download on a bride because you can totally customize it to say anything you like (for example From The Desk Of {Fill in the Blank}).

4.  Steamer
This little baby has made my life so much easier!  Thanks to my wonderful daughter-in-law's suggestion, I obtained the My Little Steamer and haven't looked back.  This lightweight yet powerful 850-watt steamer uses plain tap water to deliver 15 minutes of steam time per filling. No more burning holes in my clothes -- and it's great to pack in the suitcase.  It's around $20 and you can pick one up here.

5.  Quote
Sometimes don't you just feel like this....
'I Am Trying to Be Awesome' Mug
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  I'm off to see ZZ Top and Jeff Beck on Sunday so check back Monday to hear all about it.
Joining the fun and linking up with Jennie, Lauren, Amanda, and Amy.

Zipping Up That Little Black Dress - By Yourself

Have you ever practically dislocated your shoulder trying to zip your dress all by yourself?  We have all probably, at one time or another, been standing by ourselves in our dress wondering how the heck we're going to get this thing zipped up.  Well, here's some pointers I found around the net.
I got this little tip from the Bookshelf Boyfriend blog.
zipping up a dress
This simple tip uses items you’ll have around and means you no longer need to strain your shoulders trying to zip up the back of your top or dress yourself (or rely on grabbing a passing stranger when there’s no one else no one else around to help you!).
Tools required: Large safety pin, length of ribbon/string approx 1m long
Difficulty rating: 2
Can be done by one person
Timescale: 2 minutes
Step 1: Tie one end of ribbon/string through the circular end of the safety pin, tying a knot to secure it in place
Step 2: Secure the safety pin through the hole in your zipper
Step 3: Put the dress on
Step 4: Hold onto the string and slowly pull it upwards – your zipper will zip itself completely up
Step 5: Reach behind the nape of your neck and undo the safety pin carefully and remove it from your dress
Another option would be the ZipHer found here.  It will run you around $20.  If you need a tutorial on how to use it, check out the below video.
Hope these pointers help you!  Don't let being alone stop you from putting on that cute dress and stepping out. 
Linking up with Annie and Natalie for more Thoughts for Thursday.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Five on Friday - August 15, 2014

1.  First Day of School
Many of you are having "first day of school" happenings in your house.  When Ian, my son, would return to school, it would always be a time of mixed emotions -- happy to get back in a routine and sad because we had to get back in a routine.  :)  I always had him stand on the stairs of our house and hold up fingers representing what grade he was going in.  Worked fairly well until he was a Junior in high school and he ran out of fingers to hold up!  The gals over at How Does She have some adorable free printables for your first day of school pictures.  Enjoy!  What kind of first day of school traditions do you have in your house?

Free printable first day of school signs

2.  New Purse
I have been OBSESSED with this purse!  I saw it in the store and it took every bit of will power I had to walk away without buying it.  We have a Michael Kors outlet not far from where we live, so I thought I should at least look there before paying full price.  Tonight some friends and I are going to the outlet mall to do a little retail therapy before dinner, so keep your fingers crossed for me that they will have one and by tomorrow it will be hanging off my shoulder.

3.  Drink of the Summer
This has been my go-to drink this summer -- Crystal Light Peach-Mango tea.  It's very refreshing and tastes fabulous.  The best part is the low calories.  Anyone else tried it?  

4.  Book Bingo
I ran across this book bingo idea on Retreat by Random House's webpage and thought it would be fun to show my book club at our next gathering.  The thought is we could play the reading bingo game with books we all read outside of our book club books.  Each month when we gather we could discuss who has been able to mark off squares, what book they choice to read and how close they are to getting a bingo.  I could put together some little surprise for the bingo winners.  Sounds like fun don't you think?!?


5.  Mango (not the fruit)
Downtown Restaurant Week  is happening in St. Louis through Sunday, August 17.  Monday night me and a friend tried one of the participating locations - Mango.  So glad we did!  The deal is you get three courses for $25.  We shared each of our courses to double our tasting experience.  I'm telling you, I'm now a fan of Peruvian cuisine.  Eric and I are going to try another location (Carmines Steakhouse) on Sunday night so I'll tell you about it next week.
                                                The MangoPeru Logo
Now let's get this weekend started!  Have a great one everybody.  Hope to see you back here next week.

Linking up to Jennie, Lauren, Amanda, and Amy for more Five on Friday action.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weekends Go Too Fast!

Weekends always seem to go by so fast!! This was a busy one and I had so much fun - and isn't that how weekends are supposed to be?!?

Friday night me and two of my friends headed to Verizon Amphitheater see the Chicago and REO Speedwagon concert.  FUN. TIMES.  I love going to concerts where you know the words to almost every single song they play.  And OMG! the people-watching was out of this world great.  Thanks Debbie and Jane for a fun Friday night.

Yes-those are jackets we have on in the middle of August in St. Louis.  Go figure.
Saturday brought the day we were going to a surprise 85th birthday celebration for my dear friend from church.  Look at her -- she's a beautiful lady inside and out.  At age 85, she has more energy and enthusiasm for life than most people I know.  She truly is an inspiration.  Her daughter, Robin, did a fantastic job putting the party for 125 people together from thousands of miles away.  Happy birthday, Bobbi!  Hope you have many more birthdays to come.
Bobbie is wonderful at sending cards and notes for many occasions.  Getting one of her touching hand written notes always makes me feel special -- most of them are so touching they bring a tear to my eye.  Even though the invitation to her party requested no gifts, I knew I wanted to make her a few handmade cards.  Below is a sampling of the cards I made for her.  For an added touch, I love to stamp a little something on the envelope.

Sunday Eric and I took advantage of him being off work to take in a movie -- we choose The Hundred-Foot Journey.  We both thoroughly enjoyed it!  The audience laughed out loud at several of the scenes.  Helen Mirren was fabulous and I would be surprised if she doesn't get an Oscar nod this year.  Have you seen this movie yet?  What are your thoughts?

It was a great weekend.  Next weekend Eric has to work both Saturday and Sunday so I'm glad we took full advantage of him being off this weekend.  Have a great week everyone!  I'll be posting more details on how to make the note cards shown above so check back this week for the full set of instructions.

Linking up to Leann, Biana and Meghan to share more weekending fun.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Five on Friday - August 8, 2014

Happy Friday everyone!  The first week of August is gone and summer continues to speed by.  Here's some of my favorites from this week.

1.  Salt and Smoke
Tuesday night I met my friend Sherri and had dinner at Salt and Smoke.  This Texas-style BBQ place is located in the hip Delmar Loop area of St.Louis and hosts a nice, relaxed vibe.  They offer over 100 different bourbons, craft and barrel aged cocktails and craft beer.  I had the brisket -- DELICIOUS!!  For a side I choose the white cheddar cracker mac and, needless to say, I did not have any leftovers.

2.  Eye Liner
I received a sample of Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner in my July Birchbox.  From the moment I used it, I FELL. IN. LOVE!  This pencil has a deep, rich color and slides on without tugging your eye.  The soft wax formula goes on smooth to create clean lines or can be smudged to smoky perfection.  It also has staying power -- it definitely holds up all day and night.   Quite the bargain for $11.      

                                       Main Image

3.  National Fresh Breath Day (August 6)
In celebration of National Fresh Breath Day this past Wednesday, I'd like to share the mints I keep on my desk.  As quoted from the side of the container, "Nice! Cinnamon Puffs are delightful treats with a cinnamon-fresh taste that will leave you wanting more.  With a cinnamon blast in each and every puff, the sky's the limit.  Enjoy these puffs before they go up, up and away!"  And I can attest to the fact they are pretty delightful.

4.  S'mores Dip
This recipe has been all over my Pinterest page lately so I decided to make it for a recent gathering at my house.  WINNER!!  It is truly so fast and so easy to make.  Here's the directions I used:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour a bag of chocolate chips in an oven-proof dish.  Put dish in oven for 3-5 minutes (chips should be soft).  Pull your dish out of the oven and top with mini-marshmallows. Put it back in the oven on broil until the marshmallows reach a golden brown (about 5 minutes).  Serve with graham crackers for dipping.

5.  Some days....


Have a great weekend everyone!  I'm off to a concert tonight with two friends and looking forward to spending some time with my husband on Saturday and Sunday.

Linking up with Jennie, Lauren, Amanda, and Amy for some more Friday fun.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Harry Potter Birthday Girl

Monday was my wonderful daughter-in-law's birthday.  Kayla turned 23 and her celebration included having a Harry Potter movie marathon over the weekend.  I wanted to uphold the Harry Potter theme on her cupcakes, so I purchased a downloadable file from Bonnie Le Page's Etsy shop.  In a matter of mere minutes, we had this creation.

Cupcakes toppers add so much charm to the otherwise plain cupcake.  This particular downloadable file includes 3 designs to use as cupcake toppers or as party tags and costs $4.50.  Each design measures 2.25 inches by 2.25 inches and is perfect to cut with a 2 inch paper punch.  There are literally a bazillion downloadable options on Etsy. You can search for downloadable cupcake toppers and find exactly what you need to make your celebration cupcakes wonderful.

Here's the step by step:
Print on card stock and cut the design with a 2 inch paper punch.

I use spray glue to spray the backs of the cut design.  To stop the over-spray, put your design in a cardboard box.  One thing to keep in mind if you are using the spray glue -- you need to wait 1 minute (a whole 60 seconds) before you attached the glue sprayed object to anything.  While you're waiting, this is the perfect time to cut your black circles for the back of the topper.

After your 60 second wait, attach the sprayed design to a bamboo fork.  Place the black circle on the other side.  Press together so the two pieces of paper stick together with your bamboo fork in the middle.

There you have it -- everything you need to know about making quick and easy cupcake toppers.

Oh, and by the way, I heard a great quote from one of the Harry Potter movies by Dumbledore:

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light." 

Happy birthday, Kayla!!  Hope you have a fantastic year and I'm excited to see what comes your way.

Linking up with Emily, Mandy, and Leslie for more crafting fun.  Also linking to Amanda at Serenity Now.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What A Weekend!

Is it Monday already!?!  I had an amazing weekend celebrating my friend Sharyn's 50th birthday.  Our friend Linda drove to St. Louis Saturday morning, picked Sharyn up and came to my house.   We immediately left to start our Fabulous 50 Day by heading to La Patisserie Chouquette for high tea. 

Yes, this place is as amazing as it looks.  I will forever be grateful to my friend Carol for introducing me to Chouquette.  Since the introduction, I try to go there whenever there's something fun to celebrate and have recommended it to several of my friends.  High tea is served at 11 am, 1 pm or 3 pm and reservations are required.  This was a great start to our day!

After leaving Chouquette, we made a couple stops for drinks.  The weather in St. Louis was exceptional so we were able to enjoy people watching outside while sipping some moonshine margaritas at the Moonshine Grill in the Central West End.

No - we weren't hungry, but the chips are SOOOO good!
We also made a stop at Hemingway's Zen Garden in O'fallon, Illinois to transition into drinking wine.

Then it was back to the house to get ready for the evening.  We headed to Modesto Tapas Bar and Restaurant for dinner.  Located on The Hill in St. Louis, you can order and share small plates.  It's a fun place to take friends, sit back and enjoy a pitcher (or two) of sangria while tasting their delicious samplings.  A special thanks to my husband, Eric, for being our designated driver.  He happily played chauffeur for us and we were extremely grateful.

Photo: Happy birthday to Sharyn Reynolds Lemmons!

Happy Birthday Sharyn!  Can't wait to celebrate your next big birthday.

Linking up with Biana and Meg to share some weekending fun.