Starbucks 2014 Happy Hour Edition (May 1-10, 2014 from 3-5 pm)

Starbucks Happy Hour is back for Half off Frappuccino blended beverages from May 1-10, 2014 from 3-5 pm.  Woohoo!  I’m definitely behind the times promoting this awesome special due to the busyness of my life of late (re: an exciting new car purchase and some vacation time largely without internet), so my apologies to all the people who have scrolled through my old Happy Hour blog posts trying to figure out the date for the Starbucks 2014 Happy Hour Frappuccino special.

But an exciting new twist this year is for My Starbucks Rewards Members!  If you are a My Starbucks Rewards Member, then you can get an extra hour of Frappuccino Half off Happy Hour from 5-6 pm during May 6-10, 2014.  This is great for working people who would largely miss this amazing promotion if not for the extra hour.  Since I am a big fan of Starbucks, especially of their frappuccino blended drinks,  I have a Starbucks gold card, but you can also register ANY Starbucks gift card that you have and become a My Starbucks Rewards member.  Then you can use the gift card (and reload it) and receive the aforementioned special during the alloted time period.  Please see the Starbucks website for Starbucks Rewards member information for this free program which has some cool perks, or if you want any other info about the Half off Happy Hour for Frappuccinos.  Enjoy!

http://www.starbucks.com/

 

 

 

Week in Review: Fab Lab visit, Kickball game, and an Amazing Omelet!

This past week was a unique one in ways which were fun.  On Palm Sunday I visited the C-U Community Fab Lab, which may perhaps fly under the radar as an innovative place to visit and merge technology and your creative side.  It’s a free community place where you can utilize a laser and an open source computer program to create your own key chain, make a magnet, or do more intensive things such as 3D printing and creation of your own designs.  It appeals to various ages, and while the young boy next to me seemed to do slightly better with his project than I did, with the help of three awesome volunteers I was able to solve some issues I was having and emerged victorious with a pretty blue heart key chain with my initial inside that I created.  I even got a pretty purple key ring to go with it!  See my photo below and the website links (including Flickr group for project ideas) if you are interested in learning more about the Fab Lab +/or visiting.

http://cucfablab.org/book/about-us

https://www.flickr.com/groups/1847246@N22/pool

Heart Keychain that I made at the Fab Lab!  (Photo and design by Julie A. Smith)

Heart Key chain that I made at the Fab Lab! (Photo and design by Julie A. Smith)

Next was an amazing omelet that I made heavy on the cheese which turned out good.  I’m not Betty Crocker or Rachel Ray, but that’s ok.  I get excited when I cook something and it turns out well, because my forte is in areas other than cooking.  So I was definitely proud of my omelet!  Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo to illustrate, because I ate the omelet exceedingly fast and was not thinking of photo-journaling.

Finally was the fun kickball game that was competitive and took me back to childhood.  It was between my small group and another small group from my church (note: our huge small group had actually split several months ago into 2 groups due to our size, but we still regularly get together for social outings).  Honestly, I don’t think I have played kickball since grade school, and I found my self asking questions as the game went on, such as “do you have to wait till the ball is kicked before you run from your base?”  However, unfortunately, I got out immediately three times when I kicked.  My balls always seemed to fly high, and the other team were stars at catching them.  My team was great at that, too, but we were vastly outnumbered, and I think that made a difference in our loss.  But fun was had by all it seemed, and I was happy that ONE TIME I ACTUALLY GOT ON BASE!  I DIDN”T EVEN GET OUT UNTIL RUNNING TO THIRD BASE!  I have always appreciated the saying, “it is not whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game.”  It was a ton of fun.  See photos below to illustrate.

Small group Kickball! (My team)

Small group Kickball! Fun times! (My team)

 

Kate and me (Small group Kickball)!

Kate and me (Small group Kickball)!

 

Our tough picture! (Small group Kickball! My team)

Our tough picture! (Small group Kickball! My team)

Finally, while there were some not fun issues to the week (re: multiple doctor’s visits & health issues, etcetera),  but the week was good overall.  Now I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday and my Dad visiting.  We’ll get to attend church together and have quality father-daughter time.  Sweet!

Inspiring Thoughts on Confidence by Joyce Meyer

I read an inspiring daily devotional from Joyce Meyer today about confidence.  Here is an excerpt that particularly stood out to me and was helpful:

What is confidence? I believe confidence is all about being positive concerning what you can do and not worrying over what you can’t do. Confident people do not concentrate on their weaknesses; they develop and maximize their strengths.

Let’s say you are not a “numbers” kind of person. On a scale of 1 to 10, you might be a 3. You could obsess about your inability to “do the math.” You could buy Math for Dummies and take a class at the community college. But your math obsession could eat up time that could be devoted to stuff you’re an 8 or a 10 at—like teaching God’s Word, creative writing, or rallying support for charity. In other words, you might rob time and effort from the 10s in your life just to bring a lowly 3 up to a mediocre 5. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see where you need to invest your efforts.  (Quote by Joyce Meyer from her online daily devotional 4/2/14, http://www.joycemeyer.org/Articles/Devotional.aspx)

Birthday Blues (but gotta stay positive!)

Birthdays are super special to me. When I was young, I remember having a big birthday bowling party for seventh grade. Plus, there were the birthdays where I had a party at the local Chuck E. Cheese or did other fun stuff. For my 17th birthday (shared of course with my twin sister), we had a huge house party (minus the alcohol). It was a fun mixer of friends across several schools. While our school was closed due to a big snowstorm, our party was still on. Ah, the perils of early February birthdays- you kind of never know with the weather what will happen.

Right now I am on the brink of my early February birthday. While I always enjoy my birthday, the last few years it has been harder due to reconciling of my age, where I thought I would be, and dreams that have never come to pass and seem to be losing their sparkle (a.k.a titling this blog “Birthday Blues”). I find myself needing to be careful not to walk in self-pity. Plus, sometimes life’s disappointments can get me down, but I realize life has a way of combining the good with the bad, and I need to try to embrace the good and sift away the bad. Easier said then done, tis true. I often find tremendous encouragement from music, and right now I am listening to my favorite artist, Jeremy Camp, who always lifts me up emotionally and spiritually. My brother bought me Jeremy’s new “Reckless” cd from 2013, and I like this line from his “Paradise” song: “Don’t let this life take hold of my desires. And I won’t give up the fight.”

Last year, half of my friends cancelled the day of my birthday party, which was hard emotionally. They all had good reasons, but it felt like they let me down. Maybe I wouldn’t have thought that if I wouldn’t have noticed how one of my friends did 2 other activities that same day but said she was sick and had to miss my party, or how some friends are so busy that it can take months to connect in person, and I hoped my birthday was at least an “unmissable time.” I am definitely not high maintenance with friends, and myself and many of my friends are quite independent, but still, it is nice to keep up with friends, as well as connect on special occasions like birthdays.

This year, rather than having the anxiety of planning my own party again, I decided that I want to have one on one time with my good friends and get to do my favorite things, like going to Starbucks and one of my favorite affordable restaurants (that has cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory- gotta love it!). This way I can be flexible with my friends busy schedules and get to do more things, so that is a definite win-win. Also, I am excited that my small group leader was interested in organizing a birthday bowling party for me, because we sometimes celebrate birthdays in small group. That is such a blessing, and I will even get to break out my bowling shoes that I own. Woohoo!

Cocoa and a Blog

About 15 people were coming and going outside my apartment complex late this afternoon while I was scraping off my car after a huge winter storm that seemed to dump about 12- 16 inches of snow on my area (central Illinois).  I saw people driving by in cars, a guy walking a cute poodle in a pink sweater, a yellow taxicab, a man taking out the trash, and a guy in glasses but no hat or sweater (which would be quite cold).  I had been wondering how the world was coping with the winter storm that affected so many states in the U.S., causing what seemed like the world to stop.  Today, a plethora of schools and businesses were closed in my area, as well as a long list of churches yesterday, including the two I attend.  Since I had been snowbound in my apartment all day Sunday, as well as sick on Saturday, I actually hadn’t been outside of my apartment since I got home from work this past Friday.  Since surprisingly my boss actually closed the main office that I work at, my adventure as a hermit continued today….and I must say that I am so grateful for electricity, heat, and Netflix.

Now I am inside my apartment enjoying some warm cocoa and writing this blog.  The day has flown.  Winter is most assuredly upon us.  The snow is pure and white.  It is a new year, and I have hope for this new year to be beautiful.

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DIY- Snowman (463 pins and counting on Pinterest)

DIY- Snowman (Photo credit: Julie A. Smith)

DIY- Snowman (Photo credit: Julie A. Smith)

My most popular post on my Pinterest account by far has been an original pin that I posted of a Do It Yourself Snowman project. There have been 463 re-pins and 70 likes on Pinterest since I posted the DIY- Snowman pin a year ago. The project is really cute and easy to make. You use a bar of soap as a base and wrap it with a white hand towel. Next, you use black felt for a hat, add a scarf, and add buttons on the snowman’s body (which you can’t see in the picture) and add buttons for his eyes and nose. My co-worker made this Snowman for me last Christmas as a Christmas gift using the idea she saw at a local craft show.

Here is the Pinterest pin original link:
http://pinterest.com/pin/526850856377914788/

Pinterest logo

Pinterest logo (Wikipedia)