So every year when December 31st comes around I make a list of habits I want to change, weight I want to lose, and pretty much telling myself I am going to be an all new person come the New Year. But like many of us, these resolutions hardly last through February and I’m back to old ways. 

When you tell yourself you are going to make major sudden changes, they are hard to achieve. And then when we don’t achieve them we feel like failures. So this year, be patient and understanding. Realize that there will be setbacks and off days. And you can’t change a lifestyle in the matter of days, weeks, and sometimes even months.

Here are a list of great and common New Year’s resolutions and tips on how to achieve them!

1. Get More Sleep

This one is a toughy for me! I always say I am going to get a better sleep routine but then I turn on Food Network or start cleaning the kitchen; then before you know it the clock reads 12:30a.m. The first step is realizing the importance of sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to illnesses and weakening the immune system. It can also make you appear worn-down, puffy, and even older than you really are! No one wants that. The best way to get more sleep is to start a routine (and stick to it!) Again, this is a lifestyle change. The more you stick to a routine the easier it will become. Also try to avoid caffeine as much as you can at least 3 hours before bedtime. I have a very low caffeine tolerance and I try to avoid caffeine altogether (But I know that is not even a consideration for a lot of people). One of the biggest things in achieving this goal is turning off all electronics! When you go on Facebook or other social media before bed it will stir up your brain activity. This will get you out of sleep-mode and make it nearly impossible to truly relax (especially if you see something you didn’t want to see or read). It has also been said that any type of light from electronics will mess up your sleeping patterns; even if you don’t think of it consciously! Lastly, some friends of mine suggested a tea called ‘Sleepy Time Tea’. I gave it a try and with a little bit of honey it’s actually not bad! They apparently drink it before bed every night and it helps with their sleep routines. If these methods do not work you can also see a doctor for medications and treatments.


2. Eat Healthier

I am guilty of the fast food and restaurant craze. If I could eat chicken fingers and fries for the rest of my life, I would be one happy girl! But fast food is filled with fat, sodium, cholesterol, and calories. A good way to start eating healthier is to start looking at labels. My friends always make fun of me because I always look at the labels on things and have zero hesitation saying the amount of calories per serving is in something. But I promise you, it pays off! Cooking at home is also a great way to start eating better. Go to the grocery store when you need things, plan out your meals ahead of time, and get fresh ingredients the night before or the day of. There are tons of apps and websites that can give you healthy and yummy recipes! And don’t forget to drink lots of water! It will not only help with how you look and feel, but will also make you fuller longer.


3. Try Something New

Everyone gets caught up in routine and it becomes harder to branch out and try new things. But it is possible to find time! The key to doing this is making it a priority. Try something that can be penciled in a specific time slot and can be put into your normal schedule. My mother joined a bowling league on Wednesday nights with a group of lady friends. It is easy for her to stick to it because it is the same time and place every week. Trying something that is more than a couple days a week can be daunting and stressful. So clubs and group events that meet one or two times a week are always good for these types of resolutions. You can try a yoga class, a book club, volunteer work, a volleyball league, or anything that interests you! If you Google your city there are usually lists of activities and classes in your area.  


4. Find More “You-Time”

This is one of the most important resolutions in my opinion! Come on, who doesn’t like to take a nice relaxing bubble bath or to dive into the latest novel from their favorite author? Then HELLO, do it! The best way to keep yourself happy and satisfied is taking care of your needs, wants, and the things that make you happy. Check out an earlier blog post for ideas on creating more “You-Time”.


5. Being a More Positive & Happy Person

We all know the dreaded phrase, “Stop being a Debby Downer!” I can’t lie, I have said it and it’s been said to me. The truth is that no-one likes to be around someone who is always complaining, sad, and sucking the life out of others around them. But we need to be realistic; we all have our down moments! Don’t feel bad when you just need to vent to a friend or be alone for awhile. This is more about being able to channel the feelings and communication so it does not make you come across in the wrong way with those around you. The best way to do this is checking yourself every once and awhile. Before you make a comment on how you are “so sick of going to that same old boring bar” or how you “can’t stand your co-workers”, ask yourself, are the consequences worth the venting. It is true that every action has a reaction and everything has a consequence. If you are constantly complaining to your friends about their ways of partying or socializing, they may begin to leave you out of plans. Or if the word gets out that you don’t like your co-workers you may have created an uncomfortable work environment for yourself and others.

Just remember it is always okay to say ‘No’. If you are feeling like you may be that dreaded ‘Debby Downer’ one night when your friends want to go out, just say you are going to have a night in and wish them a fun evening (and mean it!) A good way to cure the ‘venting-bug’ is to start a journal. Sometimes we just need to get our negative thoughts out of our heads to really move on and feel better. So just write them down on paper. Also, take the time to see the good in the little things you do and the others won’t seem so bad. Watch videos that make you laugh, take walks, exercise, and count your blessings! Positive thoughts equal positive outcomes.


6. Reach That Goal Weight

In my opinion this is one of the most popular resolutions and the most broken one! You know why? Because junk food is delicious, lounging around can feel great, and the majority of us love a good Happy Hour! Which is okay, but it has to be in moderation. The key to weight loss is realizing that this is a journey and not a destination. It is a total change in lifestyle! Even if you reach the number of pounds you wanted to lose, you need to continue to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain good habits. The best thing to remember is that it’s okay to have some cheat days and not to be so hard on yourself (it’s okay to have that cookie every so often, just don’t eat the whole box!) The best way to maintain a weight loss lifestyle is using resources. There are tons of apps and articles that give you different exercises, tips, and recipes. One of the best things I had during my weight loss a couple years back was my calorie counter app! It’s called ‘Lose It’ and you can track everything you ate that day and as well as your exercises. It goes by how many calories you need in order to reach your weight loss goals in a certain period of time, in a HEALTHY WAY! Always use friends and family for support; ask them to go on walks, have a nice dinner in, or join a workout class. And the last thing I can tell you, the scale is the devil! I stopped using mine. It’s not about the number, it’s about how you look and feel. I go by how my clothes fit, its way better than seeing that I gained 10 pounds on a silly scale.

What are your New Years resolutions? Tell me how they are going and if there is any way I can help you keep on track! You can also Tweet and Facebook me :) Good luck and happy 2013!

 
Who says you only have to wear a wedding dress once?! One of my great friends and I were doing a mock bride photoshoot for a project and then we decided to have a little fun around town (after she got over the shock of seeing herself in a full gown, veil, and jewelry!) I think that brides should actually do some of these after their big day. Why not have a little more fun in that gorgeous gown? Enjoy :)
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Dun, dun, dun. Here comes the veil!
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Simply gorgeous, isn't she?!
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GOTTA hit up 'Free Sample Saturday'!
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Uh oh, car "broke down"
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Even though it wasn't her real wedding day, she was a total show-stopper!
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Take pictures by random things that catch your eye! Yup, an old vintage truck in a junk yard. Turned out cute!
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Wouldn't that stink!
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Stop in for a quick one before the "reception". She got a free drink from a nice man at the bar (it was pretty humorous!)
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The second isle to walk down. Um, yum!
We had such a fun day and made some great memories! It's amazing how many people love to stare at a pretty lady in a wedding dress! Here are some other things you can do in your wedding dress on or after the big day (and bring friends to capture the hilarious and great moments):

-Go to a park and swing on the swings
-Go to the zoo (see if they have any shows going on and will let you interact with the animals)
-Trash it (if you're willing to let go of it). Jump in the lake, have a paint fight, play mud soccer/volleyball
-Walk your dog
-Take a ride in a convertible (make sure to practice that princess wave)
-Go to a casino
-Go horseback riding
-Walk around the city and take pictures with random people/statues
-Go to a concert
-Play laser-tag
-Go play in the balls at McDonald's PlayLand
-Go mini-golfing
-Wear sunglasses, mustache, sneakers, and a hat and walk down the street. Runaway bride!
-Sit at a bus stop and see how many honks and looks you can get
-Go to a pet shop and play with the puppies
-Go to a bar and tell made-up stories about an awful fake wedding experience (the ring-bearer dog pooping on his way down the isle? Haha)

Just let loose and have fun with it! :)
 
During the holidays, we finally get time to see friends and family! Here are some ladies night ideas that can make your get-together the best ever!

Swap not Shop
The holidays are always a time when our wallets are tight; but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to expand your wardrobe! Swap not Shop is all about trading. Have your ladies bring a bunch of clothes/shoes/accessories that they want to get rid of. Then have everyone put their things on display. Then it’s just like shopping! If you see something you like, see if the owner is willing to trade it for something in your pile. Mix in some snacks and cocktails and it’s the perfect girl’s night!


Pinterest Party
We all know we have a loaded ‘DIY Project’ board on Pinterest that hasn’t even been touched! Here is the perfect opportunity to get some of those projects crossed off your list. Have your guests bring supplies for one or two Pinterest projects they want to complete. Set up tables and have some basic supplies out for everyone to use (scissors, hot glue guns, paint brushes, finishing spray, etc). You can also have guests bring a dish they have pinned on Pinterest and have not tried yet! The host should also have some Pinterest cocktails to get the party going. Crafting, drinks, food, and friends? What could be better!?

 
365 Celebration
2012 is coming to a close and it’s time to look back on all of the good times and start the New Year off right! Here are some things you can do with your guests to celebrate:

-Wear your favorite outfit from 2012. We all know there are outfits we have worn that we absolutely ROCKED but did not dare to wear it twice (I mean pictures in the same outfit, never!) So this is the perfect opportunity to bust out that awesome outfit again and celebrate your amazing fashion-sense!
-Print off pictures of you and your friends from 2012 and have them on display. It will bring back a lot of great memories and a lot of stories!
-Make a 2012 playlist. Check the top charting songs from 2012 and make a mix CD. Everyone will know these songs and will have a great time singing and dancing along!
-Make a memory tree. Have everyone write their favorite memory on a piece of colored paper and have them hang it on a memory tree.
-Make 2013 Jars. Get a pack of mason jars ($10 for a pack of 10 at Wal-Mart) and supplies to decorate them. These jars will be used all throughout 2013. Whenever something good happens or something that person is thankful for, they write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Then in a year on New Years Eve, everyone opens their jar and reads all of the things they wrote. It’s the perfect way to bring smiles and memories from 2013.


Skate the Night Away
Have a ladies night to celebrate everything winter! Start the night off by going ice-skating at a local ice rink. A lot of outdoor rinks have really gorgeous lights and scenery and is a great way to get outside and have a picture-perfect setting. So make sure you bring your camera and wear your favorite winter hat and scarf! After skating head to someone’s house to warm up with some winter drinks! Hot Cocoa with Bailey’s Irish Crème or Dr McGillicuddy’s Peppermint Schnapps are great choices! Add some candy canes for a festive touch. Here are more holiday cocktails you can try.

 
Sometimes we all need a little inspiration!
Here are some beautiful Thanksgiving table settings I found:

 
It is becoming harder and harder these days to keep children believing in Santa Claus. But here are a few ways to keep Santa in their minds, as well as make this holiday season even more fulfilling for you and the young ones!
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Crepe paper the childrens' doors for Christmas so they have to bust out when they wake up. Santa’s elves did this to make sure they stayed in their rooms!


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Wrap chocolate chips with tin foil and make elf kisses! With a little note saying the elves told Santa to bring these for them.


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Make footprints for proof! You can make footprints by the fireplace, by the cookies, or even on the roof! The little ones will be super excited to see the footprint proof that Santa was at the house.


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Always make sure to leave out milk and cookies for Santa, but don’t forget about the reindeer and elves! Reindeer like carrots (easy). But for the elves, decorate cheerios to look like little elf donuts! Make sure to make it look like they ate some quickly and leave some crumbs and pieces.


.....Reindeer Cam is Santa’s official reindeer live feed that you can watch with the little ones!  Santa feeds them at 10:00 am and 5:00 pm every day live.
.....Have personal letters sent or phone calls from Santa! Here are a few websites that you can get letters and calls from Santa:
http://www.ezsantaletters.com/
http://www.santassleighphone.com/
http://www.dearsantaletters.com/
....Use this website to track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve! It’s a good way to show the kids they need to get to bed because Santa is coming: http://www.noradsanta.org/
.....Play the role! You need to be as excited as your children are on Christmas morning. Act surprised that the cookies and treats were eaten, that there are presents under the tree, and that there is proof he came to the house.
.....Make sure the kids are asleep! Before you start doing any of these things make sure that the kids are asleep. Kids don’t sleep very well on Christmas Eve because of their excitement; and some sneaky kids might come out from time to time to try and see Santa. So make sure to go in their room and make sure they are in a nice deep sleep! And if you do get caught, make sure to have a backup plan and explanation. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!
 
I’m going to keep this short and simple: you’re bored, and I’m going to fix it! Here is a list of things you can do to beat that Bored-Bug…

1. Have a pay-it-forward day. Take sidewalk chalk and write something encouraging on the sidewalk at multiple locations

2. Make a memory box. Organize all of those old pictures, trinkets, concert tickets, and memories in one place! Decorate a box and voila. It will be fun to open years down the road.
 
3. Pitch a tent in the house. Yup, we are going back to childhood! Invite a friend or your significant other over and have them enjoy it with you.

4. Laugh. Go to this website, it will keep you entertained for hours!

5. Pinterest Project. Time to knock one of those projects off of your ‘DIY Board’!

6. Take a walk. Leave your phone at home but take your camera. You will be surprised how many beautiful things you notice when you’re not connected to technology.

7. Chalk your hair. If you’re feeling a change and a little gutsy, try it!

8. Bake. This website has hundreds of cupcake recipes!

9. Organize. Go through that ‘junk drawer’ or your closet. You will be surprised at the things you forgot you even had!

10. Tinfoil Sculptures. My sister used to make these; she actually made an adorable elephant for me once!

11. Book It and Cook It. Get all of your favorite recipes off of Pinterest and from family and friends, then start making your own cook book! A binder and page sleeves work just fine.

12. Write what you like. Write a list of reasons you like someone and give it to them, it will make their day!

13. Refurbish your clothes. Find fun ways to spice up your old clothes, cutting, adding gems, adding flowers. Here’s a cool idea I found.

14. Make a smile board. Take pictures from magazines, cute animal pictures, print out quotes, print your own pictures, use old movie ticket stubs, take anything that makes you smile and pin them on a cork board and hang it in your room. Wake up and smile every day!

15. Hang out with older people. They have great stories and sometimes need the company.

16. Pamper. Give yourself a day of cheap pampering. Take a bath, do your nails, soak your whole body in lotion, do an at home deep conditioning hair treatment, make a face mask, and just relax!

17. It’s t-shirt time! Decorate a plain white t-shirt.

18. Go bowling.

19. Find a picture in the clouds. Lie on the grass and see what shapes the clouds make, I always used to see a puppy!

20. Pull a harmless prank. Glue money to the ground and hide somewhere and watch how many people try and pick it up!

21. Learn sign language. It would be a cool thing to know!

22. Go down memory lane. Take out your old yearbooks. It will be a great laugh and nice to read all of the comments people wrote!

23. Make finger people. Draw faces and props on your fingers and take pictures!

24. Surf for cool websites. This website has a list of the 101 most useful websites!

25. Make a Marshmellow Popper. Make this simple marshmellow popper and try and shoot them up in the air and catch them in your mouth!

26. Learn to draw. Search YouTube for drawing tutorials! There are tons of free ones that give you step-by-step instructions.

27. Do this 10-minute workout. This is an awesome workout and it's quick, but you will feel it later!
 
28. Make a Harry Potter wand. Even if you aren't into Harry Potter, this is a pretty cool tutorial, try it!

29. Decorate wine glasses. Get a head start on your next ladies night. Paint the bottoms with chalkboard paint, paint the bottoms with glitter paint, use paint markers, anything to spice up a drink with the girls!
 
30. Make giant marbles. This is a pretty cool tutorial! Make your own giant frozen marbles!

 
Well look who’s legal! A lot of my friends have been turning the big 2-1 in the past few years and I know finding unique gifts can be difficult. So I decided step away from the Spencer’s Gifts route and try to be a little more creative! Here are some DIY projects that I have come up with that are more out-of-the-box!

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DIY Martini Candles
These are very easy to make!
You will need:
-Meltable candle wax (Michael’s)
-Meltable wax colors
-Candle Wicks (Michael’s)
-Martini Glass
-Paint & Decorations

The first things you need to do are paint and decorate your martini glass! Paint the bottom, add gems, use glitter, the sky is the limit! Next, you glue the wick to the bottom of the martini glass. There is a small metal disk that holds the wick, which makes it very easy to hot glue the wick to the glass. Next, melt the wax (directions on the package). Then mix in the wax color you desire (this will be the color of the actual drink part). Then, pour the wax into the glass evenly around the wick. I used a funnel to make sure wax doesn’t get all over the sides. Then you simply let the wax harden and that is it! I also ground up some extra hardened wax and glued it to the rim as drinking salts and carved a lime of of a green candle!  


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Beer and Booze Cake
What person turning 21 wouldn’t want this?!
You will need:
-Their Favorite Beer (in cans)
-Their Favorite Liquor (in mini bottles)
-Cake Circles for Stacking (Michael’s)
-Wooden Rods (Michael’s)
-Colored Ribbon (Michael's)
-Gift Bows (Dollar Store)

The first thing you need to do is glue the ribbon to the wooden rods. Then, you glue the mini liquor bottles to the ends of the rods (I use a hot glue gun for all of this). Then you stack the beer cans onto the circles just like you would cake tiers. Use the ribbon to hold the beer into place, and glue one end of the ribbon to the other end. Then, glue on gift bows. I also used a big bottle of Corona in the middle to give it more shape, but you don’t need that if you don’t want to! Finally, I stuck the rods between some of the cans to make them stick out and resemble big candles. And that’s it! A lot less messy than actually baking a cake!


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Glitter Bottle
This is one of the cheapest cute gifts ever!
You will need:
-An empty wine cooler or beer bottle
-Martha Stewart Glitter Paint (Michael’s)
-Ribbon (Michael’s)
-Gems (Michael’s)

The first thing you need to do is clean the bottle. Make sure to get all of the liquid contents out and scrub the labels off the outside. Then, apply the first layer of glitter paint. You can also mix Modge Podge with glitter and go that route also. Wait for the layer to dry, and then apply another layer. Continue this process until the bottle is covered in glitter! Once the glitter is dry, then start applying the ribbons and decorations (I used the hot glue gun and made my own little ribbon!) Then you are finished!


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21st B-Day: Night & Next Morning Survival Kit
This is more of a gag gift, and is just all in fun!
You will need:
-An Empty Box
-A Shot Glass
-Mini Bottles of Booze
-“I’m 21” Button or Sash
-A “If Lost & Found Call xxx-xxx-xxxx” Sticker
-Band-Aids
-A Mini Bag of Pretzels/Snack
-Sleep Eye Mask
-A Water Bottle  
-Mini Tube/Box of Tylenol or Advil
                                                                   -A Cheap Pregnancy Test 
                                                                   -Bloody Mary Mix
                                                                   - $5 Mcdonald’s Gift Card

This gift is more about the shopping part! You can get a lot of these things at Wal-Mart or a Dollar Store. The main thing is decorating the box. A good idea would be to wrap it in gift wrap and have a sign on top that reads “21st Birthday: Night & Next Morning Survival Kit”.  Then just put the contents in the box and let the fun begin!


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21st Birthday Stumbling Girl Cake
 I made this for my friend’s 21st and love how it turned out!
You will need:
-Cake Mix
-Frosting
-A Barbie or Flexible Doll
-Barbie/Doll Drinks/Bottles
-Liquor “Labels” (I used little magazine advertisements)
-Wooden Rod
-Hot Glue Gun

First, make and frost the cake. Once the cake is secure on a transportable surface, get the doll and props ready. I found some Barbie grocery accessories that had a few bottles in them (I just simply peeled off the original labels). I then used the Skyy and Budweiser logos I found in magazines and glued them onto the bottles. Then, mess up the dolls hair and mess up her clothing a bit. I glued the clothing onto her shoulders and such so it all stayed in place. Then glue the doll to the wooden rod. Then, stick the rod into the cake until it stays in place. Then just place the bottles and props (like a falling off shoe or purse) onto the cake. Then just decorate as desired and enjoy!


Remember to always drink responsibly and only purchase the materials that contain alcohol if you are 21 or older! :)

 
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Ever feel like you’re 22 going on 60? Because lately things have been so hectic and crazy that I feel so mentally and physically exhausted! And I know that's true for a lot of my friends as well. My friends and I call each other grandmas because when all the under-classmen are out partying, we are hittin’ the hay because we have so much to do in the morning! 


But have no fear, your fountain of mental youth is here! I finally found the secret to get myself feeling grounded again. And that was to create time in each day that I like to call “Me Time.”

"Me Time" is just what is says, doing things that are FOR YOU! Find things you like to do and start doing them more often. It's all about doing little things that distract you from your daily routine. Here is a list of things that you can do during your “Me Time” that will make you feel less stressed, fulfilled, and finally make you feel a little more in control of your time!

  1. Buy a dollar store coloring book and get your color on! You don’t even have to stay in the lines (living on the edge, I know!)
  2. Make yourself a craft corner and devote an hour to it! (See my DIY page for ideas!)
  3. Look up a new crazy cupcake recipe and bake a yummy surprise for friends and family. (Maple and Bacon Cupcake?)
  4. Go to Barnes and Noble and read in their comfy chairs. And every time you go just pick up where you left off the last time!
  5. Grab your camera. Go outside and snap away! You will really see all the beauty around you that you may have missed before.
  6. Go for a walk. Put in your headphones and just enjoy the view and smells of the outdoors.
  7. Turn off your cell phone and computer! Just having some time away from the rest of the world can be very calming and powerful.
  8. Tune into your favorite show. I love nothing more than taking an hour or so and indulging in the Food Network!
  9. Make lists. I don’t know what it is about lists but I LOVE making them! Don’t make the traditional “To Do List” or things that make you feel like you need to get productive and cause stress. Try a “Christmas Gift Ideas List” or “A Fall Fun List”.
  10. Make an oldies CD. This will be the perfect thing to put in your car the next time you need to head to class or work, instant pick-me-up! (Can you say Spice Girls?)
  11. Start a scrapbook. We all have so many pictures online but they just stay there! It’s time to print off those photos and put them in one place. You can work on this a little bit each day and have great nostalgia along the way!
  12. Go window shopping. It can be very relaxing just getting out of the house and looking at new things. And the mall is always so pretty around the Holidays!
  13. Change it up! Changing up your look can be a great way to start fresh! There are tons of hair chalking tutorials, new makeup techniques, and more online that will make you feel brand new!
  14. Make a Happiness Jar. Write things on a piece of paper that make you smile. It can be quotes, memories, lyrics, photos, or anything you want…it’s YOUR happiness jar!
  15. Volunteer. Find a local humane society or place your can lend an hour or so a couple times a week. There is nothing like giving to others to feel more fulfilled!
Another good thing to help with stress is working out! Devote some "Me Time" to the gym! But I really can’t stress enough the importance of “Me Time!” For years I had forgotten to give myself the time I needed. I started to lose who I really was, and no one should EVER feel that way. Now go have some “Me Time” and get feeling good again!


 
What to be, what to be, that is the question! With all of the eye-popping DIY Halloween Costumes flooding the internet lately it was really hard to choose what to be this year. But after digging deep (okay not that deep) it was obvious what I needed to be, a Despicable Me minion! 

Even though making a costume can rattle your wallet just as much as a store-bought costume, making it yourself is so much more fun and fulfilling!

Here’s what I used to transform myself into a cute little minion:

1. Overalls $30 Farm & Fleet
2. White knit hat $1.50 Wal-Mart
3. Yellow dye for hat $2.99 Hobby Lobby
4. Pack of black pipe-cleaners for hair $.77 Wal-Mart
5. Colored felt for face $.29 a sheet Wal-Mart
6. Yellow T-shirt $6.99 Kohl's
7. 2-pack black gloves $2.99 Wal-Mart
 
I  already had a hot glue gun at home, so after cutting and getting all my hat pieces ready, the finished costume was only a few finger burns and dabs of glue away!

So if you still have some Halloween parties to attend, or you want to start planning for next year, I say DIY is the way to go! It’s all about making memories. Happy crafting!