~20~ Blogger Behind The Screen (Part 2)

A few weeks ago, I started to interject some posts about me amidst the crafting posts. If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.

Lake Harriet & the Bandshell
As you might remember from my first "Blogger behind the screen" post, I grew up in Minneapolis, MN.  And when I say that, I really and truly mean the city of Minneapolis, and not a suburb (like Edina, Fridley, Chaska, Burnsville, Woodbury).   I may be a little bit biased, but I honestly think that Minneapolis is one of the best cities to live in.  I love everything about it: the lakes, the parks, the lakes, the restaurants, the lakes, the theater and the arts, oh-and did I mention the lakes?  Some of my fondest memories growing up occurred at or around the lakes.  The house that I grew up in was only about a mile from Lake Harriet and every summer, my dad and I would go for bike rides around the lake together.  Summers were also spent down at the lake where we'd go swimming, visit the gnome who lived in the tree by the outhouses-leave him a letter and come back a few weeks later to see if he'd written back, buy ice cream cones at the bandshell and listen to live, free concerts.  And of course, we'd ride the trolley, one of the old historical street cars that would run throughout Minneapolis back in the day.  When Jake and I got engaged and were planning our wedding, I knew that I wanted to make Lake Harriet a part of our day-and be able to show our out-of-town friends why I love my hometown so much.  As it would happen, some of my favorite pictures from our wedding were taken at the lake.
Wedding Party Picture on the Trolley

Aside from the lakes and the great parks that Minneapolis has to offer, they also have a great art scene.  Love and support for the arts is very evident in Minneapolis culture, and I'm extremely grateful to have been exposed to and influenced by this!  In Minneapolis, public schools are organized by magnets in which each school specializes in a certain educational philosophy or program.  From kindergarten through 3rd grade, I attended an International Fine Arts magnet school, that emphasized language, music, dance, and theater.  Starting in 1st grade, all students are required to learn how to play a stringed instrument.  My instrument of choice: the violin. (weird, an Asian playing the violin, I know).  This little nuance of the school however, led me to continue playing the violin into my adult life.  Shortly after I started playing the violin at school, my parents enrolled me in private lessons, which led me to play in a city-wide, reputable orchestra, to receiving a music scholarship in college, and now playing as a member of an amateur adult orchestra in Iowa.   In addition to playing the violin, I also dabbled in piano, ballet, and was given a lot of exposure to great theater.  In high school, a city-wide program gave me the opportunity to attend several high quality, professional play performances at well known theater companies such as The Guthrie Theater, Theater in the Round, and The Jungle Theater for free with family and friends.  I honestly believe that had I not grown up in Minneapolis, I would not have the fortitude and fondness for arts that I do today.

Minneapolis is such a beautiful city that offers so much to anyone and everyone.  It is so much more than just the Mall of America, funny accents, and cold winters.  Minneapolis boasts diversity, Minnesota nice, architecture, a large business hub (did you know we're home to Target, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills, Gold Medal Flour, Kelloggs, and several other HUGE national companies??), and of course, we cannot forget, stunning nature.  Minneapolis is home.  It always has been and always will be for me.  One of my absolute favorite things is when I drive home from IA and come up over the hill on I-35 and see downtown Minneapolis all lit up.  It's then that I know I'm home.


~19~My Favorite Things v.2.22

I swear, ever since I started to do "My Favorite Things" series, Wednesdays have this habit of sneaking up on me!  With conferences wrapped up at one school and getting ready to start at the other, I've been a little crazy lately and haven't had a lot of time to craft aside from my Valentine's Day projects.  I'll admit that this week, it's been a bit hard for me to come up with something for this post, so I'm going to change some things up a little bit and write about some non-craft related things that I love.

For a long time standing, one of my absolutely favorite things is a good sale.  You might remember my very first "Favorite Things" installment, and my JoAnn's card-and have a small understanding of how much I love to save money.  I honestly have a really hard time staying away from them!  Last Friday, my favorite pair of jeans broke on me.  Literally.  Luckily, they didn't rip (that would have just shattered my self-image right now), but rather, the button fell out.  That's right. It fell out.

So as a result, I  had an excuse was forced to go buy new jeans.  Due to my larger than waist thighs, I have a hard time finding jeans that fit appropriately to where I don't simultaneously look like I have elephant legs while my jeans are falling down.  Add on top of that my need for short pants-since I'm only 4'11 AND 3/4".  Fortunately, I have been able to find jeans at Express that actually fit my body well.  And the timing couldn't be more perfect since Express was holding a buy 1 get 1 50% off anything and you could mix and match items.  On top of that, I had just received 2 Express coupons in the mail that week.  I'm pretty sure that was a message coming over loud and clear, "Maggie-you need to go shopping!"

So, Saturday I hopped over to Express and got 2 new pairs of jeans, a dress, and a pair of earrings for…………………..$150.  My 2 pairs of jeans should have cost more than that, so I basically got a free dress and pair of earrings.  Can't complain with that!  After a great shopping trip, I can see how people actually become addicted to shopping.  I was definitely feeling the high!


What's your favorite thing(s) this week?

Happy Hump Day!
Until next time, 


~18~ I Love you, I Love you more

Each night, Jake and I always say goodnight to each other by saying, "I Love You" and the other one saying, "I Love You More". (This being a shortened version of when we say: I love you, I love you more, I love you more than most, I love you most of all")  I love this little ritual and for Christmas this year, I asked for and got a necklace with that phrase engraved over and over on a Mobius Strip (which also appeals to the math nerd in me).  For those who don't know, a Mobius strip is a mathematical concept of a strip that has one single twist in it and then the ends are connected to form a circle-like shape.  The neat thing about it is that you can start at one point, traverse the entire surface (both sides) of the strip, and return to the starting spot. The inside of the strip becomes the outside, and the outside then returns to the inside.  I personally think it's even cooler than an infinity symbol.

While Jake and I celebrate our love everyday, we still like to do something a little extra special together and for each other on Valentine's Day.  This year, with it falling on a Tuesday, it made it a little harder since I usually have obligations after work M-Th.  I didn't need/expect any gifts from my beloved this year, but I knew I wanted to get him something.  After wandering around Scheels for a little bit, I found the perfect gift.  Now it's no surprise here that Jake loves the Vikings, and so a Coach's Vikings jacket was a very appropriate choice.  I was so excited to give it to him along with my "Prince Charming" card that I made!


My sweetie wasn't without surprises himself.  I got a call around 4 that day from my school secretary saying that I had a package waiting for me and that it was marked perishable, so I better come get it.  (I hadn't been at my building that day because I was an all-day district meeting).  Excited, I headed over to pick up and found a dozen HUGE chocolate covered strawberries! Do I have an amazing husband or what?!?  Because I had orchestra that night, and Jake wasn't feeling well, we decided to postpone our evening plans and make up for it on the weekend.  Instead, we enjoyed each others company, played a little Jeopardy (along with the contestants on the show) and had some great take out from Jethros.  Honestly, it really doesn't get better than that!

Now, Valentine's Day just wouldn't be Valentine's Day without a little crafting, and this year was no exception.  Jake's work was doing a little party and card exchange, so I agreed to create some treats and cards for him to bring.  I've been wanting to continue perfecting my cake pop techniques, so I made heart shaped ones from Strawberry cake and various colored candy coating-resembling the conversation hearts candy we all know and love.  To make the heart shapes, I used a small heart-shaped cookie cutter.  First I rolled the cake "dough" into a large ball and then flattened it out until it was about 3/4"-1" thick, then cut it with the cookie cutter.  Initially, this proved to be harder and more frustrating than the football cake pops I made a couple weeks ago.  The hearts were a lot more top heavy, so when I went to dip them, the weight of the heart along with the candy coating caused them to fall apart.  I had to throw away quite a few of them.  I soon enough realized that instead of dipping them, if I tilted the coffee mug full of melted candy coating on it's side, I could hold the cake pop horizontally to dip and then flip it to the other side to coat it completely instead of dipping it vertically.  Worked like a charm and I ended up with 40 beautiful hearts! Unfortunately, the Wilton edible writers totally STINK!  They did not work at all.  I was pretty disappointed because it prevented me from fully carrying out my creative vision.  However, I still think that they turned out pretty darn cute.

To package them, I put about 1/2 in the same styrofoam block I used for the football ones, except covered it in red paper this time, for Jake to take to work with him.  The other 1/2 I put into small cellophane bags in bunches of 3 and tied them with a silver twist tie for me to bring to work.  Cake pop batch #2=success.
Finally, I made 12 Valentine's Day cards for Jake to bring for his co-workers and ended with some that I really liked.  These were my favorites.

This Sunday, my Valentine and I are planning on going to dinner at Red Lobster (I've never been!) using some gift cards we got as a wedding gift-Thanks Uncle Johnny!-and then going to see the movie, "The Vow."  Should be a great way to end our weekend!


~17~ My Favorite Things v.2.15

This might seem like an odd thing to say, but I love paper! Patterned paper that is.  I honestly never thought it would be possible to enjoy buying stacks of paper so much.  I have so much now, that I am running out of places to keep it all.  Most of my paper I buy in themed books, or stacks as they are called. Lately, my favorite one is the Whimsy Stack.  The patterns are just pretty and definitely appeal to my girly side.

I also really like how versatile this stack is.  I've used it for birthday cards, wedding cards, thank you cards, and the like.  And in fact, the background image on my Bake Me A Craft logo is taken from the Whimsy Stack.  

Crafting Tip #4: While you can use a coupon buy your stack ($19.99 retail), JoAnn's frequently has their paper stacks marked as 40% off.  I always buy mine when they are on sale and save my coupons for something else that hardly ever on sale. 

Crafting Tip #5: You can also buy smaller versions of most stacks, if you don't think you'll need/use full 12"x12" sheets.  They come in 6"x6" and 5"x7" books as well. 

I have a Valentine's Day post coming up soon, 
so until then-


~16~Blogger Behind the Screen (Part 1)

Now that we're 15 posts in, I thought it might be time to have an interlude from all of the crafting and tell you a little more about the blogger behind the screen: Me!  And of course, what better place to start than the very beginning.  Now in general I would say that I live a pretty boring and average life.  Nothing all that exciting or out of the ordinary happens to me.  However, I do have one noteworthy story; and I'm talking the kind of story that is 1 in a million and would get you on reality T.V. shows like Amazing Race and Survivor, just because it's so amazing! (Ok, time for me to go eat some humble pie.)

My Family
When I was just over 4 months old, I was adopted from a small province in South Korea by 2 loving Minnesotans who like any new parents, were very excited to be bringing home a baby girl.  Unexpectedly though, I arrived 2 months early.  I was originally supposed to arrive in October, but a baby slotted to be in the cohort of August adoptees got sick and I got his/her spot.  My mom got the call letting them know I was on my way just 2 DAYS before my arrival.  I landed in Minneapolis on August 8, 1985, welcomed by a very eager family.

Fast forward 3 years.  Like many toddler girls, I was enrolled in a local pre-school gymnastics class.  Among the other girls was another cute little asian girl, named Lauren, who also had a caucasian mom.  Moms being moms, they asked each other what nationality their girls were and found out that both of us were adopted from South Korea.  In my family, adoption day is equivalent to a birthday, so naturally that realization lead to my mom asking when Lauren's adoption day was.  Amazingly, it was also August 8, 1985!!  Now adoption flights aren't exactly a dime a dozen, so it is safe to say that we had arrived not only on the same day, but on the same plane. (This was later proved using family video footage of the arrival at the airport as well as pictures)

And it doesn't end there!  Many people of Scandinavian descent have a skin condition called Vitiligo, in which pigment in the skin is lost.   Both my mom and Lauren's mom have Vitiligo on their hands, which they noticed, but brushed off, chalking it up to being a common trait of their heritage.  The final piece to this story, is when Lauren's mom saw my mom's maiden name (which isn't common) on her checks and recalled having some distant relatives with that same name.  After a bit of research, it was confirmed.  My great, great grandpa, and Lauren's great, great grandpa (I think that's right) were brothers-making Lauren and I distant cousins.

Initially bonded by this tie, Lauren and I (as well as our moms) soon became best friends. We loved not only that we were connected through life circumstances, but also theoretically by blood.  We have always told people that we knew each other before we even knew our parents.  To this day, I am still amazed when I think about 2 little girls born to 2 different women, who end up traveling across the ocean on the same plane, arriving in the same state, living 2 miles from each other, enrolling in the same gymnastics class, and being distant cousins!  I mean seriously what are the chances of that happening?!

Lauren and I in 2007 at her going
away party before she left for D.C.
A few years later, Lauren and her family moved to another state due to a job transfer, but we remained very close friends-visiting each other once a year when we'd reunite for Korean Culture Camp, and as pen pals.  I still have several of Lauren's letters saved to this day.  I of course was delighted when Lauren moved back to Minneapolis prior to the start of 7th grade and we were able to really strengthen our friendship even more.   Our hope is to travel together back to Korea some day to see where we both started our lives and to potentially search for the people who initially made our current lives not only possible, but wonderful.  I couldn't imagine doing this with any other person (aside from my husband) because she truly is the only person who completely understands this desire and aspect of my life.

Over our 26-almost 27 year friendship, we have spent most of our lives living in separate states.  However,  no matter where we are, what we are doing, or how long it's been since we've seen each other, our bond has never wavered.   Lauren is not only my friend, she is and always will be my family.  

Sisterly Love
Lauren as my Maid of Honor 


~15~ My Favorite Things V.2.8

It's Wednesday, so that means it time for another "Favorite Things" post.  This week, I'll be showing you my 2 most used card-making tools (aside from my ATG).  Now, if only I were as rich as Oprah and could give all you your very own to have!

The first has already been mentioned in previous posts and is an integral part of my card making design process; and that's my Cricut.
Some of you may be wondering what exactly a Cricut is.  And no, it's not a little chirping insect.  A Cricut is a die-cut machine created by the company Provo Craft, that is used to cut out various shapes and designs.  Each machine uses themed cartridges that hold a variety of pre-loaded images that you can have cut into paper, vinyl, or even chipboard.  The cartridges have many different functions that allows you to use the images in many ways and really be the master in creating your own and unique designs.

There are several different versions of a Cricut-the Mini, the Personal Electronic Cutter (PEC), the Cricut Expression (CE2), Cricut Expression 2 (CE2), and the Cricut Imagine (CI).  I started on the Personal Electronic Cutter, to see first how much I'd use it and figure out how to use it.  After about a year of good use, I wanted to be able to expand my card making and paper crafting abilities and decided to upgrade to the Cricut Expression.  The major difference between the 2 is that the PEC uses cutting mats 6"x12" and only cuts images up to 6".  The CE offers more cutting options and uses cutting mats that are 12"x12" or 12"x24" and can cut images up to 24".

I absolutely love my Cricut and have used it in almost every single one of my cards in some sort of fashion.  It (in my opinion) is very user friendly and produces beautiful, intricate images that couldn't possibly be cut with a scissors.  In addition to cutting out paper die-cuts, it can also be used to create stencils for home decor projects and etching.

Crafting Tip #1: Cricuts at retail price can be VERY expensive.  They are also exempt from coupons at stores like JoAnn or Michaels.  I highly recommend buying off of ebay.  I was able to get both of my Cricuts brand new from ebay at much lower prices than they sell retail.  Also, a lot of ebay sellers will include bonus cartridges with your machine.

Crafting Tip #2: Along with buying your actual Cricut on ebay, I also suggest buying your cartridges there.  Most cartridges are $80 retail.  Buying off of ebay, I have never spent more than $30 for a brand new, in box cartridges and they almost always include free shipping.

Crating Tip #3: Cricut mats come in 2 packs and sell in 3 different sizes: 6x12, 12x12, and 12x24.  I have found that it is most cost effective to buy the 12x24 mats and cut them down to the size you need.  Using a JoAnn 40% off coupon, I can get 2-12x24 mats for about $8 and turn them into 4-12x12s (or 8-6x12s).

The other tools that I use all the time are my Zig 2-Way Glue Pens.  These things are amazing, and the best thing is that they come in multiple tip sizes.  While I use my ATG for all large items, I use my glue pens for my smaller items that are skinnier than the ATG tape.  They also create a strong bond and dry invisibly.  I highly, highly recommend that any kind of paper crafter out there gets these.  All of them.

Happy Hump Day!
Until next time, 


~14~ Who Wants Cake?

I will openly admit that I couldn't care less about the Superbowl.  I just can't for the life of me get into football, and I've honestly tried. (Though my husband, Jake, would beg to differ)  I didn't grow up watching football, never attended a single football game in high school (I always had swim practice and couldn't go, but from what I recall-I really wasn't missing much), and my college's team was a joke.  However, I did end up marrying a man who lives and breathes football.  Jake's HS football team were district champs, he was an All-State offensive lineman, and had he been just 3-4" taller, he most likely would have received several college scholarship offers to play.  Every fall, my Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays consist of football and I am frequently inundated with Fantasy Football talk.  You'd think with all of this exposure, I'd now be a football expert-but alas, this is not the case.

While watching and talking about football isn't exactly my favorite activity, I do enjoy tailgating and the food that comes with football, because let's face it-I like food. A.LOT.  Of course, the Superbowl just wouldn't be the Superbowl without lots of great food.  This past Christmas, my in-laws got me a Cake Pop book to feed my love for baking and I was very excited to have a reason to make my very 1st batch of cake pops.  These weren't just going to be any cake pops, but FOOTBALL cake pops!  I also figured that it's about time I have a baking-related post since that's what 1/2 my blog is supposed to be about, so here's a chronicle of my adventures in cake pop making.

*Boxed cake mix (I chose funfetti)
*Canned Frosting (I usually make my own, but for the purpose of these decided to use canned)
*candy pop sticks
*Wilton Melts (You can also use chocolate or almond bark)
*12"x4" styrofoam block
*Green cardstock
*White out tape (or a pen will do)
*White Crayon
*White Sharpie paint pen

I started by making the cake the day before assembling my cake pops as recommended by the book and a friend.  The next day, I cut off the brown layers of cake (top/bottom/edges) with a bread knife.  Then, in a large mixing bowl, I crumbled the cake into very fine crumbs.  Once there are no large pieces of cake left, I added the frosting, mixing it in with a metal spoon.  I used about 3/4 of the jar like the instructions stated, but I think it ended up being a little too much frosting.  The next time I do it, I will use just a little bit less.  After all of the frosting was mixed in, I started to form my footballs.  I started by rolling a ball that was a bit smaller than a golf ball.  Then, I rolled it into a cylinder shape and pinched in the ends to make it look like a football.  Once each one was formed, I laid it on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.  I also made any adjustments to the shape then. After all of my dough was used up, I covered the tray with seran wrap and placed it in the freezer to set.

While my footballs were in the freezer, I made my base to hold the pops in when they were done.  Altogether, I had 23 pops, so I decided to put them into 3 rows-2 rows of 8 and 1 row of 7.  To go along with the football theme, I wanted my base to look like a football field.  I used a 12"x12" piece of green cardstock, which fit perfectly.  To hold it around the styrofoam, I just taped it (step 1).  I didn't want to glue the paper on so that I can reuse my styrofoam block for a different project. I had originally planned on using my white paint pen to draw in the field lines, however I quickly learned that they don't work on paper since they are water-based; the ink seeps into the paper and the pigment doesn't show up.  Luckily we had some whiteout tape which worked perfectly for drawing the lines.  I started the 50 yard line right in the center of the block at 6" and then marked off each of the other lines 1" apart.  (step 2)

To do the numbers, I knew that I couldn't use the whiteout tape, so I came up with an idea that would allow me to use the paint pens after all.  Since the paint pens were seeping into the paper, I knew I needed something to hold the paint up above the paper.  To fix that problem, I used a white crayon to write the numbers, in the hopes that the paint would sit on top of the wax.  Worked perfectly! (step 3)

The last thing I needed to do to get the base ready was mark where the sticks for the pops would go.  I didn't want them to be too close to each other, so in between each yard line I made a mark at 3/4" from either side  and at the 2" mark. Then, I used a pen to poke through the paper and into the styrofoam at each mark.  This made it easier to poke each stick into the block. (step 4)

By the time I finished my pop base, the cake molds were ready to dip.  Before I took them out of the freezer, I got my coating ready by melting it in the microwave on the "defrost setting" stirring every 30 second until completely melted.  On the counter where I was dipping I also had my sticks ready along with a bunch of toothpicks.  While dipping, I only had about 5 cake molds out at a time to prevent the rest from getting too soft while sitting out.  The dipping process was a little harder than I anticipated because my pops were so large and hard to coat completely in one sweep.  I ended up having to use a spoon to pour the coating over the cake to ensure that it got covered completely. I used the toothpicks to help smooth out the coating, pull off any excess, and help make sure that there was coating connecting the stick to the cake.  (Note: before dipping, put the tip of the stick in the candy coating and then push it into the cake piece not quite half way through).  The coating dries VERY, VERY quickly, so I didn't have to worry about it dripping onto my base and ruining my football field, but I had laid wax paper over it anyway. Once they were all dried, I took out all of the pops and put them on a plate to decorate.

To do the laces on the footballs, I used the left over canned frosting and added a little bit of milk to get it to a consistency that's good for piping and filled a disposable piping bag using Wilton Tip #3.  While the final product doesn't look as polished as I had hoped, I think that for my first attempt they turned out pretty well.  And holy-cow did they taste good!
Now that I've gotten my feet wet-I am very excited to try new designs and 
work to perfect my cake pop techniques!  
There are so many possibilities out there-what do you think I should do next?

Until next time, 


~13~Etsy Grand Opening Sale

What would a grand opening be without a sale?  To say thank you for stopping by my shopping and supporting my new endeavor, all orders placed between now and the end of February will receive 20% off their entire order.  Just enter the promo code GO20P at check out. Also, be on the lookout for some giveaways coming up.

~12~ My Favorite Things v2.1

As a crafter, I am always looking for new tools and tips to improve my…well…craft, and one place that I look to for inspiration (besides Pinterest) is other peoples' blogs.  Starting today, I will be posting every Wednesday some of my favorite craft-related things, in the hopes of helping out other crafters.

In my craft world, I have 2 best friends.  And, it would only make sense that I kick off my very first "Favorite Things" post by introducing you to them.  My first one goes everywhere with me, because I just never know when I might need it, and I always want to be prepared.  Everyone, I would like you to meet my JoAnn's Teacher Reward Card:

This little card has been saving me TONS of money since 2008, and I honestly don't know what I'd do without it!  EVERY purchase that I make at JoAnns, I make sure to show this card because as you can see, I save 15% off my entire purchase-even sale/clearance items.  And the best part? I can use it with other coupons.  In fact, JoAnn will let you use as many coupons as you like in 1 transaction, as long as they do not have the same bar code.  (Michael's might want to take the hint-since they have a VERY strict coupon policy that lets you use only one coupon per day.)  Nothing gives me more glee than checking out at JoAnn's and seeing on the bottom of my receipt that the "amount saved" is more than what I spent.

So you may ask, just how do you get one of these amazing cards?  First, you have to be an educator of some sort.  Then, all you have to do is go to JoAnn's and let them know that you would like to sign up for a Teacher Rewards card.  You will need to show either a school employee ID or a recent paycheck stub.  That's it.  Simple as that.  No forms or applications to fill out.  AND, when you first sign up, you also get an addition coupon with your card that lets you save 20% on your entire order.  The card is also good for online purchases.

My other best friend is my most used crafting tool.  Let me introduce you to my 3M/Scotch Advanced Tape Glider (ATG):
I first learned of this AMAZING tool from The Pink Stamper when watching one of her tutorials on Youtube.  This seriously was the best purchase I have ever made.  It retails for about $40, but using a 40% off coupon, I was able to get it much cheaper.  And the best part? It's PINK! So, just what is an ATG?  An ATG is a 2 sided tape dispenser that is much faster and easier to use than the little guys I've seen most people use.  Not only that, but in the long run it is a lot cheaper since the refill tapes last longer and cost less.  Refills are $5 for 2 rolls, which again, I use a 40% off coupon to purchase.  Just to get an idea of how long they last-I "glued down" the mattes and actual invitation on my 100 wedding invitations using 1 refill pack.  (That's going around the edge and down the middle on 200 5"x7" pieces of paper)

I use my ATG for many projects.  I use it on all of my cards, to decorate gift bags, and really to adhere anything I want to stick together.  I would highly recommend investing in one of these to any crafter.  Get one, and it will quickly become your best friend too!  I will note though, that I had to buy mine (and the refill packs) at Michaels because JoAnn's does not carry them in the store near me (They do sell them online though).

So, now that you have met my 2 best friends, I want to know-who are yours? 
Until next time,

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