Bye Bye Sugar! See you in 21 Days!

Hi All!! I hope everyone has been having a great weekend and had a wonderful 4th of July!

After reading the title, here are some thoughts that probably ran through your head!

  • Bye sugar?!?! What’s happening to sugar!!
  • Are you eliminating sugar Claire?! How can you do that?!
  • 21 days? That’s a random number!
  • HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY DO THAT YOU HAVE A SWEET TOOTH GIRL???

I have to admit, those thoughts ran through my mind when I was told I might want to try a sugar detox. Over the past couple of months I have felt addicted to sugar, craving sweets all hours of the day and after a FULL meal. I always joke that I have a separate stomach for dessert and these past couple of weeks have proved that! However, after giving in to my cravings and my second stomach, I would find myself bloated, sluggish, always tired (but unable to fall asleep), and developing bad, almost painful acne. After doing some research and talking to some medical experts/nutritionists, I was recommended the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo (Info on 21 DSD)

I first checked out this book from my local library a week ago and then decided to buy my own copy off of Amazon (21 DSD on Amazon). This book includes the benefits of a sugar detox, what you can expect over the three weeks, a YES/NO food list, sample recipes and menus, and approved/recommended brands. It’s an awesome guide!!

So yes–officially starting tomorrow, but slowing starting today–I will be cutting sugar out from my diet. Not just sugar from sweets, but processed sugars too! I found a picture on Livestrong.com that provided 67 other names for sugar on an ingredients list. Companies are tricky, but I am catching on to them!!!!

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Over the next three weeks, I will be watching out for these words above on food labels and choosing to eat whole, real foods. For this specific detox, most fruits are posted on the “no” list, but I can gradually start adding them back into my diet. The purpose of this detox is to reset your taste buds and curb your cravings, so it does not want your body to have any sort of sugars. Some of the benefits of this detox include resetting your tastebuds so you taste the natural sugars in foods, more energy during the day, eliminating your cravings, clearer, brighter skin, and better nights sleep!

Lol I’m sorry but I am going to be that annoying girl over the next 3 weeks that is going to be checking every food label at the grocery store, specifically choosing restaurants that adhere to these food restrictions, and/or questioning waiters, waitresses, and grocery store workers with how food is prepared! JUST PLS BEAR WITH ME!!!!😛

How have I prepared for this detox you might ask? 

  1. I read the book 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo to really understand what I am doing and why I can expect. In this guide book, you really learn how sugar is processed in your body and the short-term and longer-term effects of sugar addictions.
  2. I have planned out my meals for the week using this book and other recipes on Pinterest. I have visited 5 different grocery stores (Trader Joe’s, Marianos, Whole Foods, Sunset Foods, and Heinen’s) to buy these ingredients and to load up on approved go-to snacks. Some of my go-to snacks are Justin’s Almond Butter packets, almonds, pistachios, Larabar Apple Pie Bars, banana chips, unsweetened applesauce, and raw vegetables with guacamole or hummus.
  3. Finding a buddy, AKA Joel lol, to try to do this with me! He is going to follow along with this detox, but not as strictly as me since he has allergies to some nuts and raw vegetables. Even if he does not follow it completely with me, it’s good to have a support system!
  4. Asking opinions and reading articles from others who have tried this detox (Thank you so much for your help/tips @TaylorBreiter and the cool website @Mr.Markby). Alsssoooo, if anyone has any more tips and pointers please do not hesitate to comment or reach out!

I hope to update you all weekly or maybe even more often during this detox as I feel it will be a great way to track my progress and feelings! I think one of the hardest things about this detox is explaining why I am doing it! Some people already have questioned me. However, I am doing this for me, for my health, and for my overall well-being! Any support or encouragement would be appreciated☺️❤️ Thank you for following along with me on my journey!!! I hope in the near future that this 21DSD is something that I will be deCLAIREing that makes me happy!!!!!!

~Just a Splash of [Water] Color~

Hi Everyone! Happy July! Can you believe it is already July? I definitely can not. Happy Almost 4th of July! What are your plans?

Tonight I am going to a local fireworks show with my family and Joel. I am super excited! I am in the process of baking some festive cookies and I made some red, white, and blue puppy chow🐶❤️

Tomorrow I am headed to a BBQ with Joel & his family and then we are going to see some more fireworks in our hometown! I love how festive the beginning of July is… to be honest…I am just coming to this conclusion now as I am typing…July is one of my favorite months. You can always count on July for being super warm and summer-like. (Lol here in the Midwest, you can never count on May and June being warm!!! July has never let me down!) It actually feels like summer in July and I love it😋

One way I have been celebrating the month of July is preparing my desktop screen! I recently received my school laptop (#WOOHOO #SOOFFICIAL) and was customizing & personalizing it! For my personal laptop, I always enjoy having pictures of Joel & I, my family, and my friends, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this for my school laptop. I wanted something cute and could keep me organized, so BAM this is when an idea popped in my head!!! I decided to make my own desktop wallpaper. I thought that this could be something that I would share and something that I could do monthly. In my dream world, I could see my future fifth graders excited at the end of each month to see what Miss Donahue’s laptop screen would look to start the new month. They would say “Oh Miss Donahue what is it going to be?!?! I’m so excited!!” Lol I know I know… I said “dream world”. Not sure if fifth graders will get excited about their teacher’s laptop screen but who knows!

To begin, I started brainstorming #JulyThings. I thought of the Fourth of July, sunshine, the pool, bathing suits, everything summer lol. Then I thought of…watermelon ðŸ‰ðŸ‰Watermelon is super yummy and watermelon graphics are easy to make… right?! You just paint a pink triangle, with a green border, and some black dots for seeds. Yeah so my graphics were not turning out the greatest. I did NOT like their look. They looked so “clip-art-y” if that is even a thing. Sooooo I went on Google Images. I googled Watermelon graphics and all these cute watercolor watermelons came up. That got me thinking…

“I’ve ALWAYS wanted to learn how to create watercolor images on Adobe Illustrator. I always see watercolor graphics on Teachers Pay Teachers, blogs, instagram, you name it… HOW ON EARTH DO PEOPLE DO IT?!”

I did some more researching (lol research is the name of the game… THANK GOODNESS for the Internet!) and found an easy way to make watercolor graphics. This way did not require you to virtually make the watercolor designs, but paint the watercolor designs in real life! I’ve always been a fan of watercoloring so I was super excited!!

I went through my mom’s craft room and found watercolor paper and watercolor paint. Next, I put on some Netflix and began crafting away! I painted a watermelon, saying of “one in a melon”, and some paint line strokes. I also painted an entire pink background that I was thinking I could use for the actual desktop background.

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From my research, I learned that you can simply scan in your watercolor paintings into the computer and save them as a JPEG! After brightening the picture up a tad and adding some more saturation, here was my virtual watercolor graphics:

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I might just be super obsessed or a little annoying…BUTTTTTTT….HOW. COOL. IS. THIS?!?! For all these years I thought that some graphic designers or Internet users were creating watercolor online, but they could simply be painting in real life and scanning it in!! I KNOW WHAT I AM GOING TO BE DOING IF I’M NOT WORKING LOL. This was SO fun and I was able to make a graphic that I actually wanted and liked. I used these new watercolor graphics to create a new desktop wallpaper! Check it out🤗 Feel free to download/copy/save it to be your desktop wallpaper! This is a freebie I created with my own graphics & the fonts of A Perfect Blend (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/A-Perfect-Blend)

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I’m so excited to continue using this new skill I learned. I’m going to make monthly wallpapers & send some out to you all! I am declaireing that learning new crafting skills always makes me happy and excited💕🍉 Does it get you excited?? Thanks for following along!

******I will be uploading a video shortly to YouTube (I found out with my last video it takes like 5 years) that teaches you how you can scan your watercolor designs or pretty much any design to your computer! I will teach you how to single out your image and make it transparent & how you can use it to create a wallpaper or any other project!

These Are A Few Of My FAVORITE Things…

Swoop necks from Target 
And sharing an appetizer & entrée 
Netflix’ Jane the Virgin and dry shampoo hairspray 
Wordscapes, Ripple Milk, and a color MAC’s lipstick brings 
These are a few of my favorite things.

Did you hum “My Favorite Things” from Sound of Music? If you did not, please go back and do that now!!! I know, I know, some of the lines are a little wordy. But hey, I’m not a songwriter…I’m a blogger!! If anyone rewrites this in a way that uses all of these favorite things in a less wordy, goes with the music more way, please do not hesitate to share.

I wanted to dedicate this blog post to a few of my favorite things. As I was brainstorming the topic for this week’s blog post, I was trying to think of some things that make me happy, make my life easier, #lifehacks, or that I could write on and on about. My favorite things are always changing, like life, so this is my current list! In no particular order–just the order that it made sense in the song–here they are.

1.) Swoop necks from Target 

I recently discovered these swoop neck tees from Target and I’m obsessed!!! They are so comfy, come in many different colors, and are only $8! I bought 2 whites ones (because I already know they are my favorite & I am messy and don’t want to spill/ruin them), a black one, and a gray one (that I actually used my Cricut machine and ironed on a graphic). I so happen to be wearing my black tee right now as I type. These shirts are perfect with skirts AND shorts AND jeans. You can dress them up or dress them down with your jewelry and shoes. And did I mention… they are $8… and I bought them when Target had a deal for 3 for $20! GO AND GET YOURS KNOW! Here’s a link too:) Target Swoop Necks

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My BFF Tricia!!!

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2.) Sharing an appetizer & entrée 

Okay… why did Joel and I just discover this trick like two days ago??? What took us so long??? Sharing an appetizer & then an entrée is one of my favorite things to do (and Joel’s) because it’s cheaper, gives you a variety of food options, and I never finish an entrée anyways!! We discovered this trick after we went out for Mexican food and wanted to get queso, margaritas, and tacos. All together the bill came out to be like $60. I don’t want you to think we are some cheapos or something, but we don’t have that much money to be buying $60 meals once or twice a week when we want to go out. And we both ended up taking 3/4 of our plates home because the appetizers filled us up! After that, we decided on a new strategy. The next time we went out, we split an appetizer and a meal. By the time the meal came, we both had eaten enough of the appetizer to split the meal. I ate about 1/3 of the meal (#PERFECT for my appetite) and Joel ate 2/3. It’s amazing!! Our bank accounts are thankful too!! You should give it a try next time you go on a date night or out to dinner with a friend!!

3.) Netflix’ Jane The Virgin 

Want to watch a show that will make you laugh, gasp, scream, think, cry, become frustrated, be confused, and smile??? ALL IN ONE EPISODE?? Then you definitely need to watch Jane the Virgin. Lucky for you, all four seasons of Jane the Virgin are on Netflix and the fifth season is going to be airing in January (#FingersCrossedBecauseSeason4EndsOnACliffHanger #ActuallyAllSeasonsEndOnCliffHangers #MostEpisodesEndOnCliffHangersToo #TheyAreJustTOOGood). Like I am trying to summarize the show for you right now but I can’t even summarize it because I feel like I would be ruining it!! PLEASE just trust me and go watch it! You won’t regret it!! All the characters are hilarious and there is a storyteller in the background. It is like a telenovela (Spanish Soap Opera) so you’re always on your toes!!

4.) Batiste Dry Shampoo 

I’m not sure how you pronounce the brand, but what I am sure about is this product works WONDERS. Before I discovered this dry shampoo, I would wash my hair everyday. Yes, I washed my hair EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would do this because my hair would look so greasy if I did not. Little did I know, but my hair was greasy because I washed my hair everyday lol. When I first used this brand, I was AMAZED. What I like is when you spray this in your hair, it turns it gray; lol noooo I do not want gray hair, I like the gray because you know where you are applying it and it “fades” your greasy spots. Then, you just rub it in really good and you can say goodbye to the grease! It also adds volume to your hair and leaves it smelling good. You would never know you didn’t wash it. Last week I didn’t wash my hair for 4 days🙊 That is a RECORD for Claire Donahue!!! I have saved so much time styling my hair & now I finally feel like I am in control. Before, I felt like my hair was the boss as I would spend like an hour blow drying and styling it each day. Thank you thank you thank you @batiste!!!! Look them up and try them out!! I have bought them at Walmart, Ulta, and in-bulk using my Amazon Prime Batiste Dry Shampoo

5.) Wordscapes 

This is my favorite app/game on my phone!! I learned about it from my brother’s girlfriend (TYSM @Katie). We played this game a lot when we were standing in the long ride lines of Disney World. There is a word puzzle and you are given a certain amount of letters (I think 5-7 depending on your level) and you have to put the letters together to fill your puzzle–which looks like a crossword puzzle. This game tests your knowledge of words and guessing-and-checking lol. It’s called “wordscapes” as the word puzzles are in front of various nature landscapes. You earn coins after every level which unlocks you “hints” if you are really stuck on a level. Everyday there is a daily puzzle which can give you many coins if you do it correctly!! I’m on level 273. No big deal or anything!!!

6.) Ripple Milk

Let me start off by saying that I do not like milk. Maybe I drank too much of it as a child, or maybe because we only ever drank Skim Milk in my household, which I heard is equivalent to water by milk fanatics (lol @Joel). However… one of my dad’s clients is Ripple Milk, so he brought some home for us to try. My dad first bought the chocolate Ripple Milk and I was IN LOVE 😍 It tasted like yummy, chocolate, syrup goodness!!!! And the nutrition facts were amazing too. Ripple Milk is a plant-based milk that is dairy free, vegan, lactose free, nut free, soy free, gluten free, AND GMO free!!!! AMAZING!! It has 8g of protein & has 50% more calcium than regular dairy milk. I LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!! I’ve tried all of the flavors and they are all so yummy. Right now, I have the unsweetened original in my fridge and it is amazing and low cal. Please everyone go do yourselves a favor and switch over to Ripple Milk!!!! I’ve bought it at Whole Foods and Marianos! And @RippleMilk if you are reading this… I LOVE YOU❤️ Here’s the link to their website so you can learn more!! Ripple Milk

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 7.) MAC’s Creme In Your Coffee Lipstick 

So your girl Miss DeClaireing Happiness is a lipstick fanatic. I have worn all different kinds and colors of lipsticks, but now I found my favorite one and I can’t stop using it!!! It is Creme In Your Coffee by MAC. This is a darker, neutral color that goes with literally any outfit. It feels like cream when I put it on because it is so smooth. The color is also super long lasting…and definitely worth the $18.50. Check it out online and on my lips in these pictures lol Creme In Your Coffee

Well, thank you for listening to me obsess and passionately write about my favorite things. What are your favorite things? I would love to try them!! Be sure to comment and share or message me! I am MissDeclaireing Happiness and I am deCLAIREing that these 7 things make me real happy and I hope they make you happy too 😋

“You Should Becoming A Nutritionist”- My Mimi

“You know what Claire, you should have become a nutritionist”- My Mimi

…this is what my Mimi said to me after I told her I made gluten-free bagels with 5 ingredients all totaling 145 calories per bagel. And in thinking, studying food and nutrition does sound inviting. For the past couple of years I have taken an interest in healthy eating, healthy habits, and working out,  so learning more about all of that in a major and/or job would be exciting! HOWEVER, teaching is still my calling, BUT I do think that eating healthy and working to stay fit are things that make me feel happy! I think that healthy eating and habits are not easy. You have to want it and you have to put in the time!

I want to dedicate some of my tips and tricks for trying to stay healthy. Having said that, I want to emphasize a couple of points first:

  • I’m not saying that you should listen to me whatsoever…I mean again…I am not a nutritionist (even though according to my Mimi I am! *Mimi if you are reading this, I LOVE YOU!*). These are just things that have worked for me!
  • I’m also not saying that I am a fitness expert. I hate running, do the same workout like four times a week, and more often than not have to drag myself to the gym. I’m not the perfect workout buddy, but I enjoy the after feeling of working out.
  • I’m not a crazy health-nut. Yes, I like to eat healthy, but that’s mostly for the weekdays and then on the weekends I eat more junk food! If I ever feel like ice cream, I try to find another healthy substitute to crave my sweet tooth….but usually that doesn’t work and I go to Oberweis or Dairy Queen with Joel.

Now that the disclaimers are over, here are some of my tips!

Exercise in any way that you can/like

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t”- Elle Woods

Last summer I bought myself a Fitbit and still love tracking my steps. My goal everyday is to receive 10,500. According to Fitbit, 10,000 steps is equivalent to 30 minutes of a daily exercise which is what the CDC recommends. Some ways I like to receive my steps are:

  • Watching Netflix while on the elliptical
  • Running/Walking on the treadmill
  • Walking around the lake or neighborhood with Joel
  • Dancing during my drama classes
  • Shopping
  • Cleaning

As you can see, not all of my “step intakes” are exercising….they are little movements I like to do throughout the week to keep me going! When you find some movement that you like to do, keep at it! Exercising doesn’t have to be tedious and repetitive: it can be fun & ever-changing.

There are yummy substitutions out there

I like to eat healthy and feed my body with good, clean things! I wouldn’t say I “watch” what I eat or that I am dieting, but I always make sure I’m supplying my body with foods that are good and not loaded with sugars and fats. The past year, I have substituted little foods in my daily menu and I already see/feel the difference. Here are some of my favorite and still yummy substitutions–the calorie differences are quite amazing. What I love about these substitutions is that they are not hard and honestly better than the real deal.

1.) “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light

At only 35 calories per 1 Tbsp, this butter tastes like the real thing, minus 100 calories. As the title of the product suggests, you will be astounded to know that it’s not actual butter. I use this mainly on bread, pancakes, and vegetables, but I also have used it for muffin and cookie recipes. Not only does it taste good, but it’s easy to spread too!

2.) Greek Yogurt

DID YOU KNOW THAT REGULAR LOW-FAT, PLAIN GREEK YOGURT ACTUALLY TASTES LIKE SOUR CREAM MINUS THE CALORIES!?! Well, now you do!! I do not suggest just straight up eating this yogurt plain for breakfast (as it is sooooo bitter), but I would suggest using it instead of some of your dips. I love using greek yogurt instead of sour cream and ranch dressing. You can put plain greek yogurt on tacos or add some dill, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper to make your own healthy ranch dip! Greek yogurt is also a healthy substitute for butter and oil in baking:)

3.) Cucumbers

Want a low-carb sandwich option? Instead of putting your deli meat on bread….put it on a cucumber! Cucumbers are super yummy, low calorie (15 calories), and nice and fresh for the summertime. All you have to do is cut a cucumber in half, scoop out the seeds, and put your deli meat & toppings of choice inside. I love putting a greek yogurt spread I made (2 Tbs of greek yogurt, 2 tsp dill, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt) and turkey!

4.) Sparkling Water

I discovered my love of La Croix last summer & I’m soooooo happy I did!!!! I have to admit, it took me a week or so to really crave/like La Croix, but since then I’ve been so happy. La Croix and other sparking water brands (Bubly, Perrier, etc.) are a super delicious and refreshing substitute to pop. If you’re ever craving something sweet, definitely have one of these. I have been drinking La Croix for so long…the lemon and lime flavors taste like pop to me! DEFINITELY give them a chance! Alsoooo 0 calories versuses 150 is amazing.

5.) Popcorn

I. LOVE. POPCORN. It is my favorite snack and all my students know that!!! Popcorn is a low-calorie option to greasy chips (~100 vs. ~200). There are so many different kinds: you can make your own on the stove-top (my fav), you can make it in the microwave (super quick&easy), or you can buy popcorn pre-made (in SOOOO many yummy flavors… my favorite right now is BBQ).

6.) Ground Turkey/Ground Chicken

Since last August, I have been trying to cut out my red meat intake. Don’t ask me why, just ask my how. Since then, I have been feeling a lot healthier and do not really get stomach aches anymore. At the beginning, I tried to cut my red-meat intake to about once a week, then once every two weeks, and now I’m trying to only have it once a month. I never really had that much red meat from the beginning, so I feel like I only had to watch my ground beef intake. I’m a taco queeeeeen and still am, but choose to have chicken or fish instead of the beef…and let me tell you….it all is delicious!

I have loved replacing ground beef with ground turkey. When making burgers, taco meat, meat loaf, I have found yummy recipes with ground turkey that taste even better than beef. One pound of ground beef is about 1,500 calories and one pound of ground turkey is about 800. Isn’t the calorie difference amazing?! My new favorite is Marianos’ Ground Chicken, Feta, & Spinach Burgers ❤ ❤ SOOOOO GOOD!!! Turkey bacon is delicious too and so is turkey sausage and chicken sausage!! I’m so happy there are so many great recipes out there for ground turkey and ground chicken!

Try new things!

In my attempt to stay healthy, I have tried so many new things to keep this exciting and new:

  1. Trying new exercises–yoga classes, treadmill, hiking, etc.
  2. Making gluten-free bagels, fried avocados, and overnight oats
  3. Researching all that I can do with my Fitbit & increasing my goal
  4. Creating a “Talk Healthy To Me” Pinterest Board

So with all of this, I just challenge you to try new things! You never know… you might love turkey bacon more than regular bacon. You might become obsessed with a new cycling class. Challenge yourself to try something new that makes you feel good:)

Thank you all for reading one of my longer posts and waiting so long for this post. I wanted to make sure it was just right. I am Miss Declaireing Happiness and I am deCLAIREing that even though becoming a food nutritionist is not my calling, I feel happy when I’m working towards staying healthy and fit. BUTTTTTTTTT ice cream&dessert also make me happy too:)

USING A CRICUT: MY NEWEST OBSESSION

As promised from my previous post, I wanted to dedicate a blog post about using a Cricut AKA one of my favorite things in life right now!! For those of you who don’t know what a Cricut is and what it does, I want to first apologize about how crazy I have been. However, when you learn about all the wonders of a Cricut machine… you will understand where all my crazy came from and that it was totally valid!!

A Cricut machine is a machine that cuts designs and projects for you, an at-home die-cutter. Whether you are a teacher, have worked in the teacher’s lounge, or have seen one, it is similar to an old fashioned die-cutter at school. You know, the big machines where you find the shape or letter you want to cut out and then use a big crank to cut the piece out? Yes, well a Cricut is electronic and does all the heavy work for you! Check out their website to learn more and to see pictures! https://home.cricut.com/ 

I have a Cricut Explore Air 2. It can do SO MUCH more than cut paper! It can cut paper, score paper, and draw on paper (like calligraphy and designs). Not only can it cut paper, but it can cut through Vinyl, Iron-On fabric, and heavier Cardstock. It’s every crafter’s dream!!

Now that you are all familiar with a Cricut, I want to describe how you can use it. In this blog post, I’ll teach you how to create two different projects.

  • A project from Cricut’s library of graphics and templates!
  • A paper project from your own designing!

Let’s begin with the first project…creating a paper product from Cricut’s library. What’s awesome about Cricut is that when you receive the machine, you also receive an online database of products, support, and ideas! As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a Taco Graduation party and wanted to make some decorations. Here is a step by step photo process of how I made my taco decorations. These directions can be used to make just about any paper product on Cricut! Please let me know if you have any other questions!

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Now, let’s talk about the next project…creating your own paper product from a graphic you designed by yourself. So let’s say they don’t have an image you want on Cricut, you don’t want to pay for the image, or you created your own fun graphic, these are the steps you would want to follow to create your own paper product (or any other type of product for that matter). I wanted to make “Astronaut Helmets” to decorate my students’ lockers.

**I’m doing a Choose Kindness/Wonder/Space Theme and thought that these astronaut helmets would fit in great with my theme! If anyone has any other ideas for this theme, please do not hesitate to send them my way!

I wanted to make an astronaut helmet from “scratch” and wanted to create my own image, rather than searching on the Cricut database. That way, I could make it just right. *Cue Goldilocks voice*. I created this short video clip to teach you how to make your own graphics into a paper product! This video only shows you how to upload an image you already designed onto Cricut, resize, and color it. Disclaimer, it does not show you how to design images or how to piece your cut out pieces of paper together. If you have any questions about those steps, feel free to reach out!! Hope you enjoy my first video tutorial 🙂

I hope these visual instructions help you with your Cricut and/or convince you to buy one! I have had mine only for a week, but it has changed my crafting immensely… for the better. I can’t wait to continue to use it for my future classroom, gifts, blogging, and personal use! This is Miss Declaireing Happiness and I am am declaireing that my Cricut is just another thing that makes me happy:) Thanks for reading/watching!

Taco Bout a Party

Recently I had a graduation party and it was taco themed…. WOULD YOU EXPECT ANYTHING LESS?! About a couple of months ago when I was scrolling through Pinterest, I saw a sign that said “Taco Bout a Party” and I was instantly intrigued.

“Hmmmm,” I thought, “how could I incorporate this saying into a party for me? What do I have to celebrate coming up?! My birthday is not until November!!”

After some thinking, I pondered “Taco Bout My GRADUATION“. YESSSSS! I immediately texted my dad, somewhat joking, but somewhat serious, and began the planning. I created a Pinterest board (probably 1 out of my 129829323) specifically for the event. I knew there needed to be a cute, festive invite, taco decorations, and food catered from my favorite Mexican restaurant in the area. The party would not have been for 4 months, but I like to plan early!!

Amongst my planning, there were two surprises/gifts that I received that helped make my taco themed party come true:

1. My Mimi won this “Fiesta Basket” at my student teaching placement school’s fundraiser. HOW PERFECT RIGHT?! Her winning this basket proved more than ever that I needed to have this party!!! It included a sombrero, piñata, variety of salsas, decorative bowls and glasses, margarita mix, and tortilla warmer!

2. MY CRICUT!!! If you have not been following my Instagram (which you should!!! @missdeclaireinghappiness), you have not seen my latest obsession! This machine can design, cut, and draw anything imaginable!!! From cards, to t-shirts, to posters, to decorations, my Cricut can do just about it all. I wanted to make some taco decorations and was able to do it with ease. Here is what I made! *Side note, this week sometime I hope to write a blog post about how to use this Cricut for beginners*

I wish I took a picture of all the food we had! It ALL was so yummy 🙂 We had so many leftovers, I sent every guest home with a little baggie of cheese. It was their “cheese goodie bag”… doesn’t everyone hand those out at parties?! After dinner and dessert (A TACO CAKE MADE BY MY AMAZING AUNT…. CHECK HER OUT AND SEE THE PHOTO BELOW https://www.facebook.com/SweetLaneBaking/), we had a piñata party and a family game of Kickball. Let me tell you, it is not a Donahue party/event without some sort of activity or game!

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I can’t wait to plan more parties… and my wedding!!! How fun it was to create a theme and see it unfold before my eyes. Now…..this is Miss Declaireing Happiness and I do declare that tacos, crafting, and my family are three things in the world that make me happy 🙂 I hope all of those things make YOU happy too!

Road Tripping ESSENTIALS

*Cue “Road Trippin'” By Dan+Shay*

What better way to celebrate graduation than road tripping to Disney World?!? Well, that is what we did people! Joel and I started our adventure on Friday, May 18 and just returned home yesterday. We began our drive Friday morning by traveling 9 hours to Joel’s cousin’s house in Spring Hill, Tennessee. We stayed there until Sunday morning and then made our way to Disney World in about 10 hours:)) Next, we headed to Hilton Head for two days (a 5 hour drive) and then to Atlanta for a Thomas Rhett concert (a 4 hour drive)!! After an 11 hour car ride yesterday, we make it back home right in time for my cousin’s graduation dinner! I highly recommend a good ole fashioned road trip. These 10 days on the road were full of fun, great memories, and learning experiences!

Besides the company and the vacation spots, do you know what made our road trip so good?? These tips and tricks:

  • Audiobooks: Before starting our road trip, Joel and I made our way to our local library to pick up some books on tape. I remembered my parents listening to audiobooks when we would travel from Austin to Lake Zurich every summer. Joel picked out his audiobook, Jack Reacher by Lee Child, and I picked out mine, The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters. Can you tell who is the teacher here?? Whoever was driving was able to pick the audiobook. It was such a good change from listening to the repeated songs on our playlist and trying to scan the radio for stations…AND I was even able to finish my books making me “hip” among my fourth graders from student teaching and soon-to-be fifth graders (#hopefully).
  • Ziplock Bags: You would not realize how handy these baggies became! I packed some sandwich sized bags for potential future snacks, spilled toiletries, and whatever we needed. Joel packed gallon sized ones for ice for the cooler. Little did we know, but these ziplock bags helped us save $$$$ for lunches on the road. When we were traveling from Orlando to Hilton Head, we were able to pack peanut and butter sandwiches in our baggies. How did we make these sandwiches you might ask?!?! At the hotel breakfast 😛 We grabbed some bread, peanut butter, jelly, AND our ziplock baggies and were all set for 2 days of lunches. The gallon sized baggies were great for holding ice to keep our coolers cold! Wherever we were staying–at family’s homes or hotel rooms–we would fill them up with ice to keep our drinks and sandwiches nice and cold for the road.
  • Pillows & Blankets: Sleeping/napping in the car is not always the most comfortable, so Joel brought along some pillows and blankets. Whoever was in the front seat (and when they were done being the navigator) could take a nice, comfy snooze.
  • GPS (besides your smart phone): Our portable GPS definitely came in handy… actually it was one of the #RealMVPs of the trip. I do not think we would have been able to travel without it! Not sure how people went on road trips back then with actual maps :O. I would recommend bringing a portable GPS so you’re not always using your data on your smartphone. We probably used the portable GPS 95% of the time and used our phones the remainder of the time to check for traffic. It was actually funny that I did not even think of bringing a map along or looking online before at our highway itinerary. I totally trusted the GPS!

I can not begin to express how amazing our trip was! Here are my highlights 🙂

  • I GOT ENGAGED!!!!! Joel proposed to me at a beautiful garden! This was right at the beginning of our trip and I could not be happier 🙂
  • Going to Disney World with Joel, my brother, and his girlfriend! Epcot was definitely a highlight-we ate and drank around the world. Magic Kingdom was oh so magical. AND ANIMAL KINGDOM ROCKED WITH THE NEW AVATAR RIDE 11/10 WOULD RECOMMEND

It definitely feels different to be back in the “real world” and not on the vacation mindset anymore. I’ll miss the warmth and memories of our road trip, but it’s nice to not live out of a suitcase (or car) anymore! Thank you for following along with me in my journey! Now onto the sweet summertime and planning for my future classroom and wedding!!!! 🙂

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