Sunday, December 30, 2012

Toys for Tots Year 4 Final Post, Finally!

I apologize to those that have been patiently waiting for the Toys for Tots post to come up. I haven't been slacking on it, I literally just haven't had time to get on the computer for long enough to get it done lately. With the holiday madness plus 50+ hour work weeks and other personal issues going on, life has been hectic. Though I did get the images uploaded to Flicker and posted the link on Twitter about a week ago and sent it to many people that e-mailed asking so I don't feel as bad about not getting this posted in a timely manner.

I know plenty of you guys were sick of seeing me post and tweet about it but it really is one of my favorite charities and doing the blog fundraiser is a great way to earn money to be able to donate a lot of toys for it. I do a lot of charity and volunteer work through out the year and it's always sad to see how much more is needed. At least with this particular charity, I can try to reach out to others and get some help with it so some kids who would have otherwise gone without got something to brighten their Christmas morning up.

The first year I did this, I ended up with 83 toys.

Last year was the second year I did it and I was beyond stoked when I ended up getting 105 toys.

The third year turned out even better than last year did with a grand total of 132 toys.

This year? 146 toys. Each year gets increasingly a little bit better. Here they are all laid out, as usual....

I usually lay them out on the bed but I decided after last year being so frustrating trying to make everything fit for a picture, I'd try a different place and luckily I had the house to myself to get this done without interruption. 

As much work and as stressful as making this come together really is, I love doing it. And while I generally hate shopping, shopping for this is always so much fun for me despite having to keep track of everything I'm putting in the cart and the cost of it all. I didn't have a friend to help me this year but no big deal there. I try to get a good mix of toys for varying ages and get a good variety of things...


Once I got everything back off the couch and floor and into bags again, I got everything outside to my boyfriend's car. His Mazda has a far bigger trunk than my little two door Civic has so we always use his car to take the toys to the Toys for Tots warehouse. The bags took up all the space in his trunk and part of the backseat as well.



The location for the Dallas area Toys for Tots headquarters changes every year but it's thankfully always in the same general area so it's never too hard to find. Plus, they're always more than willing to give out detailed directions when you ask for them. ;) They're also super helpful in unloading the toys...

If you want to see the rest of the pictures from the shopping trip, more shots of them laid out and more from them being dropped off then you can see the full photo set here. There are a little over 30 pictures total.

I want to say thank you to those of you who donated. Whether it was $2, $10, $25, $50 or more; it doesn't matter. I appreciate it and I know the families that benefit from Toys for Tots doing what they do appreciate it, too. I have so much fun being able to do this. I've donated to Toys for Tots since I was a little kid and my mom let us each buy a couple toys of our choosing to give to them and kept doing so for as long as I can remember.  So blame her for getting me started into this one. ;) Doing it on such a large scale the last few years has been so awesome. I couldn't do it without all of your help so thank you. I also want to say thank you to everyone who posted on their blogs, tweeted links and otherwise badgered told their friends and readers alike about what I had going on in hopes of getting more donations. To everyone who donated or helped in some way... thanks so much! You're wonderful and I heart you. :) 

Now we're done for this year and y'all don't have to hear me go on and annoy the online world with this anymore. Until next year anyway. ;)

Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Toys For Tots Blogger Fundraiser Year 4!


UPDATE: The cut off date to take donations via paypal for this year will be December 14, 2012. I'll go shopping and deliver the toys by the 17th

UPDATE: See this post for information on how you can enter for a chance to win a $25 Target gift card by donating or/and promoting the Toys for Tots fundraiser.

UPDATE: I have purchased my first round of toys for Toys for Tots, see the post and photo here. :) Remember, December 14th is the last day to make donations via paypal for the fundraiser then I'll be going toy shopping soon after! Thanks everyone!
I've had multiple people email me, ask via Twitter and message me on Facebook about this so I figured I better get this up and going for the fourth year in a row! :)

Every year I donate some toys to Toys for Tots. I pick and choose other things to donate to as well through out the year. I don't think I can make a big dent of change in the world but I can do little things to make things a little better for other people. Be it with toys during the holidays, money for food, donating clothing, etc. I bitch about things that I wish I could fix but really, all that bitching does nothing if you're not willing to step up and do something to help make it better. So, I do what I can when I can to help out. It makes me feel good to know I've done something good and I help out with a lot of different things.

In 2009, I got an idea to do a Blogger Toys for Tots Fundraiser. I got the idea damn late it the year though so there wasn't much time to work with for Toys for Tots. I did it again in 2010 and last year in 2011 as well. And now I'm doing it again this year. Don't know what that is? Let me inform you before I get on with the rest of the post.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity is the fund raising, funding and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation was created at the behest of the U. S. Marine Corps and provides support in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, who directs the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation has supported Toys for Tots since 1991.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Like I said, I donate something every year. Sometimes in toys and sometimes in money. Sometimes more and sometimes less. Sometimes I don't have much money to spare but I do a little bit anyway because I know even if I'm hurting a little, some little kid and their family is hurting more. I prefer doing toys, though. I like going in to a store and picking out toys that I know will make some little kids happy. I never see the kids who get these but I always wonder if they liked what they got or if they were just happy for something, anything.

In 2009, 2010 and last year as well, I did a Fundraiser for Toys for Tots on my blog. The results were far better than I had expected in 2009 and they were amazing in 2010 and surprised me yet again in 2011. I was beyond touched at all of the help and support I got. I got so many people who donated little amounts and it all added up to so many toys that I went and purchased. I take plenty of pictures and get it well documented on the blog because it's important to me (and lots of you!) to get pictures to show that I was doing as I said I would. I had so much fun going to get the toys in 2009, 2010 & 2011. This year, I'm doing it again. :)

The final results from 2009: Here
The final results from 2010: Here

The final results from 2011: Here 

If you want to see more posts with more details and pictures, then just click here or go to the Toys for Tots tab at the top of the blog on the tabs section.

On the right side of this blog on the side section under my profile, you will find that there is a PayPal donation button there.
If you want to donate money to help buy toys for Toys for Tots, just use that.

I will take all the money that gets donated and go buy toys. For proof that I'm doing what I say I'll be doing with the donations, there will yet again be pictures of the toys as I buy them and pictures of all those said toys being loaded into the car and more upon being delivered to a Toys for Tots location near my house once I'm done with the fundraiser.

I know with the economy being what it is, things are rough for a lot of people (myself and my boyfriend included) BUT if you can spare $5 that would be enough. With $5 I can buy an action figure, toy cars, Legos, a stuffed animal, various kinds of dolls, PlayDoh sets and various other things. $5 will buy a toy and in some cases more than one toy. I can get 8 or 9 Hot Wheels cars on $10 so no amount would be too small. If 15 people donate 5 dollars, I have $75 and that will buy quite a few toys to brighten a child's day. You can do something to help and leave all the work up to me.

Like I said, I know life financially sucks for a lot of people right now. If you can give just a little bit though, you'll be making someone happy and doing something good. It's not that big of a deal to let go of $3 or $5 to a great and very worthy cause.

And yes, I know Christmas isn't about the toys and other presents but imagine being 7 and not looking forward to waking up Christmas morning because Santa couldn't bring you anything this year. It's a bummer.

If you want, please feel free to post about this on your blog with links and send people over. I would appreciate that quite a bit. If you do pimp this post out on your blog, email me after you do so with the post link so I can include you in a post that's to come later on. Also feel free to tweet about it or post it on Facebook. A few dollars from a lot of different people goes a long way. :)

This post will stay at the top of the blog for quite a while. Actually, it will be up at the top until the time I'm done with the fundraiser. The cut off date to take donations via paypal will be December 14th. I'll go shopping and deliver the toys by the 17th.

There's also a tab Toys for Tots at the top of the blog if you want to go check out all the previous posts and pictures from the previous two years.

The tab just has pretty much what this post has plus links to the posts I did last year including all of the pictures as well as a donation link.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2 days left in the Toys for Tots fundraiser! & other stuff...

Two more days left to donate to the Toys for Tots Holiday Fundraiser and two more days left to enter the $25 Target Gift Card Contest.

If you've entered the GC contest and I haven't emailed or DM'd you on Twitter to let you know I've counted you, then please email me [amorousrocker (at) gmail (dot) com] and let me know. I'm working 50 hour weeks right now so keeping up with everyone has been a little tough with real life being so busy on top of working a lot of hours. If you didn't have me tell you that you've been counted yet, I haven't entered you into the drawing for the gift card yet and you need to email me. :)

Yesterday sucked. This month has sucked so far despite my best efforts to look at the bright side of things but I digress. I had a bad morning thanks to an early morning argument with a friend, bad day at work, burned my hand, broke the keyless entry remote for my car and then on the way home from work I got into a minor accident because some dumbass woman was busy on her phone on the highway and ran smack dab into the back of my Civic. So weird how people don't just fucking drive anymore while driving. A lot of people don't anyway. I'm fine and my car is fine, thankfully. I don't cry easily but I'm going through some stuff and a lot of stress right now and blah blah blah. Anyway I almost started crying when I got out to look at the potential damage and was so relieved to see nothing major that I almost started crying out of relief. Especially since she informed me she didn't "exactly" have auto insurance currently. Today will be a better day. Yep yep yep.

Anyway. I'm pretty much done Christmas shopping. I have my boyfriend, my family & most of my boyfriend's family members that I get gifts for covered. I'm glad I actually got started early this year so I don't have to deal with it when everyone really starts getting crazy because it's getting closer to the day and they're still not done yet. I hate shopping as it is the rest of the year but during the holidays? This is why I do the Toys for Tots shopping either early in the morning or super late at night. Stocked shelves and not near as many crazy people to deal with. Win/win. I'm super excited to go toy shopping soon and I'm sure a lot of people are equally as excited to not have to hear about it anymore after I do the final post next week, lol.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Great Online Cookie Exchange Extravaganza!

I love baking. It's one of my very favorite things to do in my free time and something I at times to find therapeutic. Even though I work in a bakery, I still enjoy baking goodies for friends and family members, especially during the holidays. Doing the annual Great Online Cookie Exchange Extravaganza brought to you by JZ of the badass blog, A Reluctant Bitch, is also a fun thing I love taking part of during the holidays. What's not to love about sharing recipes and discovering some new ones? As always, I'm going to post a few. :)

Snickerdoodle Cookies
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the eggs and mix thoroughly with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and well combined. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and stir into the shortening mixture.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon.
Shape the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls (1 tablespoon per ball), and roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar. Arrange the dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake two sheets at a time until the edges of the cookies are set but the centers are still soft, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Transfer the cookies to wire racks for cooling.
Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies


  • 1 batch Sugar Cookies, recipe follows
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

Sugar Cookie:

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Add chocolate and vanilla to 1 half and incorporate with hands. Add egg yolk, peppermint extract, and crushed candy to other half of dough and incorporate with hands. Cover both with plastic and chill for approximately 5 minutes. Roll out doughs separately to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Place peppermint dough on top of chocolate and press together around the edges. Using waxed paper or flexible cutting board underneath, roll dough into log. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place cookies 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Peanut Butter Cookies 
  • 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup additional to roll cookies
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
 In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg to mixture. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy. 
Sift the salt,baking soda and flour and mix into the creamy mixture until well combined.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in sugar. Place on baking sheet and flatten with fork. Bake for about 12 minutes.
Note: Throwing in some chocolate chips to the peanut butter cookie dough is never a bad idea. ;)

Mmm, cookies! Those are three of my favorite cookies to make and hand off to others during the holidays. And to eat myself. :D

To see JZ's post and all of the other exchange extravaganza participants, check out JZ's blog post here

And lastly, there are now 8 DAYS LEFT TO DONATE to the Toys for Tots Fundraiser! Also, the Fundraiser Promo contest for a super easy chance to win a $25 Gift Card to Target ends on December 14th as well so there's still time to get it on that. A donation isn't necessary to enter the contest but definitely appreciated! And again, big thanks to everyone that has already helped out via donations or other ways, I appreciate y'all so much. :)


Monday, December 3, 2012

35 Happy Things....

I haven't done a post on things I'm happy for or things I'm grateful for in a while. I've felt particularly whiny lately because life has been stressful and a little unpleasant lately. I see my boyfriend two days out of the week and only for about half the day those two days because our work schedules are so opposite. And working in a bakery is awesome but during the holidays, it's insane and big fat daily reminder of how rude and impatient and all around obnoxious the general public is. Plus other more personal stuff I won't be putting out here. :)  So I like doing these posts to remind myself that I still have things to be happy about and as a reminder that life never sucks forever unless you let it. So here we go.

35 Things That Make Me Happy Currently

1. AWOLnation
2. Gift shopping for my family and boyfriend being complete
3. Getting holiday cards to send out to people
4. I have a job I don't hate even though the hours some days really suck
5. I have a job
6. My brother's hockey games
7. Those days I get to sleep in passed 5 AM
8. Apartment hunting 
9. Massages
10. Baking holiday treats for others 
11. Yoga
12. Imagine Dragons
13. My boyfriend being done with his radiation treatments
14. No car payment because mine's paid for
15. My friend's Adam and Rob always being there when I need someone
16. Gnigerbread cookies, because I love those like people love pumpkin everything in Autumn
17. Random sweet and/or goofy text messages
18. Songs I haven't heard in years but still love and know all the words to
19. Having time to volunteer more
20. Drawing
21. New pillows
22. Cooler weather (it's in the 70's right now so a little bit cooler would be welcome)
23. Old books 
24. Occasional Sunday dinners at my family's house
25. The amount of cute penguin stuff that comes out during the holidays
26. Peppermint hot chocolate
27. Laughing a lot because I have some really funny people in my life
28. Trips to the aquarium
29. Nights hanging out at home with friends 
30. Waking up every day
31. Card game/board game nights
32. Genuinely nice people
33. Movie nights
34. Trans Siberian Orchestra
35. Fuzzy socks

It might seem easy to list a bunch of random stuff that makes you feel good or happy but sit down and try to do it and you might be surprised how much thought it requires some days. Which isn't a bad thing, it's good to remind yourself of all the good that's around you. 

And lastly, there are now 11 DAYS LEFT TO DONATE to the Toys for Tots Fundraiser! Also, the Fundraiser Promo contest for a super easy chance to win a $25 Gift Card to Target ends on December 14th as well so there's still time to get it on that. A donation isn't necessary to enter the contest but definitely appreciated! And again, big thanks to everyone that has already helped out via donations or other ways, I appreciate y'all so much. :)

Happy Monday!