Sunday, December 23, 2012

DIY: Pom Pom Wrapping

It's almost Christmas!  Can you feel it in your bones?  I love giving but mostly, I love wrapping.  I have included this fun tutorial for an alternative to ribbons and bows.  Using yarn can be cost effective and feel quite seasonal.  

Here is what we are making:  Pom Pom Gift Wrapping

It looks like a pom pom at the top of a winter hat, right?

Here are the very simple instructions:

Step one:  Start with the wrapping of your choice.  I chose heavy packaging paper because I love the old flair.  Feel free to use whatever you would like.  Just make sure to have crease those corners. 

Step two:  Wrap your desired amount of yarn around the package.  I like to do five or six layers so that the pom pom can be fastened securely on the box.  

Step three:  Wrap the same yarn around your hand about 15 to 20 times.

Step four:  Take the wrapped yarn and place it on top of the intersection of yarn.  With another piece of yarn, tie it securely, centering the spool.  

Step five:  Once the spool is fastened securely at the intersection of the yarn, use a sharp pair of scissors and cut.  You'll have a poof in every direction.  

Step six:  Fluff it up. find a place under the tree and give a gift to someone you love.

From, I wish you the merriest of holidays.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Together, We Are All We've Got

Every one of us is fighting a battle.  Regardless of size, scope or magnitude, most days are uphill.  We struggle to accomplish everyday tasks.  We try diligently to make a positive impact on those around us.  We want our work to be meaningful.

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. It is easy to forget that we are a small piece of a vibrant, moving globe.  We are important because we are a member of a greater community.  Together, we are all we've got.

We understand just how human we are when our community is disrupted.  

Disrupted is an understatement for the events that happened Friday.  In the instant that we learned of the tragic series of events unfolding in CT, we were all transparent.  We saw ourselves as part of a community.  We felt helpless.  We felt sad.  We felt vulnerable.

In the weeks and months that pass, we will partake in conversations that attempt to answer the 'why' of this tragedy.  Some of us will only trust the conversation with our closest friends while others will turn to social networks to vet their solutions.  

As with many of you, I saw my Facebook feed fill.  People expressed their deep condolences. People wanted answers.  People suggested solutions.  Very different solutions.  They covered the spectrum:  mental illness, gun control, violence in the media, a lack of compassion.  Some begged for the killers name to be kept from the public to prevent him from reaping the publicity he sought, while others needed a face and name to fully comprehend the event.  

We, as individuals, are made up of our experiences.  We view the world through the lives that we have lived and the tools that we have developed to survive.  We will view the solutions to the problems that plague us through this same lens.  

I ask of you.  I beg of you.  Practice compassion when engaging in these conversations. These are the solutions to the safety of our children and a nation that is desperately seeking calm.  Express gratitude for those who partake in this sensitive conversation, because together, we are all we've got.  

What I am trying to say is best done in an example:

This post came across my Facebook feed this weekend:

"I just saw a god dammed article saying the elementary school shooting would have been PREVENTED if the teachers had guns!!!!!! I cant tell you how ignorant, stupid, and back woods that is. To say the absence of guns is the problem, is really the problem here!!!!!!!!!!"

When we see things like this, regardless of how we feel, we get the chance to listen.  We get to experience the world through another's point of view.  We get to experience the world through another's life experiences.  While the solution being criticized may seem extreme to some, it is the viewpoint of an individual in our community.  And together, we are all we've got. 

We get a chance to hear.  To listen.  To digest.  Here, we get to say, "I appreciate that someone is looking for solutions to keeping our children safe", regardless of their approach.  We get to say, "yes, we have common ground.  We are both interested in disarming threats that plague our society".  We get to say, "all of us need to come together to find a solution to these problems that leave our hearts empty".  We get to show compassion before we express our differences.  

Before I express my feeling on the thought of teachers concealing weapons, I first must say that I truly appreciate the spectrum of ideas being brought to the table.  I appreciate this idea, because I never would have thought of such an approach.  I appreciate this contribution to the dialogue because I know that I don't have the answers and in order to find a solution, we must be brave enough to share our truths.  

When I think about teachers with concealed guns, I hurt for this generation and future generations of children.  We hire teacher because they have a love for children.  We love their enthusiasm for shaping our youth into productive members of society.  We don't hire teachers because they are expert marksmen.  However, this idea makes me realize that there is a need for teachers to protect their students and keep our children safe.  

Now, we get to engage in conversation.  We get to say, "yes, it is important for teachers to feel empowered.  I suggest that we have not only a system for visitors entering the school from the front door, but from the individual classroom as well."  We get to say, "yes, if teachers have some sort of self defense or mediation training, they can better protect our children."  We get to say, "thank you for caring enough to put your opinions out for the world to ponder because together, we are all we've got."

My heart hurts for those in CT.  My heart hurts for all of us.  Please, listen with compassion and share with courage.  We must engage in a meaningful conversation in order to heal.  

Together, we are all we've got.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Grinch (at the end of the story)

Today, I LOVE my husband.  Don't get me wrong, I always love him, but there are a couple times a year when I can understand exactly how the Grinch feels at the end of the story.  My heart grows three times larger, every inch of it, dedicated to him.

Take note babe...

My heart smiles when we are on a trail, somewhere in a forest pushing pedals on our mountain bikes.  My heart swells when we are at our Alma Mater, cheering for our bobcats, leaving us hoarse for weeks to come.  My heart explodes when we stop at the convenient store to get a tag, allowing us to hike to the area where we had our honeymoon and pick out the perfect Christmas tree.

We fall in love with an evergreen from yards away.  We get close and realize it's not quite what we had expected.  We see another and blaze a trail to the the next option.  We debate the tree from every angle. We  hold hands.  We laugh.  We love.  We finally decide that imperfections or not, we are just excited to get a tree.

This year, we were victorious!

And of course, this gentleman does the heavy lifting.

Our house feels very cozy in the glow of the holiday season.

Now, if only I knew what to put under the tree to make him feel as loved as I do today.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bundled Up and Beautiful

I love to take photos.  I enjoy snapping photos of friends and friends of friends, but it's a small operation.  As of now, I don't order prints.  I simply edit and burn.  It's easy. I'm happy.  My clients are happy.

I can't however, just hand over a disc.  I love taking pictures.  They are my passion and the reflection of the people in my life.  So, I just had to do up a CD sleeve to deliver photos in style.

Are you ready for this fun tutorial?

First, take an 8.5" x 10" piece of paper.  Place the CD in the middle page width-wise with half of the CD on
the paper and the other half off as seen below.  I chose to use packing paper.  You could easily replicate this sleeve with anything from a paper grocery bag to scrap booking paper.

Next, fold the CD towards the remainder of the paper and crease it along the bottom of the disc.  Fold the rest of the paper over the top of the CD, creasing it along the top.

Now, you'll need to dress it up. I chose the following:  An 1960's map of Alberta Canada and brown paper raffia.

Cut a 2" sleeve and wrap the CD in the middle of the square.  Tape it in the back and tie a sweet bow around the sleeve.  Top it off with a lovely tag.

Now that I think of it... I should send a disc or two to family with photos form our trip to California.  Did you see our awesome trip to Cali?!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Left Coast.

Craig, myself and my in-laws enjoyed a trip to LA over Thanksgiving break. I must admit that while I was looking forward to the trip, I am an East Coast girl.  Since the summer that I was 5 years old and I spent 2 months just outside of New York City with my aunt, uncle and cousins, I have loved smell of the Atlantic.  I knew I would enjoy California, I just knew I wouldn't enjoy it as much as the East Coast.

I was so wrong.

At every turn there was a new adventure.  We didn't exactly plan out every our day, but the pieces fell perfectly into place.  We arrived mid-day Thanksgiving and decided to go straight to the beach.  That was pretty surreal on a day that usually represents the first day of the ski season.

Most of our time was spent walking the pier.  We enjoyed fish and chips while the rest of the country dined on turkey and  played skee ball in lieu of watching football.

Let's just say that we were thankful for the awesome magnet we were able to take home after redeeming 300 tickets.  I hate to brag, but it only cost us $10.

The next day, we had a fantastic time at the LA Zoo, but the highlight of the day came at sundown.  There is a free observatory at the top of the city, overlooking the Hollywood sign and downtown LA.  The Griffith Observatory is home to the best refracting telescope in the United States.  We waited in line for an hour to see the moon for 30 seconds and it was so worth it.  What a treat it was!

The next day, we continued our space theme.   Craig's parents grew up during the space race.  With the Space Shuttle Endeavour as a recent addition to the California Science Center, we had to make the stop.  Craig's parents actually saw the last shuttle launch of Endeavour.  It holds a special place in their hearts.

It was breathtaking.  I truly had to catch my breath as I walked in the room and looked history in the face.  As my father in law said, it felt like looking at a bird in a cage.  It's so strange to know that such a magnificent piece of innovation has had it's wings clipped.

That evening, we finally enjoyed the activity that we flew to LA for:  We saw the Book of Mormon.  It was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone - the creators of South Park and Craig's all-time favorites.  Who knew I could enjoy a musical with my very willing husband.  

All in all, we loved our trip.  I'm sure that we will head back sometime soon.  California may just hold a candle to the East coast. 

Thank you LA for the fantastic trip.  We felt truly thankful for all of our fantastic experiences.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snappy Inspiration

Disclaimer:  I am not a professional photographer.  I have never claimed to be.  I am a hobby photographer that makes mistakes, struggles to find the perfect combination of manual settings and hasn't mastered the best ways to make every lighting situation workable.  I do however, have a love for the art, a knack for composition and I'm learning more and more every time I hear the sound of a shutter. 

With that being said, I love to capture life.  A perfect shoot with the beautiful people in my life includes a portrait session and some sort of fun experience.  Stand up straight, then relax.   
That sums up this session quite nicely.

This beautiful old Thermos was my inspiration for the design.  It has sweet little cups and quaint style, but I cannot get over the simple carrying case and cork.  A cork!  This antique was quite the find at a local vintage store.

The thermos led to this -- A cozy hot chocolate picnic in the middle of the woods. 

Don't worry, the whipped cream and chocolate syrup were covered.  They are just out of the photo. 

A cozy space for this beautiful family of four to sit back, enjoy one another and forget that I am snapping away. 

The sweet kisses and sweet chocolate are in abundance.  All are happy with both.
What matters is the perfect amount of whipped cream and the wonderful mommy carefully crafting the swirl.
Spills couldn't be further from the mind.

There isn't a care in the world.  Just a toast to a very fun family. 
Oh, and those portraits? 

More like the photos that are featured in the frame when you purchase them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Match Made In Heaven

Do you want to know what makes this tolerable?

Minus the wonderful skiing we are about to enjoy, my only solution to a cold winter day is this:

Delicious tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons.  I can see the heavens opening and hear the angels singing when this bowl of goodness is placed before me.

**Quick side note:  My cooking talents are inherited from my mom.  Hence the absolute difficulty of this dish.  As a kid my mom used to make us grilled cheese.  We may have been a distraction or the heat on the stove may have been faulty, but every. single. time., the sandwiches would be burnt.  We would just use a butter knife to scrape off the charred remains.  It makes for a messy counter top.  But because this was my experience, I honestly thought that the scraping was part of the 'directions' for making a grilled cheese until I was about 15.  Not a quick learner, I know. 

While the rest of the world may not need a tutorial to make this not so rocket science dish, here are my couple of tricks to make this hearty meal just a smidge better.

Tip number 1:  Pesto!  Don't accept the contents of the can.  You can even cut up some lovely basil to top this one off.

Tip number 2:  Before you make your grilled cheese croutons, flatten the bread.  This way you'll get an extra bit of texture with each crunchy bite.

Tip number 3:  Cut those cheesy squares into tiny pieces.  You'll want to have enough for each bite.

Tip number 4:  Garnish, garnish, Garnish!  My favorite add-ons are chopped basil, sour cream and pine nuts.  Oh. So. Good.

Tip number 5:  Eat with someone you love.  Warm your belly and your heart.

Keep warm!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

...And I Approve This Message

I love politics.  I study it.  I observe it. I analyze it.  Publicly, I keep it to myself.

It's not that I don't appreciate my right to free speech.  It's not that I am timid or afraid to offend.  It's not that I straddle the metaphorical fence.  Ask those close to me.  I am willing to engage in the discussion passionately, thoughtfully and without reservation.

I remember as a child, maybe 4 years old, going to vote with my daddy.  We walked behind the curtain, #2 pencil and ballot in hand.  The writing platform was well above my reach.   I remember asking, "Who are you voting for?  Are you voting for the Easter Bunny?  Are you voting for Santa Clause?"  I couldn't see what he was writing but I knew it was important.  I treasure that memory.


Today I choose.  I choose the President that will lead this nation through the next four years.  I choose if Idaho will transform through controversial Education reform.  I choose the neighbors that will be my voice through their service of representation.

Most importantly, I choose to look forward. 

Many of those that I love, that I call family, that I call friends, that I call co-workers, that I call people whom I respect, that I call my fellow Americans.....   will be disappointed tonight.  They will look at the candidate and the reform that they cared so deeply about and realize that tomorrow, their hope for an America, led by an individual or guided by policy, is no longer. 

Hearts will hurt.

Tomorrow, when the blackened eyes of a hard-fought political battle emerge, I promise this:  I will be empathetic. I will consider the feelings of others when I speak about concrete results.  I will not make generalized comments about who should have won or who should not have won. 

I will contribute.  I will look forward.  Even if the ballot I cast today is not reflective of tomorrow.

We are made of our experiences.  We believe our truths based upon the circumstances that we have faced and the disposition that we use to navigate our trials.

I believe that people who hold their values close to the vest are noble.  I believe that people who care deeply about issues are noble. I believe that the people who catapult themselves into the public spotlight to be of service to their neighbors are noble.  On either side of the ballot. 

Today, those noble individuals are hopeful.  Tomorrow, many will feel defeated.

For myself, for my community and for my nation, that after months of divisive dialogue, just needs to be healed, I will contribute.  I will be part of the solution. I will engage in dialogue that works toward a common goal and a shared vision.

Won't you join me?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Take Two

I started blogging because I needed balance in my life.  I am currently working on my doctorate where technical writing is a constant.  It is mind numbing.  Blogging allows me to have a creative outlet which I am really enjoying.  I hope you're enjoying it too.

Blogging also has 2 other perks that I love. 

First, it's nice to be constantly reminded of how grateful I am.  Taking the time to type about my day or what I am dreaming about is fun.  I realize that my problems are few.  I am lucky.

Second, blogging allows me to be reflective.  Case in point: 

On Monday, I posted this photo.

If you are dying to make a pair of those antlers yourself, head right on over here.

As you can see, I doctored up the photo a bit to make the walls look busy.  The text was supposed to distract you from nakedness.  Did it work?  Seeing it on my blog however, I knew I had to do something about it.  The window was driving me crazy!  Are you ready for the reveal?

Drum roll......

How about that chalkboard, eh?!  That is the future project that I was eluding to. 

Quick story:  I went to an auction about 3 months ago.  They were selling all sorts of old school equipment including a beautiful old card catalogue.  Remember those beautiful old drawers and hardware?  To die for!  But not to bid for...  at least not to bid as much as everyone else was willing to.  I was so bummed to leave without the item I came for, but I picked up this amazing score for a single dollar.  It didn't fit in my car though... and it weighs about 70lbs.  So we had to balance it on top of the car for the drive home.  I love it!

I bought the curtains at World Market.  My FAVORITE store.  They are simple, but I couldn't find anything that was loud and appropriate.  So I just dolled these up.  If you like the garland, there is a great tutorial at Ashley Ann Photography.  Do you read this blog?  It is wonderful!  Here is a close up of my finished product.

I cannot get enough color. 

Table centerpiece.

And a note from a friend.  Catherine... Can you confirm that this was your husband?  We didn't see it until today, but were so excited when we did.

Two dining room walls down, two to go. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Big Reveal

So, that Halloween costume reveal that I promised yesterday?  I'm ready to deliver.

Imagine if you will, walking up to the door of strangers. 

Do they to scream in terror at the guts and fake blood you have carefully crafted? 

Do they Ohh and Aww at your creative get-up? 

Or do they exclaim with delight, "I JUST WON $10,000,000!!!"?

We went for the latter. 

Prize patrol anyone?  Who knew we could get a two-fer out of that hairstyle?!

I was behind the camera all night, but I accompanied this fine looking fella in my pajamas and hair rollers.  As people would open the door, I would start jumping up and down as if I had just won.  Craig would reach out and shake my hand.  You can imagine, can't you?  It was so funny.

And now, for the main event...

Do you want to hear something funny?  I thought that at the end of an evening, trick-or-treating with an 18 month old and three year old that I would want to edit photos and post a blog that same night...

Is it totally obvious that I am not a parent?

Let's be positive though.  The kids had a great time, they only had one piece of candy, they were fed a healthy dinner and were in bed by 8:30.  Not so bad, eh?  Minus the fact that today, the day after Halloween, I feel like a zombie. 

For the record, the kids didn't get our costumes at all. They thought we were pretty close to crazy.

So... Photos of the kiddos you ask?

Here they are!

I felt very safe with these muscles following me.  


This guy wouldn't slow down.  He was not as amused with trick-or-treat as he was with doing karate moves in the leaves.  Here he is, strapped down in the car seat -- the only place that he was calm enough to capture.


And PS... You know I am helping myself to some Reese's Pieces from this little one's bucket.