Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Barbie Tree

Growing up, I was a bit of a girly girl. I tried to like sports, but my coordination was pretty awful until I reached the age of 14ish (and even then it wasn't that great). P.E. in elementary school was okay--except for that whole Punt, Pass, and Kick thing--but P.E. in junior high was a nightmare. It was the only class I made a B in from grades 6-8. But I digress.

Girly. I loved makeup and jumped at the chance to give anyone a makeover who would let me. I also really, really loved Barbies, and I owned a lot of them. I played with them a lot a lot too. Somewhere between the ages of 10 and 25 I lost the desire to actually play with them though, so now my beloved Barbies are boxed, safely under the guardianship of my parents' shed.

But evidently my love of Barbie has not completely waned, because each year when I go home, I find myself drawn to The Barbie Tree.
Behold, The Barbie Tree!

It's white, and it doesn't have a gazillion mismatched ornaments like my parents' other tree...and all of those Barbie ornaments have been given to me as Christmas gifts over the years. I dare you to guess how many Barbie ornaments I received for Christmas this year. 

Did you guess? 

The answer is four. I received a fifth ornament, but it wasn't Barbie; it was Crayola, the other type of Hallmark ornament I collect (all thanks to my mom). Normally I don't get so many in one year, but Mom said it was too hard to choose which one to buy this year. They make too many cute ones.

 I'm not complaining; this is one of the cuties I received. A Barbie shoe tree!

While I was at home, I practiced using the manual setting on my camera and got up-close and personal with some of the Barbies.

I know it'd look ridiculous on me, but I'd kind of like to try on her outfit.
Jackie O., is that you?

50th anniversary Barbie. My mom has an original like this. Very cool.

Polished and professional Barbie.

Trophy Wife Barbie? She seems a little uppity to me with one hand on her hip and the other clutching her gold necklace.

If a Barbie ornament were to be made in my likeness, I think it'd look a lot like this. Blue outfit, pencil skirt, camera in hand. She just needs to be a brunette.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big News

My mother- and father-in-law got their mission call today, and they're going to..................................................................................................................................................


We're surprised, but so excited for them!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Shall We Give?

One of my friends shared this on facebook, and I decided I wanted it on my blog.

"Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved. 
If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must reach out for the Carpenter's hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.
It was said of Jesus that He increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Do we have the determination to do likewise?" -- President Thomas S. Monson

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dad's 80th Birthday Bash

My dad's 80th birthday was last month, and we knew we wanted to do something big to celebrate. Mom and Dad planned the larger details like the venue, the menu, and the guest list, and Henry and I helped with some of the decorations. I love planning stuff like this, so I thought I'd share my most favorite things from the party.

1. The photo line
We collected photos from around my parents’ house and then went to Kinko’s to scan and print them in black & white. We ended up printing about 65 photos of my dad in various stages of his life—the oldest dating back to his 2nd birthday in 1932. My mom already had some twine for us to use, and we just bought a pack of clothes pins to hang up the photos. It was pretty inexpensive to do, but it made a huge impact in the room’s d├ęcor. Plus I think all of the guests enjoyed looking at the photos. So many asked, “Is that really Clyde?” 

2. Eighty sparkling candles!
Kind of a beast to get them lit all at once {that's my lil bigbro doing the job in the photo above}, but watching my dad and my 9-year-old niece as they blew them all out was priceless.

3. The memory book
This was Henry’s idea. We bought an 8’’ X 8’’ scrapbook album, a pack of jewel-toned scrapbook papers, and a couple of archival quality pens. We wanted all of the guests to pick a paper to write a message for my dad, but we also wanted to attach photos of them to the paper after the party {my next big project}. We had the guests trace where they wanted their picture placed on the paper. I typed up a step-by-step instruction guide, which we printed, framed, and sat on the “guest book” table. Unfortunately we only got one picture of the set up...and it just so happened to be in the background of another picture. Senior citizens like to be super punctual {read: 20+ minutes early} to parties, so things got a little rushed with the documentation of decorations.

I know, amazing quality, but you can see the papers, our photo template, instructions, the box, etc.

Here's a scanned copy of the instructions.

Approximately 80 of my dad's closest friends and relatives ended up coming to the party. I was so impressed by that. It was awesome. I think my dad loved every second of it. Arranging for all 80(!) guests to have their picture taken was a bit of a challenge because the room was packed, but I think we managed to get nearly everyone’s picture. I think it will be a really neat keepsake for my dad.

4. The prayer
Henry offered a prayer at the party in which he basically thanked the Lord for my dad's life and asked for continued blessings of health and strength. Henry said several people told him that that was the nicest prayer they'd ever heard, and I think that made him feel a little bashful, but it was a touching prayer. 

5. Love of family and friends
 That brings me to my fifth and final favorite thing. The party was a huge reunion of family and friends, and there was so much love there. There were people my dad knows from his career in real estate, church friends, barbers, plant coworkers {he worked in a plant for 40 years}, and the largest gathering of my family I've seen in a long, long time. Even more amazingly? There was no drama. It was such a happy weekend. I felt increased love for my dad, especially as I looked through those photos from his life. He is a good, honest man, and though he may be a bit grumpy at times, he is a wonderful example to me of loving, working hard, and serving others. (And heck, I’m sure I’ll be grumpy too when I’m 80.) So really, I guess my favorite thing about the party was that I came away realizing again how privileged I am to have him as my father. Love you, Daddy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Cheer

I told myself I'd do something fun and creative today, and here she is!

Pictured: table runner & berry tree {Target}, ghetto fab lime green glitter tree {courtesy of my mama}, our pantry door with wreath and some tin decorations we won at a White Elephant party last year, my little tin stocking and panda stocking hanger {courtesy of my mama}, poinsettia tree topper {I want to say Kohl's}, more berry trees and JOLLY sign {Target}, snowman {from my mama} and pillow {purchased tonight at Kohls for $15!}, santa {from my mama, I'm pretty sure, or Kohl's} and ceramic tree {courtesy of my granny, she made it}.

It took entirely too long to make this page, and I'm going to blame that on the new Photoshop. 
1. I had to figure out how to "pop out" my pictures, so that I could drag the layers onto my template. Seriously, how long had it been since I'd last digiscrapped?
2. I think I killed it towards the end. It was just being SO pokey! So, so sloooow. Very frustrating. And to think I wanted to have this done before Henry came home from work. Yeah, right. What I'm trying to say is, I hope someone besides me will appreciate my little creation.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One of my faves...

Oh snap, remember this? 70 days ago you wrote...

Yesterday it was "I love you;" today it was "let me scratch your arms up until you BLEED." Non-verbally communicated. Different student, same glamorous job. ready for the weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

So I don't bake much, and I blog about what I bake even less because most of the time, let's face it, the results aren't blog-worthy.

(You know where this is going.)

Last Friday, Henry and I made some seriously tasty cupcakes that the world needs to know about: Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. That's a delicious mouthful, no?

The recipe came from the site Ming Makes Cupcakes, which is now named "Cupcake HEAVEN" in my bookmarks list. You really have to follow that link to see what I'm talking about. Henry's already asking which one we're going to make next, and he's not even the cupcake fan in this household.

I was mostly impressed with the cake portion of this cupcake. Cream cheese frosting, though yummy, is not that exciting to me, but this vanilla almond cake was perfection. Worth every penny for that expensive almond meal.

So go, check out Ming's cupcakes, and let me know if you make any. It will be hard to choose which one to try next!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Infinite Hope

I haven't had the greatest day. I have a cold or a bad case of allergies or something that has me feeling less than my best, and my emotions have run the gamut today. Earlier, like much earlier in my first few hours of this day, I thought about writing. It was a time before the emotions that accompany sick, tired, and hungry crept in, and I was thinking about hope.  I read a talk on faith by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and it reminded me, I felt it, but then I forgot. Remember, tired and hungry crept in. Nothing good comes of tired and hungry for me.

Then tonight, as I was preparing for tomorrow (hopefully I'll return to work), I opened up my OhLife email. It read:
Oh snap, remember this? One month ago you wrote...

I had the best day today. I had the privilege of going to Time Out for Women in Plano with my mom and Denise last night and all day today. The messages were so inspiring. The theme was "infinite hope." I felt uplifted. It seemed like the underlying theme was that we each are doing well. We need to focus on our strengths to find happiness. Our Heavenly Father accepts our offerings even if they are not our "best." We are saved by grace after all WE (Jesus Christ + us) can do. That means the Savior does not make up the difference for us, but He makes ALL the difference. The last speaker talked about that. He gave a great analogy of a mother paying someone to teach her child piano and then in turn requiring her child to practice the piano. She doesn't ask the child to practice because it will pay the teacher or restore the money that was given to the teacher; she asks her to practice so that she will learn how to play the piano. He extended that to the Atonement. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to be transformed to become like them; the commandments they have given us are for us to become like them. It's not about repaying a debt because we can never measure up to that. It's about the change, so that when we return to our Heavenly Home, we will be comfortable there in the presence of God. That gave me such great comfort to think about those truths.
Of all the short little snippets I've written to OhLife, it was that one that showed up, the one that I needed tonight. It was the perfect reminder that even when the things I hope for are uncertain, the things that I hope in are not.

Tall Grass, Growing

By Miriam W. Wright

I see the tall grass swaying in the breeze,
The slender stems supporting nature’s store of life,
Not useless stalks nor tares but headed grass
Which stands so firmly rooted in the soil.

A day comes to my mind (now of the past)

We stood together. You had faith and stood so tall
And I was doubting. “Weeds,” I said, “Just weeds.
Or like this place,” I scruffed the earth, “Just dirt.”

“Our home” you answered. “There will be tall grass,

And we can build together. We can plant the seeds.
The Universe is His and He gives life,
And we can truly give a servant’s care.”

I looked at you, “To work, and work and fail.”

Your hand made motion up, “Then plan and work again.
See the warm sun” (Your tones so promising).
Then reaching down, I pulled a clump of weeds.

You smiled, “Already you have marked

A place to start. Right here can be our cornerstone.”
You placed a smooth-shaped rock, as if ‘homebase,’
To outline substance that was yet to be.
I looked into your eyes. “Perhaps, some day,”
But I could see no home …

And now, I stand and see—

No time from then ‘till now, but there was time
For storms, for drought, for strength-consuming hours.
The plans and efforts seemed so giant-high,
Yet now, so vapor thin that they are far out-shown
By window lights of home, and well-worn paths,
The firm clasp of your hand, your smile, your love.

The harvest-ready field,

I see it now.

You saw this field, the day you spoke those words:

“Tall grass-growing.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween Costumes 2010

We actually had not one, but two Halloween costumes this year. We weren't being overzealous in our celebration of Halloween; it's just that our *real* costume only worked with three people, and we were missing our darling third wheel for the first costume-required party.

Costumes one and two were both really simple though.

Costume 1 was recycled: Price is Right contestants. This was my costume my freshman year of college (can't believe that was seven years ago!), so I already had the shirt. I just bought some new iron-on letters to cross out Bob and add Drew. I bought a sticky-backed foam sheet for our name tags, and done. Easy, and it cost about $4. Not bad at all.

Costume 2: rock, paper, scissors!

Also very easy and inexpensive. We did have the advantage of getting large pieces of cardboard and a grommet from FedEx (Henry's former employer---so excited to be able to say former by the way).

After that, we took it home to spray paint the handles red and to cover the blades with aluminum foil.

Henry went "3-hole punch Jim" style for his paper costume. We just cut out three circles from a sheet of black foam. Now might be a good time to mention that some people were confused about Henry's costume. The Office fans recognized him as 3-hole punch Jim, but others thought he might be a domino. Not paper. If we were to do this again, I think we'd add blue horizontal lines to his white shirt.

Deciding how to make April a rock was the toughest part. We thought about stuffing a black garbage bag or painting/chalking up a black shirt, but luckily Henry had the brilliant idea of wrapping her up in a scarf I already owned. She really didn't want to wear it at first, but somehow we got her to concede.

The cost of all three of our costumes was approximately $10. Sure beats the hundredsomething dollars we spent last year to be Mary Poppins and Bert!

You're looking at the "Most Original" costume winners, Rutherford Ln. Trunk-or-Treat 2010.

Friday, October 29, 2010

H, a, double l, o, w, double e, n...

spells Halloween! 

I am so excited for all of the Halloween festivities this year. Love my new wreath {seen below}, love the return of all things pumpkin and spice, and it's finally starting to feel like fall! 

Last night we carved a few pumpkins with some friends. Haunted Tree was completed by Team Henry, Allison, and Tyler. Mummy Pumpkin was completed by Team Henry and Donna plus a little mascot. It was a fun night. I'm so thankful for all of the awesome friends we've made in our ward...even if a lot of them have moved/will be moving away soon.

Up next:  trunk-or-treating. Can't wait to take my niece tomorrow night! She will be the cutest rock ever...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Possum Kingdom

If you would've asked me what it was a few short months ago, I would've said a Toadies' song. But that's not all, my friends. It's also a lake and a state park. Actually, the lake provides the setting for the song, I'm pretty sure.

I saw a spread on it in one of my dad's issues of Texas Parks and Wildlife toward the end of summer, and I decided it'd be the perfect getaway for Labor Day weekend.  Traveling all around Colorado this summer inspired me to visit more of my home state.

The park wasn't exactly what I was expecting. One of the main draws for me was seeing Hell's Gate, but once we got there we were told that we wouldn't be able to access it without a motorboat. I was pretty disappointed.

So we didn't see any of the really big cliffs, but we had fun anyway. We went canoeing and we swam a little bit too. There were bees everywhere, so Henry got to see me freak out when they'd fly ever so close to my face.

After several hours at the lake, we decided to head on to our hotel in a small town called Mineral Wells. We took a scenic route, and on the way we came across this really picturesque spot near a pretty bridge.