Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Favorite Holiday!

I'm not sure when it happened, but Halloween has been my favorite holiday for years. It's possible that my love for candy corn is responsible, but it could also be that Halloween marks the time of year when my home transforms and takes on new life every month from now until spring.

I've been wanting to revamp the black feather wreath I made several years ago, and I couldn't wait until October.  I got several ideas from pinterest (my new little buddy) that I wanted to incorporate.

The first was this one:

It's a great cheap way to make a wreath HOWEVER, it wasn't a great solution for the wreath I made because it wasn't strong enough to hold everything without losing shape.  After the first wreath, my daughter and I made two more smaller ones, and the tubing worked okay.

After duct-taping the wreath, I made a witch's hat out of some felt and black fabric I had laying around.  I tried to hot-glue it to the wreath.  OOPS!  The glue melted the foam in record time!  I ended up just pinning things or using skewers to attach things to the wreath.

Next I dug through an old costume box for a pair of tights.  I cut off about a foot and stuffed each "leg."  For subsequent wreaths (since I didn't have any more tights, I cut each leg in half and sewed up the sides, creating a much skinner "leg" which I actually like better.

I tied each leg to the bottom of the wreath like this:

I thought the hat looked a little boring so I found a purple flower and some halloween ribbon to spruce it up:

I came across this skull at Michael's and attached it with a skewer:

I just kept digging through Halloween boxes and craft supplies to see what I could come up with.  I found this cute little guy and gave him an instant makeover with some glaze I had laying around and some glitter.  I think you could even just brush elmers glue or modge podge on the pumpkin and glitter it up.  I didn't care about the face since it wasn't going to show:

The finished product actually looks a little better in real life, but this is the best photography I could do with my phone:

I found clear glass bulbs in my Christmas supply and glittered them up.  After I attached everything I wanted, I took two black feather boas (from Michael's) and wound them around the wreath.  I also found ribbon and tulle to cover the spots that the boa didn't quite cover.  VOILA!

Notice how the weight of the wreath sags? :(  Kacey and I made two more just a little smaller and with other items we'd found either laying around or at the craft store.  I like these much better but Kacey has to take them to work.

The best part of the project, believe it or not, wasn't even getting an earlier start to my favorite Holiday.  It was spending the time with my daughter creating something awesome!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Young Women--Crazy Week Survival Kit

I love love love my calling to work with the Young Women.  I love the calling because I love those girls.  I feel geniunely blessed to know them, and to be part of their lives.  Just as with my own kids, my heart hurts when they are struggling.  This week is going to be particularly crazy for one of my laurels with her responsibilities for homecoming and student council, early morning seminary, tennis matches, and SATs.

I remember how overwhelming weeks like that felt in high school!  I hate that any of the amazing youth have to feel so overwhelmed!  I know its necessary, and I know they will survive, but I wanted to make it a little easier for this girl this week.

Given that it's Sunday, and I don't have much in the way of cool things just laying around, I did what I could to create a survival kit.  If not lighten her load, hopefully it will remind her she is loved.  At the very least, I hope it gives her a good laugh or two...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fateful Joyride

As usual, Wednesday morning started early.  4:45 to be more precise.  Typically, Kacey works her way through my darkened room to hug me before heading off to work, and I nudge Jason into taking Kennadi and Jordan to seminary.  Wednesday was different.  Kacey burst into my room to ask, "Where are Dad, Jordan, and my car?"  Thinking Jason and Jordan had run to fill up Kacey's car with gas for her, I called Jason to find out where he was.  From the downstairs family room where he had fallen back asleep after getting up too early, Jason groggily answered, "the couch."

That set off the alarm bells in my heart and head and my next question set off the same alarm bells for Jason, "Where is Jordan and where is Kacey's car?" To which Jason answered, "I'm up!"

We couldn't begin to imagine how the day would unfold as we hastily made plans for getting everyone where they needed to be and proceeded to guess where Jordan could be and why. 

The girls and I knelt in Kennadi's room where we said a prayer asking for Jordan's safety.  The timing of that prayer and the events we would later discover were more than coincidental--remarkable, really.

With Jordan's autism spectrum disorder, we have become well aquainted over the past 17 years with impulsivity and Jordan's inability to think things through to logical conclusions.  It is impossible to explain to outsiders how such an intelligent and often engaging person as Jordan can do things that the rest of us would immediately recognize as stupid, harmful, selfish, dangerous, or just plain crazy.  I can't make sense of it myself.

We knew this was one of those times.  It wasn't the first time, but we feared it could be the last time.

Within a half hour of our prayer, we received the following call from a Good Samaritan who had been immediately behind Jordan on the road.  In California.  Over three hours away:

Your son veered off the right side of the highway, hit a burm, and over-corrected.  He then crossed all lanes of traffic, and rolled the car twice.

The next call was from a paramdic at the scene who informed us they were life-flighting Jordan to a head trauma center in San Bernadino.

These are phonecalls parents never anticipate.  Absolutely everything else in your world gets pushed so far back in your brain to make room for the images of worst-case scenarios and feelings of hope, desperation, worry, and fear to consume every square inch of space.  My heart and brain were out of sync, and I felt disconnected from the person making phonecalls to family, and making arrangements to get to California. 

Without an extra car, and due to the early hour, we decided it would be best if Jason just started driving to California so I could stay in Las Vegas to make necessary arrangements for the girls.  We were blessed to have a friend loan us a car.  One less thing to worry about.

My morning felt rushed and filled, yet I was getting nothing accomplished.  I couldn't fill the minutes and hours that dragged on with anything of use as I awaited, and at the same time dreaded, news from Jason or the hospital.

Two of the first phonecalls and texts I received were from my mom and a sweet friend, both of whom went straight to the temple on our behalf.  Both of them said the same thing--that they felt peace.  As long as the day was, and as slow as the passing of time was, I felt peace as well.  Thoughts of death, brain damage, long term disability, etc. continued, but they weren't scary to me, and I was able to have the thoughts without dwelling on them.  Two quotes I recently read came to mind:

And this...

Though a storm was raging, I was incapable of calming myself, and I was receiving no calming news, I felt peace.  I have pure gratitude for those who prayed on our behalf to enable that peace to envelope me.

Upon Jordan's arrival at the trauma center, the only news we received was that an MRI had been performed, and the results would be another hour or more. 

More waiting.

Far away.

Unable to control the outcome.

Finally, as Jason's long four hour drive came to an end, and he arrived at the hospital, we received the news that the MRI was completely normal.  There was no internal bleeding.  There were no broken bones.

I am speechless.

How does one walk away from an accident like that all in one piece?!?  My mind struggles to comprehend, so I won't try.

I will just be grateful. 

Grateful that Jordan has survived.  Grateful that Jordan was blessed with a sister who won't spend the rest of her life plotting revenge.  Grateful that the bills from this incident won't arrive until I've had time to process everything.  Grateful that I continue to stand and remain somewhat sane.

Now several days have passed, and I've had time to feel all the emotions that raged within me that day and the days following the accident.  I have begun to recover from the physical exhaustion that resulted from the emotional toll.

Life goes on, I guess.  It must because the little jokes we always manage to make after times like these (laughter is how our family deals with our crazy) are beginning to emerge.  The words of my wise older brother spoken years ago when Jordan survived sleeping under a burning bed come to mind, and I tried to reason that his survival meant Jordan had a mission here on earth to complete.  My brother said:

The Angels are up there saying, "WE'RE NOT TAKING HIM BACK!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cheap and Adorable T-shirt Makeover

It's that time of year again.  Actually, in our case, since it's not actually a yearly thing due to the stress I heap upon myself and coordination required to get everyone together and looking halfway decent, it's more like that time of every-three-years again.

Family Pictures

I've combed Pinterest for hours in search of original photo ideas.  I know, "Pinterest" and "original" don't belong in the same sentence.  Nevertheless, I make no claims to originality, and I've already confessed to being a pinposter.

While scouring for pose ideas and outift ideas, I came across this one for Kami.

Our colors are:

Or something like that (the last one is gray, not light blue)

I got the idea here:

I purchased two orange shirts on major clearance from DownEast.  Each was marked down to $2.50, so the finished ruffled shirt and a headband cost only $5.00!!!

The end result?

Once again, I have Pinterest to thank for feeling so frugal and crafty and awesome!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'm a Pin-poster!

I've found a new hobby (addiction, if you ask my family) called Pinterest.  It's this awesome virtual bulletin-board where you "pin" ideas you find anywhere on the internet.  You categorize the stuff you like into "boards" like "party ideas," "home decorating," " recipes," "favorite quotes," etc.  Because of Pinterest, I am able to feel incredibly creative, witty, and organized, when all I've really done is sit in front of the computer for three hours "pinning."

At last count, I have 28 different boards on which I've pinned 692 things.  I'm too embarrassed to admit how much time I spent gathering those pins, but I'm proud to say that, as of today, I have actually done 12 things that I've pinned!  I think this makes me officially a "Pin-poster"--someone with the ability to copy, re-create, or duplicate an idea they saw on Pinterest.  That's a term I made up, so don't go trying to use it on Words with Friends.

My favorite re-creation is this awesome monster birthday cake:

I love it for several reasons, not the least of which is that it looks just as good as the original I found here: I even made a little improvement by covering the skewers with pipe-cleaners!  On top of that, I actually used TWO pins, because I got the frosting recipe here:

My sweet friend, Heather, from, is an amazing blogger, creative genius, mom, and all-around super-woman.  I aspire to be her. Every time I go over to her house there is something new and awesome that she has created.  In other words, Heather doesn't just pin stuff and call it a day, she creates the stuff the rest of us pin!  Since among other things, Heather is a food photogrphaer, one of her favorite books is:
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling

I always joke with her that I'm going to write my own book one day.  I'm going to call it "From Pixel to Plate--Lost in Translation."  The book will be filled with all my recipe fails because every time I try to re-create a recipe, it NEVER EVER EVER looks like the picture in the book.

Maybe I won't have to write the book after all, because today I made somethine awesome!  I feel so accomplished!

I have to thank Jake for having a birthday for which I could justifiably create my monster cake.  Jake is my daughter's boyfriend, and he's nineteen.  He may have liked the cake better when he was five, but he was kind enough to indulge me and pretend like the cake was the best he's ever had (okay, he didn't actually say that, but I saw it in his eyes.)

It's possible I'm emotionally scarred when it comes to cake making.  The last time I put as much time and energy into a birthday cake was the "Great Princess Cake Debacle of 1998."  That was the year I spent the better part of two days building a stunning "Belle" cake for Kacey, who was then four.  After the singing, candle-blowing, Kacey said, "Thanks for the cake, Mommy, but next year can you make one I like?"  It's been Costco cakes ever since.

With several years of thickened skin and the wonders of Pinterest as encouragement, I was ready to try my mad skills again.  It was Jordan's birthday earlier this week, so I casually asked if I could make him a cake and what kind he'd like.  His response was, "Nah, a Costco cake is fine."  He was only two when I made the Belle cake.  How is it possible the Belle cake was so bad that even he isn't ready for a home-made cake?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Temple Picture Project

A few weeks ago we made these awesome temple pictures in Relief Society:

During the project my friend commented how awesome it would be to have a whole wall of temple pictures. Of course, I went straight home and started planning how I was going to do it.  On a tight budget of exactly $0 for craft and home decorating, I knew I was going to have to get creative!  I couldn't afford the $30-$120 per picture it cost at the activity, so I starved my family for a week and used grocery money to make my own temple pictures for less!

Newport Beach

Los Angeles (nice iPhone blurring technique)

Kirtland (Kami's favorite)

Nauvoo (we went there a couple years ago for a family reunion)

St. George

Now I just have to finish the others (Oakland, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Logan) so I can hang these on my new temple wall!

The pictures were taken by Altus Photo Design and can be found here : 

I double checked to make sure it was legal to download the photos and use them for myself before I had them printed at Costco.  The prints cost $.39 to $2.99 each depending on the size.  The smallest print is the Los Angeles (4x6), and the largest is the Las Vegas (6x18 which I haven't completed yet.)

After Costco, it was off to Home Depot, where I had to give the wood-cutting employee a free lunch at our sub shop (shameless plug here: FIREHOUSE SUBS on Flamingo and Ft. Apache in Las Vegas.) so he wouldn't charge me $.50 per cut for the 19 cuts I needed on the 4x8 piece of wood I planned to use to back the pictures.

While at Home Depot, I utilized my big-girl panties and sawed close to a million pieces of various widths of baseboard moulding to use for my frames.  The thinnest is 3 1/2" and the widest is 6"--I bought the pre-primed mdf because it seemed like less work than the non-primed stuff.

With my backing and moulding in tow, I headed to the paint counter where I spent something like two hours deciding which black was the "right" one--who knew there were so many shades of black?!?  And seriously, those little samples of wood that demonstrate the "sheen" are useless.  I spent another hour before I finally settled on semi-gloss.

The following morning, I woke my teenage son up around 1:00 in the afternoon with the sound of power tools.  Jordan was geniunely concerned enough to call my husband at work to ask if it was okay that mom was using a power miter saw in the back yard.  I guess he was afraid it wasn't safe enough to just come ask me...

With all my pieces cut and only one or two minor mistakes, I was ready to use another PINTEREST tip!

What a clever idea!  A rubber-band around the paint can kept the whole can nice and clean which totally satisfied my "keep-my-projects-neat-and-tidy" ocd.  Okay, that's not technically a form of ocd, but I have it anyway.

Here are my cut frames neatly resting on plastic cups on newspaper on my dining room table:

I didn't take pictures of staple-gunning the frames together, but I will next time, because it's not as easy as it seems.  You definitely need a frame thingamagig that holds the frame perfectly square while you staple.  The correct term may be "band clamp" but I'm not sure.

I can't wait to use this idea I found on PINTEREST to hang my pictures!

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Forgot My Punchcard

Jordan began working at our family business the day we opened.  Even though our food is seriously amazing, Jordan has developed a habit of frequenting the bagel shop next door nearly every morning before work. 

This is how it goes when Jordan walks up to the counter:

Jordan: "Dangit!  I forgot my punchcard, and it was full!"
Employee: "We don't have punchcards.  You know that, Jordan."

Feeling less than defeated, Jordan pays for his bagel and walks next door to work, only to try again the next day.  When the next day rolls around, and Jordan strolls back to the bagel shop.

Jordan: "Dangit! I forgot my punchcard, and it was full!"
Employee: "We still don't have punchcards, Jordan."

Apparently, this has been going on for months--at least the 5 months we've been open, with little variation in the routine or the conversation about punchards.  Needless to say, the bagel shop employees know Jordan well!  Finally, yesterday, the exchange went Jordan's way!

Jordan: "Dangit! I forgot my punchard, and it was full!"
Employee: "Jordan, we don't have punchcards, but today the bagel's on me.  Don't tell my manager."

Sometimes I love the persistence of that boy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Scriptures

Today's Young Women lesson was on scripture study (Manual 3 Lesson 30.)  As usual, I have other creative bloggers and pinners to thank for making lesson time more palatable.  What's more palatable than chocolate?!?  NOTHING

Armed with this:

I made these:

Then these:

Fortunately, I thought I was teaching the entire Young Women, but I only taught the Laurels, which meant there were 20 of these little gems left over for my family to eat in 1/100th of the time it took me to make them.

As usual, I cried pretty much throughout the whole lesson.  The crying had nothing to do with the burnt fingers from using the hot glue gun to secure the chocolates to the cardstock.  It had more to do with the lesson itself.  Instead of using the case studies from the manual where examples are given and the girls are supposed to come up with scriptures that apply, I felt prompted to share personal journal entries about scripture study.

It was a good opportunity for me to read back through my journal and see specific examples, ones I hadn't thought of in a long time, of where the scriptures had made a difference to me.  I found examples of times when I found answers to specific questions and times when I didn't necessarily find answers but found peace just from reading.  I found examples of insights and understandings that "suddenly occured" to me.  I found the entry where I wrote that I wanted to be better about scripture study because I wanted to come to know my Savior.  I wrote that I no longer wanted to read simply out of obedience and simply to be an example to my kids.  I wanted to get to the point where I truly desired to read and could truly know my Savior.  It was about nine months after that entry where I found this:

"I have never felt as much excitement about the scriptures as I do right now.  I have never had the genuine desire to learn that I have now.  Before, reading was about obedience.  Now, it is about really wanting to read and to KNOW.  I truly love the scriptures."

I had all but forgotten about the first entry where I expressed the desire for my scripture study to be something more.  I just wanted to share with the girls real-life examples of what the scriptures can do in a person's life. I think it worked.