Friday, July 27, 2012

Second Lulu Blog Book!

Guess what?! (Hint: If you read the title, you'll probably win.) My second Lulu book came! I ordered it on July 13, and it came on Monday (July 25), so it had a 12 day turnaround. Not bad.

I love my second book even more than the first one. After looking at the first one and seeing how things transferred from monitor to book, I made a couple changes so now it's pretty much exactly how I want it.

First of all (and pretty obviously), I did more with the cover. I like the title bar on the first book, but I wanted this one to be different. So, I simplified the title bar by removing the strip of pictures. I then made a collage on Picmonkey (an awesome site I found a couple weeks ago that I love, and that you have unknowingly seen evidence of on my blog in form of those picture collages I've been doing) using some pictures from the year, and centered that underneath the title. I put both of those (the title and the picture collage) on the polka dot background, which I slightly enlarged (so the polka dots are bigger) and changed to a more yellow-blue tone. I also changed the font on the spine.

I really like how it turned out!

Secondly, I changed the main inside font (Trebuchet) from size 12 to size 11. The size 12 seemed just a bit too big, but the size 11 is perfect. And it takes up less space! Which is great, because this book was also quiet a bit (40 pages) longer than the last one.

Lastly, I added more space in between the date stamp, title, and body of the posts. It just looked better on the printed page. I made the decision after seeing the spacing in the first book, but it was actually kind of tough as I was formatting this book; I kept wanting to put less space in between them. Some things just look different in Word than on the printed page. In Word: less space = looked better. Printed: more space = looked better. Anyway, I'm glad I did add a little more space. It looks good.

So that's my second blog book! I'm really happy with how it turned out. The price (for 188 pages, hardcover, black and white) was $20.02 with $4.99 shipping. I used a coupon code that got me $3.60 off, so my total was $21.41.
Again, I totally recommend Lulu for printing your blog into a book. It does take more time and work than Blog2Print or Blurb (actually, scratch that - I think Blurb would have taken more time. But Blog2Print would have been less), but it's way cheaper and you can format it exactly how you want to. It's good quality printing and binding.
I updated this post on how to make a Lulu blog book, adding what I learned from this time around.
I'm working on this year's book already. I've copied and pasted all the posts up to this point, and I'm working on formatting them. From this point out, my plan is to work on the book once a month. I'll copy all that month's posts and format them in one go. That way, at the end of the year, I'll just have to do the last month's posts and be done with it.  So, yeah! Lulu's great.

Be sure to check out these posts too!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tons of weddings and cute children

As I mentioned last week, Jason, Ellie, and I just spent an awesome week in California with family. We got to spend time with our adorable nieces:






Ellie loved spending time with her cousins and aunts and uncles. She is so social and is so content when we're around lots of people.

We also got to go to two weddings on Saturday! First we went to Jason's cousin Julie's wedding, which was out in San Dimas. It was so pretty and it was really good to be able to be there.

Afterward we went to our friend Caitlin's wedding reception, which was back in Yorba Linda. They did a French theme with lots of flowers, and it was so cute! They also had delicious cake and these sweet temple cookies:

Their aunt made these! We were so impressed. The camera flash wiped out the detail, but you can see that they were shaped like the Salt Lake Temple with a heart cut-out in the middle. They were also frosted white with cute decorative swirls and a golden sprinkle at top where Moroni would be. Seriously adorable, and impressive.

Ellie and I with beautiful Caitlin!

A third wedding took place on Saturday; our brother-in-law Jarom's sister got married. Jason's sister Tiffany, Jarom, and their girls (Skylar, Mikayla, and Aubrey) went to her reception while we went to the other weddings on Saturday.

Also, on Saturday morning we took family pictures with our friend Wendy! She had her own photography business, which you can check out here on her Facebook page or here on her website. She is such a great photographer and I'm really excited to see how the pictures turned out!

We had such a great week in California. We loooved seeing family and being able to spend time with them and friends.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Another blog book on the way

I ordered my second Lulu Blog Book! This one is for the year 2011. I'll let you guys know when it comes. I changed a couple things this time around, and I'll let you know how that went.

I'm so excited!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Week at Nana's

Well, as you now know, we've been in California this week! We've been at Jason's parents' house. They're Ellie's "Nana and Papa," and they're amazing. They're seriously so great.

Here's Ellie taking a bath in Nana's sink:

Jason's sister Tiffany and her family also flew in this week. We're so excited to see them! We haven't seen them since Sarah and Tyler's wedding, over a year ago. Skylar, Tiffany's one-year-old daughter, hadn't even been born then. This is the first time we've met her, and the first time all the grandkids have been together!

All the babies!!!

Mikayla doing a ballet move.

Ellie and Emily escaping.

Like I mentioned in our Lake Arrowhead post, it was Jason's birthday yesterday!!! His mom made him a cake, with "help" from Mikayla and Aubrey.

Remember how last year she made the Darth Vader/Unicorn cake? Well, this year she made an alligator cake! (Jason couldn't think of anything to top Darth Vader, so he requested an alligator since his nieces like them.)

Fun fun fun!

Cabin at Lake Arrowhead

First of all, I just want to let you know that it was Jason's birthday yesterday. He turned 24. :) He is seriously the best husband in the whole world and I love him so much. I am so lucky to be married to him.

We've had an awesome week. You know how I said that we were planning to drive down to California on Tuesday? Well, we actually drove down on Monday! It was really sudden. Jason found someone to cover his Tuesday work shift, and so about Monday at noon we suddenly changed plans to drive down at 4 o'clock that afternoon. Luckily, I had been getting ready for our trip all day, so it didn't take too much additional work to get us ready to go.

We got in to Jason's parents' house late Monday night. On Tuesday we hung out with his family and took Ellie over to my dad's office, where he showed her off to all of his colleagues. Later that day, Jason's brother Michael, his wife Shelley, and their baby Emily came over to Jason's parents' house too. We all had dinner together and had a lot of fun watching the babies play together. Ellie really liked playing with her cousin and loved Michael and Shelley's dog, Jexi. She kept trying to grab Jexi's tail or fur and we had to show her how to gently pat the dog instead. After dinner we went over to Tyler (Jason's brother) and Sarah's new apartment, and hung out with them and our friend Brett (who's engaged! to our friend Candace! Woot!).

On Wednesday, after a kind of late start, we (Michael, Shelley, Emily, Jason, Ellie, and I) all drove up to Jason's grandma's cabin at Lake Arrowhead. The cabin had quite a few very large dead spiders around, which Shelly and I asked the men to handle. Ech. They were gross and scary, even when dead. Luckily, Jason and Michael didn't have a problem with them.

Ellie standing up in her pack-n-play at the cabin :)

After we settled in at the cabin, we headed down to Lake Arrowhead Village. This is the place where, three years ago in August, Jason and I got engaged. Here's the park and the bench where he proposed to me:

It was really cool to be back here. :) We haven't been here since we got engaged, and it was kind of sweet and tender to see it again.

As we walked back through the village, we stopped at a cool dog bakery where Michael and Shelley bought some treats for their dog Jexi (who was waiting for us back at the cabin). Some of the treats looked so good I would eat them myself if I didn't know they were for dogs!

We had dinner in the village and then went back to the cabin, where we spent the rest of the night playing with babies, playing games, and watching a movie. After the babies were asleep, we all tried to go to sleep too...and ran in to difficulty. We were a bit hesitant to sleep in either of the cabin's bedrooms due to the aforementioned spiders, lest there be some lurking the sheets or between the pillows. So, no problem, we decided to pull out the beds from the two couches in the family room. Except, when we took off the cushions from the couch and Jason went to go lift the bed out, he noticed something that looked like potting soil. Using Michael's phone as a flashlight to look closer, we realized that it was mouse poo! A lot of it. And a fuzzy chewed-up blanket-ball that was almost certainly a little mouse nest. The other couch proved to have the same problem.

Figuring out where to sleep was kind of difficult after that. Michael and Shelly decided to sleep on the third couch, which both seats of reclined. Jason and I decided to sleep on one of the other couches, with the cushions on. So, we didn't have much space. And, later, when I went to feed Ellie in the middle of the night, I fell asleep on the bed in one of the other rooms. I was too tired at that point to care about spiders. Apparently, I had the best sleep of the night (according to the other three). Combined with the heat, wind from the fan, dog barking and baby noises, they all had a very rough night's sleep.

In the morning we had a refreshing breakfast of poptarts and hot pockets, during the middle of which I suddenly remembered it was Jason's birthday. "Happy birthday!" I said, turning to him. "Oh yeah!" he said, sounding surprised. "It's my birthday!" We had all forgotten over the course of the long night. :)

We went on two little hikes (more like nature walks) in the morning that were really fun. One was really pretty and overlooked the mountains swooping down to the valley, and the other one went through the forest and we got to see a lot of really cool plants.

After that (and some baby naps) we went back to Alpine village, where Ellie got to swing for the first time!

At first she was nervous about it, but then relaxed and was smiling a lot.

Also, this squirrel was like the "guard squirrel." It did this high pitched call to warn all the other squirrels (who all ran into the bushes) about Jexi. It kept watching us the whole time we were there.

And after that, we headed home. We had more family waiting for us there (which I'll do a post on soon!).

Here's some funny signs we saw on our trip:

The second one's dedicated to me! (Well, it's dedicated to all nature lovers. But I count!)

We had lots of fun on our trip to Arrowhead, and Ellie and Emily really enjoyed playing together. They were fascinated by each other and kept following each other around the whole time.

Thanks to Michael and Shelley for inviting us! We had a great time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Little Robot Word Test

You know those little words they give you to make sure you're not a robot? Like, "gArfelpOo 27"? I just want you to know that I fail those like half the time.

Just wanted you to know.








Thinking about this later, I've decided that I must be half robot, and the computer can tell. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Almost 7 Months

I feel like these last couple weeks have been big ones for Ellie's development. Suddenly she's just seeming so much older than she was. She's crawling, and sitting up on her own, and talking to us (with more than just vowels - with consonants!), and reaching for us, and just interacting with us so much. Our baby is getting so big!

She's gotten a couple little bruises in the past week. :( One on her forehead, and one on the back of her head on her bald spot. They're from where she's bonked her head as she's tipped over as she's been perfecting the "sitting up on her own" thing. Our poor baby. But she's pretty resilient. She cries if she tips over too hard, but for the most part she just absorbs it and is okay.

She turns 7 months old at the end of this week, which is just nuts. This last month has flown by, and she's gotten so much older.

We love our baby!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A fiery 4th of July

Hi everybody! I hope you all had a great 4th of July this last week. We were lucky enough to have my mom, stepdad, and sister Sydney in town, and we had lots of fun with them. My mom and stepdad drove down to pick up Sydney, who had just gone to Girl's Camp in California with her friend from our old ward. They hung out in St. George for a couple days, and it was great! 

 On the 4th of July, we had a picnic at the Brooks Nature Park. We found it using the St. George Parks website. We kind of expected it to be crowded (it being Independence day and all), but since it was such a secluded park we had it entirely to ourselves!

We had a picnic and enjoyed the pretty scenery.

After lunch and a stroll around the park, we played "Bocce Rock." It's a new game we invented ourselves. It's just like Bocce Ball, except...with rocks. 

Okay, really we're just cheapos and we don't own a Bocce Ball set. So, we simply found some nice round rocks at the park to play with! They worked just fine. It probably would have been easier with a real Bocce Ball set, but Bocce Rock was really fun. :)

Our 4th of July night was pretty interesting. After we hung out at our apartment some more, went swimming in the pool, and had dinner, Jason had to go back to work. He had gotten a call earlier from a girl at the lab asking if he could cover her shift, as she had a family emergency. He said yes, of course, but that meant he had to go in at 8 pm for the graveyard shift.

He left at 7:45ish, as it was beginning to get darkish. Now, as you probably all know, we've had a ton of fires here in Utah (and in the western states in general) in the last week. St. George is just as dry and ready to burn as every other place in the west, and so we were kind of nervous about the amateur fireworks people would be doing that night. And we had a reason to be - even before Jason left, some idiots started a fire just two blocks away in a dry field right next to some apartment buildings. Luckily, the fire department was on top of things and put the fire out really fast, but it set the tone for the night. I jokingly asked Jason if he would come home if our house burned down, and he (of course) said yes. But after he left, that started seeming like a real possibility.

Right after Jason left, Mom, Sydney, Stefan, and I threw some of those little popper things (I don't know what they're called, but they're those little white paper-covered things that make snappy noises) and then hung out inside for a while. Not too much later (maybe about 9 pm) we went outside to do sparklers, and saw a big plume of smoke past these apartment buildings right in front of us. I knew there were dry fields between us and the freeway, and I guessed that's where the fire was. Stefan and Sydney hopped in the van to go see how close the fire was, and Mom and I hung out outside for a couple minutes (where the air was hazy with smoke), and then went back inside.

I started to get really nervous. My aunt and uncle in Alpine had been evacuated from their house because of the Quail Creek Fire just the day before, and the possibility of fire was just very real. I knew that the fire we saw from our front doorstop almost certainly wouldn't get to us (even though it was just a couple blocks away) because the fire department wouldn't let it, but we have a dry field full of dry, crackly bushes right behind our apartment. What if some idiot started a fire ten feet away from us? The fire department wouldn't have time to put it out before it reached our apartment building. The thought was freaking me out, so my mom suggested that we put together some things that we could just throw in the van and leave with if we needed to. So we went around the apartment and collected the most important things and put them in the front room, and then I felt a little bit better. Stefan and Sydney got back and said that the fire department had successfully put out the fire (which was only like three blocks away from us). Mom reasurred me that she and Stefan would stay at our apartment until the fireworks were all done that night, which made me feel better.

Things were a bit better after that. We did do sparklers (responsibly, I might add, without setting anything or anyone on fire) and watched the big St. George fireworks show from our front lawn. After Stefan and Mom left to spend the night at my aunt and uncle's, Sydney stayed the night with me here at our apartment so Ellie and I wouldn't be alone.

So, apart from the fire scare, we really did have a good 4th. We've had a good week since then, too; Mom, Stefan, and Sydney stayed with us for a good part of Thursday before they went home, we had a nice, relaxing weekend, and I put together my 2011 Lulu Blog Book (thought I'm waiting to find a Lulu coupon before I print it). And, most exciting of all, we're driving down to California tomorrow to spend time with family. Woot! We can't wait.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June in Review

Happy Independence Day, everyone! We're hanging out with family today. :) I hope you're enjoying yourself, maybe having a picnic or watching fireworks. Hopefully doing something fun!

I want to do a summary post of June; I didn't do a lot of posts last month about what we were doing, so here's one big one to cover the whole month.

The first weekend of June, we headed up north for my good friend Melissa's wedding. In the days after we got back, Ellie had her first solid foods! Here she is trying rice cereal for the first time:

She really liked it at first and would eat the rice cereal every time we gave it to her. Now, she doesn't eat it. She just blows bubbles in her spoon. She gets excited to see the cereal, but not because she wants to eat. She just wants to blow bubbles. It cracks me up; I'll seriously just be laughing the whole time I'm trying to feed her because she's so excited to stick her lips in the cereal and blow bubbles.

(Please excuse my "baby voice" in this video. It's really embarrassing to her myself. But Ellie's so cute.)

That next Friday, Jason and I went on a fun date to a Mexican restaurant in town and then bowling! The Mexican food place is called Irmita's, and we've been wanting to check it out for a while. They have several here in St. George. It was good food and had a really festive atmosphere; it reminded me of the Tiki Room at Disneyland. We liked it.

We went bowling at Dixie Bowl. We haven't been bowling in a really long time, so it was great to be able to do it again. Since we were there in the middle of the afternoon, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. This really old couple came while we were playing, and they were awesome! Their balls had really good spin on them. You'd think that the old man's ball was going to go into the gutter, but then it would swerve and hit right in the middle of all the pins. It was impressive.

Our rustiness showed in our scores for our first game, so we declared that one a "warm-up game." We did much better in the second round.

(As evidenced here!)

The week after that, I got a new calling at church. I was called to be the 2nd Counselor in the Young Women's organization. I am so excited! I seriously love all the girls already. They are so cute and amazing and I am really glad that I get to work with them.

The same week that the new presidency was called, we had Girl's Camp! (I know, crazy, right?) I didn't have to go because of Ellie, but Jason and I drove up to camp for dinner and the testimony meeting on Friday night. It was fun and the testimony meeting with the girls in our ward was so good. I'm glad I got to be there.

We had Ellie for dinner.

She didn't mind.

These were sugar cookies! Intense, huh? It was so pretty I didn't want to eat it.

That same week was the week my family went to Lake Powell. Jason and I couldn't go because of his work/internship, but we still got to see them as they drove through St. George to go to and come back from the lake.

Ellie loves her Grandpa!

We've watched several movies this month, such as "Fried Green Tomatoes," "The Help," and "The Adjustment Bureau." (We get all our movies from the library. They're free. We looove our library.) Jason hadn't seen Fried Green Tomatoes before, and neither of us had seen The Help or The Adjustment Bureau. Quick side note about The Adjustment Bureau: isn't it interesting that the moviemakers kind of got it opposite? They said that God is the one who takes away agency (free will), but really it's the other way around; Satan tries to take away our agency, and God is the one who gives it to us and protects it. Anyway, just kind of interesting. They were thinking the right themes, but they got it backwards.

This last date night we decorated blank onesies for Ellie. They turned out awesome. I posted about them yesterday. Here's the ever-talented Jason making a seriously awesome onesie:

And finally for our June round-up, yesterday Jason and I drove out to New Harmony for a going-away party for one of our coworkers. Have you ever heard of New Harmony? Probably not, because it's so small that it's off one of the freeway exits that says "No services." Yeah, it's that small. But it's really cool, and Jason and I loved how open it was and how much land everybody had. When Jason and I have our own settled house one day, we want a lot of land. We want a big garden, and trees, and openness. One day.

To sum it all up, here's some random pictures of Ellie!

Happy 4th of July!