Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moving

Hi folks! We're in full moving-mode over here at our house. Everything's getting sorted and packed up and ready to go. We're eating all the random food left in our fridge and trying not to run out of toilet paper. I'm doing tons of laundry and hoping Ellie (magically) keeps the rest of her clothes clean. It's so crazy that we're moving on Friday.

And. And. I have a super exciting, semi-secret project that I'm working on. I'm seriously so excited about it. Like so, so excited. I'm really excited. (It's probably hard to tell, huh?) I can't tell you about it yet, because it's not ready to be released upon the world (hmm, that sounds like a plague. It's not a plague), but hopefully it will be ready in the next week or so. (Probably like a week and a half; it's hard to work on it what with the moving and eating leftover jello and not running out of toilet paper and what not.)

Anyway! I hope you're having a lovely Thursday. Oh wait, it's Wednesday. Happy Wednesday!



Monday, August 27, 2012

Missing BYU

Have you ever heard of or read the 100 Hour Board? It's a group at BYU that you can ask any question to, any question at all, and they'll give you an answer 100 hours later. I love it, and I've been reading it on a daily basis for almost four years. Over the course of that time, I've learned so many random things from them, and have asked questions myself on occasion that I loved reading their answers to.

Anyway, when I was reading them today there were several questions that had to do with the new semester starting at BYU this week (today, in fact). Like, suggestions for how to have good relationships with new roommates, and what the board writers were most looking forward to with this new semester. And it just instantly took me back to BYU and made me miss the campus and the school and everything about it so bad. 

I loved being at BYU. I know I've mentioned it before, but I really, really did. And I miss it. I miss campus in the morning. I miss walking up past the indoor practice field, past the wonderful-smelling purple flower bushes, with the sun breaking over the mountains. I loved the path on the western hill that I walked home on through all of the afternoons, nearly every day, my sophomore year, where even though I was on campus I was alone and in nature. I loved that busy intersection of pedestrians between the SWKT and the JFSB, where I had heard stories of a student in a long-ago day directing traffic with a whistle and hand signals. I loved the people and classes and wards and my roommates. I could go on and on and on, but I think you understand.

I miss things. When they are done and over and I have to move on, I miss them. I still miss the way things were with my friends at the end of high school. When I got to BYU, I missed my high school friends so badly, and the fun nights we would have and the guitar sing-a-longs and the bonfires and everything we did together. I was loving BYU, but I was also missing what had been and what no longer was.

And that's how it is now. I love where I am - I love having Ellie and for the things Jason and I are being able to do - but I miss the way things were. I miss BYU, so badly. I loved it there. And when I think of it, and my memories and the pictures in my head come alive so vividly, I ache for it.

I read a book not too long ago, about the emotional aspects of moving. I know that seems a silly thing to write a book on, but the author was a woman who wanted to help other women have an easier time when having to move to a new places and start new phases of their lives. And she said something that I've thought of a couple times since I read it. She said, basically, that if there are things that were, but no longer are, and we loved the things that were, that we should not miss those things but cherish them. And that's what I try to remember now when I think of the things in my life that were, but no longer are, that I loved (and still love) deeply. I can no longer be at BYU. My time there has finished, and my life is moving on. But I can cherish those memories in my heart. And I do.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Books I Love - Beyonders

Do you guys remember when I wrote a post last year entitled "Books I Want to Read this Summer?" (I know it might be hard to remember; it was like a year and a half ago.) Well I did, in fact, read those books. And I planned on writing blog posts on them. And…now it's been so long that another summer has passed and I've actually read their sequels. So! You are lucky enough to be able to read my reviews of the original books and the sequels. Woot!



Today I want to talk to you about Brandon Mull's series "Beyonders." In "Beyonders: A World Without Heroes," a regular boy named Jason is, through a crazy twist of fate, transported to a different world he's never had an inkling existed. People in this new world, though, know about us. Sometimes, like Jason, people from our world end up over there. They're called "Beyonders," because they're from the "Beyond" (our world). Jason learns that this world is almost entirely ruled by an evil lord named Maldor, and also stumbles upon the secret that Maldor can be destroyed by a magic word which brave adventurers have to collect syllable by syllable. He's joined by another beyonder named Rachel, and the two of them set out to find the entire word, destroy Maldor, and return home to our world.

I have to admit that when I read the first book in the series last year, I liked it, but I knew that I still liked Fablehaven more. Beyonders was good, but (I felt) lacking some of the originality of Fablehaven. It seemed to me to be a more typical/regular fantasy plot. With that being said, though, the writing was good, the characters were good, and the story was entertaining. It was a good book and I enjoyed it, and I was very interested to see where the series would go.

(Side note: Have any of you noticed that Brandon Mull seems to have some sort of fixation on betrayal? In Fablehaven, it was one of the major themes, and it's carried over into this story as well. Thoughts?)

Now that I've read the second book, "Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion," I fully endorse the series as a "Books I Love" series. Brandon Mull is just so creative, and his creativity really shines through in this book. I won't tell you what happens, because I don't want to spoil anything, but the book is awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't wait for the next one. (Which, by the way, comes out next March. Sigh. I wish books came out faster.  But I'm patient. Mostly.)

So, yeah! Beyonders is great. If you're looking for some fun books, definitely try them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Food, food, food

Hola! So, as I was putting together some pictures from our last couple weeks, I realized that they were all related to food! We like food. A lot. If Jason and I suddenly had tons of money, we would probably spend most of it on food. So, here are some of our food-related activities from the past couple weeks.


Exhibit 1: Food in a cup


A couple Fridays ago, for date night, we had a Wall-E themed date. We watched the movie (naturally) and had all of our dinner in cups (since, in the movie, they eat all their food from cups). It was weird, and funny, and fun.


Exhibit 2: More baby food than we know what to do with


Basically, this picture is just to show you that we have baby food coming out of our ears. (After I typed that, it sounded weird. But that's an expression, right?) Ellie's trying all sorts of new flavors, and doing pretty good with getting used to them.


Exhibit 3: Ellie's new fruit muncher

When we were in the baby food aisle at the grocery store last week, we saw these awesome mesh food muncher things. Basically, you stick a piece of food in the mesh and close it, and then your baby can munch on it and taste it through the mesh. It seemed like the perfect solution to a problem we have - Ellie likes to eat everything, but we're always worried she's going to choke. With these, she gets to taste stuff and we don't have to worry! So, we got them for her. She loves them. We just pop frozen pieces of fruit in there and give them to her, and she munches and sucks away.




This thing is the best!


Exhibit 4:
Texas Roadhouse date

Last week, two cool things happened: Jason graduated (way cool) and my blog reached 100,000 views (less cool, but still fun). To celebrate, we went to Texas Roadhouse. Jason got a delicious burger, and I got a delicious steak, and we both got to eat delicious rolls.


Mmmm.

I love those rolls, and I don't normally even like rolls. That's an endorsement right there.

So, yup! We love food. And we love Ellie's new fruit muncher.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Adorable Baby

Guys, Ellie is so cute.


One of her favorite new things is our shower head. She gets so excited when she sees it that she shrieks repeatedly, reaching for the water and just shrieking because she's so happy. We tried to get a video of it yesterday but she got a bit shy when she saw the camera, so we'll try again soon.






Oh, Ellie Ellie Ellie. We love you.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Awesome Jean Tote Bag

All right, last day of this batch of crafts. Like I mentioned in the onesie post, I cleaned out my closet. This left me with not just a bunch of shirts to donate, but a bunch of old, worn-out or ill-fitting jeans as well. Some were so old and so patched that I didn't think even DI would want them. So, I used them to create my very favorite project out of all these.



I made a bag.

An awesome bag.



Jason and I go to the library all the time, and we use these cottony-type of tote bags to haul all of our books back and forth. Bags of this size are particularly helpful, so I decided to make another one using a couple pairs of my old jeans. As soon as I started planning it, I could visualize exactly what I wanted it to look like in my head, and so I just made it based on that. I used our cotton tot bags for a size-reference.




I used two pairs of jeans - a light one and a dark one - for the alternating strips and for the edge at the top. For the inner lining and the strap, I used this faux-jean cotton dress that I was also getting rid of. It was perfect because it's soft and a much lighter fabric than the jeans, so the inside is nice and soft and finished and the strap is soft as well.




By cutting the pieces of fabric carefully, I was able to utilize the dresses's already existing pockets without having to do any extra sewing. So, the bag has two pockets in the inside (you see them in the upper left part of the bag, one on each side).




This bag is by far my favorite of the projects I made last week. It's so soft and yet durable-feeling and I just really really like it.




And that's the jean tote bag!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Adult T-shirts to Baby Onesies

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've been on a sewing kick this week. There's actually two factors that worked together to create this perfect storm: One, we're moving. Two, I discovered that What Not to Wear has a bunch of full episodes on Youtube.  Both things motivated me to clean out my closet and left me with a bunch of old clothes that I felt I could reuse for Ellie.

(Side note about What Not to Wear before moving on to the sewing project: I love that show. I don't know if you've ever watched it, but it's great. If you've never seen it, you might think that it's kind of a judgmental show because it's telling people that what they're currently wearing isn't so great. But it's actually completely the opposite. Yes, they do come and tell people that their current wardrobe is bad. But, the whole show is about building up the people's confidence and self-esteem, and showing them that they're beautiful and that they can and should wear clothes that reflect that. Anyway, I just really love it.)


One of the main thing I cleared from my closet this week was all those free t-shirts I accumulated at BYU. As Stacy and Clinton (the hosts of What Not to Wear) explain, those free t-shirts have no real shape. They are rectangles. I am not a rectangle. Therefore, they are not very flattering on my body. (Another side note: I did save my "stylish" t-shirts; you know, they ones that are actually made for girls. Not the unisex kind.)

Now, although I logically know that these t-shirts don't flatter me as much as other shirts could, I am still sentimentally attached to them. Some I've had for years, like my girls camp shirts, and others I just like, like my free BYU ones. So, what to do? Make them into onesies for Ellie, of course! That way, they get to stick around. I don't have to deal with the emotional trauma of giving them away and never seeing them again, and she has some new clothes for when she grows out of her current onesies.

I've made two so far. Both of these were "test" onesies using shirts I wasn't that sentimentally attached to. This blue one I decided to just entirely wing and see how it turned out. I used a onesie that Ellie hasn't grown into yet to get a good idea of what size to make and what shapes to cut. I laid it on top of the shirt, cut the the pieces out, and, like I said, just went for it. Here's before:


And after:



(I used the back of the original t-shirt to make the onesie's front. I should have taken a picture of the back so you could see, but oh well.)

I used buttons at the neck to make the neck opening bigger when putting it on:


And buttons at the bottom for the diaper opening:


This second onesie I did very differently. I followed the tutorial here, using her templates and instructions. (I have to admit, I found the instructions somewhat hard to follow at times; I had to think about each step for a while to get what she was saying. But, I figured it out. And I'm grateful that she made the tutorial.)



For this one, I used snaps at the bottom.




I really like how it turned out. It fits well in the shoulders, though it is a bit long so I will shorten it next time. I think for the next one I'll try making the leg openings like a regular onesie rather than a "shortall," either with a regular hem or possibly using elastic to make a ruffle leg? We'll see. I'll definitely show you once I make more, but it might be a while since we're moving. If I get a chance in the next couple weeks to make more, I will, but if I don't it might be a month or so.

Anyway, those are the first t-shirt onesies!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sleeves, but more awesomely Rufflebums

Day two of the craft round up! Today is all about altering onesies.

Several months ago, Jason and I were at the Gap outlet store and saw a bunch of long-sleeved onesies on sale. It was spring, and Gap was getting rid of its winter inventory. The onesies were really cheap, and I figured that I could probably alter the sleeves so that they would be more appropriate for the weather when Ellie could fit in them. So, we got our two favorites.


Ellie's finally almost big enough to start wearing them, and I've been on a sewing kick this week, so I finally got around to altering them.  I followed this tutorial here pretty much exactly. (Have you guys noticed how much I love that site, by the way? I love that site.)

They turned out great! Here's before:


And after:

She came.

She saw.

She conquered.

I added the ruffle bum too, which I love:




I should add ruffle bums to everything.


I really like how they turned out. I definitely won't be afraid to do this in the future, if I find more deals on long-sleeved onesies. If you have any that you want to alter, you should try it! :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jason's Handiwork

Over the next couple of days I'll be posting the various things that Jason and I have been making lately. We're going to start off with Jason today, because he's awesome.

About a two months ago Jason saw this piano bench/side table thing by our dumpster:


He grabbed it because it's the perfect size and height to go right next to our couch, and he set about fixing it up. It was in pretty bad condition.

The top (which lifts up, like a piano bench), was broken off its hinges:


And the whole table was covered in this rough, almost sticky layer of old varnish. In this next picture, Jason's already sanded like a third of the top and you can see the difference:


After sanding the whole thing by hand, he used black wood stain to transform it.

Before:


 After:


It is so much better now, all nice and smooth and black. It's been right next to our couch ever since he fixed it up, and it's perfect.

Another project that he did was for Ellie. She loves to play with our computers (especially the keyboards), which we like to prevent. We had this old, broken laptop in one of our closets, so we pulled it out for her to play with. It was pretty heavy, though, and she couldn't move it very well. So, Jason took the laptop apart, removed most of its guts, and filled it with cotton. He also removed the old black screen (which was pretty heavy itself), took an old white binder apart, and used the binder cover as the new screen. Since it's white plastic, Ellie will be able to use whiteboard markers on it in the future. Jason also left the clear plastic sheet on the cover, so we can slide pictures in the side. Here it is:

Ta-da!

Now it's "Ellie's computer." And she does indeed like to play with it.

Jason is so talented and creative. :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Moving Plans

As you know from yesterday's post, Jason has graduated from BYU! That means that he is officially done with his internship here in St. George, and we are looking forward.

Our long-term plans: Go to Texas where Jason can go to PA (Physician's Assitant) school. We want to go to the Fort Worth/Dallas area, where Jason's sister lives. There are several good schools out there that are both good academically and affordable.

Our closer plans: Go to California where Jason can work as a Medical Technologist and we can save up money. This wouldn't be a good plan if we were renting our own apartment (California is expensive), but we're actually going to be living with Jason's parents for the time that we're in California. The lack of rent plus the higher salary California offers means that we'll be able to save up a down payment for a house a lot faster than if we were to go somewhere else.

We are so excited to be going back to California for a while. We can't wait to be around our family and the friends we have down there.

Our moving plans are going forward; we listed our apartment online last week and within a very short time found a nice family to take over our contract. We've really liked living here; it's been a great apartment in a perfect location for us here in the city. We were in a great ward and I'm so glad we were exactly where we were.



We're planning to move August 31/September 1st (a Friday and Saturday). My dad, amazingly enough, owns a moving truck, and he's letting us use it for our move. So, on that Thursday my mom, stepdad, and sister are driving down from Highland to help us finish up packing. On Friday, Jason's dad (and possibly my dad, if his schedule allows) will drive up with the moving truck, and we'll pack everything up. On Saturday, we'll drive down to California and unpack at the house.

Ellie can help us unpack.

In the next couple weeks (both here and once we're in California), Jason will be finishing up getting registered as a medical technologist. He'll take the finals for his physics class and biochemistry class (both online classes which he had to take because of California's unique registration requirements) and take the national registry exam. (In case you were wondering, he didn't have to finish those two classes before he graduated from BYU; one of them isn't even through BYU.) After he passes the registry, he will be an MLS (ASCP) (a Medical Lab Scientist as certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathology). Whew! And once he is, and California puts his paperwork through their bureaucracy (which could take longer than we want), he'll be registered to work in California and can then start working at a hospital there.

So that's what the rest of our month looks like. Packing and preparing to move, and Jason finishing requirements to be registered as a medical technologist. Woot!