Sunday, July 31, 2011

Treading Water {aka Speaking in Church}

It seems like there are times in life when you are just thrown in and then some how expected to keep treading water while being scared to death.  Today was one of those days.

I had to speak in church.  Normally, not a big deal for me.  In fact the last time I spoke in church, I begged.  Seriously.  I kept begging and pleading until the Bishopric finally agreed to let me be the youth speaker.  The reason I wanted to speak so desperately badly was because Casey was going on his "mission tour" around the stake and would be speaking in my ward.  We were just barely dating at this point and I wanted to sit by him.  The only way that could happen was if I spoke too.

Plus, I like talking.  I don't mind being in front of others.  Shoot, I'm a teacher.  Speaking church is merely teaching people about an assigned topic.

So why was I so terrified?  Well, for starters I had to speak for 20 minutes.  That is a SUPER long time--especially considering that I have only spoke in church for 3-5 minutes before and even that was not very often.  Next, the Bishopric asked me to speak.  Just me.  I had to sit on the stand by myself.  Part of the reason one gets married is so they always have a companion.  I thought he would always be my church speaking companion too but apparently not.  Plus, I am in a ward that doesn't know me.  We just moved in 1 month ago.  Whatever I said, everyone would remember me by.  This talk was going to be a lasting first impression for the other ward members.  And I was asked as part of my talk to introduce us.  What could I say that would show who we are and make us stand out from all the other newlywed couples that just moved too.  Finally, I was assigned a topic out of Preach My Gospel.  I never served a mission.  I don't know PMG!  Not to mention, the topic was very short and reading it would have lasted a grand total of two minutes--only if I took long pauses after each period.

Before we went camping, I printed off several articles on "Going About Doing Good," packed my conference Ensign, my scriptures and blank paper.  I ended up preparing my talk sitting on the banks of a lake while Casey was fishing.  Today while I was sitting on the stand, I looked over at the other two speakers and they each had beautiful typed out talks.  I had my slightly wrinkled, folded in half, scribbled, hand written outline.  It was the best I had and was just going to have to go with it.

The youth speaker stands up and talked for a total of three minutes.  And the guy speaking after me leans over and says "take as much time as you want."  Wow.  I have A LOT of time to fill.  20 minutes.  And I'm nervous.  I kept saying silent prayers in my heart to be calm and have the spirit.

I walk up to the stand and am afraid of shaking (like the girl that went before me) in front of everyone so I cross one leg behind the other.  It forced me to remain still and luckily I didn't pass out from locking my knees.  So I started by reading "Dreaming" to introduce us.  Remember that?!  Its the essay/ poem I wrote one day while I was extremely bored subbing.  I finally found a purpose for it--other than just amusing blog readers.

And then I went on with my talk.  Several people afterwards (including my darling hubby) told me it went really well/ they really enjoyed it/ etc.  What I talked about exactly though, I don't know because I didn't follow my outline too well.  I thought I was just rambling but apparently it was coherent.  I read a couple of quotes from PMG and the conference Ensign as well as reading part of a hymn, sharing personal stories, reading a scripture and quoting For The Strength Of Youth.  I wasn't even planning on using that thing but got it out and was delighted that it fit perfect with what I was stammering on about.  I was just praying that somehow my thoughts would be connected.  And I think my prayers were answered--I managed to keep treading water.

My favorite quote I shared (and what I basically built my whole talk around) comes from President Gordon B. Hinckley.  He said "Do you want to be happy?  Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause.  Lend your efforts to helping people....  Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down.  Live the gospel of Jesus Christ" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 597 and Preach My Gospel, 168).  My hope is that each of us can find small ways to be just a little bit happier by serving others through small, unplanned service opportunities. :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

MIA--no longer

I know... I like totally disappeared for almost a week.  We went on vacation.  Camping.  It was lovely and the best part was being with my sweetheart!

So if you were wondering why I haven't posted anything for a little while, rest assured, we are back.  Camping details to follow soon.  (And sorry for not announcing it before hand.  I have this thing against telling the whole world we are leaving and then everyone knowing that our apartment is completely empty.  Just seems like an invitation for someone to break in.  LoL!)
P.S. I just have to mention, I L.O.V.E. having a dishwasher and washer and dryer in our apartment.  Both have been running non-stop since we got home.  Currently the washer sounds like it is taking off because we are having troubles keeping it balanced.  The pillow smelled like campfire smoke so bad though--it had to be washed! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gingerbread Pancakes

Seeing Santa, gave us an idea.  This week we are celebrating CHRISTMAS in July!!  Ever since we moved, I have been dreaming about putting up a Christmas Tree and decorating.  I think it is mostly because our living room is so big and we will be able to have a full sized tree this year instead of our miniature table topper thing.  I'm so excited for our home to look and smell like Christmas! :)

Casey won't go for putting a tree up this early.  So, since that isn't an option, I decided to at least make our home smell like Christmas.  These gingerbread pancakes were easy, healthy and delicious!  (BTW: the recipe is written in the healthy version.  You can substitute 1 egg for the egg beaters, white flour for whole wheat, etc, if you like!)
1/4 c. egg beaters
1/2 c. unsweetened Almond Milk
1/4 c. molasses (I used molasses--next time I might try using sugar free pancake syrup instead since this was still high calorie)
1/4 c. sugar free applesauce
Water (enough to make the batter be "pancake" consistency)
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground ginger (next time, I'm going to use probably at least 1 t. and also add some nutmeg and ground cloves--I just like these type of things "spicy")
1 t. cinnamon

Beat together the egg beaters, milk, molasses and applesauce.  In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.  Stir the liquids into the flour mixture.  Add extra water (or more milk) as needed to make it thin enough.  Be careful to not mix more than is needed.  Spray a preheated fry pan with non-stick spray and cook over medium heat.  This made about 14 pancakes and each pancake was ~ 1/4 c. of batter.

Serve with syrup, fruit, powdered sugar, etc OR lemon sauce (directions below).  Delicious!!  Merry Christmas! :D
Lemon Sauce: (not pictured)
1/2 - 1 c. splenda (depending on how sweet you want it.  We used 1/2.  I liked it.  Casey wished it was a little sweeter.)
1 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. ginger
1 c. cold water
2 T. light margarine
2 T. lemon juice

Combine splenda, cornstarch and ginger in sauce pan.  Gradually add water and stir.  Once it is completely dissolved, turn onto medium heat.  Add margarine and lemon juice and cook until the margarine melts and the sauce thickens.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Santa sighting instead of Fireworks

We were looking forward to watching fireworks last night from Ensign Peak.  However, plans changed.  It started raining, like seriously raining and I didn't really want to become soaked while on the mountain.

So we head to McDonald's to use their Wi-Fi and look up which parks are having firework displays.  Liberty Park was and lucky for us, we were close.  We start driving towards the park.  It is still raining so we were hoping to find a place that we could watch from the car.  Well, the roads are packed.  People are parking in the middle of the street and then the cars are driving down the turning lane.  All of the neighborhood streets are completely filled.  There is no where to go and cars are everywhere.  So Casey decided instead of searching the streets to go to the park itself.  We see parking available!  Yeah!!  Now all we have to do is find an entrance.

There is no entrance.  My sister suggested that we just pick up our wheels and have Hank (the car) tip-toe across the grass and curb.  Casey wouldn't go for it.  We keep driving around the park (and this park is huge to say the least) and we finally see an entrance.  We are so close!  Yeah!!  Two, maybe three cars ahead of us before we got to the entrance, someone barricades it off.  What?!  The park is the only place with parking--why are they closing it?

We are running out of ideas.  The roads are still not moving anywhere and we can't park.  Plus, there are way to many super tall, thick trees everywhere.  So we can't see the fireworks from where we are at because the trees don't make great windows.  All of the sudden we hear the boom, boom, boom but see nothing.  We missed the firework show because of someone closing the parking lot and all the trees.  Lame.

By this point, Casey decides to just bag it and instead head home.  We still were not moving anywhere.  There were so many cars!  While we are waiting on the road my sister suddenly calls out, "Look there's Santa Clause" (with her window down none-the-less).  So I look to my right and sure enough, Santa was stuck in traffic too--trying to watch the firework show and instead watching break lights, like us.  We are all giggling and whispering and wishing he had his sleigh instead of car and wishing we could ride in the sleigh too.  Then "Santa" looks over at us and I turn to avoid eye contact.  Luckily, his windows were up and I don't think he could hear any of our comments but still, I was so embarrassed. I could feel his gaze shift away from us and we all turn back and stare and starting giggling again.  I wanted to take a picture but wasn't brave enough and my sister thought it was best that I respected Santa's privacy.

So yesterday, started with watching the Days of 47 parade and celebrating the pioneers and ended with Christmas in July.  It wasn't exactly what we had planned but still a great memory filled with laughter, no fireworks and Santa.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pioneer FHE Lesson {for Newlyweds}

Ok first of all... I know this seems really long.  I promise it isn't as bad as it appears.  It is just spaced weird (with some of the bullets being really far to the left--don't ask... I'm not in the mood to fight with bloggers formatting) and I copied the stories/ quotes instead of having links for most things.  If you don't have time to go through EVERY thing though, pick the characteristics you want to focus on.  Or divide it out and use this one lesson for mulitple weeks! :) 

The reason I made this family home evening is because with us living in Utah, celebrating Pioneer Day (July 24th) is pretty big.  I wanted to have an FHE lesson where we both could learn and grow.  All of the Pioneer FHE lessons I found were teaching little kids about pioneers.  Well, my hubby and I have grown up hearing those stories our whole lives.  I didn't really know how applicable that was at this time in our life.  Instead, I thought about why the pioneers traveled west.  Why.  To go to Zion.  Well, fortunately everyone is not called to leave their homes today and gather in one place.  But that means that Zion should be where ever we are.  That is the point of this FHE--to help establish Zion in our own homes {while we are just newlyweds}.

Opening Song: Hymn #30 Come, Come Ye Saints (especially verses 1 & 2)
Opening Prayer:
Scripture:  D&C 59: 2-3

·         Questions to Discuss (with answers I thought of—if you don’t like any, use your own)
o   What is a pioneer?   (Define:  A pioneer is a person who opens a way or prepares others to follow.)
o   What sacrifices did the pioneers have to make?  (leave homes/ families, physical trials, travel to Zion, etc.) 
o   What sacrifices do we make that are similar? (leave our families and establish our own, move often, learn to get by with little money, establish Zion in our home, etc.) 
o   What sacrifices do we have to make that are entirely different?  (attend college, save money for a family, etc.)
·         President Monson said, “We honor those who endured incredible hardships. We praise their names and reflect on their sacrifices.
“What about our time? Are there pioneering experiences for us? Will future generations reflect with gratitude on our efforts, our examples? You young [people] can indeed be pioneers in courage, in faith, in charity, in determination.
“You can strengthen one another; you have the capacity to notice the unnoticed. When you have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to feel, you can reach out and rescue others of your age” (“Pioneers All,” Ensign, May 1997, 93).
·         We can be pioneers for our (future) children and our children’s children’s children.  The Mormon Pioneers gave up everything to come to Zion.  So tonight, let’s figure out how we can make our home become Zion.
·         How to build a Zion with just two people (or more if you already have kids):
o   Read Moroni 7: 45—although this talks about charity, I’m pretty sure it is a good “Zion” list too.  In place of the word charity, have the wife read the scripture with her hubby’s name and then vice versa.  Are all of these things true?  The following short activities will help strengthen these areas of your life to help build Zion.
o   Suffereth Long
§  The Savior was the perfect example of someone who suffered.  Have each person find and share his/ her favorite scripture about a time when the Savior was suffering.
o   Kind
§  What things can your spouse do to be kind to you and show you his/her love?  Make a list of at least 5 simple things he/ she could do for you then share lists.  (For example: I love getting a text/ phone call from my hubby during the middle of the day.  When he does that, I know he is showing me his love.)
o   Envieth Not
§  Have each person use the camera and find three things that you love having.  Use this to focus on what you do have instead of being jealous/ wanting other things.  Share the pictures with your spouse.
o   Not Puffed Up
§  Read and discuss the following story from the Jan 2008 Ensign.
§  “Putting My Marriage before My Pride”
By Irene Eubanks
“Like any couple, my husband and I have had disagreements during our marriage. But one incident stands out in my mind. I no longer recall the reason for our disagreement, but we ended up not speaking at all, and I remember feeling that it was all my husband’s fault. I felt I had done absolutely nothing for which I needed to apologize.
“As the day went by, I waited for my husband to say he was sorry. Surely he could see how wrong he was. It must be obvious how much he had hurt my feelings. I felt I had to stand up for myself; it was the principle that mattered.
“As the day was drawing to a close, I started to realize that I was waiting in vain, so I went to the Lord in prayer. I prayed that my husband would realize what he had done and how it was hurting our marriage. I prayed that he would be inspired to apologize so we could end our disagreement.
“As I was praying, I felt a strong impression that I should go to my husband and apologize. I was a bit shocked by this impression and immediately pointed out in my prayer that I had done nothing wrong and therefore should not have to say I was sorry. A thought came strongly to my mind: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?”
“As I considered this question, I realized that I could hold onto my pride and not give in until he apologized, but how long would that take? Days? I was miserable while we weren’t speaking to each other. I understood that while this incident itself wouldn’t be the end of our marriage, if I were always unyielding, that might cause serious damage over the years. I decided it was more important to have a happy, loving marriage than to keep my pride intact over something that would later seem trivial.
“I went to my husband and apologized for upsetting him. He also apologized, and soon we were happy and united again in love.
“Since that time there have been occasions when I have needed to ask myself that question again: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” How grateful I am for the great lesson I learned the first time I faced that question. It has always helped me realign my perspective and put my husband and my marriage before my own pride.”
o   Seeketh Not her Own
§  Instead of focusing on you, focus on your spouse.  Think of something you could do to serve him/ her in the next week.  Ask him/ her for ideas.
o   Not Easily Provoked
§  Read the what/ if scenarios out loud and talk about how you would honestly respond.  Then decide what you could change to help you be a more Zion-like person.
§  Diner is almost ready.  It is in the oven and the timer is going to go off in 2 minutes.  You just finished setting the table and even got out the candlesticks and cloth napkins to make it a special evening.  You go invite your spouse to join you for dinner and they say they will be right there.  You go back to the kitchen and take diner out of the oven.  You then sit and wait at the table.  10 minutes pass and your spouse is not there.  Diner is getting cold.  What do you do?
§  You have the day off from work.  You are so excited because it has been a busy week and the most important thing to you is to catch up on your sleep.  You told your spouse this the night before and he/she agreed to be as quiet as possible in the morning and to turn the alarm clock off as soon as it went off so you could keep sleeping.  You have now heard the alarm clock go off 6 times and your spouse is still in bed.  Finally he/ she gets up and realizes what time it is and frantically gets ready and turns on all the lights trying to find everything.  What do you do?
o   Thinketh No Evil
§  Read the following quote by Robert E. Wells.
§  "Control your thoughts because they become the words you use.
Control your words because they become the actions you perform.
Control your actions because they become the character you reflect.
Control your character because your character becomes your destiny.
Control your destiny by becoming what your Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ, want you to be."
§  When bad thoughts come into your mind, replace them with your favorite hymn or primary song.  Have each person pick their favorite “go to” song and then practice singing them together.
o   Rejoiceth not in Iniquity  (this means basically means you are happy when someone else does well)
§  Take turns telling your spouse something he/ she did well and that you were so excited for them doing so great.  Shine the spotlight on him/ her.
o   Rejoiceth in Truth
§  Take turns sharing your testimony with your spouse.  It doesn’t have to be your whole entire testimony that encompasses everything you know.  Simply testify of the truths.
o   Beareth All Things
§  Write in your family journal (or a personal one or write a letter to yourself if you don’t have either) about a trial you are currently going through and write about what you have learned.
o   Believeth All Things
§  Take turns reading each of the 13 Articles of Faith out loud.
o   Hopeth All Things
§  Write a letter to yourself in where you hope to be in 5 years (or 10).  Seal up both letters in the same envelope and read them in 5 (or 10) years.
o   Endureth All Things
§  The only way to endure is by doing the daily “simple” (prayer, scriptures, etc) things.  Evaluate how you and your spouse are doing both personally and together and make a commitment to improve.
·         Commitment: just like the pioneers were willing to give all they had to come to Zion, I hope we will be willing to do the same in our own home.  Have each person commit to working on establishing Zion between the two of you this week.

Closing Song: Primary Song # 213 “To Be a Pioneer”
Closing Prayer:
Activity: Watch “17 Miracles” if it is showing in a theater near you.  Or watch “Legacy” together at home.  This is available on the “Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs.”  (It is the 4 disc set put out by the church about fairly recently.)
Treat: The July 1975 (old school baby) Friend magazine has a List of Pioneer Recipes.  (Click that and pick one.)  Or make your favorite treat.  Surely Zion will consist of all our favorite foods. ;)  --I wanted to try some of the pioneer recipes but didn't have time.  So we went with the favorite and had Reese's ice cream with caramel.  Yum!

Remembering the Pioneers

I love Pioneer Day simply because it is a time to reflect back on those that went before us and reevaluate who we want to become.  (Not to mention the yummy barbecues and family get togethers and parades and fireworks--all things I greatly enjoy!)

My mom is 100% Mormon Wagon Pioneer.  On both sides of her family, her ancestors left their homes and belongings and made the trek West to find Zion.  On this side, I'm a 6th generation member of the church!  My dad is 100% Volkswagon Pioneer.  Let me explain.  Missionaries knocked on his door and taught his family the gospel when he was 13.  His whole family was eventually baptized (except his youngest sister who was not old enough.  She was baptized on her 8th birthday.) and started their own journey to Zion.  At the time, his family owned a volkswagon bug.

So what does that make me?  100% grateful.  I'm so grateful for the sacrifices made by all the family members before me because I am now 100% blessed.  I was married in the temple.  I know that families are forever.  I have a testimony.  I have religious freedom.  I'm working on establishing Zion one day at a time in our own home.

Yup, Pioneer Day (although not celebrated by most, except people living in Utah) really is a day for everyone.  Because we all have family roots that came before us.  And without them and all of the sacrifices they so freely made, we wouldn't be living the life we have today.  But more importantly, we can each be a pioneer in our own day because we will have people following after us.  I hope to leave a legacy for them that is worth remembering!

Happy Pioneer Day --to all past, current, and future pioneers!!! :)
P.S.  I have been working on making a Family Home Evening pioneer day lesson for newlyweds!  Check back soon (either later today or tomorrow morning) for my sweet lesson that teaches principles the pioneers practiced.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

CO Detector Test

Ever since our very first studio apartment, I have insisted on having a CO Detector.  I didn't even want to sleep in our studio apartment without it.  You see, the oven there was about the size of an EZ Bake one.  But the size wasn't my absolute concern.  The problem is, every time I would turn it on, I would get a terrible headache.  I remember making gingerbread cookies for Christmas --about a month after we were married-- and because there was no window in the kitchen, I had the front door wide open.  Needless to say though, the alarm never went off.

Then while we were living in our last apartment, we see flashing lights parked right across the street.  I grabbed my flip-flops and run over to see what I could do to help and if I should be calling the Bishop.  It turns out the CO Detector went off and fortunately everyone was ok because of the alarm.  I waited with them awhile as the house was blown out but it turned out to not be a big deal because their CO detector was working.

So we move to our new apartment and for the first time, their is a Carbon Monoxide Detector on the wall.  I don't care which alarm we use as long as their is one and it works.  So ours is still in storage.  But, I wanted to check to make sure the one mounted on the wall worked.  I'm standing very close to it, trying to see if their is a "test" button.  It shouldn't be this complicated to check the detector but I'm sticking with it until I know the thing works.

Well, I figured out the best test method for one of these.  Keep exhaling directly over the thing.  All of the sudden it went off and shocked me.  And then I had to laugh.  It works!  All of the CO I was breathing out directly on top of it was enough to set off the alarm.  So, if you are curious if your CO detector works and can't find a test button, just keep breathing on it for a couple of minutes.

Oh and I just learned, you should actually test it with the exhaling method and not just the button pushing method every 2-3 years.  Apparently, the battery will keep working and when you push the button it is checking that.  However, the CO sensors wear out and the detector will have to be replaced every 5-10 years or so.  The only way to test the CO sensors is by blowing CO on them.  Good to know! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Learning to Balance

Last night Casey and I totally indulged in...
...Yup, Chili's Texas Cheese Fries
at his work party.  

And every bite of melted cheese, bacon and french fries dipped into ranch was totally worth it!  I don't even know how long it has been since I ate French Fries...  It was a nice treat.

Best part--I didn't even feel guilty!  I had exercised hard in the morning and then went on a long bike ride in the afternoon.  Life is all about learning balance! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Loving the New... Missing the Old

Since we moved about 3 weeks ago (it seems crazy that it was just so recent--it seems like we have lived here for a long time!), I have been comparing the things I love and miss about our two apartments.

I love having a washer and dryer IN our apartment!  I can do wash whenever I want and it is now just an activity rather than an entire day event.  I miss having all our clothes dry at the same time--one nice perk about the laundromat.

I love having a dishwasher.  Wow this really saves so much time.  I miss having a reason (ok... maybe the right word would be excuse) for having dirty dishes in the sink.  Now I can't really justify it.

I love being able to open the fridge (and crisper drawers) and not have water gush out.  The old fridge was broken.  I miss having a full sized fridge.  The top of the fridge now comes up to about my chin/ mouth area.

I love how quiet our home is.  It is so nice not hearing constant busy road traffic.  I miss having two air conditioners.  Part of the reason our other apartment was loud was because it was also cooler.

I love having a dumpster to throw away all of our boxes in.  So nice!  I miss only having to take a few steps to throw something away outside.

I love having a two car covered parking.  I miss not having to climb two flights of stairs every time we leave/ come home.

I love the new location.  It has easy access and is close to everything.  I miss spending more time with Casey. He now has a good commute, twice a day.

I love our second bedroom.  Our house feels so much cleaner and not so cluttered.  I miss the monthly rent.  It was obviously cheaper because it was smaller.

I love our new ward.  We are slowly making friends and I can't explain it but there is just such a comforting feeling there.  I miss our old ward and friends but you can't stay in a student ward for forever....

Overall, the move has worked out extremely well and I feel so blessed.  I know the Lord's hand is in our lives and has been guiding and helping us so much through this time of transition.  That is my favorite part.  No matter where we go we will (1) always have the Lord and (2) always have each other! :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pillow Makeover: Which is Your FAVORITE?

So our living room pillows are finally done.  I made them all similar but different to create a unity and harmony feeling.  I love seeing them on the couches--well, I don't like one pillow and might be making something to replace it but for now I'm done!  Oh and as a note: please don't expect to see perfection.  Each pillows has flaws but is good enough!! :)  --It is just a good thing I am not turning these in for a grade in my sewing class at BYU, they probably would have failed....

Now, as I'm posting the different pillows--I want you to vote.  Leave a comment saying which is your favorite (and why if there is a reason).  I'm just curious.

I could have made up my own pillows but figured why re-invent the wheel when there are already 100s (probably seriously) of pillow tutorials online.  I searched and found tons I liked but then settled on these for whatever reason.  Since, the tutorials already exist--I will just link my blog to the one I looked at for inspiration.  Click on the blog title's name for a direct link to each tutorial! :)
--press CTRL and then click it to stay on our blog and have the link open in another tab... just FYI...

This project began by digging through all my leftover fabrics and then heading off to D.I. to get the cheapest (and therefore ugliest) pillows I could find.  I was able to make all 5 of the pillows for about $15 simply because most of the fabric was something I already had and Casey was grateful to see the scraps be used instead of just accumulating more.

I did all of my backs "envelope" style because I wanted to be able to take the pillow cases on and off.  It is a little more work but honestly not too bad.  (Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of it.)  I generally the instructions for how to make backs from Cottage Magpie.

Pillow # 1
I followed the pillow instructions (generally) from The House of Smiths.  The flowers are called Yo-Yo flowers and if you don't know how to make them, just google it.  I really like the way this pillow turned out!  I think I need to buy a bigger pillow for it though to fill the pillow case a little better.

Pillow # 2
Sorry the picture is so dark--I should have lightened it before uploading it.  So the before pillow was honestly not too bad--just boring.  I followed the instructions for the bow from E Tells Tales.  I don't know if you can see it or not but I "quilted" pieces and strips along the edges to make it large enough to fit.  See here is something I don't get.  I measured the pillows extremely well and was trying to follow the cottage magpie instructions for making the pillow case the right size.  Don't ask me why but it generally never worked.

Anyway... I love this pillow it is probably my SECOND favorite! :)  Are you thinking about which you like better so far?

Pillow # 3
For this pillow, I got the idea from Craft Gossip.  I ended up basically doing my own thing though and add the "quilting" trim again.  If it looks really wrinkly its because it is.  The applique/ satin stitch thing was not easy to do.  I like it but there are definite parts about this pillow that bug me because it is not up to my perfection level.  (The other pillows, the flaws are not so noticeable but this one just "screams homemade" as my BYU professor would say.  Whatever!)

Pillow # 4
For starters, this is the pillow that I might end up redoing.  I'm not liking the long rectangle size as much as I thought I would.  We'll see.

I got the idea from Floral Showers Crafts.  I bought an old girls t-shirt from the D.I.  And then cut and unpicked it apart to use the pieces I wanted.
Secondly.  I have a hate relationship with the pillowcase.  We are not even talking love-hate here--just hate.  It is such a cute idea to turn an old t-shirt into a pillowcase.  But believe me, it is a nightmare.  NIGHTMARE!  Ugh!  I have (1) sewn on knits a good deal before in my classes and (2) even stabilized it before sewing.  Nothing helped.  I ended up hand sewing a fair amount of this pillow because the machine and I were not on speaking terms with the knit fabric.  It was the last pillow I finished because it got so frustrating I had to set it aside for awhile--but I didn't want to end on a bad note.  This would be the only pillowcase that I would not recommend anyone try making.  The rest of them--totally doable.  This one--yikes!  If anyone does try this, use a thick/ heavy t-shirt... none of this girly frilly stuff and good luck.

Pillow # 5
Can you see the before pillow?  Yeah, it is scary!  It says "Fruits of the Spirits" in the center and then on the edge has lots of different characteristics.  Cute idea but I'm pretty sure there was a reason this was found at D.I.  (Sorry if anyone actually likes it! LoL!)

Anyway... the pillowcase instructions (which I actually followed pretty well this time) came from Keeping It Simple.  And allow me just to say I L.O.V.E. this pillow.  I love the huge flower and the cute background fabric.  And time wise, it honestly wasn't too bad to make!  This is definitely MY FAVORITE!!!

And there you have my pillow makeover! :)  Which pillow do you like the best?  Are you motivated to try to make any of them?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Special Delivery

Life has been busy for both of us.  Oh man I can only imagine how much worse it is going to get in another month when I start teaching....  And I have had a cold on top of trying to establish our home--box free and with cute pillows (hoping to finish them today!).  I told Casey that I was missing the sweet romantic things we used to always do for each other just because we were too focused on other parts of life.

Yesterday, he rang the door bell when he got home.  I honestly wasn't sure who it was because he seems to come home at a different time everyday so I had no idea who to expect when I opened the door.  And we have no "peep" hole (or whatever it is called) to check before you open the door.

So I opened the door and there was my charming husband standing there with...
I squealed.  Several times probably.  He said "Special Delivery!"  And then the night was filled with hugs and kisses.  It touched my heart and meant so much to me.  I love flowers and I love Casey so the two together are a perfect combination for this girl! :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cleaning Closet Staple

Back when we were moving and my sister was helping to wash the walls, she told me about Magic Erasers.  I had heard of them before but never used one and didn't see the point.  She told me how they were amazing to use at camp.  I bought some the next day to use in getting rid of black marks on all of our walls.

I am a believer.  Every cleaning supply closet is not complete without having magic erasers in it.  Seriously.  It works wonders even when every other cleaner does nothing.  There were stains on our new counters--gone.  And black marks all over everywhere on the walls in our new apartment--gone.  I'm always going to keep these on hand--and can only imagine how much more I will love them once we have kids!

A few tips:
* I have never actually used the name brand of magic eraser.  Wal-Mart sells a brand for $0.87 for a box of two.  They work great and are SUPER cheap!
* It says you don't have to scrub on the box.  Sometimes that works and sometimes you do need to put some umph into it.
* Keep the eraser in one hand and a dry rag in the other.  As soon as I finish with the eraser (or sometimes during if it starts dripping), wipe down the area with the dry rag--kind of like the wax on/ wax off effect. :)
* If the paint job is terrible (like in our old apartment), the eraser will not only remove the mark but also the paint.  {I learned that the hard way.  The paint job there was so bad... like completely awful it was bad...}
P.S. Our living room is almost done.  I have two pillows to finish.  Both are more than half way done--I just need to do it.  And we need to hang pictures up.  That has been a dilemma because I can't figure out where to put them.  Hopefully soon I will take you on our living room tour. ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Living Room Sneak Peak

I was just kind of done with our completely brown couches and not matching living room--at all.  In our previous apartment, the color scheme was "newlywed" and the furniture was crowded in.    Although most of our rooms are still on newlywed color scheme (meaning the color happens to be what was cheap/ free and not what really matched) we are attempting to make the living room match a little better.  We bought curtains and a rug and that is helping and moved the orange/yellow plaid rocking chair --covered with a blanket-- out!  The completely dark brown couches still needed help though on a tight budget.

Currently there is fabric spread all across the living room with some overflowing on the kitchen floor.  I have the iron and ironing board set up in the kitchen and the sewing machine in our second bedroom (aka office).  The office floor is also covered with fabric and scraps.  The reason: pillow makeover.

Here is the first pillow I finished.  :)  I love it.  Its fun and girly but not so girly that my hubby hates it.
Stay tuned for more pictures (before & after) and pillow tutorial links! :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"The Eternal Blessings of Marriage"

Yesterday, I was blessed to be able to attend my first Relief Society activity in my new ward.  I was excited to go (1) to learn and be spiritually uplifted and (2) to meet new friends and feel more comfortable with those around me.  I'm happy to report that both of my objectives were accomplished! :)

We talked about ideas for FHE, even as newlyweds.  I have written about this before and my strong conviction to have FHE because we are a FAMILY.  Find my testimony and why FHE is important to me in "The Blessings of and Ideas for FHE."  This post is also a great resource because I listed off countless ideas at the bottom!!  I hope some of them will work well with your family!  Another great FHE idea to check out is "Looking For The Good."  I loved doing it at the time.  I just went back and watched the video I made again and love it even more now that we have moved.  We have record of our previous apartment!  300% recommend EVERYONE have this FHE lesson sometime!

Anyway... I just realized that Family Home Evening may not look like it is super important in our lives.  I haven't posted about it in a while.  (We have had other things on our mind--like applying for jobs, loosing weight, moving, etc.)  And although we have continued to have it week after week, writing about what we have done to help inspire you hasn't been happening.  I'm going to get better at this.  I promise! :)

So my idea for today comes from the past General Conference by Elder Richard G. Scott.  His talk called "The Eternal Blessings of Marriage" is PERFECT for newlyweds!  Perfect.  (As well as perfect anyone with a spouse--and maybe even hoping to someday have a spouse.  It is just a great talk!)  I have a few ideas for the lesson--pick what works for you!

First off, let me just say that his conference address is very similar to the CES Broadcast he gave on September 10, 2010.  Casey and I had the opportunity to watch that address live in the Marriot Center.  We were sitting really close and loved it!

Lesson Ideas:
1. Read the Conference talk together.  Look for ways he was able to show his wife love and then try to follow his example.  (You can read the talk online by clicking HERE.)
2. Instead of reading, watch the Conference talk together.  (Click HERE for the video.)
3. My FAVORITE idea.  Assign one person to read/ study the conference talk before hand and assign the other the CES Broadcast talk.  Then present them together in FHE and compare and contrast how they are similar and different.  (The text for the CES broadcast is found HERE and the video is available HERE and then click on the movie stream.)  --As a note: the CES talk is much longer.  Assign this to whoever will have more time/ reads faster/ etc.

Activity Ideas:
Write a letter to your spouse.  Instead of reading them, seal both letters in an envelope and write on the outside of the envelope the date (or event) when you will open the letters and read them.  Example of when to read the letter--1 year from today, 5 years from today, on your next anniversary, when you come home from the hospital after the birth of your baby, night of graduation, etc.
P.S. We enjoyed this lesson.  It was a good reminder.  We were so busy that night though that we didn't have a chance for the activity.  We still need to write letters to our future selves.  I'm excited for this because it will be fun to read them eventually.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cow Appreciation Day

The things we do for free food... {LoL!}  But it was an entire combo meal and believe me, we didn't do that much to qualify for it.  I cut out spots from black construction paper and hand drew our signs.  The printed our nose and ears.  Easy.

We were instant celebrities in the mall though.  Last year when we dressed up on Cow Appreciation Day, we were one of a gazillion or so to do it.  We lived in a college town.  And college kids are totally willing to do anything for free food.  But up here at the mall, spotting "cows" were far and few between.  It was weird.  The manager wanted to take our picture and then get us to stand by her cow and take another picture.  We were just like... "uh, we just want the order" and had no idea why we were so popular until we realized we were the only ones dressed up there.  The employees were drumming up business though and giving people ears and spots so they could qualify for the free meal.  We also walked away with stuffed cow animals--not sure what to do with them but they are cute!

I can't wait until we have kiddos and then we can go with our calves for free Chick-Fil-A.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Truth about my White Skirt

Believe me when I say I have a thing for white skirts.  We are talking L.O.V.E.
I think part of the reason I loved them so much is because I always wanted one.  It seemed like everyone (but me) owned a white skirt and I desperately wanted one.  We could never find them in stores.  We searched!  If they carried it, they would always be out.  I just wanted a white skirt and apparently it was too much to ask.

Well, one day 3-4 years ago, my mom told me she had a surprise for me.  I think she had just gotten home from a vacation but I can't remember.  She gave me a grocery bag.  I opened it to find MY WHITE SKIRT!  Oh my goodness.  I was so excited!  She had found a white skirt (and it was a super cute one!) and I was now the proud owner of a white skirt.  I ran into my room to try it on and then model it.  It didn't fit.  I tried and wiggled and sucked it in.  No.  It didn't fit.  I was now the disappointed owner of a too small white skirt.  I told my mom and she said it was the only size the store had and she was hoping it would work.  Unfortunately, my dream for having a white skirt would continue.

I could never get rid of that white skirt.  Even if it didn't fit.  It was still mine and white.  And it was cute.  I wished it would fit but doubted it ever would.  Well, fast forward to a week or so ago when I was unpacking some of my "too small" clothes box.  (At least all of our numerous boxes are labeled--making it easier to find/ unpack/ organize!)  I found my white skirt.  I held it up and wished it would fit so bad.  I doubted it would.  But figured I would try it on anyway just for kicks and giggles before I packed it up again.

Well... long story short...
I am now the proud and very excited owner of a white skirt that actually fits!!! :D  *squeal*

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Glimpse of Eternity

Ok... So first of all, this picture is from 2 months ago--I'm behind on blogging... I know.  Casey and I went to BYU AstroFest.  It would be SO much fun for little kids but we still enjoyed it without little ones running around! :)

I love this though because as we sat in the BYU Planetarium, I caught a glimpse of what eternity will be like.  Beautiful and without end.  It is amazing to sit there and watch all that surrounds us in the universe and to know that this was all created for us.  It didn't just happen out of nowhere but instead with a plan and for a purpose!

Another place that really helps me glimpse into eternity is when we spend time in the temple.  (This picture was taken yesterday.)  With all the moving and boxes and cleaning and sorting and boxes--everywhere (sidenote: we really are working to unpack all the boxes.  We are making major progress but wow we have A LOT of stuff housed in several boxes.), it is nice to take a break and to go somewhere clean and orderly.  I want my home to resemble the temple--beautiful and peaceful.

But anyway, as we take the time out of our super busy lives to attend the temple, I am reminded of all the blessings that await in the next life.  It is glorious and I know it is real.  It sometimes seems hard to think that there is anything after this life or to get caught up in the craziness of the moment, but the temple is a gentle reminder that eternity does exist and it is just waiting for me.  I love little moments like this that remind me who I am and what we can become! :)
P.S. As a sidenote, I just mapped how long it takes to drive from our home to the Jordan River Temple.  It is under 20 minutes.  But here is perspective for you.  Yesterday while we were on the freeway, I sighed and then stated "Gee we sure live far away from the temple.  It takes a long time to get there!"  Keep in mind, before we moved, we lived maybe 4 minutes from the temple.  Maybe--only if you had to stop at the lights.  And so I miss our less than 4 minute weekly commute but am grateful to now have 4 temples under 30 minutes away! :D

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Speedy, Healthy Cake for Two

Tonight for dinner, I made one of Casey's favorite foods called Beefy, Cheesy, Tortilla Swirl.  (It is kind of like an enchilada casserole I guess.)  It was SO nice being able to cook again!! :)

After we finished dinner, I really wanted something sweet.  Hmmmm.... the question was what though.  I decided on microwave cake.  (Yes, microwave!  It is super fast--hence the reason for the "speedy" in the title--and still tastes fabulous!)  I used sugar free cake mix and Fiber One yogurt (thus the name for the "healthy").  Our microwave/ yogurt cake was (1) delicious, (2) super fast with very few dishes to clean, and (3) did not use the oven--thus preventing the house from becoming hotter.  This is definitely a winner! :)

yum... is your mouth watering yet?
1/2 c. sugar free cake mix (Pillsbury has a SF variety)
1/4 t. baking powder
4 oz. light yogurt (Fiber One is exactly this size)
1 T. egg beaters
1 T. water

Stir the cake mix and baking powder together.  Beat (I just whipped it by hand) the yogurt, egg beater and water into the cake mix.  Lightly spray 2 small microwave safe dishes (I used Pyrex bowls that were 1 c.  But it was iffy as to overflowing or not.  I might just recommend using mugs.) with cooking spray.  Divide the cake mix evenly.  Microwave individually on High for 90 seconds each.  (I had a microwave safe plate under the Pyrex dish.)  Let sit for a few minutes before eating.  Top with frosting, fresh fruit slices, etc (cool whip and/ or yogurt) if desired.  Prepare to have a happy tummy! :)

We ate ours without frosting.  When I make this again, instead of using a 4 oz Fiber One yogurt, I think I am going to try a 6 oz size but then reserve 2 T of yogurt.  And use that by it self or mixed with a little bit of sugar free cool whip for the frosting.

I used yellow cake mix, peach flavor yogurt and sprinkled in some pumpkin pie spice.  Delicious!  I also want  to try chocolate cake mix with strawberry yogurt.  The options are endless.  Some of the creative Yoplait flavors will be fun to experiment with!

Because I was afraid of it overflowing, I stopped it after every 30 seconds.  If you use a larger container/ mug, you could just let it go the whole time.  Start/stop makes it heavier because I interrupted the rising.

Monday, July 4, 2011

You're a FIREWORK!

Ok... So I know that most of my dear bloggy friends don't know ASL.  But this is amazing and almost like watching a dance.  Wow this guy is so talented!

Anyway, it is the perfect video to celebrate the 4th of July with!!  So as you watch this and while you are celebrating Independence Day, I hope you will take a chance to think about the lyrics.
Cause there's a spark in you 
You just gotta ignite the light 
And let it shine 
Just own the night 
Like the Fourth of July 
Cause baby you're a firework 
Come on show 'em what you're worth 
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!" 
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
I love it!  We each have a spark inside of us and once it is lit, the light will shine.  The spark could be one of happiness and then once it is lit, everyone knows that happiness is contagious.  The spark could be one of curiosity and then lighting it to explore the unknowns.  But my favorite spark deep inside each one of us is the light of Christ.  This spark is the reason for everything and truly sparkles from our eyes.  I know it does from mine.  And as the spark is lit, your testimony will shine.  It is like you are glowing brightly for the whole world to see--just like a firework in the night sky.

Happy Fourth of July*
I hope you find your spark and light it today! :)


Saturday, July 2, 2011

One Busy Week

Picture taken on Wednesday.
As we were leaving our home together for the last time.
This week was an eventful one in our lives.  I was stressed and busy (and internetless for awhile).  Now that I have a tiny spare moment, I thought I would write about our goings and comings.  {FYI: after I finished writing this post, I realized it is CRAZY long.  I would write a little bit at a time for a couple of days...  Read as many details as you like!}

Monday seems so long ago it is hard to remember....  The morning started out with me driving up bright and early for a teacher meeting.  After that, everything is kind of blurry in my memory.  Packing and cleaning I'm sure were a huge part of my agenda!  I remember when we had family home evening, I was a little sad because it was the last FHE we would have in that home.  It was a bitter/ sweet moment.  I have learned so much and grown so much while we lived there.  It was hard knowing that we would be leaving.  Fortunately though, we left the physical building but the memories and lessons learned will stay with us forever!  And we have (errr... um... I guess had) the BEST duplex neighbors!  They invited us over for dessert just to say goodbye!  We had a lovely time chatting with them and enjoying delicious banana cream cake!

Tuesday... ugh, Tuesday.  We had to have EVERYTHING packed before we went to bed that night.  And believe me, I was definitely hating packing by the time the day ended.  Luckily we had already been working on it earlier and had several stacks of boxes before we even started anything that day.  Casey took the day off from work to help.  He called countless people in the morning changing our address with all our bills/ schools/ work/ etc.  (But that reminds me, I'm sure there are still more to go!  We should probably keep working on that....)

I was beginning to hate packing by about mid afternoon.  I wanted to just be done so bad but there was still so much to go!  About when I was ready to quit, my dear visiting teacher came over with cookies.  She brought her cleaning gloves and told me she was willing to do whatever needed to be done.  Oh bless her heart!  So together we worked on continuing to pack the kitchen.  I was wrapping everything fragile in newspaper (sidenote: we found a great use for the BYU school newspaper!!) and she was working on packing everything thing else that was still left.  It made the long process go so much faster.  By the time she left, the kitchen was successfully packed!  My heart is filled with thanks for her kindness!  Since the cupboards/ pantry were completely empty (it was just easier to pack everything than to try to save some things), we went out to Magleby's Fresh for dinner.  It is one of my very favorite restaurants and we had to eat there one more time before we left Provo!

Wednesday was filled with countless different feelings.  I woke up early and started cleaning as much as I could.  It was kind of difficult because all of the boxes/ stuff was still in the way.  My sister came over in the late morning and helped me start washing down the walls in our bedroom.  I was very grateful for her help!  Then my brother came with our rented U-haul truck and we started loading it up.  Our duplex neighbor was there helping during his lunch break and also a close friend from our ward (I actually visiting teach her and will miss her SO much now!) was washing (and by washing I mean hard core scrubbing--no idea how they got so dirty!) the blinds since she is pregnant.  Casey is apparently an amazing tetris player!  He stacked and arranged all the boxes and they some how fit together perfectly.  This was no easy task because all of our boxes are completely different sizes.  But since we got them for free, we didn't complain too much!

See the great puzzle piecing job??
While we were loading, it started raining.  Raining is an understatement.  It was like soak your clothes in just a couple of seconds type of a rain.  It was just a micro burst but we didn't realize that at the time.  We had no idea how long it was going to last so we started running stuff from the house to the truck.  I am sure it must have been rather entertaining to be a by stander and watch the loading process.

As we left, I was sad.  I felt homeless at that moment.  Even though we were not checking out of that apartment until the next day (I had to go back down and clean... but we will save that for Thursday!), it was no longer our home.  And our new place wasn't home yet.  We took one last picture together in front of our home (that picture is at the very top of this post... if it appears that my eyes look a little red, they are.  I was unsuccessfully trying to hold back tears.) and off we went--my brother driving the U-Haul and Casey and I each driving separate (loaded) cars.  Snowball was riding in my passenger seat.  I glanced over at my teddy bear while I was driving and thought I saw a tear in his eye too. ;)

We made a quick stop at a used appliance store.  Our new apartment has washer/ dryer hook-ups. :D  They had to go in the U-Haul because we had no other way to transport them if we did not want to pay the delivery fee.  I had been searching and searching online classified ads but with no success.  There were countless washers and dryers listed online but most of them were selling for about the same price as what the store was selling.  We went with the store because it came with a 5 month warranty.  There was not a huge selection but good enough.  So we picked one, paid for it and loaded it up.  Then headed off to our new home.

The kindness and generosity of the new ward we are moving into was so touching!  I think I counted at least a dozen or so men from the ward that came to help move things.  And my brother's best friend.  My heart was filled with gratitude for my brother and his best friend as they carried our washer and dryer across the balcony and up a flight of stairs.  And then watching everyone else help carry all the other super heavy stuff... trust me, words can not express how grateful I am for all the help!  I am pretty sure my sister, my mom and I would have died if we had to carry up ridiculously heavy stuff up the stairs.  And a huge blessing that night was when my dad showed up with pizza.  I'm pretty sure that I didn't even have the energy to go out to eat anywhere by the time we finished.

You never know how beautiful these things look in your own home
until you have to live without them....
We hooked up our washer and dryer and started washing dirty clothes (we had been saving them because we knew we would buy a w/d instead of going to the laundromat again) that evening.  I was so super excited when I woke up to clean clothes in my dryer the next day.  We also made our bed and other than that basically collapsed out of exhaustion.

Thursday.  Thursday.  {I'm trying to excite myself to write about Thursday....}  I'm pretty sure Thursday was one of the longest days of my life.  No joke.  Casey had to go back to work and our apartment was not clean.  I had to go back to our old apartment and clean the entire thing so we could check out.  I was really not looking forward to this because I was going to be alone cleaning our ENTIRE apartment.  Well, bless my dear friend's heart (the same girl who I visiting teach and was hard core scrubbing the blinds on Wednesday) she came over and literally spent the ENTIRE day with me cleaning--about 6-7 hours each.  Wow.  Her kindness and generosity and friendship--I wish there was something I could do to say thank you enough.

So I started with our bedroom since my sister and I had cleaned a lot of it the day before.  I oiled (mopped) our wood floor then moved onto the bathroom then kitchen and finally living and dining rooms.  We kept the fridge till last.  I honestly don't even know for sure what my friend was doing sometimes other than helping and cleaning.  We weren't always in the same room but when we were it was so nice having someone to talk to.  As the day grew on, we became quieter with a desire to just finish.  If it weren't for her though, I am certain that we would have lost our deposit because I would have run out of time when the people had to move in.

Once we finally checked out of our apartment, Casey and I then went over to my sister's apartment.  She failed her cleaning checks and was not able to reclean her apartment because she is a counselor at space camp and was at a camp.  I don't know how her apartment got so dirty.  Seriously no idea because she has only lived there a couple of months.  But we scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed.  My arm was going to fall off my body.  And one of her roommates let us use all of her cleaning stuff and I kept asking her if she thought things were clean enough and then we kept cleaning until she thought it would pass.  Finally we finished and we began our drive home! :)

Friday was fabulous.  I have heard that many people hate unpacking but for some reason I love it.  Seriously. I feel like a little kid again and I get to play house.  I get to put things where I want and decorate how I please.  (Currently, our decorating style is still boxes everywhere but we are working on changing that!)  When Casey came home from work, I eagerly took him on a tour and showed him all of the things I had organized and put away.  The best thing EVER--the dishes are washing themselves, the clothes are becoming clean and I am able to work on other things.  I have basically had both of them running constantly since we got here; it is finally slowing down!

I also took a break during the day to go watch "17 Miracles" with my parents.  I love that I am a close drive to their home now instead of a good commute.  I enjoyed the movie and would highly recommend it!!!  I'm pretty sure I will being seeing it again in the near future so I can watch it with Casey.

We ate at home this night and that was amazing!  Granted it was only canned chicken noodle soup but still it was at home and it was nice that I was able to find enough things that we didn't have to go out again.  Eating out was honestly kind of getting old.  It will be really nice next week when I can actually start cooking (and making healthy food) again!

We really are loving our new apartment!  This is the right place for us right now.
Thank you so VERY much to everyone that helped in anyway!