Saturday, December 31, 2011

Highlights: 2011

Last year, I wrote a Facebook note titled "Highlights of 2010." I listed 10 positive things that happened to me in 2010. I had a lot of comments on it, and one friend even thanked me for writing it, as all he'd heard about 2010 so far was a bunch of complaining! Anyway, it's always great to reflect and realize just how blessed you really are. So, without further ado, here are my highlights of 2011.

  1. I welcomed 2011 with Jon, one of my favorite people in the world. :) This was our third new year together, but our first as an engaged couple.
  2. I lived alone in a place 3 hours from my friends and family. I met some great friends while living there, and I love that I have proof that I am strong enough to be able to live alone and take care of myself independently.
  3. I successfully finished my first year of teaching. I got lots of compliments, some very sweet reference letters, and even an award. I'd say that first year of teaching was a success! *happy dance*
  4. I married my best friend on June 11....And I now get to live with said best friend! Are you kidding me? After 2.5 years of a long-distance relationship, living in the same house as J is like Christmas every day! (But don't tell him I said that.)
  5. Moving to Texas has been such a huge blessing. It's helped me with my patience (the traffic and some of the drivers will do that to ya), helped me to be more outgoing (I'm forced to talk to people I don't know on a daily basis) and forced me to understand that stepping out of your comfort zone doesn't always have to be a bad thing.
  6. Even though I didn't get a teaching job this year, God has helped me to make some wonderful contacts and blessed me with several substituting assignments in my target schools. I feel like He's working on landing me my dream job soon!
  7. Not teaching this year has forced me to think more creatively about how I earn money for our family. Opening a tutoring business has been a great experience, and I'm so glad that I was pushed to do it. I've also created some teaching materials for my online store, and earnings from those purchases have helped keep our family A-OK, financially. Every time I've wondered how we're going to pay the bills, God has stepped in. Seriously. New motto: "let go, and let God."
  8. Not teaching this year has given me an opportunity to get accustomed to my new home, practice my domestic skills, and focus on doing other things that I really love. I get to blog and read all day long (if I'm not subbing), I've been learning about couponing and budgeting, and I've gotten to make lots of crafts and decor items in my spare time. It's also allowed me to dabble in digital design and see if that's something that I would enjoy as a daily career. I think I'll focus on writing a book next year. :) I mean, really, the blessings have been endless.
  9. I've gotten a lot closer to God this year, I think. I'm still not really a church-goer, but He and I have daily talks that always make me feel better. I feel less stressed and more joyful when I talk to Him and realize His blessings.
  10. My friends and family are, overall, healthy, safe, and happy folks! What more could I ask for?
Hope your 2011 was as blessed as mine was. Here's to an awesome new year!

What are your 2011 highlights?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sweet Tea and Sunburns

In case you're wondering, Sweet Tea and Sunburns is probably the name of our upcoming hit reality show about livin' as rednecks. Call us if you want an autograph! (Just don't sell it on eBay when we hit the big time, OK?)

Please enjoy this song (prepared especially for you, courtesy of PodSnack and YouTube) in the background while you read the post. I felt this little tune was especially fitting for today's post!


Since I'm a bit of a Grinch, I already took down the Christmas decorations. It's not like it took that much time; we only had one little plastic tub's worth of Christmas decs! (Maybe we'll buy more after we get a house.)

Remember those tiny little stockings I got on sale at Tar-jay and hung on our entertainment center? No? Let me refresh your memory:

His is white and has a "J" on it, and mine is red and has a "C" on it. One dolla!
Now that we're all on the same page --

Like the true redneck I am, I decided to hang those stockings up with tape. Regular ol' clear tape wasn't strong enough, so I used clear packing tape. I thought nothing of it at the time, except maybe a little satisfaction that I had gotten them to stay put, and now I could concentrate on other areas of the house.

Fast forward to the morning I took down all the decorations.

Jon happened to be still be home the morning I started putting away all the holiday stuff. He is pouring his coffee in the kitchen, and I'm trying to take the stockings off the entertainment center. As I start to peel the tape off of the "C" stocking, I see that the tape is now black. No...wait. The "paint" from the entertainment center is coming up! Ack! I said "whoopsie..." and quickly stuck it back on. I didn't even bother to try to take the tape off with the "J" stocking; I just slipped the stocking out from under the tape and went on my merry way. Jon was none-the-wiser and everything was cool (this is pretty symbolic of our entire marriage... but shhh. Don't tell him.)

Now fast forward to a few nights later. I'm in the kitchen, making dinner, and Jon is over by the TV, messing with something. I don't know what he's doing, but I don't really care; I'm on Mission Impossible: Make Something Edible.

That's when I heard it: "Uh-oh."

I don't often hear that word from Jon, so I ran over to see what was going on. He had noticed the shiny tape still on the entertainment center and decided to peel it off. He ripped it quickly, not thinking that there may have been a reason I left it on there after the Christmas stockings were long gone.

Where "black tape" once was, there were now large spots of wood that appeared unpainted. It looked real classy, lemme tell ya.

The entertainment center is redneck in itself -- Jon actually snagged it fo' free at a dumpster, of all places, right before his senior year of college. So it was hard to mourn the loss of our center's paint when I knew we hadn't spend any money on it in the first place. But we had to do something about those naked splotches; they were too redneck, even for me.

Our bright idea? A black Sharpie! (I knew I loved Sharpies for a reason!)

Everything that has value in our lives is stuff we learned in kindergarten. Take coloring, for example.

In my best Animal Planet documentary voice: "The male is caught doing something he's traditionally not supposed to do (color on the furniture), as a result of something else he wasn't supposed to do (rip the tape off). This is a way of life for these mammals. He will likely spend the rest of his life repeating this same process over and over."

When you visit us, try not to look too closely at our entertainment center. Sometimes J has a hard time staying inside the lines. ;)

Monday, December 26, 2011

'Twas the Day After Christmas: 2011

Hope your Christmas was a good one! J and I spent the weekend at my parents' house and saw a lot of my family. At one point before eating Christmas lunch, one of my cousins asked me if I was on the lookout for something weird to happen during lunch that I could blog about. happy (Of course I was!) We were all weird in our own endearing little ways, but today's events have presented a far better story. So you lucked out, family! I will not be applying my sarcastic wit to our family get-together this year! winky

I had several errands to run, and I thought I would get them out of the way today so that I could stay in and relax for the rest of the week (until subbing and tutoring start back up again). 

Here's a picture of everything I needed to take to the car this morning:

I had several items that needed to be returned/exchanged. Notice the really nice laminator and extra cartridge in the top right of the picture. These things were courtesy of Meme and Papa, who were pretty peeved (to say the least) that I'd found and purchased a different (cheaper) laminator online so close to Christmas (whoops!).  I packed it all in Walmart sacks and a plastic gray bin like the true redneck I am, and out the door I went! 

I'm sure you read my post over Thanksgiving '11, right? So you know we went shopping on Black Friday, and I really didn't think it was bad. The longer today went on, the more I was convinced that today should've been called "Black Monday." I left the house around 10 am this morning and didn't return until after 5 pm. The traffic and the crowds were a mess, and the people were just so pleasant...they must've used up all their holiday cheer yesterday. whatevah

I think that my tweets throughout the day tell the story better than I could, so here we go. The most recent comments are at the top of the screen, so I'd suggest reading bottom-to-top to get the full gist of things.

I started off the day a little sleepy but, overall, ready to do this thang. You can tell that I encountered my first excited-to-be-there-and-filled-with-holiday-cheer employee of the day about 6 hours before this screenshot was taken. Ugh. If you're going to be a smelly Grinch, just call in sick to work! The poor teen had obviously not washed his hair (nor showered...), and he was reeking of intelligence and enthusiasm. Just how I like to start my day!

Four hours prior to this screenshot, I was feeling pretty good about myself. This was after I snagged Jon a sweater for $10, two tanks for myself for $4 each from Old Navy, and very nice replacement shoes at Famous Footwear for J (with a coupon I didn't even bring!). I also encountered some good deals on the Christmas merchandise at Target, but was too busy being harassed by a little old man who apparently thought I was an employee to remember to be excited (and tweet) about the bargains. (Note to self: don't wear red to Target.)

The tweet posted 39 minutes prior to this screenshot being taken was after I'd just wrestled my way across the most crowded shopping mall of my LIFE -- TWICE! -- and fought with irritating return policies, rude customers, hot stores, and frustrating salespeople.

You can see that this last slew of tweets was after things took a turn for the worst. I attached the following picture to my last tweet:

A face only a mother could love.
When I was in high school, one of my best girl friends and I used to go shopping at a popular city mall for like, 9 hours a day every single weekend. It was no biggie. I'd come home ready to play some basketball or run a mile! Today, however, I just want to sit and possibly pout. 

This morning, I visited the following stores:
This afternoon, I visited the following stores:
I spent far, far more time in those two little department stores than I did in any of the 9 smaller, "morning stores" combined! The difference? Those department stores were at a mall. I had one item I needed to exchange for a different color/size at each of those two stores. In traffic, it took me an hour to get the mall. When I taught novels in my English class last year, I was always asking the students to look for foreshadowing and predict what was going to happen. ...Well, time to take your own advice, Mrs. K. Had my two little brain cells rubbed together at this point, I would've known to turn around now.

I get to the mall and it is a mess chaotic a madhouse the worst crowd ever .... no words adequately describe what I need to say.  Police officers were in the process of shutting down certain roads because of the mall traffic. Guys with big trucks were pulling over the curb and parking on the grass. Horns were blaring and it seemed like many people had a certain finger permanently stuck in the air (hint: it wasn't a "thumbs-up" gesture). I finally ended up parking at a car wash across the street from said mall and high-tailin' it into the store with my pepper spray clutched tightly in one hand.

Of course, JCP was on the side closest to my car, but Dillard's was on the complete other side of the mall from JCP. But I was a Woman on a Mission, so I used my mom's mad mall skillz to bob 'n weave through the crowd in record time.

Dillard's is the store that was most irritating. My mom Santa got me some really cute (and seemingly comfortable) black flats for Christmas. Unfortunately, they were a tad too small, so something had to be done. I first went to the women's shoe department, which is on the 2nd floor. They did not even have my particular shoe on display, so I figured I'd just go to Customer Service, get a refund, and try to shop for it online or something.

I studied the wall map in the store, which said Customer Service was on the bottom floor. I took the escalator and realized quickly that the wall map needed to be updated; Customer Service was on the 3rd floor. In the corner. Hidden under the name "Gift Wrap." ...See, they try to disguise it as something cheery: "We're merrily wrapping Christmas gifts back here and sipping cocoa! Come join us!" Chyeah.

I'd been doing some pretty intense mall-walking (like those blue-haired folks who come on Tuesday mornings at 10 am) and my calves were burnin' by the time I made to the Customer Service/Gift Wrap station. There's a wall of pre-wrapped gifts dividing the counter from the back. As I quietly stand and wait in front of the counter, I can hear cackling and giggles from behind the divider. They're obviously having a Christmas party and/or some type of alcohol, because I see no other reason to be this jolly, folks! After waiting 10 minutes, the Customer-Service-lady informs me that returns must be made in the actual department. Sigh.

I find the women's shoe section again and wait in line. I didn't have a receipt, so I snagged the same shoe (different color) as proof of price. pleased It felt like 2015 by the time I got to the register. The shoe-lady tells me they have my shoe in the next size up; would I like her to get it for me? I'm excited! I get out of line to try the new shoe on,'s too big. Seriously, it hung off my ankle by at least half an inch. What kind of wacko sizing IS this?! I jump back in the line. I'm pretty sure the entire Huxtable clan was standing in front of me, and I kept myself amused by Theo's insistence of a certain shoe for his girlfriend while Dr. Huxtable razzed him about it and little Rudy just giggled in the corner.

When I get to the front of the line, I'm told I can receive cash back for my shoes. Cool beans. How? I must go back to Customer Service to redeem a voucher.

The shoe-lady has adequate money in her drawer (I know, because Theo just bought his lady-friend some Coach go, Theo!) and I just came from Customer Service, who told me to go to the shoe department, so I'm more confused than Mike Tyson in a spellin' bee. But I numbly marched my happy butt back upstairs, fighting through the throngs of people and leaving a trail of undergarments (because Customer Service is located strategically behind lingerie) in my wake. I felt like a shopping ninja, fighting The Good Fight. "I will get Santa's money's worth! I will get great black flats! I will make it home alive!"

To make a long story somewhat short, Customer-Service-lady announced that I would have to come back at a date later than December 30 because Santa had been using his check book from the Stone Age, and it takes at least 10 days to process a check. Dillard's will not give you money back until after the check has been processed.

After wishing her a happy new year, I ducked my head and stuck my 'bows out in order to fight, running-back-style, to my safe place car. After those several-hundred-yard dashes, I'm not sure which NFL team would like to recruit me, but I'm open to any with pretty team colors, so... any takers? 

I'm really looking forward to this 2+ hour journey again next week! whatevah

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! 2011

(Before you get the urge to yell at me for blogging on Christmas instead of spending the whole day with my family, please know that this post was written long before Christmas and was scheduled to appear on our blog on December 25, 2011. So, no worries! I'm currently away from all computers. :)

I don't have much to say, but I did want to share one of my all-time favorite YouTube videos with you. I'm sure you've seen it circulating before (it's not particularly new), but I thought it was especially fitting to share today, when we're celebrating Jesus's birth in a world where technology rules....

If the video doesn't work (because I'm not logging in on Christmas to make sure that it did!), go to YouTube and search for "Facebook Christmas Story" (or just click the link, where I've already conducted a search for you). 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Operation: Organize {Part 2}

I got a little side-tracked on the label-making. It's amazing how I can be technically unemployed but still have 95923053 things to do per day! Anyway, I'm finally done with the labels.

As mentioned before, I'm really into Chevron prints right now (seriously. I cannot get enough), so I used some gray Chevron digital scrapbooking paper I bought from Moo and Puppy over on Etsy. I love gray right now, and it goes with pretty much anything, so I felt "safe" making that my background color for the labels. It'll go with any color scheme I choose for the new house, really! I used a cute font in a black color so that 1) the words would be easily noticeable, and 2) it wouldn't use up a lot of colored (read: expensive!) ink.

 It looked cute on the computer, but the result wasn't as thrilling as I'd hoped:

 I mean, it kind-of just looks like I ran out of colored ink and had to just print in black and white. *hangs head* Not exactly what I had in mind. But I'm too stubborn to redo everything (I've already laminated them and cut them out!), and they're fine, so these are the labels that will go in our house.

Here's a blank copy if you want to download it and use it for yourself. I open it in Photoshop and add words, but you could also do it in Picnik (free), Paint, and several other editing software programs.

Click to open it full size, then right-click to save it to your computer. Upload it to your favorite editing program, add some text, and viola! An organizational tag! 

In hindsight, I wish I'd have added some color (I could've sent it to Staples for the printing...duh!). Just to see what I could do, I uploaded the previous file to my Picnik account (seriously, you need one!) and just added some brackets. Red provided the best pop of color, so that's what I decided to go with:

Think you can use this around the house? Feel free to borrow it.
Like I said, all the labels are already laminated and cut out.... I made a trip to a dollar store and stocked up on more cheap-o baskets. My next adventure will include organizing things into the baskets and attaching the labels. I also need to purchase some big, plastic storage bins for our seasonal decorations. Hmm....

P.S. I just found this super-freakin-cool website where I can display eBooks (from PDF files) fo' FREE! (Um, can I get my own classroom now so I can put all these cool ideas to use in a learning context, please??). Naturally, I had to use it to make an eBook out of my labels. Feel free to download the whole she-bang, if you want. Just follow these steps to do so:
  1. Click "click to read" in the middle of the display. It will go to a full-screen view. 
  2. At the very top, there's an arrow pointing down into a bracket. Click that to download all 6 pages of the PDF file. 
  3. Press "esc" on your keyboard to exit full-screen mode. 
  4. Print the PDF file. Add a little lamination flair, if you desire. 
  5. Organize your home with labels that are sure to match any color scheme you've got goin' on. 

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Life Update: December 2011

    Oh, my stars. I think today's weather is the yuckiest I've witnessed since I moved down here. There's a small monsoon taking place right outside my window, in case you're wondering. This picture really does it no justice:

    But that's the view from our balcony. Thank goodness I finished running errands before the real nastiness began! Ick.

    I realized I haven't done a blog post over just our daily lives in a while. Mostly, I don't write about the daily stuff because, well, we're boring. hah. But with the weather as gross as it is and a long list of projects waiting to be completed, now seems like the perfect procrastination tool opportunity to write!

    Here are a few things we've/I've been up to lately:

    1. We've been saving money.

    I discovered Tom Thumb has a clearance aisle full of dented and "damaged" goods. I seriously only thought dented cans were discounted in the movie world (Big Daddy, anyone??), but I'm OK with the fact that I was wrong. (I mean, I don't make a habit of it, so I'll let it slide this time.) I had to go into Tom Thumb for some last-minute ingredients for a dish I was supposed to take to a party (go ahead and gasp that someone would want one of my dishes. You can continue reading after you put your jaw back in place), and I noticed the clearance aisle. I normally do my grocery shopping at a popular one-stop-shop retailer who shall not be named because I hate love hate love hate them, but Tom Thumb was the closet and I was in a hurry. favorite store. There are approximately 6 grocery stores within a 15-minute drive from my house, and I consider myself fairly familiar with 5/6 of them. Apparently, I had been missing the clearance aisle at Tom Thumb, though, because this was new to me. It just so happened that they had about 5 cans of green beans for 50%, so I snatched them up. We eat green beans all the time... they're zero Weight Watchers points (if you're the point-countin' type), they're veggies, they're delish...what more is there to say?! I also snagged two bags of Hamburger Helper for like, a dollar. (For those of you that are concerned, I checked for expiration dates, holes, anything weird, and general ickiness before buying. They were as clean as a whistle and as cheap as...well, a dollar. hah. No worries!) So Tom Thumb became my new favorite grocery store. (This proves what I've been saying for years: the way to my heart is through my tummy! ...But not through my wallet.)

    2. We've been planning. After Thanksgiving, J and I sat down and did some meal planning for the next 6 weeks. It took about 10-15 minutes to decide on dinner dishes for the next month and a half. I mean, seriously, if you don't meal plan, you are missing out! I personally hate to cook (for several reasons, which you can read about in this post called "A Visit From the Burn Fairy"), but meal planning has made cooking 2395305 times easier and less-stressful for me. I purchased a customized meal planning calendar from iHeart Organizing's Etsy Shop, but there are a ton of free meal planning tools available online. I liked Jenn's use of color and, I like personalized stuff!  I never get tired of seeing my new last name! :) In any case, we planned all the dinners, and then I sat down and itemized a grocery list. The grocery list is what takes the longest (in my opinion), but even so, I was done in under an hour. I organize my big shopping trip lists by sections so I'm able to get all my bread products at once, all my canned products at once, etc. It's much easier (and faster!) than haphazardly going through the store. ...In any case, I got all the ingredients in one shopping trip, and it didn't even take up one month's budget money (we dabble in the Dave Ramsey envelope budget method)! I felt like happy-dancing right out of the store. We have extras in the freezer in case we have company, but those extras can also be applied to our next round of planning. When I cook dinner in the evening, I just look ahead to see what's for dinner the next night. While tonight's dinner is cooking, I take the ingredients I'll need for tomorrow's dinner out of the freezer and put it in the 'fridge to thaw. There's no hassle to rush around and find something that's thawed enough to cook, and there's no stress to try to figure out what the heck we're eating that night. I'm telling you: meal planning is GENIUS!

    3. We've been lazy. Um, two weekends ago, we literally left the house once. It. Was. AWESOME. Below is a picture of the moments right before the one time we left the house... Obviously, we were concerned about our looks. (For those that are wondering, I only took this MySpace-esque bathroom shot because J requested it. He thought he looked cool in his Bears helmet. I let him wear it when we're in the house, but he has to take it off before any door to the outside world opens. *shrug* Pick your battles, wives!)

    4. I've been crafting. OK, so I'm not entirely sure that this dinky little project can really be considered "crafting," but it's my blog, so I call it what I want! :)

    I found this craft on -- what else? -- Pinterest. They're paint chips that I cut and stuck together in the shape of a Christmas tree. I only made two because I felt a little weird taking paint chips (yes, they're free, but I didn't buy anything while I was in the store, so I felt like I really wasn't entitled to the free products!). Once we move this summer and I have to buy a ton of paint, I might stock up on a few more green and brown chips for Christmas '12. I saw this in a picture somewhere, so I can't take credit for this idea, but my plan is to punch a hole in the top of the tree, affix some red ribbon, and call it a gift tag!

    5. I've been organizing.  I decided our house was much too disorganized, so I've made it my personal mission to fix it. This mission is a mixture of 1 part Pinterest + 1 part OCD-tendencies + 1 part new laminator. (If this was Twitter, I might hashtag this section #YouKnowYoureATeacherWhen....) I'm slowly moving through the process and keeping a record for you guys (you lucky reader(s), you!). The first post is called "Operation: Organize {Part 1}."

    6. We've been Christmas-y. We've gotten several Christmas cards already -- thanks to those of you that sent us one! -- and they're hanging nicely around our kitchen bar. After the season is over, I plan to punch a hole in each one, loop them all into a ring of chicken wire, and create a "Christmas Cards, 2011" mini-memory book. I can't take credit for that idea, either. My friend Allison (who runs Our Vintage Love) posted about it somewhere (blog? Facebook? Who knows!) and I loved it enough to borrow it.

    This past Friday, we went to J's brother's house for a Texas Christmas. Our niece was the cutest thing that night. Every gift was "SO COOL" to her, and it made me happy to see how happy she was! Ah, to be a kid again!

    On Saturday, we went to J's work Christmas party. It was hosted at Trail Dust Steakhouse -- yum! Afterward, we went over to Snuffers to meet some friends. While we were waiting, I tried to take a picture to send my mom, but I just didn't think it looked good enough (sorry, Mom!):

    My sweet friend, M, said my hair looked too good not to have a picture of it (see why I love her?!), so she took another one:

    Ignore my squinty eyes. The stupid flash went off + I have naturally squinty eyes anyway, so...this is what we get. Notice the red necklace I'm wearing -- J surprised me with it on Saturday afternoon! :) I curled my hair with the curling iron, and, for once, it looked almost perfect. Not too hair-sprayed, not too was like Goldilocks: juuuuust right. But you can't really see it in this picture, either. Oh, well; that's an excuse to do it again in the near future. :) Anyway, take THAT, [ex-] hair idiot!

    Also on the Christmas-y front: we took a drive through the town square, which was all lit up with Christmas lights. I don't know who is paid to hang up all those Christmas lights, but he/she surely does not get enough! Here's a verrrry small portion of it:

    I suppose that's all for now. If you're still reading, thanks! You probably deserve some sort of nice reader-prize, but I'm too poor right now to offer anything, so I'll give you a smile. :)

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Operation: Organize {Part 1}

    Despite the fact that I'm not technically teaching this year, I follow a lot of teaching blogs. Last Friday, when one of them posted that the laminator I've had my eye on for oh, two years now, was half off, I immediately texted J with the news. As predicted, he said to get it. ...I love him. :) If I was willing to wait a week to get the goods from Amazon, I could get free shipping. I could wait a week for free shipping, I supposed. 

    Um, it was a long week. I kept getting emails that my order had been processed, my order was prepping for shipping, my order had just been shipped, etc, and it was making me anxious. Don't ask why I was am so excited about the laminator. I think it has something to do with my need for organization and perfection. *sigh* It really is a disease. 

    In any case, the package came in yesterday  morning -- one day ahead of schedule. I tweeted the following picture with the caption "Angels are singing."

    One of my friends claims I'm too excited about my laminator, but I think that's impossible. Let it be known that this laminator is my favorite Christmas gift of 2011. So far, anyway. ;)

    I laminated some random house-things plus some tutoring materials, and then I developed Operation: Organize. Let me explain.

    See, if you've been following my blog, you understand that I think Pinterest is one part wonderful and one part evil. I think there's a part of evil in it because seeing all those pictures and ideas makes you think that your home/crafts/decor/cooking/clothing must also look like that. I know comparison is the thief of joy, but I'm competitive, a little OCD, and a perfectionist. Nothing good can come from this combo, people!

    While looking at my Pinterest organizing board, I noticed that a lot of the pictures I'd pinned had labels in them. Apparently, my eyes like labels. *shrug* I've read several blogs (my favorite is iHeart Organizing) that encourage the use of baskets and simple labels throughout the home. I bought a few baskets at a dollar store last time I was around one, but they weren't nearly enough for our house. I did some piddly organizing, but I needed more.

    I'm really into Chevron prints right now, and I'd found some free, yellow Chevron labels online (I don't remember where, or else I'd link to them. Sorry!) that I thought were cute. So I took a Sharpie, wrote on the labels, hung them on the baskets, and thought I'd be done for today.

    But the more I looked at it, the more I realized I needed to stop being so Ghetto Fabulous and go big or go home. I mean, look at these things:

    Note: I "laminated" these labels with contact paper a few weeks before I received my glorious laminating machine. So don't judge.
    This was not going to work. I mean, I have decent handwriting, but nothing was uniform (my two "y" letters don't even match in this picture!), not to mention, yellow doesn't really match anything in our house.

    Something you should know: I've been really into digital scrapbooking and digital design lately. I don't know why, but I love opening my Adobe Photoshop program and pretending like I know what I'm doing! (I just click buttons until something happens; that's how the pros do it, in case you're wondering.) I'd made some semi-Ghetto Fabulous Christmas tags a week or so ago, so I thought I'd attempt to make labels.

    The Christmas tag I made. I added customized text in a handwriting font, in case you're wondering. But I posted the blank version in case you want to steal borrow it from me to tag your own Christmas treasures. Just size it down to fit your needs. You could also print it as-is and create a mat border for a photo frame. :)
    I'd purchased some Chevron digital scrapbooking paper from an Etsy seller (Moo and Puppy), so I thought I'd use that to make the labels. I chose simple gray Chevron for the background, and just black text + a cute font for the label's letters. I figured that would go with everything, no matter what color scheme I end up choosing when we get to our new house.

    I spent some time trying to get the labels to print correctly last night. The sizing is off, and I'm scared I'm going to have to re-do all of them. Uggghhh. I'm going to keep trying, but I have to pause my project for now. One of my tutoring clients has his Christmas party at school this morning, and I promised him I would be there. Toodles for now; more updates later! :)

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    A JibJab Christmas: 2011

    Have you ever heard of JibJab? It's a cute little website that allows you to insert your picture(s) into a mini-video or e-card. The whole website used to be free, but now they're charging a membership fee of $12/year to use the really cool vids. :( There's a hilarious rock 'n' roll one that I wanted to send with the message, "Have a rockin' Christmas!" but you have to be a member (and have paid your membership fees) to use it. Darn! In any case, the free one is cute, too.

    I couldn't find a way to embed our video into this blog post, so I took some screen shots as a preview for ya:


    If you want to watch the video (we've got some rockin' dance moves and some Chipmunk-esque voices, for those that are wondering), check it out here: Jon & Candice's 2011 Christmas vid.

    I was going to close this post by saying that I hope your Christmas shopping is going smoothly and you're staying warm in this drastically-different-than-we've-been-having weather, but then I remembered this free printable I saw at It's a Crafty Life:

    Free Printable from It's a Crafty Life

    so I won't say anything about shopping.  Instead, I'll say I hope you're taking advantage of the cooler weather to snuggle with loved ones and may you remember the reason for the season. :) Happy Christmas season, y'all.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Happy 18th Birthday, little C!

    I don't know, but I've been told...
    Someone's turning 18 years old!
    The bad news is, I sing off key.
    The good news is, I sing for free. 
    Happy birthday, K.T.!

    For the record, I didn't find that fun little chant on my own (I found it on Pinterest at this pin...go figure!), but I did modify it to fit. :) Anyway, now that I've got that out of my system, I just wanted to wish my baby (although not so "baby" anymore) sister a very happy 18th birthday. :)

    Picture courtesy of Tulsa Expressions Photography on June 11, 2011.
    I've watched little C grow up from a tiny thing with a mass of wild (but adorable) curls to a grown lady with sleek brown hair. haha. :) But really. I remember helping pick out the spelling of her name. I remember how big Mama's belly got, and how confused I was that a little human was growing in there (I was only 5, people! Gimme a break). I very vividly remember being checked out of kindergarten by my Papa, followed closely by my K teacher telling me my new sister was here.

    It's really hard to believe that was 18 years ago!

    Happy birthday to one of the most beautiful women I know! Love you, little C!

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Winter Wonderland

    My family came to visit this weekend. They got here about 8 pm on Friday and stayed until about noon on Sunday.

    My Meme brought us chocolate-covered peanut butter balls (watch out, diet!) and the best OSU wreath for our door. (She made both herself.) Unfortunately, the OSU wreath was too big for our front door (long story), so we had to stick it on our patio, on the door to our storage room. I'm bummed that more people can't see it there, but maybe it's for the best; we wouldn't want anything to happen to it! Here's a pic:

    Go Pokes!

    (In case you're wondering, Meme will gladly you make you a wreath of your own if you're willing to exchange a little money. :) She doesn't know I'm making this advertisement for her, so, uh, don't mention it when you call to order your one-of-a-kind, made-with-love door decoration.)

    On Saturday, we spent some time shopping before heading out for a night on the town. My sister got a new cell phone and my mom snagged a couple of cute Christmas gifts for my cousin. Afterwards, we met with my mother- and father-in-love and niece, A, to go out. We had tickets to the Gaylord's ICE show that afternoon. This was my family's first experience, and I think it's safe to say they liked it. :)  In case you're not aware, the Gaylord's ICE show features several rooms decorated entirely in ice sculptures. The Gaylord flies dozens of artists in from overseas, and they spent months carving sculptures in the ice. The themes are different every year; this year's theme was "Shrek the Halls." While I didn't snag any pictures myself, J and I have a friend who works there, so I stole borrowed a couple pictures from his page:

    Fiona is holding 1 baby and Shrek is holding the other 2, while the other characters sit close.

    Beautiful nativity scene
    By far, my favorite part was the clear nativity scene. They carve the whole thing out of ice, just like the rest of the sculptures, but they don't ruin any of it with color. The background is black with twinkling lights, and there are lights surrounding it, too. The audio track alternates between the story of Jesus in the manger and a church-y Christmas carol. I'm always slightly surprised at the wealth of Biblically accurate information (since most businesses shy away from anything too Christmas-specific, in fear of offending someone who's not a Christian), but I'm not complaining! It's refreshing to see a business who embraces the Christian foundation on which our country was founded and proudly displays it for all to see. Rock on, Gaylord Texan!

    After the ice show, we went to eat. The "kids" (J and me, my sister, and A) sat at one booth while the "grown-ups" sat at the other. At the end of the meal, we coached A on how to do a perfect pouty-lip and convinced her to ask my dad for ice cream. ...It worked. :) 

    On Sunday, we went to lunch at a burger joint a few minutes away, and then went to the strip mall again for my family to pick up some last-minute items. They had to leave shortly after noon because my mom and grandma had to get back for a class at church.

    Mom decided to snap a pic of J and me on our balcony before they left:

    Look closely and you'll see Christmas lights wrapped around our railing.

    Looking at those (almost invisible) Christmas lights made me want to show you the other Christmas decorations we have up! Before you laugh at how dinky the decs are, remember that we live in a small space and are waiting on after-Christmas sales to snag good deals on holiday decorations. :)

    Snagged this for $5 at a dollar store. Hot glued the banner a little more securely and we've got ourselves some cute Christmas door decor!

    Ignore the clutter (the bobby pins are not part of the decs!) and focus on the snowman cuteness.

    Our wittle Christmas tree, complete with packages that my mother insists say "MOM" on them. ...They don't. Keep dreaming, Mother! (P.S. We're hoping to snag a life-size Christmas tree later this season.)

    The initial stocking were $1 at Target, and the beads/ornaments were 50% off at Hobby Lobby. We don't have a mantle, so this was the best I could do!

    "Merry Christmas" stick-ons and a Christmas tree (not pictured) on the windows. I had some left-over ornaments, so I used suction cups to put 'em on the windows.
    Ta-da! OK, so it's not much, but it's enough to make us feel somewhat Christmas-y for the next month.

    Temperatures dropped pretty dramatically over the weekend and the strong winds made things ever chillier. Hope you're staying warmer than I've been...and hope your Christmas shopping is almost done!