Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thought I'd show you how colorful our Thankful Tree got. And show you a close up of some of the things we are thankful for.

I realized that a lot of the things are kind of silly. But I'm thankful for them nonetheless.

I think we'll keep this tree up for a while longer. Even though it won't match the oncoming Christmas decor, I don't care. The Christmas season still makes me feel so thankful.

I hope you have a fantastic, love-filled Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Counting stitches

Like I said in the last post, since I finished my big test I've been relaxing and counting stitches. I made these four owls for my friend to give to her friend's kids. (That is like a riddle.) I've been looooving making these sweet little owls for Christmas presents.

I love their little wings. They look like they are saying, "fly away!"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My tips for taking the GRE (or any huge standardized test)

*biiiiig sigh* I'm finally done with the GRE and I can breathe!!!

Now that I have taken the GRE I'm practically an expert, right??? Right, I am. I decided I'd share of few of the tips that I found most useful during this crazy, stressful time. These are mostly tips for the actual test day because that was the part that stressed me out the most.

Get a prep book/take a prep course if you can afford it. Do some sort of preparation. I decided not to take a prep class because that seemed like a waste of money (in my opinion). I'm sure it would've been a great way to get prepared. But just using the book was enough preparation for me. I loved being able to practice concepts that would be on the test. Almost more than the concepts, the book just helped me get familiar with what the test would be like. It was great at telling me how the scoring works, strategies for being logical, and just the general format. For me, the unknown is what makes me anxious. So just knowing what to expect truly helped lessen my anxiety level.

Absolutely follow the suggestions and dress in layers to accommodate for any changes in temperature. I was so glad I did because I rolled up my sleeves a couple of times. In conjunction with dressing in layers, dress in comfy clothes. You don't want to be squirming around in your seat trying to get comfortable during the test. It's hard enough to focus already, so making sure you are comfy in the first place is a must. Additionally, if you have long hair, tie it back or bring a hair tie. I like having my hair down because it's most comfortable, but sometimes it just gets in the way.

Figure out a way to calm down and reset ahead of time. I'm kind of an expert to letting one little detail affect how the rest of my day turns out. Anyone else great at that? Not something you want to have happen on a big test like this. So I had to think of what to do in my short breaks to reset and be ready for the next set of questions. For my general relaxation methods, I love imagining I'm laying on a cloud, completely weightless, and letting my stress rise away from me. I adapted this imagery for my breaks between sections. I decided to close my eyes and imagine that section of the test sitting on top of a cloud and floating away. I just smiled and waved as it rose into the sky. I also forced my face into a smile. I recently listened to a Ted Talk that mentioned if you even just put your face into the shape of a smile you will feel happier. I figured that couldn't hurt, right??

Figure out your way to wake up. I honestly believe that half of this experience was testing my endurance more than my knowledge. Four hours? Really??? It was insanely long. And there were a couple moments during the test when I got tired and started not comprehending what I was reading because I was bored. I did expect that. Sometimes the questions or readings just aren't very interesting. But it was at the end of the sections right before my break, and I did not want to run out of time. And ya know what I did? I scrunched my face up really tight and clenched the butt cheeks. I heard in one of my classes that it's a very effective way to stay awake and alert. I probably looked weird, but I was awake, so I don't mind. I did that a few times and it seemed to at least get my muscles active again.

Just relax. First, relax during the test. If you have very high anxiety for situations like this, research some relaxation techniques that you can do before and during the test. Second, relax after the test. Celebrate that you just took a big test that you have probably spent hours, weeks, or months preparing for! I was so happy when it was over, and my sweet hubs took me out to dinner afterward. And I got a facial today to kind of give me a "detox" from all the stress that has been building up for weeks.

Now, I'm going to go hang out with my yarn. I can finally focus on starting Christmas presents and projects. YAY! :D

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back to studying

After I graduated with my bachelor's degree, I never thought I would go back to school. I was done and tired of school work, tests, and papers. Then a few months after I graduated, I saw the description for the Master of Professional Communication at Weber State University and actually thought the classes looked enjoyable.


After denying it and then going back over it and running in circles in my mind, I realized I loved learning. Like book learning. I love school. It's hard, but I love it. You could say that I have a strong penchant toward learning. ;) And I realize it's a blessing to love school because so many people have had terrible experiences in educational settings.

Ultimately, I decided to take the GRE and apply to that Graduate program. I got this Kaplan GRE prep book and have been making random flashcards for vocab words and math concepts. It hurts my brain because these are not the things I want to learn. But it's required for applying. Boo.

I've been studying away off and on for a few months. I took a practice test and did "average" on the scores. I'm not super worried about passing. I think I'll be fine. But I'm very nervous. It's a test scheduled to be 4 1/2 hours long, people! My brain will probably ooze out of my ears when I finish. I take the test this Friday, so you probably won't be hearing from me until after then.

I often make this face when I realize how close the test is...

In other news: I'm really enjoying my shirt today. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Secret Service Date Night

Well today was the first official snow of the wintery season. There was a time of slushy snow once, but this was actual snow today, ladies and gentlemen. And I didn't mind it. Especially since we got to stay home all snuggly and warm today. 

The only thing we had to do today was go on a date! WOO! I decided to give my big curling iron another try. In previous tries I have never liked the result. My hair would just end up curling under or out. But this time, it looked sa-weet. Holler. I loved it. Not sure what I did differently, but it looked great.

For our date we went to a new BBQ restaurant. It was called Dickey's Barbecue Pit. It was like a fast food feel with walking through the line and ordering. It was okay. We still like Famous Dave's better. :) This place had all-you-can-eat soft serve. So we tried it, and we're pretty sure it was nearing the bottom, because this is how the ice cream looked. Whoops. But I had a good laugh about it for a few minutes.

And my lovely hair lasted throughout dinner and until we got home to make silly faces at each other in the mirror. YAY for date night!! For the rest of November we will be "secretly serving" each other to help us remember our blessings.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankful Banner

YAY! I finally got the time to make another Turkey Day/autumn craft!!

Well I've seen a bunch of different kinds of Thanksgiving banners on Pinterest lately. Banners are kind of the cool thing to do right now. I would show you some of my favorites, but I'm too lazy. Just find me on Pinterest. ;)

Since it's Friday, I finally got to workin' on my own Thankful Banner. I had a few different styles in mind, but I finally chose this one. It worked best for the supplies I already had on hand. So there ya go.

I had the big letter stencils and I traced them onto paper. The white paper actually has some small leaves and twigs on it. Then I got a bunch of different brown/dark red/green papers from my collection of scraps. Traced, measured, cut, measured, cut, traced, cut, punch holes, string with yarn. TA-DA!!

I was worried that the letters would be too big and that the banner would turn out entirely too large for the area. But after putting it up, it actually worked out great for the spot I put it in. I love when things work out better than expected.

It was super-duper easy, and free.  WIN!

Then I decided to decorate my two candles that I used for my Harry Potter Halloween. I had also seen similar (cuter) ideas on Pinterest. I just cut out leaves again like I did for my Thankful Tree. Then wrapped some paper around the candle and tied the leaf on with twine. BAM. Easy and free again. I'm not really sure where these are going yet.

My Thankful Banner is definitely quirky because it has a bunch of different paper patterns. But I actually think I like it that way. As I've been decorating the house little by little, I've realized that my decorating style is simply that: quirky. So I'm running with it and really enjoying it! As long as we like it, that's all that matters, right?

Have fun decorating for the holidays in your own style!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

You Are My Hands

"As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
"You Are My Hands"
April 2010 General Conference

So grateful for my hubby's talk in church today. He quoted from this talk (highly recommend reading/listening to it...right here on, and this part really touched me today.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Monogram Collage

I have been eyeing these awesome monogram collages on Pinterest for quite some time.

Here are my faves:
This one over a headboard from DIY Home Pin
especially this one from Dear Lizzy.

Well I've been collecting the letter H for maybe a year and have finally decided to make the collage! Yesss - productivity! So I laid out what I have on the folding table. I got 4 cute little plates from the DI to fill space so it wasn't just H's. (Spoiler: They didn't even work out!)

Here was my first (of many) arrangements.

I have seen some people make cute little random quotes with these collages and I love them. So I made one. Just got some scratch paper that somewhat went with the colors I had already and stamped the words on there. Easy peasy.

I added that into the collage and rearranged a lot of things. I wanted to see what a diagonal design looked like and tried it. Eh. Not diggin' it yet.

Then I asked for friends to give me some input to get things balanced better and some people said it looked like "ho ho ho" for a Christmas decoration. So now that's all I can see! Boooo.

Out went the plates. And after much deliberation, I even took out my cute little quote. Because all the H's were wood and stuck out from the wall, the paper just wasn't working well with everything else. But I still wanted this diagonal layout for some reason.

I guess I should've gone with the simple route that I usually take. It practically always works.

I went with just the H's. And I tried to put them in a diagonal type of clump again. Not sure how well it worked. But I'm actually diggin' it. I realize that some of my letters are crookedy - but on a couple I haven't actually use my more permanent hanging devices. That will be good if I decide to move things later on, I guess.

Please excuse me for being extremely lazy and using only my phone camera for pictures lately. I know the pictures aren't as sharp or true to their colors. But my phone is easy because it sends pictures directly to my account. Win, right?? Yes.

I am really enjoying it so far. And I think there is room to add more H's when I happen to find them. Just like my mantel picture collage seen here, it makes me smile when I see it. So I think that's a plus. We'll see how I feel a couple weeks. Actually, I probably won't care about it for a few weeks until I'm done taking the GRE. *stressssssss* 

Happy DIY-ing! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful Tree

I say it every year...but Thanksgiving is such a great holiday! I love it so much. It's the best holiday to help me regain my perspective.

Instead of doing the daily grateful posts on Facebook, I decided we will make a little Thankful Tree in our home. Since I already have a little tree decoration in my house, why not try it out!? My roommates and I used to have a Thankful Wall with Turkey hands in college. Anytime we thought of something we were grateful for, or friends that came in wanted to add something, we just wrote it on a post-it and stuck it on the wall. It was so fun and we loved seeing the wall full of thankfulness!

I saw these great ideas on Pinterest and wanted to try it out:
I got the idea for the Thankful Tree from here are Crafts Unleashed.
I got the free leaf stencil from here at Plain Jane.

I stenciled and cut out those leaves in fun fall colors. I used my 1 3/4" circle punch with the same colors for a bunch of circles. Then I punched holes and used some fun orange yarn to make little ornaments. As the month continues we'll write things we are grateful for on the circles and hang them on the tree we have.

I just tucked the leaves where ever they would stay on the tree. Then I'll hang the circles on where they look good.

The first thing I put every single time I do something like this is indoor plumbing. :) Seriously. I'm very thankful for that.

Don't forget to count your blessings!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sa-weet Jazz seats!

Because Steve's department at work organized and ran this seminar for a lot of managers, he was given some awesome seats for the Jazz game last night! Steve was mildly excited freaking out about it!!

Here is the view from our "suite" seats!! This was the first time we saw their new enormous jumbotron. So huge! And they had all these extra screens all around the entire court.

So excited!

Even MORE excited!!

I was trying to get a shot of the cool eating area in the suite behind us. Obviously that didn't happen.

Proof that these are the suites we were sitting in.
It was so fun and we got free dinner and dessert. It was a real treat to get to sit up in the cool people seats. And I finally got to meet all of Steve's co-workers, so that was fun too.

Anyway - that was awesome and fun! Maybe someday we'll get another chance to feel that cool again.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Post-Halloween Relaxation

YAY for November! One of my favorite months. *sigh*

As much as I truly enjoyed making this Halloween super magical, I also have enjoyed the two days following it. So much relaxation and secretly planning next year. hehehe. Just kidding. But kind of not kidding. I did some quick adding up and I am pretty sure I did this entire Halloween for under $30!! Great, right?! I'm quite amazed. However, that does not include the candy.

Since that is all over, we decided to try out a new dinner recipe. It's not really new, just a twist on a classic. A grilled chicken cordon bleu sandwich. Since chicken cordon bleu is pretty much the only fancy meal I actually like, we decided to give it a shot. It seemed a little less intensive than how it's usually made.

Here is the link to the recipe on All Recipes. The only thing we changed was that we used shredded chicken. I'm sure it probably would taste different with actual deli sliced chicken, but oh well. Chicken is chicken, right?

Can you tell how much I am NOT a photographer? Yeah.

Anyway, it was pretty good. We'd try it again for sure. And maybe we'll actually use deli chicken next time to see the difference.

Now we are going to go to a Jazz game in a hospitality suite! SWEET, RIGHT?! Steve is only a little bit excited. ;)