Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!







(By the way, we feel so stinking cool to have had so many people send us Christmas cards! THANK YOU!!!)

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you. I hope it's fab.

Monday, December 7, 2009

a bit o' Christmas

Seriously, Lloyd Newell has got it going on!

This was part of a MoTab broadcast and I loved it:

"As we look forward to Christmas this year, let's look back to Christmases past and appreciate what makes a holiday memorable. Some memories may involve less-than perfect circumstances--and that's all right. Few real-life celebrations resemble the slick ads and scenes in holiday movies.
In fact, sometimes the most cherished Christmases take place in conditions that are not quite ideal. Of course, it's easy to feel discouraged when things don't go according to our plans. But in time, families often look back and laugh about the mishaps: the year the tree fell over, the time they forgot to turn on the oven, the school program when everyone forgot their lines.
Other times, families weep when they remember more serious hardships: the year when someone was in the hospital, the year there were no presents because times were tight, the first Christmas after a loved one passed away.
As such memories fill our hearts, we would do well to recall that original Christmas night. It was not without difficulty. Mary and Joseph were far from home. No room could be found in the inn. Few comforts were available. And yet, love was born. Heavenly choirs sang. A new star lit the sky, and shepherds came to worship.
Unrealistic expectations for a picture-perfect Christmas may be misleading and actually keep us from appreciating the holiday's more subtle yet more satisfying blessings. Everything does not have to be just right for wonderful things to happen.
No matter the circumstances for Christmas this year, cherished moments are within reach. Hold a child in your arms. Pause to look at the night sky. Welcome friends and family into your home, and listen to heavenly choirs. Give the love that only you can give, and you will have a memorable Christmas: a Christmas that recalls that first holy night when, in the lowliest of circumstances, a King was born."

I just love this because life is rarely perfect. We often think of what we wish we had instead of being thrilled with what we do have. But Christmas isn't about that. It's about spending time together and loving each other and focusing on our blessings. Aaron and I were so lucky to go see "A Christmas Carol" at Hale Theatre this past weekend. I don't think I can ever tire of that story; I get something new from it every time I see or read it. The story really is all about how the Atonement can change our lives, if we let it. Really, our less-than-perfect lives don't matter that much. It's such a blessing to be alive, to have someone to love, to have supportive families, to have Christ in our lives. There's so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Masonic Temple

A few weeks ago we were able to go into the Masonic Temple in Salt Lake City. A banner went up saying the doors would open to the public so we put it on our calendar! I've looked at it zillions of times since we live very close to it and wondered what it was like and now I know! We went with our friends, the Merds.

One of the rooms had a Colonial flare. They told us the decor really had nothing to do with being a Mason... more of just looking to the past and remembering. I want one of these benches. :)

These stairs were in the "ritual rooms" and each word relates to part of the ritual.

This was the Egyptian room... though I can't lie... I was least impressed with this one!

Here is a close up of the framed picture. I love the phrase "We have seen His Star in the East and are come to worship Him."

To be a Mason, you don't have to actually work with stone, you just use similar principles of building a 'true' building to build a 'true' man. Here is a rough stone...

and here is a polished, carved stone. Just like our lives... we can polish our rough edges and make ourselves shine.

There was a large theatre room with this stage. They said the sets are used in the rituals. Again learning that building a building is like building our lives.

And here is the old-time stage stuff. We loved the huge knobs and stuff! There even was a steering wheel! :)

Here is the Gothic room.

There was also a Moorish room but it appears I didn't upload any of those pictures. The main thing that was different was the pointed-top doors.
We also visited the cafeteria in the basement and were entertained by these friendly creatures who watch you eat!

Check out these folding chairs! They just don't make stuff like they used to!

And a couple other random pictures... Cool old telephones!

And an insanely large comb we found in a drawer! (Yes, we're annoying tourists!)

We had a lot of fun and learned a lot and are so glad we went!


That evening, we went to the LDS temple and Aaron mentioned that although the Mason's seem to be a great group for men, there is nothing like going to the real temple!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Day of Thanks

We spent the Thanksgiving Weekend in a tiny city called La Jara with Aaron's family. All-in-all it was a relaxing break.
I got a kick out of all the small towns we drove through on our way there. This is at a gas station in Gunnison, CO. Yes, that garbage can is wrapped up. :) And yes, there is tinsel on the gas tubes!

This side of the family is quite blessed with boys! They spent time hauling hay and grain,

playing paintball,


and, of course, EATING!


And my goodness, they sure know how to eat!!! Thanksgiving Dinner included a turkey, ham, pork roast, twice-baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce, rolls, shrimp, three different kinds of veggies, two different kinds of fruit salads... and that's all I can remember right now. NO ONE went back for seconds!! Farmers know how to cook! I enjoyed spending time with this side of the fam and getting to know them. Oh and of course we also enjoyed a good win from the Y!

Our trip home started snowy and icy (and gorgeous), but it cleared up very quickly. (This is the top of Chimney Rock near Aaron's hometown--I'm pretty sure I've posted pics of it before. The clouds were doing some pretty awesome stuff!)

We stopped at Wilson's Arch near Monticello and walked up to it to give our legs a rest!


Good times! The holidays are here!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Small Trip

Last weekend we randomly were able to go to Denver to see Aaron's fam!

How it happened: State Cross-Country was supposed to be the week before. Although Aaron had REALLY wanted to go, he had tests the following week, so playing in Denver was definitely not an option! What happened? Denver got like 18" of snow so they pushed it to the next weekend, right after all his tests would be over! What are the odds!!!??

We flew out Friday night and his fam picked us up. The whole thing was a surprise for his little bro who was running in the meet. The meet was Sat morn in a big field. They all ran for 5K. Ryan ended up coming in in the 30's out of over 100 peeps and shaved a minute off of last years time. Not too shabby. I (surprisingly!) didn't take many pics at all.

Here is the beginning of the race. I really liked the bunting (is that what it's called) that lined the path. So festive. :)

And there is Ryan! We were able to find a spot where we could see him like five different times during the race.

Other than that we ate, we chatted, and we played games. It's always great to be with fam and it always goes so quickly.

I do have a small, gross story to share. :) On the flight there, we were on a tiny, tiny plane. We got over the mountains and hit MAJOR turbulence for quite a few minutes. And I got to use a barf bag. :) One thing off my bucket list!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Project #1

I was told by a few people who have graduated from the Accounting Program to expect constant homework once Aaron started school. I chose to believe them and I'm glad I did because it's true! I began making a list of stuff I wanted to do... such as finishing the wedding scrapbook, going through magazines (church-related and not) and keeping the good stuff, sewing, food storage, and cooking. Aaron often sees me in a mess and says, "Oh, you're working on another one of your projects, aren't you?" So now they're called my projects. :)

Here is "Project #1". (I'm fore-seeing a series...)
I have been trying to be all cool and get into food storage and have found these three fabulous websites:
http://funwithfoodstorage.net/
I found this page about building your own rotating can racks (http://foodstoragemadeeasy.net/2009/02/16/build-your-own-can-rotating-rack/) and seriously freaked out. They are so genius and cheap! I used their instructions and sizes for the most part, but did add a little bit of space in case I messed up. My first one was hot-glued and duct-taped but I decided they'd be stronger if I cut slits in the side to slide the cardboard into and then hot-glued them. I made the rest that way and think they'll last longer.

Here is what they looked like before I spray-painted them. (You definitely can leave them un-painted, but mine are out in the open so I felt slightly ghetto.)

And here is the finished product!

Cost? cardboard from dumpster diving :), duct tape, hot glue, a .96 cent can of spray paint, and a bit of time.

I'm totally asking for canned goods for Christmas... I can't wait to have these bad boys filled up! :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Some friends from the ward, Craig & Jennie (a.k.a. Jennie Craig), invited us over last night for a "pumpkin disemboweling night". :)
Here are the knives:





Obviously there was some anger to get out!
And the bowels. :)

And here are the finished products:

Left is Jennie's, middle is ours (Aaron did the eyes, I did the mouth), and right is Craig's. Obviously Jennie Craig are a bit morbid...
Good times! Thanks so much for the invite!

I hope y'all have a great Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cleaning With Becky (a new show!?)

This is totally random, but I taught at a "Relief Society Activity" last night mainly on cleaning with vinegar. I thought I'd share with you in case you are interested!

First off--why clean with vinegar?
1. It's inexpensive. 2. No harsh chemicals or fumes. 3. It's an effective sanitizer.

How to do it?
Get a spray bottle. I fill it about 1/4 full with vinegar and the rest with water, but a lot of websites say to use a 1:1 ratio. It really doesn't matter.... just use the amount relating to how dirty the thing is you are cleaning!
Then you simply spray and wipe clean!

As far as I've found, the only surface that vinegar is harmful to is marble. One site also said to not use full strength on tile grout, but I've never tried. Of course, just like every other substance, test on an inconspicuous area.

In the Kitchen--
Spray on countertops and top of stove and wipe off. It's an effective degreaser.
To deodorize or unclog a drain, put in 1/2 c baking soda, then 1/2 c vinegar and let it sit. (Volcano effect!) Then run water through it.
To clean the microwave, combine 1 c water and 1/2 c vinegar, bring it to a boil in your microwave, and then wipe it clean. Not only will it degrease, but it will get rid of the smell!
You can also clean your oven, fridge, and floors with it. To make a scouring cleanser with 1/4 c baking soda, 1 TBSP dishwashing liquid, and then add vinegar to make it creamyish.

In the Bathroom--
Great glass cleaner.
Spray it in the shower to prevent mildew.
Pour undiluted vinegar in the toilet and scrub with the toilet brush. Let it sit if there are stains; it will get rid of them!

Other Uses--
supposedly kills weeds, keeps ants out of your home, removes stickers, and will help remove armpit stains in the laundry, cleans pots and pans, polish silverware, carpet stain remover (I haven't tried all of these, but they were listed on the websites so do a little research if you're interested).

Besides the first three reasons of why to use vinegar, two others that I think brilliant are that 4. Because it is non-toxic, you can have your kids clean with it and not be nervous about them ingesting it or whatever! And 5. It can be your 'food storage' for cleaning... buy a big bottle of vinegar and big bag of soda and you're set for months of cleaning!

The two best websites I've found for hundreds of ideas are www.vinegartips.com and www.armhammer.com.

The only con I've found is the smell. I thought I would hate it, but it seriously disappears and just smells clean very quickly. A friend who didn't like the smell said she would cut a lemon or orange in half and rub it over the top of her countertop after cleaning to have that smell instead.

So that was my little spiel on vinegar. I was introduced to it earlier this year by my friend Stephanie Hansen and I've really found that I love it. I have not yet made it the only product I use, but from everything I've read, it sounds like it can be! Other than the vinegar I shared a couple other random things.

My "Golden Rules of Cleaning"--
1. DON'T HATE IT! You need to do it for the rest of your life so why not enjoy it!? Enjoy the time to think and do a mindless activity! Enjoy seeing what you've accomplished.
2. Spend about five minutes every day tidying. It is amazing how if you do this, that you only have to do a quick, deep clean every other week.
3. Keep cleaners handy and organized. Keep a spray bottle of the vinegar under your kitchen and bathroom sink so you can just pull it out and quickly spray and wipe.
4. After finishing the dishes, quickly spray the vinegar mixture around the sink, faucet, and counter and wipe it up... it's amazing how clean it stays.
5. Clean from top to bottom. Dry to wet.
6. Make your bed daily! It's amazing the difference it can make in the feel of the room and in your attitude!
7. Get yourself in the habit of putting dishes directly in the dishwasher instead of the sink first. If you don't have a dishwasher, simply rinse them as you put them in the sink. Then you pretty much never have to scrub!
8. Dust weekly with a microfiber cloth. You will never have dust buildup and it goes so quick every time!

And a list of how to make your home look spiffy in a jiffy! (ex. when someone tells you they're coming in 15 min!)
1. A quick vacuum
2. Clean your chrome. Take a rag and spray and shine the faucets... they look fabulous!
3. Organize your clutter. If you've got junk on your counter, straighten it. Or grab a laundry basket and grab all the things that you don't want seen, throw them in it and hide it somewhere they won't see it and put it away later. If you have kids, people expect to see toys on the floor, but if you have a bucket specifically for toys, you can scoop some of them into it.
4. Spray something fresh, open the windows, or light a candle.
5. Check the trash to make sure you don't have a huge pile or a stinky pile.
6. Quickly clean the bathroom, just in case!

And last, some "Green Tips"--
-Instead of using paper towels, use thin rags like this to clean up.
Some people use their dish rags, but I think my dishrags are cute and don't want nasty spaghetti stains on them! I don't care about these ones though and you just throw them in the wash and they work fabulously!
-I never fill up my garbage can before it starts to stink... and I hate tossing the big bags when it's not 143% full! Whenever I forget my 'green bags' at the store, I take home the plastic ones and use one of them a day... I put my chicken strofoam, food remnants, etc in it and then toss it daily. Also, when you've got an empty cereal box, fill it with the junk instead of the bag. (I don't have the ability to recycle.)
-Last, if you've got a baby, make your own baby wipes!
Take a roll of paper towels (the nicer brand) and cut it in half with a knife or whatever. Find a container that will hold the half in it and place it inside. Combine 2 to 2 1/2 cups water, 1 TBSP baby oil, and 1 tsp baby soap and mix them. Then pour it over the paper towels and down the middle. Wait about 5 minutes and pull up on the cardboard in the center and the paper towels will come out of the middle following!

I wouldn't say I'm a clean connoisseur or anything; it's more that I'm OCD. :) I really loving having things fresh and clean and feel so much better about myself when they are.

Friday, October 9, 2009

60 years!

My grandparents celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary!

(Getting them to smile was obviously not the easiest thing.) :)
They have three children, sixteen grandchildren, and currently twelve great-grandchildren.
We had a nice dinner with them to celebrate. I love them and the hilarious memories I have with them.
We even pulled out my grandma's wedding dress and my sister and I tried it on. Way cool. :)

I'm so glad that my grandparents have been part of my life for so many years. I hope we make it 60 years!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Experiment

I have always had a liking for Science Fair Projects... except when I had to do them myself because then I could never come up with anything to do! Ha!

Remember that table quilt I made back Easter time?
Well as we've spilled on it occasionally I've spot cleaned it and some of the red squares have bled onto the white. I was way sad. (Yes I did wash the fabrics before I made it.) Well fall is now here and it is time to put it away. But it definitely needed to be washed for real before going into storage. I was so, so sad at the thought of my hard work being ruined and turning all pink so I thought I'd look online for ideas. I found websites that said that salt would seal the colors, that vinegar would seal the colors, and that neither of those would seal the colors...

So I set out for my Science Fair Project! I got out four bowls, cut up some of the scraps from that quilt, especially the ones that were bleeding, and set up the test!

First Bowl: Cold Water and Salt
Second Bowl: Cold Water and Vinegar
Third Bowl: Cold Water
Fourth Bowl: Warm Water

Within minutes the warm water was turning red, then a few minutes after the cold water. The vinegar and salt stayed clear. A couple hours later the vinegar had started to turn red but the salt was still clear. So I washed my quilt with salt water and detergent and dried it immediately and it worked. Phew!!

After a whole day, these were my final results:

Salt still clear. Vinegar the most red!?!

Waters both a little red.

I was grateful I was able to find a solution (the internet is amazing in that way!) and I thought that maybe some of you craft-doers might find it helpful. The other thing I found while searching that I thought was helpful is to throw a piece of a cut-up white t-shirt into the washing machine with your fabric when you are pre-washing it to make sure that there is still not dye in it... sometimes it can take multiple times to get the dye out (and sometimes it may never all come out!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home Improvement

I used to love that show back in the day!

Anyway, we've had a couple exciting improvements at our little abode that have made me pretty giddy!

1. Thonet Bentwood Rocker.

I found this beauty at a garage sale for $10 a couple months back and couldn't resist. The only problem with it is that it creaked with every rock. After about an hour of adjusting screws, it doesn't creak anymore! I was stoked! I still find myself going over to sit in it every day just to check and make sure I am not imagining that it doesn't creak. :)

2. Wall Hooks

Our apartment has no closets, no shelves, no storage whatsoever. We've dealt with it well enough but when we were up in Logan I saw some some hooks on a wall and I was inspired. It's kinda lame always having jackets draped all over stuff, so I found these little hooks and installed them just inside our doorway. I love them!

3. Armoire
Like I said, we have no storage. Therefore, this is what my 'craft spot' looked like.

And then a previous roomie announced she was moving and selling some of her furniture. I jumped at the offer and was able to get an armoire at a ridiculously good price. It did require a bit of fixing but I was so up for that!

And here is the craft area now! Oh so clean and friendly. Love it!

Small things like this make me pretty excited. It's so fun to have small things that make such a huge improvement!