Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Merry Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! I hope your December has been full of love and laughter, remembrance, and celebration of all that you hold dear.

Our December started out great when my husband decided we should dress up and head to the city to take the kids to see the "Nutcracker Ballet." I've always loved the story and music. It brought back a lot of memories... years ago I was privileged to play the role of Clara with my dance studio's rendition. (I really need to dig up those photos)!

Speaking of ballet, we were dazzled by our daughter's holiday performances. They are growing into such sweet little ballerinas. Nothing melts my heart more than a little girl in a leotard with pink tights and pink ballet shoes.

 

We are so lucky to be with Troy's family this year for Christmas. He grew up in South Dakota, where I grew up too. Since then, his family has moved to Utah. It is so fun to visit this beautiful place. The kids got to ride Papa's horses for the first time. What a treat! 




I had the chance to see my dear friend/college roommate Allison. Oh how I love her!


 The kids have made lots of Christmasy treats!

 We had a chance to visit Temple Square (where we were married 9 years ago)!

 
 
 We watched the Nativity, which brought the true meaning of Christmas to our minds. I am so grateful for this time of year, to reflect on the beautiful life of my Savior.

 I hope you have a wonderful holiday vacation. May you be blessed!
See you here in 2013!


 

 cards from minted.com

Friday, December 21, 2012

on my heart this past week

It's been exactly a week since the sad events happened in Connecticut. Like you, my heart has been heavy and sad, and also full of gratitude for my little family. I wasn't going to write about it here, since the topic has been visited so much, but I have had so many thoughts on my mind, and two specific personal stories that have not left my mind. So as part of my tribute to the victims, families, and community of Newtown, I'm adding my thoughts.

I'll start by saying that as horrific and gruesome as it is, I have tried so hard to stay away from the news coverage and details of it all. My husband and I talked about it and cried about it one night. After dealing with our emotions, and deciding what we would say to our own children, we concluded that it would be best to not let the details linger in our home. That doesn't mean that it hasn't been on my heart every single day, especially thinking about my own little daughter in 1st Grade, and how scary it was for the little children in CT. But I feel like those sweet angels would want us to move forward, to treasure the time we have with our babies, to not be sad, but to live every day to its fullest, to love our babies, be good parents and citizens, and count our precious blessings.

This brings me to my first story. It was an experience that helped shape me as a child, and the lessons I learned affect my parenting to this day. When I was 9 years old, I lived in a small community just outside of Ft. Hood, Texas. On a normal October day in 1991, a crazy man drove his truck through a local restaurant, and opened fire, shooting 50 people and killing 23. My father, who is an ER doctor, was called in to help manage the mass casualty and injury situation. The entire community was rocked and shaken. It was devastating. You can read about it here. It was neighbors, soccer coaches, preachers-- good and normal people-- whose lives were taken that day. I was scared and had a hard time sleeping after that. Thankfully, my parents prayed with me and comforted me the best they could. I clearly remember a very important lesson I learned from the situation. I was at dance class, and my teacher, Mrs. Tracy, could tell that we were just too numb to be able to dance. She decided to take a time out, and right there on the dance floor, we all sat in a circle, and while doing stretches, she let us cry it out and talk about it. Once we had gained our composure, she wrapped it up with a simple statement that has had a huge impression on me. She said, "Live every day like it could be the last time you see your family. Never miss a chance to tell someone you love them." I will never, ever forget her inspired words of wisdom that day. I am not perfect, but internally, this has always been a personal mantra that I strive to live by.

My next story happened to me when I was just a kindergartener. It was exactly this time of year. Our family was stationed at the Army Post called Ft. Irwin, in Southern California. My mom had taken me, my older sister, and our baby sister, to the nearby city, San Bernadino, to do some Christmas shopping at Toys R Us. It was dusk as we were getting out of the car, and getting ready to walk from the parking lot and into the store. From around a corner, two young men started yelling at us, and out emerged two guns. We were being robbed and held at gunpoint. Immediately, my wise mother gave them her purse, containing all our cash and credit cards, and we started screaming and running toward the store. Her friend who had come with us, put up a fight, and they beat her up and left her lying in a pool of blood. My mom thought she was dead. As we were running into the store, someone eventually figured out what was going and and helped us. The fire men and police men took good care of us. Eventually the men were found and charged with their crime. As you can imagine, this is one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me, and I hardly ever talk about it. So many miracles happened that day. Our lives were spared, including my mom's injured friend. Even though I was so little, I remember these events very clearly. Since then, I have been slightly paranoid, but always cautious. I often wonder why our lives were spared that day. I hope I am fulfilling the things that I still need to do while on this earth.

Truly, the only thing that brings me comfort in scary times like this is my belief in life after death. I believe that all those children who died in CT are safe with their Heavenly Father now, and that I know they will have the opportunity to be reunited with their families again someday. Without a doubt, I believe that we must work hard in this life to be honest, loving, faithful, and hard working. If we do what is right, I believe we will have the opportunity to live again in heaven with God and Jesus, and those we love. I look to the strong examples of people in my life who have suffered loss and hardship. When and if tragedy strikes my life, I pray to be strong, to not lose my faith. If I know I'm doing all I can do to be a good person in this life, to love and help others, then really there is nothing to be afraid of. It doesn't mean that life will be perfect, without suffering and hardships, but it is better to have faith and find comfort instead of living our lives in fear.

This is a video that my little sister just recorded with her University Choir, and Alex Boye. It is dedicated to the Sandy Hook community. I love it.


In other news, my husband and I celebrated our 9th Anniversary yesterday! We are enjoying time with his family for Christmas.

I hope that you are enjoying your holiday season with your loved ones. Take the time to unplug, to play and laugh with your families, to embrace your life- even with its imperfections.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Infinity Scarf Tutorial

I'm pretty much years behind the trend... but I recently fell in love with scarfs! I don't have an infinity scarf in my wardrobe yet, so when I saw this Eiffel Tower fabric when I was at a fabric store during the Sewing Summit, I knew it would make the cutest scarf to wear this winter!

Want to make one? This is the easiest sewing project ever- great for a beginner, and great to make as a gift! 

(Although this is super easy to make, it takes at least once to understand how it all comes together. This tutorial is for a very novice seamstress-- sorry if it seems too easy for you more advanced seamstresses-- I didn't leave out even the smallest detail)!


Supplies:
1 yard of fabric (light cotton, voile, knit... I wish I could tell you the designer of my Eiffel Tower fabric... I lost that info)
sewing machine, rotary mat and cutter, ruler and tape measure, hand sewing needle and thread, iron

1. Start by blocking your fabric. By that, I mean to make sure that it perfectly squared up and on grain.
 Here, I folded it in half and cut it to be perfect. See the difference?

2. I made a tester scarf out of muslin before I made my final scarf. That way I determined exactly what length I wanted it to be. I settled on these measurements... 
60 inches long by 10 inches wide
For my height, 60 inches is the perfect length for two cowls (wraps around my neck).
You can really use any measurements you'd like. Just do whatever it takes to make a very long rectangular piece!

3. Fold in half right sides together (it will now be 60 inches long and 5 inches wide). Pin and sew at 1/4 inch. Only sew the 60" side, not the two 5" sides.
4. You now have a very long tube.
 Now lay your scarf on the ironing board, with the seam in the middle. Press open the long seam. Only use the tip of your iron, so you don't crease the sides.

5. Turn your scarf right side out. I was able to do this without any tools, but you can always use a dowel or even your broom handle if you need help.

 6. Now simply fold it in half, so it now measures 30" x 10".
 You'll want to line the inside edges together, at the seams.

7. Ok, now this is the hardest part. It's confusing until you actually do it, and then it comes together like magic. So don't let this step scare you, its a cinch! Start by pinning the inside seams together. Now keep adding pins, while letting the fabric flow with you.
 This picture looks confusing, but this is how it will look once you've put in as many pins as you can.
 Start sewing, removing pins a you go. Make sure you're only sewing through 2 layers, and not catching any other fabric under your presser foot!
 You won't be able to sew the circle all the way shut. We'll deal with that it a minute. After you've backstitched, take it off your machine. It still looks funky.... until...
 Presto! You only have a tiny hole. The rest of your sewing worked!
 All you have is just a 3 inch hole.

8. The only thing left to do is to hand sew that small hole shut. Tuck in the raw edges, and when you sew, make sure you hide your knot, and only sew through the inside layer so your thread doesn't show on the backside of the fabric.

And voila! That is all! Good job!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Flatbread Pesto Vegetarian Pizza

Every Friday night at our house is movie + pizza night. Our kids look forward to this all week long. We start with pizza, then get ready for bed, spread blankets on the floor, make popcorn, and watch our movie. We love this tradition so much, and we really hope our kids look forward to it even when they become teenagers!

To kick off the beginning of the holiday season, 2 weekends ago, we had a special Family Movie Night on Friday, followed by an Ugly Sweater Party on Saturday. On the menu both nights was pizza made with Flatout Bread for the crust. We gave it a test run on Friday, and loved it so much that we served it at our party on Saturday.

Here's a few pictures from our Friday night:
 

After pizza, we made gingerbread houses with a kit and candy that I found at Wal-Mart.

Once our masterpiece was complete, we watched two movies- one that was on sale at Wal-Mart, "We Bought a Zoo," followed by our favorite Christmas classic, "Home Alone."
 

And here's some pictures from our Ugly Sweater Party on Saturday night:

I mentioned our party flatbread pizzas in this post,
and promised you more details....

Flatbread Details:
 There are 4 different flavors... Rustic White, Spicy Italian, Heritage Wheat, Rosemary & Olive Oil. The spicy is really spicy, my husband loved it! Each package contains 6 flatbreads, which fed my family of 5 perfectly. They are available for purchase at Wal-Mart.

What I especially love about the crusts is they are dairy free. Our 2 year old son has struggled with dairy his whole life. Whenever I order pizza, I only purchase from companies who have no-dairy crust, and then I ask them to make 1/2 a pizza without cheese. (Sad, I know)! But with these no-dairy crusts, it was extremely easy for me to customize a special personal pizza for our non-dairy son.
 
I made a lot of versions with this flatbread (pepperoni + cheese, pepperoni + bacon + veggies), but my favorite was petso + veggies.

Vegetarian Pesto:
1. Spread about1/4 cup pesto onto uncooked flatbread.
2. Cut and sautee your favorite veggies. I used onions and yellow bell peppers in olive oil. Spread over pesto.
3. Top with mozzarella cheese.
4. Broil for about 5 minutes in the oven.
If you want to try these flatbreads, stay tuned! Next week I am giving away a $50 giftcard to Wal-Mart!


You can check out Wal-Mart's Gift Giving Guide, and their Holiday Entertaining Pinterest Board.

This post is sponsored by Flatout. I received free product to review for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.