I'm Grateful

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Today I heard an amazing lesson at church. I sat there almost the entire time nodding my head thinking, "this is EXACTLY what I need to hear right now!!" You know what it was about? Gratitude. This emotion is so easily swept under the table and put aside for later. Later, as when life slows down a bit, that huge trial finally ends, or that thing we keep asking for finally happens. But life doesn't work like that.

An amazing lady stood up and talked about her young son who passed away about a month ago. She spoke of how she is grateful she never took one day she had with him for granted. How amazing would it be to say that? He was mentally disabled and required a lot of extra attention, but he had the sweetest, kindest, happiest countenance. Most understandably, she misses him dearly. She then spoke of how the biggest lesson she has learned this month is that life is short. You may have some people in your life that you are grateful for, and think "I need to let them know someday how grateful I am for them." That someday needs to be today, because, like she said, life is short. I was humbled and inspired to get to work and let those I love know how grateful I am for them, because after all:

Take a few minutes today to write a thank you note or drop a line to someone you love, expressing your gratitude for them in your life. I'm pretty sure you won't regret it. :)

To Argelia

Saturday, March 26, 2011

As I scarf down some cereal before I go in to work, I just want to pause for a second and wish my amazing mother-in-law, Argelia, a very happy, happy birthday!!!

I am so grateful to have married into an amazing family, and on top of that, have a mother-in-law who is so full of love that I felt welcomed from the day I met her. She teaches me so much. Some things I have learned from Argelia include:

Writing a hand-written letter, just to say you were thinking of that person, is one of the kindest gestures you can do for someone.
Food is soooo much better when it's warm.
Wearing rubber gloves while doing the dishes keeps your hands from getting too dried out.
A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen.
Cooking for others is an amazing way to show those you love just how much you love them.
You are never too old to love Nacho Libre.

{And so much more}

I hope you have a fabulous day, Argelia! I love you!

Role Reversals

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You guys, I just watched the Cougars fight till the end in their final NCAA game and lose it in overtime. It is such a sad moment, but they fought a good fight. As I've been sitting here literally freaking out, I've been thinking how tonight we've had a little bit of a role reversal. Russ has been calm and stoic and I've been yelling at the TV whilst standing up and shaking my fist. Since when did I freak out while watching sports? Something's off...

I've also seen a role reversal as I'm in the middle of busy season; now that Russ is home he has been my saving grace by managing to get dinner on the table. Or do the dishes. Or both. Man, I owe that guy.

Or how about these boys wearing our purses? Even thought the picture is posed, the fact that they were all wearing our purses at the same time was not planned. Sometimes role reversals really lighten the load. (pun intended)

They Sucked Me In.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Have you guys ever heard of Lands End Canvas? I'm probably the only one who hadn't, up until recently. It's another line of Lands End that has a little younger and more casual approach, yet still carries those classic looks that will never go out of style. You guys should totally check it out. I scored some awesome black pants that I kind of want to wear every day and a fun swim suit for uber cheap a while back. 

When I got my package that I was so eagerly awaiting, I also received a separate letter, hand-addressed to me! Oh, how I love getting mail that isn't another credit card offer. When I opened the envelope, however, I was a little surprised to read that it was from the Lands End Canvas customer service department and not some friend from years past. After close inspection, I determined that Nick at Lands End really wrote me a hand-written "Thank You" note for shopping with them. What?!? That kind of stuff happens?

Now that's what I call customer service.

Call me a sucker, but I will for sure be buying from them again.

It's over. It's finally over.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This is how we're feeling right now. We are both jumping for joy (literally and figuratively) that this weekend has come. Before I go any further can I please talk about how funny this picture is? First of all, how freaky does my leg look? I didn't know I could/should bend like that? Is that normal? Also, Russ's face is very, very animated... almost creepy. Everything about it just kind of cracks me up.

Ok, moving on. Why are we jumping for joy? Let me tell you. This is the first Sunday where it isn't the "night before Russ leaves." Russ has been traveling with work for almost 3 months. Think back to New Years Day... yep, that's how long it's been. He spent 2 months working at Dell in North Austin, 2 weeks in Denver, and this last week he was in Dallas. He'd leave Monday mornings and come home Friday nights. This is one aspect of our lives that I haven't revealed to the world wide web, for obvious reasons. I have literally been living alone for nearly 3 months.

Luckily I have a job that keeps me busy during the day, but the nights have been rough. I hang out alone, come home to an empty house, go to bed alone, and wake up alone. I can honestly say this has been the hardest and loneliest 3 months of my life, and I am so, so, so glad it's over. I'm not usually that dramatic of a person, but even I knew it was bad when I would randomly cry on the way to work, sitting at work, or at home. Geez, just writing that sounds dramatic, but it's true. It has tested me in ways I didn't think possible -- it has tested my optimism, patience, our marriage, our communication, and more. It has also proven that I would be terrible in any long-distance relationship. It's been hard on both of us. For Russ, he has been on the road, living in hotel rooms and eating out for almost every meal (which gets old fast). I, on the other hand, have been living alone in a city with no husband or family. Yes, I have friends (and amazing ones at that), but they have husbands and families of their own that I didn't want to impose on.

But it's over. For now.

I'm sorry for airing out my dirty laundry, but it's my blog and writing this kind of stuff down every once and a while is therapeutic. Isn't it funny how you can look at someone's life (via blogs/facebook/etc.) and think their life is peachy-keen, only to find out they have been fighting the biggest battle up to that point in their life? Yep, that's been this here blog as of late.

Thanks for being there for me, my friends. You know who you are.

Play On!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Our neighborhood connects to a really large park. It's not your traditional park with lots of green grass (because San Antonio doesn't really have grass.. at least grass you want to sit in). But there is a huge network of trails for running, biking, walking, etc. The other night on my run I ran over some "graffiti." After thinking "ugh, those darn people that grafitti in this park... grumble grumble..." I looked a little closer to discover that it wasn't in fact graffiti, but a quote that brought a smile to my face:
As I ran on, that quote made me reflect on music and how influential it is in my life. I have always, always loved music. A lot of it I blame on my Dad (thanks Dad!). I am grateful for how one song can bring a complete change to your mood. This week has been a very "blah" week, mostly due to... you guessed it... work. So, I scouted out some new tunes that have successfully turned this frown upside down. Here are some of the new tunes (in no particular order) that I have been grooving to in my lovely corner in the "tax pit":

White Knuckles - OK Go
Kites - Geographer
Hummingbird - The Weepies
Normandie - Shout Out Louds
This Empty Northern Hemisphere - Gregory Alan Isakov
Don't Carry It All - The Decembrists
Only the Young - Brandon Flowers (loooooove this one)
 Normandie - Shout Out Louds
Off We Go - Trent Dabbs
Comes and Goes - Greg Laswell
The Ghost Inside - Broken Bells
Everything is Burning - Ivan & Alyosha
Giving Up the Gun - Vampire Weekend
Yellow Brick Road - Angus and Julia Stone
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Greg Laswell

Whew! Ok I'll stop there. I have a handful more, but I don't want to overload you. Go set up an account in Grooveshark and start groovin'! If you haven't heard of Grooveshark, you are missing out. It's like Pandora but BETTER. I put Pandora to rest a while ago. You can search for a specific song, listen to it, and make your own playlists. It will even do a random radio like Pandora, but I just like the fact that you can type in a song and get that song. What a thought, eh? Here's the best part... it's FREE! If you join, let me know and I can share this playlist with you so you don't have to search out each song. Or you can if you want to, cause that's also fun sometimes.

Anyway, one last song that has been in my head for a few days is brought on by the inevitable Jimmer-mania that has swept the country. I have always been proud to be a Cougar, but especially now as BYU is rockin' March Madness. What am I going to do when they play Gonzaga!?!? Conflicting loyalties... Spokane vs. BYU. Yikes. I think I'll have to go with BYU, especially since this song just rocks. Teach me how to Jimmer y'all.

Lunch Break Thoughts

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My thoughts are all over the place right now. Let's just start out with a list shall we?

a) I'm loving that I can get in a 12 hour work day, drive home, and still have enough light to run for an HOUR outside. Not just a quick 20 minute run, I ran for a full hour before it got dark! This is a miracle. I can't wait to do it again tonight.

b) YAY for Emily!!! (You either do or do not know what I'm talking about, but I'll leave it at that).

c) How scary is all of this stuff in Japan? I think the fact that my little brother is over there makes me that much more aware. Thankfully, he is about 300 miles away from Sendai and is happy, healthy, and safe. His birthday was about a month ago, and I have still failed to get him something (what do you get a missionary who is about to come home?!?). I was about to take the title of "worst sister in the world," when I heard about this shirt where 100% of the proceeds go to the Salvation Army relief efforts in Japan. This is possible because a donor is covering the full production costs, allowing all of the profit ($20 per shirt) to be donated. Awesome! Happy Birthday, Jace. You are helping Japan.

.... and finally, the news I'm especially happy about ....

d) Fictionist made it to round two in the Rolling Stone competition! In case you missed this post, Fictionist is an amazingly talented and hip band that has been making quite the splash in the music scene lately. The front-man, Stuart Maxfield, also just happens to be my brother-in-law (and yes, I will always play the "I'm related to him" card). Anyway, they were one of the 16 bands selected to compete in a competition for Rolling Stone. The winner gets to be on the cover of the oh-so-popular magazine, a record deal with Atlantic Records, to play on Jimmy Kimmel live, and a bunch of other goodies. Because of people like you and me who rated them 5 stars, they were one of the 8 bands to advance to round 2. Well now it's even more serious, and we need you to vote some more (it's as easy as clicking the 5 stars below)! Help Fictionist get to round three, my friends. To find out more, go here.

Fabric Flower Headband Tutorial

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I've concluded that Sundays are my very favorite days. I have an excuse to lay around and be lazy, not think about anything too serious or stressful, and re-charge for the week ahead. Sundays also provide a great opportunity to tap into my crafty side! In light of keeping true to my "busy season goals," I decided to make another tutorial for you guys! (I know you're thrilled, right??) This time I'm going to show you how to make some fabric poppy flowers. I think poppies are one of my favorite flowers. You can't be sad when looking at poppies. It's impossible.

 Ok, let's get started. This is what you'll need:

A few things to note before I show you what to do. These little squares of felt are literally $0.29 at Jo-Ann's and Michael's, so stock up and get crafting! Obviously you can choose any color of bead to secure the middle. You could even do something crazy and use a button or something. The sky is the limit here. This craft project even lets you tap into your inner-pyro! Now this is my type of craft project, people. However, I think a lighter is probably the best method to burn the edges; I tried using a candle once and it turned the fabric kind of black and charred. It may have just been a cheap candle, but that's my experience. Anyway, here's what you do:

Now that you have the felt ready, it's time to secure the three circles together!

At this point you can put your poppy flower on anything... a headband, bobby pin, hair clip, shirt, onesie, shoe clip, you name it! I experimented with making a stretchy headband by just attaching the flowers to one of those Scuunci brand headbands you can get at any drug store, but I will also show you how to put them on a structured headband.

Attaching the flowers to a structured or traditional headband is as easy as using your glue gun. For real. You can get these types of headbands at your grocery store, Target, Forever 21, etc. They are super cheap, and usually come in packs of 2 or 3. Glue the flower to your headband, and then paste a strip of felt underneath the headband to secure the flowers and add some padding. Obviously, I wasn't too careful on being neat... but I was experimenting, and no one sees that part anyway! Don't judge. :)

And no tutorial is complete without a shot of the finished project. These poppy flowers are perfect for spring, and really are pretty simple. And like I said, who doesn't love a craft project where pyrotechnics are involved?

Happy crafting, my friends!

Saturday Morning Diversions

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's a Saturday morning and I just got to work. Being here is not really what the doctor ordered after a really looooong, exhausting, and honestly, down-right stressful week. I feel like I'm on the verge of getting sick, and to top it off, Russ and I both woke up this morning at 4:30 restless and unable to sleep. Perfect.

Obviously the mere fact I am blogging and not working on taxes shows how I'm not quite ready to crack down and get to work. So why not dream of pretty things I can wear? I saw on this blog how Talbots has come out with their spring line. I've always known Talbots had nice stuff, but didn't think it was necessarily my cup of tea. That is, until I was drooling over much of their new line, especially these skirts:

Umm, yes please. I'm totally digging all of these looks. My birthday is coming up and all... hint hint. :)

In other news, I am now a step closer to achieving one of my New-Year's Resolutions by signing up for this:

In case you can't see it, I signed up for the Bear Lake Half Marathon in June. I'm trying to run at least one half marathon a year (see here and here) just for an extra ounce of motivation to stay in shape. My sister-in-law recruited a group of us girls to all run it together. She even promised we could go to McDonald's afterward. That was really what convinced me. ;) And plus, I figured the first step to achieving one of your goals is merely committing to it. I've paid, and being the cheap-wad I am, I now have to do it.  Well watch out, cause half marathon #3 is about to get OWNED!

Real Life "Up"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Have you guys seen this?? Someone actually made a house fly with balloons! This amazing house-mobile reached an altitude of 10,000 feet and was in the air for about an hour. Who'da thought? I just love the fact that someone thought of a way for such a magical movie to come to life. As you know, we're kind of big fans of "Up", so seeing this article this morning made me extra happy. The filming of this event will be part of a new series on the National Geographic Channel called How Hard Can It Be? that will air this fall. To learn more and see more amazing pictures, go here.

And people say cartoons aren't real....

Rays of Sunshine

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Whew! What a week, right? Russell made the comment that he knew I was crazy busy when the blog is neglected. I've been preparing taxes like a mad woman and trying to stay sane in the meantime. I've realized this week that it's those tid-bits of happiness that are in a sense "rays of sunshine" that get you through busy and stressful times of life. Some of the rays of sunshine I've seen this week include:

Wearing my shoe clips. I don't know why they made me so happy, but spicing up some of my go-to shoes just put a little spring into my step. If you want to learn how to make them, go HERE.

Taking a long Sunday nap. I don't remember the last nap I took, maybe 6 months ago? It felt sooooo good.

Going for a beautiful run in the park near our house after working yesterday.

The lovely 70 degree weather San Antonio is blessing us with.

Making salmon and liking it! (Did you hear that Mom??? I'm a big girl now!) I've never been a big seafood person, but I am growing up. We made this Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon recipe, and it turned out perfect (and was incredibly easy! Bonus!) Pair it with some asparagus and brown rice and you've got yourself a meal.

Getting to play the piano at church. I haven't touched a piano for almost 3 months, and I have missed it. A lot.

And most of all, hanging out with this crazy guy.

Hope y'all have had a wonderful weekend and have been able to find some rays of sunshine in the craziness of life.

I Will Prevail

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's March.

March means busy season is here in full force. I don't know who I was kidding thinking I'd have all this time to re-do the nightstands right away. I still really want to get them done soon, but it just might not be as soon as I was hoping. Don't give up on me my friends.

Speaking of busy season, I'm already feeling exhausted. It's easy to get so caught up at work to the point where I don't step out of the office from sun up to sun down, not even for lunch, like I did on Monday. How depressing. Soooo... in hopes of making this a happier month and a half of my life, I've made some goals.

I hope you're not rolling your eyes at me. It just helps having some written down so I feel somewhat accountable to keep that life balance. Speaking of balance, my mind has been wandering to the day when I'll be able to see sights like this again:

Zions National Park, Utah - Angel's Landing Hike

Long Lake, Spokane, Washington

 Baptist Draw, San Rafael Swell, Southern Utah

Obviously I'm pining for a summer vacation that involves anything outdoors, in the mountains, a canyon, or a lake. There is a time for everything, and the time right now is tax season survival.

Wish me luck.

Little Acorns

My manager shared this song with me this morning. Thought it was fitting for many reasons. Plus, we've got about a million acorns in our yard.........