Friday, October 24, 2014

October | Currently

updating my Project Life album (posts soon).
starting Week in the Life today. 
embracing a new diet. 
working on new go to dinners. 
updating old recipes. 
reading this book.
buying all the materials for our DIY backyard fence.
making a quilted baby blanket. 
hoping to welcome another little one in our circle of friends in the next few days.
riding SkyRide at Arizona Snowbowl. 
loving this hat
watching the colors change as we move from summer to fall to winter. 
going to two weddings in two towns in less than 24 hours.
thinking we are slightly insane.
looking forward to relaxing in a huge hotel room bed.
slimming down my closet.
trying not to make unnecessary clothing purchases.
hunting for the perfect table.
dreaming of the upcoming holidays.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Semi Charmed Winter Book Challenge

At the start of the year I set a goal to read at least ten books with five being from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. To most, that is a measly goal but in January it seemed daunting. I have spent so many school years reading all kinds of junk I was assigned that I had forgotten than reading can be fun. When I graduated college in 2011, I stopped reading books. I needed a break. I was still browsing magazines, reading blogs, and studying cookbooks, but I rarely touched anything in book form with a real story to it. So when I decided I wanted to try to get back to reading for fun, I just wanted to give myself an easy goal and Ten seemed to be a good number. 
By June, I had reached 12 and adjusted my goal to 20 books for the year. With the new year fast approaching, and 5 more titles to read to get to 20, I am joining in with the Semi Charmed Winter Book Challenge. The rules are simple:

General rules:
  • The challenge will run from November 1, 2014, to February 28, 2015. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on November 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on February 28 will count.
  • Each book must be at least 200 pages long. 
  • A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once.
  • Rereads can be used for a maximum of three books in the challenge. 
Challenge categories!
5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules.
10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books.
10 points: Read a book of short stories.
10 points: Read a book with a food (not a drink!) in the title.
15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). 
15 points:
 Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language.
15 points: Read a book written by a local author (either an author from your state if you live in the United States, or in your country if you live somewhere else—note: author must be from where you currently live).
20 points: Read a "bookish book" (in which books play an important role, e.g. the setting involves a bookstore or library, a major character is an author, or a book that celebrates reading and books.
20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those).
25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read.
25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title. Be sure to tell us the song name and artist as well!
30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, brunch; update: meals like feast, banquet, picnic will also count, but try not to get too "creative" with your meal words!).
While I don't think I'll be checking in for the points, I think this challenge will provide some freshness to my book choices as this year comes to the end. The best part is this challenge ends in February. So I can end this year strong and start next year's goal off with a good start as well.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

DIY Piñata Party Favors

As I mentioned yesterday, we were in Vegas over the weekend for Berke's sister's wedding festivities. One of the events on our schedule was a Bridal Shower we hosted for the bride. The whole theme for the night was a farewell to the bride's maiden name. Fittingly, we had a Dias de los Muertos bridal shower at Tacos and Tequila at The Luxor. No fiesta is complete without a piñata and in this case, everyone got their own!

For this project, I originally saw these donkey piñatas from Oh Happy Day and thought that was what I was going to do. When I found out I was going to need at approximately 20 piñatas, I switched to a triangular pyramid design (3 sides and a bottom).

To make your own you'll need an equilateral triangle template, cereal boxes (I used four boxes for 80 3-inch triangles), scissors, 2 rolls of crepe paper, glue, and tape. Depending on the color of your paper, you may need paint the cardboard.
Step One: Trace and cut out your triangles. For this design, you need four triangles for each pyramid. As shown above, tape all the sides of the pyramid together cardboard side out, except one. This opening will be used to fill them with candy later. Due to the tape I used and the fact that I was using only white crepe paper, I painted my pyramids white. If you use different colored paper like a traditional piñata, you may not need to do this step.
Step Two: Once the paint has dried, turn the pyramid upside down and fill with candy. Use crepe paper and glue to papier-maiche the bottom to the sides. If you are using multiple colors, use the color that will be your bottom layer. I chose this method because it is easier to open the bottom than smash the taped sides. I also put a thin layer of paint over the papier-maiche to better blend in.
Step Three: Now that the structure is built and the piñata is filled, we can decorate. I specifically chose rolled crepe paper as it is easier to make into long strips of double layered fringe. My triangles were 3 inches wide on each side so I started with a 20-inch length of crepe paper. I folded that piece in half so I had a 10-inch length. I folded the width in half. Then I folded the length in half twice more so I ended up with a 2.5inx1in folded piece of crepe paper. On the non-folded edge, I cut the layers into fringe. I then unfolded the last two length folds so I was back with a 10inx1in strip of fringe.
Step Four: Starting at the base of the pyramid, add lines of glue and layer the fringe over top. Continue gluing and wrapping strips of crepe paper fringe around the pyramid moving from the bottom to the top alternating colors if you so choose. At this point you are more or less done. If you took the more traditional route with layering colors your pyramids look awesome at this point. I stuck with white and added sugar skull emblems and the initials of the bride and groom as shown in the first photo.
And that's it! Build your armature, make your fringe, and decorate! They are a little time consuming, but they definitely have the wow factor and will be a hit with guests, young and old!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Around Here

Well here I am resurfacing after a 6 week hiatus. It wasn't intentional, things have just been crazy busy around here. Lots of planning, lots of traveling, lots of events. A bulk of our time has been spent celebrating weddings!

We started September with the annual BBQ I help to plan and host each year. We switched venues up this year so there were a few growing pains but it turned out fantastically! With each event comes all the crafts and to-do items that come with them. For a majority of the past six weeks, I have had paint and/or glue covered fingers.

We are currently in the middle of our wedding marathon. Four weddings in a little over four weeks. First was a mini vacation to Tucson. We stayed at a fabulous resort at the base of the Catalinas. It was awesome and relaxing.

We are fresh off our four day trip in Las Vegas for Berkeley sister's wedding and I have to admit that I am beat. During our time there, we hosted a bridal shower, participated in bachelorette shenanigans, and then tackled all of the day of stuff. We even threw in some visits with some friends and family based in Vegas as well.

Like I said, it has been crazy. Hopefully, as we wrap up all the upcoming events we can mellow out and I can post more. I have about 15 posts sitting in draft status. Sometimes I feel like there is not enough time in the day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August | Currently

nursing a pretty wrecked ankle.
fighting the urge to walk before its ready.
finishing my pile of library books.
adding more titles to the never-ending list.
sewing tiny things for tiny babies.
enjoying it immensely.
reusing the basics.
thinking about tackling something bigger.
reserving hotel rooms.
making travel plans.
shopping for party dresses.
excited for all the events coming up on our calendar.
putting the backyard project on hold while we come up with a new plan.
dreaming of a kitchen table.
reading this book.
living in this hoodie.
growing in ways I never thought I would. 
being stubborn about other things.
trying to be better.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Easy Breakfast Smoothies with Jamba at Home

Due to the unpredictable nature of fire season sometimes we eat dinner at right around 6pm, and other nights Berke isn't getting home until 9pm and dinner is an afterthought. I learned early on that my traditional breakfast routine didn't keep me satiated enough to combat late morning snacking. It also helps me make it to a later lunch when I know dinner is going to be later in the evening.

This is the third year I have been doing the breakfast smoothie thing. Like I mentioned before, this year I added Kale into the mix for some extra vitamins. Another thing I have been trying is the Jamba At Home Smoothies. While I love being able to mix whatever we have in the fridge into a smoothie, it is nice to have things pre made.
My favorites so far have been Mango a Go Go (on the left) and Razzmatazz (on the right). For each, I throw the whole bag in the blender, add the required apple juice and a stalk of kale and blend it up. Every now and then it will get a little thick so I add a splash of kefir to thin it out. While the flavors don't match exactly the flavors of the Jamba Juice smoothies, they are pretty good bases for your own flavor blends.

disclaimer: I was sent coupons from Influenster at the start of the summer for testing purposes. I was not asked or required to share this product. As always, all opinions are original and my own. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ugly Truths | Trying to Conceive

Most of us have been there. That stuffy public school classroom packed with prepubescent (or crazy hormonal) students when the teacher whips out the Sex Ed packet. That awkward unit where your teacher starts in about hygiene, changes in your body, and how a family is made which inevitably leads to the teacher standing in front of said group embarrassingly applying a condom to a banana. You end the unit with the party line branded into your mind: "Unprotected Sex always results in Disease and/or Pregnancy, but the only 'Safe Sex' is abstaining from sex." You get a new rendition every year for 3-5 more years.
You go through your teens and on through college with that idea in the back of your head. You cautiously avoid the miracle of life by being vigilant with contraception or abstinence. Finally, you settle down, meet the man (or woman) of your dreams and get slapped with the ugly truth; getting pregnant isn't as easy as it seems. 

You go at it for months, not really "trying" but enjoying being newlyweds. You brush off the lack of pregnancy because you are too consumed with the newness of marriage. Then it kicks in that all that "unprotected sex" did not in fact result in a developing baby squatting in your uterus. You start looking at the calendar and aligning days. You pump yourself full of vitamins, you know, just in case. You gotta have that folic acid for weeks 2-5 when his brain stem is developing. 

Then your mom dies, your grandpa dies, your best friends die, and your world gets turned upside down making you ache for children that much more. Your hormones will get all mixed up and the horrible thing is the emotional stress will cause you to miss periods and you'll devastatingly think you may be pregnant. But the sad fact is that despite the planning, the vitamins, being healthy, and acting like rabbits, you still aren't!
This where we are. It has technically been 21 months of trying to conceive and about 15 months of me being consumed by the idea that I can't make a perfect baby conducive internal environment and that we may be facing infertility. 21 months of being jealous of friends, acquaintances, and strangers that seem to have magic uteri. Staring longingly oddly at the midsections of our friends that are on second and third pregnancies since we first started trying to conceive. Unfairly loathing ladies that call their occupied womb "a happy accident" that "just happened". 21 months of us sugarcoating our struggles when people ask us when we are having kids with blanket statements like "When God decides to bless us with one" and "It'll happen when it happens."
The Ugly Truth about Trying to Conceive: We (as a society) spend the 10-20 years post puberty actively trying to not get pregnant, not expecting that when we try to switch gears to actively trying to get pregnant there is still a pretty good chance that you won't. You can try and try and despite what your middle school sex ed teacher told you, sex doesn't always mean a baby! For now, for us anyways, there is still hope. This is just the beginning of our journey, so I am going to sit here with my empty uterus (thanks Gretta!) and enjoy my kale smoothie and handful of vitamins, while I try to make my womb look like a great fit for a future temporary tenant. Please excuse me when I enviously stare at your developing baby while simultaneously hating you and celebrating the new life you made. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Into The Black | Slide Fire

Mondays in the summer are typically adventure days. We haven't had too many since the start of Fire Season, but this week we were able to pack up the truck and head south west of Flagstaff to the edge of the Mogollan Rim. We headed "into the black" and checked out a portion of the Slide Fire burn area. note: before embarking we obtained maps and respected road and forest area closures and you should do the same!
 We started up on the top of the rim, far off from the canyon and slowly worked our way in. As we moved further into the black, BK told me of their day to day ops in specific areas, showed me their daily briefing and spike camp areas, and we talked about the various fire effects. The amount of green in those areas was quite intriguing. It was great to see the new life, especially the ferns.
 As we got closer to the edge of the rim and towards the canyon where the fire had crested, the way things looked drastically changed. There was a lot less green and everything was black, brown, and/or ashy. On the outer edges, there still so many trees that were healthy and ground cover, and other plants so there was wildlife. Here, there was nothing. We just sat and the silence was overwhelming. There were no leaves for the wind to rustle or echo off of. There were not any animals skittering about to make various noises. There weren't any birds. Even walking in this area was quiet. In comparison to other areas, the ground here was more gray than black. Due to the rains we have had, all the charred ground and ash had been washed away. It was so eery.
 I was completely blown away by this whole experience. It was the first time I had been in the burn scar of such a large fire so soon after ignition and suppression. I would have never gone out there by myself and I wouldn't encourage doing such a thing if you aren't knowledgeable (in this case, BK was intimately familiar with this fire). While we made sure to stick to open and "stable" areas, there were still hidden dangers. One thing I never considered was the fact that root systems can burn underground. The photo above shows the remains of a stump and the empty ground where the roots were. Look at how thin the dirt layer is. You can easily step through and possibly get injured.
Also, the burned trees start to die, break, and fall. Sometimes trees crash against each other or are precariously leaned against other dying trees. Sometimes large broken limbs are teetering in the branches of other trees. It is definitely worth it to be cautious and sensitive to the potential dangers, as well as following road and area closures.
Reflecting back on this little adventure I am struck with awe. It was mind-blowing seeing how expansive 21,000 acres really is. It was amazing to see the destruction and desolation but also to see the rebirth and regrowth taking place so soon. This drive out to the forest also sparked a lot of contemplation and rumination on some situations we are dealing with. I found myself stuck on some scriptures  (Ecc 3, Isa 40:31, Psa 37 and Acts 2 if you are interested). While the individual verses themselves are not meaningful in this context, I did find myself at peace as we were driving out at the end of the day. Never have I been so rejuvenated from a trip off the beaten path especially such a physically draining one, but there was just something about the balance of death and rebirth.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kruegers Do Disc Golf

One thing we do pretty often is walk Downtown Flagstaff after eating somewhere down there. It is nice just to take a stroll a few blocks extra on the way back to the car. In the middle of June, we stopped at one of the local outdoors store to peruse. Somehow, we happened to walk out with two multi-use discs and a map for one of Flagstaff disc golf courses. And thus this adventure began!
The first day we headed out to the Thorpe Park course and we decided it would just be fun to see what happens. We also packed a few beers to add to the casual atmosphere of "a fun day activity". It was a warm Sunday before the monsoons hit. There were lots of people out and about and lots of trash. We even saw some abandoned pants and a stash of toilet paper. Despite all the riff raff, we had a great relaxing afternoon tossing plastic frisbees at metal baskets and strolling through the woods.
We had so much fun that we both looked up other courses in our area. Next on our list of courses was the course at McPherson Park. I think this is our favorite course thus far! We went late in the afternoon on a Sunday. This course is smaller and more compact, and it was a beautiful walk in the woods. Not to mention the area was a lot cleaner. Personally, this one was my favorite. The holes were all different. Some were short with interesting terrain and lots of "hazards" and others were very long, like the hole shown above. 
I am looking forward to adding the NAU and Snowbowl courses to our lists soon as well! One thing we are really intent on is keeping this as just a hobby. It makes getting through courses a little slower and using more throws than the average player but that element of relaxed fun is just what we need this summer.

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