Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fave Layouts of 2009

The new challenge is up over at TAAFOMFT.  This one's easy-peasy:  show us your favorite layout.  Yep, that's it.  Didn't I say it was easy-peasy?  So get over there and link us up!  But you haven't scrapped at all this year, you say?  Well, according to my watch, there's still a few hours left...  :) 

Here are some of my favorite layouts from 2009.  Not my most productive year of scrapping, but a good one nonetheless.

1.  I chose this one as my favorite layout of the year because there are just so many things about it that I love. The buttons, the puffy paint, the stitching, the just makes me smile.

2.  I chose this one because it commemorates one of the biggest events of 2009 -- the day we closed on our house.  The photos are from the realtor listing.  It's also nice to look back on, because we've already made some changes.

3.  I got to hang out with my friend Kate this year.  She and her husband moved to Chicago a couple of years ago.  I really miss them, and had kind of forgotten just how much fun it was to be around her.  I really need to make it up to Chicago soon.  I'm missing her again.

4.  Let's just say that back in the day I may have had a little adjusting to do when it came to my new baby sister.  Thank goodness I grew out of that stage...mostly...  :)

5.  This one makes the list for humor.  The photo is from summer 2008 when we went to Munich after our mission trip to Poland.  Mike had warned me about the glockenspiel.  That it wasn't very interesting but I needed to see that for meself.  And I did.  And it was...well...yeah...he was right.  Stupid Chuck E. Cheese animatronics for giving me unrealistic expectations... 

6.  We like Half Price Books.  Specifically, my husband loves Half Price Books.  The man could spend hours there.  I'm really happy with the way this turned out. 

7.  Remember the time my husband and his friend dressed up like Raggedy Ann and Andy to run the Raggedy Ann 5K?  Oh yeah, I scrapped it, and I'm pretty happy with the title.  :)

8.  I love this one from TAAFOMFT.  I'm really happy with the photo, and the story behind it is pretty cool.

9.  I know most of you were starting to wonder where Lola way my girl could be absent from this list!  Her obsession with bottle lids had to be documented, because it consumes a significant portion of her life...and the space under our bookcases.  :)

10.  This one is one of my favorites because when I look at it, I get really excited for next year.  Following our guys on the Bourbon Chase was one of the coolest things I've every done.  I'm very lucky to know these girls!

I wish you all happy scrapping in 2010!  May all your layouts be your favorite.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's almost 2010! Let's see how I did.

Last year, I made a mini album listing my goals for 2009. Before I start making the 2010 edition, I thought it would be a good idea to look back and check out my progress for the year.

The cover. Man, I love the puffy paint. And that flower. :)

I'm very happy to report that I not only met, but exceeded my goal. I ran two 5Ks races from start to finish with no walking breaks. I'm very happy that I achieved this, but I also discovered that it doesn't take a lot of serious training for me to finish a 5K without walking. So this year, I'm thinking about setting a goal of running a 10k. This scares me a little bit because I've never ran that far before, but at the same time, I want to challenge myself. Also, I would have to take running more seriously, because right now, I would not be able to run 6.2 miles without stopping.

I think I did okay at this. We've done a good job of recycling bottles. I bought a set of food storage containers to pack my lunch in, using far less plastic baggies. Brewing our own coffee has all but eliminated our trips to Starbucks, so less cups to throw away. And we take our cloth bags almost every time we go to the grocery store. (We do recycle or reuse the plastic bags that we end up with -- the majority of them go to our local food bag program for low-income students.) Do any of you have any other things that you do that would help me improve in this area? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Technically, I did not learn to knit. I mean, I did finger-knit a garland for my yellow Christmas tree, and have made one arm warmer with a knifty knitter loom, but as far as knitting with needles goes, I can cast on. And that's about it. I did, however, get pretty darn good at crochet. Specifically, amigurumi. So I don't count this one as a loss, because I learned something new.

Mike and I have been doing Financial Peace for the last few years. Through this, we managed to save a sizable down-payment on our house. So yes, together we've gotten very good at saving money and working on a budget. But this year we learned that part of keeping our momentum when it comes to saving money is having a goal. And after we bought the house, we didn't have a big goal. Now, mind you, we didn't go out and spend, spend, spend. But for a few months, we got lazy. But we're back on track with some new goals in mind...eventually replace the cheap shingles on our roof with dimensional shingles or metal, replace the cheap windows. Yep, parts of our house were done on the cheap. Another aspect of this goal was to save more of my monthly allowance (we give ourselves an allowance each month to spend however we want). It's fun money, but I want to do bigger things with my fun money. Somehow, I manage to go though it pretty fast. Some of it is for stuff I want to do, some of it is for things my classroom needs. Whatever the reason, this year I want to start saving part of my allowance to the next month so eventually I can do things like buy a new camera lens, etc.
This one I have some problems with. This is an issue that manifests itself in my perception of who I am socially. I am not the girl people are drawn to, for whatever reason. I've stuggled with this a lot throughout year. Specifically with the girls my age at church and work (which, let's face it, takes up a lot of my life, and is therefore very significant). I'm usually the odd girl out. Whether it's because I'm quiet, don't have kids, work at less-frequented corner of the building...I often think I'm just different enough to seem boring to most people. Now, for all the self-imposed mental beatings I've given myself, there are positives. I have become very good friends with three wonderful gals from church. I've found out that we're very similar in that we haven't really clicked with certain social circles (social circles are a funny thing), but I love being around these girls, and I think they like being around me. :) I have a wonderful friend at work. We're sounding boards and encouragers to one another, and we share a love for good Thai food. And, I know to some people this might sound pathetic, but I have some amazing online friends. And I truly count them among my friends. So, at the end of the year, I think it's important that I recognize the special bonds that I have with these people, and to realize just how incredibly blessed I am to have these people in my life. Which sounds like a good 2010 goal.
Ummm...yes and no. Yes, at times I drink more water. But I'm still pretty much hooked on soda. Stupid Dr. Pepper and your wonderful flavor. Today I saw this PSA on the news today that warns people about the effects of drinking one can of soda per day (warning, it's kinda gross). Now, I think the results they warn viewers about (10 pounds of fat gained from drinking 12 ounces of soda per day) are on the extreme side (yes, it could probably happen to some people, but I don't think your average moderately-active person is going to suffer this). Nevertheless, soda isn't healthy. I know this. And I still drink it. And I keep trying to quit. And I do pretty well for a few weeks. And then I have a big moment of stress and I break down and buy my Dr. Pepper. So, I think this year, my goal is going to be less vague. I'm going to make a very serious effort to stop drinking soda. Oh, that's still kind of vague. I'M GOING TO STOP DRINKING SODA! There, that's better.
I am not satisfied with my progress toward this goal. I consider this a good thing.
Eh. Yes at times. And no at times. It really depends on my level of stress. I can be a very postive person when life is pretty low-stress. But the inverse happens, too.

And the back cover. Just because I can't post all those pages, and not post the back cover.
If you have goals for the new year, I would really encourage you to write them down. It doesn't have to be as fancy as a mini-album, but making a list can be very helpful. And also keep it somewhere where you can go back and look at it from time to time. I didn't do that this year, but next year will be different. And if you post them online, I'd love to see your goals!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Adventures in Christmas -- Two road-weary travelers

Confession: Sometimes I say I dislike Christmas. And what I mean is I love the holiday. Jesus's birth is something I want to celebrate. I just really, really dislike the travel that comes with it. Especially when it seems never-ending. (I know...think of the wisemen and all the traveling that they did...) :)

For your amusement, here is this year's travel itenerary:
  • December 18: Work a full day. Go home. Drive three-hours to visit Mike's parents.
  • December 20: Drive three hours back home. Because my district is under the impression that no one travels out of the county for Christmas, and they think having the students in the bulding for the next two days will magically improve test scores. Mike's district is smarter -- he had a half-day on the 18th.
  • December 23: Try to do some last minute Christmas shopping. After spending 30 minutes trying to get out of the shopping center, we realize this attempt is futile. And we drive home, realize just how stupid this was on our part.
  • December 24: Drive an hour from home for Christmas with Mike's Mom's side of the family. Then we drive about 10 minutes for Mike's Dad's side of the family. Then, around 10 pm, we drive 2+ hours to my parents.
  • December 25: After a long day of travel, and getting in after midnight, my siblings still insist on waking up at 5 am to open gifts. My sibling are both in their twenties. My protesting falls on deaf ears. I get very little sleep because I'm still kind of ticked off and new arguments against a 5 am wake-up keep running through my head and I can't get them to stop. 5 am arrives, and really, it's not so bad. I just wish that memories of opening gifts with my family didn't have that early-morning fuzz. Yay for napping throughout the day!
  • December 26: Mike has a cousin who he rarely sees throughout the year. And the Bess cousins have an annual tradition of meeting up at Applebee's before this cousin goes back to Florida. So we drive the 2 hours back to Mike's family for dinner. At the end of the night we have a choice: drive two hours back to my parents, or drive one hour back to our house, and head back to my parents the next day. It's late, so we choose our house.
  • December 27: We go to church, then make the 2-hour drive back to my parents' house.
  • December 28: We stay at my parents' house until the 28th because that's my dad's birthday. Birthday lunch with my family, and then drive two hours home. And we stay there.
  • December 29: As I write this post, Mike is just waking up. It's noon. My husband is a rockstar for doing the vast majority of driving.
I really do feel bad about sounding so negative in this post. But one of the side effects of all this travel is a lot of lower back pain. (This happened after Thanksgiving, so I'm starting to see a pattern). Actually, I look at this and just feel mildly sarcastic, not so much negative, because really, in the end, it's worth it to spend time with family (even if they do wake me up at 5 am. LOL).

Also, proposed goal for 2010: support teleportation technology research & development. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Adventures in Christmas -- A Tree Too Large

I am very happy to report that i found both of the Christmas trees that we wanted. Mike, my brother Zack, and I headed out before 6 am to Wal-Mart to see what we could find. My 6-foot white pre-lit tree was a bargain at only $8.75!!! Gotta love a 75% discount. We couldn't find a 7-foot tree, though. The plan was to check out K-Mart next, but it didn't open until 8 am. So we went home and dropped off Mike and picked up my Mom. K-Mart only had a 50% discount, but the had the sort of tree we wanted (7-feet tall and full at the bottom). Perfect, so I bought it.

Then we loaded it into the car. Or, rather, we TRIED to load it into the car.

No matter what we did, it wouldn't fit. So we had to call my dad so he could bring the truck. And we waited. And reenacted the event so I could have pictures for the blog post.

And then Dad arrived (my hero!) and he and Zack loaded the tree into the truck.

We may never be able to ever get rid of this tree, because now our tree has a story. Also, as my brother pointed out, because it is impossible to move.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A week of Secret Santa

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Mine has been great...I'll post about it later, since I'm still in the middle of it. But I'll go ahead and share my Secret Santa stuff from work. It's always a lot of fun. I like trying to guess who got my name. My Secret Santa was fantastic! Here's a rundown of Secret Santa week:

Wednesday: The mug came filled with mints, and there was a can of Pringles. The Pringles didn't make it. Lol.

Thursday: I mentioned on my Secret Santa form that I like buttons and photography...very clever, Secret Santa! :)

Friday: How gorgeous is this candle. I loves the sparklies!

Monday: I'm a sucker for snowmen.

Tuesday: How stinking cute is this tart warmer! I absolutely love it!!! Also, Tuesday was reveal day! My Secret Santa was our Ag teacher, Jaimie. She did such a great job playing Santa!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

...from Lola. Her purrfect Christmas purresent? (Ha! Puns!) For that sweater to be burned. Although I think she looks pretty darn cute. Even though she's giving me that "I will claw your face off in your sleep" look.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

I got sidetracked in a most productive manner. (edited)

So, my goal this week was to finish up Christmas gifts...fortunately, there are enough people that I won't see until after Christmas to make this goal a possibiltity. On Saturday, I took a break from the stuff I had to do, and worked on a couple of projects that have caught my eye recently.

The first of these are the Alice wrist warmers over at Craftzine. The most difficult part of this? Finding the Knifty Knitter flower loom. Which I found while visiting the in-laws this weekend. So far, I'm halfway finished, but I am loving how this is turning out!

I also worked on the finger-knit garland. I found this awesome chunky yarn (again, while visiting the in-laws...I should probably visit more often...LOL). I made almost 30 feet in just a couple of hours. I have this dream of having a white Christmas tree decorated in bright yellow. I think I'm going to pick up some bulbs the day after Christmas and spray paint them yellow. And I'll probably pick up some felt for this and this. We'll see if I can find a discounted white tree after Christmas...not going to get my hopes up, but we'll see. We're going to try to find a 7ft tree that day anyway, so I'll at least inherit our smaller (green) tree.

And I'm thinking this little guy might be next year's Christmas gift. Better to know that now, when I can work on it off and on throughout the year, right? Oh, who am I kidding? I'll start sometime around Thanksgiving, because I am so the last-minute kinda gal. Haha. (No link because I freestyled the little guy!)

And finally, my favorite version of one of my favorite Christmas songs. I finally broke down and bought it on iTunes this weekend. The words to this song manage to simultaneously give me chills and make me smile.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My pre-Christmas goals

One week until Christmas, and I'm feeling the pressure. It's not really that bad, but I'm glad this kind of thing only happens once a year. Here's what I want to accomplish before the 25th:

1. Finish my crocheted gifts. Last night, I finished two of them. I’m getting really, really good at (and sick of) making these things. Which reminds me – I should probably make a list and figure out exactly how many I need to make.

2. Wrap gifts. This one shouldn’t be too bad. I’m in the mood for some new wrapping paper. Really loving what people are doing with kraft paper. Also, I still need to finish finding my mom’s gift.

3. Stalk the mailbox. Actually, my porch. Because all my orders have shipped!!! Just waiting on one big box from Amazon.

4. Finish my TAAFOMFT December 30 challenge before I leave. By the way, the new challenge is up. Hop on over there when you finish up here. Fave car -- mine is the Toyota, without a doubt. My parents bought one in 1980 (yes, the year I was born), and it became my first car when I learned to drive. A few years ago, Mike and I bought one of our own. Seriously love this car!

5. Visit my in-laws. Spending the weekend with Mike’s family. Opening gifts. Dinner at Bob Evans. Hopefully visiting one of the coolest vintage stores ever!

6. Update grades. Everyone has a time-thief. The end of the semester is mine (and Mike’s). I’ve been so focused on getting some of my kids to pass that I’ve neglected many Christmas traditions. Like sending out Christmas cards. Or putting up the tree. Or putting up any decorations at all. I am currently trying to start the tradition of the Christmas Lamp. Sing with me! "O Christmas Lamp, O Christmas Lamp. The tree’s still in the closet.... O Christmas Lamp, O Christmas Lamp. So energy efficient…" I think it has the makings of a Christmas classic. :)

7. Take a photo of Lola. Not just any photo. A photo of her in her pretty winter sweater. Thankfully, her tolerance level for my insanity increases a little more every year.

8. Make dessert for the Christmas potluck at work. It isn’t Christmastime until I make cake balls. Super, super easy and tasty. Basically, bake a cake. Crumble the cake into a bowl. Mix with a container of icing. Roll into balls. Freeze. Dip in chocolate. I’m making chocolate dipped in chocolate for the potluck. I made red velvet dipped in vanilla last weekend.

9. Make garland. I’ve jumped on the finger knit garland bandwagon. So easy, and so fun! I have another idea for garland that I haven’t seen yet. So it might be an original. But I gotta finish goal #1 first. Side note: I’m pretty much just asking for yarn for Christmas. Seriously addicted.

10. Clean. Okay, so this one isn’t super important to me. We’re clean people…just not particularly good at putting things back in their places immediately.

I hope your holiday plans are coming together nicely. Let's all remember to take a few moments to just breathe.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A fun share...

Our Vocational department photo for the yearbook. We had to bring a prop that represented our subject area. So, robot-arms!!!

Also, I email the student who took the picuture and Photoshopped my arms out, to thank him for doing such a great job. I had him in class a few years ago, and he learned some Photoshop in there. He told me he learned from the "BESS-T". :D