Friday, January 27, 2012

Domestication, part II

In my first domestication post I wrote how I made my very own homemade strawberry jam. It was much more of a blog-worthy post than this one will be since I took step-by-step pictures documenting the process of making jam. No step-by-step instructions here. Oh well.

My sister Elizabeth needed some good ole fashioned pioneer clothes for the youth conference trek her ward was going on over the summer, so I whipped a little something up for her.
I didn't use patterns for the apron or the skirt. I just cut out the fabric and sewed it together. However, I got the bonnet pattern HERE.

My next project was extra large lay-on-the-floor-to-watch-movies pillows. Check out the post right before this one to read step-by-step instructions.

Christmas time was filled with lots of little crafting projects. First I made this sweater for Killer. The ones we bought her last year don't fit anymore, and since we don't turn on our heat at all ever during the winter, on cold days we like to put her in a sweater while we're away from home.
She's so festive! Once again, I didn't use any pattern. I just measured her and cut. This doggie sweater is made out of an actual sweater. I just went to Goodwill and bought one that looked cute.
So I didn't make this tinsel, but the picture's so cute I couldn't resist throwing it in.
I made lots of these temple recommend covers to give away as Christmas presents. It's super simple - plastic canvas (you can find it at Michael's) and white yarn. Also, your life will be much easier if you have a needle big enough to handle yarn. Still no pattern. I just looked at mine and copied it.

I made these adorable snowmen for my grandmother. I'll have to make some more for myself next Christmas since they make such great decorations. They seriously took maybe 10 minutes total to make. Go HERE for the tutorial.

Susie gave us a ton of Christmas tree balls last year - way more than could ever fit on our tree. Rather than leave them in their box collecting dust I made this great wreath out of them.
There's about a hundred different ways to make these, but I followed THIS tutorial.

In order for Killer to have something under the tree beside just treats I made her another, not so Christmasy, sweater. This one's also made from a Goodwill purchase.

Here's to another year of projects and crafting and becoming even more domesticated!


How to make extra large lay-on-the-floor-to-watch-movies pillows

These are seriously the best pillows. They are beyond comfortable and make the floor much more appealing than the couch for movie-watching. I've also started using them for late night study sessions when studying in a nice warm bed sounds more pleasant than at a cold table. I just replace my normal pillow with one of these. It seriously cuts down on me dowsing off because I've sunk farther down into the bed than I realize. There's no way I can lay down while using this pillow to study.
I made two of these things and didn't once think about taking pictures of each step. Oh well. They're really not too hard so hopefully written instructions unaided by visuals will suffice.

Brad and I went to Joann's and picked out the fabric we liked. I don't even remember how much I bought. The pillows are 36x36 squares. I probably bought about 3 yards, because I used the same fabric to make the cording around the pillows. I also bought 6 yards of muslin (3 yards per pillow). Here's what I did:
1. Cut 4 36x36 squares of muslin.
2. Sew 2 squares together on 3 1/2 sides.
3. Stuff the pillow. I bought all my stuffing at Wal-Mart. It's by far the cheapest place for batting. Each pillow uses 100 ounces.
4. Sew the rest of the 4th side together.
5. Cut 4 36x36 squares of fabric.
6. I bought cording and then sewed fabric around it. You can make everything, but buying the cording seemed easiest. Wrap the fabric around the cording leaving at least an inch. Sew as far away from the actual cording as possible. The first pillow I made I sewed super close to the cording, which would have been fine, but I didn't sew that close when I attached the cording to the pillow. So now you can see some of the thread around the cording in some places.
7. You can attach the cording to all four sides of the pillow if you want. I attached snaps to one side so that I can easily remove the pillow from the inside and wash the case if need be (and I'm sure there will be a need). HERE'S a great tutorial on attaching snaps if you don't know how.
8. Next attach the cording to the 2 square pieces on 3 sides. Make sure you turn the fabric inside out. I'm sure this would have been easier to follow if I had taken pictures...sorry. You should end up with a fabric sandwich. Square piece, cording pieces, square piece. Also make sure the cording is turned the right way. You definitely don't want to sew the cording on the inside of the pillow. Make sure it's on the outside. When you're sewing everything together it should be between the 2 front sides of the pillow fabric.
9. Stick in the muslin pillow, snap up the 4th side, and you're done!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grad School?

My senior year of college lots of my friends started studying for the GRE. I thought about it for all of two seconds and decided grad school was not for me. Once I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree I was going to be done with school. How could people go to school for so many years and not get so sick of it? Well, graduation came and went and Brad Thomsa and I were thrown into the real world. No more on-campus jobs, no more $600 rent including utilities, no more late night cramming sessions, no more Utah, and no more school. I'm not going to lie, I went through a bit of an identity crisis. I had been in school for the past 17 years of my life. A huge part of my identity was STUDENT. What now? I didn't have a job, we didn't have any friends in Georgia, and I wasn't in school. I felt like my only title was WIFE. After so many years of multi-tasking how could I handle only one role? I couldn't. So we got a dog. :) But seriously, I quickly learned that I hadn't made the smartest decision when choosing my college degree. Human development is, let's face it, an unemployable degree. I did eventually find a job working way more hours than I was actually paid for and after being miserable with it for a year I realized how smart and prepared all my friends were in college who took the GRE. Why didn't I just it? Even if I wasn't planning on going to grad school, the scores last 5 years so I would've had time to change my mind. But we live and we learn, right? 

I eventually decided that I did want to go to grad school, and I started taking the pre-reqs I needed. Skip forward a year to December 2011. I had been volunteering/shadowing an occupational therapist for four months. I was dreading taking the GRE and had given up hope on applying for this year. That OT sat me down and told me to just do it. Just take the stupid test and apply to school. There's no point in wasting another year. She was right, and after about two days of crying because I was so stressed out I buckled down and took the GRE one week later. I turned in my grad school application one week before the January 15 deadline and emailed the admissions secretary almost every other day with made up questions just so she would know how incredibly interested in the program I was.

I feel like it's taken me a lot longer than many of my other peers to find out what I want to be when I grow up, but I finally did and the wait to begin learning how to do so is killing me. Luckily the same school that Brad will be going to for dental school has an occupational therapy program as well. I received an email from them Tuesday saying that they had reviewed my application and would like to invite me to an interview. An interview! One step closer! It's next Friday, February 3rd. If they like me and think I'll do well in their program they'll accept me and a huge part of my missing identity will be restored. I'll once again be a student, and I'll finally be studying material that will be useful to me in the real world. (If you don't know what occupational therapy is click HERE.)

Anyways, I want to start getting better writing on this blog meaningful posts that actually document
Brad and my life together and not just tons of pictures all the time, so what better way to start than this. Keep me in your prayers!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meet Squiggles

During the summer Brad found a lizard in our sunroom area. When he took Killer outside one day he just happened to notice the lizard basking in the sun in between the blinds and the window. It took a few minutes to catch the little thing because it was so fast, but he eventually caught and let it go back outside. 

A few weeks ago I also noticed a lizard in the sunroom from the outside. I was on my way out but took a mental note to go find it when I got back home. I forgot and didn't remember until a few days later. I told Brad about it, and he ventured into the sunroom for the lizard hunt. It didn't take long because the poor thing was laying on the floor skinny, frail, and dead. I was so sad I almost cried. I felt like it was my fault the lizard had died. If I had remembered it was there and gone to find it sooner it wouldn't have died. 

Then a few days later I saw another one! These poor little lizards get into our house thinking it will be warmer than outside (little do they know we don't turn on our heat) and then they can't find their way out. I ran inside and told Brad about it, and he geared up to run around chasing the little guy only to release him back outside. However, the lizard was blotchy, spotty, and brown. It was also freezing cold. When Brad went to catch it, it grabbed onto his finger and didn't even try to run away. It wrapped itself around his warm finger and hung on for dear life.
Look at the poor thing. You can see its ribs!

After feeling like I killed the last one I wasn't about to send this one back outside only for it to die. I mean, look at it. It was freezing outside this day, so I knew it wouldn't make it out there. Instead we made a little house for it. Brad and Killer found some nice green leafy branches and some great bark. We looked online and found out that this little guy was actually a girl since it didn't have one of those bright orange dangly things under its neck. We also learned how to feed and water it and what kind of things it needed in its habitat. Its called a green anole. We knew it needed some warm light, but we don't have have any UV warming lights since Killer doesn't require anything like that. So Brad had the genius idea of using Christmas lights since they warm up pretty quickly after you turn them on.
We wrapped the Christmas lights all around the fish bowl and put a paper plate (with holes punched in it, of course) on top so our little friend couldn't get out.

After we had designed this awesome habitat I decided it needed some water. I grabbed Killer's spray bottle (we spray her with cold water in the face when she barks incessantly or when she begs for food at dinner...sounds cruel but it works) and sprayed our new lizard and all around on the leaves and the bark. We later read online that this is exactly what you're supposed to do. Brad credited my just doing it without knowing that was the right way to motherly instincts. Ha. The poor thing lapped up water from the leaves for about 15 minutes. She was so thirsty. Almost immediately she started getting more energy and turning green. Brad then decided she needed a name. After much contemplation we agreed on Squiggles.

Later that day we went to Petsmart and bought some calcium-dusted small crickets for Squiggles. When we brought them home and put all 15 of them in her cage she was so excited! She immediately went on the hunt and ate like five of them. We didn't think about taking a video of it until she had already gotten her fill, but we watched in amazement. After she had gotten some food and water in her and sat in the sun for a while (we took her cage and sat it in a window that was getting direct sunlight) she was the happiest little green lizard we ever did see. Brad loved getting her out of her bowl and playing with her. She was so friendly. 

Killer wasn't quite sure what to think of her though. Whenever we went into the kitchen to watch the lizard, Killer would sit in the doorway and cry. I think she was a little jealous of all the attention Squiggles was getting.

At night time we replaced the Christmas lights with a black light and let Squiggles get some much needed sleep. The next morning before we left for church we removed the black light and wrapped the bowl in Christmas lights again. (Oh, side note. In case of you readers out there ever catch an almost dead lizard you want to nurse back to health, I sprayed Squiggles and her leaves three to four times a day.) When we got back home from church we decided it was time to bid adieu to our new little pet. She was obviously back to a healthy functioning level, and we didn't want to contain her in a fish bowl for the rest of the winter. Luckily that Sunday it was really warm outside and the sun was shinning. So we took her out and placed her on the top of a holly bush right in the path of the sun light. She held onto Brad's finger for a long time before she eventually let go and ventured back out into the real world.
Here's a before and after picture of when we first found Squiggles and then of when we released her.
I know many of you are probably thinking that we went to a lot of trouble for a stupid lizard, but I genuinely feel so good about what we did. We helped save a the little life of tiny breathing creature. We loved that lizard, and I know she loved us. I hope she found a nice warm place to live during the winter, and I hope we don't find anymore lizards in our sunroom!

Brad, Courtney, Killer, & Squiggles

Friday, January 13, 2012

Good-bye 2011.

2011 was filled with so many wonderful memories. It's amazing to look back at pictures from last January and realize that those were taken a whole year ago. It certainly doesn't feel like that long ago. Last year I put together a post full of pictures from some of our 2010 adventures. (I did this for 2009 too!) It was a great chance for me to look through all the pictures we had taken over the year and to remember all the fun things we did. I decided to do the same thing this year for the same reasons. I surprised myself when I came to find that I had actually blogged about most of the big events [well, what we considered big events] of 2011. I included a hyperlink with almost all these pictures. If you feel so inclined you can go back and read more about our awesome life.

Atlanta gets a huge snow storm that shuts down the city for a whole week, which meant no grocery shopping, which meant we spent over $300 when we could finally go since we hadn't been for about 2 weeks before the storm hit.

We go camping (without tents) for Brad's 26th birthday.

I get bangs.

We chill in the hammock on a beautiful spring day.

I get a weird skin rash.

We wait in line for hours to be in the first group to enter the REI sale.

We see Tangled in 3D.

Killer develops an undying love for the river even if that means sometimes stumbling across raging racoons.

We are called to be temple workers in the Atlanta temple.

Bethany, Andy, and I go to a preschool party.

Killer learns to drive.

Killer eats both a 20 dollar bill and a nature's valley granola bar.

We go on a cruise!

Killer celebrates her first birthday.

We celebrate two wonderful years of marriage by taking a camping trip to Fort Mountain State Park here in good ole Georgia. We spend the entire night playing with Brad's new camera and flashlights.

We take Killer to Woofstock - a big dog party in the park. And we get tons of free doggie stuff.

Killer decides the most desirable napping spot is in a laundry basket full of clean clothes.

I quit my job at the preschool.

Brad takes me on a surprise trip to Utah to see my sister, Blake, Devin, Sara, and Steve.

While on an afternoon run we suddenly get hit by a huge thunderstorm. We run even faster to seek shelter under a bridge until the storm settles a little. We seriously thought trees were going to start falling over on us.

Killer meets the beach for the first time and LOVES it!

After some inital hesitation, Killer quickly becomes obsessed with bubbles. She now knows where we keep them, and whenever she wants to play she'll go to that spot and bark nonstop until we get them out.

Killer helps Brad change the belts in the car.

We attend the roller derby championships.

We go to Six Flags with friends.

While visiting my grandparents in North Carolina we find this ginormous spider in a cave, and Brad falls in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We pick our own apples at an orchard.

I turn 23, and we visit a 9-11 memorial site.

We go to Lake Powell!

We dress up as Toad, Princess Peach, and Yoshi for Halloween and win 1st place in the trunk decorating competition at Trunk-or-Treat.

Brad takes this awesome water reflection picture at the pond by our house.

On a walk by the river one day Brad finds this super neat tree that beautifully displays all the lovely fall colors.

Killer continues to be the cutest dog we've ever seen.

Brad goes to a no-rules pine wood derby competition and wins "most creative car".

I grind a huge chunk of my finger off with a cheese grater. It bleeds for several hours and through several band-aids. I'll probably have the scar for the rest of my life.

We go see Christmas lights in the city square.

Brad surprised me with a beautiful purple orchard on a day when I'm especially stressed out about studying for the GRE. (Which I rocked, by the way.)

We visit the baby grand canyon (aka Providence Canyon in south Georgia) with Brad's mom Susie.

And last, but certainly not least, Brad gets into dental school!

We can only hope and pray that 2012 will be just as wonderful. We have lots of changes ahead of us - the biggest ones include moving to a new city and starting a new school - and we hope we will continue to be blessed as head down this new path.

Brad & Courtney