Saturday, December 31, 2011

Insomnia-palooza and Polyvore

The last few days I haven't slept very much.  To top it off, Kipper has had to work early each morning so I have tired not to do things that would make too much noise or get Gulliver excited. (This is code for: I have spent A LOT of time on my laptop!) We all know how I love me some Pinterest and one of the sites that gets pinned a lot is Polyvore. (I know what you are thinking...she is addicted to some new website...well I plead the 5th!)

Okay back to what I was saying.  The official description of Polyvore is "The web's largest community of tastemakers where people can discover their style and set trends around the world. Trendseekers and shoppers alike come to Polyvore to discover the hottest brands, products, trends and looks."  Basically it is sort of like Pinterest but for fashion and you can take pinning a step further by creating sets and collections.

For fashion bloggers I know this site had to make things so much easier for them and if you like fashion, it is a lot of fun to play around on. And so I don't feel like I have just been wasting more time than I can to admit on the site, I figured I would share a few of the sets I have created during Insomnia-palooza! Enjoy!

Casual Fall Day

TCU Tailgate

Green with Envy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Memory: A Way To Hold Onto The Things You Love, The Things You Are, And The Things You Never Want To Lose

A few years back I had a stack of old family photos that I for from my mom to use in some frames I had in my bedroom. Mixed in with them I found three snapshots from Paris when my Papa was deployed over seas at the start of the Vietnam War. On their own they weren't anything spectacular, but as a collection they almost "spoke" to me for lack of a better way of saying it. On a whim one night I decided to take the three photos and create something to hang on the wall in our bedroom. My Papa passed away when I was in the 2nd grade, so all of my memories are from a young age. The older I get the more I wish I could hear the stories about his travels during the war, among many other stories. Sometimes when I look at these photos I try to imagine the day, what it was like, what he did etc. While I might never know the "facts" in these and many other old photos, to this day, this project is one of my favorite projects that I had ever done and it makes me smile every time I see it.

As I was trying to decide what to do for Christmas gifts for family members, I remembered how much both Momma and Vickie loved the three plaques I did with the pictures of Papa. I decided I would create one for each of them as my special Christmas gift.  Not only would this be a gift they could enjoy, hopefully it will be something that will be passed down through our family as well. 

It took me a little bit of time to pick out which photos I wanted to use cause I wanted them to flow together. This is one of those projects that I stretched out a little longer than I normally would because I wanted to make sure they would both LOVE them!  By the looks on both of their faces when they opened them,  I am pretty sure I can say I succeeded! :) 


Momma's Gift 

Vickie's Gift

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Creating A New Holiday Tradition

Can you believe it is already the 7th of December?? I sure can't! The last week of November we started getting all of our holiday decorations out at the house (which is certainly one of my favorite times of the year!) As we were getting everything out I told Kipper one thing we have never done is an Advent Calendar. After talking about it I turned to my trusty inspiration, Pinterest, and within 30 minutes I had a plan!

I went to Hobby Lobby and just wondered the aisles of Christmas until I decided on all the supplies. I purchased a strand of basic evergreen garland, a make it yourself advent calendar and 24 miniature stockings. It didn't hurt that everything was 50% off either!

I cut the numbers off the calendar and glued them on to the stockings for each day. Yes, this does seem odd, but if I wanted enough numbers to cover all of the days I would have had to buy several packages of all the other numbers Hobby Lobby sold (which were NOT 50% off) So to make this project budget friendly this is the route I went, which worked great!

For the display of the stockings I folded the garland in half, fluffed it and hung on the wall in this random spot that I always want to put something, I just never had. Needless to say, this worked out perfectly and it is right on the entry hall as you come in the house!

 Now for what is IN each of the stockings! Because we don't have kids and it would just be Kipper and I doing it I decided to get creative. I came up with 24 questions that both Kipper and I would answer separately. Each day we would pull out the slips of paper and read to each other what we wrote. I wish I would have kept the list of all the questions, but I didn't. As soon as we get through all of them I will put the complete list, but here are some examples.

  • What is your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?
  • Gift you have been most excited to give?
  • Eggnog or Cinder?
  • Favorite Christmas movie?
  • Favorite Holiday tradition as an adult? 
  • What did you ask Santa for this year?
  • Favorite line from a Christmas movie?
  • If you could give your spouse ANYTHING this Christmas, what would that be?
  • Give or Receive?
  • What is a Christmas tradition you would like to start? 
  • Christmas song you wish they would stop playing on the radio?
  • The holidays are a time to...
 I am really glad we did this because everyday I look forward to going home and having those few moments with Kipper. While some of the questions are silly, it has been special to hear what we each choose to write down. Almost all of the answers have been an amazing reflection of how much we really love each other. (even though Kipper keeps asking where his "prize" is each day because as a kid he got a piece of candy or something each day!  lol) 

After Christmas I think I am going to make a scrapbook page or something out of them so we can look back at them years later. The best part of how I made this is next year we can come up with a whole new plan on what we will pull out each day!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Really So Different

This is apparently several months old, but it has just started popping on facebook. An amazing and profound speech by Zach Wahls (even more incredible is that he is only 19!) This is one of those video's that will stick with me, much like Joel Burns' It Get's Better speech. 

The world is not full of cookie cutter people, we all have differences, but that is what makes the human race so beautiful!  Everyone should be able to experience the same feeling I did when I walked down the aisle and married my best friend.  I pray every day that when Kipper and I have children they will be able to grow up in a world that is loving and accepting of everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This Thanksgiving, Kipper is Thankful I Didn't Burn Down Our House

You might laugh about the title of this post but sadly when I told Kipper I was baking for our family Thanksgiving meal I know he stopped and prayed we still had a home come Thanksgiving morning. Well before we even get started I happy to announce our home is fully intact. While we did ALMOST have a repeat of Thanksgiving 2004 (Short Version: I caught something on fire in the oven I was making for the Fire Department potluck, house was full of smoke and it took me forever to get the flames out. Kipper didn't answer his phone and I knew he was with the fire chief so I had to call the fire chief to have him get Kipper to bring the big fan from the station home to clear the smoke) we noticed the smoke and fixed the issue before any real flames started and the food ignited! :)  

Okay on to the awesomeness that was my baking! 

As you all know I am addicted to Pinterest and because of Pinterest I all of a sudden have decided I want to start cooking. And what better time to test out this plan other than Thanksgiving with my family, right??? Whitley apparently had the same idea to test out her cooking skills on our family so we decided we would  bake together at our house. (I think this plan made Kipper even more nervous! lol!)

After lots of hunting I decided on a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes from Your Cup of Cake. (I highly recommend this blog! Everything on it looks amazing and the recipes are really easy to follow!)  After a trip to the grocery store to get all the needed ingredients we were ready to get started! Well actually after I got the speech from Kipper about cleaning up any mess we made and to please be careful...THEN we were ready to get started. 

First we made the cheesecake filling and place it in the freezer until we are almost ready to start baking the cupcakes. Oh and we had to preheat the oven!

Next we mixed together the oil, applesauce, sugar, brown sugar and eggs  into a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, we combined the flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Over the course of the next few steps we began to combine the oil and dray mixture, as well as adding in the remaining dry ingredients, milk and the pumpkin.
 After everything was completely mixed together it was time to fill the cupcake liners with the batter. We had to make sure to leave enough space for the cheesecake filling that we added on top and lightly swirled in with the batter.

Then we said a prayer and popped them in the oven for 20 minutes.At first glace I was really rather nervous because they were not looking near as pretty as the photo on Your Cup of Cake. 

At this point we were working on 3 other dishes so we just let them cool, then in the morning I would make the frosting and ice them. Several more hours of cooking craziness took place, but at that point we were more concerned with burning cookies or mixing the wrong this, so the play by play photos didn't happen as planned!

Fast forward to Thanksgiving morning:  I got up and made the cream cheese frosting and iced the cupcakes. I was a little concerned as they still looked nothing like I thought they would. I was also a little nervous about what they tasted like since Kipper sampled one right after it came out of the oven and was a little unsure. BUT after tasting one with the frosting one it I was very pleased at how they turned out..They were really good!

What we HOPED they would look like:

Photo from Your Cup Of Cake

How they actually turned out: 

As you can see I am FAR from landing a show on Food TV, but I was still proud of them and they were a hit with everyone at dinner too!  Plus I have a new found respect for all the bloggers who post step by step photos when they are cooking! Just getting the ingredients combined and baked/cooked is enough for me for now. lol.

Want to tryout the recipe for yourself? 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Joy of Life 2011

Every nonprofit has their "signature" event and for Cancer Care Services that is Joy of Life gala. In the past Joy of Life has been held on a Thursday evening, had a guest speaker and focused around good food/wine. When I was hired one of the things I was tasked with was taking Joy of Life to the next level. My goal is to build Joy of Life into a great party that everyone cannot wait to go to each year verse just another charity gala. So while the basics of the event remind the same, it saw LOTS of changes. Plus we were working with a venue that most in Fort Worth had been to a million times, so I had to get creative to give it a fun and festive vibe so they didn't feel like just another event at the country club. (all this on a VERY tight...and I mean TIGHT budget!)  

So began my creative research for ideas...and then figure out if we could afford to make them happen! All the event materials have had a purple feel to play up the wine emphasis and we just rebranded making our logo purple and teal. I decided that was the perfect direction to go in to help people really start to identify Cancer Care with the purple and teal, while remaining true to our pre-event marketing materials.   

After a lot of research I figured out it would be much cheaper for me to purchase everything for the centerpieces, rather than go through a florist. The best price I was able to get from all the florist bids was $75 a centerpiece. I was able to do them for $38 each and Cancer Care Services owns everything to use for future events! Granted my office did look like a mess for quite a while because of this plan! :)

Color palate of the feathers and the vase filler with the led lights! To get the lighter colored feathers we died white ones....this is NOT something I would recommend. Dying them, combing them out, drying them and getting them to fluff is a lot of work. If we wouldn't have already owned the white feathers we would have NEVER gone this route! 

All in all I am extremely pleased how everything turned out and we had a lot of fun putting together the centerpieces and candle holders! Plus I received a ton of compliments on how elegant but still really fun everything looked! (mission accomplished!)

The addition of a live band and dramatic lighting really helped set the mood of the evening! It was great seeing people having such a wonderful time enjoying good food and wine, with wonderful friends, while raising money for a great cause!

The Live and Silent Auctions were both a HUGE success! We had over 120 lots in the silent auction and it was the first time we have every had a live auction, which raised over $33,000 with the 6 items!  

And to top all of that off we DOUBLED what the event raised in 2010!! That means more money to help those in our community who are dealing with cancer! But the best part of it all was I got so this with some of my dearest friends by my side helping me out each step of the way!

Now I am sure Mel is going to shoot me for ending with this picture, but the randomness of this shot makes me crack up every time I look at it. (Kipper did good capturing this one!) But I guess I love it because it sums us all up so well!
Cheers to all the joys in your life! :) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lala's 21st Birthday!

Earlier this summer I wrote a short recap blog about Lauren aka Lala. Needless to say it has been a long, hard journey filled with more tears and visits to the hospital that one should ever have to endure. But with all the pain, Lala touched lives all over the world.

Just several months before a girl who said she would rather DIE than lose her hair had found a new confidence in her bald head. She refused to let cancer keep her down and she lived her life according to HER rules. But most of all she showed the world just how powerful love and prayer can be.  And she sure as heck wasn't going to let cancer get in the way of her 21st birthday celebration!

Then it happened, the words came that everyone was waiting for, "Lauren, you are done!"   The chemo worked and she beat her nasty cancer! She had done what the doctors never thought she could do! Birthdays are about celebrating life and with those words, Lauren's 21st birthday celebration took on even greater meaning!

INCREDIBLE photo of Lauren's before and after CT scans:
 The scan on the right was taken in April (the huge white blob was her "grapefruit" tumor). The scan on the left was taken a week ago. Notice a big white blob? NO!!!!!!!! It's gone!!!!!! The scan on the left is the scan of normal lungs

Kipper and I were extremely honored to be invited to be a part of Lauren's 21st Birthday Celebration! And what was more fitting than a good old fashion costume party for the Queen of Halloween! (it is her favorite holiday!)

The love, emotion and celebration that filled the party that night made it like no other party I had ever been to. But the best part was seeing Lala bounce though her back yard in her Hello Kitty costume with the biggest smile on her face, surrounded by friends and loved ones. Here are a few of my favorite photos for that evening!