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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Pictures

This appropriately happens to be my 100th post on this blog! Happy New Year everyone!
Oscar-watching party with Shirley Temples

Joined a awesome book club where we read awesome books, like The Princess Bride.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Christmas

Today I am thankful for Christmas.

I am feeling so blessed and joyful. It's been a chaotic, crammed, sometimes stressful month of preparation. Finally, the day is here.

This has been week of wonderful moments.

A wreath-making party, coffee cake and conversation. I help my grandmother as she works hard to make dozens of traditional cookies: Russian Tea Cakes, Peanut Blossoms, Pecan Tartlets and English toffee. I have I Celebrate The Day on a CD of Christmas music in my car and I tear up every time I hear it.

My two new cousins, just a month apart, meet for the first time.  One of my best friends and her husband's sweet baby boy is a few weeks early. I had more than my fair share of baby-holding this week.

We watch Muppet Christmas Carol, my favorite Christmas movie. My little brother says Scrooge doesn't believe in Jesus, but the Muppets do and that's why they have fun. I love that he is figuring this stuff out.

I spend an evening out at a dinner theatre with my friend and her mom. A local theatre group has adapted Pride and Prejudice, adding Christmas carols.

We have a Mongolian Grill dinner, followed by a drive around the hills to see the elaborate Christmas light displays. I drown in piles of yarn, trying to finish up a scarf for my brother. My mom braves the fabric store two days before Christmas to get more yarn for me.

I cram in all my favorite Christmas movies because I've been to busy to watch them sooner. The women of the family go out for an afternoon of shopping and lunch.

I work with my siblings to shop for groceries and then engineer an elaborate gingerbread creation. (This year, Smaug the dragon on a pile of treasure.) We cook and decorate and dress-up. When the gingerbread takes longer than planned, my mom jumps in to finish all the cooking and cleaning.

We host small Hobbit-themed party of close and nerdy friends, feast and play games, make new jokes, and exchange silly gifts. My grandfather dresses up and makes an appearance as Gandalf. I have the best family.

Last minute coffee orders get delivered and mailed. I finally have time to edit pictures and paint my toenails. My family stays up too late watching Chuck, our newest Netflix obsession. I eat more sugar than I mean to. I tally the sales from the Apparent Project party and it brought in a total of $991. I am happy to be able to support Haitian families.

I watch Home Alone and wrap gifts. I feel inspired to make them creative and pretty this year and we have lots of random bits of wrapping and decorations to use. I make a quick batch of my signature holiday dessert: peppermint bark. I spend a morning babysitting my almost-3-year-old cousin who's in town for the week.

I don't find as much time to read my Bible as I want to, but I read the Christmas story before I fall asleep and I slowly work my way through A Christmas Carol.

The house full of family, a pot of soup made by my grandfather, coffee and tea and goodies on Christmas Eve. My siblings and I stuff Mom and Dad's stockings.

Is it possible to sleep well the night before Christmas? There's a spark of magic in the air and I feel like a little kid again. I listen to my favorite Christmas episode of Adventures in Odyssey to fall asleep.

We spend the morning at my grandparents' new house. For years I clung to the idea of "the coziest morning of the year" in their old house, the only place I can remember them living. My Papa gets up early and the fire is always going by the time we get there. I am a stickler about tradition, but now that the time has come, letting go of the old house and tradition and moving on doesn't feel so hard.

Our extended family has gotten so big, we've had to arrange shifts for each family to open presents with my grandparents. We curl up around the fire, eat bagels and nuts my grandfather smoked in his smoker, and fruit, tea and coffee. We open our stockings. I'm thrilled with the selection of goodies my mom picked out from the Asian market: brown rice green tea, a tea cup, Korean instant coffee, my favorite Korean crackers.We take turns opening our gifts, starting with the youngest and working our way up to the adults.

I feel so thankful for wonderful gifts this year. It's a great mix of semi-practical things I needed and fun surprises: new pajamas and a robe and socks with llamas on them, a TARDIS necklace, a bright red purse, a beautiful copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, (which I've never read.) My grandparents donate money to an orphanage in Mexico on behalf of our family. My aunt gives us a jar of homemade pesto. My grandfather has put together packs of home-smoked meats and cheeses and nuts.

Now we're home, showing each other our presents and enjoying some of them (especially the food ones.) We rest and nap and tidy up. I'm watching It's a Wonderful Life. Little Bro is becoming an expert at putting together Lego sets.

Tonight some family will probably come over for a meal and some games. Everyone has little ones now, so the nights don't go as late as they used to. We don't play Hearts for as long. But it's okay. Times change, but Christmas is still Christmas. I am more flexible and have learned to lower my expectations and enjoy whatever happens.

I've spent my Christmas season surrounded by the people I love, good conversation and good food.

Wherever you are, whoever you're with, whatever you're doing, I hope your day is filled with joy and celebration of our Savior. Merry Christmas!

What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Photoshoot

A few weeks ago, we took advantage of (very) rare snowy day, pulled out our hardly-worn winter clothes and had an epic photoshoot. I finally had time to finish editing the pictures today.

P.S. Thankful Thursdays will be back this week. December has been super crazy busy, so I haven't been very on top of posting.

I finally got some pictures of this sweater I knitted last fall.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Warm Things

Today I am thankful for all things warm.

Where I live, it does not snow. Like, maybe once a year we get 2 inches of slushy stuff that's gone the next day. On Friday, we got 7+ inches and it's still on the ground. We've hit the lowest temperatures the town's seen since the 1970's.

Since we have approximately one snowplow here, the roads haven't been great. A lot of places have been shut down, and people have been staying home as much as possible. (All of my classes have been cancelled, and since I work from home, cabin fever is setting in. I'm pretty sure next week's Thankful Thursdays topic will be "thankful to get out of the house.")

Anyway, I HATE being cold. I'm fairly convinced I'm meant to live in a tropical climate. Being cold makes me tense and grumpy. So I am so thankful this week for our pellet stove. For socks. (Even though I hate wearing them.) For knitted scarves, legwarmers, hats, headbands, and gloves. For sweaters. For my wool coat. For blankets. For boots. For walls and insulation.  For tea and coffee and soup.

I'm also thankful for this bunch. Turns out we all have a lot of winter clothes we never wear. We got out in the snow and had a ton of fun doing a 3-hour photo shoot. (More pictures coming soon!)

What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Top Five Christmas Albums

5. Joy to The World ~ Pink Martini

Pink Martini has unique music, blending different international styles and languages. Their holiday album is no exception! 

4. Let It Snow Baby... Let It Reindeer ~ Relient K

I love Relient K for their brilliant mix of humorous and meaningful songs. "Santa Claus is Thumbing to Town" has me laughing hysterically, while "I Celebrate the Day" had me tearing up this week and might be the best Christmas song ever. 

3. Christmas ~ Anna Gilbert
This is a newer album, but it's quickly made it into my favorites. It's full of beautiful, worshipful piano versions of carols. She has some originals and less popular songs. I'm in love with "Some Children" and "Rest in the Light". They make it onto my playlists year-round. (Not to mention that cover photo is beautiful.)

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas ~ Vince Guaraldi Trio

It just doesn't get much better than Charlie Brown Christmas. The jazz music is so relaxing and so Christmasy.

1. Home for Christmas ~ Amy Grant
Amy Grant's 90's album wins for the perfect balance of songs about Jesus, celebratory songs, and nostalgia. 

A few runners-up (runner-ups?....I'm always confused/annoyed about which is right) who also have great Christmas music are Michael Buble, Aly & AJ, (way better than their other CDs, in my opinion) BarlowGirl, Glee, and Jump5. (Must be nostalgia, but I still love their first Christmas CD. #sorrynotsorry)

What Christmas music do you listen to?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

50 Reasons I loved Catching Fire

In no particular order:
  1. Katniss’s cowl/vest
  2. When Finnick said “Honey”
  3. The elevator scene
  4. Katniss’s face in the elevator scene 

Thankful Thursdays: Tradition

Well, it's Thanksgiving, the ultimate Thankful Thursday. Today I'm thankful for traditions.

This weekend our family kicks off the holiday season by keeping traditions and breaking them. We'll watch/mock the Macy's parade. We'll take family pictures to send with our Christmas cards. We'll cut stacks and stacks of paper snowflakes. My grandparents will come over and we'll eat traditional foods: apple pie, pumpkin crisp, and sparkling cider, and not-so-traditional homemade tamales. We'll celebrate my new baby cousin, born just last night. We'll start easing into Christmas traditions: party planning, movies, music, decorations, and we'll get our tree!

How are you celebrating today? What are you thankful for?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Current Inspiration: Catching Fire

I saw the latest installment in the Hunger Games series twice this week and I have been feeling inspired ever since. Sometimes I just really want to spend all my time designing, knitting and sewing crazy costumes. All the designers on these films must have a blast! I've been sketching knitted things inspired by the different costume pieces and characters in this movie all week. For the most part I've knitted simple accessories, but this has me wanting to branch out and try designing some "couture" items. 

It's been more than a year since I read the book, so I had forgotten that the first part of the story is set in the Winter. That meant we got lots of fabulous chunky knitted things. The costumes reflected the fact that the main characters have some money to spend now, and you could tell there was style influence coming from the Capitol, while still fitting in with District 12.
I'm obsessed with this wonderful cowl/scarf/vest. I was trying so hard to figure out how to make one that I probably missed most of the first 10 minutes of the movie. I can't find any good pictures, but the back is really cool too. I've found a few copycat patterns online, but none of them really do it justice. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: My Job

Oops, didn't get around to this till now. It's been kind of a busy week.

Today I'm thankful for my job. I am very privileged that my dad has started a coffee roasting business with me (not to mention let me live at home for free while I'm doing it.) I have a super flexible schedule, easy and fun work, and I'm learning a ton. I love being able to work from the couch, figuring out graphic design things, social media, spreadsheets, and packaging! I'm thankful that even when it feels hard, I still have it really good.

What are you feeling thankful for today?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Thanksgiving Story: The Turkey News

I took a writing class with a group of other homeschoolers when I was in 7th grade. Most of the writing was non-fiction and essays (which I thought were pretty boring at the time, though that class is definitely why I can write decent essays now) so I was really excited when we got to do some fiction. The prompt for this story was to write about Thanksgiving from a turkey's point of view: 

The Turkey News

     “This is Tammy Turkey reporting for the Turkey News Network.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we don’t want to be the main course at dinner.  Many turkeys are putting up a fight.  Some even became violent at a protest this afternoon.  Tom Turkey has the story.  Tom.”

     “Well Tammy, several turkeys have been injured from all the pecking and clawing.  Human authorities are trying to get the crowd under control, but the turkeys refuse to leave until the humans promise them that no turkeys will be eaten this year.”

    “Thank you, Tom.  While some turkeys are protesting, others are trying to promote the use of Tofurkey, tofu flavored and shaped like a turkey.  The Gobble family has been going door to door handing out flyers promoting Tofurkey.  They say, ‘It’s a fun family outing, and the kids love it.’ The Gobbles plan on having a Tofurkey dinner for Thanksgiving.

    Many turkeys are trying a new diet called ‘ The Thanksgiving Diet’ based on the idea that people don’t eat slim turkeys.  Others have started exercising.

     Turkey counselors get a lot of business this time of year.  Many turkeys come to them for emotional support before and after Thanksgiving.  Some come because their loved ones were eaten for Thanksgiving dinner, others come because they were nearly eaten themselves.  Local counselor Tracy Turkey says, ‘It’s hard to give advice to so many traumatized turkeys, sometimes you just want to cry with them, but it’s great for business.’  Tracy’s profits have gone up ten percent since last year.

     Have a good Thanksgiving! Thank you for watching and good night.”

Unfortunately I couldn't find the original picture that I printed and colored in, but this is pretty close.
Bonus points if you caught the movie reference. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Yesterday

Today I am thankful for yesterday.

I had a nice day off yesterday. I was finally able to afford a massage. (I found this chain: Massage Envy. You have to subscribe eventually, but they give you your first massage for $39!) And my dad had a work thing out of town, so I rode along with him, and spent the evening with my aunt, uncle and little 2-year-old cousin while my dad worked. It was a fun day of relaxing, good company and good food.

(Also, my aunt runs Friendly Fox Vintage on Etsy, and she was very sweet to give me a couple of beautiful items to thank me for helping her out when I came and stayed in the summer. I'll take some pictures of the gorgeous beaded cardigan and accessories soon! In the meantime, check out her shop full of great vintage pieces!)

What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Costume Party

A few pictures from my costume party last weekend: 

I had another idea in mind, but didn't find what I needed, so I put it off and pulled this together at the last minute. Fortunately our costume supply is exhaustive! (Side effect of being homeschooled, I think.)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Books

Today I am thankful for books.

I have really gotten back into reading in the past year or two. I'm thankful for the Kindle that my dad loans me, (thanks to all those free books available, I've discovered a ton of great classics) access to a really great library, and my book club, where I've been exposed to a bunch of stuff I never would've read.

The Princess Bride is one of my favorites. The book is even better than the movie!
P.S. I got on Goodreads a couple weeks ago. You should friend me if you're on there too!

What are you thankful for today? Do you have any book recommendations to share?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pumpkin Carving

I don't have a lot of pumpkin carving skill, and I definitely can't freehand anything, so I usually plan out my pumpkin days in advance. This year I was super uninspired. I really wanted to do something "artistic" but knew I wouldn't be able to actually pull off anything complicated. Finally I had a couple ideas, one of which was a lion, but I was thinking more Aslan. When I did an image search, the poster from The Lion King on Broadway popped up, and I settled on that, since it's something I love and also wouldn't be too hard to carve. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Costumes

Today I am thankful for costumes.

Maybe it's the homeschooler in me, but I have always loved wearing costumes. I get really excited about figuring out how to make myself look like someone else. (Not that I don't like my usual self too.) Once, I was looking back over some old Facebook pictures, and realized I was in some kind of costume---for a dance performance, for a play, for a party, for a movie premiere, just or because---in almost all of them. I've never felt like I had to wait for a holiday once a year. If there's an occasion to dress up, I will take it. I usually pick themes for my parties based on the costume I plan on wearing.

I'm thankful that I've had lots of fun occasions to dress up and be silly in my life, and friends who join in the fun!

I'm also thankful for my mom, who has helped me hunt down and sew most of these!

Here are a couple pictures of costumes over the years:
Giselle from Enchanted

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October Knitting Photoshoot

My wonderful sister helped me out with a quick knitting photoshoot yesterday. I've had steady knitting orders the last few months, thanks to my Etsy shop and my local friends and family. Some of these projects have been done for ages (seriously years.) Unfortunately the glaring sun wasn't going so well with my ginger complexion, but we managed to get some good pictures in the shade!

Trying to figure out foxy poses

Oh hey, remember when I bought this skirt and was going to shorten it? I did! Original post here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Edith Head!

Edith Head has more Oscars than any other woman or costume designer, an impressive 8 (and 35 nominations!)

Google's doodle today honors Edith Head, who designed costumes for what seems like every movie made in the 1930-60's. She would've been 116 today.

Her signature straight bangs and round glasses. It's said she often wore blue lenses to get an idea of what costumes would look like in black and white!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Lots of Little Things

Today I have a cold, and I feel thankful for a lot of small things. Mashed potatoes with cheese. New Etsy orders. Juice. My friend Stephanie for letting me stop by and borrow the next book in the series I just got sucked into. My mom for taking care of me all day. Hearing that my aunt's water broke and I'll have new cousin soon. Our couch. New shirts from Target. Movies from the library. Costume party plans.

What little things are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursdays Link Up:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thankful Thursdays: Movies

Oops-I started my Thankful Thursday post yesterday afternoon, and then got distracted doing a bunch of other things. (Well, not gonna lie, it was mostly Disney City Girl.) So I guess this is Thankful Friday. (Maybe Thriday?)

This week I'm thankful for movies. My brother had his wisdom teeth out on Tuesday, so it's been basically a non-stop movie marathon at our house. I have the privilege of a job that can be mostly done from my laptop, so I got to spend a a lot of of hours with him, watching everything from School of Rock to Casino Royale this week. I'm thankful for all the first-world modern day things we have that make this kind of relaxing entertainment possible: electricity, technology, a nice TV, a good sound system, couches, (that could probably be a whole post on it's own) wifi, Netflix, etc.

What are you thankful for this week?

P.S. I figured out how to do a link up:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

I love this quote from The Great Gatsby. Unfortunately it wasn't included in the movie.

I finally got a chance to watch the new Baz Luhrmann version of The Great Gatsby a few days ago. I saw the trailer for it over a year ago (it was originally supposed to release in 2012, but it got delayed a few times.) It was right around the time I was planning a Roaring 20th birthday party. I decided to read the book and I loved it. I had read a series of books that referenced it a lot. (The Hollywood Nobody Series by Lisa Samson, which I would highly recommend for light reading. Kind of quirky, Christian teen chicklit.) I knew The Great Gatsby was "one of those classics everyone is supposed to read" and I knew it had a lot of glamorous parties. I expected it to really glorify that lifestyle, but found it was quite the opposite, and actually a complex and tragic story about people who have everything---except happiness. Anyway, I approached the movie with little hope that it would be an accurate representation of the book, but expected it to at least be really cool to look at.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Introducing Thankful Thursdays

Hi readers! 

I'm trying to start being a more consistent blogger. (I've actually had a plan in place for about a month and haven't done it yet, so I'm not off to a great start.) I'm going to try and have a couple of regular features that I commit to doing every week. The first one I came up with is Thankful Thursdays. Every Thursday, I'll write a (probably short) post about something(s) I'm feeling particularly thankful for. It's really good for me to stop and remember all the good things in my life. 

Also, if you are a blogger and want to do the same, I'd like to try out doing a link-up for Thankful Thursdays. I've never participated in one, but I know there are some ways to make it really easy. I'll look into it and try to have that set up next week!

So without further ado, my first Thankful Thursday:

Today I am thankful for tea. I am definitely a summer girl, and I start getting grumpy and hungry when I'm cold. Fall has definitely fallen now, and that means I've upped my tea intake to about 7 cups a day. Tea helps keep me warm and relaxed. So I'm thankful for clean running water, our fancy electric kettle (not to mention the electricity to run it!) with different temperature settings, and access to all kinds of amazing teas! I'm also thankful for my friends and family who've given us some really great teas lately. I have a great stock of loose leaf green tea with rose buds and smoky black tea that were birthday gifts, black tea my friend brought me back from her trip to Zambia, (they were a British colony, so they're very into their tea) and my aunt gave us some flowering golden jasmine tea recently. (Flowering tea is really cool!)

Zambian tea and biscuits

What are you thankful for this week?

P.S. On a fairly unrelated note, I've updated my Etsy store and Facebook page with all my knitting stuff if you want to check it out. (I've even gotten a couple of orders from people I don't know, so that's pretty exciting!) 

P.P.S. I'm also going to try and start doing Throwback Thursdays on Instagram, (where you put up an old picture) because that always looks like fun and I have a bunch of older photos scanned onto my computer for my senior page, etc. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spiced Mini Apple Pies Recipe

Well, fall baking season is definitely here. As soon as the weather drops below 70, I start craving warm, carb-y foods. I kicked off the season last week, by making some really yummy soft pretzels from this recipe for my book club. Yesterday we were making chicken pot pie, and ended up with an extra crust, so I decided to use it to make some adorable little apple pies. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5000 Pageviews!

This blog passed 5000 pageviews yesterday! That's pretty cool. Thanks everyone who reads it!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Julia Child!

I thought I would share some of my favorite Julia Child quotes since today would've been her 101st birthday. Julia was such a fun personality who loved life, people, and food, and a woman who really found a way to share her passion!

I didn't really know much about her until the movie Julie and Julia came out, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. Food, France, 1950's/60's setting, and a great cast made for an amazing film. Ever since, I've been a Julia Child admirer! I've made several of her recipes and had a themed dinner party for my 18th birthday. My high school drama teacher even had me draw inspiration from Julia Child when I played The Abbess in Comedy of Errors!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Eiffel Tower Dress: Story and Photos

About a year ago I saw and pinned this dress from Modcloth onto one of my Pinterest boards. There was no way I was going to pay $129.99 for a sundress, but I thought maybe I could find a similar fabric and make my own.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June Craft Projects

Here are some pictures of creative projects I've finished this month:

Candles in vintage teacups-one of my favorite new gift ideas. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Craft: DIY Sharpie Mugs

Sharpie mugs is one of my new favorite crafts to make and give. They are fun to make, inexpensive, and personalized!

The was introduced to these by my friend over at A Vibrant Medley. We had a Sherlock fangirl t-shirt and mug making day. She had one of the special pens that are supposed to be more dishwasher safe, but I found that I had to handwash mine anyway, or the ink started scratching off.

Even my awful handwriting looks pretty good one of these. 

Musical Madness, Pt 2

Sorry for my lack of posts lately. I've been quite busy with performances and all that other stuff that happens in May. Anyway, here are the rest of my musical mini-reviews:

Singin' in the Rain

One of my favorites. Having been produced in the early 60's but set in the 20's, it brings together two of my favorite eras. It's full of delightful 20's styling in 60's colors. 

Debbie Reynolds' dress is SO gorgeous

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Musical Madness Part 1

I've officially dubbed last month Musical Madness March. My sister and I decided we wanted to watch some old musicals, and I enthusiastically checked out about fifteen movies from the library at once. We didn't even get through all of them before they had to go back, and we're still catching up on a few. Here are some mini-reviews of some of the first ones we did get to:

Sound of Music
Sixteen Going on Seventeen is so cute and funny. Leisl's dress here is one of my favorites too. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tangsuyuk (Korean Sweet and Sour Pork)

Wednesdays are my night to cook dinner around our house. I've been trying to develop my Korean cooking skills. I started a Pinterest board of recipes, mostly from my new favorite Korean recipe site Maangchi.

탕수육 (Tansuyuk) is actually a Korean version of a Chinese dish. For whatever reason, we ate at Chinese restaurants a lot when I was in Korea, and this was one of my favorite things. 

Chopped veggies ready for the sauce. 

 Any sauce with this many veggies beats Panda Express. A couple of unexpected ingredients are apples, pineapple, and cucumber. You also finish the sauce with toasted sesame oil, which to me, is what really makes it taste Korean. 

I used Maangchi's recipe, but with a few small changes. I used pork instead of beef, cornstarch instead of potato starch, used more veggies than it called for. 

The sauce was delish, but I have room for improvement on the pork itself. It's battered in a mix of corn starch and egg white and then deep-fried twice. I need to work on my deep-frying skills. I have hard time regulating the temperature. I ended up with some pieces where the meat was tender, but the coating was kind of soggy, and others with crispy coating, but dry meat. 

My plate. 

I served it with Korean-style rice and of course, kimchi, although I wasn't in a kimchi mood. I found a great recipe for doing Korean rice on the stovetop, (in Korea, everyone owns a rice steamer) but I think I've been putting too much water on it and it keeps coming out mushy.