Friday, December 28, 2012

A Wonderful Evening

Last night was wonderful. I think that is the best way to describe it. Simply Wonderful. I couldn't stop smiling.

Last night I went to the temple for the first time and I loved it. I felt so loved and comfortable. And I loved going into the celestial room. So beautiful!

Several fun "coincidences" happened...and I don't think they were coincidences at all. I knew sooo many people last night. It was really cool. One of the workers that helped me was actually the grandmother-in-law to a friend that used to be in my ward, and my friend, Nathalie, ended up being there. Then the Coordinator was an old family friend and my youth choir director from way back in the day when I was 12-15 years old. Mom was really excited about running into her. Then I walked into the dressing room and there was my beehive leader when I was 12-13. I was friends with her son growing up and hadn't seen her in years. That was fun too. 

Then when I walked out of the recorder's office to wait to go into the dressing room, I saw a kid and his dad that I grew up with. Turns out the kid, Travis, was going through for the first time too--and it made me feel old. I'm 9-10 years older than him. Anyway, so half of my family ward showed up, including a lot of people my mom had wanted me to invite, but I hadn't. It was really awesome and really fun to see them all there. It made me feel loved.

Once I finally got into the session, I didn't have a whole lot of time to see all who was there, but after I sat down, an old dear friend, Brad, walked in...quite unexpectedly. My jaw dropped at the randomness--since he actually lives in Utah. Turns out Monica knew he would be in town this week and invited him. It was really cool. And the smirk on his face showed that he was relishing in the surprise. That was the cherry on the top--Two of my besties from high school were there.

I loved having people there that I've known at different stages in my life. Nana, Uncle Britt & Aunt Sue, of course Cait & Nick, and Mom who was my escort. Lots of my Young Women's teachers & leaders (including Travis' mom, Sister Smith), and then my friends from High School, Monica and Brad and their spouses, and Monica's parents, as well as Rich and Michelle. And then the friends I've made in my singles ward: Camie, Fallon & Kenneth, Brittney, Trulie, and my Bishop and his wife, as well as the executive secretary and his wife. 

I felt so happy and loved. It was wonderful. Truly wonderful.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

So Caitlin wins the prize for the best Christmas present giver...again.

Last year, she won by having Rachel.

This year she won by announcing that she is pregnant again! And she's having the little peanut around June 18th. YAY!!!! I'm soooooo excited!

It was pretty hilarious how she told us. We had our family christmas party early in the afternoon yesterday and in all the excitment and confusion of trying to get skype to work so we could chat with Erin, Jim, and Steven...She and Nick forgot to tell us. Ooops.

Later that evening, we ended back at Cait and Nick's and as soon as Mom and I walked in the house, Cait blurted it out.


Um. What?

So that was really fun. :) And surprising!

The rest of Christmas was fun too. Cait also got me a 72 hour kit starter kit. So that is awesome. We also exchanged the books we bought together a few weeks ago. We do that every year.

And then Rachel dicovered how to open presents. She was easily the highlight this year. She is soooo cute! :)

Rachel and Nana reading a book. It's still weird to think of my mom as "Nana."
Christmas Eve we spent having dinner with the Fluckigers, our new-ish tradition. I've done it the past three or four years and then after dinner and reading scriptures and other traditions, I stay and help Michelle and Rich wrap presents for the kids. This year we were done by 11:30--apparently a new record. Usually its later...much later. :)

Auntie Lys and Rachel

Alyssa, Rachel, Sean, and Rich.

Rachel opening her very first present--new Christmas Eve Pajamas!

Kevin and his new Abraham Lincoln bobblehead.

Christmas morning I spent cleaning my house and cooking treats for the afternoon and at noon, we got together with Mom's family to do a little luncheon...and Rachel was the Star of the Show. :) So adorable! :)

Rachel, Uncle Craig, & Caitlin

Chillin' in the chair that Great-Aunt Mardene made for the grandkids to sit on at Nana's (Gran-Nan) house. Rachel loved it once she realized it was for sitting.

"I'm so cute and I know that everyone knows it!"

"I want that Goldfish cracker!!!"

Gran-Nan and Rachel rocking the night away.

Rachel's first piano/organ lesson from Gran-Nan! :) Rachel loved it, played the organ and danced along to her own music. So cute! I think I see a budding musician!
Uncle Craig wore this hilarious, crazy outfit to Christmas lunch and Cait decided that she needed to wear it. She called the stick the "Stick of Justice" because she used it to keep Rachel from going downstairs.
Cait, Steven, and Erin--our "family christmas photo" this year. I just love technology.
Nick and Rachel opening presents. Rachel enjoyed ripping the paper. It's not something she's normally allowed to do.
Cait calling family with the good news about the newest addition and Rachel playing with her Christmas presents.
Christmas was fun and lovely. I spent the evening at Cait & Nick's playing with Rachel and watching our new movies that we got for Christmas--a family tradition. We ate too much, laughed a lot, and had fun together. It was perfect. :)

Harry Potter Monopoly Part Dos

Yesterday I posted about how I made a Harry Potter themed Monopoly game for my sister Erin. So today I'm continuing to elaborate on how I put it all together.

For the back of the board, I decided it would be fun to make the cover of the Marauder's Map. I found an image online and then blew it up so it was big enough. I "cheated" and used carbon paper to "draw" it on the paper. For the other side of the board, I just typed out the two quotes used for the map and traced them on to the paper and inked them in with a brown pen. Easy Peasy. I used some brown mist and sprayed it on both sheets of paper to age it a little. It turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. :)

I covered it with clear contact paper to protect it from life. Because life happens.

Also, inside the box was a spacer cardboard thingy with quick Monopoly game rules and fun facts. It was beat up and not what I wanted, so I covered it with some paper and printed some carefully designed fun Harry Potter Facts on it. Then once the paper was lined up right, I glued it down, inked it, and covered it in contact paper. Underneath it, all the game pieces are hiding.

For the box, I found some thin kraft wrapping paper that I picked up a couple of years ago (it has a cute red gingham pattern on the front) in my stash and turned upside down and wrapped the box. While doing this, I learned a valuable lesson:

When using spray adhesive and spraying towards a fan, the adhesive that is not stuck to the paper will then fly around the room and stick to everything else. Maybe that's why the label says to use it OUTSIDE. haha. Good thing it didn't actually damage anything or make everything horribly sticky.

Anyway. I wrapped each half of the box as neatly as I could and then started attaching the various labels and "stickers" I had made using my Cameo.

The two drawings I printed out and then traced onto the box using carbon paper (best invention!) and then took a brown pen to it. In the corner of the top, there is a "golden snitch" that I free handed. I should have drawn Hedwig flying. Oh well. :)

Oh and all the Harry Potter letters are inked in a pretty, sparkily gold ink. I really held back and that is the only "sparkle" in the whole thing. It kind of hurt my glitter heart a little. If this were for me, it would ALL be sparkily. hahaha.

The back of the box has the Hogwarts Crest drawn in and a little description "promo" about what's included.

Then each side of the box was wrapped in clear contact paper again to protect it. I'm not going to let someone waste all my time and energy just to accidently spill a drink on it or something. Geez. :)

It was pretty hard to get the contact paper on perfectly smooth and it's far from perfect, but I like how it all turned out.

It was a fun, but time consuming, project.

Erin better LOVE IT. Erin, I know your reading this. You LOVE IT! LOVE IT, I SAY! :)


Love you Erin! :D


So there you have it. That's my version of Harry Potter Monopoly. I had most of the materials and so I didn't spend too much on it. Most of the cost was for the charms that I used as the game pieces. Yay. I love it when I have most of the stuff already. :) It did take a lot of time designing, but I liked how it turned out, though, I probably won't make another one anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Handmade Harry Potter Monopoly Part 1

We are totally Harry Potter Fans in my family. And we are not such big fans of Monopoly. But when I came across this AMAZING Harry Potter Monopoly on Pinterest, I knew that I had to make my own version...and since Erin had her birthday recently several months ago, and I owed her a handmade present, and it was Christmas time, I thought it was perfect to make one as her present. Yay for her!

I decided that I wanted a Hogwarts Edition too, though I didn't have the ability or effort to make it as amazing as the inspiration.

I found a monopoly game at a thrift store that I used as my base and then started plotting...a lot. I think figuring out how to do this and make it work, and look good, took way more thought than actual labor. But it did pay off. 

For the cash, I decided that House Points would be fun, so instead of money, you use house points to buy properties. I thought about making new money, but only briefly. I figured the ones that came with the board were fine...because I didn't think of a fun idea...but as I'm typing this, I just had a great idea using my Cameo. Oh well.

For the Community Chest & Chance Cards, I made "The Daily Prophet" and "The Quibbler" Cards. I made 20 of each because I had so much fun coming up with different cards. :) I printed them on blank business cards so I didn't have to cut them out.
Houses and Hotels became Tents & Castles. These are my least favorite part, but I couldn't think of any other way to do them. Of course, once I shipped it, I found a different board game that had castles and cottages. Oh well. :)

The game pieces were little charms or trinkets that I found in different stores.
Each of the properties are an aspect of Hogwarts:
Go: The Entrance Hall (Collect 200 House Points as you pass)
Railroads: Each of the House Common Rooms--Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, & Gryffindor
Utilities: Argus Filch and House-Elves
Jail: Detention
Free Parking: Room of Requirement
Park Place & Boardwalk: The Great Hall & Dumbledore's Office, respectively
Taxes & Fees: School Fees & Broom Tax
Other Properties: [Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom, Staff Room], [Whomping Willow, The Owlery, Hagrid's Hut], [Charm's Classroom, Transfiguration Classroom, Potions Dungeon], [Trophy Room, Hospital Wing, Library], [Greenhouses, Armory, Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom], [Clock Tower, North Tower, Astronomy Tower], [Black Lake, Quidditch Pitch, and The Forbidden Forest].

To make the board, I cut four pieces of "antique parchment" looking paper down to a hair over 9.5"x9.5". I then took those papers and misted them with a brown mist to give them some texture and character. Then I started measuring and drawing in the spaces. This, by far, took the longest, especially since I kept messing up. It's a good thing I had anticipated for that and had extra paper.  Once the lines were inked in, I carefully attached them in their appropriate spot using my favorite tape runner.

For the text and spaces on the board, I wanted a very clean look. I didn't want it to be handwritten, if at all possible, but I wanted it to look like it was printed directly onto the paper. It wasn't really possible to run the paper through the printer (I didn't want to have to figure out the spacing...too much work)...then it hit me. Clear Labels! (I'm a HUGE fan!) So I typed all the spaces out and used a "harry potter font" called "Lumos." Awesome! For the colored portion of the spaces, I didn't want to color them in, so I printed out colored boxes that were the right size on the clear labels. It was perfect.

I found little pictures to illustrate some of the spaces and printed those out on the clear labels too. The House Common Rooms have the corresponding House Crest.

I was so excited after all the labels were put on. It totally looks like a real monopoly board! :)

For the center, I got real creative. Because this is a "Hogwarts Edition" I wanted to use the school crest and the Monopoly logo.  I found an image online and put it into my Silhouette Program. I then did some nifty things to it and traced a "cut outline" on the image, using the "Print & Cut" feature. I printed it with a regular printer then stuck the cardstock onto the cutting mat in just the right spot, and my Cameo, cut it out almost perfectly! YAY!! I inked the edges and attached them to the board.

 Yes, that is splats of brown ink, not blood. :)

So that is the top of the board and the cards. I'll post the box and the back of the board, along with the other parts tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Jumble of Thoughts

Almost two weeks ago I got my Temple Recommend and ever since then, I feel like I'm being bombarded with a thousand different missiles of thoughts and emotions: happy, sad and every where in between.

I am so incredibly happy that I'm going. It's what I feel is the right thing for me right now. I know the Temple is a sacred place, even the House of the Lord. And nothing is stopping me from going (T-minus 8 days!). And it's Christmas time! I LOVE Christmas. My family (well half) will be here and we're skyping with the other half to open presents (yay technology!). I love the feeling of Christmas. :) And then my niece is turning 1 next Saturday. There is soooo much to be happy about in my life! So many things for which I am truly grateful.

So why do I keep feeling like someone is trying to pull me down?

I just find it interesting how many times I have had things, life, the internet, other people have challenged my beliefs in the past two weeks. Nothing directly or personally, but just in general. Things I read on Facebook or on blogs or news articles.  Things that make me mad. Things that frustrating and disappointing. Things that are hurtful and hateful. Things that make me sad and break my heart.

Perhaps the moral is stop reading-to isolate myself a bit more. But we all know that won't and shouldn't necessarily happen. I'm VERY selective in what I ingest from the media. I'm only Facebook friends with my actual real life friends and generally my friends and I share common values. I'm pretty picky with blogs I read--I love reading people's stories, sharing who they are, what they believe (and sometimes their fantastic craftiness). But if what I'm see being posted doesn't match up with my beliefs, I don't have a problem with dropping them my list.

And the news, well the news is something we just can't get a way from. So many sad and horrific things have happened all over the world in the past few weeks--right before Christmas. Of course I heard about what happened last week with the tragic school shooting in Connecticut. It's devastating and heart-wrenching--I can't even imagine how the families directly involved must feel.

I've seen on facebook so much hate for the kid that did it (I saw a post said he was the devil reincarnated--what an awful thing to say about someone that had a mental illness!), and for his mother. I don't know who is to blame for what he did. I can't say it was or wasn't his fault. Clearly there were a lot of issues there. All I know is that I certainly can't judge them for it. What is the saying? Hate the sin, not the sinner?

My heart hurts for a boy that felt this was his only option, and for the families that are now suffering at this Christmas time. I feel sick to my stomach thinking about what a heinous thing that was done to teachers and small children. I don't excuse what was done, but I don't blame anyone either; I just feel immensely sad. Maybe I can feel this way because I wasn't directly involved or affected. I don't know.

The other day I was reading comments on a blog post and someone stated that Satan wasn't real. I have no idea what that anonymous person thinks about life and God and whatnot, but that statement surprised me. He is real and he is behind all that is evil and hate in this world. How could he not be? I believe that people are generally good and wonderful, we have to be because we're children of God. There has to be some other force that is pulling us away from our Heavenly Father.

I think because I am working toward one of the most important things in my life (going to the Temple! yay!), Satan is trying to get me to be upset and resentful and bitter about life. Well I got news for ain't happenin'.

My only comfort is that we have Jesus Christ and the Atonement. It is real. Jesus Christ is real. The Atonement is real. Love is the only way we can fight against Satan. I know from personal experience.

I love this quote from one of my favorite talks ever. It's by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a leader in my Church. Please go read the talk. It is beautiful.

"I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.
"Whether you are not yet of our faith or were with us once and have not remained, there is nothing in either case that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoning. “Come boldly [to] the throne of grace,” and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast “without money and without price” at the table of the Lord."

It's amazing, really, to think of the miracle we call the Atonement. That we can forgive others and be forgiven of all that we have done wrong. It is a special gift.

The last two weeks we've had wonderful lessons on Forgiveness and Living the Gospel in Perilous Times. Both were out of this year's manual. The timing was incredible and perfect. It's like the Lord knew we would need those two talks right now. Oh wait, He did. :)

I take great comfort in knowing there is a Plan. A Master Plan. A Plan of Happiness. And I'll be eternally grateful that I know about it.

Anyway, I guess my point is that despite feeling all these emotions, I know I am doing good things, being the best I can, and loving every one I can.

I suppose this post probably doesn't make sense--it is a bit rambily. But this has how my mind has been the last couple of weeks, so I hope you'll forgive me. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Best Christmas Present

Today I got an early Christmas present.

And I love it! Seriously, I'm not sure anyone can top it.

Oddly enough it came from my Bishop.

Tuesday during FHE, my Bishop pulled me into a meeting. He usually only does that if there is some problem or issue that I need to be aware of or if there is something he needs me to do.

This time it was to give me some news that I've been waiting for for over 5 years.

He started off by doing a tithing settlement (an opportunity to talk to the bishop about tithing and the blessings of paying it, and just a general "how's life?" conversation). I responded positively to his questions. He asked, "Do you know Heavenly Father loves you?"

"Yes, most definitely," I answered.

Then he got a big smile on his face and asked me,

"If you could have one thing this Christmas, what is it?"

I was perplexed and totally awkward. What kind of question is that? Where was this conversation going?

"Um...I don't know." Was some anonymous person going to play Santa to me? My mind was spinning with possibilities and lots of questions.

"Really, what would you like for Christmas?"

My thought: A new TV? Two new tires that I desperately need?A Husband?! Where in the world was this conversation going?!

"Well, I don't really need anything so probably to have my family all together and have Erin and Jim be able to come home." (I decided that this was the most acceptable answer to give. :) )

"That's a good answer. I'm not sure I can deliver that, but how about something else I know you really want."

"Oooookay." I was really puzzled.

"Well, I talk to the Stake President today and on Sunday I'd love to have you come in during Sunday School so I can get you set up with a Temple Recommend so you can go through the temple."

It took me a moment to process what he was saying.

"That is the best present I could get," I said with a big smile on my face.

"I figured it was. It's the best present I'm giving this year" Bishop said.

"It wasn't even on my list, it didn't even occur to me to even ask!" I started giggling because I was (am) so excited.

"I know. You've been so patient. And now it's time. Congratulations!" Bishop was so proud of his present to me. It was really cute.

I really wanted to jump up and down and shout! I am so excited!

Finally! I finally feel happy and know that I'm in a good place in my life.

A year and a half ago I wrote about how I struggled with having to wait so long. I'm so happy that I don't have to wait much longer.

Best part? Well it might actually be a two-for-one deal and this might get my family to come home. I want them all there when I go through. :) So take note everyone (ERIN): You're coming home for Christmas! :)