Friday, December 27, 2013

Handmade Holiday 2013

This holiday season has really gone by quickly over here. Christmas seemed to come up so fast and I didn't get as prepared as I would've liked, but now it's over and I can relax again. Last year, Andrew and I did our first handmade holiday. We committed to making every gift we were giving for Christmas excluding the gift exchanges and white elephants that required a certain budget. We started pretty early and we were able to get everything we wanted made fairly easily. The whole idea of doing everything handmade was to help keep us from overspending so we wouldn't completely blow our budget which worked out well. This year, we were so stressed out and started too late that we decided handmade wasn't going to be realistic for every gift. We supplemented some store bought gifts with homemade and vice versa and I think we finally found a good compromise. I have been pretty much doing this all year with most gifts anyway so it only seemed natural now. Here's a round up of my favorite gifts this year.

Homemade vanilla extract

For the neighbor and family gifts, we made some vanilla extract from Sweet Anna's recipe HERE. It was super easy to make and it pumped out a ton of bottles that we'll definitely be keeping around for the future. When it came time to decorate the bottles, I was able to find a great free printable and decorating idea HERE. Together, they made the best looking gift that I was proud to hand out.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DIY Yarn Wreath With Felt Flowers Tutorial

My fall wreath

I really wanted a fall wreath to put up on my front door in between my Halloween and Christmas wreaths, but I also didn't want it to be super Thanksgiving-y that I would get sick of it or so I couldn't use it any other time. As much as I love my COFFEE FILTER WREATH, I knew that there was no way I could put it outdoors especially when it was certainly going to get wet and ruined. I looked around at different wreath ideas and finally settled on making a yarn wreath. Google around and you'll find a plethora of inspiration that will get you making different yarn wreaths for every month. (Yes, I might actually end up doing this.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Halloween 2013

Andrew and I started watching Doctor Who this year and we were completely sucked into the world. It had been on our watch list for a long time, but we finally decided to delve in right after we got home from San Diego Comic Con. We watched it nonstop whenever we could and ended up breezing through all seven seasons in only a few months. Now we're all caught up and we can't wait for the 50th anniversary special coming up in November. Not only will it include the current eleventh doctor, Matt Smith, but it will also have our absolute favorite doctor: the tenth doctor, David Tennant! If you haven't caught the trailer yet, you need to. It looks absolutely amazing.

Maverick and the Doctor

Andrew had his mind made up for months that he was going to be David Tennant for Halloween, but not just any costume would do. His expectations were incredibly high and nothing would do unless it was almost exactly like the actual suit. This meant that he wanted me to make him a replica suit with pricey fabric which gave me so much anxiety since I haven't ever attempted to make anything like a suit before. With time ticking away, Andrew needed to decide what he wanted to do: buy a suit that would do for now or spend more for one that is bound to be imperfect. Ultimately, he decided to save up (and give me more time) for his perfect tenth doctor costume for next year.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Living in the Bay Area

Last year, we had the opportunity to go to the Bay Area for almost 3 weeks and it was a wonderful experience for the whole family to live in a new place for awhile. Andrew had the chance to go for a work trip and he was able to work it out so that we could all come. It was incredibly last minute and we ended up finding out about the possibly of a solo trip to actually leaving for a family trip in under a week.

The green space at our hotel was small, but much appreciated

We packed up and road tripped the 12+ hours to the heart of Silicon Valley to stay in an extended stay suite. Thank goodness our kids are great with long car rides. It would have been a lot more painful than it was. Having a family of 4 living out a suitcase and a couple duffle bags in a one bedroom suite was pretty rough on us all. Andrew's hotel choice was mainly contributed to its proximity to the office, but it really wasn't super family friendly. There was no pool and it was in a very business heavy area so finding a park wasn't exactly the easiest thing to do. I will not forget how refreshing it was for me and the kids to find the green space at the hotel (a week after being there) with a nice gazebo and sitting area. Despite not being ideal for a family, they had a great continental breakfast complete with samosas and complimentary dinner appetizers that we were so happy to have. Next time around, we will definitely need to be more careful of where our hotel is and what amenities it has for the kids. Here we had to make do and we even purchased folding kid chairs so that the kids had a place to sit for meals.

Monday, October 7, 2013

DIY Succulent Planters

Now that autumn has definitely rolled in and we are getting our yard ready for the winter, this project is one that I would love to have around in my house during the dreary winter months. Succulent plants are the perfect low maintenance plant. They don't need a lot of sun or water so they're easy for just about anyone. This particular planter was made for my mother-in-law for mother's day and it lives at her house, but I see it often and still love how it turned out.

Monday, September 30, 2013

DIY Coffee Filter Wreath Tutorial

I went on a crazy crafting frenzy this year and this was one of the easiest projects ever! It can be time consuming if you're doing a larger wreath, but there's really no way this can turn out bad. If you didn't notice, DIY wreaths are very in right now and one of the most popular ones is the coffee filter wreath. There are many different versions out there, but this is your basic wreath that you can choose to embellish as you wish.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Handmade Halloween History

As summer comes to an end, it's that time of year again for us to get started on our Halloween costumes. Yes it's only September, but we've been doing handmade costumes for several years now and that takes lots of planning and time. Before the reveal of this year's costumes, I wanted to go over some past costumes that we've put together. Keep in mind that I only recently became somewhat crafty and starting any of these projects was very daunting. If you're attempting your own handmade costume, do your research, stick with it and you'll do great.

Naughty Noo-Noo from Teletubbies

The handmade costume tradition started years ago when Jadon decided he wanted to be the Naughty Noo-Noo from Teletubbies. He was pretty firm and there was no way we could change his mind. The problem was that this was an obscure character from Teletubbies that even those who watched the show didn't know about. So naturally, this costume didn't exist. We tried to commission someone on Etsy to make it, but that fell through so Andrew and I had only a couple of weeks to get this costume together. We brainstormed for forever before we were able to conceive how to even begin. We joked around a bit about how bad it was going to turn out, but our crazed minds were able to come up with a decent looking costume. We started with a large cardboard box with the top and bottom flaps folded in. We used felt, stuffing, and hot glue to create a cylindrical body. The eyes were made with toilet paper rolls covered in felt. The vents and on/off switch were hand cut and hot glued on. The costume was worn over the shoulders with elastic. The finishing touch was a vacuum tube attachment from our wet/dry vac as Noo-Noo's nose. Jadon loved the costume especially the "working" on/off switch and the nose. He didn't care that no one knew who/what he was. Most people guessed he was a vacuum, but there were a few random kids that recognized him.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Caribbean of the Rockies

The view as we finally arrived

Andrew and I are making a point of it to be more outdoorsy with our kids and one way we have decided to do that is to do more stay-cations with them. After all, we live in an area where we have access to many different activities year round including 21 national parks and monuments and over 40 state parks in Utah alone. That doesn't even count the winter activities. For one of these recent trips, we decided to go somewhere with a beach to cool off in the middle of the summer. We settled on Bear Lake and were lucky enough to find some last-minute open camping sites over a weekend. We've been to Bear Lake several times before, but never in the middle of the summer and never camping with tents. Previously, we have stayed in cabins and timeshares there so camping was going to be a new experience. Also, Andrew researched a little bit online before we decided on a place and Bear Lake was mentioned somewhere as the "Caribbean of the Rockies" because of its turquoise blue color. Who knew we had been going to the Caribbean for years without even knowing it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Salt Lake Comic Con 2013: Last Day

I didn't make it back to Comic Con until Saturday which was the last day. Andrew and I were very undecided on whether or not we would be able to drive there and find parking with all the extra people in SLC, but the traffic didn't look abnormal as we drove there so we decided to chance it. From the first day I was there, I knew there was a parking lot around the back of the Salt Palace so we headed there first and we found a parking spot for a flat rate of $8. We arrived around 2 pm and the super nice parking lot attendant said that it was pretty full, but that there were a few people who had left so it seems like we got there at a good time for parking. Getting into the building was another matter. After much walking back and forth and asking different people, we were able to discover the end of the re-admittance line and we learned that the fire marshal had closed down the building due to maxing out capacity. The line for re-admittance wasn't too bad, but the registration line with those who needed to get their wristbands and those who wanted to buy tickets was pretty long. Not long after we got into the right line, someone came out and announced that they would no longer be selling tickets. A bit late in our opinion seeing as how the building was at capacity but what can you do. We only had to wait about half an hour or so before we were able to enter the building.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Salt Lake Comic Con 2013: First day

Good size plastic SLCC swag bag, poster, guidebook, and wristband

Comic Con has made it to Salt Lake City! It used to just be Geex, but that was pretty minor and I guess they've partnered with Comic Con for the ultimate geek mecca here in Utah. (7/2014 update: They aren't affliated with Comic-Con International after all.) Andrew has been to Geex once years ago and he didn't think it was really that great so he wasn't very convinced that Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC?) was going to be that good. That was until he heard that William Shatner was going to be there. Andrew is a big fan of Star Trek and the chance to see Captain Kirk finally got some excitement out of him. Andrew wasn't the only one excited to see William Shatner. In fact, the Saturday tickets sold out pretty quickly after the announcement and they eventually moved locations from the South Towne Expo Center to the Salt Palace Convention Center which is a much larger venue which opened up more available tickets. As of Friday, tickets are still available.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Comic-Con Chronicles 2013: Random Paneling

On Saturday, we were mostly wandering around aimlessly because we didn't get into Hall H for the massive WB, Catching Fire, Lionsgate, and Marvel panels. It wasn't all a waste though because we were able to see some really fun panels that we wouldn't have been able to go to otherwise. We also got to see some really great panels randomly between other panels. Everyone does Comic-Con differently. I think a good mix of big and small panels is a great way to fully experience what Comic-Con has to offer. Last year, one of my favorite panels was a small panel of costume designers and illustrators. I've been really into making clothing lately and that was a great eye opener to the world of costume design. I didn't even know costume illustrators existed, but it's good to know that I don't have to know how to draw in order to be a designer.

BRAVE NEW WARRIORS: David Guintoli (Grimm), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf), Steven Yuen
(The Walking Dead), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Matt Smith (Doctor Who)

We love attending the panels that have a bunch of different actors from different shows, because the interaction and the content is usually interesting even if you don't watch every show on the panel. Last year we went to the Women Kick Ass panel and the surprise guest was Lucy Lawless. Rowley freaking out was priceless and one of the biggest highlights of the Con. This year, the Brave New Warriors panel included a bunch of critically acclaimed actors who have taken on iconic characters from various shows who also happen to be heartthrobs. Swoon. This was seriously such a fun panel because all the guys were hilarious. Check it out below, but be warned that there is a lot of screaming so turn your volume down.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Comic-Con Chronicles 2013: TV Shows Galore

Last year it seems like we did a lot more movie panels, but this year we ended up in more TV show panels. Every year, I can only pick so many new shows to watch and then some inevitably slip through the cracks as the season goes by. One of the shows that Andrew and I are totally obsessed with is the Big Bang Theory. My sister got us into it and in turn we got others into it and it cascaded from there. There are still a bunch of our geek friends who don't watch this show which is a shame. One day they'll find out what they're missing.

We didn't go to the Big Bang panel last year and decided to go to another room that had more things in it that we were interested in. This year, we decided to go to the Big Bang panel and it was totally worth it although we kind of messed up the rest of the day by leaving the room and then tried to get back in later rather than stay in there the whole day. We were totally greedy that day and it didn't turn out well. It was nice that we were able to sleep in and get into ballroom 20 (the second largest room) when we got in line right before 8 am, but our attempt to leave and come back meant that we missed the Shield panel (one of my must-see panels) by a mere 15 people. Sitting right outside hearing the crowd cheering was painful. Our aversion to the Bones panel in between totally messed up our judgement. (Last year, the Bones panel was the worst panel we went to and we didn't want to sit through it again.) Alas, the rest of the day went well because this was the day we saw Almost Human and my beloved Joss Whedon. Andrew puts the Big Bang Theory panel as one of the best we've ever gone to. I wouldn't list it that high, but it was definitely fun. The panel consisted of the writers and Melissa Rauch who plays Bernadette as the surprise moderator. There were no actors scheduled to appear so she was a fun surprise, but it was an even better surprise when Johnny Galecki who plays Leonard showed up during the audience Q&A in full Bounty Hunter Princess Leia costume. If you're a Star Wars geek, you would've loved it. The video of Leonard crashing the panel is above. Let's just say Andrew and I were full of glee when he revealed himself.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Comic-Con Chronicles 2013: Piloting

Cast and crew behind Intelligence

One thing that Andrew and I have really come to enjoy is viewing full pilots of new shows before the public at Comic-Con. It's nice because the people behind the show usually come out afterward for a Q&A. It's like Sundance with a Comic-Con twist. Last year, we were able to catch Arrow and we totally loved it which prompted us to watch it when it aired. This year, we paid more attention to the panels for the new shows and made a point to watch the ones we could.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Comic-Con Chronicles 2013: Navigating the Exhibit Hall

My Comic-Con exclusive Uglydoll Hello Kitty

After we checked into the hotel and picked up our badges, it was finally time to be giddy. We made it! Now to fight the crowds through the exhibit hall during preview night. The exhibit hall is massive at Comic-Con. It's most likely double how big you're imagining it to be now. You could spend your whole time there and still not get enough. There's something for everyone including swag, exclusive goodies, artist alley, and more. You can find retailers of every geeky kind here as well as the newest video games to try out. Major networks and movie studios promote their newest things and give promotional stuff out like candy. Lines are massive in here for the exclusive toys and swag and I've found the best time to be in here is in the early morning before everyone else can get in. I also find that getting in a line and then asking questions is way better than finding out what the line is and then getting in line. By the time you get back to the end of the line, it may have grown exponentially or closed off altogether. It can get pretty crazy in here but it's usually worth the time and effort. Last year, we got a ton of swag that we ended up having so many extras of everything. This year, we didn't end up with as much swag as last year, but we did still end up with posters, hats, t-shirts, bags, pins, comics, and more.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Comic-Con Chronicles 2013: Dressing the Part

When I first told people I was going to Comic-Con, I had a lot of people ask if I was going to wear a costume. I didn't wear a costume my first year there and I found out that I wasn't in the minority. In fact, the majority of Comic-Con attendees don't wear costumes. You're more likely to see a ton of people in their every day attire of geeky shirts than costumes. If you are going to wear a costume though, you're probably going to be stopped for pictures depending on your costume so be aware of that. It's obviously a huge compliment to you and your costume if that happens. If you're feeling a bit self conscious about wearing a costume, it really isn't that big of a deal at Comic-Con. Almost anything goes here which is great for any closet nerd or hardcore fan.

Totoro and Mei costumes
handmade totoro | handmade dress | forever 21 shirt and purse | thrifted shoes

This year, we went to Comic-Con with a huge group. There were 10 of us in total and, after much deliberation, we decided to dress up as Miyazaki characters one of the days. This was the perfect excuse for Andrew and I to wear our Totoro costumes from last Halloween again. Others in our group were characters from Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke. We intended to have a big group together to show off our themed costumes, but it was actually a lot harder than expected with everyone doing different things each day. In the end, we only wore our costumes on preview night and getting everyone together wasn't easy, but Andrew was happy that he didn't have to wear his fleece costume the whole day. (handmade dress pattern HERE)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Comic-Con Chronicles 2013: Preparation

Comic-Con draws a crowd of over 130,000 people each year to the San Diego Convention Center. It used to be more comic based, but it's evolved into a massive convention of popular arts which includes comics, TV shows, movies, fiction, and more. There are other Comic-Cons in other cities as well, but San Diego is the largest by far. Going to Comic-Con for the first time can be incredibly intimidating but totally worth it. Here's a series of posts that go through our Con experience. I tend to go into detail, but I hope this gives you a good glimpse of what it's like to go to Comic-Con. This post is a survival guide of sorts and will hopefully help you prepare for your visit.

View from the escalator in the massive convention center

First things first, if you want to go to San Diego Comic-Con you have to go register for a member ID at their WEBSITE. After that, you'll want to make sure you're receiving their emails because that is where you'll find out when badges go on sale. You can get a 4-day pass with preview night, 4-day without preview night, or individual day passes. Preview night is a great chance to go through the Exhibit Hall for your first chance to get exclusive goodies and swag. Some hot items even manage to sell out on preview night. Last year we did not get preview night tickets and we didn't feel like we missed out. It actually worked out for us, because we arrived in San Diego just in time for preview night. Our friends with tickets went to preview night while we went grocery shopping for meals and snacks we could pack during the Con.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Handmade Baby Shower Gifts: Pacifier/Toy Tether Tutorial

Completed tethers for a girl and a boy

I found this AMAZING TUTORIAL for making a universal pacifier clip and I knew this was the last thing I wanted to make for my baby shower gifts. It's super easy and can be used with more than just a pacifier. I loved how versatile it could be and how you could personalize it however you want. Visit THE TUTORIAL from See Kate Sew to see all the suggestions and examples. I wasn't able to do much with the ones I made, but next time I would definitely do super feminine ones for girls by adding ruffle and bows and more fun prints all around. This is a pretty straight forward tutorial, but I thought I'd share my pictures as well. Refer back to the original tutorial if you have any questions.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Handmade Baby Shower Gifts: Bow tie for boys and girls

Newborn bow tie tutorial

After making my stretchy wraps, I was left with a good chunk of scraps so I decided to make a couple of other things for my friends' baby showers. Since my friends were having a girl and a boy, I decided to make a bow tie headband for the girl and a bow tie necktie for the boy. THIS TUTORIAL is a great one that I found to help me. It doesn't involve any sewing at all for the basic bow tie and is very easy to do. This project is also a good one if you have small pieces of fabric lying around since it doesn't call for much.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Handmade Baby Shower Gifts: Stretchy Wrap Tutorial

Baby girl shower gifts: bow tie headband, tether, and wrap 
Baby boy shower gifts: bow tie, tether, and wrap

I've been in a really big crafting kick lately. Not sure why, but my mood to make things doesn't seem likely to go away anytime soon. I have been jumping from project to project and making some pretty cool things. Several months ago, I had a double baby shower to attend for a couple of friends I've known for years. If you know me, I'm a huge baby product nut. Ask me about just about any baby related item and I can probably give you a huge list of recommendations. So whenever a baby shower comes along, I always want to make sure I'm giving the mom-to-be something that is actually functional, useful, and of course cute. I try to aim for things that they won't be getting from others or something that they may have never heard of that might actually become their best friend. In the past, I've always bought off a registry and then added that extra gift, but this time I decided not to go off the registry at all which is a huge turn around for me. For sentimental and economical sake, I decided to make something. Originally I had wanted to just make a small handmade item to add to my store bought gift, but that changed pretty quickly.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Red Rock Road Tripping: Part 3

After two nights of camping, we decided to extend our vacation and head over to St. George where we stayed another two nights in a hotel. We use Hotwire a lot when we're traveling to find the cheapest rooms and it usually pulls through with really inexpensive, yet quality options. The plan was to go to Las Vegas one day and then hang out in St. George another day before going home.

1. M&M world and their free screening is a must. 2. We stumbled
upon this amazing display of vintage sewing machines at AllSaints in
the Cosmopolitan. 3. Interesting... 4. Float sampler at Coca-Cola Factory. 

Andrew and I have been to Vegas a number of times since we've been together and I used to go there a lot when I was growing up. Andrew tires of it, but I think that there's always something fun you can find to do that doesn't involve gambling or alcohol. Some say Vegas isn't kid friendly, but we usually always go with our kids and they enjoy doing all the free touristy things. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Red Rock Road Tripping: Part 2

From Kodachrome Basin State Park, we decided to drive south along a little road that would lead us to Kanab. Our ultimate destination for the next couple of nights were St. George, but we made a few stops along the way in Southern Utah. Thank goodness for 4-wheel drive, because the gravel and dirt roads throughout this whole drive would've been scary without it. Most of the drive was unmarked and the steep bits were surprisingly steep. The first stop was at Grosvenor Arch which was a short drive away from Kodachrome.

Grosvenor Arch

Grosvenor Arch was definitely worth the drive even if we were only going to turn around and head back the way we came. I had no idea at the time, but it's located in the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument which is a place I've wanted to visit ever since I learned about it in elementary school. The funny thing is that it really is in the middle of nowhere. The sandstone block of the arch comes into view just as you're coming up on it. There's a parking lot and a sidewalk up to the arch with a cement pad for picture taking too which is super convenient. This was a nice quick stop for some pictures and a bathroom break.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Red Rock Road Tripping: Part 1

On a recent roadtrip, we headed to Kodachrome Basin State Park with a few other families for a two-night stay. Joining us were Rachel and Jason (who suggested the location), Abigail and Adam, Amber and Jeremy, and all the kids of course.

Finally arriving at our destination after sunshine, rain, and hail

Beautiful views entering the park
We have done a lot of different trips before with this same group, but we've only ever done one other tent camping trip years ago and poor Isabelle froze in the middle of the night. With all the hassle that comes with dealing with a tent, we've stayed in cabins ever since but this time we decided that we should try tent camping again. We were the first family to arrive and we were blown away at our group campsite. It was luxurious by way of campsites and Andrew was ecstatic as he explored the place. There was plenty of room for everyone's tents and the pavilion was huge with lots of picnic tables underneath. It was secluded as well so we didn't have random people coming by and we didn't have to worry about quiet hours. We were very impressed with our stay in Kodachrome. The first night was colder than we all expected which left us all pretty sleep deprived, but the second night was a lot warmer and we were able to get a decent night's sleep before packing up. Even though the tent camping wasn't perfect, everything there was to do in Kodachrome definitely made up for it.