1-5. From bemused and skeptical to surprised and mischievous, she's loving her new personalized hat from Grammy.
6. The "Why I Oughtta" Face
7. "Big Dreams", wearing her Wheaton College hat (where her mom and auntie went)
8. "Ray of Sunshine", looking cuter than cute in her Thanksgiving outfit!
9. "Sleepy Time Smile"...she is the happiest waker-upper ever!
10. Her "Game Face", ready to get her swing on.
Hanging out with one of her favorites, Ben
And me holding her every chance I got over the holidays!
1. DIY Ideas
The Cricut Explore booth featured all kinds of crafts made using their cutting machine.
And Sizzix had several booths of creativity on display!
2. Celebrity Sightings
The sisters behind Six Sisters' Stuff (Three of the sisters are pictured above with the kitchen set). I couldn't resist their fabulous Christmas book, with yummy-sounding recipes like Peppermint Crunch Ice Cream Pie and crafts such as a sequin Christmas tree and a candy cane frame.
From photo booth set-ups to hair and make-up demos to great products, it was so much fun to walk around.
4. Inspiring Speakers
Cara Brook, of Maskcara.com, who was voted Allure's Beauty Blogger of the Year for 2013. (I didn't a great action shot, so this is from Rue Rococo at a different event.)
Cara showed us so much.
Priming. Highlighting. Contouring.
It definitely made me want to revamp my makeup supplies!
5. The beautiful setting of Utah
The last time I was in Utah I was this old (I'm on the right). We lived there when I was younger, so it was awesome to get to be back in that gorgeous state.
I miss mountains. And big pretty piles of snow. And seasons!
So this view on the flight home was one of the highlights of the trip! I was snapping pics as fast as my iPhone could take them.
I recently had the opportunity to meet Travis Freeman, author of Lights Out, at a pre-screening of the film loosely based on his life, 23 Blast. I'm a sucker for sports movies and always enjoy seeing well-made Christian films, but this one exceeded my expectations. It's currently playing in theaters around the country, and I highly recommend going to see it! Here's a review of the movie from NFL player Rob Gronkowski.
Travis's parents (Larry and Mary Freeman), Travis, and director Dylan Baker answer questions from the audience
When I heard Travis had written a book, I couldn't wait to read and review it for my blog, and his publisher graciously sent me a copy for that purpose. A few thoughts I had as a made my way through the book...
This is not your typical football story.
This is not your typical faith story.
This is not even your typical story of overcoming the odds to do great things.
Yes, all of those things are part of Travis's journey, but the way he tells the extraordinary experiences of his life make them relatable and accessible. He is a son, a student, a football player, a seminary graduate, a preacher, a professor, and he also happens to be blind.
At the age of 12, Travis contracted an infection which led to the complete loss of his eyesight. As a Christian, there's part of me that wants to go, Really, God? Why does a twelve-year-old kid have to suffer through something like that at such a young age?
Travis's response then was one rooted in the strong faith his parents and community had encouraged throughout his life. His parents remember him saying, "I'll believe I'll see again, but if I don't, I can't wait to see what God's going to do with my life."
And God has certainly done marvelous things through his life. Travis had an awesome coach who didn't believe the loss of his eyesight necessarily meant the loss of his long-dreamed-about football career. He trained him to play center, which Travis went on to do throughout junior high and high school. Rather than follow advice from some professionals that he attend a special school for the blind, Travis and his parents decided he would work with a mobility coach to helped him navigate his regular campus. Time after time, his family sought God's wisdom on how best to deal with the unique challenges they were facing.
The book doesn't present a sugar-coated, glossed-over, once-I-found-Jesus-my-life-was-perfect testimony. Instead, readers will find the reality of both walking through life's deserts and also finding peace and relief at the oases God provides.
As Travis writes,
The thing is, everyone has challenges, they're just different than mine most of the time...
We're all wandering around in this desert of a broken planet, trying to find our way to the next oasis. Most of the time, I'm afforded a little more grace on the journey because I'm making my way in the literal dark. What could happen, though, if we granted each other a little more grace automatically?
What I loved most about this book is how it made me reflect on God's faithfulness to me in my own times of suffering. And how, as Travis highlights so well, God has a purpose for the suffering we endure.
As I'm sure you can tell, I'm a big fan of both the book and the movie, and I plan on getting multiple copies of the book as Christmas presents. I hope you'll join me!
To hear more from Travis about his life story, check out his interview with writer Mike McClelland.
And here's Travis talking a bit about the movie 23 Blast:
1. Alice in Wonderland: DIY Costumes for Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
For this easy DIY, my friend Mary and I work black skirts/pants we already had. She also had a yellow shirt (I dyed an old white shirt with yellow RIT dye.) We bought cheap red hats, and used small wooden dowels, hot glue, and flags cut out of paper to create the full look. The final step was cutting out the collars and bows from felt, and then writing Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum on the collars.
Alexis went all out for her Mad Hatter look, most of which was thrift-store finds. She dyed the jacket that lovely purple hue, and I believe she made the hat shape out of cardboard and then covered it in fabric for a fabulous accessory.
This is perfect for the person who doesn't want to put too much work into it, but still wants to be part of the group costume idea! Our Cheshire Cat was Brock, who wore all black, cat ears (which you can make by glueing triangles on a black headband), and sported a drawn-on grin (black eye-liner does the trick!)
For all of the diehard Dr. Who fans out there (you know, those of you who watched this season's opener in the movie theater), this costume's the one for you! Kate nailed it with her creative use of props, transforming a simple cardboard box into an impressive-looking TARDIS.
Simple and super-cute, this costume only requires hay, a hat, and some face paint. Stephanie did a great job of posing for photographs to bring her costume to life!
The thrift store is the DIY costumer's best friend. You can walk in there without a clue as to what you want to dress up as and walk out inspired! Most thrift stores carry old formals and sometimes wedding dresses, so you can get creative without breaking the bank. This bridal costume was especially fitting for Kaci, as she was soon to be married. She bought the wig and with that plus the intense make-up and black eye polish, she really looked the part.
An old flannel shirt stuffed with batting, t-shirts, crumpled-up newspapers, or whatever else you've got around the house is a quick way to transform into the giant from the classic story Jack and the Beanstalk. Suspenders and a beard finish the job!
Add black patches to a white hoodie and white patches to black pants, plus ears to the hood, to create your own cow costume. If you don't want to permanently alter the outfit, you can always safety pin the patches on to remove them after you're done with it.
Another easy-to-make costume, this Beanstalk was created from a matching green sweatshirt and sweatpants, plus a green hat and sash. Green fabric, felt, paper or a combination of these things will work for the hat, sash, and any other accessories.
10. DIY Dinosaur Costume
The Oklahoma City Zoo has an annual Haunt the Zoo event, and last year our group was assigned the dinosaur section. We had so much fun making our own costumes by cutting out teeth, eyes, and spikes from felt. A lot of people sew theirs on, but we just hot-glued them. I didn't realize until I got home that night that my costume matched the dinosaur outfit I'd gotten for my pug, Daisy. We're stylin' like that!
11. DIY Minion Costume from Despicable Me
One of my favorite costumes I've ever made is the minion! I couldn't find a yellow hat, so I dyed a white one from Walmart with RIT yellow dye and then used black pipe cleaners for the hair. To make the goggles, I used a photobooth props template from Pinterest (lots of options to choose from) and hot-glued elastic on to be able to wear them comfortably. I lucked out and found a denim jumper at Goodwill, and I added the minion logo to the front with a black Sharpie.
12. Also pictured below: Sheridan as Richie Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenebaums...and I'm drawing a blank on Kalyn's costume.
13. The Giving Tree DIY Costume
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite children's books. (Here's a narration of the story if you're unfamiliar with it, but the woman's voice on this made me laugh...it doesn't quite fit the story.) It's about a really touching story about a boy who's best friends with a tree. This guy really went all out for his costume!
14. Punk Rock Pirate DIY Costume
This is one of those random, thrown-together costumes that turned out pretty fun. I already had the pink wig, and since skulls were very popular at the time, it wasn't hard to find a cute tee. You can get creative with accessories...I went for simple (fingerless gloves, a pink boa, and black nail polish).
15. Christmas Caroler DIY Costume
This is a really funny alternative for an ugly sweater Christmas party—everyone has old formals/bridesmaid dresses (or hit up the thrift store again) and then bust out your winter gear (gloves, hats, scarves, the works!) This would make a great group costume idea too.
16. Cheerleader Group DIY Costumes
When I was in grad school at Fuller Theological Seminary, we had annual show called the Fuller Follies, and we absolutely LOVED it! My friends and I decided we had to perform the perfect cheer, an ode to our school. I'm not embarrassed to say we rehearsed this, and more than once, but it was worth it. For a bunch of non-cheerleaders, we got those grad students up on their feet and rowdy!
This is one of the easiest costumes ever. We wore red t-shirts and black pants we already had or borrowed, and bought cheap megaphones, pom poms and headbands that we personalized. If you do this as a group costume, you could always have a simple cheer ready to do to get people laughing.
17. DIY Hobbit Costume from Lord of the Rings
My friend Melody's hobbit costume cracked me up. You can't see it in this picture, but the best part was the fake hair she'd added to her feet to really look the part. The cape didn't hurt either!
18. DIY Tooth Fairy Costume
Creative costumes can be cheap to make! For the tooth fairy look, you'll need:
(2) Tooth decor: I printed a simple image out and glued it to an old shirt.
(3) Sparkly bag: you can store a toothbrush, toothpaste and your wand there!
19. Oompa Loompas
This is not for the faint of heart. You've got to commit to the costume if you want the full effect. Orange face paint is for the hardcore costumers only! Temporary green hair-dye spray will transform your hair, and Brittney and Becca made their own suspenders with ribbbon.
20 and 21. Tinkerbell and Peter Pan DIY Couple Costume
Seth and Ali look way too cute in their Peter Pan and Tinkerbell outfits! Ali's actually isn't 100% DIY, but you could definitely make a version of this with a bright green shirt and shorts and matching ribbon. And Peter Pan's rocking the shredded green tee and leggings with a belt and cap.
22. DIY Dictionary Fairy Costume (Inspired by lilliedale.blogspost.com):
This wordy wear was perfect for Halloween in the editing department! I used the binding of any old dictionary for the base of the wings and then hot-glued pages from it fanning out from the base. I cut two holes in the top of the binding and strung ribbon through them so I could wear it sort of like a backpack. The fairy skirt was rolled-up pages of the dictionary stapled to a belt in layers for some extra poofiness, and don't forget your wand! (My shirt said "I heart books!")
23. DIY Peacock Costume
Theresa went for glam with her peacock costume. What I love about this one is really all you have to worry about is the feathers and the eye makeup...everything else can be stuff you already own!
24. DIY Minnie Mouse Costume
Theresa sewed her own Minnie Mouse skirt. You can either purchase Minnie ears or make your own with a headband, construction paper, and ribbon or a bow.
25. Ugly Christmas Sweater Couple Costume
You can always get that holiday spirit started early with some crazy Christmas attire. My brother and sister-in-law raided my mom's closet for these gems.
44. Glow-in-the-Dark Paint on Halloween Plates via Hobby Lobby (Full disclosure: I work for Hobby Lobby, so a lot of my craft supplies are from there!)
DIY ideas for plastic toy animals have exploded on Pinterest, and I just had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I picked up some wild animal toys at Hobby Lobby (full disclosure, I'm on their social media team, so a lot of the crafting stuff I get is from there), and the animals were similar to this but in a larger size.
Here are a couple of "before" shots:
I also bought some metallic silver spray paint, and then put some newspaper on the ground in my garage and gave them a good coating of paint. I had to go back the next day and touch up some spots I'd missed, but the paint did a good job of coverage over all.
My final step was to make miniature party hats out of scrapbook paper and ribbon. To figure out the shape, I looked up a party hat template and then drew a tiny version of that shape on the back of the paper. I cut a small length of ribbon, curled it with scissors, and hot-glued the ribbon into the hat and onto the animals' heads.
For the backyard movie night my roommates and I held in August, I set out a group of the animals with a "Party Animals Welcome" sign. I love the way it turned out!
Since the party, the animals have found new homes around the house, from the windowsill of my jungle-themed bathroom to a shelf in the living room and on the kitchen counter next to the microwave.
Thanks to Oh Happy Day for the party hat inspiration!
One of my all-time favorite summer activities is watching movies outside. So, along with going to free outdoor screenings locally, I've hosted a backyard movie night the past two summers (this year with my roommates as co-hosts and both years with a ton of help from my amazing parents).
Here are my top 10 tips for hosting a fabulous backyard movie night of your own:
1. Invite a fun-loving crowd! It might get a little warm, it might get a little chilly, and there will definitely be bugs involved...you never know what can happen with an outdoor event. Invite people who know how to go with the flow, so you don't have to stress out about it.
2. Set up outdoor lighting to create a festive atmosphere. I love to use globe lights! Keep it simple by hanging them from the fence, a tree, the patio overhang...whatever structures are already in place. You can attach them with a staple gun or duct tape.
3. Spring for some movie-themed props. Oriental Trading Company has a great selection or just hit up your local party goods store. I borrowed the old-fashioned looking popcorn machine, which was so much fun, and then had different seasonings guests could sprinkle on.
4. Before the movie starts, plan some low-key activities. Who doesn't love glow-in-the-dark games? There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest, such as glow-in-the-dark bowling with bottled water (pictured below).
5. Use fresh flowers to make things look more festive! For this display, I bought 2 bouquets of flowers, and my mom helped by cutting each of them down to fit these milk bottles (lids removed).
6. Provide yummy refreshments for before and during the movie. We grilled hot dogs, brats and chicken sausages and had dinner beforehand, but if guests are arriving later, you can have popcorn and a candy tray arranged with movie-theater favorites. And we served the Pioneer Woman's cherry limeade in a fancy beverage dispenser for a special drink!
7. Double-check the weather ahead of time. The wind really started to pick up right before our party, thunder was roaring, and we worried that we'd have to move everything inside. Thankfully, the storm blew over, but it never hurts to be "weather alert", as we like to say in Oklahoma.
8. Lawn games are always a hit! If the sun's still up, set up games like backgammon, volleyball, croquet, etc. for some silliness before the show.
9. Add touches of humor with your decor. I grouped this plastic toy animal with a few others in front of a "Party Animals Welcome" sign by the popcorn. Guests were also greeted by a chalkboard sign on the porch that said, "Business in the Front, Party in the Back!"
10. Pick a classic movie that everyone can enjoy. We watched "The Sandlot" this year, and it was perfect. Last year, it was one of the older Indiana Jones movies. I like looking for ideas at different cities' outdoor summer movie lists like this one.
My friend Lisa recently invited a group of us girls to join her for dinner at an invitation-only private dining club called Nani (which means "fish" in the Choctaw language and the question "what?" in Japanese). We were given strict instructions not to share information about the location with anyone but those in our dinner party. It was all very mysterious. I half expected to be told a secret knock to use when entering the door.
I was the first in our party to arrive, so I felt a little anxious that I might not be at the right place, but I was warmly greeted by the maître d', and walked in to find a few people had already started gathering at the community table.
They serve 7-9 Instagram-worthy courses of Japanese-Choctaw fusion dishes at each meal. I've never tasted anything like it. Even dishes I wouldn't have thought I would like (such as the fish-based ones) were so tasty. Here's a sampling of a few of them.
"Rumble" at @naniokc (cedar-smoked bison, tempura negi, horseradish aioli, caramelized fish sauce, citrus zest)
Uzura no tamago (cured quail yolk, fried beet, smoked daikon foam, semi-dehydrated dashi cherry, kombu corn butter)
Earl grey sorbet (earl grey and blueberry sorbet, poached apple, fried peach, lemon gel
I tweeted this spring about how much I'm drawn to the baby section in every store now that I'm an aunt, and a few friends chimed in with their own auntie shopping stories. The same is even truer of me today, now that I have a baby niece and nephew to shop for!
In honor of all of you wonderful aunties out there, I thought I'd share a few auntie gifts for babies that I found online. Aren't these just adorable!
Keep Calm and Call Auntie onesie (Made by pinner)