So about once I year I get one good hair-brained idea for a project. Two or three years ago it was this and last year it was this. The thing they all have in common: inexpensive, but a lot of work. But they don't start out that way. They start out by sounding totally awesome. This year's occurred when I was trying to get my gift for everyone figured out, a fellow MBA spouse posted a link on the MBASA Google Group (yes, there is one) about how to make your own Tee Pee. For any and all interested, it can be found here.

I thought they looked totally fun,  and better yet, incredibly inexpensive to make. (Around $12-$15 per tee pee). Nephew & niece gifts--done and done. I thought I'd make one for my brother's kids and my sister's and of course, my own, which equaled 3 total.

Now, if you were to sit down and just make one, at my sewing level, it wouldn't be so bad, some would even say easy peasy... but three may have been a tad overwhelming. Luckily, they all seemed to be pretty well received, which made my day.

  • The most entertaining part of the whole experience was pushing my monster utility cart down the isle of Lowe's with my 15 pieces of 6' long PVC pipe.
  • Funnest part: drilling the holes :) And the sewing...not cutting.
  • Hardest part: getting the pipes in the pockets. Don't ask. But if you do decide to make one, they are very serious about the measurements.


So I Santa brought me a camera for Christmas. I hesitate to tell you this, because then there might be some sort of expectation here on out in the photos I put on this blog, when in actuality, you probably won't even be able to tell the difference between past photos and ones I've taken with my new piece of machinery. So here's the deal, I'll continue to try and learn how to use my camera, if you promise to have low expectations--scratch that--no expectations. 

With that said, I'd like to tell you about my mom's cat, Daisy, who we all lovingly call Daisy Doodle. In my efforts to figure out my camera, I was, well, taking lots of photos. Some people found this annoying.

But not Daisy Doodle. She was incredibly cooperative and let me snap photos of her all I wanted. So to you, dear Daisy Doodle--thank you.


We spent most of the week at my parents home, which is a Christmas haven to me. We ate like kings and made ourselves quite merry with holiday cheer.

My sister and her family came up on Christmas Eve day and Nana kicked off the evening with a Christmas treasure hunt for the grandbabes. Each "clue" had a little prize and an activity.

After a delicious dinner, we had my dad read the Christmas story while the grandkids acted out the nativity scene. Ryder was Joseph, Gracie was Mary, Jared insisted on being baby Jesus and Penny was an angel. Being the first time we tried this, I wasn't quite sure how it would go. I was left very impressed by how well everyone got into character (wouldn't you agree?)
 (lol, Jared kills me!)

 (A serious Joseph)

 (A rather beautiful angel announcing the Savior's birth!)

Jammies, brownies and A Mickey's Christmas Carol followed until...

...Christmas morn! Need I say more?

 Stockings! Look at little P, doesn't she look like a little elf or Who or something?

Bono.  Uh...I mean The Edge.


Thank you Nana and Pompa for hosting a wonderful and memorable Christmas!


Okay, I think I'm done. Done with my blogging hiatus, that is. I know most people usually announce hiatuses before they actually happen. Not me. But like I said, I think I'm done now.

In all truthfulness this hiatus was very accidental. Thanks to my self-inflicted December to-do list, I blinked and we were already three weeks into the month. However, if I push rewind in slow-motion, I think I can recall some of my thoughts, actions and events from the past few weeks...
  • We had a crazy, happy Thanksgiving that was spent with my parents and my brother's family. Delicious food and gratitude was had by all.
 my brother holding Mr. E and Penelope, with her "look"
  • Ryder had a big role this year in our ward's Christmas nativity play. I mean this part was made for him! We were so proud. I mean, I don't like to boast, but he was the most dynamic and talented sheep I had ever seen. Well, maybe not, but he definitely was the cutest.

  • Sewing like a madwoman trying to get my niece and nephews' Christmas presents done. Originally, they were a cool, hand-made, inexpensive idea. Originally. I also felt in necessary to sew Penelope a birthday gift. I may have to post about these two projects later. This may or may not have had something to do with the hiatus.
  • Penelope got a never-ending virus (just congestion and a runny nose) that eventually led to a FOUR-day long fever. This had me stressed. Plus, a sad Penny= sadness all around. After this subsided she had an entire 3 days without an runny nose. Blast you, winter.

  • Have you visited the new yet? I am very impressed. Nice layout and even easier to navigate.
  • Ryder loves (with all his heart) being a reindeer. We didn't let him wear his antlers to church but he may or may not have attended church last week with a red nose.

  • I already now my next year's Christmas project. These ornaments I saw over at Say Yes to Hoboken. I haven't been able to get them out of my head. I hope to make lots (perhaps the whole alphabet?). I love the multiple colors and would think they'd be very kid-friendly as well. But that's next year.
  • And one of the biggest events of the month. This little girl turned one. There is something so relieving and great about getting a baby through it's first year. Her birthday week included making decorations for her party, putting the final touches on her birthday presents and a Christmas/Birthday pedi. In red. We were lucky to have most of my family there and even Phil's mom just happened to be in town for the big event. I'm so sad I didn't get better photos of her party. I kinda worked hard on it. But we got the girl and that's all the matters. 
*** Penelope Rae, having you in our lives has compounded our joy in ways I didn't think was possible. I love you!***

     The pedi

     Aren't these two the cutest?
    • Oh, and I got two, yes TWO whole dates with Phil this week. On Tuesday we went out to dinner up in Sundance with the professor he's been TA-ing for AND we got to go to the MOTAB Christmas Concert, which was kind of amazing. I love you Archy...uh...I mean Phil!
    • Now we're headed into another week o' fun with Christmas knocking on our door. Can't wait! Merry Christmas everyone!

    SPEAKING OF... wooden toys, my sister and I went to the Bijou Market this last Friday in Provo (a bunch of local Esty Shop owners). They had so many cool hand-made items from jewelry to pillows, but the thing that caught my eye and that I can't quit thinking about is this little toy camera:

    I mean, seriously, how cute is that? Can you imagine, come on cute babies, lets go on a photo shoot! So could someone please help me figure out how to make these cute, over-priced (well, maybe not because even as students I came very close to throwing down and extra $50 for two of them) little wooden cameras? My favorite part is that all the knobs turn, so you can change the "mode" of your camera or put it in "focus".

    And speaking of...

    ...cameras, I'm taking a beginning photography class. Phil and I are thinking it might be fun to put my knew knowledge to use and get a nicer camera for Christmas. However, I don't know what type of camera to buy. It comes down to a nice point and shoot. I'm thinking like a Canon Powershot (something like this one) or a DLSR...I dunno, you tell me. So calling all photography friends (you know who you are) would you be ever so kind to weigh in on what type of camera we should get considering our personal situation.

    • I don't plan ever plan on being any sort of professional photographer. My entire goal is to learn how NOT to be an idiot behind a camera, like I currently am.
    • With that said, I love to blog and would love quality, clear, bright images. Yeah, baby.
    • I do like that cool "click" noise
    • As I've mentioned before, I plan on teaching myself graphic design and being able to take good pictures will probably come in very handy.
    • I don't find myself, at my current level ever wanting or needing to change lenses. Are there any other pros to a DLSR beside that feature opposed to a nicer point and shoot?


    I'm not quite sure if I've been this excited about Christmas since I was a little girl. Now that Ryder is old enough to really get the concept of Santa (and hopefully, and more importantly, the birth of baby Jesus, right? Real meaning here, people!) Now, back to Santa...I really get now that being on the other end of Santa game is just as, if not more fun. However, it has been so very difficult for me to keep up the charade! Poor Ryder is going to know that Santa Clause isn't real at 3 years-old if I'm not careful.

    However, it's tricky, getting your tykes something they'll love. Toy buying for me has always been stressful. I can not tell you the hours I'll spend in aisles of toys trying to find something that they'll love. Love as in they'll still want to play with it after two weeks. I can't stand throwing $20-$40 at a piece of plastic that will just sit in a corner taking up space.

    Well, like I said, I'm excited--not stressed because due to an on-top-of-it sister who planned a very productive shopping excursion, I'm almost done. With R and P's stuff, anyway.  Autumn and I like to envision ourselves during the month of December sitting on the couch sipping hot cocoa and watching White Christmas while everyone else looks for a parking space at Costco. It's a good dream. But most likely I'll be in line at Costco with everyone else. But again--back to Santa. So in my few years as a parent I'm starting to learn a few tricks of the trade, if you will. Here are a few:

    1. Have a sister who spends hours on researching the best, most popular toys. I told her next year I am going to call her around mid-November and ask, "So what are we getting our kids this year?" If you want to do the same, let me know and I'll get you her number. If I had to choose, I'd say this was our (her) pick for the season:

    Why: They are a classic, well-made toy that kids never get tired of. This toy was got 208 reviews that averaged 5 stars. Plus, they have a really cool architectural set that goes along with it. 

    2. If they need batteries, then go to Costco and buy in bulk (or get a charger) because they will need to be replaced OFTEN. Maybe it's just my son, but he'll be running a battery operated toy and then a few minutes later, he'll be doing something else, but that still runnin'. I'm trying to steer clear of such toys in general. Mostly because I'm a hideous mom and fail miserably at replacing batteries. Plus, I find all the blinky-blinky, noise making of it all a bit chaotic and they lack longevity in attention and quality. But granted some REALLY cool toys need batts.
     Something tells me this one needs batts.
    3. I also love the idea of hand-made gifts. I'm hoping to make my neice and nephews a little somethin' somethin' this year (which shall be revealed after Christmas, if I succeed). I've also had the fabric cut and ready to go to make bean bags like these for Penny. I'm also a huge fan of putting an artist's kit together. I got one of those for Christmas when I was like 7 and I still remember it being one of my favorite gifts as a child. I've also thought of putting together a dress up kit (ie pirate clothes, hat, fake coins in a painted treasure chest that you can get at most craft stores.) And even bigger plus, is that these gifts usually are a bit more economical than others.
     Quiet books make amazing hand-made gifts. Although they are quality and special, they're usually not the cheapest/easy route to go. You can find more about this one here.

    4. I know I'm dreaming when I envision shelves filled with classic, wooden, toys that encourage imaginative play and will last until my babies have babies, but dream I shall. I also feel there is something about a room messy with quality wooden/hand-made toys that is a little less daunting than a room full of the plastic, blinky-blinkey noise-makers. Which is why I love Melissa & Doug. FAO Shwartz have some really great wooden, material-made items as well. And I'm pretty sure it's better for our environment:)  Here are a couple of cool ones...

    What about you? What do you want to get your kids? What are your toy preferences and tips? I mean in the end, it's really all about us, right?


    (Peniscola, Spain)
    So a long time ago, my parents, sister and I set out on a European adventure to go get my brother from his mission and bring him home. On our way to Barcelona we stopped in a beautiful city that sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This place was called Peniscola. I don't think there was really anything not to like about this place. So we stopped there on our way back too. One evening we were sitting in our hotel room starving, waiting for my dad to bring us back some dinner. In an effort to keep ourselves amused, I think it was my sister who came up with the idea to play, "There's Nothing Better Than..." where you essentially go around the circle and everyone has to finish the sentence. The only response I could remember was my mom's: "There's nothing better than...hearing the garage door open and knowing that it is dad home from work for the day."

    So in a feeble attempt to express some gratitude during this thankful month, I thought I'd take this fond memory of mine and use it as a way to record some things I am so very grateful for.

    My first one is boring, but true...

    There's nothing better than...
    ...the fresh start of a brand-new week.

    I feel like I'm always making these little goals in my head and no matter how much I fail to keep them, I always feel like when Sunday evening rolls around I feel motivated to start over, with a clean slate, and try again to be a little bit better this week, than the week before.


    I figured it was about time to take down the 'ol New York heading, since we've been back now, oh for two months...

    However, speaking of New York headings, it does remind me about some news. Good news. Exciting news. And far away news. And I couldn't think of a better way to kick off this thankful month then to share with you how SO VERY grateful I am for Phil and his hard work because...

    ....earlier this month Phil happily accepted an offer with American Express in New York City. {Insert: Pace Picante's "It was made in New York City. NEW YORK CITY?!?!" minus the "It was made in New York City" part" here}

    And now for the actual news: We will be moving back to New York this summer.  AND (I think) I'm excited. The fact that I've had a couple of months to process all of this, hasn't hurt either. After many, thorough discussions with my mom about how we will use the newest possible forms of technology to stay in touch and after continually reminding myself there will be no one actually forcing me to live on a fourth floor walk-up, I began to think I might really be able to do this AND actually enjoy myself in the process. It's been a tricky, yet somewhat liberating experience. I mean lets be honest, did we really think the Big Apple could keep me away? I mean, Jasmine+NYC=Destiny. Need I say more?

    We're not quite sure where we will be living in NYC. Wherever it will be, we'll only be there for 16 months before spending a few months working out of the country (most likely in London or Brighton).

    It's all quite new/scary/exciting.  I will occasionally wonder who in the world gave us the right to get married, have the audacity to bring cute babies into this world thinking we could actually do a good job raising them and then to top it all off take our tiny brood and move across the country?? Crazy. Life is crazy. It's very late now. I'm going to bed.


    First of all:


    Although, I'd be lying if I didn't say I have already easily transitioned into the warm, grateful goodness of Thanksgiving...perhaps laced with a little Christmas cheer.

    My goodness, October was busy! In some ways it went by so fast and in others--it went by oh, so slow. Because of it's busy state, I wanted to make sure I hit the high points that I lacked the time to do so before.

    Phil's case competition in Nashville, TN! Below is a picture of him and his talented team. They worked very hard and spent a lot of time preparing for this. They did an awesome job and I'm very proud of him (and very happy to have him home and a little less stressed :)

    The complex inner thoughts of brilliant business minds at work.

    Phil did get a week off from school this month (due to everyone interviewing and attending job conferences) so what did we decide to spend our extra time doing? Getting Ryder off of his binky and getting Penny sleeping through the night!!! Don't envy me and more importantly, don't judge me :) We had great success on both accounts. For Ryder we held a "Bye-bye Binky" party, which was a smashing success. Penny Rae, I believe has a 6 out of 8 track record for sleeping a full 12 hours thru the night. We are so proud of both of them. (And if I'm being really honest, I'm proud of Phil and I too :)

    We did our annual run to Cornbelly's at Thanksgiving Point...oh wait, no we didn't, because it was raining cats and dogs. But since we were already there, we went to their Dinosaur museum instead, which was still pretty stinkin' fun. And all Halloween spirit wasn't lost because Ryder got to make a hat with a boingey pumpkin hanging off of it.

    I feel like the expression on P's face is a good representation for how she feels about my 1000 kisses/day

    Every year the MBASA (BYU MBA Spouse Association) throws a Halloween Party. It's typically one the bigger events of the year, which is saying something if you know this group. Being usually totally lame in participating in such things, I turned over a new leaf this year and joined the family committee. I'm still pretty lame, but I'm making small improvements in the right direction. Well, for our Halloween Party I was in charge of getting the candy for the carnival games and coming up with the prizes for the costume and pumpkin carving contests. This had to be done for approximately 400-500 people all on a budget. Compared to the ladies in charge of this,  I had the easy part. I purchased as much candy I could given our bugdet (about 21 lbs)  and made these "spooky" little prizes for the winners.
    The Apple Cider and Root Beer labels I got here.

    Finally, Halloween Night, or that Halloween Eve Night! Our theme for the kiddos this year was "Buzz, Buzz, Buzz!" Ryder was Buzz Lightyear and Penelope was a Bumble Bee, or as my dad called her, a PeneloBee. We went to my sister's house in Eagle Mountain to trick or treat because it's a rockin' residential area perfectly designed for such festivities. Plus, it allowed the cousins to go trick-or-treating together. Despite wind and rain, this little Toy Story threesome (with the help of their cute dads) came back with a very respectable haul. The girls (minus Gracie, plus my dad) stayed inside answering the door and sipping hot cocoa :) It was a very fun evening filled with cozy, holiday fuzzies and good company. Just how I like 'em.
     Isn't my sister's house cute? More on this later.

     Enjoying the spoils of his victory, as any respectable Buzz Lightyear would.