Thursday, March 29, 2012

Put on your shiny

For last night's mutual activity, the Beehives wanted to have a mini "spa night" and pamper themselves. It ended up being really fun, easy, and we were even able to tie it back to a talk given recently by YW General President, Elaine S. Dalton.

Sister Dalton talked about how when her daughter was very little, she used to watch her mother getting ready for church and mirror her movements. Sister Dalton had a special, thick face cream intended to prevent wrinkles (and jokes that "it didn't work") and her daughter, who called it "shiny" wanted some too. Together, they would put on their shiny and be ready to go. Sister Dalton's talk is about what really makes us beautiful, and the things we can do to put on that shiny.

I whipped up a little handout with a quote from the talk (feel free to download and use for your class!) and we discussed the concept of "putting on your shiny" while we made sugar scrubs and painted nails. It's a quick and easy activity that doesn't take a lot of prep work or expense, so I'd recommend it if you need a last minute idea.

Homemade Sugar Scrub
What you need:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil (or almond oil, if you want less smell)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon honey
You can also add Vitamin E or essential oils if you want other benefits/scents.
Some sort of container (we used mason jars)

Put in the brown sugar first. Fill the container pretty full because once you add the oil, it cuts down size considerably.

Add the olive oil slowly (we did 1/8 cup at a time) and allow it to trickle down before pouring in more. Mix between additions so that all the brown sugar is soaked and it doesn't just sit on top. 

After it's thoroughly mixed, add in the vanilla and honey and mix well.

Then go paint your nails :) 

[They painted mine gold.... if you're wondering....]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring cleaning and organizing

I had a problem. In my kitchen. I could never find anything, things were crammed in random places, and there were a few cabinets I was afraid to open for fear of stuff falling out. I'm not sure how it happened... but it was ugly.

Sidebar: Even though I haven't mentioned it in a while, I'm still working on completing the Young Women's personal progress program. As a leader, I technically only have to do the three required experiences for each value and three (i think?) ten-hour projects. But I'm actually really enjoying it and getting a lot out of it and I do think it's helping my girls that I'm doing it too, so I'm trying to do the whole program instead of the leader-abbreviated version.

In any event, one of the options listed for Choice and Accountability ten-hour projects is:
Choose to be more orderly in your home by completing a cleaning or organizing project. Record in your journal how doing this helped you in other areas of your life.
What wonderful motivation to do something I badly needed.

I broke it down into three steps and I've actually only finished the first two (I have about 2.5 hours left to go and that'll be in the craft room). But I'm so excited about the difference already that I had to share! I'm loving my kitchen now that it's easier for find things.

Step 1: Re-arrange and organize
This is a cabinet I used to dread opening because pot lids would fall everywhere. Adding just one lid rack changed everything and gave me so much more space!

Same deal with the pans. All laying on top of each other, all crammed into a too-small cabinet in the island. I swapped spots with another cabinet and now all bowls and such are here and all pans are....

here! Add some large standing racks and it's now much easier to find what I want and grab without disturbing everything else.

 Prior to this, I had baking stuff crammed everywhere. Cookie cutters in various drawers. Cupcake liners spilling out of cabinets. Gel dyes all over the place (and frequently tipping over, staining my white cabinets). So out with the spices and cookbooks, and in with a dedicated cabinet for baking! With small plastic bins (with lids!) from Target, I've organized spatulas and knives; dyes, sprinkles, and decorating tips; and cookie cutters. Mess is contained and organized. Thank goodness.

Cookbooks moved into the pantry (for now...):

And spices moved into what used to be a junk drawer.... (junk, be gone!)

Step Two of my project was all about the spices. As I was moving them to this drawer, I discovered I had three oreganos, two nutmegs, two garlics, two gingers, and several others. The problem? I could never see if I had something, so I just bought another one. And the baggies? I started buying some spices from the bulk section of HEB because I didn't need large quantities of it and then realized... hey, this is so much cheaper! One of those spice bags cost me about 30 cents and would probably have been $2-3 if I'd bought the little McCormick Jar. I decided to re-organize everything into uniform containers, throw out the plastic bottles, and start buying just from the bulk section as needed. So the drawer got a makeover....
Transfer in progress....
Yes, I realize there are two garlics. Some spices that I use a lot got two jars to keep me from running out faster.

These cute little 4 oz. containers came from Specialty Bottle and were 70 cents each. I ordered 35 and they fit perfectly in that drawer. Heads up - shipping is $10! So it's better to order more or you'll pay more on shipping than you did on the actual tins.

Next up: The dreaded craft room. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Good reads

I got in a little bit of a book slump the past few months - reading things that were entertaining, but not overwhelming and quickly forgotten.

But the last few I've read have been so good I couldn't put them down! I was talking with a co-worker today about how some books can reignite your passion for reading, and these past three really have. I was sad when each of them was over and can't recommend them enough.

"Drowning Ruth" by Christina Schwarz
With multiple narrators and an anachronistic timeline, the telling of this tale can be a bit jarring. But the way the mystery slowly unfolds keeps you coming back for more. It tells the story of Amanda whose much-beloved younger sister, Mathilda, recently drowned, leaving Amanda to care for her young niece, Ruth. The whole book drives toward learning how, and why, Mathilda drowned, the secrets that Amanda has been keeping, and how they affect everyone around her. A brilliant, though not entirely surprising story, and makes for  a quick read. 
"When We Were Strangers" by Pamela Schoenewaldt
This one started fairly slowly, so I didn't expect to be completely sucked in. Set in the early 1900s, the story's heroine is Irma, a plain looking girl from a remote Italian mountain village. After losing most of her family members and hearing of the wonders of America, she decides to journey across the sea in search of a better life. Schoenewaldt does an incredible job of putting a new spin on the immigrant-coming-to-America story, painting a very real picture of how Irma traveled to the coast, the miserable journey across the Atlantic, and the skepticism and prejudices new immigrants faced in America. At times rather graphic, you start to wonder if anything good will ever happen to Irma, and you want her to find happiness some how, some way. The strong characters in this novel propel it forward - it's not really about immigration, but about starting over and building your own family.
"The Winter Sea" by Susanna Kearsley
The best book I've read in a long time. Not a short book (well over 500 pages), I couldn't put this down and may have stayed up ridiculously too late one night reading it....

It's one of those novel-within-a-novel type stories. We follow a successful historical novelist, Carrie, as she attempts to write a new book about the Jacobite attempted invasion of 1708. We get to see her process as her characters "speak" to her and something a little supernatural happens.... (I'm still not sure how I feel about this particular aspect of the story, but I'm willing to overlook it). At the same time, we get to read the novel that Carrie ultimately writes, which has it all - intrigue, history, battles, nobility, family secrets, and romance. It's truly an amazing love story and I may have actually gasped out loud at the book's final plot twist.

I'm feeling a bit sad now that I've completed the stack of books on my nightstand and hungry for something else to read. Anyone read anything lately that's left a great impression?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This guy and pink

Remember that I work with mostly women, and one poor unfortunate guy? I say unfortunate because when he got married, we threw him a ridiculously pink bachelorette party? Well, now he and his wife and his daughter will be joined by... another daughter (this guy is doomed to be surrounded by all women).

So, of course, we threw a ridiculously pink baby shower.

Hans made that fondant elephant on the cake :) From this angle, you can't tell that this cake was nearly tipping over.... I filled it with raspberry jam and I think it was too soft... the layers were about to topple! But it sure was tasty.

We did a "baby foods" theme... mini pizzas, mini quiche, mini tacos. mini muffins, baby carrots, and (at the odd request of our boss) mini corn

And we drank out of zippy cups! Which one is mine? (careful, racist! ;))

And what shower would be complete without the sniff the poop game? The only one that really stumped him was the Hershey bar. I think he was over thinking it...
Congrats, bud. Can't wait to meet your little one!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy 3.14

It's pi{e} day! Indulge in something delicious. Like key lime pie....

Monday, March 5, 2012

New office, new office!

After talking about it for over a year, my company has finally moved offices! I'm loving it so much. Not only has it changed the atmosphere (a lot more relaxed), I have more space and more light! And the commute is much better. Actual mileage-wise it's about the same, but it's west of Austin (360/Beecave area) so I don't have to fight downtown traffic anymore (and no more dealing with convention center traffic - Hallelujah!)

One tiny office with two rather large desks crammed in there. No windows, just nasty fluorescent lights.
View from the doorway - that's a big whiteboard on the left 
My desk space - all crammed in there
Lots of space! Airy, pretty desk! Huge monitor and a nice bookcase for storage. And tons of windows!
View from the doorway, there's four desks in there and we still don't feel like we're on top of one another.
My desk space! I love the desk (Vika Artur legs and Vika Gruvan top from Ikea) and a Micke filing cabinet, with an Expedit for a bookcase, I did NOT love putting all those things together. 
View from my seat 
Cupcakes and Harry Potter... you can tell which desk is mine :)

Chevron corkboard

I actually completed a craft!

We recently moved into new offices for work and I've been having fun pretty-ing up my little area (more on that to come). I thought about putting up a cork board for pictures, but that's so boring. So I decided to fancy it up with a little paint!

These are 12x12 cork tiles from Michaels. With a 40% off coupon, they're less than $5. The paint was on sale for about a buck. Then you just need some painters tape, a pencil, and a yard stick.
I marked off three lines, 3 inches a part each. I randomly decided how high I wanted each stripe to angle and laid the yardstick down to mark the top of each zig (or is it zag?). I taped the first line. Then I laid the yardstick flush against the line I had just taped in order to mark where the next taped line should go - that means that each purple stripe is a yardstick wide. It took a while to get all the taping down.
Then the painting went quickly. Just use a yardstick to keep your stripes the same width - I actually did one prior to these two and just kind of eyeballed it - it didn't work too well :) The end!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Showers and birthdays

Whew, we've been busy. So I'm just gunna throw some pics atchya.

My college roommate Renee (who lives in New York and I never get to see) is getting married and her parents threw a lovely wedding shower for her. It was wonderful to see her and Pete.
Then, rather than having three separate birthday dinners last week, we combined into one ridiculously large birthday dinner. Two birthday boys, a birthday girl, three cute babies, trying to find a table for 30, and lots of yummy Italian food.