Necklace Boards

Miss J made one and it was rad, so I -of course -had to follow the trend. I made one for myself (pink) and one for my niece, Kyrsti (green). Don't tell Kyrsti, though, it's a surprise. I don't think Kyrsti reads this blog. If you do, Lou, pretend you didn't read this and be very excited. ;)
I went to Home Depot and found a 48" long board (that's just what size it came in, but I'd also check the scrap heap too) and about a half inch thick. I had the fine worker there cut it into two 21" slabs -- you could go a little longer but not much. I should have kept the left over piece and made place to hang keys-- so take the into consideration if you do this.
I sanded the board then painted it with regular acrylic paint I got for $2 at Robert's. I cut out magazine clippings (I'd think you could also do photos but print on regular paper not photo paper) including letters for each of our names. You can use glue to stick everything onto the board, or just paint the back-side of each clipping and it sticks to the board. Press firmly to get things to stick and hold for a second.
Next, I went over the whole board with a thin layer of white acrylic paint. This gives it a shabby-chic look. If the white it too thick, just use your fingers and wipe it off. On one of them I used some mod-podge at the end just because things were struggling to stay down.
Last, I inserted nails wherever I felt it was right. Hang in your desired way; I drilled two holes through the board and nailed it to the wall.
It was a really simple, cute project.


This I Believe

I believe Suze Orman really cares about me and my money.
Growing up I had two very different monetary educations. My dad's philosophy was "You can't take it with you so spend it now" and my mom was a bargain shopper. This was a difficult difference for me to absorb and assimilate. Instant gratification or slow and steady wins the race?
Buying now and worrying about paying later is a nice way to live most days of the month. I like nice things. I have lots of nice things. And I paid full price for some of them.
Finding a bargain is a nice way to live too. When you find something really amazing then you brag to all your friends how there are none left and you only paid $xx. People envy that sort of thing, I think.
In becoming my own human I've taken the best of both worlds and added a li'l something. I've read some finance books, been online for tips, and attended some workshops. I like Suze Orman's show. She tells people what they can and can't afford and she's really strict. (I don't think I can afford anything.) But she's strict because she cares. And I've read her books bzw. I've skimmed some of her books. My saving account is based on her advice: eight months expenses. And lately, for non-planned items, I've just given myself an amount to spend, however I please (no "budget" requirements or specificities) -- on full- and sale-priced items; for big and small purchases. And I just go until it's gone. I'm also trying to work on a cash-only basis for this part of my budget. I can actually see and feel how much moola I got. I have also felt empowered when I realized I had more than I'd probably need so I bought some curtains that block out all light. Sleepin' good and feelin' in control.
My dad once railed on my girl Ellen because she's gay. Later he mentioned his love for Suze Orman. I thought about bursting his bubble on Suze's sexuality, but stopped myself because I really like Suze and I truly believe she cares about me and my money.


Drill, Baby, Drill!

Surveying the mess that is my second closet (yes, I have two) I knew something had to be done with the purses. I had an old board of hooks in the first closet (the display having tumbled to the ground many moons). If only I had a drill, I thought.
But, wait! I received a drill for Christmas. And once my bro Ty had showed me how to use a drill. Without consulting anyone (ok, I called Ty about drill but size, but that was it!) I drilled into my wall, and effectively hung this rack. Now the purses are nicely organized and off the floor. So proud.

If you thought this blog was going to be about something else, then I bet you'll get a kick out of this.

Weekend Update with HRH

I'm still plugging away at Lent with "lapses" every couple days. Although I have not been able to totally eliminate treats and high-sugar foods, I have significantly reduced the consumption. I feel the difference in my body and I'm eating more heathfuly. For example, on a recent grocery shopping trip I loaded my cart, on happenstance, with only food in its natural form (besides milk and whole-grain bread). I've rediscovered pears and everyone needs to try the Greek honey yogurt from Good Earth -- after going Greek, you just can't go back.
I gave up Facebook for a week. Not hard at all. I thought it would be hard and take some will-power. With Facebook deleted from my address book and no access at work, the week slipped by without me noticing very much, if at all, that Facebook was missing. I'd recommend it (the going without, not Facebook).
I'm training for a 5K -- never ran so far in my life. Miss J and I are on a schedule: run 1.5 miles Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays with increasing distance weekly and cross training Wednesdays. I have had this goal before but it never materialized because I wasn't motivated. I'm successful because we are training to run The Race for the Cure in May in support of our friend Lulu, who has breast cancer. I'm pretty stoked. It's a big group and we're doing shirts at all. Most importantly, it's really encouraging for Lulu.
I'm heading to NYC in June. My sister runs leadership camps for high schoolers in NYC, DC, and Cali all summer. My mom and I are going to visit her in-between camps. Our plan is to just see show after show after show, then go to H&M, tour, then see another show. Recommendations on shows?
I met with a mortgage broker but, in thinking things over, I'm not going to buy a house. I could, but I've decided to focus more on grad school. I'm taking a GRE prep course in May and then doing an Anthro class in the summer. I think I'd like to do a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Duke and UC San Diego have programs that look neat (if... no... when I get in). Is it weird to say that part of my inspiration comes from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II where Bridgett does an archaeological dig in Turkey? (I don't want to be an archaeologist, but I'd like to go on a dig if they'd let me). I'm even more stoked about it after reading (though I'm not quite finished) Guns, Germs, and Steel. It's the first non-fiction I've read (ok, so compared to Gladwell and Pollan) that the author was a true expert and it's wasn't super repetitive. I've learned so so much. The book is all about how society got to where it is and why other societies didn't seem to evolve the same. It's a long book and I don't think I'd have made it through except that it's on CD in my car, but I'd highly, highly recommend it.
My girl (that's us in the photo) Vali, in Germany, got her mission call to Temple Square. I yelled much when I heard, as did my mom. We just love her and her family. She said, "You came to us and now I'm coming to you!" She's the girl who, at age 14, who asked if we could knock some doors when the appointment we'd invited her to fell through. Who does that? Vali is a very special person.
And that's the update.

Hunger Games and Catching Fire

I recently read the first two of three books, Hunger Games and Catching Fire, in the Hunger Games series. I did not enjoy the books because they aren't necessarily happy books. They were entertaining and they made me think. And I'm still thinking about the message. (For a summary of the plot, go to the end of the post.)
When she got the idea for the book, the author, Suzanne Collins, was apparently flipping through TV channels -- flipping between the Iraq war and reality TV. It occurred to her that the juxtaposition was kind of sick. In a way watching people fight for their lives is side-by-side with the shallow entitlement of reality TV. The books have made American Idol extra stressful (luckily I rarely watch) because as they are eliminating people, my subconscious believes those people will be killed. That's way more terrifying than just being kicked off a show.
The books really make you feel the shallowness, without being preachy. One of the ways it does this is with Katniss' "styling team," the folks that make her super wonderful and beautiful prior to ya know, dying. The team members are totally consumed in their own lives, even commenting on inconveniences and "privations" they must suffer due to (unbeknownst to them) rebelling districts. When you're reading the book you can hear Amy Poehler and Seth Myers yelling, "Really?! Really?!" It has me considering my own priorities and if sometimes I am not slightly entitled. I am. My life is extremely comfortable and my problems are more or less surmountable. In our lives it's so easy to forget that so many don't have it easy. It's the ultimate "out of sight, out of mind."
The purpose of the character of Haymitch is worthy of some dialogue. Haymitch, to me, is the god-figure (although, be a drunkard and all, he's nowhere near divine). He gives simple, concise advice that when followed always works out. Also, Katniss must consider what she knows of Haymitch while in the Arena so that she can get what she needs from him (like medicine or food) and playing the Game with Haymitch's strategy works out. In a religious way (and I don't believe for a moment Collins intended this) it like following God's counsel and also figuring out what you have to do to get Him to do what you need Him to do, which will, in turn, be best for you.
Katniss is a strong female lead. Ok, so some have likened her relationship skills to that of Bella's (sorry, I just threw up in my mouth), but, as my friend Hayley pointed out, Katniss is concentrating on survival, she doesn't want a family at all, so give the chick a break if she doesn't give a lot of thought to guys. That aside, the girl got some wicked skills: hunting, archery, strategy. It actually really got me thinking about my own survival skills and now I'm working on emergency preparedness. Katniss is also compassionate and brave. She's not waiting to be saved; she's surviving and saving. She doesn't take a victim role. She doesn't expect others to solve her problems or make excuses for herself. She doesn't feel she's better than anyone else. I think those are all really great qualities and qualities I'd like to see more often in myself and others.
So, the third and final book comes out in August. Party: yes. More lessons to learn. I think so.

*The basic premise of the books are of a futuristic, dystopic North America ruled by the elite and perversely wealthy Capitol. To keep the remaining 12 districts in check, the Capitol hosts the mandatory Hunger Games- the ultimate reality TV show where 24 tributes (a boy and a girl from each district) fight to the death in an elaborate arena. Only one can win. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to go when her younger sister is drawn by lottery; but the plot thickens when her male counterpart declares he's got a thing for her.


Love and Death

Just finished watching Finding Neverland. Cried my little heart out during this scene. How can anyone miss the symbolism? So we cry but it's the kind of cry that feels really good, like it proves your alive, or that something you were feeling just got out, and now you can take a breath and recommit yourself to smelling the proverbial roses.
It got me thinking about other movies that do this for me: The Notebook, Shadowlands. Every time. Quite often the scene with sisters of Sense and Sensibility or a hidden scene from Tuck Everlasting.
What are the commonalities? There are two: death and love. And when I say love, I mean real love. Not hot and steamy; but the kind of love that makes you care for someone who is completely incapacitated and may not be able to give you anything in return -- completely unselfish. And these movies portray that kind of love.
In The Notebook, it is the scene when the old couple - one of whom has Alzheimer's - curl up to die, loving each other so much and through so much, together. In Shadowlands it is CS Lewis' total devotion to his wife who can't give him anything really, except her company, because she is so sick; and he didn't even figure out he loved her until she was sick. For Sense and Sensibility, it is Eleanor Dashwood's long-awaited expression of emotion over the one person she truly loves, her sister, as Marianne Dashwood lays dying.
I like the Tuck Everlasting scene for a slightly different reason. It's about death, but it portrays a twist on the theme. In the scene Winnie is deciding between immortality and mortality; her grandmother is old and very ill and as we see Winnie thinking about her decision, we also watch her mother tending over her grandmother, showing the close relationship those two have. And it showed me that dying is ok if you've lived well. It must have taught that to Winnie to who takes to heart Tuck's saying, "Don't be afraid of death, Winnie; be afraid of the unlived life."
And that is what is so gripping about all of these deaths. They are peaceful, though heartbreaking, because of love and a life well-lived. And it is in the moment of death that love is really manifest, because one realizes how important the beloved really is, how important the relationship is, and how all the things that mattered at one point just don't any more. So after Finding Neverland I remember that some stuff is fleeting and other things are worth living for and noticing.
What movies do this for you?