12.30.2011

Photo Teaser by Tiffany Rebecca + New Blog Design Soon!

snow_tiffanyrebecca
I had a fun little photo-shoot in the snow - December 19, 2011 - with Tiffany Rebecca.
Above is a teaser for now until we get the rest of the photos back!
Do you like it? I loooove it. 
I also LOVE the snow. and colorado. and snowboarding. and winter. so this is so me.

Anyways, go say hello to Tiffany HERE
& read her guest post on my blog HERE on '5 Ways to Take Better Pictures'!
She just celebrated her 1st Anniversary! Congrats!

And guess what?

Sunday will be a new fresh start. Obviously it is the new year...
but I will have a new BLOG DESIGN!!!
Thanks to Elisabeth from Thimbles + Things
I'm so excited and you better come back on Sunday and check it out ;)
Until then, read her guest post on my blog HERE on 'Tips for a Better Blog'!

I think that is all, for now. 
Have a good weekend!

12.29.2011

Christmas in Kansas City 2011

P1120381
We flew in to Kansas City on Dec. 20th late at night and stayed until the 26th. 
It was a fun trip as you can already see here.

December 21, 2011 - Wednesday

Kevin and I slept in, finished Christmas shopping, read, and went to the new Sherlock Holmes movie with Greg, Kathy, Anna, and LT at the Legends. We saw the 10 pm showing and I was so tired that unfortunately I fell asleep for some of it! Kevin absolutely loved it just like the first one! I think I need to watch both of them again but when it isn't too late so I can really pay attention to them!

December 22, 2011 - Thursday

We slept in, read some more, and had family pictures at The Seven Bridges Clubhouse. That is where Kevin and I had our open house after we got married in Kansas City! It is a gorgeous clubhouse. I wish our neighborhood had a clubhouse like it here in Fort Collins! Ha. We don't have one but more than anything I wish our neighborhood had a pool! Anyways, we explored it for a long time and here is the indoor basketball court attached it! Kevin made a bunch of half court shots as I told him to play like Jimmer! Here he is!
P1120352
I'm horrible at basketball but I'm pretending to focus before a shot here. Good focus right?
P1120363
Afterwards we all ate at a Mexican restaurant. I forgot what it is called. Then we called it a night and hung out at home!

December 23, 2011 - Friday
The guys went hunting this day! They hunted pheasant and it was an all day ordeal. Here is some of the hunting gang. They got approximately 25 pheasant. Kevin is far right. Look how happy he is haha. He LOVES hunting!
IMG_2717IMG_2716
 Meanwhile I hung out with Kathy and we ran some errands getting some last minute Christmas gifts and such. We ate at Jimmy Johns for lunch.  Then we hung out at Tara's house for a bit.
Here we are at Tara's house with Zach, baby Poppy, & me.
P1120367
And here is Zach, Poppy, & Lily! They are all so cute!
P1120364
Then I ran errands with Tara. Afterwards, Kathy and I ate dinner at Panda Express, shopped at Michaels, and browsed Pier 1 Imports. We got home just as the guys were and they were so tired from hunting all day!

 December 24, 2011 - Saturday - Christmas Eve

Greg and Kathy had a Christmas Eve get-together at their house! There was SO much food and tons of desserts! Lots of relatives came over as well!
Kevin and I on Christmas Eve. I love him.
P1120370
And here are some of the desserts! 
P1120375
P1120376
P1120377
 P1120378
Greg put on some hilarious home videos of past Christmas Days when Kevin and his siblings were way younger for kicks. Who doesn't love home videos? They are just great. Kevin ran around like a crazy man when he got a sports "starter jacket" when he was younger, haha. It is SO great. He even leaped through the air! That is a sports guy right there for ya!

December 25, 2011 - Sunday - Christmas Day

We woke up, went to church, and then got to Skype with Kelsi as she is on her mission in Brazil! She was almost an hour late skyping since she got stopped by a guy on the streets who told her and her companion that they needed to visit a friend of his. They were late because they were doing missionary work so I guess that is acceptable! She is doing great on her mission! She just loves the people, food, and the culture and she is fluent in Portuguese! I can't wait to see her this summer when she comes back from her mission in July! That will be so cool! We got to three-way skype since Kelsi was in Brazil, Kevin and I were in Kansas City, and my family was in St. Maartin in the middle of the ocean! I'm glad it worked out!
 P1120389
Afterwards Kevin and I opened our presents and gave our presents to everyone! From "Santa" I got a cute tank top from Ann Taylor Loft, OPI nail polish, lip gloss, a gift card to Cinemark, and some candy! Kevin got a picture of him hunting, a Kansas City Royals Calender, a gift card to Cinemark, and candy as well. I got some cute legwarmers and money from my in-laws and they also got Katinka a very cute camouflage dog bone and dog treats! Kevin NEVER knows what he wants for any birthday/Christmas so he gets money haha. Someday, he will figure out what he wants! I scored a great deal at Old Navy and got Kevin a thick long-sleeved sweatshirt/shirt lol. Kevin got me this hilarious book Yoga Dogs and gave me a massage since my back always hurts! Kyle got me some good smelling body butter and David and Tara got us a very cute candle! We are SO blessed and lucky!
 IMG_2707
We played an intense round of Mexican Train where I lost in the final game and Tara and I made some more bracelets. We talked a lot about if we should do a kitchen redesign and who knows what else!

December 26, 2011 - Monday

We hung out, watched tons of Modern Family episodes, and then ate some Smokehouse Barbecue before our flight back home.  It was a great trip!

What did you do for the Christmas holidays?  

12.28.2011

Christmas in KC via Instagram

Photobucket
Photobucket
Christmas in Kansas City was relaxing, fun, and a great break from everything. We had amazing food, watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie, slept in everyday, did some last minute Christmas shopping and errands, had some family photos taken, and hung out with family and friends. Kevin was deeply into his Steve Jobs book and I flew through the first Hunger Games book in 2 days. I am now finishing up Catching Fire and just bought Mockingjay yesterday from Barnes and Noble. I am obsessed (proof here). Tara and I made some more bracelets and Kevin, David, and I played an insanely long round of Mexican Train (with the dominoes). We also skyped with my sister Kelsi who is on her mission in Brazil! More to come soon.

What did you do this past holiday weekend?

12.27.2011

How to be Happy!

Today is my dad's birthday! Woohoo!
Unfortunately (for me) or fortunately (for him) he is in Saint Thomas in the middle of the Caribbean islands probably lying on the beach drinking a virgin pina colada...dang so I can't be with him to celebrate...
Anyways, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
We have a bomb present for you when you return.
Today I am just getting back to work, going to the dentist (YAY! Yes I am really excited about this), and unpacking and all that fun stuff that you get to do after trips. 

Today, I decided that I would share this post I wrote for Sara from Struggling Happiness (now called Untold Stories of a 20 Something) to give me some time to catch up, plus eventually I will get my blog printed out so all guest posts I'd like to have on my blog as well (later though!).  It was originally posted HERE on September 21, 2011. I recommend checking her blog out HERE!
Hope this post brings some ideas of what you can do to stay happy in all situations!


***

Hello readers of Struggling Happiness! 
284938_10150268394061236_35277691235_7455466_24942_n
I'm Ashley and I write over at Sloanbook (here)! I'm married to my best friend Kevin and we have a long-haired chihuahua named Katinka (fun name right?)! My husband and I both graduated from Brigham Young University and we just moved to Colorado! I blog about random things that happen to me, vacations and the adventures we go on so it is pretty much a random kind of blog. But in a good way, random :) That is pretty much us. 

Moving on, I am SO honored to have been given the opportunity to guest post and hold down the fort for Sara today! I was so excited when she asked me! I have been following her blog for a long time now and I think she is very sweet and genuine.
She asked me to write on what I do to be happy and inspired so here is what I got for you.


Church uplifts and inspires me as I attend meetings each Sunday. It makes me want to be a better person as I strive to be like Him. It also provides structure in my life as I regularly participate in prayer and scripture study to name a few. If you me mistakes, as we all do, you can always repent and have a clean slate thanks to our Savior and the Atonement. Regardless of what beliefs you may have on religion and a higher being, I think without a doubt it can provide comfort and strength. Church is one of those things for me. I'm a Mormon and if you want to know more about our beliefs you can check out Mormon.org


In addition to church, I think family and friends can bring happiness. As I spend time with family I grow closer to them and build memories to look back on. I think that doing fun things, such as going to play miniature golf or going go-cart riding can bring happiness just as much as doing the little things together like cooking a dinner or cleaning up a room. I also think that girl friends are very important! I enjoy watching reality TV shows, working out at Gold's Gym, shopping, or trying to be crafty with my friends. I just moved to Colorado, away from BYU where I lived the past 5 years, and I can say it is harder to spend time with girl friends when you don't have as many. Honestly, I don't have many here but I will find friends and it really just takes time!


One thing that makes me happy is exercise! The hardest part is just getting into those workout clothes and just starting! But once I start I am glad I made the effort to because exercise is not only good for you to stay in shape but is good because it helps reduce stress and relax muscles. It just makes you feel good afterwards! Honestly, I haven't been the best at working out since I've moved to Colorado (mostly because I lost my gym membership at Gold's Gym in Provo) but I keep trying and that is the most important thing! I play tennis, attempt to run (working on liking or maybe loving running? ha), lift weights, and am kind of getting into P90X. I really love TurboKick or Kickboxing but haven't done much of that since I moved here.


Animals can make people happy! As you can see in the picture above I am holding a long-haired chihuahua! That is Katinka and she is my puppy! I think that spending time with animals can relieve stress and provide happiness. Yeah, it makes sense, but really? Yes, I have known of people having therapy dogs where they can even take them into stores and such and I am not just talking about guide dogs. I have a friend who has a therapy dog because she has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.) If you are an animal lover and cannot have a pet due to being in a rental or something, think about volunteering at your local humane society! They provide responsibility and can give you a sense of accomplishment when successfully potty training or teaching them a new trick. All in all, animals can make people happy!


I think service is one of the best ways to truly be happy. When you are helping others, in all circumstances, you are focusing on them and not yourself. Whenever I focus on someone else I forget about myself. I forget about a bad day I just had or that I skipped a workout and ate too much that day. I find myself caring about the other person and wanting to help them out. Maybe it is helping someone move, helping at a soup kitchen, or listening to an upset friend who is telling you their problems. I think that service is a great way to lose yourself and then find yourself! I felt very good about myself when I was working at a treatment center for at-risk youth because I was making a positive difference in young girls lives. I recommend making service a part of your life. Find an organization to volunteer at or just help a friend in need.


There are many other things that make me happy but the last one I am going to touch upon is being in nature. I think that everyone should get outside of their house and enjoy the beautiful nature and scenery around them. No matter where you are you can enjoy your surroundings. The world is a beautiful place! You should take a moment to ponder and think. When I have time I like to read books outside under a tree or on a hammock. I like to walk my dog to get the mail or even go on a run with her.

Sorry this is a bit long but there are so many things that can bring happiness into our lives. I have only touched upon a few! 

What makes you happy?

If you feel inclined, I'd love for you to come and stop by my blog here! I love new friends! :)
Have a *HAPPY* day all!

12.26.2011

5 Ways to Take Better Pictures by Tiffany Rebecca Photography

First of all, I hope you had a great Christmas! 
I hope you enjoyed it, spent it with family and friends, and made sure to remember and ponder about the true meaning of Christmas.
Today we have one of my sponsors, Tiffany from Tiffany Rebecca Photography, taking over the blog today with some great photography tips! Enjoy! 

***

While I believe in investing in professional photography to document important life events I also believe that it's important to catch every day moments well too! Here are just 5 ways to improve your own photography. 

1. Turn off your flash!
take_pictures_post
Picture taken without flash inside the Shedd Aquarium

The biggest mistake I see people making is using flash. Of course there will be times where it's very dark and you'll need to use your flash, but otherwise I recommend not using it. When enough natural light is available there is no reason to use a flash. Natural light is much more flattering and will not make women's makeup shine (Don't you hate when that happens?)

You can turn off your camera by exploring the options on your camera.

Another note: A basic flash won't carry more than a few feet. If you are taking a landscape or your subject is more than a few feet away your flash won't illuminate them anyway.

Read the rest of this article on Tiffany Rebecca's blog by clicking here.

12.24.2011

March 23 cannot come soon enough

Yes, I am now obsessed with The Hunger Games.
I read the first book Hunger Games in 2 days.
I just started reading the second book Catching Fire last night.
I need to hurry and get my hands on Mockingjay.
Doesn't this trailer pump you up?
It gives me chills.
And the music is bomb. Love it.
I'm ready.

PS. Merry Christmas Eve!

12.23.2011

Early Christmas With My Family!

Sunday - December 18, 2011
An Early Christmas

We went over to my parents house for a week early Christmas dinner since Kevin and I are in Kansas City for Christmas this year AND my family is in the Caribbean specifically St. Thomas! I need to get to the beach asap. 
Anyways, it was a great evening! 
We got there and Christmas music was playing, the tree lights were on, Christmas decorations were everywhere, Christmas cards were hung up on strings of ribbon, and a honey baked ham was just out of the oven.
We ate an amazing dinner.
Honey baked ham from my grandparents (make that a 15 lb one!) and boy was it great! I LOVE honey baked ham! We had cauliflower and broccoli, blueberry muffins, pineapple, mashed potatoes, and tons of cookies for dessert. We also had Pear Martinellis! There was a lot of leftovers so Kevin and I ate it at work on Monday and same with dinner that day!
Photobucket
Authentic German handmade pieces were all over the house.
Windmills (which when I was a little girl I ruined one by taking off little pieces and then my mom had to super glue them all back on) and a cuckoo clock! They picked out this clock when one time we visited Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. They bought it in southern Germany maybe when we were looking at castles that day, if I remember right. I would love to own a cuckoo clock and make that, anything German handmade! But they are so expensive. Someday!
Photobucket
A huge bouquet of flowers and a German nutcracker was around.
I bet my dad got these flowers for my mom since their anniversary is on the 19th!
Photobucket
While my mom was wrapping presents for Kevin and I, I relaxed in our massage chair. I love that chair. It can have you sit up, lay down, and do a ton of different things! I like the "stretch" function haha.
The Hunger Games were given to me by my brother Patrick! Which by the way, I am flying through!
Photobucket
Kevin received a hunter Nutcracker (which is awesome), a Kansas City Chiefs stop sign to hang up in our garage, the Steve Jobs book from my brother Patrick, and some money.  I also received a planner from Patrick. I got an elephant purse, a hilarious 'Blog' magnet, iPhone 4 case "Keep Calm and Shop On", riding boots, a scarf, and I'm inheriting my brother's old iPhone 4 (I have the 3GS now), and also inheriting my grandparents DSLR they don't use anymore!!! I feel so blessed!

We got my mom and dad a nice crockpot and we had Hunter this year so we got him some "precious stones." He is obsessed with rocks and minerals and knows tons of facts about them! When we visited Fantastic Caverns (HERE) in Missouri we got him a fossilized shark tooth that is over 50 million years old. We also got him two litttle stones that we actually forgot what types they were! He was pretty pumped especially since we put the fossilized shark tooth in a little display box I got at Michaels.

Now for a funny photo.
Kevin wore this to the company Christmas party!
"Wanna get on my naughty list" turtleneck, gay scarf, comb over, glasses = Classy
Photobucket
Hope you have a great Christmas! I'll be enjoying it for sure :)

12.22.2011

Tips for a Better Blog by Elisabeth from Thimbles + Things

Happy Thursday!
I am still in Missouri hanging out, so today we have Elisabeth (one of my sponsors) from Thimbles + Things taking over the blog! And guess what?
1. She is pregnant and that is awesome, congrats Elisabeth!!! &
2. She is actually designing a new blog design for my blog! YAY! So that will be coming soon and I am so excited :)
Read on!

***

hi everyone!



i'm super excited to be filling in for ashley while she's out!
today i'm going to give you quick, easy tips for a blog lift.

less is more.
how many times have you visited a blog and you have no idea what's going on...
there's too much on the sidebars, the fonts are hard to read, the background is just so busy it's distracting...
keep those things in mind as you build [or redo] your blog.
-keep your sidebars clean and organized
-pick fonts that are easy to to read
-use backgrounds that ADD to the blog, not distract

fonts + colors.
i have a few personal rules when it comes to pick fonts + colors...
if you want to use more than one font on your blog keep them simple.
for example: use a fun/cute/awesome [but readable] font for your header. whatever font you pick for your header i would recommend using it through out the rest of your blog on other title headers, such as your gadgets or your post title. for a second font, keep it simple and use it for links, your post body and page bodies.
blogger now has a lot of great font options in the new template designer to choose from that make adding different fonts to your blog a lot easier. if you like to download fonts [like i do] check out dafont.com.
when it comes to colors keep in mind that everyones monitor settings are different...
what might seem like a regular pink on your monitor might look hot pink on someone elses. when choosing colors for your blog, build a color palette. it will help you stick with a reoccurring theme through out your blog.

css + html.
not everyone can read/build custom html to build the ultimate blog...
the good news is blogger now gives you the option to enter in css code in the blogger template design.
if you're thinking:
"um. cool. i have no idea what the crap you're talking about..."
no problem.
i'll show you.
go to:
template designer > advanced > and scroll down to ADD CSS
you'll see a big empty box to type stuff in.
now it all depends on what you want to do to your blog...
is your header center? want to center it?
copy + paste this code into the CSS text box:
#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important;}
#header-inner {text-align:center !important;} /
*include this line if you are using Template Designer*/
want to center your post title + date?
copy + paste this code into the CSS text box:
P { text-align: center }
H2 { text-align: center }
P { text-align: center }
H3 { text-align: center }
want to get rid of that annoying blogger navigation bar at the top of your blog?
copy + paste this code into the CSS text box:
#navbar-iframe {display: none !important;}
as you can see, there are so many little things you can do to give your blog a face lift just by entering in a little CSS code. if there's something you want to do but don't know the code?
google it.
you can find just about anything.
if you want to find CSS code to center your page list [below your header] google:
"CSS to center page list"
and start reading!
you can find all sorts of info on forums.
if you're not having luck by googling, tweet and ask your followers if they happen to know.
you'd be surprised what random things other people know!
i hope this helps anyone who's looking to give their blog a face lift or anyone who's just starting out.
have a good day!
-elisabeth

***

Now go check out her blog HERE! You'll love it! 

PS. Check out my feature at the Young & Restless blog HERE and Christa.Jae's blog HERE!

12.21.2011

Scenes from this Weekend + a Taekwondo Evening

This weekend was a fun one. It was relaxing and just what we needed.
Here is what went down.

Friday - December 16, 2011

After work I went to lunch with my mom and brother Patrick to Famous Daves. I pounded my meal! I seriously can't believe I ate that much haha. I LOVE their pork! Any who, ate there, hit up Target, and then hung out at home. After Kevin got off work we went to my brother's Taekwondo class/test where he tested his "form" (basically a routine of punches, kicks, and "Iyahs!") where he tried (and accomplished) to get to the next belt color. Anyone do Taekwondo?
Here we are at his taekwondo studio!
P1120331
P1120328
L - R: Hunter in his sparring gear (they wear this gear when they fight each other), Hunter (in the middle) and some other kids warming up before they tested!
At the end of the night he came home with a brown belt! He did great!
 Photobucket
Hunter & I after with his brown belt!
P1120339
Afterwards Zach was bored so he yo-yoed...
(he's the sponsored yo-yoer and funny thing was he used to do taekwondo there when he was younger!)
P1120336
 Afterwards, Kevin and I were going to go downtown to pick a gift card up at Europa (an Aveda salon) and look around some shops but by the time we were done with the taekwondo evening it was pretty late. By the time we would have gotten downtown and parked, we would have walked around for only 10 minutes! (So we went downtown on Saturday)
My mom, Zach, Hunter, Kevin, and I then hit up Spooners for frozen yogurt! Mine was delish. Actually I think all of ours was.

Saturday - December 17, 2011

Kevin and I slept in, made cinnamon rolls, and then went downtown to look around. I am now wanting a chihuahua lamp and a fake deer head for our house. Sounds crazy, but I saw both downtown and they were both awe-some. I was super tired so I went to bed early which was weird but good.

Sunday - December 18, 2011

We had another crazy day in junior nursery. I swear it is getting crazier week by week, although a bunch of kids will move up come the new year. It is starting to wear me out ha! After church we ate, our home teachers came over, hung out, and then had an early Christmas with my family! It was AMAZING! I will be blogging about it soon :)

Now, here are some scenes from our weekend!
L - R: Katinka in the middle of the tulle wreath I am was making (by the way it FINALLY got finished on Sunday and it is HUGE!), & "How much is that doggy in the window?"
Photobucket
Top: L-R: Home made vanilla and fudge my visiting teachers brought me on Thursday, home made cheeseburgers Kevin and I had. By the way if you ever have an extra avocado laying around throw it on your cheeseburger. Freaking.awesome.
Bottom: L - R: Famous Daves BBQ for lunch on Friday (love me some pork), & Spooners frozen yogurt!
Photobucket
It was a great weekend with some great surprises.

By the way, I definitely just watched The Help on Monday. Wow. So SAD but good.
What did you think of it? And today I plan on starting The Hunger Games! My brother, Patrick got them for me for Christmas (the first 2 at least). 

What did you think of the Hunger Games?!
No spoilers please!

12.20.2011

DIY Fabric Flowers by Ruthanne with an E + Giveaway Winner!

Wow friends, you are in for a treat. 
Ruthanne, one of my sponsors, is a doll and she is going to show you how to make fabric flowers! 
Take it away Ruthanne!

Meanwhile, I'm at work, packing, dropping Katinka off at the kennel, and headed for Kansas City this evening! Yay!
***
Hello there, readers of Sloanbook! :) I am so excited to be sharing a post with you here on miss Ashley's blog! I'm Ruthanne, and I blog over at Ruthanne with an E. I'm sixteen, a lover of fashion and music, all things vintage and I have an obsession with my cowboy boots! 

I also like to pretend I'm a movie star. It never really works the way I want it to....

When I was thinking about what to do for this post, a million thoughts crossed my mind, but this one stood out far more than the others. This is a super fun and easy DIY that is a fantastic gift for Christmas, or just because! I'm going to show you how to make one of the easiest fabric flowers in the world! Ready? GO! 

-♥-

You will need:
Fabric strips 
Felt
Hair clips / brooch pins
Hot glue gun
A few beads or buttons
Scissors, thread, needle or sewing machine
 Start out with a piece of fabric or ribbon that is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide, by about 30 inches long, depending on how big you want your flower to be.
Stitch, with a machine or by hand, a line down the middle. Make sure to back-stitch at one end only - you need the other end "free". 
 The strip should look something like this.
 Now, very gently, pull one of your "free" threads at the end you didn't back-stitch. Gently gather your fabric to look like this.
It should be about half it's length or so after this.
Now cut a circle of felt about 2 inches or so in diameter. 
To "secure" my hair clip, I like to cut two slits in my felt to slip my clip through, like so.
I then attach my brooch pin with another small piece of felt and hot glue.
Now, flip your felt circle over and have your glue gun ready. Fold your fabric strip in half, basically on the stitched line. 
Start wrapping your flower, starting in the center and working your way around. I usually start out really tight and get looser as I go. You may need to practice your flower formation before the next step, it happens fast!

Lastly, (and I forgot to take a picture, I'm so sorry!), cover your felt circle with hot glue and stick your flower on it! Tuck in all of the visible stitched parts, and perfect it's shape while the glue is still a bit hot, but please, don't burn yourself like I do/did frequently. (it's terrible, really!)

Add some beads or buttons if you like, and this is how it will turn out! 
So pretty, isn't it? These are so easy to make after you make a couple, and I make them for friends all the time! I also use ribbon for mine, those are beautiful too. Try out some different ways of wrapping your flower. Here are a whole bunch I made as gifts this summer:
There are really so many different ways to make these things!
This is what it looks like in my hair.
And on a sweater - but you can pin them on scarves, hats, purses, anything! I also love to put them on headbands, just glue em straight on. They are so versatile. I wore two purple ones on a dress I made in this post on my blog; it was the perfect simple and elegant touch.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and please come stop by and say hello, I would love to make some new friends! Thank you so much to Ashley for having me on your lovely blog! 

xoxo, Ruthanne

***

Seriously, go stop by her blog HERE and give her some lovin'! You will not be disappointed.
She is so cute (as you can tell) and I'm a big fan!

PS. The winner of the pink cowl giveaway (HERE) from A Girl Named Leney is... Meg from Henning Love! Congrats Meg! I'll be in touch with you shortly :)