Saturday, April 5, 2014

Look what arrived!!!

{Our Passports}

 (Our passport photos are quite horrible...Cohen has the best one hands down!)

One very stressful day about a month ago, we went to the passport office at the Provo Post Office.  The entire (very small and very cramped) hallway was full of a long line, already looping back on itself! UGH.  

But we had no choice but to get in line and WAIT.  I started filling out all the forms...which takes some serious time when you are talking SIX passports...and that's when I realized I had not grabbed the kids' social security cards.  When I called the office earlier that week, the man had only mentioned birth certificates, which I DID have.  So, THANK GOODNESS FOR CELL PHONES, A GOOD NEIGHBOR, AND A GARAGE CODE! After directing my neighbor into my house, up my stairs, into a closet where my file box resides...thankfully, they were all where I thought they were and she read them to me while I sat on the floor with my clip board in my lap.

Both Lon and I also had to call our parents (mine are in Brazil!) to find out where they were born.  Oh the details the government asks...

The man in the office was incredibly grumpy and sighed a huge sigh when I told him we had 6 passport applications.  He then said, "Don't tell me I have to take all of your pictures."  To which I replied, "OK, I won't tell you..."  : )

We actually ran into someone we know in the passport line.  A friend of our oldest daughter was there getting his passport for his Church Mission. So Lon snapped a photo to send it to her.

Fast forward 3 weeks:
The cutest thing was Cohen checking the mail for a solid week, waiting for the passports to arrive.  One day, he even packed the mail key in his backpack so he could just check the box on the way home. So adorable!

Once we had our passports, it was time to start on the Visa Applications...which make the passports look like a PIECE OF CAKE! Seriously, I am going to get an ulcer before these things are done.  SO many steps to take, so many copies to make...I have literally been praying every day that I will be blessed to remember all the details and particular requirements.  Brooklyn's has already been sent off (she will be flying over there about 3 weeks ahead of us) and now I have everyone else's all ready to go.

I probably will not sleep well until these things are back and all approved!

What an adventure...but it will all be worth it in the end!

Monday, February 17, 2014

INDIA….here we come!

 Here we are at Bombay House on the night we told the kids we were going!

 We will be traveling to India in early June to volunteer at Rising Star Outreach…for about a year!
We are so excited to have this opportunity!

Rising Star is a wonderful organization that runs a school for children out of the leprosy colonies in Southern India.  The school is located about 50 miles southwest of Chennai, India. 
They also run a mobile medical clinic that serves 14 nearby leprosy colonies. They also do many community projects and micro-loans to help those living in the colonies.  It is an amazing organization and we are so excited to be a part of it!
There is a short video that is a wonderful introduction to Rising Star…here.

You might be thinking….How in the world did this come about??

Well, the funny thing is that it has always been Lon's dream to take our family abroad
 (particularly to a third-world country) and it has most-decidedly NOT been my dream,
 especially when the kids were little.

And in the way of cosmic irony…this little adventure is all my doing.

Many years ago (like about 8-10), I was deeply moved by a presentation at BYU Education Week by Becky Douglas about her work in India with the leprosy affected.  I went to her presentations a few times over the years and felt very drawn to the work that she was doing through her organization, but with so many young children, I felt unable to really contribute or become involved.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2012. While on a choir tour to the Southern States, I stayed at the house of a woman who mentioned her daughter was in India for the summer and I immediately knew it had to be with Rising Star (I knew the founder was from Georgia).  I asked her all sorts of questions and felt like it was no coincidence that she ended up hosting me and my group of girls. I resolved that summer that when I was able, I was going to get involved in whatever way I could.  Little did I know!

This last fall, when my youngest went to first grade, I started volunteering at the Rising Star office…which happens to be in Provo, UT.   On my third or fourth time in the office, I mentioned how much my husband would love to go over to India and then the idea just kind of took off from there.  By the end of the year, we met with the Executive Director to discuss the possibility and then had a couple video chats with other leaders in the organization over in India.  It was a long 6 weeks waiting to find out, but on Tuesday, February 11th, we got a call telling us that we were going.

"How do our children feel about this all?" you might ask. 

 Well, we have varying levels of excitement, with the 16-year-old being the most excited and the 14-year-old being the least, and the 2 youngest quite concerned about the food, but they are all willing to go.  And what an adventure it will be! 
(Our college daughter is taking a year off and coming with us. We can't imagine going without her!)

So we started our India Adventure TODAY!   ….the girls and I went and got Henna.  It was so fun picking out our designs and I am so grateful to my friend Anna Lisa for doing it for us! 

They turned out AWESOME!!

Now we just need a sari and we are ready to go!  (oh…and two little things called a passport & visa!)

My arm is (of course) the one with the wedding ring, and 
then clockwise from me is Avery, Brooklyn, Camry, and Liberty.

And here is how it looked the next morning when we took off the actual Henna…

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Fun One-of-a-kind Summer Sign

It does not surprise me that my last post was at the beginning of May!  What a whirlwind our life was that month.  But we survived--our oldest graduated from High School & our youngest graduated from Kindergarten--and we are settling into summer.

Very, very, slowly over the last couple months, I have been working on a new sign to hang up above my mantel.  I am trying to be much more patient with myself on these things than I was before. (or maybe I am just getting lazy in my old age!)  But I had seen some inspiration and decided to put a couple ideas together and really create something myself...not just "re-create" something that I had seen.  

And you know what?  It was a LOT of fun.

And I have decided that I really love one-of-a-kind decor.  I love looking around my house and seeing things that I worked hard to do.  (Or that one of my children worked hard to create.  My second oldest recently gave me a beautiful peacock watercolor for Mother's Day.  I will share when I finally get it framed!)

So here's how my little creation ended up:

I had seen this sign on pinterest a couple months ago.  I loved the saying and the little arrow idea, but I was not wild about the picket fence look.  Plus, I needed it to pop out against the white background of my paneling.

Then, I visited the new Costa Vida in our town and I saw these beautiful walls that were in their restaurant and I got the idea to mix the two.

So that is when I drew this little sketch...making little notes about which boards should be stained dark and which would be painted my colors.  I wanted some oceany blues and a couple rich oranges to tie it into my living room decor.

Then I went to Home Depot, bought some boards, and just started cutting.  And re-measuring...and cutting some more....ok, and some more...until I ended up with this:

Then I started mixing up some cheap acrylic paint I had bought at Walmart into some blues, oranges, and yellows.  When I got done, they seemed a little bright...

So I just grabbed the wood stain and rubbed it all over those colored boards and LOVED the result!
It perfectly mellowed and aged the colors for me.

After they were all dry, I simply used my Wood Glue to make one solid piece and painted on the little arrow head.  And then, to be totally real and honest with sat like this for many, many, days!  I loved how things had gone to this point, so I was a little scared of ruining it with the lettering!

I spent quite some time on Have you ever tried it?  It is amazing!  The coolest thing is that you can preview your specific text in any of their fonts!  Love it.  I searched and narrowed it down and my husband helped me choose the two fonts I used. 

 I ended up using Southern Aire (script font) and Fortunata (print font).

I printed the words out in the desired size and cut each one out.  Then I rubbed graphite on the back of each one, making sure I was covering the backside of each letter.  I then used a ball point pen to trace each word onto my wood.  The graphite powder leaves a line, like a pencil, and the pen kind of etched the letters into the wood.  Both were necessary for me to see the lettering on some of the really dark parts.  I then (painstakingly) painted the words.  On the script lettering (at my husband's suggestion), I used a lighter yellow to create highlights and help the letters pop out a bit more.  And on the two orange  words, I ended up outlining them with a brownish sharpie marker to make them completely readable.

But in the end...I was very happy with how it turned out.

I bought a cheap little straw wreath at JoAnn's and wrapped it in yellow fabric for my "sun" and then made a little orange flower out of fabric.  And that was that!  I finally got it up about the time Fourth of July decor should be up, but oh well!  We are just going to skip the Red, White, and Blue this year.  ; )

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pear Bread

This was the yummiest bread!  Very very moist and delicious!

I found the recipe online and made it one day for my kids' after school snack.  It calls for fresh pears, but I actually just used my own canned pears and we loved it!

Here's what you need...

2 pears - peeled, cored and shredded (I just cut up canned pears)
1 pear - peeled, cored and mashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar (I always reduce my sugar by 1/3...especially when it also calls for pudding mix)
1 1/2 cups flour (I always use whole wheat)
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan or 2-3 small loaf pans.

In a bowl, mix the shredded pears, mashed pear, egg, egg white, water, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, pudding mix, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Stir the pear mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan.

Bake 1 hour (for large loaf) or 30-35 minutes for small loaf.  I used my mini-loaf pan and I think I cooked them for about 17-22 minutes. 

These were delicious straight out of the oven with a little smear of butter!  Melt-in-your-mouth good!

Monday, April 29, 2013

How to fix that pesky Duvet!!

I have never owned a duvet before, but all my friends seem to have them and seem to like them.  So when I bought my first one for my daughter's room, I was a little disappointed.  I hated it!

It slid around everywhere and never looked good on the bed.  The duvet itself always bunched up inside of the cover and it seemed like so much work every morning to get it made.  My daughter would normally make her own bed, except when she leaves for school my son is still asleep in it! So the chore always fell to me.

Then one day, I was talking to my sister while I made the bed and I grumbled to her and she said, "I know how to fix that!"  Her mother in law is an amazing seamstress and chef and you can count on her to know ALL the tips and tricks for anything related to the kitchen or sewing.  (For instance...if you wrap a cut onion in foil it keeps it from making your whole fridge smell like onion!)

So my sister told me her little tidbit of wisdom...   Sew loops onto the corners of the duvet and ties on the inside corners of the cover.  Genius!!

I did it the next day and it has worked like a charm!!  I had just cut the hem off of a sheet that I was using for a quilt and it was the perfect free thing to use for these ties.

 I simply cut a few short pieces like this.  You could use any fabric like this or even bias tape from the store.

Sew a small piece on the corner of the duvet itself, like this...

Then sew ties in the inside corners  of the duvet cover.

You can just do the four corners or you can do like I did and also sew one tie/loop pair in the middle of the top, bottom, and each side.  So I ended up with a total of 8.  One in each corner and one in the center of each side.

Then simply start with the opposite end that your duvet cover closes. Tie each corner to the matching loop as you insert the duvet into the cover.

Place it on your bed and just ENJOY how it STAYS PUT now!!