Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas!

After a crazy couple weeks finishing up my final classes before the end of the semester (on Wednesday), taking my final licensure exam on Saturday, celebrating Mr. Converse Sneakers’ birthday two weekends ago, and doing crazy amounts of homework constantly, I have decided I need a significant break.  I already have plenty of posts planned for the new year, so please stop by then when I’ll be back up and running.

This redhead is tired and needs a break from blabbing.  I’m trading in my ruffled flats for some aqua blue slippers and polka dot pajamas.

I’ll see you in 2012!


Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 Highlights from 2011

As I said yesterday in my post about our Christmas traditions, every year we plan on making a highlight/recap video from the year.  I tend to be horrible at remembering years of my life, as in I can’t say things like, “Back in 2005 I ________.”  My brain doesn’t work like that.  I can say “Back in first grade, blah blah blah” but I’d have to do some math to figure out the year.  Now that I’m in my last year of college for a very long time or perhaps forever (praise the Lord, hallelujah), I won’t have these school references to remember things by, so by making a video perhaps my brain will be more likely to remember things by year or at least I will have a quick video to watch as a refresher course.  I’m hoping I will never forget this year, but in case I forget the year we were married, I will have a sweet little (slightly awkward, dorky, and humorous) video to look back on.

Here is our video for this year.  Well, actually wait – I’m a little nervous about posting a video of myself and Mr. Converse Sneakers in case you all think we’re nutty and never come back after watching 10 seconds of this video, so I’m just stalling.


Here are our 10 highlights from 2011 (in no particular order):

In case you can’t watch the video for whatever reason, here is what we covered (and a little more) in a nutshell:


#1: My Graduation

I graduated from four crazy years of college with a BA in English and a minor in Family Studies.  It felt so good to finish everything!  I was very proud of myself to graduate Summa Cum Laude after working about 25 hours a week all through college and planning our wedding.  It was no easy job, but I’m definitely not a party girl and managed to get everything done and still work out and sleep most days.  By May of this year I will be a licensed teacher since I am almost done taking the grad classes I need and will be student teaching all spring.IMG_0782IMG_0807

#2: My Bridal Shower

My maid and matron of honor put on my bridal shower which was held at my parents’ house in June.  My closest friends and family were there and we had a great time!  It was a Hawaiian theme.  The games were hilarious and the presents were seriously awesome – I was so surprised at what we were given!  I will never forget all of the support and love we had at every wedding-related event.



#3: Our Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

We had our bachelor and bachelorette parties on the same day.  Lots of crazy randomness went on, which I don’t think we need to elaborate on, but it was all good, clean-ish fun that definitely made for many laughs and an interesting night.  Mine had a polka dot theme, which is so me and so cute!

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#4: Our Wedding

I’ve probably rambled on too much about our wedding, which you can read about in detail here.  I’m not sure why we didn’t order these highlights, but the wedding was by far the best day of the year (and possibly our lives).  Some say that wedding days aren’t the best day of the year, but for us it really was.  We had been waiting five and a half years for that day, so needless to say we couldn’t wait!  Everything was perfect and we wouldn’t change a thing.

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#5: Our Honeymoon

We went to Duluth for our honeymoon which is just a couple hours north of where we live now.  We had never been there and thought it was kind of close to going somewhere on the coast since Lake Superior is so large I could easily mistake it for an ocean (since I’ve never seen an ocean before).  I had been sick since a couple days before the wedding and it just got worse over our honeymoon, but Mr. CS wouldn’t let that keep us from sightseeing and eating a ton.  I would have loved to stay in bed all day watching Dish Network that our hotel room had (since we don’t have cable) – because seriously aren’t people supposed to stay cooped up in bed all day long on their honeymoon – but Mr. CS wouldn’t have it.  We’re both foodies, so our honeymoon photos mostly consist of what we ate.  Check out the video for lots more.  It was a great time to be away from work and responsibility and to just focus on each other and the promises we had recently made.DSC_0319

#6: Moving into Our First Home Together

Moving in together was one of the most anticipated things we did this year.  I couldn’t wait to finally get to see the love of my life every day.  We’ve loved making our little apartment more homey, but cannot wait for the day when we can move into our first owned house together.


#7: Began Exercising Together

Now that we live together, we really enjoy working out together.  We were fairly good about exercising on our own before we lived together, but now we have another person to hold us accountable and keep us motivated.  I haven’t been very good about exercising lately because school, getting ready to student teach, adjusting to married life, keeping up with this blog, and finding time to eat and sleep have wiped me out, but I’m hoping to get back on it soon.  We mostly stick to the Supreme 90 Day workouts, which I talked about in his post about Tabata Inferno.


#8: Courtney’s Baby

Since I am one of the first among my friends to get married, I only have one friend who is already married, Courtney (she was the matron of honor in our wedding).  She was almost 9 months pregnant at our wedding and had little Parker Theodore just a couple weeks after.  I was given the honor of taking some family photos (above), which you can see more of on my photography website.  I could not be happier for Courtney and Pat!  Parker is beyond adorable and looks just like Courtney which melts my heart.  He sure does not help us want to wait for kids!

#9: I Started Grad School

Grad school doesn’t feel much different than going to classes as an undergrad did because they are at the same place, but I feel kind of cool knowing I already have my degree and am going back for higher level credits.  My wallet doesn’t feel so cool, but it’ll thank me one day (I hope).

#10: Found Our Church

My hubby man’s boss invited us to church in September which we went to a few times.  We absolutely love it, but don’t love that it’s half an hour away.  After a couple months of deliberation, we decided last Sunday to make this church “our” church since we love it so much.  I was raised going to a Lutheran church and Mr. CS went to a very strict, I believe Baptist church, but we don’t feel very strongly about sticking with either denomination. The church we have decided to keep going to is non-denominational but fits our beliefs about Jesus and the Bible.  It’s catered to a younger crowd but gives incredible tell-it-like-it-is sermons that are shockingly real but make us inspired to be better people.  We love it!

So, there you have it!  This was a big year for us, but we know the years to come will be big too since we have lots of major life events we’ve been dreaming about.

What were some highlights from your year?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beginning Family Christmas Traditions as Newlyweds

I tend to get a little too excited about most things in life, which I suppose isn’t necessarily a bad thing for me but can be a tad annoying for everyone around me.  Mr. Converse Sneakers receives extra brownie points any time I get a crazygood (by my standards) idea in my head, because he puts up with me pretty well.  Since this is our first Christmas together (as a married couple, at least), I’m sure you can imagine how beyond excited I have been.  When it comes to traditions, I cannot get enough of them, so when I came to Mr. CS with a page-long list full of Christmas tradition ideas, he won a million brownie points by getting excited, too!

In case you are interested (who am I kidding – I’ll blab and ramble on and on whether you are interested or not), here are some of our first year Christmas traditions that we hope to continue every year, especially when we have little redheaded Asian babies running around:

  • Make a video of ourselves putting up the Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. See this year’s video here.
  • Make a video with a recap of the year and ten things we are thankful for. This will be posted later this week.
  • Drive around to look at the Christmas lights.
  • Hold a Christmas family movie night. I couldn’t find all of our Christmas movies (the horror) but I’m sure they’ll show up eventually.
  • Buy one present for ourselves for Christmas that will enrich our marriage in some way. This year, we’re thinking of maybe a book on marriage, a cookbook, or dance lessons.
  • Read Christmas stories.
  • Set goals for the next year.  I’ll be posting a video of our goals before the end of the month.
  • Take a family photo in front of the tree.  We didn’t plan to match the tree!

We have come up with some other traditions as well we might start doing once we have kids or maybe next year when I’m not finishing projects and taking finals the week before Christmas.  I’m so excited to be involved in making traditions and executing them and look forward to expanding and growing these traditions over the years.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mr. Converse Sneaker’s Birthday Recap

WOW!  This weekend was hectic but every second was extremely fun and worthwhile.  Last year, on my hubby man’s birthday, Minnesota decided to drop a million inches of snow on us so that we would be trapped wherever we were with no escape (except for with a trusty Subaru like I’ve got).  Unfortunately, that meant his party had to be cancelled, so instead we made a little feast and I finished up final papers.  This year, the weather has been awfully good to us, so I decided to take advantage of the clear skies and go all out for his 23rd birthday.

Friday night we went to one of our favorite bar and grills called Shamrock’s in St. Paul where we went for his 21st birthday.  He has wanted to give the “Nookie Challenge” a try (The Nook is Shamrock’s brother restaurant) for a few years, so he chose his birthday as the perfect opportunity.  This challenge involves eating two Nookie supremes (HUGE double cheeseburgers) and all the fries that come with each single entrĂ©e.  Let’s just say he fulfilled the challenge but it was painful to watch.

The evidence:






Both of these burgers were his:


I ordered just one Nookie Supreme with fries (he had double what I had in the photo below):


I’m pretty sure his face would look the same if he saw a herd of zombies heading his way:


It was very painful to watch.  He wouldn’t let me touch him to comfort him or even give him one of my signature pep talks.  He only had four fries left in the photo below but I honestly thought he was going to give up at the point.


But, my man isn’t one to back down from a challenge.  I don’t think he looks proud enough in the photo below, but once he woke up from his food coma he was pretty proud!


I let him open his present the day before his birthday – I got him a Wushtof knife he’s been wanting for some time.




I am pretty sure he loves it.  Pretty sure.  Just to be on the safe side, I was the backup present:


Just kidding, but I had to take the photos just for fun.

Saturday morning I got up early to make him banana chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate maple syrup.  They were heavenly.



We went to a nearby mall for the first time and did most of our Christmas shopping before coming home to another feast I had prepared from scratch: barbecue pulled pork sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.


He had a Fat Tire beer with his because he’s manly like that.  I had water because I’m a woos like that and hate beer.


We finished the day off with a homemade carrot cake and homemade cream cheese frosting.  I stress the homemade since I’ve never made a cake by myself from scratch before and have never made frosting.  We don’t have any kind of mixer, so whipping the frosting was a workout, but it was delicious.  I definitely did a solo serenade for my lovely husband which made him turn bright red.






Sunday ended the weekend perfectly since we went to our favorite church which we decided to make our home church, wrapped presents, made some videos for the blog (coming soon), and relaxed while eating leftovers from the day before.

It was the perfect birthday weekend.  I loved not doing any homework (although I slaved away to get it done early last week) and getting to focus all of my attention on the man of my dreams.  I’m already scheming of what I want to do for his birthday next year. I can’t wait!

What did you do this weekend?

Monday, December 12, 2011

$9 DIY Easy-Sew Ruffled Tree Skirt

Have you seen the prices they are selling tree skirts for?  It’s insane!  I’m not a big fan of theme-y or orverly ornate tree skirts, which are logically priced higher because they involve more work.  However, even a simple tree skirt at any store I could find was at least about $50 or more.  I said, “No way, no how” and did a little thinking and searching around online.  Many bloggers have gotten crafty and have DIY-ed a tree skirt.  Mine is nothing spectacular, but I like to share what I’ve been up to, so I’ll post the details and steps.

I wanted a neutral tree skirt with a little bit of interest, so I went with a white ruffled one.  I picked up one and half yards of 90” white cotton fabric for about $8 and bought a white tree skirt at the dollar store.  $9 out of pocket – not bad!

Here is the tree skirt before:


I ripped the fabric in about 8”x90” strips and sewed the edge to make it look nicer after ironing it down.


Then, I flipped the dollar store tree skirt over so that none of the leaves would show through my white fabric and decided where I wanted the outermost ruffle to land so that it would hang over the tree skirt edge below it.


I used a pen to mark the starting point at the slit.


I then measured how far from the edge the mark was and went around the entire circumference marking the points and connecting them in a smaller circle.


I did that until I got all the way around.


Then, instead of using a basting stitch to ruffle the fabric, I simply bunched it up right as I was sewing it to save time and thread.  I would stop every few inches, scrunch up the fabric, sew, and then repeat all the way around the circle.  I used the line as a guide.  I had trouble taking a photo of it, so I just showed the ruffling part, but I really sewed it all along the line I had marked.


When finished one piece of fabric in the middle of one row of ruffles, I would add another by ruffling it with another piece so that they were slightly overlapping, making sure that the ruffles would hide the slit between the two fabric strips.

I added each inner layer by repeating all the steps.  I would measure where I wanted the next piece to lay, add marks around the circle, connect them, and sew along the line.

When I got to the outer layer, I flipped the whole tree skirt over, ruffled it and sewed it on the back side, and then flipped it through the whole back to the front and laid it flat.  I did this so there would be no visible stitches on the front, even around the small circle.

Here is the final product:


And with the tree (I had to sneak in a photo of our tree – I can’t get enough of it!):


I must say, for a couple hours of work and only $9 out of pocket, this tree skirt may be one of the best money I’ve ever spent!  I’ve been told a couple times that it looks store-bought, which I believe is a compliment.  I’m absolutely in love with it.  I hope to still have it and use it in a couple years when we can lay a little baby on there and snap away.  Can’t wait!

Have you gone the DIY route this Christmas because you can’t stand the prices stores charge for certain items?  What does your tree skirt look like?

Linking to: Centsational GirlHouse of HepworthsBower Power


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