Posts tagged ‘Dan’

January 22, 2013

My Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

Yes I know this is almost a month late, but I’ve been wanting to post about some of the fun and interesting things I got this year for Christmas. This isn’t everything, but it includes some of my favorites.

Nail Polish Gifts

My mom, now super happy that I share her love of nail polish, got me all four of the colors I requested on my wish list. From left to right, I received Beyond Cozy and Leading Lady by Essie, and Casino Royale and Goldeneye from OPI’s James Bond Line. Both of the glitter polishes are really thick- you could probably cover your nail in glitter in one coat (two at the most). I had to really thin out the polish on the brush to make it into a thin shimmer layer over a solid color. Here is what I was able to get to with the Casino Royale on all my nails and Goldeneye just barely streaked over my highlight nail (keep in mind this was several days after initial application).

Casino Royale and Goldeneye

I tried Beyond Cozy later with a purple nail polish called Marrow from Butter London, and also found myself trying to thin it down to create a toned-down shimmer. I think this thickness makes the glitter polishes more versatile because you can thin it out or use it alone as a color. Casino Royale is also nice because it is a dark berry color that can work with a variety of outfits and settings (bright colors can be a little much at work for an elementary school teacher). I love my two owl nail files, too. Thanks mom!

Owl Painting

My dad, knowing my love for owls, bought me a painting from one of the guys he works with. I don’t have a lot of decor in my apartment, especially in my bedroom. I’m thinking I’ll hang this up over my bed, but I’m trying to decide whether to risk putting a nail in the wall (I am HORRIBLE with tools) or risk it falling on my head if I use two thumbtacks. Thoughts?

AJ checking out the Russian Candy

AJ checking out the Russian Candy

Polina, my Russian exchange student from when I was in 4th grade, got me TWO awesome gifts. I usually get little decorative Russian things, but since I took the time to go to Russia, she got some other ideas. I was very excited to open my first gift which was two bags of the candy I like there (certain colors were better flavors and yellow and blue were always the best!). As soon as I opened it and rediscovered my love for this candy, I felt sad that the tea I loved there wasn’t included. BUT WAIT. There’s a second package!

Tea from Russia

Yes, this canister is FULL of Kenyan Sunrise, a delicious black tea that got me hooked on tea to begin with. I found something similar to it here, but nothing can quite beat the original. I’m so excited to have so much of it, too, because now I don’t feel so pressured to ration it (it’s not available in the US).

Owl Listography Book

My friend Erin knows I love writing and making organized lists, so she took a page from the Listography books and created a book for me with topics to fill in, including my favorites, things I wish for, and experiences I’ve had. What made this book especially fun was that she filled in the beginning of some herself so that it is fun to read, too. Here’s an example (and yes- I may go beyond one page).

Page from Owl Book

Finally, since I have not yet outgrown being a kid, I did ask for and receive this from my sister and Dan:

lego lord of the rings wii

Oh Lego games…how I love thee. I am definitely not one to play video games by myself often, so I like the co-op feature of this game (a second player can drop in and out at any point as one of your partners). I also love that Lego games are not that hard. They are long enough that you feel like you accomplished something by the end, but they are not impossible or require a high level of patience. Since Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite movies, it seemed appropriate to snatch this one up. So far it has been pretty good. The cut scenes are a little weird because they use actual dialogue from the film (most of the Lego games just do a lot of miming to convey the story), and I’ve been a little confused at how some of the easy parts of the story are hard (I got stuck for like 30 minutes trying to jump a ledge to open Moria) and some of the complicated story parts (like defeating the Balrog) take little to no effort, time, or thought. I’ve only finished the Fellowship part, though, so we’ll see how the rest goes.

Thanks to everyone for the gifts listed above. You guys rock! If you want to see the gifts I gave my closest friends and family, you can check out my own DIY Gifts post.

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January 3, 2013

Tales of a Gift Giver: DIY Gifts for Any Occasion

Being a teacher isn’t the best way to save money on gifts, so I decided to get a little more creative this year and put a homemade aspect into a lot of my family’s gifts. Here is a rundown of my DIY gifts, and how to make them in case you get inspired ; )

For my mom….

Owl Piggy Bank

When my sister came to visit me in Tulsa, we visited Color Me Mine in Tulsa. This is a “paint your own ceramic thing” kind of place, and of course, I chose the owl. It’s actually a piggy bank, and I instructed my mom to use it to save up money for her next trip to come see me. We always end up going shopping, so I figured every time she is feeling stressed out from daily life, she can look at the equally stressed out owl and deposit change in it to save up for something fun later : )

For my sister….

book of awesome

Last Christmas, my sister gave me this book called “The Book of Awesome.” It contains short passages about the small things in life we should appreciate like driving around to see Christmas lights, finally remembering where we’ve seen someone before after staring at them forever, and playing Robin Hood with batteries in your remotes around your house (steal from the rich and give to the poor!). She not only bought the book, but also had marked it up commenting on various things, drawing illustrations, and coming up with her own Awesome things unique to us. I would randomly read it all year, and was absolutely *delighted* to find out they had released a sequel to it. I bought it, and also the holiday edition, and spent hours and hours marking each passage up and thinking up new awesome things. I was actually afraid she would buy the same thing for me, so I tried to add as much as possible and bought that holiday edition as a back up bonus gift, haha. Luckily, she got me Lego Lord of the Rings instead, so I was safe ; ) Taking a coffee table book and personalizing it for a friend or family member is quite awesome on its own, and it is an easy gift to put together.

For my dad….

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Confession Time: I watch a lot of “beauty gurus” on YouTube. I think I follow like 20 now??? It’s a bit ridiculous, but led to a great Christmas gift idea this year. Rachhloves posted a video a long time ago about DIY gifts, and one of them was a jar of notes. Essentially, you decorate a jar and write a bunch of notes with quotes, sayings, memories, etc. for the person to read throughout the year. Well, I am more fond of boxes so I went straight to my local Michaels and bought this basic black wooden box and some scrabble-like tiles (yes, I had the scrabble idea and assumed the store would have it- luckily it did). I spent about an hour arranging the tiles into the perfect way to state the purpose of the box and take up most of the lid. I did this while Inception was on TV, so I feel like I deserve extra points for processing the movie and putting together this gift. After the box was decorated, I just wrote all the notes- most of which are fond memories I share of growing up with my dad. I had bought a bag of randomly sized, colored paper from Michaels, too, which made the notes look a little more fancy and also had been cut down to size. I ended up making 52 so my dad can open one a week. Warning: This can be extremely fun to make and you may want to keep it for yourself by the end.

For my best friend Erin….

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I made Erin the same present as my dad except her box was very different. I bought a white cardboard one for her, and then spent forever cutting out quotes, cute pictures, and inspirational words to decorate the entire outside and inside walls of the box. The longest part of this project was arranging everything just so on each side of the box, especially on the top (because that has the biggest real estate and will be seen the most). I probably went through about 5 different layouts before deciding on one. This was done during the movie Elf, though, so my mind was a little more freed up than when I made my dad’s gift. Once I laid out all the magazine clippings, I painted Mod Podge ALL over the box to glue it down and create a finishing effect. It looked pretty awesome in the end. I used the same note paper to write Erin’s notes, and once again wrote 52 to make it last all year (though I did tease her that she wouldn’t be able to wait and I’d find her laying in a sea of opened notes, kind of like Monica opening all her wedding presents on Friends).

For my grandfather….

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My grandfather is extremely hard to shop for, so I had to enlist the help of 26 4th graders to put his gift together. We just finished reading Dear Mr. Henshaw the last week before break, and as a “final project,” each student wrote a letter to him telling about themselves and an aspect of the class. I took a picture of each student holding a “Hi Mr. Barr!” sign, too, so my grandfather could see all the cute kids who wrote the letters. I didn’t have time to do practically any editing, so the quotes from some of these letters are hilarious. For example:

“I’m ten years old. I bet you’re really old.”

“My name is Ethan. Do you like my handwriting?”

“Ms. Schrumpf teaches us a little bit too much social studies.”

“My brothers make fun of me. They tease me a lot, but life goes on.”

This was actually really easy to put together. I used a spare binder and some page protectors, had the kids paste their pictures on paper and decorate them like frames, and then stuck all the letters and pictures in the book side by side. And BAM. Present. I think if you’re a teacher, getting your class in on making a gift can be great- but only if you can tie it into a teaching objective (letter writing!). It’s a great way to share what you do with someone else!

For my brother-in-law….

grab and go popcorn

Dan is SO EASY to shop for because I can basically throw Dunkin Donuts gift cards at him and he’s ecstatic. However, Dan’s birthday is December 25th, so I run into the dreaded TWO PRESENT CONUNDRUM. Luckily, Dan and I share a love of fantasy movies, especially Lord of the Rings, that Katie isn’t really as into (and by not really into I mean doesn’t care at all). So, I made a homemade coupon in Dan’s Christmas card offering to take him to go see The Hobbit in any format (there are three ways to see it- basic, 3D, and 3D High Frame Rate) and a $10 snack budget. We went on New Year’s Day and saw the fancy 3D High Frame Rate one at the new and improved Downtown Disney Theater (I hadn’t been to the NOT Fork and Screen side in a long time and was very impressed with its multiple fancy snack bar choices and grab and go popcorn- as seen above). We’ve done movie outings together before (again-usually to the one’s Katie doesn’t care about). I know we saw Tron in IMAX 3D and some of the Harry Potter films, and it’s fun. Homemade coupons may be cheesy, but when a free movie outing is involved, they are golden.

So yes- gift giving this year was pretty awesome. I definitely had to step it up a notch to make up for the fact that I am poor, but it turned out to be really fun to put everyone’s gifts together (and go see The Hobbit!). Hope this gives you some DIY ideas for upcoming birthdays, mother’s and father’s days and the occasional anniversary : )

PS- For each of the kids in my class, I wrote a hand written card. I do this every year because I remember LOVING when a teacher wrote a heartfelt message that was unique to me. This takes me about four hours, but watching each kid read their fairly long message of encouragement, appreciation, and care is totally worth it. Plus, I always get a couple of cute notes back and I gain the trust of some of those hard to reach kids ; )

January 1, 2013

10 Reactions to The Hobbit

Today I finally saw The Hobbit.  Most of my friends and family know I am a huge Lord of the Rings Fan- I read each of those books in middle and high school before each movie release : )  But The Hobbit?  I kind of skipped over that book and never went back to it.  Fortunately, Peter Jackson couldn’t help himself and ended up returning to the franchise to make a film for this shorter prequel.  I bought the book a couple of months ago and slowly made my way through the first six chapters (the part I was told the movie covers).  Then I ventured out today to the theater with my brother in law, Dan.  Here are my 10 most important reactions to the movie.

1. Dan asked me after the movie was over “So, what did you think?”  One of the first things I said was “I’m pretty sure that crazy rabbit man was not in the book.”  Hahaha.  Was anyone else REALLY concerned that those wolf things would devour the rabbits???  During that entire chase scene I was like PLEASE DON’T KILL THE BUNNIES!!!!  I also am not entirely sure how Radagast planned on leading the orcs away because it seemed like he kept going closer to the group…..

radagast

2. Kili is easily the most attractive dwarf.  By like a billion attractive point difference.  All the other dwarves are silly, wise, and homely, and then Kili walks in and you’re like…how are you related to any of these other people???  I think we will secretly discover that he’s Aragorn’s brother in a lost appendix.

kinopoisk.ru

3. I really enjoyed the sad and dark dwarf hymn at the beginning (you know….the one that is mostly humming that they sing before leaving Bilbo’s house).  I can not tell you a single word of it, but I’ve been humming it dramatically the whole day.  I also liked the little musical nods to the Lord of the Rings score : )

4. I had a strong urge to throw things at the screen when Saruman showed up.  I didn’t know he was in the movie and I was like EEEEEEVVVVIIIIIILLLLLL!!!!  the entire time he was talking.  When Galadriel and Ganadalf had their own little convo in their heads and completely ignored him, I said a silent Yessssss! in my head.  No one cares about you Saruman.  Go away.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

5. Elrond came off super wimpy in this installment.  Besides being able to read weird moon writing, he was pretty much useless and had to call in people with longer hair to manage his affairs.  Apparently without Arwen to boss around or a king to scold for not destroying rings, he just hangs around and hunts stray orcs.  YAWN.

elrond

6. Did anybody else’s heart completely warm when they saw Frodo in his opening LOTR outfit?  I all but hugged myself in the theater- so happy to see what felt like “deleted scenes” from Fellowship.  I mean, now we know all kinds of things like who *really* put up the No Admittance sign!  It was all very revealing.

frodo hobbit

I painted the shot of him reading by the tree when Gandalf comes so when he runs off in the beginning I was like “He’s going to be in my painting!!!”

Frodo Painting

The painting I made based off the Fellowship of the Ring shot.

7. As soon as Balin was pointed out, I immediately was like “Awwwww, you’re dead now….WAIT, who is watching Moria????”

8. I highly enjoyed Bilbo’s comment to Gandalf about Radagast “Is he a very great wizard, or is he more like you?”  I kind of have that thought sometimes like what CAN you actually do Gandalf?  I mean besides a brief blinding light, breaking a rock, starting pine cone fires, and whispering to butterflies, he doesn’t really do much except ponder things in this movie.  Even in LOTR he doesn’t seem to have any big magical powers- just bravery and wisdom.

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9. I know this movie is supposed to be about Bilbo, but I think we can all agree, at least for this first installment, that Gollum totally stole the show.  He had all the best snarky lines in the film, was in the scene that felt most true to the book, and was the strongest tie to the Lord of the Rings films for fans like me.  Good job Andy Serkis.

10. And finally, just to drop some knowledge on you, the elf king who totally ditches the dwarves….

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is none other than Ned from Pushing Daisies:

Ned__Pushing_Daisies_by_ghost13warrior

I know.  MIND BLOWN.

Let me know what you thought of the movie.  I know almost everyone has seen it by now!

June 2, 2011

Moving On

I leave for Oklahoma in less than 48 hours. CRAZY. Most people in my situation would be focusing on packing and getting TFA reading out of the way (to be fair, I’m done reading, just haven’t finished all my follow-up writing assignments) , but of course, I got sidetracked with a special project.

Ever since I came home from Russia, I have missed Polina’s (former exchange student who I stayed with the whole time in Russia) brother, Nikita. He is only about a year and a half older than me and has already gone through a lot of the things I am going through now- moving away from home, finding a place to live by yourself, balancing a full workload, etc. Every day I wish I could talk to him about my anxiety, excitement, and fears about the big move, or just have him distract me with stupid jokes (when you can’t speak someone else’s language too well, hilarity will ensue). Unfortunately, we can just communicate enough through charades and a few words here and there in person, but written and voice communication won’t really be possible until we understand each other’s languages better.

I was sad about this for awhile after I got back from my trip. There was so much more I wanted to talk to him about, but instead it was off on a train to Moscow, and then later a plane back to Orlando. After a couple weeks of semi-moping, I decided to do something about how I felt by sending him a present. Choosing a gift was still tricky due to the language barrier, but eventually I came up with something awesome.

::Prepare for the Awesomeness::

One of the conversations I did have with Nikita in Saint Petersburg was how much he liked Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios when he had visited here in 2000. I combined that interest with our language struggle and developed an ABC book of things found around the park. For each item, I wrote down the word translated in Russian to hold up in the picture I took at the park. This way, the ABC book serves as an english tutor and a Russian/English dictionary. I had to get creative with a lot of the words (thanks to those who made suggestions for tricky letters!), and taking the pictures on Wednesday was a nightmare with the on and off again downpours. Me and Dan (my brother-in-law who took all the photos) kept running to get pictures in between storms or re-staging shots under overhangs to avoid messing up the Russian signs. It got a bit ridiculous, but once the rain let up, we were able to power through a good chunk of the remaining shots.

I put the pictures together in a scrapbook tonight, and also added some extra pages with messages in Russian, pictures from my time in Saint Petersburg, and a CD of primarily instrumental music from movies (most of the movies included I know he likes, and he really likes soundtrack music…this seemed like a good way to go given the lack of english in instrumental music). You can view a video of the completed project (including my translations) below:

I can’t tell you how proud I am of this book. It forced me to practice my Russian, let me do something nice for someone else, and also allowed me to get my feelings out creatively when I can’t rely on talking. Now that this is done, I can move on from missing Russia, the families I met there, and Nikita, and focus on what’s to come. Oklahoma? Let’s do this.