Posts tagged ‘Lord of the Rings’

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….


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….


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….


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…..


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.

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.


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.


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.


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….


is none other than Ned from Pushing Daisies:


I know.  MIND BLOWN.

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

August 3, 2012

20 Movies to Look Forward to Before 2012 Ends: Part 2

Yesterday I started listing all the movies we still have to look forward to this year, even though Summer blockbusters have come to an end.  Like yesterday, I’ve listed all the movies by release date, included a brief description, and embedded the trailers for you to check out the movies yourselves.  Enjoy the rest of the list and let me know what movies you are looking forward to this year!

November 9th

Skyfall: The next big film in the James Bond Series.  I don’t even remember what the last one, Quantum of Solace, was about, but I’m sure I will end up seeing this one anyway.  I would try to explain the premise, but you can just watch the trailer for yourself.

Anna Karenina: For all you period piece and book lovers- this is the movie for you.  I’ve never read Tolstoy’s novel, but I know it’s about a woman who is married to a government official while having an affair with a Count.  She considers leaving her husband to be with her lover, but has to deal with the backlash of Russian society in doing so.  This movie has the same lead (Keira Knightley) and director (Joe Wright) as one of my top favorite movies- Pride and Prejudice.  This makes me think I may just like it ; )

November 16th

Breaking Dawn-Part 2: This is the final installment of the Twilight series, so non-fans should be happy it has come to an end.  I’m a fan of the series, but even I’m ready to move on after this.  In this last movie, Bella deals with becoming a vampire, the Cullens prepare to fight for their family against an army of vampires, and Jacob *finally* gives up his crush on Bella- in favor of her daughter instead.  Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

November 21st

Silver Linings Playbook: Two recovering mental cases, played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, find solace in each other despite their obvious quirks.  I haven’t heard much about this movie, but I found the trailer endearing enough to add to my movie list.  Besides the leads, the move also has a strong supporting cast, so it may just be a hit.

Life of Pi: I still remember reading an excerpt from this book in high school.  I thought it was so intriguing, but I never ended up reading the whole thing.  Perhaps I might just have to grab a copy before this movie gets to theaters.  In Life of Pi, a young man gets stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger (upon more research, it seems other animals are with them, too) after a ship carrying his family and their zoo animals sinks.  The story follows their struggle to survive in the middle of the ocean.  The trailer already looks beautiful.  I’m hoping it’s a good adaptation for fans of the book.

Rise of the Guardians: I’ve been seeing trailers for this animated movie for awhile.  The story follows how Santa, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman have to team up to fight off an evil spirit that threatens children around the world.  It sounds kind of weird at first, but the trailer makes the movie seem more like an animated movie for adults (like Shrek– which had a lot of humor for the over 12-year-old crowd).

December 14th

The Hobbit-An Unexpected Journey: Do I really need to convince you to see a Peter Jackson directed prequel to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (three of the greatest films ever created, in my humble opinion)?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  This is another book-turned-movie I need to read.  I made an effort to read all the individual Lord of the Rings books before their films, and I’ve heard The Hobbit is a much quicker read (apparently it’s written as a kid’s book).  What I do know about The Hobbit is that it follows the story of Bilbo, including his big adventures with Gandalf and how he came upon the One Ring.

December 21st

This is 40: This is a sort-of-sequel to Knocked Up, only the story follows Debbie and Pete (the sister of Katherine Heigl’s character and her husband).  The couple is struggling with getting older and tries to stick to some resolutions to improve their lives.  Knocked Up is definitely not one of my favorite movies, but this movie looks funny enough to make the trek out to the theater.

Monster’s Inc 3D: Just like Finding Nemo, I’m really excited that this movie is coming back to theaters.  I think it is even more exciting because the new Monster’s Inc movie-Monster’s University– is coming out next summer.  This will be a nice refresher for those who haven’t seen the movie in awhile before seeing the prequel about how Scully and Mike met at college.

December 25th

The Great Gatsby: Okay, I’ll admit it.  Besides hearing the title before, I know absolutely nothing about the plot of The Great Gatsby.  However, I was so excited to hear Baz Luhrmann was directing (because I love Moulin Rouge!) and that Leonardo DiCaprio was starring in it (Leo is usually a sign of Oscar nomination potential).  Check out the artsy trailer for yourselves, and try not to immediately want to buy a flapper dress afterwards.