Friday, October 31, 2014

friday favorites

Happy Friday! Time for another round up of a few favorites! A bit random but here are some things that have become new favorites of mine lately:

Target Makeup Sponge. My sister told me about this and after one use I was sold. I might have even called it life changing. Which might be a wee dramatic but seriously, if you don't have one of these go straight to Target and get yourself one. 

Aroma Rice Cooker. Why I've spent my entire life without one of these is unknown to me. I used to think they were not a necessity but after making too many batches of unsuccessful rice I decided to take the rice cooker plunge. And I'm so glad I did because this thing is amazing! I got the slightly more expensive one ($30 instead of $20) since it had a brown rice cooker option and I was very pleased with how it worked!

Girls Like Us. While this isn't an easy read in the sense of the topic (human trafficking) I am really enjoying learning more about this issue. The author does a great job presenting the human side of human trafficking while giving great facts and stats. She will have you laughing, crying, feeling disgust and feeling hopeful. This book isn't for the faint of heart though because she goes into detail with some of the stories she shares but I think its good to learn what is really going on with this issue. {and there is a bit of language in this book but it is presented in an authentic manner and really captures the life and culture of her story + the girls' stories she is sharing}
Allume Keynotes. Allume is a woman/blogging/story teller conference that a few bloggers I follow were at last weekend. The keynotes are posted online for free. While they are geared towards "bloggers" I think a lot of what was said is applicable to all woman & the relationships in our lives. I liked watching these while cooking dinner & doing chores around the house this week!
This post on Buzzfeed. A little teacher humor for your Friday, all of which is totally spot on!

And a little birthday shout out to my favorite Halloween girl, Valeria! May year 26 be the best yet :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week & Weekend Snapshots

We've had some full and busy weeks & weekends lately. Grateful for time with family and friends + jobs we enjoy. But even more grateful for this weekend of no plans and time together.

Here are a few moments from the last two weeks:

Long Thursday night trainings are made better with a fun friend & co worker.

Wedding weekends are made better when you get to spend time with your sister you haven't seen in months. 

Saturdays are made better with a trip to the dog park, a walk on a hidden gem of a trail, and a date night out (go see The Good Lie. So much sadness, laughter, and redemption in this movie! We may have been the first ones in the theater only to be joined right before the movie started by 5 other people. But seriously, go see this movie.)

Here's to another week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make a Yearly Photo Book

One of my favorite things to do each year is make our yearly photo book. I do ours June to June since that's when the year starts for us anniversary wise. I always include the previous year's anniversary celebration/trip and start the next book with summer. (ex: June 2013-June 2014 would have pictures from 2013's summer and end with our 2014 anniversary celebration). I put all of our trips, holidays, etc in one book so it shows what the full year looked like for us.

*Note, we obviously don't have kiddos yet and I'm not sure how I'll make our books then. I'll cross that bridge when we get there!*

I always use Shutterfly because it's user friendly and is great quality. It has pre-made ideas and page layouts but is very easy to customize everything. I think the 8x11 is a great size for this type book and they are always having a sale so create your book & then purchase when there is a sale!

Here are a few tips for creating your book:

Work on the book over time. By doing this, you won't be overwhelmed and can remember more fun little details to include in your book. 

Include home tours. In our first book I put a little home tour at the end of the book with one picture from each room. In the following years I included a home updates page at the end with any changes we made. It's fun to look back and see how your home as evolved!

Use the same two or three fonts throughout the book. I like having one or two "header" fonts that are more fun or scrolly for labeling what the spread is about (ex: "four years together" was the header for our anniversary page) and then a clean simple font for writing out the details of the event.

Include the little things. I like having pictures of what books I was reading, small milestones, and even screen shots of crazy temperatures (like the time we had weeks of 100+ degrees!). These are fun things to look back and remember that you wouldn't normally print out and frame.

Write out the story of what happened + captions. Pictures are worth 1,000 words but having the story written down too helps you to include extra details and memories!

Have a "catch all" page. I like including a page of pictures that has random pictures from the year. This is a great way to include pictures that don't "fit" into a certain spread in the book.

Use embellishments. But don't over use them ;) The embellishments are a fun way to make a page look more finished but don't over do it to where it distracts from your pictures. Another fun way to "embellish" your page is to use text over your pictures.

Mix up your spreads. If you have a picture you really like then make the whole page that one picture. If you have a lot of pictures you want to include use one of the 5+ picture spreads. Or create your own to include all the pictures you want. When doing this look at the two pages as a whole and make sure the spreads "flow" (ex: on the left have three pictures with one large one on the left and two smaller on the right then on the right page one large picture on the top and four smaller on the bottom).

Take advantage of PicFrame. Or other similar picture apps. I like to do create picture collages (scale back the width of the frame so you see more of the picture) when I have a lot of pictures I want to include.

Do you use Shutterfly for yearly recap books? What tips would you add?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making a Vision Reality

It sure is a fun time to be a Baylor bear. After our huge win over TCU this past weekend I thought it would be fun to have Matt recap what it has been like to be a Baylor fan over the years. From the days of losing almost every game & having people leave the game early to cheering for a powerhouse team & even having non-Baylor grads watch the game and follow the team. Enjoy his "guest post"!

I want to start by giving you a piece of history about Baylor football. You may not know it now by watching the Bears explosive offense, which has taken on the reputation of #AmericasTopOffense, but there was a recent time where being a Baylor football fan was excruciating. The Bears football history started off strong in 1898 where they played as an independent before founding the Southwest Conference in 1914.

Southwestern Conference:
Baylor won the SWC championship 7 times, including 4 early victories in 1915, 1916, 1922, and 1924. Baylor would then go through a stretch of half a century before winning the conference title again, when the Miracle on the Brazos happened. Texas had won 7 straight conference championships and enjoyed a 24-7 halftime lead vs. the Bears, but the Bears dominated the second half, winning the game 34-24, leading to an improbably conference championship for Baylor and a historic season led by Grant Teaff. Teaff would lead Baylor to one more SWC championship in 1980. The last of 7 SWC titles would come in 1994, two years before the end of an era for the Southwestern Conference.

Big 12 Era Begins:
In 1996 Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M joined with 8 Big 8 schools to form the Big 12. This is where history really gets rough for the Bears. Before Art Briles took the helm in 2008, Baylor was 11-85 in the history of the Big 12. 11-85. I remember the days growing up as a Texas fan in Austin. When I looked at the schedule and saw Baylor, my assumption would be a 50 point blowout. It was marked off as a win before the year began. Leigh Anne and I were freshmen at Baylor in 2006, where the Bears were full of senior leadership by the quarterback Shawn Bell, wide receiver's Dominique Zeigler and Trent Shelton, and defensive back CJ Wilson. The Bears swept the Big 12 north that year but failed to make a bowl, something that seemed inevitable with the talent that year. If my expectations for disappointment weren't set properly my freshmen year, they were cemented my sophomore year as Baylor failed to win a Big 12 game. I thought back to my freshmen year where we discussed the 2012 vision where we would improve our school, including a goal to be nationally ranked by 2012. After 12 years of consistently being the laughing stock of the conference, this vision became the joke around campus.

Art Briles Era:
In 2008 when Art Briles hit the scene, there was little optimism, but if I personally had any, it was the quarterback he was bringing with him, Robert Griffin III. I watched his high school recruiting highlights wondering how we got this guy to come to Baylor. He had world class hurdling speed and could throw the football a mile. Griffin, who was recruited to Texas but not as a QB, was originally going to play for Art Briles in Houston. However, he would later switched his choice to Baylor to follow his coach. What a great decision that turned out to be. The 2011 season was the one that officially put Baylor on the map of #AmericasTopOffense when they began the year on Thursday night shocking the nation with a 50-48 win over 14th ranked TCU. This would officially launch the RGIII for Heisman campaign. The year had so many memories including the snapping of a 20 game losing streak to Oklahoma, who was ranked 5th nationally at the time and win vs. Texas who was ranked 22nd. Baylor went on to record a double digit win season along with its first ever Heisman trophy winner, Robert Griffin III.  After an Alamo Bowl win, the Bears ended the year ranked top 10 in the BCS standings.... one year before the 2012 vision predicted... Wow.

Baylor continued success after Robert Griffin III under Nick Florence where the team knocked off the #1 team in the nation, Kansas State, the first time Baylor had ever beaten a top ranked team. This was not just a win, but a whooping as the Bears beat the Wildcats 52-24. In 2013 the Bears with Bryce Petty at QB, led Baylor to its first ever Big 12 Championship, earning a trip to their first ever BCS bowl.

Baylor has enjoyed a nice start to the 2014 season in the house that Briles built, the beautiful Mclane Stadium on the Brazos River. The Bears are now 6-0 after a historic comeback Saturday night vs 9th ranked TCU. It was the first match up of top 10 teams in over half a century in Waco. The Bears found themselves on the wrong side of a 21 point margin with 11 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. The Bears ended the game on a 24-0 run, taking its first lead of the game on a field goal as the clock hit 0.0. Wow.

As Baylor fans, we have gone from the pit of the Big 12, to a team that expects conference championships and hopes to contend for a national championship. We have been called #AmericasTopOffense and also #WideReceiverU. In the Briles era, he has already sent receivers to the NFL enjoying incredible success with Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams. Briles has a young freshmen star KD Cannon who could be the best of them all. Thank you Baylor, for the 2012 vision. How amazing it is when a seemingly impossible vision starts to shape into reality. It is great looking back, but even greater looking forward!

We compete, we win, we are Baylor!