Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Flashback

Hey Everyone,
Sorry for the lack of posting this month. We've all been really busy. I got engaged!! Yay! So since then I've been in wedding planning mode. It's been somewhat stressful because I want to get married in September, which means I'm about 6 months behind if I go by most wedding checklists. Luckily I've found my dress, which is the most important thing, right?
Anyway, I was looking at some old pictures the other day and I found some old Easter pictures from when we were kids. My great-grandma was a seamstress and made many of our Easter and Christmas dresses so I wanted to share some of the pictures I found and say Happy Easter to everyone!

My family in Little Rock for Easter in '93
Alexia, Brittani, and Me in '94
This is my little brother Nathaniel.
My grandma didn't make his outfit,
but I just thought that he was so cute
so I added his picture too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ladybug Baby Quilt

Hey guys!  It’s Brittani!  I want to show you a quilt I did last week.  My husband’s cousin had a baby in February.  We wanted to do the baby shower the month after the baby was born since Shae lives 2 hours away, so we would be able to see the baby at the shower.  I was thinking about what I wanted to get Shae for a shower gift and decided to make a quilt that matched her nursery theme. 
Shae decorated her nursery with a theme of ladybugs and sunflowers.  I set off to the fabric store to find something that went along those lines.  I found ladybug fabric that was yellow and paired it with red with white polka dots, black, and yellow fabric.   

When I got home I started planning my design on paper.  After I measured and cut the fabric, I laid it out on the floor to see how the design looked.  This is an important step because the design you originally draw may look completely different on paper than in fabric.  I redesigned, and recut according to the new design. 
 I began machine piecing the individual blocks and attached the white borders.  I decided to machine quilt the baby blanket because it was little enough that I could do it on my machine and it would be a lot faster and less expensive than having someone else do it for me.  I just quilted straight lines along the seams of the blocks.  When I got to the binding, I chose to reuse the red and white polka dot fabric to make it stand out.  I learned a lot when working on this quilt.  I tried to do rounded edges, but this was very difficult because the fabric was not very stretchy.  All in all, the quilt came out pretty good and was a great gift for a baby shower.   I might try a rag baby quilt next time!
 This is the first quilt I have done completely on my own.  I worked on a quilt with my grandma with Razorback fabric, but we sent it to a lady to machine quilt it.  I already have another quilt project ready to start.  I will post that sometime later this year after I finish.  It will be a much bigger quilt using a Disappearing Nine Patch pattern.
I think she liked it!
Michael's cousin, Shae displaying the quilt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A 50s Surprise Party

A couple years ago our parents turned fifty years old and their birthdays are only a week apart so we decided to throw them a surprise party. Since they were born in the 1950s and my mom loves the music and pop culture from that decade, we thought it would be a great theme for their birthday party. 
My parent’s birthdays are in July so we started planning in March. First we made a list of all the people we wanted to invite. I made the invitations for the party on my computer using Adobe Illustrator and then printed them at Walmart for about 10 cents an invitation.
Once we had the guest list down we divided out the responsibilities: food, decorations, and games. Most of the food was bought at Sam’s. We had mini corndogs and veggie trays. Also we had root beer floats served by some of Alexia’s friends who volunteered to help out. The cake we bought from Shelby Lynn Cake Shoppe in Springdale, AR. We had a small, tiered cake and a larger sheet cake. This is a great way to save money when serving cake to many people since cake tiers can be costly. I love the way they turned out!
The venue for the party was free since we had it in our church’s gym. Although it might not have been the loveliest location, I think we did a pretty good job with decorating it. For the entryway, we hung old records from the ceiling at varying lengths. We just went to a thrift store and bought up a lot of old ones that were the cheapest we could find.  On the tables were yellow and pinks tablecloths bought at Wal-Mart. I used some extra records as table decorations for half the tables by cutting a Styrofoam ball in half and cutting a slit in the top to hold the record. We painted the Styrofoam teal with Acrylic paint to match our color theme. On the other half of the tables we had balloons that were held down with mini jukebox weights that we had found on the Internet.

On the large wall of the gym were black musical notes that we had cut from butcher paper rolls. We also cut out a jukebox shape that we painted like the jukeboxes on the tables. This was great for covering a large area of wall.  To do these we printed off graphics onto overhead sheets, then used one of our friend’s, who is a teacher, overhead projector.  We traced the shape with pencil and then cut them out. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work.
Ok, maybe I'm just a little dramatic.

To entertain our guests we had a slideshow of pictures depicting our parent’s life. Also we made a trivia game about our parents.  We passed out questions involving my parents and to get the answers, we had our parents answer them in front of everyone. This led to some funny stories at times. We also had a photo booth set up for people to take their picture. We found a fifties car cutout in our color scheme that we placed on a small table. All we needed for the backdrop was a white sheet that we hung up with thumb tacks. When my parents sent “Thank-you” cards, we sent the pictures they took in with the cards.
Brittani and her husband, Michael
trying out the photo booth.
It was a lot of fun keeping the surprise from my mom and dad. They had no clue what we were doing. We had planned a fake cookout at Alexia’s house and then told them once we were there that we had a gift for them that we had to drive to so we blindfolded them and drove in circles for a while before taking them to the party. This gave the rest of us a chance to change into our poodle skirts (Alexia even made her own!). We had outfits laid out for our parents to change into at the party so they weren’t left out. Our parents are blessed to have many friends. A lot of them even traveled from out of town to be there. My grandparents stayed at Alexia’s house without my parents knowing and left early before my parents came over for the “cookout.” It was fun surprising my parents and I think everyone had a great time!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bruce's Baked Beans

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I thought I would share a favorite family recipe that is great for picnics, grilling out, or potlucks.  We call it Bruce’s Baked Beans because my uncle Bruce introduced this recipe to us on family vacation and it was an instant hit!  This recipe is super easy to make and tastes much better than ordinary baked beans from a can. 
You will need:
  • 1lb. ground beef
  • 3 cans of pork and beans (I did one big can that was about the same as 3 small cans)
  • 1 can of northern beans
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • ½ cup of honey
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. of mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 bell pepper
First you will need to dice up the onion and bell pepper.  Put the diced onion and bell pepper in a pan and sauté them until the onions become translucent.  Add the ground beef and cook until there is no pink left.  (If you look at my pictures, you might notice I changed pans…save yourself some cleanup and make sure your pan is big enough to fit all of the ingredients in the end)  Drain off the grease if there is any.
Next you will add all the remaining ingredients and heat it through.  Transfer the beans to a 9”x13” pan (you can use a foil pan if you are taking it to a party) and bake it for an hour in the oven at 350°.

This dish makes me very excited for summer parties and warmer weather! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why Wear Green?

This morning I got dressed, hopped in my car, and went to work. When I got to Walmart I noticed everyone had on green shirts instead of their usual blue. I however, was wearing blue. I had completely forgotten about St. Patrick’s Day, but then I got to thinking, why should I wear green anyway? So I started thinking about this interesting Irish holiday and why we celebrate it here in America. I know all the traditions like wearing green, drinking green beer, kissing people because they’re Irish…  but where did it all start and how did we get to this?
First I wanted to know who was St. Patrick and why is there a holiday to celebrate him? After a quick search on the web I found an informative article on the History Channel website. St. Patrick was born in Britain but was taken as a slave to Ireland. Later he escaped but returned when he saw a vision in a dream telling him to go back to Ireland as a missionary. He was able to convert the Irish people to Christianity by adapting many of their pagan customs. For example, the native Irish people worshiped the sun, so St. Patrick combined the cross and the sun symbols into what we recognize as the Celtic cross.
What started out as a Catholic holiday to celebrate the conversion of Ireland from paganism to Christianity has been altered quite a bit over the years. When Irish immigrants came to America they celebrated by dressing in green and having parades. Since St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, Irish Christians indulged themselves on this day with a feast to commemorate St. Patrick. Perhaps this is how overtime many have come to view St. Patty’s Day as a day of indulging in drinking lots beer. Although the celebration is not exactly what it used to be, I think St. Patrick is deserving of his own holiday. 

So in honor of St. Patrick, here are a few of my favorite green things.
What are some of your favorite green things?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In case you didn't know......

Hey Everyone, I’m Alexia.  The oldest, loudest, most social child of the familyJ  (Hayley and Brittani said I could claim all of those characteristics).  So here’s a little about me.  I graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2007.  My original plan was to be a Spanish teacher, which I did for a year and will probably do again some time in the future.   Spanish is how I met my husband. He was a Spanish major and I was a Spanish minor.  We both have a love for all things Spanish and studied for a semester in Spain together.  Here's some pictures from Spain. 
Me on a mountain in Northern Spain
Derek and I 

Some of the architecture in Spain.  I love that everything there is old and has history.

Derek and I at a hotel overlooking San Sebastion
Just one example of the great food and drinks in Spain

Us road tripping through Spain with Derek's dad

Derek’s a pretty cool guy.  We are complete opposites and it works out pretty well.  We got married July 5, 2007 and it was during and after my wedding that I realized there was so much more that I could have done to make it more personalized and DIY.  Unfortunately by that point we were too far into it all.  This is the disadvantage of being the oldest; everyone gets to learn from my mistakes.  Since then all three of us have loved trying to make events, parties, and hangouts fun, personalized, and special. Here's a couple pictures from our honeymoon.

The thing that dominates the rest of my time is my job.  I work at Fellowship Bible Church, and get paid to hang out with 7th-9th grade girls.  It’s the best job I could possibly pick!   I would do it even if I didn’t get paid, so I obviously love it.  I used to say that I wish I could be a full time volunteer. Here's me and my cell group girls from our mission trip to Guatemala last Spring.  
Julia, Kristen, and I cleaning the bathrooms

Carrying cinder blocks to help build this....

Going to a local restaurant our last day to experience a little Guatemalan culture

Anyway, I have always loved making crafts, painting, drawing, and decorating, whether for VBS as a kid or the craft night that I have at my house every once in awhile.  Obviously once I got married and had my own house I got to put all my talents into making our house a home.  My sister-in-law, Alexis, is always saying that I change stuff around in my house all the time.  I think it’s because I view my house a constant growing and changing process.  So I’m hoping to share with you all some of my projects. 

I like to take every holiday and make it special, however I don’t like to spend a lot of money doing this.  Derek and I are on the Dave Ramsey plan, so I have a budgeted envelope amount every month.  I have to be really in love with something or find a really good deal to buy it.  Well that’s enough for now I’m looking forward to sharing what we are doing with all of you.  I'll leave you with the most recent picture of Derek and I that I could find.  It's us at a Razorback game last fall.

Adios, Alexia J