Best Laid Plans…

My last few posts have been pretty heavy for me, so I am just going to focus on the craft this time.

However, I will say this craft is just like life.

You can plan for things, but it doesn’t always work out the way you planned.

This was my inspiration.


I wanted to make a board with the Royals emblem by doing this string effect.

So I got a canvas, pins, paint, and thread.


I painted the board blue. So far so good.

I cut out the KC emblem to trace it with pins. Again good.


Looks good right?

Then I spent 30-45 minutes poking pins into the canvas.



Everything is going great…then bam.

This is what happens…


What you can’t see from this picture is the pins collapsing on each other. Or the thread would come off if I moved my hand in the wrong way.  And this is how far I got in a half hour. Ridiculous.

So forgo the thread.

I push all the pins down, and then mulled it over that this wasn’t good enough either.

I go between the ideas of painting, sewing, and buttons.

I really wanted a 3D effect, so I nix the painting.

I didn’t really want to spend the time sewing. Poking the pins through the canvas was more than enough for me.

So I chose buttons.

After going to Walmart and Hobby Lobby, I found that yellow buttons are not easy to come by.

So I went to the jewelry section and used some flat beads from there. Success!

So this is what I finally came up with.


I really hope that my parents like it! Go Royals!

If you are wanting to try the thread thing, I would suggest doing it on a wood board with nails so the pins can’t move. I am going to try it again some other time. I just need to get over being frustrated about it first.

So if at first you don’t succeed, try again or go to a different section in Hobby Lobby.

Besides this project, I also made lotion and a hand scrub for some Christmas presents tonight.


They both are great, and they are super easy to make.

The lotion could be a little a little thick and greasy, but that could be my interpretation of it. And I had it all over my hands from making it and putting it in the jars so I probably used more than I needed.

Here are the instructions for the hand scrub:

Fill your container with 3/4 of the way with sugar. Then fill the rest with Dawn soap (the pink one with the Olay in it). Then you just stir it up until it is a paste. This easiness made me feel better about the string craft not working out nicely.

Here are the instructions for the lotion:

16 ounces of Baby Lotion

8 ounces of coconut oil

8 ounces of Vitamin E cream

All of these I found at Walmart.

Then you just mix it together with a mixer until it is whipped like icing.

So that is it for tonight! More projects to come soon!

Sidenote: Tom and I have been married for 18 months today! (Yep, I’m that person.)

You all should listen to track number 5 of Tyrone’s new CD “This Love.” It is called “Make it Through.”—This-Love-%28MP3-Album%29

Sorry I couldn’t find a youtube video of it, so this was the best I could do to show you this amazing song!

This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

This is a song I loved to sing as a kid. It was one of my favorites because you could shout “no” with permission and there were hand motions. And in my young age of wanting to be a choreographer, I loved having excuses for dance moves.

But this morning was probably this first time I really thought about the words of this song.

In the past couple of weeks, the news has been plastered with coverage on the two most recent mass shootings-Oregon and Connecticut. So many lives have been turned upside down by these tragedies. It saddens my heart to think about the families and the lives lost.

It also saddens my heart to see that the first thing that the news goes to is “Gun control is the solution.” Once again the debate has been spurred-yippee. I am not here to argue one way or another about whether guns should be more controlled or not. In my opinion, it doesn’t make a difference whether it is a gun or not. People will still find the means to be violent. Look at this knife attack that also happened on Friday in a school in China.

I have my own feelings on gun control, and I respect that you have yours. So I don’t really want to talk about whether we should regulate it more or not.

What I do want to talk about is that with these incidents the common denominator seems to be a human being. In my opinion, we need to look at a much broader issue than gun control and make it a human issue. Why do people think that this is their only solution? Why don’t we look at how someone becomes so desperate that the only thing they can depend on is a violent weapon? Why does a gun or a knife (insert other objects here), become their lifeline?

Recently, I heard a statistic that since Columbine in 1999, there have been 31 school shootings in the US. 31. This does not include shootings that have occurred in theaters, malls, churches, or elsewhere. 31 schools have been wrecked with this violence.

And yet, the only thing we can think of as an answer is gun control. Obviously that conversation is not working.

We are becoming more and more numb to these tragedies. I bet that within a few weeks, especially with the holidays, we will have other things to talk about and the photos will have subsided on the internet. Columbine happened when I was in 8th grade, so at times, I feel like I have grown up with great tragedy in the everyday life.

Let’s be clear, I am not trying to minimize what happened Friday. I am trying to honor those lives and ask why do we get numb? Why has it become ok that this is the new normal? Why is it so easy for us to hear about these violent acts and not think about changing how we act and treat others? Why do we move on so quickly? Why are we pessimistic and act like nothing can change unless our congress says there is stricter gun control? Do we no longer have power as individuals?

These children’s lives should serve a purpose and not be so easily forgotten. We should get our acts together and not just wait for someone else to make a change. Why can’t we lean on each other in times of need? Why are we so distant from each other that we need to depend on inanimate objects for satisfaction?

Have we all forgotten the lessons we learned in kindergarten? The lessons these children that were killed Friday were in the process of learning.

I don’t have any idea how to solve this, but I would like to propose a shift in the conversation to how we can treat each other better.

I see it everyday that we are more attached to electronics than talking to the person next to us. We are so distracted with what is going to happen next that we forget to live right now. We selfishly try to put our needs at the front of the line, and often times it may be at the cost of someone else. We are all guilty of it.

I do feel that we need to show more compassion to others and not be so consumed with our own lives. We need to open our hearts and minds to other people and show love. Yes that love may be painful, and we may not always get it back. It may be tough love. I read an article written about a mom who struggles with her own defiant son. He has gotten the rigamarole of diagnosis of ADHD, ODD, autism, etc. She showed her son tough love on more than one occasion to get him the help he needed. She understood that she may not be the best person to deal with him, but she loved him and was strong enough to say “I need help to keep my boy sweet and innocent.” We need to be able to say that and for it to be ok to do so.  And the world needs more love. People, not the guns/knifes/etc, need to know that they can go to another person for help. We need to feel safe with people.

During vigils, you see tons and tons of candles. The flame is supposed to represent the life that was lost.

And so I go back to the children’s song.

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

This song is about being an example. It is about showing love regardless of how others may respond. I also like how it emphasizes “my,” meaning that even one light can push away the darkness. We all can do something; we just have to be willing to DO it. We need to stop being bystanders. Bold statement here:  maybe if we ALL cared for others a little more and did a little more these atrocities would happen a little less.

I think these lights can be hope. They can be growth. They can be dreams. These lights can be anything. We need to stop letting people blow our lights out. There is so much darkness in this world, but we can help with one light at a time. As it says in the last line of the song- Let it shine, all the time, let it shine, oh yeah!

I will be the first to admit I could do more to be kind to others. So I am going to work on shining my light a little more and be a little more human.

Just think, what would those 6 and 7 year olds being doing right now? Who knows, but they would probably be happy playing with whoever. As a six year old everyone is your best friend, and everything is grand.

So I am not really sure how to move into my craft project seamlessly from this topic, so I am just going to say that I am done throwing my thoughts out there for now. I pray for the families and communities affected most directly. And I hope that these horrific tragedies challenge us to think about how we can be more human to others.

My craft tonight is another gift.

I used:

long wooden board

two colors of paint

small clothes pins

wood glue



I forgot to take a picture before I painted the board blue.


I then painted the letters. Then once everything dried, I glued the clothespins to the board.

I don’t have pictures on it yet, but the idea is to have pictures of the grand kids hanging from the clothespins.

I am really excited to give all of these gifts out! I hope they enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed making them!


When the Evening Comes

So I know I just wrote an entry about how I needed to not wallow and be sad, but I need to be honest about it. It still happens no matter how optimistic I try to be.

I spent the last week home with my family, and the question always comes “How are things going?” I was telling my dad and step-mom how ridiculously busy things had gotten in the last month. And of course they asked why, and I wasn’t really able to hammer down a reason, but more or less just started listing all the things that were in my schedule. My dad turns to me and says “You are doing what you do Steph-getting buried in ‘stuff’.”

I just kind of brushed it off at the time, but the more I thought about it on the many trips across KC and then back to Iowa, the more I had to acknowledge that my dad was right. Don’t you hate that?

Really, I don’t mind being busy, and it’s not all work stuff either. I have gotten more involved at my church, and I have really enjoyed that so far. I am training for another half marathon which requires some physical activity at least 5 days a week. SOIA basketball practice is starting tomorrow, so we have had some coaches meetings to prepare. These are all things that I feel keep me balanced, but do add some things to the to do list every week, if not every day.

Don’t worry, I still get my much needed me time and play time with Grace. (This entry is taking longer to write then needed because she and I are racing through the apartment playing our version of tag.)

Last week I was not able to talk to Tom much because of a mission they were completing that took them away from their base for a few days. So we went the longest we had gone without any communication-four days. 4 days doesn’t seem like much, but it can feel like an eternity. 4 days- I had to wonder about everything. 4 days of holiday goodness. 4 days of answering “How is Tom? And when is he coming home?”  So naturally, I just found more things to do while at home with my family. (I almost crocheted a whole blanket in this 4 day stint. I just ran out of yarn before I could. Ugh, only the border left.) Luckily, Tom was able to finally call on Turkey Day!

Anyway, back to my dad’s infinite words of wisdom. It hit me today that I am using my busy schedule to ward off some of the loneliness. Yes it took me a week to actually process and buy into my dad’s words.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, I am just trying to be as honest as I can. The feeling does strike me at the oddest moments. I feel it at my desk at work, in a meeting when an opportunity for a “That’s What She Said” arises, when Grace and I go for our “family” walks, but mostly when I am in the apartment when the evening comes along. In theory, if I keep myself busy, that is less time for me to wallow. I have to move on to get things done-Where is my beloved to-do list? I would assume that some out there think that I am just avoiding the feelings, which to some extent I do. But if you want to hear it, I do cry. I cry a lot. Sometimes it hurts so much, I am not sure I can get myself ready for the day.  Sometimes, I cry, and I am not really sure even why I started so I start laughing at myself. But I know that achieving these “to-do” lists will subside some of that loneliness. It helps me feel accomplished, even if it is just doing the dishes or clearing out my inbox. 9 months is a long time to get lonely, so I have to focus on the small gains. That is one of my strengths, and I need to utilize that to stay balanced. With a busy schedule, along with the people that surround me, I can get through it.

So yea, I may be extra busy, but at a time when Tom’s calls are not consistent, I need the schedule and tasks. It is my way of coping, much like my honesty here. So bring it life.
Even though there may be more tears than I have had in awhile, I don’t want to give off the impression that I am constantly in a state of depression. That couldn’t be farther from the case. I have a great life-a job that fulfills me, great  friends and family to keep me laughing, the best dog ever, and a wonderful loving husband who is willing to do just about anything for me. Do I wish that circumstances could be different? Absolutely. I think we all do to some extent. Do I regret any of the decisions Tom and I made to get where we are? Absolutely not. We are who we are because of the experiences we happen upon. We are a stronger couple because of our challenges and continue working through more. And I will say that I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. My partner in life is pretty dang sweet, and I am so proud of what he has gone through. For better or for worse.

Love endures forever. We are just going through the “er” part right now. “Forev” will come, and it will be awesome.

This song {Give It Time} from my favorite artist Tyrone Wells really explains all that I am feeling right now. So good.

And really these crafts help with that mindless busyness that also doubles as my me-time. Winning.

Tonight’s craft is a gift for my sister in law…So I hope you like it Em.

It is a canvas with lights in the back to highlight the words of Emily and Mark’s wedding song. It is a fairly simple project that took me about an hour to complete total.

The things you need:

  • paint
  • sticker letters
  • canvas
  • lights

I first put the stickers on the canvas. Neither kind stuck very well, so I was really nervous it wasn’t going to work out.

Once this is done, you just paint over it. I was lazy and bought spray paint, but I would assume actually painting with a brush would do well too. I used white paint, but I would be curious to see how a darker color would work for this.

I spray painted until I couldn’t see the pencil marks that I used as guides. It took a few coats to do so.

Then you wait for all of it to dry, then peel of the stickers.

Then I taped the lights to the back of the canvas. I think it looks pretty good! I don’t think the picture really does it justice.

I debate the rope lights vs regular strands on the back. The jury is till out on that one, but it would be really easy to change it. I think you could put it in a window too without lights during the day for the same affect.

Gobble till you Wobble

It is probably cliche that I am going to write a post about gratitude the week of Thanksgiving. Well get over it, it’s happening.

I have been wanting to write a message of thanks to the outpouring of support my family has received since Tom went overseas, but I just haven’t found the right words to do so. I am still not quite sure if I can express all of my gratitude to those around us as eloquently as I wish too, but I needed to say thanks somehow.
With the holidays coming up, I have been wondering lately how I am going to get through a time where family is the focus without mine present. I just kept focusing on what Tom and I would be missing out on. I mean this is the first time in 5 years he and I will not have been together for the holidays. I selfishly kept wallowing about the fact that my husband left me for the holidays. The feeling of being alone is highlighted exponentially at this time. Then I did something absentmindedly last week that reminded me that even though there are parts that stink about this, we have so much to be thankful for. (And really he didn’t choose to be gone at this time of year, so I needed to get over myself and stop being a Lifetime Christmas Special Movie.)

So Iowa State has an obsession with listserves. There are listserves for everything and everyone. Well this week, I had a Dawson’s Creek moment like when Joey sent a private message to all of campus. Fortunately, mine had positive effects instead of the public embarrassment Joey encountered.   I have been sending out emails requesting help with sending Tom and his unit items they need or want. This week I added all the appropriate groups, and pressed send. A few hours later, I get an email from one of my residents saying that she had some letters she hoped that she could give me to send in Tom’s packages. I know that I have talked about Tom and said things during Friley Senate (our hall council meetings), but I was still really confused about the timing of this email. Then I realized what silly thing I did. Instead of sending this request email to the Upper Friley staff, I accidentally sent it to ALL of Upper Friley. Yep, all 630 of them. I then started having several conversations/emails of people wanting to give letters or items. After just  a few days, this was the stock I got.


Here are students coming out to give items to people they have never met, just because I sent a very vague email about this dude named Tom. Seriously, I didn’t even mention that Tom was in the service, which apparently prompted many people to talk to their CAs on who Tom was. Double bonus-community builder!

Speechless and humbled. I still am not really sure how to react to all the donations.

Not only am I thankful for the students who have helped donate in this last week because of my slight of hand, but I am extremely appreciative for individuals who have helped over the last few months. Countless people have come and dropped off goodies for me to ship. I don’t even mind that now the post office knows me by name, and that they have to restock their custom forms and flat rate boxes every time I come in! Two other buildings here at ISU did Penny Wars to raise funds for donations and to help cover the cost of postage. Again for people they have never met; although, they did plaster pictures of Tom all over their hall desk. My sister-in-law did a request at the elementary school where she teaches, and has had similar reactions to sponsor Tom’s unit. Kindergartners are giving up their allowance to provide items for these soldiers. Isn’t that seriously the cutest thing?

There is so much bad press out there about the military, and I often feel that we are in our own little world sometimes. I feel that people forget those who are in the military and seriously misunderstand what they are doing for our country. And that sometimes, they just want a bag of Twizzlers to get them through the day (or the cold desert night). But this is the time that I want to say a big sincere thank you for the support that people have shown us in the last few months, even if it is just buying a box of easy mac or coordinating large scale efforts to show support. It reminded me at a time that I needed it that I have so much to be thankful for.

It’s nice to be able to send a little piece of home to Tom and his buddies, so thank you for helping make that happen. I am grateful for it all.

As for the family that I do get to see over the holidays-here is a little sneak peak of a gift I will be giving.

This Birthday Board project was the most in depth that I have attempted to do so far. I had to ask for help from my neighbor, Dick. And it took me a couple weeks to finish it.

You will need:

  • A long board
  • wooden letters
  • paint
  • wooden circles
  • screw eyes
  • jewelry circles
  • paint pen
  • a drill

First I had Dick drill holes into all the wooden circles and the long board. Thanks for the help Neighbs!

Then once this was completed, the painting began. This took me a couple days to complete. I didn’t realize there was so much to paint!

I painted each letter a different color, and I also did 4 of the wooden circles in each color. I used the thumbtacks to help make it easier to paint each item without getting paint all over myself. The wooden circles I painted both sides. Looking back now that it is complete, I could have dipped the circles into paint and covered the screws up completely with paint. That might have gone faster, but would have been a little messier and probably wasted some paint.

On each circle, I wrote someone’s name and the day of their birthday using a paint pen. (I just did the immediate family, so I made a lot of blank circles to accommodate others that this person wants to remember.)

I used some circle hooks that I found in the jewelry section of hobby lobby to fasten all the screw hooks together.

Once all the paint was dry, I glued the wooden letters onto the long board and added the white letters for the months of the year. I used some small foam letters that we had around as stamps.

So there is the final product of the family birthday board. And apparently on the Whitener side, I am the only one without a birthday month buddy.

It will be cool to see this grow as names are added!

Again, thank you for all the love and support as Tom and I go through this adventure!
Now it is time to celebrate the best holiday of the year because it is all about giving thanks, family and food! Gobble till you wobble friends!

The Can Can

Today is Veteran’s Day. It is the day that reminds most people that there are veterans around the country and in our past that have fought for our freedoms. Unfortunately, it may be the only day of the year that some actually think about what that means.

Our armed forces have protected our country for centuries, allowing us to live the way we do today. We, Americans, are pretty fortunate. The men and women who work for our military do it for many reasons, but whatever that reason may be it is still a selfless act to be in the service. Most people are not willing to give back to our country in this way. I won’t go into all the sacrifices hoopla; for that you can read other posts. I just want to challenge the thought of only honoring their valiant community service on just this one day.

So with this challenge I encourage you to think about how you give to others. Do you give back in whatever way you can? I believe that we all have the time and means to do something for someone. Maybe the way that you can honor those who are Veterans this year is to make a promise to do a selfless act yourself.

I have done a lot of reflecting this year with Tom’s new commitment and then watching my grandparents pass away on how I wanted to serve. I have always been passionate about service projects and make sure that it is a focus at my job as well as my personal life. I have my staff do service projects each semester, and I promote them in my building. One of my favorite things I have done is volunteer every year with Special Olympics as a basketball coach. This is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and I swear I get more out of the deal than they do. But thinking about these three individuals in my life and how they have selflessly given their time, I was impelled to do more. So my personal promise is to do at least one service project each month.

So far so good.

Yesterday, my staff and I went to Meals for the Heartland. This is a group that packages meals for villages in Africa. We spent only 45 minutes packing rice and protein powder in bags, and we still managed to make over 300 meals. The center itself made over 6,000 meals during this one weekend. We barely spent an afternoon there, but we still were able to make an impact.

It’s things like this that I believe we can all do to pay tribute to the freedoms we have. There are so many opportunities to help others, and they don’t have to be grandiose. I have had a lot of small opportunities in the community here that I have been able to give a little of myself. So I encourage you to get out there and serve one another, just as our Veterans are doing or have done for us.

I really enjoy this quote. It makes you realize that even if it is small it can make a difference always.

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

-John Wesley
And after you serve others, you can congratulate your good deed by doing crafts! Ok maybe that’s not for everyone.

My craft tonight is a present I will be giving away here soon.

It is pretty simple. You just need one of the glass blocks, glass beads, and a string of lights. I got a few different shapes of beads, and they come in all kinds of colors so you can get whatever your heart desires there.

I just hot-glued the beads to the box. It took me about an hour to do all the gluing. Then I stuck the lights in the bottom of the block where there is an opening.

And then you get this: