Elephant Invitations

Jan 28, 2013

My friend Heather's little boy is turning one in April and I got to make his party invitations. I haven't done a lot of graphic design for other people lately. Right after I started to fall in love with it I got monster morning sickness and had to put life on hold for a while. It felt so good to get back to it and create something for someone else to love. She told me the colors she wanted me to use and gave me this cake picture as her inspiration for his whole party. What do you think?

xo Sue

A Little Celebration

Jan 23, 2013

When I was 12 my amazing grandma passed away. Truly, this was one of the most incredible women I've ever known in my life. Every year since then we've had a tradition to write her notes, tie them to balloons, and send them to her up in heaven. 14 years in a row now! Well, Monday was her birthday. Aaron had the day off work and we had about a hundred things to do (I exaggerate only slightly). I had Grandma's balloons on my list of things we absolutely must get done but by the time I got to that point on my list the flower/balloon shop had already closed. Normally this wouldn't be so dramatic but since I've got all these extra hormones coursing through my body I couldn't take it. I had a little melt down over how horrible I was that I couldn't remember the ONE thing I really wanted to do that day and how I had failed. After a few crazy-lady tears Aaron told me we could send off balloons Tuesday because it would still be Monday in the States so it would still count. Leave it to my wonderful husband to save the day. The minute Aaron got off work Tuesday we ran to the store, bought balloons, wrote her Happy Birthday notes, and sent them off into the air. Seriously, we didn't even drive home. It was so windy that the balloons were gone almost immediately but it made me feel so happy inside that we'd upheld our tradition. As it turns out, my family back in the States hadn't been able to send off balloons either. Apparently there's a helium shortage in Utah (who ever heard of that?) and there were no balloons to be found. But they tried. And I tried. And even though Aaron, Baby Girl, and I were the only ones who managed to actually send the balloons off to heaven, I'm sure Grandma knew we were thinking of her and celebrating her special day.

On Childbirth Books

Jan 16, 2013

I am a reader and a planner. The day I found out I was pregnant I bought my first pregnancy/childbirth book. Within a week I had purchased several more. I devoured them one by one (mostly because I spent my first several months of my pregnancy sick as can be and had nothing else to do). Some of them I liked more than others so I thought I'd share just a few thoughts on them.

  • HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method- This is my favorite childbirth book I've read. It's where I've drawn most of my information (and inspiration) for the beautiful, pain-free birth I'm striving for. It's given me confidence in my body and my ability to give birth to my daughter. It also emphasizes your birth partner's role. If you're contemplating a natural childbirth (at home or in a hospital) I highly recommend this book. 
  • Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally- This book has been very helpful. I love that the author gives detailed exercises to prepare your body for childbirth. She also shares several different positions to help you while you labor. Active Birth is all about the non-traditional way (traditional being flat on your back in a bed) to give birth to your child. I now have so many ideas of positions to try when I'm breathing through contractions and trying to get comfortable while my daughter moves into the right position and prepares to enter the world.
  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth- This book is filled with inspirational stories of women who have birthed their babies naturally. I absolutely love to hear such positive stories because it gives me confidence and hope for my own childbirth. When you're trying to focus on the positive and keep the worries at bay these stories will help you to do that.
  • Spiritual Midwifery- This is another Ina May book and it was great too. It focuses more on home births (unfortunately that is just not an option for me but I wish it was) so it wasn't quite as helpful as some of the others. However, the beautiful, positive stories shared in this book were wonderful. A positive attitude and positive outlook on childbirth can make all the difference. This book encourages women to have an active say in their pregnancy and childbirth and also talks about including your partner. 
  • Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering- This book is wonderful. The author discusses what she calls undisturbed birth (allowing your body to do what it knows) and shows how healthy and safe it can be. She shares positive experiences from herself and others. But what I really loved is she doesn't stop with the birth. She continues on to talk about breastfeeding, sleeping, and other issues new parents face. After reading this book I realized it's time to start buying books on parenting too and not just pregnancy/childbirth. 
  • What To Expect When You're Expecting- This was my least favorite book I read. I enjoyed the details on the baby's growth and progression. I liked seeing what to expect from my body week to week. But I hated that it talked so much about everything that could possibly go wrong in a pregnancy. I felt that it was almost meant to scare or make you paranoid. The vast majority of pregnant women never have the complications that are detailed in this book. If you do have a complication the chances are very high that it's through talking to your doctor that you'll discover these things and not from reading a book that will scare you. If you are a first time mother reading this book please do it cautiously. Don't scare yourself into thinking there are 100 things wrong with your baby just because they're covered in detail in this book. The worry will do you no good.

The recurring theme you'll probably notice (with the exception of What To Expect) is the active, natural approach I'm hoping to take in Baby Girl's birth. However, I honestly believe that even if you're planning an induction, an epidural, or if you're in need of a c-secrion (which I may have to have) these books will be helpful to you. Even if you have these procedures the techniques taught in these books will help you get to the point where you have your epidural. No one goes in to have their baby without feeling some sort of pressure or pain (yay contractions!). So up until you receive the medication, you'll still need help breathing through it.

The second recurring theme these books emphasize is the role of your birth partner. It can be your spouse or significant other, your mother, your sister, your friend. No matter who it is, the role of your birth partner is important. Aaron has been an active participant in my pregnancy, has gone through in-home childbirth classes with me, and is fully prepared to be my active partner during the birth of our daughter. He's learned relaxation techniques to help me labor and comfort measures to make it as pain-free as possible. This is the beauty of it all, I don't have to do this alone! I am incredibly grateful that he's been so willing to jump in head first with me because this is a brand new experience for both of us.

I hope that these books will be of some help to my fellow soon-to-be moms out there who are looking for a little information. If you've read any particularly great books on childbirth or parenting I'd love to know what they are. I'm always open to learning more! Also, I wrote on my baby blog about my birth affirmations. The power of positive thinking is huge.
xo Sue

Broccoli Salad

Jan 14, 2013

This is the tastiest broccoli salad I've ever had, and I'm not just saying that because I'm sharing it on my blog! Every time I try a different broccoli salad I find myself comparing it to this one and it never quite measures up. For the last 7 years this has been my go-to salad for parties and dinners (don't fix what's not broken, right?). It's so yum and I always get asked for the recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Broccoli Salad
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 3 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, cut up
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crispy & chopped 
Mix mayo, sugar, vinegar, & balsamic. Chill for 3 hours. Marinate mushrooms in dressing 1 hour, chilled. Combine dressing mix, broccoli, onion, cheese, & bacon. Chill until serving. You can double or triple this recipe easily for bigger groups.
xo Sue

A Year Later and Still Wonderful

Jan 9, 2013

Right after our wedding I got about 50 pictures back (I've shared a few previously) but it wasn't until today (yes, a year later) that I got the rest of them. Obviously I love them- they're my wedding pictures! I debated on sharing them since it's been so long but then I remembered that you can never have too many wedding pics. I narrowed them down to a few favorites for now and I may post more later should the whim strike me. The very last one has been shared before, but it is my absolute favorite picture from that day.

For those that weren't around a year ago here's a quick recap. Aaron and I were married by one of my best friends in Eden, Utah. It was a small to-do with just over 40 people. We had a very short & sweet ceremony, followed by a delicious dinner, and lots of dancing. I loved having something so small and intimate because I felt like I actually got to spend quality time with every person who made the trip to our wedding. Aaron is from Missouri so we had quite a few out-of-towners, and Eden is in the mountains of Utah so only a few people didn't travel far to reach us. It meant so much to have our closest family and friends there. A few days before the wedding we had a huge party at my parents house to celebrate the wedding and let EVERYONE meet Aaron (I have over 100 cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents so it was a big thing). It was so much fun but a little overwhelming (I can't imagine for Aaron since he has such a small family!) and I'm glad our actual wedding was more low-key and intimate. Everyone has a different plan for their wedding and what they want. For us this was absolutely perfect.

Even a year later I still delight in looking at these pictures. I love the way that Aaron looks at me in them. He still looks at me that way. And when he does I feel deep down inside just how much he loves me.

PS Do you like my sprained ankle? That happened at my bachelorette party. Luckily the party was the weekend before the wedding so I had 5 whole days of healing before walking down the isle. Needless to say, I wore flats at the wedding.
xo Sue

A Photo A Day

Jan 8, 2013

This year I'm working on my photography skills. I may or may not do anything with it beyond my own enjoyment, but I really want to push myself and get better. I also want to become best friends with my camera. Right now we get into fights. Mostly because it doesn't always do what I tell it to. This year that is going to change. My camera will behave! My camera will learn to listen to me. My camera will see the world the way I see it. There is beauty around every corner. And I will learn to communicate what I want with my camera.

To help myself achieve this goal of honing my photography skills, I've started a photo a day project. One picture every day for 365 days. Also, the photo must be taken with my DSLR (since that is the thing I'm trying to bond with), no iPhone photos allowed! This is going to be hard, I can already feel it. I'm only on day 8 and already I'm wondering if I'm going to make it. It's nearing the end of my day and I'm wondering what I should photograph. Some days it's easy. Some days my subject jumps into view and I know exactly what I want a picture of. Other days it's very hard, I have to actually look for things to take pictures of. But I suppose that's all part of the challenge.

If you want to follow along with my photography adventure I've started a separate blog for it, A Photo A Day (clever, I know), where I'll post the different things I find. So far, this has been my favorite picture I've taken. 34 weeks and counting, my dear bloggy friends!

If you're doing a 365 photo challenge this year PLEASE leave me a link in the comments. I would love to follow you through it! It will also help motivate me knowing I'm not the only one.
xo Sue

Subway Art For An Awesome Husband

Jan 7, 2013

Christmas has come and gone but I want to share with you my favorite gift I gave to Aaron. It's probably not his favorite gift (because lets be honest, I rock at finding my husband just the right gift) but I know he loves it and that just makes me happy. Along with buying him fantastic things, I like to give him handmade/homemade gifts from the heart. I sat down with a pen and paper and started writing down words to describe him. Then I took those words and made my own subway art. Since I have a photo printer this gift literally cost me $.25 for the piece of 8x10 photo paper and $1.25 for the frame I found. If you don't have a photo printer at home you can go to your local Target/WalMart/Kinko's and get your subway art printed for just a few dollars. I don't have that luxury here in Japan!
If you don't want to (or don't know how to) make your own subway art then here's an easy trick. Go to Wordle, put in all the words you want to use, and click create. It will spit out custom made subway art in seconds. Then you can edit the colors, font, and style to fit what you're looking for. I started this project using Wordle but ended up wanting to make my own. Now any time Aaron wants to, he can look at this message made from his wife and remember what an awesome husband (and person!) he is.
xo Sue

I Love My Glasses

Jan 3, 2013

Since the beginning of my pregnancy my eyes have been much more irritable than usual. My contacts have been so itchy and I just haven't wanted to wear them. Usually my glasses are for early morning or late night only! I always thought I just looked silly in them. But Aaron convinced me that they looked cute (or he thinks so anyway) so I got some new ones for everyday wear.

I'm always a little wary of things that seem to good to be true (aren't we all?), but when I heard about Firmoo's first pair free program I was curious. Their glasses look so cute and when you get a pair of prescription (or non-prescription) glasses for free (all you pay is shipping!) it's hard to beat.

This red pair I selected is (sadly) not available anymore. It's unfortunate because they're so cute! There are similar pairs here, here, and here. None of them are this fun red I have, but almost every pair of glasses on their site comes in at least one color besides black. I had so much fun uploading my picture (they have a virtual try-on that was surprisingly accurate!) and flipping through the different frames to get an idea of what I wanted. In the end I was brave and chose red, telling myself that I'd already ordered a pair of black frames, so it was time to be a little more bold!

And speaking of already ordering black frames... before I was contacted by Firmoo, I had already found them on my own and ordered not one, but three pairs of glasses. These black frames are my favorite of those. They're very Harry-Potter-esque, don't you think? They make me feel just a little bit nerdy and I kind of love that. Because I am a little bit nerdy.

Oh, and can I tell you how much I love these sunglasses? I've never had prescription sunglasses. This is my main reason for always wearing my contacts. My eyes are super sensitive to bright lights and if I have glasses on I can't wear sunglasses, too. Sadly my eyes are not the kind that don't really need glasses for everything. I am blind as a bat without help. Seriously, I can't read my shampoo bottle in the shower if I'm not wearing my contacts. So the idea of wearing glasses out in the bright sunlight? Ick. Enter my new sunglasses. All I do is slip the normals off and these fabulous sunnies on and voila, I can see! If you've never worn glasses you'll probably think what I just said is very silly but hopefully some of my dear bloggy friends understand exactly what I mean. To make these even better, I got to choose the color tint (gray or brown) and how dark I wanted them (I chose the darkest they would go). They are perfect.

If you've been contemplating new glasses or sunglasses (remember, they don't have to be prescription!) you should definitely take a look at the selection Firmoo carries. Your first pair is completely free, all you pay is shipping (plus they do refunds/exchanges if you're not satisfied). You just can't beat that deal! They're fun to pick out, easy to order, GOOD quality glasses. And I absolutely love to wear them. It's the comfort my eyes have been craving. 

*We were given one free pair of prescription glasses in exchange for our honest review of the product. The other glasses pictured were purchased by Sue because that's how much she loves them. All opinions expressed are our own.*
xo Sue & Shelly