December 19, 2016

choosing happiness

The last few months I have felt like all we do is wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, hang out and go to bed. It's been that every day slump that we've been stuck in. I'm so grateful for the holidays because it has taken us out of the slump and reminded us that we need to make a stronger effort to get out and enjoy life! We've been so blessed to have time and flexible schedules to hang out with friends and family. I recently changed my schedule at work so that now I am only working in the mornings. That's really opened my schedule up and given me the opportunity to serve in church and have time for others.

As I've mentioned before, living in California is no dream of mine. I enjoy open roads, trees (lots and lots of trees), corn fields and basically, just wide open spaces. Traffic, beaches, the hustle and bustle of California are things that I may never really adjust to. What I've come to realize recently, and yes, it's taken me a little while, is that I cannot control that right now! I have no control over those things that I don't like about living here. However, what I do have control over is my happiness. So, in realizing that, I've decided that I need to focus on the things that I can change and focusing on things that I do enjoy about living here. Can you even imagine how much happier I've been? I know, shocking. 

This weekend was such a blessing for me. I was able to spend some quality time with Ryan as we snuggled and watched Elf with hot cocoa and chocolate coated popcorn by our lit up Christmas tree. It sounds just as cozy as it was! I was able to visit some of the wonderful ladies I've been assigned to meet with once a month in church. It's called Visiting Teaching and it is truly amazing. I love it! We are given a companion, in which mine is a dear friend (and neighbor!) and we are assigned a few women in our congregation to visit with and check on. It's a great program and I feel the blessings from serving in that calling each month. 

I was blessed to have a girls day out with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law and my brother-in-law's girlfriend! We started the morning out early with breakfast at Swammi's. We went and got our nails done at a small little salon in Escondido and just talked and laughed and got to know each other better. It's so nice having new family members who are just built-in best friends. I wouldn't even say it's forced because we get along great and I love them so much! 

In the afternoon, Ryan took me to a concert in San Diego. For King & Country was playing at Rock Church and it was AMAZING. They are a Christian Rock Band started by two brothers from Australia. They are extremely talented musicians and have received two grammy awards! The concert was amazing and they were really connected with the audience. The whole band came into the audience to perform two songs and they had a great mix of Christmas songs and their original music. At first, they started by singing four Christmas songs in a row and I was about to freak out if I didn't hear some original music! But they eventually played some and the performance was amazing! 

I kicked off the evening with a ladies-only party held by a friend from church. We did the whole shebang with food, dessert, presents and mingling. It was a lot of fun and really good for me. The whole day was so busy but with all great stuff! 

Anyways... wow. I really went off topic. Basically I had the best weekend I've had in a really long time so it was worth going off topic for! Getting back to choosing happiness and whatnots, I was reading some material from our church website,, and was really touched by the words from our church leaders. President Erying, of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, "It is only through following the Savior that any of us can find peace and serenity in the trials that will come to all of us." 

No matter our circumstance, we can always choose to be happy. My mother-in-law is a beautiful example of this. She is faced with huge trials each day but through it all, she keeps a smile on her face and means it. She makes time to serve others around her and does it with sincerity. I admire her and her devotion to choosing her happiness. She isn't relying on someone to do it for her or her circumstances to define her happiness but rather, simply chooses without conditions, to be happy. 

No one can truly be perfect at choosing happiness. Like everything in life, we try, we fail and what we do from there is what truly defines us. Do we continue to get up and try again or do we stay on the ground and postpone our progression? That is what matters. No one or no thing can define our happiness. Just as President Eyring said, we can only find peace and serenity in the trials we face by following the Savior [and His teachings]. 

I hope each of us, especially as this new year approaches, finds a way to choose happiness everyday.

December 13, 2016

tips + tricks: diy holiday frame

Today I wanted to share with you one of the easiest DIY Christmas decoration ideas that I have ever come up with. Now, that's not to say that someone else in this very big world has also come up with this idea. Because I personally did not find this decoration on the internet but just from my own creative thinking, it makes me proud and happy to see my ideas come to life!

The Scrapbook Frame is simple, affordable and adorable! The whole idea of flipping my home upside-down for the holidays is overwhelming. Changing all the vases, putting up the tree, moving around my every-day-decor... just the thought of it gives me an anxious feeling! This decor craft is perfect for adding to your holiday or non-holiday decorating without the stress of money, time or even too much effort! 

I remember the moment this idea came to light. I was walking around Hobby Lobby in Edmond, Oklahoma when I was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a Monday afternoon and I was walking through the scrapbooking aisles with my companion. Looking through the holiday papers, I kept thinking they looked like something you would find sold as decor in a store. They also remind me of designs you can find on different holiday crafts. I thought, these are pretty enough to put on my wall by themselves! 

Grabbing more than I needed, I took those 12x12 scrapbooking pages home to our apartment and thought about how I could display them for the holidays. Of course, it wouldn't be very pretty to just tape them onto the wall, so a 12x12 picture frame could liven it up and make it look much more expensive than it is! And that was that. I started to put scrapbooking papers in my 12x12 frames and put them on the walls or on a side table and I've loved the way it looks! It's amazing what you can find at the craft store for 35¢.

12x12 Frame With Matte Insert
(I get mine at Hobby Lobby or Michaels with the 40% off coupon)
Scrapbooking Paper of choice

 I will normally have paper in my frame, similar to what is shown above, during the rest of the year. There are scrapbooking papers for almost every type of design, color, theme and image. The thing I love most about this project is that there are only two items you need and it costs, on average, about $10-$12! If you are really getting into the simplicity of things, you could also dig around a few thrift stores and I'm sure you will be able to cut that price down in half. 

Crafting and DIYing is something I really enjoy. Challenging projects are ones that help me to improve my creative thinking and help gain more experience with crafting tools. However, when I think of or see an easy and simple craft, I jump right on it! What I love most about this scrapbooking frame is that there are so many different approaches you can take. You can decorate the sides of the frame, use a different matte behind the paper, etc. The more possibilities within a craft, the more fun! For example, these are the pages I used for Thanksgiving & Halloween!

So, experiment and play with different crafts - make them your own! That's what I try to do with these projects. Somehow it makes everything so much more enjoyable and rewarding.

December 7, 2016

christmas decorations

There are a lot of memories I have of my mother coming down stairs in our home in Indiana and she would ask, "...what are you doing, sweetie?" That was a question thrown around a lot while I was growing up. I would constantly be rearranging our living room, the office or my bedroom. Most of the time, without my mother's permission!

She was typically very kind about it and found it endearing to see this little 7-year-old body grunting as she pushed a 200+ lb. sofa across the living room. These habits grew as I got older and led me to study Interior Design at LDS Business College in Salt Lake City, UT. It's so interesting to look back and see how the things that you did as a child, reflect into whom you have become as an adult. 

My habit of moving things around a lot has been kicked down quite a bit since we moved into our apartment. The limited space doesn't allow me to do very much rearranging. To let out my inner OCD, I focus on changing the decor and going with the seasons. I love decorating and seeing how I change the colors or wall decor. 

This time of year makes decorating extra fun! Everyone has their own style and ideas on how to bring the Christmas Spirit into their home. For a long time, I liked decorating my teenage room with the traditional bright greens and reds. That felt like Christmas to me. It reminded me of visiting Santa, caroling and making Christmas cookies with my mom until midnight on Christmas Eve. 

As I've gotten older and my style has developed and changed, I really enjoy experimenting with different styles and colors. The dark reds and variations of greens look beautiful with gold, beige and white. I chose these colors not only because they are a more mature take on the traditional bright colors but in the tree light, I love how they warm up the room.

Eventually in our life, I would love to have a really nice nativity scene in our home. One of the Willow Tree ones would be so beautiful but right now, that is so out of our price range and we would have no where to place it. These nativities will do for now! 

The small one was a gift from my parents while I was on my mission. They sent it to me that Christmas and nothing made me happier than to have this sweet little nativity scene on my desk to look at every day. The larger one, I made while I was on my mission, that same Christmas! We had an activity at the church and painted our blocks and applied the vinyls. 

I chose to display these nativity scenes on our coffee table because they are the first things you see when you step into our home. The Christmas season is all about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and I wanted our decorating to be a reflection of that. 

This wreath was so simple and inexpensive to put together! Besides the cost of the actual wreath, it was only $4 for the materials. The flowers, pinecones and deer are from the Dollar Tree. I don't even care what people say about the Dollar stores - you find some amazing things in there! I made the "JOY" sign and the burlap you can buy anywhere but I got mine from Hobby Lobby. 

Wreaths haven't always been my favorite way to decorate however, coming home to this on our door brings an immediate smile to my face! The bright red totally contradicts what I said about the bright colors earlier but I made an exception for our door! You can do anything you want with a wreath. The possibilities are endless and I love that everyone can put their personal twist on theirs! 

 Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree 

What lights up a room and brings in the Christmas Spirit more than a beautiful Christmas tree?! Almost every night since we've put it up and decorated it, the lights in the apartment are turned off and those beautiful little lights around the tree get to make their debut!

Ryan and I decided to start a tradition for our little tree. Every year, we will get a new ornament that sums up our year or our marriage at that time. This year, we went out and found an adorable little wood ornament. I loved it at first sight mostly because the style is very me but once I really looked at it, I realized it was very us. I've had a hard time living here but Ryan has done everything in his power to make it my home. Regardless of how I feel living here, this is where we met, dated, got engaged, married and started our life together. California has truly grown on me and is now, my home.

These are not unique ideas on how to decorate your home... in fact, these are the most basic and traditional ways to do so but that's what I love about Interior Design. It's about what you want in your home... what makes you happy! I hope everyone has enjoyed bringing the Christmas Spirit into their home and decorating to their style.