spartan ornament how to (DIY)

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My hubs wants to start this new tradition of collecting ornaments – one for each year – to represent that year of our marriage. I thought it was a great idea, but I have a hard time buying ornaments because I don’t like most of them, haha. I’ve also already mentioned in the last post that I have an issue with buying things I feel like I could make. So, I got inspired last night and decided to stitch a little ornament for this year. And what better ornament to make than a Spartan one to represent our great accomplishment in finishing the Beast in December!

You can do this with pretty much any logo or design you want, so I’ve decided to make a tutorial out of it if you’d like to give it a shot! It’s soooo easy. Even if you don’t sew I’m confident you can make this.

I made this ornament out of felt and a thick, upholstery thread (also a short piece of twine and a little cotton batting). I used a thick thread simply because I like the way it looks (you can see it well when you look at the ornament). It also worked out well because it didn’t break when I got to the hot glue part. I’ll explain that later.

First, cut out your materials. I printed out the Spartan Race logo and cut it to use it as a stencil. I printed several different sizes of the logo onto the same piece of paper so I’d have a few sizes to choose from.

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Next, I stitched the logo onto the top circle. I used a basic stitch. You don’t have to worry about securing it much because it’s very light and it’s not really going anywhere.

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Then, place the cotton batting in between both circles, and pin it together around the edges. Leave a space on top to insert the twine. Once that’s done, secure the twine with a dab of hot glue in between the two circles. This will harden, so you’ll need a stronger needle to thread through the top (this is where the thick thread comes in handy).

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After the twine is secured, simply stitch around the edge of the circle, removing the pins as you go. I started at the top (where the hot glue is hardened). And voila, you have yourself an awesomely easy DIY ornament!

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If you try out your own ornament, don’t forget to share! Enjoy this beautiful weekend, and go do something fun!

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christmas cheer

Well, I do hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! This year was quite strange for me. I could never seem to get into the Christmas spirit, and kinda never wanted to listen to Christmas songs or watch any Christmas movies leading up to Christmas. Call me Scrooge, but Christmas seemed a little bit annoying at times. I honestly don’t know what has gotten into me, because I LOVE this time of the year. I was talking to a couple friends, and they said they were both in a funk, too. My theory is that since we had a late Thanksgiving we “lost” a week in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was a little harder to not be completely stressed out. My mind was also very preoccupied with the Spartan Race we ran on the 15th, so after that I felt like Christmas kind of slapped me in the face. Regardless, I did end up having a very Merry Christmas, and I do love that we get some quality time with family. We stayed in Houston for Christmas this year, with Ryan’s side of the family. Though I miss my side of the family, it is nice to get some time with them and to really rest and slow down for a few days in our own home as we pray over the next coming year.

Note: you can read our Christmas Letter by clicking here or at the far right tab on the top of this page!

I just want to make it known that I didn’t have to step into a mall one time this year for Christmas shopping. I avoid malls anyway, and braving Houston malls in December is just a nightmare. I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase everything on my list from Amazon, and the rest from Target (I feel like I should get an award). I managed to get my Christmas wreath up a whole 2 days before winter officially began. I told you I was in a funk! I have this problem where if I see something that I feel like I could make, I think it ridiculous to buy (cuz I could make it!). But given my limited free time, I have about a gazillion projects waiting to get done, so it would probably be better for me to just buy things. Hence, the wreath.

Last Saturday, Ryan and I rented Just Dance 2014 from Redbox because we didn’t want to spend $40 on it (that’s how we roll). Just want to throw it out there that I completely dominated that game. I’ve got one thing I can say I will always be better at than Ryan: dancing. Seriously, it was sad. ;) Ryan tried a song out by himself while I was taking a break (I was sweating guys… serious stuff), and watching him play this game was just about one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever seen in my life. We had great fun.

Sunday we got to attend a party thrown by Ryan’s boss at their home. It was so much fun, and these people know how to throw a party! We laughed a ton and played Christmas trivia games (Ryan and I are pretty knowledgable in the Christmas song department, just FYI). After the party we joined Ryan’s family in Christmas light… looking? There were at least 12 of us piled into the back of a pickup, and we snuggled up in blankets and sang Christmas songs on the top of our lungs. Good memories made. :)

Tuesday (Christmas Eve) we went to the candlelight service at our church. I always love seeing all the lit candles filling the room at the end of the service. Such a beautiful, still moment to reflect on Christ’s coming to us. Over the past few years I’ve become more sensitive and found a new thankfulness for Christ’s act of love in His meeting us on earth. I do love time with family and days off of work, but I’ve grown a deeper admiration for our Lord. I’m not really one to cry much, and have often even felt bad for never feeling as much emotion as I feel a woman should, haha. But God has given me a soft heart for His redemption, and I love times like this that we are reminded of His goodness to us. We are truly blessed by His grace.

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Later that evening we got to Skype with my family, and opened gifts “with” them. Just want to say that I’m really thankful for technology. It makes not being with loved ones a little easier around this time of year. Seriously thankful.

This Christmas, I was super surprised with my hubs and his gifting me with a super awesome camera! I’m so impressed. He said he’s been doing research and tracking that camera since July (what?!). He got some advice and input from friends of ours and got a great deal on this gift. I am so pumped, and really excited about the great adventures in store. I’m still working on a name for her. :)

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He also made this Jar O’ Dates for me. It’s so cute, I’m leaving it out on display (again, very impressed – this time with his craftsy-ness). He wrote 12 date clues on popsicle sticks – one for each month – and I’m supposed to draw a different one at the beginning of every month this year for a date night. This man has caught onto quality time being my love language. Adore this!

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Ryan definitely outdid me this year. It was easy to do, though. He begged everyone to just give him money so that he can go back to the MMA gym (poor guy quit when we got engaged to save money). We all complied, and gave him cash as he wished. He was pretty excited about it, though. Now he gets to enjoy a full year of being beat up, and I get to endure a full year of my husband coming home with war wounds.

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In the afternoon, we went over to Ryan’s parents’ house and gathered with the family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas). You can see all our Christmas pics on Facebook. We had a lot of fun, and our cousin Kate taught us a new game (we are a very competitive family, so games are quite an adventure). We of course ate way too much, and I ate chocolate off and on from 8:30a – about midnight. Yes, I do remember that I have a half marathon to run in 25 days. You can pray for me.

That about sums up our Christmas adventures. Tomorrow Ryan unfortunately has to work, so I’m going to attempt to get started on a couple projects that have been waiting on me for a very long time. If I am successful, I’ll post some pics of the said projects.

I hope that you had a great Christmas, with lots of love and joy to tell of. Remember to pause and give thanks to such a gracious Savior, and reflect on His goodness in your life. I’m excited to start a new year, and I’m even more excited about all it holds for us to learn of the Lord. Be blessed!

spartan beast

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As you may know, last Sunday I ran in a race called the Spartan Beast with my husband, Ryan, and his sister, Kristin. We had a bunch of friends also running, but most of the group ran on Saturday morning, and another friend ran Sunday at a different heat (time released over the starting line). The race is listed as being 13+ miles and 25+ obstacles… well, that 13+ miles actually ended up being 15. Not exaggerating, this race was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life as far as physical endurance. It was also the most rewarding experience ever to cross that finish line (I definitely told the guy who hung my medal around my neck that he is my favorite person… he had the best job of the day).

Ryan and Kristin both started cramping up around mile 5. When that happened, we all knew it was going to be a long race, haha. They are champs for finishing strong despite the constant pain. I trained pretty hard in the running aspect, which is why I think I didn’t cramp up much. The only time I did was when we had to climb over some walls. I pointed my toe hard, trying to reach for the top of the wall, and my right calf went crazy. Then, when I swung my leg around the top the glute on the same leg started cramping, too. Let me tell you, it’s quite an experience to cramp up at the top of a 10ft wall made out of 2x4s. Not a whole lot of places to go up there, haha.

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The most difficult thing for me during this race was how unbelievably cold the water was. There were at least 5 obstacles with water, the first being only about a mile into the race. After that first dunk, I was literally shivering for the rest of the day. Could not get warm. They told us the water was somewhere around 17 degrees, and when the breeze blew through that was pretty miserable. One obstacle was to walk thigh deep (which we all know means hip deep to me, really) through 150 yards of water. I made it maybe 30 yards and had to get out because I felt pain everywhere, even in my teeth! It was almost paralyzing. The penalty for any obstacle you don’t complete on the first try is 30 burpees, and at that point, I was looking forward to the burpees just to warm up a bit (that was probably about 10 miles in).

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A close runner up on difficulty was the bucket carry. We did this twice – once at mile 4, and again at mile 13ish. The first bucket carry was pretty rough. Please do not think I’m exaggerating one bit, haha. We had to fill up a paint bucket with little rocks and carry it up a steep, rocky hill, and back down. It was so heavy and so steep that people were catching each other from falling on the way up. The girls’ buckets weighed 50-60lbs and the guys’ weighed about 70lbs. I’m glad I didn’t know that while we were doing this obstacle… that is more than half my weight, y’all. The buckets were so awkward to carry, and my fingers felt like they were going to fall off. One of the volunteers told me that since the first bucket carry was so difficult, a lot of people quit – a mile and a half from the finish line – when they saw the second bucket carry. The second was not as steep, but you’re also pretty tired at that point. We made the mistake of not bringing any snacks with us, so we were STARVING half way through the race. I think that’s mostly why we were so tired. I felt as light as a feather. At the very end I couldn’t even grip the rope to complete the final rope climb. I did get the first rope climb, which was a thinner rope, meaning more difficult grip, so I’m ok with that. :) 

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My favorite parts of the race were obstacles like the tire flip. I don’t even know how much that thing weighed, but it was up to my shoulders when standing on its tread (which is about 4ft, haha). It’s actually easier than you think it is going to be, making you feel pretty bad (bad = awesome). We had to flip the tire several times to cross a line, and then flip it back. Another obstacle I’m proud of is the uneven monkey bars. When we did the Sprint, I wore gloves when I attempted and slipped because everything is so muddy and wet. This time, I was determined to make it, and I’m proud to say I did. It’s kind of empowering when you complete an obstacle that military men twice your size are struggling on. The team dynamic was so great, too. It’s funny because you’re all suffering together, so everyone helps each other and encourages each other. Even during the bucket carry, I got up to the top only to be greeted by smiles from strangers who had made it up before me and were taking a rest. I also was caught many times by people while sliding downhill in the mud and unable to stop, haha. We were all so proud of each other and so determined to keep each other moving forward. Just a small whisper of, “don’t stop, you’ve got this” as you pass someone on the trail helps them believe they can do it.

Well, this turns out to have been somewhat of a complaining fest, but in all honesty, I’m glad I did it. That’s the farthest I’ve ever run in one day, and the farthest I’ve ever pushed myself to the limits. Climbing over the very last wall to see the finish line was one of the best things I’ve ever laid eyes on. At this point, I don’t see myself ever signing up for a Beast again, but we’ll see as time passes. :) The Sprint (5 miles) and Super (8+ miles) sound so much better. I think I’ll stick with those for now.

I’m running the Chevron Houston Half Marathon in January, and I’m looking forward to flat surfaces, 13 ACTUAL miles, and not having to carry any extra weight with me. Unless it pours down rain like last year’s marathon, it should be pretty fun. :)

Even though during the race there were some points where I felt so miserable and questioned my choice to take on the challenge, finishing was THE best feeling ever. No pain lasts forever, and I surprised myself with how much I could endure and how far my mind can take me even after my body gives out (it definitely became a mental battle towards the end).

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? It doesn’t have to be physical exertion. But challenge yourself. Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone, and push yourself beyond your limits. You’ll be better for it. :)

picking flowers

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“It occurred to me at once
that love gets everything it asks for
like a young girl picking flowers
in the lawn”
(Eat, Sleep, Repeat – Copeland)

These here (like my hillbilly speech?) are two of my favs of my friend Audrey. Isn’t she a beauty? Took these back in 2009 and they still remain some of my favorites. Audrey is not only gorgeous, but also a brilliant artist. If you are in the southern part of Missouri or northern Arkansas and need some art, you should totally hire her (let me know, and I’ll connect you with her!).

I love working with the sun when I snap pictures. I avoid flash like the plague, and try to take everything I can in natural light. If you’re struggling with washed out pics, try capturing everything you can outside or in a well, naturally-lit room. I bet you’ll love what you see.

Nerd alert: back in high school (and maybe still to this day, but whatevs) I was never into much of mainstream music. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to sing you any songs by Kelly Clarkson or Justin Timberlake (I literally googled “popular music in 2007” for those examples… Your welcome). I’m kind of ok with that, though. My celebrity crushes consisted of Indie and Hardcore Rock bands (haha, yes, picture me in a mosh pit.. I don’t know how I’m alive). I had a major crush on Aaron Marsh from Copeland and may or may not have had a mini breakdown when he revealed his Asian girlfriend. Anyway, the bottom pic reminds me of one of Copeland’s songs and specifically those lyrics under the picture.

Good stuff. Welp, that’s all I’ve got for now. Go on an adventure today, and don’t forget to capture the details!

-Tiffany

(Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an awesome photographer or professional by any means. The posts that include photography are just for fun and the tips are things I’ve picked up along the way and are for those with limited resources – aka, not professional photographers)

create today

(this awesome piece of inspiration can be purchased here)

Despite my desire to be super artsy and awesome, the 3 things I’m the worst at are illustration (by far taking the lead in things I’m bad at), painting, and song writing (poetry could also fall into this category). The first and the third I don’t even attempt anymore because I’m that bad, and instead support local artists and my artistic friends who are awesome in those things by purchasing their work. The second (painting) I only do for fun because I enjoy it (even though I would never choose to hang any of my work). Why am I telling you about my sad lack of talent in these mediums? Because I believe it’s important to express yourself through art, whether you’re good at it or not. Find something you love that requires creativity, and do it. Often. We are all artists; don’t let anyone tell you differently. I think it can be discouraging if you have super creative friends (honestly, a handfull of my friends and family are so creative that I don’t even think we see the world the same way). Not to mention the world of Pinterest… if browsing Pinterest projects don’t make you feel like you’re wasting your life with your feeble attempts in crafting, I don’t know what will. Even if you’re the most linear thinker on this planet, you’re an artist (not everyone can think as strategically as you, and that’s artistic!). It takes creativity to do everything we do.

Why is creativity so important? Because God is creative. He’s the most creative, actually. He made everything we see (including us) out of nothing! Try to one-up that one. And because He made us in His image, that means that we are also creative, and I believe it delights Him when we replicate His creativity in things that we make.

So, here’s your challenge today. Make something. Make something whether it’s good or not, and be ok with that! Not all art that professional artists make is something they love. I have lots of friends who trash a lot of their work. I dare you to do it and come back and tell me it didn’t inspire you in other areas of your life. :)

– Tiffany

blog beginnings

So, the majority of this blog will ironically not be writing. I have a hard time writing anything without making it a straight up book, so I try to limit myself with words. I wanted to cut to the chase and start with a DIY or fitness tip, but my dear friend, Seresa advised me to write an intro entry (wise).

I’ll share with you what I’ve been up to this past week at work. First of all, I love that my co-workers are also some of the greatest friends. Our personalities are all so very different, and I seriously feel like we could be a sitcom at times. There is rarely a dull moment in our office. We started a Secret Santa and had our first gift exchange this past Thursday. Everyone (besides me) is already trying to figure out who has who, and I’m doing everything I can to preserve the surprise (naturally). Here’s a fun pic of our gifting experience.

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Tonight we have our church Christmas Party (Houston’s First – Downtown), which is one of my favorite events of the year. We’ve got great food and a fun game in store, and I have a feeling Asian Santa will make an appearance.

Well friends, that’s all for now. I’ll be posting our Christmas letter here soon. Stay warm!

– Tiffany