23 December 2010

Merry Christmas Manda Jean!

23 December 2010
My sister Amanda & her son Daniel

This past Thanksgiving, while the family was gathered, we tried to come up with some fresh ideas for Christmas 2010. We typically just do the standard gift exchange, but this year we wanted to focus our attention on someone who would really appreciate a special Christmas. Several of us immediately thought of my sister Amanda (who happened to be out-of-town for T-day). Amanda is a single mother of 3 young children. Life for her isn't as simple as it is for most us. Despite it all, she's done an amazing job of balancing her family life, work & attending school full-time. And, she's one of the most positive, generous people I know. So, it seemed natural to want to spoil her for a change this Christmas.

And so the planning began for our crazy surprise party. We waffled a bit between low-key and full-out, but we decided in the end not to hold anything back because, of anyone, Amanda could handle it. (She's not the type to embarrass easily.)

We disguised the party as a "game night", and planned everything around this hilarious little board game called Quelf. We played the first round normally, and then we pulled out our custom-made game cards focused all on Amanda...

Sheri's card read, "Whip out your pom poms and create your own cheer for 'Mrs. Pickle Feather'" (aka. Amanda)

Up to this point, Amanda was still clueless, but not for much longer... 

Aside from Sheri's peppy cheer and Jason and Eric's superb performance, the rest of the game was mostly dedicated to us showering Amanda with gifts. For example, one card read, "Treat Mrs. Pickle Feather like she is Cleopatra and adorn her with extravagant gifts" (jewelry). Another card read, "Share a story that will keep MPF captivated for 4 hours." (DVDs x2) Another: "Brighten someone's day (highlights gift cert.) by making their life a little easier (free house cleaning GC) and a little less hairy (waxing GC)." The 3 grand finale gifts were...

1. A massive, custom-made woven blanket of her favorite celebrity crush, Mr. Wentworth Miller (The card read, "Wrap someone with love." so we gave her a big Wentworth bear hug)

2. A Gift Card for Broadway in Boise. She gets to choose between Wicked, Grease, Fiddler, etc. (The Quelf card read, "Give a memorable performance"...so after all of the women, and Eric?, did an impressive Can Can kick line, we gave her the broadway gift card)
3. And, finally, we gathered several 3x5" notecards from family and friends expressing why they love and admire Amanda (there were well over 100 cards from nearly 40 ppl). The idea was to have the whole night be fun and lightheared and then let the more serious gift be one that she could read on her own time without an audience. Here are a couple of examples of the sweet notes that people gave...
I think we were all really touched by Amanda's reaction to the final gift. She immediately began to cry. And the night ended with a big mooshy group hug.

30 November 2010

'Tis the season

30 November 2010
First home.
First time decorating for Christmas!

Married 7 years.
First Christmas Tree.
Purchased against my scrooge husband's will.

The trick is to wait until he's out of town.

I bought the tree, as well as a few decorations while Eric was visiting his family in Omaha after Thanksgiving. Then I suprised him with the finished product.

I love Christmas. And I love sitting in a dimly lit room with just the glow of the tree and the fire, my Josh Groban Pandora Christmas station and Stephen's Mint Truffle Hot Cocoa...with whipped cream.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 was a delicious success!

And what would a Honn gathering be without a food fight?

23 November 2010

My Grandma Carlton

23 November 2010
My Grandma Carlton passed away when I was just 8 years old, and I feel like I'm just now getting to know her. All I remember from my childhood is going to visit her in the nursing home where she would give us hand-drawn birthday cards and Big League Chew.

I've always known that she was a talented woman, but the more I learn about her, the more in awe I am of what she accomplished in her life, especially as a woman in the early 1900s.

She was a successful actress, singer, and artist.

Helen Aileen Wilson, 1910-1990.

My Grandma & Grandpa ("Buddy") actually met on stage. He's on the floor, right, with the trumpet.

Helen painted this portrait of Vivien Leigh/Scarlett O'Hara for Gone with the Wind. She's pictured here in front of the portrait for Redbook Magazine as she was nominated as Mother of the Year (at the time, she was very pregnant with her only child - my mom). She actually didn't like this painting very well.

A gorgeous painting of my mom at about 10 y/o.

Albert Einstein. Painted with the famous B/W photo as a reference.

This painting makes you wonder what my grandma really thought of men.

Bing Crosby

I love this one. (Painted on black glass)

Marilyn Monroe

Coupon Craze

It's no secret that we love eating out, but we've been trying to cut back to save money. When we do eat out, we usually try and take advantage of all of the coupons and discounts that we can.

Here are the some great money-saving sites that offer anywhere from 50-80% off deals: Restaurant.com, CitySmart.com, Groupon.com & LivingSocial.com

A friend of ours from Saipan actually recommended this classy establishment to us. Apparently it was featured on the Food Network. Fun spot with a consistent white trashy theme throughout (plastic floral table cloths, elvis clock, lic. plates, christmas lights, etc.). There's even an old classic car in the restaurant that you can eat inside of.

They almost kicked us out of this restaurant (Mai Thai). In fact, we may be banned from ever returning. All 3 couples had $45 coupons. Typically, they only allow 1 per table. HOWEVER, when I called in advance to make the reservations, I asked for permission, and although he was hesitant, the manager said, "We really shouldn't allow this, but I'll be the manager that night so I'll let it slide this time." Well, that manager conveniently forgot all about our little conversation when it came to us paying our bill. I don't think it helped that his boss was there overseeing the whole transaction. I really don't appreciate liars. In fact, not only did he lie, but he accused ME of lying! Not cool man. Normally, I'm the last person to make a fuss in a restaurant, but he almost brought out the diva in me. :)

Shiny & New!

It may be cold and hard, but it still makes me feel all warm inside. :)

As my Christmas Bonus this year, my boss, who also happens to be my brother, is contributing to a new work computer for me. I've been working on a small laptop for all of these years so this is exciting stuff. I don't have the computer yet, but I did get my new monitor (24" LED on sale @ newegg), and it's a thing of beauty. The monitor is currently an extension to my laptop, and I love having so much work space!

08 November 2010

Husker/Bronco Conflict

08 November 2010

This doesn't happen very often, but this past weekend my Broncos and Eric's Huskers played at the exact same time. So this is how we resolved the issue: Buffalo Wild Wings. His screen is on the right, and mine was, well, everywhere else. :)

P.S. It took about 2 hours to even get a table. Luckily, we found some chairs to camp out and watch the games while we waited. So, does this make us really devoted or really lame? I'm just glad it wasn't Hooters.

YWIE 2010: Hats Off To You!

I've been a busy little bee this month planning for our Young Women in Excellence program that took place this last Wed. I really don't mind putting in the work for these types of things, but it's always frightening for me to be the one in charge. Unfortunately, I planned for like 50 ppl, and only about 20 showed, but what can ya do?

I decided to cheat a bit and recycle our theme from Saipan: Hats Off To You.

Straw Hats from Hobby Lobby. $1.50 ea. With colored flowers & ribbon to represent the 8 YW Values.

The girls performed 2 musical numbers. Nearer My God to Thee (with 2 of the girls on violin - so beautiful!) & As Sisters in Zion (EFY medley)

For the program, we mixed it up a bit; rather than the typical value skits, we added a twist. We challenged the girls with Whose Line Is It Anyway type improv games to go along with the values.

And, finally, these last few shots are of our adorable YW at the temple a few weeks back.

01 November 2010

Adults Playing Dress-up

01 November 2010
Ok, so we were lame and didn't dress up this year. In fact, we didn't do much of anything. Instead, we stayed home, made a roast, watched a silly...I mean "scary" movie on TV (Vacancy, with Luke Wilson & Kate Beckinsale), and ate Halloween candy that was intended for the trick-or-treaters who never showed.

However, we haven't always been this boring. And, it just so happens that I have photo proof. Please enjoy the Nelsons of Halloweens past...

Eric's brother, Peter's, classic disco costume of '05. One of my favorites. You can't see it in the picture, but he wore a very snug maroon 3-piece polyester suit.

Eric's mum. I think Halloween might be one of Mary's favorite holidays, and she always makes an impressive showing.

Ok, so these costumes weren't overly creative, but Eric's made us stare and laugh nonetheless.

The Viking Helga (also known as sis-in-law Allison) & white trash Stevie P (Eric's dad)

Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!

Don't worry, our dressing up years aren't over yet. We may have had a lapse in judgement this year, but there's always next year!