Friday, May 16, 2014

Project #11 Grow Boxes and FirePit

This is just the beginning...

Grow boxes:

As you can see from the pictures, I have been busy in the yard.  I've seen so many grow boxes around Pinterest, including some in my childhood home, and wanted to try some myself.  I'm going to skip the instructions on how they were build, not because I'm lazy and don't want to include them, but because I feel that you really can't go wrong making them.  If you want them to look good in the end, make sure you sturdy wood, a level to make all the boards even, and lot's of patience. 
I applied to layers of wood: one that was sturdy and will last until the end of the vegetable world and the other was from on old barn next to our add to the ambiance of the garden.   I love the way the old wood makes it look and feel, while also preserving the surroundings of our home.


No words...just straight up balling.  This was fun to make, but even more fun to use!  There are hundreds of tutorials on Pinterest, but I found that the best thing was to read through them, and then improvise as I made my own.  All brick was taken from the barn next to our house, over 100 years old.  The base of the fire pit is about 1' deep and has plenty of air flow to keep the fire with oxygen.  We added new logs to use as seats...but will post pictures soon!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Project #11 Mother's Day

A letter to my Mom

Dearest Mother, 

At a tiny computer, in the pleasant town of Pleasant Grove, I sit and think back of you.  The fond memories of yesteryear where as a child I would read your notes on napkin, enjoying the lunch that was always made with love.  Coming home to warm chocolate chip cookies, a glass of cold milk and you at the table with a smile so big, would turn any cloudy day into full sunshine.  You talked with me about my sorrows and my joys.  You were quick to lend a listening ear, and speak words that touched my heart.  Never, no not once, did I feel my words and feeling went unheard and un felt, for you were filled with motherly love.  

Now as I sit at this same computer, in the pleasant town of Pleasant Grove, I look out at the beauty around me; tall billowing clouds, dancing with rays of sun, adorn the skies above and the tall mountains to the East are equally magnificent as they provide a perfect backdrop to the rustic homes and pleasant landscape.  I know that you would enjoy this view too, for you love the natural beauty of the God's creations. You love the blossoming flowers, the green grass, the contour of the hills and valleys, and the sounds of calm, running water.  You love the wonderful and beautiful things of the world because you are so close to the Spirit.  Your closeness and love for all good things is contagious and truly you make other feels so loved.  

Mom, it would be hard to serve another mission after knowing all that it entails, but if i knew that you were going be my mission mom, I would go in a heart beat. No questions asked.  I love you mom.  I love everything that you have taught me and the person you are shaping me to be and have helped me become.  

Have a wonderful Mother's day!

much love, 
Taylor James 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Post #10 Tough Mudder

The Unexpected Text

Just after saying my prayers and telling my wife how much I love her, my cell phone vibrated, shaking the pillow it was resting on. I knew it was a text message, but nothing was going to keep me from falling asleep as fast as I could, not even one of the biggest and sweetest challenges this year.  

Now, 'biggest and sweetest challenge of the year' is a very loose term considering that this year includes several other 'challenges': graduating college, staring my first full-time job ever and not to forget, getting married.  Those are all challenges in their own regard, but they are the type of challenge that I knew was coming, something that I had seen coming down the road a few months in advance.  But this? No way...never thought I would ever set off to embark in a challenge like this...not ever. I mean seriously, a 12 mile run through mud, climbing walls, crawls through irrigation tubes and a finishing line that pulsates with electricity, a warm way to welcome runners to the end.  Yeah, never thought I would consider such a race...

Those who know me understand that fitness is a big part of my life.  I've completed two marathons, biked thousands of miles through the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, love to boulder with my wife and enjoy my time in the gym. I enjoy staying healthy and recommend it to anyone.  I guess my friend who text me also thought he could recommend some new ways to stay healthy by asking me to join him in the 'Tough Mudder.'  What is the Tough Mudder you ask?  Indulge yourself in the pictures below and we'll continue our conversation after your mind has been completely blown. 

Looks like a blast right?  Yeah....not your typical 10k that you could finish with only a single day of training.  I've seen this race before, read about in a fairy tale when I was younger, but never did I think that I was going to actually participate in one. Maybe after I finish this thing, my pops will consider me a man, maybe.  

So, I'm in 100%. I have already found a training program to help avoid a tragic death during this race, not even kidding.  My goal is to first and foremost complete the race and secondly, make some great memories in the process.  I will post my progress here on my blog and hopefully inspire someone out there to work for something they never thought possible. 

I know that I have a million viewers following me on my blog (my incredible wife and another random person), but I hope you will enjoy this new adventure during the next 4 months.  


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Project #9

Time out from life

This week has been nuts, seriously.  I have my finals, projects, family coming into town and a wedding.  I figured that since it was so crazy, I would have a blast from the past post of something that I wrote a few years ago while in Jerusalem.  For those who have been there...I loved it.  For those thinking about it.  

Somewhere Near Along Time Ago

When the blaring horns all around me sound,
I find myself sheltered in a most holy ground.
Where a sacred prayer was offered to up above,
A witness of an eternal love.
Somewhere near here, sometime long ago,
My Savior pled and bled and transcended far below,
Any sin of mine, or any mistake I've done.
So my soul would heal and leave my sins undone.
Somewhere near here, sometime long ago,
My Savior died, just to save my soul.

Never thought that I would love poetry so much, but I really do enjoy writing when I get the chance!  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Project #8 Engagement

26 Years

In only 16 days I'm going to be married.  26 years of wondering what she looks like, 26 years of trying to develop myself into the man of her dreams, 26 looong years of celibacy and self restraint, 26 years of self discovery and deep reflections on my own weaknesses and trying to make them strengths...26 years, 9,525 days, 228,617 hours or 13,717037 minutes I have lived a single man, but not any more. Now it's time to turn this one-man show into a team. 

I have talked about being engaged and shared a few things about my most wonderful fiancé but have yet to show a picture or talk about her in any way (rude I know).  Well, this blog is dedicated to that girl, the girl who will share my last name in this life, the girl who makes me smile more crazy than anything else I've ever loved in my life, a girl who makes everyday feel like my birthday, Christmas and graduation combined into one grand and glorious day.  This blog, however, isn't dedicated to the girl of my dreams- because honestly- there is no way any girl in my dreams could ever be as great and wonderful as my Sarah bear.  

Meet My Sarah

Sarah isn't your average Sarah.  Her favorite color isn't pink, her favorite activity isn't shopping or discussing the party last weekend.  She didn't dress up as a princess as a little girl but spent time catching lizards in the canal in her backyard. You won't find any shellack or finger nail polish on her nails, but you may find some dirt under them.  Her hands wouldn't win any awards for being the most soft, but those same hands bring the softest stroke with each tender touch.  Her most beautiful look is accomplished in about 10 minutes: a quick shower followed by drying her hair out by holding it out the car window, finishing it off by glazing those most succulent lips with a touch of chap stick.  Her laugh sounds like the babbling mountain brook and her voice turns even the most melodious birds mute.  Her kind and tender heart are the most forgiving and understanding I've known out side my own mother's.  Yes, Sarah is definitely not your average Sara, she's so much more.  

So how did I end up tricking this girl into becoming my bride?  Great question- and I give all the credit to Roger and Hemmerstein. If it hadn't been for the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers I'm sure that I would be out in the dark and dreary world, forever searching, never finding.  After spending 7 kiss-less but equally fun and adventurous weeks rock climbing, reading, dancing and cooking up various concoctions, Sarah and I took a trip to St. George to enjoy the heat of the sun before my last semester of school.  The trip went perfectly, literally in every sense.  My parent's loved her more than I did at the time, my little sister took her in as her own sister, we climbed, we explored, we watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers AND we kissed.  Yes we surely did and oh what a kiss it was.  I would later find out that she had given up on the idea of me kissing her because we had gone 7 fruitless weeks without more than a hug.  But there must have been something in that movie that really got the mood right and the emotions running because when we kissed...a whole avalanche of emotions came right along with it.  

Four Months Later

We decided that we would date for four months.  Actually, we didn't ever intend on dating at all, but we figured that we liked spending time more with each other than with anyone else, so we dated for four months before making the best decision ever- get married.  I'm sure that she knew before I knew, but I wanted to make sure that she was positive about her decision before I asked ... yeah right!  I had played around with her plenty of times, dropping my keys onto the ground and 'kneeling down' to pick them up while calling out so she would see me bending down as if I was going to propose.  These jokes never stopped playing a funny note, so naturally I kept doing them while building up the actual courage to do it the right way.  It happened while on the moon light chair lift ride at the Sundance Ski Resort.  The air was warm and filled with the music of Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Taylor Swift and even Bobby Knight.  Classic way to set the tone for a classic night.  I brought some snacks and snapped a glow stick or two to add to the general ambience for this mid summer night's dream.  I gave her a journal, detailing my love and adoration for her and then let her see the small hole I had punched into the journal (the perfect place for a ring), only to discover that there wasn't a ring in it, but just a drawing of a sarcastic winking face.  She then looked up with that look of "funny Taylor...reeeeally funny ya dork" only to see me holding a ring and breathlessly asking her if she would be my wife.  Words weren't needed to know her answer, it was written all over that beautiful smile on her beautiful face.  "Of course" was all she could say and of course that was all I needed to hear.  

Four Months Even Later

16 days is all that's left until that blessed day of marriage.  16 days until my best friend and I get to move in with each other and start a lifetime of making the best and most hilarious memories with each other.  Speed bumps will surely attempt to slow us down, and they might, but that doesn't mean they will stop us.  No way, this team is too determined and too stubborn to allow that to happen.  16 days and all the 26 years of preparation and patience will pay off.  16 more days until the rest of eternity gets to finally start.- Hallelujah.  

Even though our wedding is in just 16 days, I still don't feel like it's real.  A part of me feels like it's pretend; fake invitations, fake engagement, fake wedding plans and fake conversation, but the feelings of love for my Sarah?  Yeah, those are for real.  They are more real and true now than they were four months ago when I asked her to be my wife.  They are definitely more real than the time when I asked her to go rock climbing and have share some dinner.  The feelings for love are more real than the first time I saw her, nearly two years ago when she didn't even know I was human sharing the same oxygen with her at church.  Those feelings for love, for a desire to care for her, feeling of concern and respect have never felt so deep in our entire career and the good thing is, they will only get deeper as time goes on.  Truly, Sarah plus Taylor equals happiness.  

16 days is all that's left
Until she becomes my wife,
16 days two hearts bereft
But soon will start a new life.

16 days will count on down
Until those days become one, 
And hand in hand we'll gaily bound
And off into the sunset we'll run. 

I love you my Sarah Bear!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Project #7 DIY Pallet Shelf

Bad Breakfast Make-Up

My attempt at making my brother crock-pot French toast failed miserably.  No possible amount of syrup or butter could mask the taste of burnt bread, and no amount of air freshener could mask the smell of burnt food in our apartment.  I clearly owed him something for my disaster  

After looking through his room (I think that I found all the missing dress socks that magically appeared in his drawers), I noticed that he has about 5 Qualtrics hats and 10 BYU hats just laying on the top of his drawer.  I had made a make-shift holder to hold his hats, but I figured that since I wanted to do something with wood again, I would make him some pallet shelfs.  And, when I get married this December, they all might just end up magically in my home. 

Step #1 Break Down the Pallet

There have been tons of pins on Pinterest about how to easily and effectively take apart a Pallet.  The pins with the highest re-pin count all include using a sawzall and I would highly recommend making the investment and buying one.  I would show you a picture of mine, but seeing that all my money is being used for my marriage and taking my fiance on dates...I haven't bought one yet.  Just do as I say, not as I do! 

You can use any type of pallet that you want, but you also want to make sure that you have the same length of planks for your shelfs.  

Step #2 Measure the Space for Your Shelf

The first shelf that I attempted looked really good, but it wasn't functional because I didn't make the right measurements.  After making sure that I had the right length of planks, I used some smaller pieces of wood to hold them together.  I casually nailed them in the wood, not realizing that metal holders on the wall would be interfered by the pieces of wood under the planks.  Just make sure that you know where the shelfs will be and that they will work out.  The easiest way to do this is by measuring in from both ends the length that the 'locking ties' need to be.

Step #3 Cut Your Locking Ties

Your locking ties are the pieces of wood that are located underneath the long planks of wood.  These pieces are what keeps your other planks together.  The easiest way to do this is by designating one plank for cutting into smaller locking ties.  If you cut two pieces for each shelf you will have plenty of locking ties to hold the planks together.  When cutting the shelfs, to insure you have the right size, measure from the wall where your shelfs will be hanging how far they will be hanging from the wall.  This will keep you from hating your life, burning your shelf or doing something that could get you thrown in jail.  Just sayin

Step #4 Sand Planks for Shelfs

I knew that I was planning on having my brother put his hats on the shelfs, but there was no way in this happy valley that I was going to risk the chance of his football hands from getting a sliver.  Plank wood isn't the most forgiving wood in the world.  Although I didn't sand the wood down entirely so it felt like the cheeks on the face of my dearest love, they were sanded down enough so a hand could safely glide over the long plank of pallet goodness.  

Step #5 Nail Locking Ties into Planks

This step may sound remedial and I'm only adding it because I learned the hard way that there is a right way and a wrong way to nailing the locking ties into the main shelf.  First, you want to make sure that you have the right amount of wood for your shelfs,  I used three planks for one shelf and found out that one pallet can make about 4 shelfs.  I used two locking ties for each shelf and had ample wood from one shelf.  No the big part- the nails.  You will want to nail from the top to the bottom (top of the shelf towards the bottom) so that the extra nail which isn't covered by wood, comes out the bottom of the shelf and not out through the top.  If you have a dremmel or even some wire cutters so you can clip the excess nails. 

Step #6 Repeal Obama-Care

I highly doubt there are those who actually read my blog, but I like to invest my time in writing about what I love and what I feel passionate about.  Sooo basically, I hate the idea of giving our government control of something that makes up 1/6th of our GDP; healthcare.  The strongest supporters for this new bill are those who don't realize the impact that it will have on EVERY American.  Even though Obama claimed that 'if you like the plan you are on now, you will be able to keep that plan' his words were as vague as his current hair color.  All employs at REI will lose their health benefits. There are countless other companies who will suffer the same consequences.  Furthermore, to get coverage from the new plans offered by our President, we have to go through a website that functions about as good as Obama speaking with Vladimir Putin.  Doesn't work, won't work, get it out.

Step #7 Bequeath the Shelfs to Your Brother

After you have sanded your planks, nailed your locking ties into your shelfs and feel great about your self, it is time to present it to your brother.  Since he wasn't home, I put up his shelfs and hats.

What I would do different

If I was making these shelfs again, I would make sure that all the shelfs were the same length and could fit into a frame for a book case or some other type of closet.  I have thought about making a simple closet out of a few 2x4's where the shelfs can be taken out or added depending on what you need.  I'm sure that I'll make one of these one day (as soon as Obama Care is repealed) and make a great post about it!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Project # 6 Crockpot Breakfast

Breakfast for my brother

Being engaged has taught me so many things I never imagined; patience to wait for the perfect outfit to be ready, enjoying a truly delicious meal that wasn't nuked in the microwave for two minutes, enjoying the smell of sweet perfume worn by the most beautiful girl in the world and planning a future with the one I love.  I had no idea such things like shellac, tampons and yoga pants were so sir.  

Before all these feminine fancies were introduced to me, I lived a peaceful and simple life with my brother.  Although he is only a year and a half younger than I, we are one and the same.  Since the day we both learned how to ride a bike on the hot asphalt of St. George we were always doing things together.  

Our particular bro-mance is something quite unique.  My younger brother and I are fortunate enough to have an older brother who we both dearly love, but because he chose to break my remote-control car (he said he was going to turn it into a go cart that I could ride on) when I was 7 married 5 months after I returned from my mission in Russia, I realized that my brother-hood team would have to be Batman and Robin instead of the Three Stooges. 

My younger brother and I, who I will tenderly call Kiki", did everything together.  While riding our bikes, we would pretend that we were the two bike cops from Chips.  I would tell him that he could be the white cop who had a super fast motorcycle and I would be the black cop.  The real reason I chose to be him was because I wanted to have the gun verses the night stick that Kiki had.   When traveling with our parents to General Conference, restaurants or wherever, we would ALWAYS talk to each other with British accents so others would think that we were international and want to talk to use.  We made an extra effort to do this around cute girls...and the shirk away when they actually started to talk to us. 

All of this is to give background to understanding why I chose my latest Pinterest Project.  Because Kiki and I have lived with each other for the past 3 years, and because I feel slightly responsible to keep him healthy so he can perform well on the BYU Football field, I decided to make him breakfast before his big game.  Naturally I went to Pinterest to scout out some different recipes that are tailored for breakfast and found this recipe.

The recipe was so easy and I even bought twice the amount of ingredients so I could make some for my fiancé that Sunday for breakfast.  I mixed the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and then poured it onto the honey oat bread inside the Crockpot.  I made sure to do this in the evening so that he would wake up in the morning and smell the cinnamon and vanilla soaked breakfast.  Yeah...didn't happen.  

When I woke up I could smell the french toast wafting into my room.  I was excited that I was up before my brother and would be able  to get breakfast prepared and ready before he woke up.  After entering the kitchen however, that all changed.  

I hesitantly opened the Crockpot and and immediately noticed that it wasn't anything like the french toast I had dreamt of the night before.  The top was a little black, texture like dead skin and the smell....burnt.  How could my Pinterest recipe let me down?!  I was so confident in my pinning abilities and sure that the recipe would be a huge hit- neighbors would come running to try a small morsel of the heavenly fluff!  Surely my fiancé would be all the more confident in her decision for me to be her husband...but after this fr%nch toast? Not a chance!  

After I flung the piece french dunk out my front door (it's still rotting somewhere in our apartment complex) I made my brother a peanut butter and honey sandwich and wished him luck at his game.