I'm a little behind...

I've been catching up on old posts, so make sure you scroll down.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Hijinks

1: I just had to document how cute my chalkboard header was for the New Year. Cute chalkboard = happiness.
2: I have gotten back into making my nails cute. Santa brought me some nail polish for Christmas, and I love it. Plus, when my nails are done, I'm much less likely to chew on my cuticles, which is a very disgusting and persistent habit of mine.
3 and 4: We pass this field almost every day, and I finally decided to stop and let the kids look at the cotton up close. It's crazy to think that this fluff somehow becomes the clothes on our backs.
5: My nursing cover Etsy shop continues to be slow, yet successful. Usually the orders come in threes or fours (I'm not sure how Etsy works, but there must be some sort of search result priority rotation). On this day, I sent out a custom order (left), and my best-seller (right).
6: Trek is coming! Chad and I went to the kickoff meeting, and though we are not supposed to publicize the fact that we will be a Ma and Pa (otherwise the youth will all be desperately hoping to be in our family, and will be tragically disappointed when they can't all be), I figured I'm safe expressing our excitement here. (I think people read my blog, but I've been neglecting it lately, so the only person who reads it now is Jaime, because I texted her to tell her to read my new posts.) So ANYWAY, we are excited! I haven't started sewing yet, but I did purchase some pink calico, so, yeah.
7: Bree cashed in some tickets for a trip to Baskin Robbins one evening. I was happy to go with her, because their Snickers ice cream is epic.
8: I have a sweet connection for free advance screening movie tickets, and I invited Heather to go with me to see Spare Parts. A great inspirational story about teenagers from a local Arizona school.
9: Another delicious lunch with my Amateur Chef friends! Moroccan salmon with rice, and Raspberry Ribbon Pie for dessert. Mmm. Isn't Christie awesome for providing us each with our own pies to take home?!
10: This is what I get for leaving the last slice of chocolate cake on the counter unguarded. I thought it was hilarious that he served it up into a bowl before eating it. This mess wasn't as bad as when he got into the peanut butter jar a few days before that.
11: We got a couple days of drizzle in January. Like, constant drizzle, which is so rare for us. I just gave in to the frizz.
12: I'd been lying on the couch with a migraine one day, and I didn't even realize Lincoln was in the kitchen. Suddenly there he was next to me. He had gotten into the donuts, eaten two on a plate at the table, then brought me my own. Smart boy, on so many levels.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bree's latest "infatuation"

Bree received quite a few Ever After High dolls for Christmas, which she was really excited about. They each came with their own short story (tidbits from the book series), and she has absorbed it all. The other night as I was tucking her in, she confided in me:

"I don't know what's come over me...it's Hunter Huntsman. He's like my dream come true. He's strong, brave, good with animals."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

33 Things in my 33rd Year (or my Happiness Project)

For 2015, my 33rd year on earth, I'm taking a page from Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. I separated my 33 goals into months of the year, each month having a theme. I'm hoping this will keep me focused and on track, rather than letting the year get away without me like it has lately...

Two of my goals will go all year long:
1: Read 15,600 pages (about 52 books, averaging 300 pages each)
2: Blog at least once a week (to avoid becoming months behind)

And here are the rest of the goals:

January: "Be Healthy"
3: Find a dermatologist and schedule an appointment (skin cancer runs in the family)
4: Exercise 5 times a week
5: Lights out every day at 9pm
6: Eat 3 servings of veggies a day

February: "Be Loving"
7: Complete the Dating Divas love calendar
8: Sight-see with Jaime (hopefully to a place we've never been)
9: Speak quietly, with love

March: "Family First"
10: Print photos for Bree's photo collage frame in her room
11: Make a Family Home Evening board
12: Turn off all electronic devices for 24 hours

April: "Sew a Home"
13: Finish my Mt.-Everest-sized pile of sewing/mending projects
14: Fix living room curtains (kids destroy everything)
15: Cover entry bench cushion with cute fabric
16: Make a curtain to act as an office "door"

May: "Cultivate Talents"
17: Sing every day with voice lesson CDs
18: Learn a new cooking method
19: Finish a blog book

June: "Make Memories"
Go camping with the family
Scan and digitize old photos

July: "Introspect"
Journal at least weekly. Real, meaningful journaling. This could be part of blog posts or not, depending on the nature of entries.
Spend 15 minutes a day on actual scripture study

August: "Friendship"
Coordinate a girls' night
Deepen a friendship

September: "Economize"
Don't eat out for the month
Rotate and replenish food storage (learn how to use it all!)

October: "Have Fun"
Do projects with kids, especially ones they come up with on their own
Host a Choctober party

November: "Be Grateful"
Keep a daily gratitude journal from November 1st until Thanksgiving
Listen to good music every day (trash on the radio while driving kids to school doesn't count)

December: "Give"
Plan an anniversary surprise for Chad
Don't buy myself gifts for Christmas :)

Yes, the months at the beginning of the year are a little more goal-heavy. That was intentional. And I'm allowing myself flexibility if I want to work ahead (or behind).

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ringing in the "New Year"

We are not night owls at our house. I am in bed by 9pm every night. So instead of ringing in the actual New Year, or even New York's New Year, I queued up London's recorded celebration. Lame? Maybe. Functional? Of course.

Silly String. Donuts. Sparkling grape juice. Music and fireworks on the TV. That's how we do New Year's.

More December Highlights

1: Bree got hit square in the face during her soccer game on the 6th, but kept right on playing. When I complimented her on it, she said, "A few tears were shed, but eh, I'm fine."
2: Candy making day! Caramel nut clusters, toffee, brittle, truffles, oh my.
3: The first casualty of the season. I was feeling so proud of myself for getting some early wrapping done. The next morning, Chad's gifts were open and strewn across the floor. Lincoln!
4: I started a Mary Kay page on Facebook. I've been trying to widen my client base, and it's been fun to post about makeup and skin care tips! This post was about applying sparkle eye shadow.
5: The latest version of the kids' chore list is up on the chalkboard. Because they can't seem to remember the basics, and I'm tired of sounding like a broken record. Their allowance depends on how many check marks they have, so hopefully they'll stay motivated.
6: Phineas and Ferb Christmas episode. Dark house and twinkle lights. Love it.
7: Pinterest success! Buckeye Brownie Cookies. Uh-MAZING.
8: At the ward Christmas party with my friend Reyna. I made her put on some of my red lipstick, cuz that's the kind of friend I am.
9 and 10: Chad and I celebrated our 13-year anniversary with a night at a resort. We ate out, saw a movie, and generally enjoyed quiet one-on-one time. I finally got to experience the magic that is a movie theater recliner seat. Yes, it is as awesome as I imagined it would be. We watched Interstellar...movie was weird, but I had a great time anyway.
11: How does she do it all? The baking, Christmas wrapping, running kids around, all the while looking fabulous? This is how. Plenty of crap gets left undone. Thank goodness for Chad, otherwise we'd have no clean laundry either.
12: We went to walk around the Loop of Lights this year. A nearby neighborhood goes all out with Christmas lights. This was the Cinderella house. One insane house has millions of lights, all programmed with music. It was awesome.

1: I helped out in Bree's classroom for their Christmas party! I taught the kids how to make 3D snowflakes. She loves having me there.
2 and 3: Bree and Mason both played their final games of soccer, and received their medals! They stuck it out, played hard and with good attitudes, and we're so proud of them.
4: My mom took Bree and I for some much-needed pre-Christmas pedicures. Toes need to be ready for Christmas too.
5: As Emmit from the Lego Movie would say, "Follow the instructions." So we are sorting all of Mason's legos. Building anything is impossible unless we do.
6: Bree loves helping out in the kitchen. Grandma let her pierce the apple-blueberry pie before it went in the oven.
7: I THINK Santa brought us enough DVDs...maybe...
8: Mason and Bree went shopping with their Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa Wallace. Bree chose a CD and Ever After High dolls, and Mason chose Legos, of course.
9: Lincoln saw Grandma wearing her glasses to work a puzzle, so he went over to the end table where extra glasses are kept, and put these on. I am dying from the cuteness.
10: Copycat Famous Dave's Bread Pudding. Enough said.
11: We got a record-breaking number of Christmas cards this year. Seeing them fill up the chalkboard made me happy. Does this mean we're getting more popular?
12: This might have been Bree's last visit to Smaland at IKEA. Sad.

Monday, December 29, 2014

#21: Famous Dave's Bread Pudding

With the year almost gone, I set out to accomplish one last VERY important goal. I needed to attempt to make Famous Dave's bread pudding. On our first visit to Famous Dave's (delicious BBQ) we were treated to a complimentary dessert: bread pudding. I haven't been exposed to a lot of bread pudding in my life, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Well, this dessert blew me away. The only trouble is, by the time you finish your delicious dinner, you don't have any room left for dessert. So I decided to try to recreate this dish at home. I found a copycat recipe online, complete with Plantation praline sauce. I was pretty sure our kids would not be interested in eating it, so I saved the recipe for a time when we'd be together with other adults who would appreciate the dessert. Today, hanging out at my parents house, I finally put the recipe to the test. And we all agree that it is a huge success.
BREAD PUDDING:
  • 1 loaf cinnamon swirl bread (I used Cinnabon brand, since that's all I could find)
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins (I omitted these)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup vanilla extract
  • 8 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
    1. Coat bottom and sides of 13-by-9-inch baking pan heavily with butter.
    2. Tear bread into 1-inch pieces. Mix with raisins in bowl. Lay bread mixture evenly in prepared dish, turning crust side down, as this tends to burn easily.
    3. In bowl, whisk sugar, milk, whipping cream, vanilla, eggs and cinnamon until blended. Pour over bread mixture.
    4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
    5. Place baking dish in larger 4-inch deep baking pan. Add water to reach halfway up side of dish. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, or until all liquid is absorbed and custard-like.
    6. Remove from water bath. Let stand 20 minutes.
    PRALINE SAUCE (I cut this in half and it was plenty, but you may want extra on hand for ice cream, etc., because it is freakin' delicious)
  • 3 lbs. light brown sugar (about 3 1/4 cups packed)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. In small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the butter until melted.
    2. Add pecans and mix well. Bring to a boil.
    3. Cook until pecans begin to change color. Mixture will foam up.
    4. Add remaining 1/2 cup cubed butter and mix well. (This will cool pecan mixture and stop the cooking process.) Remove from heat.
    5. In a separate, large saucepan, combine brown sugar, whipping cream and cinnamon and mix well.
    6. Cook over low heat until blended, stirring constantly. Increase heat and cook until mixture comes to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer (temperature is crucial to final consistency of sauce).
    7. Stir in pecan mixture. Remove from heat.
    8. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix well.

    Friday, December 26, 2014

    Christmas Morning

    It was our first Christmas morning in this house, and it was perfect. It was stress-free, work-free, and we were all healthy. That's all I ever want, really... Except for maybe a Bissell Symphony. I really did want that. It has changed my life.

    There were tons of Legos for Mason, tons of Ever After High dolls for Bree, and Lincoln LOVES his "smart phone" toy.

    Then there was the winding down of Christmas morning. A magical time. Cocoa, homemade orange rolls, and Lego building, of course.
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