Wednesday, September 28, 2011

blue light special

There have been so many things going on lately and yet the days are passing so slowly! I know as soon as Halloween hits, though, we will be into a new year before we know it! Right now I am trying to take a good, hard look at all of the good in my life, though, and I just had to share this experience I had with answered prayers today.
So, K had a huge deal in the works a couple of weeks ago for a new management contract and it felt like it was going to be the deal. You know, The Deal that pushed us over the top- from hanging on by our fingernails to really getting momentum and moving forward!
...But the deal fell through. The firm went with a different management company and K has been super discouraged. We are in the middle of finishing the basement of our house and expanding the business and K is in school full time on top of it all and we both have crazy/fun callings and we just need a boost (or shove) to tell us that we can keep going. So we have been praying for guidance and comfort and strength to keep going and to do the Lor'ds will, whatever it is.
Well, today we received a card in the mail from K's parents that I am sure they sent to all of their children, but it feels like a very personal answer for us. It was a note telling us that they are concerned with the state of the world today, they don't know what our food storage situation is, but they want to help us get more. Included with this very thoughtful card was a Food Storage Nest Egg (i.e. cash).
This FSNE is a huge blessing for us and feels like an answer to so many prayers from the last week. Prayers about making cash stretch and how to proceed and whether we should just scrap everything and change our names and leave the country and become Parisian Tour Guides.
As I have thought about all of the positive things in my life lately, getting this gift in the mail this week feels like so many other tangible blessings- the Lord is aware of my family and He is blessing our lives, whether it is in the way that we had hoped for or planned on or not.
So, now I am planning out a big trip to Broulims' Case Lot Sale and I am so excited!! We decided to take a portion of the money out of a food budget to spend on diapers, too, because, well, diapers are expensive and in my world they are oh-so-necessary.
And I stumbled upon something that probably every other mom out there knows about, but just in case you don't you have GOT to check this out!!
I mean, I guess I don't count saving money as a huge blessing, but it's all related and I want to tell you about this.
So just go with it.
It's called AmazonMom. When you make an AmazonMom account you get $$ off of everything you need when you have kids: Diapers, wipes, formula, food, toys, gadgets- everything! For example, this morning, unwilling to trudge to Sam's Club to pay $45 dollars (no joke) for 120 diapers (0.38 cents/diaper), I Googled "Diaper Deals" and found this through AmazonMom:
140 Huggies (my favorite brand) Snug&Dry Diapers for $33.50 (about 0.24/diaper)
Then, as an AmazonMom I saved 15% off of that price, and 15% off from signing up for Subscribe and Save (cancel when you want and/or get diapers shipped for free to your doorstep as often as you want- check it out). I just paid $23 (0.17/diaper) with free shipping!! That is nearly half of what I would have paid at Sam's! When you take out the gas, the frustration of taking two little kids to Sam's Club and the emotional trauma of leaving that place without a ginormous package of lunch meat and a Giant-Size Coke (my wallet can't afford one; my health, the other) that's an even bigger deal!
I am not a huge online shopper, but if I get to skip the Sam's Experience until I need a 10-can refill of my favorite Stephen's Hot Cocoa next month, I am extatic.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

deep breath

Can I tell you something? 
I love to tell people what to do. 
For real, I do. 
I'm super good at it, too.
Especially when it comes to restaurant suggestions. And since I am a major foodie (although I loathe the term, there really is no use denying it) and an enthusiastic cook, there are few (VERY few) things that I love more than going out to eat. You know, mostly so I can judge other people's food. And try to copy it. But really, what is not to love about going out to eat!? There is always grub and usually some friends/family/people that you love or at least can stand to talk to for an hour or two, which means smiling, laughing, and lots of chewing. These are my favorite things.
I also love to write, however "quirky" (pretty sure that's the nicest thing that people ever say about my writing style) my voice may be. 
And I love food!
Did I say that already? 
Anyway, I have decided to start another blog to try to get some of this food-loving, need-to-write-about-something energy out of my system. I want to write about the food I eat and perhaps even sometimes what I make at home. My best memories all involve family and food (which explains the chub) and I want to share my passion with anyone who will listen. I want to entertain friends... and to try to tell as many people as I possibly can what to do.
Seriously- I'm good at it. You'll see. 
Who knows how long my blog project will last, but for now I would love for you to check out my very first posts and let me know what you think!
Really, though. Give me feedback. I need it. The brutal kind.
Check it out here, then quickly tell me not to quit my day-job so we can stop all of this foolishness here and now. ...or you could love the whole idea, too. You know. Up to you.
Oh, and I don't say this enough, but thanks for being my friend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

isn't it neat?

You guys. 
The weekend was spectac.
...I thought that would be a super cool way to say spectacular. 
It wasn't. 
My apologies. 

Anyway, we drove down to St. George on Friday where we met up with my parents, Aunt Diane, Uncle Doug and cousins, Jacob and Jessica, to hit up Tuacahn to see The Little Mermaid (SO fantastic). K and Carter headed straight up to the cabin because they were BEAT! Poor kids.
 After a few hours of sleep at the cabin, we then went into Zion's National Park to embark on an EPIC hike (more to come). Then we loaded up a UHaul full of furniture that my parents and grandma handed down to us (thank you!!!) and drove back home, where we pulled in around 10am Sunday morning. No joke. It was a crazy trip. 
Could I be more tired this week?
Could the girls have had a better time?
Could it have been any more worth the insanity? 

Here are a few pics from the show at Tuacahn. Isn't my little princess the sweetest?

Friday, September 16, 2011

nothing greater

 There is nothing better than an afternoon spent in the Great Outdoors with people that you love. Even when you forget the AMAZING gourmet lunch that you packed for everyone to eat on top of the mountain you are hiking on your kitchen counter. 
This is from Labor Day weekend. Doesn't K do a super convincing impression of a pack mule? :) What a good dad. 
We are headed to St. G this weekend to do a little more hiking, and I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend. Happy Trails!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lady Love

By now you know that Avery loves Ladybugs.
She really really does.
She has already decided that she wants to be a ladybug for Halloween, which is awesome because we already have a ladybug costume for her!! But it also stinks because it's crummy and old and I want her to have one like this.
Anyway, she love love love loves ladybugs. And this summer while we were at the beach my mom found a baby doll dressed up in a ladybug costume in an antique store!! It was on a top shelf, covered in dust and in packaging from the lady who makes the calendars of babies dressed up. What's her name? googleing... Ooh! Anne Geddes. Avery has never been a fan of dolls and playing mommy. She was always more of a kitchen toy kind of girl. Until mom decided to get her this doll. (Don't worry. She didn't pay anywhere near that much. In fact, thanks to my googleing I realized what a deal she got on this baby, apparently!!)
So now Avery carries this baby doll everywhere we go. She will not sleep without her. In fact, once we left her in Rexburg on accident, and they were the longest days of Avery's life so far. She still will stop strangers on the street and tell them the harrowing tale of leaving her Ladybug Baby all alone in Rexburg! They almost-always leave with tear-filled eyes and a new outlook on life. It's a powerful story of love, loss and recovery.
So that's Ladybug Baby, the newest member of our family. She has been pushed on the swing set, cradled, cuddled, dropped, spilled-on and shown-off countless times this summer. Already this fall she has been shoved in Avery's school backpack three times a week and has seen all of the animals at the State Fair, where Avery even tried to share her smoked turkey leg with her.
Is it wrong to wish that things would never change?

better than the best

 Friday night was Black Bean Soup night at our house. 
I have recently become obsessed with this recipe, and subsequently with the Our Best Bites blog since I saw the recipe for this soup printed in LDS Living magazine. I knew I had to try it. And I am so glad I did. In fact, I think that we have had it just about every-other-week for the past three months! And I am no where near sick of it yet. Though the soup stands on its own, my favorite part is coming up with new mix-ins and sides to pair it with each time! 
The best so far is adding homemade pico de gallo, sliced avocado, cheese, lime, and sour cream. Oh! And lots and lots of tortilla chips! But maybe that's just because it's what we had this weekend.
Another perk to making this soup this last month- I have been able to use lots of fresh veggies from my very own garden! There is nothing like homemade pico with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro from your own back yard!
Since we had a friend over for dinner on Friday, I decided to try a new recipe from the girls at Our Best Bites along with my killer soup:
Throw some water, sugar and sliced limes, skin and all, into a blender, mix in some sweetened condensed milk (yep, you read right. SCM. Weird, huh?) and serve over lots of ice (To me nothing worth drinking is ever less than almost-frozen cold). 
Crazy, right? 
No. Delicious. Honestly, this lemonade hits all of your taste buds in a different way. You have to try it to know what I'm talking about.
 The most amazing part is that I was able to throw this together in less than an hour, since that's all the warning I had that someone was coming to dinner, and my plan up to that point was "Uhh I don't know. Leftovers?" Though it didn't hurt that I live kitty-corner to a Mexican food market.
Try this meal and let me know what you think. You're going to love it. I just know it.

Monday, September 12, 2011


This. Is my dad. 
He's pretty much the coolest guy you've ever seen, right? 
And today is his birthday!!
I know I told you how wonderful my mother is just a little bit ago. So now you have to picture someone who is amazing enough to hang with a lady like that. 
It's hard. I know. Let me paint you a little picture, just so you have something to go off of...
My dad is a hard worker. In fact, after years as a cameraman for a TV station, he decided that he wasn't contributing enough to others. So he went back to school. To become a teacher. For the past couple of decades he has changed and influenced thousands of kids with his incredible sense of humor and love for them. And now he is back in school getting his Masters Degree. While teaching. And serving in our home stake. And being the dad of five kids. Grandpa to three. And the husband to my crazy-busy mom. Seriously.
[The only picture of ALL of us. Yikes.]

Oh, and speaking of his sense of humor, my dad is the funniest man alive. 
The end.
I mean, the guy tells better jokes than they do on the Disney Jungle Cruise. Which he knows by heart. [Pictured below in January 2010 with Avery on said Jungle Cruise]
He likes to say that I'm the only one who laughs at his jokes, but that's not true! He usually gets a pretty big kick out of himself, too.

  My dad runs and/or works out six days a week. He is faster than me on foot, too. Not that that's hard. But he competed in his first 5K this year and I am so proud of him! He's even promised to do a 10K with me soon! He is a total inspiration to me. 

My dad is an awesome grandpa. Here he is sleeping with four-pound Av on his chest. And hanging with bald-Carter last Christmas. And dressing up as the Man from the North Pole just so Av could sit on his knee and gush about all of the things she wanted and how she was going to set out cookies for him later. 
 He has these kids wrapped around his little finger. Wait, maybe it's the other way around. 

My dad is the biggest music fan there ever was. Remember that show on VH1- Rock and Roll Jeopardy? I used to sit on the floor in my dad's room while it was on and listen to him answer just about every single question correctly long before any of the contestants buzzed in. His music collection encompasses one HUGE floor-to-ceiling cabinet in the family room. Well, it used to, at least. Until my dad got an iPod. Now he has two full 80gig iPods and a third that he is working on filling. And he listens to it all. Trust me. He has a system. 
He taught me to love the Beatles and concerts and music from a very young age. We've been to tons of shows together, too. Billy Joel in the fifth grade. Paul McCartney junior year. KISS- twice- as a teenager (The show where a very drunken man asked my dad how long we had been married as we waited outside the MGM Grand... Ahh memories...*shudder*). Arcade Fire this spring. And about a dozen front row Weird Al Yankovic concerts in between. And I'm not exaggerating. We love Al.

My dad is my spiritual rock. He has always shown me how important gaining a testimony of the restored gospel is through his tireless efforts to serve the members of our home ward and stake. Whenever I need comfort or help or have a really great experience to share, he's the guy I call. He has shown me how to build my own testimony, and what really matters in life. By example my dad has shown me how to love the sinner, how to receive truth and light, how to forgive and how to give and love and support and serve. It is my lifelong goal to be an integral part of a ward family, as well as my own family, because of the legacy he has given to me.
 I love him oh so much. And I miss his mustache. 
It's time to bring it back, Daddy.

getting schooled

 Last week Avery had her first day of pre-k! She was so excited and looked so adorable. I was the weepy mom; taking lots of pictures and demanding numerous kisses and hugs good-bye. I was practically hanging onto her leg.
It probably should have been the other way around. 
Thanks a lot, Av!

Her teachers are so sweet and the school is really so wonderful. I love all of the other kids and their moms that I have gotten to know. We are so glad to be back! 
Time is passing and Av is growing entirely too swiftly for my liking, but I am trying to roll with it. This morning when I dropped her off I didn't even stand around and watch her play for an almost-creepy amount of time.
I stayed juuust long enough.
Baby steps, people.

Friday, September 9, 2011

trash talk

 I love this little girl of mine. Only she's not so little any more. She is sassy and sweet. She is so smart and always trying to learn more. And she has some killer trash-talking abilities. Lately she turns everything into a race, so when she "raced" me to the garden the other day, I was not surprised. I was, however, very surprised when she turned around, looked at me with a big, beautiful smile and said, "MOM!! I beat you like a red-headed step-child!!" 
Oh yes. That's my girl. 
***FYI: All of the pictures on this post are ones that she took herself using her Fisher Price hot pink camera. She loves that thing and she is fearless with it! The other night we went to Baskin-Robbins for a treat after Family Home Evening and she was walking around, getting in stranger's faces and telling them, "Say Cheese!!!"
Since you don't want to see pictures of hipster teens or a family of four, I'll show you some of my favorites that she took in the garden a few weeks ago...

 I just love her passion and sense of humor.

And this one!! 
Oh man, I cannot believe how big she is getting. She has so much personality packed into every square inch, sometimes I just don't know what to do with her. She makes me laugh constantly. For instance, the girl is obsessed with dogs. She loves learning to make all of the animal noises I can teach her, but dog is her favorite. You can watch her perk up when the doors are open or we are outside and she hears a dog "Woof!" She'll look at me and say, "Woo-woo?"
"Yes, Carty! A doggie!!"
So she wanders around and looks for it. "Woo-woo!? Woo-woo!"
Cute, right?
 ...that is, until you actually put her anywhere near a dog. Anytime we are at a friend's house or the farmer's market or park and a dog strolls up, Carter FREAKS OUT! She tries to get away from it, so the dog wanders off, and she FOLLOWS IT!! She doesn't know if she is terrified or hypnotized by the thing. It is hysterical.
Seriously, these girls make life so sweet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

miracles never cease

Please go see this movie. 
Seriously, I will babysit your children or pet or stamp collection. I will do your visiting teaching for you. I will run your errands. Just so you can go. You need to see it. And when you do, bring one big box of tissues. 
Per person.
It looks super dramatic from this preview, but this film is very well made. And the reminder of what those people went through with so much faith was a welcome one. It helped me to look for the hand of the Lord in my life in the past week. And I have seen it, too. A lot.
I think that having grown up in the church sometimes makes it easy for me to be jaded by yet another story of pioneer perseverance, but the parallels between their struggles and ours, though so different in content, help me to know that if I stay strong and faithful then I can get through my trials, counting the miracles along the way.
David O. McKay once said, "The most important of life's battles is the one we fight daily in the silent chambers of the soul." I feel like that is especially true today, with so many intangible evils to face. Seeing the story of these people, how they faced evil and overcame, how they banded together, how they humbled themselves, reminds me that Satan is so real. The good news, though, is that he can and will be overcome! Each time I do my part to ignore the thoughts that say I'm not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or kind enough, I count it as a battle victory. These mental trials might make me feel absolutely crazy some days, but I know that discouragement is the greatest tool the adversary uses against me. This fight is real, and the example of the pioneers helps me have courage to keep fighting.
Anyway, see it. You'll like it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

why I believe

Check out the link to my very own profile page through!! If you click on the "I Believe" link you will get there. I have wanted to create this page for for a while, and I am so glad I finally did. Hopefully it will give me the opportunity to share with anyone who is interested exactly what I believe. And why! Faith is such a huge part of my life, and my recent involvement with the 12 Step Recovery Program has taught me how very real the Atonement of the Savior is to me every single day. You can read more about it on my new page, but I am so grateful for my faith and the strength it gives me. I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

in case

Here's an update on my sick day post. You know. Just in case you were wondering:

+Beets are super delicious. Seriously, where have you been all of my life? I should have known. They are a super food, you know.
+Also, I am feeling much better. Thank you for asking.
+Do you think I feel better because beets have magical healing powers? Probably not. But if they do, my favorite food book will tell me. Must look up.
+I spent all day canning Boston Baked Beans from the Ball canning cook book recipe. Phew. Tomorrow is green beans, but those should be a super-cinch.
+Canning things makes me feel like a mom super hero. Does Ball make capes?
+If it weren't for bacon, I think that I would fully embrace a vegetarian lifestyle. But that is a big if. Bacon deserves a cape.
+Do you think that bacon and beets would go well together? Note to self. Must try that. It sounds Super.