Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Highlights of 2014

The last two months have just flown by at lightening speed.  FLOWN BY, I tell you.  It has been a whirlwind of dancing, homework, baking, wrapping, delivering and getting sick.  But I guess that's the holidays for you.  At least, that's what they've become for me.

I've seen a lot of  Top Ten posts on blog floating around the internet.  I'm not totally sure I actually have ten blog posts that people have read, let alone a top ten list.  So, in my slacker way, I'm going to highlight some of my Top Ten Experiences of 2014.  Although there probably won't be ten.  There will be.....some. Instead of most popular down to least popular, I will go chronologically because it's easier for me to find pictures that way.  Assuming I even took any pictures........sigh......

Without further ado, I present to you 2014 Chaos Style!

Dexter grew a mustache.  This poor dog.  He is so loved.  I promise.

Babs turned 7!  And also got her first hair cut shortly after. 

June was a big month for our family.  First we had dance recitals.  This was not your average dance recital.  It was a full show.  It was so amazing I'm not really sure why they call it a dance recital.

And then we met Martha Stewart.  No, really.  We met Martha Stewart and she loved my girls.  There was also an extremely unflattering picture of me in the newspaper.  Yay for that. 

 Then we took an EPIC vacation to Orlando, Florida which is going to get a post all on its' own.

Started school, much to this mama's sadness.  Fourth and Second grades this year.

And Lolly turned 10!  TEN!  Double Digits.  I can't believe my baby is ten.

Our fall was busy with Christmasy stuff.  Both girls were in the school choir (which started learning Christmas songs in September) and danced in a local production of the Nutcracker which started rehearsals in October.
 And had some awesome (easy) Christmas hair!

It was quite the year and we loved it.  Our New Year's celebration included thinking back on everything that we learned and did last year and making goals for the coming year.  But that's another post for another day.......

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm Not That Great, Really

A few weeks ago I was invited to a small ladies lunch.  I was surprised by the invitation because....well, I'm generally surprised by any social invitation.  I'm not exactly drowning in friends and social invites in my neighborhood.  But I was excited to go.  Nervous, but excited.  The problem is that when I get nervous I tend to talk too much.  Mostly about nothing.  And it's annoying.  But that's another problem for another day. 

My RSVP was a solid maybe since I had been sick.  Oh my gosh, I had been sick for so long.  Bronchitis, then was really just ridiculous.  I am feeling better now, thanks for asking.  Since my attendance wouldn't be concrete, I didn't end up bringing any food contribution to the luncheon.  But every other member of the group brought something....soup, rolls, dessert, etc.  It was really a lovely afternoon and I quite enjoyed myself.  Except for the nervous talking.  That was lame. 

While we were eating lunch something happened that really stood out to me.  Something that has probably happened at just about every lunch or dinner party I've ever been to, but for some reason this really stood out to me.  And it made me sad. 

When the meal began, our lovely hostess apologized for not having a large enough matching set of dishes for everyone.  There were enough dishes for everyone to use, but they didn't all match.  Here she had graciously invited us all to her home, but felt the need to apologize for a super hero cup.  As each of the items were tasted and complimented, a similar thing happened. 

"Oh, it's just soup from a mix.  Nothing special."
"If I can make this, anyone can."
"It's just the three ingredient cookies.  It wasn't that hard."

These kind, talented, funny, dedicated, amazing women felt the need to essentially put themselves down when given a genuine compliment.  To explain how their efforts were nothing special.  There was only one woman there who simply smiled and replied that the soup she had brought was a family favorite and she hoped everyone would like it.  I can't help but think that the fact that she was not raised in the United States was a contributing factor to her being able to accept a compliment without letting you know how much she doesn't deserve it.

I'm certainly not pointing fingers here.  There is not a doubt in my mind that I would have done the exact same thing.....had I actually brought something to contribute.  (Other than my awkward over-talking)  I can't even begin to count the number of times that I've made some sort of excuse as to why someone shouldn't be complimenting me.  I'm not sure why we do it.  Is it so we don't appear prideful and arrogant?  Is it because we feel that we are too flawed in other ways to accept any kind of compliment?  Or is it because, as a society, we have trained our girls to not feel like anything they do is enough?    

I just don't know.  What I do know is that I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure my girls know that they can graciously accept compliments and not feel like they have to let the one giving the compliment know how they don't measure up.  I'm going to do my best to teach my girls that doing their best is good enough.  And I'm going to start by reminding myself (probably every. single. day.) that doing my best is good enough too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tip Tuesday--Another Use For Your Jar Lifter

I know I'm not the only one out there that still home cans food for storage.  And if you are a canner, then you have a jar lifter.  (If totally should...they're awesome.) 

Life has taken a turn from crazy to so crazy I can't remember what day it is.  In order to curb the crazy, I've been making and using freezer meals so that I have one less thing to wake me up in the middle of the night.  But sometimes those plastic bags full of raw meat and less than solid ingredients are all over the place.  Sometimes things get spilled.  And I want to avoid those sometimes. 

That's where the jar lifter came in!  Just yesterday I was making this recipe for Chicken Enchilada Rice (freeze the chicken, green chilies and melted butter and add the cream cheese and milk according to recipe directions) and needed to get the ingredients into a quart size plastic bag.  So I turned over the zip closure top and put it around the non-rubbery end and was able to put everything in the bag and close it up with nary a drip to be found. 

It probably won't work with anything bigger than the quart size bag but it works for that so it's all good.

Happy Canning Season!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorite--Simply Eden Lip Balm

A few months ago my cute little family headed to Ogden for the Earth Day Celebration at Ogden Nature Center....which I highly recommend you attend if you live anywhere within driving distance.  We had a great time! 

Along with the animals (alpacas are my favorite) and other exhibits, there were some local businesses.  One that caught our attention was called Simply Eden.  She sells various bath products made from goats milk.  From her own goats!  Plus, her name is Athena and to my Greek mythology obsessed children, it was amazing.  Of course I had to smell and test pretty much every single thing she was selling.  I wanted one of everything, but ended up purchasing a lip balm.  This lip balm.  The lip balm that is now known as "the best chap stick ever" or "my favorite chap stick". 

I may have almost cried when I realized that I lost it on our recent vacation.  Well, that's a little dramatic.  But I was pretty bummed.  I haven't replaced it yet, but I hope I will soon.  Plus with a flat shipping rate of $5.75 I should probably buy a few other things so I'm not buying a $10 chap stick.  The bar soaps and creams were seriously amazing so it wouldn't exactly be painful.  And if I buy six items (half of which will probably be chap stick....I have very dry lips) that means it's only $1 shipping per item.  That's just good math.  In theory, these would make great gifts, but then you have to give them away.  Maybe a "one for them, one for me" approach would work. 

And the best part about these items is they're all made of organic, natural ingredients.  Plus, her soap cake is adorable.  It literally looks good enough to eat.  I would probably just put it in my pretty glass cake saver and look at it everyday.  But I don't have the room for that so I'll have to admire it from the Internet. 

**Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I just really love that lip balm and because I'm missing it, I've been thinking about it lately.  I like sharing the things I love.** 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book of the Week!--Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

This weeks edition of Book of the Week is brought to us by my fabulous book club.  My friend chose this book and it was such a fun read!  It was quirky and engaging.  I just loved it.

To be honest, I didn't love the ending.  It all seemed to wrap up into a neat little bow a little too easily.  It was kind of like one person wrote the entire book except the last couple of chapters and then someone else stepped in to finish it but was trying to sound like the original author.  It just lost it's flow.  That being's still a fun read and I would totally read it again.

Warning....there are some swears so if you don't like swears you might want to skip this book.  Or ignore the swears because it's a really fun book.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's The Little Moments That Make The Difference

Picture It......

The girls first time flying on an airplane.
Take off.  Land.  Take off.  Land.
Are we there yet?

Yes!  Finally we are!  We have landed in Orlando, a dream vacation that we had been planning and talking about for months.

We step off the airport tram...almost there!  Thank goodness since we've been up since 3 AM. 

Lolly: (raising her arms in the air) Ahhh!  What is that?  Can you feel it?  The air feels wet!  What is that?!
Me: (giggling) Sweetie that's humidity.  It's moisture in the air.
Lolly: I don't like this humility.  I don't like it at all.

A few days later....

Lolly: This humility isn't so bad.  I'm getting used to the humility.  I think I'm even starting to like this humility.
Me: (can't stop smiling....)

It may seem like such a small thing.  A desert girl's first experience with humidity.  But I have told that story countless times.  It's one of my favorites.  A story our family will enjoy for years.

As we count down the hours until we head to the Mom It Forward retreat at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, I'm looking forward to all these little moments that make our life so very full.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's the Ugly Sink Contest from Mountainland Supply Company!

Last week I got to go to a fun event at Mountainland Supply Company in Orem, Utah.  They have a beautiful show room full of all the bathroom and kitchen plumbing fixtures you could possibly think of.  Like this beautiful tub that was asking to come live in my home.

And they are having an Ugly Sink Contest!  All you have to do is like Mountainland Supply Company on Facebook, share a picture of your ugly sink on Facebook and let them know why you should win! Then go here to enter in the rafflecopter giveaway!

They are also having a fun event this Thursday, August 7th.  Here are all the details:

Join us for an evening of fun and discovery. See our newly re-designed showroom, meet our friendly staff, and learn from factory representatives in our industry about the latest products and design ideas. Brand favorites like: Moen, Delta, Danze, Elkay, Insinkerator, Gerber, TOTO, Aquatic,  American Standard, and more.

Plus, join in our Social Media fun and post a picture of your sink on our Facebook page under the “Ugly Sink Contest” banner and you could win everything including the kitchen sink! How does a FREE Danze Faucet, Elkay Sink, ProSeries Disposal from Insinkerator and professional install from Mike Healey Plumbing sound?

We will be having catered food from Apple Spice, great raffle prizes and networking opportunities with customers, plumbers, contractors, designers and builders from all over the community.

When: Thursday, August 7th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Where: Mountainland Supply Showroom, 1505 West 130 South · Orem, UT 84058
RSVP: Jen Henry 801.224.6050 or

Link for the Ugly Sink Contest is:
Facebook Page is:
Pinterest Page is:
Instagram Link is:
Twitter Link is: @MountainLandInc
Hashtag: #mountainlandsupplyshowroom

Wouldn't it be fun if one of you win!  Let me know if you do!

**Disclosure--Although I did attend a blogger event at Mountainland Supply Company, I did not receive any compensation for sharing this contest.  I just really want one of my friends to win.**


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Butterbeer for Harry Potter's Birthday!

This is a fun recipe that I've put together from various different recipes and is family approved!  We even served this at our family Halloween party last year and everyone loved it!  And since tomorrow is Harry Potter's birthday, it's the perfect time to whip up this easy butterbeer recipe.

2 liter cream soda
2 tablespoons butter extract
2 teaspoons rum extract

Add the butter and rum extracts to the bottle of cream soda and gently mix.  Put back in the fridge until ready to serve.

Cream Topping
1 7-oz container of marshmallow cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon of rum extract
1 teaspoon of butter extract

Mix in blender or electric mixer until smooth.  Poor over prepared butterbeer and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tip Tuesday--How To Get Chlorine Out of Hair and Swimsuits Naturally!

IT'S SUMMER!!!!  And summer means swimming.  Lots and lots of swimming.  And swimming lessons that seem to take over your life.  At least that's how it feels for me.  

This weeks tip is for dealing the all the chlorine in your life.  Both my girls have really long hair and if I wash it every single day it totally dries it out.  And we all get kind of cranky.  But I can't just leave all the nasty chlorine chemicals hanging out in their hair.  This is what we do and it works like a charm!

After swimming lessons we head home and the girls jump in the shower.  Depending on how tired and/or hungry they are there might be less jumping and more dragging.  Anyway.....I take their swimsuits (usually from off the bathroom floor) and soak them in the bathroom sink with warm water and a splash of vinegar.  Leave them to soak for a few minutes (no rinsing) and then hang them up to dry.  I learned the hard way to never ever wash swimsuits in the washing machine, even on the delicate cycle.  This pretty much gets the vinegar out.  I've found that after a few times, the vinegar alone doesn't seem to cut it so about once a week I add a tiny bit of our laundry detergent to the water, soak, rinse and good as new!  

While the swimsuits are soaking in the sink, I spray vinegar on my girls hair and they rinse it out at the end of their shower.  By the end of the week, their hair needs a regular washing but this works great for the everyday chlorine detox.  Plus it makes their hair soft and shiny.  Bonus!

If you have any awesome summer tips, please leave them in the comments!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ironic Chaos

That's the only term I can come up with to even attempt to accurately describe the last eight weeks at our house.  Before you get all worried (I know you care deeply), you should know that it has all pretty much been First World Problems.  Problems, for sure.  But of the First World variety so I'm able to cope pretty well and still be grateful because in spite of the ironic chaos, we are a happy, healthy family.  Yes, a broken bone is involved but I hear buckle fractures aren't as bad.

Let me begin in late spring of 2014......when our trusty computer refused to turn on.  Ever again.  It was done and would not negotiate.  That's a big reason for my Internet silence.  Well, probably not the biggest reason (we eventually borrowed my mother in law's seldom used laptop) but definitely a contributing factor.  We are no longer using that laptop since my father in law's  computer died.  And then his printer.  Apparently what we have is catching.

Now, on to the bigger, more fascinating things.  We had decided a while back to go back to renting out the basement.  About four years ago we had had enough of renting out our basement and were ready to expand!  And we were thrilled.  See here.  But here was the reality of it all.....we rarely used the space for family time and activities.  It mostly just stored stuff.  And boy does that excess stuff accumulate fast!  Don't know what to do with something?  Just put it in the basement.  We'll deal with it "later".  So we decided that we were going to rent it out again and use that money to do some extras that we wouldn't normally be able to afford, like fun vacations and buying CG the truck he's always wanted.  The key to our reasoning was to "get ahead" financially.  Remember that will be funny later on.

So we commenced with the emptying of our basement.  Phrases like "where did all this @#$% come from" and "are we done yet?" were heard frequently.  The basement required very little work (or so we thought) to get it ready to rent again so it was mostly just sorting through all the stuff that had accumulated for "later".  Later is a nasty, vengeful word.  It holds a grudge.  Big time.

We decided that since we would be putting up (semi) permanent walls in order to make the separate entrance for the basement apartment, we should probably re-do the kitchen floor beforehand so that it would all match, should we ever choose to take the walls back down.  Honestly, the kitchen floor has needed intervention for the last several years and there's no time like the present!  And it seemed so logical and responsible to have that taken care of before renting out again.  Given our time restraints and the accepting of our lack of DIY love, we decided to have the entire thing done by a flooring company.  Again, responsible and mature.

The flooring is selected, ordered and the deposit makes it all official.  But there were some issues with the ordering and the delivering.  And then the floor was finally installed two days before the walls were going up.  Mild panic.  But it was fine.  I watched the installer work (occasional glimpses....I didn't want to be weird) and it seemed a little....not like I was expecting.  But I'm not a flooring professional so I didn't bug him.  And it's not like he wasn't working hard, because he was.  I was just told that 3-4 layers of flooring should come off (he removed one) and there was a strong possibility of needing a new underlayment (he used mud) and it just didn't seem right.  But it was done in time and we rejoiced!  Until.....

Our brand new "luxury vinyl tile" was scratched to oblivion within the first week.  We did not rejoice.  We were mad.  And when I say "we", I mean "me".  I was ticked.  We just spent a significant amount of money and it was wearing worse than the cheap vinyl tiles we put in seven years ago!  So I called the flooring company and it seemed there were two separate problems.....the tile itself (which they are thankfully replacing even though they said the warranty says you have to have felt feet on chairs....psh) and the floor preparation which can be fixed once the floor is being replaced.

But what about those walls we put up for the basement entrance?!?  Yes.....exactly.  I'll come back to this later though.  I'm trying to keep it sequential so no one gets confused.

Also during this time, the van decided that the air conditioning no longer wanted to work.  Like at all.  And I have two girls who can't handle intense heat and a van that doesn't have back windows that go down.  It was a non-negotiable fix.  A $1600 non-negotiable fix.  Ahem.

As for the basement apartment, we replaced the disposal the last renters broke, replaced a bath fixture, cleaned things out (thanks to my saintly sister in law) and did some painting.  And it was ready.  Until they tried to plug in their dryer.

Turns out the "dryer plug" actually had a wooden stud in front of it, impeding access.  But it didn't matter anyway since it was the wrong plug AND didn't have any power running to it anyhow.  So we had to have a new dryer plug run to that room.  But in order to do that, we had to have the entire electrical panel replaced. And then replace all the breakers because they didn't fit into the new panel.  All very common and yet very bad timing.

Of course, this was all taking place during the last week of school, which everyone knows is a very calm and not at all crazy time.   But wait!  It gets better!  Or worse, depending on how you look at it.  During all of the electrical hullabaloo in the basement our upstairs oven locked.  As in, locked itself shut (like for a self cleaning cycle) and refused to open.  No matter what we did.  No Open.  We consulted the Google and learned many things.  First of all, NEVER use your self cleaning cycle because it causes problems like this pretty frequently.  Also?  Our warranty expired in April.  This was June.  The most helpful information was that there is a fuse at the back of the oven that may (or may not....didn't read any true success stories) undo this problem if you change it.  Just pull the oven out and take a look.  The thing is, we have a wall oven.  Wall ovens are super heavy and so they make sure that they are securely screwed into the wall so that it doesn't fall out.  All you have to do to get the oven out of the wall, is to open the door and take out the screws on each side.  Unless you can't open the door.  And then you're screwed.

We've heard different tips and purchased/returned tools that are supposed to help us, but 6+ weeks later I am still without an oven.  Yes, you read that right.  I don't have a working oven.  The girl who makes almost everything from scratch and bakes/cooks all the time doesn't have an oven.  Well, an oven that opens and is usable.  Still looks like new though!  I frequently point out to CG how well I'm coping with this and often request that he fully appreciates the lack of crying, yelling, nagging or complete melting down that has resulted in this lack of oven.  He looks at me like I'm crazy.  Six weeks and counting.......

In other news, Dexter has had this weird (kind of gross) growth that has been growing on his leg for a couple years now.  It never seemed to bother him so we didn't worry too much about it.  But then he got a growth by his eye that really seemed to bother him.  We took him to the vet and everyone was shocked at his age because he still acts like a puppy.  Which is both good and bad.  We opted to do the surgery and he's doing much better now.  But I really thought this was going to be what truly pushed me over the edge.

The Cone of Shame
Some dogs hate it, some hide when wearing it, some dogs probably do other things.  I don't really know.  What I do know is that Dexter opted to use it like a bulldozer.  You got in his way?  He would just push you with the big plastic cone until you got out of his way.  He used it in any way he could.  I'm not totally convinced he hated it.  By the way, having a cone of shame rammed into the back of your legs is surprisingly painful.  And he's a pretty strong dog.  He almost pushed CG down the back stairs.  The rest of us didn't have a chance, really.

Then this cute girl got glasses.

And then she broke her arm.  Dodge ball is a mean, mean game when you're half the size of everyone else.

Thankfully we have insurance and even though we have a fun deductible to pay before insurance will pay anything (so we pretty much will pay for it all), we still have it if we needed it.  Perspective.

Other than all that, we've been having a great summer!  Time is flying by way too fast and I have so many posts to catch up on....the end of the school year, dance recitals, swimming, glasses and all the other fun things we've been up to.  Even hiking!  We are the hiking family this year!

Also?  I cut off about a foot of hair.  I should probably post pictures of that.

But for now.....I'm going to bed.
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