Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve

Friday, December 24, 2010

A New Holiday Tradition

This year we decided to start a new family tradition in memory of James' amazing mom. She was an incredible cook and breakfast foods were her specialty! In her honor, we decided to make yummy breakfast foods for dinner every night this past week. We had fun cooking together while trying to recreate her recipes!

(Photo evidence that James actually DOES know how to cook!)

Yummy German Pancakes

Our new Black Friday toy was a Belgium Waffle Maker!

James' favorite breakfast food is biscuits and gravy so I attempted to recreate his mom's classic recipe and I failed miserably! It turned out alright, but it was nothing like the original!
All hail Paula Deen (she's my fav)! We devoured these egg McMuffin's!

This time of year it has been especially hard to be without James' mom. There are so many Christmas memories with her which made this "cooking week" extra special! Miss you, Mom!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blog Challenge #3

Something You Are OCD About...
(This is probably more about us than you'd like to know, ha ha!)


I think this is OCD of me - every time I put on deodorant, I always have to swipe the bar the exact number of times under each armpit - normally 7 times. I think the reason why I do it is so that I am even smelling on both sides. I highly doubt that if I only swiped 6 times on my right side, and 5 times on my left side that anyone would be able to tell any difference, however, it’s my way of trying to make the universe a little more freshly scented. Plus I am the man that your man could smell like if he used Old Spice! (shameless commercial plug)


I am obsessed with paper towels! I saw an episode of Oprah years ago that talked about kitchen germs and it freaks me out to this day. On the show they said that it is cleaner to dip a spoon into a toilet bowl and then eat with it, than to set your spoon in your sink and then pick it up and use it again. Their explanation is that most people clean their toilets on a regular basis with some sort of cleaner containing bleach, but most people hardly ever deep clean their kitchen sink so the combination of germs (like salmonella) sit in a warm and wet environment and multiply like crazy! Yucky, huh! A lot of people use kitchen rags to clean their countertops (it is the “greener” thing to do after all) but then they leave that towel sitting on their kitchen sink and it becomes a breeding ground for germs. Have I adequately grossed you out yet? Introducing: the paper towel… clean, disposable, and fairly cheap. I know that it may not be the “green” way of doing things, but I’d rather save our house from being overtaken by an army of germs!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Season

Since I haven't posted in almost 2 weeks, I'll try to cover everything in this one post! We have been CRAZY busy lately - which is always the case this time of the year! As soon as I finished with our tree for the Festival of Trees, it was time to switch my mode to our house! I love decorating our home for Christmas!
Our Christmas Tree
Once our home was finished with it's holiday transformation, it was time to move my efforts over to work. This time of year I'm super busy with interior design jobs. I have several clients who hire me to design their Christmas trees and so far I've decorated a total of 9 trees. It is definitely one of my favorite things to do as an interior designer!

My next big project was to do the centerpieces for the Ward Christmas Party. I came up with the idea of making the centerpieces edible, by filling them with the dessert. I pitched the idea to my parents (my dad is in charge of the activities for his ward) and they loved the idea! My mom and I got to work and quickly found out that we had bit off a little more than we could chew. After making all of the goodies and assembling one centerpiece, we saw how darling they were and decided that it was worth the effort! My mom basically moved in with me and we worked on them straight for 5 days - 420 treats in total! The work paid off because they were a hit, especially with all of the kids!
Our next Holiday adventure was super exciting. This year, the Dickens Christmas Festival came back to Salt Lake City! I had the awesome opportunity of being in the plays when I was younger and it was a total blast!

The play "Oliver"
The play "Scrooge"
This is the infamous mouse lady! It's been 12 or 13 years since the Dickens Festival was in Salt Lake, but I can totally remember this mouse lady! She makes these little finger puppets of mice - weird, I know! They are actually really darling so we had to buy one for our little nephew Taylor! Going to the Dickens Festival brought back so many memories for me and I'm so excited that it's back in Salt Lake! I hope it comes back for the holidays permanently so that I can share it with our kids one day! As the holidays get under way, I promise to do a better job of posting more frequently!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Festival of Trees

Every year my mom and I decorate a Christmas tree to donate to the Festival of Trees. This year, we named our tree "Soda Shoppe Rock!" and we had a blast with it! It's hard to tell from the pictures, but we used 3 different sized trees and filled them with all kinds of fun ornaments: mini pink Chevy's, ice cream sodas, fuzzy dice, and of course records! We added a fun soda bar complete with a jukebox! We also had fun laying out a checkerboard floor to complete our design!!!
The Festival of Trees in an amazing event! In addition to the large trees, people also donate small trees, gingerbread houses, and Christmas wreaths. Everything is auctioned off to the highest bidder and ALL of the proceeds go to Primary Children's Medical Center. The Festival usually raises over a million dollars each year! It's always fun for us decorators to see who buys our tree each year! My mom and I start working on our tree in January and we work on it all year long. It's hard work, but really rewarding because it's for such a great cause! Many people dedicate their tree to a loved one who has passed away. This year, we dedicated our tree to James' awesome mom, Carolyn. It was an incredible opportunity to really reflect on her life and the amazing person that she was! James and his sisters helped us prepare and even came on decorating day to lend a hand! The Festival asks us to write a little story to be placed by our tree so that spectators can read more about it if they so choose. We asked James to write it this year and this was his story:

Take a walk with us down memory lane to a time when our mom and friend, Carolyn, celebrated her teenage years - a time of sock hops, poodle skirts, and soda shoppes! Carolyn loved the music of the 50's and instilled that love of music in each of her 8 children. Carolyn passed away surrounded by her family in March 2010, due to liver failure. We hope you enjoy this tree that was decorated with love in her memory.

We miss you, Mom!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blog Challenge #2

A Recipe...


This is my classic recipe - Jiffy blueberry muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 box of Jiffy blueberry muffins
1 egg
¼ cup of milk
Mix all ingredients until fully blended. Pour mixture into greased muffin tins or cupcake papers. Place in oven and cook until golden on the top (about 13-15 minutes)

This is probably the first recipe that I ever learned. Every Saturday morning I would wake up to watch Saturday morning cartoons, and around 8:30 I would hurry up and make the blueberry muffins so they would be ready for the 9:00 show - Saved by the Bell. The recipe would normally make 6-8 muffins - I would eat 4, and my little brother would get to eat the rest. To this day, whenever I make Jiffy’s blueberry muffins, I always remember Saturday morning cartoons.


Warm Chocolate Melting Cake
(from Carnival Cruises - soooo yummy!)

8 ounces of semisweet chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
7 eggs
6 tablespoons of sugar
½ cup of flour

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter and cool for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix four eggs with sugar. Then add the flour and whisk. Add the remaining three eggs. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture. Pour this entire mixture into individual ramekins. Bake until just done, about 15-20 minutes (interior will be melting, not set). Garnish with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 portions.

James and I discovered this dessert on our last cruise. We ordered it the first night, not knowing the decadence that lied ahead. Needless to say, we ended up ordering it every single night of our cruise... it's just that good!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gobble, Gobble!

We had a fabulous Turkey Day! We started out with a scrumptious feast with James' family... check out my yummy pecan pie! (don't mind our bro-in-law acting crazy in the background)

Next stop was my family's house for round two of feasting!

Dad carving the bird!

It's my family's tradition to hit the movies after our Thanksgiving dinner and this year we saw the much anticipated Harry Potter 7! It was awesome and we can't wait for the final movie!

After the movie, we all went back to my parents house for turkey sandwiches... and it wouldn't be Turkey Day in our family without putting olives on our fingers!

The final activity of Thanksgiving was "Psycho Shopping" as James calls it! Black Friday shopping is a tradition in James' family so we donned our winter gear, braved the freezing temperatures, and scored some major holiday deals!

Thanksgiving wouldn't be complete without expressing our gratitude! Here is a list of the TOP 10 things we are thankful for:
  1. Our Awesome Families
  2. A Warm Home - especially in this blizzard!
  3. Friends
  4. James' Job
  5. Our Health (except for the mighty cold I have right now!)
  6. Freedom - thanks to all of the men and women who serve our country!
  7. Our Faith
  8. The Miracle of Adoption
  9. Our Sweet Kitty
  10. TiVo (what would we do without it?)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blog Challenge #1

20 of my favorite things...


In no particular order

1. Pepsi
2. My beautiful wife
3. My cute kitty
4. My gorgeous house
5. My new hot tub
6. Friday nights at 6:00
7. Playing games with my family
8. Hanging out with friends
9. Clearance sales at Kohl’s
10. My cozy bed
11. Music
12. Autumn
13. October 1 - January 1
14. Cruises
15. Vacations
16. Genealogy
17. Hiking
18. My nursery kids
19. My ward
20. My neighborhood

In no particular order

1. Lake Powell
2. My nephews
3. Shopping… for anything!
4. My sweet hubby
5. Old School Nintendo
6. The Weekend
7. My fun kitty
8. Interior Design
9. Slippers
10. My family
11. Pedicures
12. My pillow
13. Pepperoni Pizza
14. Going to the movies
15. Otis Redding - he rocks my socks!
16. Wintertime (I know, I’m crazy!)
17. My friends
18. Playing Settlers of Catan with my buds
19. Cooking and Baking
20. Vacations - especially cruises!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Blog Challenge

I found this idea off of another person's blog and I thought it was an awesome idea! The Blog Challenge is 30 blog topics that are designed as kind of a "getting to know us" thing! The idea is to get through them in 30 days, but that's next to impossible for me during this crazy time of year. Our goal is to knock a couple of topics off per week. The coolest part is that James wants to do this challenge too, so for each topic, I'll do a post containing both of our answers! By the end of this thing, you may end up knowing way more about us than you'd like to!!!

The Blog Challenge Topics:
(we'll complete them in no particular order!)

#1 - your favorite song
#2 - your favorite movie
#3 - your favorite television program
#4 - your favorite book
#5 - your favorite quote
#6 - 20 of my favorite things
#7 - a photo that makes you happy
#8 - a photo that makes you angry/sad
#9 - a photo you took
#10 - a photo taken over 10 years ago of you
#11 - a photo of you recently
#12 - something you are OCD about
#13 - a fictional book
#14 - a non-fictional book
#15 - your dream house
#16 - a song that makes you cry (or nearly)
#17 - an art piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc)
#18 - your wedding
#19 - a talent of yours
#20 - a hobby of yours
#21 - a recipe
#22 - a website
#23 - a youtube video
#24 - where you live
#25 - your day, in great detail
#26 - your week, in great detail
#27 - your worst habit
#28 - what's in your handbag/wallet
#29 - hopes, dreams, and plans for the next 365 days
#30 - a dream for the future

Monday, November 15, 2010

♪ Here Comes the Bride ♪

My little brother Chris was married this past week... YAY! They were sealed in the beautiful Draper Temple.
Her dress was absolutely gorgeous!
Isn't this a handsome bunch of boys?
Cutest wedding shoes ever!
My cute family
My little bro couldn't resist jumping into my arms for a photo op!
Didn't she make a beautiful bride?
Me and James after the sealing

I helped Karen make these activity booklets for the kids to keep them busy during the family luncheon that was held after the ceremony. At the end of the luncheon, Chris and Karen passed out these darling favors to the family... they included Chris' favorite food in the world - gummy frogs!
A wedding just isn't complete without a little trashing of the bride and grooms car! Chris' buddies from work did the honors!

After the wedding, Chris and Karen went off to start their honeymoon at our family's condo up in Midway. My mom and I left these little surprises for them! We love Chris' new bride Karen and we're all so excited for the happy couple!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adoption Update

National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month is all about spreading awareness of the incredible world of adoption. 19,430 children in Utah are adopted - about 2.9%! Of women age 15-44 who experience an unplanned pregnancy...

12% will marry and parent the child

37% will be single parents

50% will miscarry or abort the child

and ONLY

1% will place the child for adoption

When trying to think of an eloquent message to share regarding my feelings of birth parents, I came across a song written by Michael McLean that sums up perfectly what I wanted to say:

With so many wrong decisions in my past I'm not quite sure
If I can ever hope to trust my judgement anymore
But lately I've been thinking 'cause it's all I've had to do
And in my heart I feel that I should give this child to you

And maybe you can tell your baby
When you love him so, that he was loved before
By someone who delivered your son
From God's arms to my arms to yours

Now if you choose to tell him, or if he wants to know
How the one who gave him life could bear to let him go
Just tell him there were sleepless nights I prayed and paced the floors
And knew the only peace I'd find is if this child was yours

And maybe you can tell your baby
When you love him so, that he was loved before
By someone who delivered your son
From God's arms to my arms to yours

Now I Know you don't have to do this
But could you kiss him once for me
The first time that he ties his shoes
Or falls and skins his knee

And could you hold him twice as long
When he makes his mistakes
And tell him that he's not alone
Sometimes that's all it takes
I know how much he'll ache

Well this may not be the answer
For another girl like me
And I'm not on a soapbox saying
How we all should be
I'm just trusting in my feelings
And I'm trusting God above
And I'm trusting you can give this baby
Both his mothers' love

And maybe you can tell your baby
When you love him so, that he was loved before
By someone who delivered your precious one
From God's arms to my arms to yours

As an introduction to this song Michael McLean writes: "When you think about it, adoption is as much a miracle as birth itself. Maybe more so, when you consider that for everyone involved it starts from a place of impossible choices: nearly unbearable fear, haunting doubts, interspersed with glimpses of hope brought into partial focus only when seen through the lens of unselfishness. And at the moment of heartbreaking courage, when a selfless choice is made, there are absolutely no guarantees... well, maybe one: that every conceivable outcome of the journey had been imagined in sleepless nights and endless days. Still, in spite of all who would say it's beyond possibility that hope or peace or joy could be found, it is!"

Adoption truly is the most selfless gift! We're grateful for all of the birth mother's out there and for their incredible sacrifice!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween - Part Two

On Halloween night, we had all of Heather's family over for a fun filled spooky party! The kids had a blast!

The Creepy Specimen Jars Our house was overtaken by mice on Halloween night!

Costumes - take 3!
Heather = cave woman / James = La-Z-Boy (aka... too lazy to wear a costume!)
Heather's Nephew's in their trick-or-treating get ups
A heated game of Bingo
Eating worm filled dirt cups
Musical Chairs set to "Monster Mash"
Decorating Pumpkins
The finished products
The party was super fun and afterward, the kids hit the streets of our neighborhood for some serious trick-or-treating! Same time, next year?

Costumes - Take 4!
Our last party of Halloween 2010 meant one last set of costumes and now our costume box is locked up and put away until 2011! See ya next year on All Hallows Eve!