Good News / Bad News

The good news is that for cast #2, we went with a more feminine blue.

The other good news is that her x-rays show a lot of new bone growth, so cast #3 will no longer be needed (thanks to her mama, whose been forcing extra milk down her throat).

The bad news... I just found out that her first appointment with the Orthopedic doc cost over $700, and that doesn't include appointments 2 and 3.  Her broken arm just may cost more than her night in the ER for pneumonia.  Nice.


Easter Lesson

Last Sunday, the Primary President asked me if Brielle would share something she had passed off recently in her "Faith in God" book.  Rather than tell her I'm a horrible mother who has not worked with her on that, I opted for the "she would probably appreciate some time to prepare."  Which, in other words, means... we'll work on that and get back to you in a week or so.

In all honestly, Brielle is not an impromptu kind of girl, so I'm sure she really did appreciated it.  If she even knew about it.

Being that Easter is just around the corner, I wanted her to do something meaningful.  I found on Pinterest (surprise, surprise) a women who taught a Young Women lesson about what Christ did during the week leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.  I decided that Brielle and I should take this a step further, and each night, during the week before Easter, talk about that day when Christ was on the earth.

The result... A book we've titled "Easter.  The Greatest Story Ever Told."  

While thinking of this project, and how we would execute it, I decided I wanted it to be something we could do as a family, every year.  And that the book would cater to a 9 year old, as well as children younger or older.  I think we accomplished just that.

My sweet girl, working so hard despite her big, bulky, blue cast.

Each page contains scripture references, quotes by prophets and an activity, or visual example, and is laid out from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

The above page is from the section "The Last Supper."  This particular page includes a scripture word search as well as a card that lists the different foods that Chris and His Disciples ate.  I used velum envelopes to create pockets.

On some pockets, I left the flap on, to hold items in (such as the 30 pieces of silver - or 3 dimes), and for some I cut them off.

You can find the pages of this Easter Book, along with a page of instructions and supplies needed by clicking HERE.  I think this would make a great project for Conference weekend.  Not to mention, it might provide your family an opportunity to focus more on Christ at Easter and not so much on the Easter Bunny.


The South Knows Something We Don't

And let me tell you... we are missing out.

I love me some good Mexican food.  I could never have too much Mexican food.  I could eat Mexican food every day, and not get sick of it.

But the South seems to know something about Mexican food that Utahn's do not.  Either that, or the South really doesn't know how to make Mexican food, but has created a crazy good Mexican knock-off.

When Chris and I were doing business in Mississippi, there was a Mexican restaurant near the hotel we would stay at.  They served your basic chicken enchilada, but wait for it... with a spicy creamy sauce!  Not a hot red sauce, or green chile sauce.  It was creamy!  It was spicy! And it was amazing!  We would go there every time we were in Jackson.  Oh, how I've missed them.

And they're no where to be found in Utah.

Then I went to Kentucky.  And a fellow A.E. (my job title) suggested that we get Mexican food, instead of the Chinese food that another A.E. was proposing.  I did not object.

After waiting almost an hour for our food (we were on the verge of leaving), it happened...  A plate was placed before me with two chicken enchiladas, rice and beans, topped with a SPICY CREAMY SAUCE!  I was overjoyed.  Elated.  In pure, blissful, creamy enchilada sauce heaven.  I inhaled them.  The ridiculous wait for our food suddenly no longer mattered.

And now here I am, back in Utah, and I'm swishing I would have asked for the recipe.  Or (because most restaurants don't give their recipes) savored the goodness a little slower, having tried to identify each ingredient so it could be replicated at home.  

So, if anyone knows of a recipe, or has tried an enchilada with spicy creamy sauce, please let me know.  I'm desperately craving one right this minute, after having choked down a turkey sandwich and carrot sticks.


Downton Abbey

How is it possible that I just found out about this series after two full seasons?  How could it be that this show could win multiple Golden Globes and an Emmy and I still not know about it?  Why, with my love for movies set during this time period did no one inform me of its existence?

I will, however, forgive all who has had knowledge of this crazy good TV Series due to the fact that I was able to watch both series in its entirety during my business trip to Kentucky (during my non-working hours of course).  There is nothing I hate more that waiting weeks or months for the next episode.

But, now that I'm finished with Season 2, I have to wait until January 2013 for Season 3.  Blasted PBS.

For those who are not aware of this fantastically wonderful program, let me enlighten you, to spare you feelings I experienced when I just happened upon this show.

Downton Abbey is a British drama set in the early 1900's.  The dynamic of this show is interesting, as it involves the relationships between a wealthy, privileged family and their servants, all while the tragedies of the Titanic and war occur.  The performances of the actors are seriously top-notch and the writing is outstanding.

I may need to use a thesaurus to come up with more adjectives to describe this series.  I loved it.

Order it on iTunes.  You can stream the first season through Netflix.  Find two days that you can have all to yourself and just watch.  I promise you, you won't be disappointed. 

January 2013 suddenly feels like a century away.


It's Been 355 Days...

... Since I last used a kitchen cabinet door.

We purchased new cabinet doors for our tiny little kitchen in order to update it and make it look like new.  But then jobs started rolling in for Chris and he could never find the time to paint and install them.

But now they're almost done.  And they look amazing!  And I've suddenly forgotten where I keep everything.

It started out like this...

Then for a year, I've lived like this... (I felt so exposed)

But now, it looks like this...

The ugly fluorescent light light is gone, and 6 recessed can lights were installed.  The floors were refinished to a beautiful chocolate brown, and are no longer that bright orange-ish/yellow.  The walls were painted "Belvedere Cream."

Still to do:
  • Finish installing cabinet doors
  • Touch-Up Paint
  • Curtains (if you'd like to help me choose, see the following post)
  • Counter Tops
  • Backsplash
  • Dining area light fixture
Soon as that's all done, we'll get started on the Master Suite and Carpet.  But, being that work picks up for Chris about time, you can pretty much bet that won't happen until... well, exactly this time next year!

Redirecting My Thoughts

I'm trying to take my mind off a few things.  My recent business trip to Louisville, KY started off bad, and ended with me fearing my life was over.  I have until a business trip in August to get over a fear of flying I never used to have.

A post about the 3 things you never want to hear your pilot say is another blog post, for another day.  That day may come when I'm over the fact that yesterday, my flight experience caused me to picture my daughters life without her mother.  Freaking terrifying.

Time to redirect my thoughts.

My kitchen is nearing completion.  All the cabinet doors are painted, and a few are hung with knobs and everything.  It would have been completed when I got home, except for a sudden sinus flu virus that knocked Chris out for a few days.

And with any remodel of an old home, we've hit a few snags.  For one, the previous cabinets where built onsite, therefore, ordering a perfectly square dimensional door may or may not fit.  Lucky for me, my hubs is brilliant and can fix those types of things (which hopefully will be sooner, rather than later).

Do you remember when I started experimenting with custom made fabric?  My sample got here and I just wasn't in love.  It blended in too much with my wall color.  And with white cabinets, neutral countertops (for now) and a fairly light wall color, I need something to pop.

So, I found another pattern that I really liked and started experimenting with colors.  Problem is, I have two color combinations and I just can decide.  So, I'm asking you... what's your opinion?

OPTION # 1 - Blue Accent Flowers

OPTION # 2 - Green Accent Flowers

Send me a text... write me an email... leave a comment.  However you do it, just help me choose.  And the sooner, the better.

(And if you don't like either, please don't tell me)



Whether or not to workout has become a psychological battle ever day after work.

"I don't want to go to the gym today."  "You need to go to the gym today."

"But I'm tired and want to go home today."  "But you really do need to go to the gym today, especially since you ate _______ for lunch."

So, I go.  And I'm always glad that I did.  I feel so good, and so much better about myself when I do.

Strangely enough, today I didn't feel so good.  When leaving work, I had this huge desire to just go home.  This daylight savings non-sense is kicking my trash.  But, I kept telling myself that I need to go to the gym.  With an upcoming business trips and 5 days worth of eating out, I had to go.

So I get there, get changed, and get started, just to receive a phone call from my husband stating that my Visiting Teacher was standing on my doorstep.  Our appointment was today.  And besides feeling exceptionally bad after posting this about Visiting Teaching, I received punishment for forgetting in the form of a ridiculously hard, crazy intense, can't breathe and felt like I was going to lose my lunch kind of workout.

Oh, and I was told if I didn't finish in exactly 23 minutes, I would receive a Bonus Round (i.e. punishment) of 50 push ups, 50 box squats and 50 burpees.  I loathe burpees.  I finished in 22 minutes and 12 seconds just to avoid the burpees.

So now I'm confused.  Had I listened to the side that wanted to go home, I would have spared myself physical torture and received a spiritual message.  But, I set out to complete the ridiculously hard, crazy intense, can't breathe and may lose lunch workout, and I did!  With time to spare!  This is truly a major accomplishment. 

My psychological battle just got harder.  Now I will begin to question whether or not to go, on the off chance I'm missing an appointment I had previously scheduled.

This losing weight crap sucks.  But then, if it were easy, everyone would be skinny, right?  And not have to battle themselves just to get to the gym.


"Horsing" Around

"Horsing Around"
To behave in a rowdy, improper, unruly manner.  Act up, carry on or misbehave.

These boys are proving that the idiom "horsing around' is rightly named.

You can find Cocoa and Dandy acting this way every morning and afternoon.  Who knows, it's possible they do this in the middle of the night.  I've seen them play tug-of-war with Izzy's rope toy (no joke).  I've seen them pick up sticks off the ground and poke each other.  And I've seen them torment each other until one gets kicked.

Until today, I haven't been able to catch it on tape.  If I run out the door with a camera, they stop what their doing and stare at me.  Once I tried sneaking up on them from the other side of the fence... and they heard me coming.  But today, I opened the window in a bedroom on the 2nd floor and zoomed as far as my camera could zoom, and I finally got it (hence the reason the quality of the video is so bad).

Seeing them play is one of my absolute favorite things.  The other day, Chris said "this is an expensive form of entertainment, you know."  He gets a kick out of it too.  He just won't admit it.

If you watch until the end, you'll see just how annoyed Dandy gets with Cocoa.  But don't let him fool you... he does his own fair share of pestering.


The Perfect Vanilla Cupcake

I can call this recipe "perfect" because it has been tried, tested and proven to work every time. I lost all my cupcake recipes from my Blissful Bites days, so I've struggled recently finding recipes that are comparable.  And the fact that the basic vanilla cupcake just wouldn't turn out right almost drove me insane.  

It took roughly 6 pounds of butter, 2 dozen eggs and lots of other bakery items to figure this out.  I did learn a few things along the way... it does matter what order you mix the ingredients... it does matter the temperature of the ingredients... and it does matter how you mix them.

First, combine the dry ingredients and set them aside:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Next, gather:
  • 1 cup butter, cold
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 6 eggs, cold (4 whole, and 2 egg yolks)
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cold whole milk
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cold butter on high for several minutes.  While still beating, slowly add the sugar.  This makes it so much more fluffy.  With the mixer on low, pour in the oil.  Once incorporated, beat on high for another few minutes.  The batter will begin to turn very pale.  Add vanilla.

*** Now, through my trials and errors, I learned a few things.  1) Fat makes the cake more moist, which is why I added the oil.  2) Egg whites also contribute to a dry cake when mixed with flour, hence the reduction of 2 egg whites.  3) Once the eggs are incorporated, do not over-mix.  Over-mixed eggs make your cake dense, not fluffy.***

Add eggs, one at a time until incorporated, making sure not to over mix.  Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk until fully combined.  The batter will be thick.

Using a small cookie scoop, place two level scoops into each cupcake liner.  This recipe make exactly 24 cupcakes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.  Do not over-bake.  If they look like they could use a minute more, don't -- pull them out of the oven and let them sit in the cupcake pan to cool for minute.

Note:Texas sized cupcake liners (which are meant to be tall).

If you don't plan to use them right away, store in an airtight container to hold in the moist goodness.  I used this recipe for my recent Samoa Cupcakes, as well as the Cherry & Apple Pie Cupcakes I made for Chris for his birthday.

Now, I'm thinking a lime variation for St. Patrick's Day and a lemon or strawberry variation for Easter.  After a long hiatus from cupcake making, this recipe has me looking forward to my next creation!


Pie Cupcakes

If you are my husband, you prefer pie to cake.  If you are my husband, you prefer cherry pie.  And, if you are my husband, you prefer your mother's cherry pie.

I can't compete.  I've tried, then failed.

But still, the only thing he wants on his birthday is a cherry pie, and his mother doesn't live close enough to make him one.  So today, I got creative.

Since I recently perfected the basic vanilla cupcake, I decided to start there.  However, instead of using a regular sized cupcake liner, I used the Texas size, which fits a regular sized cupcake pan, but is really tall.  I love them.

I then made cherry pie filling, along with an apple pie filling (since Chris is the only person I know who likes cherry pie).  For the apple, I sauteed apples in butter, then added brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & nutmeg.  At the end, I opted to add some caramel that I had on hand.  SO very glad I did.

I still wanted there to be the "pie" element.  Rather than make my own pie dough, I bought the pre-made stuff from the store, cut it into strips and laid it in a lattice pattern.  Hopefully, if you try this, you'll use a pizza cutter.  I do not have one, therefore, this took me 4 times as long to complete. 

Cut them out with a small circle cookie cutter.  Very carefully.  I brushed them with an egg wash, dusted them with cinnamon and sugar, and stuck them in the oven at 425 degrees for 9 minutes.

I took the center of the cupcake out.  I really love when fillings seap into the cupcake.

I filled the centers, and then added more on top.  And I can, you see, because I used the Texas baking liners.  I think I heard someone say that everything is bigger in Texas???

Because the standard topping for pies is whipped cream, I went with my whipped Mascarpone cheese frosting.  The pie crust cookie makes the cupcake complete.

Yes, it will need to be eaten with a fork, but it's cake!  And pie!  Together!  And although you don't usually eat a cupcake with a fork, you generally eat cake and pie with one.  I really don't think we are breaking any rules.

Happy Birthday Babe!

***I know. I've promised to add my Vanilla Cupcake recipe, and I will.  Soon.***



Hey, I like the color orange!  I'm putting it in my kitchen.  But on a cast?

Oh well, I would take any color so long as the words "she doesn't have to have surgery" came out of the Doc's mouth.  And they did.  So I'll be happy with the orange cast.


Victim of the Monkey Bars

The Monkey Bars claimed it's latest victim, and that victim is Brielle.

Last Friday, Chris and I got a call from the school saying that Brielle had been hurt and we needed to come get her.  After assessing her injuries (not having been medically trained), we felt that it was probably just a bad sprain and opted not to take her for x-rays.  These decisions are tough, you know, when you don't have health insurance.

I'm not going to point fingers at anyone, but this mother did think she should be looked at on Saturday after she wasn't able to compete in the ASTA Violin Recital over the weekend.  But I was over-ruled.

Monday, it became obvious that this girl needed to be looked at by a medical professional, so we picked her up from school and took her to the local medical clinic.

It's broken.  And not just broken... it's broken near the growth plate in her wrist, with other hair line cracks around it.  The brace you see in the picture is only a temporary case until she can see an Orthopedic Specialist.  He'll determine whether or not she'll need surgery and put her in a more protective cast.  We go tomorrow.

Lucky for Chris, he's had plenty of practice helping out with broken right arms (mine), so he comes in handy when it's time to do homework, get dressed, help with hair, packing a lunch and other random things that will require some assistance.  He should consider adding "care-giver to those with broken right arms" to his resume.  Who knows, it might help?


Spiritual Thought

I had a revelation at church today.  And it came after I made a horrible comment at BUNCO last night about Visiting Teaching.  And go figure... today's Relief Society lesson was all about the importance of Visiting Teaching.

I'm known to steer clear of my Visiting Teachers.  I've never felt like I really needed them for anything.  Last night, through casual conversation, I made the following statement: 

"I work all day.  The last thing I want is someone coming to my house in the evening.  I want to relax, watch TV and spend time with my family."

Today, I realized how horribly selfish that statement was.

Today, it became clear to me that I'm denying my Visiting Teachers the opportunity to serve the Lord, by serving me, and receive the blessing promised them for being obedient. 

This wasn't said by the teacher directly, but it was certainly what I heard.

Samoa Cupcake

Yes, just like the girl scout cookie... but in my opinion, it was much, much better.

First, I tried this with both a vanilla cupcake, and a chocolate cupcake (in the end, the vanilla was the favorite).  I dipped the cupcakes in a caramel sauce first, topped with chocolate frosting and then sprinkled with toasted coconut. 

I'm going to recommend a few slight changes if your ever in the mood to make them...

Vanilla Cupcake is definitely the way to go.

Dip in Chocolate Ganache rather than a caramel coating.  I know - the caramel looks and tastes amazing, however, it made the cupcake difficult to eat.  The caramel had the consistency of a caramel apple, therefore, it was super chewy and sticky, and forks just won't "cut" it.  Pun intended.

Swap out the Chocolate Frosting for a caramel frosting.  Now, clearly this was not my first choice, because Caramel Frosting is either a) too sweet or b) not enough caramel flavor.  But I have a solution...

After you've topped with toasted coconut (and it MUST be toasted - do not compromise here) drizzle with a caramel sauce and chocolate sauce.

I'm making these again for a neighbor's upcoming party and I'll be using the above changes.  Hopefully, they will turn out just as amazing, but a little easier to eat.

Recipes will follow with the second (improved) batch coming Thursday!


I'm Going Custom

We're nearing the completion of my kitchen.  I'm still waiting on my cabinet doors, although, my husband has promised me a BIG reveal upon my return from a business trip this month.  That gives him exactly 19 days.  The clocks a tickin' babe!

Besides the cabinets doors, we need a light fixture over the kitchen table, back splash, granite countertops, curtains and accessories.  We are going to hold off on the countertops until I can afford to get what I want.  As for now, I'm working on everything else.

The goal for my kitchen is to be neutral and fresh with pops of color, which I will pull from my beautiful poppies painting that my husband bought for me before we were married (apparently he thought I was a sure thing).  This includes greens, turquoise blues and orange.  I love me some pops of orange!

This brings me to the curtains.  I thought for sure I would find a fabric that I would just love.  But after days and days and days and a few more days of searching, I'm deciding to go custom.  I just couldn't find a fabric with the right pattern with the right colors.  Cue my two latest website finds:

Deposit Photos is a royalty free site where you can find tons and tons of stock photos, drawings, pictures,  illustrations, etc.  It is here that I found the pattern that will soon be my custom curtain fabric...

You love it, don't you?  Ya, so do I.  I've already ordered a swatch for only $6.00.

This brings me to the second site...

SpoonFlower is a company that will take your patterns or pictures and print them on the fabric of your choice.  Now, it's a little pricey, but no more expensive that purchasing upholstery grade fabric from Calico Corners or Waverly.  AND - BONUS - it's custom.  One of kind.  

You can also allow SpoonFlower to sell your custom design on their website, and receive 10% of the proceeds.  You should see the fabric on their site that they sell... truly amazing with designs you will never find anywhere else.

You are probably super curious as to where I'm going to have my pops of color.  Let me know you.

Free Standing Cabinet.  I've had this for several years, but it was always on a wall of a different color.  Now, it just blends into the wall.  Soon, it will be one of these two colors, coordinating with the curtain print above...

My choices are "Rivulet" (turquoise) or "Lime Ricky" (green).  I seriously can't decide.  Feel free to weigh in your choice by commenting below.

What do we have left?  Oh yes, a light fixture.  This is where Chris and I have our differences.  I want something close to the ceiling, he wants something to hang low to the table.  However, I recently acquired a text from him that says "it's your kitchen, do what you want."  I will use this for vetoing power, which means I'll end up with something light this...

Chris and I do agree on a glass tile back splash, and if I decide on painting the above cabinet the turquoise "Rivulet," I'll end up with something like this...

Although, I'm sure that this would pair nicely with the "Lime Ricky" as well.  Decisions, decisions.  
Well, there you have it.  My soon-to-be-complete kitchen.  Do I sound a little obsessed?  I've got to be.  My husbands busy season starts soon and I'm determined to have my kitchen finished and ready when it's my month to host BUNCO.

April 1st marks 1 year of being in this home.  It's about time the kitchen is finished, don't you think?


There goes Pinterest again.  Presenting me with fun and fabulous holiday crafts to make.  And costing me lots of money.

Oh well. At least we're having fun in the process.