Kitchen Update {3} - Lighting

Yes, I'm still working on the kitchen.  And I'm afraid I will be for a little while.  Some might think that because my husband is a general contractor, my home improvement project are top priority, and that they're finished fast.  This couldn't be farther from the truth.

The truth is that summer is his busiest season.  Clients come first.  I must wait for winter.  It is what it is, and I just have to be patient.  In the meantime, there are a few things that I can work on.

My light fixture has officially been ordered.  Praise the Lord and shout for joy!  The year of having a contractor light bulb is over!

The right light fixture for the kitchen/dining area has been a heated topic of discussion in my house.  We do not have high ceilings, therefore, something other than a flush-mount was out of the question for us.  Whether to go with something more modern, or traditional or even home made was talked about.  He wanted track lighting (gag) and I did not.

Part of the problem with this particular light fixture was that you can see if from the entryway.  It had to stand out, as well as coordinate with the living room.  It couldn't look out of place.

I chose this light for several reasons:
  1. COLOR.  My kitchen is neutral, neutral, neutral.  I didn't want the light fixture to be boring or blend in.  It had to stand out.  If you look throughout my main floor living space, you'll find many pops of orange.
  2. FINISH.  I have brushed nickle cabinet door handles, door knobs, etc.
  3. PATTERN.  My family/living room has a lot of sea side elements, like see shell mirrors, coral lamps, etc.  The coral pattern on this light will be a subtle way of tying together the family room and kitchen.
  4. SIZE.  This light is 5 3/4 inches tall, therefore, any tall people that visit our home will not have to worry about hitting their head.  It also expands 20 inches in diameter -- not too big, not too small.
  5. FREE SHIPPING.  Okay, that wasn't a determining factor, but when ordering things that are fragile and of this size, shipping can be expensive.  It was a nice bonus.
I can't wait for the email that says this light fixture has shipped.  It may get here just in time for me to have 2 other kitchen projects completed.  I'm in the middle of one and Chris doesn't know it yet, but the other day, he gave me an idea for another!


It Was The Best... & Worst of Times

There was an array of emotions Saturday.  Happiness, excitement, joy and bravery, soon followed by frustration, loss and irritation.  Let me explain...

First summer swim at Potter Pool (with Pops carefully watching over the slide after last weeks accident).

Bravery may seem like an odd, random emotion, but it wasn't.  Brielle refused to go down the slide on her stomach.  She decided to buck up and be brave when her dad offered her $12 bucks to do it -- 26 times.  And she did.  When she was done, he dared her to go down backwards, on her stomach.  Pops told her he'd give her $12 bucks not to.

Brielle earned $24 bucks for 2 hours in the pool and a little bravery.  Spoiled kid.

Then there came the excitement and screams while Chris, throwing out his back, made sure every child got their turn being thrown into the pool.


My favorite part about these pics is that each child reacts differently.  One curls into a ball, one goes into a squat type form and another goes in stiff and straight.  For the kids, it's hours of swimming heaven.  For me, its lounging underneath an umbrella snapping photos of all the action.  

We left Nani's in time for the big game (which happened to be Brynn's first RSL game) and our seats were AWE-some!  Let me tell you what you can see from the second row... sweat and bulging muscles.  Oh, and all the action.  Loved it.  We had high hopes that this game would go better than the game against LA. 

Nope.  Just like LA game.  Super tough loss, as you can see from their sad faces.  This is where our frustration and irritation set in.  RSL has now fallen to 2nd place in the MLS Western Conference.  Get your act together, RSL!  Seriously!

Watching the players exit the field...

 Wait!  Is that Nat Borchers we see?  Why Yes! It is and he's headed this way!

Like... OMG... he signed our hats!

Even with another tough loss, the day ended on a high.  Go RSL!

And the final disappointment of the day?  The fact that I must have been so giddy around Nat Borchers, I completely forgot that I had a working, fully charged and ready to go, HD camera in my purse. Therefore, all the pics I got of the girls and Nat Borchers were with my phone and are horrible.  I am, on occasion, and idiot.


RSL vs. LA Galazy

We lost.  They won.  It was a painful game to watch.

Except when watching David Beckham.

I talked about seeing Beckham the way to Salt Lake.  Brielle asked what was so special about this soccer player.  "Let me list the ways..." I said.
  1. His accent.
  2. He's gorgeous.
  3. He's an amazing soccer player.
  4. There's a movie made after him.
  5. He's married to Posh Spice (Who's that? Brielle asked.  Oh boy.)
  6. He's an underwear model.
"EWE!!!" Brielle yelled.  And then continued to tell Chris and I how gross it is to model underwear.  I love her innocence.

At some point during the game, while these grown men were displaying their dramatic, game stalling antics, Beckham was pushed down.  "Awwwww, the underwear model fell down!" Brielle yelled.  The RSL fans around us were highly amused by her comment, as was Chris.

He's a soccer player, people.  With high paying side jobs!  It's not his fault he's beautiful.

My friend attended the Poison/Def Leopard concert that very night and were texting me photos of Brett Michael's, making the assumption that I'd be jealous.

I'd much rather see the underwear model that the old rock star any day of the week.


I Can Do Hard Things

For the longest time, I had this notion that exercise and fitness was easy for skinny people.  Skinny people can run big races.  Skinny peoples knees don't hurt when they work out.  Skinny people don't get pain in their ankles when they run.  Skinny people can make it through a race without an emotional battle going on inside their heads.  It's always easier for skinny people, right?

I recently read the blog post of a girl I know who just ran a 1/2 marathon.  She's super skinny.  She drinks green smoothies every day, is super healthy and she workouts/runs ALL THE TIME.  I was shocked as I read her post about her most recent marathon experience.  She talks about how her knees hurt, that she couldn't find a good pace and that she questioned why she ever signed up in the first place.  And she still finished.

She described the very things I did when I ran my first 10K.

My notion has been busted.  The theory that it's harder for me than it is for her is no longer valid.  I have no more excuses.  I'm signed up for 2 - 5K's in August & September, one with obstacles.  I will finish.  I will run the entire time.  And I will work to a pace of 10 minute miles.


2 Fantastic Pinterest Finds

So, I've been testing out some Pinterest finds lately and I have yet to be disappointed.

One -- Febreeze.  I personally LOVE the stuff, but it's so expensive.  Que homemade version that is easy to make, super cheap, uses stuff I guarantee you already have at home and which I think is better than the original!

Using an empty Febreeze bottle (27 oz), add the following:
  • 2 Tbsp Baking Soda
  • 1/8 cup Liquid Fabric Softener 
  • Warm Water (fill the bottle full)
Shake, and use.  The scent lasts so much longer, and according to FakeitFrugal.blogspot.com, which is where I found the recipe, this will save you over $65 a year or more, if you're like me and use it all the time.

Two -- Hot Corn Dip.  I made this to go along with the Father's Day Ribeye steaks that we grilled for Chris.  OMGosh... it was amazing.  I could have eaten double, maybe triple what I actually ate if I hadn't been so very full.  It's so good, I'll be making it again for my BUNCO party in July.

Picture & Recipe courtesy of Gina Marie's Kitchen.com.

I made ahead, stuck in the fridge, then pulled out an baked just ahead of time that it was still warm and cheesy when we ate dinner.  This recipe is SO easy and made an entire pie plate full.  I omitted the cilantro (nasty stuff), but the tomatoes and green onions on top should are an absolute MUST.

In a mixing bowl, combine the following:

  • 2 cups shredded Chedder Cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack Cheese
  • 2 tbs Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce, diced small
  • 1 small can (4oz) Diced Green Chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 11oz can of Corn, drained
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so, then top with:
  • 1 small Tomato
  • 2 tbs Cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs Green Onions, sliced thin

Father's Day

Love this man.

Since I failed to get a pic of the finished gift, I'll give you a pic of all the components.  Idea courtesy of Pinterest, of course.  Since Chris has been totally annoying and quite a pest lately, but working hard so hard for our family and doing so many nice things, I thought this a totally appropriate gift.

Oh, and he LOVES Peanut M&M's.

In amongst the M&M's were tickets to another ReAL Salt Lake game, which I didn't already have tickets for, but to a game he really wants to see.

Happy Father's Day, babe.

Summerfest & Discussions About "A's"

We kicked off Father's Day weekend with a visit to Summerfest in Logan.  This is an annual tradition in our family and we do NOT miss it.  We absolutely love walking around the Tabernacle, viewing the art, the handmade creations by the locals and listening to music.  And since Chris's busy season has just peaked (and probably won't be slowing down anytime soon), this was the longest length of time we'd spent with him all week.

{ Look at those cute "A's" }

Brielle brought a friend and the first item on their list was to get their faces painted.  They decided on something much more creative and a little more elaborate than just your standard rainbow or smiley face.  They wanted to show their Aggie spirit!  Passers-by loved it and the girls got dozens of compliments.

These girls sure gave us a good laugh that night.  While listening to Ryan Shupe and The RubberBand, the girls started discussing their "A's."

"I have a skinny A and you have a fat A"  and  "My A is cool, but your A is cooler."   Or, our personal favorites... "My A itches"  and  "Don't scratch your A!"  It took a while for these silly girls to catch on to why we were laughing, but eventually, they did.

{ At one point, the funnel cakes were the size of their plates. }

Of course, we got our fair-type food fix, with GIANT hot dogs, funnel cakes drizzled with chocolate and the best  darn lemonade I've ever had.  It was amazing.  One major disappointment... no fried twinkies.  I know!  I was first introduced to fried twinkies at Summerfest last year, but they were no where to be found.  Sad.



annoyance [əˈnɔɪəns]
1. the feeling of being annoyed
2. the act of annoying
3. a person or thing that annoys
4. Christopher Errol Merkley
I added #4.  Let me provide you with a few examples as to why.

He is constantly adding "n't" onto the end of many things Brielle and I say.  I'll say "yes I did!" and he'll quickly say "n't".  Or Brielle will say "yes it is!" and he'll quickly say "n't".  At first I thought it was clever, but now I think it is so annoying.  He's even starting saying it on the end of our words that don't even make sense! Even more annoying.

This morning, he found one of my necklaces in the laundry basket where he was trying to find a pair of socks.  He said "I'm so tired of finding and picking up all of your jewelry."  To which I replied, "You wanna know what I'm tired of finding all over this house?"

Wittingly, he said, "my love?"  I didn't know whether to laugh, or get angry, so my confusion just led me to be annoyed.  Again.

Lucky for him I was nowhere near a large carrot.


My Boys

I was talking about my horses today at work.  I love talking about my boys.

It was then that it suddenly dawned on me... we missed their birthday!!!  And I think they know it, 'cause when I tried to snap some photos, they 1) turned their butts to me...

...and then 2) walked away from me.

That, or they didn't want to be bothered while eating.

aka Dandy-Man or the Boss-Man was born first - May 28, 2008, although he wasn't the first to enter our family.  This equine must be first for everything.  First to eat a carrot, first to the hay at feeding time, first to the fresh water and so on.  If he so much as thinks Cocoa will get their first, Dandy will bite him on his rear.  I have a suspicion that Dandy didn't want Cocoa to be born first, so he made sure to come early (their half brothers -- same dad, different moms).

Dandy may like to be first line and in charge, but I'm finding that he's a bigger sissy than Cocoa.  He's afraid of the water hose and this morning, I saw him take off running when a bird chirped in a nearby tree.  In his defense, it was more of a loud cackle than chirp, but still... it was just a bird.

I love the marking on his nose, but beware, he doesn't like you touching his nose.  He loves a good scratch behind his ears, and stomps his feet when being groomed.  He hasn't found his "run" yet with a rider on his back and will hop a little (which scares the hell out of me when I'm on him, but makes me laugh when someone else is riding him).

Dandy was a gift to me from Chris's uncle, Christmas of 2010.  Chris wasn't exactly thrilled, but at the time, we had no land, and the "incident" which broke my arm was still fresh in our minds and bank account.  But I love him, and Chris has certainly warmed up to him.

aka Cocoa-Ca-Cho was born June 8, 2008 - just shy of two weeks after Dandy.  This equine changed our lives forever.  Chris grew up with horses, and I knew nothing about them.  Chris was working for his uncle when Cocoa was a year old, and Uncle G. offered him to us.  We had no place to keep him, no equipment or riding gear, but I said YES before Chris could tell him no.

I've had many firsts with this horse and have learned a lot about large animals.  First horse I've ever haltered, groomed and bathed, first horse I ever saddled and first horse I gave de-worming medication to.  That was an experience.  He's also the first horse that kicked me and broke my arm (and I pray the last).  

His personality is sweet and submissive, but won't back down when challenged by Dandy.  He'll lean against Chris and rest his whole big head in Chris's arms.  He's a true follower, and does whatever Dandy does.  If Dandy eats, he eats.  It Dandy rolls in the dirt, so does Cocoa.  He loves carrots, apples and watermelon rind.  I don't think he likes being saddled.  He bloats his belly so big you can hardly get the girth around him.  But he's always been so easy to care for and love.

These two fell right back into step when we brought them together.  It's as if the 2 years apart never happened.  They are true brothers.  They watch out for each other, torment and tease each other, but my favorite thing is watching them play together.

Happy 4th Birthday Boys.


Summer Is...

Sprinklers under the trampoline on a hot day.

Poor Izzle...

She wants so bad to join in on the fun.



Meet George. 

George, as we like to call him, is a regular visitor in our pasture.  3 or 4 times a week, you'll see George making is way across the pasture, or stopping where the horses eat to pick at some of the leaves and grain.

We all love seeing George. "George is out today!" is regularly shouted at our house, and we all dart to the nearest window for a peak.

Izzy hates George. And I think George knows it. He takes his sweet time, walking across the pasture, in plain sight for the poor pup to see. It's obvious he knows there's a fence between him and her, and that she can't get to him. It's almost as if he's laughing at her when he walks by.


S'Mores Cupcakes

I've made S'Mores Cupcakes before... but never like this. And this particular occasion (for a very special girl, on a very special day) deserved a kicked up version of the original.

And let me tell you... I'm considering a "crust" on all future cupcakes. The crunch made these cupcakes, and gave what can sometimes be a texture-less dessert into something fantastic.

Tip...Take the time to make the homemade marshmallow, ya'll. It's not that hard, but completely worth it.  You just won't get the same effect torching a store-bought jumbo marshmallow.

I sure love it when I have a reason to get out the kitchen torch. It feels so... dangerous!

The Crust
  • 2 Cups Graham Crackers (crumbled in a food processor)
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp Butter, Melted
Combine ingredients & divide evenly between 24 cupcake liners.  Press firmly.  I used the bottom of my 1/4 measuring cup, and it was perfect.  Bake at 350 for 4-5 minutes.

The Cake
  • 1 Box Western Family Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
I'm specific about the box mix brand. I have yet to find a "from scratch" chocolate recipe that doesn't end up all over the bottom of my oven, and this mix has never failed me. And, the addition of the Cocoa Powder makes it extra chocolate-y and eliminates the box mix taste. Add the cocoa powder to the mix and then add all other ingredients according to the box.

Add cake batter to muffin liners, being careful not to over-fill (there will be batter left over, because we've added the crust). I'm not trying to micro-manage your kitchen, but if it wasn't obvious, I just saved you a mess to clean up.  You're welcome.

Bake at 350 degrees for no more than 16 minutes, or until then spring back when touched.

The Marshmallow 
  • 8 Egg Whites
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Cream of Tarter
  • 2 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
Over a double broiler, whisk the egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter until the sugar dissolves (about 5-6 minutes). Don't stop whisking, even if your arm hurts. Mine was cramping after 3 minutes. When dissolved, pour into a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until shiny, light, fluffy and cooled (about 7 minutes).  Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Fill a pastry bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. I used a large star tip. Then, the fun part... I torched 'em.  A few liners started on fire, but my kitchen did not. And hey, it gave them the authentic campfire torched looked.  If you don't have a kitchen torch, I suppose you could use the broiler feature in your oven, but since I have not had one success with this method (even trying to cook garlic toast), I do not recommend it.  But you're sure welcome to try.