Sunday, August 25, 2013

Collage Wall

So, life has been busy. I finished my first year of graduate school. This summer we sold and bought a house, then moved. I was working and doing an internship. The girls had swim lessons and we were trying to put together a new home. While we still have a long to-do list, I finished my collage wall and I'm pretty happy about how it turned out.

I didn't bother taking a picture of the blank wall before I started. I'm sure you can image a large, blank wall. Got it in your head? Good. I used butcher paper to trace all my frames and mark where the hangers are. Then I used the butcher paper to decide how to place my pictures. This was nice because I could rearrange my pictures without punching a bunch of holes in the walls.

See the little triangle? That's where the hanger is on the frame.

Once I finally had an arrangement I was happy with I started with nails. I actually used use these gorilla hangers because they are designed to hold the weight better and JM felt better about them than nails. I ended up having to shift some things around when I started hanging. You never know what is behind your walls until you start hanging things.

Lest you think this was a quick process, it wasn't. The butcher paper was on the walls for a few weeks while I decided if it was what I wanted. After some thought I bought a few more frames, and made the large blue "S" monogram. It's also a clock; I love clocks.

I also knew I wanted more than just picture frames. I thought it would be too flat with just frames. That was another reason I added the big monogram letter (its a cardboard letter from JoAnns, painted). I also put up a little shelf that will add some dimension. JM was really against the shelf initially, but he liked it after it was all put up. I love the way my wall turned out!

It fills the large wall well and it shows all our great family pictures. I like that it's asymmetrical; I didn't want it perfectly square. That also worked to my advantage when I had to shift pictures over an inch or two because of pipes or studs. Now I have several other large walls that I need to fill, but I need some art for those.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wanna see something cool?

Life is crazy busy. Between going to school full time, working, and family life, I am just barely keeping up. That means that blogging has pretty much been eliminated for lack of time. But I wanted to put together a quick post asking for your help.

Graduate school is expensive and I can use all the financial help I can get, so I have entered a video scholarship contest. It would really mean a lot if you would take 90 seconds of your time to click on the link below to watch a PSA about drinking and driving that I produced. That's it. You don't have to send me money or register anywhere. Just watch the video online.

Part of the contest judging will be on how many views and likes my video gets, so if you are feeling really ambitious, you can click on the thumbs up after watching. If you feel like going above and beyond the extra mile, you could send the link to your own family and friends or post it to your blog to help me get more views. If spreading video links isn't your thing, that's perfectly fine. Your view is much appreciated.

Link to amazing PSA: View The Video Now

Thank you! I will let you know if I win.

Sponsored by the Personal Injury Attorneys at Davis Law Group.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's only hair, it's only hair, it's only hair...

With two girls, I knew the day was coming when one (or both) of them would cut each other's hair. We had a minor incident last year when BG cut a snip right up front. It was small enough that we were mostly able to hide it with a deeper part and some patience. It was juuuust getting long enough to blend in with the rest.

This time, I was not so lucky. It was a Sunday morning and I had the audacity to take a shower, leaving them unsupervised. JM had left for a hike and their girls were instructed to play quietly. The sight I beheld after dressing was depressing. Blanche took the major hit, length-wise. I took pictures while I scolded them. I had to suppress my laughter and amusement at the whole scene- again I figured it was coming at some point. Yet, the last thing I needed was for them to think I thought it was funny. No sir, that's some reinforcement I don't need when it comes to scissors.

Blanche looks bad from the front. Even worse from the side.
 Not so much this side... (note how long her hair is)
but this one. Yikes!

BG managed to yet again, get the right-up-front scalp snip. Sadly this time it is too substantial to just hide with a deep part and patience.
An hour before church (of course!) I texted my hair dresser in a panic, requesting immediate, emergency appointments. We scheduled them for the next day and I did my best to make them presentable for church. (Blanche's was surprisingly well-hidden by two half-ponies. There wasn't much to do for BG.) (Side note: I've had several friends comment of how this picture of BG looks like a mug shot- not what a mother wants to hear.)

The next day after repeatedly drilling into their heads "Only a grown up can cut your hair!" we set off for professional cuts. My stylist did a good job (with what she had). We will just have to be patient and invest in headbands.

Blanche got lots of side-swept bangs. It's not too bad from the front.

From the side, it looks a little like a 70s shag, but it's much better than before. She also lost a long of length to try and make it look as "intentional" as possible.
 Headbands help the look. Too bad she doesn't keep them on very well.
 BG got some cute bangs. She begged and begged for bangs. They look pretty cute. After having them for a few weeks now, she mostly pushes them off to the side, revealing her snipped lock and totally defeating the purpose of them altogether. She claims she is "not used to them", but hates it when I try to push them back down. Sigh.... It's only hair right?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nutella Peppermint Cookies

I love Nutella. It is a bit of chocolate heaven. When I found these Chocolate Nutella Cookies from Two Peas, they quickly became a family favorite. JM loves them too and asks for them all the time. A few years ago for Christmas, I made a slight adapation and they turned out sooo good. I'm not typically one to alter recipies, (I'm a rule follower) but I'm glad I did with these!

Nutella Peppermint Cookies

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/3 cup Nutella
1/3 cup milk
Crushed candy canes or Peppermint Kisses


1. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract and beat until extracts disappear. Add the Nutella and mix until batter is smooth.

2. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternately with the milk in one batch, mixing well. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes before baking. You can make the dough a few days in advance, just wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Take a tablespoon of cookie dough and roll it into a ball. Gently press down on the dough ball. Press into crushed candy canes (or put candy kiss in the middle if using) and place on lined baking sheets. Continue making dough balls until the cookie sheets are filled-leave two inches in between cookies.

4. Bake cookies for 10-11 minutes or until soft, but starting to set. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen.

The bigger the chunks of candy cane, the more prominent they will be after they bake. I actually prefer smaller pieces, but it's kind of hard to get them small without crushing them. Candy cane dust doesn't work as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's Not About Pants

I'm pretty sure I have lost any blogging audience I may have had, meaning the only people left reading this will be family and possibly a few neighbors. Which also means I will most likely offend everyone reading this, but I have to speak up.

A movement was organized called "Wear Pants to Church on Sunday" for Dec. 16. The organizers are mostly feminist Mormon women who would like to see greater gender equality in the church. (This is a great article specifically outlining some things that could be more equal.) This started out as a small, non-intrusive way for women to express their desires through civil disobedience. They specifically chose wearing pants because they thought it would be non-threatening. They weren't trying to make a political statement, alienate people or do anything that would distract from the spirit of church. But over the last week, this small step meant to encourage thought, kindness and equality has exploded into a big ugly mess. Church members are offended and horrified that women would choose to wear pants to church, despite there being no official church policy on the matter. There have been mean words, accusations and even threats. Yes, threats against those planning to wear pants.

I watched the whole thing unravel for a few days considering what I wanted to do. I wanted to stand with these women but I was scared. Scared of the judgment of others. Scared that my fellow church members would look down on me. Scared that I could be putting my education in jeopardy as I'm attending a church-sponsored school. And that's when it clicked for me. The very fact that I am scared to stand up and share my thoughts is why I should. The fact that I fear the judgment of others is misguided. I should only be concerned with what God thinks of me, and I think God supports equality in all forms; men and women, black and white, bond and free, Christian or Muslim. He loves us all.

I took a deep breath, summoned my courage and took a stand. I posted on my facebook wall that I planned to wear pants on Sunday. I wrote "I will be wearing pants to church on Sunday. I'm not doing it to be disrespectful, rude, or to show off my apostate ways. I'm doing it for solidarity for the many, many people (men and women alike) who feel sad, wronged, or judged for not fitting into the "Mormon Mold". I've felt that way at times and know how difficult it can be. There are lots of ways to be a Mormon, and they don't all include dresses on Sunday. It's ok if you disagree with me, I still love you. And that's the whole point- we can be different and still be ok. We are all children of God, and I don't think he cares one bit what I wear to church."

It seems that many people don't understand that this isn't about pants at all. Not really. Yes, pants are the way we are choosing to show our support, but it goes beyond trousers. It's much deeper than "Sunday best". It's about people like me, who fear retaliation at church for voicing an opinion contrary to culture. It's about supporting those who feel left out, sad, hurt, or wronged by people or polices at church. It's about calling on that Christ-like virtue of mourning with those who mourn, to say "You are not alone."

Some have asked, "Who are these people?" These people are your neighbors, your family, your friends. They are working moms, single parents, those with an inactive spouse or child. They are the infertile, the depressed, the intellectuals, the homosexuals, the feminists. They are the many, many people who don't follow the culturally prescribed life plan (marry young, kids every 2 years, be a SAHM) and feel judgment for it. In short, they are the silent majority and I am one of them. We are people who believe in Christ and want to worship Him, but struggle to attend church because of the dated culture we find. During this week, participants in the movement have been called unfaithful, unworthy, irreverent, apostate, satanic and worse. We only wish to open a constructive dialogue about things that pain us, to try to find a positive solution, but many have literally been to told to leave.  Leave the church because we are voicing a dissenting thought.

Is not Christ's church open to all? I don't recall the scriptural footnote that excludes those groups mentioned above. The second great commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself. For me, wearing pants is a symbolic way to show my love. To reach out to those who are too afraid to wear pants, but desperately need support. I'm not doing it to set myself apart for those in dresses, but to reach out to those who might be uncomfortable in their symbolic skirt.

If you have never felt the pain I describe, I am genuinely happy for you. I'm glad you find such peace and acceptance at church. I'm glad you feel you can be authentic to yourself without condemnation. But please don't assume that everyone has your life experience. Please don't disbelieve when someone tells you their feelings and experiences are different. Perhaps you have never heard someone speak of discomfort about the church. This doesn't mean it isn't very real. I have never seen France, but others tell me that it is real, they have visited and walked on its soil. And so I trust and believe in their experience.

So really, it's not about pants. It's about reaching out, strengthening, lifting, and comforting those who are afraid to speak out on their own.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Carve a Pumpkin

We managed to buy pumpkins this year AND actually carve them. That's pretty impressive since the last few years, they have been left whole on the porch for months post-Halloween. This year I was intent on actually carving them. The girls weren't so sure about cleaning out the insides. Neither of them like being messy, so it was a pretty gooey job for them. But they were troopers and got in and dirty.

I helped carved Blanche's pumpkin. I used a kitchen knife and it didn't quite turn out as well as I'd hoped. I'm far from a pro at pumpkin carving. BG was smart to ask Daddy to help with her's. He went high-tech and broke out the power tools. This is pumpkin carving: Daddy style.
BG picked out the design (a skull) all by herself. She was pretty excited about it and it turned out much better than the spider I attempted for Blanche. It's ok, I figure they only have to last two more days. After Halloween they're hitting the trash anyway.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

One Oh

Yesterday was my 10th wedding anniversary. It's kind of a big deal. As such, we went ALL out. We both went to work ('cuz we like having money to pay our mortgage). After picking up the girls, we met up at home. We had a gourmet meal of bean and cheese burritos, did homework and sent the girls to bed. We watched TV together while I did homework. Then, THEN... we went to bed. I know, I know, super romantic and a little over the top. But for double digits, it's worth it.

Yes, really. That's what we did on the 10 year anniversary of our blessed union. Graduate school has ruined our fabulous 10th year anniversary trip to Hawaii. It will have to happen for our 12th anniversary.

I decided that I should dig out my wedding pictures to post for the big one oh. After rummaging around my office through boxes of photos, I realized a few things.
1- Wow, 10 years is a LONG time. We used to look so much younger.
2- (And more notably) I don't have ANY of my wedding pictures. I assume (and hope) that my mom still has them. The only ones I have in my house are the few on the wall and my wedding album, but nothing digital. (Hey mom- do you have my wedding photos? Can I have those?)

So here you have it. A photo of a photo from my wedding. The photo is framed behind glass, hence the glare and odd reflections. Weren't we young back then?

Happy Anniversary Honey! I'm looking forward to the next ten years.

*Update: I pulled out our weddings album and was looking through it. I left BG looking at it while I was off doing something else. When I came back she called me over and said "I don't understand something and I want you to explain it to me." When I was sitting by her, she flipped to the back of our wedding album to a shot of JM taking off my garter - with his teeth.

"Ummmm, what is Daddy doing?" she asked.

I had to laugh. It is kind of a funny tradition for a groom to take a piece of clothing off his bride and throw it to all the single guys in the room. Weird. I showed her the pictures of me throwing the bouquet and told her about wedding traditions.