for auld lang syne

Last year I posted the "top 12 moments of 2012"...that was a bad idea...because I'm not thinking of 13 for this year, and 14 for next...

But 2013 was a great year. 
Some highlights (each person shall have 3...that's much more manageable than 13).

1. got (another) new job in downtown Salt Lake and loves it.
2. started his MBA program. 
3. met his childhood hero, John Stockton. 

 1. started an Etsy shop. 
2. completed more home improvement projects this year than in my whole life combined (probably).
3. grew a baby! (well, still in progress...but so far so good).


1. learned a LOT (knows about 12-13 shapes, all the colors, can count to 13, recognizes 
 almost all of the letters in the alphabet, talks like she's 5... SLOW DOWN time!)
2. has started singing (to herself or along with me to little church songs).
3. has a new found love for helping me in the kitchen (I'll use the term "helping" very loosely here). 

2014 will have some great things in store as well- like adding a whole other PERSON to our family...whhaaa???

Adios 2013!


brown paper packages tied up with string

This Christmas I wanted to do something a little different than the usual wrapper paper. Because it's harder, longer, and takes more effort. Obviously. I'm rreealllyy good at finding projects like that. 

OH. Side bar:
Until last week I totally sucked at wrapping presents. Seriously. I tried wrapping something and even James noticed how sloppy it was. So after a few lessons from my momma, I think I have it down (it's just those darn SIDES! Seriously!!). That's somewhat embarrassing. I was telling someone of my wrapping paper woes and they said, "Really? Even with how crafty you are?!" That was even MORE embarrassing.
Continuing on:

I saw this picture and from now on I want to wrap everything like a parcel package. Forever. 

Red stamp here.
Black stamp here.
Vintage Christmas postage stamps here.

After I finished wrapping/tying/stamping everything my trendy brother pipes up, "Oh! I saw some really cool postal-looking labels on Pinterest!" Of course he did. When I was done. And then I found even MORE vintage postal address labels. Of course I did. 

So I printed them out anyway and re-wrapped an empty box on this the 28th day of December because I needed to validate my OCD belief of how incredibly cute this would be. I wasn't wrong. 

If you'd like an empty box wrapped like a parcel package addressed to Jillian, these are up for grabs. 

Naughty/Nice labels here
Postal labels here


And if you have a compulsive need to start wrapping everything in brown paper and red string, you can deliver Christmas goodies that way to your neighbors. Or if you're like me, you can make 10 of these to deliver and only actually deliver 1 of them because you suck at life your family was here and you lost track of...time.

EITHER WAY, it makes for a cute and unique treat to deliver!

Sun-dried Tomato Butter

1/2 c. softened butter
1 minced clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. minced sun dried tomatoes, drained oil packed
1 small tomato, chopped, cored and seeded
1/4 c. chopped, fresh parsley

Combine butter, garlic, lemon juice, sun dried and
regular tomato and parsley together.
Add butter to individual container or shape into log and wrap.
(1 recipe makes enough to fill about 1 and 1/2 4 oz. jars. I made one giant batch- 8 times the original recipe- and had enough for 10 small jars with plenty leftover).  

Here are the labels I made for the jars and bread, so you can...keep it in mind for next year...or give it away whenever you get around to it since it isn't Christmas specific. Maybe I'll give the rest of mine away as New Year's gifts! 
That could be a thing, right?


christmas morning

On Christmas Eve we went to a delicious dinner with James' family and exchanged presents with his mom. Jillian got a ukelele, which she keeps calling a "biolin" (violin). hah! We came home and she wrote her letter drew a picture for Santa. I realized we didn't have any cookies to leave for Santa, so we used a graham cracker instead. Almost the same, right? Jillian wanted to leave them in the tree for Santa. It was adorable. We may have just started a new tradition.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of excited to get to the point where my kids wake ME up on Christmas because they just can't contain their excitement. 
We're not there yet. 
Jillian slept in until 9:30 and we almost had to wake HER up. I woke up and put her stocking in her crib. I didn't even know she woke up because when I peeked in around 9:30 she was quietly playing with the things she found in her stocking, like it was totally normal for a bag of toys to show up in her bed in the morning. Silly girl. 

She also isn't really a morning person (she gets this from both James and I), so it took her several minutes to get excited about opening presents. When she'd open one she'd just want to play with that one and not open another! I assume that will change with time also. 

 The rest of the day was filled with a yummy brunch, my brother Ryan and his family coming over as well as James' Dad for more present exchanges, and of course playing with all our new goodies and just hanging out. Jillian went from playing with new toy to new toy all day long. And because I was too caught up in everything going on, I took NO pictures on Christmas of ANYTHING! How LAME IS THAT?! Total mother fail. I did snap a couple over the next day or two of her playing with some of her new loot though:

One thing we got her was a little tin tea set. She LOVES it. I have no idea where she got this, but whenever we have a tea party she starts calling me "ma'am"- "Can I have some more tea ma'am?" "Oh, thank you ma'am." It's the cutest.

My favorite part of the whole day was talking to my sister who is on a mission for our church in Peru! She looks and sounds like she is doing so great there- she really loves it! She and James carried on in Spanish for a few  minutes and he said her pronunciation is great (somewhat of a surprise to us all). But I do miss her like crazy and will be ridiculously excited when she comes back in the fall. 

(My mom made us take this picture). 

One of my favorite gifts was from my parents. They took ALL of their VHS tapes of home videos of us over the years and put them on DVDs for us. There are 25 DVDs total! Dance recitals, plays and skits, movies we made up, church camps, dumb stunts, random bored moments and awkward conversations caught on tape- pure gold. Though, it's one thing to tell your husband about your childhood, it's another thing to have him actually WATCH it. There's a reason we didn't meet until college, ya know? ;-)

And now the hustle and bustle of it all is done. I hate this part of Christmas the most because all of the fun is over and it's still cold for like 4 more months. Blegh. 

Hope your Christmas was very merry!

'twas the week before christmas

...and everything was busy.
In a good way, but just busy! My family flew into town (which is always a good time). We packed a lot into a short week. 
 I wanted to have all of my Christmas shopping done before they flew in (HAH!)...I guess procrastinators never change. My Dad and I were out the day before Christmas Eve getting the last of it. Next year I'll be better! 
The night they got here we saw the lights on Temple Square in Salt Lake. Not only was it frigid and icy (my poor Florida family), but like shoulder-to-shoulder busy! Probably the busiest I've ever seen it around Christmas time. I suppose that's a good thing.
Please note my hipster brother in his little jacket. It was like 9 degrees. Conversely, I think my mom was wearing 3 pairs of socks at all times while she was here.

We also rode on "The Polar Express", which is an old historic train in Heber turned all Christmas-y for the holidays. The girls were in their jammies and we sang Christmas songs the whole ride. We were served hot chocolate and cookies by a chef and elves, and got a visit from Santa who gave each kid a jingle bell. Just like the book! The girls especially loved it! Okay I totally loved it as well. Just up my alley of cheesiness. 

We made things, like sugar cookies drowning in sprinkles and 6-feet-tall snowmen:

 Jillian used the "layering technique" when it came to decorating. I think there were 5-6 layers of frosting and sprinkles. Diabetes. Yum.
 (An unsuspecting Ryan bites his delicious cookie...only to have it smashed into his beard hairs by Kimber. That's what he gets for having a beard.) 

(I can't take any credit for building the snowman...it was WAY too cold to be outside. But seriously, the thing was over 6 feet tall! And when you don't have a carrot for a nose, spoons will do just fine). 

And we ate...and ate...and ate...Good thing I'm already required to gain weight ;-) 

My parents and Spencer flew back today and I'm already hating how quiet and uneventful my house is! I'm also nowhere near ready to pack up the Christmas decorations...so I think I'll let those linger just a bit longer. 

What an awesome week!


{almost} halfway!

ALMOST halfway done! Nineteen weeks to be exact. This is a big accomplishment. I can't believe how FAST this pregnancy is going by compared to Jillian's. I actually am in NO rush for May to get here...too much to get done before then! Since time shows no signs of slowing down I better get movin'. 

This might be too much information, but really if you're living in denial about this you should just know. I always thought with Jillian my previous stretch marks would just come back...ha...hahah. Just turns out your old stretch marks get NEW stretch marks on top of them and you get them in new places! SO FUN! 
If you're one of the RARE women who does NOT get stretch marks, you probably shouldn't tell anyone to avoid an angry mob of stretchy-marked women chasing you down trying to steal your good genes. I'd be in that group- pitchfork and all. 

This girl moves ALL the time- more than I remember Jillian moving at this point. Hopefully that's no indication of personality. I'm really banking on a chill, easy-going kid this go 'round.

I also think we decided on a name! Since James still thinks Harper isn't a real name- which is lame and it totally is-we had to go with plan B, which took some thinking. But for now we like the name Olivia Claire. Neither are family names, and no I don't feel bad about that. I think the names Jillian and Olivia go well together (why yes, even my children's names, along with all of the color schemes in my home decor, have to coordinate and work well together- in case you were wondering). 

Here's the being halfway there!  :-D


holiday shadow box

I have never looked so many places for one stupid little matchbox car. 
And that is how I feel about that. 

But when I saw this shadow box, I knew this was happening in my house. Stat. 

But SERIOUSLY...no plain ole' trucks could be found- Walmart, Target, toy stores, even a vintage/old-fashioned toy store! Nothing. Also, when it came to looking at toys in the boys aisle (for once), I was like a fish out of water...I didn't know what half of the stuff was. 

But you know what never disappoints? Etsy. You can be having the worst day ever and just LOOKING at things on Etsy will cheer you up. Promise. Thanks to Lizzie Tish Vintage, I FOUND A FRIGGIN' MATCHBOX TRUCK! What's also really cool about it, is that it is a vintage 1978 Lesney series Mercedes matchbox car. I totally would have settled on something from Walmart, but since everything from there had giant mud tires and racing stripes...wah-wah. Seriously if you find some mass-produced in a store...call me...I'm going to hoard them. I could need more of these. But I think the vintage factor adds a lot to the overall finished product. I couldn't be happier. 

(Also, it's apparently really hard to take a picture of glass without getting SOME kind of reflection...I'm gonna go ahead and guessing the first step is using something other than your iPhone...) :-)
It was super easy to make. The hardest part was definitely finding the stinkin' truck. 
Get a shadow box, some fake little pine trees (usually in the dollhouse section of craft stores- these are from Hobby Lobby), and hunt down your matchbox car. Then print something to put in the background or use the one I made, throw in some fake snow and you're good to go. 

I love it so much I want to keep it up all year.
...don't tempt me.


new kitchen backsplash- finally

If you know me, you know I have a constant list of DIY home improvement projects going on in my mind at all times. As soon as one is knocked off the list, another is added on. 

This one turned out to be quite unexpected. An old friend of mine had some leftover mosaic tile she used for a back splash that I LOVED. They found it at a liquidation store for super cheap ($18 a box!!), so she sold it to me for super cheap! That's probably the only reason why I decided to go ahead and do it.

I borrowed several tools to complete the project, and since I got the tile for a great price, the whole project cost about $120. I still can't get over that. Turns out though, it was much harder than the Youtube video made it look...next time I'm 99% confident I'll just bite the financial bullet and pay someone else to do it.

(in progress)

But I LOVE the way it turned out!! 

I also had enough leftover to put up a mini back splash in Jillian's bathroom. That room is ALMOST complete, so you'll have to wait and see...

The main floor of our townhouse has changed pretty drastically since we moved in. I wish I had a clear 'before' picture, but I didn't realize I'd be changing so much. When we moved in I remember thinking, "Wow! I don't really have to change anything!" Turns out when you're surrounded by oak, you start to feel like you should wear flannel all the time and chop down your own firewood- somewhat of a cabin/lumberjack effect. 
We painted the walls, got new flooring, added bead board to the back of the bar, painted the kitchen cabinets, changed the light fixture, and added back splash...so pretty much everything. 

I did find these pictures though:

 If you look past my face and that enormous gingerbread cookie you can see the old everything. Pretty dreary, no?


I think I'll be sad when we move out of here in the next couple/few years...I'm starting to get attached! 
Next projects on the list:
-Finish Jillian's bathroom update (just needs wall paint!)
-Update Jillian's color scheme and revamp closet space
-Completely redo the master bathroom

Annnnddd hoping to do all of that before baby numero dos arrives in May. 

Es gonna be goooood.

And then I'm going to take a break. And a nap (again, before May...after May I don't think I'll ever sleep again).


thoughts on baby #2

So more pink it is! I'm actually totally excited to have another girl. I grew up with 3 girls in the house (myself, my little sister, and my mom) and it was kind of perfect. You always have a shopping/pedicure buddy! Well, it wasn't always that way...I was actually pretty mean to Michaela when I was little...convincing her to eat bowls of butter telling her it was ice cream-things like that-but NOW we're totally best friends! (She's even mostly forgiven me for the butter thing).

So I'm not looking forward to the fighting over clothes, toys, shoes, jewelry, and other dumb stuff girls fight over, but hopefully one day they will be best friends and the overload of estrogen that will be in my house in the next few months will be completely worth it! 

I asked James if he would be disappointed if it was another girl and he instantly replied "No, I'll just be more nervous." Then later when we found out it WAS another girl, he said "I'm really gonna have to bulk up in the next 10 years..." 
Teenage years will be fun. Right now I can't even FATHOM raising a teenager, let alone two teenage girls. Maybe I'll just send them to live with my sister. ;-) 

My family is also excited- don't let my Dad's reaction in the reveal video fool you ("Oh crap!"). He loves those little girls. He's gotten pretty good at telling princess stories and taking them for rides on the golf cart through the woods to look for fairies. Honestly, I think it will be an adjustment for everyone when a boy DOES come along!

I'm already scheming ideas on how to redo Jillian's room (I was ready for a change anyway) to update color schemes and make room in her closet for BOTH of them. Eeek! 


IT'S A...

I'll just cut right to the chase:

 Ignore how weird my family is..haha (jk totally love them). I love my Dad's reaction the most!! 




I really wanted to start a new tradition in our family this year of an advent calendar. I wanted to include activities we could do together, as well as some days where there is just a yummy treat inside (I do have a 2 year old after all...candy trumps piece of paper with activity on it EVERY time).

I loved the idea of a puzzle box calendar, so thanks to Hobby Lobby that idea came to fruition. I still have to find something to mount it on...I'm thinking of putting magnets on the back and putting them on a framed piece of hammered metal...we shall see.

I included things like making a snowman, going to see Christmas lights, making a gingerbread house, making Christmas cookies, leaving a treat for the mailman, reading the Christmas story, riding on the Polar Express, stuff like that. 

Box #1 was accomplished tonight- new Christmas jammies and a Christmas bedtime story:

 (She's pointing to the reindeer on her side and looking extra cute doing it).

My #25 box doesn't have a number on it, but it's extra jazzy since it's Christmas day, so I feel like I have to put something extra special in that one...but I don't have any ideas...so if you DO have an idea, send it my way. :-)

Let the countdown begin!


christmas shopping

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over the Christmas music is blaring, lights are being strung, and I'll be constantly sweeping up glitter from random decorations for the next month. AND I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT IT!!! (Let's be honest...I did start slightly before Thanksgiving this year...whatever.)

So I decided it would be a good idea to do a "toy purge" before Christmas. Seemed like a win/win for everybody- we clean house of toys and books no longer played with and donate them. As I was going through bin after bin I realized, WOW...Jillian has a lot of JUNK. Random plastic, trinket-y toys that she probably hardly ever played with when they were actually new. It only took a handful of those to ask myself, "Why do I buy this crap?" 
Because it's cheap, and I can't say no to my child in the check outline at the store. duh. That's why. But is it really WORTH it?
I've decided no. Not at all. 

This year for Christmas (and from now on) I've decided I'm going to go for quality toys that I KNOW will get played with and entertain well, instead of a massive amount of plastic, light-up, flashy sale toys that end up in the "donate" pile 6 months later.   

Quality over quantity. I feel pretty good about it.
It was hard to pass up the good deals on princess and Minnie Mouse type random trinket stocking stuffers at Target, but I made it out of that aisle alive with only ONE thing. A Christmas miracle.
One of my favorite new sites for toys is Land of Nod. I also love anything Melissa and Doug brand. I seriously swoon over SO MANY of these.

Here are my picks for Christmas this year:

1/ Play canopy at Land of Nod
3/ Wooden art easel at Ikea
4/ Shape sequence sorting set from Melissa and Doug
5/ Wooden fishing set on Etsy (also this cheaper version on Land of Nod)

Happy Christmas shopping to all!



Happy Thanksgiving!

 (the one super high-quality photo we took of us today!)

I have SO much to be grateful for...an incredible family, a supportive and helpful husband, a gorgeous little girl, another healthy baby bean cookin' away, a great job that allows me to work from home, James' job that still allows him to be in grad school, great friends, a warm house, Zofran...and I could go on and on.  

It was nice to all be gathered around one table with James' side of the family (even if I was missing a few of my favorite southern side dishes)! We are lucky to have so many of them so close. 

This Thanksgiving I decided to put myself in charge of dessert. One thing I definitely learned from my mom is to never undervalue the quality and deliciousness of homemade dessert. It was a little risky going with 3 new recipes I'd never made before, but holy SMOKES they did not disappoint. I give all of them 5 stars. 

(a layer of pecan pie topped with a brown sugar cheesecake and dulce de leche)

(perfect amount of tartiness)

(you actually wish Snickers tasted that good)

We hope your Thanksgiving was spent with those you love (and delicious food!)!


DIY faux play make up

I've recently been on the hunt for some cheap-o, crap-o fake play makeup for Jillian (because if she gets into my makeup one more time...so help me...). I got some at Walmart that came in a little Barbie purse. That was a total crap shoot. Everything was GEL. Even the eyeshadow?! Seriously...it would have been less messy if she would have just played in my stuff. 

And then I came across this GENIUS idea on Pinterest (where all genius ideas reside). 

Make FAKE play makeup out of nail polish! It's so simple and makes so much sense it hurts. And the best part was I already had everything on hand, so this cost $0.

All you need: fingernail polish & old makeup containers
(If you don't have either laying around just get cheap stuff from the dollar store)

1// Scrape out old makeup and wash with dish soap and water. Dry thoroughly.
2// Pour polish into makeup trays.
3// Let it dry for A FEW DAYS until it hardens (stick it in a room you rarely go in or by an open window, because it stinks).
It does shrink up quite bit as it dries, so you may have to add a few more layers. 


I found some cute/cheap Minnie Mouse makeup brushes at Target. I threw those in an old makeup bag along with these and wah-lah! Play makeup that won't make ANY mess. 
It's going to be a stocking stuffer.
Done and done.

free christmas printable

Usually I am not a Christmas person until December 1st...but the last couple of years the glittery decorations have come out of hiding a tad earlier each year. I blame having a child. Holidays are WAY more fun when you have kids, especially ones like Christmas! 
I think putting them up the week of Thanksgiving is a good compromise though (compromise with James that is).

We pulled out or (fake) Christmas tree this year, set it up, and realized how sad it looks. We got it the first year we were married (5 years ago) as a Black Friday deal for only $25! It has done very well by us in our first couple of apartments, but James said this year it looks like a Charlie Brown tree. It is getting a little bare...so much for those things not shedding pine needles everywhere. So we will be on the hunt for a new tree this week...and garland...and ornaments...and in general anything that sparkles.  

With all of the decorating going on over here, I made a new printable to put on my living room shelf. If you're feeling the holiday cheer a little early as well, feel free to use it! 

To download the 8x10 click here. To download the 5x7 click here

I'm also excited to craft some new decorations this year...on my radar:

This incredibly adorable shadow box: 
 (Those small trees are found in the dollhouse section of craft stores by the way)

And a puzzle box advent calendar: