Friday, December 31, 2010

A Visit From My Boy

Any chance to spend time with my nephew, Evan, is time well spent. I love being around him. He is such a sweet little man, and he got to come to my house the other day while his parents went to the temple. I still had house guests who were packing to leave when Evan first arrived. He wasn't used to being around kids, and he kept lunging for me when others got too close. It makes me heart melt that he "knows" me. After they left, it was just the two of us. My house seemed oddly quiet after being full of people for three days, so we just wandered the house and explored each room before I read him a book and put him down for his nap.

Evan is so inquisitive and thoughtful. He loves finding new things, and a small table-top fan entertained him for a solid ten minutes. It was fascinating to watch his unchanging expression, as I would turn on the fan, change the speed, and then turn it off. He kept looking from me to the fan and back to me, wondering what this shiny new thing was that blew air and made funny sounds. The "model look" of wind-blown hair fits very well with Evan. He is such a handsome baby! There wasn't much question on that, since his parents are both beautiful people.

And since he was at my house for a few hours...of course I did a mini photo shoot with him. We stood next to a window so the outside lighting could capture his eyes. Evan is a natural and is so photogenic! I love taking pictures of him and capturing the difference facets of his personality.

After T'liese and Joe returned to my house, we all went to Rosa's Mexican Restaurant for lunch. It was yummy, and the company was fun. Evan wasn't in a solid-foods kind of mood, so they kept sneaking in beans on the spoon he liked sucking. When he would get some beans in his mouth, the cutest expressions would come on his face..."You tricked me?! What was that?!" I could watch him for hours and never get bored with the fun faces he pulls. I think it's a sign of intelligence.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Husband Can Beat Up Your Husband

I've always been rather partial to my husband. He's a pretty good guy, and I've decided to keep him. We made it through the one-year warranty period unscathed and are continuing in happy, marital bliss. Despite already being on my good side, John often does things to make me like him even more. For instance...just over two months ago, my husband decided to build a sideboard for me for Christmas. And on Christmas Eve, we hauled it inside as a finished piece of wooden art!

The Building

The entire project was a lot of hard work. John had some help with the bones of the sideboard. His Dad came down for three days, and John took some time off work so they could knock out a lot of building before Mick had to leave with some pretty impressive tools. Our garage became the workshop, and our old dining table became the work bench. Before long, the shape began to take form! A fact mostly unknown to most of the public, I happen to be a slight perfectionist. And these boys took that into account by making everything precise and exact. They dug in and got a piece of furniture well on its way to being an heirloom! I was at work during their building extravaganza, but John was diligent in taking great pictures to document their accomplishments as they progressed.

The Staining

After the building and sanding were finished, John began the process of staining and staining and then staining some more. It ended up taking forever in between layers. We bought a stain/polyurethane mix for the color, thinking it would only add to the durability of the surfaces. However, it made the subsequent layers of stain a headache to put on, since they were no longer sinking into wood but onto a layer of poly acrylic coating. After a careful third coat, we loved the color. On the next project (of course I'm already planning a "next project!"), we will do a stain, and then poly so everything will go as planned! John finished by adding four layers of straight polyurethane to the sideboard for some added protection.

The Assembly

Since everything was finally dry, and John had recovered nicely from inhaling fumes for three weeks, he moved on to the assembly. He put the doors on with some neat fasteners we found at Home Depot. He installed the shelving for the place mats. He built up the inside with white melamine wood on adjustable shelving so I could store all of my serving dishes inside! Have I mentioned how thoughtful this guy is? The most impressive task, by far, was his designing and building of the napkin rack. He sat at the table and figured exact dimensions before heading outside to make the cuts with his saw. Luckily, I married a math magician. And he came up with some inventive ways to hold his level in place so all the cuts would be even! Then he got to work putting the pieces together, and I absolutely love the results. Brilliant indeed. He also added legs to make the sideboard a perfect height for serving food.

The Results

After all the pieces were complete, it was time to bring it inside for final assembly. This, of course, was my favorite part because the finish line was in sight at last. John touched up the stain on the front of the shelves before putting it all together inside our Great Room. Holy smokes, it looks incredible! The entire room feels better because this beautiful sideboard now exists. I am in love with everything about it...the extra storage space, the deep color of the stained wood, the custom shelving for napkins and place mats...and that it was made FOR ME by MY HUSBAND! Have I mentioned how stinkin' cool he is?

The project was over two months from start to finish. This beautiful sideboard is a result of lots of hard sanding, sawing, measuring, crying (just kidding), and staining. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out, and I am thrilled that we have this incredible piece to pass on to our kiddies. Isn't is gorgeous? Once again, I'm the luckiest lady in the world to be married to John. He just bought at least another year of my time, I can tell you that much.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Day At The Museum

I had a really nice time today with family at an art museum. John's sister from Albuquerque, Jolene, and her family, husband Ji and son Devan, arrived Sunday evening from spending Christmas in Snowflake. We get to host them for a few days before they continue south to visit Ji's parents in Tucson. I had a menu planned for food and thought I was ready for their presence until Jolene asked what we were going to do with them all day! I panicked until John grabbed his computer to explore neat things worth visiting in The Valley.

Museums are always nice. I have yet to be in a museum that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed myself, so we all agreed that the Phoenix Art Museum was the place to spend our day. John has what he calls a "real job" and thought it would be more beneficial to go to work to provide a living for our family. He missed out on some pretty neat artwork...much to his joy, no doubt.

Before we headed out for the day, I fed our guests buttermilk pancakes with bananas, pecans, warm syrup, and homemade vanilla whipped cream. It was hard to keep up on the production line, so I am guessing they enjoyed it! Soon we were on our way to downtown Phoenix to enjoy a few hours of culture.

I love visiting these kinds of places. It makes me feel more refined, and I always come away with a desire to learn and be better. Not necessarily a desire to learn how to paint. I don't think I'm patient enough for such a task (several paintings I saw today took over fifteen years to finish!). Rather, I find myself wanting to know more about the artists and the time periods they are portraying in their work. Their art transports me, and I simply want to understand more about where they are taking me! No drugs were involved in this form of transportation, in case I was starting to sound scary.

Afterwards, we grabbed a delicious lunch at The Cheesecake Factory to commemorate our brains being full. It was only lawful that our stomachs should be fed as well. Ji ordered the same thing my husband always gets, the Factory Grande Burrito, but my man can put it away in one sitting! What a champ! John was missed all day, and I was forced to eat my Chopped Salad all alone.

Another fun result of today is a collection of fine art in my computer photo files. Which ones are your favorite?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Came. The Goose Got Fat

I cannot imagine anything more worthy than Christmas to be my 300th post. What perfect timing! Does that mean I need to get a life? No? OK. Good.

We had an incredible Christmas in our new home. It was just the two of us, and I didn't want it any other way! John and I slept in until after 7:00 and slowly made our way to the living room to open an entire tree of presents! I totally scored with a ton a camera equipment to help me take better pictures of my food. John bought me a lamp kit and an indoor lighting tent to improve my photo-taking conditions when natural light just isn't hacking it. I've been wanting them for a while, so it will be a ton of fun to try everything out. With the few tests we ran (with only one of two lamps, since I dropped the bulb for the second one), I am shocked at how amazing and crisp the photos turned out! I can't wait to have the subject be my baking! I got a Mickey Mouse carrying case from my parents for Christmas...they just got back from a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, and now I feel like I was with them. The bag perfectly carries my new lighting equipment, so I am stoked! John also got me a cupcake carrying caddy...a personal must-have. I got a Ghirardelli Chocolate cooking book from my Amazon wish list! Thankfully, their hot fudge recipe is inside...I can feel the weight coming on now. So worth it! And finally, John sent me a on a treasure hunt to find a Wii game I LOVE. This was quite a risk on his part, since I am not a big gaming fan. Other than Mario Kart, I am not good at anything and therefore don't enjoy many video games. He found a puzzle game for me called "World of Goo," and it has been so much fun to solve each level. Nice job, John. And you all know I love treasure hunts! Spending Christmas with John is a treat indeed. Did I mention he finished my sideboard? We brought it into the house last night. It's a beautiful and perfect Christmas present! The entire building process took two months and deserves its own post in recognition.

Despite a personal heated hatred for The Simpsons, my husband is quite a fan. So I decided to give him something he would really like...a couple of framed posters of his favorite character. These will be tucked away on a wall of his man cave, so I'm not too worried about the whole house coming down. He also got the new NBA Jam for his Wii and has played it several times today. Just for the record, I beat him in a game. Or rather, my computer player beat his team, and my guy did a lot of "supervising." John wants a rematch, but I prefer to end on high notes, thank you very much. He got the new Thomas S. Monson book from my parents. My in-laws bought us a wheelbarrow a few weeks ago for our Christmas present. John also got some slippers, but he's not a fan. They are already boxed up and ready to be returned to Amazon. By the way, that website sure made Christmas easy this year. And still lots of fun! John also got some speaker stands for the last two speakers in his theater. We will now have 7.1 surround sound...and my brain can't even wrap around how amazing it will be!

After a breakfast of muffins and playing with our toys for a few hours, I got to work making our Christmas Dinner. It was absolutely divine! Ham basted in the slow cooker with apple cider. Scalloped Funeral Potatoes with a crispy Corn Flakes topping. Green beans with caramelized onions, walnuts, and Craisins were our side dish. We had to have something on the table that was healthy, after all! Drinks were juice mixed with of my favorites. There is just something about drinking out of a goblet that makes everything taste better! I haven't made his dessert yet, but John's favorite cake is plain old yellow with chocolate frosting. That will probably be our dinner this evening!

It's been an incredible day. Family arrives tomorrow, so we will get to enjoy an extended Christmas weekend. I can't believe how blessed we are.

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010


I was explicitly told by my husband when he headed to his job this morning not to work too hard since it was Christmas Eve. I try hard to obey, I really do, but I knew I had one more thing to accomplish this week before I could rest for the holidays. And it's finally done...I just finished the HUGE task of cleaning out and painting the fireplace in the Great Room. Really, I can't even begin to describe how great it feels to be done at last.

For the past five months, I've lost in stare-down contests with the fireplace every time I've entered the room. It has taunted me, saying "Look how filthy I am. Aren't you embarrassed?" I hate when inanimate objects talk to me, and I hate even more when they are right. Since grouting my shower took much longer than expected, I wasn't able to tackle this project of putting the fireplace in its place until today.

I ain't gonna lie. This was a miserable amount of dirty work, and I wouldn't wish it on my second-worst enemy. I have never been happier in my life about the fact that I only have one fireplace. I would probably just hang a brown paper bag over the other one rather than having to do this project again. But enough of the whining...I am very happy with how nice it looks as a done deal. All the pain, grease, ash, sweat, and tears were worth it in the end. I am so covered in soot that I feel like Mary Poppins! I keep walking back into the room to admire my handy work. And you know what? The fireplace hasn't said a single word in taunting fashion!

That's right! I win again!

We will eventually buy a fake gas or electric log to put inside. Those puppies are expensive and not very high-priority. In the meantime, I think I will buy several LED candles to layer inside the freshly-painted interior. It will be wonderful to enjoy a fireplace while reading in my nook, which is what this corner of the house will become when other more-important projects are complete. For now, I am just happy it's done in time for Christmas!

Happy Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Creeping Up On Us All

I refuse to believe that Christmas will be over in just a few days. Don't get me wrong...I am ridiculously excited about Christmas. I actually think I know what I'm getting this year, and it's going to be insane. I've casually suggested to my husband about a million times that we should just open presents a few days early. When I started the nagging on such a topic, of course, it was a few weeks ago. And the time frame then was "a few weeks early" to open everything. I am tickled for what I got John, but really, really tickled about what I think he got me. That all being said, this whole Christmas season is still going by way too quickly for my taste.

Some signs of quickly-approaching Christmas: I went to the mall with T'liese and Evan to watch him get his picture taken with Santa. Needless to say, it wasn't too successful. As soon as Evan was in Santa's arms for the camera, he was crying with real tears streaming down his face. Kudos to that Santa for being so patient...and having an iron grip on a squirmy kid who wanted to be anywhere but on Santa's lap! It was pretty entertaining to watch, though certainly traumatic for Evan. Luckily, he won't remember a thing in the years to come. T'liese picked the picture where Evan was crying the least, and we were on our way.

Another sign that Christmas is getting close is some treat bags we made for our neighbors. Using my photo-editing software, I created our tags from scratch. If I could just sit at a computer and design things all day, I am sure a big part of my heart would be pretty happy. I happened to pick a rare rainy day to make deliveries...perfect timing since the treats were in white paper bags. I also learned during deliveries that I wouldn't make a very good math teacher since I apparently can't count higher than nine. We were out visiting houses within about a five-block radius of ours when I asked John if some bags had fallen out of view from the seat. I had written down eleven names but only made nine goody bags. Is this part of being old, I wonder? Luckily, the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever were made even better using Christmas M&Ms. And the few families who were scheduled to receive and didn't won't know the difference, right? Am I right?

As a slap in the face, one of those families delivered treats to our door today! They must have known! How dare they give us hand-dipped candies when I apparently can't count anything without using my fingers!

The other good news is that the Christmas Weekend Menu is complete. We have guests arriving Sunday through probably Tuesday...John's sister and family who live in Albuquerque. It will be fun to catch up with them but even more fun feeding them. I find that when I plan out a menu, an overwhelming weekend crunches into manageable items. Am I the only Type-A person out there who uses a ruler to make a shopping list?

I can almost hear crickets when I ask such a question to a "normal" person such as yourself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My, How Time Flies

Five GLORIOUS months ago today, I was handed the keys to our home. And our entire world changed!

It's amazing to think it's already been so long. It feels like just yesterday that we walked through the doors of our very first home. Yippeee! It was finally ours! One could quite possibly say that I had been a little anxious for a house...for about twenty-seven years, I guess. It was unbelievable to think the dream of home ownership was finally coming true!

Since then, it seems like everything we do focuses on this place. We are busy with projects, day in and day out. I'm not takes work to get something the way you want. And I've never been afraid of work! I must admit, however, that the few times we've left town these past five months, it's been nice to not have projects to steal away our attention. Any time I'm at home, I feel like I need to be busy on the home. Otherwise, I feel like I'm not living up to my full potential!

That being said, we've really made a lot of progress on our projects! The house is starting to look amazing, and I love it more every day. Tonight means the grout on the shower will be cured enough to add a sealant on top. After that dries overnight, I can add the caulking and consider it a done project! Don't worry...I won't sit there watching anything dry. I have plans to tackle the fireplace today. I also need to make Christmas Cookies for neighbors. Now you wish you lived closer, huh?!

I just wanted to commemorate this wonderful occasion with a picture that I took (with my phone) the moment we were handed the keys. I am so in love with our house! Even John likes it! Happy Five Months, Home. We are so glad you're ours.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Grouting Experience

I am not an advocate for HoneyDew Lists. I rarely wait around for my husband to complete a task that is important to me. This is the case for many reasons. One, it's simply rude to demand he do things around the house that I am perfectly capably of doing. Two, the things I want done usually matter to me, and therefore it's not right to expect someone else to fix it. And three, I actually really love being self-reliant and handy. It makes me feel accomplished in so many ways that I can make a huge difference by finishing a project in our home.

My shower didn't start out as a huge project, but I planned for plenty of time in case it ended up being a pain. That's why I waited until I knew I would be home for more than a Saturday to work on it. And just as I dreaded, a simple, one-day task resulted in a week and a half project that is actually still underway. But I am already seeing results and am very happy I decided to go all the way!

Let me back up. There are purposely no "Before Pictures." Though mold wasn't my fault, I was still embarrassed of having it in my shower. A crappy caulking job by the previous owners resulted in a little bit of water sneaking through to an area where mold could happily thrive. It has slowly made an appearance on my caulking surrounding the master shower. Though I frequently scrub my shower clean, it has been impossible to get rid of the colonies of mold hiding behind the caulking. Last Monday, I decided it was time to tackle it once and for all. I was simply going to remove the old caulking, fill the shower basin with bleach and hot water, and let it sit for a few days to kill any spores. Then I was to re-caulk and be done!

Easier said than done. When I removed the caulking last Monday, it took some of the old and crumbling grout with it. Because of the missing gaps, it was no longer safe to fill my shower with bleach water. So I spent three days spraying on bleach to kill any areas of mold, hidden or visible (hence the ruined bathroom rug...bleach is STRONG!). We had to sleep in the guest bedroom because it smelled so nice! I had fans going and it was still enough to gag a person when walking in! After three days of bleach treatment, I let the shower dry out completely for a few more days after scrubbing it clean. Meanwhile, I bought the supplies I would need to finish the job: caulking, clear silicone, and pre-made grout.

Yesterday morning, I knew it was time to get to work. And as it would only take a few hours to fill the areas of missing grout, I was actually excited to see this growing project coming to an end. Curse me for being a perfectionist! Though I tried to match the grout with the awful color already installed, the new stuff was more gray and much cleaner-looking. I loved how the new grout looked so much that I decided to just do the entire shower! My Grandpa always said, "If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well." I believe his words and try to live up to them, so I went all the way and fixed everything! It took many hours and lots of scrubbing, grouting, scrubbing, re-grouting, and scrubbing. I woke up this morning to some pretty sore arms...but a beautiful shower! I am so tickled with the results!

I'm pretty sure I have earned a day off and am headed out to play with my sister. While I'm gone, the grout will dry today and perhaps even be caulked later this evening. After I let that cure for a few days, we will be back in action with a practically-new shower! I am very happy with how great it looks. Though there isn't an old picture to compare, you can imagine what an improvement this is to moldy caulking! I can't wait for it to be done so I can use our "new" shower! I'm afraid to pat myself on the back for accomplishing such a huge task. Every time I feel like I am invincible, I make a stupid mistake. That said, I am very happy with the shower and even more happy that my husband didn't have to HoneyDew it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Annual Family Christmas Snack Table

I promise that this season isn't my favorite simply because of the Annual Family Christmas Snack Table. Though I am sure it goes without saying, this is a pretty impressive event that stays at the top of my list when thinking of reasons to love the Christmas season. An incredible food display? Nothing "healthy?" Family gathered to eat and visit and then eat some more? Honestly, what's not to love?

For this year's main event, we were to contribute one savory dish and one sweet dish to The Snack Table. We all know it was humanly impossible for me to make just one treat. I ended up making three and also brought homemade chips and salsa for my savory dish. My sweets included Oreo Truffles, Lemon Poppers, and Peanut Butter Drop Cookies with mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups on top. T'liese made her husband's favorite, Pecan Bars. Perhaps being from the South creates an obligation to eat Southern food? They were delicious! For her savory dish, T'liese made Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels, which were absolutely heavenly. Brought from Phoenix was my favorite dish of the night...Alton Brown's Spinach and Artichoke Dip with French Baguettes. Holy cow, it was delicious! Also present were homemade Pumpkins Swirls, which were so yummy and perfectly typified the tastes and smells of this wonderful season. The Snack Table was complete with apples and peanut butter fruit dip, which "cleansed T'liese's palette in between other food selections!" T'liese had a cider bar in the slow cooker, and we all drank a ton of water throughout the evening. It allows for more eating, after all.

The party started at 4:00 PM. John and I were a little late, since we had to stop at Food City on the way to pick up two huge bags of homemade Tortilla Chips. We arrived shortly after four to find the party in full-swing. Amazingly, they had waited for us to start eating. We all took pictures of the food before the pigs were released! T'liese and Joe hosted this year, and her layout was so beautiful! However, I am truly disappointed with the performance of some family members...there were times when I was the only one near The Snack Table, which surprises no one, I'm sure. People "rested" for several minutes before going back for another plate of goodies. John and I have been training for this night for months, so we were ready! Everything tasted incredible.

A short history of The Snack Table: when growing up, we set up a snack table every year at Christmas time. It would be up for a few days, being replenished with more and sometimes different treats as we ate. Candy, Papa's fudge, nuts, Mom's five cookies, Merrill's Ham and Pickle Rolls, Cheese Balls and Crackers, and Christmas M&Ms were just some of the things found on this wonderful card table. Sometimes meals were ignored because The Snack Table took priority! When several of us kids moved to Phoenix, we decided to keep this tradition alive and dedicate an entire family Christmas party to the consumption of food from The Snack Table. It's one of those family traditions that I am more than happy to maintain. It's rough, but we were willing to make sacrifices for our childhood memories to be honored properly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making Office Walls Pretty

I've taken my own sweet time deciding where pictures and art should be hung in the house. I've decided it's better to be patient and wait to see where everything belongs than to punch a bunch of holes in the walls throughout the house. My brain has been formulating a plan for my office wall ever since I saw an article in my favorite magazine, Real Simple, about random placing of photos to create a border look. I knew I could do that! And without John's "supervision," thank you very much (meaning he has to hang everything for me when I need it to be straight. And it has nothing to do with my inability to properly do math from a tape measure). Since these pictures only had to line up against each other, and since John now owns four-hundred levels, I knew this was a task I could master on my own.

The entire project resulted in a lot of fun and wasn't nearly as time-consuming as was expected. In Typical Micah Fashion, I have been thinking about this for months. It will just sometimes randomly pop into my head. It's a wonderful feeling to have it come to fruition, be done, and work as well in reality as it did in my brain. Sometimes my brain can come up with some pretty interesting (and impossible) tasks. It's always fun to see who or my brain. This border of photos, however, is awesome. I think we both won. I love how it looks random yet planned all at once. The sizing of the pictures worked out pretty well, leaving only a quarter-inch gap on one end and a half-inch gap on the other. I wish I could take more credit for that, but it was pure luck. But why does each picture have a special place on my wall, and therefore in my heart?

1) I found a beautiful painting in one of my favorite stores, World Market, and took a picture of it to remember. A few months later, I was going through photos that I wanted to print at Costco and stumbled upon this one. I decided to print it to see how the colors worked, and everything turned out pretty well! I love how bright, vibrant, and happy it is. For me, it is an energizing image and certainly belongs in an office!

2) This picture is of me and my best friend, my sister. Though this photo is almost four years old, I needed something on here that proves I can get tan! I think she is so pretty, and she is certainly a wonderful friend. We were discussing the other day how nice it is to have sisters and mamas for can be casual with no obligation to spend time together if unwanted! It's really the perfect relationship. And I am so appreciative of T'liese being in my life! She deserves a place on my wall.

3) Ahhhhh, the Caproni. I saw the original airplane in the Boeing Museum of Flight last month in Seattle. It just touched me to see something so old and representative of what we currently fly! This was the first airplane with movable control surfaces. The Wright Brothers simply used their bodies to move their airplanes...this was the first to utilize ailerons and a rudder instead. It's amazing to think how little things have changed in the hundred years since. When I saw the poster in the gift shop, I knew it had to be mine.

4) Another picture with my sister, and this one added a dear friend, Cassie. We went to Cancun three years ago and had a blast. Really, it was one of the best trips I've ever experienced! Girl chat, a beautiful hotel, ocean access, and tons of laughs. What more is necessary to enjoy Mexico? I have nothing but great memories of that trip and wanted to be reminded of it every time I look up from my desk.

5) I'm rather partial to this building, as it was where I married my hubby over two years ago. This picture of the Mesa Arizona LDS Temple was given to me by temple staff on my wedding day. It's simply one of my favorite places in the world, and nothing but pure happiness and peace comes from attending. It's a blessing to live so close to allow visits any time we want.

6) A cork board. You know will be impeccably neat and orderly when I finally hang things on here. But a few items exist that are best kept in plain my visiting teaching list as a constant reminder. Once I find some cute tacks, I think this will hold some pretty fun, and organized, information.

7) This picture of me and John is one of my favorites. I love the representation of Arizona through the many cacti in the shot. It was taken by our wedding photographer during our shoot just a few days before we got hitched. The Mesa Temple is in the background. Thanks to my sister, Charloe, I only paid for cleaning costs of my wedding dress and returned it to her after I was officially married. John in a tux makes me melt.

8) My first trip to Oshkosh as a non-working employee was a treat. Well, I suppose it could be considered work that trip, too, since I flew a Beechjet full of people to the airshow held every year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But once I was there, I had four full days to wander at will and enjoy the show. My previous trips involved working booths and talking to tons of people. This picture of an F-86 Sabre exemplifies the freedom to love airplanes and fine airshows!

9) I'm a fan of history and am particularly fond of the Revolutionary War time period involving stories of our founding fathers. My visit to Washington DC a few months ago provided my first opportunity to see the real Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Though I couldn't take pictures, due to some crazy talk about "protecting the original documents," I was able to buy postcards. I also found a postcard for the Wright Brothers applying for the patent of their airplane design...and I knew that would go along nicely with reminding me of remarkable events in our nation's history.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Future Heart Throb

Since my husband was working from home today, I tried to stay out of his hair. What better thing to do than crash my sister's house for the morning? It's her own stinkin' fault for moving just seven miles away from me. Do you have any idea how quickly an old Ford Taurus can do seven miles?

We may or may not have made cookies. Christmas cookies. I don't believe it's necessary to comment on the cookie-making status as it has nothing to do with the true focus of this post.

And here he is. The true reason himself. Mr. Evan, my sweet nephew. Isn't he adorable? Just when I think he can't possibly get any cuter...he does. And my heart swells like the Grinch after an attempt to steal Christmas is made. I love this little man. He was lots of fun today since everything I did made him laugh. I watched him while his mama went Visiting Teaching (to deliver some cookies that may or may not have been made by us earlier that morning). Since he was happy and I had him to myself, I decided to take lots of pictures. And certainly...the renderings don't do justice to this sweet little man. Girls in Nursery will swoon. His third-grade crush will ask for his hand in marriage...twice. And HE will get invited to Senior Prom by about six women. SIX! I'm just fortune-telling here, folks. You just wait until I'm right. He really is all that, and I'm not afraid to say it. There's nothing better than getting him to laugh and squeezing him tight shortly after.

I like him. Cookies or not.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas...Just Another Excuse To Bake

I love cookies. And I really love Christmas cookies. Often, these are simply just regular cookies made during the Christmas season! It doesn't really matter what type of cookie is made during this time of long as it involves baking small amounts of dough and topping them with incredible treats.

Finding things in the store usually leads to me imagining how I can transform it into a decadent dessert. This time of year leaves no shortage of selection in the candy could go crazy, and I usually do. I stumbled upon some Hershey Mint Truffle Kisses and knew they had to be melted on top of chocolate cookies somehow. Luckily, I had just the chocolate cookies recipe. After they came out of the oven, I topped them each with a delicious kiss and waited for the residual heat to do its magic. I thought the kisses would retain some of their trademark shape, but soon I had nothing but a mint truffle puddle in the middle of each cookie. It was so pretty! Amazingly, I let them cool before trying them. Good grief, they were yummy! Something about this season almost demands mint and chocolate to combine!

Tears almost came to my eyes when I found the new Reeses Mini Bites, much to the dismay of fellow shoppers around me. I knew they would be the perfect topping to tiny peanut butter cookies. To my surprise, I only purchased one bag and didn't eat a single piece of candy until they were topping the beautiful, bite-size cookies. These melted slightly as well after being placed on a warm, mushy cookie. But after cooling and setting, they could still be identified as cute little Reeses Peanut Butter of my all-time favorite treats. It made my life easy that they were already unwrapped. Who has time to unwrap a million pieces of candy for cookie toppers? I like candy in general and am not too picky when it comes to sugar. Removing the wrapping only made me happier.

I boxed up several of these cookies in various containers...some were shipped to my Uncle Gary in Utah to thank him for his generous Christmas present. Others were tucked away in a festive Christmas bag to make a five-state journey to reach family in Arkansas. One more package went to my sister for letting us park my car at her home while she took us to the airport for our vacation.

Needless to say, the batches of cookies didn't last long. In fact, I dare say they were a hit. And both versions have already been requested for the upcoming Annual Christmas Snack Table Party this coming Saturday. I think I can oblige. As long as I have another excuse to make more cookies, staying in the Christmas spirit really is a piece of cake.

Monday, December 13, 2010

To Arkansas We Went

We took full advantage of me not being constantly on-call this past weekend. My husband found $27 tickets to visit his brother and family in northwest Arkansas, so we hopped on a plane last Thursday for a three-day stay in beautiful Bentonville! It was a lovely weekend spent with Steve, Amy, Ben, and Mikey.


Our Allegiant Airlines MD-80 arrived in Bentonville shortly after 8:00 PM on Thursday evening. Steve was there to pick us up for the fifteen-minute drive back to his home. They live in a beautiful neighborhood, complete with a playground, pool, and nice neighbors! Amy and Ben had stayed up to greet us. She is such a beautiful, sweet lady! Steve and Amy are really neat people.


Steve had to work. It didn't stop Amy, John, and I from having a wonderful Girls Day Out! We drove through downtown Bentonville and discovered a cupcake bakery. The nice thing about being on vacation is that it's even easier to talk people into stopping for a cupcake...even at 10:00 AM! We then went to Walmart so I could get a few things I hadn't packed. We decided to make cookies later that evening and also bought supplies for that. Then we went to a nice mall. John wandered Borders while Amy and I got our pedicures. What an incredible treat! It was only the second one I've ever had, but I felt like a million bucks afterwards! We tried to grab lunch at Mimi's Cafe but didn't want to wait half an hour in line for a table. The food court ended up being lunch instead, and we topped it off by sharing a delicious Snickers caramel apple from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Soon, it was time to head home before the boys got home from school. John and I decided to take a nap while Amy took their dog for a walk around the neighborhood. When all the boys were home from work and school, we watched a movie, played games, made cookies, ate dinner, and had a nice visit.

It might not be common knowledge, but I smashed my finger in the door about three months ago. I mistakenly thought it would be fun! After the first month, it was usable though ugly and blue. Just these past three weeks, however, it has slowly started to fall off and catch on everything. When my pedicure specialist saw it, he said he could fix it! I've had to baby it so much so it wouldn't get worse, and therefore I was all for his magic on my fingernail! He first glued it, then used filler to make it even with the rest of my nail. I feel like a new woman not having to worry about that stupid nail any more! If you're ever deciding if smashing your finger in a door is a great idea, I advise against it! It's nice to have it repaired for now.


It was cold! It was only made worse by the blowing wind! We ended up staying inside most of the morning to keep warm. It wasn't hard keeping busy because Amy had purchased everything to make gingerbread houses! It was fun assembling them, and even more fun eating them! It was soon time for a late lunch out with the adults only. We were all in the mood for Mexican and decided On The Border would be perfect. It was nice to get away with just the four of us and converse. Have I mentioned how much I like Steve and Amy? We stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way home to grab dessert for us and the boys at home. John and Steve also popped into a store to rent a PS3 game to play that evening. Can you believe they didn't want to go to a Christmas concert with us?! Amy, Mike, and I went to the concert alone and sure enjoyed ourselves. The talent was amazing, and there is nothing better than hearing music dedicated to this season!


As a high councilman, Steve had to speak in another ward at 9:00 AM. John and I got ready to go with him to listen for moral support. He is a fantastic speaker, and I really enjoyed his talk. He told some stories from his and John's childhood, and I always love hearing more about that. We then came home to delicious pumpkin spice muffins made by Amy. After a late breakfast, we got ready for their church at 1:00. They have a really nice ward, and almost everyone works at Walmart Headquarters. All three meetings were nice, and the smell of Crockpot Stew when we came back to the house was even better! Amy and I had a nice conversation while Steve went to meetings and the boys watched a movie. Soon it was time to be dropped off at the Bentonville terminal to catch our flight home. My sister picked us up late last night, and we walked through our door around 11:15 PM.

The entire weekend was so nice. John and I don't travel for fun very much, and it's always nice to see new places while visiting fun family. We really enjoyed ourselves and appreciate greatly Steve and Amy's hospitality! And we got out of the state before the need for camouflage and no teeth struck us!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tour de Christmas House

Because of the lunch party a few days ago, my house was very clean. Don't get me house is always clean. That's how I sleep at night. Sometimes we leave a few dishes in the sink after watching a movie before bed, but then I have nightmares all night and wash them as soon as I rise the next morning. My Mom really was on to something when she made us clean house all day on Saturday...a clean home makes for a clean soul. Anyway, though my house is always clean, it was exceptionally clean on Monday before my guests arrived. We could have eaten off the floor but decided against it at the last minute.

I was wandering the halls of my home, admiring the nice smells and all that we've accomplished in it these past four months. And then it donned on me that I hadn't taken any pictures recently. Not like me at all! After I got over the chills from such a realization, I grabbed my camera to document our Christmas House. It is the best holiday, after all.

We start in the Master Bedroom this time. I love this room. Until about two weeks ago, we slept with the window open and woke up to brisk air in our room. More recently, John fires up the heater when he gets out of bed to leave for work, and I shiver under the covers after he leaves! It's been so nice the past few days. Is 78 the perfect temperature, or is that just me?! I found the bedding at TJ Maxx a few years ago. I was getting tired of it and ready for a change, but moving it to a new home was just the change it needed! We bought our furniture from Mor last February during Date Night...accidentally. Who buys furniture without even owning a home?! We did! And they held it for us for seven months until we purchased and moved into our own place! I love the furniture. The bathroom? I would love to gut it in the next five years and double its space. It's tiny! Especially for a tall kid like my husband! But it is pretty low-priority, since everything works well. It is absolute heaven not having to share a bathroom when we have guests!

Next is the office. I still have to hang pictures on the walls to make it feel more friendly, but I love how nice and neat and organized it is. There may or may not be labels on containers in the closet. It makes everything so accessible! I spend a lot of my days at home in the office, working on editing photos or adding things to this here blog. It's a nice room with tons of light from outside, which I love and crave.

Now comes the guest bathroom. I love how the two sinks will make our lives easier when it comes time for having kids get ready for school. Nope, not pregnant. But we like to plan ahead for the decade that we actually will own some little kiddies. The bathroom still needs some artwork, but it's fun to be patient until I find the perfect piece.

John's Man Cave. He loves this room, made only better with the recent addition of a new receiver. It's tough not to watch a movie every night because it is such an experience! The original plan was to fit my Dad's couch down here when we got new furniture for the living room. We soon found out that not a single couch will fit down the hallway into the non-standard tiny doorway. So we put two chairs down here instead and called it good. It means no movie parties to show off John's awesome handy work in the theater arena, but I would rather visit with guests than watch a movie any day! It's the coolest room in the house in the summer, and John was tempted to move his office desk in here to take advantage of the refreshing air! This will be the last room to change into a kid's room. I hope that doesn't need to happen, since I have no idea where I would put this monstrosity anywhere else in the house! Nope, still not pregnant.

Now the guest room. It seems to be a reoccurring theme that I still have things to hang on the walls. This room is getting closer but still needs a wow-factor for a headboard. I haven't made up my mind yet and therefore have left it blank for now. I think over the next few weeks, more artwork will be up all over the house. I love the new bedding in here. Very contemporary and comfortable. I love blue and green, but that's probably blatantly obvious by now!

The living room has Christmas stuff, so I hang out in there more often now. I love sitting on the couch and watching the twinkle lights on our tree. I am already dreading Christmas being over. It seems like the month is just flying by, and I would prefer the opposite! Some time next year, we will have new seating areas in this room. Until then, the old couch suffices for now!

The kitchen really is the heart of our home. We spend a lot of time in here each evening while I prepare dinner. I love how our stained cabinets turned out. It updated everything and makes for a perfect place to view the backyard while cooking up a storm. I can't even imagine using the old stainless steel sink that was in here before John's dad replaced it with this cast iron version that is twice as deep. I love our new faucet as well. The appliances make me happy. I thought we would be replacing the old dishwasher pretty quickly after moving in, but it cleans better than any machine I've had in the past! We will, therefore, allow it to die a slow death before getting a new one to match the other appliances.

And the dining room. My project today? Clean out the fireplace from previous owner's ashes. I might even have time to paint the inside with fireproof black paint, and the outside metal with an updated color other than brass. Man, I hate brass! I better get crackin', so wish me ash luck!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Lunch Demonstration

It's more than wonderful to have some family living here in town. I love being able to see nieces and nephews and sisters and sisters-in law as often as I want. Because of our proximity, and because we are rather fond of each other, we recently decided to host a monthly lunch party to demonstrate our favorite recipes. Since I happen to love having people over, cooking, and talking, I offered to go first! No surprise there, I'm sure.

The Menu
Rumbi Island Grill BBQ Chicken Salad
White Grape Strawberry Cranberry Gingerale
Homemade Oreos with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

We had the nicest time. I got to show them our Christmas decorations, and then we broke into the cooking demonstration because we were all so hungry! I made one of my favorite salads from one of my favorite places to eat, Rumbi Island Grill. It costs about $8.00 to get one portion of this salad in the restaurant, so I decided to try making it at home. It worked, and for about $14.00, it feeds four people! It was fun to cook and eat with family in my home. Then, to completely cancel out the fact that I made a salad for lunch, we made homemade Oreo cookies and enjoyed those. Sitting around the dining room table, the only place where seating is available in our home, we enjoyed conversation and planning the upcoming Family Christmas Snack Table party. Soon, however, babies started to get tired. It was time to leave around 4:00 PM to get them home for naps.

I know my house isn't baby-proof in the slightest, but I should have thought it through before having two tiny ones over for a visit! I have bite-size ornaments on my tree, and we found out pretty quickly how delicious they are! Poor little Evan had an ear infection over the weekend, and you could tell he wasn't his normal self. He rarely sits on his mama's lap without wanting to get down to explore the town. He was completely content to just take it easy during his visit. He's just the sweetest little man, and him staying in one place simply meant I got to kiss on him more easily rather than having to chase him for it!

When John got home from work, he said hi then went into the garage to start working on the sideboard (he does that for a few hours every day. It will be done soon, we hope!). My sisters both looked at me and asked if he always gets home from work and goes straight to work at home. I said yes. What a dream guy!

We are going to switch hosting each month and have a "Lunch Demonstration" as often as we can. It was so much fun to have them over for lunch! And now we all know how to make a salad as heavenly as the restaurant makes!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Story

I'd like to tell a story to illustrate a point. For our honeymoon, John and I went on a Carnival Cruise from New Orleans to the popular northern destinations of Mexico. However, before we even got into the Gulf of Mexico, the ships engines broke down and stalled us for about four hours. Because of this, they gave a credit of money to each guest for causing delays in our first day at port. Some people would now be late to their day excursions, so the cruise line was reimbursing for such setbacks. The money came in the form of a credit to be used on the ship. I'm sure most people not only spent this $33, but went way above that in purchasing trinkets, pictures by the boat photographer, massages, and drinks while gambling the night away in the floating casino. My husband and I, however, received a check under our door the morning it was time to disembark. We made money on our cruise. We didn't spend a single cent!

The moral of this story is that my husband isn't exactly known for spending money. When we were setting up our budget after first getting married, I decided it was a good idea to have a small amount set aside each month as a "Fun Fund" for me. It was money that I could spend without feeling guilty and without having to answer to a single soul for it. When it came time to allot some money to John for the same purpose, he skipped on to the next item on the list. The point is that he spends no money on anything not necessary for life support. He's very good with money in that he never uses it on useless items.

That being said, you must now understand what a big deal it was for John to finally break down and purchase a new receiver for his theater room. He has been wanting and researching receivers since I've known him. His old machine didn't have half the hookups he needed for all the new components out these days, and the sound just didn't do any movie justice. Every time he mentioned it, I was very encouraging towards us just ordering a new one online. He wisely never told me which model number he would get, simply because I would have gotten it for him years ago! But last week, he came home a different man. And he said we should order a new receiver from our favorite online retailer, Amazon. Before he was finished saying the sentence, I was already on Amazon looking up the receiver so he couldn't change his mind. I'm decisive like that. Especially when it's for a husband who literally never spends money on himself.

I tracked the package all week until it finally arrived on our doorstep yesterday. John was so excited and tore into the box immediately! Then he read the manual for the next two hours so he knew exactly how to make everything perfect. I doubt I could have been so patient with a new toy! While I worked around the house, he ran some sound tests and finally announced that it was ready for preview. Of course, he used his favorite movie, Dark Knight, to show off what this new machine could do. We only own one blu-ray disc, and that is the latest Batman movie. Don't worry...we use the blu-ray player lots since all the DVDs we get from Netflix are blu-ray. He was grinning as I sat down to listen to his work. And you know what? It's absolutely incredible. I had no idea what we were missing!

Though he hates anything Apple, he offered to show me how to hook up my iPod Touch to the receiver to play my Christmas music. Do you have any idea how great Andy Williams sounds in surround?! It wasn't hard for John to get me excited about this latest and greatest machine!

We rarely go to movies anyway, but I doubt the theater will see us ever again. And though John never spends money for fun things for John, he is rather enjoying this new treat. The cruise line would be shocked and proud.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Temple Lights of Mesa

As a child, I remember making family trips to Salt Lake City to visit the Christmas lights of Temple Square. It was always incredible, with every square inch of trees being covered in bright, cheerful lights. However, it was almost impossible to withstand the negative temperatures while still enjoying the festive surroundings. Even hot chocolate didn't do much to warm us up at we wandered the grounds in downtown Salt Lake!

The Mesa Temple also has a Christmas Lights display each December, but it is much more pleasant to be outside.

Reasons Mesa Temple Lights Are Better
1) I was wearing a light jacket and not shivering.
2) There isn't a single patch of snow to be seen within one-hundred miles.
3) Everything gets translated into Spanish after being spoken in English.
4) We could visit the same spots of wedding pictures taken two years ago.
5) I still had hot chocolate, but it wasn't necessary to sustain life.
6) Not once did I have to avoid a pile of manure from horse-drawn carriages.
7) We drove eight minutes to reach the temple grounds, as opposed to almost two hours.
8) Two words: Palm trees.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deck The Halls...And Everything Else

Let it be known...I happen to think Christmas is awesome. And when the time comes around each year to finally put up and decorate the tree, I begin to feel like an excited little kid yet again. Christmas was always a big deal when I was growing up. Without a better way to describe it, this time of year is simply magical! I love when the holidays begin!

I had forgotten how little effort the tree really takes to assemble. Two years ago, we bought it from Costco. John surprised me that week after I arrived home from work with the tree up and lit. He really is romantic. So I let him do the honor of assembling again this year, because that's how I roll. After checking that all the lights were working, we added the red tinsel garland. We also bought a huge container of ornaments from Costco a few years ago, and they do quite the job in making the tree look perfect. Perhaps the best thing about having the tree finished is being able to sit on the couch each evening to enjoy the beautiful glow. I discovered last night that it's even prettier without contacts! Blurry, but pretty! I am glad we have it up. I am already dreading that awful day when society insists I take it down. July will be here before I know it.

Inside the decorations tub, I found my favorite book as a kid, Jolly Old Santa Claus. I took a moment to flip through the pages again, and I still love it! Every scene is full of hundreds of things to enjoy! Each elf is doing something fun, and the artwork is just incredible. It doesn't feel like Christmas until this thing is out. I am reading it at the Ward Christmas Party this Friday...that's how much I like it!

Great news: the Christmas lights outside work like a charm! They are subtle but colorful, and I love them. They last about eight hours, so they turn off automatically after the juice is gone from the solar-charged battery. That's good for us to be automatic, since we have a tendency to accidentally leave things on all night (I'm talking to you, Pool Refill Hose). I didn't know if the lights were a good purchase, but now I'm tickled I found them!

I'm off to go stare at the tree. It's so pretty that I can hardly resist! I love Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Lights Sneak Peek

For some unknown reason, we've been too busy to put up our Christmas tree. This is very uncharacteristic of me, and quite frankly, I am scared to death of these uncharted waters! We finally found a few hours yesterday to hang the Christmas lights on the house. I found a smokin' deal on Black Friday for solar-powered LED Christmas lights, and they happened to have multi-colored strands, which is a personal necessity for Christmas. I accidentally bought a few boxes of lights and proceeded to force my man onto the roof to put them in place.

The job ended up being more laborious than we expected. The previous owners left approximately fourteen-million rusted nails from previous decorating attempts. We had to first remove those, then drill tiny holes for the newly-purchased hook fasteners to go in. Then the lights were strung from hook to hook, and my husband tried to evenly space them without me even having to ask! Maybe my OCD tendencies are rubbing off? After the lights were up on portions of the house that were accessible by a step ladder, John prematurely played Santa Claus by climbing up on the rooftop. Click click click. While he was up there, he finished adding the remainder of the lights.

Now the fun part. Since the lights are solar-powered, they need to get about ten hours of sunlight before properly working. They charge all day then automatically turn on at dusk. Honestly, what will they think of next? The hard part for me is that after all my (John's, really) hard work, I have to wait another day to see our (John's, really) results! There really is nothing like owning a home to teach patience! And we woke up this morning to an overcast and rainy of three that we get annually. Thankfully, the solar-powered lights claim to be able to charge from the sun, even if it is hiding behind clouds.

Hopefully, tonight will be the reveal! I can hardly wait! Now, if we could only figure out when to put up the tree!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Reasons To Wear Stretchy Pants

I've always been grateful for food, but this was my first time making a Thanksgiving Meal to show it! I am tickled to say it turned out well. We had the in-laws over and John's sister, who flew in from Idaho. It was nice to be in our home for its first Thanksgiving, and even more wonderful to share it with family.

The Menu
Slow Cooker Cranberry Turkey
Mashed Creamy Potatoes (Pioneer Woman)
Cauliflower Gratin (Real Simple Magazine)
Craisin Pecan Apple Dressing (Real Simple Magazine)
Turkey Gravy
Mango White Grape Gingerale
Pumpkin Pie (Mom-In-Law)
Cherry Pie (Mom-In-Law)

It actually wasn't that bad to prepare. I set the alarm for 3:50 AM to turn on the slow cooker for the turkey. We decided to do just the turkey breast, which fit nicely in the Cuisinart slow cooker that we got for our wedding. I was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep after being up that early. You know how excited you get at Christmas? I get those same butterflies when I think of a huge feast! Luckily, I crawled back into bed next to a warm man and fell back to sleep. By 7:30 AM, I was up and at 'em again to finish the meal. I first made the Cauliflower Gratin but waited for the breadcrumb topping until just before oven time to prevent it from getting soggy. I then made Pioneer Woman's Mashed Spuds, which I saw her win against Bobby Flay in last week's Throwdown. Who doesn't make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving?! Later, these would be coined the "best potatoes ever" by my husband. Next, I made the Craisin Pecan Apple Dressing, which made my heart go pitter-pat. It was so heavenly. All three of these dishes had to share oven time, but they got along and didn't fight too much. We ate dinner around 1:30 PM after the men folk were done adding doors to my sideboard. Spoiler Alert: yes, my husband is making me a sideboard! I mixed up the Mango White Grape Gingerale concoction that was super yummy and made the dinner even more enjoyable. People got up for seconds and then my self-esteem was boosted while watching loved ones chow down on my food. It was delicious. If I may say so, it was the best Thanksgiving Dinner I've ever made!

Later on, when our stomachs were ready for more abuse, we ate homemade pies for dessert. It was incredible. I was slightly worried that I wasn't allowed to make dessert, since the mother-in-law offered. It happens to be my favorite thing in the world to make! But her pumpkin and cherry pies were heavenly and made even better with vanilla ice cream and homemade vanilla whipped cream on top. I am drooling now just thinking about it!

The evening ended with some losses for me in cribbage. I don't want to talk about it. Then we played Scattergories, in which I totally redeemed myself, and we finished with Kings in the Corner before calling it a night. It was such a nice day! Any day revolving around the gross consumption of food gets my approval!

Perhaps the best thing of all is that I am now officially entitled to play Christmas songs and put out Christmas decorations. I wait eleven months for this glorious day...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Day To Celebrate

My Dad is in town from Mexico for a few days, and we were able to spend all of Saturday with him. That morning began with the entire Phoenix-dwelling family meeting at Crackers Cafe for a delicious breakfast. I've never had anything bad there, and this visit was just as heavenly. After feasting like pigs, Dad hopped in the car with John and I to come see our new house. It was fun to show him around and then open a house-warming present from him. A candy dish, of course. At least we know my addiction to sugar is genetic! Next, Dad and I drove to my sister's house while John stayed behind to complete a project from work. I didn't stay long at Friends since T'liese and I had a wonderful baby shower to attend (congrats, Cassie!). We left early to get back in time to spend the afternoon with family.

I knew I was staying longer to babysit Evan while he slept, and my Dad offered to stay to help. His parents went out for a birthday dinner, as my sister celebrated another year this past weekend! While they were gone, I enjoyed a few hours of conversation with my Dad. Since he lives out of country, it's a rare treat to get so much information passed in just two hours! Before we knew it, they were coming through the door from what sounded like an insane dinner at Mastro's Steakhouse. Yummy! To add to the excitement of the day, T'liese opened presents for her birthday. She got some fun things for her new kitchen. Evan opened his Christmas present from Grandpa a little early but was more entertained by the wrapping paper and cardboard box than the adorable puppy pillow inside. I'm sure it's just a phase! It was a nice, long day with family. I am just glad I made it back in time from Maine!
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