2018 Favorite Things

My favorite post of the year

Before I list my favorite things I wanted to share with you
some of my favorite ways to enjoy the holiday season by serving.

Just put in your zip code and opportunities will be listed for your community.
It is a helpful resource for helping after natural disasters too. Hurricanes, Fires, etc.

Light the World campaign that they put on each December season.
It's a great way to serve your home, family, community, and others globally.
Check out their website for how to involve your home and family this season.

Onto some of my favorite things from 2018:

1.Tillamook Ice Cream in White Chocolate Peppermint Bark. So Yummy!
2. A 2 cup measuring cup. This is so fun to have. Especially for all you bakers out there.
3. This KitchenAid chopper. It's the perfect size appliance. Not big at all. Easy to put in the dishwasher too. Chops up veggies, nuts, etc. I use it almost daily. I love it.
4. Larger size popcorn kernels. This is great for making popcorn recipes this time of year.
Sara Wells from Our Best Bites got me onto this. Try it with their Peppermint Bark Popcorn recipe.
5. These Spatulas. They are heat resistant and dishwasher safe, and they work so well when you're stirring, cooking, and baking. I can't live without them. They are 1 piece. My older spatulas kept coming apart, staining, and melting if I left them on hot surfaces.

1. Sherpa Hoodies for my kids. My boys especially love them. They refuse to wear coats to school or outside. We have 20 degree and under weather in Idaho. But they'll wear these.  They are extra thick because of the sherpa inside. You can find them at Wal Mart, Old Navy, Land's End, etc.
2. Cover Your Assets card game and Telestrations. Both fun games, that everyone enjoys.
If you need more games ideas, Mel from Mel's Kitchen Cafe does a fabulous game list every year.
Her blog is a favorite of mine for recipes and her annual family game post.
3. Penny Boards. My kids have enjoyed using these. They are smaller than other skateboards.
4. Simple Modern water bottles. They come in all sizes and colors. They are the same as HydroFlasks, just more affordable. They keep your drinks hot or cold no matter the temps. outside. The con is you must wash them by hand. My kids who are in sports love these.

1.  Loreal Burgundy Mascara. I LOVE, LOVE this mascara.
The color is fun, but it's more brown. Don't worry you won't have pink or purple eyelashes.
It just makes me happy every time I use it.
I think it works with every hair and skin color. It does smudge by the end of the day. I tend to wear it for nights out, or when I need make up for a couple of hours.
2. Cream eye shadows. I love them. It's easy to just pick a color and swoop it over my whole eye lid.
I just use my index finger to apply. Cream eye shadows simplify the everyday make up look, quickly and easily. Revlon has the drug store pricing, Bobbi Brown is the splurge price.
3. Jockey Bralette. I don't like sports bras. They are always uncomfortable, and I can never get out of them. I also get tired of other bra straps falling off my shoulders, This bralette from Jockey has been great. It is comfortable, and I no longer deal with annoying bra straps. Get one and try it out. If you like it, get more.
4. I'm not ready for an apple watch. I'm trying to do less social media. But I still like having a watch on my wrist for telling time, and for a piece of jewelry. I wanted a white watch that was semi-water proof. I picked this Caravelle one our for my birthday and I LOVE it. My teenage daughter who is fashion conscious told me to get a larger watch. She said small watches are for old ladies. I took her up on it, and I'm glad I did.
5. I love fresh flowers from Trader Joe's They are affordable usually under $5 and seasonal.
 1. We like using VidAngel. You can set filters on your movies or tv shows through amazon, netflix, etc. to take out inappropriate scenes, swearing, violence, etc. It's been helpful when my teens wanted to watch The Office, or Stranger Things. I worry less when they use VidAngel. I like it too. I DON'T think it's a free for all to watch everything. There are still DARK, inappropriate movies and tv shows that should still be avoided even with filters. There is a monthly $10 fee. But it's worth it for my family at this time. You can try it free for a month, and cancel at anytime.
2. Mailed DVD's. My sister got me onto this again. We used this service years ago, before Red Box and streaming. But Red Box never had the new releases we wanted, Amazon rental prices are too high, and Netflix streaming rarely had new releases we wanted to see. So back to mailed DVD's it is. You can keep the DVD's as long as you need, and the library is surprisingly large. There are different price points to fit your budget. Our mail is exciting again!

There you have it, my 2018 Favorite Things.
For more favorite things go to 320 Sycamore,
she did a week long post of blogger's favorite things.


Easy Thanksgiving/Fall TableScape

Here is an easy way to put together a Thanksgiving TableScape.

1. Lay down a light colored table runner.

2. Add garland from your local craft store in the middle of it.
You could use some branches from your yard too.

3. Add some small fall decor items, pumpkins, pine cones, apples, fruit, etc.
You could also use real fruit here too.

4. Add 2 candle holders at the end of the table runner.

5. Add your plates, cups, silverware, and fabric napkins.

6. Not pictured but fun to add, are a name place card of some kind.

 I love this table runner from Target. It washes up well, and doesn't wrinkle to much.
A garland idea  and small metallic pumpkin gourds from Hobby Lobby.
Gold Candle Holders and Candles from Target.

Other Thanksgiving TableScape Inspirations:

Emily Clark
Fancy Farmgirls 
Jones Design Company


Breakfast Game Changer

I was at stake girls camp a couple weeks ago.
We had an AMAZING camp cook and staff.
One morning they made french toast with this buttermilk syrup
for the older girls and leaders up at camp.

In all my years of livin' I had never had this syrup before.
I asked the camp cook for the recipe, and she said the recipe from
Oh, Sweet Basil's blog is the best. Adding the baking soda at the end, helps to finish
the syrup properly. I couldn't wait to come home and make it.

I made the recipe this morning. My life will never be the same.
It's an easy recipe and takes french toast to a whole new level.
We may eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the rest of the summer.
You can use this syrup for all your favorites: pancakes, waffles, crepes, french toast, etc.

Happy Syrup Making!  Buttermilk Syrup from Oh, Sweet Basil

Buttermilk Syrup ohsweetbasil.com pancakes, waffles, breakfast, brunch

Photo credit: Oh, Sweet Basil Blog


A Family Update

Summer 2016 

I'm using an old family photo from 2016 to update you on our family in 2018.
That about describes my being able to keep up with our family.

Everything is moving FAST and BUSY,
and I can't keep up.

Chris had a birthday this week.
I won't tell you his age.
Just that he is approaching the BIG FIVE-O too quickly.
He stays busy keeping up with our kids sports
and with his dental practice.
He doesn't complain much,
and goes with the flow most of the time.
He wishes he could exercise more.
He loves snow and water skiing.
These two things keep him happy,
especially if we do them together as a family.
He serves in the Sun. School Presidency.

I'm fine, I think.
I feel tired and overwhelmed.
I eat ice cream,
and search for good, quality TV
shows to watch when the house is quiet. 
Which it rarely is.
I teach in Relief Society once a month.
I like being a Relief Society teacher.
I have also been asked to help plan stake girls camp
for this summer with other adult sisters.

Mothering Lindy
has proven to be stressful for me. 
I think it might have to do with being 16 and boys.
She plays the piano AMAZING,
and has been doing more performances.
I think she has straight A's,
but I don't keep up with her academics.
So I'm not sure.
She drives and has already had her 1st car accident.
More stress for me.
She is great runner,
and keeps improving on her High School
XC and track teams.
She loves fashion and is talented at it.

Kyle is 14.
He has a group of friends from middle school
that he likes to hang out with from time to time.
Sometimes this means girls too.
But he just acts whatever about it.
I think he is starting to grow a mustache.
His voice hasn't changed yet.
Sometimes he get a little performance anxiety
in relation to school sports.
We are aware of it and keep an eye on it.
He also excels in school but doesn't like to do extra work.
He gets by doing the bare minimum.
He plays on a year round soccer team and runs for his school too.
We're not sure what sport he will focus on in H.S. for next year.
He is athletic and likes to play video games.
Church dances are not his favorite thing.

Tate plays the Banjo.
He is interesting, curious, creative,
and is the kind of person to change the world for the better.
I think he will too.
He is always discovering a new skill weekly and monthly.
Once he gets it down, he goes to the next one.
This month it's back flips.
He does well in school, but can't always hear the teacher's
directions because he is focused on whatever new skill
or thing he is thinking about or creating.
His mind wanders.
We call it inattentive ADHD.
It hasn't proven to be much of a problem,
just something to understand about him.
He runs track for the middle school too.

Sadie, Sadie.
She can be pleasant, helpful and kind.
She can also be grumpy, moody, and anxious.
This has also taken parenting to new levels
of HARD.
She regularly meets with a counselor to help her
but in the tough moments,
it is still often her and I trying to
calm her down.
She turns 10 this week.
She likes to sing, dance and perform.
She is interested in the theatre.
She likes to play on her soccer team.

Brandon is our caboose.
He loves school and learning.
He enjoys reading,
and picked up on it quickly.
He thrives on learning math too.
He can be quiet,
but has recently taken to talking
A LOT at home.
Telling us all kinds of things.
He seems to appreciate being
in our backyard with our new dog Copper.
He likes having a buddy outside with him.
He likes to run and play soccer as well.

 I really missing blogging more often.
I feel bad that life has gotten too busy to record
our family life.
I rely on Instagram to help with that.
I hope you are all well and surviving too.
I know you each have unique challenges
and you are each enduring as best you can.


That time our family got a Dog

Last year in January, as some of you many know,
our family got a Brittany puppy.

We named him Blazer.

I have 3 boys, AND we have an acre yard, AND my husband grew up with dogs,
AND we don't have babies or toddlers anymore, AND it all seemed like a good idea.

I had never had a dog before. I hadn't grow up having pets at all,
except for the occasional pet fish.

My husband assured me you just keep him in the backyard.
It seemed easy enough.
His dogs, when he was a boy, roamed their unfenced yard and their small town.
When they went on vacation they left out extra dog food.

It turns out, as you might suspect,
having a dog, especially a puppy, requires quite a bit of time, work, and money.
I had done my research, so I knew a bit what I was getting into.
But, you can't really know until you actually have a dog
in your house to REALLY KNOW.

It was very hard for me and stressful.
My youngest was still in half day kindergarten last year.
I wanted some time when my son was at school to get caught up on things.
Like load the dishwasher or fold a load of laundry in some peace and quiet.
When you have a dog or puppy you give up some of your time.
I was also looking forward to this school year
when all 5 of my kids were gone during the day,
to finally get some things done that I had neglected for years.
It was hard for me to turn around and have a dog looking at me for time and attention.
I felt some resentment.

Blazer had some great qualities.
He could spend most of his time out in the yard happily.
He rarely barked, he didn't smell much, and shed very little.
My children and husband really enjoyed him.
He adapted to each of their needs.
That was the magic of it.
He was a playmate and friend to Brandon.
He was a quiet, calm listener to Sadie.
He wrestled and acted crazy right along with Tate.
He watched the sunsets with Lindy, after she had a long day at school or work.
He played football out back when Kyle had his friends over.
He was a companion to Chris when he worked in the yard.

But, he also had some bad qualities:
He was excited about other people, and could get jumpy.
He was a little stubborn and at times hard to train.
He was a BAD leash walker, and wasn't great at coming when called.
I was too nervous to leave him with friends or family, because of his excitability.

We tried training him in the summer. But it didn't go that well, because
it took more time that I was willing to give. It was hard for me to have him in the house.
I never trained him quite right to be in the house.
I panicked on cold, wet, rainy days to know what to do with him.

Then, on a Dec. afternoon, when Lindy had some high school friends over in our home,
he snuck out the front door, when one of her friends came to the door.
He ran away out of our neighborhood, onto a busy street, where he was hit by a car.
He died instantly.
My 14 year old saw it. It devastated him, and the rest of my kids.

I was a little excited my time with the dog had come to an end.
And relieved that the experience was over.
But as the days wore on, I realized how much the dog
had meant to each of my kids and husband.
Blazer calmed them, he stabilized them.
I confess they didn't spend hours with him,
but they each gave him 10-20 min. a day.
Those 10-20 min mattered to my kids.
The dog also helped with kids spend less time on screens.

I began praying to know what to do. The kids were praying.
I began searching daily for local shelter dogs online, and even visiting some.
I couldn't believe I was spending my free time looking for another dog.
I sat in a Relief Society lesson, recently, and as we were discussing the Latter-Days,
and the challenges associated with that.
The spirit confirmed to me in a powerful way that a dog
is what my kids need to help them endure these last days.

I hit a lot of dead ends with trying to find the right shelter dog. Nothing was working out.
It's not even easy to get a shelter dog, and there's no time to think about it.
You often had to decide that day, that very minute. The good shelter dogs go fast.
The requirements for adopting a dog were actually quite strict.
Like we needed to have another dog,
or our kids needed to be ages 10 and up,
or it could only be kept inside,
and lots of behavior issues that would take more time and training then I could handle.

I discovered there was a litter of Brittany puppies available in our state.
Our family really enjoyed the Brittany. 
The more I got information about possibly getting one, the more things felt right and began to fall into place. I panicked a time or too, but I couldn't believe how much the spirit calmed me, and reminded me that this was an answer to our family prayers.

We got our new puppy last weekend. I am at peace with it.
There are parts of it that are hard again. But, I feel more committed to training,
and putting in the time. My family benefits a great deal from having him,
and I am much less resentful of the time to work with him. It is time well spent.

I don't think having a dog is the right solution for every family.
There is a time and season to it all.
Wish me luck, I'm going to need it.
Here we go again.


What's SAVING me right now, February 2018

Modern Mrs. Darcy,
likes to do a post about some things that are saving her right now.
She invites us to do the same.
I love this idea, especially in the winter.

Here's what's saving me right now:

KitchenAid KFC3516 3.5 Mini Food Processor
My Red Kitchen Aid food chopper, that I got for Christmas.
It really makes food preparing so much easier, and it's easy to disassemble and throw in the dishwasher when I'm done choppin'.

The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them
I have a 9 year old daughter struggling with the world around her.
Her socks, the temperature, her homework, her brothers, EVERYTHING.
This book is helping me understand her better, and quite frankly helping me survive right now.

These Paper Mate flair pens are helping me survive the doldrums of the paperwork to run a family.
Not quite a marker, but WAY better than a ball point pen, no smearing so far, and great colors.
I highly recommend. "You need me to fill out another form? Sure! as long as I can use this pen!"

Blue Sky Calendar Planners at Target. I still can't do the digital app calendars. These planners save me every day, week, and all year. They are affordable, and I like the designs to choose from.

I can't get Enough of this song, Never Enough from the Greatest Showman movie soundtrack.
I just might listen to it every day, on repeat.

Image result for victoria on pbs
I've been watching Victoria on PBS masterpiece. This has been a great series.
The actors who play the Queen, and the Prince are dating in real life. I always like that.
Season 1 was last year and now there is Season 2.
You can watch this on PBS or Amazon Prime.


I tried listening to Audio Books in 2017 . . .

I tried using Audible this past year.
Honestly, I didn't like it that much.
I'm mostly home during the day, by myself, since my youngest is in 1st grade.
I would put on an audible book to listen to, while I did interesting things like the laundry.
But, I would move from room to room too much.
I would miss important parts as I left the room.
I never quite knew what was going on in the story.
I'm not a big fan of using headphones while having an iphone in my pocket.
In the end, I discovered I still just like reading in a book.

Here's what I tried listening to on Audible:

I recommend both of these!

Amy Snow is a fun mystery set in England in the 1800's. Great if you love all the Jane Austen stuff.

How to Win Friends, is just a good read for learning to get along with people.
I find I need this skill most with my own children and family.

Here's what I read in 2017 the old fashioned way -
Out of a Book:
Wonder was a great book that I read to my 9 year old. We both loved it.
The whole family saw the movie and it was great movie we all enjoyed together.

Rebecca is a classic I really enjoyed. My mom is named Rebecca,
and she showed me the Alfred Hitchcock movie when I was a kid. I remembered enjoying
the movie and I had always wanted to read the classic. I'm so glad I did.
This is a love story mystery.

Mr. Rochester is a must read if you love Jane Eyre.
It tells his story from when he was a young boy, to meeting Jane.

Jane Eyre I have loved the movie versions for years. Why did I wait 30+ years to read this classic?
I LOVED, LOVED it. She is probably my favorite heroine and character of all time.

The Lost City of Z I saw the recent movie about this, and was so intrigued and curious as to what happened to this famous explorer. When I was at the library, and found this non-fiction book that tells more of the story and details I had to read it. I loved it too. It was a nice change from the other novels that can be more popular to read. It was a fairly quick read. It read easily and moved the true story along as the author went back in modern time to retrace Percy Fawcett's last steps before he disappeared with his son and son's friend.

The Magnolia Story I honestly enjoyed reading about the early years of Chip and Jo, the balance they give each other, and their humble beginnings. I thought is was a quick, inspirational read. I always get good marriage advice from them.

My Story Elizabeth Smart This was a great read too, that I highly recommend. The tender mercies that were given her at crucial times during her ordeal were inspiring. It was good for me to hear more of her story to have a better understanding for her and others that have been through similar ordeals.

Women of the Book of Mormon This is a short, fast read that gives amazing insights into the few women named and mentioned in the Book of Mormon. I loved it!! Especially as we have been challenged to read and study the Book of Mormon more, I think this is a great book to give us a fun incentive  to read it more and give us new stories to understand from the Book of Mormon. Excellent!

Here's some of the books I'm hoping to read in 2018:

Candle in the Darkness
The House Girl
An Unseen Angel
Where the Light Falls
Nothing to Envy
Man's Search for Meaning
Uncle Tom's Cabin
The Story of My Life and Helen Keller: A Life
Hope Heals
Murder on the Orient Express
How Will You Measure Your Life
The Great Bridge
Code Girls

I also get good book recommendations from these blogs,
Modern Mrs. Darcy and Emily A Clark


How To Survive the Holidays

Here are some of my tips for surviving the Holidays:

It will make you smile and feel good and it's realistic too.
For example, one of the pages says,
"Calling the Season what it really is - Cold and Flu Season."

Do watch the movie Elf at least once with your family.
 Also, watch some Cheesy Romantic Holiday Hallmark Movies too.
There are lots to choose from on Neflix, Amazon prime,
and a Hallmark TV channel app too.

Sip some Hot Chocolate.
If you aren't exercising regularly.
Start now. Don't wait until 2018.
Walking, Running, Biking, etc.
Ask your friends what they do to exercise.
See if you can join them.
Look into different classes, and gyms near you.
Lots of communities have city rec exercise classes
that are more affordable than gyms.
Look for something you can start now.
It's more important than making homemade ornaments.

Follow the #LightTheWorld Calendar.
It is a nice way to bring
the true Meaning of Christmas
into your home.
Don't overdue it though.
You can feel overwhelmed quickly if you try to do it all.
Just pick 5 of your favorite ideas.

The New Era magazine has the best, simple ideas for each day.
The Friend magazine has a star advent you can use too!
Light the World

Use Facebook, Instagram, and Social Media less this Month.
Everyone's traditions, homes, ideas, fashion, pictures, etc.
will look AMAZING and you might start to feel bad or overwhelmed.
Most of it is edited, and dare I say, maybe even a bit Fake.
Just use social media a little less this season and bake these cookies instead.
These cookies are really easy to make.
No refrigerating dough ahead of time.
No rolling out sugar cookie dough.
No messy flour.
No cutting out cookies.
Cutting out sugar cookies always sounds fun,
until you are in the middle of a huge flour mess
with too many children in your kitchen.
No having to frost either.

Take one thing (or more)
off your December to do list this year.
Maybe it's cards, or matching pj's, or
gingerbread houses, or homemade presents or ornaments, etc.

Good Luck,
Ready or Not Here Comes December!


My Favorite Things in 2017

This post is always one of my favorite things to do on my Blog every year.
They are things that I love to use for myself, and things my family enjoys.

This is a great portable speaker. I love it!
I got it for my teens last year, but I might use it more
around the house.
It's waterproof, small, and has a great sound.
It comes in lots of different colors.

My whole family loves these, they are soooo comfy.
These also come in different colors.

I was introduced to this years ago to wear as a primer
on my eye lid. I find I love wearing just 1 color as my
eye shadow for a natural, fast, every day look.
My favorite color is shore, for every skin color.
There are lots of colors for your preference too.

I just discovered these at Macy's.
They are affordable, the perfect size for gift giving,
and just fun to use! I like the scent Romance by Ralph Lauren.

I had used a drug store foundation for years.
But, I noticed in pictures,
it was making my face look pale, pasty, and white -
whiter than my skin tone. I was ready for a change.
In our local mall, I visited Bare Minerals, and took home
several small samples of foundation colors to try after a clerk
directed me to the right shades.
I tried each of them for a couple of weeks, until I found the color 
I felt matched the best. I have loved using this cream.
It feels natural, and not too thick or pasty.

6. Ticket to Ride Game
We got this game last year for Christmas.
My husband and I love to play it with some of our kids.
It's not a favorite among all of my kids, but
we can always get enough of us to play it. I love it.

7. Beddy's Zipper Bedding
These bedding sets cover the whole bed mattress
and you just ZIP them up! They really work
great on bunk beds,  and kids whose bedding and blankets
are always coming off the beds - like a hurricane
has come through every night. It keeps kids rooms looking
cleaner. They are pricey. That is the downside. You can follow
their website or instagram for their sales.
The bedding set comes with the sheets, blanket, and pillow covers.
If you have to change/wash your kids bed sheets a lot,
then I don't recommend this product. They aren't meant
for weekly washings.

8. Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap
Ok, I got hooked on these.
I got tired of refilling the Bath & Body hand soaps
around my house. I tried these and I love them.
They last longer with kids. The pumps seem stronger,
and don't pump out gobs of too much soap.
Target has them on sale a lot too.
I do buy the refill bottles as well.
The peppermint scent looks fun for the holidays,
but I love the Basil scent.

9. Handheld Milk Frother
Anyone who loves hot chocolate,
or even steamed milk will love this!
It makes your drinks frothy, and
my kids and I all agree it makes it taste better.
Plus, it's so small and doesn't take up a lot of space
in your kitchen like large appliances.
It cleans easily with a little water.
This is a fun, great gift idea, I love ours.
Steam Milk Recipe: Microwave 1 c. milk for about 90 s.
Then, add about 1/2 T. sugar and 1-2 t. vanilla or almond extract, stir or
use this handheld frother. Yummy, my favorite drink in the winter.

10. Extra Tall Mugs
The only con to the above frother, is that it makes the liquid go
up as it spins and froths. Trust me from experience,
you need taller mugs if you want the frother.

11. Aluminum Baker's Big Sheet
These Aluminum baking sheets are the best.
Aluminum sheets really do make your baked goods
bake and taste better. I love this Big Sheet.
It makes baking and cooking for a family so much easier.
Cookies are done faster, instead of baking several batches
over and over on 2 smaller sheets. It saves TIME!
The only con - they are too large for the dishwasher.

12. Rival Ice Shaver
I picked this up several summers ago,
for my kids to make shave ice. It's small, and
doesn't take up tons of kitchen cabinet space.
It has survived several years of kids using it
A LOT. Kids can do it themselves.
It has been a great thing for our family.

13. Scrub Daddy Sponges
My son, Tate had us get these last year for Father's Day,
because his teacher loved them so much. They really
are the greatest sponges. I don't know what they are made
of that makes them work so great. They are the best, really.
Makes kitchen cleaning, much easier..

14. Scented Kitchen 13-Gallon Garbage Bags
I got these one time by accident.
Now, I can't live without them. Scented Garbage Bags,
for your kitchen. Do it! Pay the extra for the scented.
It is worth it.
Your nose and your family's noses will all thank me.

15. The TV show Madam Secretary on Netflix and CBS
I love this show. The characters, the importance of family-
their marriage relationship, and doing what's right.
Is every character perfect? No.
I love the actors, Tea Leoni, and Tim Daly.
They are also dating in real life which
makes the show even better for me.
Plus, they are parenting teenagers on the show
and I need all the help I can get in that department.
Is the show fairly clean, yes. If you can watch Downton Abbey
then you can watch this. Downton Abbey was not squeaky clean,

16. Jane Eyre
I have loved the movie versions of this story for years.
This summer I finally read the book for the first time.
Oh, how I loved it. She is my favorite heroine and character
of all time. I also think it's my favorite book, ever.
A classic.

17. The band The Lumineers
This band I've been listening to a lot lately.
The song Ophelia is great and I love their song Ho Hey.
My teens and I both like their music and songs.
This is always a win-win.

18. The #LighttheWorld campaign in December
This is such a great way to get in the right spirit for the Holidays.
It reminds us to focus on Christ and others.
I really love that you can do simple things each day in the month of Dec.
Follow this link for the calendar, and ideas.
Our world needs your light!

My Previous Years Favorite Things:
2016 Favorite Things
2015 Favorite Things
2014 Favorite Things
2013 Favorite Things
2012 Favorite Things


Meal Planning Tips and Ideas

In September, I shared some of my weekly meal planning tips to
several women in an evening Relief Society meeting.

At about the same time, I was able to listen to
Sara Wells from Our Best Bites deliver a similar message
to another larger group of women.

Here's what I learned from Sara:

Figure out why meal planning is hard for you. Get specific.

Pick 1 or 2 of the ideas below to help you.
Don't try to do all of these.
Just pick a couple that could help you out
at this season of your life now.

Do you hate grocery shopping?
If yes, consider online grocery shopping and just simply pick it up.
This is becoming the new norm for many people.
Others still like to grocery shop, but just need one less thing to do,
and this is becoming a convenient way to help them.

Consider a meal planning service.
They deliver the ingredients and recipe to you.
All you need to do is prepare it.
Blue Apron is an example of this type of service.
Our family has done it, and we loved and enjoyed it.

Do you need ideas of what to cook?
Do you need some recipes?
-Ask friends/family for their favorite recipes.
 Facebook/Email works well for this.
-Check out Cookbooks at the library,
 or simply buy used/new cookbooks.
-Food Magazines are another great resource.
-Have each family member pick a day of what they want to eat for dinner.
-Subscribe to a menu plan. You usually pay a small fee,
 and they will email you a monthly/weekly menu plan,
 with a recipes, and a list of ingredients.
 Here are some menu plans options:
Our Best Bites or Mel's Kitchen Cafe
 You can google other menu plans.
-Repeat your favorite meals often.
 Your family likes pizza, implement Friday pizza night.
 They like Pancakes, have them for dinner every Sunday, etc.
 Pay attention to when your family is excited about something they've eaten.
 Do that meal often.

Do you have picky eaters/kids?
(Sometimes the adults or yourself are the picky eater.)

Find out why they are picky about foods.
Is it the texture, the seasoning, something they are unfamiliar with?
Sometimes just understanding the why can help.
An example: They don't like soggy broccoli?
Bake it instead, maybe serving it a little crisper can help.
Roasting/Baking Veggies in the oven at 400 for 20-30 min.
can often change the texture and taste of veggies for kids in a positive way.

Be sensitive to some of their pickiness.
Sometimes they have good reason why
something doesn't taste good to them.

Start your kids young on lots of different foods.
Baby food grinders work great with this, when you have infants.
(This might be my favorite baby item. We loved ours.)
The more variety of food they are exposed to at younger ages,
the better they will adjust later.

Involve your kids with the foods you prepare.
Let them touch it, see it, smell it, etc.
Let them help prepare it too sometimes, this can help with picky eaters.

Dip it and Wrap it, are good ways to help them eat foods they are picky with.
Dip it in Ranch, Ketchup, etc.
Wrap it in Tortillas, and suddenly they'll try it.

Some families have a rule to not let kids complain or say anything
about the meal until after the meal is over.
Or the 1st kid done, needs to do the dishes.

Do you struggle with the time,
or family schedules?
-Plan dinner in the am.
 Thaw the meat, chop up the veggies, etc.
Just know in the am what you are eating at dinner.
This helps at 5 pm when you're HANGRY!
 Set your phone on an alarm reminder at 10 am -
 What's for dinner?
-Set the table by late afternoon,
 this lets everyone know dinner is coming.
-Have a set time your family will eat dinner.
 Let everyone in the family know. We eat at 6 pm, BE THERE.
-Sometimes with everyone's schedules dinner at
 dinner time just doesn't work.
 -Implement snack time before bed.
  Keep it simple. Piece of Toast, Apple slices, etc.
-Take advantage of all the semi-homemade products you can buy at the store.
 This can simplify and give you needed time.
 For example/ Canned soups - add your own fresh ingredients as it simmers.
 (I often boil up extra noodles, and cook up carrots to add to canned chicken noodles soups)
 Frozen Pizzas, Cut up fresh veggies to add on top. Green Peppers, Tomatoes, etc.
 Use the Rotisserie Chicken for enchiladas, or when a recipe calls for cooked chicken.
 Buy the Bread Bowls for soup instead of making homemade bread bowls, etc.
-Add fresh, grated cheese to your box of macaroni and cheese.

This is what I shared:

I believe in the 2-week meal planning method.
I've done it for many, many years and it still works.

I take my family calendar, and a piece of scratch paper.
On the scratch paper,
I write down a dinner meal for each of the next 10-14 days.

I then, write down on another piece of paper, the ingredients
I need to buy at the store for those meals specifically.
After I've gone to the store, I have ingredients for those 10-14 meals.

Things always change. I may not be in the mood to prepare
what I have written down for that assigned day.

This doesn't matter. The point is I have ingredients and ideas
for 10-14 meals to use as needed.

I try about 1-2 new recipes a month.
This helps me stay interested in eating and meal planning.

Here are my favorite food blogs for new recipes and ideas:
I love them all and use them regularly.

A Bountiful Kitchen
House of Nash Eats
Six Sisters' Stuff
Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Our Best Bites

Remember that the food bloggers listed above,
eat cold cereal, frozen pizza, etc. just like the rest of us.
They are not preparing nice meals every night.

I also include 1-2 dessert recipes in my meal plan,
and ingredient list of the store.

Happy Eating and Good Luck!


Weekly Web Finds

My sister and I went out to lunch this week at Panera.
I loved their squash soup.
I'm hoping to try this squash soup recipe soon.

I made these Halloween cookies this week. We all loved them.

I enjoyed watching the movie A Monster Calls this week.
A great movie with a good message, but it is sad because the mother
in the movie is dying from cancer.
I also thought it was a good movie for October.
Be sure to listen close to the tales in the movie.

Happy Weekend!
We will be watching Lindy run in her XC district meet.
We'll go to our Stake Conferene for our church,
and listen to our local leaders
give us inspired counsel to help our homes,
families and communities.

This weekend the Meridian LDS Temple Open House starts.
For about 4 weeks the temple will be open to the public.
You can get your tickets here to walk through.


Weekly Web Finds

I love this painting by Angela Reichman.
She painted this after the Las Vegas shooting,
but she also had been thinking of recent news events around the world.
You can read more about the painting here.
Her inspiration and thoughts about it are very powerful, and helpful.

My favorite pumpkin treat recipe. I call them Pumpkinies

Of all the General Conference talks we heard last week,
this one keeps coming into my mind.

Good Parenting Advice

I've just been called as a Relief Society teacher in my ward.
My first lesson is this Sunday.
As I was preparing for Gordon B{e}. Hinckley's Lesson #20,
I re-watched this video from when Pres. Hinckley was interviewed
by Mike Wallace for 60 min.
This is what Pres. Hinckley said of the interview afterwards.

Happy Weekend.
I'm hoping to stay warm, visit this Barn Sale,
watch a couple soccer games on Sat.,
and not get too nervous about speaking in Relief Society after
many years of working in primary and young women's.


Crater Lake, OR Caves, Redwoods, and the OR Coast

This past July our family had a fun vacation to see Crater Lake in Oregon, the Oregon Caves National Monument, the California Redwoods, and some beach time on the Oregon Coast.

We loved it all, it was a great trip!
We didn't camp, but stayed in lodging close to our different destinations.
This worked out well for us.

We started out in Boise, ID where we live,
and drove to Bend OR in the evening.
The next morning we drove to Crater Lake which only took a couple of hours.
It was nice to break
up some of the driving for our kids and my sanity.

When your first see Crater Lake it takes your breath away.

It had been an unusually snowy winter for the
Pacific Northwest this past winter.
Even though, we came to Crater Lake in the beginning of July, 
there was still a lot of snow, and we were unable to drive all around the lake.
Roads were still closed from winter snow.
We were only able to do a partial hike because trails were closed to snow too.
  We were also unable to hike down to the lake,
to go on a boat tour, because or road closures.
I highly recommend visiting Crater Lake
in late July or August to be able to do the boat tours.

We stayed in these cabins.

The next morning we drove further south to the Oregon Caves.
It was another couple hours away.
It's a rather large cave that you can have a walking tour through.
The tour takes about an hour with a park ranger as your tour guide.
All our whole family enjoyed the tour and caves.

That was fun too.

The next day we drove further south to Crescent City, CA.
We stayed at a VRBO listing in Gasquet, CA.
This took another couple hours to drive to get to as well.
The drives and scenery to all these places was beautiful, though.
We stopped at a lighthouse, and the kids explored the tide pools
My kids could spend hours at tide pools.

By the afternoon it was time to explore the Redwoods!

I discovered there are  3 different areas of the Redwoods in CA to visit.
 Starting up North there is the Jedediah Smith Redwoods state park near Crescent City, CA.
Further south is the Humboldt State Park,
and near San Francisco is the famous Muir Woods Redwoods.

Each of the above Redwood Parks are famous for different reasons,
and different famous trees.

Our family only had time to visit the Redwoods near Crescent City, CA.
The state park was nearby, only about a 20-30 min beautiful drive.
I highly recommend visiting the ranger station as the first thing you do. 
This helps you to get your bearings of what you want to see and do.
And to get a good map!
We enjoyed the Redwood for a couple of days.
We loved it, it was AMAZING.
Words and photos can not describe it.
I joke with everyone, I talk to about it,
that if you haven't been to the Redwoods yet;
DO IT NOW, plan to go TODAY.
It's good for the soul, and fun for all ages.
The redwoods are famous for these slugs.
Of course my boys, maybe my girls too, love them.

Here's what we did at the Redwoods:
You can drive and park your car, and walk through different
parts of the Redwoods.
They filmed part of Star Wars in here.
We had fun driving on the Howland Hill Road to Stout Grove.
I recommend this!
We didn't do, but I wish we had was the
Fern Canyon hike.

Klamath a little town on highway 101 has some fun touristy things
to do, that we didn't do, but looked fun.
You can drive your car through a tree in this town for a fee.

Since the Redwoods are along the coast 
we also had some nice beach time too!
We visited the beach near Brookings, OR.

Kyle had fun using this chair on this vacation.
It fills with air, and stores really small when the air is taken out of it.
He loved it.

It really was a nice vacation and so beautiful!