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!


Happy General Conference Weekend

My kids like watching Good Mythical Morning.
Occasionally, I found myself listening and giggling while I watch the show despite of myself.

Kyle watched this episode when he was home sick this week. It was all about what pumpkin products to buy at the grocery store, Trader Joe's. Here's to pumpkin food season:

Also, I'm looking forward to this weekend. It's our church's general conference, when our church leaders speak to us to give us advice, council, wisdom, revelation, etc. Our family watches it together, and it's always a nice weekend to S L O W down.

How to watch LDS General Conference this weekend.

I'll be making these cinnamon rolls this weekend too. They really are pretty easy for 1st time cinnamon roll makers. The rising just takes about an hour.


Our Dog, Blazer, was on the NEWS!

A man in our ward, had his custom wheelchair stolen at a BSU game over the weekend.

Our ward and families were encouraged to help look for it around the area near the stadium on Monday for Family Home Evening. Our boys' scout master also wanted the scout troop to help look for it too. So we brought our whole family, including our boy scouts, and our dog to help look for the missing wheel chair.

The local news station was there.

Watch the video, and count how many Wells family members made the 10 o'clock news last night.



A Donut Birthday Party

Sadie turned 9 back in May.
She wanted to have some friends over for a party.
Sadie came up with a Donut Themed Birthday Party.

I thought her idea was so cute.
We sent out Donut Invitations.

Sadie wanted to do a craft.
We made paper plate donut purses.
Here is the idea and instructions.

We played some Donut Games.

Game 1:
Try to eat a donut from a string using NO hands.

Game 2:
Try to throw 3 inflatable donuts onto a stick.
(We used a brother's play sword stuck in our couch.)

(They are small, and not swimming pool inflatables.)

Game 3:
Pin the Donut!

The girls put their initials on the bottom part of the donut.
We blindfolded the girls and had a donut box tacked to the wall.
The girls had to try to put their donut top on their initialed donut.
We did a donut cake, of course!
(For you locals,
Sweet Sensation Donut is are favorite place to get fresh donuts!
They are YUMMY!)

We gave out these mini donut chains in goodie bags.