Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Books of 2010

I set a goal to read three books a month in 2010, and I topped it by reading 37 books this year. There was a good mix in all of the books, but these are my favorites from the year. I hope you'll find something here that you'll love, too.

Steady Days by Jamie Martin
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker
Lift by Kelly Corrigan
Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Did you read anything this year that you loved? Please share!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

30 before 30 (on the 30th!)

I wrote this list, my 30-before-30, to get me over the squickiness of turning 29- and now I'm genuinely excited about this part of it. I've started working on these things already, and look forward to crossing them off in the coming year. If you've got experience, input, advice, or suggestions for any of these, I'd love to hear from you!

Ready? Okay!

3 books each month
The Book of Mormon before Easter
Jane Austen's major works (6 books)
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Chronicles of Narnia

AM and PM Routines - Regular 'to rise' and 'to bed' times
Daily and Weekly Routines with the boys
Exercising 3 times a week
an Etsy shop with WBH
Posting 7 times a week on the blog

to make button holes
to use a serger
to make and use royal icing for cookies
to make a blog button
to make marshmallows
to make caramels

a 15-day recipe binder (15 each of breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert/cookies)
a dress for myself
awesome halloween costumes
a re-fashion
a pattern from an existing piece of clothing
a quilt for the living room (to hang over the mystery second door)
2 years of scrapbooking done
a piece of furniture

Increase Blog Traffic
Perform in a production
Finish no-cost bedroom makeover
Lose 20 lbs
Run my hometown 5k
Upstairs Bathroom fix-up

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What I Wore Wednesday

I'm trying something new this week. I've always loved The Pleated Poppy's What I Wore Wednesday, but I didn't want to post anything until I'd lost weight and had the time/funds to dress better. Then I had a change of heart, deciding that I can work with what I am, with what I have. So I've used the WIWW to motivate myself to step it up this week, and I'm joining in.
I'm a work in progress here- constructive criticism is welcomed, as fashion isn't my strong suit.
And I promise that if this is a flop, I won't do it to you again.
Hanging out a Mom's- I really love this mirror!
Sweater: Calvin Klein (Costco)
Tank: Costco
Jeans: Eddie Bauer, thrifted
Booties: thrifted
Wild Things Necklace: WBH made
Pipe cleaner and bell bracelet: Stinky made

At Church- Not sure about this one, since I was hopping it was a little Joan Holloway meets Emma Pillsbury.
Then Stinky said "That's when I was in your tummy" when he saw this picture. Fail?
Sweater and brooch: Gifted
tank: Costco
Belt: thrifted skinny tie bought for an 80's party a million years ago
Skirt: Marshalls
Herringbone Tights: Target
Shoes: Payless
Bracelet- Stinky made

Stinky's Birthday, at the fine Scottish Bistro
Brown cable sweater: Jeanne Pierre, thrifted
tee: Old Navy hand-me-down
hat and scarf: made by me

(the hair is a hot mess... I was trying for Rachelle LeFevre hair, I got Roseanne Roseannadanna)

Church Christmas Party
Sweater: Target, thrifted ($2!)
Scarf: Marshall's
Tank: hand-me-down
Pants: Express, thrifted (I didn't think I'd fit in anything from there, I was very excited)
Shoes: thrifted
Earrings: made by me

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will You Play Date With Me?

When I imagined myself as a mother, somehow I assumed that there would be a magical cloak of knowledge that suddenly fell on me at the moment of my firstborn's conception. I'm still waiting for my magical cloak, three conceptions later.

Stinky's been having a rough go of it at preschool. Somedays are great, and then, bam! Abysmal failure. I've been trying to work with him, trying to figure out how to help him, and I've decided that playdates might be a good place to start learning to be a friend without the pressure of the whole preschool class there.

One of the things I think I was missing from the magical cloak was knowing that when your kid is having a hard time, asking another mom for a playdate is a million times harder than asking the hottest guy in school on a date. She could reject you, and not only you, but your kid, too. Double shame. Then returns the scared 15 year old, and you can't be that girl as a mom.

But if there's double shame in a possible rejection, there's definitely double joy when you hear that mom say yes, and that what's more, they like your kid, even knowing the troubles they've been having.

So much better than than the hottest guy in school.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Full Of It

It was a really nice weekend. Was yours? I hope so.

I'd planned for a round-up of the handmade gifts I made, but the weekend has been too full.

Full of family faces, from near and far.
Full of noses being wiped, Theraflu and Emergen-C chugged.
Full of puzzles and games played on the rug.

Full of gratitude and reflection.
Full of snuggles and late-night movies.
Full of joy at Rotten sleeping in the bed Santa brought him (On his own! CELEBRATE!).
Full of one-on-one time with Stinky thanks to Rotten's sleep successes.
Full of appreciating gifts, but embracing the companions.

Much, much too full for writing any blog posts.

So I hope you'll forgive me, but this weekend was so filling that if it was a meal, I would be searching for my maternity pants. Okay, you caught me, I totally had to find my maternity sweats. I'm back on track now. Come back tomorrow, though. This week is full of good stuff.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Inspiration

The Christmas season is wonderful in many ways. It is a season of charitable acts of kindness and brotherly love. It is a season of being more reflective about our own lives and about the many blessings that are ours. It is a season of forgiving and being forgiven. It is a season to enjoy the music and lights, parties and presents. But the glitter of the season should never dim our sight and prevent us from truly seeing the Prince of Peace in His majesty.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Saturday, December 25, 2010

... and to all a good night.

Our family wishes you and yours the best Christmas weekend. May your gift making hands not be sore, may your children's sugar highs wear off without any tears, and may you sleep, sometime very soon, in heavenly peace.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Fourth Stocking

Rotten and I slipped away to Target last Friday night, to do a little Santa shopping. As I mentally made my list and checked it twice, we walked the aisles of the store. We stopped at the Christmas decorations. As I pushed the cart into the aisle, I felt such gratitude.

In the spring of 2008 I miscarried a baby that would have been born in November. In those first few weeks, we talked about how different Christmas would be with two. I can now say that following the loss, I dealt with depression that was akin to a low-grade fever. We did what we could, but all that could really be done was to wait it out and make sure it didn't get worse. I was much better once I passed the baby's due date, but Christmas shopping one day delivered a blow that I wasn't expecting when I walked down the aisle with the stockings. We would still have three stockings hanging that year, and the loss of that fourth stocking hurt more than I expected. Later that night, I put birdseed out in the backyard feeder and cried.

So, last Friday night, I chose a simple blue stocking for my Rotten. There were tears this time, too, but those of gratitude. One year ago on Christmas night, we found out we were pregnant again. Two years after that sad winter night, we have our fourth stocking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Oh. my boy is four. There's just no pretending that he's anything but a kid now. It might be killing me more than the ugly '29.' I think I'll think about that later.

We decided to get a big family party in before the holidays, so his party was Sunday. The night before, we hung snowflakes- meaning I cut them and WBH patiently climbed up and down the step ladder to hang them. There are still 50 snowflakes hanging from the ceilings in our entry, living and dining rooms. He set up and I wrapped with fabric his gift- can you guess what it is?

We kept the other decorations simple with fabric and his special day poster from preschool.

Another dinosaur cake was requested, this year thankfully nothing as specific or involved as last year's ankylosaurus cake. Honestly, I felt a little like I phoned this one in, but Rotten has been sick, so I only had about 20 minutes to work this out.

He requested another "flip flap jack" breakfast when he woke on his day, and Tealah stopped by with birthday cookies- she knows him so well.

Then we went to pick up the final pieces of his birthday presents- the fish! We have 3 platys (Heddy, Ocho, and Bone-o) and two catfish (both named Oto, "because they're cousins"). How I hope he develops better taste in names before he gives me grandchildren.

After watching the fish for a while, we took him to dinner at a resteraunt of his choice. A fine Scottish bistro- perhaps you've heard of it?

Tonight he's requested to sleep with the fishies, and we see no reason a sleepover shouldn't happen.

Dear Stinky, today you are four. Your name means fiery prince and boy, do you live up to it. We love the way you do things one hundred and crazy percent. We are so proud of the way you've grown up this year and stepped up into the role of big brother. We prayed so hard for you to become a part of our family, and you are just what we wanted. We love how you surprise us and keep life interesting, and we hope that never changes.

My Christmas List

I'm wishing for:

        • my mojo. I want it back.

        • a stop to my post-pregnancy hair loss.

        • a global ban on "The Christmas Shoes" forever and ever and ever.

        • the will power to walk away from Christmas goodies and pick up something real.

        • job security for WBH through the state's bloody school budget massacre. As an aside, WAY TO BE, Washington voters for repealing the candy and soda tax that helped fund education and health care. Now your children can be overweight and undereducated. GOOD FOR YOU, JUICEBAGS. Wait, where did this soapbox come from?

        • Rotten learning to sleep through the night, or at least most of it, in his own bed

        • diet dr. pepper (see above)

        • Stinky working through the issues he's having at preschool

        • a good night's sleep, or something close to it (see above)

        • time to accomplish the goals I set, projects I dream up, blog posts I begin in my head, and the ingenuity to do it all at little to no cost.

        • a peaceful year of forward progress for my family and the ones I love

        Tuesday, December 21, 2010

        The Tree: Part Three

        These are just a few of the ornaments on our crazy tree that caught my eye as I was snapping away. WBH suggested that next December I write a daily post about an ornament, and I think that will be really cool. For now, there's Fozzie, which was WBH's nickname for all the bad jokes he told as a child...
        this painted star, a reminder of a past life...

        a great trifecta- blue fuzzy dice that will someday go in WBH's restoration star, a parrot for the one we owned until it repeatedly tried to attack Stinky as a baby, and a new one this year: the first ornament Stinky has made for our tree. I got a little mushy about that one.

        The story of the skulls (and there are pumpkins, too) is that the first year we were married, we were too broke to buy ornaments, so we put the halloween decorations on, just to fill in the tree. They've been a staple ever since.

        The Simba mask, from the year we saw The Lion King, and Rosie the Riveter, for the year we bought a house, and I played roller derby.

        What this doesn't show are the ornaments WBH has made me for years (they're beautiful, I'm such a lucky girl), the bell and snowflake tatted by my sister-in-law, our harp from Tealah, the tibetan elephant bell and sparkly lizard from Dorin, or any number of ornaments I just love. That's something to look forward to for next year.

        Monday, December 20, 2010

        I Made it Monday: Teacher Gift

        On preschool's pajama day, Aidan's teacher commented that she just had sweats to wear. She also is a dancer, so when I saw this flannel (and to be honest, the 50% off sale price), I knew what we would do for her. Fortunately, PJ pants also sew up super fast, I had everything but the fabric, and it's okay if they're a little baggy. Unfortunately, I had one night to make them, and it was the night Rotten decided to scream at us for hours on end, so the picture is rushed and dark. I did, however, get to use my sewing machine's decorative stitch tool around the hem on the legs, and I'm pretty excited about the end result. Total cost? $5.98

        The Tree: Part Two

        In high school I had a crush on a boy. Unfortunately, that statement probably sums up my high school career. I was once at a Christmas party at his house, and saw that his family had two Christmas trees: one upstairs, color coordinated to match the living room, and one downstairs, with family memories and handmade ornaments from when the boy and his siblings were small.

        In college, a pageant public speaking coach and I were working on an improvisational speaking drill, where he'd give me a topic and I had to speak about it for a minute. Topic after topic came up, and he said "One last one- Christmas Trees."

        "I used to envy those who had the color-coordinated, professional looking trees," I began. "My family's tree is not at all color coordinated and has ornaments that are handmade, have pictures of us as children, and even some of cartoon characters. My view has changed now, though. Instead of mismatched ornaments and a themeless tree, I see a beautiful patchwork quilt of family history. We can pick up an ornament and tell you what we loved that year. 'There's almost 30 years of history on that tree,' my mom says. And now I see the beauty"

        We've continued our tradition of a tree full of history. Each year we all get a new ornament, something representative of the year, usually handmade. Each branch has a memory, an ornament gifted to us by someone we love. It's one of the craziest trees I've ever seen, and I love it that way. I have nothing against color coordinated, beautiful trees, but I could stare at my crazy quilt of ornaments for hours.

        Tomorrow I'll tell you about some of those ornaments.

        Sunday, December 19, 2010

        Sunday Inspiration

        Stinky as a shepherd for the church party. For the children's performance, we were asked to have them dress as some kind of shepherd or angel. I wanted so badly to dress him like a Hell's Angel. This was my compromise.

        I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

        Charles Dickens

        Thursday, December 16, 2010

        The Tree: Part One

        Cookie Friday is on holiday (get it?) until after Christmas. Look for her triumphant return January 11. The baking mojo took off with her and forcing the baking means it's no fun and doesn't taste as good.

        We are luck to have a tree farm just 20 minutes from us that's well priced, friendly and really fun. Not only that ,but we get to drive past beautiful buddhist and hindu temples on the way there. We've gone there for 3 years and it seems like every time we go, we find THE tree almost as soon as we walk in. Then, Stinky helps WBH chop it, or holds a branch. Same thing.

        And he is a big help when it comes to lugging it to the shake-out-the-needles-and-bugs machine.

        The tree farm has a "trees baled $2, children baled free" sign. Don't advertise it if you don't mean it, folks, because this family will take you up on your offer to wrap our firstborn up in a candy cane colored net.

        Last year we asked him if he wanted to, and he shrieked in horror at the very suggestion. This year, he was excited for it. The kid who roughs up the trees to get them through the baler, said that this was his first kid though, and that it made his day.

        Of course we wouldn't really do this, but I kind of think he'd really enjoy the ride


        Oh yeah, we were there, too, and Rotten was a little cold. Like his "I hate you guys so bad" face?

        For Part Two, come on back Monday.

        Wednesday, December 15, 2010

        Christmas Time is Here

        The late nights are beginning and a sense of urgency is growing. Oh, what fun it is to make your Christmas gifts by hand!

        I made a long orange scarf for WBH's secret pal at work- it was the color construction workers wear, super soft and knit in seed stitch- he took it to him before I got a picture. Tonight I am sewing up pajama pants for Stinky's preschool teacher- she commented that she didn't have anything but sweats to wear on pajama day. Then there are these:

        (I used to be anti-felt, and I can't for the life of me remember why. I LOVE it now- it's so versatile, fun, and best of all, freaking cheap.)

        For Rotten, add some plastic links and these will dangle from his car seat handle and entertain him during church and car rides (we hope). Not crazy about the finished project on the robot, but I'm a little in love with the rocket ship.

        Still to go, adding lettering to an apron and chef's hat for Stinky, WBH and Rotten's ornaments, and a tricky, larger gift that shall remain a secret because it's harder than I thought and if it doesn't work out I don't want its intended receiver disappointed. If it works out, it will be amazing

        So that's where I'm at- slowly losing my mind. Anyone else working on handmade gifts and about to lose their mind?

        Sunday, December 12, 2010

        Going on a MoJo Hunt.

        I didn't mean to be away from the blog for almost a week, but I was. I had all sorts of Christmas posts in my head, but it's hard to be in the holiday spirit with your head in the toilet. This week, Stinky and I shared a virus. I thought it was so funny when I'd find him laying on the floor where ever he was at the moment he decided he felt tired- "Don't worry, I'm just resting here, Mom" - until I was the one doing it. "Don't worry, I'm just dying here, guys."

        Last week, before we got sick, we set up our tree and visited Santa. We had a hard time at preschool and I lost my baking mojo (I blame the cupcakes, I think they've cursed me). I finished two Christmas gifts, scored some deals for me and wrote me "30-before-30" list.

        I feel like I've lost some mojo in general. Maybe it's 29. Maybe it's the virus. Either way this week I'm going mojo hunting. Any tips on hunting that bugger down?

        Until then, I'll leave you this picture of my adorable guys, working together.

        Sunday Inspiration

        We all enjoy giving and receiving presents. But there is a difference between presents and gifts. The true gifts may be part of ourselves--giving of the riches of the heart and mind--and therefore more enduring and of far greater worth than presents bought at the store."

        James E. Faust

        Tuesday, December 7, 2010

        Crap I've Made's Nativity Parade

        I'm linking up to Crap I've Made's Nativity Parade today. The link party is a lot of fun. I like seeing other people's nativities.

        I made this wall hanging for my mother two years ago. It's painted muslin then hand-quilted with the ribbon and I think I still have callouses. I saw it today ather house- every year I'm worried about the flaws I know are there, but when it's out, I'm just proud.

        see more here:

        One Year Older and Wiser... Maybe.

        It was my birthday this weekend. I'm 29. Not the anniversary of 29, the first 29.

        This boy put on makeup "to make me beautiful!" and kept bringing me random things (a straw bent into a T, for our last name, a broken toy) and telling me they were his gifts to me. I loved that he wanted to make it special for me.

        Then this guy and I went on our first real date in several months to see Harry Potter. We held hands and everything. The freedom was a little intoxicating.

        When I returned to my parents' home, Stinky had made me a "toy tree."
        "Yeah, for your birfday," he explained.

        and he helped my mom (isn't she so cute?) make me a cake- with my favorite color for frosting.

        It was a lovely day.

        The bad news is that I'm honestly more than a little squicked out (of course it's a word) by this year's birthday. Looking at last year's list , I did about five and a half of the things I wanted to in my 28th year. Not too shabby, because they were big things, and I had a baby. Some also weren't specific enough for my taste, and that's something I'll change for this year's list of goals. I'm not really sure why 29 has me so squicked out (it could be a word), but I think it has something to do with the fact that it's so close to 30.

        The good news is that as I reflect on the year, compare it to years past, I am happy to report that I feel more at home in my own skin than I ever have. I'm more accepting of myself and more confident. Are there things I would like to change? Of course. Will I ever stop feeling like I'm still 15 and scared of things? I don't know, but I feel like I'm getting there. It feels like my rough edges are being smoothed out, and while I might hate the process of it sometimes, I really am starting to like the results.
        Now, hopefully this introspective post rounds out the lady parts cupcakes post.

        Monday, December 6, 2010

        I Made it (and to be completely honest, I'm a little embarassed by it) Monday

        ...and these are the least obscene of the bunch.

        I want to be an honest blogger. I like to share my crafts here, when I'm proud of them. So I should probably be honest when I'm not.

        I was making cupcakes topped with fortune cookie-shaped caramels, to eat while watching Karate Kid. They didn't look too bad at first. Unfortunately, sitting in the kitchen as I made dinner they sort of started to... slump. As the fortune cookies grew more and more misshapen, the began to look more like something you'd find in the adult bakery that used to cause a lot of rubber necking when the bus drove past it on high school choir trips.
        So, what's a girl to do?

        You laugh at your mistake take a picture for posterity. Then, you take another picture on your cell phone to send to your friend who couldn't make it to movie night. She shows it to her friends during break from rehearsal who do a collective "heh heh."

        Then you post it on your blog, cross your fingers thateveryone else finds it as funny as you did, and secretly hope to make it on Cake Wrecks.

        Sunday, December 5, 2010

        Sunday Inspiration

        This is a glorious time of the year, simple in origin, deep in meaning, beautiful in tradition and custom, rich in memories, and charitable in spirit. It has an attraction to which our hearts are readily drawn. This joyful season brings to each of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree in which we have turned our mind, feelings, and actions to the spirit of Christmas."

        Thomas S. Monson

        Friday, December 3, 2010

        Cookie Friday: Boiled Cookies Recipe

        There should be a picture here. But my tiny dictator is just about killing me, so there's not. I hope you'll make them anyway. Totally worth it.

        These are WBH's favorites, and I enjoy them a lot too, becaue often he's the one making them. "I didn't cook it" is my favorite ingredient. Let me know if you try them!

        2 cups sugar
        4Tbs. cocoa
        1 cube margarine
        1/2 cup milk
        1 tsp. salt
        1/2 cup peanut butter
        2 cups rolled oats
        1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

        Boil the first 5 ingredients for 2 minutes, then add the remaining. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax or freezer paper and let set until cooled.

        Thursday, December 2, 2010

        The Tiny Dictator: a poem by Rotten

        Don't let the cute face fool you- he's a tyrant.
        Rotten's been working on making me lose my mind lately. A little of the "not going to eat, sleep, or stop crying- you figure out what's wrong, lady" really goes a long way to making me lose my sanity. The other morning, in an effort to relieve some tension, I wrote this. Enjoy.

        I do not like to be put down,
        Not on a blanket on the ground.
        I do not like to go to bed.
        I'll scream until my face is red.

        Please don't give me to my brother,
        I fear that more than any other.
        And please, don't put me on the couch.
        I'll give a headache; you'll say 'ouch.'

        I must not be put in my swing,
        a swing is simply not my thing.
        You must not hand me off to Dad,
        I freak right out, that makes him sad.

        So, to prevent many tears
        let me make this very clear:
        I must always be held by Mom
        if you hope to keep me calm.

        Although she knows it's just a phase,
        (she fears will last 'til end of days )
        when she looks like she might cry,
        probably best not to ask why.

        Don't ask about the unwashed hair,
        unshaved legs, or for clean underwear
        or why pj's stay on 'til noon,
        or why she hasn't cleaned her room.

        I can't let her think of all that stuff.
        Sometimes, it gets a little rough
        For she must meet all my demands.
        Tiny dictators must be kept close in hand.

        Wednesday, December 1, 2010

        December Header

        WBH hates Christmas music. Working in retail has done that to him. I love Christmas music, and having spent a lot of time in choirs, when October rolls around, it feels like I should be singing Christmas music. Nonetheless, I hold out until the day after Thanksgiving to start playing and singing it.

        Now, the lights are WBH's thing. He gets a new strand each year, and is hoping to be seen from space soon. Truthfully, I love it and I love the way it lights up the street. I hope you'll enjoy seeing it at the top of the blog for the month!