Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Favorites on Friday: Gift Wrapping

When I was a kid I loved wrapping gifts.  I would even wrap them for my dad.  I folded the edges over, used double sticky tape, made perfectly mitered corners. . . the works.  Now I have a bit more to wrap and so I'm not quite as meticulous, but I still love new ideas and making the presents look pretty.

Brown Paper
Just ask for paper instead of plastic next time you're at the grocery store and you can save a lot of money on wrapping and still look chic.  Here are some fun ways to doll it up!

Make Your Own Bows
As a kid I pretty much stuck to curling ribbon or stick on bows, but these homemade bows and pompoms are super simple and add a little more creativity. (I know, I know both of these examples also use brown paper, but they could go with anything.  The above two pictures not so much)

Cute Gift Tags
I love finding free printables on the internet.  And I love older more traditional looking gift tags.  These are some favorites I used on presents last year.

Use small inexpensive ornaments in addition to a bow to add a little something special.  I found some snowflake ornaments at Target two years ago that I like to add to presents.  Its almost like a little extra gift that they can keep and add to their tree.  This year I plan to use these as well as left over snowflakes (A few ornaments go a long way because you don't want to add them to every present, that diminishes the uniqueness)
Great photo, I know!  I'm sure the questions about my camera will come flooding in.  NOT.

Ribbon Alternatives
Just like with bows, don't feel stuck with your same old same old.  Try something new or unusual.  I love these solid red and white wrapped gifts tied with rick rack or wired garland. 

So what's your trick for fun and different gift wrapping ideas?  I better get on board with my wrapping.  Gifts this pretty deserve to be displayed for a while!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You threw off my groove!!

Thanksgiving break.  Long enough to change my sleep patterns, not long enough for me to get bored and look forward to a schedule again.  Long enough to throw off my blogging groove, not long enough for me to get all any of my laundry done.
I'm sorry, but you've thrown off the Emperor's groove.

Less than four weeks of work until Christmas break, but it feels like four days and four years at the same time.  Four days because I have a lot to do.  Four years because I'm so over working while pregnant.

Some times when you lose your groove the only thing to do is post something, anything (a picture of your favorite Disney movie, perhaps) just to get back in the habit. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ornament Swap

So back in October I signed up with the Living in Yellow and Dreaming of Dimples ornament swap.  I was so excited and I told Adam about it.
"Are you sure that's really a good idea?"
"Yes!  It will be so fun!  Why?"
"You're not always the best at following through. . . "
Oh snap!  My own husband.

But I did follow through!!  I might have mailed it a day late thanks to Veteran's day closing the post office on the day it was due, but I got it done.  I did not flake out (like I often do)

Here is the ornament I sent:

I am no photographer (so that probably means I'll never be a popular blogger) and this picture took me like a hundred tries to get and its still just okay.

When I asked Brook at One Feisty Family if they had a theme she told me they collected all of their ornaments over the years and so almost anything would go.  We'll be able to do that someday, but since we've only been married for three years that would be a bare little tree!  I thought this mistletoe was just gorgeous and hopefully could add a new memory to their family Christmas tree.

I also got an ornament in the mail from the Domestic Diva's in Training!  I decided to try something new with my tree this year and I got some fun felt and straw ornaments from IKEA, made some felt ornaments of my own, and got some red bead garland from Wal-Mart (thanks to a gift card Adam won at work! Woot woot!!) Let's not talk about how I miscalculated the length of the strands and almost ended up WAY over buying (I read 18" in stead of 18'.  I was one seriously confused girl in the Wal-Mart Christmas isle for about five minutes) The ornament that I got from Mary and Angela fit in with my new rustic/handmade/vintage theme.  Its a gorgeous creche and so I centered it (especially since my tree is small and it was quite large!) and had fun putting a star above it to complete the scene.  :)

Can you see the star above the right of the creche? 

Still missing is the star I'm going to make for the top.  It will be on my design blog tomorrow!

So Christmas has come a little early to our house, but I'm kind of relieved to not have to worry about it after Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Favorites on Friday: Thanksgiving Recipes

Here are five recipes I LOVE that you can use for Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm not usually allowed to bring the most important parts of the dinner so I haven't tried recipes for turkey, stuffing, rolls, that sort of thing, so they aren't your usual stars, but these are recipes I have made and love and wanted to share.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts 
I brought these to Thanksgiving dinner last year and they were a HIT!  I thought I hated brussels sprouts until I had them roasted and it changed my mind, so maybe give these another go if you're feeling adventurous.
Recipe Here

Savory Sweet Potatoes
If your family is down with trying something new, give these a shot.  But just to be safe, don't replace your traditional sweet potatoes with this recipe!!  Make both, duh.

4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 T butter
salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne (if you're feeling frisky!) to taste

Boil sweet potatoes until soft and drain.  Add butter and mash them however you like (hand mixer, stand mixer, old fashioned potato mixer, what ever floats your boat!)  Add seasoning to taste.  (sorry if you're like my mom and want exact measurements, but I'm doing this from memory and I've never measured before.  Plus sweet potatoes can come in such a variety of sizes it would be hard to know exactly the volume we're working with here.)

Sweet Potato Casserole
This is a little more traditional take on the sweet potato.  If you're used to the marshmallow kind, try this just once PLEASE.  You will be converted.
Recipe Here

Cranberry Sauce
I remember one year my dad and brother were in charge of cranberry sauce for some reason.  Where was my mom?  I don't know.  The point?  They didn't follow tradition and made cranberry sauce from scratch.  Why not?  The recipe was on the package.  Hot dang!  It was good and seriously easy.  It never hurts to try new things (disclaimer: not always a true statement)
Recipe Here

Hot Turkey Sandwiches
This recipe is for the day after.  My husband had never heard of such a thing and so maybe you haven't either.  This works best with homemade bread, whole wheat or whole grain if possible.  You just don't want to be dealing with a wimpy little piece of store bought bread, it will never hold up.

1 slice of bread per person (or more if you're a second helping type)
Leftover gravy
Leftover turkey, shreded

Mix turkey and gravy together and heat over medium low until hot.  Pour over your bread and enjoy!

What are you in charge of bringing to Thanksgiving dinner?  This year I'm in charge of the sweet potato casserole.  Mmmmm, so hungry just thinking about it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Seriously so crazy

So I have to share one of my all time favorite blogs with you: Seriously, So Blessed


She's Mormon, she's from Utah, she's perfect and has twins.  And she's totally fake.  The woman behind the genius doesn't blog anymore, but if you haven't read any of it, you can fill some good hours with hilariousness.

When you get annoyed with super perfect looking bloggers, Seriously, So Blessed is totally the cure.


Monday, November 12, 2012

My strange addiction

Isn't there a tv show called "My Strange Addiction"?  Well, to be fair I don't know if you would call what I have an addiction or a symptom.  Probably a symptom, because when I get my condition under control it goes away.

Do you remember that chapter on eating disorders you read were supposed to read in the 9th grade?  It probably covered three different disorders: pica, bulimia and anorexia.  Pica got like one small paragraph and the other two pretty much took like 20 pages each.  Well I have pica (*not formally diagnosed).  I don't even know why it's in that chapter, it's really totally different.  For me, it's caused my a lack of iron and pregnancy.  Actually, I don't know if I have it really, because I don't actually eat the non-nutritive substances (like chalk and dirt).  I want to but I smell them instead.  (okay confession, I always want to eat chalk so the other day I just put a little chalk dust on my tongue.  GROSS!)

Some things that I like to smell:
-laundry soap
-dryer sheets (sometimes I carry them around with me in my pocket)
-my Caress body wash
-generic hand sanitizer, after the alcohol has evaporated
-new power puffs
-my face wash
-dish soap
-the chemical smell when you iron new fabrics

So its pretty much all in the same "soap" category.  There are a few things I the feel of, that I might think about eating but of course I never would, like chalk and foam. 

When ever I would tell my students about this they all thought I was seriously weird.  I probably am. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bedside Manner

We had a little scare with Olivia last week.  She was struggling to breathe and that was causing her to panic and become hysterical, which obviously didn't helping the whole breathing thing, and so I decided to drop by her pediatrician's office on our way home from work.  I'm glad I did because her oxygen was low and her heart rate was high (a sign that it was working really hard to get oxygen to her little body!).  Next thing I know she was hooked up to an oxygen tank and we were on our way to Primary Children's Hospital in an ambulance.  By the time we were loading up my baby, my tears had been shed and I was pretty calm. 
Here is the one awkward picture I got of her in the ambulance.  She was being so cute and flirting with the EMT, but I had to sit kind of behind her and so I reached up to take this pic.  She looks so distressed!!  She was having a great time at this point.  She even loved putting her oxygen mask on and off.
I was so glad I took Olivia in when I did.  So glad I didn't have to have a rough night of worrying about her (we got discharged from the hospital after two hours and some medicine.  She was awesome the rest of the night and following days).  I was so relived that it was her doctor working in the sick child clinic that day.  Honestly most doctors would have done the same things he did, but knowing that he knew us helped me not freak out so bad.

This got me thinking: What is most important in a doctor?  When you look for a recommendation for a new doctor, what qualities are you looking for?  What I like most about Olivia's pediatrician (not even a real doctor actually, just a NP) is that he's very calm.  He speaks very softly.  When you're raising your first child a lot can seem overwhelming or cause for alarm.  Just having someone with a soft voice explain things helps me a TON. 

What I like most about the doctor that delivered Olivia is that he's relaxed and good at remembering things about me.  He remembers what scared me about Olivia's delivery (an almost C-section) and wants to make sure I feel comfortable with my second one.  Also he's a BYU fan. 

What I like most about my chiropractor is that he is super awesome at getting knots out of my back in the most painful ways possible.  That good pain that you know will feel better tomorrow?  I love that.  Plus he loves my impression of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite.

Most of what I love about the doctors in my life doesn't have anything to do with medicine, but more bedside manner.  I'm sure that if my medical issues were more severe I would have more selective criteria, but I really don't.

I never realized how important bedside manner really is.  Sucks to be a doctor if you're not a people person I guess.

What do you think?  Is it more important to actually help the patient with their problems or make the patient feel at ease about their problems?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Bucket List: Update!

For a minute I was worried I wouldn't do anything on my Fall Bucket List.  But I'm looking back at it and I've already done a lot of them!

In the same order as they were originally written (which was just random, as they came to my mind)

1. Visiting Logan
Adam and I took Olivia to visit her friends Porter and Paige while we hung out with their parents, James and Tiff!  We all had a great time playing at the park, going to the zoo (and getting accused of not paying. . . weirdo) and eating lots of yummy food and Halloween candy!

The kids thought it was fun to play with the leaves, so we just piled them up for some photo ops!

And then we started making it rain leaves!

2. Thanksgiving Point Cornbelly Maze
For the first time in a long time, Adam and I went just the two of us.  It was so fun!  We did both corn mazes (which you can read a little about here)  We also got hot cocoa to share, kettle corn, and Adam shot a pumpkin at an old car and rode a mechanical bull.  The only thing we didn't do was the Haunted Maze.  I won.

3. Farmer's Market Downtown
So we didn't go to the one downtown, we went to a closer one with fewer vendors.  Even so I think we were too late in the season for basil, which is what I really wanted!  Last year we went in September I think.  This year it was almost the end of October.  Everyone had potatoes, apples and pumpkins.
My belly looks so much smaller than my Halloween pictures!  Its crazy what two weeks will do. . .

4. Make a roast chicken.
We did this with Tiffanie and James, but since I pretty much made the worst chicken ever last time I cooked one, I feel the need to really redeem myself.  Plus: leftovers for enchiladas.

5. Take Olivia trick-or-treating in her Halloween costume.  

6. Buy and carve a pumpkin.
I think we bought like 6 pumpkins.  Adam carved one, Martha carved one.  I realized I don't really like doing that.  At least not at night.  After finally getting Olivia to sleep it just isn't the relaxing way I want to spend my night.  Maybe next year, during the day light hours!  But we did go to our favorite little pumpkin patch and Olivia loved it.  She's obsessed with pumpkins.  She calls them "pumpkin me".  I have no idea why.
Its too much to ask a child to look at the camera AND smile.  This was the best we got!

7.  Our annual Halloween party with Andrew and Martha.
Yep!  My little bro Kenny lives in Utah now and he got to come up and hang with us too.  No good pictures though.  Lady bugs aren't very good at holding still.

8. Teach kids how to make butter.
This is a Thanksgiving activity, I'm so excited about it!

Woo hoo!!  I've done all but two!  I feel like the next two weeks before Thanksgiving are going to fly by.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rainbow Chili + Our Halloween Costumes

One Halloween tradition I carried from my family was to have chili on Halloween night.  I know that's not super original, but it is a really easy dinner and very filling for cold nights hitting the pavement.  I knew I had most of the stuff for chili on hand, but I did grab a can of black beans while I was getting supplies for apple cider (and hot dang!  Cinnamon sticks and whole cloves are expensive!  I came up with a poor girl's apple cider recipe and I'll share that soon).

Chili is great because its one of those things you don't really need a recipe for.  I did want a little guidance on spices so I looked up a recipe on allrecipes and this is the one I referenced.  It also inspired me to add celery, something I never thought of before.  Adam and I participate in a food co-op every couple of week and so I had a ton of vegetables needing to be used up and I just started throwing stuff in.
And it looked like all the colors of the rainbow, hence the name
All mixed together and cooking
1/2 red onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced (I don't know what kind I used.  It was from the co-op last summer when I cut and froze them.  I do know it was spicy but not a jalapeno.  You could use a jalapeno though, if you like that amount of heat)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used one can small red and one can black)
2 cans tomatoes (I used one can of crushed and one can of diced.  I knew the other vegetables would give plenty of chunkiness so I wanted to reduce that a little by using some crushed)
2-3 T chili powder
1 t cumin
2 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste

I cooked all the veg in a little bit of olive oil and salt until they were soft.  Then I added my beans, tomatoes and seasoning.  I stirred it all together and let it simmer on low for an hour.  Right before we went trick-or-treating (we ate after because Olivia is so small we wanted her to get out before the big kids) I turned it off but left it on the hot burner (electric stove, which I hate, but was good in this situation) for kind of a slow cooker effect.  It was still really hot when we got home an hour later. 

(No pic of the finished chili.  I think you have all seen chili before. . . )

And here we are after trick-or-treating.
Blogger Barbie, Lady Bug and Billy Idol

Olivia got really into it and so we didn't stop at three houses, we did probably 15 or so.  She learned to say trick-or-treat when she knocked on the door but of course refused to do it any of the times I tried to video her. 

I was Blogger Barbie.  You can tell by my colored denim, fall boots, cardigan, red lips and top knot.  Of course I'm Barbie so I had to go with blue eyeliner and purple shadow.  No one asked if I was dressed up (probably because they are my real clothes and my real hair) and so I guess they just assume I wear blue eyeliner during the week.

Adam was Billy Idol, a blast from our past four years ago.

Hope you guys had a great Halloween as well!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Who should be allowed to vote?

So my mind was wandering while we were wandering (lost?  I'm always lost in those things) in the corn maze last week and I was thinking about voting.  Its not a weird as it sounds.  The maze was a political theme and there were some idiots throwing corn at each other (no they weren't teenagers, they had their kids with them) so I started thinking about how these people have just as much right to vote as I do.

Should everyone be allowed to vote?  Is that really going to end up being what's best for our country?  I don't know very much about economics, in fact I hardly know anything!  I don't understand foreign policy.  I'm not even sure I should be voting! (But I will be!)  Shouldn't these decisions be in the hands of people who have studied it for years?  Don't we know by now what works and what doesn't?

I mean obviously the answer is "no" or else why haven't we done it yet?

And so we allow everyone, as long as they are 18, to have their say in who leads us.   That's scary. 

You know what else is scary?  Not having a say. That's called a dictator or something.  I guess we all just decide what we think our government "owes" us.  More tax cuts?  More health care?  More military?  Less war?  And we vote for the person we think will give us more/less of that.

But shouldn't it be about what is really best for everyone?  I once asked my dad how he balanced being a public school teacher (known for being liberal) with being a republican.  He said when he votes he does what he thinks is best for the nation, not just for himself.  

Food for thought, is all.