My 3 Monsters: August 2011

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This is where we live.Isn't it lovely, what with the overgrown tree and dead grass?  Hey, I know you're jealous.  Don't hate the playah, hate the game, baby.  Anyway, this is what our house looked like shortly after we bought it.  We've made a few minor improvements since then and nature {or my lack of a green thumb} has made some changes as well.  Those would not be considered improvements -- not by you or me or the HOA board, any of us.  But we are not without dreams for this little home of ours.  I got bored last night and started fiddling with this picture in Photoshop.  Here is what our humble abode could, and hopefully will, become with a lotta' lovin':
A new garage door and front gate, some shutters and paint, a little landscaping . . . Totally do-able, yeah?  Donations to the "Pretty House Fund" are welcomed.  Maybe someday . . .


Blast From My Past

I was catching up on my blog reading this morning when I saw Tatertots and Jello has a giveaway going on this week for a design consultation, which, by the way, you should totally hop on over and enter because the designer is really fabulous.  I read the name, Autumn Clemons, and it sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it until I saw her picture . . . we studied interior design together at BYU 15 years ago!!!!  She and her husband were also in one of our first married wards.  We both lived in those fun old houses on or near University Avenue, by the {at the time} old and creepy Brigham Young Academy.  The Academy has since been completely renovated and many of those old houses have been torn down.  Anyway, I digress.  I think I was a year or two ahead of her in school, but I remember being completely jealous of her talent and impeccable sense of style.  Even their little married student apartment in that old house on University Avenue was dripping with class and sophistication.  So you can imagine my delight at finding her blog, Design Dump, this morning.  You will not believe the fabulous before & after photos.  Seriously.  Dripping. With. Class.  I tell you!  Look at this study:
I mean, come on now!  That ceiling?  They built it.  Yep.  It was just a plain old ceiling before.  I know, right?!  And who paints their walls black?  Autumn does.  And it looks chic and beautiful.  Don't even get me started on that checkerboard floor in the entry.  Stunning.  If that room doesn't have you absolutely convinced that you need to check out her site then:  a)there is something wrong with you  and b)check out this other room in her house:
Stuh - ning!  So, clearly while I have gone the way of the kitschy, crafty vintage housewife, Autumn has chosen the sophisticated interior design professional path.  And good for her!  She always was a class act.  Check out Design Dump.  You'll be glad you did!


Children of the 80's, Unite in Laughter!

Trapper Keeper is on. the. phone! Have a great weekend!



Do you know what's worse than having a cold when it's 115 degrees out?  NOTHING!!!  Nothing is worse than that.  Except maybe falling down the stairs after waking your kids up at 6:15 in the morning and hurting your hip.  Welcome to the past 24 hours of my life, friends.  I think I'm headed back to bed for a while.


I'm Bringin' Dinner Back

Family dinner, that is.  Home cooked and seated around the table.  That's right, we're gonna' be kickin' it 50's style up in here.  We've {and by WE, I mean I} gotten into a bad habit of eating fast food because I'm too busy {and by busy I mean lazy} to prepare dinner.  It's just that it's every night.  Every. Single. Night.  My kids and husband want to eat something every blasted night.  It's a bit overwhelming for a lazy girl like me think about having to prepare a meal each and every night for the rest of my life.  Seriously.  But I have the enormous privilege of staying home to raise my children, which, for all intents and purposes, IS my job.  And I've been doing a pretty poor job of it lately {and by lately I mean the past ten years or so}.

Now, I'm not trying to pat myself on the back or anything, but . . . pat,pat,pat . . . we've had some delicious dinners since I made this resolve:  Biscuits and Sausage Gravy {try this MOST delicious recipe for 7-Up biscuits}, Porcupine Meatballs {porcupine meat is hard to find, y'all -- I kid. It's ground beef and rice.}, and a pretty stellar beef roast with mashed potatoes {not from a box}, gravy {my best batch to date} and Yorkshire puddings.  Not to mention the Fresh Strawberry Pie I made last Sunday.  My family may not miss the fast food at all.

Here's the thing I'm learning:  I have to know what I'm making for dinner by about lunch time.  Many of you good wives and mothers probably already knew that.  Deciding plenty early gives me the chance to thaw out whatever meat I need, make sure I have all the necessary ingredients, and most importantly, wrap my brain around eating whatever it is {shredded beef burritos tonight} for dinner so I'm not swayed by every commercial for Chicken McNuggets or Pizza that I see on TV throughout the day.  Because I'm easily swayed.  Anyway -- that's my plan.  I am a firm believer in family dinner, especially now that all my kids are in school all day and my husband works in an office nearly an hour away.  When else are we going to all be in one place for a full thirty minutes?  When else are we going to reconnect and share the events of our days without the distraction of TV and cell phones?!  We always had family dinner when I was growing up.  I didn't know until much later how much work that was for my mom.  For any mom who sacrifices time and energy to keep her family strong and unified, not just fed.  It's an under-appreciated art.  I love the whole idea of it and definitely want to pass the family dinner legacy on to my own kids.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think moms who feed their family fast food or families who go out to eat are bad.  I think any woman that gathers her family for a shared meal at the end of the day is doing a lot more than just feeding them physically, no matter what they eat.  The home cooking thing is as much a budget issue for us as anything. Also, and this is just a me thing, I'm trying to become more disciplined as a person -- to do what needs to be done even when I don't feel like doing it.  And to be as good a cook as my mom, which are both lofty goals, given my current skill set.  With that, I better go make sure I have salsa and sour cream for those burritos tonight.

Here's a little funny I stole from my friend Emily's blog.  Our dads grew up together in little old Malad, Idaho.  This is the town's "famous" Dude Ranch Cafe:

There must not be much work for the ho's in such a small town, so they've resorted to baking pies. Mmmmm, pie. I probably still have time to bake one for tonight . . .


The Best Hope We Have for the Future is to Dream Big for Our Children

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of UPromise for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
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I never go one single day without being grateful that I'm raising my kids in a place, and at a time, where they can do and be anything they want.  I have a nine year old son who wants to be a soldier and then a rocket designer {at least for today} and an eleven year old son who wants to be a musician.  Or a chef. Or an endocrinologist.  My thirteen year old daughter wants more than anything to be a mom, but not "JUST a mom".  No, a well educated mom who knows everything and can do anything.  {Just like her own?}  MY dream is to be able to provide all three of my kids with the solid educational foundation that will be the jumping off point for their future.  I dream that they'll use their college education to reach for the stars and grab whichever ones they choose.

Upromise is celebrating their 10th anniversary.  That's ten great years of helping parents save for their children's college education in the easiest possible way -- by registering your  credit or debit card and spending money as you normally would.  It really is a genius program.  And let's face it, who doesn't worry at least a little about being able to pay for college now days?!  Upromise is celebrating its 10th anniversary by giving away $20,00 to users who share their dreams for their children on the Upromise Dream Wall at  Head on over to the Dream Wall to share your own dream for your kiddos, read dreams from other parents, and vote for your favorites by "liking" them.  I'd love to hear some of your dreams in my comments as well.  Spread the word about this great program.  The best hope we have for our own future is to dream big for our children!
Here are the dream wall official rules for your perusal.
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{So Much Sorrow}

This horrible tragedy is what my kids and their friends heard about first thing when they arrived at school today.  Sis sat next to this boy in math class.  I asked her if she knew him well.  "Well enough to be sad," was her response.  I never met this kid and I know him well enough to be sad at this terrible loss.  Life can be hard,  but there is always, ALWAYS something to live for.  Our struggles, as painful as they seem, are but a moment in the grand scheme of things.  My young friends, turn on "the Light" and hang on.  This, too, shall pass.


Favorite New Time Waster

Do any of us really need a NEW way to waste our time? {Yeah, I just drop-capped it like it's hot again. Jealous?} This is how I killed time yesterday and successfully avoided my housework all morning. On Polyvore you can "shop" virtually and put together outfits with accessories and hairstyles and everything.  It's pretty therapeutic if you, like me, are a person who finds shopping in times of stress soothing, but who, like me, has a very strict budget to adhere to. You can "shop" expensive designer clothing {like the $1300 Burberry gray wool coat down there} that I can only dream of owning, which is super fun.  I sometimes like to pretend I can afford pretty things like that.  But my favorite thing to do is find cute stuff that, at another time and place in life, I could ACTUALLY afford to buy {like everything else pictured -- $50 or less}and create pretty combos.  It's like paper dolls for grown ups.  Oh, how I loved paper dolls as a girl.  *sigh*

Comfortable evening wear

mother/ daughter {shared dress}

Don't you love that navy blue dress up there -- very Kate Middleton . . . or Duchess Catherine, or whatever her name is now.    Does it bother me that when I go to my closet to get dressed in a few minutes I will find none of those classy outfits pressed and waiting to go?  Not really.  Besides, I have no plans today.  Maybe I'll just sit here in my pajamas and play a little longer . . .



Have I ever mentioned how much I adore Pinterest?  Maybe once?  Today I happened upon a link to a site called Daily Drop Cap.  Uh-mazing!  I have always loved those fancy drop-caps in classy books {the few that I've read}, but I had no idea it could be so easy to use in a blog post.  Would it be pretentious to use drop caps every day, in everything I write, always?  Because I'm considering it. Hmmmmmmm . . . {That was me thinking about it.  Because I can do that now -- think about things -- in my quiet, empty house.}

On a completely unrelated note, {yeah, the second one is excessive, but look how pretty it is!}have you been watching My Strange Addiction on TLC?  It is fascinating . . . at first . . . then it's just sad.  Then I want to throw up usually.  For instance, the man who pulls hair out of the shower drains of {preferably}people he doesn't know.  Or the woman who lives as a baby, and wears diapers, like, always because a warm, wet diaper is quite soothing.  Naturally.  The show should probably be called My Strange Symptom of Mental Illness.  The latest episode, however, takes the cake.  It was about a woman who carries her husbands ashes with her everywhere she goes, talking to them and cooking for them and the like.  Oh, yeah, and she eats them.  The cremains.  Of her deceased husband.  I was heartened by the fact that she ended up getting serious help at an in-patient facility, but many of the people on the show don't get the help that they need because they don't think they need it.  It's sad.  I mean, yeah, the situations are sad, but the really sad part is that we watch the spectacle for entertainment.  And by "we" I mean "me".  And hopefully you.  Bad, bad us.

Now, {just one more for good measure}on a positive note, here's another fantastic recipe for you. I made this delicious Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn for my kids yesterday after school and it was a hit. It's a perfectly easy, seems-like-you-spent-a-long-time-on-it-because-you-missed-us-so-much-on-our-first-day-of-school treat.  I made a double batch, which was, apparently, too much because I have a bunch left over.  Which I will eat all by myself.  All day.  If you swing by my house I'll give you some, friends!


Excessive Celebration Penalty

Was it offensive that I was a little overly enthusiastic about getting backpacks ready last night as I prepared my children for their first day of school?  Or that I was light on my feet this morning?  No, surely not.  It's perfectly fine to be cheerful at 6:30 in the morning even though I'm not usually a morning person.  That I hummed quietly to myself as I made the lunches is acceptable, too, right?  Breaking out into song and dance as I curled Sis's hair for the big day?  Unusual, sure.  Out of character, maybe.  But the point where I'm pretty sure I crossed the line was when I skipped to the bus stop and sent Dylan off with a "See ya later, Sucker!"

In my defense, he seemed equally enthusiastic about getting on that bus.  In fact, none of my kids wanted me to take them to school today.  That's a first.  And you might think I'd be saddened by this shifting of the dependency tide, but you'd be wrong.  I feel so . . . liberated.  My kids don't need me - at least not for everything - and that is AWESOME.  They're confident about what they're doing and comfortable with where they're going.  What more could a mother ask for?! 

The part that makes me absolutely giddy is that my house is silent except for the Taylor Swift track I have playing quietly on itunes.  And if I clean up now things will STAY CLEAN for the next FIVE HOURS.  And I'm on the computer now without someone {or two or three} looking over my shoulder, asking if I'm almost done.  Huh.  I forgot about how nice THAT is. 

To celebrate my re-found freedom, I decided to give my computer a makeover today.  Shut up.  I can do what I want.  I've been in mom mode for the past two months straight.  I found an adorable desktop someone had created on Pinterest today, but it had a swear word on it and this is a family computer so I had to create my own PG version.  Fun, huh?

Here's the file if anyone wants to use it, too. {Just click to enlarge, save to your computer and set as desktop background.}   Whatever.  Have a great day!!

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{Thai Peanut Chicken}

So, tonight I think I cooked the best meal I have ever cooked, hands down.  EVER.  That's a bold statement.  I stand by it.  I came across this recipe for peanut sauce on Pinterest a while ago and pinned it because I love all things Thai and peanut sauce is a particular favorite.  A couple weeks later I actually clicked the link and discovered that this recipe was handed down from a Thai mother to her daughter and had been adapted, simplified and perfected over many years.  How could a recipe like that be anything BUT delicious?!  I thawed out the chicken earlier in the week, eagerly anticipating what promised to be a delightful meal.  However, this is the last week before school starts and we have been crazy with school shopping, eleven year old shots, {getting the car battery replaced}, meet the teacher nights, school nurse visits and all else that accompany our return to public education.   Every evening my peanut chicken got bumped back in favor of a simpler sounding dish.  Tonight was just as busy as any other -- Brent took Ri to meet-the-teacher at 4:45 and then went directly to scouts.  Sis and I were heading to meet-the-teacher at 6:00.  D was sleeping on the couch after staying up much too late at a sleep-over last night.  But I (and my thawed out chicken} could wait no longer.  I cooked the meal and served it unceremoniously to myself and Sis as we prepared to run out the door and it did not disappoint.  It's a shame really, because a meal this delicious deserves to be served beautifully to a family seated at a table and savored.  Each and every bite appreciated and enjoyed thoroughly, not wolfed down standing over the kitchen sink.  Or reheated and wolfed down at 8:30 by guys so hungry they could have eaten the kitchen sink itself.  This recipe is going into our regular rotation, for sure.  Here's the kicker -- it was SO EASY!  Twenty minutes, no special skills required.  That's a keeper in my book.

Here's what I discovered in my hasty preparation this evening:  The original peanut sauce recipe says not to use regular peanut butter.  You're supposed to use that fancy schmancy natural peanut butter.   I didn't remember that when I went grocery shopping so I used the ghetto stuff I usually buy and it was absolutely perfect.  The best peanut sauce I've ever had the pleasure of ingesting.  No joke. Also, it makes a lot.  Like 3 1/2 cups.  I read that it keeps well in the fridge or you can freeze it.  Or you can cook more chicken tomorrow and eat it again, which I plan to do.  I used this recipe for the chicken {broiled it in my oven instead of grilling} and then SMOTHERED it in peanut sauce.  If you try it, I promise you won't regret it!

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