Cody, Wyoming

posted on: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A few weeks ago we went to Cody, Wyoming to see my sister and her husband. Have you been there? I'm sure I've mentioned it quite a few times because we often find ourselves traveling there more than anywhere else it seems. It's this quaint cowboy town that boasts itself on the shoulders of Buffalo Bill, all things western, and the Cody Night Rodeo. It's also home to a Rib n' Chop House which has always landed itself on our top choices of eateries, fried green tomatoes with a cajun aoili? Yes, it's to die for. 

Supposedly from our house to theirs the fastest route is through Yellowstone National Park but I'm a bit skeptical, everyone seems to screech to a sudden and abrupt stop at the siting of every bear, elk, and  Uinta Ground Squirrel so the drive usually takes three times as long, but again I'm told it's the fastest route. Once there we had the good fortune of going to the Buffalo Bill Museum, which if by happenstance you seem to find yourself in the Northern parts of Wyoming it's a must see.  It just so happens that my brother has been working there this Summer before he jets off to England for grad school so our tour guide unfortunately had to succumb to a vast amount of questions that really had no relevance to Buffalo Bill and most of which centered around the obscure uses of guns, particularly a gun with a bayonet made specifically for the Boy Scouts of Australia. Can you imagine giving boy scouts bayonets? It really was a mind boggling predicament that we debating for way too long.  

Our trips to Cody usually are so short that we come and go in a matter of two days  so we always try to pack them with as much fun as possible. Kambrie and Joel took us into the mountains to check out an abandoned goal mining town called Kerwin. The drive is accessible by truck but we took the four wheelers to make it a little more fun. I wish I would have taken my camera along the drive but Brecken decided to tag along which turned out to be much better than picture taking anyway. He just kept giggling and peering under John's arm trying to get a glimpse of where we were going. Each time we would hit a bump he would lean his head back against my chest laughing until the wind caught him off guard. It was so a great memory that I don't even think picture taking would have done it justice. It was a great weekend. Go to Cody. Book a flight. Rent a car. Whatever you do, put it on our Bucket List for your Wild West Exploration. And try roasting Starbursts over the campfire. mind. blown. That's all.

Now I'm off to systematically keep packing each room in our house. We still have a month to go in our rental, but when you get the itch you get the itch? You know what I mean. 

Favorite lighting

posted on: Wednesday, August 13, 2014

1// 2// 3// 4// 5// 6// 7//

I love Summer, almost to the point that by the time October rolls around I am ready to pack our bags and head South. So when this Summer turned out to be more serious-home-building and not so much Summer bucket-listing-busting I kind of got a bit sad that we'd missed out on so many family memories. But by golly those little munchkins sure know how to make lemonade at out lemons. I would venture to say that Brecken has not only grown attached to the large dirt mounds in the back yard, but he has mentioned in a not-so-obvious way that he would forego the grass to keep the dirt. Typical I suppose for a four-year-old boy. Addy on the other hand lives to clean and what better area to thrive than in a home being built. I would say free child labor, but that might sound like I'm breaking some child labor law and believe me she lives for this kind of junk. 

No matter the case John promised us a Memorial Day to Labor Day house baby. So with it's due date approaching like super fast I'm coming to terms with it being overdue (pregnancy analogy for a house may be a little much..) Anyway, I hope that all the pool time missed and the hours of watching movies in the car as we've worked on the house will pay off. Because it better. Because I really cherish my pool time. And house or no house...we like swimmin' and tannin' and eating melting popsicles and then jumping in the pool to clean off. Really, we (as in babes and I) were meant to live in California....

We (as in John) decided to save ourselves a little money (as in a lot of money) and to tackle all the painting on our own. Not sure if it was worth the money because I've stormed out on John a handful of times.  Who knew how much painting actually went into a home?! It's like the entire thing inside and out needs to be taken care of--sarcasm aside, we're finally near the end of painting careers. I hope. And to commemorate the end of painting our lights will be hung next week. #6 is my favorite! It, along with it's brothers and sisters will be hung nice and tight on my ol' sitting porch. Beauty, right?

Time Saving Tips for Building a Home Part: I

posted on: Monday, July 28, 2014

I wish I could report a one-stop-shop process for building a home, but as I'm sure most of you can imagine it's no easy endeavor. Someone told us that building a house either makes a breaks a relationship--honestly, there haven been moments where I wanted to cry or at the very least throw a can of paint but seeing the progress has been so rewarding. We've lived in this house once before, we just couldn't get enough of it I suppose, so the thought of building it again has made us kind of giddy. I already know exactly how my furniture will fit and where my dishes will go, I'll hang up the kids growth chart on the same wall, and I'll stumble through the darkness with a little more ease this time, I hope... 

The last time we built this home a general contractor managed all the day-to-day chaos and this time we decided to take it upon ourselves to general it. With that being said, I think we've both learned some valuable lessons and pocketed a few tricks that we hope to use in the next home. Here are just a few of the things that I hope can help those of you that are planning to muddle through the murky course of home building:

1. Find reputable sub-contractors. Saving a penny is great but sometimes having a good name who does the job right the first time is worth paying the extra cost.

2. Plan accordingly. Map out a time frame for each contractor. Sometimes they will overlap, but make sure to provide a little bit of cushion for those unexpected events i.e. weather, faulty equipment, slowness of other contractors.

3. Imagine the big picture. A new house to call a home is totally the end result, but getting there takes some work. Here is how the progress has moved along so far with us Survey-Excavation-Concrete-Framing-Concrete-Excavation-Siding-Roofing-Plumbing-HVAC-Electrical-Plumbing-Drywall.....See? It's kind of complex. (I'll make sure to post John's excel spreadsheet soon).

4. Skip a few sneaky steps. If you're building a basement you can save some time by skipping a few steps. After the concrete is dry in the basement and between the floor going down see if there is any way you can put your tub and dry wall in the basement. This will save your plumber time and effort and it may save some of your walls by not having to navigate down the stairs and through framing. By having drywall materials placed in the basement before the main floor is put down it means less cutting and hauling down the stairs for the drywall dudes. Less time for them, means more money saved for you. Does that make sense?

5. Pinterest is not always friendly. Pinterest has literally turned into a smorgasbord of ideas. Just because an idea is cool doesn't mean it will be the coolest idea for a home. So I'm trying to minimize my overload of Pinterest in the home. I've incorporated a few fun "home ideas" while also realizing I don't need to put all 576 pins in my home. Could you imagine? Oi.

6. Being neutral is kind of like being Switzerland. And we all know the Swiss have great chocolate and killer AlpsWe're nearing the stage of painting/setting cabinets/and laying down floors.  I tried to pair darker floors with neutral walls and light cabinets. This in turn gives me the flexibility to accessorize with fun colors which I can trade out depending on the seasons or if it goes out of style. Remember friends don't let friends go color crazy on walls. 

Well, there you have it. When it come to building questions, you'll have to ask John specifics whereas I'm well versed in carpet weights, cabinet styles, and which colors of paint pair well with circular sawn wood floors. 

Happy Birthday 'Merica

posted on: Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I've been holding back from writing as of lately. I'm not sure why. Our lives are in one of those transitional periods where there are a few open doors and not enough information to make an easy sure-footed decision. Even in the midst of this chaos I find that I am really happy right now. I've stood up for myself in a few hard ways, I've managed to let go of things that should have been lifted from my shoulders months ago, and I'm trying to appreciate the knowledge that I'm nowhere where I imagined myself to be but I'm happy for where I've landed. And the best way of finding these things out for myself was to step away from the world of technology which has an uncanny ability to suck us into a vortex of comparison. And how refreshing it's been to not wake up judging my life again someone who I only "knew" through a internet footprint. 

I'm finding by living a life of less comparison I've become more appreciative for the here-and-now. Little things like playing in the backyard and visiting the farmers market seem to be readily enjoyed instead of looking for the next photo opportunity for Instagram or my blog. And surprisingly enough, by removing myself from behind the camera I seem to be capturing more of those instantaneous moments with my family too.

I, however, am a victim of holidays and the need for overindulging in the picture taking department. The morning of the Fourth Brecken asked me why we were celebrating Captain America's birthday. He never seems to miss a beat in the department of leaving me tongue tied. I'm sure it's been said over and over again but I'm enjoying this stage of Motherhood more than the last (and I'm sure I'll say it about the next one too). My babies are communicators and both of them tend to wear their feelings on their sleeves, which makes for more than their fair share of dramatic moments, but it also means that they tend to express their feelings of love, excitement, and enjoyment more readily too. 

John, on the other hand, has never been known to show emotion but he remarked late into the night on the Fourth how this holiday was his favorite. There's no real commercialized market that goes on for months,  it's simply a time to eat good food, be with family, and (his words) "blow things up." And I guess that would make good ol' Mother 'Merica proud. She is a she right? I think she is. She must be. 

I hope y'all had an amazing holiday. I'm back. My head is a bit cloudy these days with house building and all, and exciting things are happening! 

24 months.

posted on: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dear Addy,

I would venture to say I know why were were given to me. Clearly it's a huge assumption on my part to believe that I know the answers right now as to why you are mine and what I did to deserve you but I truly think I know. You are me, maybe not so much in looks but your personality bleeds through with shining colors in perfect resemblance to your momma. You're bubbly and friendly with a side that becomes easily frustrated while still tender-hearted, all of which has been packaged into an itsy bitsy body of sorts. Sometimes your frustrations are so overwhelming that you can't control them and you sob and cry uncontrollably because, well, you just know of no other way to express yourself. Luckily, your larger than life emotions will fade over time and you'll learn to control them.

I know the feelings of frustration that you already carry and I already know how big your heart has grown and will continue to do. I know that in a flip of switch you will go from bubbly to meltdown and right back again in a matter of minutes. Right now you've just finished a nice meltdown on floor--it's a common occurrence around here. And in an instance you then climbed up next to me at the bar and you are now lost in a sea of pen swirls while incessantly reminding me of the dog barking outside. It's a beautiful moment and no amount of picture taking or videoing can truly capture the love I feel for you at this very moment. It's a perfectly ordinary moment that seems to have captured the most perfect moment of parenthood and it's times like now that I must keep on reminding myself to "remember this."

I know that along with your strong personality comes this thickness. It's more than thick skin, it's confidence, determination, and with a hint of stubborness, all of which will serve you well later on in life. I love with an enduring type of love. It never wavers, it continually grows, and it fill me with the greatest type of joy every day. 

I love you baby girl. 

And just so you know...
You love you baby dolls and your the most amazing mother to all of them. Constantly tucking them in and kissing them "good night."
You're a Frozen fan. It's to be expected I suppose.
You still nap. Most times you just lay in bed talking to yourself, but you nap at least for a little while.
Your foods of choice are watermelon, carrots, and popcorn. 
You've started to say the prayer at night. Whenever your Dad says the word "to" during the prayer you will immediately say "three." It's cute and comical.
You are slowly learning your ABC's but your block building skills are reveled by none :)
You kiss with your tongue...

French Maracons

posted on: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I've had the pleasure of working with Chocoley, an online provider of gourmet chocolate ingredients and candy making supplies to help with all my baking necessities for Addy's 2nd birthday. Usually I lean towards festive decorations and fun gift bags when planning parties for my family but this year I decided to dedicate more time to baking and since one of my goals for my 30 Before 30 was to successfully bake french macarons I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to test out my not-so-natural baking skills.

Chocoley so graciously provided the key ingredients to make my tasty little morsels a success. And because I'm a firm believer in trying true and tasted recipes you can follow this tutorial for foolproof french maracons. I also believe that one of the key factors in creating good food is good ingredients. For my macarons I went with a creme de' menthe chocolate ganache and a light lemon cream cheese frosting. The two flavors though drastically different were perfect compliments for one another. 

Cool Creme De'Menthe Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Bring the heavy whipping to a light boil (Edges should be bubbling). Pour over chocolate. Add in cool de'menthe flavoring then stir with a clean spoon until all the chocolate disks have melted. Allow adequate time to cool, then use a piping bag to place ganache on the french macaron cookies.  

Light Lemon and Cream Cheese Frosting
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup softened butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 TSP sour cream or 1 TSP heavy whipping cream
100 drops yellow food coloring OR 1 tsp yellow food coloring

Mix ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Use piping bag to place frosting on the french maracon cookies. 

For party favors I used white ballotin candy boxes and filled each with french macarons to complete the perfect party for perfect little girl. 


And because some may ask I got my silicone fiberglass mat here. It helps beginners (like me) make evenly shaped cookies. 

Two it is!

posted on: Monday, May 19, 2014

Addy Mae turned two yesterday! Between building the house and all the other little things that have been consuming both our days and nights we decided to do a small low-key party with the few family members who were visiting. It was so nice having my little brother here and my babes absolutely adore him. He's missed so many little milestones living so far away and we're so happy we get to see him now, even if it's only for the summer. And between you and me, it was surprisingly perfect having a small party--less dishes, no large meal to cook, just a small cake and a few presents made for a perfect day. And in reality, a two-year-old doesn't really care, it's more for the parents anyway. And simplicity of less to clean-up made it that much sweeter. 

This little girl is so perfect. She's fiery and sassy and in some of the most cherished moments her little heart abounds with so much love that I just want to bottle her up forever. I love her dearly and I am so happy I get to be her Momma!

Happy Birthday baby girl. We love you!

Here's more sweet moments of our baby girl: birth//one

Busy. Busy. Like Busy.

posted on: Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We've been busy. I'm sure if I said it was a good-type of busy John would strongly disagree with that assumption but I find that I thrive when our schedule is a bit chaotic and the days seem to fleet by in an instance. I guess our lives are taking one of those dramatic turns that happens occasionally. You know the kind, where you're just puddling along and all of the sudden there are a million and one changes happening simultaneously. Yes, that's where we're at in life. 

And we're playing T-Ball, which has been a little nerve racking. Albeit, it has been wildly entertaining to watch a passel of small four and five-year-olds bee line it to third base only to realize that they were going the wrong direction. My poor boy has the genetics of his mother and was bred for the warmth of Arizona so a majority of the pictures taken have been those moments of desperation where he thinks his toes and fingers are going to fall off. But cold weather or not we have braved the fields every Saturday and I find that the far off dream of childhood sports is now upon us in full swing and I couldn't be more delighted.

We're also building a home. Yes, a bonafide-no-longer-rental-of-a-home-with-hardwood-and-granite- and-absolutely-under-no-circumstances-will-there-be-carpet-in-the-dining-room kind-of-home. I'm sure you've gathered by now that all the hyphens are to show my utmost disdain for carpet, especially in areas of eating. For two years we've lived in a rental and I feel like a small part of me died when we moved it, many boxes have still remained packaged up, and making memories in a place that has never felt like our own has always been a bit unsettling. The thought of once again having our own home is not only my saving grace right now but it also means I get to start decorating again and I love to decorate. Ask John, he'll roll his eyes...

I would say our level of busy is currently under the somewhat sane tinkering on the edge of crazy stage. We decided long ago to general our own house this go around and so far the work has been tremendously hard, I should clarify that it has been hard John, I just do as I am told and follow orders. It's been so hard in fact that I have made a household rule that the last few minutes of the day have to involve talking about anything other than tile/flooring/carpet/hardwood/porches/decks/light fixtures...just so I can go to sleep without dreaming about our home.

 I'm excited to share the journey with all of you and I'm exciting for all the little details I get to plan and I'm so eeeking (it's not a word, I know) to finally be able to decorate the babes' room with all the items I've collected over the past few years. 

Days to ground breaking: 12 and counting...

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