Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Yesterday our little town got disconnected. Cell phones, internet, everything... totally gone. For twelve hours

And you know what? It was awesome.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad to have it back this morning. It's a little eerie to have zero communication with the outside world, you know? However, I just have to say that there is nothing quite like being disconnected for half a day to make you realize just how much you use the internet. The music Eli and I usually listen to is on the internet. I couldn't finish watching the General Women's Meeting. I lost service in the middle of working on things for my Etsy shop that I couldn't finish. No online shopping, which could have been a real pain considering how much we buy from Amazon when we live in such a small town. No facetiming with grandma. No calling or texting Dallin. No checking up on social media, which (if I'm being honest) I've been overdoing lately.

So what did I do all day, without all those options?

I cleaned our house. I read the Ensign. I spent more time playing with Eli than normal. I sat on the couch during the quiet of nap time and let myself be still, something I haven't done in a long time. I hadn't realized just how much uneccessary stuff fills our time and unnecessary noise clogs the air. Even good things should be done in moderation so they don't distract from the better and best things. I knew all those things were true, but I guess it took a complete disconnection to really drive it home.

We have family home evening at the ballpark last night. Dallin had a softball game so we went early to play around before it started. Dallin pitched to me for a while so I could see if I could hit, and Eli had so much fun playing catch and trying to pitch. The weather was just gorgeous, too!

It reminded me that the kinds of memories (like this one) that aren't built upon technology are the ones I want to pursue.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Refinished Dining Table

We bought this awesome table at a thrift store not long after we got married. It really is a great table. It's solid wood, and comes with three leaves which makes it big enough to fit 8-10 people, which has really come in handy when we host family functions at our house. I never really loved the color, though. It's just not my favorite. I've tossed around the idea of refinishing it for a while now, but only got around to it a few months ago. 

I finally settled on staining it the same color as our cabinets, which I refinished almost a year ago (and still haven't taken pictures of... reason #4587872468 I'm not cut out to be a "real" blogger, haha!), and then painted the legs and trim with white chalk paint. 

It turned out so well! Look at what a difference it made:

I really, really love it! Plus it's given me some (much-needed) motivation to tackle some of the many other projects I have up my sleeve. Hallelujah!

It was a little time-consuming, but pretty easy. Here's how I did it:

First, I stained the top. I know from my experience staining my kitchen cabinets that it is much better to stain and then paint. Staining is messier and if you goof up it's easy to just paint over your mistakes. I used this stain in Antique Walnut, which I had left over from our cabinets. With this particular kind of stain you don't need to completely strip your surface, but it is important to sand it enough to rough it up a bit. I sanded with medium-grit sandpaper first because I really wanted to get through the lacquer, and then used fine-grit to make sure it was nice and smooth. 

Thoroughly wipe the entire surface clean of any sawdust, then start staining. I like to use microfiber towels which are cheap at Home Depot, but old socks work really well too, and I used a mixture of both on this project. I think I did about 3 coats of stain, with the last one being mostly touch-up and evening out the color. 

Once I was finished staining, I painted the legs and trim with homemade chalk paint. I used Bleached Linen by Behr, and made it with the calcium carbonate recipe found here. It was really easy to make, and so far it has held up really well! (P.S. This is my favorite paint brush, and it worked perfectly for this project.) The next thing I need to do is seal the white paint. I know, I know... I really should have done that already. I ordered some finishing wax from BB Frösch and had an unfortunate incident in which it got left outside in the heat and quite a bit of it leaked out of the jar. I'm still grumpy about that, so I'm doing the rational thing and just pretending it never existed and that leaving white furniture unsealed in a room frequented by a sticky toddler isn't going to end in disaster. Clearly I like the live on the edge! 

However, I did seal the table top using another great product by General Finishes: this water-based topcoat, also left over from the cabinet project. It's super easy to apply, and dries so hard. I've been so happy with it! I did 3 or 4 coats, just to be safe, and applied it with some foam paintbrushes like these ones.  

The chairs are Ingolf from IKEA. I considered refinishing them, but then made the (wise) decision that my sanity was worth the price of new chairs. Also, I needed chairs for a few other places in the house, so the black ones are still getting used elsewhere which makes me feel even better about that choice. 

Well, there you have it! Let's take one more look at the before and after, shall we? 



(This post contains affiliate links. If you use my links to purchase anything I'll make a small commission, which is much appreciated and will probably be used to buy beautiful things like this. Just kidding. Maybe.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hello, Summer

The weather was so perfect last Sunday that we had to take a little trip to the river, which is only 15-20 minutes from our house. 

We went for a little hike (more like a walk than a hike)...

And then found a shady place upstream to let Eli explore. 

He had a reeeeeaaaallly hard time walking on the uneven ground. It was so funny to see him staggering around like a drunken sailor. 

Such a sweet little face. I love kissing those cheeks all day long. 

Dallin showed him how to throw rocks in the water, and Eli thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen. He laughed so hysterically that Dallin and I were cracking up too. He's so much fun!

Here is Eli launching a rock. He's got a pretty good arm for such a little kid... something he certainly didn't get from me. ;) 

I'm so glad we get to live in such a beautiful place. My goal this summer is to take advantage of that as often as possible. So far, so good!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Busy, busy, busy

It's funny how each stage of life brings new meaning to what it means to be "busy." I've been using this word for... I don't even know how long. My go-to response to, "How have you been?" is, more often than not, something along the lines of: "Good! But busy."

When I got to college, I laughed at my high-school-aged self for ever thinking I was busy.

Then I got married and had a baby, and I laugh at my college-aged self for the same reason.

And in five, ten, twenty years, when I have eleventy-seven ginger babies wreaking havoc upon my house and turning my hair gray, I'm sure I'll be laughing at my current self for thinking my plate is full.

The problem with having so much to do is that I start thinking I have to do it all. Something I've realized lately is that I have overbooked myself. I've got way too much going on in my life, including things that are unnecessarily stressing me out. There is so much I really want to do, but what really needs to be done? This morning, I started making a list in my head of all the things I've been spending energy and time on, and putting them into categories of good, better, and best. I came to the conclusion that it's time to reprioritize what I'm spending my time on. That's kind of hard. It's not easy to let go of "good" things.  But when good things start crowding out better things, then there is a problem.

This means I'm going to spend less time on things like blogging, both reading and writing (although I obviously haven't done much writing here lately anyway). It means putting my Etsy shop on vacation mode for a little while. It means limiting the free photo shoots I've been doing. It means reading Eli the same book five times in a row and spending more time soaking up his sweet baby-ness before he's all grown up. It means spending more quality time with my handsome husband.   It means taking time for myself too, because long showers and solo grocery store trips are so good for the soul.

In short, it means making this my motto for everything is doesn't fill my metaphorical bucket:

Wise woman. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Eli Thursday

57 weeks

One of his favorite things to do lately is stand on the bed in the nursery and look out the window. It's not quite as good as actually being outside, but when there's a cold spring wind blowing it's about as close as you can get. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eli Thursday

Week 56

He's been a little sick the last couple of days, but I think his berry + yogurt popsicle helped cheer him up a bit. And if not, that messy face helped cheer me up a bit. It's a win either way.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Eli Thursday

Week 54

Eli's current favorite activities: messing up the rugs and swiping the kitchen towels from the oven handle so he can put them on his head. (The best is when he covers up his whole face and then crawls as fast as he can. It's hilarious to everyone involved, especially himself.)

Mom's current favorite activity: leaving the big open bag of rice on the kitchen floor instead of pouring it into buckets where it belongs. It's hard to do chores like that when I could be playing peek-a-boo with a shirtless baby on the kitchen floor though, you know? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Little foodie

This boy loves food. 

Clearly, the apple does not fall from from the tree. 

Current favorite things to eat:
Pears (he can eat a whole pear at a time if we let him!)
Veggie straws
Homemade bread + butter
Homemade fruit popsicles (as seen in these pictures, popsicle mold found here)
Fruit snacks (the only way I can clip his nails nowadays)

I'm really grateful to have a good eater. He's really good at feeding himself which means I can sit him in his highchair and have a solid 20 minutes (at the very least) to get stuff done without interruptions. It's pretty great.

We're still nursing, but he's almost lost interest completely and my supply is drying up. We're down to just morning and night already and I'm so sad about that. I really loved nursing and was hoping to do it for a little while longer, but at least we made it a year, right? 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Week 53

Cousin Levi has been hanging out with us for a few days every other week. It's pretty cute to see them play with each other. Here he's helping him walk back and forth in the living room, which Eli thought was hilarious. Maybe this will get him a little more interested in walking, which I'm not sure I want to encourage or not yet. Haha. :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Eli Thursday

Week 52

He shoved the rest of his granola bar in his mouth just as I took the picture. The nut seems to think that the only acceptable way to eat food is to have your mouth stuffed to capacity (or better yet, overflowing). It makes me a little crazy sometimes. Even though I know how to do the Heimlich (yeah I know they updated the name but I also don't care... haha), I'd really rather not have the need arise at all. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

12 months

Little Eli, I can't believe you'e been in our family a whole year now. You are such a good little buddy and we think you're pretty much the best. Love you lots, baby boy!

Around 18lbs
Size 3 diapers
8 teeth (plus two molars coming in!)
Size 12m clothes

Food! You still love to eat, and are pretty good about trying new foods
Climbing on everything, which is terrifying
Flipping light switches
Books (Mr. Brown Can Moo is your current favorite)
Walking when we hold your hand (still no interest in doing it on your own)
Waking up early
Dancing by waving your arms around
Clicking your tongue

Brushing your teeth
Getting buckled in your carseat (although you're fine once you're in the car)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy Birfday to Eli!

Well folks, I officially managed to keep this little human alive for a whole year. I think that's definitely cause for celebration, no?

Eli's birthday was actually on Friday, but we were out of town so we did cake and such today. 

Dallin kept the candle at a safe distance while we sang "Happy Birthday" to Eli. Both sets of grandparents were there via Facetime too.

It took him a few tries, but he managed to blow the candle out by himself!

At first he tried picking off the sprinkles to eat, and then ended up shoving globs of frosting in his mouth. 

He wasn't much interested in the actual cake part... at least not eating it.

 It didn't take long for him to smash it all up...

 ...and toss it on the floor.

Silly goose. 

It makes me glad I didn't bother making a healthier cake since he didn't eat much anyway, just as I suspected. 

Then we ditched the clothes for present time! He made short work of this. 

Sure do love this little munchkin! I really can't believe it's already been a whole year since we became a family of three. He makes our home such a happy place and I'm so glad to be his mama. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Memory-keeping for the non-scrapbooker

I have long since learned that scrapbooking, like with actual paper and glue and all that jazz, is not my forte. Like... at all. I have tried and failed many times in my attempts to become a scrapbooker. It takes too long, it's messy, and can be really expensive.

However, I love pictures. If you know me at all, you know that I take pictures of everything, all day erryday. Now that is my forte. But I don't want my pictures to be stuck on my computer or in my phone. I may have grown up in the digital age, but there is just something about actual printed photos that you can't replicate on a screen.

I'm a pretty busy person, but I've found a good system for memory-keeping and I thought I'd share it with you. A key factor in my success as been my iPhone. It has helped me become so much better at taking frequent pictures and recording memories, especially with the Project Life and Chatbooks apps.

I love Project Life because of how easy it is to make scrapbook pages with lots of pictures. I almost always have my phone on me so I can whip up a page any time I have a spare minute. Since I have a Macbook it's even easier because I can access recent photos taken with my DSLR through the photo stream on my iPhone. Pretty snazzy!

Here are a few examples of pages I've made:

Shutterfly often has free 20-page 8x8 photo book promotions, so once I have enough to fill one up that's how I plan on getting my Project Life pictures printed. Easy peasy!

Chatbooks is another app I've fallen in love with. It automatically uploads pictures and captions from your Instagram account and makes them into little books, which are only $6 (including shipping) for each edition. I'm currently on the one book per month subscription, but I've been wanting to switch to five per month so I can get caught up faster. It's going to take a few books, to say the least, to get the many pictures I take printed. ;)

In addition to Project Life and Chatbooks, I also keep an eye out for the 101 free prints promo that Shutterfly has every few months. They serendipitously happen to have one going on today through Monday with the code FREE4ME (Tip: Shipping is a bit cheaper if you order 99 prints instead of the 101 they advertise). I just slip them into a big photo album (I think this one was around $12 at Ross and holds a million pictures) and also hang them on the clotheslines I have in our dining room and nursery.

Have you tried either of these apps? What do you with your pictures? Any great memory-keeping tips I should know about? 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Eli Thursday

Week 51

His current favorite form of mischief to get into is digging in the garbage. I just wish I had a picture of the impish grin he gave me when I found him, Stinker!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


The travel bug has bitten me in a major way the past few weeks. I've always got the itch, but recently I just cannot ignore it. Last month I found plane tickets for all three of us to Italy for only $1,700 (Roundtrip! For all of us! Such a smoking deal!), and it's kind of killing me that a trip like that really isn't in the cards for us right now. Oh, but I dream. I've been spending altogether too much time lately planning trips we won't be able to go on (yet!). It's both torturous and satisfying. I should probably stop before I accidentally-on-purpose book something.

I love being a mother. I really, really do. I always wanted this, and I wouldn't trade my job for anything. At the same time, I do occasionally think about the lifestyle I kissed goodbye when I assumed this role. There is a level of spontaneity and flexibility that you lose when you have a tiny human that depends on you, and sometimes I miss that a lot. I miss being able to take trips without needing babysitting arrangements (which we can't do anyway until Eli is weaned) or planning around the unpredictable nature of traveling with a wee one. 

We still do lots of fun things as a family, but I haven't been canyoneering once in more than a year and a half, something that Dallin and I used to do together at least a couple times a month. We also have so many places we want to go together (Italy/the Mediterranean and Peru are at the top of the list) that realistically won't be a possibility until our kids are older... so 15 years from now, at least? 

In the meantime, I just have to remember how much fun it is the have our little buddy along, and how much more fun we will have when we starting adding more little munchkins. Even though we have to slow our pace a bit, our lives are so much better with Eli around, and that makes any sacrifices we've had to make worth it. It's not like we can't have fun anymore, not one bit. It's just a different kind of fun now, one that makes us take time to smell the roses, so to speak. And that's a good thing.

But still, I miss this...

(Voronezh, Russia in 2011)

...and this.

(Segovia, Spain in 2013)

And I'm glad I had a few chances to scratch that travel itch before little Eli came along.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eli Thursday

Week 50

You can only fight naps for so long before sleep wins. 

That little hand holding his graham cracker! Oh I just love this tiny man. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hello Sunshine

As pasty white ginger folk, my husband and I always jest about how the sun is our mortal enemy. And you know what? That's actually pretty accurate. I can't believe how quickly my skin burns. It's impressive and extremely annoying that I still burn even when I'm so careful, and every time it happens I feel like the ugly skin cancer monster creep a little closer. Gingers have problems, man. Lots of them.

However, this winter has made me realize just how much I love the sun. I've been checking sunrise and sunset times at least once a week all year, and the lengthening of days has been making me even happier than it ever has before. It's been around 70° every day this week and it is doing my soul so much good. The open windows let in such sweet, fresh air and I'm convinced my house smells exactly like heaven right now. It's been so nice that my daffodils are venturing upward to enjoy it too.

Also, the fact that these have survived my black thumb of death is truly a miracle. Now if only I could kill the weeds that spring up every summer (the remnants of which are still hanging out in the yard, as you can see) as effectively as I do the rest of the plants the have the misfortune of finding themselves in my care.

Hello spring, you beautiful thing. You should stay a while.