Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Easter Visit

My husband's family came into town Easter weekend. The boys and I started it off with a chalk Easter egg hunt at our friend's house and a trip to the playground.





We spent the weekend watching General Conference. Easter morning, the boys colored eggs, and Gabe kept trying to eat his! The eggs didn't last long once they dried, lol.


Trying to eat the egg!


Gabe's cheese face. We played a lot of Skip Bo and Phase 10 that week!


The ladies knitted, and Caden loved watching and requesting custom orders for himself, Gabe, and his stuffed animals.

Caught some snoozers!


Caden wanted a ball of yarn for his kitty


For our Easter meal, we had Indian tacos, courtesy of Justin's grandma. Monday I actually got some organizing done while the family entertained the boys.



Tuesday we went to Palmyra. Justin, his mom, his grandma, and I went to the temple. It was small but very beautiful. (We forgot to get a photo.) The rest of the family met us there afterward, and we took the tour of Joseph Smith's home and the sacred grove. It was very cold, and I would like to revisit when there are leaves on the trees, but it was still a very inspiring experience.




Wednesday we lounged around and watched Big Hero 6. It was very cute and made me teary eyed. That night, Justin and I went to see Disney's Beauty and the Beast musical, a Christmas present from my parents. Our seats were double booked so we had to move to a closer but farthest-left spot. The production was entertaining but very cheesy and sometimes amateurish. The best part was Gaston.


Thursday we went shopping, ate ice cream at Nicky Doodles, and ordered Chinese from our favorite takeout restaurant.

petting his new kitty


The next morning, the family left. The boys had such a wonderful time, they were sad to see them go.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Australian Woodwork Cheese Knife & Rest Giveaway

My third-grade teacher went to Australia and taught us about it when she returned. We learned about marsupials and made boomerangs. It was a fun experience, and since then I have desired to visit the beautiful continent.

Ever since a family friend helped me build a car for my brother's pinewood derby, I have been enchanted by woodworking. Advertisements for power tools fascinated me. In high school, I wanted to sign up for woodshop but never did and regret it. I think it's amazing and admirable what stunning, detailed things people can make with their hands.

You can imagine my excitement when Australian Woodwork reached out to me--two things I love in one! I checked out their site and saw these beautiful items:




And the best part? Every single one is handmade by Australian craftsmen, some even the old-fashioned way without modern tools! Australian Woodwork began 16 years ago with Gregory White and Sarah Davidson through "a stall at Sydney's Rocks Markets and an idea to bring together the fine Australian woodcraft seen in our travels at many country galleries." The skills and techniques of the crafters even inspired Gregory to take up woodworking and build a chair completely from scratch! The family business has grown magnificently since then. Their most popular items are the jewelry boxes. This gorgeous conch-shaped one is my favorite.


One of you lucky readers will win this adorable cheese knife and mouse-and-cheese rest. I am so jealous! This giveaway is open only to the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cream of Mushroom Chicken

When I was first married and still in school and working, I was always looking for quick and easy meals to make. One night I poured a can of cream of chicken mushroom soup over some chicken breasts, added canned cut green beans, and put it in the oven. It became a favorite. I have since developed my culinary skills and now make it with homemade cream of mushroom soup (modified from this recipe on Happy, Healthy, & Domestic), cubed chicken, and fresh mushroom slices, and I cook it on the stove. It tastes a million times better! I serve it over my homemade rice pilaf, and it has been a hit with everyone to whom I have served it, especially my four-year-old!


Ingredients
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (any kind but nonfat)
  • seasonings to taste: I use salt, pepper, minced garlic, oregano, and balsamic vinegar (just a dash)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms, plus a few chopped into small pieces
  • 1 can cut green beans
Directions
  1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat, sauté the small mushroom pieces, and whisk in the flour. Cook for a couple minutes.
  2. Whisk in the milk and seasonings, bring to a low boil, and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the soup is thickening, brown the chicken in a large skillet. Stir in the sliced mushrooms.
  4. Once the chicken and mushrooms are cooked through, pour in the soup, add the green beans, and cook for a few more minutes for the flavors to meld. Add more seasonings if needed.
  5. Serve over rice.

Friday, April 3, 2015

How to Get More Use Out of Old Cloth Diapers

Do you have a plethora of cloth diapers you no longer use and can't sell, and don't know what to do with them? Here are some ideas on how to get more use out of your retired cloth diapers:

Prefolds can be used as:
  • Burp cloths
  • Cleaning rags
  • Napkins for dirty hands and faces on the go
  • Emergency wipes for messes in the car, stroller, etc.
  • Cloth baby wipes for diaper changes (cut into smaller squares)
  • Place mats for art projects
  • Doll blankets 
  • Protective wrapping for storing or packing fragile items
Uses for other types of cloth diapers:
  • Pocket diapers, without the inserts, can be used as swim diapers.
  • Covers are great for putting over disposable diapers to contain blowouts or as a fashion statement under dresses or with leggings (instead of using baby bloomers).
  • Small AIOs, fitted diapers, and covers make perfect doll diapers. 
How do you use your old cloth diapers?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation" Book Review

Jacob 5 is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon, and for good reason. It contains the allegory--a symbolic story representative of human life--of the olive tree. It tells of the scattering and gathering of the Israelites and the role of the Gentiles. The allegory can be difficult to understand in this modern age, especially for those of us unfamiliar with the growth and care of olive trees. Three sisters realized this stumbling block and created an artistic work to better illustrate the allegory. They adapted the text and included calligraphy and paintings to beautify the story. (You can read the more detailed story of the book's creation here.)


Smiles
*The language of the scriptures is kept to preserve its poetry and power.
*The artwork is beautiful, and the cohesion between the colors and style of the calligraphy and paintings is impressive. My favorite illustration is the one in which the lord of the vineyard is crying and his servant is comforting him.
*It makes a good companion book for scripture study or a family home evening/church lesson.

Frowns
*It doesn't explain the allegory, so if that's what you're looking for, then this book is not for you.

To learn more about the sisters and the book or to purchase this lovely work, visit their site. You can also stay updated on the book through Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What Is Your Favorite Random Part of Your Body?



photo by Andre Larsson

We women tend to focus on either the body parts we want to make the most attractive or the body parts we want to make the most invisible. We put in so much time and effort accentuating the “good” and minimizing the “bad” and trying to bring attention to where we want it to be. Yet, I’m not going to tell you to stop stressing about and start loving those physicalities we fixate on most. Much has been said about that already. But what about the rest of our bodies? How do we feel about the body parts we discount or don’t notice at all? I say, find the beauty in them too. The best part about those forgotten features is there is usually no standard of beauty for them, so if you find them lovely, then they are!

I like my knees. I think they have a nice round shape (although I could do with lotioning them more, lol). I have a pretty collar bone, too. In fact, I find all my bony parts appealing. That may sound silly, but it is satisfying to be able to see beauty in every inch of me. 

Maybe you have sexy ankles or a cute belly button. Maybe you have a defined chin or toned shoulders. The possibilities are endless because each of our bodies is unique.

“What about body parts that no one thinks are attractive,” you may ask, “such as knuckles or nostrils?” Think of their uses instead, their reasons for existence. Without knuckles, you wouldn’t be able to punch someone who attacks you or give a good back massage to a friend. Without nostrils, you couldn’t breathe in your favorite food's fragrance, your sweetheart’s tantalizing cologne, or your baby’s pleasant scent. Those areas you think are flabby, your children or pets may find comforting as they cuddle you. The tongue you think is too wide or too narrow is the perfect size for saying “I love you.” 

Having gratitude and appreciation for what your body can do is the first step to loving it and finding it beautiful. So go to the nearest mirror and tell me, what random body part do you love?
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