Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Littlest sister, Liz, is a rockstar and has exciting news

This is Liz. She is 13 going on 21. Been that way since she was 5 years old. 

 First, let me tell you just a little about Liz and her awesomeness. This is a girl who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and work...really hard. More than once, my parents have been called in to help do some major deep house cleaning help for struggling families in the ward. Liz has been right there with them every time. A few months ago, my mom sent me this email after one of these cleaning frenzies. She says it best: 

"...Anyway, it was a very sad and overwhelming situation. The main part that I wanted to share was the sweet service that Lizzie gave. As you can imagine, I was very focused and concerned about those children being helped and order being restored to the home. It was exactly like our whole inner-city mission experience. Sometimes families get upside-down and they need help from people who won't judge them or criticize their unsuccessful efforts. When Lizzie came to the home I gave her exactly one sentence worth of instruction. HELP THE LITTLE GIRLS CLEAN THEIR ROOM. Beyond that, I never checked on her. Hours later one of the older daughters came running upstairs saying that her mother wouldn't believe how Nicole's room looked...and she wouldn't believe how Lizzie was getting her little sister to throw so much stuff away. Her enthusiasm honestly made me nervous (I joked that little Nicole may need a touch of therapy to recover from the cleaning blitz) but I was still scrubbing like a crazy woman on the main floor so I had to trust that Liz knew what she was doing in the basement. I guess that there were piles and piles of junk and papers covering every inch of the child's bedroom and Lizzie just rolled up her sleeves, and started to fill trash bags. When little Nicole said, "Oh, I love that ...." Lizzie would kindly (tough love) say, "Nicole you haven't seen it for months, and you didn't even know it was here, so let's just get rid of it". Ha ha...yikes. I don't know how many bags were filled but I saw one of the rooms and it was spotless and Nicole was really really happy! All the children were so amazed to see their home completely cleaned. It was sweet and also sad to think how they had been living.

But when I think of Lizzie's help that day it just makes me smile all the way down to my toes. Late in the afternoon, when we had gone home and showered, I told Lizzie how proud I was of her hard work, service, and efforts that day. I greatly admire people who know how to work really hard but I have the greatest respect and admiration for people who know how to work really hard for others (ie.the Lord) and when they're NOT getting paid for the job they do. SERVICE is absolutely the most important work any one of us can hope to do in this life. I loved that Lizzie didn't need me to tell her every single step of what and how she could help. She didn't need me to direct her. She used her own eyes and brain to figure out what was needed and she didn't stop until the job was totally finished. She required ZERO supervision! As a family we try to celebrate each and every accomplishment, and this type of service, where someone uses their talents to lift another without any type of earthly compensation is, as far as I'm concerned, THE BEST OF THE BEST!

I just wanted our whole family to know about the gifts that Lizzie shared, last Monday, on her day off."

 That's only the beginning. This summer, Liz assertively called up families in the ward, letting them know she was ready and able to babysit for them. Then she made a calendar and slowly started scheduling in her days as the calls began coming in. Most days, she'd have multiple babysitting gigs in one 3 different in 12 hours of work...$5 an hour. By the end of the summer, she had earned well over $1000 for herself. Remember how she's 13 years old!? Like I said, total rockstar. 

Liz is also one of those people who is good at basically everything she attempts. She's super athletic, a fantastic artist, creative writer, and beautiful dancer. She has a body most similar to my other sister, Rosie, who's been a real model. I know, I know, try not to hate her. So I don't think any of us were super surprised when we found out she had tried out for Ballet West's Nutcracker and...MADE IT! I told her she's following in my footsteps and just wants to be like me. (But that story's for another post.) 

We can't wait to watch Liz tear it up in the Capitol Theater this winter.

we made it again!

Two dinner posts in a row? Kinda weird, I know. But here's the thing: last weekend, we picked up some food from a local co-op so now we have all this amazing meat and fresh produce to use up before it goes bad. The fun part is that it's forcing us to experiment cooking with new stuff. Like our dinner last night.

Eggplant Parmesan

So what if I didn't get home from teaching until 9pm?
Tensions were running only a little high as we tried to ignore how tired and starving we were while figuring out how to combine elements of two different recipes into one. Just a small amount of desperation on the side, please.

Dinner was ready by 10:30pm. It was yummy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

we made it!

We almost always cook our dinners together and this is what we made tonight. It was fast, easy, and we felt like it turned out pretty dang-jiggity legit. Yum in the tum, too.

Beef, mushroom, and onion tart

12 oz. lean ground beef
8 oz. pkg. sliced mushrooms
1/2 red onion, cut in then wedges
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 ground black pepper
2 pkgs. Jiffy pizza crust mix
3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
fresh oregano and/or pizza seasoning

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Saute beef, mushrooms, and onion over medium heat until beef is browned and onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Drain off fat. Stir in salt and pepper. 
2. Make pizza crust according to Jiffy package instructions. Grease a large baking sheet. Roll or pat dough into two 15x12 inch rectangles. Top each dough with beef mixture and fold edges over the filling, pleating as needed. 
3. Bake tarts 12-15 minutes or until crust is golden. Top with blue cheese, oregano, and pizza seasoning. 
(Serves 4)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


A little while ago, I got these great little rugs at T.J. Maxx that I've been meaning to show you. This was actually the first time I've seen rugs at T.J. that didn't feature any combination of country roosters, coffee cups, or kittens. These guys are made of softy microfiber and can be tossed in the washing machine when needed. Like I said, T.J. is a gold mine right  now.

I snagged one for the kitchen.

And one for the bathroom. 

Also, I painted my toes red.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Meet Archie

This is my family's dog, Archie. 

We love this little pup to bits and pieces. A gentle giant to the core, Archie is definitely a dog raised by five girls. When he was a puppy, we'd carry him around everywhere like the baby he was. Now, instead of belly rubs and playing fetch, Archie prefers to snuggle up against you and is scared to death of...basically everything. On his most brave days, he manages to muster the courage to step over the vacuum cord. He won't drink his water if it's even a tiny bit old or dirty and sleeps with a raggy stuffed bear named "Baby." Sometimes we joke that he's not a real dog. We kinda love him that way, though.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I'm having major book writing blockage. I've sat way too long in front of this computer and have almost nothing to show for it. In fact, right as I decided to write this post about not writing my book today, guess what song just happened to start playing on my Pandora? "The Book I Write" by Spoon. That was weird.

Here's my current book dilemma: 
I've written basically all of the meat and potatoes of it. The basic story is down. The format and overall structure is in place. There are even a few good quotes and some excerpts from my journal sprinkled in. Man, am I glad I recorded the little I did during that time. Good stuff. 

But now what??? Do I just say "and then I lived happily ever after?"

Hires Big H solves all our problems

Yesterday me and Chas both had dumb days. I think it all started when the DMV made me change my car's plates from Oregon to Utah. I've been dreading that official switch. RIP.

Around 10pm, laying in bed, both wallowing in our own frustrations, we decided that we needed to get out of bed, out of the house, and have a chocolate milkshake. But it had to be a milkshake that you could drink through a straw because thick, thick shakes aren't really shakes at all but ice cream smashed into a tall cup. Red Robin has a good, drinkable shake but, of course, we were informed that the shake machine had been taken down for the night. Like I said, it was a dumb day.

Then we remembered Hires Big H could come to the rescue! And because their shakes are pretty thick, we were sure to request our shake be made differently. Success.
After the shake, Chas decided he also needed a BigH 11pm.

I'm not sure if there's anything in this world that Hires can't cure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

pumpkins & fog

Some of my favorite Oregon memories were made while driving. 

First, I'll tell you about the pumpkin patches. On the way to Lizzie's school and our ward building, we'd pass the biggest, most magical expanses of perfect pumpkins. We're talking acres and acres of orange. There will always be a special place in our hearts reserved for those pumpkins.

Then there was the fog. Everyday, I'd drive to Portland for school, an hour away. You'd think a long daily commute would be awful, and most are. But this was a drive I'd look forward to. On either side of the freeway, further than you could see, were the greenest green grass fields. Sometimes the fields would be encompassed by a row of massive pine trees. Sometimes a red little crop dusting airplane would follow my car, zigzagging above. Immaculate vineyards and orchards were on the right. In the chilly, gray mornings, a layer of dewy fog hovered above the green. That's when I'd listen to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and just soak in the goodness of it all.

Jan posted this video and I've already watched it four times.

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Before I run out the door to go teach,

I just wanted to let you know that I'm wearing wedding(ish) colors today.

In the last 15 minutes, I've also learned that playing with Photobooth while listening to raps is a killer combo. Actually, rap plus pretty much anything is a killer combo.
That is all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I found waiting for me outside my door one day

 First thing's first.
This post is so long over due it's not even funny. Not even. 

Let me tell you a little story. 

There once were two sisters-n-law (but, let's be honest, the "n-law" part is dumb because we be straight sistas). One was named Betta

and the other was Tess. 

And, clearly, they were both the bee's knees. 

One day, Betta and Tess saw this post about wanting new school clothes. A few days later, I came home from work, went out to get the mail, and guess what I found waiting for me on my doorstep. It was a box which I promptly ripped into and discovered a pair of olive green Toms inside. Betta and Tess had them shipped right to my door as a "happy fall!" surprise, just for me. 

I know, right!?

I love these gals. And it's not just because they squeal with me in excitement as we're making plans to see Charlie St. Cloud and Step Up 3D (yeah, those both happened), or because they really understand the amazing cinematic history that is the HSM series, or even because we get the same bad pop-raps always replaying in our heads. All these are merely the many cherries atop a scrumdidilly-umptious cake. 

Every time I slip on my Toms, I think about Betta and Tess and the importance of finding ways to actively show our love for those we love. 

The end.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

new frames

I forgot to mention that Chas got new glasses. I picked them out. 
But, check out this killer pic of my husband. Bette took it.
How good lookin' is he? 
Get real.

Friday, September 17, 2010

coming soon...

The past two weeks, I've been working full-time crazy. Last week was really hard, this week was really great. Weird. At any rate, all this worky work has gotten in the way of some very important blog posts. And, no, I don't have time today either to write them but I thought I could at least make a list of some posts-in-waiting. 

What I found waiting for me outside my door one day

Littlest sister, Liz, is a rockstar and has exciting news

The ATR application process has officially begun 

Lessons I've learned this week as a therapist

...Get excited.

Friday, September 10, 2010

home again, home again jiggity dang-jiggity

Please note that the last post was a full week ago. Chas has returned, along with my life. 

Speaking of my life, Liza had a cute idea. She was thinking about high school lockers and wondering what kind of pictures would be hanging up on the inside of her locker door today if she had one. So she made herself a locker and then asked me to do one too. So I did. 

It's surprisingly fun. Make one for yourself and you'll see.

Friday, September 3, 2010

this is how we do

This is Chas playing with a super nice video camera the night before he flew to Arizona to shoot a new Youth Mormon Message.

This is our first separation since we've been married and, the night before, I found myself taking tons of pictures of him (like it would be the last time I'd see him or something).

This is Chas' birdhouse for his soul. I made it for him. 
This is a note tucked safely inside. I wrote that for him. Chas took his birdhouse for his soul on the trip and, last night, found my love note.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

you can attribute multiple posts in one day to Chas' absence

Chas is in Arizona and I miss him mucho grande. So today I decided to wear our wedding colors to work because mustard yellow and cobalt blue together always warms my (lonely) heart.

Olive green linen pants are always fun, too. 
Maybe (mos def) I'm a dork but does anyone else ever glean a weird amount of satisfaction from wearing an especially favorite outfit?

num num num

I came home from my first day of teaching to Chas putting the finishing touches on this dinner: 

Spinach ricotta stuffed chicken breasts and rice for the win! So easy, so yummy, and so much love for a husband who made it. 

Merrick's Stuffed Chicken Breasts 

1 package frozen chopped spinach
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 chicken breasts
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain spinach and transfer to a large bowl. Add ricotta, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Stir well to combine. Slice chicken breasts horizontally almost all the way through and stuff with spinach filling. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until cooked through (25-30 minutes).
We had ours with a little blue cheese dressing on the side for dipping.