Wednesday, August 29, 2012

you're welcome

love this. so much.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

pinterest recipe reviews

i'm not terrible at cooking/baking, i just kinda hate doing it. but it turns out that pinterest has actually helped me enjoy cooking just a bit more. a tiny bit. hey- something is better than nothing, right?

over the last few months, i've tried quite a few of my pinterest recipes so i thought i'd share what i've made so far and whether or not it was a hit.

bon appetit!

smothered beef burritos: i made these just last night and we loved them! i couldn't believe how easy they were, too! the only thing i changed from the recipe is that i threw in some cumin, chili powder, salt/pepper, and dry minced onion to the crock pot while it cooked. the spices added just the right amount of kick without being overwhelming. to top it all off, we added some sour cream as a garnish. this also makes for great leftovers!

asparagus, sausage, and arugula pizza: another winner! crazy easy, crazy good. and it's healthy! bonus! to make the recipe even more simple, we used a boboli thin crust pizza crust. but be sure to buy two crusts because the topping is enough for two whole pizzas. we had this two nights in a row and didn't mind one bit!

citrus cake: ok, so we actually didn't make this one. but my sister did so it kinda counts, right? from what she tells me, this cake was a total labor of love...intense labor. but super worth it! the cake looks beautiful and tastes so yummy. the frosting is to die for! so your best bet is to just have someone make this puppy for you. then eat it and love it. :)

chicken crescents: we like to call these "chicken pockets." not the healthiest dinner on the block, but really easy and oh-so-comforting. we'll probably make this again when it gets cold outside. it'll be the perfect, cozy dinner for a winter's night.

oatmeal lemon creme bars: we made these for a family party and they were a huge hit. personally, they're a bit too rich for me but, like i said, everyone else looooved them. plus, they're easy peasey lemon squeezey.

southwestern egg rolls: these little guys were so fun to make guessed it- really easy! (are we noticing a theme here?) they're actually vegetarian, as well. i think they're originally intended as an appetizer but we just had them straight up as the main course for dinner and they were totally filling! the recipe also makes lots and lots of leftovers so we just froze the extras and reheated them later for a future good dinner on the fly!

turkey, cucumber, cream cheese wrap: this is officially my new favorite lunch. easier than making a pb&j and (probably?) healthier. i love how fresh these wraps taste! try them and you'll agree.

baked creamy chicken taquitos: we made these a while ago and i honestly don't remember much about them. i do recall them being a bit lack-luster. good- not great.

easter bunny cake: the best part about this cake was the fact that it's a cake that's also a bunny. it was a really fun easter weekend project but turned out way too sweet to want to make again. (as a fun variation, we dyed half the frosting brown and made not only a white but a brown bunny, too!)

creamed avocado and lime chilled pasta: we were actually pretty disappointed with this one. it looks and sounds like it's gonna be a home run but it ended up just tasting super weird and kinda yucky, in our opinion. bummer.

7up biscuits: love these! easy, fast, and seemingly fool-proof! we've also made these to use as biscuits for big, yummy, bad-for-you sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches...for dinner. (follow?) even though they're so great, we try not to make them too much because they're kinda like eating donuts as a dinner side. awesome but not necessarily something you want to do on a regular basis. still- i'd say they're definitely worth a try!

Monday, August 27, 2012

sebastian design jewelry

last week, this necklace and bracelet arrived from sebastian design. as a new mom, it's so fun to have a little something to wear that reminds me of my favorite little squish. 

many of the pieces in the shop can be customized with a name, phrase, letter- you name it! and then you get to choose a birth stone, if you'd like (hero's is a pearl) and a little pendant (like the feather) as well. i love layering the bracelet with my gold men's watch and the long length of the necklace is so fun! and, to top it all off, the sebastian design's prices are amazing. total steal of a deal. 

check out more great jewelry from sebastian design here

happy monday to ya!

Friday, August 24, 2012

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have a happy, happy weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

new challenges

it's funny how every season of your life seems to have its own separate challenges.

being a mother is everything i thought it would be. i love that i get to spend every day taking care of this little person who smiles when she sees me and can now "talk" to me with her coos. those baby sounds are the sweetest sounds in the world. and don't get me started on her cheeks. i could just chew on those all day.

sometimes i feel sorry for chas that he gets to only spend two hours with her after work before it's her bedtime. but sometimes, i envy him.

sometimes it's really hard staying at home all day and not being able to jump in the car and go be among adults in the outside world. hero sleeps all morning and when she's awake in the afternoon, it's often too blazing hot outside to even leave the house for a short walk. so the days can feel long and lonely.

and then there's the dilemma of how to best spend my time when she's asleep. like yesterday morning, she took a five hour nap. so much time to myself can be both awesome and kinda terrible. awesome because i can take a shower, get ready for the day, do any chores around the house that need to get done, blog, etc. but kinda terrible because after i do all those things, she's still asleep and i still have plenty of time on my hands.

i hate feeling like i'm wasting time or being lazy so i started making a fun little variation on a scrapbook for hero (which i may be posting a tutorial for soon!). but when your baby isn't even three months old yet, there are only so many pages i can fill before i run out of pictures. so, for now, that project is at a stand still.

then i move on to my books. but i'm not one of those people who can sit and read and read and read for hours. i do what i can, though.

so back to yesterday's five hour nap. i kinda sorta hit an embarrassing all-time low in my desperation for something to do while she slept. i'm not even sure how this happened but all of a sudden, i found myself watching hair and makeup tutorials on youtube. and not just any tutorials- tutorials made by a teenage punky "scene queen" with rainbow brite colored hair, diy extensions, and huge fake eyelashes. (have i told you about my secret desire to have cotton candy pink hair?). yup. this is full-disclosure right here, guys.

the good news is if you ever get invited to a rave and just aren't quite sure how to do your hair/makeup/outfit properly for such an occasion, you know who to call. i'll even throw in a few glow sticks for ya.

anyways. has anyone else ever wasted way too much time in a semi-shameful way and then kinda hated yourself afterwards? or is it just me?

speaking of hair...

another challenge of motherhood is the postpartum hair loss. for someone who didn't have thick hair to begin with, it freaks me out to see the massive amounts of hair being lost every stinkin day. yiiiiiikes!

moral of the story?

even though things are getting a little bit weird at times over here, life is still glorious. the challenges are comparatively small. the joy is abundant.

and i'm even learning some new (re: basically useless) skills! ;)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

i (phone) spy

instagramming @samajama like it's my job.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

feeling fancy

because i'm all about comfort and practicality for tiny babies, hero normally wears jammies to church. but when your sister goes to paris and brings back the most beautiful clothes for your baby, it's a whole new ball game. so this sunday, we got super fancy and felt pretty dang good about it, too.

i can't even handle those shoes.

i may be starting to understand why people dress infants in real clothes. if only it wasn't such a challenge to find cute baby girl clothes that aren't dripping in hot pink, butterflies, tulle, and gigantic flowers for a reasonable price. sheesh.

p.s. are we loving hero's face in the second pic? yeah. that's what three hours of church will do to ya...

Friday, August 17, 2012

children's books for artsy families

Janssen of Everyday Reading is also a blog friend and a real life friend of mine AND Merrick's sister! (Does their family have the best names, or what?!). Janssen and I met years and years ago because her husband is good friends with my ex-husband. So even though things didn't shake out with my ex, me and Janssen's relationship is still going strong. Some things are just too good to end, ya know?

Because Janssen is a complete expert when it comes to books (with a degree to prove it and everything!), what better person to tell me what some of the best books are to read to Hero when she's just a little bit older. So take note! These are bound to be great reads.

P.S. I'm totally using some of our gift card money to buy...all of these. Thanks again, Janssen!


Children's Books for Artistic Families, or, Books I'd Give as a Gift To Sam's Child Without Hesitation

I love giving books as baby shower gifts or birthday gifts or just-because gifts. But you don't want to give something that they'll either get ten copies of (like Goodnight Moon), or something that will make their inner artist cringe every time their child picks it up.

Here are seven of my favorite picture books that I'd be completely confident in giving to parents with as much style as Sam and Chas have.

The House in the Night - If you want to give a bedtime story, but worry that Goodnight Moon is too obvious a choice, this is your book. Done in black and white scratchboard with golden accents, this is a perfect story to read before tucking a baby into bed. And then you'll probably have to take twenty minutes after the baby is sleeping to pore over the illustrations by yourself. Totally acceptable.

A Long Piece of String - This retro book (just now back in print after being published 50 years ago) has a piece of black string that stretches from the first page to the last, wrapping around a different object on each page. This book would be perfectly at home in your grandmother's collection, but you want it yours, I promise.

Pouch! - This sweet little book done in different mediums (marker, watercolor, etc) is such a fun little story about a nervous kangaroo just venturing out of his mama's pouch.

The Pencil - A pencil is just happily drawing an entire town, filled with people, food, houses, and trees, but then everyone starts complaining ("I don't like this hat!;" "My ears are too big!") and he has to draw an eraser to start fixing things. But then the feisty eraser takes on a life of its own.

Alphabeasties - Animals (in alphabetical order) made out of their letter in different fonts? It's such a brilliant idea and executed perfectly. I've never seen an adult or child not fall in love with this one.

Free Fall - No one makes more gorgeous books than David Wiesner and this one about a boy drifting off to sleep is one of his best. In each changing scene, you can see bits of his bedroom incorporated into his dreams, like his patchwork quilt becoming a life-size chess board. I notice something new every time I read it (which, when your child becomes fixated on a single book, is a good thing).

Where's Walrus? I love a wordless book because I can make it stretch as long as I'd like or I can whip through it 60 seconds. Walrus escapes from the zoo and hides with a different group of people on each page. The illustrations on this one are clean and modern and just make me happy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

mango and pine nut kale salad

i almost never post recipes on this blog unless they're change-your-life kind of recipes. (remember the root beer cookies?) this salad is easily just as good- and i say that knowing full-well that i'm comparing a salad to cookies. i stand by that comparison. it's amazing.

and, let me add, that i'm not someone who even likes salad all that much. and making salads? forget about it. all that chopping up of a million different ingredients just for something that's a side dish? sheesh. no thank you.

but because i'm crazy impatient to lose the last of my baby weight, i whipped up this salad tonight and had it as the main dish (while chas ate pasta). it's so easy to make, you won't believe it. and it's so yummy that my mom calls it "crack salad." again- i stand by that comparison as well.


mango and pine nut kale salad


  • 1 bunch kale (black kale is especially good), stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
  • Small package of pine nuts


In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes.
Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pine nuts. Toss and serve.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

on getting out of debt

*disclaimer: i'm writing this post not so i can tell you about what good, awesome people we are but so i can have a little moment of happy proud-of-ourselves celebration on my blog. :)


in 2009, i finished graduate school. along with a master's degree, i also suddenly had a huge pile of student loan debt. not only had i taken out money for books and tuition, but, after my divorce half-way through grad school, i suddenly was solely responsible for rent, food, a car payment, etc. so i had to take out even more money to cover just the cost of living.

when chas and i got married in 2010, we decided to make paying off my student loans our #1 priority. and now, 2 1/2 years later, we're down to the last $6000! don't get me wrong- 6 grandy is still tons of money, but when compared to the amount we started with, $6000 feels like pennies! (ok, maybe not pennies...let's say quarters!). seriously though, it makes us both so, so happy to know that the end is finally in sight!

what makes us even more proud of ourselves is when we think about how chas was making only $12/hour at the beginning of our marriage and how we've also paid $10,000 cash for my prenatal care and hero's birth. thankfully, chas is making much more money these days and i was also working before hero was born, but we have never been (and likely never will be) richy rich.

all this is to say that if we can do it, anyone can do it!

our secret?

just shove any and all extra income towards the debt. it's hard and it totally feels like just giving money away but once you get in the habit, you don't have to think about it so much and the satisfaction from seeing the debt slowly shrink away is pretty great.

putting so much money towards paying off debt has meant that we've gone without some things over the years. we've only gone on one road trip vacation, we have only one car (which means that I don't have a car at home with hero during the week), the one time a year we eat at a fancy restaurant is on our anniversary, and we almost never see movies in the theater. but we haven't totally deprived ourselves, either. we also believe in being able to have a little fun with our money when we want to. so we eat out every now and then (hire's cheeseburgers), buy fun new clothes (usually on sale and at places like F21 and target) sometimes, and, if we want to get some new dressers for the bedroom (pictured above), we do it! i just think it's all about balance and trying your best to be smart with what you've been given.

and, most importantly, heavenly father can see your efforts and will bless you. that's the best part.

this weekend, we decided that when we finally pay off all my student loans, we're going to reward ourselves with a little sam-and-chas-only trip to somewhere awesome like san francisco!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

look familiar?

most people usually say that hero looks just like me but after looking at these baby chas pics, i'm not so sure...

most people also usually mistake hero for being a boy. (but hey- at least that's never awkward.)
so i guess that seals the deal. she's her father's daughter.

and, most importantly, we now know where the thumb sucking comes from.

Monday, August 13, 2012

maternity essentials

Merrick is both a blog friend of mine AND a real life friend. We actually met for the first time when I invited her to my wedding reception!

Merrick is pregnant with baby #2 and is the greatest at knowing how to look like a babe 24-7 on a budget. Today, she is sharing some of her wisdom (which I will definitely be using next time I'm pregnant)!


Hi there! I'm Merrick from Merrick's Art. I'm a mom of a busy little two-year-old boy, and seven months pregnant with baby boy #2, and I blog over there about personal style, sewing and refashioning, and family life.

With baby number two on the way, I wanted to share my top five maternity style essentials (although most of these can carry into non-maternity style), as well as some maternity wardrobe tips I learned from my first pregnancy and amended this time around.

1. maternity jeans. For me, maternity jeans are a must. With both my pregnancies I haven't gained a ton of weight, but I've carried pretty low which forces my jeans to be completely unbuttoned and unzipped by about 18 weeks. The rubber band around the button trick, and those bella bands just don't cut it for me. Constant adjusting, too many layers, and weird bumps and bunching. No thanks. Get over your pride of being able to wear your regular jeans at 35 weeks, and just get yourself a pair of jeans that is meant for a huge belly. Also, this time around I invested in two pairs of great maternity jeans, and then cut my old pair into shorts and also made myself a pair of maternity shorts. At the end of my first pregnancy, I was wearing my one (yes, one) pair of maternity pants every single day. Four options would have been really great right about then. My favorites are h&m (here and here), and I've heard old navy and shade have great ones too.

2. target v-neck tshirts. These simple t-shirts from Target are my favorite top, pregnant or not. They are so comfortable, can be dressed up or dressed down, and come in a zillion different colors. My current favorite is my neon pink one.

3. stretchy skirts. One of my new favorites is a stretchy pencil skirt. Paired with a simple graphic tee and sandals, it can be really casual, and a good alternative to shorts in the summer. Another favorite stretchy skirt is the popular maxi skirt. They are super easy to make (or of course there are tons of options in stores right now) and they are so comfortable for running errands, or spending the day at home. I mean, who wouldn't want to wear a blanket around their legs all day?

4. belts. Many of my non-maternity tops work with my pregnant belly, but a shirt that stretches from my boobs to my stomach with no definition in between is not exactly my idea of flattering. While belts can define your waist when you're not pregnant (which I love), they can also define at your empire waist when you're pregnant, and just that little bit of separation and definition makes a world of difference for me. Plus you can buy them in a million different colors, patterns, and widths, which add interest and variety to every outfit. I buy most of my belts at cheap places like forever 21, or the thrift store, and love the braided kind because they can be adjusted to any circumference when your belly is growing by the second.

5. tunics and leggings. I owned one tunic during my first pregnancy, and only wore it a handful of times. This time around, I have five or six, and wear them all the time. After finding a pair of leggings that was really soft and comfortable around my waist, I realized how easy, comfy, lightweight and cute these outfits were. I made a few tunics (here and here), and bought a couple more, and they are a perfect summer maternity or non-maternity staple!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

i (phone) spy

instagram. loooooove it.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

for bryce

yesterday afternoon, my little sister, liz's, best friend took his own life with a gun.

without a doubt, bryce was the most amazing fifteen year-old boy i've ever met.

bryce was someone who, first and foremost, was focused on ways to love and serve others. completely without guile, bryce was the greatest example of charity. when my family first moved to the highland area last year, bryce was the first person to come over, introduce himself, and welcome my parents and lizzie to the neighborhood. his countenance shown and my sisters and i referred to him as "the prince."

lizzie joked that bryce was the glue that held my family together because he was always over at the house helping out my parents or taking care of our family dog, archie. archie loved bryce.

when liz had a small part in the school musical, bryce came to see the performance and afterwards gave lizzie some chocolates and a card that said she was the best part of the show. not because he was trying to "woo" her, but because he was the sweetest, kindest friend.

i always had a special place in my heart for bryce because he reminded me of fifteen year-old chas. bryce was tall and handsome. a bit on the quiet side, he never exuded anything but love and pure goodness with his sweet smile and glowing countenance. the kind of boy that all the kids respected, the parents adored, and the girls had secret crushes on.

absolutely nobody could have predicted what happened yesterday. it totally blindsided everyone.
even now, my head is reeling with sadness, shock, confusion, and questions. to be honest, i didn't even think bryce knew what suicide was. not because he was dumb or ignorant- but because he was just that good.

after hearing the devastating news, i suggested that all the youth and parents in the neighborhood gather together and create a huge memory mural for bryce's family. in my work as an art therapist, i've had the opportunity to go to schools in the wake of a suicide and provide this type of support both through the art and through counseling.

so last night, at 9pm, my parent's house was filled with young men, young women, and parents who knew and loved bryce. we all sat down together and there was a time for people to share their memories of bryce and their thoughts surrounding his death. we then all walked down the street to bryce's house, stood together in the dark, and sang the hymn, "i am a child of god," outside his house. everyone then returned to my parent's house and worked on the memory mural.

last night, was probably the third time in our marriage that i've ever seen chas really, truly cry.

This morning, i was praying to have peace and comfort surrounding bryce's death. a short while later, a thought came to me.

i started thinking of all the ways in which i'd like to be more like bryce. how i want to be able to think of others before myself. how i want to be able to serve with a happy and willing heart. how i want to be able to always have the kind of love for others the way bryce did. i then started thinking that, whenever i'm faced with a decision or situation in which i'd normally find myself criticizing others, hesitant to serve, or self-absorbed, i can ask myself a simple question. "what would bryce do?" i can then choose to LOVE the way bryce loved. in this way, i can personally help bryce's goodness to live on, through my choices and the example he set for all of us. bryce's physical body may be gone but his light can be spread every where through different, more loving, choices i hope to make in his honor.

i'm grateful i had the chance to know bryce.
r. i. p.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

a blessing day

today was a special day for our hero. today at church, chas gave hero her baby blessing.

(in the lds faith, a baby blessing is a time for friends and family to gather around and honor the new baby while the dad says a special prayer just for the baby.)

chas did an excellent job and gave hero a beautiful, heart-felt blessing. it was a very proud moment for me, both as a wife and as a mother. it was also so great to be surrounded by our wonderful family and friends on our little girl's big day.

after church, we had a little potluck luncheon in the park with our two immediate families. the food was delicious and my sister, rosie, made the most spectacular (and yummy!) cake. (check out instagram to see it!)

the only bummer was it was crazy hot outside. like oh-hi-my-eyelids-are-sweating hot.
when we got home, we whipped off our clothes and the three of us stood directly underneath the swamp cooler blasting on high. ahhhhh...

i'm so grateful for my little family. i love these two more than anything and am so blessed to be a mommy to hero.

Friday, August 3, 2012

ruffles, ribbons, and rosie

the three things that made yesterday great.

ruffles: i tried on hero's new swimsuit for the first time. and then i about died. it fits her little chubs so perfectly! i can't wait to get her in the pool rockin' those ruffles. best $7 i ever spent at target. hands down.

ribbons: just because i dress ro in jammies every day doesn't mean she can't have some proper girly accessories. i threw together these three headbands last night while we watched women's gymnastics. now my baby can have some fancy to go with her jammies for church on sundays.

rosie: my little sister hosted a friend's bridal shower last night. afterwards, she stopped by our place to surprise us with one of the leftover strawberry chiffon pies she had made. apparently, earlier that day, she had also busted out 2 more strawberry chiffon pies, a lemon meringue pie (all four with homemade crusts), lemon melt away cookies, and fancy drinks. plus she's refashioned that darling dress she's wearing to fit her perfectly. and her hair is a bow. and cute nails.

...anyone else kinda hate themselves now?
yeah, me too.

i think i'll just go eat some of her pie.


have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the time has come...

with heavy hearts, we're selling our Kymco People 150cc scooter.

if we didn't have to buy a second car, we'd keep scoots for ever and ever. it's become a part of our family and is always a blast to ride. and we've never seen another kymco scooter with the same fun color combo of the teal green/white with brown seat. basically, this is the best scooter ever.


scoots needs a good, loving home.
interested in buying it? click here for more info.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

sweet home

(image sources found here)

my little sister, sarah, and her family recently bought their first home. she's been slowly decorating it and making the space her own and it's been so fun to watch her house come to life. seeing her pick out couches and paint colors makes me excited for the time when chas and i buy a house...whenever that may be. i'd be lying if i said i didn't wish that time were sooner rather than later. 

isn't it strange how as soon as we get something we want, like the cutest baby girl in the world, that we immediately start looking to the next thing in life for satisfaction? why is it so hard to just be totally and completely content? am i the only one who's a lunatic in this way? 

here's to being happy in the moment and grateful for the present. 
(and to brief moments of escapism via pinterest)