April GBOMB

Shoot, I feel like I just did one of these…probably because I did! Ha! Here’s April in review:)

Good

  • General Conference, anyone? I love it every time and this time was no different. So many good things! I need to get going on re-reading/listening.
  • Easter! Another weekend I always enjoy. Since Wendy is not to the candy eating stage yet, we kept things simple by just making a nice dinner. However, my parents sent Wendy this Easter present–a book my cousin wrote that is absolutely adorable! If you’re looking for a unique kid’s book, I highly recommend:)
  • I ended up making some matching outfits for us for Easter. I know, so cheesy! But I had so much fun doing it. I’m always so intimidated by sewing clothing but I tackled several new things with this project (hello, zippers!) and it made me want to make more clothes! I’ll be posting pics of our matching outfits next week!
  • Wendy has gained three new cousins in the last three months! Which officially makes a 7 girls in a row streak (in less than 2 years!) for my family! We love every single one of those girlies and can’t wait to meet them next month!

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Bad

  • Wendy Bird is growing–insert gushing tears emoji! I know it REALLY isn’t a bad thing (like, seriously, I know), but Wendy is 6 months old today and I cannot believe how fast that went! My baby is getting bigger and it’s so fun to watch her learn and grow but…but I know I’ll miss her teeny-ness!
  • Oh man, my phone is totally crapping out on me. It’s actually been slowly dying for quite awhile now (I have an iPhone 4S, and it can no longer receive the updates…). It was an “older” phone when I bought it almost 3 years ago and I only had to pay $20 for it (like, not every month, just twenty dollars period). But those were the good old days (ha!) and now it seems like if you want a smartphone, you gotta pay a buttload of money or commit to a payment plan. I wish I could go back to 5 years ago when I thought, “Why the heck would I ever need internet on my phone???” (I know, #firstworldproblems). Anyway, I need a new phone…and, to avoid buying another one a year from now, I want a nicer one…but I’m so cheap. Basically, I’m just putting off the inevitable.

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On My Brain

  • Sewing! Since making my Easter dress, I’ve been dreaming up some clothing ideas. I wish I was a pro and could promise to share them all with you once they’re made…but I’m not. I’m truthfully just crossing my fingers that they turn out good enough to wear them…you know, in public.
  • I linked up to this article another blogger posted titled something like “15 Things Every Low-Maintenance Girl Can Relate To” because, let’s be real here, I would very much consider myself a Low Maintenance girl. I’m not really trendy and often “doing my hair” means putting it in a bun. While the article had a few funny points, most of it made it sound like girls who don’t spend, you know, 30 minutes doing their makeup are lazy slobs. And, yeah, I guess I wouldn’t correct anyone who calls me lazy for not putting on makeup this morning (true story), but it’s more of an I-do-at-least-try-to-look-presentable-when-I-leave-my-house kind of lazy rather than an I-don’t-give-a-crap-what-I-look-like kind of lazy. Does that make sense? Like sometimes I think, “Maybe I should try some new makeup.” So I shop around and see how expensive it is and decide that I most likely will never end up wearing it and that I should stick to my 2 minute foundation-mascara minimum because who am I kidding? I’m just not into that sort of thing. I mean, not beyond a minimal amount. Well, I’m probably just digging myself into a hole…and making myself sound like a lazy slob so I’ll stop…
  • Goodness gracious, do you guys ever feel like you need to take a break from reading? I got that way towards the end of our time in Alaska-mostly because that was one of the only things there was to do for entertainment and I got burnt out. I’ve recently felt the same burn out coming on (after power reading through a couple of crazy long books) and I’ve been letting myself take a break. I’ve made it through about half a book in the last 2 weeks, which is maybe more of a normal pace? But it’s been nice. The book craze will be back soon enough.

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Favorite Cornbread

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A few weeks ago I was asked if I’d be willing to provide some low carb meals to someone in our church. I agreed and immediately started brainstorming. But I quickly realized that Ben and I, we are not low carb people. We love carbs! Carbs for the win! Hooray for carbbbbbbbbs!!!

And as far as recipes on the blog go, I’ve made it very clear here as well that we love our carbs. Ha! Honestly, it’s not completely intentional…it’s just that breads and treats are like 5 billion times easier to photograph, you know?

Wait, you don’t take pictures of the food you eat?

Anyhow…here’s ANOTHER bread recipe, because apparently that’s how we roll!

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I used agave to sweeten this particular batch which is why they’re a little darker than normal cornbread. If you sweeten yours with regular sugar, they turn out to be buttery yellow. Yum either way!

This cornbread recipe in particular is an absolute fave of ours! Ben requests it often. And while we were living in bush Alaska, I made it pretty much every week.

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It hits the spot whether you keep it plain or smother it with butter and honey. And it’s super versatile-I’ve made it with basically every substitution and it always turns out delish!

Favorite Cornbread

1 stick (1/2cup) butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar (or any sweetener->coconut sugar, honey, agave, etc.)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or milk substitute {i.e. Almond milk} mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour (any kind-> all purpose, whole wheat, gluten free, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine melted butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Mix in eggs well. Quickly add buttermilk and baking soda and stir. Add cornmeal, flour and salt and stir until very few lumps remain. Pour into a 9×9 inch pan and bake 30-40 minutes until golden in color and toothpick comes out clean OR pour into lined or greased muffin tins (makes 12 muffins) and bake 15-20 minutes until golden. This recipe doubles well.

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Five Things Friday: My Favorite Baby Items (0-6 months)

One of my goals this summer is to do more posts where writing is the main point. One of my favorite things about blogging is the opportunity it gives me to write. And since Ben will be teaching on campus this summer (no big summer break), I thought I’d switch things up by adding a “Five Things Friday” post every other week or so. Now, it’s not summer yet (at least not here!) but since I let Wednesday get away from me, I thought I’d throw the first Five Things Friday post out there! So here are five baby items I wouldn’t have been able to live without these past (almost) 6 months!

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(I feel like I need to say that obviously I couldn’t have lived without diapers, wipes, baby clothes and a carseat…but those are boring to talk about!)

  1. Ergo Baby 360 Carrier: I LOVE my ErgoBaby Carrier and the proof is in the pudding: I use it every single day. Today I used it 3 times-morning walk, evening walk and going out shopping. It’s easy for me to put on and it’s super adjustable. We’re still finding different ways to button the thing up to help Wendy fit in it better as she grows. And Ben and I can both wear it comfortably (although, Ben has a hard time clipping it in the back, because, you know, muscles). Wendy also loves it. I usually face her toward me so that she can nap while we walk. But lately if the weather is nice and Wendy’s not tired, I’ll face her forward and she FREAKS out…like in a good way. She LOVES it!
  2. Blankets: Like every size and every thickness. Perhaps this item would not pertain to summer babies…but I think it would because summer babies get to experience winter eventually, right? Luckily, Wendy has some sweet grandmamas who made sure she was covered in the blankie department-and somehow they made their blankets with varying degrees of warmth. So when Ben and I head out one of us will say something like, “Is it a Grandma Lifferth Blanket kind of day?” And the other will say, “No, it’s actually not too cold. A Grandma Brown Blanket will do.” Grandma Lifferth’s blankets are flannel and minky (super warm and cuddly) and Grandma Brown’s are flannel on both side (warm, but not too warm and soft). We also have a handful of the lightweight cotton swaddle blankets. The point is, we love our blankets and even though we have a ton we use them all!
  3. Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper: This is one of those things I didn’t know I needed until I used it. In fact, we got it at one of our showers as a gift and I almost returned it which would have the worst mistake ever! Wendy still sleeps in that thing and I love that we can easily move it from room to room. It also folds up which makes things so much easier when we go on trips.
  4. Awesome Diaper Bag: For some reason, we new moms think we have to pack around everything including the kitchen sink for our babies. Truthfully, most the stuff in my diaper bag is only used when we are at home, but even so, it makes me feel better to have it while I’m out and about. I think a diaper bag is a totally personal item where one lady will swear by a certain brand that another lady will absolutely hate. I have a Little Unicorn Marindale backpack. The only thing I don’t love about it is that if it’s packed full, it has to be zipped up otherwise contents will spill everywhere. Other than that I absolutely love it. It fits a ton of stuff, it has several convenient pockets, it’s sturdy, it comes with a changing pad (is it weird that that was on my must have list?), and it can be carried cross shoulder or as a backpack. It’s awesome.
  5. Smartphone: I easily came up with the first 4 items and as I racked my brain for item 5, nothing seemed to fit. Then it dawned on me. I definitely couldn’t have survived without my phone. It’s lame and I don’t know how our mothers did it, but my phone has been absolutely indispensable to me since having a baby. I guess most of its uses pertain directly to nursing. I use it to time feedings. When Wendy was just barely born, I used it to keep track of how often I was feeding her, which side she was eating on, how often she pooped, etc. etc. I use it to read my scriptures in the morning because it’s ten times easier to hold my phone while she eats than it is to hold an actual book. I browse Pinterest, Instagram, play games or read books during her other feedings. And besides nursing, I’m so glad I have it close by so I can shamelessly snap pictures without the hassle of running to get my camera out (and most likely missing the moment). And then having a phone makes it effortless to share said pictures with all of our family members since we live so darn far from everyone. Seriously, Mom, how did you do it without a phone? First world problem for sure, but man, am I glad I’ve got my phone (even if it is crappy and dying and has to be plugged in 80% of the time…).

March GBOMB

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I feel like March was long and had so much going on but it just flew by! I can’t believe it’s April already! I will say that as I write these I always think of more and more things to add. So sorrynotsorry it’s so long…here’s March in review:)

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Good

  • For the first time in the history of EVER Ben had a spring break! He went to BYU-I for his undergrad where you never really have spring (❄️☃️❄️) so why bother giving a spring break? We spent this inaugural spring break…not very eventfully, but we sure enjoyed it! We did some hiking and spent a day in the Phoenix area. It was casual but awesome.
  • The Great British Baking Show! Where have you been all my life? And can’t complain that the show inspired Ben to make some bomb croissants!
  • Poor Jaeger dog seemed really sick on the day we were heading to Phoenix. Under the circumstances, Ben didn’t want him to sit in his kennel all day (which is what he normally would have done).  So we cleaned up our main living space, closed off the doors to the other rooms and just hoped that he’d behave. Jack Russels are notorious for being pretty naughty and while Jaeger has never chewed stuff up, every time we’ve tried to leave him out alone he poops in Ben’s shoe (seriously. Never mine. Just Ben’s😂). When we returned from our day trip we were greeted by a sweet Jaeger dog, a still clean house….and poopless shoes!!! It was a miracle! We inspected every corner and he did an awesome job staying out of trouble. Since then we have let him stay out of his kennel when we leave the house and he’s still on his stellar streak! Hopefully he keeps it that way…
  • We recently changed Wendy’s bedtime (I talk about it more later) and for about a week she really struggled with it. She had a cold too which I’m sure made things worse. One night in particular she was crying quite a bit as we went through her nightly routine. Ben started saying our family prayer with Wendy fussing in the background. But Ben prayed very simply asking that Wendy could sleep well that night so she could get feeling better. She stopped crying immediately and went to sleep easily that night! Prayer answered for sure, but I also felt like it was a sweet sign that my little baby understands the language of heaven.
  • Every year my dad’s side of the family has a reunion at Ruby’s Inn, near Bryce Canyon. It’s just a weekend of visiting, hiking, eating, and hanging out. The first time Ben and I went together was just a few days after we had gotten engaged. We haven’t been able to go every year since then but this year was the 20th anniversary since this tradition started so we put it on our priority list to go. We missed having most my siblings around but we loved spending time with my mom and dad, a couple siblings and all the extended family that was able to go. We hiked, swam, played games and stayed up too late enjoying everyone’s company. My personal favorite was seeing everyone love on baby Wendy! Makes a momma’s heart happy. We had a wonderful time!
  • We had a few weeks of just absolutely gorgeous weather! So much so that I went out and bought some baby sunscreen and a sunhat!

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Bad

  • Buuuuuut the gorgeous weather did not last! We’ve gotten snow several times in the last couple weeks. It’s been cold and windy. I was doing fine with the snow until we got that taste of spring…now I’m ready for the sunshine!
  • I started reading a new book that I was pretty excited about. It had been recommended and had great reviews. I was enjoying it pretty well but several chapters in it had this super sad baby related event and…I just couldn’t. I tried to get over it and continue reading but it was giving me some serious anxiety so I stopped reading, but even then it took me a few days to get off the worry train. I might finish that book someday…just not in this stage of life.
  • Colds. All around. Meh.
  • Sooooooooooo…just let me say that I know I’ve been totally spoiled with Wendy and her sleeping habits. She’s just naturally a great sleeper and I’m super grateful. But a few weeks ago we had one night where we put her down when we had normally been putting her down (10pm) and for some reason she just cried and cried and would not calm down. She didn’t fall asleep until after midnight and that was with Ben and I using all the techniques we could think of. For a while now Ben has been suggesting we put her to bed earlier and I had been saying no because I was nervous how it would affect breastfeeding (in an “ouch!” kind of way), but that night was a clear sign to both of us that she needed an earlier bedtime. So we switched things up. We had a week or so of adjusting (I’m sure made more difficult because of Wendy’s cold), but we’ve gotten into a good routine (it doesn’t always go perfectly) and I think we’ve all benefited from it. Ben might see a little less of her in the evenings, but he sees a happy her. And I enjoy having a little extra time to myself at night to squeeze in some cleaning or (more often) a few more chapters in whatever it is I’m reading.

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On My Brain

  • Loved the women’s conference (and general conference too, but technically that should be in April’s GBOMB:)!
  • My sister sent me this article on happier/healthier living. I found it very interesting and loved all the ideas he gives about improving oneself (I love goals. Judge me). I didn’t agree with everything he said, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.
  • I reviewed Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? last week. One of the chapters she has in the book is titled “Married People Need to Step It Up.” The chapter is totally hilarious and totally (sadly) true! She talks about how she knows so many married people who just go on and on about how “Marriage is work” and who just make it seem like marriage kind of sucks. She talks about how most romantic comedies deal with the dating phase and end with a wedding, which kind of gives the vibe that nothing fun happens after you get married. Kaling does give good examples of marriage-like her parents-, and she talks about how she’s sure marriage is work but that it should be more fun and enjoyable than it is difficult and trying. Ben and I recently watched the series Parks and Rec, and I found it super interesting that by the end of the series they had basically every character in the show get married. Tough and manly Ron Swanson gets married. Bizarre and apathetic April gets married. Even Tom who you think will be a perma-bachelor gets married. To me, this means that marriage is still an ideal. I believe most people hope to get married someday. So Kaling is totally right. C’mon, married people, let’s step it up! Let’s try harder to communicate (face to face and via social media) the awesomeness (the hilarity! the romance! the friendship!) of being married! I think the same ought to go for being a parent too! In Mindy Kaling’s words, “Married people, it’s up to you. It’s entirely on your shoulders to keep this sinking institution afloat. It’s a stately old ship, and a lot of people, like me, want to get on board. Please be psyched, and convey that psychedness to us. And always remember: so many, many people are envious of what you have.” From a religious standpoint, Hymn #263 says, “Go forth with faith to tell the world the joy of families.” Holla. JOY. Not “Oh my gosh I cannot live through one more day of Mustache March!” Even though that’s a real thing 😉😂 (Looooooove you, Ben!!!😘) But really. Joy. So this is our challenge. To better portray the joy of marriage. Of momming. Perhaps, even of in-laws. Message received, Mindy.

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Books Lately

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Someday, Someday, Maybe By Lauren Graham

This book is about: A girl named Franny tries to make it big as an actress in New York, but she’s working on a self made timeline…if she doesn’t make it big by her designated end date, she’s going to give up her dreams and move on with life.

What I thought:

  • So, yeah, that is THE Lauren Graham who wrote the book (as in the actress!). Don’t worry-she got a degree in English so she knows what she’s doing.
  • A few swear (including the F-word).
  • The characters in this book are so REAL. The dialogue was real, like I could imagine each character actually saying what they were saying-it fell in line with their personalities. I guess that is an awesome benefit of having an actress write a novel-it’s their job to understand people, you know? And I liked how Franny was mistaken about her perceptions of certain people (like in real life). And, over the course of the book, it was obvious that Franny made mistakes and learned in a very realistic way.
  • This isn’t a super happening book. Like, it’s very real life, day-to-day kind of stuff. Nothing outrageously wild happens in it, but even so it was entertaining to read.
  • You get pages from Franny’s planner which is fun and my personal favorite was reading her voicemail messages.
  • At the end of the book, she talks with a friend and they determine that, when it comes to our actions, quantity becomes quality. Like if we do something enough times, we are going to get really good at it. I like this idea. It seems very hopeful to me.

Should You Read It? Yes. While it’s not a crazy page turner, I felt like it’s relatable and offers a fresh layout. Enjoyable read.

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Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

This books about: A lady named Ann who digs into her husband’s past to try and figure out exactly what happened that fateful summer day years ago with his first wife and two daughters. Vague, I know, but I don’t want to give anything away…

What I Thought:

  • This book…where do I begin? I wanted to read this because I’d seen it on a couple social media sites and, hello? I lived in Idaho. So, clearly, this needed to be on my To-Read list. But, upon finishing it, I had a really hard time pinning down how I felt about it. In a word, this book is haunting. I mean, you kind of get pieces of this puzzle and eventually determine what happened and it is horrifying. And sad and sickening.
  • So why would anyone read it? It is incredibly well written. It is the kind of book where you read every. single. word. There’s no skimming or passing by the “he said-she said” stuff. No. Every word matters and if you go too fast you feel like you’ve missed something and you have to go back and reread. The wording is poetic.
  • The author really sets up this book in an interesting way. Each chapter focuses on a different year, and while the whole book is in third person, each chapter has a different character as the focal point. You get a span of years and views from a vast array of characters that can be tied back to the main story line. It’s definitely interesting and well thought out.
  • As I read, it became pretty obvious that, under the circumstances of the book, there could not be a happy ending. There just wasn’t any way that everything could be tied together in a lovely little feel good way. And it wasn’t. The end was…fine? Realistic, for sure. I still had some questions, but, as in real life, sometimes we just never know.
  • From a psychological standpoint, the different views I got from the different characters was rather interesting.
  • I honestly don’t know if I could recommend this book. It was so dark and so sad. If you are a sensitive person at all or if you struggle with depression or if you have a tendency to dwell on things, I would not  recommend this book. The mystery and sadness of it all kind of sucks you in and leaves you in this weird funk. I ended up telling Ben the story to kind of process it and he just kept saying, “Why did you read this again?” and “Who would write about that?” because it is just that messed up. But, having said that, it is really really  well written and it’s the kind of book that you can’t put down. So if you’re a fan of great writing and you’ve got a strong stomach for harrowing tales, this might be the book for you…? Maybe. Honestly, read at your own risk! 😉
  • Towards the end, the author has a line that mentions just how porous we are…like we let things get to us that we don’t even realize. I felt like I could relate this to the natural man. Like when we let those kinds of things get to us and even act on those things, we’re letting the natural man in. And that’s why it’s so important to use Christ’s atonement to protect us from those under-the-skin type things that could potentially cause us to act in a way we’ll someday regret.

Should You Read It? Maybe. It’s not for the faint of heart but it’s definitely well written and engaging. Like stated above, read at your own risk!

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The Selection Series; Books 1-3 (The Selection, The Elite, The One) By Kiera Cass

This book’s about: This chick named America who’s “selected” to compete with 34 other girls at trying to win the hand of the Prince. Set in a futuristic and dystopian society, this book is essentially a teen version of The Bachelor.

Thoughts:

  • So let me just be straight with you all and say that I read the first book because, “Hey! Girls in pretty dresses!” And I read books 2 and 3 because ohmygoshineedtoknowhowthisenddddddddssss!!! Now, this is a 5 book series but book 3 basically wraps everything up. Books 4 and 5 are about the main characters’ daughter in her own Selection 20 years down the road. I did not read those books and, truth be told, I won’t read those books because I wasn’t totally into the series and pretty much kept reading because I needed a complete story, you know? I read spoilers of the other books and, frankly, I don’t think I’m missing out.
  • As you can probably tell from above, I didn’t really care for these. I think they’re written for a pretty specific audience (teenage girls) and the main focus is definitely romancery and general wooing. Meh.
  • The dystopian society setting is almost misleading. It definitely is NOT the main plot point and even seems kind of like an afterthought. Like Cass was really excited about writing a romance story and since dystopian lit seems to be all the rage, that’s where she set things…but it doesn’t get much attention. I mean, yes, stuff happens in the book that specifically regards the setting, but it’s more means for character development than it is to give a message about society or what have you.
  • I know it’s matronly or prudish or whatever but I was really disappointed at how sex is an issue in this book? I mean, technically nothing explicit goes on but there are some pretty racy happenings and I would say it is a theme of the books. I know, I know, it’s like, man, if this can be compared to The Bachelor this sounds pretty tame. But it’s a book for Young Adults! And I felt like there was too much inappropriateness for anyone younger than 16. I guess I’m just used to the chaste Ella Enchanteds of my youth…
  • So many cliches.
  • Love triangle was weak. As someone on goodgreads put it, there is no Team Aspen because he sucks. And all I can say is amen.
  • Obviously I don’t have many good things to say about this book so it’s kind like, well why the heck did you read it? All three books I read were incredibly quick reads. And if Cass does nothing else, she certainly knows how to engage her readers. All these books kept me up later than I should’ve been up because I just could not stop reading. I had to know what happened next!

Should You Read It? Honestly? No. Don’t waste your time. Unless cliche teenage romance is your jam, you can feel totally okay passing this one by.

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Mastering the Art of French Cooking By Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle

This book’s about: French Cooking tips and recipes.

What I thought:

  • LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED this book!!! Love, love, loved it.
  • I know it is so nerdy of me but, yes, I read the whole thing and made a few of the recipes.
  • Everyone should have this book! It has so much knowledge, so many tips and tricks and just so much to offer. It is a treasure trove for anyone who cooks even a little bit. Obviously, not everyone is a crazy like I am who will read through an entire cookbook. But even so, it offers so many basics when it comes to cooking that even if it’s just to have a reference for making broths or roux or sauces, it’s worth it.
  • This book is so incredibly thorough. If the dish can be made ahead of time, it explains how to do that. If it’s freezer friendly, it tells you. Et cetera, et cetera. It is obvious that the authors had extensive knowledge and experience in a French kitchen. And Child turns and makes all of it accessible to American cooks.
  • In the introduction, Child writes that the hope is for home cooks to become so comfortable in the kitchen that they no longer need to look at recipes save to ensure they haven’t forgotten a crucial ingredient. I love the concept of this…but lots of the recipes seem so precise that I don’t think I could ever make them without the recipe in hand!
  • So many of the recipes give the instructions to “Correct the seasoning.” This is an idea I love in theory and in practice. It’s like, if it doesn’t taste good, fix it! Most often, I think the authors meant with salt and/or pepper, but I still like the idea (that I think so often gets lost) that we can add things (spices especially) to make dishes more to our liking.
  • Random, but interesting: They explain that the required temperature for safely cooking a chicken is a whole 15 degrees more in the U.S. than it is in France! Crazy! But I think I’ll stick with the U.S. standard, thank you very much.

Should You Read It? Haha, well, maybe not like me (you know, sitting down reading the whole thing) but I would totally recommend having this one on your shelf! It’s old but classic and a great source for anyone who cooks!

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling

This book’s about: Mindy Kaling and her life! She talks specifically about growing up, how she was drawn to comedy, and her journey to making it big!

What I thought:

  • Mindy Kaling, you’ve done it again…making me laugh out loud!
  • I kind of feel like every celebrity should write a book because everyone wants to know the deets on the life of a celeb, but if we are being real, that would be a huge mistake because I think we’d just get a bunch of crappy and/or false books. This book, though, is awesome because Mindy Kaling IS a writer. Like that’s what she does! And it totally comes through that she knows what she’s doing in the whole “Imma write a book about my life” department.
  • And it is a book about her life. The other book I read of hers was fun/funny but I felt like it didn’t really have a point. I mean, it kind of did, but it was also just felt like a random collection of essays that were funny. This book seemed so much more organized. It’s chronological and, while it’s not super crazy in depth, it does give you plenty of information on Kaling’s life in a fun and let’s-be-besties kind of way.
  • One thing that was not awesome for me is that she is about 10 years older than me and she’s obviously super up to date (and back to date, I guess?) on pop culture. Pop culture is not, nor has it ever been, my strong point. So there were plenty of references in her book that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate. The book was hilarious for me, but I’d bet it’s 10 times more hilarious for someone who’s her same age.
  • Her list of Best Friend Responsibilities was totally hilarious! I loved that part. Funny and true.
  • As a lover of The Office, it was fun to read this and learn more about the inner workings of the show (and hear her rants against Rainn Wilson-ha!).

Should You Read It? Yes. It’s a quick and hilarious read. If you were only allowed to read one of Kaling’s books…I would recommend this one!

Sometimes March is Cool

Guuuuuuyyyyyyys!! I am seriously struggling here. I have a goal to post once a week and here I am trying to figure out what to post and I have next to no ideas! I’ve been a slacker in the organization department this week so I don’t have anything delicious or creative to share…

But I was thinking the other day about how for a long time I’ve felt like March is the worst month. And it’s nothing personal, really, it’s just that I think March is the ugliest month and therefore is deemed “the worst.” But it’s been totally gorgeous here for the past week or so and it made me think that maybe March isn’t so bad after all. And then I remembered that Ben proposed to me in March (yesterday…five years ago!) and also March last year was when we found out that I was pregnant!

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Baby Girl Brown giving us a wave!

So here, because I don’t have anything else to post, is the story of how we found out we were expecting! And I realize that this topic might make some of you nervous…but I’m definitely going to try to keep things as un-weird as possible. Normal. Aight?

So really I’ve gotta set the stage by reminding everyone that we were living in Bush Alaska at the time (I know, it seems like 10 years ago to me too). Ben had gone out to Pilot Point in October and, after Christmas break, I joined him. I had been off the pill for a few months at this point so along with the rest of the toiletries I hauled to Alaska was a package of pregnancy tests.

Sometime in February I finally had an excuse to bust open that particular package (eh? eh? vague-ish but not weird???). I even waited a few extra days just to be sure. I told myself that on Wednesday morning I’d wake up early and take the pregnancy test. And when Wednesday morning came I could hardly stay in bed I was so excited. I mean, I had seriously been feeling pregnant, you know? Like I had to pee all the time and I was getting more headaches and Jaeger dog was wanting to snuggle me more. I was positive that I was pregnant and that little pregnancy test was all I had to do to confirm it!

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Every post including pregnancy should have a picture of an uncomfortably chubby woman, right?

Now you can all make fun of me for this next part but when I opened that package I was surprised to find nothing more than three itty bitty strips of paper and some shoddy instructions. I had never seen this kind of pregnancy test before! I read the instructions and re-read the instructions and just to make a long story short I wasted 2 of those strips of paper because I had no clue what I was doing (seriously, guys, the instructions were awful!). Finally knowing what I was doing with the final strip, I dipped it, set my alarm and buried my face into the couch until the timer dinged. And the test was….

Negative! Apparently, I was NOT pregnant!

But…but…what about all those signs? I mean, I had seriously been peeing SO much! Right? But the test said no…so I guess that was that.

Funnily enough (is funnily a word???), that very day my sister-in-law and brother texted us a pic of their own positive pregnancy test (it was a punk, from the previous year-their baby and Wendy were born almost exactly a year a part), but the text was just one of many reasons why I couldn’t get that stupid negative test out of my head.

I had been sure I was pregnant but now I was totally not sure. I mean, maybe the pregnancy test was wrong (I may or may not have dug it out of the trash multiple times to double check its results). But if it wasn’t wrong then there was something else going on with me and that scared me too!

Here’s where the fact that we were living in the Bush is critical. One might feel inclined to ask, “Why didn’t you just go buy another pregnancy test to make sure?” Well, because there was only one teeny store in town. It was doubtful that they carried this particular item and even if they did, there was no way I was buying it there! I mean, the whole village would’ve known about it the next day (I may be exaggerating the point slightly…but I don’t think so). So casually stopping by the drugstore as an anonymous citizen was not possible (especially because they did not have a drugstore)…

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Around Easter, Ben and I started frequenting the ridiculously over-priced grocery store. I blame the pregnancy!

So that very day I went online and ordered the top rated pregnancy test (the ones I had used were a dollar for the three. Moral of the story: buy better tests!) and prayed that we’d have some sort of mail miracle and get the order soon!

But of course all the elements combined together against me and we had some of the worst weather in the following weeks. Mail in the bush is always slow. It’s slower when you’re waiting for something really important to come!

While I waited I never, you know, got any proof that the pregnancy test had been right. So I just waited and worried.

Two and half weeks later (two and a half WEEKS, people! It might as well have been a year!) the mail finally came! And those top-of-the-line (ha!) pregnancy tests were there nestled in a box alongside some peanut butter. Praises be!

I had planned this all out ahead of time to wait until the morning to actually take the test because I heard that’s when your hormones are the strongest…but PLEASE! Ain’t nobody got time for that when they’ve been waiting 3 years! (Or three weeks, whatevs). So I decided to do next best and not pee for 2 hours before taking it (another recommendation. I’m not sure either of these things are true or necessary). So I went out for a run and took my time. Upon returning home, I opened the door to a truly horrifying stench…bacon! I told Ben that the smell made me nauseous and Ben replied, “If bacon makes you nauseous, you don’t have to waste your time taking that pregnancy test!” So true. So true.

I waited the remaining hour or so, took the test, set the timer….waited….aaaaaaaaaannd…..two pink lines! Obviously you guys knew the end of this story before it even began but suffice it to say that I was so happy and, honestly, so relieved! I had been seriously stressing! When I told Ben he said, “I knew it.”

Me: Whaaaaa?!? Really???

Ben: Yeah. You knew it too. That other test just freaked you out.

Too true. I think I really did know all along, but I was afraid to admit it in case that first test really was right.

Stupid crappy pregnancy tests!

Dumb slow Bush mail!

But now I think all of it was quite hilarious…and it was actually pretty nice finding out later (“Oh my gosh-I’m already 7 1/2 weeks!”).

So, yeah. March, I guess you’re alright after all.

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DIY Microwave Popcorn

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Wellllllll…this is basically the easiest way EVER to make delicious popcorn. You know, just FYI.

The kitchen we are in right now (renting!) is teeny tiny and so I had to be pretty choosy about what would be awarded cupboard space and what would be returned to storage. And, sadly, my popcorn maker did not make the cut and was promptly returned to storage.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that store bought popcorn is not very good, so when I discovered this method I was super excited. It’s easy, tasty, cheap and fairly adaptable.

Basically you just mix your oil and popcorn (and any flavorings you’re feeling)…

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And dump it into a paper bag (P.S. The above picture is a bit deceiving, you know, to be more visually appealing. I usually just mix everything up right in my two-thirds measuring cup…).

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Fold down the top 2-3 times and microwave…

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Boom. Roasted. Well, microwaved. Popcorn.

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So. Easy. And now that I’m posting this I’m wondering just how many different flavors I should probably try. Brown sugar? Ranch dressing? Paprika? Cayenne? Hmmm…Too many possibilities! Here are the basic amounts:

DIY Microwave Popcorn

1/3 cup popcorn kernels

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

AND generous pinch of salt

OR 1-2 teaspoons sugar and pinch of salt

OR 1/2 teaspoon stevia and pinch of salt

Mix kernels with oil and add salt and/or sweetener. Again, you could probably mix just about any flavor in that you feel like. Mix it all and add to a standard size paper bag. Fold the top of the bag down 2-3 times and put in microwave. Set the microwave on high for 3 minutes but don’t go anywhere! Stay by the microwave and remove your bag as soon as the popping has slowed down to 1 pop every 2-3 seconds. For me and my microwave that has always taken just about 1 minute and 20 seconds. Let it cool down for a few seconds before you open the bag and enjoy.

Note:

-You can use butter as your oil, if you want, but the butter flavor doesn’t really come through, so if you want butter flavored popcorn, I’d suggest adding the butter after popping.

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Tutorial: DIY String Art

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I finally finally got around to making some string art! I’ve seen it around for quite awhile now and I only recently got on board to make some of my own. Turns out it is so so easy. With a little bit of planning anyone can make string art. Serious. It does take some time-especially if you need to treat your wood. But it’s the kind of project where it’d be pretty hard to completely mess everything up. I even think that with some supervision (and maybe some help with the drilling) it’d be a great project for older kids.

So.

Here’s what you need:

  • Wood (I used inch and a half thick pine that was left over from the table Ben made us. Scrap wood is great, just make sure it’s thick enough that your nails won’t pop through to the other side and still be in far enough to not wobble).
  • Picture/Outline of desired image 
  • Tape
  • Wood Stain and Sealer (optional)
  • Drill (optional-but it sure makes life easier. I used a 1/16 drill bit)
  • Hammer (I’ll be honest, I bought myself my own hammer for this project. I tried doing string art with Ben’s hammer and after many curse words and bruised thumbs, I quit. This time I went with one much lighter and it was a dream)
  • Nails (Mine were 1 1/2 inch #16 nails. Choose whatever you want, just make sure the head is big enough to keep the string from slipping off. WalMart’s nails were the cheapest I found which is good to know because you need A LOT)
  • Yarn or Sturdy String in desired colors (I used Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. They’re like $2-$3 each)

First, find, print or draw the image that you want to create.

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I looked online for ideas and then just free handed the drawings onto paper to make it the right size. Choose something simple that doesn’t have super close detailing. For example, the eyes on my raccoon ended up being a bit of a headache. They turned out okay but I’d keep them like the fox’s eyes if I ever repeated this project.

Next cut and sand your wood to the right size. My wood pieces were roughly 1 foot squares. I made my images to fit that size of wood…not the other way around.

Tape your image to your wood.

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Use your drill to drill holes along the outline about every half inch or so. You could definitely mark where you want to drill before hand, but I just eyeballed it. Also, Ben recommended putting a piece of tape on your drill bit marking how deep you want to drill, so that your holes are consistent. Try to keep your drill upright and at a 90 degree angle to your wood.

Also, personal preference, but if you come to spot where you could fit 3 closer together holes or 2 farther apart holes…go with the 2 farther apart holes. Trust me.

Drill all the way around your outline and then remove your paper.

If you are staining your wood, follow the instructions on the packaging of the stain. Follow the stain with a sealer, again, following the instructions on your sealer.  The picture above right is after my wood was stained and sealed. This is what takes the longest with this project! But I LOVED how the stained turned out!

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Once your sealer has completely set, start nailing! If you didn’t pre-drill your holes, bless you! You’ve got your work cut out!

Every so often, tug on your nails to make sure they are firmly set into the wood and aren’t going to pop out when you start stringing.

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Nailed it! (sorrynotsorry) This guy’s ready to go!

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To start stringing, tie your string into a knot, but before tightening it, slip it onto one of your nails. Tighten really well then tie one more knot on the same nail. Snip the loose tail off the yarn.

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Then have it! Lead your string to a random nail, wrap it around once and then lead it to the next random nail. Make sure your string is taut. Try to always cover a new area (don’t just go over the same spot again and again) by using every nail at least once.

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I wanted to “outline” my images, so I looped around each nail (like a dot to dot) on the inside and then on the outside.

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To finish, you do basically what you did to start. Give yourself several inches to work with and cut the yarn. Tie yarn into a knot and slip onto your final nail before tightening. Tighten really well and then tie one more knot on the same nail. Tighten again then snip off the excess yarn as close to your knot as possible.

I’ve seen other people use glue to hide their ends, but the knot method worked perfectly well for me.

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Complete each area with its corresponding color. You can see above that I only outlined where it would be seen. I knew I wanted the mask etc. outlined but in it’s own color.

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Ta-Da! You’re done! Cute and affordable! These little critters went to my brother and sister-in-law in anticipation for their new baby…but now I’m trying to think of what to do next…for ME!

February GBOMB

Well…I actually liked doing the GBOMB last month. So here’s the next monthly installment of Good/Bad/OnMyBrain also known as: Things That Have Been Going on With the Browns.

Good

  • As everyone knows February brings Valentine’s Day! And every year Ben tells me how much he hates this holiday and how we should not celebrate it. And every year I say, “Yeah, whatever, Ben.” And every year I still get him something. And every year he gets me something too, my favorite of which is always the note he gives me. I guess neither of us are into crazy elaborate portrayals of love. But a sweet little note goes a long way, in my opinion.
  • One of our sweet friends runs a small Etsy shop making different things. A week or so ago, she sent us one of her BabyNests as a gift to Wendy, and, seriously, it has become one of our favorite things ever! If you follow me or Ben on Instagram, you’re probably like, “Okay, lady, we get it.” But seriously, this nest is so so so awesome and also super cute! We put Wendy in it on our couch or on our bed to make sure that she doesn’t roll off (she’s not rolling yet, but she’s getting super close so we try to be careful!). And I think it’s going to make transitioning from her slightly inclined bassinet to a flat surfaced crib a breeze since it’s obvious she still feels snuggled up and safe in the BabyNest. If you’ve got a baby on the way or a friend with a baby on the way, I would highly recommend getting one of these. Love love love it. Anyhow…check out her Etsy shop here.
  • My sister had her baby!!! And I can’t even wait to meet that sweet little girl!!!
  • My family has had babies scheduled to come in February, March and April! It’s super exciting! My twin’s wife is pregnant and they are planning her shower for early March. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make it to the shower, but I asked my mom if I could help in any way. I was able to make and send the invites and I also made some decorations they can use for the shower (and hopefully can also be used for a nursery). The decorations turned out super cute (tutorial coming…) and it was just nice to have something to do that had a deadline. Is that weird? Yes. Probably. But still, it was nice.
  • Poor Jaeger dog…I don’t think he’s having a ~hard time with baby…but I do think he’s kind of like, “Hey, I like to be loved too!” Like whenever I nurse Wendy, Jaeger insists on claiming any remaining lap space. The other day Ben joked that whenever we have our next baby, I’ll have to find a way to fit Wendy, Jaeger and baby on my lap. But anyway, we decided to take Jaeger on a little trip to PetCo so he could choose out his own little bed. And he seriously loved it. The trip was stimulating for him and he has absolutely loved his new bed. Ben said he really feels like the message (Hey! We still love you!) was received.
  • As always, Wendy has been a total sweetie. She’s learning and growing (although the growing isn’t happening very quickly-she was in the 3rd percentile for weight at her 4 month check up two days ago) and she just makes us happy.

 

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Bad 

  • Four month shots for my poor baby! She’s handling them a lot better than last time though.
  • So I did this 30 day cleanse. It wasn’t as hardcore as the Whole30. I basically couldn’t eat sugar, processed grains, yeast and a few other odds and ends. Ben quit after 4 days (the man does what he wants). I kept going because, you know, baby weight. And after 4 weeks…I had not lost a single pound!!! I was pretty disappointed. But the upside is that I’ve decided that sugar free is not the life for me! Feel free to use that saying in your own lives. I’ll let you know when the bumper stickers are made 😉
  • Our car has been kinda freaking out electronically. And while it is still running, car trouble is always lame.

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On My Brain

  • I’ve been trying to get better at menu planning and grocery shopping…and I feel like I haven’t really found my rhythm yet…and maybe I never will? The plans just end up being too restrictive or I plan too many meals and don’t get around to making them and then ingredients go bad. I’m definitely more the type of person who can think of ingredients we have and determine what to make from that. Maybe a menu isn’t for me and new recipes should be introduced one at a time??? I’ll keep working on it.
  • Our stake had a women’s conference and there was one speaker who just did an excellent job. She spoke about music and, to make her point, she played songs on her iPod, had her daughter sing, played songs on the piano, and shared a couple of Mormon Messages. She just explained how music has such huge effect on our moods and attitudes. She pointed out that any sort of media we use is simply a guest in our home. If it’s disturbing the vibe we want in our home, it is our right to kick that media out, and maybe replace it with something better.
  • The Reader’s Digest had a small story about author Kurt Vonnegut who responded to some student letters. I really loved reading it (you can read the whole letter here-it’s short) and I especially loved this line, “Practice any art–music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage–no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.” Love it. Makes me think, yeah, that’s why I blog or learn new songs on the guitar or attempt sewing clothes. And it makes me want to push myself further in these areas and others.

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Finished Project: Elephant Baby Blanket

One of these days I’ll do an actual tutorial type post on one of the quilts I make….one day…

But today I’m just going to share a blanket I made for Wendy’s cousin who was born only 6 days before her (on Ben’s side).

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Baby blankets are probably one of my favorite projects of all time because #1. They are soft and snuggly, and #2. They are so small that you can finish them in no time at all! If only I could finish all quilts in the time it takes me to do baby blankets…

I kept things simple with the top. I had some already cut 5 inch squares, so I just laid them out and sewed them up. I was going to keep things simple with the whole quilt…but then I started getting ideas…

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I can never just let things be! But I guess, in this case, I was glad to think of this. I got the idea (via Pinterest) from this site. My sister-in-law mentioned that they were wanting to decorate with elephants so this seemed perfect! I just Googled “Elephant coloring pages” and found one I liked to be my template. I used fusible interfacing (a.k.a. sticky iron on) to iron the elephants onto the backing to hold them in place.

It was my very first time machine appliqueing and I’ll admit that I had a bit of a rough start. The background fabric is minky, which is a little bit stretchy so sewing around the curves was a challenge. But I eventually got the hang of it.

I made this blanket before we moved to Arizona, which meant that I had the pleasure of taking advantage of my mom’s sewing room! She has every sewing tool you could ever dream up to use and whenever I had sewing questions I’d just have to go, “Mooooommm!!!” You know, like I was living at home again. Ha!

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But the best part was being able to use her quilting machine (that’s how I made those fun loopy flowers). Having access to that machine has completely spoiled me. I’ve yet to successfully quilt something on my little sewing machine and I think it’s largely due to the fact that I’m used to the giant and oh-so-workable quilting machine my mom has. Things just get way too crampy and in the way if I attempt quilting on my machine. So I usually end up hand quilting, which I enjoy, but it takes forever. Which brings me back to this baby quilt. I quilted it in just over an hour. So speedy. So easy. It was a dream!

And I loved how this little blankie turned out.

I’ve got a couple of large quilts in the works but looking at these pictures just makes me want to scrap them all and do baby blankets the rest of my days! Then maybe I’ll be able to finish the projects I start…