Lemon Bars

When I asked Ben what treat he wanted me to make for him on Father’s Day, I knew that he would say one of three things. He knows I am capable of making anything from cheesecake to molten lava cakes but no matter the occasion, he’ll always request one of these three things. Last Sunday, lemon bars won out.

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Which actually made me laugh a little bit. My dad is the same way and I think if I’d been in town to ask him what treat he wanted for Father’s Day, he would have responded with the same…”Lemon bars!”

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This particular recipe comes from one of my mom’s old neighborhood cookbooks. It’s the kind of cookbook that’s been turned through so often that the cover has fallen off. And the lemon bar recipe has been accessed so many times that the sticky and crusted pages automatically fall open right to it.

These lemon bars are light and delicate, melt-in-your mouth delicious. I’d say that they’d be perfect for your next girls-only get together…but the guys love them too (as made apparent by Pa and Ben). So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s never not a reason to make them. The pan size feeds a crowd, but they’re so light it’d be easy to sneak a few (and then some) without feeling a bit of guilt.

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Here’s the recipe!

Lemon Bars

Preheat oven to 325°.

For the crust:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Mix all the ingredients and press into a standard size cookie sheet (i.e. a jelly roll pan). Use a fork or a toothpick to poke a hole every couple of inches across the bottom to prevent the crust from bubbling. Bake at 325° for 15-20, or until the crust just barely starts to color. Meanwhile, mix the filling.

For the filling:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Whisk all the filling ingredients together. When the crust just barely starts to color, remove it from the oven. Stir the filling as you pour it into the crust (so that it distributes evenly; the sugar has a tendency to settle at the bottom). Return the pan to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the edges start to golden and the middle is no longer jiggly. As soon as it’s been removed from the oven, use a mesh strainer, a spoon or just your hand to lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over the top (very lightly…ain’t nobody wants to inhale that stuff, delicious as it might be). Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing into squares.

Notes
*If I’m making this for Ben, I always half it. We could eat a whole cookie sheet…but that doesn’t mean we should. When I half it, I use a half sized cookie sheet, or a 9×13 inch pan.
*When you start pressing the crust you’re going to think, “There’s not enough dough to cover this whole pan!” I think this every time I make these! But just be patient and keep pressing-it’ll do the job, I swear!
*I’m sure a real food blogger would disinherit anyone who didn’t use lemon juice from an actual lemon…but the truth is, I think I’ve only used real lemon juice once, and I’ve made this recipe countless times. The bottled lemon juice works great! And, you guessed it, if I’m using bottled juice, I simply omit the zest. Feel free to add up to 2 Tablespoons additional juice if you’re using bottled.
*I’ve always been curious to see how these would turn out being baked in a smaller pan. You’d get thicker bars…but would they turn out better? Worse? Ben says there’s no reason to mess with them (truth) but maybe one day I’ll give it a try…

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5 Things Friday: 5 Years

Last week Ben and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary! And I know 5 years is nothing to couples who’ve been married 15, 30, 50 years, etc., but it’s still something that makes me a little bit proud. And a lot of bit nostalgic. I mean, a lot can happen in 5 years. A lot has happened in 5 years.

Anyhow, I really wanted to do some sort of post in homage to this benchmark anniversary. But I couldn’t quite think of the right thing to write about. I didn’t want to be too preachy (heaven knows 5 years doesn’t give you all the right answers). I didn’t want to be too mushy. But I wanted it to be list-ish to fit into the 5 Things Friday mold. And what I came up with doesn’t fit in a concise title, at least not one that can work as the title of a blog post.

I decided on a list of Five Things That I Really Love About Ben That I Didn’t Realize Would Be So Awesome/Helpful When I Married Him. It’s partly mushy and partly advice-y and totally 100% things I’m grateful for in my husband. And I’m sorry in advance for the cheesiness. Well…sorry in a sorrynotsorry kind of way.

Also, pictures, because wedding day <3.

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  1. Ben is hilarious. Remember back in Young Women’s when we had to list the attributes our perfect spouse would obviously have? And how my list always started, “Handsome, Sense of Humor, Ripped Bod…”? But seriously, Sense of Humor was always one of the first things to pop in my head. Back then I knew that humor helps make life more fun! But I didn’t realize that laughing together is what turns an acquaintance into a friend. And laughing with Ben on a regular basis has turned him into my best friend. When we were first dating, I thought Ben had the weirdest sense of humor (anyone familiar with his analogies knows just what I’m talking about). And now I think he’s super hilarious. I don’t know if that says something about him or about me, but I do know that he makes me laugh all the time and I love it. I feel the need to include that one of my old Young Women Leaders pointed out that on her list for an awesome spouse, right next to “Is Funny” she included “Thinks I’m Funny” because nobody wants to hear crickets after taking a stab at hilarity. I genuinely think Ben is a crack up and whether or not he thinks the same of me, he laughs anyway. That’s true love right there.

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2. Ben is forgiving. Forgiveness is definitely not any sort of secret or new marital bliss tactic, but maybe it should get a little more attention in the world of marriage (who am I kidding? In the world, period.). Forgiveness is not something I’m good at. I have a really hard time forgiving. And then even when I say, “Oh, I forgive you” I still want to have an hour long discussion hashing out all the details of why whatever happened hurt me. I’m terrible. Ben is a great example to me. When he forgives (anyone! Not just me!) he seems to just forget about it. No hard feelings. No “Well, I forgive you, but I still want you to feel a little bad about what you did.” Nothing like that. Forgive and forget pure and simple. It’s definitely given me insights into how I can improve. Be more forgiving. Less guilt tripping. I’m working on it. Slowly. But for everyone’s sake, don’t make me mad. Just kidding, just kidding. Kind of.

IMG_01683. Ben has an awesome family. And, well, this particular point, you could argue, has nothing to do with Ben! At least not directly! Hold your horses while I explain! Many years ago (before I was married, older and wiser), I had a friend who was dating a boy and things were getting serious. Getting married was a topic of discussion between them (exciting!) but, BUT his parents didn’t really care for her (what the!?). BUT, BUT clearly this wasn’t a real issue, right? I mean, you’re marrying him (we insisted), not his family, right? I mean, right???? WRONG! Sorry to be so direct but it is so obvious to me now that when you marry someone, you absolutely marry the whole fam! Whoever you marry is largely (I would say the majority) a product of the home in which he was raised. So…when your husband has a disturbing propensity toward potty humor, you can look a little ways past him to his sisters (again, what???) and see where it came from. Seriously, family can explain a lot about a person. But lucky for me, Ben’s family really is awesome and I’m super grateful for the relationships I’ve formed with them. When Ben and I were dating and I learned that he was the youngest AND the only boy, I had every reason to be nervous. But his family just enveloped me into their space and never looked back. What a blessing. Seriously. Well, besides the potty humor. But even then, I’ve mostly learned to tune it out.

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4. Ben has a strong testimony. Okay so this one kind of doesn’t really need explaining. But also, I’m a talkative word monster, so Imma just have at it. But I do feel the need to say that I think everyone has the potential to be a good spouse no matter what religion he/she associates with. But I also think that believing in something good will help any relationship. So, with Ben…we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are Christian. We believe that Christ lived a perfect life and in doing so, He was an example of a seemingly unending list of positive attributes: kindness, honesty, humility, love, patience, charity, and so on. As believers in Christ, we believe that these Christlike attributes are important for our own lives. Now, Ben has a strong testimony of our church and in Jesus Christ. This isn’t to say that he has perfected all of these attributes. Absolutely not. It is to say, however, that I know he finds these attributes not only important but worthwhile in obtaining. He believes in working toward being kind, honest, humble, loving, patient, charitable, etc. Ben believes in improvement. He believes in working toward a greater goal, in being a good person and becoming a better person. Again this isn’t to say that he’s improving at lightning speed and nearing perfection. Ben knows he’ll be chipping away at some of these Christlike attributes his whole life. Luckily,  he believes I live by the same rules. I don’t have to be perfect yet either.

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And finally…5. Ben is adventurous. If you’re taking notes for your future spouse and marriage, this particular point is absolutely NOT necessary. I am positive many successful marriages have been comfortable and predictable. When I married Ben I had no idea that he had itchy feet that no amount of Gold Bond could cure. We moved to Idaho for Pete’s sake! But since then we’ve moved to places I never dreamed of going and have had experiences I never dreamed of experiencing. And, my gosh, it’s been fun. You certainly get to know a person when travel halfway around the world with them. And Ben is also very fun to travel with (he’s all “Let’s do it!!!” to my, “Should we? Is it worth it? What about the money???” Marriage. Balance, amiright?). All our adventures-the big cross continent ones and smaller takes less than a day ones-have helped us learn each other better, if that makes any sense. And, at least for me, they’ve helped me appreciate Ben better. I’ll tell you, nothing makes you appreciate your spouse more than being pregnant in the middle of nowhere and having him say, “Yes, dear, let’s spend the 9 dollars on the pint of Ben and Jerry’s.” But that’s a story for another time.

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These past five years, they’ve been pretty darn good.

Easy DIY Baby Skirt

Sorry, sorry, sorry that this post is very much happening after Mother’s Day instead of before like I intended! Our internet stopped working the day I was going to write it up and then we left town the next day and then with vacationing…yadda, yadda, yadda. Sorry. Let’s still be friends, mmkay?

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So remember how I was crazy and made all of us matching outfits for Easter? Well, this was what I whipped out for Wendy. I had considered doing a dress but I’m super glad I decided on a skirt because it came together so quickly and after that week of crazed sewing, I didn’t have much patience (or time) to work out the intricacies of a dress.

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The skirt was so easy and it took me less than an hour from start to finish.

Here’s how I made it.

First, I did some measurements to see how much material I needed. Wendy was about 14 inches around her waist (width) and 7 inches from her waist to her knees (length). For the width, I added an extra inch for seam allowance, and for length I added about 5 inches for the ruffle around the top and to hem. I’m always a bit of a wimp and throw in extra inches knowing I can cut back later (when I hem) if I need to. Rather be safe than sorry! So I had a rectangle of fabric that was 15 inches by 12 inches.

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As you can see in the picture of the skirt, there’s a little ruffle at the very top followed by the waistband. First, I pressed the edge of the fabric down a half inch. I don’t have a serger, so where I’m able to, I like to hide the edge of raw fabric. I also ironed the fabric at about 2 1/2 inches. That would give me room for a ruffle at the top and for me to sew an elastic in place for the waist.

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Here you can see how I mapped out where I would sew. I gave room for 1 inch of ruffle at the very top. Next is the elastic. I sewed a 1 inch gap to fit the elastic through, which was plenty of space since my elastic was 3/4 inch. And then I sewed down very close to the bottom to hide that raw edge.

I attached a safety pin to the end of my elastic (I cut my elastic right at 14 inches, knowing that about 1/2 inch would turn into seam allowance, making the part around her waist 13 1/2 inches-tight enough to be snug without being too tight), and guided it through the fabric. I also safety pinned the other side of the elastic TO the fabric so that I didn’t lose it. Make sure your elastic doesn’t get twisted! That’ll make anyone go crazy!

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Once my elastic was all the way through, I overlapped it about 1/2 an inch, and used a zigzag stitch to sew the ends together (just like pictured above, one side laying right on top of the other side).

Okay, so at this point I had a ruffle and an elastic, I just needed to sew my skirt into a tube. I’m realizing now that since you can’t see the full skirt in the pictures, it’s a little hard to visualize what’s going on. Sorry! I’ll do better next time!

But basically…with the rectangle of fabric I had, I folded it so right sides faced each other and the ruffle was at the top. I sewed all the way down the length of the skirt WITHOUT sewing on where the elastic is. That part just stays un-sewed. Also, no serger and it’s not convenient to turn in the edges so this particular seam (which is the back of the skirt) stays raw.

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THEN the only thing left to do was hem!

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And there it is! Finished baby skirt! Sew easy! Okay, okay, sorry that was cheesy…but seriously, it was a super quick project!

I know my sewing projects aren’t anything revolutionary and I’m not tech savvy enough to provide real guidance (like a pattern!) but I love sewing and I love sharing how and what I sew. Sewing clothes is definitely something I want to improve upon and I gotta start somewhere!

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And luckily my particular model makes anything look good 🙂

Still Here! May GBOMB

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At the Salt Lake Temple

May was so busy and so crazy and so fun! We had two weeks of vacation mapped out and ended up leaving a whole week earlier than planned. Which meant more time with family but there were lots of things I was planning on doing that ended up NOT happening (like having posts ready to go on the blog) because we boogied out of town so fast! But we really did have a great time! Here’s my May GBOMB:

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Cauldron Linn in Twin Falls

Good

  • Ben finished his first year of his Master’s Program! And with it he said, “Everyone should do a Master’s because it goes by so quick!” It really has flown by–he’s half way done 🙂
  • We got to see so much family during our trip! We saw ALL of mine and Ben’s siblings, almost all nieces and nephews (including all 3 of my new nieces!) and a really good amount of cousins, aunts and uncles.
  • Along with seeing so many people, we were able to do so many things. Seriously those three weeks were jam packed! We went hiking, toured a candy factory, visited 3 temples, played at several parks, went shopping, went swimming…the list could go on and on.
  • Well it’s probably chubby of me to say so but one of my favorite things about visiting places I’ve lived is that I can go back to the restaurants I miss! On this trip Ben and I were shamelessly able to return to our favorite food venues, as well as discover new favorites. In case anyone’s curious, we stopped at El Rancho in Rexburg, ID (seriously some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had), Reed’s Dairy in Idaho Falls (hands down my #1 ice cream place ever…which is saying something cause I’ve eaten it all ;), New China Buffet in Twin Falls, ID (this one is more about tradition than it is about killer food but it does have really good Chinese foods and I often find myself craving their crab rangoons), and Don Joaquin Tacos in Springville, UT (taco Tuesdays!). We also went to Leatherby’s Creamery which I had been to once before but it was good to remember just how yummy that place is! Ben loved it too and I think it’s safe to say that it’s permanently on our Must Visit list when we head up North. Another new and delicious discovery was Rowley’s Red Barn in Santaquin, UT, specifically their Apple Cider Slush A La Mode (with vanilla soft serve). It. Was. So. Good. And now you all can judge me because I just wrote a monstrously huge bullet point on FOOD…
  • I felt like our vacay was just what I needed to switch things up and get out of the rut I didn’t know I was in. Before the break my days were pretty standard and, honestly, I was stuck on doing certain things just because I always did those certain things (hello, Show On Netflix That I Don’t Even Care About!). Having three weeks of no real schedule was so refreshing! I think I just needed the reminder do things differently from time to time!
  • I went to Nordstrom Rack with the sisters and got an insane deal on some really nice jeans:)
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Also at Cauldron Linn

Bad

  • We saw so many friends and family we wanted to see but we also had so many friends and family that we DIDN’T get to see.
  • As you can imagine, three weeks of straight vacay has left us verrrrry tired!
  • I never got my Hokulia shaved ice!
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Hiking the Y in Provo, UT. Ben’s first time EVER.

On My Brain

  • While staying with Ben’s mom, we were able to see a couple of really cool log homes. And then with Ben’s sister we went to a few houses in Twin Falls’ Parade of Homes. Both these things got me daydreaming and discussing with Ben the features we hope our home has someday. In all reality, we won’t be in the market to buy a house for like 10 years, but even so, it’s fun to dream (bring on the rotating shoe rack and the secret entrance pantry;)!
  • I’ve been trying to think of things to keep us busy this summer! Ben will still be teaching and working on his thesis but I think he’ll have a lot more free time than normal. Flagstaff is (surprisingly? I don’t know, I don’t really understand it) extremely touristy so lots of the local activities cost money. It’s also not very kid friendly which makes coming up with summer activities pretty difficult. Any ideas?
  • Well, I’m just now thinking that I’m wearing the same shirt in all these pictures even though most of them occurred on different days. I need to go shopping.
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If you can’t beat ’em, Sweetums 😉 Sweet Candy Factory in Salt Lake.

 

Mommy and Me Outfit

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Sometimes I get these wild ideas. And I think they’re really great but lots of the times they are just straight up crazy. This particular wild idea was probably the perfect mix of good idea and insanity (if it’s not a little crazy, where’s the challenge?).

The week before Easter I was doing some internet browsing when I landed on Merrick’s Art blog. I’d been on her site before quite awhile ago and had been impressed with her work, but I’d never done more than just browse. This time I read one of her posts that mentioned she always makes a dress for herself for Easter.

And that’s when the idea came. I hadn’t been planning anything for Easter…but why not make myself a dress? And why not make a matching something for sweet baby Wendy too? And, gosh, if there was leftover fabric, what could I make for Ben?

Mind you, this all happened like the Tuesday before Easter. Ha! So basically I had my work cut out for me!

But I headed to Joann Fabric (people in Flagstaff are not very crafty, so that is our only option 😒 But it has an okay selection and you can always get a coupon) and bought the only fabric that caught my eye.

Of course by the end of the project, the fabric seemed way too bold to be matching all of us but I think that’s just one of the results of staring at the same pattern for hours.

Lots of the times, I feel like I end up spending lots more on sewing my own thing than I would’ve spent just buying something similar from the mall. But in this case, I felt like I got a good deal. I spent about $30 on fabric and other than buying a zipper (about $2) I had everything on hand. So three pieces with about a yard of fabric left over isn’t bad in my opinion.

Anyhow, I figured I’d share where I got my ideas today and then next week I’ll share how I made Wendy’s skirt.

Making myself a dress really was what got me excited about the project. And after doing a little searching, I finally decided on this dress from Merrick’s Art. I did change a couple things-like the fabric, the neckline, and the sleeves.

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Now, that particular blog has some insanely cute ideas BUT you really kind of have to know what you’re doing if you want to make something you see on there. Merrick doesn’t offer patterns and rarely has tutorials, so you’ve gotta at least kind of know your way around a sewing machine. This was my first project like this and so I ended up watching a TON of YouTube videos to kind of help me on my way. I had to look up how to make patterns (this was my favorite video on that), how to make darts (this video seems a little outdated but it’s very thorough), how to sew a neckline and how to sew an invisible zipper (FYI, you don’t need an invisible zipper a foot! A regular zipper foot works just fine!). Ha! Basically, I had no idea what I was doing but I just plowed ahead anyway!

I really like how my dress turned out but I don’t love how it turned out. I think I was afraid that it would end up being too tight (my fabric was slightly stretchy, but not as stretchy as knit would have been). So I got a great fit most everywhere, but I wish the waist had been more form fitting-when all was said and done, it was loose. But you live and you learn and hopefully I’ll get better at fitting garments exactly to me.

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I ended up making a tie for Ben and oh my gosh, you guys it was THE EASIEST THING EVER! Seriously, it hardly took any time at all, turned out great and had Ben asking me to make him some more! I used this tutorial and signed up for Craftsy emails to get the free pattern. This way to make a men’s tie requires NO hand stitching which is a win for me! The only thing I changed, is that on the longer portion of the tie I split it into two pieces (because I’m cheap and didn’t want to waste all that extra fabric). I used some scrap cotton for the lining.

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I went with a skirt for Wendy, which ended up being the right choice for sure because it was Saturday by then and the skirt only took me about an hour to whip out.

Aaaaaaand I only felt a teeny bit ridiculous when we all went to church wearing our matching outfits. But mostly I loved it. It made me think that this might be the start to a new tradition…

Easter might be over for this year, but Mother’s Day is right around the corner and if there’s any day you can sucker your family into matching outfits, that is the one!

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!