Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Delicious Holiday

Hello from the other siiiiiiiide ( and by other siiiiiide, I mean life on Christmas break)

Last year AJ and I started a new tradition to make overnight French toast on Christmas morning. We get Starbucks on Christmas Eve morning, go to Harmon's to buy the ingredients, and then put the dish together listening to holiday tunes. Since last Christmas was our first married Christmas, I was pretty into starting traditions and declared "What we do this year matters because it becomes our 'thing' and we are destined to start our traditions now and carry them on until we're old and gray!" Well, hello reality check, some things we are keeping (like the French toast), but other things we are mixing up. Last year we made a crockpot dinner on Christmas Eve and this year we decided to go out. Last year we went all out on gifts for each other and this year we counting our new house and furnishings as a mutual gift and calling it good. Traditions are fun, but so is flexibility, spontaneity, and making new memories each year. Without further ado....here is the amazing French toast recipe . It's pretty delightful. Do you have any fun Christmas traditions?

photo from the-girl-who-ate-everything.com 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Break Time!

Hi there,
   I am 100% officially on Christmas break! Writing this at noon still in my pajamas (ahem). I truly thought last week would never end..... but we got loads of snow Monday and even a late start time on Tuesday. That was a nice bonus and top it off with a fun dinner out with friends on Thursday and knowing the finish line was thisclose made for a pretty fun and festive week. My class was more wild than usual (didn't think it was possible....it was) and unlike in years past when I shed some tears and wished the kidlets a happy new year, this year I'm pretty sure I burned tire rubber getting out of that parking lot Friday.  This week involves visits with some pals, some fun hang out time with my hubs, some quality gym time to combat the feasts that have/will occur, a family dinner, Christmas Eve church, and then we head to Oregon at the end of the week for Christmas round 2 with the Steeles. Soaking it in and savoring every moment.
Last weekend we went to go look at the "Tree of Life" in Draper with the fam....super pretty! 

finished this book this week, enjoyed it. 

Driving in the snow is on my list of "horrible things," so hubs was a champ and drove me to work Monday and Tuesday 

late start + half caff skinny vanilla latte + papers and plans to organize=a happy Mrs. Steele 

Sis and I went to see this on Saturday. It was cute, not my fave. Have any of you seen it? We kept commenting that the roles seemed reversed. In the movie Tina is the crazy wild selfish sis and it just seemed out of character for her. 

It happened. The first spill in the new place (coffee) and it wasn't done by me. Mr. Homeowner over here grabbed the Spot Shot and attacked that spill with vengeance. I am never letting it go that the first spill was not caused by me. What can I say? I eat with gusto. 

My sister introduced me to this adorable time suck called Neko Atsume. It's a Japanese (obvi) app where you have a yard and little cartoon cats come to visit. You buy things for your cats and take pictures when they arrive. Don't judge me, I'm already judging myself.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rest is Holy

This verse popped up in my journal last week.....I needed to hear it. 
When I was younger the idea of Sabbath was simple....time to rest and not be stressed. The "Sabbath Day" meant, simply, Sunday...a day for church and family. Now though, at 28 years old, the idea of rest, and in particular "Sabbath" has a whole new meaning for me. Genesis 2 speaks of God taking the seventh day of the creation narrative to rest and how He looked upon all that he had made and "saw that it was good." Too often when I look at this passage, I take the standard "yeah, yeah, I need to rest. God, the creator of the universe did, so surely me, a 1st grade teacher and wife can also take the time to rest, maybe even take a bubble bath or a nap. Got it." However, only recently have I begun looking at the second part of what God did: He looked upon it all and "saw that it was good."
God is the ultimate perfectionist, after all, he created a world that runs perfectly, divinely. He created the sun, moon, stars, every creature from a caterpillar that masterfully morphs into a butterfly to flowers that bloom each spring no matter what winter frosts threatened their existence, to us, humans. I'd say that's pretty darn perfect. But aside from what God does (rest), it's also notable what He doesn't do: mess and tinker. Rest and then pop back up into the stressful world come Monday morning. Rest purely for sanity's sake. No, He sits back and admires His handiwork and sees that it is good. Good. Not "okay," not "it'll do," but good.....holy even. I'm not saying what any of us does is perfect or deserving of our consistent admiration or self praise. It is important, though, to reflect and appreciate a job well done. To see how far you have come and be glad, to recognize the goodness.
 On our journey to get closer to the heart of God, let us acknowledge that God commands us not only to stop but to also to stop and smell the roses. Rest is not just a chance for us to rest our weary bodies, minds, and hearts (although rest does do that....isn't it nice and necessary to just "do nothing" sometimes?). Instead rest invites us to pause, look around, and see the good. Only then can we fully and freely rest, knowing He truly has the whole world in His hands. What a fine and cozy place to rest indeed.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


    What a busy whirlwind week it has been! The elementary grades had their Christmas performance Wednesday night so I was at school for a grand total of 13 hours that day. Let's just say I fell into bed when I got home. I really do enjoy teaching during the holidays (teaching is a loose term, "surviving" would also work). The kids all left yesterday and wished me a Merry Christmas. Sorry, little ones, there's still 5 days left. We can do it. 
 There is honestly nothing new to report besides:
-We brought cookies to our new neighbors and felt very "grown up." 

-AJ cooked us a delicious meal this week.. And then he also left me the sweetest love note on the dashboard of my car. He's a keeper. 

-We are really enjoying our new place and are making a list of things we want to do/buy and are tackling it one month at a time. This month we want new bed pillows and a floor lamp for our bedroom. It's been really fun making it our own cozy space. But the trouble is, I was already a home body and now I just am one even more! A Keurig and a K cup assortment, a stack of library books, and I might just become the Boo Radley of Riverton, Utah. I finished "The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto" and it was the first book in a long time where I was genuinely sad it was over. This was a beautiful book (like all Mitch Albom reads). I have my sights set on some reads this holiday season, especially Lena Dunham's book. I know I'm late to the party on the whole Girls thing, but that show is brilliant. I finished all 4 seasons in 2 weeks and love love loved it. 

 I made a new crockpot meal last week that was awesome. Meatball Soup  We bought a Costco sized bag of meatballs and then realized that was probably not necessary for our household of 2. I anticipate many more dinners using these bad boys in the future. 

We had our work Christmas party yesterday.....gotta love a good white elephant. In case you were wondering, I brought a cake pop pan and came home with some Cap'n Crunch Christmas edition cereal. So all in all, winning. The hubby is stirring and I'm trying to convince him to ditch the gym in favor of a brisk walk with me this morning. It's a beautiful day and I'm excited to live it. Happy weekend, friends. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

12 Days of Christmas (Teacher Version)

To all the elementary teachers out there. We are warriors each and every day and I am so thankful there are people like you out there who "get me" and this bright, fun, out of control, hopeful world we inhabit each day. It's their world, we're just living in it. Merry Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas my class gave to me a story about their Elf on the Shelf (I know the names of all these little bastards, and do. not. care. that "Twinkles" turned your cereal milk green).

On the second day of Christmas my class gave to me 2 adorable hand drawn cards (ok, I know I shouldn't keep them all, but look how they spelled "speshal", cuuuuute!)  and a story about the Elf on the Shelf.

On the third day of Christmas my class gave to me 3 Costco pack of Clorox wipes (we can never ever ever have enough), 2 adorable hand drawn cards, and a story about the Elf on the Shelf.

On the fourth day of Christmas my class gave to me 4 arguments about Santa's legitimacy that I had to shut down (Please don't let this be the year a child overhears something in my class that dashes holiday dreams and requires therapy for life), 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand drawn cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the fifth day of Christmas my class gave to me 5 hits of the snooze button (driving to work in the bitter cold darkness when the whole world seems to still be asleep is pure hell), 4 arguments about Santa's legitimacy, 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand drawn cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the sixth day of Christmas my class gave to me 6 gloves on the floor (and a half dozen stuck coat zippers, I do most of my cardio releasing children from the death grip of North Face puffers. Guess you'll have to get married in that one day, kid), 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of Clorox Wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the seventh day of Christmas my class gave to me, 7 great Christmas read alouds (damn you, Polar Express, we BELIEVE!), 6 gloves on the floor, 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the eighth day of Christmas my class gave to me 8 additions to my seasonal mug collection (if you ever need a mug, I'm your girl), 7 great Christmas read alouds, 6 gloves on the floor, 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the ninth day of Christmas my class gave to me 9 beaming parents in the front row of the Christmas show (I love to see the amount of curls and hairspray involved that night), 8 additions to my seasonal mug collection, 7 great Christmas read alouds, 6 gloves on the floor, 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the tenth day of Christmas my class gave to me 10 barking coughs (in a 2 minute period, like I legit think a lung might end up on the floor. Please keep your child home. Thanks), 9 beaming parents, 8 additions to my seasonal mug collection, 7 great Christmas read alouds, 6 gloves on the floor, 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards and a story about the Elf on the Shelf.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my class gave to me 11 kids that say "see you next year" on the last teaching day of 2015 and think it's the funniest most clever thing ever and that no one's ever heard it before. 10 barking coughs, 9 beaming parents, 8 additions to my seasonal mug collection, 7 great Christmas read alouds, 6 gloves on the floor, 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of Clorox wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my class gave to me over 12 days off from a job that makes me laugh (and cry, and stress, but mostly laugh, because it's crazy but I love these little people so much), 11 kids that say "see you next year", 10 barking coughs, 9 beaming parents, 8 additions to my seasonal mug collection, 7 great Christmas read alouds, 6 gloves on the floor, 5 hits of the snooze button, 4 Santa arguments, 3 Costco packs of wipes, 2 adorable hand made cards, and a story about Elf on the Shelf!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's December

Hi There,
   It’s the 4th and I am just getting around to doing monthly goals. In the words of my favorite feline, Pete the Cat, it’s alllll good. What was on my radar in November?

  1. Finish all Christmas shopping! Accomplished! And wrapped! I know there will be a few last minute things and there and that’s ok. Since we’re in an actual neighborhood now should I plan on neighbor gifts? If you are not from Utah then you are truly missing out on some glorious puns. Here’s an old Desert News article if you need some examples of typical Utah neighbor gifts. This is real, people, and happens every holiday season. The further South of downtown you are, the more likely you are to experience this phenomenon.

  1. Read 2 more books. Slacker alert! I am pages away from being done with “Sister Season.” It’s good, sort of slow. I got some awesome new reads at the library and can’t wait to dive in.

  1. Move into our new house!! Done! And it feels so good.

  1. Declutter. Done. My closet it a bit emptier but it feels good to clean things out. And that just means I need to hit up Tar-jay come spring. Cardigans and printed flats, come to me.

  1. Get back into my YouVersion Bible studies. I am working through this great Advent one now called “Waiting Here for You.” Each day features a different hymn, a prayer, a devotion, and a passage, it’s a good one.

     6. Workout outside on days that it’s nice. Yeah, I did try this one. I will opt for the outside if the       sun is out. If not, it’s 30 minutes on the treadmill watching Food Network or HDTV.

     7. Let people know I appreciate them. I sure hope I did this. Looking for the grateful is not just a November thing and I’m trying to weave it into daily life. This one is never fully “accomplished,” just worked on day by day.

December Goals…..are you ready…..really???


Simple: Enjoy the season with family and friends, give with an attitude of gratitude, enjoy our December trip to Oregon and try not to gain ten pounds on staff room goodies and appetizers. Nothing huge or itemized, but that’s not the point now is it? Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It comes every year....

Christmas? Bing Crosby on the radio? Salvation Army bell ringers? Ribbons and trees? Yes, yes, yes, and yes, but also.....kid germies. They are real and when the weather gets cold they strike with a vengeance. I am home sick today with pink eye. Gross, I know. My eye was bloodshot and watery on Monday and I was in denial that it was anything serious. I had a classic Leslie "I don't have time for this" moment. But you know what? I need to take care of myself and dragged myself to Instacare this morning. Yep, it was conjunctivitis. The good news is, I don't feel bad, so I watched approximately a dozen episodes of Girls (yes, after being told by nearly all my friends that I need to watch it, I finally did and am loving it), filled my prescription at Target (and had a damn good time browsing while I waited for it), and finished my Christmas wrapping. I hate being away from school....yes because I love the kids but also because I'm neurotic about my classroom tidiness and it typically looks a tornado hit when I'm not there to bark orders to that "no one's leaving until you each pick up 20 scraps off the floor!!!!!" Other than that, this week has been pretty chill and I have hair and nail appointments scheduled for Saturday and honestly can't wait. I've been listening to Mitch Albom's new book "The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto" in the car and am enjoying it. It's a liiiitle hard for me to concentrate while driving, but hopefully I'll get used to it because what a sweet way to "read" more good books. And I need to keep my hearing in tip top shape, you know, if my eye goes out.

PS) It's Britney's birthday today. Let's all have a cupcake and/or cocktail to celebrate!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving Week & Our New Home

I think everyone was looking forward to the holiday break! You know that tired where you think to yourself: I'm not sure I can go on another day without an epic nap, an enormous glass of wine, a sweat sesh in the gym with Adele blasting or all 3? Yeah, that. Wednesday morning we slept in (ohhh yeah!) and then headed out for some errands. We went to breakfast at the always delicious Penny Ann's Cafe and to a few other places. We ended up seeing an afternoon movie at the redone theater close by with reclining seats. I know a few other theaters in the valley are doing this but I had never been to one. It was delightful! We saw the Julia Roberts movie "The Secret in Their Eyes." It was ok, not awful, but more of a "dollar movie." Speaking of movies, we went crazy setting up recordings on the DVR of new movies because we get HBO now. Well, Wednesday evening we settled in to watch one, and the TV wouldn't work. Neither would the internet. WHAT?!? We called Comcast and they said the next available appointment would be Saturday morning. Boooo. But guess what? We called the number for the Comcast guy who installed it for us and he came right over on Friday. 3 hours of fruitless attempts at fixing it, he discovers this weird little cable plug in the closet that had come undone (probably when I tossed a broom in the closet). Problem solved. Adventures of the first week in a new home, I suppose.
  Thanksgiving morning we headed straight to our old house and cleaned it up. I mean deep clean. Like "please give us back our security deposit" clean. We brought home a few miscellaneous things we had over there and then came home to relax and get ready to go to my family's house for the big feast. I am so thankful that my mom said since we had just moved not to worry about bringing a side. We did bring Chex Mix, though, because it's a Steele family tradition. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, and celebrated being thankful and together. Libby (my sister) and I had the itch to do some Black Friday shopping. Nothing major like waiting in line or shoving people over (the fact that stuff like that happens makes me so angry) but just to go out and see what was happening. We brought our dad and AJ along for the ride. ALL of Old Navy has half off so I scored some good things there. Target was pretty crowded and picked over. We weren't going full on Black Friday so we were home by 11:00. Friday I hit the town to find some deals at Hobby Lobby, Walmart, back to Target, then I did the bravest thing I've ever done: went to Costco on Black Friday. It was nutty but AJ was at home so I felt free to browse every aisle and try every sample (God love my husband, but the thing he hates more than shopping is browsing. It happens to be my specialty).
Today we are having my fam over to show Libby our new place and tomorrow is going to involve wrapping my head around the fact that there are three weeks of school until Christmas break. It'll be a whirlwind, but bring. it. on.

Here are some house pics for your viewing pleasure. There are definitely more things we want to add like curtains, more things to hang, but this is the jist. We are really enjoying it.

I love that cool blue accent wall 

Our wonderful realtor got us this the day we closed :) 

Carrie Underwood, AMA's, natch 

I saw this in Quilted Bear and just loved it for our bedroom! 

I love using this little tray instead of a coffee table. The best part is we can move it around or away even if we have people over. 

This room has all of AJ's Oregon State stuff in it and the bench from our wedding, books, luggage, kind of a catch all room 

guest room. We've dubbed it "Purple Rain." One of these days we'll repaint that. I do like it more than I thought I would. 

guest room

master bedroom 

front hall 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The word "thankful" doesn't even begin to cover it. Let's flash back to Thanksgiving week 2009. I was drowning in grad school work and trying to get the hang of teaching. I had about 9 roommates in an old convent on Chicago's south side where I lived with other teachers in my grad program. There was a lot going on and I lot of adjustments I had made in the few months since I had graduated from Gonzaga. The very day I was going to fly home to Utah for Thanksgiving, my car got broken into at my house (it was broken into just 3 weeks prior at school. There they stole my GPS. This time it was my stereo). I called work in a panic, hoping to make it in time for our Thanksgiving feast I had planned with my class. I drove to the other side of town in the snow and got my shattered window replaced and made it to school just in time for the feast and made my flight that afternoon. I distinctly remember exhaling with gratitude as the plane took off...leaving the craziness behind and going home. Life is not as chaotic now as it was then. There's still to do lists and the stresses of life, but holidays used to make me anxious. Anyone who has lived away from home might know what I mean. It's like you have two lives and you return home to your old high school bedroom for short bursts and get comfortable and cozy and before you know it, time speeds up and you're on the plane headed back to your "other life," whether it be at college or for your life that you've established not near home. There was so much to pack in and do and experience while you were "home" and there was pressure for it to feel perfect and just right. Nah, not anymore. I realize this sounds cheeseball, but once you adopt a life of gratitude, Thanksgiving isn't merely a day to celebrate all you're thankful for, it's a day to celebrate that you HAVE been giving thanks for a whole year and are about to embark on that journey again. It's not a meal, or Black Friday shopping, a beautifully decorated table, or even a trip home, away from the stresses of "normal" life. Thanksgiving is a way of life. And oh yes, I am thankful beyond measure for my husband, my family, our new house (!), my job teaching, health, freedom, friends, and love. But I'm also thankful for the hard times, the stressful times, the less than perfect times. Those times make the 2015 Leslie even more thankful and joyful. Let's raise our glasses to another year in the business of gratitude and for the realization that life is so very sweet when we pause and say thanks.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

We are HOME

Hello There,

   Sorry for the week long blog hiatus, but we were moving all our earthly possessions about 6 miles down the road. And I never knew how many infinity scarves I owned. Or spatulas. Or pens. Ya'll, it was a lot. But, we are officially here and way more settled than I could have imagined since I woke up in a different zip code yesterday. Friday I left school right when the kids did (but had to take a half day since we had meetings....don't even ask me how I annoyed I was by that) and met my mom at the new place. She was helping to keep me company and unpack a few things while the Ikea guys set up our bedroom furniture. I could not believe all the tiny pieces. It took 3 professional men 4 hours, which, when calculated  to "Leslie and AJ doing it ourselves time" works out to approximately 43 years. Thank the Lord for people who can do things like that. Saturday we were up and at 'em early and AJ and his pal got all of the big pieces in the Uhaul and in our new place by 11:30. Oh yeah. I was the official door holder. I got out of doing most of the heavy lifting so it was already shaping up to be an excellent day at that point. My fam came over in the afternoon and my dad and AJ hung stuff on the walls and my mom was having a blast cleaning and helping me nest. Comcast arrived right on schedule (because what's a new home without a full DVR, amiright?) and then when we all had enough, we went to dinner, did a quick Walmart run, and ended the night with Patti Labelle sweet potato pie because I have watched this video about 5698 times and anything this guy is advertising, I need. Basically.

I will be sure to post pics soon, but in the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy my vanilla latte, make a massive grocery list, and wait for our washer and dryer to be delivered this morning. It feels good to be home.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why I'd Make a Horrible Kardashian

I'm not ashamed....I love Keeping Up With The Kardashians (and the other shows in the franchise: NY, Miami, Hamptons). I was thinking while watching Sunday's episode that I would not make the best Kardashian sister.

 Here's why:

1. All they do is eat salads. Let's get some variety up in here. I love a good salad, but take out containers of fancy salads are not my "go to" meal choice.

2. They need full "glam squad" to go anywhere. I love doing makeup and hair, but let's be real folks: most days it's a swipe of eye makeup, dab o' bronzer, and some mascara and lipgloss. 3 minutes and done. Ain't nobody got time for full glam every day.
3. They have drama. All the time. I cannot handle the issues, fighting, tension. Ewww.

4. I don't have a driver. Or a black escalade. I roll in my 2011 Corolla, what what.
5. They are hounded by photographers wherever they go. I enjoy my anonymity. Well, almost anonymity, sometimes I hear "HI Mrs. Steele!!!!!" from across the grocery store parking lot.
6. The fashion choices of all black and white all the time. I like color. And lots of it.
7. Their mom is Kris Jenner. Praise the good Lord that my mom is nothing like "Mom-a-ger" Kris.
8. Kanye at family gatherings. Uhhhh no thanks. Can you imagine his thankful list around the holiday table? Me, Me, Kim, North, and well, me!

9. I don't need to obsessively tweet, facebook, and insta. And when I do, it's not broadcast on E! immediately.
10. Have you ever noticed their cookie jars that are meticulously organized? Insane, I tell you! I guess the perfect symmetry and balance keeps them from eating any?

Yep, it's official. Keeping up with The Steeles is WAY more fun than keeping up with the Kardashian clan any day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Nothing much over here.....

Hi Folks! Happy Veteran's Day! You know one of the millions of reasons why I love social media is that it really brings people together to rally around things like holidays and good news (NOT drama over red cups because ya'll? Quit being offended over every damn thing. Ahem). My newsfeed was filled with flags and appreciation today, love it!  So thankful for our armed forces AND their families. Our school did a flag retirement ceremony today and it was really neat to see. I experienced one when I was in high school and attended Girls State at Southern Utah University (anyone else out there do Girls State? I LOVED it....it's a week long patriotic/political camp type thing for high school girls).

   In other news it snowed here for the first time this week. Luckily none really stuck in the valleys and as long as the white stuff doesn't affect my commute, I'm good. Despite the snow, hubs currently has burgers on the grill and I'm in terry cloth shorts, so obviously we're in a summer state of mind here at the Steele homestead.

      In house news we closed on our new place Monday!! This weekend will involve some car loads, furniture store, and showing the new digs to my family. I can't even express how great it feels that we have our current townhome until the end of December.....lots to do but luckily plenty of time to do it in.
  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to research washers and dryers online because somewhere along the way I  guess I became a real live grown up.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What I'm Loving Lately

Let's just jump right in, here are some things I've been loving lately!

1. This book, aptly titled, "This is a Book." Guys, I'm pretty sure I've never laughed so hard in my entire life. We saw Demitri Martin live a while back and his humor is offbeat, dry, smart, and hilarious. The book is even better. I read aloud parts to AJ, tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. and he replied, "eh, book's kinda weird." What?!? It is weird, but also wonderful. Pick up this book. Maybe you won't think it's funny, and if so, I will reevaluate our friendship. JK...kinda.

2. I made a new recipe last week! This was so easy and so yummy. The sweet potatoes made it healthier than regular mashed potatoes, but we both agreed regular potatoes might have worked better. Making that substitution and adding this to our regular meal rotation this winter.

3. Fall Colors. I mean, they are vibrant this year and so completely gorgeous. It's nature's way of making it up to us for becoming pitch dark at 5:30 pm. Seeing the beautiful colors pop on the mountainside take my breath away.

4. Decluttering. Oh goodness. We are making headway in the moving process and there is something cathartic about tossing away old crap taking up room, am I right? In the midst of cleaning this week, I did uncover some gems like my CD case from high school. I had a thing for Celine Dion and the NOW collection, apparently. We found AJ's too...remember OAR? I did find my DVD of the Notebook so obviously I know what I'll be doing Sunday afternoon. But shirts that haven't been worn in years and printer manuals from 2005? Peace out, trout.

5. Yoga for kids. Ok, so I may not have taken my yoga mat to a class in oh, about 2 years, but I do like incorporating yoga into my classroom. I discovered this youtube series called "Cosmic Kids Yoga." Each session is about 20 minutes, is taught by this adorable Brit, and features a fun story that involves yoga moves and breathing. I came across a new book too, that is just so lovely and cute, I want it for myself and not just my classroom. It's called "I am Yoga." Kids (like all of us!) need some lessons in how to just be. Quieting the body and the mind is a lost art and my kids love it. Makes me want to get back on the mat myself.

6. A fresh mani: There's just nothing like it.

Happy weekend, readers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Family Visit

I sat down to write this post and realized I didn't take a single picture this weekend. Not a one. Lame, huh? Oh well, I suppose that's because we were having too much fun. AJ's mom and dad came to visit last Thursday night. They were already at our place when we got home from school and we ate an early dinner together (crockpot Italian beef, oh yeah) so I could head back to school for Math Night. Normally I wouldn't be too bummed out about evening things for school but with family in town and a cold rainy night, I grumbled off to school but was actually pleased to see so many families there. Friday was the school Halloween party and carnival. I was a.........HOT DOG! I was all set to make something cute and homemade and then once at the store to gather supplies, I came across the hot dog suit and thought "This is it." (not sure how many people utter those words upon seeing an enormous foam hot dog suit, but alas). AJ, his mom and his dad stopped by the classroom and read some spooky cute stories to the kids and AJ's mom even made them cute holiday party bags. It was fun for the kids to see TWO Mr. Steeles and TWO Mrs. Steeles in the same room. They got a kick out of that.

Saturday AJ was thrilled to have someone around who not only watched sports with him, but actually understood them. Yay for another guy in the house! So while the men watched sports and went to the University of Utah vs. Oregon State game, AJ's mom and I hit the stores! With a new house on the horizon, we felt we just had to make a visit to RC Willey and Ikea. Oh, friends. We found the cutest stuff. We didn't buy furniture or anything but got new bedding (getting a KIIIIIING) and things and I can't wait to set up the new place. We then hit up the mall and some other stores and ended our day of retail with a delicious meal at Market Street. We pretty much forgot it was Halloween and didn't get home till 8:30 ish. When the doorbell rang, we answered thinking it was the guys home from the game and it was trick or treaters. YIKES! I purposely didn't buy any candy (remember no treats after dinner?) so I had nothing to give them. Uhhh, cereal? I have some cough drops? A few dimes on the counter? Dried fruit? I sent the children away empty-handed and was pretty sure I'd have my elementary teaching license revoked for such a sin. I will never be caught without Halloween candy again. I'll just be sure to buy something I won't eat if they're around like Smarties because #ewww.

Sunday we took a really nice long walk along the Porter Rockwell trail. Later that evening we went to my family's house for dinner. I am so thankful my family loves AJ's family and vice versa. We had a nice evening together.

Monday I headed to work and those lucky ducks took the day off. Luckily, my mother in law is the best and made a great dinner for us, and did some miscellaneous things around the house. Yipppee! The Steeles hit the road Tuesday morning and we were sad to see them go. However, we are super excited to visit Oregon this Christmas season. Another great get together for the books. We sure are lucky.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Nov. Goals

Ummm, how is it November 2nd already?!? Starbucks has their red cups, I am extremely tempted to put on some holiday Josh Groban, and I busted out my boots today. What is this madness? Well, I promised to revisit my October goals and that’s what I’m doing….plus making some new ones!

What were my ambitions in October?
  1. No eating after dinner. Ok, so this one hasn’t been perfect, but for the most part, we are still doing it. My grocery cart is missing dark chocolate kisses and gummy bears, and we haven’t done a late night Culver’s run since the summer. Yay! I have cheated with family dinners, when the MIL made us delicious brownies, etc., but I’m not going to be militant about it.
  2. Read at least 2 books. Done! I read The Little Couple’s book, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, and have about 10 pages left in “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.”
  3. Visit a pumpkin patch! Done! We did a regular ol’ patch this season and skipped the mania of Cornbelly’s and I’m just fine with that.
  4. Try something new in the crockpot. Lasagna soup was a winner and it’s on the menu for the next time we have my fam over for dinner.
  5. Work out 5 days a week: ummmm, crickets. Ok, so October got busy and this goal straight up didn’t happen. I’d say 3 times a week was more my flow and that’s ok.
  6. Let the house thing unfold as it should: well, ummm, we bought. a. house. and are closing this month. AHHHHHHHH!!!!  We love it and are thrilled so, yeah, I’d say accomplished!
  7. Modge Podge our dresser: well, that baby is on its way to Craig’s List. No use bringing something we don’t really like into our new house. Especially when Ikea has cute dressers for not too much green.
  8. Reach out to seasoned bloggers: Eh. Didn’t do this one as much as I would have liked. I tried to write a few more comments on pages of bloggers I enjoy and set up a Blog Lovin’ profile. This is an on-going goal.

Ok, seeeee ya October. Time for November goals!

  1. Finish all Christmas shopping. We only have about 3 more people on our list to buy for and I’d like to be all done shopping by December 1st.
  2. Read 2 more books.
  3. Move into our new house!! Moving can be stressful (duh!) and I am thankful for a few extra days off this month (Thanksgiving makes me thankful) to finish packing our home and settle into our new one.
  4. Declutter. Moving is the PERFECT reason to do this. I have too much stuff. Time to simplify. We have some larger items on KSL and Craig’s list and are hoping to sell it.
  5. Get back into my YouVersion Bible studies. If you haven’t heard of YouVersion, it’s a Bible app (that’s free!) that has all kinds of different bible studies on all different topics. I was really into it last spring and I’ve sort of gotten out of using it. I want to search for a plan that’s really interesting to me and dive in this month.
  6. Workout outside on days that it’s nice. There’s just something special about a brisk walk on a cool fall day. I know once snow and ice hit (#eww) I’ll be stuck in the gym so I want to workout outside as much as I can for as long as I can.
  7. Let people know I appreciate them. Whether it’s a friendly co-worker, a parent who is always willing to help in the classroom, my better half AJ, or my fabulous friends, I want to spread the grateful this holiday season.
  8. Revisit these goals in December and see how I did!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

My fabulous famous friend

I first met Taylor my freshman year at Gonzaga. My pal Ann and I had decided to be roommates and saw Taylor’s name on a list of girls who were also going to be in our “suite” in our dorm, Dillon. “Isn’t that the girl who always has cute clothes and plays violin at Mass at St. Al’s?” Ann asked me. Yes it was! We met with Taylor and her roommate and bestie, also named Leslie, a few times before we moved into our suite as sophomores. I know everyone thinks they had the best roommates and their suite was the best, but no, really, ours was.
Our college family, sophomore year 
There was me, my creative and kind roomie Ann, there was Marjie, a music education major who was from Spokane and is to this day, one of the funniest, most outrageous people I know, Rachael, an adorable freshman who was cooler than any of us sophomores would ever be. Did I mention she has a heart of gold? Then there was Taylor and Leslie in the last room. Those girls….it’s rare to find friends that are both completely caring and supportive, but also hilarious and silly and fun. Some of my best memories are in that suite with those wild and wonderful women. We baked a lot of cookies, had many late night movie parties, decked out our living spaces for the holidays and even brought a cardboard baby into our suite to make it more home-y. We named him Ishtar….a name that popped up when one of us was studying for a test. There was so much laughter and joy and life in that space. 

High School Musical Party 
Through it all, Taylor continued to practice and perfect her music abilities. She played the violin and also bought a keyboard that year. We’d have fun playing around with the sound effects on it and listening to her practice. I continued to live with Taylor and Leslie all through senior year. Taylor continued playing violin at Mass and also taught violin lessons. It was a fun outing for our friend group when Taylor and our honorary housemate, Trevor (the tallest guy you will ever meet, also with the driest sense of humor out there. We joked he was the mascot of our girly house) would have performances in downtown Spokane. We’d get dressed up and watch them perform with the symphony and go out to eat at The Onion afterward, in our fancy clothes, noshing on onion rings till late at night. After graduation, Taylor and I continued to keep in touch.

Girls trip to Orlando, spring break 2009 
Her wedding in 2011 was an amazing chance to celebrate her marriage to her long time soulmate  (and I mean long time, like “together since they were 14” long time) Jarred, and also to get the whole gang back together again. It was like no time had passed. One weekend when I was living in Chicago, she was in town visiting and she told me “Work is going ok, but my real passion is music. I wish I could make that my career.” So, on the side, while working for a non-profit, Taylor launched a youtube channel where she played her violin and was able to have her music reach other musicians and those that enjoyed her playing. Wellll…...over the past 5 or so years, I have followed her career and she achieved her dream: Music is her career. She recently achieved the milestone of over 1 million followers on her Youtube channel. Taylor has found a real niche in playing beautifully classical songs but also movie scores, songs from video games, and even pop songs. She shoots these gorgeous videos shot in amazing places. She just finished a US tour and is embarking on a world tour now. This woman is incredible. A few weeks ago, AJ and my family attended her performance here in Salt Lake City. It was spectacular.

Tay's rehearsal dinner, 2011
Taylor, I am so proud of you. I am so thrilled that you took a leap of faith, followed your dreams, and are filling this world (and the Internet) with gorgeous, amazing music. You have no idea how many people your music touches and inspires. But to me, she’s still that giggling 19 year old practicing crazy songs on the violin in her pajamas while we all laughed until the kitchen timer went off and we ate cookies and talked about life till 3 am. Could we ever have imagined?

Check our Taylor's YouTiube channel here