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'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