Friday, September 30, 2016

September Wrap Up

This week we have parent-teacher conferences so I was determined to add to the ol' blog before the insanity began but I did not haha, I also didn't make the bed once this week so hey, whatevs, right? I honestly don't mind conferences much, I like touching base with parents and the bonus day off helps offset the 12+ hour days. It also reveals exactly why kids are the way they are. Enlightening, to say the least. 

On the home front, we finally finished this little corner of our living room and I love it! We use this space for AJ's school books, cookbooks, our Shutterfly books, and random crafting and wrapping stuff. We got these cheapo Target shelves when we moved in together and I decided it was high time to "adult-ify" our space. I've been hunting for a furniture piece for the space on KSL for the past month or so, but to no avail. I saw a commercial for Wayfair and decided to check it out. A good deal and a great selection and when we found out the piece came already put together? Done and done. We found the shelf at Quilted Bear, along with the fabric pumpkins. The lamp is from my new fave store: At Home. The base is a refillable jar. I have visions of sparkly ornament balls this winter and cutely decorated Easter eggs this spring. I really enjoy being a homeowner and have my heart set on a few other projects this year. Shout out to the hubby for indulging in my Pinterest dreams and Joanna Gaines fantasies. 
before & after 

We are coming up on 4 months from Hadley's birth. It's odd but I feel like it's almost getting harder? There was a time when I'd remark, "I'd still be pregnant" and it helped in the early weeks when it all felt surreal. But now, she'd totally be here, stealing hearts, and being an actual growing little girl. That hurts. We just miss her so much. We are surviving, back at work, being social, having fun together, and overall enjoying life, but it's not the same. Nothing will ever be the same. I never ever want this experience to make me hardened to life, bitter and angry, but it feels sort of like falling off a cliff and having reality smack you right in the face. I've felt life's deepest hurt and can testify that loss of a child, feeling your child take their last breath in your arms, strips your heart raw. Thank God for grace, hope, peace, and the loving spirits of others. You can't go through something like this and come out the same. Life is precious, folks. I never ever knew just how much. We chatted with our doctor this week and she reminded us that the day she delivers baby #2 will be such a joyous day. We trust God and anxiously await that beautiful, glorious day. In the meantime, we know Hads is up there searching for the perfect sibling. We know you'll pick a good one, sweet girl.
 found this postcard in Boise and was like hello #mylife
Isn't she pretty?! 
Ok, lighter topic: I joined a Boot Camp gym and guys? I'm loving it! I was spending an hour or so in the gym with little results and decided that watching TV while gliding on the elliptical or walking on the treadmill (while great things in and of themselves!) wasn't really pushing my body into the next level. I attended 3 free trial classes and then signed up this week and went to 3 more!  It's fast paced, super challenging, cardio and weights. The days are divided by "upper body" or "low body" classes. I feel like I can tone my legs alright on my own...I am digging the upper body classes, though. I finally feel like I'm using muscles I didn't know existed and really pushing myself. It's amazing what you can accomplish with a super buff trainer yelling at you to "give me 5 more!" My goal this month is to not have these super charged workouts being an excuse for extra naughty eating. I'll keep you posted!

I'm reading this cute light read this week and bought this angel book from our school's book fair. I can't wait to dive in.

It was so nice having today off! I cleaned a bit, got a mani, and tackled my long to do/errand list. (Also? I attempted a coconut oil hair mask. I did have to wash my hair three times to get it all out, haha, but now my hair is soft and smooth. Definitely not an every week thing, but maybe once a month?). I'm going to bake these Banana Nutella Cookies this evening, too. Yum! We have a fun October filled with a Walk of Remembrance, Fall Break, a visit from the in laws, and all variety of fall-ish fun. Raise your PSL and put on a cute plaid scarf and have a great weekend, readers! Also, check back Sunday, I'll have a guest post you won't want to miss!! 

Thursday, September 22, 2016


I know we've all heard of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). If you haven't heard of it, you probably have a case of FOMO right now! In this age of social media and play by plays on other people's days (guilty as charged), it's easy to feel like you're not having as much fun as the next guy. It's no secret that being envious of the shiny (albeit, staged) lives of others isn't exactly mentally healthy, we can use it to inspire us to get out more, see more, do more, play more, experience more (My sister even wrote about this very topic this week). I present you with GOMO: Get Out More Often. 

When tragedy stuck this summer, many an afternoon I would look at AJ and say in desperation: "We have got to get out of here." We went on looong walks everyday and many many many long drives too. Getting out is good for our souls. Even if it's just to the Pop Shop down the street for a sugar cookie and lime diet coke. In college I would grow restless studying at home and the campus student center, Crosby, became my home away from home. The baristas at my neighborhood Starbucks in Chicago had a small farewell for me the morning I moved away. All this to say, getting out, being out, sipping, savoring, socializing is good for us. We need it!  In the era of "Netflix and Chill" (however you decide to define the latter in that phrase), let's all GOMO. Banish FOMO from your vocabulary and get out there, girlfriend! 

   Here are some items on our/my Bucket List this year. There's no pressure to hit all, or even most of the items on the list. After all, GOMO should not feel like a chore. GOMO also doesn't have to cost a lot of money or involve elaborate plans. Sometimes we like to go for FroYo and listen to a free local band play. Easy peasy and it's a date night under $7 (well, $8 if I get nuts or berries, that stuff ain't light). 

-Get a spa facial 
-Downtown Farmer's Market
-The Leonardo Museum 
-Hike Mt. Timpanogos
-Try a new restaurant dinner
-Try a new restaurant brunch
-Stay the night in Park City
-Try a new workout class
-Visit a new coffee shop
-Go to Top Golf
-Go to a play or concert
-Drive the canyons in the fall
-Take a cooking class
-Go to a Jazz game

What are some things you want to get out and do?

Here's the thing, though. While wandering aimlessly could lead you to stumble onto some cool stuff (wandering aimlessly was pretty much AJ and I all last summer), sometimes you have to do some research to actually GOMO. That's where the awesome site Eventbrite comes in. I just recently heard of this site and you can plug in your city and see tons of cool events and activities coming up. If you are really ambitious and hosting your own event, Eventbrite's Event Management Page  can help you with that too. There's tons of free events to choose from (holla!) AND you can use the Eventbrite site to research fun stuff in a new city when vacationing. Check out what's happening in and around SLC here. So it's time to Get Out More Often! I promise Netflix will be there when you return. 

Share your GOMO ideas in the comments! I can't wait to read your plans! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Weekday Apple Cinnamon French Toast

It tastes better than it looks, promise! 

I titled this "Weekday Apple Cinnamon French Toast" because it's so easy, fast, and nutritious, you can totally make it on a weekday. This is certainly not something I'd make every day, but once a week or so is do-able. This recipe is a modified version of one found in "The 20/20 Diet."
The cast of characters:

The apple prep ingredents
1 apple
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 egg
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 tbs pistachios

Now, even though this is a weekday recipe, I did prep the apple topping the night before. While I was working on dinner, I chopped up an apple and sauteed it in the melted coconut oil. I figure if I'm already working in the kitchen on dinner, might as well get a head start on breakfast. I added cinnamon to taste (I like lots) and let the apple cook for about 5 minutes until it gets pretty soft. Remember to stir frequently to keep your apples from getting burned. At this point your house smells divine.I put the mix in a container ready for the next day.

In the morning, simply crack an egg and add a small bit of vanilla. Soak a piece of whole wheat bread in the egg for a bit and then put in a pan on the stovetop (I used a little Pam to keep it from sticking). I cooked for a few minutes on each side and while that did its thing, I microwaved my apples that I prepped earlier. When your french toast is done, top with your apples and a sprinkling of pistachios. DELISH! 

You're getting great flavor, a whole grain, protein from the nuts and egg, and an apple, too! I have tried some delicious variations with a dollop of Greek yogurt, some berries, granola, or other nuts like walnuts or pecans. If I was making this on the weekend, I might make two slices or even add some peanut butter or nutella to make it extra decadent. How yum would some pumpkin be too? OR you could ditch the french toast all together and put your apples on yogurt or oatmeal!  The possibilities are limitless. I love love this easy peasy delicious breakfast. Give it a try! 

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Hello There,
    Did you know I had "blog" on my to do list since Wednesday, and here I am, Sunday working on it? Oh well, I never ever want the blog to feel like a job and so you know what? It's my zone and my rules! We've had a lazy/fun weekend around here that included: cleaning, breakfast at Penny Ann's for some Heavenly Hotcakes, meal prepping, getting my hair cut, running errands, catching up on shows, and we are planning on a pretty walk/hike this afternoon. Productive/restful/fun....recipe for weekend joy.
I found these adorable squirrel socks at Old Navy. Just some fun for my feet. 
So what else is up? We went to Fred Meyer Jewelry this weekend to get our wedding rings cleaned and on a whim, I decided to design a necklace for my Hadley girl. It's super cute and will be engraved with some special words and includes her birthstone too (a pearl, of course!). It's real silver which is nice so I can have it/wear it forever. I can't wait for it to arrive.

went for a dark mani color this week. Loving it! 
Dr. Phil this week featured Burke Ramsey (brother to Jon Benet Ramsey) and a few weeks ago Dateline had a special on Jon Benet AND there was an A&E special about the case too. Needless to say, I'm obsessed and can't stop theorizing about this cold case. True Crime is my jam. I am so torn about this case but I believe she was injured in an accident that night and mom, dad, and brother, covered it up. But then again, I'm not sure! Any interesting theories out there??

I am having a great year teaching so far and enjoying my class. I am prepping and planning for Apple Day and Pumpkin Day and wondering how we're coming up on Parent/Teacher conferences so soon?! Last week I said a quick prayer that I want to know I'm making a difference, that the work I put in matters and makes the kids' lives just a tad brighter. Well. On Thursday afternoon, I got an email from a former student who is now in 4th grade. She and I have written back and forth a few times since then. She says she wants to be a 1st grade teacher too. Heart explosion! I think I'll call that an answered prayer! What she didn't email about was data, scores, proficiency, or standards. Nope, she wrote about loving school and enjoying to read. Oh teachers, I know we get bogged down in all we're expected to do. All the buzzwords and testing matters, yes, but not more than human connection. Never more than that.

I've been brainstorming Halloween costume ideas and have a few in mind! Speaking of Halloween, I get the feeling that our neighborhood will have lots of trick or treaters. I went to buy some candy this weekend for it, but then stopped: Do I really want that in my house for over a month?! The Twix went back on the shelf until a much, much later date. Speaking of food, we majorly meal prepped this morning. Lunches are: Italian chicken pitas and roasted veggie salads. Dinners are sundried tomato and spinach chicken, veggie/rice stir fry, and something else but that's all I prepped for today. Love having it done and ready by Sunday afternoon. I am not losing weight as rapidly as I did last month (boo) so I'm focusing on my workouts this week and mixing up what I do. I am re-reading Dr. Phil's "20/20 Diet" to learn more and get reinspired. We are about 8 weeks into our "lifestyle change" (not diet!) and we are feeling pretty good. I am drinking SO much water (I aim for 6-8 huge water bottles full per day) and can tell that makes a difference. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
after meal preps, our kitchen is a war zone! 

We bought a new furniture piece for our house last week online and once it arrives, I'm planning on adding some finishing touches and I'll be sure to post pics once we "make over" that small corner of our living room.

I found this on Pinterest and immediately sent it to my new Angel Momma friend. Yes, yes, yes. Have a happy week, readers! (I was going to write more, but it occurred to me I mentioned Dr. Phil TWICE in one post, so safe to say, I'm gonna be done for the day, amiright?) (one closed eye/tongue out emoji).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fall Family Fun Day Reimagined

Even before I saw the 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test in December, I knew I wanted to be a family with neat traditions. I wanted to make beautiful memories with my family and create fun and joyful moments each and everyday. I still feel that way. I might not have Hadley anymore, but I can try and be that type of person as a wife to AJ and as a teacher to my 26 kids. I had a wonderful childhood and my family created those types of memories for me. My mom even left me a scavenger hunt with a prize at the end when she visited me in college. I was 20 years old!  Jen Hatmaker writes in her book For the Love that she wants her children to look back on their "family years" and remark, "That was SO MUCH fun." #goals (hashtag added my me). 

One of the things I was most excited about was "Fall Family Day." I knew the day would morph and change as our family grew and changed. Pumpkin patch visits, hayrides, and apple picking would morph into checking Hadley out of school on some random afternoon in the fall and having an entire day of "fall fun": pumpkin picking/carving, maybe buy some scarves and/or boots as she got older, and of course, my idea of a perfect fall day has to include Starbucks. I vowed when I was pregnant that every year I would have my first Pumpkin Spice latte of the season with Hadley. Not on my way to work, not a quick drive through for it, but with her, in the store, savoring each other's company and fall goodness. And since latte consumption is frowned upon for young ones, she'd have a pumpkin muffin or something. But she might hate pumpkin, so cake pops are always an option too. 

It sounds silly, but that horrible Thursday in the middle of June when we heard words like "withdraw care," "brain damaged," "stroke and seizure" for the first time, my mind, while a blur of sorrow of complicated emotions, thought clearly: What about Fall Family Fun Day? What about....all of it?!  I've heard it said that when a baby dies, it's not just the baby stage you lose, but a whole lifetime. I thought of Hadley's wedding she would never have as I put her lace headband on her head on her last day on Earth. I thought of Disneyland trips, first days of school, visits to the zoo, family walks, and of course, Fall Family Fun Day. We are 3 months beyond Hadley's time here on Earth and it's been interesting how this year has taken shape. There's been so many tears, but laughter, too, firmly gripping to what I am lucky enough to call my own, like a family, my husband, our home, my job, friendships, and unexpected but very welcome pockets of joy and grace. There was only one option: I was determined to still have Fall Family Fun Day. It wouldn't look at all like I imagined (Propping Miss Thang up against a pumpkin and taking 1290230 pictures of her)...But we could celebrate in our own way. 

This loss/grief stuff is so personal: we do what works for us. So Saturday morning we headed out to Hadley's site at the cemetery and sipped pumpkin spice lattes and enjoyed pumpkin bagels. It was a gorgeous fall day, cool, crisp, breezy. We laid out on a picnic blanket and listened to the beautiful sounds of the wind chime we placed on the tree above her. The sky was clear and the view of the mountains was gorgeous. In that moment, heaven felt close by and I looked at AJ and I in amazement: Who would have thought? A year ago, I might have thought a pumpkin-themed breakfast in a cemetery might be weird, morbid even. But it's where we are in our life now. The world keeps spinning, our hearts keep beating, and we search for ways to live with a piece of our family in heaven. I love you, my little pumpkin. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

What I'm Loving Lately

Hi There,
   It's been a long time since my last installment of "What I'm Loving Lately" so without futher ado, here we go!

1. Meal Prep Sundays: Guys, I have become addicted to prepping meals on Sundays. I usually do all weeks worth of lunches for AJ and I as well as 2-3 dinners. It takes about 90 minutes, a few dishwasher cycles, and every utensil and piece of tupperware in the house but it is so very worth it. This morning I made 2 lunches of veggie pasta salad, 2 lunches of grilled chicken tacos, and 1 lunch of tuna/rice/romaine salad. This week for dinners we are doing chicken and rice soup, shrimp thai stir fry, and a veggie/bean/quinoa dish. Whew! It's a lot of work and I probs won't do it every week, but for now, it's working for us!

2. Fall Weather: Sometime in July, I remarked to AJ on the way to the pool, "Can't you just feel fall in the air!?" He responded with a "Umm, no." But this week there was no mistaking fall on its merry way! I see some leaves changing colors on the mountains, I had my first PSL of the season on Saturday, and I am loving the cooler mornings. I made a stop at Bath & Body Works on Friday and stocked up on some pumpkin goodies and made some pumpkin bread on Saturday. Loving it!
Pinterest is perfect for fall bucket lists! 

3. XM Coffeehouse: I debate every year whether I want to keep paying for XM radio and in the end I always decide it's worth it. Do you guys have it? What are your favorite stations? I have recently been loving the Coffeehouse station. The other morning I heard this song and it makes me think of my Hadley Grace. It's my new most favorite song.

4. End of Bachelor in Paradise: Guys. This show. I just cannot. Yet I do. So I gave 3 hours of my life each week to this dumpster fire and I am sorta glad it's over. But Evan ans Carly completely crack me up and "Grace" is just one hot mess. Also, Amanda, dearest, please keep 911 on speed dial since you're currently with your Joshie-poo. Yikes. Nick, Godspeed on the Bachelor, my friend. Does it start in January? Already can't wait!

Will someone please explain this man to me? 

5. Teaching Again: I am really enjoying my class this year. They aren''t perfect, but hey, neither am I. They are a fun bunch and I don't feel like a chicken with my head cut off like last year. I get to teach real lessons. It's really nice. I am hoping to do some fun fall activities with them this year. They're cute.

6. Family Double Dates: AJ and I tagged along with my parents on their Saturday date night. We went and saw Sully (Good, Tom Hanks is great, but could maybe have been just a documentary?) and went out for Mexican food. Fun stuff.

7. I have devoured most of the Liane Moriarty book in about a week. I love a good suspense novel. My "to read" list is so very long. I'd like a week vacation from life, an unlimited K cup supply, my comfiest PJ's and all the reads. So many good ones are out now. Also I refused to actually buy the Amy Schumer autobiography, and I am number SIXTY FIVE on the SL county library wait list. Utah, you surprise me sometimes.

8. Christmas Gift Brainstorming: I know, I know, it's early. But for the sake of budgeting and my sanity, I like to make a big list of gifts to get in the fall and every week or so buy something from the list. It spreads it out so it's not so overwhelming.

I'm leaving you with this pic of Keith Morrison I found online because I thought AJ and I were the only people under 50 who tune into Dateline on the regular and love the heck outta this stud. Apparently more people than we thought dig him. Who knew?

That's all for now. What are YOU loving lately?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Worth It

Welcome back to the real world after a long weekend when you realize with delight that the work week is already about halfway over after only 1 day of work! Yippee! This weekend we had a wonderful time on a short trip to Boise. At the beginning of July we found out that one of our favorite singers, Sean McConnell, would be performing in Boise. We looked at the calendar and discovered it was Labor Day weekend, so why not? We hit the road Saturday morning and I remembered that there are few things I enjoy more in life than a road trip with the hubs. A stop for coffee and good tunes got us rolling into Boise in the mid-afternoon.

We always wave hello to this giant cow on the highway. It means we're headed North to somewhere fun! 

I love scratch-it's tickets. I may or may or may not have lost $19 on this trip. I chalked it up to car ride entertainment! 

We changed at our hotel and then walked to dinner at a great restaurant called Fork. So....story about Fork. I follow food blogger Two Peas and Their Pod on Instagram and not long ago, she "Insta-storied" her Boise trip and the delicious meal from Fork caught my eye. I told AJ we had to try it and one of his work pals found out and surprised us with a gift card for there! How sweet is that?! (Hey Kandi, you rock!) We both got burgers with rosemary parmesan fries and yes it was delicious! I got a strawberry lemonade vodka soda that was to die for. And of course, the warm berry butter cake is their specialty so we had to try that too. AMAZING!

 After our early dinner, we strolled around and went in some shops. Then it was time for the concert. It was so wonderful. I was surprised there wasn't more of a showing. I am not exaggerating when I say there were only 20 or so people there. Talk about intimate venue! We sat right in the front and when he played "Beautiful Rose," which I've nicknamed Hadley's song, silent tears fell and I squeezed AJ's hand and he whispered to me, "Our trip was worth it just for this moment." I couldn't agree more. There have been a handful of times I have truly "felt" Hadley with me since she passed and in that dark room, listening to the music. I felt her. After the show, we met Sean (remember, less people in the venue than in my 1st grade class) and we told him what big fans we were and about our summer and his inspiring story (he and his wife have adopted a special needs daughter from Ghana) and it was a MOMENT, guys. Like an unforgettable, amazing moment in time. We headed back to the hotel and fell into bed. I woke up the next morning to a FACEBOOK MESSAGE FROM SEAN MCCONNELL. I mean, come on! He said he was happy to meet us and appreciated us sharing our story and coming out from Utah. Needless to say, it made me realize two big things: 1) Tell your story no matter what. Sean writes music that touches our hearts. Sing your song, dance your dance, tell your story: you never know who needs it and 2) Reach out and tell people if they mean something to you. We told Sean and he reached back to us and it made our day. Gah! It was a love fest!
Princess Baby set! Isn't that awesome! 

I promise AJ was happy to be there 
Sunday morning we headed to a delicious coffee shop that I fell in love with when we visited Boise a few years ago. It did not disappoint. We walked around and did some shopping and then decided to check out Camel's Back park, this big park with a steep sandy incline you can climb. I posted this on insta yesterday and that pretty much describes the symbolism of this climb for me, "I would never have chosen the hard climb. It's so much easier to take the simple path. There's hurt, longing and suffering. But I know, even if it's deep down, the climb makes the view from above that much more sweet. No, I didn't choose the hard path but I did choose to keep climbing and at the top, with shaking legs and a beating heart, I will celebrate. (I did not want to make this steep hike but AJ reminded me that easier is not always better. So up we went. So worth it)."
orange honey walnut scone! 

We drove most of the way home Sunday afternoon in the rain. We unpacked, tidied the house a bit and relaxed and watched "Stranger Things." (I loved the beginning but it sort of lost me there at the end. Suspenseful but not my most favorite, but still watch if you haven't, it's worth it). Monday morning I spent a few hours meal prepping for the week. We are still going strong on our weekday eating clean(ish) thing and prep is so the key to it! We were ready to get back onto plan today (see "warm berry butter cake" above).  Monday evening we went out to dinner with friends and had a great time.

Overall, it was a great Labor Day weekend! Memorial Day to Labor Day sort of represents summer time to me, so bring on FALL!