Monday, December 29, 2008


Christmas was a joy again this year. We spent the Christmas holiday w/my family in Mt. Pleasant (Utah). I managed to calm down after the whirlwind of thread, fabric and felt. I finished the kid's PJ bottom's right in time. It is tradition in our family to open one gift on Christmas Eve. I want to try and arrange it so the kids open either PJ's or a movie to be used that night.

We had a fabulous dinner on Christmas Eve. We watched many of our family classic Christmas movies including The Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

On Christmas morning after the torrent of wrapping paper and painting nails we had a yummy brunch.

Then that evening my brother and his family joined us. We were all together this year (including my sister Rose's "special" friend, Gledis).

We then "acted out" the Nativity story. Samuel and Olivia were Joseph and Mary.

Jocelyn was a shepherd, complete w/froggie boots.

Anna was the angel. Eva was baby Jesus. And Levi and friend were wise men.

Samuel and Jocelyn now understand that Mary had baby Jesus in her belly. And as I have read them a watered down version at night Samuel has learned, from discussion, that mommies push the baby out of their belly. Samuel said, "Oh, like pooping!" and after trying to hold in my laughter (and awe at his observation) I told him that, "Yes, it is almost exactly like pooping."

Some other highlights of the break included bowling (The day after Christmas two years ago we all went bowling at the only alley in the county, the Sno Cap. A very rundown place but fun nonetheless. About 6 hours later my water broke and Jocelyn was born the next day. So it's kind of a tradition to go now the day after Christmas),

running outside in the blizzard,

building a snowman,

playing games, talking a lot, and gaining probably 5 lbs.

Jocelyn is finally starting to warm up to my parents. For some reason, she is a little moody around my family and one can never know if she will allow someone to grace them w/her presence . But she and my dad hit it off this visit. He takes her to find the kitty and she even snuggled up w/him to watch a few movies. It makes my dad thrilled.

And then we took a family picture which we haven't done in a couple years. We decided not to brave the chilly wind and took it out in my dad's new portion of his studio. We were joking around about leaving it bare w/the ladders, etc. So then we decided to go all out w/the industrial feel, or "custodial feel", as Levi put it. We're sort of nerdy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Day

We finally made it outside to play in the snow! The kids loved it! I loved the the great deals I found on snow boots and pants from the thrift store! Wahoo! They made snow angels and volcano's and had the freedom of swimming, stomping and throwing as much snow as they wanted to! They had a blast and the only toes that were frozen were mine.


Well, I can finally relax....just a little. Our Ward Christmas Party was a success. I finished the decorations on time and our idea of having a canopy of lights worked beautifully. It was prettier than I thought it could be. Plus the centerpieces were simple yet elegant (I can admit that, right?). We didn't run out of food and the gingerbread house making was a hit! Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and stayed for nearly 2 hours by their own choice! That's a good sign, right?

In the past few weeks in neglect of many of my other motherly/wifery duties I made these:

This apron for Jocelyn's birthday present.

And pillowcase dresses. Plus some burp cloths and a "Super J" cape for Joc. Would you buy this stuff on if you were not a sewer? I am seriously thinking of selling things like these because I had so much making them. It's just a vintage pillowcase found at DI for a buck and some ribbon. Pretty simple (and cheap)! And when it gets too small it can be worn as a shirt or over leggings.

Then I got to work on these little suckers.

I had this free fabric. Some upholstery velvet and silk plus leftover silk from my wedding dress. And Rachelle, who helped me make the bean bags, suggested I use the velvet to make stockings. I didn't even think of it! And I didn't want to add anything else to my list of homemade items. But I thought, "we need Christmas stockings eventually." The only one who had one was Samuel and his was a gift and says, "Sammy's 1st Christmas." So I embarked on finding the perfect Christmas stocking ideas. I couldn't find exactly what I was envisioning in my mind but I found this photo online that came close.

Plus I used my mother-in-law's grandkid version as inspiration and a pattern.

And this is my version. I must admit, they have lots of flaws (like being too small among others) and they're not my favorite creation. Plus they took nearly 3 full days of sewing and creating. And if they didn't take so dang long to make I'd be tempted to not keep them. But now we have 4 completed stockings for Christmas!

My mom is worried about my well-being. I am too, to be honest. But when I get this creative drive it's hard to stop!!! I just want to sew and create. Next year I honestly think about settling down and putting the sewing machine in the closet, for just a bit :) I need to find the balance b/w what I want to do, developing buried and new found talents...and family and time.

Phew. I am glad it all has passed, for the most part. I still haven't completed the PJ bottoms (oops, I forgot to look at the size on the pattern) so I don't know if I'll get to those before Christmas. C'est la vie. Tonight we, as a family, sat down on the couch and watched a Muppet Christmas movie on TV complete w/neighbor gifted popcorn and sprite (thanks J!). Fun times!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I forgot to mention that when I stripped Jocelyn of her jammies I put her back in her bed sans clothes. And then while I was bawling I could hear Samuel bawling. I asked him why he was crying again (he had already cried when I turned all the lights off to deter them from coming out of their room so it was pitch black, except for their nightlight) and he was worried about Jocelyn being virtually naked and going to bed cold. And then they came into my room and saw me crying and making a mess of myself and Sammy gave me a hug (another side note: I was explaining forgiveness to him as he did not want to deliver one of the goody bags to a neighbor whose son had been kind of rough with him. He actually remember a time that we visited them a year ago!!!! when the other boy tried to hug him and consequently pushed him down a few I was trying to explain to him that he needed to forgive this kid and that when he hugs me, even after I get angry with him, that is an example of tonight was extra huggy when I got short-tempered) and I, w/tears and a bit of whimpering, asked them to go to bed. And they did exactly that. (too bad crying doesn't work every time bcse I would use it every time). Answer to a prayer! Oh--and all the goodies I've received lately are great soul food. Thanks for thinking of me!

It gets worse each year

sorry...long post.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Each year at Christmas time I get busier and busier. I load myself up with more projects, more goodies to give out and generally more stress. This year was no exception. By Thanksgiving I was "done" shopping for Christmas gifts. We've only got my brother to shop for but I've passed that onto Tyler as it's his "name" this year (we draw names or assign them each year on both sides).

This year in my brilliant strategy to be creative and save money I suggested we have a "homemade" gift exchange w/my side of the family. Although I am saving money (ultimately, because I will re-use supplies such as thread and extra fabric, etc) the time I put into these gifts ends up being the same as I do rounding them all up at stores. But I am a perfectionist in many ways. I want to buy gifts that have meaning, thoughtfulness and a personal touch. I spend a lot of time thinking of what I should get each person, how and if they will like it. Will they use it? Will it be attractive? Will it also reflect my tastes and still be theirs? etc, etc. Plus I am frugal so I want to find the BEST deal possible and still make it a worthy gift.
So in all my haste to get this year rounded up I find myself stressed still the same.

I still have to make 2 pair pj bottoms for the kids, 4 "quilted" stockings, Jocelyn's apron, and some burp cloths for baby gifts. Not to mention the wrapping and stocking stuffing, etc. And Christmas is less than 2 weeks away people! I am NOT counting down the days excitedly. Which is sad bcse I LOVE this time of year! I love watching my kids open their presents with glee. I love receiving the compliments from those I gave presents to. I love the joy and remembrance and togetherness. But I am a little out of focus right now. Will the kids even notice that the fabric that's been sitting pre-washed in the laundry basket was turned into jammies or not? Will Jocelyn's birthday be ruined because she didn't get the homemade apron that she doesn't even know about???? No!!!! So why am I stressed?

This is what the last 2 days have looked like:
8am--do dishes, start laundry, make muddy buddies for neighbor gifts
9:30-10:30--exercise at Church w/Jill and Lori.
10:30-11:30--try to download photo's to Costco's desperately slow online photo center. Find out the cropping tool is a joke and beg my dad to help me out.
11:30--Shower and get ready.
12-run to Costco. Get stuff for Ward Christmas Party (I am on the Activities Committee).
1--Visit teach.
1:30-eat lunch.
2--put kids down for naps.
3--instead of make decorations for Christmas party, blog, email, download photos to facebook. Then try, for another 1 1/2 hours, to crop, edit and download pictures to stupid costco!!!!!
4:30--very frustrated, and kids waking up, I put the kids in front of the babysitter (TV) and start dinner.
5:30-7--dinner, cleaning up, etc
7---go to a friend, Susan's, house to make hair bows for Christmas gifts (and making up for not being able to make them at Super Saturday way back in October).
8:45--run over to mall to return some stuff.
9--run over to $1 store to find decoration stuff for party (yay, for extended shopping hours).
10--come home. Start making Christmas decorative wreaths and watch "House" on internet w/Tyler.
12:30--finally lye down in bed but don't get to sleep until about 1 am.

Morning: Clean and fold 6 loads of laundry; scrub both bathrooms; vacuum.
12: 45--eat lunch; make more muddy buddies; bag muddy buddies;
1pm--run over to Walgreens for more party decoration stuff
1:30-2:45--visit teach.
2:45--run over to $1 store and exchange broken tea lights (seriously, you get what you pay for.....but I was desperate....all of the Costco's in the valley were out of them and weren't getting them in until after the party!!!!)
3--run to grocery store
3:30--home, chat w/Melanie downstairs for a bit
4:30--finally check email.
5--start dinner and go and deliver goodies to neighbors (Samuel insists on giving them out individually w/no help. And taking turns w/Jocelyn giving the people a bag....even though she is generally too shy to give it to them anyway). While I was talking w/one of the neighbors about some of her trials, etc, at her doorstep, the kids were getting impatient and Samuel whacked Jocelyn in the back of the head w/one of the muddy buddy bags. And it exploded on her and all over the ground. She looked like an Aborginaee again (too bad I didn't have my camera). Samuel was so sad that we didn't have another goody bag and hardly sad that he whacked Jocelyn. I was stunned....I just stood there looking at for like 30 seconds...Luckily, we had an extra one on hand and the friend swept it off her doorstep. LOL.
6--Finally come home and finish preparing dinner. I'm starving.
7--bathtime....I let them have a bubble bath and they had a ball and didn't pour/splash water onto the floor this time!!!!
7:45--got the kids dressed and lotioned up, read them stories.
8--lights I hoped.....
9:30--after an hour and half of fighting them and threatening and swatting them and locking myself in my room, I find Jocelyn doing this, sopping wet, (for the third time in 2 days). Why she does this I do not know. But it was only funny the first time. (Oh, I attempted to cut her ya).

I pulled her out of the sink, stripped her of her wet jammies and plunk (maybe not that nicely) in her bed and slam the door. Go into my bedroom and lose it. I finally caved. All the stress just came tumbling down. I literally collapsed to my knees and asked for help from the Lord. I couldn't take it anymore. I still had 4 loads of laundry to fold, some dishes to clean AND I still have to finish these party wreaths. So instead of doing them I am blogging :). Plus tomorrow it continues w/appointments, volunteering in the Family History Center (I do every Friday now for 3 hours) and setting up for the party.

I've had a whirlwind of a week and tomorrow is no better. Unfortunately the kids have watched a lot of TV and I've been very sharp w/them. But my point in all of this therapeutic ranting is to prove to myself that I do it to myself! I load myself up and try to do it all until I crumble. I think I am strong enough and I keep pushing myself and stretching myself as long and far as possible until I collapse. And it happened tonight. But now I am breathing and trying to get over it and prioritize my time. But in all my crying I realized that my kids just want me for Christmas. Yes, Samuel is expecting some pretty awesome toys (that's what he thinks...) but really they just want me to play w/them and be w/them which is hard for me sometimes....I just want to do, do, do.....I really shouldn't try running faster than I can't.

Anyway, I hope you all have a better perspective at this time of year. Even though I feel like a chicken w/it's head cut off and my body literally gets jittery when I am this busy and stressed I like this time of year. I truly love it and I look forward to Christmas morning. But I also love being generous and helpful. Helping my in-active sisters that I visit teach. And feeling of the Savior's love.

But now I'm off to laundry folding (it can't wait on top of our bed or it will just commute to the laundry basket again) and wreath making! Thanks for listening!

Monday, December 8, 2008

St George

We went to St. George for the first time this weekend. It's as far "south" Tyler and I have ever been. We tasted some yummy custard, the over-rated In&Out Burgers, and experienced St George Blvd...our hotel was on what felt like a min "strip" of Las Vegas. lol.
We drove down for Troy and Jana's blessing of Carson. We had the entire Stoehr family together (Tyler, Troy, and their four sisters-from L to R; Hannah, Heidi, us, parents, Troy and Jana, Stephanie and Emily)! It was great fun! And Carson is so much cuter in person! What a sweet baby he is! We'll miss them all. We hope to see them again next year sometime....Here are some group shots we took in record time in the cold desert weather. Samuel and Jocelyn don't know how to pose very well yet. Samuel told us that he had two sisters; Carson and Jocelyn. And then he asked if we could take him home with us. We had to remind him that he was Troy and Jana's baby and not ours. It was really sweet. We can't wait for him to grow a little bigger so they can play together. (though I am sure Troy and Jana can) It's our first nephew on either side.

Early Christmas present!

While I was shopping on Black Friday I saw that sewing machines were on sale at Joann's (because it's a Viking and I get free sewing classes!). I've wanted my own sewing machine for over a year now. I've been borrowing my dad's all year but when he needed it back I asked to borrow my friend Stephanie's. Well, after all the sewing I've done recently I've been really pressed to get my own. And after convincing Tyler that it's an important and long-lasting purchase, I bought my first sewing machine!!! It doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles and added extras which may come in handy later on but it was within our "budget." Thanks mom's and dad's for the help! I really think it will last as longs as both my mom's least 25 years. Now I have to keep my mind off of opening my own Etsy shop next year....

Fish 'n Chips

We had left over oil from doughnut making and I wanted to get rid of it. So I decided to attempt to make my father-in-laws famous deep fried fish, onion rings and potato wedges. He normally makes them beer battered (no, he doesn't drink alcohol....he just dips the fish a beer batter) but I was too much of a wuss to buy beer (Tyler normally does the alcohol purchasing for cooking purposes) so I bought the fish n'chips batter box and made these. The meal turned out pretty good. Even Tyler approved. Not as good as Tyler's dad but satisfactory enough to think it was.

Oh, and the silver "rub away" bar really works! It gets rid of garlic, onion and other nasty smells from your hands. It's just a stainless steel (?) bar shaped like soap and you just rub your hands with it until the smell is gone.

Wasn't worth crying over

I am trying to control my mood swings. And this was a step in the right direction. Instead of crying over this I took a picture.

"Miss Independent" wears her froggie boots everywhere (except to Church). She loves these $4 little Target beauties. She also loves to wash her hands at least once an hour. It's a great habit to get into except when she forgets to leave the water running oh so quietly that I can't hear it until 1/2 hour later. or when she floods the entire counter and onto the floor. She's also very much into princesses and dancing. Taking and putting the bulbs back on the Christmas tree. And playing dress up. She is turning into a girl!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

I forgot to post the pumpkin patch photos.

We took the kids to one in Sandy but it was more like 2 rows of pumpkins. Lame. But Tyler did take them to the Charlie Brown movie there a few weeks later (during one of my ladies night out). Yipee!

The Stoehr's did their festive Halloween dinner and also took them to a way better patch while we were back east. It looks like they had a blast! Sammy thought the dry ice in the pot was "magic."

Making whoopie!

Okay, so I must apologize for the lack of proper photography skills (help Melissa!). But these are very scrumptious little treats. They are called whoopie pies and hail from New England. They are not giant homemade oreo cookies nor made from cake batter. I found this recipe on (wow, she get's two hails in two blog posts! She must be my up and coming idol or something). Anyway, I used her cookie recipe and the pumpkin filling from her website. However, the link for the filling did not work so I called up my sister-in-law Marci for hers. I filled them w/plain cream cheese stuff (Marci's), pumpkin (martha stewart) and peppermint (mine). Next time I'd like to try peanut butter (martha stewart) or mint.

I made them for our Christmas Enrichment activity last night. I must admit that the cookie was the perfect texture of dense and fluffiness and flavor. However, my creams were a bit too runny and I made the cookie too big and thick. So I popped them in the freezer to firm them a bit. Enjoy!

Here is the recipe:

Festive Whoopie Pies
taken from

Makes about 20

* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
* 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 cup whole milk
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
* Pinch of cinnamon
* Pinch of nutmeg


1. Prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Place butter, shortening, and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour mixture.
3. Drop about 2 teaspoons dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies spring back when lightly touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cool 10 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets and transfer to wire racks using a spatula; let cool completely.
4. Prepare filling: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese, butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whip until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
5. Pipe or spoon about 2 teaspoons filling on the flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping the flat sides down.
Plain and Peppermint fillings:
I doubled the cookie recipe and made these fillings for the 2nd batch.

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
lots of powdered sugar
a bit of milk
vanilla, for plain only
1/4 tsp peppermint extract, for peppermint flavored only
add 1 crushed candy cane and red dye for peppermint filling only
**prepare same as pumpkin filling.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent calander

My mother-in-law told me about an advent calendar that uses small children's/infant socks. And then I saw it on too. You can tuck a piece of candy or prize in each one. I just gathered up all of their old and too small socks. Their great grandma gave them Christmas socks last year and now they're too small. I fastened them to a ribbon w/mini clothes pins. They love it! I only wish I had a mantle to hang them on. But now Samuel knows exactly how many days are left until Christmas and maybe he'll ask me a little less often.


We went out to Colorado for Thankgiving this year. Tyler's parent's live out there. Any my sister Jennie too! For those of you who didn't know, I grew up in Arvada, CO. 8 years ago my parents moved to Utah but I still feel like Arvada is home. Tyler and I met and dated in high school. We grew up in the same stake too. And I love my in-laws (is that an oxymoron?) and so heading over to see them makes me happy :)

Tyler and I volunteered to make most of the Thanksgiving dinner. Don't ask me why. I suppose it may be because we are food snobs and volunteered to make the yummiest things. Two of my favorite recipes that I made were a pomegranate jello salad(courtesy of my aunt Julie D. ) and cornbread stuffing. It includes sausage, corn, walnuts and yummy seasonings. I highly recommend it! I loved it all! Have I told you that I gain weight just by looking at food? So ya, even thinking about it made me gain weight this past week! Back to the "gym" or living room or Church cultural hall to work out!

My father-in-law carving Tyler's beautiful turkey.

So, I participated in Black Friday. Yes, I was a frenzied shopper that ripped through crowds, yelled at fellow customers, tore gifts from people's arms and trampled people to death. Well, no, actually, I did not participate in any of that. I only went shopping. Can you believe that though???? Seriously, there is something wrong w/this picture. Yes, stores should have great deals but spread it out! Hand out vouchers or have the sales last longer or something! Supply and demand out of hand! Sheesh!

But I did get killer deals on flannel ($1.50/yd!!!!) and at bath and body works.

We also saw Twilight!!!! I must admit that I was happy with it! I went in w/low expectations and was thoroughly delighted. I found myself laughing at inside jokes from the book and gushing over Edward. I was a little disappointed w/Bella's acting...but honestly, she was sort of idiotic in the book too! I can't wait for the 2nd to come out!

It was a nice break and I wanted it to last longer. I successfully fell asleep during each movie that we watched each night. I was a little bummed that I couldn't stay awake. I must have needed the rest. And I was grateful to have such awesome younger sis-in-laws who kept my kids at constant attention. Thank you!

The drive home was....well...boring and was through Wyoming. What else do I need to say?

I am thankful. We were discussing this while out there. Why is Thanksgiving before Christmas? Shouldn't it be after? Because we are grateful for the day and then we immediately start thinking about all the things that we want for Christmas and turn greedy (well, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration). If we had Christmas first we could be more grateful at Thanksgiving. Or maybe we should just be grateful all the time.

Here come the carols, decorations and annoying toy train under the tree that always comes off the track and has to be replaced about 10 times a day! Yay!


Each year we have a tradition of making doughnuts around Halloween. Sometimes we invite friends too! We had to wait for a few weeks until after Halloween due to sickness. But I made it happen! Plus, the kids had to fill their fuzzy jar to get doughnuts (I helped them just a little bit by filling it w/a few extra so I didn't have to un-invite my friends). The kids loved it and it was great motivation to start filling it again!

This year I made pumpkin cake doughnuts and regular yeast ones. The latter were not good at all bcse I overcooked them. It's hard to play hostess and visit at the same time!

We love this tradition and the kids really enjoyed it this year too!


So, I'm a little behind but I thought I should do it anyhow.....I was going to make a video but let's be realistic! It's Christmas shopping/making time now!

Halloween was great this year. I didn't have to make any costumes, firstly! Wahoo! Samuel wore the same Old Navy brand dragon costume from last year w/no complaints but merely excitement. And Jocelyn wore the lion costume I made for Samuel 2 years ago (never use Walmart's soooo cheap....I washed the costume once and the seams came undone...and I did a darn good job sewing it in the first place). They went trick-or-treating for the first time and trunk-or-treating. We got a thrill out of watching the kids door knocking and asking for the free candy. Then dumping their full bags out on the floor to count. Samuel was quite conservative w/how much he ate. Jocelyn had no limits. I seriously think she consumed half of her candy that night! She was a little hyper, needless to say. The candy is now all gone and I don't have to stare at it anymore!

Here are a few pics from pumpkin patches to dressing up! Oh---Jocelyn was a chinese person at a family Halloween party.