Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pamper Your Kitchen

Last month I attended a very nice Pampered Chef (PC) party and found out the host special for August was going to be the knives I have been coveting for the last year or so. I invited 30 of my closest friends, or at least people who I thought might come willingly and commenced to cleaning my house and planning my menu. I even did a little digital scrapbooking to make a cute postcard to send out.

I don't know why I get so excited about things that cause me so much work. I decided to go a new route from the tried and true PC marketing plan and have a come & go recipe/cooking party. Which would have worked a little better if I knew more people that actually liked me enough to come. So there were a few slow parts, but when there were people there it was lots of fun and overall I thought it turned out well. And I had a lot of great contributions to the recipe booklet I put together ahead of time. Then my show closed with double the sales I was planning on, thanks to all who ordered. And I'm thinking, "Awesome! I can get my knives (60% off) with the credit I earned and still get a lot of other nice things too." Turns out I missed one little detail of the PC marketing scheme. You can't use your credit on ANY specials. And I mean any. You can only use the credit on full price items. So, after much deliberation, and another thanks to all those who ordered - I got off with only $35 cash out of my pocket (let's not count the $40+ I spent on food) and a whole bunch of cool PC products that I'm excited for, and that were mostly free. But best of all, a fun night with friends and a lot of good leftovers.

Let me just give a quick list of how the days went leading up to the party. Institute, my first OB appointment, enrichment, a dentist appointment to get 2 fillings, ward temple night and then the ward camp-out without my husband, but with SIL Candice and new baby Jaycee. We had to leave early the next day to get high-fever running Emmett to the pediatrician for special Sat. office hours. We didn't make it. Got in Mon. morning to find he had nothing but a virus (I suspected ear infection). The party was Tues. night, which was just enough time for Alden to come down with the virus too. But somehow I wasn't too stressed and went ahead with the party as planned.

I have to give a special thanks to my marvelous visiting teacher, Linda Ellsworth, who called that morning, listened to all my woes, and did something to help. She hit the grocery store for me, and then ran to Kinkos to copy all my recipe books, even buying me a ream of paper because she had heard me mention I was almost out. Wow! I know you're all jealous, but she's my visiting teacher, all mine. And the sweetest and most thoughtful one around.

I will include one recipe from the booklet - which my PC consultant, Melanie McClure provided and demonstrated at the party.

Thai Chicken Stir Fry Salad

Dressing
¾ cup creamy poppy seed salad dressing
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 1-inch piece unpeeled fresh gingerroot, grated and juiced
Salad
1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach leaves
1 package (12 ounces) broccoli slaw mix
1 medium cucumber, scored, seeded and sliced
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
Chicken Mixture
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened and cut into 1/2?inch cubes
¼ cup snipped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup peanuts, chopped

1. For dressing, in Stainless (2-qt.) Mixing Bowl, combine salad dressing and garlic. Grate gingerroot using Ultimate Slice & Grate. Gather gingerroot in palm of hand and squeeze over bowl to release juice; discard flesh. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
2. For salad, place spinach, slaw mix, cucumber and bell pepper in Simple Additions Large Bowl; refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. For chicken mixture, heat Stir-Fry Skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly spray skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add chicken to skillet in a single layer, Cook without stirring 2 minutes or until chicken begins to brown. Stir fry 2-3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink; remove from heat. Add basil, peanuts and ¼ cup of the dressing; toss to coat.
4. To serve, toss salad with remaining dressing; top with chicken mixture and serve immediately.

Variation: Thai Chicken Stir-Fry with Rice: Omit salad ingredients. Prepare dressing as directed in Step 1. Double the chicken mixture; prepare as directed in Step 3, stir-frying chicken in two batches. Toss chicken with all of the dressing. Serve chicken mixture over hot cooked rice prepared with Rice Cooker Plus.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Top Ten Don'ts When Planning a Wedding


A couple weeks ago I went to Missouri for my friend Michelle's wedding. It was very different than any wedding I have attended before. And when I say wedding, I mean the whole 3 day affair. We drove 5 hours to the Nauvoo, IL temple for the wedding ceremony on Thursday. Then the reception was on Saturday night at the church, with Michelle's family coming in Friday night, supposedly. Michelle looked beautiful, everyone had a lovely time, and it all turned out great! But a few things could have been easier...


10. Don't use the evening before the reception to put the wedding favors together. Do have an awesome husband who will help.

9. Don't hire a DJ who will cancel on you a week before the reception by saying, "Oh, I forgot that was Memorial Day weekend, I have plans." Do have a great DJ system lined up so that anyone can fill in. Don't forget the list of songs you picked out.

8. Don't plan to buy all the flowers at Sam's Club the day of the reception and figure someone will be able to put together the bride's bouquet, boutonnieres for the groom & groomsmen, mothers corsages and 2 bridesmaids bouquets. Do have sisters who are talented enough to actually pull this off.

7. Don't forget to throw in some pampering for the bride - a pedicure, a hair appointment, a massage, etc.

6. Don't get sick.

5. Don't forget to eat.

4. Don't hire a photographer who has never done a wedding before and keeps repeating that as her mantra throughout the evening.

3. Don't let said photographer miss precious photos of your new 10 year old step-daughter performing karaoke to the hip hop song, Skater Boy. Better yet, do hire a videographer.

2. Don't assume the wedding party will know where to be, when to be there, what they should be wearing, and what to do when they get to the wrong place, late, in shorts and polos. Hello, it's a wedding! Do be grateful you have family and that they care enough to come.

1. Don't let your crazy friend come in from out-of-state the day before the big event, take over everything, boss everyone around, and generally try to make up for being a crappy friend and not helping plan things for the last 3 months. Do make better friends! : )

Saturday, June 9, 2007

MMSM - Art



My friend, Shannon, is hosting a weekly blog carnival called "Makes Me Smile Mondays" or MMSM. Check out her blog, What About Mom? for details or to join in. The topic this week is art.



When I was in elementary school we had a lady come every 2 weeks for a program called Art Masterpiece. I don't know how widespread this program is, but I always looked forward to learning a little about the featured painting and the cooresponding style. I wish I could say I remembered all I learned, but probably the only lasting effect was an early appreciation of fine art. My favorite style (unoriginally) is french impressionism. Wikipedia, the priceless blogger resource, says this of impressionism:

"Characteristics of Impressionist painting include visible brushstrokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles."

In the spring of 2001, the Phoenix Art Museum featured a Claude Monet exhibit. Aaron & I attended together, with his parents, and pretty much announced our courtship that evening. So naturally Monet has even more meaning for me. I like all the water lilies and Japanese bridges and such, but they are not my favorite of his. A few notables for me are Sunset in Venice (right) and Woman with a Parasol (above) although I found more than one name.


I like Edward Degas a lot. (more french impressionism) His work would obviously mean more to me if I were a dancer, but I enjoy the composition, light, and perspective nonetheless. This one to the left is called Dancers in Blue.











My very favorite painter (I think) is Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The colors just stand out to me a bit more and somehow his work appeals to me more than other great artists. To the right is Dance at Bougival and to the left is Two Girls Reading.





One other artist that I find myself enjoying, even though he does not match my typical style, is Gustav Klimt. Marie wrote a lot about him on her MMSM post. I don't love all his work, even though I can appreciate it. But the odd piece here and there makes its mark on me. To the left is Portrait of a Young Woman. I also like his landscapes, to the right is called Malcesine Sul Garda. My favorite of Klimt's is his version of The Tree of Life, which is itself a favorite theme of mine.


To move on from classical fine art - I am always most impressed by the Arts & Crafts design period. This included bungalow style homes, Stickley, Roycroft, and Greene & Greene furniture, and eventually Prairie style and Frank Lloyd Wright. In California it morphed a bit into Mission style. I love the quality and simplicity of the construction, furniture (including lots of built-ins), and the beautiful handicraft work such as pottery, stained glass, copper pieces, and needlework. To quote again from Wikipedia,

"In the United States, the terms Arts and Crafts movement, American Craftsman,
or Craftsman style are often used to denote the style of architecture, interior design, and decorative arts that prevailed between the dominant eras of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, or roughly the period from 1910 to 1925."

I will include some of my favorite images from this era.



Tree of Life by William Morris - almost bought this tapestry for my living room, but Aaron & I chose something else. (Look for pictures soon!)










Love this wallpaper motif from Bradbury & Bradbury, along with many others. Based on the Glasgow Rose designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.





Man, they had awesome lighting then. This image is courtesy The Craftsman Homes Collection, one of my favorite sites for all things craftsman.







This is a Roycroft Magazine Stand, one of my dream purchases.





Sunday, June 3, 2007

Husbands have the right to change their minds too

We recently acquired 2 teak wall units that were Aaron's grandparents. Not the grandma that just died, from whom we got a washer & dryer and the bedroom set previously posted upon - his other grandparents whose house we are living in. Ray & Corinne Carpenter must have been wonderful people, I'm sorry never to have met them, and they had excellent taste in furniture. They loved teak and had a myriad of pieces, which are now split between their grandchildren. I love the bookcases we got but Aaron and I were in a bit of a disagreement about where to put them, how to use them, etc. There is a cool pull-out & swivel tray on one unit meant for a tv, well a 1950s smallish tv - ours is way too big. We tried them together, we tried them apart, we tried them with the tv, without the tv, in the dining room, in the living room. Let me state that all the physical labor of these debates was carried out by yours truly. Aaron finally put his foot down and said we didn't always have to do what I wanted (which is true) and I caved and put everything exactly as he wanted. See the first picture. The cardboard box was added when Aaron realized that putting our new $250 DVD player and surround sound right at eye level with Emmett was not the best idea. Why doesn't he listen to me? The side table the tv is resting on is actually part of a teak coffee table set we have also managed to hang onto. Then, when it was apparent that the boys both loved getting stuff in & out of the sliding doors, all day long - Aaron decided we should go back to our old entertainment center until our kids are bigger. Husbands have the right to change their minds too!


Anyway, while Aaron was out of town this week I debated for 2 days what to do. I'm pretty much focused on the baby shower right now and finally told Aaron I was going to do whatever I wanted and that after the shower we could renegotiate. I stared and stared at my house and worked out 3 or 4 plans in my head for total furniture rearrangement. Then finally said, "screw it!" I pulled the small tv out of our room and just kept the wall units in place. Someday Aaron & I are hoping to get a plasma or something that is more rectangular and will fit well in the space. Ahhh, someday.

Once I get the frames and doo-dads up, I will post more pictures. I have been meaning to post some anyway, since some readers of this blog haven't actually been to my home. You should come visit!

MMSM - Dreams

My friend, Shannon, is hosting a weekly blog carnival called "Makes Me Smile Mondays" or MMSM. Check out her blog, What About Mom? for details or to join in. The topic this week is dreams.


After missing last Monday, I felt the need to participate in Makes Me Smile Monday this week, even though the topic of dreams doesn't inspire me - well, mine probably won't inspire you. I dream often, especially when in the semi-awake state and sometimes even feel like I can control my dreams, at least to where my dream adventure takes me, per se. But, dreams remain in my consious for maybe 15 min. after I wake up, so unless I were to write them down they are lost forever. I often dream myself into a book I'm reading, or a movie I've watched recently. I'll probably be sailing the seas after watching Pirates of the Carribbean tonight. There are a few dreams I remember from when I was pregnant. I think it was with Alden when I dreamed I had the baby and we named him Sheldon. Weird since that certainly was not on any of our lists. And everyone loved him and cooed over him but everytime I was asked what his name was, I couldn't remember. I felt awful not remembering my own baby's name. And then when he was really born, it took us a day or so to choose a name and in the first few months I swear I blanked on his name a few times. That's when you always refer to them as "the baby" rather than using their name. But who could forget it now, when I spend the whole day yelling at him to stop being mean to his brother. Let's hope our future kids fare better.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Furniture Woes, or A Call For Help


We have inherited some new furniture and need to use them in the boys room. Besides this chest of drawers and dresser w/ mirror, there are 2 matching nightstands. If we had girls I'd use them as they are. But they sure don't seem very boyish to me and I'm looking for a solution, hopefully without involving too much money, time, or effort - although I'm willing to put in a little of each. Please help!

Friday, May 25, 2007

And the Wedding Bells Ring

Sorry I've been MIA - I'm in Kansas for my girlfriend's wedding. Michelle Vogt married Randy Bradford May 24, 2007 in the Nauvoo, Illinois temple. So wonderful! Will post more when I return.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

MMSM - '80s Fads

This post gets a lots of hits from Google Searches.
For more of my thoughts on fashion, click here.


My friend, Shannon, is hosting a weekly blog carnival called "Makes Me Smile Mondays" or MMSM. Check out her blog, What About Mom? for details or to join in. This week is devoted to Fabulous Fads of the '80s.



As much as I hate to pick a fad so close to Shannon’s pegged pants, the first ‘80s fad that came to mind was parachute pants. I probably think of this because at age 13 (’89) I fell in love with an older man. He was 18 and getting ready to go on a mission. He was the most popular boy in our ward; the best dresser & the best dancer. And naturally he wore parachute pants. With crazy patterns. And pegged legs. With white high top tennis shoes. You can see why I was so struck. I know that parachute pants were originally a little different, made out of nylon and usually solid colors. But I’m talking about the MC Hammer kind. For me this fad will forever be tied to my first love. TRB ♥s RJP Forever. Or at least for a few years.


I clicked on Shannon’s wikipedia link for ‘80s fads and almost decided to write about Garbage Pail Kids instead. In 5th grade (’87) I collected these cards and spent most of my recesses trading with other kids. This in the same year I met Lindsay and started attending ELP – where I cemented some lifelong friendships.

The ‘80s were so awesome! This site is fun too.

Cool Design Blogs

In conjunction (sort of) with my last post I wanted to link to some of the sites I have found that create/showcase/inspire good design. Many of these are linked to each other and I just found them randomly, by clicking on links on other blogs. I love to check out the pretty things and am often find inspiration for a project I'm working on. Like that baby shower I'm still having next month - or a new digital scrap page. Or just something nice. Please comment if to share your own finds of great blogs in this vein.

A Little Sussy - like my lucky magazine (but every day), showing off her favorite find
print & pattern - a bright spot of color
marta - she even has her own craft store through blogger. cool entertaining stuff and marta hosted a gift swap, read about it in this post.
Oh Happy Day - she says it all in her tagline, "updated daily with pretty things." I love her graphic.
Heather Bailly - a fabric designer - she does lots of cool crafty stuff
Oh Joy - a new blog I found, I've only gone there a couple times but love it
Design Mom -
Holly's Plate -

okay, okay - I'm gonna stop now. I just keep finding more and more now that I'm looking. It's addicting and the last thing I need is to be spending more money - even if it's on well-designed things.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Digital Scrapbooking, or OCD

Tara thinks...

she is a tiny bit obsessive compulsive. Why else would I discover a cool thing and decide I need to stay up into the wee hours several nights in a row downloading free stuff from the internet. I think I want to be a designer. Although I love chemistry (my major) I think I would have really enjoyed graphic design too. I'm not as much into crafty stuff, but I love patterns, logos, cool websites, etc. Some of the blogs I look at include digital scrapbook pages, rather than just pictures and they are really cute. So I decided I should do it too and investigated sites with free downloads. And then I couldn't stop. I have Adobe Photoshop and have been using it to create a few pages and the invite for Emmett's b-day party last week. But it takes a really long time and I'm not sure I'll be up for using it for all my pictures. Okay, positive. But maybe a few cute pages here and there. And invitations, announcements and such. Here's the first one I tried out - just to get in the swing of things.

Here are some websites I found that had lots of free downloads. I am always looking for more so please comment if you have favorites.

http://www.shabbyprincess.com/
http://www.scrapartist.com/
http://www.designerdigitals.com/
http://www.freedigitalscrapbooking.com/
http://www.simplycleandigiscraps.com/

I am also keeping my eyes open for sites with good tutorials for using Photoshop. I'm still learning lots. http://www.escrappers.com/photoshopatoz.html

I've decided instead of making scrapbook pages I will design papers/embellishments/fonts and the like, sell my designs and make millions. I am not deterred by the fact that these things sell for like $2 each.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

MMSM - Mothers

My friend, Shannon, is hosting a weekly blog carnival called "Makes Me Smile Mondays" or MMSM. Check out her blog, What About Mom? for details or to join in. This first week is devoted to Mothers. It was hard to choose only one story about my mother, Sandee. I love you, Mom!

I have been blessed in this life with a wonderful mother who puts the needs of her husband and children above her own. Now that I have become a mother, I find myself wanting to be like her because my children deserve that same kind of selfless love. I have a long way to go, but I find myself instinctively duplicating some of my memories.

While I was growing up, my sweet mother made breakfast every weekday morning. But not just any breakfast, we had a schedule. Mondays were eggs, Tuesdays were French toast, Wednesdays were hot cereal, Thursdays were cold cereal (her work day), and Fridays were waffles – the favorite. Don’t forget Dad’s pancakes on Sundays. This probably answers a lot of questions about my love of breakfast. I try to provide the same delicious breakfasts for my boys. But growing up in my house did lead to one interesting habit that I hope to pass on to my children too.

My first year of college I realized there was a big difference between me and all my roommates. When I eat cold cereal, I pour my milk in first. Gasp! This is how my grandmother does it; this is how my mother does it; and naturally all her daughters do it that way too. While at least one of my sisters chose to break tradition to fit in with the rest of the world, I have always been proud of this little quirk that links me to my mother. And every time someone exclaims over my odd habit, it makes me smile and feel a little bit closer to my mom.

My Own Thoughts on Women's Conference

I have been wanting to write down some of my own thoughts from BYU Women’s Conference. As Lindsay and I were choosing classes I thought about what I wanted to get out of this experience and what I would like to work on in my own life. At the risk of sharing some of my private thoughts, I have been pondering my marriage lately. Aaron and I have a pretty good marriage; I don’t think either of us has any serious complaints. But I have been feeling strongly lately about strengthening this pretty good marriage and nurturing it into more of the eternal relationship I know it can become. We are cruising happily along without any serious hardships in life but we will probably run into major trials someday; that is why we are here on earth. When the hard times come, I know we can get through them together – but if we are more tightly knit to each other and the Lord – it will be much easier to endure and learn from these trials.

I attended a conference session entitled Establishing and Building Eternal Marriages, taught by Allison and David Warner. Never having heard of these people, I was very impressed with the insights they gave on this most sacred relationship. I wish I had taken notes, or that the transcript was available, but I certainly left with a renewed vow to build up my marriage. This couple seemed very tender to each other and held each other’s needs above all others. I have a hard time with this because I am usually so selfish, and because I get so caught up with the kids and their more immediate, pressing needs. Even in the conference sessions I attended on other subjects, I kept my spiritual ears open to applications for my marriage and of course there were many.

Having decided to strengthen my union, there is no question of, “What should I do?” I can list dozens of things I can work on and ways to improve. It just takes my own effort to begin. So for now I will work on being more selfless and trying to connect more with Aaron. Sometimes it all starts with putting my book down or stepping away from the computer when he is talking to me, rather than only listening half way. By small and simple things…

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Much Anticipated Lip Product Debate

At long last! My favorite lip products. I am obsessed with finding the perfect chapstick/lip balm/lip tint. It should keep me moisturized, have just the right amount of shine, last all day, and come in several flattering colors. A tall order I know - I just keep looking and that's half the fun. There are so many products out there and while I obviously haven't tried them all, I've tried more than most people so here is my list.



Avon Care Deeply Lip Balm. In my opinion the best all purpose chapstick around. I've been using it for 15 years, get 10-15 in my stocking every year, and keep one in every bag and most rooms of the house. If they made it in tinted form I'd be set - but it's great over lip stains and such. $1 from Avon.com or your friendly neighborhood Avon lady



Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers. I know this is a favorite of many but it has peppermint or something in it and is just a bit strong for me. I could probably get used to it if I perservered. I didn't like the first color (nutmeg) I had as much as the second (rhubarb). About $4 everywhere Burt's Bees is sold (like everywhere nowadays)


Savannah Bee Company Beeswax Lip Tint in Blackberry. The comes awfully close to being perfect. Yummy scent, great chapstick feel, good color, but doesn't stay on as long as I would like (just like chapstick). Comes in 3 other colors too, (I own them all), but I like blackberry best. $5 at Bath and Body Works


Loreal Colour Juice Stick. This is just plain old lipstick, but it feels like very soft and wonderful chapstick. Hence my love for it. I've always been a fan of Loreal cosmetics and skin care. Unfortunately I don't wear mine much because I don't like the color I picked, sweet papaya, too bright pink. I need to get another one soon. $9.50 everywhere, but I'll wait for my grocery store to have it half off



Almay hydracolor. I saw ads for this in dozens of magazines and finally tried it since it's cheap. Still a lipstick to me but truly hydrated. Your lips feel like they are wet, nice and cooling for summer. And since it's a lipstick it lasts longer than chapstick. Not kiss proof. Like $3.50 on sale at my grocery store.



Aloe Lips by Sarah Cosmetics. This one has a pretty funny story involving Aaron's grandmother, which I won't tell. This lip product looks like the cheapest dime store stuff you can find, is housed in a plastic black and clear case, and come in crazy colors like green and blue - mine is gold. But they are color changing lipsticks, which means what you see is not what you get. Harder to find a shade, but supposedly they adapt to you and your coloring. I can attest that it looked much different on Grandma than on me. And the miracle of this stuff is that it lasts like all day long. I can apply chapstick over it for moisture. I have been wanting to order another color from their website but am stymied by how to choose a color. $5 for the plastic case or $12 for the fancy, 2 tone aluminum tube (don't forget the shipping, which was over $5) I might ask Aaron's aunt in Texas to get some more for me to save on shipping.

Neutrogena MoistureShine Soothing LipSheers. Another frequently advertised product. I like the SPF 20, sheer color, and the hint of sparkle (seriously just a hint). I am pleased with my shade choice, which I can't share since I can't find mine. They are lighter than you think. They have a cool, peppermint flavor - which I like tons better than the Burt's Bees, not as strong.


C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint. This is the only lip gloss I'm going to include because I like the mint (for fresh breath they say), the sheer color, the not-too-bad stickiness, and the price ($5). Available at Bath & Body Works.


I have been wanting to try the following products, please comment if you know anything about them:


Neutrogena Moisture MoistureShine Tinted Lip Balm. What's with the super long names for Neutrogena? SPF 20 $6.50

Kiehls Lip Balm with SPF 15. Love the sunscreen. Wonder if this is really balm, as it comes in a squeeze tube. $8.50

Revlon Colorstay Soft & Smooth Lipcolor. I love soft and smooth - plus it supposedly stay on for hours and hours due to SoftFlex TM. $10 but I've read great reviews of it.

Clinique Superbalm Tinted Lip Treatment. Another balm in a squeeze tube, hmmmmm? Pricier at $11.50 I usually like Estee Lauder better than Clinique, but Shannon tells me they are the same company.

Propoline Lip Aid by Apivita (carried at B&BW, $5.50). I tried this in the store and liked it - will probably buy one of the 3 colors before too long.


I can't freaking believe how many hours I have spent on this post. These companies should be paying me to endorse their stuff! Please leave a comment on these products or others that you love.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Pedicure on the Cheap

Tara thinks...
every woman should be able to get manicures and pedicures weekly, or at least monthly. This is way far from reality for me but I do splurge on a pedicure once or twice a year. I wanted to get one on my vacation to Utah but it never happened. And my fingernails have been super awful lately. But now that I'm back home I vowed to find a few minutes to do something about the fact that I can hardly get myself or the boys dressed without snagging the clothes with my raggedy nails. A bunch of trimming and filing makes a huge difference, but the crowning glory is...
Sally Hansen Natural Shine Instant Nail Finish in pink.
I read a funny editor's review of this in Lucky and couldn't wait to try it myself. I can't keep polish on my fingernails for more than 2 hours so this is the perfect product for me. It's easy to apply, dries in seconds, and doesn't chip - just kind of fades off in about a week. It comes in neutral and pink, which I recommend because even then you can't see much color. You just get great shiny nails that look all polished and buffed!
Stay tuned for my much anticipated post on the merits of tinted lip balm and the like. If I hear one word from my more high-brow friends (you know who you are) making fun of my love of beauty products, I swear I'll make you go shopping with me soon. Not everyone can fill their blog with discussions of current events, controversial subjects, and spiritual enlightenment. Some of us are just here for fun!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

BYU Women's Conference

I am pleased to present my first guest blogger, Lindsay Humble Moore. Lindsay is one of my oldest friends and the hostest with the mostest who took in my whole family for 6 nights this week! I wanted to write some of my own thoughts on the conference but was too lazy while I'm on vacation, so Lindsay did it for me. Yeah!

I’m honored to be writing Tara’s first guest blog! She asked me to write about our experience at Women’s Conference this year, and what an experience it was. It’s just amazing to be in the company of so many women, all united by their membership in the Church and their desire to learn more about the Gospel.

The theme of the conference came from Esther 4:14, “Thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” The focus was on each of us being the right person, in the right place at the right time. Here are some of the highlights:

The new Relief Society General Presidency introduced themselves and spoke on the topic, “The Errand of Angels is Given to Women.” You are going to love these ladies! They each have such unique backgrounds and talents, and such great personalities. Sister Thompson was particularly memorable. A fairly rotund woman, her first words to the world in her new calling were, “To those of you viewing me on the big screen, I’m the same size live and in person.” She kept us laughing . . . then crying, then laughing. In her own way, each of the women made clear why they’ve been called to serve in the Presidency. Prepare to be inspired by these wonderful women.

Another presentation was entitled, “Let Us Cheerfully Do All Things in Our Power,” taken from D&C 123:17. The fact that those words were written by Joseph Smith from Liberty Jail is inspiring enough, but the speakers gave a lot of practical advice to help individuals and families live more cheerfully – with gladness, joy, hope and love. It’s something I’ve been trying to work on lately, so it was good for me.

Finally, the conference closed with Elder and Sister Holland speaking together to the women of the Church, encouraging us to give ourselves credit for the good we do, recognize our potential, and follow the promptings of the Spirit so that we can do the work the Lord has for each of us “in such a time as this.” Their love for the women of the Church was so powerful, as was the apostolic blessing bestowed on all of us by Elder Holland.

I will admit, as inspiring as the conference was, what I really wanted to hear was an Oprah-style announcement that would solve all of my problems much more easily than applying Gospel principles. Something like, “And all of you will receive a maid! And an on-call babysitter! You will have an hour to yourself every day just to pray and read scriptures!” Even after the Hollands’ talk, I actually left the conference feeling a little overwhelmed -- so many things to work on, and such limited time and energy. Hopefully I’ll find time to do a little more study on the topics covered by the conference and gain more of the inspiration I need.

You can receive your own inspiration by watching selected sessions of this year’s Women’s Conference May 18 and 19 on the BYU Channel. Check your local listings!

p.s. Several service projects were ongoing throughout the conference and on the second morning the director reported the service that had been completed just in the first day. It was unbelievable. As the seemingly endless list of projects was announced, and the huge numbers reported -- 20,000 newborn kits and 25,000 hygiene kits, just for starters – the tears started. It was really touching to consider all the good these women had done in such a short time, and the service the women of the Church perform throughout the world. The committee that spent months preparing service project materials got a long, well-deserved standing ovation in a packed Marriot Center.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Book List

Most everyone who knows me is aware of my serious obsession with reading. Too often I neglect my husband, children, home, sleep, etc. I'd like to say I only read quality literature that wins awards and is listed on the classic book lists, but in addition to a small sampling of those I mostly read fun, entertaining fiction. I don't want to write a bunch of book reviews, more like just list some of my favorites and what I've been into lately. I love series because I can get to know the characters and see some growth and development. Mysteries have always been my favorite and I love the site Stop, You're Killing Me for a huge list of books and series, listed both by author and main character. I like to read my series in order always so this site has helped a lot.

British Mysteries (my favorite, there's just something about those Brits!)
Martha Grimes - Richard Jury series - these are the best and there are a lot of them. Martha Grimes writing style is awesome! I even went to a bookstore in Tempe once where she was appearing and talking. I was so proud of myself for asking a question. I love these because the characters are interesting and because they talk a lot about things I wish I was more conversant in: poetry, art, classic literature, etc.
Agatha Christie - esp. Hercule Poirot - classics! I started reading these in Jr. High and they have shaped my reading habits. You should read 2 or 3... or 6.
Rhys Bowen - Evan Evans series - not really British but poor Wales gets lumped in with Britian a lot. These books are fun and light - PG rated.
M.M. Kaye - Death in... series - I think these are some of the most suspenseful and scary books I've read without including a bunch of gore or serious horror stuff. They are not truly a series because they are always about different characters and places, but sort of formulaic with the same type of young British heroine, traveling for the first time, etc. etc. But they somehow stay fresh and exciting to me.
Elizabeth Peters - Crocodile on the Sandbank & the rest of the series. These are written in journalistic style, or memoirs or something. Amelia Peabody is so stinking funny! I guess they are mysteries, but more like comedies to me. I love the romance of Egypt during the times of British influence. Just like Agatha Christie.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes - have read them all! Own them all! Have been to 221B Baker Street in London - probably my favorite attraction there.

Culinary Mysteries
Joanne Fluke - Hannah Swensen series - the most ridiculously G rated books I have ever read! And how many bodies can one cookie shop owner find? But kind of fun and I love that it's almost all dessert recipes! They are pretty good.
Katherine Hall Page - Faith Fairchild - the recipes are really highbrow and advanced so I haven't tried any yet. I like the New England setting and the main character - a SAHM.
There are tons of series out there in this genre, with most including recipes. To me, these are all just kind of fun, not much meat in the actual writing. Let me know if you have found a good series.

Juvenile Books
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter - fun for one and all! Can't wait for #7 this summer.
Gordon Korman - this Canadian author usually writes about young boys, say aged 11-14ish. I discovered these in Jr. High and love them to this day. I can't wait until my boys are old enough. I still list my favorite book of all time as "I Want to Go Home." I laugh out loud through the whole thing. The main character has such a dry sense of humor, or just personality I guess. My copy is falling apart and I think has mold growing on it from getting wet. But I still read it every couple years.
Anything off the Newberry Award List. I am reading my way through it and am never disappointed.

The modern day gals/fashionistas/romance without being called a romance novel
Sophie Kinsella - Shopaholic series - I love this main character, she is so crazy! And since I love shopping, I can relate to her alternate reality.
I read lots of other books in this category, but I don't know which I'd recommend. What I do is go to Barnes & Noble or Borders and find the displays for this genre. Then I read all the backs, write down the ones that sound interesting, then put those on hold at the library. They're fun and a good break from my mysteries.

Random
Clive Cussler - Dirk Pitt series - seriously complex and outragesous plots, but that's the fun of it. And Dirk sounds super dreamy. Lots of good action too.
Dorothy Gilman - Mrs. Pollifax - sort of mystery/adventure. She's a grandmother and a CIA agent. Light and fun, I love to learn about all the places she travels.
Jan Karon - Mitford Series - Father Tim is very spiritual and inspiring to me. The characters are original and lovable, unless they're supposed to be unlovable. I wonder if there are still towns like this?

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Did It!

Hooray for me! I completed my first 5K event. I was worried about even doing the whole thing since I hurt my ankle, but I was okay and I even ran a bit. It was lots of fun because there were tons of people walking - even little kids and parents with strollers. Of course some of them were way faster than me, especially the kids! My time was 41:30. I hesitate to list it because I'm so slow, but hope this will motivate me to run more and be able to boast about my improvement. I would like to run another 5K soon and maybe actually run it. And maybe I can move up to a 10K once I'm done having kids and I've run out of excuses. A special thanks to my friend Jeanna who ran with me. Well, not with me since she actually ran the whole thing. But she did come back and find me and ran the last .1 mile with me. And a thanks to those who inspired me: Lindsay, who has been doing triathlons lately, and Shannon, who runs 10Ks like they're going out of style. You guys rock! I want to be like you. Anyone else who runs, please leave a comment so I can be more inspired.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Multi-tasking

Tara Thinks...
everyone should have a few minutes to blog every day. Right now I have 6 minutes until my timer goes off for the first of 3 pans of the various bars I have to make for my awesome sister's open house tomorrow. And in 1 hour I'm supposed to be at the church to help set up for our primary activity tonight. Aaron is "working from home" today and I had him all scheduled for babysitting (being home during nap time). But then he got called in to work suddenly. I was freaking out, don't they know he was busy! You'd think they pay his salary or something. So I had to cancel on the set-up, sorry Marshelle, and instead will spend my time making bars and finishing the 10 year later wedding video for my sister, which I've spent at least 12 hours on. That way I can be at the church all night for primary, before I do my 5K tomorrow morning, before I go to the temple for my sister's sealing, before I attend and help at the open house, before I take care of church stuff for Sunday, where I have to conduct. And hey, there goes the timer. Crap, they look weird! I am the worst lemon bar maker in the world (even though I am awesome at everything else).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Making Friends

Tara Thinks...

Some people are blessed with the talent to make friends easily. I am blessed with falling into a great set of friends at a very young age, like Jr. High. Some people, like me, need to hold on to the friends we have because it's hard and scary to make new ones. I was pretty much attached at the hip to my girlfriends through high school and when I went to BYU it wasn't too bad because I roomed with one of them, and 2 more were down at Dixie and visited often. And even now I talk to most of them frequently. Then through, ahhh.... okay, seven years of college - you might think I would make some more friends. But I found it was much easier to get a boyfriend and hang with his friends than to click with a new girlfriend. Not to mention I continued to live with one or the other of my HS friends most of the time. I had 3 or 4 roommates that I really enjoyed and that I would have considered friends, whom I still exchange Christmas cards with at least. I became close to 3 fellow chem majors, ditto on the Christmas cards. And I had one random roommate that became one of my "girls," even letting me live with her family (husband, 2 kids) my last semester at BYU. She even came to my wedding. Maybe we don't talk as much as we'd like anymore, but I'm still staying with her when I take my fam to UT later this month.

So, it's a good thing I've stayed put in Mesa, where at least some of my girlfriends still live. And thank goodness for family! I never dreamed I'd be this close to my sister, or have such great sis-in-laws. But when Aaron's job moved us to St. Petersburg, FL - I was pretty worried. Luckily I had Alden by then and he takes up a ton of time naturally. And long-distance calls are the same as local nowadays. So I would have been okay. But instead of just okay, I managed to find my own twin, practically - waiting there in our little branch in FL. I can't imagine what life would have been like there without Shannon. And even though we've been back in Mesa for like 7 months now, I still talk to Shannon more than anyone else, even Aaron if you only count phone time. If the Johnsons would just move here, life would be complete!

But here I am, at 30, trying to make new friends. And I swear, it's worse than Jr. High - should I invite this person for a playdate? Is it too soon to call them? Do you think they had a good time? Will we be able to find anyone who might go out with Aaron & I? I do have a few pretty good friends, but I worry that they get sick of me. I miss Shannon who would just know we were hanging out every day.

That's why I like this blogging thing. I know some people who have blogs. And they have links to some of their friends who have blogs. And they have friends too - you know how it goes. And sometimes when my boys are sleeping, when I am supposed to be doing laundry or dishes or something, I check out blogs. And some of these people are really cool! Almost all of them have little kids and deal with the same things I do. It's like having friends without one party knowing it. Some blogs I have been reading more regularly. Yesterday I came across this girl (or is it a lady? or a woman?) - a Mom, who sounded exactly like me. I read through her recent posts and I think she is great. I want to be her friend. I wish we could hang out. Too bad she lives somewhere far away. Plus she seems to have tons of blogging friends, gets like 5 or 6 comments on every post, and probably has tons of friends in real life too. Too good for the likes of me. So the question is - should I contact this random girl or not?

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Best 5K Intentions

Tara thinks...
that if someone finally commits to run a 5K, their ankles should cooperate.

Just a few belated rantings. I've always wanted to be a runner. They all seem so fit and wholesome and I have fond memories of when I used to run cross country - you know, in 8th grade. But I was good! And if only I can get over the laziness and self-indulgence I can totally be good again. I figured a 5K was a good place to start and have been wanting to try one for a couple years. But between being pregnant and nursing the opportunity hasn't come up until now. I've been saying since I got pregnant with Emmett that I would run one the spring after he was born. So it's the spring and I searched out an event that would work with my suddenly crazy schedule and actually signed up and paid. I was running at the YMCA a lot (for me) and actually doing a 5K several times. Now when I say "doing," I mean a combo of walking and running 3.1 miles. It was taking me just over 40 min. and I was starting to increase my run to walk ratio. All very good for me. I didn't realistically think I could run 3.1 miles, but I was getting there. And then disaster struck! An injury. I might be the only person around who can sprain their ankle just standing there. So it's been 2 weeks and I've been slowly healing and not going to the gym. But I went today! I was definitely held back by the ankle, not by the fact I haven't worked out for 2 weeks. I did some walking and running, but could only do one and a quarter miles. Unfortunately that's a far cry from 3.1 miles, but I'm hoping things will improve this week and hey, I'll walk it if I have to. A big thanks to my friend Jeanna for signing up with me, although I hope she doesn't feel like she has to stay back with me.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My Magazines

Tara thinks...

everyone should have at least 3 or 4 magazine subscriptions. I love magazines! If funds were not an issue I would suscribe to everything from Martha Stewart, to Parents, to Lucky, to Everyday Food, to People/US Weekly/OK. Oh wait... I do subscribe to those - well, most of them. I don't know how I find the time to read, but let's face it - I neglect my home and family and read constantly anyway. But magazines are great because I can read them 5 min. at a time, which I can't do with a book - ruins the continuity. And magazines contain advertisements and articles relating to one of my favorite pastimes - Shopping! I thought I'd list the stuff I'm subscribing to now and add links to their sites. It seems like most mags are starting blogs of their own too, which is kind of fun.

I'll start with Parents/Parenting since this seems the least frivolous. I somehow managed to get subscriptions to both, sort of on accident. I like Parents a little better although I swear they're run by the same company. I can skim these mags, cut out fun mom stuff, articles & whatnot that I may or may not remember to look at later. I like the cute embarrassing stories and the suggestions from other parents and I once found a recall for a toy we had. Parents blog is www.goodyblog.com. Parenting blog is http://theparentingpost.parenting.com/.

Martha Stewart. Self explanatory. I love this magazine but they take up quite a lot of my time between reading them (quite hefty) and spending time dreaming about all the stuff I'd like to do. I usually subscibe every other year or so. It's a bit pricey too, like $26ish. But I find I like everything Martha Stewart, except the lady herself. That's why the magazine is so great. But you can't deny she has talent and style. And I love the baby issues! Aaaaahhh, the cutest stuff. You can never go wrong with a MSL recipe either, except sometimes they get a bit complicated and expensive. I just pick the simpler ones.

I remember when Lucky Magazine first started, I was an original subscriber. This mag is dedicated to shopping, just like me! Like a fashion magazine without the relationship/dating/sex stuff. But tons of great clothes, make-up, hairstyles, and home stuff! Most is out of my price range, but I still think they do better about putting in normal person stuff than other fashion magazines. They have a blog too, although not as prolific or interesting as the parenting ones.

Domino is by the same people as Lucky and is dedicated to the home. Both are only $12 a year. It's a little more modern style than I might choose, but fun and interesting. I also like Martha Stewart's home magazine, Blueprint, but it was too high end for me. Almost every item ever featured was like 10-20 times more than I would ever pay. Domino is a bit more my speed - I even sent gift subscriptions to some friends last Christmas. Oh, they also have stuff on entertaining, like recipes, table settings, etc. Which I totally wish I used all the time. I'm a Martha Stewart entertainer wannabee. Unfortunately, my social circle doesn't appreciate this.

Okay, so I don't subscribe to People, US Weekly, or OK. But I wish I did - I love to look at them in the grocery store check out line. And I treat myself a few times a year. I love the celebrity gossip, that's what I miss most about our cancelled newspaper, of which I only ever read the Living Section.

Unfortunately, writing this post has taken hours and hours as I search for the websites and blogs and get caught up in them. Wishing you the same entertaining luck!

Prepping the House

Tara thinks...

I need to get my house in shape for my DSIL (dear sis-in-law) Candice's baby shower. I am so excited to host this event in my own home, despite its diminuitive size. I think I can handle 40ish people at once, and these come-and-go showers aren't usually more than that. Fingers crossed! Even though the shower isn't for over 2 months, I have been thinking of themes, invitations, food, and decorations. Candice's baby has not been helping, stubbornly keeping its legs together through 2 ultrasounds. Aaron calls the baby "Cousin It." But hooray - just this morning she went for a third look and it appears Cousin It is a Girl! So we're moving on to pink themes.

Part of hosting a big event like this is getting my house in shape - not only cleaning-wise, but decorating-wise too. As in paint, pictures, curtains, etc. - all the things I've sort of been working on since we moved back from Florida 7 months ago. I have a master plan, just need to be realistic as to what I can get done in the next 2 months. My favorite decorating style is Craftsman/Bungalow, with a little Prairie/Frank Lloyd Wright/Mission styles thrown in too. Too bad my house is totally not Bungalow style. We'll ge there, even if it takes a complete remodel of the outside. Since the big remodel I did here right before we moved to Floriday, we changed the floorplan quite a bit and created a big family room, open to the kitchen and dining room. This matches Craftsman style and I've been working on the interior. It takes a lot of money because I like lots of wood molding, we'll get there on that too. Anyways... I want to do some stenciling all around the living room, right next to the ceiling. I've even gotten Aaron to give a bit of an opinion about this. He's all for it and spent at least 8 minutes with me looking at a few patterns online. Here are the finalists:
http://www.crafthome.com/subsidiarypages/stencils/StencilMainFramePage.htm
Casablanca, Celeste, and Poppy Frieze
http://www.crafthome.com/subsidiarypages/stencils/a/stencilMainFramePage.htm
Ivy Pergola and Mission Spirit



Leave a comment or vote! I would love to hear ideas for baby showers too.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tara Thinks ...

I think I should start my own blog about the things I care about, am interested in, or need to get off my chest. My family blog, The Carpenter Clan, is mostly about my two sons and you should check it out! http://carpenterclanaz.blogspot.com/ This blog will certainly make reference to my husband and kids, but mostly talk about the stuff I like: books, shopping, cooking, home projects, etc. Some posts will be frivolous, like the merits of various tinted lipbalms, some will be a bit weightier, like my opinions on books I read, and I might occasionally get into something really substantial, like my religion or political issues. Although if you know me you know I don't get into politics much. Hope you enjoy and check back often. Oh, and leave lots of comments.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007