Monday, December 29

Up Sale the Female

I'm sure you are familiar with this concept. It is not new. I have fallen for it (more than once) I will admit!

It is usually mechanical or electronic in nature.

The men in my life (starting with my dad!) have warned me about it and continue to remind me about it. They even step in (thankyouverymuch) when they sense I am falling for it.

This weekend I came head-to-head with it and was victorious!

My most expensive encounter with it was when I was pregnant with Kendal. One tire had a slow leak. With two little boys in tow, I headed to the tire store for a quick and cheap repair. My tire was inspected. I was informed that I should invest not only in a new tire--but 4 new tires--special tires for the Arizona heat. Especially since (and at this point a nod towards my little boys and then one toward my baby bump was added for dramatic flair) I had such precious cargo! I couldn't argue with that, and it happened. The men in my life were not amused.

This weekend it played out a bit different.

"Don't let them up sale you" reminded Cliff, who was guiding me (long-distance) via cell phone on the purchase of a router.

I listened to the salesman do his thing. It is his job after all. Being nice pays off. He ended up showing me one like his...on a clearance shelf...way in the back. I wouldn't have found it on my own.

I know, a router! I installed it. It is okay to be impressed. I am :)

My wireless connection is is good!

Wednesday, December 24

'Twas the Night Before Christmas and...

well...kind of. I'm not actually on the beach. But, my feet are kicked up--in a relaxed position.
I'm ready people!
Truth be told, I've been ready for a little while now...except for that last trip to the grocery know. DONE! And oh yeah, wrapping those last few gifts! DONE!

I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. I love the shared moments with family and friends. I love the sights and sounds. I even love the chill in the (desert) air. I love the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Warm and beautiful wishes to you!

Saturday, December 20

CHOCOLATE...It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore!

That's what a sign in my kitchen proclaims.
We are not a "vanilla" family. We just aren't!
I had almost a full gallon of vanilla ice cream--left over from Chloe's birthday party--sitting in my freezer.

Lonely and almost forgotten.

Apparently, most of the party-goers preferred the more flavorful options also :)

So, with ingredients found in my kitchen, I whipped up this hot fudge sauce...

...and the vanilla ice cream got eaten!

**Heather (my friend at The Healthy Bite) please don't judge me too harshly :)
**The rest of's the delightful recipe...enjoy!

Hot Fudge Sauce
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
4 ounces chocolate (squares or pieces...I used choc. chips)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat milk and sugar to rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Add chocolate; stir until melted. Beat over heat until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in margarine, vanilla and salt.

Please note, beat well is not one of the ingredients...nor is bacon powder!

Monday, December 15

Need a Little Beat Well

Jordan picked Germany.
3rd grade...Christmas report/project.
Seemed logical...Grandma & Grandpa Bracken were there, serving a mission.

Bright idea! His or mine? Can't remember.
Let's bake German Christmas cookies for the class to munch on during the report.

Me: (in the kitchen - making grocery list)
Jordan: (at the table - chosen recipe in hand)
Me: "Okay Jord, read off the ingredients."
Jordan: "Sugar. Yup, we've got that. Butter. Yup, we've got that. Add two eggs and beat well. We've got the eggs. Beat well. Put that on the list, mom. We need beat well!"

I love this time of year.
Family. Traditions. Memories.

Thursday, December 11

Yes, We Have No Bananas

We did, but they were turning they were turned into

Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins

Simple and tasty. (I thought about adding a crumble topping. But no...simple is what caught my eye when I discovered this recipe. I stuck to it!)

I have a funny relationship with bananas. My attraction to them Yes, that's it! Under-ripe is not one bit appealing (hard to peel, waxy after-taste) nor is over-ripe. That leaves a 2 day span for a banana to even be considered (by me) for consumption.

I will omit my feelings regarding bruises and "strings". You get it, right?

As I eyed these 2 bananas, I had a few options:

  • Toss them (which would be breaking one of my '08 resolutions regarding produce)

  • Make banana bread (I love my mom's recipe, but it's a bit time consuming)

  • Find a simple recipe of some sort
    1. Simple won. The hint of peanut butter is very subtle. If you've got a few unattractive bananas hanging around, try this!

      2 1/2 cups flour

      1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

      1 tsp. baking soda

      1/3 cup butter (or margarine)

      1/4 cup peanut butter

      1/2 cup sugar

      2 eggs

      1 cup milk

      2 ripe (or over-ripe) bananas

      Preheat oven 375 degrees. In medium bowl bowl combine first 3 ingredients and set aside. In large bowl beat butter & peanut butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs. With mixer on low, alternately beat in flour mixture, milk and bananas until blended. Bake for 20 minutes. 12 yummy muffins!

      Approved and recommended by our birthday girl, Chloe! (we munched on them for breakfast...she's a very loving food critic)

      Sunday, December 7

      Decking the Halls

      Put this together this afternoon.
      Wanted something outdoorsy AND romantic.
      Thanks Kendal, for talking me into getting the gold, glittery, twig thingies. I resisted, but you glad!
      A bit messy to work with...but, oh-so fun!
      And ahhhhh, the feathers!

      $9.3 - In billions, the estimated national sales for holiday decorations last year.

      $20 - Amount the typical American household spent on seasonal decorations in 2006. (I wanna know, how did they do that?)

      269 - In feet, the height of the Guinness Book of World Records' largest Christmas tree.

      25% - Percentage of respondents who purchased a live tree last year, according to a poll by the National Christmas Tree Association.

      25,000 - Number of lights on Clark Griswold's house in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

      While decking, I use my collection of antique/vintage angels. Such cute faces!
      What are your fave things to "deck" with?

      Monday, December 1

      A Crack on Our STONE!

      With my little dude...before the crack. Jordan & Rachel had just departed. You know, towards Utah.
      The rest of us...enjoying the oh-so beautiful last day of November.

      Duck Feeding

      Slippery Sliding

      Shoulder Riding

      Time for dinner.

      Then off to the Klepinger's to play/visit.

      While having a blast playing with Carson and his fun toys, Stone took a spill & cracked his lip.

      A quick trip around the corner to get a doctor's opinion. Thanks Rob and Reader family! A quick trip to Urgent Care. Back to Rob's. Then off to one of Rob's friends (a plastic surgeon).

      After a bit of drama, much relief after both doctors concluded stitches & sedation (due to Stone's wiggly age) would not be necessary!

      Family rocks! And our Stone will heal.

      After the crack...and before we cleaned up his face and shirt.

      Leann and Carson dropped by tonight with some new cars (see on top of the steering wheel) and goodies. Carson has a sympathy injury on his forehead (see the bandage?).
      We miss you Jordan and Rachel. The babies are looking everywhere for you :) We can't wait for your baby!

      Monday, November 24

      Pathway Home

      "Forever on Thanksgiving Day, the heart will find the pathway home." --Wilbur D. Nesbit

      I'm so excited. All 3 kids, their 3 spouses, and 3 babies (okay, one in utero, but still!)...making their way "home". The arrivals start today.

      These 9, when I count my blessings, are right on top. It's more than love...we really like each other.

      I get to smooch on him today.

      And her tomorrow. (I love her "Got Milk?" pose)Great news--this little doll and her mommy & daddy are moving to the Valley of the Sun. Lots of smooching ahead!

      Friday, November 21

      Just Desserts, Twilight & Scarecrows

      Nine...p.m. My house. Just Girls. Just Desserts.
      We laughed, posed, and ate.
      Current #1 album playing in the background. (Thank you, Lor!)
      Movie know, the movie.
      Then, we sang a song...twice!
      Once via phone, for Paul. Once for Leann. She made a wish and blew out candles.
      (Hey Lee? Did you wish for cuts in the looooooong movie line, by chance? Nice!) Happy Birthday, Leann! I love you!

      Ten...p.m. 5 sisters and 5 nieces load into 2 SUVs.
      Missed our girls (Kendal, Charee, Rachel, Ashley & Brittany) that live too far away!
      Missed our girls (Kennedy, Reagan, Brittain & Eden) that are too young for such happenings!

      Skipped the long lines. Straight to our seats. Two hours of pure fun, until...

      Twelve...a.m. The lights went down.
      I haven't read the books. I had no expectations. We had already had a blast. Related friends. Entertained.

      Three...a.m. Dropped off. Home.

      Nine...a.m. Sleepy-eyed. Pulled garbage can to curb. Discovered my neighbors scarecrows are now in my yard instead of theirs. Be afraid very afraid!

      ***more pics to come --- when I can see through eyes that are not blurred :)

      As promised...thanks, Lynds!

      Sunday, November 16

      Single Sentence Sunday

      "It is not doing the thing we like to do, but liking the thing we have to do, that makes life blessed." -GOETHE

      Tuesday, November 11

      Easy, Breezy and Cheesy!

      Pesto Pizza

      Start to finish: less than 30 fun minutes!

      Crust options: I used Jiffy (my first time was quick, easy, cheap and yummy). Papa Murphy's sells a large crust (uncooked) for $2. Or your fave dough.
      Toppings: What's your pleasure? (That's the fun part...what do you feel like?)

      Preheat oven (450-ish degrees).
      Spread dough on greased plate/pan.

      ***tip: pour small amount of olive oil on plate/pan and pepper the oil. Use your fingers to spread the peppered oil, and then use your greasy fingers to spread the dough. This way the dough won't stick to your fingers!***

      Distribute desired amount of pesto directly on dough. (I used garlic/basil)
      Add your choice of meat.
      (I used sliced Canadian bacon, Kendal used a shredded chicken and alfredo sauce mixture over tomato/basil pesto)
      Sprinkle grated cheese. (I used a shredded pizza blend)
      Add other chosen toppings. (I used sweet red roasted peppers and sliced red/purple onions)
      Apply light sprinkling of olive oil.
      Bake 15-18 minutes.

      And the an authentic pizzeria...YUM!

      When the kids are here later this month, each couple can CREATE one. A gourmet pizza party. The possibilities are endless. So, start thinking, kiddos!

      Sunday, November 9

      Fast Sunday, or Slow Sunday?

      I love my new ward!

      Last week was Stake Conference, so...
      today was Fast Sunday.

      I think my stomach growled during R.S.
      It could have been someone elses. I honestly couldn't tell. I heard it, but didn't feel it, ya know?

      My new friends pretended not to hear.
      So did I. Just in case it was theirs and not mine.

      Another Sunday, when this boy (Tanner) was 4, we were rushing from the parking lot to the chapel, hoping to not be late.

      "Mom, is today Fast Sunday or Slow Sunday?"

      Hmmmm, good FHE topic for the next night :)

      Tuesday, November 4

      My Day in Court

      I was summoned.
      Jury Duty.
      I know the drill.
      Showed up at the appointed time.
      Filled out paper work, watched a video.
      Assigned a number. Ten.
      Filed into a courtroom.
      Answered questions out loud.
      Learned way too much about 53 strangers.
      Number 11, sitting right next to me, has a half-brother serving time for murder. I tried not to flinch. As requested by the court, several others shared about their family members "convictions".
      They know a bit about me too. They know that I am related to attorneys.
      I'm pretty sure that's why I was thanked and excused (after several hours) happens every time!

      Thursday, October 30

      Broke My Heart, Came Back, In Love Again!

      Those 8 words pretty much describe the relationship.

      After a painful exit last spring...a glorious return last night.


      Steve Nash and his boys, collectively known as the PHOENIX SUNS, are back.

      They beat the Spurs.
      You know, the dirty-playing, boo-hoo crying, boys from San Antonio. AND, they did it in Texas.

      Can I get a woot-woo?

      Monday, October 27

      Sharing my STRIPES and a SALUTE

      Some of you asked, so here they stripes!

      The small, angled wall is part of the family room. The rest of the room is solid "beachnut", the same as the darker stripes. The darker wall is the hallway...a yummy, milk chocolate-y color.

      Now, for the Salute:

      Happy Birthday glad you are part of the family. Love you!!!
      (If you don't know Cliff, you should. He's such an impressive young man! Check him out here.)

      Thursday, October 23

      Real Mothers...Yes, You!

      This is for all of the young REALMOTHERS that I know, admire, and love!

      (One of which I'm pictured with-Kendal, and the one who is on the receiving end of her REAL MOTHERING, Stone-last month in Texas.)

      REAL MOTHERS don't eat quiche; they don't have time to make it.
      REAL MOTHERS know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.
      REAL MOTHERS often have sticky floors, filthy ovens, and happy kids.
      REAL MOTHERS know that dried play dough doesn't come out of carpets.
      REAL MOTHERS don't want to know what the vacuum just sucked up.
      REAL MOTHERS sometimes ask "Why me?" and get their answer when a little voice says, "Because I love you best."
      REAL MOTHERS know that a child's growth is not measured by height or years or grade.

      Monday, October 20

      Happy Haunting!

      $19.84...estimated amount the average adult spends on Halloween candy.

      10.7%...percentage of girls who chose to dress up as a princess-the most popular child's costume-last Halloween.

      1/3...fraction of adults who play along, dressing in Halloween costume.

      8...number of sequels to the original Halloween movie which starred Jamie Lee Curtis in 1978.

      1982...the year Thriller was released, in time for Halloween. Comparing the old Michael Jackson to his current image? Now that's scary!

      Friday, October 17

      One Dark October Evening

      One evening during a violent thunderstorm, a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked, with a tremor in his voice,

      "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

      The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug.

      "I can't dear," she said, "I have to sleep with Daddy."

      A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice:

      "The big sissy."

      Enjoy this dark, October evening...and the weekend that follows!

      Monday, October 13

      When Life Hands You a Lemon (or LIME)...

      suck on it...

      and make the sourpuss face!

      TAG...I'm it! Thanks Deborah. Instead of making the SOURPUSS face, I am happily complying. Hopefully this will be painless for me and those of you reading.

      8 Random Things About Me:

      1. I love a good horror scaredy cat here! So, it's a good thing that-

      2. I am NOT afraid of the dark. I love a dark, candlelit room!

      3. My celebrity crush (since I was 7) was Paul Newman. So sad with his passing. He was always so CHARMING in interviews...and those eyes! (and HELLO?...Message in a Bottle...ahhh!)

      4. Unlike most females on earth, I have never crushed on George Clooney. He doesn't do it for me...nope, never has. (Although I did like him in "One Fine Day")

      5. I love BIG hair. Never fully grasped the whole flat-iron thing. Am so pleased that full hair is once again acceptable :)

      6. My toenails are ALWAYS polished...always. Yessiree, even in the winter.

      7. These days I'm loving the "boy nails" look on my fingers with 2 coats of clear Nail Life.

      8. I am obsessed with BLACK PAINT. I have accented my home with black for quite a while now...but, since the move, it has become a bit more than just an accent. Thank you, black paint. LOVING it!

      If you are reading this...TAG, you're it!

      Wednesday, October 8

      Ahhh Orville...I'm in Love!

      Have you seen it? Tried it? You really must!
      Mr. Redenbacher has done himself proud.
      As I was strolling (okay, pushing my cart) down the
      snack section of my local caught my eye...and then it called out to me. My heart started pounding. Seriously.

      LIME & Salt popcorn. Natural. No preservatives, no trans fat! Thank. You. Orville.

      And until now (this occurred a few days ago) I have failed to mention this discovery to my daughter. Forgive me Kendal...being busier than usual is no could I keep this glorious news from you? After all, you are my partner in **LOVING all things CITRUS!

      We delight in any food enhanced with/by citrus...we adore even more, full (citrus) flavored goodies! (Think: key lime pie, cilantro lime chicken, lemon poppy seed scones, lemon bars...oh heck, we ate a whole 9x9 pan of those one Sunday afternoon, just the two of us, remember?...oink,oink)

      Okay, okay, I was carried away (to citrus paradise) for a minute there...back to the popcorn. As if it's LIME flavor weren't enough...a bonus: mini bags! I love mini bags...enough to share (if I must) or, not too much to polish off on my own! (without any feelings of guilt)

      Don't you just love life's simple pleasures? Like microwave popcorn and DWTS. It just got better! (and woohoo, we have Rocco for another week!)

      For the love of out and get a box now! Except if you're 8 and 1/2 months pregnant, then send your hub out (love you M & J)...or if you have a 3 year old and twin babies, I'll go get it for you! (love you L & B)

      **We (K-girl and I) also love citrus scented things! (Think: candles, car air-freshener, Arizona in springtime...wink, wink, etc.)

      Sunday, October 5


      up-lift [v. uhp-lift] 1. To raise; elevate. 2. To exalt emotionally.

      Once again (as with the first weekend of each October & April) I feel inspired and uplifted.

      Once again, I am encouraged to be good and do good.

      Blessed. That's what I feel. That's what I am.

      Friday, October 3

      Friday Fill-In...Again!

      ***Kendal's mantel...we decorated for Autumn while I was visiting.

      Friday Fill-In...passed on from a friend...join in if you'd like!
      (copy and paste and change my answers, in bold, to your own)

      1. Birthday's are...a celebration!

      2. my favorite season's the beginning of the best 8 months in the Valley of the Sun!

      3. I feel my best when...I get 7 hours of snooze time!

      4. Right now, a shredded beef my favorite food!

      5. First impressions much fun!

      6. The best advice I ever received was...look before you leap!

      7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to...a shredded beef chimi, tomorrow my plans include...redeeming a gift card & DVR-ing conference...and Sunday, I want to...continue a tradition!

      Tuesday, September 30

      Before You Plunk Down Moolah

      We all know money can't buy happiness.

      BUT, sometimes it can buy stuff that makes us happy.

      To help determine whether you're investing in something that will truly add joy and utility to your life, REDBOOK

      shares 5 things to ask yourself:

      1. Is this something I will use at least once a week? Will it be useful for at least a year?

      2. Will this thing make me smile at least 10 times? Will it contribute to lasting memories? (I love this one!)

      3. Have I recently seen an ad for this item or experience? (If so, am I secretly kidding myself that it will make me as skinny and giddy as the actress in said ad?)

      4. What am I willing to give up for this purchase? (Would I be willing to eat ramen noodles for a week or give up my premium movie channel to finance it?)

      5. Can I wait until this goes on sale to buy it? Or at least 24 hours? (HINT: the answer to this one is always YES!)

      I love these tips and thought I'd share!

      Friday, September 26

      Dear Mom & Dad, Mission Accomplished--Five for Friday!

      I miss you both, but, I really dig the CC lady. We chat with each other all day long. We don't exactly know all the words the other uses...BUT, we totally understand each other.

      She let me skip my afternoon nap and we went on a the mall.

      We scored!

      We found some items for our (secret) project, ate at the food court (I loved it...CC, not so much), hit the clearance racks at Dillards (CC loved, not so much), shared a kiddie-size (strawberry) Dippin' Dots, played at the lil playground, bought something for Chloe and BBB, and got some mini cookies to take home.

      Once I was ready for bed, CC rocked me and sang to me. Don't tell her - but you sing better, mom!

      Halfway through a funny song I've never heard before, she suddenly stopped.

      She looked me in the eye and asked, "Did you just poo?"

      I played like I didn't understand her. I just laughed.

      "That's number Five for Friday little buddy."

      She keeps track. She's funny like that!
      Hmmm...Six Shooter Saturday has a ring to it!

      I love you, mommy & daddy!


      Wednesday, September 24

      My Dude Welcomes Me to Lubbock

      Okay, I should have clarified. For those of you who clicked on expecting to see a full size dude (and you know who you are--wink, wink) was this mini dude who did the welcoming...
      And once again...

      Tuesday, September 23

      I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

      Hey y'all...I'm Texas bound!
      I GET to spend 5 glorious days with the little Stone man!
      His mommy and daddy are heading out and I get him all to myself!
      We will have a blast & tucker each other out...I've no doubt!

      Thursday, September 18

      UP, UP, and AWAY!

      What goes up...

      ...must come down!

      Tanner with Chloe. He LOVES being a Daddy-O. Can you tell? him and his lil gal!!!