Sunday, August 31, 2014

This Sunday I'm Missing Mackinac Island

So last Sunday, I rushed out a quick Sunday post because I was being kidnapped by my girlfriends. Today, I will post my beautiful girlies and then spend the rest of the time talking about my trip with lots of photos!

IMG_9237 Sunday photo web

Here are my beautiful girlies. Bria was down in Chicago for the weekend on a youth temple trip and got home this evening. And yes, Sophia chopped her hair off the other day! Don't worry, she didn't do it herself! We did it at a salon, and she is donating her hair. I think she looks absolutely adorable, but I'm mostly excited about not having to comb out her snarls for half an hour every morning.

School starts on Tuesday. I do look forward to more structure and organization, but man, this summer sure flew by. Tomorrow we will have our traditional back-to-school feast and introduce a new family theme for the year. I must admit, I chose this year's theme because I need it more than my children do, but we could all use the reminder. You'll have to stay tuned to see what it is! I'll try to have it posted by Wednesday morning.


Mackinac Island.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dark Hope: A Book Review and Giveaway

Dark Hope by Monica McGurk is the first book in a new trilogy entitled The Archangel Prophecies. It is a young adult novel with a fantastic twist. Instead of the typical vampires, this book has angels.

I really enjoyed it. I felt that Hope is a strong female character--one that I wouldn't mind my own teenager reading about. Sure, she doesn't always make the best decisions, but she does have some incredibly tough decisions to make. I was especially impressed with the way McGurk was able to weave the very real life issue of human trafficking into a story that is based more in fantasy than in real life.

The book takes the main characters, Hope and Michael, from Atlanta to Las Vegas to Utah on a wild adventure in which they take on both human traffickers and fallen angels. I especially loved the parts where they were in Snow Canyon, Utah. I used to live near there and drove through the canyon every Saturday morning to go teach at Tuacahn. I loved being able to envision exactly what the landscape looked like as they searched for The Librarian.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

It's no secret that The Maestro does most of the dinner cooking around here. But I have a few signature meals I make, too, and these enchiladas are one of them. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are the highest requested birthday meal in our household. Sophia, who had the most recent birthday, requested them for her birthday dinner and so I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.

(I was forward thinking and took photos, but people were impatiently waiting to eat it and so I have exactly zero photos of what it looks like dished up on a plate.)

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. A simple recipe with only six ingredients that your family will love! Easy gluten-free adaptation, too.

Because we are a gluten-free household, and especially because Sophia is the one with Celiac, I adapted the recipe to be gluten-free. When I made these in October for Bria's birthday, I found out the hard way that most enchilada sauces conatain wheat. I have included the gluten-free adaptions here, but it is easy enough to make it normally (easier, probably).

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas


5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
12-15 flour tortillas (I use Food for Life brand GF Brown Rice Tortillas to substitute)
1 block cream cheese, softened

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Front Door Makeover

The problem with living in a very old house is that the list of improvement projects is never ending. Well, this front door project has been on my list forEVER!

We've now lived in our house for five years. It was built circa 1908, so it's already seen many a tough winter, and we did not realize just how hard the winters could be on a front porch--especially when it's made of painted wood!

We repainted the steps a couple years ago using the paint color that was labeled "front porch, front door, shutters" by the previous owners. We didn't use the actual paint they had left in the basement, but went and had more formulated with the same recipe. Well, it wasn't the right color, so I'm not sure what happened there! We have lived with the steps being a slightly different green than the front door and the shutters for a couple years. Meanwhile, the porch steps have looked worse and worse as the interminable winters and ridiculous amounts of snow did their damage. It was time.

This time, I went down to Sherwin-Williams and picked up every single green paint chip they had. And we found what was pretty much a perfect match in SW 2860 Sage.

Front Door Before

So here is what we started with. Not only are my steps looking raggedy, but the front door itself is rusting at the bottom due to all the snow, and my poor wreath is pretty bedraggled. Also, I was not a fan of the house numbers. They're super ugly, and in the winter when there was three feet of snow, nobody could see them anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I'm Being Kidnapped...

And the 40th birthday amazingness doesn't end, folks!

The girls took their own Sunday photo while I frantically packed for a kidnapping. When I walked in the house from church, Joel accosted me with a poem to read that informed me that my big surprise party a couple weeks ago was just a foil for the REAL surprise.

My friends and I are going to Mackinac Island for a few days and we were leaving within the hour!

They'll be here in 5 minutes...

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

5 Things I Wish I'd Brought Camping

We have never been big campers, The Maestro and I. The first time that we went camping together as a family was when Chloe was a baby and Bria was three. It was for a church camping trip and so we borrowed a tent and headed up the mountain with everyone else.

It was kind of awful. Chloe cried all night long. All. Night. Long. And I could hear coyotes everywhere (this was in Arizona) and it was uncomfortable and I swore I'd never do it again.

But then, we went on our Epic Vacation in 2012 and decided to camp across America. We purchased an awesome tent and other necessary camping supplies and had a wonderful time doing it. It might be because we didn't have a baby or super young children anymore, but whatever it was, it was fun.

So we like to camp now. And we've been trying to find a time to do it this summer that would work with both the weather and the schedule. The Maestro finally found that time and picked me up from work one day with everything ready to go.

Except. We forgot a few things...

The first thing we forgot, and quite possibly the most important:

Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Secrets to Get Kids to Help With Housework

If your kids are anything like mine, the prospect of a Saturday morning filled with doing chores does not cause them to jump for joy. And if you are anything like me, the prospect of trying to convince your children to spend their Saturday morning doing chores does not cause you to jump for joy, either.

But, whether or not you're happy about it, housework must go on. As a mother, I consider it a huge responsibility to teach my children how to do it so that when they go out into the world they aren't driving their college roommates or spouses insane. And, you know, so that they are living in a clean and healthy environment.

Now, I don't know if I can teach them to love cleaning (I don't love cleaning), but I can teach them that it's not so bad. Here are some things that have helped me at my house:

1. Make it fun. 

Whenever I tell the girls it's their turn to do the dishes, there's a collective groan. But then I put on their favorite music and the cleaning suddenly becomes fun. They dance and sing to One Direction and R5 and whatever other music it is they love, the dishes get clean, and everyone is happy (mind you--if we were cleaning to MY favorite music, it would be very different)(I think it's pretty fun to clean to a rousing Rossini opera aria, don't you?).