Monday, December 30, 2013

2013... That's a Wrap!

10 big things in 2013


1. Disneyland Vacation!(First time for Big A, First for me since I was 11!... (THANK YOU Mom and Dad!!))

2. Big A played Tee-Ball and Soccer, Our star athlete! (Jeff Coached)

3. Little A graduated to a “big girl” bed (No crib anymore!) and decided to potty train herself (We are diaper free!!)

4. Jeff started painting again and is showing at the Slusser Gallery now.

5. I learned to Swim! (Big A did too!)

6. Big A Knocked out his first baby tooth

7. Minor remodel of the Kitchen (painted cabinets and new hardware) awesome results and got a New Roof (Ours blew off in a storm!)

8. My Sis Jackie married her soul mate Lewis and we were all in the wedding

9. Jeff’s Brother and wife had a beautiful baby boy

10. Expanded my horizons, I took Jewelry Making and Anti-Gravity Yoga classes, was on "Good Things Utah."


Big Girl Bed!

New Cousin


The Wedding

Anti-Gravity Yoga

Lost Tooth

Gallery Show
On "Good Things Utah"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Truly AMAZING creamy chicken noodle soup

Have you ever created a new recipe and got it all dished out, tasted it and thought “Damn! That’s SO good!”, but then felt kinda weird to say it because… well, you made it? Well I am not going to be coy, this recipe was AMAZING!!!  My Favorite restaurant here in Salt Lake City (Little America Coffee Shop) makes the most amazing creamy chicken noodle soup. It is crazy expensive to buy as take out and only available on Sundays (soup of the day) so I decided to try and concoct a copy cat recipe. I snooped around pinterest and brought together elements from several recipes and added a few twists of my own and Voila! It turned out just as good if not (dare I say it???) better!
Jenn’s Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Tbsp. Chicken Bullion
3 cups chicken broth
8 carrots (2 cups), chopped
5 celery stalks (2 cups), chopped
1/2 onion (3/4 cup), chopped
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup half and half
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cooked and shredded (I boil mine for 30 minutes with ½ an onion for added flavor)
2 1/2 cups noodles egg noodles, cooked
Optional: 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme, 1 tsp fresh Rosemary(chopped), I tsp fresh sage (chopped)

Bring Broth, Bullion and Vegetables (carrots, celery and onion) to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (till veggie’s are tender)
Combine soup and half and half, add Chicken and noodles. Then add the vegetables and the broth they were simmering in. Stir together (add fresh herbs now if using) and simmer 5- 10 minutes.
I even Got Big A's seal of approval
"Mommy, this is DE-LISH-IOUS! I LOVE it!"

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Time Fun

Where have I been?!?!?

I have been a terrible Blogger lately.  We have been swept up in the season and enjoying lots of festive fun and I have neglected to keep up with the blog.

Here is a little sampling of the fun we have been having...

Up next.... a Craft tutorial, a new recipe, and baking fun....

A visit with Santa


Enjoying the beautiful lights of Temple Square

Christmas Shopping with my BEST Buddy!

Listening to "ECLIPSE" at the FM100 Christmas Concert

Saw Disney's "Frozen" LOVED it!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review, Author Interview, and Give-A-Way...Oh My!

One of my good friends recently published her second (yes second!) Young Adult novel and gave me the privilege of an early read. Let me tell you it is a great book that really delves into the ups and downs in young relationships. If you are looking for a fun "romantic" read that is not one of those about a "Hunky guy who has lost his shirt" (to quote the Good Luck Charlie Mom) this is a book for you.

I got to sit down with her and talk about her book and her writing and the interview follows.

I am also giving a way to one lucky follower a copy of "Second to No One"...Enter Below!

little a gave it "two thumbs up!"
~ Giveaway ~ 

~ Interview~
An Interview with Author Natalie Palmer
How long did it take you to write this book?
It’s hard to say exactly but I would guess about a year.  Keep in mind that I’m only able to write a couple hours a day while my kids are asleep.  And this book actually went a LOT faster than my first one even though I had to squeeze it in between raising two kids instead of just one.   
What was your inspiration to write this book?
Gemma and Jess.  Their story is inspiring to me and I’m so happy that my imagination stumbled across it.  I knew that one book wasn’t enough.  There’s just so much more to their story.
Were you always planning on continuing the story from “Second Kiss”?
I knew going into the first book that I wanted to follow my main character through the better part of her teen years and it’s nearly impossible to truly feel what she feels unless you watch her grow on a day to day basis.  For this reason, yes, I knew from the beginning that it would take more than one book to finish her story. 
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was like six my older sister helped me write a book about a kid with crazy hair.  It became my new favorite thing and a love for creating stories was instilled in my brain.  
Why are you drawn to writing Young Adult fiction?
Maybe because I still feel like I’m seventeen… but also because I think it’s the most crucial time in a girl’s life.  When you’re a teen there are so many forks in the road and I’m hoping that my books will help my readers to see the bigger picture. 
What do you think makes a good story?
A little bit of real-life humor and a whole lot of feeling.  I like real people and real situations.  I love a story that makes you realize that every person in the world can in some way relate to each other.   Nothing makes me happier than when a reader tells me my books made them both laugh and cry. 
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
A lot of people indirectly helped me get to this place (i.e. my husband who has supported me every step of the way) but the first person to specifically mentor me in my writing was my first editor for Second Kiss.  She made a huge impact on my writing and helped turn the Gemma and Jess story into what it is today. 
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Always!  My favorite one is my mom.  She will tell me what she really thinks but she’s so full of compliments that it makes me want to shoot for the moon. 
What was your favorite Book when you were a “young adult,” has it changed as an adult?
Oh geez.  I’m embarrassed to say.  In my tween days I liked everything Jack Weyland (but I blame that on the fact that the internet was not yet kid friendly and the other options in my at-home library were Nancy Drew and Choose Your Own Adventure).  But during my junior year of high school I read A Separate Peace by John Knowles and that changed my literary taste forever.   It is still at the top of my list along with The Hiding Place, The Wednesday Sisters and anything Jane Austen.  
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through my teacher and veterinarian phases and for a long time I thought it would be cool to be a taxi driver. But for the most part I always wanted to be a mom and a writer.  I guess some things do work out the way you want them to. J
What is your favorite quote from a book?
From A Separate Peace by John Knowles:
“Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person “the world today” or “life” or “reality” he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever.” 
~ Synopsis ~

Title: Second to No One
(A Sequel to Second Kiss)
Author: Natalie Palmer
Published: November 2013
Genre: YA Romantic Comedy
“Things change. People change. Jess and I weren’t above it.”

Gemma’s first year of high school isn’t starting out the way she hoped. Jess is back from California and before she can memorize her class schedule their summer romance comes to a screeching halt. To add to her misery the gorgeous new girl in school also has eyes for Jess and despite Gemma’s unfailing attempts to win him back she keeps finding herself alone.

But when a late night car crash lands her a three month grounding and twenty hours of community service she discovers that there’s more to life than just romance and boyfriends.

Unpredictable and heart wrenching, Second to No One is the perfect continuation to the magical beginning of the Gemma and Jess romance.

~ Available  ~ (autographed copies available here) (kindle version also available here)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sometimes it's better just to fork out the money....

Last night I finished up my big Halloween craft project. Yes, you read that correctly... Last night (November 3) I finished up my Halloween Project.

Let me tell you the whole story.... Last year Pottery Barn Kids had this felt Halloween advent calendar that I fell in LOVE with. I was however NOT in love with the $59 price tag.

I raced over to Pottery Barn on November 1st last year in hopes of scoring one on clearance, no such luck. They were super popular and had sold out well before Halloween. Then I thought, DUH Jenn you could totally make that! So I raced over to JoAnns fabric and bought $3 of felt and tucked it away with my Pottery Barn Catalog to create next year.

Fast forward to this year... I started the project at the end of September thinking well it should take a few nights but I should be able to get it done in time for October 1st. How very naive I was!!!

First off I had planned on cutting all the little shapes and numbers with my cricut. Note: Cricut's can not cut felt. So I ended up cutting it all by hand. This doesn't seem like such a big deal but it was VERY time consuming. I didn't even get it all cut before October 1st.

Then I had it all cut and laid it all out and WOW it looked just like the Pottery Barn one and I was again jazzed about the project. I did not however consider the time it would take to applique on almost 200 tiny shapes. I worked on this sucker almost every night in October (I took off a few nights when I had a nasty cold). I finally put in 5 hours on November 3rd and got it done.

Granted it did only cost me $3 in fabric and probably $6 in thread (I used 2 entire spools and part of 3 others) it took me over 100 HOURS!!! Yes, that was not a typo... over 100 hours!!! That means if you consider the $60 original price I worked for $.60 an hour!!!  I SO should have just bought it to begin with!

 I have this idealized notion that this is something my kids will cherish for years. They will show their kids...look what your grandmother made. It probably will end up barely used, tucked away with all the other Halloween stuff.


With Big A for scale...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Last Hurrah of Warm(er) Weather

A couple of weekends ago we decided to go for a drive up Millcreek Canyon to check out the Fall Colors. When we got to the top of the canyon we got out to stretch our legs and the kids wanted to hit the trail. We went for a little bit but since we had not planned on hiking we were not ready (a in canvas summer shoes, Me in cute leather flats, no warm jackets).

This past weekend was supposedly the last warm weekend of the year (if the weatherman can be believed?!?!?). The weather was that perfect fall "cool" with the sun brightly shining. We headed back up Millcreek, this time totally ready and decided to hike the "Mountain Aire" trail. It was perfect, not too steep. Little a was such a trooper, she hiked the whole trail with us, never letting anyone carry her at all.

It was the perfect way to enjoy the last remnants of warm fall weather. A and a loved it and can't wait to go hiking again!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gallery Stroll and Big A...the Great!!!

Listening to "His" song
Jeff is painting again (Yea!) and he has been picked up by a really great gallery, The Slusser Gallery in Salt Lake. The gallery had a big opening for their Halloween show this last week. Jeff has 5 pieces in the show so we all attended the opening. A and a were great, pretty well behaved and super cute.

The Gallery typically has a band playing for their openings. A really fun folk band "Millie and the Moths" played this time. The kids LOVED it and spent a lot of time dancing in the middle of the gallery. The lead singer said she wanted to play something special for Big A since he was so enthusiastic. She said "So... are you a cowboy?" He shook his head no. "Are you a... Hipster?" he shook his head no and answered "I'm Alexander!" The singer laughed and said "Perfect! I have a song just for you!!!" and she played a song called "Alexander the GREAT" (you can hear it here). Big a, who had been a total ham before that, got all shy and stood listening to the song, really paying attention. It was perfect and though he wouldn't admit it, he LOVED it.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Annual Trip to Gardner Village

It's Fall in Utah and that means it's Witchy-Poo time at Gardner Village.
We always so enjoy all the fun festivities and
I can't help but take some fun pics of my little Monsters.

Easy Peasy DIY Photo Magnets

I Love the idea of Photo Magnets. Having your favorite pics on the fridge without having them swoop out from behind a magnet. I however do not like the idea of paying $5+ for a 2" x 4" magnet from the photo places. I often get emails for "free" magnets that turn out still being over $4 for shipping and handling... No Way!

I decided to try my hand at creating some and found out that you can EASILY (seriously it IS easy!!!) make these yourself for...(drum roll)!

To start off you need to collect any advertising magnets you come across. One place you can easily find a few is attached to your phonebook. When my office got new phonebooks this fall I asked if anyone minded if I filched all the magnets, no one minded, SCORE! 20+ magnets. Now that you are thinking about them you will find that they are all over the place. I have found them at restaurants, the vets office, our cable company office. All over. SO when you happen upon some, grab a few for later use. You can buy sheets of magnet at the craft store but its is really pricey and really with all the freebies out there you don't need to.

Now that you have your magnets all you need is some glossy pictures, adhesive (double sided tape, sticker maker, tape runner etc) and scissors.

First Gather your photos and advertizing magnets

Next cut your magnet and photos to the same size.
 (I like to do different shapes, Here I did 2" round ones with a large punch I have.)

Next apply adhesive to your photos.
(I used the Xyron creat-a-sticker, but you could use double sided tape,
  a tape runner, or even a strong glue stick)

Next Carefully line up your photo to the pre-cut magnet and stick them together

Ta Da! Truely Free Photo Magnets!!

I like to make little bundles for the grandparents for holidays.
Fast easy presents that they love and can actually can use.