Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alabama travel: Day 2 and 3

Here we are in day 3 of the trek to Alabama. Yesterday was our longest driving day with over 10 hours on the road. We got into the hotel very late and went straight to bed. We spent the day driving through Colorado and Kansas, ending the evening in Salina, Kansas. We were able to stop in Denver for lunch with my Aunt Maren. It was a great visit and I am so glad the timing worked out.

The thing I noticed most yesterday is how quickly the landscape changes. One minute we were driving through winding mountains with snow, the next we are in east Colorado and it looks more like the flat plains of Kansas. 

The drive was long and pretty uneventful but we were all ready to stop for the night and get some rest.

This morning we got up bright and early for an 8.5 hour driving day. Finishing up Kansas, into Oklahoma and ending in Arkansas. Stephen had some real southern food for lunch that got him even more excited to be close to home again. I am sure all that fried goodness would make for a bad driving combination so I opted for something lighter, knowing I'll have plenty of time to try the good stuff when we get settled. 

One funny thing about today, I was very tired and thought about giving Reece a container of gold fish crackers to feed himself. Stephen warned  against it, thinking he would spill all over the car. I kept giving him small handfuls as needed and rested the container on by knee inbetween. Well I guess I fell asleep because in woke to the crashing of the container and gold fish all over the front of our car. It probably would have been less of a mess to give them to Reece in the first place. It made us both laugh very hard though so it was worth it! 

We went into Cabot, Arlansas to meet up with my old friend Shasta at her house. She has two young girls and we haven't seen each other in a while. Reece loved playing with the girls and it was such a good time. I am so exited to be close to her again! 

We then met up with Stephen's cousin, his wife and their two kids for dinner. They had not seen one another in 12 years so of course I hadn't met them. Their son's middle name is Reid and daughter's middle name is Reese so we hit it off right away. It was good hearing about younger times hanging out with Stephen. Their kids were so cute.

We headed to the hotel next and got settled. Reece has done so well today but he was wore out and needs some rest. The dogs are doing well but not eating well, I think they are too anxious with everything going on.

We are looking forward to the relaxed drive tomorrow and only 6 hours on the road. I can't wait to see our new place, I hope it is livable at least through our lease - it is crazy planning a life in a place you haven't seen or visited before!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Utahn's No More

As of today, I am no longer a Utahn.

This has been a strange process because so much is out of my hands. I like to plan details and confirm things and haven't been able to do that at all in any part of this process. This weekend has been exhausting and so packed, I have been looking forward to the drive to be able to rest a little. Here is a recap of what we have been up to.

Luckily on Thursday, we sold my car. It was a relief to have that taken care of and know that we can drive together.

Friday our containers were dropped off from UPack who works with ABF. We decided to use them because their price was lower than other similar container shipping places and the delivery time was amazing, almost the same time it would take us to get there ourselves. I reached out to a girl I went to high school with, who recently made a similar big move. She used ABF as well but rented part of a trailer and the remainder is sold for commercial use so essentially you share the cost of transportation. That would have saved us close to $1,000 but we are in an HOA and don't have wide roads or space to let a 28' trailer sit and unfortunately they can't do same day pick up and drop off but this option still worked well, especially since we didn't want to drive our stuff ourselves. The guy had great customer service and got the containers off and into our driveway in like 5 minutes! I was a little worried they wouldn't be able to load them because everything said we must have a level surface and our driveway has a slight incline, but it all worked out well.

Friday was also our last day at work. It was a crazy week with everything professionally and personally going on! When we got home, we got some things packed that we had been using and tried to get some rest.

Saturday started out very early, packing up all the final things and wrapping our TV and furniture to hopefully protect it during our travels. My awesome dad drove down on his birthday for a farewell and to help load our stuff. He brought with him the rest of the Child clan. My mom came out too, as well as our good friends Brent and Heatherlee. Between all the guys, the work went so fast. We had loaded most everything in the garage in the last week or so, it was just the big furniture we kept in the house. My dad packed everything so well, it was like a puzzle that I wouldn't have been able to solve as well. We were very grateful for the help and the chance to see our friends one more time before heading out. Afterwords we attempted to do a few family photos with both my mom's side and my dad's side, but it was windy and Reece was getting a little fussy. I haven't even looked at them yet to know if any turned out. My grandma on my Dad's side met us at the park, it was great to see her as well. Then we went to dinner with my dad as a farewell and to celebrate all the birthdays, we have a string of birthdays that start with my dad. It was great to see them all. My little family then went to my grandma's on my Mom's side and visited with them and said goodbyes to her side of the family and my brothers. It was a long day but full of some visiting and hard work. That night was rough, I was emotionally and physically exhausted. We pulled our top mattress into the living room to have somewhere to sleep for two nights and the dogs didn't adjust well to being in the living room and Reece was up most of the night. It was pretty awful.

Sunday we got up and met my dad, step mom, brother and sister for breakfast. Then we said more goodbyes. Then off for a few last minute shopping things. Followed by lots and lots of cleaning. It was a lot of work, especially with a toddler. My house looks fantastic.

Monday (today) we got up early to pack the mattress in the container and a few last items so it would be ready to be picked up. Stephen then ran a large car load to the dump to help with the garbage situation, then a donation car load to the DI. We had packed some left over cleaning supplies and essentials we couldn't put in the container, for my brother Jake in his new apartment with a kitchen where he can use some of that stuff. We then picked up Jake and headed out for breakfast at The Original Pancake House, one of our favorites. It is Jake's birthday (see birthday string I mentioned earlier :) ) so it was great to spend some time with him. On the way home we confirmed with our realtor we wouldn't be able to close on our house today or tomorrow so we decided it was time to leave, we would need a hotel tonight anyway, we might as well be on the road. We thought it would take an hour to get out of the house but it turned into more like 2.5 or so after wrapping up last errands. I was spent and to be honest a little snappy at the end, I was just tired and ready to get out!!

We finally pulled out of the driveway around 2:30 and drove straight through to Grand Junction, CO. Reece did so well in the car. I kept a bag of toys and lots of books in my reach and kept handing him new items whenever he got a little fussy, that seemed to work well. It was about 4 hours or so. The poor dogs were really good in the car but were freaking out before leaving and very anxious.

It was really great to get settled into the hotel and have a place to sit and a bed off the floor, I hope we get some good sleep tonight.

Everything was going great until Reece and I were playing and chasing each other in the room, when he lost his balance and fell flat on his face. His nose was bleeding so bad and he was screaming. Stephen had just left the room to walk the dogs and of course left his phone to charge. I was freaking out a little. I couldn't tell if the blood was just from his nose or if maybe he lost a tooth because it was pooling in his mouth. Luckily, it all turned out fine and he recovered quite quickly after the bleeding stopped. He took a quick bath and is now playing and  cuddling with daddy on the bed.

These boys have my heart!

I haven't had too much time to think in this process. Everything has been planning and packing. It has been nice to take a breath and realize how much the family I have made means to me. Of course I know that but there are moments that take my breath away and make me realize how they are the number one thing for me. I will miss my friends and family in Utah for sure but I am so excited for this adventure. Being closer to Stephen's family will be nice, as his mom said, it's her turn. I don't know what the future holds but for now this is a great journey I am happy to be on!

Now hopefully off to a restful evening and then our longest driving day tomorrow!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Alabama Baby!

It's been a while! Since my last post I started working for the same company as Stephen, we found out we are expecting again, we decided to sell our house, found out we are having a baby girl (eek!), the first sale of our house fell through, got another offer on our house and Stephen got a job offer that will be moving us to Alabama in a little over a week! 

It's been kind of crazy around here as you might expect! I have never moved more than 20 minutes away and this time we are going almost 2,000 miles! I have never been to Birmingham where we are headed and we won't have time to visit beforehand so everything is being done over the phone and online. This puts me way out of my comfort zone for sure! 

We had discussed doing something like this in a few years and part of why we decided to sell our house in the first place was so we could move closer to work and have a timeline of when leases end and be more flexible to look for something in a year or two. But life works out differently than you plan all the time. It's crazy how everything lined up with the sale of our house and the timing just feels right. There are still lots of logistics to work with and planning galore. 

Our work has been amazing. I was so nervous to tell them. I thought that Stephen might have to travel somewhere for an interview so we would give them a heads up at that point but everything was handled via Skype and phone calls so it was a bit out if the blue for them. They have been so supportive and are even letting me stay on remotely, which I am super stoked about. It's a great company with great people, and while I have only been there for a short time, I really love that I get to keep working with them! 

We have the moving container booked and a place to live. Trying to sell a car. We've sold a lot of our belongings which helps with the packing and keeping things to just what we will need. We have packed a bit but this weekend we will be kicking it up a notch. Next weekend we load everything and clean like mad and then if all goes as planned we close on Tuesday and then head out. We will be splitting the trip over 3 days and really hope we sell a car so we can drive together. If not we will follow each other with the dogs in one car and the kid in the other! 

This has already been a stressful journey and I think things are really just getting started. There are so many little things left to do and calls to make. All while packing and being pregnant and having a 17 month old and trying to balance seeing everyone and saying goodbyes. I have had my share of breakdowns and little freak outs and unprofessionally left work early yesterday because I couldn't shut down the personal stuff - that I am pulling the pregnancy card on though:) Again so grateful for such an understanding company. 

Luckily I have such an amazing guy to go through this with. It's interesting how close I thought Stephen and I were but facing this adventure is only bringing us more close, which I didn't know was possible. While I love everyone else in my life and want to spend as much time with them before I leave I have to just breathe and make sure we are taken care of first and foremost. It feels selfish and probably sounds selfish too but I think it's the only way I can make it through this. We will keep trucking along and get through it one way or another! I am sure I'll have much more to post in the coming days! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DIY Sensory Activity Board

My son is going to be a year old tomorrow. There I said it, I still don't quite believe it but I said it and am starting to come to terms with it. I remember how slow time seemed to pass before him and now it really is going in the blink of an eye. I am sure it only gets worse the older he gets. I just wish time would slow down a little but oh well.

I have been thinking about what to do for his first birthday gift. He likes toys but most of all he loves things he shouldn't play with like door stops, cupboards, etc. I have seen some ideas via pinterest for sensory boards. Most of them are very large and installed on the wall. Most of them aren't very decorative but are very functional. All of that is fine and well but I wanted something a little smaller, easy to transport, and of course really cute. I like things to be pretty and some kids things can be cheesy but I don't think they have to be to still be attractive to kids. So I came up with my own.

I got a wood plaque and some random gizmos and gadgets and locks that I thought would be fun for Reece.

I laid out everything how I wanted it but needed to cut some holes to make room for the light switches. I cut the holes using a band saw.

You'll notice they stuck out more than the height of the wood, I'll address a fix for that that later so it wouldn't poke into my babies legs, or eyes, or whatever he sets the board on.

I filled in the cut holes with wood filler. 

I then painted the board and attached all the gadgets. I drilled pilot holes into the board to help with the screws and not splitting the wood. I laid out some old magazine pages to protect the table from the paint and came across the picture below. That orange and white stripped hat on that pumpkin is the same one my mom brought Reece in the hospital after he was born. I was already feeling sappy and nostalgic and that didn't help.

Look how tiny he was, this was right before we brought him home.

Look at him now, he was enjoying stuffing food in his mouth face and watching me work on this gift!

Back to the project...

After I got everything attached and how I wanted, I decided to attach a foam base to cover up any holes and especially the light switch sticking out the bottom. I had some 2" cushion foam lying around from a past project and picked out a fun and vibrant fabric that I thought Reece would enjoy.

I put the plaque on the foam and traced it with a pen and cut the foam to size.

I cut a piece of the fabric, making sure it extended far enough to cover all sides of the foam.

I used this awesome 3M Super 77 spray super glue for the foam and fabric. This can has lasted me forever! I love this stuff. 

I sprayed a little on the bottom of the foam and pulled the edges over and pressed down for a sec. 

Then I folded the edges like gift wrapping to be sure to cover the entire edge of the foam. Using the spray glue to keep everything in place. 

Then I sprayed all of the foam and exposed fabric on the bottom and carefully placed the plaque on top. I applied a little bit of pressure and held it there for a few seconds to get everything in place.

I then took some chip board letters I picked up from Hobby Lobby and spelled out his name under a second plaque and hinge on the board. I used tacky glue.

Most of the things I found are pretty basic and can be picked up at any hardware or even Walmart. I just have to point out that I found this adorable lock knob at Hobby Lobby and it was 50% - total score. I love how well it fits in with the whole theme and look of the board! I was giddy in the aisle when I spotted it. I did have to trim down the end of the knob with a hack saw but that was easy peasy!

And that was it! All done! I am so happy with the way it turned out, it was even better than in my head.

It is light weight and can be used on his lap or a table and is sturdy for him to toss around.

I can't wait to give it to Reece at his upcoming birthday party! He has been eager to get his hands on this while watching me put it together!

What do you think?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Applesauce Cookies

Is it just me or are you ready for fall? I went for a photo shoot this morning in the mountains and could smell it in the air. I am getting excited for it! After the shoot, I took my little family back to the mountains for a walk and picnic to soak in little bit of summer until fall gets here. I forget how gorgeous it is around here. 

Feeling fall was coming made me want these applesauce cookies. This recipe was one of my first blog posts, well third to be exact, but that was a long time ago and before I was doing pictures with my posts. These cookies deserve a second spot, they are that good. These are my favorite, seriously! I thought they were a secret family recipe but while talking to my grandma, she told me she found it 25 years ago in the newspaper. Not so secretive and not so in the family but that's okay, I still love them all the same. 

Enough about the story, let's dig in! 

Here is what you will need:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Raisins or chocolate chips to mix in *optional

Start with the dry stuff, but not the sugar! Mix flour, salt, soda, cloves, cinnamon and allspice. I noticed the spices looked a little like mountains, which only added to the feeling of the day, I know I am a dork! 

In a separate bowl, cream the sugar and shortening together. I read a tip on some website that before you put anything sticky in a measuring cup, like shortening or peanut butter, run the measuring cup under hot water.

Dump the water but don't dry the cup and it should just fall out. 

I tried it on this and it worked okay, I had to scrape a little but not as much as usual. There was an issue with the sugar, it smelled funny from the container it was in, so I had to do the shortening twice and tried it with a metal vs plastic and it fell out much easier with no scraping. Just FYI! 

Back to the recipe, add egg and mix well, then applesauce and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture to wet mixture. 

Drop about a 1" ball of dough on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Your house is going to smell delicious and these bad boys are going to be hard to resist! Do you see my creepy dog, Molly, trying to get close to those delicious cookies? She cracks me up! 

These cookies are great warm out of the oven, you can even spread a little butter on top but I like them plain. Store them in an air tight container with a piece of bread to keep them moist and soft! 

This recipe makes about 20-24 cookies. This was one of the only times I made just one batch and Stephen is a little worried about how few the two of us have to share! Good thing these are easy to whip up it really is a problem. 

Hope you enjoy and get any of your last minute summer activities in. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dutch Babies

Stephen and I love breakfast, well really we love food but having breakfast together is something we try to do as often as possible. It's just nice to start your day off with the one you love, around the table, ya know? Sometimes it is hard though with how busy mornings get and trying to get out the door so we usually reserve it for weekends. I have been wanting to try something new and outside of our normal rotation of french toast, pancakes, waffles, eggs and toast, etc. There is a local restaurant that serves these dutch babies and they seem to be the hit item to order. I have been playing around with a few recipes to make them on my own. Some of them were way too egg-y others too bland, etc. but I really like what I have picked and pulled and added to a few different recipes I found and my version has been a hit with my family so we will be keeping it around.

Here is what you need:
9x13 pan
4 T Butter
1 C Flour
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Nutmeg
1/4 t Salt
1 T Vanilla
4 Eggs
1 C Milk
Powdered Sugar for spinkling
Maple Syrup or fruit for topping

Turn the oven to 475 degrees. You need the pan hot before cooking this so put the butter in the pan and stick in the oven to heat the pan and melt the butter while the oven heats up.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Heat up the milk for about a minute in the microwave - you want it hot. While heating the milk, mix the eggs and vanilla in the dry mixture. Add in the hot milk and mix well.

About this time the oven will be heated and the butter melted. Take out the pan, move the pan around to ensure it covers the bottom of the entire pan and pour in the batter. (My butter was cooked just a little too long in this picture but it turned out fine)

Don't mix it, just leave it as is and put back in the oven. It doesn't look so pretty but it will be great soon!

Turn the heat down to 425 degrees and cook for 12 - 15 minutes (less time will make them a little more custardy - my personal preference is to cook them a little longer).

When they are done, the sides will be golden and puffy.

These are kind of a mix between a pancake and french toast. This serves 4. Top each piece with a little powdered sugar and maple syrup or fruit. So delicious and quite easy! Enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

DIY - Photo Backdrop Stand & Interchangeable Flooring

Look at my cute kid - but more importantly, for this post at least, the background and flooring! 

I hate my floors in my house - I have since the day they were installed. It's a long story and clearly after 4+ years, I still harbor negative feelings about it - but alas I have found a solution for taking pictures in my home that do not include my floors. It also works great because I can transport it to client homes and is very inexpensive compared to what I could have purchased ready made.

I have seen a lot of things like this pinned on Pinterest and was tempted by a PVC pipe set up but I wanted something that would look a little more professional and polished since it may not always be for personal use. I love the final product!

Here is how I did it and the supplies I used:

Ikea Mulig Clothes Rack
Particle board 37" x 24 "
Vinyl peel-n-stick flooring
Staple Gun
Sand paper
Polyurethane (I used spray but a can and brush will work as well)
Baseboard cut to fit the length of the clothes rack
Fabric, blankets, etc. to use as backdrops

Sand down the particle board to remove any loose pieces and avoid splinters. Spray a coat of polyurethane, especially on all of the sides and edges and let dry.

Once dry begin cutting your vinyl flooring. Do one row at a time, fitting each piece together like you would real wood boards you would install for flooring. Use a straight edge to mark where you want to cut the flooring. You can use a utility knife on the back of the board and bend it to break - but what I found was easiest, was just to use my kitchen sheers and cut as straight as possible.

Start laying the the boards. Put each piece as close to the other as possible and press down for a few seconds before moving to the next piece.

Continue around the board. I used clamps to keep the pieces in places as they can move around until they have had a chance to really stick.

Once the board is covered, put some weight on it and let sit for about 24 hours to keep all of the pieces in place. My husband's extensive CD collection (this is only a small portion of it) helped on this project.

If you want to have some variety, you can use a second flooring type on the other side, like I did. Just repeat the steps. Attach some rope on either side or both of the board for easy tote-ability (I swear that's a real word!) You could even have multiple boards and have tile, hardwood, etc.

Take your backdrop - I used scrap fabric I had around - and clamp it tight leaving a little on the bottom for the flooring to sit on top of. Stand up the baseboard at the edge of the floor and you are set to start shooting. This changes the look of any room you are in.

The houndstooth is a bit busy for everyday pictures but it goes with Reece's Alabama shirt and helps to illustrate the difference a backdrop can make to photos.

These pictures, of my beautiful live-in model, were all taken in about 10 minutes. A quick change of clothes, a little hair gel (or baby lotion) and a flip of the floor and background make a totally different scene.

You don't even need to have a clean house, this hides everything! I am so excited to get some great use of this bad boy!

This works really well for small subjects, like babies and kids. You could do an even bigger board to make the flooring extend out - it is all about what you would use it for and your budget of course! You can also put a backdrop all the way to the top of the rack and not worry about the flooring, to end up with a nice sitting portrait studio. Since I used fabric scraps I had for the backdrop, they didn't extend the entire height of the stand. 

One last picture of my cute little guy! You can see his two bottom teeth a little in this! I can't believe he is already 10 months old and I need to start planning his first birthday celebrations!!! Fun times in our family right now! Thanks for reading!