Adoption Day and Birthday Sign

Yesterday was our sweet Oliver’s 2nd Adoption Day! And since we don’t know his actual birthday, we celebrate it as his birthday. It’s the day of his birth into our family! I tend to go all out. I just love our boy so much and want to celebrate him. He is the perfect addition to our family. We couldn’t have asked for a more loving, sweet dog.

We are planning to have a party for him this weekend with some of his friends from school, but last night the three of us celebrated together with some fun at the dog park, gifts, special treats, and lots of pictures. 🙂


It was a GORGEOUS day. Fall is slowly arriving in Texas. The dog park was so fun. He sure was a happy boy.

2014-10-13 (17) oliver's adoption day!

2014-10-13 (19) oliver's adoption day!

Whip cream and cheese- his two favorites. (We give in moderation! He did NOT get all that whip cream).


Gifts! A new Hedgehog (his current one is all torn up), a football, salmon treats, and a Halloween bone (that he actually found where I’d hit it and started chewing on a few weeks ago!).

2014-10-13 (32) oliver's adoption day!

I’m a tad bit of an insane dog mom (as if that’s news), and wanted to make one of those chalkboard birthday signs people do for their kids. I didn’t realize that most people make them on the computer and print them out, but that explains how they’re so perfect. I, of course, took the hard way and did it all by hand. But I feel so much more proud of it, even though it took me about 7 hours total to make!



I used black foam board and Crayola Gel Markers. These markers were great and gave a good “chalk appearance”, but I did have to buy two packs because I used up the first white one.

I apologize for this really awful picture.

I apologize for this really awful picture.

It took me HOURS to choose fonts. Lots and lots of time on Pinterest.


Once I picked the fonts, I typed everything, printed it, and placed it on the board to see where I wanted everything.


To trace the words onto the board I used a method I saw on Pinterest. I rubbed chalk on the back of the words, then traced over them with a pen. When I pulled the paper up, a chalk outline was left. Then I went over that with the markers. This process worked SO well and was really fast and easy.


I am so pleased with how it turned out!!


What a fun day celebrating our sweet, sweet boy. Next week there will definitely be a post about his party!



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Monthly Cleaning, Month #3

Two months of cleaning down! How’s it been going? I’ve cleaned the office and the living room and now the room for October is the guest room!

The living room cleaning went well. I don’t think I met my goal of getting rid of 10 things, but it’s so hard to find books and DVDs to get rid of! We did throw away A LOT of magazines, so maybe that counts?…. My favorite part of cleaning the living room is conditioning our leather couches. I think you’re supposed to do that every few months, but we’ve only succeeded in once a year. But it’s so fun. They look and smell like new!

I’m dreading the guest room a little bit… It’s our “storage room” and I really want to do a good job cleaning it out. It will be our baby room, whenever that happens, and I want to get a jump on getting it cleaned out. But so much of what we have in there is sentimental. My husband and I are both “sentimental hoarders”. We cannot get rid of something if it has even a little bit of emotional value. That’s a problem. Does anyone else struggle with this??

Guest Room Checklist

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My Reading List- September 2014

I read some REALLY good books this month. Like, books that are now in my Top 5 all time favorite books. I also read A LOT. Part of that is thanks to 32 hours spent in the car driving to and from Colorado. I used to get incredibly car sick if I read in the car, but I think God knew I needed something to do this time or I would GO CRAZY because I was able to read for hours and not get nauseous at all.

[5] Roses by Leila Meacham (Fiction, 2010): I LOVE THIS BOOK. Amazing historical saga of three families in the south.

[5] Somerset by Leila Meacham (Fiction, 2013): I LOVE THIS ONE TOO. This is the prequel to Roses, but it is perfectly fine to be read after Roses. In fact, I think it makes it richer because you can put some pieces together. Oh my goodness, such a gripping, emotional story to get swept away by. Both of these books are just over 600 pages, so prepare yourself. But SO WORTH IT.

[3] Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Fiction, 2001): This is the second book in the Hannah Swensen series. I’m finding these aren’t the most well-written books and the dialogue can be pretty awkward, but they are fun, light murder mysteries.

[5] Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham (Fiction, 2012): Though this is written by Meacham, it is not related to Roses and Somerset, it’s a stand-alone book set in modern day that focuses on three friends and tells the stories of their lives and friendship through the years. Not as good as Roses and Somerset, but it’s still a good book.

[4] The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley (Fiction, 2014): I loved this book until the end. It’s always so disappointing when you are totally engrossed in a book, and the end just falls flat. It’s like Buckley realized she had written over 400 pages and needed to quickly tie it all up. A lot of the depth of the story lines got lost in the quick ending. But that disappointment doesn’t take away from the engrossing, suspenseful story. It tells the story of a kid with “XP”- a deadly sensitivity to light. It was interesting to learn about that disease and how it impacted his life, and the life of his family.

Y’all, for real. Read Roses and Somerset.

What have you been reading?

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Monthly Cleaning, Month #2

Do people even use the “#” to mean “number” anymore? Do we actually have to write out the word “number”? Kids these days are probably so confused when someone tells them they are “#1”.

Anyway, one month of cleaning down! My room for last month was the office/craft room/where Oliver hangs out during the day. We actually finished cleaning it on time and it feels SO good to have it cleaned out, organized, and cleaned. The biggest project in there was the closet. For some reason that closet gets out of control very quickly. I organized it real nicely last year, but had to do it again this year.

In last month’s post I wrote that I wanted to get rid of at least 10 things per room. I’m not sure if paper counts toward that, but we had an entire trash bag full of papers to throw away, and a few “real” items too. We actually had two garage sales this month to help a neighbor out. Two weekends back-to-back in the hot Texas sun! But I love the feeling of getting rid of things and making money from them! We’re going to have a third one in the fall sometime to help him continue to get rid of things. And hopefully by then we’ll have a few more things of our own to set out!

So, the room for September is the Living Room! I’m way too excited about this. I’m hoping I get it all done within the month because we will be on a trip for a bit. Here is my PDF 2- Living Room.

Did anyone start in August on this plan? What room did you do?

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Reading List- August 2014

It’s a busy week at our house. Been a busy couple of weeks actually. Two garage sales, a trip, Oliver preparing for his Canine Good Citizen exam. I really don’t have the time to sit down and write this post, but my Type A personality couldn’t let me not do it. So, the books I read in August!

[5] Fearless by Eric Blehm (2013, Nonfiction): LOVED this book. Amazing portrait of SEAL Team Six member Adam Brown.

[3] Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand (2002, Fiction)

[4] Family Pictures by Jane Green (2013, Fiction): This is such a good book. Very different story. Engrossing. Captivation. I would have rated it a 5, but there were several inconsistencies (maybe editing mistakes?) that really bothered me. It also portrayed a very negative view of marriage, which is annoying. But the story is wonderful.

[4] Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer (2007, Nonfiction): This book is long and detailed, but is the most extensive, emotional, and real account of polygamy I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot on the subject!).

What have you been reading? What was your favorite summer 2014 read?

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The Follow-Up to 30

Last  year my hubby turned 30 and I celebrated big, throwing him a party and giving him 30 gifts. So as his 31st birthday has approached this year, I’ve struggled with how to follow up on all the hype of last year. Really, there’s no way, so I settled on a “normal” birthday of dinner out, cake, and a “normal” number of presents. I think my favorite present to him was the one Oliver gave him- a package of deli sliced chicken meat. They both LOVE it but I don’t buy it much because I prefer turkey. So Oliver bought him a package for them to share. Adorable.

2014-08-14 (11) michael's 31st birthday

2014-08-14 (32) michael's 31st birthday

Michael requested a lemon cake. Yuck. Delicious. A few years ago I was given the book The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn but haven’t gotten to use it as much as I want because Weight Watchers. So I turned to it to search for a good lemon cake recipe. If you don’t know about the Cake Mix Doctor, she doctors up box mixes to make even better cakes. I decided to use the recipe for her Lemon Lover’s Cake (Though, slightly altered because the grocery store was out of lemons. Of course.) (Also, this was definitely not my best decorating effort. It was SO. HOT. in the kitchen and the icing wasn’t cooperating and it just didn’t go well. Please excuse the decorating disaster this one time).

2014-08-14 (14) michael's 31st birthday

Lemon Lover’s Cake (from Anne Byrn’s The Cake Mix Doctor Returns, page 53)

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz, though, that doesn’t exist anymore, so….) plain yellow or vanilla cake mix (I used yellow but I think next time I would just use white. The yellow taste came through kind of strong)
  • 1 package (3.4 oz) lemon instant pudding mix
  • 1 container (6 oz) lemon yogurt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray and flour the pans (I used 9 inch squares, but the recipe calls for round).
  2. Mix all the ingredients together on low for 30 seconds, then 1 and a half minutes longer on medium, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans.
  3. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. (I baked mine 22 minutes since they were square and they were almost overbaked)
  4. Let cool completely before icing.

In the book, Byrn includes a recipe for lemon cream cheese frosting, but I’ve never had much luck making my own frostings so I bought a can of cream cheese icing and a can of lemon, added a bit of lemon juice and mixed it all together in the mixer. It turned out great!

I think the 31st birthday went well!

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Monthly Cleaning Fun!

monthly cleaning

A year ago I wrote a post entitled “Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out”. It was about starting a deep cleaning/full house clean out system of focusing on one room each month. I said I was going to follow-up each month, and I didn’t. BUT, I did make it the entire year which felt AMAZING. And now since it’s August, the year starts over! I envision this year being a lot easier since things are already pretty cleaned out and I have a list and know what works and what doesn’t.

This is the plan I followed for last year, and will follow again this year. I chose certain rooms/areas based on how busy a certain month would be and the weather. Obviously, we have a small house and many of you have more rooms, or different rooms, but to give you an idea, here’s the plan I follow:

  • August: Office/Craft room
  • September: Living Room
  • October: Guest Room
  • November: Entry, Guest Bath (November is a busy month for us with our anniversary and Thanksgiving, so I chose small rooms!)
  • December: Laundry Room (Again, busy month!)
  • January: Master Bedroom
  • February: Master Bathroom
  • March: Garage, Cars (The weather is nice for these!)
  • April: Patio, Landscape, House Exterior (Nice weather and plants/landscaping stuff for sale!)
  • May: Kitchen
  • June: Emergency Preparedness

This system worked SO WELL. At this point I am unemployed and have no kids, so I know my life isn’t as crazy as most and I know that as things change it may become more difficult to accomplish. But I think it’s such a great goal and makes you feel really good at the end of each month, and year!

So, for August the room is the Office/Craft Room (also where Oliver hangs out all day). I’ve made a PDF of the Office Checklist I use, but again, we all have different furniture, etc. so it may not all apply to you, but it’s a start to get you thinking about what your needs are! (Feel free to ask about any of the items that you’re unclear on!) Last year we rented a carpet steamer and did all the carpeted areas at once for the year. Again, the goal is to deep clean AND clean out/organize. I’m trying to set a goal for myself to get rid of at least 10 things per room, we’ll see how that goes!….

Let me know if you get on board with this system and how it works for you! I’ll update in September with the checklist for the living room.


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Reading List- July 2014

I’ve read a lot this month! Mainly because at the end my husband had his wisdom teeth out (that has been quite the ordeal and is still ongoing…), so I’ve had a lot of alone time for reading. I also didn’t read any non-fiction this month, odd for me. But I’m currently making up for that so you’ll see those in the August post.

[3] The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams (2014, Fiction): I think this is supposed to be a really great book. But I just found it pretty boring. It is written in alternating chapters of present day and in the past, and I just don’t go for that style much (but this was one of three books I read this month written like that!). The story is good once you get to the end and all the pieces come together, but I was very bored while reading.

[4] All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (2014, Fiction): This story follows a “normal” mom and wife through the stages of drug addiction. It highlights how easily it can happen, the effects, the struggle to get out. It’s a fascinating book and I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction!

[2] The One & Only by Emily Giffin (2014, Fiction): I’m still processing how I felt about this book. On one hand it was a light, easy read about football in Texas and love. But on the other hand it was creepy and weird and left me feeling very unsettled.

[4] Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Father Tim Series #1) (2007, Fiction): This is a continuation of the beloved Mitford Series by Karon. It has been over a year since I read that series and I so wish I had read this book soon after that. I’ve forgotten so many of the details, events, and characters. But, nonetheless, this was still a sweet book of Father Tim returning to his hometown and remembering his childhood and reconnecting with the many people who he grew up with.

[2] In the Company of Others by Jan Karon (Father Tim Series #2) (2010, Fiction): For some reason I had really high hopes for this book. It follows Father Tim and Cynthia on a trip to Ireland where mishaps continually happen and enjoy the company of others. I was bored and skimmed through a lot of it. And I must have missed some important detail or something because I was LOST through most of it. Had no idea what was going on and  I was so relieved when the book was over. BUT, I thought this was the last of Mitford and I was sad, but then I was researching, and due to popular demand, Karon is writing more Mitford books! The next one comes out on September 2. Super excited!

[5] Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (2014, Fiction): I LOVE the Stephanie Plum series. I’ve been reading them for years and they never disappoint. Evanovich writes with just the right balance of humor, mystery, and romance. This one I found very funny, some great dialogue. And it was kind of intense! More than just the regular happenings in Trenton.

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Favorites Friday #2

Today is officially my favorite summer day ever. Temps in the 70s/80s, rainy. It is amazing. You can almost smell fall approaching. If only we didn’t have to make it through August first. But maybe there will be more of these amazing summer days ahead. And we leave for a Colorado trip in 7 weeks so that weather will be AWESOME.

Time for some more of my current favorite things!

The U Smooth flat iron: My hair is very, very thick and wavy. But not cute wavy. Out of control wavy. I started straightening my hair back in high school (well, more accurately, my mom did it every morning. Love you, Mom!). We got a CHI and it was amazing. Sometime in college I ended up acquiring another CHI from a friend or something, and that was a good thing since I took my original one to England and it got fried (thanks electrical conversions!).  But my second CHI died a few years ago and at the time I couldn’t afford another one, so I got a cheaper ceramic flat iron. It’s been fine. It does it’s job if I put the time and effort in. But I’ve gotten to where I don’t want to do that. So my hair lady suggested the U Smooth flat iron. I bought it a few weeks ago and I LOVE it. It has titanium plates which make it so much smoother and easier and faster and makes my hair look amazing. I highly recommend it. (But, as I was looking for the web site to attach the link here, it appears that the company has gone of out business. So that doesn’t make me feel so great….).

Tripod, Tripod mount for phones, and wireless remote: I recently had the brilliant idea that I NEEDED a tripod.  I don’t know why this has never occurred to me before now. I take A LOT of pictures. I always want every moment documented and sometimes that’s challenging since I don’t have a little personal paparazzo following me around everywhere (I am currently accepting applications for that position. You will be paid in hugs and baked goods). Well once I got this idea in my head, I had to act immediately. I ended up purchasing a table top tripod at Best Buy- the Sunpak Mini D tripod. It’s not perfect, but it fits in my purse and will get the job done.  For the smartphone tripod mount, I went with the Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount. Again, not the best one available, but I haven’t had any issues yet. It’s so easy to use. In researching the remote, I discovered I could either spend a lot of money, or go with one with questionable reviews. I chose the Kootek, with many questionable reviews, but has worked fine for me. Then my parents lent me their full-size tripod. So I am ready for any picture taking opportunity! I love the freedom this equipment brings and am excited to take it on our Colorado trip and not have to take so many selfies!

HEB Sparkling Water: Now, I’m not an HEB fan (I know, that’s blasphemy for a Texan to say), so I hate to promote one of their products, but this stuff is seriously good. I have only tried the lime flavor, but it tastes just like Sprite. I’m planning to try the White Grape flavor, seems like that may taste like the sparkling grape juice that is so delicious.

The Office: I know, I know, another “old” TV show. But I’m currently watching this all the way through for the fourth time in less than two years and just this week decided that it’s my absolute favorite show ever. The humor and sweetness just doesn’t get old. Now if I could just get my husband to watch it….

Pizza Logs: This is a Weight Watcher friendly recipe from the Emily Bites Blog. Egg roll wrappers, pizza sauce, and string cheese. So quick and easy and so delicious. We’ve been having these once a week with a salad and it’s the perfect meal.

Thanks for reading! What’s one of your new favorite things?

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Reading List- June 2014

Summer just brings on the need to read. Probably because it’s SO HOT and nothing else sounds as appealing as getting lost in great book. At the beginning of the month I put holds on a lot of new books at the library, and as luck would have it, they all came in at the same time. I would go pick up a book, get home, and get an email that another was waiting for me. No joke. That happened multiple times this month. So, I had, and still have, quite a pile of books I’m working through!

[3] All Lined Up by Cora Carmack (2014, Fiction): Carmack is a great writer in the new genre “New Adult”. Her books are fun, easy to read, and easy to connect with. I wrote about her first three books in November and March. In this first book of her new series it’s obvious she has grown as a writer in telling the story and building the characters. Looking forward to her next book.

[4] The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers (1997, Fiction): Why did I wait so long to read this book?? I think I was scared it was going to be “overly Christian”, but it’s not. Such a GOOD book on the very timely issue of abortion.

[2] Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen (2014, Fiction): This book just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know why I didn’t like it, but I just didn’t. You may love it. It sounds like she’s a great author and I will probably read another of her books before I totally give up on her.

[3] The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison (2013, Fiction): This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. An interesting style of writing. Incredibly intellectual and psychological (in fact, I was wondering the whole time how I would understand parts of it without a Master’s in Counseling). It wasn’t as thrilling as I thought it would be, but it does keep you reading. I think maybe I’m not smart enough to understand the true depth of the story….

[3] Lost Boy by Brent Jeffs (2009, Non-fiction): Another book about the FLDS church and Warren Jeffs. I am so interested in this topic! I read other books about this in November and January. Brent was Warren’s nephew, so he had a very personal experience with Warren’s rise to power and the horrific transformation of the group.

[4] The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand (2014, Fiction): An incredibly emotional book. Definitely not my favorite Hilderbrand book, but it’s always a nice getaway to be taken to the town of Nantucket for a while!

What have you been reading? What is your all-time favorite book?

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