Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Story - Becoming Frugal

**As part of my blogging experience I wanted to work on my writing. I'm by no means an author, but enjoy telling stories and I hope that this blog can be a great forum for that.

Growing up my family didn't have a lot of money. As a young child my dad worked as a self-employed contractor and, though extremely talented, wasn't able to run a successful business for very many years. When my parents split in the fifth grade our budget got tighter as my mom provided for us - in conjunction with my dad's child support payments - on an at-home hairdresser's salary. We lived off of state assistance for some time, usually bought used clothing, and rarely ate out or went to activities that weren't free. I honestly didn't really even care, but I always knew my parents did.

Like for many, money was a point of conflict in our home. I used to lay in bed for hours at night asking the Lord to bless me with opportunities to take those burdens out of my home. I would dream of becoming a famous singer and leaving an envelope of cash on my mom's doorstep -- enough to pay off the house. Or to win the lottery and buy her a huge mansion somewhere with maids (so I wouldn't have to clean it ;)).

Once I was older I would often help my mom with her finances. As banks began to move toward an online presence I began to help my mom make the house payment (I wouldn't pay, just help with the computer stuff). When I began to drive I would routinely make her business deposits and know when to ask the teller to pay off the line-of-credit and know how much to transfer to savings. I would help my mom scan and fax receipts to Workforce Services and tally all her business and family expenditures for reporting to the state so that we could eat the following month.

I used to think that this was a burden no child should have to go through -- to see how little our family actual lived off; it wasn't fair that I had to carry the same stress that my mom packed around on a daily basis. It would make me sick shopping with my mom. She would want me to try things on at the store, or come home with things she thought I would like and I would actually feel physically ill and try to convince my mom that I didn't need anything or to return the items she did buy.

Now that I am a mother and wife I am so grateful for my own mother's vulnerability. I'm grateful that I was able to see the importance of saving, the importance of spending less than you earn, and the importance of being frugal.

Something that my church emphasizes is staying out of debt. In one of my favorite talks given by Elder Robert D. Hales or the Quorum of the 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said the following:
Of course some debt incurred for education, a modest home, or a basic automobile may be necessary to provide for a family. Unfortunately however, additional debt is incurred when we cannot control our wants and addictive impulses. And for both debt and addiction, the hopeful solution is the same—we must turn to the Lord and follow His commandments. We must want more than anything else to change our lives so that we can break the cycle of debt and our uncontrolled wants.

Now that I have an income that my family can easily live comfortably on I've found it harder and harder to be frugal. I like nice things. I like to look nice. I like my home to to look beautiful and my boys and husband to have things they enjoy around them. I like having the tools I want to create things I want to create. But I don't need any of those things. The things I need are a happy family, a roof over my head, food to nourish mine and my family's bodies, etc.

There are so many other things I want to say in this post, but I think I'm going to wrap it up with some more of Elder Hales' talk:
How then do we avoid and overcome the patterns of debt and addiction to temporal, worldly things? May I share with you two lessons in provident living that can help each of us. These lessons, along with many other important lessons of my life, were taught to me by my wife and eternal companion. These lessons were learned at two different times in our marriage—both on occasions when I wanted to buy her a special gift.
The first lesson was learned when we were newly married and had very little money. I was in the air force, and we had missed Christmas together. I was on assignment overseas. When I got home, I saw a beautiful dress in a store window and suggested to my wife that if she liked it, we would buy it. Mary went into the dressing room of the store. After a moment the salesclerk came out, brushed by me, and returned the dress to its place in the store window. As we left the store, I asked, “What happened?” She replied, “It was a beautiful dress, but we can’t afford it!” Those words went straight to my heart. I have learned that the three most loving words are “I love you,” and the four most caring words for those we love are “We can’t afford it.” 
The second lesson was learned several years later when we were more financially secure. Our wedding anniversary was approaching, and I wanted to buy Mary a fancy coat to show my love and appreciation for our many happy years together. When I asked what she thought of the coat I had in mind, she replied with words that again penetrated my heart and mind. “Where would I wear it?” she asked. (At the time she was a ward Relief Society president helping to minister to needy families.)
Then she taught me an unforgettable lesson. She looked me in the eyes and sweetly asked, “Are you buying this for me or for you?” In other words, she was asking, “Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?” I pondered her question and realized I was thinking less about her and our family and more about me.
After that we had a serious, life-changing discussion about provident living, and both of us agreed that our money would be better spent in paying down our home mortgage and adding to our children’s education fund.These two lessons are the essence of provident living. When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”
Those two lines, more than any others, are what I use to remind myself. Last year I taped it to my front door to remind myself every time I left the house of what was most important. And so I thought I'd try and make a printable for you! If there is a color that you'd prefer over purple (my favorite...) that you'd like to match your house let me know! I can make them in any color!


Just follow the links to save them and/or print them off from Google Drive:
Can't Afford It jpg|pdf
Don't Need It jpg|pdf

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Conference Kit - RAOK

Something that I get to do biannually is watch General Conference (follow the link to find out more and watch for yourself). General Conference is held the first Saturday and Sunday in April and October. Millions of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gather together to hear prophetic counsel from men and women they sustain as leaders of their faith. For me, personally, it is a time I use to receive answers from the Lord through his servants and always come away from those weekends feeling rejuvenated and inspired to be a better version of myself.

In late September I sent my brother's family a small 'conference kit' for them to enjoy and to motivate them to watch General Conference. My brother has struggled with church activity for many years. Recently he and his wife have been doing extremely well spiritually and are working towards being sealed in the temple. My brother is a very loving person, and I've always known he has such a good heart, but there's something about the gospel of Jesus Christ that can take a good person and turn them into an incredible person. That's been true of my brother.

Chaddy, if you're reading, the gospel looks good on you ;)

I'm not going to say that this RAOK was really that big of a win. I sent the package with too little time, and they didn't get it until Saturday afternoon of conference. I made a second mistake that I'll mention later in the post, but the kit can be reused so it wasn't a total fail.

What I included in my kit:

What I was planning on including (that I forgot to include until it was being mailed)
I thought for sure that Deseret Book would have 3.5 X 5 inch picture cards of all of the apostles so when I got to my local store and they didn't I was at a loss. I've seen a few blog posts around the blogosphere with pictures of what I was imagining, but they must have designed their own (link to one example above - though it doesn't include the new apostles sustained in Oct '15). Regardless, at the time we didn't own a printer and so that idea was out. :(

I would still like to do that in the future (maybe a future post - stay tuned), not just for my brother's family, but for my own as well. They would be great to have on hand to help teach young children the names of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the Presidency of the Church.

The notepad and pens were intended for note-taking and doodling. My sister-in-law is an artist, so I was hoping to have something available to her for doodling while she watched, but, again, I dropped the ball.

When I was trying to figure out the logistics of mailing the package I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't really want to send two packages and risk them arriving at different times. When I bought the puzzle and realized that the puzzle was in a bag I decided to take the cellophane wrapper off the puzzle and stick the cards inside the box and mail everything in the puzzle box. Great idea. EXCEPT I forgot to mention in a note outside the box that there was more than just the puzzle inside, and therefore, my brother had no clue and they didn't end up using anything during conference. :(

So if you try to be too cheap like me, then at least remember to add a note. :S

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkin French Toast with Fresh Apple Filling and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

While my sister was in town visiting us last week we threw together an impromtu french toast breakfast.

I was working so I was just going to pull out the griddle for them to warm up while they got things going. Then I just got out a bowl for them. And added the eggs. Then some cinnamon sugar. And some pumpkin pie spice and a lid-ful of vanilla and a swig of milk...and hey, I have some left over pumpkin in the fridge we should use up. The next thing you know we've got full-blown pumpkin french toast sizzlin' on the griddle.

Pumpkin French Toast


  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 Tbls 2% milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbls pureed Pumpkin (I used Libby's)
  • White Bread*
  1. In a wide, shallow bowl combine all but bread with fork. Whisk until all pumpkin is completely combined and there are no chunks.
  2. Dredge each side of each slice of bread in mixture and place on hot skillet on medium low heat.
  3. Cook one side until brown, flip, and cook other side until brown.
  4. Before serving ensure that it's not soggy in the middle. Nothing is worse than soggy french toast.
  5. Top with apple filling, cinnamon whipped cream, and a light drizzle of homemade syrup.
*We used about 9 slices and cooked up the rest of the eggs and ate them.

While my sister manned the griddle I moved on to the fresh apple filling. Peeling and slicing 2 medium sized tart apples, tossing in some cinnamon sugar, a small bit of lime juice (I didn't have lemon on hand), and a few large pinches of flour.

Fresh Apple Filling


  • 2 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  1. In a medium-sized bowl add all ingredients and toss to combine.
  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and microwave on high for 5-8 minutes or until apples reach desired softness.

We'd purchased some heavy whipping cream the night before to use in a pasta dish and had over half of it leftover so a mixed up some whipped cream. My sister threw in a dash of cinnamon for a nice touch.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream


  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 Tbls powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. In a medium-sized bowl add all ingredients and mix on high with hand or stand mixer until soft peaks form.
  2. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and microwave on high for 5-8 minutes or until apples reach desired softness. 

To say that this was delicious is an understatement. MAKE THESE TODAY FOR ANY MEAL!

I discovered that I can throw together a pretty mean breakfast with flavors that complement each other. Not too shabby!

What's your favorite fall breakfast food? I can't wait to try some more!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Be Our Guest - Setting up a guest bedroom

When my sister told me that her and her husband were planning on coming to visit (there's always an open invitation for any of my family or friend's to come visit!) I was excited to transform our room into a guest bedroom for their stay.

Something to note: we live in a two-bedroom apartment.

Housing guests is always a little bit of a challenge, but I try to make all parties comfortable. I wanted to make this visit as comfortable as possible because my sister is expecting her first child. If there's one rule I follow, it's that pregnant ladies get treated like royalty.

It started when I was pregnant with my first child; I was blown away at how much nicer people were to me: offering chairs and beds, making sure I always had water, carrying things for me, and overall, being concerned for me - asking how I'm feeling, etc. After experiencing all that kindness, I felt a duty (gladly accepted) to do the same for other expecting women.

And so (segue back into the main point here) I set out to make my sister's stay as luxurious as it could be - bar staying in a two bedroom apartment with four other people, two of whom, are less than three.

We had a great time during their visit, and after one night of sleep my sister said, "I woke up and I was so comfortable I didn't want to move." Success!! :)

I could have sworn I'd read a post from Clean Mama (a great blog that I follow - go follow her, too!) about prepping a guest bedroom, but when I searched for the post I couldn't find it anywhere. Therefore, I had to make it up as I went, trying to dig through the recesses of my brain to remember some of her tips.

  1. The Bed
  2. This is where I started. I made sure to wash the sheets the day they came so that they smelled fresh and hadn't been slept in. I also changed out our 'shammed' pillows for some normal matching pillow cases in the event that they forgot their pillows (my sister is not the type to forget pillows. She brought six and still used the ones I provided). I also pulled in the pillows from the front room for throw pillows. I added a throw blanket on the end for added warmth if needed. As a tiny extra touch, I exchanged my wedding photo for this print I found at

  3. The Nightstands
  4. Because I wanted to make this a luxurious stay, I set out some foot cream (for my brother-in-law to use on my sisters cute pregnant feet) and some men's lotion. Alarm clock, bowl for pocket contents, tissues, remote to the fan, lamp and some reading material.

    On the other side I simply set out my extra set of scriptures, a lamp, and a massage roller.

  5. The Bathroom
  6. Luckily I keep the majority of my 'get-ready' supplies in either baskets or drawers, so my counter is generally pretty cleared and I simply moved them to the other bathroom.
    Hey There!
    I moved our toothbrushes and pill reminders out and added a few touches. Bath salts (in a cleaned out spaghetti jar with some paper letters taped to it), a shower cap (from our last stay at the Little America), new disposable razors, face mask, and Indulgent Eye Gel (love me some Mary Kay!).

    Have you ever been a guest somewhere and you need something desperately but were too embarrassed to ask? So there you were, trying to open, sift through, and close every drawer and cupboard in the powder room as silently as possible, praying your host didn't hear you snooping around.

    Something I'm always secretly hunting for when I am a guest is Q-Tips. Seriously, do most people keep these guys in a hidden closet I don't have access to?? To save my guests from having to peer into every drawer in the bathroom, I made sure cotton balls and Q-Tips were in the open and ready to use.

    And lastly, towels. Because we don't have a linen closet, I always keep my towels rolled and in a basket in the bathroom. Lucky for me, I didn't have to do anything to ensure that my guests had direct access to a towel. I'm pleased to say we had no occurrences of our guests standing wet and nude in the shower hollering for a towel.

  7. The Suitcase Stand & Wall Decor
  8. At the end of my list comes this little tidbit. I'll be honest, prior to reading Clean Mama's post, I had no clue what these little do-dad's were for in hotels. They always sat idling in the closet waiting for me to discover their use. Now that I know, I've become more cognizant of keeping my suitcase elevated so that I don't have to sit on the floor to access it. We don't have a suitcase rack, so we used this little beauty we had lying around instead: 

    Aren't we so fancy? 
    I didn't want my sister to be subjected to my bridals so I covered them up with these beautiful printables from Elise Creates and [I don't know where!!! I tried for 1.5 hours to refind it online and I can't!!]
    I can't keep this little clothed these days. #pottytrainingprobs

And that's a wrap. I had such a nice time hosting my sister and her husband, but you know what? They couldn't have cared less about all my preparations! I'm not saying I'm bitter about it. I'm just saying, as a guest, they had pretty low expectations. It wasn't until I asked if they liked the quote above the bed that they even noticed it! My sister didn't need all the extras and I didn't need to go out of my way to make it so complicated, but I enjoyed doing it! I am discovering that I am a little over-the-top and, for the most part, I like it!

What are some things that you like to prepare for as a host?
And better yet, what are some of your best/worst experiences as the guest? I would love to hear your stories and suggestions!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Boxes of Love - RAOK

My mother-in-law is such a sweet woman and she often sends us 'care-packages'. They always arrive just when we need some lifting. Sometime in August I had told my husband that I wanted to get him some new clothes for school, but after doing our budget for September it was just not in the cards. Only a few days later we received a package from my mother-in-law containing a few new shirts and a pair of shorts for my husband to wear to school (also candy - something else I really needed that day ;)).  The feeling of receiving a Box of Love is so great, that I was excited to share the experience with others in our lives that are struggling.

One night I had talked to my dad and he'd mentioned that my grandpa had been ill with shingles and wasn't doing very well. In the same call he told me of my aunt and three cousins who were desperately looking for a new place to live. I had also talked to my husband's sweet friend who was going through a lot of things (think physically, emotionally, mentally, the gamut) recently and she'd been on my mind. Finally, I have a close friend from high school who has been fighting some really hard physical battles who has needed some uplifting.

I knew that in each of their situations I could not do anything to take their pain or confusion or anxiety away, but I hoped to simply give them a smile and make their circumstances seem just a little bit more manageable. With those four circumstances in mind, we headed to Target to get some things to brighten their day for our Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK).


If there's one thing that my grandpa LOVES, it's black licorice. I picked up some soft Australian liquorice because it was on sale in the Target Dollar Spot! Score!

Aunt & Cousins

This one was tougher because we had several people to pick things for, wanted it to seem significant, but also knew we didn't have a huge budget for big gifts.

I've heard it said it's better to laugh than to cry, so in addition to the card, we included a fun game for their family to play together. If you haven't played The Game of Things yet, you need to! It's a lot of fun!

To keep each of their gifts separate, I wrapped each of their 'bundles' in twine and used washi tape to label whose gift was whose. The girls got nail polish, and my Aunt got lipstick.

Husband's Friend

My husband's friend got the same thing as my girl cousins, but I included a darling teal sequined pencil pouch. It reminded me of The Little Mermaid, and our friend has gorgeous red locks like Ariel, so I couldn't resist!

Old Guy Friend

This one was harder because boys are always harder to buy gifts for, I swear!! I pretty much just threw stuff in my cart as possibilities the whole time, and once I got in line to checkout I narrowed it down to just a few things.

My friend has had a lot of food restrictions put on him so that they can find out what's causing him so much pain. He can pretty much only eat meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. He's also in a lot of pain, so I thought a movie was one thing he could do relatively pain-free.

Something else I included in each of the packages was a personal drawing from my 2 1/2 year old. He had a lot of fun coloring for the packages and it's always a hoot to hear what he's drawn. He drew my husband's friend two skunks (which we kindly labeled for her) and my grandpa a wildebeest. The things that kid comes up with...

At the end of the day we spent more than we'd planned to (after shipping costs), but felt really good about where the money was going. Sure we could have used that money to serve ourselves, but we found it much more fun to shop for those we hoped we could help! Since doing this initially RAOK, we've decided to budget $50 each month to do fun RAOKs like this monthly!

Something I've discovering about myself is that I can help when there's a need, and that's refreshing.

What are some fun things that you have done to serve someone lately (or something that someone else has done for you)? Also, what are some inexpensive yet thoughtful gift ideas you've found for adult men??? I'm really at a loss here, so anything would help!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Paint My Porch - Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Something I saw on Pinterest about a year or more ago was Sidewalk Chalk Paint. I wish I could find the original poster to share with you and give credit where it is due, but the recipe is probably on other blogs and it's simple enough I'm not sure it's unique to the site I pulled it from.

 Whenever I'm feeling like I'm out of ideas for entertaining my extremely active 2 1/2 year old I pull this favorite out. Discovering little, easy things to do like this always make me feel better about my parenting. I often get in a rut and am not sure what to do once my toddler's colored, read a stack of books, played with Play-Doh, and played with every toy in his box. Letting him get outside and paint on our porch is easy and it also let's him get creative and helps me avoid plopping him in front of a show on Netflix.
I'm obsessed with this picture.
The recipe:

Sidewalk Chalk Paint
  • 1 part corn starch
  • 1 part water
  • Food coloring
  1. Pull out a cupcake pan (lately I've been preferring my mini cupcake pan so I can mix up variations of a color i.e. lime green, forest green, teal, and plain green). 
  2. Fill each pan a little less than 1/2 way with water.
  3. Drop the desired food coloring into each pan and stir to combine.
  4. Finally add cornstarch (equal amounts as you have water) and stir to combine.
I add the color first because I feel like it combines better that way.

The original poster recommended foam brushes for applying the paint to the cement. I found that the foam paintbrushes just fall apart when brushed against the rough pavement and so we use the wide bristled brush from a pack that I bought at Walmart as a freshman in college (similar here)

Simply set the cupcake tin down and let your kiddo go crazy!

In the video I was having him use spoons and forks...get creative ;)

My oldest used to have all the colors mixed within minutes, but now he's much more purposeful about his painting and doesn't usually mix the colors! The great part about that is, we just let the pan sit outside and dry out when we're not using it and then JUST ADD WATER the next time we want to paint. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

I haven't had any trouble getting this to wash off. I usually just let the rain do it's job, but you can grab a hose and rinse it off too.

Here's our oldest playing with the Sidewalk Chalk Paint with his buddies last summer.

This is something that I've done several times with great success and I highly recommend it! Discovering that I can be an active and involved parent is the best feeling!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Harry Potter Inspired Halloween Decor

I really enjoy decorating for most holidays, but I don't have a lot of decor. This year I wanted to discover new ways to use items I already had around my home to create a fun Halloween atmosphere in our home.

I am not really into spooky. I don't like scary movies and I don't like old and/or dirty things. I know that's weird, but it just gives me the heeby-jeebies. I could never live in an old Victorian home. I would feel so terrified every day of my life.

Regardless, I still really enjoy Halloween. I love to come up with fun coordinating costumes for my family (more on that in another post or two) and I love to have pumpkins and happy haunts around the home. I had a few things that I DIM'd from Halloweens-past and did end up buying 4 things from Target that I felt like really added to the look.

The foundation of this look came from a 'trunk' of Harry Potter books that were my Christmas present in 2012. I used the trunk as the centerpiece and built upon it to create the finished product.

I used a Harry Potter tie that I picked up Sophomore of college at a Halloween store, a wand my dad made me for my birthday that same year, some perfume/cologne bottles that weren't conspicuously perfume/cologne, some cork-top glass containers I picked up in the Target Dollar Spot, a mason jar with 'quills', some tea lights I picked up around Valentine's Day at the Dollar Tree, a glass container to hold some fake fall foilage (purchased at Walmart for a Relief Society activity Sophomore of college), and a snitch (more on that later as well).

It's not Harry Potter without some Polyjuice Potion! I simply added some food coloring to water to create a deep green color.

Some Felix Felicis for good luck!

I searched the internet for a free Hogwarts Acceptance Letter and found a link (with instructions on how to download the font and everything) here.

Amortentia (let's pretend I have better handwriting mmkay?) and Veritaserum for some 'Love' and truth.

And this is where I get desperate! I knew I wanted a snitch and had some (terrible smelling) gold paint from Target I wanted to use but wasn't sure what to do. That's when I spotted my oldest's bouncy ball sitting there for the taking. I wrapped it in masking tape then created wings with the masking tape and taped them on. Then I painted the whole thing with the gold paint and allowed it to dry before setting it on the tie (which my husband actually wears to church. He gets lots of praise from the young men).

This bat banner was a DIM that I did back in 2013 with a girl from work. We tore pages out of an old book  (titled, funny enough, On Death and Dying), cut triangles out of the bottoms, cut out several black bats from one she'd printed off of google, glued them to the pages, glued on orange buttons from Joann's, and then hot glued them to orange baker's twine. She also had a black stamp pad we brushed lightly against each page to give it an aged effect. I've been able to fold this up nicely enough after each use that this is my third year using it!

I purchased these Halloween lights from the Smith's Seasonal/Promotional section that same year (2013) on sale. This year I strung them under our bar on top of our bookshelves and then 'hid them' under some spider webs I bought at Walmart in 2012. I'm actually attempting to use the webs to look like smoke bubbling out of a cauldron. Is it working? Or should I try something else?

I made these in 2013 by painting them with acrylic paints and Mod Podging scrapbook paper on top.

The candy corn was made the same was as the pumpkins in 2014, the ghost was a gift from my Mother in Law, and the Chicken Wire Pumpkin and real mini pumpkins were purchased at Target this year.

Tea lights inside the cauldron.

The final look.

I was happy to discover that I was able to create this look for just over $6! I had everything but the 4 things I picked up at Target, and several of the items weren't even Halloween decor!

I really enjoyed putting this together and am proud of my ingenuity. What do you guys think? I'd love to hear your feedback!

What are your favorite Halloween traditions, and what's your favorite way to decorate for Halloween?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Autumn Sugar Cookies - My First Royal Icing Experience

I have a weakness for the Seasonal/Promotional section at Smith's. It's a problem. Thank heavens we moved away and now I only have a Target Dollar Spot at my disposal ;) I usually only buy things that I would consider a deal and so the majority of any of our holiday decor (which is pretty scant) was probably purchased there.

To that point, something I purchased in the Seasonal section a few years back was a pack of Halloween/Fall cookie cutters (I include fall because honestly, pumpkins are in from mid-September until Thanksgiving, not just Halloween...right? Sounds right to me.).

Even though I've had the cutters for some time now, I hadn't really used them much. I love pumpkin shaped cookies though, so I was determined to get some use out of them this year.

My goal to use them and my desire to try out new things combined and were manifested in my first royal icing experience.

I've been seeing all sorts of things on Facebook and YouTube about royal icing, and though they looked beautiful, I could always hear my mom in my head telling me, "Sure they look beautiful, but that stuff tastes terrible." So I adopted the reasoning and never thought I'd need to play with the decorating medium.

Then the other day I wanted to make sugar cookies so badly (I occasionally get in a baking mood), and so for your reading and viewing pleasure and for my husband and eldest's delight, I decided to take the plunge and try out royal icing.

I didn't want to go into it blindly so I prepared myself with some technique guidance first.

The recipe I chose was one from Sally's Baking Addiction found here.
True to her post, these cookies held their shape amazingly well - as long as the dough was chilled and kept chilled prior to baking. Also, like the post described, the cookies had just the right crispiness on the outside and softness on the inside. I will definitely be making them again in the future.

I also took her advice and used the Cookie Icing recipe she recommended found here.
I could have used a 'real' royal icing recipe with eggs or meringue powder but I only had a few eggs left that I wanted to save for breakfasts, and I wasn't, originally, going to buy any extra ingredients. I liked the recipe but wished I would have added some flavor of some sort to it, as to my inner-head-moms-voice, it wasn't that tasty (though on the cookies it did not taste bad. They were really yummy, actually).

I also wanted some tips and tricks so I watched Julia M Usher's videos on How to Make Royal Icing (used this link more for tips on consistency and coloring), How to Make and Handle Parchment Cones, and Top-Coat, Outlining, and Flooding. I found all three extremely insightful and attempted to apply all of her tips and tricks.

My work space. I hope you will all be patient as I learn about how to take more beautiful pictures :)

What I Needed That I Didn't Have
  • Parchment Paper - I thought I could get away with Wax Paper, and I did, until I ran out of Wax Paper.
  • Black Icing Color - I needed this but could not find it at Target, which is the closest store to me and once I started roaming I left myself with no time to look at other stores.
  • A turkey poker dealio - I don't know what it's called exactly because my brain wouldn't let me hear what she was saying in the video each time she brought it up, but I just used a toothpick.
I eventually decided to fill in the cats with white (ghost cats??). You can see that one poor
kitty needed to have surgery.

What I thought about Royally Icing cookies
Honestly, at the beginning I really enjoyed this whole process. Like I mentioned, I was really in the mood to bake, so this was the perfect fix for me. I'm also a perfectionist so having the ability to make the barrier of thicker icing and flood the rest of the cookie and have it be perfectly smooth was insanely satisfying for me. Also, the handful of people who saw the cookies all oohed-and-aahed at them and that was also satisfying.
BUT by the last several cookies I was OVER it. I was tired, done, sick of being sticky, and licking the icing off the parchment so I didn't have to rinse my wipe-rag for a 1000th time.

Would I try it again? Definitely!
Would I do it frequently or try to be a professional royal ice-r (we're making that a word...)? Absolutely not.

Overall I was extremely pleased at how the cookies turned out and really excited to share them with others. I enjoyed the process to a point and was proud of myself for making great, beautiful cookies.

Who knew that Morgan was a cookie ice-r?
These little guys were too Halloween-y for the original shoot, as I made them in September.

What are your hobbies?

This question, more than any other, has had me stop in my tracks so many times since becoming a mother. What are my hobbies? Well...I don't know.
The day I became a mother - April 9, 2013
I'm not sure people consider the things I do day-in and day-out hobbies. You know? The wake up, feed the children, wrestle them into clothes, clean-up spills, change diapers, change more diapers, kiss boo-boos, clean toilets, work full-time, laundry, putting laundry away before it becomes what children would consider a pile of leaves to jump in...

You see my point. After I became a mother I found myself asking back, "Who has time for hobbies?"

It's easy to allow life to consume you. I let it on most days. But there are those times when, miraculously, the house is 'clean', the dishes are handled, and the laundry is managed. When that happens my question becomes, "What now?" What am I supposed to do with my time now that there's 'nothing' to do?

This blog is a place I hope to find the answer to my "What now?" and their "What are your hobbies" (whoever they may be).

My crew

My babies and Husband are my world. I love them more than anything else on this Earth. I never want this to be a distraction from them. But I do want to continue to develop a different side of me - whatever that side may be.

This blog is me stepping out of my box. I will no longer accept that I'm 'not crafty' or 'not good at cooking'. I'm saying goodbye to telling myself I can't sew or DIMyself (you see what I did there?). It's never been that I can't and always been that I've never let myself try.

I'm ready to explore who I once was and how I can tie that woman to the woman I am now. I never want to be pre-Morgan again because the now-Morgan is a much more experienced version, but I think somewhere along the way I forgot that pre-Morgan was also a pretty fantastic person and that she still has a lot to offer the world. I also think that future-Morgan may be pretty great, and I can't wait to meet her and see what she's done with this space.

And so begins my rediscovery. Join me as I Rediscover Morgan.