Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Smack Down

This week is so insanely busy that it just might kill me. I tend to think that I can handle a lot - and then when it's time to actually handle it, I turn into a lunatic.

There's a health psychologist named Kelly McGonigal who has done some research on how we commit to things at later dates because we think of our future selves as more capable. For example, if you ask me to run a mile right now, I will say no because I know I can't run a mile, but if you ask me to run a mile next Thursday, I might say yes because I subconsciously believe that I'm going to be a different person by then.

This week, my "current self" and my "past self" are going through some disagreements.

Current self: Why did you do this to me?

Past self: I thought you could handle it!

I can never recognize "too much" until I'm drowning in it. So this week, we have all of the normal stuff - piano lessons, scouts, and extracurriculars for school. But my girls also have their Christmas dance concert. Last night they had a stage rehearsal and then Thursday and Friday night they have the actual concert. Each of these is about a 4-5 hour commitment. And I top of that, I scheduled two doctor's appointments, a speaking engagement an hour away from home, and three visiting teaching appointments. Plus, my own visiting teachers are coming, and I agreed to do a part in the Relief Society Christmas program and Nicky is singing in it. Have I read my part? No. Am I running out of time? Yep. Should I be blogging right now? Definitely not.

On top of all the stuff, my kids are completely off their rockers. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF THEM. Their anxiety is through the roof, none of them are sleeping well, and they speak fluent whine. They are possessed with some sort of Christmas demon, and I tend to forget that they get this way every year. 

A quick letter:

Dear Britt,

Do not book anything the week of the dance concert. You will think you can handle it. You can't. Don't do it.


December 2017 Britt, who is sufficiently qualified to make this statement

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dear Donny

When I was 23 years old, I helped plan a Christmas party for the women in my church. I spent a few nights in my living room working on some projects with the Relief Society committee. As we gathered around a folding table, chatting and laughing, I learned that these women all had the mega hots for Donny Osmond.


Being born in the 80's, I missed out on Osmondmania, so my first exposure to the Osmonds was when Donny and Marie started a talk show in 1998. I've always loved talk shows, and as a teenager, I was an absolute sucker for them, so I watched Donny & Marie every day. Initially, I didn't know that Donny and Marie had been anything else, but at some point I learned that they were Mormons. I told my mom this, thinking it was big news, and she presented me with a brief rundown of Osmond history. I learned that they came from a big family and that they lived in Utah and that Donny and Marie had a variety show in the 70's. The fact that they were Mormons, apparently, wasn't news.

Even though I became familiar with Donny Osmond when I was a teenager, it wasn't until that moment in my living when the ladies from my ward began fanning themselves and saying things like, "Woooo, Donny!" that I began to understand that Donny's face had once adorned the walls of millions of girls all over the world. This revelation gave me pause because 1) At the age of 23, I didn't really comprehend that women in their 40's and 50's were still capable of having a crush and 2) I'd never seen Donny as anything other than a celebrity old enough to be my dad.

Fast-forward ten years to when I met my friend, Shannon. One day Shannon revealed to me that she has a late-bloomer crush on Donny Osmond. I found this incredibly amusing, but by this time, I understood that women of all ages will have crushes on men of all ages for all of time (the older I get, the smaller the age gap between Hugh Jackman and me seems).

After Shannon's revelation ("His voice is like butter," she says) I did what any good friend would do... I started making Donny Osmond memes for her. We exchanged Donny memes pretty regularly. Then I made them into a book for her for Christmas last year.

A few weeks ago at the library I was hoping to find a good biography to read. I was excited when I saw Donny Osmond peeking at me from the shelf. I grabbed it and sent a picture to Shannon. I didn't intend to read it, but I thought it might be fun to thumb through as a representative and friend of many Donny lovers, so I checked it out.

That night I started reading it, and I got hooked. I ended up entering an intensive course of Osmond study. While reading the book, I was simultaneously watching clips from the Andy Williams Show. I also looked up photos, like the one where Merrill licked his lips and appeared to be sticking his tongue out at the Queen. I checked out news articles, magazine covers, and music videos. I've now listened to several hours' worth of Donny Osmond interviews with everyone from Howard Stern to our local news personality, Bob Evans.

The book ended up appealing to me because I am obsessed with the human experience. I love learning about what makes people who they are. I thrive on studying behavior, choices, and lifestyles. With that comes an interest in fame and how it affects people, particularly children (this is why I have to invite Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber to my celebrity dinner party and why I have a secret desire to nurture the crap out of them).

Donny's story is especially interesting because he entered show business as a child and dealt with all of the fame that came with that, but he is also a Mormon, so he had to balance two lifestyles that are in opposition. A lot of people in that position end up feeling like they need to choose one or the other because there is such a contrast (Chelsie Hightower, for example), but Donny was able to make both work, and I don't think that was an easy feat. Upholding values while the industry demands something different is nearly impossible, but Donny did it all while being criticized for being a goody-goody.

The book touched on Donny's faith a little bit, but it wasn't an overarching theme. He discussed some of his family values and how his parents made sure they had "family night" every week. He reviewed a few doctrines of the Church where they were relevant and mentioned very briefly his marriage in the Salt Lake Temple, but the book was not really a religious piece. I would love to someday have the faith-based side of the story because I know that there are many spiritual components of Donny's story that aren't in the book. Plus, the book is out-dated, and there are years' worth of new experiences to add. Perhaps he can tell me about it in person because my new life goal is to meet Donny Osmond and help him write that book.

Even though his biography only briefly touches on Donny's religion, he has been very open about it in other forums. One thing that impresses me about Donny Osmond it that he has an amazing ability to uphold his faith and still connect with the people who are criticizing him for it. He has to face some pretty irreverent questions about what he believes, and he handles it with such class. He will go so far as to say to someone like Joy Behar, "What you're saying is not correct," but he does it with an admirable measure of love. Donny is also a very forgiving person. He has many reasons to be angry and bitter, but he is incredibly merciful.

One recurring element of Donny's story is the struggle of his image. This is one of the aspects of his life that is really interesting to me because it's part of the experience of all humans. Do we not all wrestle with who we are? He talks about the "image" of Donny Osmond - the performer, the entertainer, the man on stage - and what he would consider the "real" Donny Osmond. Much of his life has been spent navigating that gap. He also shares some experiences where people have been very cruel to him. People hate him simply because he is Donny Osmond. He tells a story about some deejays in Tampa who refused to play his song, "Soldier of Love." He called them up and said, "This is Donny Osmond. I'd like to know why you won't play my song." Their answer was essentially, "Because we don't like you!" Donny ended up flying to Tampa to arm wrestle one of the deejays with the agreement that if Donny won, they would play his song.

(He won).


I've never not liked Donny Osmond, but now that I've learned a lot more about him, I really admire and respect him. I dare say that Donny Osmond now has the coveted number one seat at my celebrity dinner party, and my newfound level of fandom is very timely because today happens to be Donny's 60th birthday! So happy birthday, dear Donny from this fan who only knows "Puppy Love" from the times you've grimaced and sang it to talk show hosts as a full-grown man.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Year of School Posters

For the past five years (with the exception of year three when I told the PTA I would "think about it" and then never got back to them) I've done a birthday poster for my children's school. Every year, I think it will be the last year, and every year, I get asked to do it again, and I say yes.

This year, when they asked me, I thought, "I should say no." But then I pondered things and realized that I have no good reason to say no. I know that it's trendy to say no, and there are all these mantras about learning to say no, but being helpful requires saying yes! Granted, the school could survive without a birthday poster each month, but it's become a fun tradition, and I love when students see me carrying the poster into the school, and they start whispering to each other, "What do you think it is this time?"

Here are all of the posters from this year (minus February because February was such an embarrassment that I didn't even take a picture of it).









On addition to the birthday posters, I usually get asked to to a couple of teacher appreciation posters. This year, they had us do them on standard poster board. I made one for Nicky's teacher and one for the librarians:

Nicky's teacher told me that she was going to take hers home, put it in a frame, and hang it in her basement. That made me glad that I'd done the extra work to fix her name, which I'd misspelled. 

Here are my other posts with posters I've done for the school:

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Our "New" Kitchen

Even though our kitchen still isn't finished, I think I'm to the point where I can show you a piece of it. Our house had the original builder-grade cabinets in the kitchen. They are some type of laminate with a weird glaze on them. I've always hated them and hoped to update them.

I did research on painting cabinets for about ten years before I finally made the commitment. Paint is just so unreliable. The first piece of furniture I ever painted was my kitchen table, and even though I loved it, it just didn't hold up well - and that was fine because it was an old hand-me-down table. The paint extended my enthusiasm for the table, and when the day came to get rid of it, I was at peace because it had lived a good life (I actually painted it twice while I had it). But it was that experience that taught me that paint does not solve all problems. It can ding, it can peel, it can get water damage, and so much more. It needs to be babied and touched up regularly. I wasn't sure I wanted to do that to my cabinets. I definitely didn't want to paint them and have the paint end up chipping all over the place. So for the past decade, I've skeptically looked at tutorials for painting cabinets. I've read about many different techniques and types of paints - never believing any of it was good enough to be true.

Over the years I've tried some different paints on different surfaces, but I didn't come across a type of paint that I would trust on something as important as kitchen cabinets. A couple of years ago, I started experimenting with chalk paint on various pieces - both homemade and brand name (Annie Sloan). I was hoping that I'd found miracle paint. Alas, I love chalk paint, but it is still fragile. A million online tutorials will lead you to believe that chalk paint is indestructible, but I have several pieces of furniture in my house that prove otherwise. Chalk paint still needs to be babied and touched up, but it is definitely better than plain latex paint.

It has become my opinion that chalk paint is perfect for updating something that you A) buy from the thrift store or pick up on the side of the road B) would otherwise get rid of or C) want to put a band-aid on to make it last 5-10 more years.

With that, I decided to use chalk paint on my kitchen cabinets. It's a band-aid I've put on something I want to make last ten more years.

I let my friend take the risk first. She painted her piano a few years ago, and I was amazed at how cute it turned out. I waited for it to get damaged, but other than her child coloring on it, it held up pretty well. Then this same friend painted her cabinets (her brand new cabinets in her brand new house - I could have died!) I watched her cabinets closely for a year, and they were actually doing pretty well. The amount of damage her cabinets had after a year was minimal, and I decided that I could probably maintain painted cabinets for ten years or so as long as I remain proactive about keeping them clean and touched up.

(In ten years, I'll report back and let you know if I'm eating my words).

I actually debated between using Annie Sloan chalk paint or General Finished milk paint. I ended up choosing the Annie Sloan chalk paint because it could be purchased locally in a store where I could see samples of the paint colors in person. The local stockist has a variety of furniture pieces in her store that have been painted with different colors and techniques, so it was nice to be able to go in and look at stuff that had been painted in the colors I was considering. If I'd gone the milk paint route, I would have purchased the paint online, sight unseen. In the end, that was just too risky.

I ended up selecting French Linen for the bottom cabinets (this is the color my friend used on hers, so I was piggy backing off her good color choice). I really wished I could do a white for my entire kitchen, but the bottom cabinets just seemed too risky. For one, the floor plan of my kitchen lends itself to many spills on the bottom cabinets while cooking. The other problem is that my kids sit on the bar stools and kick the counter. So the French Linen seemed more practical (I also considered doing a dark charcoal (not quite black), but that would have required mixing my own color, and I didn't want to do anything too experimental. I've never been fully sold on the two-tone cabinet trend, but in order to be practical and still have some white cabinets, I decided to go with two-tone cabinets with white on top. Annie Sloan has two whites - Pure White and Old White. Pure White was too white, and Old White was too creamy for what I wanted, so I mixed them 1:1.

I'm not going to give a full run-down of the painting process, but I ended up doing two coats of French Linen on the bottom cabinets and FOUR coats of white on the top cabinets. In hindsight, I now know that it's hard to get good coverage with white paint on cabinets. It took nearly double the paint to do my top cabinets. I love the way the white looks, but I would caution anyone about the amount of work it requires to paint cabinets white. I still keep finding spots where I need to put another coat on. It also shows flaws very easily - I'm not talking dirt, per se - they seem to wash up just fine - but brush strokes and variations in color stand out.

I decided not to wax them. At the recommendation of the stockist, I used General Finishes High Performance Top Coat (four coats). The stockist told me that she recommends using that on kitchen cabinets rather than wax, although it's still okay to use wax (my friend used wax on hers).

In addition to a fresh paint job, we also updated our hardware with pray paint. I kept all of the same hinges and half of the knobs. I used the old knobs on the drawers but put new handles on the swinging doors. I spray painted everything with Rustoleum metallic oil-rubbed bronze. I love the way it looks, but it will not hold up long-term. The paint rubs off and chips with use. Luckily I spent less than $20 on the new hardware and the paint.

We moved the cabinet over the stove up and forward so we could get the microwave off our counter. Hanging the new microwave was one of the highlights of this project. We'd wanted to hang a microwave over the stove from the minute we moved in, but there wasn't enough room (plus there are regulations for such things, and our kitchen didn't meet those guidelines). Scotty had to do some electrical work to make it all possible.

Scotty also added crown molding to the tops of the cabinets. It made our cabinets look so much better!

The walls in the kitchen (formerly a bright blue) are painted Oatlands Subtle Taupe from Valspar. This is the color in our living room as well (for the first time in 14 years, my kitchen and living room match!)

Three months later, we are very happy with how the cabinets turned out. They have some dings and scratches from installing the new floor. We had to remove the subfloor so the floor would be even from the kitchen to the living room (the kitchen floor was higher), and that required us to chisel away the subfloor against the cabinets. It was quite the chore!

Here is how it looks now:

A quick comment on the red stools: I love these stools so much because they stack! Our kitchen is really small, so bar stools make things even tighter. Being able to stack the bar stools and move them to the side is really nice. I bought them earlier this year before we planned on redoing the kitchen. I was thinking about selling them because I didn't think they would look good with the new kitchen, but now I love them! I've always had a special place in my heart for a pop of red!

A quick comment on the floor: I got our flooring from Sam's Club. It's Select Surfaces brand in Driftwood. The normal price is $1.75 per square foot. We bought it when it was on special savings for $5 off per box. That made it $1.35 per square foot!!! We have two other rooms in our house with laminate flooring from Sam's Club, and we've been very happy with it. We ran into some issues because we have several spots on our floor that aren't even. Scotty had to do a fair amount of sanding in the kitchen, and we've had to put some cushion under some spots, but we're getting there (we are currently installing the same flooring in the living room, so the entire main floor of our house will be the same.

Kitchen projects left to do:

  • Finish some patchwork on one of the walls
  • Add quarter-rounds to the bottoms of the cabinets
  • Finish painting (there's a corner over the stairs that I can't reach, and I still haven't painted behind the fridge)
  • Replace the trim around the floors, doors, and window
  • Touch up the cabinets
  • Refinish our table
  • Build a banister
  • Hang stuff on the wall (not pictured)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Counter Top Transformation (with tutorial)

As you know, we've been slowly working on updating our kitchen. We still have a lot of work to do, but even unfinished, it's much improved.

Today I thought I'd show you my counter tops. This was one of the first things I did when we started working on the kitchen. I decided to paint the formica. This idea used to horrify me because I know that paint can be touchy and and can damage easily (my philosophy for Pinterest tutorials is, "Question everything!"), but it got to the point where my kitchen was so ugly and out-dated that I just shrugged my shoulders and went, "Eh. It's worth a shot." I had no back-up plan for if the counters didn't turn out. 

It's been about three months since I painted the counters, and I feel that enough time has passed that I can give you a pretty honest review of this process.

Here is what my kitchen looked like before I did the counters (note that these photos were an afterthought, so I took them after I'd already started painting the walls. They are also from my cell phone - because this ain't no home renovation blog).

Here is the formica up close:

Step 1: Sand the Formica

The first thing I did was clean the formica really well and then sand it lightly. I don't remember what grit I used. It was coarse enough to remove some of the shine from the formica but not coarse enough to leave big grooves. I just used what I had on hand. 

I also removed the caulk from around the sink and from where the counter tops meet the wall. This isn't necessary (you might not even have caulk), but our caulk was looking pretty nasty, so I wanted to get rid of it and put some fresh stuff on. This was a tedious process. I used a Goo Gone product for caulk, and I spent hours cutting the caulk with a blade and then scraping off the residue. 

Step 2: Prime

The next step was to cover the formica with a tintable primer. I taped off the sink, but I didn't worry about the walls since we would be caulking and painting anyway. 

I ended up not tinting the primer. I thought I wanted a little white to show through, but in hindsight, I would probably tint it to a slightly off-white or light gray - something that's not so white - because I later ended up coating most of the white with a different color. 

Here is what the tintable primer looked like on the counter:

I used a brush in the corners and small roller everywhere else. I did two coats.

Step 3: Start Adding Color

After the primer dried, I started experimenting with color. This is a process where you have to be flexible. If you have something specific in mind, you might have to mess around with lots of different colors and techniques to get what you want. You may also not get what you want at all, so this project is definitely better for someone who's okay with "playing it by ear." 

I knew that I wanted my counter tops to have some beige, taupe, and gray tones. I bought several bottles of acrylic paint (this is where I wasn't sure if I could trust this task - how can cheap craft paint work on counter tops?) I bought some tan, some gray, and some black, and I knew I could mix colors if necessary. I also bought a natural sponge.

I cut the sponge into four pieces. I experimented with the colors for a while, trying to find a shade that I could sponge onto the white to make it not so bright. I tried the tan and didn't like it. Then I tried a few different grays and didn't like any of them, either. Then I decided that I trust the color I'd chosen for my walls, so I might as well use that, so I sponged on a layer of the latex wall paint so the white only showed through slightly. 

Then I sponged on some gray. 

At this point, I thought it looked "good enough," and I considered just leaving it, but I wanted to see how it would look with a little bit of black. 

When working with the colors, I found that it took a few tries to get the right color, and it also took a few tries to figure out how to work the sponge. I kept a wet towel nearby so I could sponge on some paint and then wipe it off if I didn't like it. It helped to lightly dip the sponge in the paint and then tap it several times on a paper plate until the paint thinned out slightly and absorbed into the sponge. I also needed to be careful to turn the sponge as I went so I didn't get repeated sponge patterns. I also didn't want it to look "too sponged."

I felt like the black was too stark, so I mixed a little bit of gray in it just to lighten it slightly. Once I got the right shade, I sponged it on very lightly so there is just a little bit of black in the counters.

Step 5: Top Coat

I let the acrylic dry for about two hours, and then I started the top coat. I used polycrylic in a satin sheen. I applied it with a brush and did three coats with about two hours drying time in between. 

When the final coat was drying, Scotty was working on moving the cabinet over the stove, and one of the adjacent cabinets fell off the wall and hit the counter on the way down. I was surprised that, even with slightly tacky paint on the counter, the cabinet did minimal damage. This is when I started to believe that painting counter tops might actually be okay.

Step 6: Lightly Sand

After the final coat dried for a day, I took some fine grit sand paper and went over it lightly to remove and bubbles or bumps. The instructions for the polycrylic says that you should sand in between each coat for best results, but I only sanded at the end.

Here is what the final paint job looks like up close:

And here's a shot of the kitchen after I'd finished painting the counters:

Overall, I'm very surprised and happy with the results. I use cleaners on the counter, I scrub them, and I even use crock pots on them. They're doing just fine! 

If this is something you are considering doing, here is what you should know:

This is a great way to update your counters on a budget. I think I spent about $50. Most of the expense was the primer and the top coat. I have quite a bit leftover, so I will be able to use it for my bathroom someday. My formica is over twenty years old, so it's lived a good life. I figured I had nothing to lose.  In my opinion, this is a great option if you want to update your kitchen but can't afford to have new material installed - which is the case with us. I really don't care what my counters are made of as long as they hold up well, but I do care about the color. I'm hoping to get at least ten years out of them. Now that I've been through the process, I know I can easily paint them again if I ever want to.

Even though I really like how they turned out, they do look painted if you look at them up close. You can see some light brush strokes from the top coat. It's not horrible, by any means, but for some people, this will be an issue. Sanding in between coats will help with this, but I didn't sand in between coats. I just sanded at the end.

You can't really guess what the paint will look like until you're elbow deep in the process. It's a project of trial and error. Other tutorials say, "You can't really go wrong..." but you can. The good thing is that it's easy to fix if you don't like how it's turning out. Flexibility is a must!

The counter tops will still have the same problems that formica has. If your kid runs a knife across it, it will leave a mark. If your kids spills water colors on it, it can stain. Both of these have happened at our house, but the paint isn't to blame.

In hindsight, the only things I might do differently are:
  • Possibly tint my primer to a shade of off-white
  • Use some acrylics that have some sparkle. The black paint I got had a little sparkle to it, but when I toned it down by adding some gray, it really dulled the sparkle. In granite and quartz counter tops, you can see a little bit of sparkle. 

I will be sure to update this post if anything ever changes with my counters, but as of right now, I am very happy with them, especially now that my cabinets are painted (I'll post about my cabinets at a later time). I'll also come back and add a picture of the counters with the finished kitchen when it's ready.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Spiritual Feast

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I got to participate in some really uplifting events - a spiritual feast before the feast, if you will.

The first was Time Out for Women. It has been an annual tradition to go with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law each year for the past seven years. This year, some of my nieces joined us for the first time. In the past we've made a little mini vacation out of it, and we've gone to Logan or Saint George. This time we stayed near home and went to the Salt Lake event, but we still made it a "get away" by staying in a local hotel.

One of the perks of going to the Salt Lake event was getting to see my bestest buddy, Shannon. I don't think I've told you, but Shannon moved to Idaho about five months ago. Idaho is kind of far away, but not as far as Minnesota (I'm not guilt-tripping anyone here - just stating the facts... ahem...) Anyway, Shannon made the trip to Salt Lake to attend TOFW with her in-laws, we we were able to hang out a little bit while she was in town.

I also got to see several other friends, like Sara and Shayla. 

Quick funny story: Sara and Shayla are two of five sisters. Last year, a photographer took some pictures of them at TOFW and then asked Shayla to step out of the photo. TOFW ended up using the photo of the four sisters (minus Shayla) for all of their promotional materials this year - emails, fliers, programs, etc. Last year on Thanksgiving, Shayla texted me and said, "Do you mind if I swear?" I said, "Go ahead!" Then she sent me the promotional photo, and said, "Notice anything missing? What the HELL?!?" So for an entire year, this sisterly photo was EVERYWHERE, and now that year is finally coming to a close. TOFW ended up using an enlarged photo of Shayla with her baby to direct women to the mothers' lounge, but is that any consolation?

Time Out for Women started Friday night and went through Saturday afternoon. The next morning, Nicky and I went downtown to Temple Square to attend Music and the Spoken Word.

Music and the Spoken Word is a weekly musical broadcast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's been on air for over 80 years (we attended the 4,601st broadcast). The show is recorded at Temple Square and is open to the public (ages 8 & up).

(If you're visiting Salt Lake, make this a part of your trip!)

I've wanted to take Nicky for a really long time, and since we have 11:00 church this year and will switch to the 9:00 block in January, I only had a few weeks left where we could go before church. Daisy was invited, but I knew she would hate it, so I was relieved when she chose not to go.

I was excited when I walked into the rehearsal and saw that the hand-bell choir was there. What a perfect week to go! I also loved that the program had some familiar songs for Nicky: "A Prayer of Thanksgiving," which was his piano song the week prior (under a different title), "Simple Gifts," which Nicky knows from the Piano Guys, and "I've Got the Whole World in My Hands," which Fred Randall sings from outer space in the cinematic masterpiece, Rocketman

I enjoy attending Music & the Spoken Word, and while I was there I kept kicking myself for not coming more. It's cool to see behind the scenes of a live broadcast, and the sound of the choir in the Tabernacle can't be beat! The Spirit was so strong - I was giddy when I left.

Both these events were really good precursors to the holiday season. I feel like my heart was in a good place for Thanksgiving and will hopefully remain there through Christmas.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ten Thanksgiving Things

1. Thanksgiving Eve

The night before Thanksgiving we went to the Jazz game. Sometimes Scotty is able to get free tickets, so we try to go whenever we can. It was a warm night, so we were able to get the kids downtown comfortably and without a lot of hoopla. There's always a basketball game going on while we're there, but the real sporting event is climbing up and down from the nosebleed section to cater to my incessant pee-er. On the third bathroom trip, we decided it was time to just leave. We made it through the end of the third quarter, though, and that's a new family record!

2. Thanksgiving Morning

On Thanksgiving morning, Scotty and Nicky went to play football with some guys from church (I played the role of "supportive wife" and made 40 orange flags for the event). I stayed home with the girls and finished reading a book (blog post to follow).

When Scotty got home, I left for an hour to go walking with my friends. We decided that we would take advantage of the "day off" and go walking in the light (we normally walk at 5:30 in the morning).

3. The Weather

The weather on Thanksgiving was a real treat! The temperature was in the 60's, so we were able to dress lightly and not worry about coats. The kids played outside throughout the day. It was wonderful!

4. The Meal

We had our Thanksgiving dinner at Scotty's mom's house. All the siblings came but one (there are 7 in this portion of the family), so it was a good sized group. We stayed there for a few hours and then headed to my uncle's house (where my mom was) for pie and games.

5. The Food Assignment

For the past two Thanksgivings I've volunteered to do the potatoes. While I was mashing the potatoes, I realized something about myself - I enjoy preparing food in masses!

A few months ago, Daisy was baptized, and we had brunch at the church after. My step-mom asked me about the food, and when I mentioned my cooking process (I'd baked the breakfast casseroles before the baptism and covered them with foil and put them in the oven, which I'd heated slightly and then turned off, to keep them warm, and I'd made funeral potatoes (four recipes' worth) in the crock pot so they were piping hot when we got to the church), she said, "You did all that? Why didn't you ask someone for help?" I didn't really have an answer for that, so I just said, "I dunno." But now I know the answer - I wanted to do it myself! I liked doing it.

I enjoy the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with making a dish that feeds a huge group of people! I love the process of forming a strategy (How am I going to boil and mash 25 pounds of potatoes?) Several years ago a friend told me that she halves her chocolate cookie recipe so it only makes one dozen. I remember thinking that was really weird because I use a recipe that makes 4 dozen, and I double it so I get 8 dozen (now granted, cookies aren't my thing, so if I'm going to make cookies, I'm going to make cookies). Ultimately, I would rather make 8 dozen cookies and freeze a few dozen and feed half my neighbors than dirty all those dishes for just a dozen cookies.

Food by the masses! This is my new motto.

(But I do have to throw out a disclaimer here, I like to prepare the food, not plan the food. So don't put me in charge of the next ward dinner. I will make ten casseroles, but someone else has to do the math to figure out that we need ten casseroles. I have no talent for that).

6. The Movie

On Thanksgiving night, we got our kids all pajama-ed up and went to see Coco. I really liked it. Not in a "buy it and watch it over and over" kind of way (it's rare for me to like a movie in that way), but in a "tell people they should go see it" kind of way. So go see it!

7. The Shopping

I'm not a huge Black Friday shopper, but I do like to keep my eye out just in case. I will not fight the masses or stand in lines or do anything crazy or strenuous, but if I see a good deal online that's easy to snag, I'll do it (I won't spend my time creating an account, though. I have "account creating aversion," so if something requires me to type my name and address or enter my credit card info, it's gotta really be worth it. So Amazon or bust, in most cases).

I ended up buying some Rubbermaid for myself, a gift for Eva, and a gift for my nephew. I also took advantage of the 20% off promo for Chatbooks (I already have an account) and put all of my cell phone photos in a book for each kid (I did this last year as well, and they LOVED getting their books for Christmas, especially Zoe. She hauls our Chatbooks everywhere - I may need to order reprints so I can have a "nice" set for posterity and a "reading" set for Zoe).

I was able to talk myself out of about $600 worth of impulse buys. I had some major purchases in my cart, and then I remembered that we are broke and heavily burdened by "stuff" already. I guess I don't need a robot vacuum... or do I?

8. Friday

Scotty's new job (of six months) allows him to have the day after Thanksgiving off, which is sooooo nice! I talked him into working on our floor. He got the floor laid in the kitchen in September, and then we put our renovation on hold while he traveled to Memphis and Paraguay for work. Now we need to finish extending the floor into the living room. He worked on that on Friday, and got the first third done.

9. The Transition to Christmas

I am one of those people who prefers not to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. I will occasionally indulge and listen to a few songs the week of Thanksgiving (usually I sneak in Maroon 5's cover of "Happy Christmas"), but for the most part, I steer clear. The day after Thanksgiving, Christmas music is fair game, and I usually throw out a few decorations.

10. The Decorations

I used to go all out with Christmas decor, but over the past three years, I've gotten rid of most of my decorations. I went from four Christmas bins to one (with a few things that don't fit in the bin - such as wreaths, a doormat, and a big wooden sled). Since I patched all the holes in my walls when I painted, I've had to adjust my holiday decor. It can't go where it used to go because the holes aren't there. I decided I'm going to photograph my Christmas decor this year so I can look at it next year and see if I liked where I put everything, and then I will know the answer to the question, "Should I hang the garland over front door or leave it off?" because I'll have a visual (blog post to follow).

Part of my decorating process is changing my blog banner and my profile picture and cover photo on Facebook (I'm still off social media for the month, but I wanted to get all of my stuff changed at once).


Thanksving 2017 was a success! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday as well.