by Melanie

Light the World

November 29, 2017 in Craft Room by Melanie

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This sweet Christmas Countdown is the perfect way to remember to #LighttheWorld for 25 days in December

Fall is my favorite season, but December is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the feeling of goodwill that seems to abound no matter where you turn. Everywhere I go, people seem to be a little kinder, a little more loving, a little more giving.

I believe that’s the light of Christ in action that touches people’s hearts even more at this time of year. As we act on those feelings of kindness and love, we spread the light of Christ.

I am so completely in love with the #LighttheWorld initiative from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at that reminds us to take time every day to share that light.

Sometimes we think service has to be a big, huge ordeal, and sometimes it is, but the truth is we can touch someone’s life every day in small, simple ways that make a big difference.

I wanted to find a way to encourage my family to be a little kinder, do a little more, and look for ways to serve others every day. In a house full of girls, chocolate is an incredible motivator, so I put together this little chocolate Christmas countdown – a simple reminder to do something every day to shine a little light on someone’s day.

After I made the cute Christmas tree, it only took me a few minutes to put together a countdown for everyone in the family. We all need our own, after all. I printed out this Christmas tree on regular paper, put it in a dollar store document frame, and stuck a chocolate candy to each circle with Scotch tape. Super simple and I love how it turned out.

This one is last year’s with a variety of Hershey kisses on the tree and Rolos for the tree trunk. This year, my nieces put on the chocolate when they were here for Thanksgiving, and we added more Rolos and some mini peanut butter cups. They’re a little bigger but totally worth the smooshed look for some peanut buttery yumminess.

Every day as each of us does an act of service, doing our part to Light the World, we celebrate the sweetness of service with a piece of chocolate. Having the visual reminder helps us keep service in our minds, always looking for ways to help others. The countdown helps us keep track of the days, knowing we’ve helped to Light the World that day.

We can all touch the lives of others – in our own ways, in our own spheres – and when enough of us light another’s life, we can Light the World.

Today I’m doing my part to Light the World by sharing this countdown with you. Click –> HERE <– or on the picture below to print it and Light the World this Christmas season.

Christmas Countdown chocolate #LighttheWorld


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by Melanie

Cleo Madison Dress Review

September 6, 2017 in Linen Closet by Melanie

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When it’s time for back to school shopping or looking for a great new dress for my gaggle of girls, I spend a lot of time searching for modest clothing that’s not crazy expensive, and it’s crazy hard to find. We are not always successful, and we have a hard time finding styles we love that are also modest and cute.

This dress is darling, modest, a great price, and even ships for free!

So I was excited to find this online boutique: Cleo Madison. They sent me a dress to try in return for an honest review, and I was thrilled to work with them. Beth was getting ready to leave for college, and looking for BYU-appropriate dresses was on her list of to-do’s before she left, so it was perfect timing.

By the way, we just got her safely tucked in to her dorm a few days ago, and this mama heart isn’t doing awesome with one of her babies living under a different roof. Feel free to send comfort chocolate. Anyway…

Cleo Madison dresses are cute and super affordable. I would say cheap, but that makes them sound like they’re bad quality, and that’s simply not true. The quality is as excellent as the pricing.

Beth chose this Cindy striped dress she loved and guessed on a size. They don’t have a general sizing guide because their clothing is provided by several vendors, but they are happy to talk to you about sizing and are happy to exchange or return items that don’t fit quite right.

Shipping was great – it came even faster than we expected. And the best part? Shipping is free in the US! I was out of town when it arrived, but Beth said she put it right on out of the package and it looked amazing. She definitely guessed right on the size. She did say it had a funky smell when she opened it that made her not want to keep breathing when she tried it on, but one wash and that foul odor was history.

This dress is darling, modest, a great price, and even ships for free!Bottom line, this dress is super cute. We LOVE the color. The dark green is gorgeous and goes perfectly with Beth’s coloring. The fabric is really soft. The dress is ridiculously comfortable – she wants to sleep in it. The sleeves are a fabulous length, covering the wrist, not at all too short. The length of the dress is good – down past her knees so she feels covered and modest.

The fit is fabulous, and Beth feels like she looks awesome in it, so you know she’s going to wear it all the time. At first she wasn’t sure how to wear the tie well. It’s not a style she’s used to. But as soon as she figured out how she likes it, she really liked it. It only took her one wear to figure it out. It’s not calculus…

Our only issue is the white stripes. They’re pretty see-through. A slip, of course, fixes most of that, but she still feels very exposed on top. So she either needs a different slip style or something else to wear under the dress – like maybe a demi shirt to line just the top stripes.

Overall, we love the dress and loved our whole shopping experience. Beth says she would give it a 10/10… after she washed out the smell. For me, I love how great she looks and how much she loves it. And the price is fantastic – especially the fast free shipping. I would definitely buy from this fabulous boutique again. They have dresses, footwear, skirts, swimwear, and tops with our names on them! Not literally, of course… but I’m eyeing this one next.

What do you love at Cleo Madison?

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by Melanie

Possibly losing my mind…

April 22, 2017 in Coffee Table by Melanie

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I woke up at 6:30 this morning and had a mini panic attack. I was laying in a hotel room an hour away from home with my husband next to me, and couldn’t figure out how my kids were getting to school. If neither of us were home and the only other driver in the family had to leave for school an hour before the rest of the kids, who was taking them to school???

I started beating myself up for being so forgetful, even as I couldn’t believe I would forget something like that! I started making a list of people I could call to pick up my kids on such short notice and so early in the morning. It was a very, very short list: exactly 3 people.

I had just dropped off one friend at the airport a few days earlier, so she was out of town and crossed off the list. My mother-in-law is not a morning person, and it was still dark outside with small numbers on the clock, so I didn’t want to call her if I could help it. And let’s be honest here… I’m tired of looking like a last-second emergency person in front of her.

I had just decided on an amazing friend whose kids actually go to the same school as mine – she would be at the gym this early, so I wasn’t waking her up. I was just about to call her when I finally realized it was Saturday – so I definitely would be waking her up – and my kids didn’t need a ride to school! Convinced I had completely lost my mind, I relaxed and tried to go back to sleep.

Does your brain play tricks on you like that? I feel like it happens to me all the time lately! I can’t even blame it on pregnancy brain!! Although I’m convinced what they don’t tell you when you’re birthing the placenta is that it’s really full of your brain cells and you should wave goodbye because you’ll NEVER get them back.

I feel like Toodles on Hook

But he eventually found his marbles, so maybe there’s still hope for me!

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by Melanie

FHE: Canyon Shenanigans and Deep-fried Sushi

March 21, 2017 in Family Room, Out the Door by Melanie

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I miss the old days of blogging when everyone had a blogspot family blog with photos of everyday life, a widget full of their favorite songs that autoplayed when you opened the page, and a blogroll of their friends’ blogs. I loved discovering old friends and catching up on what they were doing through their cute pictures of family adventures. I loved it when blogs were about telling stories and sharing experiences.

Now it seems like blogging is all about pageviews, sponsored posts, affiliate links, and SEO. The family blogs were abandoned for social media. We share snapshots instead of stories, how-tos instead of here is my life, and tweets instead of time together. Can we get back to storytelling and family adventures?

We had a fantastic FHE last night. Beth and Bree are in California with their high school orchestra, so we loaded up Babs, Joy, and Chuck in the truck and headed up the canyon. I had to do some location scouting for a film I’m working on for a school project, so we made it a family affair, exploring the canyon and taking plenty of photos to bring back to my group. (Don’t we all love group projects???)

My lens was so horribly dirty that all of my photos look like this: one central spot in focus and the rest a blur from a lens completely covered in smudges. Also, the canyon is even more dead and brown than I expected. It’s a good thing I don’t have to turn in my location scouting photos.

Steve is one of the only people in the world still playing Pokemon Go, and he’s got our whole family still playing along with him. While I looked for good hammocking trees and fishing bridges with the help of Joy and Chuck, Babs and Steve searched for Bulbasaurs and Magikarps. You know they’ve gotta catch ’em all.

When I had everything I needed and Babs was out of pokeballs, it was time to find a pokestop and some food. We were up Provo Canyon and had a Riverwoods gift card, so we decided it was a great time to introduce our little sweeties to sushi at Happy Sumo. Let’s just say we don’t feel the need to go back anytime soon.

Joy is loving all things Japanese lately, even taking a Japanese class at school and creating her own manga for a class project, and she said the sushi was delicious but she wouldn’t ever order it for herself. She was content with her teriyaki beef bowl. Of course, the veggies were covered in batter and deep fried, so who wouldn’t be content with that?

Chuck tried a tiny corner of a Vegas Roll and could barely get over the idea of eating sushi to even get it to her mouth. We tried to tell her it wasn’t real sushi, but she didn’t really care that it was deep fried and delicious. She was really excited about her teriyaki chicken bowl and dipping everything into any sauce she could find – not so much about sushi.

Babs discovered she loves sweet and sour chicken as much as I do – which is not at all – and we had no idea! She even politely answered the waitress positively when asked if everything was tasting okay. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to leave that she mentioned she never needs to order that again. She was happy to end the night with ice cream to make up for the whole plate of food she ate and hated.

This is obviously not our sushi. I just really love crab won tons and couldn’t pass them up.

Am I the only one who feels like a horrible parent when my kids suffer in silence? We won the gift card that was paying for this meal, so we weren’t even spending any money. For me that’s the perfect time to try new things and not feel bad if I don’t like them, but my sweet girl was along for the ride and too nice to say anything negative. I would have happily ordered Babs something she could actually enjoy.

I’m super proud that she has learned to politely eat whatever is being served, and I really appreciate that when I spend time sweating over a hot stove to make dinner, but I wish she wasn’t silently hating the food she ordered when we were trying to do something special and fun. Even the veggies served with her meal ended up being the few veggies she hates all combined into one horrifying mix!

I keep thinking about it and wondering what I should have done to make her experience better. Pressed more when I asked how it was? Read her mind and ordered her something new? Deterred her from her menu choice because it’s something I don’t like? None of those seems like a very good option. While I don’t believe my job is to rescue her from every unpleasantness in life, I do want her to know it’s okay to speak her mind and that her needs matter.

Overall it was a fantastic night and everyone had a blast. Chuck asked if our next dining out adventure could include Mo’ Bettah’s instead, and I’ve gotta say, I agree. I’m not really a sushi fan either, but Hawaiian-style teriyaki? Yes, please.


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by Melanie

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 17, 2017 in Kitchen by Melanie

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We decided to embrace our Irish heritage tonight with some corned beef and cabbage for dinner. I pulled out my pressure cooker to use for the very first time. I’ve had it for about 7 years (it could honestly be more – I don’t remember), so it seemed like maybe it was about time to learn how to use it.

Now that everyone has an Instant Pot, it’s easy to find millions of pressure cooker recipes. I saw one of those mouth-watering videos on Facebook for corned beef and cabbage that looked amazing, so we tried it.

Do people like corned beef and cabbage? I mean really like it. The meat was fine – definitely not something I’ll be craving any time soon, but everyone ate it ok. But the veggies were mush and gush. Flavorless mush and gush. Blech. I’m not someone who particularly likes mush. I can’t even eat a sandwich without chips to add a crunch.

Do you know what crunches? Tacos.

Lettuce is green. Guacamole is green. Salsa verde is green. Next year we’re definitely having St. Patrick’s Day tacos.

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