Thursday, January 30, 2014

Family Yearbook 2013

Just like last year, I made a family yearbook. I surprised myself when I had it completed only a few days afte the new year. Unfortunately though, not quite in time for the fabulous discounts! I've waited, very anxiously, until now, to order it at a discount. I simply couldn't wait to see the final result! I'm excited to get it in the mail next week!
Click here to view this photo book larger
Start your own Shutterfly Photo Book today.

My next project is going to be to make a Christmas book. We had so much fun and did so many things that I had a hard time picking only a handful of pictures for the yearbook. This way I'll be able to display all the the wonderful photos we took!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Perfect Baked Potato

I'm not much of a potato fan, but it has been appearing on the dinner table fairly frequently the last few months. Potatoes are awesome when you're on a budget so I'm learning to love them. JP on the other hand - I'm not sure if he hates chicken or potatoes more? I managed to get through many childhood meals, where mashed potatoes were served on the side, by slathering them with butter. I can actually still picture the crater in my potatoes filled with melted butter. Yum... But as a child, if I had to have potatoes, I would rather have baked potatoes over mashed. Anyways...

It seems as though each time we are served a home-cooked meal by Perry's mom, twice-baked potatoes are always on the menu. They are super delicious, but I can't seem to recreate them for Perry, as they are one of his favorite sides. For now anyways, twice baked potatoes will be a nice treat at the cabin. In the meantime I have mastered the "standard" baked potato.

There's a few different ways you can bake potatoes. Growing up, I had learned to wrap them in foil. Wrapping potatoes in foil makes the peel soft when you cook them. Although they can be quite tasty this way, my new favorite method is so much easier for me. I hate foil... Plus the crispy outside has ME wanting seconds, which is pretty rare!

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Wash the potatoes under running water and pat dry.

3. Place potatoes in a small bowl. Add enough olive oil to coat all the potatoes. Add Alpine Touch (my favorite seasoning), a little bit of garlic salt, and a hint of dill to the bowl. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients to evenly coat all of the spuds.

4. Pierce each potato multiple times with a fork to allow the steam to escape.

5. Bake the potatoes in the oven for about an hour. You can place them directly on the rack, like I do, or use a baking sheet to place them on. Turn potatoes every 15 minutes for even crispiness.
Delicious! What's your favorite way to eat a potato?

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Story Behind Monkey Shiner

I've been asked quite a few times what exactly a 'monkey shiner' is. To be honest, I didn't even know for the majority of my life. Who would? I don't know of anyone outside of my family who has even hear the term 'monkey shiner' before.

So what exactly is a monkey shiner? Hunter and JP are prime examples if that doesn't give you a hint! But according to my Grandma Carol, my sisters and I were monkey shiners too! "OH you little monkey shiners!" The apple doesn't fall far from the tree I guess...(Watch out Casey! Your mom is crazy too!) After wondering for a long time, and discussing it with my sisters, I thought I would do a little digging to see if I couldn't come up with a definition of what my grandma used to always call us.

There is no definition for monkey shiner, but there is one for monkey shine. It is defined as "mischievous doings, or shenanigans" as well as, "the activities of folk when the boss isn't looking." In that context it's used a a verb. To be called a monkey shiner, you would be the person, hence a noun, doing all the monkey shine business, which nails Hunter and JP right on the head, because how many "naughty" things have these boys done when the boss, ie mom, isn't watching? Too many. 

Shall I list some of the shenanigans of my children? For example, while at the farm last year, the mud pit bath started with them playing in a little puddle. Since they were already covered in mud, I just helped to make the puddle bigger. You win some, you lose some.  And how can you forget the time Hunter found Uncle Chris's razor and did this? I would also go as far to say that the land mine Hunter planted in backyard counts too! Do I even have to mention what happens in their rooms

There's no doubt about it, I've got two little monkey shiners on my hands! Hence the name for my "things kids say" posts, Monkey Shiner Babblings.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Child Care Rant: The Sequel

There are days (a lot of them) when I really would rather not move. Not that we are right now anyways. But it's in the back of my mind that some day, probably sooner rather than later, we'll be moving. It makes me sad to think that Missoula will no longer be what we consider home, but that's life. Got to go where the money is I guess...

That brings me to the ONE reason I would move in a heartbeat. Two years ago, almost exactly, I had posted this child care rant. I hate child care. Not quite as much as I did then, but I still hate it. Lucky for Perry, he has his VERY reliable wife to watch his kids when he's at work, so we're not stressing about finding a reliable babysitter anymore.  After the doosey we had with one of our sitters, I'm so thankful I don't have to go through finding a daycare/sitter again.

If you went back and read through my little rant, you would know that the last sitter we had, in a sense, left us high and dry. And still hasn't paid us back, about $500 give or take. Like I said, it's been two years since and I'm trying really hard to forget about the whole thing. But seriously?! That's a lot of money to not pay back to someone! Honestly, it would probably be long forgotten if I would stop running into her at random places! Missoula is fairly big, but we still manage to be at the same place at the same time. Every time, I'm not kidding you, I want to punch her in the face. I'm not an aggressive person but the way she treated the whole situation just really makes me mad.

The first time I ran into her, I was with my dad and kids, last winter at Wal-Mart. Because I was with my family I didn't want to make a scene so I just ignored her and kept walking. She sent glares my way. The next time was a few months ago at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Again, I was with my family enjoying dinner but I swear if she was to even glance my way one more stinking time, I was going to lose it. Thankfully Perry was able to calm me down enough to get through the last part of dinner. Then this evening I ran to the store to pick up a couple things, and guess who's there...At least she's intimidated by me. I happened to go down the isle she and a friend were in and as soon as she saw me, she grabbed her friend and darted down the isle and around the corner. I happened to leave the isle at the same end they did and we nearly walked into each other as I overheard her saying, "she's down this isle." You're dumb. And obviously still feeling guilty. But it doesn't change the fact that I still want to punch her....

And yes. She is that ONE reason I would move from this beautiful town. I would be okay with never seeing her again. More so, I hate that she can get me this fired up!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Practicing for the BIG ONE

I've spent the last two days practicing for a wedding cake I'll be making next weekend. I've never made a wedding cake before and am thrilled, and honored to be making one! 

Normally, like many of you know, I work with fondant. This wedding cake has zippo fondant, which is fine with me because sometimes fondant and I can get into a little yelling match. Fondant + yelling + wine = Stay out of the kitchen before I throw my rolling pin at you!  Luckily for Perry, I'll be doing most of the decorating away from home...

Anyways. The bride to be sent me a picture of the cake she wanted and I was relieved to see no fondant would be involved, just some frosting and a pretty burlap flower/bow. The last few cakes I've made, like Hunter's Wreck It Ralph cake, seemed to crumble a bit when I went to serve them. So the other day, I surfed around and found a few recipes to try out. I hit gold on the first one entitled Best White Cake Recipe {Ever}. Delicious - even though I forgot the vanilla, and no crumbles what-so-ever! I also tried my hand at "messy" frosting too! I think it turned out pretty darn good! Especially since this is the first time I've done it!
I'm anxiously awaiting for next week to roll around so I can see the finished product, which will be three tiers!

OH! And Charlotte went from laying on her back to sitting up today!! Proud momma!

Monkey Shiner Babblings

JP - "Hey Mom! Hunter and I are downstairs, and when we're downstairs, I'm asking you to not come down so we can't get in trouble!" Not suspicious at all...They were under Hunter's desk eating the Pez candy mom hid in the laundry room and whispering about mom coming down.

After their bath, I sent Hunter and JP downstairs to get their clothes on. JP told me I had to come with to help him get a shirt down. In the meantime, Hunter came back up because he needed help with his pants. By the time I made it to JP's room to help him, he had his clothes all laid out on the floor, so I asked, "What did you need my help with bud?" "MOM! Get out of my room! I'm trying to get handsome!" By handsome he meant he was going to surprise me by wearing a hat.

On the way home from dropping Hunter off at pre-school, Charlotte started fussing and crying. Super annoyed by this JP declared, "Ugh! Charli is not asking very nicely for a drink of milk! Just ask Charli, stop whining!"

H - Did Nanny buy a new car?
M - No, Grandma did a couple months ago.
H - Oh....Well maybe when Nanny gets old like Grandma, she can buy a new car too!

M - Ooo Jim, how about we wear this green shirt today? It has dinosaurs on it.
J - Gaaah. I don't like dinosaurs!
M - Well these ones are cool. There's a t-rex and a stegosaurus on it.
J - A steakosaurus? Is that where steak comes from?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bathroom Remodel #3

Oh this cabinet! I thought Perry was going to just rebuild the front so that it looked the same as before, but newer and better. That would have been the easy thing to do, but Perry insisted the cabinet should be a little bit higher and needed more drawers. I thought it was fine...
 Here's what it used to look like. Gah I hate the counter top!
And this is what he built. Check out my paint line on the left. A little bit higher? Let's try 6 inches! That's a lot and the counter isn't even on it yet! Needless to say, we had a little disagreement about it. He planned for it to only be about 2 inches higher, but some how miscalculated...It looks perfect when he stands by it, and then when I do, it looks massive. As a matter of fact, it comes up to the top of my hips! 

I gave him my two cents and left it at that. After a lot of debate with himself, he eventually uninstalled it, and made a few adjustments to lower it. THANK GOODNESS!
I think it's safe to say we're not going to have it finished up this weekend. Or even this week. Or next weekend. For reasons I'm not aware of, Perry had to take out the "floor" of the cabinet and cut out a new one. That on top of adjusting the front of the cabinet to make it shorter took up a bunch of time.
Right now Perry is working on building the drawers. The previous cabinet had a center track and the wheels would constantly come off the track. With the new drawers, he's adding an extra piece of wood to the cabinet frame so the drawers have tracks on both sides. Double tracks? Needless to say, Perry has been in the garage building this and that all weekend. And the boys have been out there "helping" too, or rather just playing in all the sawdust.
At any given moment during this past weekend, this is what our bathroom has looked like...hooray.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bathroom Remodel #2

Once we determined that buying a pre-made cabinet wasn't an option because of the dimensions, we decided Perry would just rebuild the front of the existing cabinet. In doing so, we both agreed we should stain it the same shade as the baby gate he made this last fall. But like projects usually do, one thing leads to another, and since a dark cabinet would look out of place in our current bathroom, we decided to add a few more changes to the project, like new floors, a new paint job, and new trim.

As soon as we arrived home from Lowe's with most of our supplies, Perry came home and pulled out the toilet to start laying down the new flooring. I didn't realize he was going to start that night! Painting would have been nice to do before hand... Or at least most of it!
While he ran to the store for a new donut for the toilet, I painted behind the toilet. After doing so, I realized the lady at the paint counter mixed up our colors and gave me more of the wrong one. Luckily I like how it turned out!
I'm almost done painting. I have a few spots left on the ceiling, and then to go back and touch up a couple spots that need a thicker coat. I've been really annoyed while doing this paint job, because I've had to paint around quite a few things as I waited for Perry to take them down, like the mirror and the shower bar that was still up. Later had to go back and paint where the trim around the door and the window were before he removed them. Like I said...I wish we could have gotten the painting out of the way first...How many times have I cleaned my brushes?
For a few days, I didn't even have a door on my bathroom! That got old fast! Soon enough though, Perry had it sanded and stained. It took longer than he expected because when he was sanding the trim, he had to sand through about 5 layers of paint...

Now we're working on the cabinet in hopes to finish it up this weekend!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bathroom Remodel #1

After returning from our week long Christmas in Whitefish, Perry and I sorted through all of our gifts trying to find homes for them. In doing so, I began to clean out the cabinets under the sink in the bathroom, which then prompted me to organize the hall closet. Our bathroom has very little storage so most of my extra bathroom stuff is in the hall closet, which is fine, just annoying. Is that possible? Annoyingly fine?

The bathroom cabinet that is there right now, in my opinion, is a piece of garbage. I think the whole thing was made out of particle board and is showing its age. And the counter is yellow. Perry and I both hate it. Not to mention the last set of owners this house had did a hack job on the bathroom when they painted it - ALL over the caulking and some on the counter, not to mention the running boards... When we moved in, I had to paint over the royal blue mishaps just so it wouldn't look completely horrible. After all there's nothing like a green bathroom with spots of blue sticking out...

With little planning, we headed to Home Depot to scope out a new cabinet, with no luck. We found a couple we really liked, but we have really weird dimensions and all options were either 3-4 inches too skinny, or 3/4in too wide. Super frustrating!

Here's what we're working with. Minus the *new* shower doors. We bought those while we were at Home Depot. If I would have known how relatively inexpensive they were, I would have made Perry install them a LONG time ago. That would have saved me from quite a few bath time splashing battles.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Can Control the TV with My Ears!

I love a good practical joke, as long as I'm not the one who the joke is on! This morning Hunter wanted to watch a movie but couldn't find the playstation remote. I was in Charlotte's room and had the remote sitting on the table. Since JP is accustomed to "finding" things behind his ears, he suggested to Hunter to look there for the remote. THANK YOU JP! You set me up perfectly! As Hunter was trying to pull the remote out from behind his ears, I turned the remote on and started moving the joy stick back and forth.

JP - Hunter look! The tv is moving!
H - What the?
JP - Do it again! The remote is behind your ears!
H - No it isn't! I can't feel it.
JP - Pull on your ears again!

This went on for sometime with Hunter pulling his left ear, then right, then left, trying to get the icon to land on the film strip. Once it was on the film icon, the boys went wild and Hunter made a motion to press the DVD on the screen and it "magically" started the movie.

These boys sure make it easy for me to have fun with them! I only wish I could have captured a video of this!

Monday, January 13, 2014

What We've Been Up To...

We're halfway through January already and I've yet to post anything on my blog this month. Holy cow! Where is the time going? We're knee deep into our bathroom remodel, which I've yet to post about because I'm unwilling to upload the pictures to my computer. How lazy is that? Maybe tomorrow... Anyways, here's a little update on what we've been up to the last few weeks, in case you thought we disappeared.

Perry is still busy at work. He's on track to make his bonus this quarter. Kudos to him! Over Thanksgiving, we both agreed, after a looong debate, that he should apply at a center in Orem, Utah. We both had mixed feelings about it, but felt the move would be good for our family. I personally would rather stay put here, but that's a little out of the question in terms of Perry's career goals. Obviously my job travels with me... Thankfully, for now anyways, we're staying put. Although doable, Utah is a little too far from home for me. Ultimately we're holding out for Spokane.

Hunter is keeping busy playing Legos. He's getting really good at looking at the directions, rather, condrections, and building things that turn out remarkably close to what it should look like. He amazes me. In fact, I almost teared up the other day when I had to buy him a belt for his pants. Little kids don't wear belts. Big kids do. And I own a big kid now. This morning I nearly teared up again, but instead sat in shock with my mouth open, when he put on the belt without missing any loops. I thought for sure he'd miss the back one... Oh my goodness does he love his sister! He tries to play peek-a-boo with her. It is annoyingly obnoxious. I feel bad for her. It is nothing like peek-a-boo. It's Hunter getting an inch from her face saying "pig-a-bee" over and over as he tips his head side to side. I can't stand to watch it, but they're bonding so I'm helpless to stop it. Despite that he is an awesome big brother. He knows exactly what toys she likes and is so helpful with her. In fact, just yesterday she ran out of whole peas to feed herself so he retrieved a spoon from the drawer, hopped up to the chair next to her and started to feed her, without my prompting. And he put away the dirty bowl and spoon in the dishwasher when he was done!! "That's what daddy does..." (And not mom?)

JP. The funniest kid I know. Period. Yes Hunter says some funny stuff, but JP is just spouts out funny like it's no big deal. But you all know that because you read the "Monkey Shiner Babblings." His all time favorite color is green. He takes it to the extreme too. Every board game we play he's green and be prepared for a meltdown if he isn't. He likes the Hulk just because he's green, and that also goes for the "Inja" Turtles too. In fact whenever we go some where we look for green cars. Not hard. Wrong. "Ugh. I don't like the dark ones..." That makes it challenging. And even though he sits in the middle and has a great view of the front, and all sides, it's astonishing how many bright green cars he misses...M -"Green car! Hunter's side!" JP- "Where where?" M - "Oh you missed it" H - "Green car! Green grass! Green tree! Oh you missed it." JP - "Where are you seeing all this green stuff?!" He's a rockstar at school too! I had the pleasure of hanging out with him the other day. He loves all the songs they sing and is *very* proficient with scissors. He thrives on praise. We built a Lego house and he refused to take it down until his teacher told him it looked great. Although he's very shy, he commented to me after class that he was a little sad that Morgan didn't hold his hands when they sang because, "I like when she holds my hands." Ahhh!

My little baby is slowly growing up. And by slowly, I mean slowly. At her 6 month check up she weighed 11 lbs 1/2 oz. Hadn't even doubled her birth weight. She turned 8 months today and I'm guessing she's probably 12 1/2 lbs. She loves eating food, but because she's so little, I have to bring the strap on high chair from home whenever we eat out because she's too little for a standard restaurant high chair. And she's still on the small side for shopping carts too, so she still gets packed around in my front carrier. Charlotte is basically just a perfect baby. I hate to rub it in, but she is. Okay, this last week she has been a stinker and started waking up at midnight and then again at 6 am and not going back to sleep...She can sit on her own and loves doing so but is uninterested in crawling. She can hold herself in "crawling formation" but face plants after a while and then we're done trying. Within the last few weeks she has started to be more vocal. Still a very quite girl though. But I can make her giggle if the timing is right. It's unbelievably cute! Occasionally she'll say da-da and a few times I've heard ma-ma-ma thrown in there. Usually when the sounds come out she's on the verge of tears, otherwise she has a pretty loud squeal down when she's playing with her toys. She also LOVES actually playing peek-a-boo, the right way, not Hunter's version. She will grab her blanket and pull it over her face and smile when she pushes it back down. Over and over.

And then there is me. What have I been up to? I feel like nothing. But really I've been painting the bathroom (super hard with kids running around), cooking, and then cooking some more. And doing laundry, and breaking up fights, and nursing the baby back to sleep who just woke up because of said fight. Driving Hunter and JP back and forth to school every day. Despite the day to day chaos, being home with the kids get quite lonely, so if anyone wants a playdate or coffee date.....! I recently finished up our 2013 yearbook and am just waiting for a good sale to come around so I can order it. I've also started to work on my cake website. It's been about 5 years since I've used the software so I'm a little rusty. AND I have a wedding cake order for the end of the month so be on the lookout for that adventure!

Like clockwork...Charlotte's up again at midnight. She spoiled me with this sleeping through the night business...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sledding Down the White Dragon

One HUGE perk of having Christmas in Whitefish this year was all the snow we were able to enjoy! And this pretty view was what I woke up to every morning. Wasn't I lucky?
I can't remember the last time I really went sledding. 15 years ago? I don't know! Last year we took Hunter and JP down the hill at my parents house here in town, but with all the issues I was having with my pregnancy, I wasn't able to go up and down a million times. This year was much different.
When the Perry was younger, his dad built this ramp that attaches to the deck, which later came to be known as the White Dragon. Perry and Cameron set it up first thing Sunday morning and we went sledding on it I think every day. 
  While they set it up, JP and Hunter were busy eating snow...since there isn't any here to eat...
 Once they had loaded the White Dragon up with snow, JP volunteered to go down first with dad and had nothing short of a face full of snow. 
 Even still, he continued to go down the hill, as long as we would pull him back up. 
 Hunter went down only a handful of time the first few days before occupying himself on smaller hills.
Remember how I said Hunter randomly says "What does the fox say?" Sometimes he uses others words too...

And then there was Trigger who started chasing us down and tackling us!
 Here's a view from the top. Initially it was hard to make it to the first little hill, but before the final run on Saturday night, we were flying past the tree in the middle, and often times nearly hitting it! 
 During the middle of the week, Hunter became more eager to go sledding and even started bringing back his own sled to go again!
 By the end of the week, everyone had gone down the White Dragon multiple times, including Grandma!
One of the times when Uncle Colin came out sledding with the boys, he started shouting, "Freshies!" every time he would sled into unbroken snow. Hunter got a HUGE kick out of it. Hunter would shout "Freshies!!" even if he stayed on the sledding path. And was sure to tell everyone about it. By week end, everyone was shouting "Freshies!" The more we went sledding, the farther we would make it into the woods!
Even Charlotte and Stevie went down the White Dragon before the week was done! 

This clip above is Hunter on our final night of sledding - yup! We even went sledding in the dark!

During the final runs of the week, we started, stupidly, going down backwards. The first time I went I screamed the entire way down. The this is my third trip down going backwards...

Even HUNTER went down backwards and loved it!
Grandma wasn't quite as risky, but she and Hunter had fun just the same!