Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quiet Weekday Mornings...

I love my children and my husband...they are the most important people in my life....but there is nothing like having the entire house to myself for the entire day!  In the past, I have always had a child at home, or a job during the day, or school volunteer responsibilities which have kept me from enjoying the quiet solitude that happens during the week.  Circumstances now have allowed me to stay home and make my family my sole responsibility.  Fortunately for me, that responsibility includes about 6 hours during the day that I can use at my discretion.  I have tried to carefully choose what to fill that time with.  Some days I'm amazingly productive and get more done than it seems humanly possible.  Other days, I run errands all day and never see the inside of the house until 3pm when the first kiddos arrive home.  But other days, like today, I clear my calendar of all productive things and spend time immensely enjoying the pleasure of my own company.  This morning, I walked with a friend, tried a new orange flavored Green Tea, played the piano, wrote in my journal, read my scriptures, sent a few letters (not bills! actual letters to people I love) and listened to music (specifically, Homeward Bound by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir...about 8 times!)  

It has been a totally relaxing, rejuvenating morning and I look forward to carving more of these out of the busy weeks ahead.  


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coming Home

When we lived in Utah, I always enjoyed driving back into Cache Valley after a long trip.  
Really, who wouldn't want to drive home to this...after any trip?  After one especially long and exhausting trip to Houston, I remember being completely overwhelmed emotionally and so ready to be home, that the sight of the Valley brought me to tears.  I loved that Valley and I loved the peace and calm and gratitude I felt every time we made it back home safely. 

Our trip to the beach this week was great, incredible, fantastic, but after almost a week away and two straight days of being in the car with four kids, we were all ready to be back home...ready to be sitting anywhere but in the van...ready to eat real food instead of eating out every day...ready to be in our OWN BEDS!!   I didn't have that same emotionally exhausted feeling that I had coming home from Houston, and I didn't cry when we drove into Dallas.  But that same peaceful, calm, grateful feeling washed over me as we approached I-75 and saw this...
Home is home...Dallas, Cache Valley, wherever...it's still the best part of the trip when you realize you're finally home.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Beach

I may have already mentioned that I LOVE the beach. 
This morning, I LOVED the beach even more.  Last night, TCD suggested that we get up early and watch the sunrise before we had to pack up and leave the condo.  What an amazing idea!!

This is what the beach looked like at 7:05am...

  It was an absolutely incredible way to start the day.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE the beach?

Friday, November 26, 2010

the official beginning of the Christmas season...

It's here! 

Finally I can play the Christmas playlist on my MP3.

Here's what I'm most looking forward to this December...

1.  Baking every one of my dad's Christmas cookie recipes!  (I'm going to experiment with wheat flour and natural, non-refined sugar substitutes, though.)

2.  Having a LIVE TREE!  We haven't had a live tree since we lived in Seattle.  

3.  Listening to Christmas music everyday!  

4.  Eating dinner at the beautifully decorated dining room table  every Sunday in December!

5.  Taking the kids to ICE at the Gaylord Texan Hotel. 

6.  Being still...and thoroughly enjoying the remarkable gift of the Savior.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Beach

I've mentioned our recent move from Utah a few times in past blogs.   Right now it is 11 degrees in Cache Valley where we used to live...which can be an enjoyable thing if you like the cold and you have adequate heat and you don't have to travel anywhere.   I don't happen to like the cold.  
We now live in a much warmer climate which I am grateful for everyday.  And this year, we had the opportunity to travel to Hilton Head, SC to spend Thanksgiving with the Gr's (that's short for Grandma and Grandpa at our house).   It is NOT 11 degrees here.  I woke up this morning and had my Green Tea on the back porch with an alligator and two turtles watching me from the nearby pond.  

Then most of the family that was awake went for a walk on the beach.  

At 1:00p, we drove to the Hilton and had the most incredible Thanksgiving food extravaganza buffet EVER!  It wasn't home cooked and we desperately missed sitting around the table with the other Salt Lake members of our family, but holy cow!!....it was yummy!!  And there was LIVE MUSIC!  (an incredible guitarist from Granada who mostly played Eric Clapton and The Eagles...really, what better way is there to celebrate Thanksgiving than eating food you didn't have to make, with an ocean view, and a guy from Granada singing Layla in the background!??)  

After dinner we walked around the gorgeous hotel grounds and then came back to the condo to change and go back to the beach.  

Going to the beach always feels like going back home for me.  I always feel the most relaxed and comfortable when my feet are in the sand and I can see the expanse of ocean extending for miles and miles in front of me.  I love the vastness of it.  I love the way it smells.  I love the calming sound of the waves.  

And family, football and tryptophan feel exactly the same whether you're in a snow covered valley or in a condo at the beach.  I am incredibly grateful today for family (near and far) and for the beauty and abundance that surrounds me.

Monday, November 22, 2010


We're heading out on a road trip this week and that equals MUSIC!   Here's my husband's early birthday present (he's turning 40!!) that we're all going to thoroughly enjoy while we're driving.  
Remember those days when you would collect all the CDs in the house that you might want to listen to on a road trip?  And then they'd have to be taken out of the cases and put into those cute little CD holder thingys.  And then you could only listen to one artist at a time....or maybe 5 if you were lucky enough to have a CD changer in the car...which we don't. 

But thanks to the miracle of technology (and the speed of Amazon shipping), we can take every CD we have ever owned with us on this trip, and they all fit in the palm of my hand.
This thing is truly amazing...it's a Sansa Fuze, by the way...and it has more room on it than all of our other devices combined!  So instead of packing, we've spent the day making playlists for everyone and everything!  Because really, who needs clothes when there's music?
There's a playlist for HIM...John Denver, Brad Paisley and Michael Buble'.  (which would put me to sleep if I were listening to that and driving...but I won't be)
There's a playlist for ME (nice, huh?  even though it's HIS birthday present, I still get a playlist!) which looks and sounds a whole lot like the one on this blog.  I have peppy stuff like The Dixie Chicks, MCC (that's Mary Chapin Carpenter), Maroon 5 and Nickelback...excellent driving music!
Each of the kids has a playlist in case we're feeling generous and let them listen to THEIR music.  
There's also a CHRISTMAS playlist because my very sweet husband knows that I will want to listen to my stuff on the way TO our destination, but on the way BACK from the trip it will officially be POST-THANKSGIVING and I will want to listen to Christmas music (and not a day earlier!)
He also made a CHURCH playlist for Sundays, a DINNER playlist for...um, dinner.  And after all of that, we still have tons of room on the thing.  

 ...and as a music junkie that makes me blissfully happy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sleeping Babies

For the past few weeks I've been eye-ing this adorable new baby in our ward.  She is perfect and beautiful and at that age where you just want to hold her and smell her.  Her parents have two other children, both boys...about 4 and 2, I think, so they clearly have their hands full.  

I've been trying to figure out how to ask Cute Baby's parents if I can hold her without looking like a stalker.  I mean, really, we're both new in the ward, and they have no idea who I am.  But today, they happened to sit next to us...and I made my MOVE!  I gushed about how beautiful she was and happened to drop a hint that if they EVER needed an extra pair of hands, I'd be MORE THAN HAPPY to help!  And guess what!  It worked!  Just before church started, Cute Baby's dad asked if I would take her during Sunday School so that he could teach a lesson.  That's a WHOLE HOUR that I was going to get to hold her...holy cow! (Me=jumping up and down on the inside, but calm and completely non-abductor-ish on the outside.)   

Sacrament meeting ended and we made "the transfer".  Whose ridiculous idea was it to bring the largest, most fashionable church bag today??  My bag was great until it was paired with Cute Baby in a carrier and Cute Baby's GIANT baby bag which was, by the way, equally fashionable.  Cute Baby's dad went off to his class and I went off to my class pretending to have done this my whole life...walking down the hall trying not to look winded while carrying all this extra stuff and also trying not to hit every passerby with Cute Baby or her paraphernalia.

Eventually I made it down the hall and into my classroom and got comfortably settled with Cute Baby still sleeping in her carrier and all of her accessories in an empty seat.  Success...bliss...and I still looked like I knew what I was doing.  And then as I was watching her sleep, I realized that I was 15 minutes into my babysitting job and Cute Baby was still sleeping in her carrier, which means that I had yet to hold her.  UGH!   Fortunately...or unfortunately, she woke up and screamed.  I scooped her up (sans carrier this time, so at least I was holding her) and took Cute Baby and her bag down the hall to the Mother's Lounge (whoa...it's been a LONG time since I've been in there, but it looks remarkably the same so I maintained my composure). 

1. Change Cute Baby's diaper...(apparently that is a lifetime skill, much like riding a bike).  still screaming  

2. Try the binky...nope...still screaming

3. Maybe a bottle...um...where is the bottle??   

Found the bottle, but it only had water in it which meant that I had to figure out how to hold Screaming Cute Baby, open a bottle (which has considerably more parts these days), pour in 2 scoops of formula, and mix it.  I remained calm, prepared Cute Baby's bottle, and sometime during the part where I was shaking up the formula, she fell asleep...(really??)  So I took her and all of her stuff back down the hall to my classroom and sat down...again.  

Cute Baby slept peacefully and happily for the rest of the class...and I got to hold her and rock her the entire time...stopping occasionally to sniff her and stare at her amazing-ness...for a whole 30 minutes! 

And then I happily gave Cute Baby back to her dad and walked down the hall carrying only my own fashionable and huge church bag...once again...bliss...

Texas High School Football

There really is nothing like Texas High School football...especially when they go to the UIL Championship.  

Nope, we don't have any kids in high school yet (although it's not far off...holy cow!)  
And nope, we don't know a single kid who plays for the team.  But when the Allen Eagles play football, the entire community watches...so, for this special event, we decided to support our local team.  Besides, they played in Cowboys Stadium tonight, and the chances that we'll go there to watch the Cowboys are slim...like REALLY slim because we kinda hate the Cowboys!  The stadium is unbelievable...seriously, even the parking lot is gorgeous!       

And THEN WE WALKED IN...and it was even more unbelievable!  Where else would a high school kid get to play football in the biggest domed stadium in the WORLD?...with the world's largest high definition video screen...it totally extends from one 20 yd line to the other!?...and with 40,000 screaming parents...I mean fans?  Only in TEXAS!

The football part was definitely impressive...
...but you know what converted me to Allen High School football??   

The largest high school marching band in the world with over 700 members...and more importantly a ROCKIN DRUM LINE!!  The poor little pitiful band from the other high school played first and they were very sweet.  And then the Escadrille (that is fancy band language for everyone on the field at halftime...drill team, flag corps, band) surrounded them and flooded onto the field.  They were so enormous that they didn't even FIT on the world's largest HD video screen!  And then they started playing...HOLY COW!  I have always been a secret band groupie, but this may have been the most memorable football halftime experience I've had since college... and I don't even have a kid at this school yet!

(the only other band that can compare is the Longhorn Band at UT!)

...I am right now, at this very moment, adding the Allen High School Band experience to my list of "Stuff I Love" and anxiously awaiting next year's band...oops, I mean, football season.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Going Vegan...Saving Sea Turtles...and Discovering New Stuff I Love

I recently read an excerpt from a book that was quite intriguing.  The author called diet drinks "liquid Satan" (which supports my decision to sacrifice my Diet DP habit).  After I read that quote, I searched for everything I could find on the internet from this book, and every review of it...and then finally gave in and just bought the darn thing.  I'm only halfway through it, but it's highly eye-opening and I'm just about ready to make some drastic changes in the way I eat.  Those of you who have been organics, vegans, or health nuts for awhile are probably thinking "It's about time, Haunani."  And those others of you, who know me better than I know myself are probably thinking..."here we go again...the latest, crazy thing she's trying."   Well, you're all probably right...a little bit...
But here's the fun thing...I took a field trip to our newly opened, GORGEOUS, WHOLE FOODS store just to compare prices and touch stuff and taste stuff....and guess what!  It's the coolest place EVER!  Seriously, it's like the Disneyland of grocery stores!  A cute little, white haired lady was handing out Brussels sprouts samples...and they were actually good.  (I don't know that I've ever eaten a Brussels sprout before.)  And there were GF cookies (GF = "gluten free" in Disney..., I mean, HealthyLand)...also yummy!  

And I MADE peanut butter!  Just in case you missed that...I MADE PEANUT BUTTER...did you KNOW you could do that?? They have the coolest machine filled with whatever kind of nut you can imagine, and you just press a button and POOF! it comes out as PEANUT BUTTER...or ALMOND BUTTER...or CASHEW BUTTER...or my choice of the day...CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER (made from actual peanuts and actual chocolate chips!)  
I feel like a total dork that I didn't know this place was so cool, but we didn't have WHOLE FOODS in Cache Valley, UT.  
I may or may not be converted to Tofurkey, and eggless mayo, and all the other stuff, but I can say with a clear, "no harming of sea turtles" conscience, that I happily carried my reusable grocery bags into Whole Foods, and promptly became their newest convert.   I plan to spend much more time there in the future.  Really...I'm counting the days until I get to go back!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Amazing Women Who Surround Me

I am amazed at the women I am blessed to be surrounded by in my life.  Some of them don't live as near as I would like, so I don't get to partake of their "amazing-ness" as often as I want and need to, but their influence is still there...constant and steady.  

My mother passed away in 2008.  She was independent, smart, strong, regal and quietly thoughtful...almost the exact opposite of me in every way, and I didn't come to fully appreciate who she was until quite awhile after she died.  My dad gave me her wedding rings while we were cleaning out her things one day, and I have been hesitant to wear them.  But a few months ago, I felt a yearning to have part of her near me...to channel my "inner Dollie", so I started wearing them.  I don't wear them everyday, but occasionally when I need a little extra "something" or when I am feeling especially sentimental (when am I NOT feeling that way?), I pull her rings out of their little red box and put them on.   I feel her strength almost immediately.  Lately, though, it's hard to tell if it's HER strength or MINE.  

I have three unbelievable sisters-in-law.  Not having sisters of my own, they have been a HUGE blessing and influence in my life.  They are remarkable women...all completely different...but the fact that we've married four brothers who are eerily similar gives us an emotional connection that we wouldn't otherwise have.   I consider them my greatest friends and take great comfort in knowing that no matter how far apart we live, or how long it's been since we've seen each other, we will always have an eternal connection.  

I have a niece who I have known my entire life.  Our friendship comes and goes depending on our life circumstances and distance.  She is, without question, the smartest woman I know...seriously!  Her character is like my mother's...strong, capable, articulate.  She does things in her daily life that I could never dream of doing (and still be able to cook dinner at the end of the day!)  I have been in awe of her greatness for years and inspired by her many, many times throughout my life.  

The list of influential women in my life is ENDLESS...there have been many...friends, acquaintances, neighbors, teachers, co-workers.  Some have stayed for a long time and others only for a little while, but each of them has left an impression.  Some, through the miracle of the internet (namely Facebook!) have come back after a long time of being gone.  You never know how people will be woven in and out of the fabric of your life..(oh, no!  in a minute I'm going to start singing a song about cotton...)

Our family recently relocated to Texas after having lived in Utah for 7 years.   I still mourn for some of the friendships that have already faded or will eventually fade.  But just yesterday, I looked around at the great women who surround me in this new place, and I am once again in awe.  They are totally different... from each other...from the women I've known in other places I've lived...but equally amazing and gifted with their own great talents and abilities.  I look forward to the influence they will be in my life and in the lives of my family, and I feel blessed and honored to be numbered among them for the time that we're here.   

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Surprises

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."  Harriet Van Horne

I wouldn't say that I cook with "reckless abandon"..but I do totally LOVE it.  I mostly love it when the people who eat here love what I've cooked.  Tonight, we had an all time favorite...TACO SOUP...serious YUM!  Usually I let everyone decorate their soup with sour cream, cheese, olives, and chips.  But instead of just using plain, old store bought chips tonight...I MADE chips!  Yep...MADE them.  Did you know that you could MAKE chips!?   OK, so it's possible that I didn't start out with a plan to make chips, but when I realized that there were no chips in the pantry, I was able to change gears and improvise...YAY ME! 

I found some corn tortillas in the fridge...so I cut them into skinny strips.

...then I fried them...

...and sprinkled a little Kosher salt on them...because you can't have chips without salt! 
(Salt is on the list of "Stuff I Love" too, but I'll save that for a later post.)
 And here's proof that they were actually yummy.  Isn't it amazing how little happy surprises can make the whole day great?! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm always inspired by artistic people who can create something beautiful out of something ordinary.  I am not creative AT ALL...but I know when something is beautiful and I am blessed with the gift of imitation! 
I have a lovely new friend who has a blog that just oozes creativity and all things beautiful.  http://thestylesisters.blogspot.com  She inspired me to use the things that I already own to make my home even more beautiful.  Typically, my dining room table is not set unless we have company coming over...and even then, we don't usually sit at the dining room table.  (I'm not sure why, but we just don't use it very often.)  But after seeing Karin's gorgeous table settings and following "Centerpiece Wednesday" for the last few months, I have come to appreciate having a beautifully decorated table all year round.  Besides...dishes and glassware and table linens are HIGH on my list of "Stuff I Love".  I currently have 8 sets of dishes...some sentimental, some antique, some practical, some just because I felt like it...so why not enjoy them everyday???  And every time I set my table with one, it frees up a space in the kitchen cabinets...so by my calculations, I can easily buy another set without sacrificing storage.  It's a win-win situation, I think!  
Here's my most recent attempt to be like Karin.  It's not quite Christmas-y because, after all, it's only mid-November.  And even though I used the plates I had out for Halloween, it's a totally different look.  Abundant, rich, luxurious colors that I HAD right in my dining room....HIDING in that big buffet!  I can't believe I've waited this long to use all this gorgeous stuff.    

Thanks, Karin, for inspiring me to liberate all those poor dishes!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stuff I LOVE that I really shouldn't LOVE...

I seriously LOVE Diet Dr. Pepper.  In fact, it's almost more of an obsession than just a generic "love".  I didn't even know Diet Dr. Pepper existed a year ago, but when I discovered it, I was instantly hooked!  It's like drinking dessert.  It's like this yummy "deliciousness in a can (or 20 oz bottle, or cup with extra ice)" that at times I have craved more than food.  I'm pretty sure I could live on it if I had to.  Scary, huh?  
About a month ago, I realized that my obsession with this specific "non food" was starting to control my life.   Everyday at 3:00pm I would start to pace around like a caged animal until I could stop at Sonic (during Happy Hour, of course) and get my "fix".  I don't really like that out of control feeling.  I like to think that I'm strong, determined, in control of my thoughts and actions.  But with a couple of things in my life, I've come to realize that I'm very definitely NOT in control.  So I made the drastic and heartbreaking decision to give up my drug of choice.  I've slipped a couple of times (because really, who can just quit a thing "cold turkey" and not expect to fall off the wagon?), but for the better part of a month, I've been Diet Dr. Pepper free.  
But I still totally miss it...so today, I thought I'd dedicate a tribute post to Diet Dr. Pepper which falls into that category of Stuff I LOVE but can't overindulge in. (insert moment of silence here...)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I am a creature of the light.  I LOVE light...sunlight in the kitchen, candlelight at the dinner table, full wattage light bulbs in the bathroom when I'm getting dressed.  I could sleep in broad daylight.  The first thing I do in the morning is open ALL the blinds so that sunlight is diffused over every inch of the house.  (Occasionally, my husband, who loves complete darkness and sleeping late, doesn't fully appreciate my morning habit.)  This morning, I woke up and opened all the blinds and then turned on the Sunday music SUPER loud, diffusing both light AND music (my two favorite things) through the whole house as well as waking all the sleeping teenagers so that they could get ready for church on time. The sunlight and the music inspired deliciousness in the kitchen...blueberrry cheesecake muffins and hot chocolate.  There really is no better way to start a Sunday morning.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Might Need a Storage Locker...

I recently watched a series on HGTV where the designer was renovating an entire 100 year old farmhouse.  She did one room per episode, making the whole process look exceedingly easy.  (Granted, she also goes over budget every episode by about $1000 and she wears a beautiful new outfit after every commercial.  She's not practical, but she's charming and positive and makes everything look effortless.  She is my new idol!) 
In nearly every episode, she pulls the perfect piece of orange fabric or the exact antique that she's been "holding onto" for this very moment in life.  Well, it was revealed in the "family bathroom" episode that the woman has a STORAGE SHED where she has actually been "holding onto" STUFF that she's collected over the years.  
So it occurred to me tonight that I might need my own storage shed.  How many times have I wandered through a furniture store or a thrift store and thought, "Oh, I LOVE that _________, but I don't have anywhere to put it in my current house."   Haven't you ever thought that??   BUT...if I had a storage shed, that problem would be solved and I would never again have to walk away from some beautiful thing just because it doesn't have a place.   I could store it for that kitchen renovation, or that perfect spot in my next house, or whatever other divinely inspired thing might occur.  What a brilliant idea!    

Because it's just like my new favorite saying..."if you never put a chair near a window...no one will ever sit there!"    

P.S.  I happen to already OWN the 100 year old farmhouse, so the storage locker could be in preparation for the grand plans I have for that thing!