# parade of homes 2015

It’s been a whirlwind week around here. Two trips to urgent care (back and ear infection); turning another year older; and, now, preparing for some of my favorite people to arrive so we can party it up all weekend! But, first, let’s rewind to last weekend…when Joe and I went into full dream mode at this year’s Parade of Homes.

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When I was little my parents frequently threw us in the car on weekend afternoons to go “look at houses” and we. hated. it. It was pure torture at the time, so imagine my surprise when I willingly threw out the same idea to Joe 30ish yeas later? As we teeter back and forth between wanting to buy and build a home, we thought it would be a good opportunity to check out what people are doing in the area. Lots of trends emerged, like having your laundry room off of your master bath/closet (genius!), full kitchens in basements (totally a Utah thing) and a lack of TVs in the main living space. What?! No! (Most were in some kind of entertainment room in the basement.)

Here are each of the houses and my favorite spots from each one. I snapped a million pics, so for a full look at all of the houses, click here. (The exterior shot of the house starts its section of photos.)

# 12 – 5,830 sq. ft.

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Best part about this monstrous beauty was its view.

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# 11 – 4,202 sq. ft.

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This was by far the most modern of all the houses, which means it fit us the least (ha!), but we were completely smitten with this massive accent wall in the living room that concealed the stairs.

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Here’s Joe, halfway up the stairs, lending some size perspective.

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We weren’t a fan, but I’m sure some people would love this crazy kitchen backsplash.

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# 10 – 3,139 sq. ft.

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This was by far the house that felt most like us in terms of style and function. I loved just about every room, but the pantry prep zone really sweetened the deal.

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# 9 – 1,926 sq. ft.

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We weren’t thrilled with this one…maybe because it was built in a 55+ community and was designed as such, but the floors were neat.

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# 8 – 3,998 sq. ft.

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Helllllllo, kitchen. We typically go for white cabinets, but were both surprised by how much we liked this look.

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# 7 – 2,180 sq. ft.

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Cutest little eating nook off the kitchen. Actually, I’d take any nook at this point.

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# 6 – 2,540 sq. ft.

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The Mediterranean Villa….in rural Utah! Despite being a total sore thumb, this one really stood out to Joe. Was it the awesome (yet how-do-you-get-out?) sunken tub?

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The gorgeous light-filled living room that made us feel like we were back in Spain?

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Or…the Star Wars-meets-dinosaurs room?

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# 5 – 2,048 sq. ft.

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Again, I’m apparently a fan of floors. I love how this tile looks like weathered wood.

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# 4 – 5,754 sq. ft.

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So many, many things to love about this house. Like tons…TONS…of exposed brick!

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I could spend a lot of time in this tub.

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The three-car garage was shaped like an L with crazy added storage and work space in the crook of the L. Genius use of space.

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Although we loved it, Joe and I were more interested in touring the house next door. It looked awesome.

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# 3 – 4,936 sq. ft.

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Loved these arched cased openings.

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# 2 – 7,565 sq. ft.

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This monster of a house had a rockin’ kitchen.

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I want all of my appliances to be hiding. The fridge, freezer and produce bins were all separate doors that matched the cabinets.

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More exposed brick!

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The basement was probably four of our current house and included this gym. G-Y-M!

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# 1 – 3,271 sq. ft.

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Hello, my name is Marci, and I’d like to live on a farm and, therefore, in a farm house. Let’s start swooning…

Bathroom dreams

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Mud room goals

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Kitchen hopes

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Brick, brick, brick!

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And, bonus, check out the owner’s quilt room.

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What did you like best?

Friday Five: Expect the Unexpected

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

This week has been FULL of {mostly} unplanned hurdles—little tests in the form of daily speed bumps, not only for me, but also my family. Thought you might want to come along for the wild ride:

5. Happy Birthday, Gramps

Yesterday would have been Gramps’ 85th birthday. I thought of him all day long and remember so clearly many of the birthday calls I made to him in the past. Like last year, when he raved about Mimi cooking all the fixins’ for him and wasn’t I sad I wasn’t there (I was). And other years when they celebrated simply by grabbing a burger at Dairy Queen. I miss those conversations and hope he had a choir of angels sing to him yesterday.

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4. Minimal-Sugar Challenge

After last week’s froyo celebration, I went back to no sugar easily until today when I had my first (decaf, no whip) PSL. I really love Starbucks’ new “real-pumpkin” formula; I thought it tasted way better than the fake original, which I (at the time) loved as well. I savored it like the treat that it was and think a once-a-week splurge will be fine. Still feeling good and am up down to 14 pounds. Not all speed bumps are bad.  Shout outs to my friends now doing the challenge – you’ve got this!!

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3. Let it Snow… Just Not Yet!

Yes, this week’s rain storms brought snow to the mountains. This feels earlier than any year we’ve been here. I swear this stuff JUST melted, how can it already be cold enough for it to be back?! I guess I’ll be swapping out my summer clothes for winter this weekend.

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2. Water Woes

This past Monday morning, I noticed our water had been turned off and part of our yard was flooded. Insanely worried that a pipe burst outside our house, I called a slew of people only to find out that it was my neighbor’s sewer pipe that had burst underground and had flooded three people’s yards and caused 40…FORTY…homes to have their water shut off. To fix it, they had to rip up sidewalk and several trees (the 8-foot hole in the ground is still there). We ended up having no water for just shy of 31 hours. Joe had to shower at the gym and I…well… I was not a happy camper. Speaking of camping, this whole exercise has reminded me why I never want to do it. Running water is such a beautiful thing.

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1. Comeback-pain Kid

Yesterday morning I woke up to searing pain from my left leg’s lower back/hips to my ankle. I couldn’t even get out of bed and Joe woke up to me whimpering from the pain. I recognized it immediately from my ordeal two years ago…almost to the day. After icing it off and on for two hours, I was finally numb enough to get up, shower, and collapse into my desk chair to work. As soon as my last meeting was over, I was in my car driving to urgent care. I didn’t want to make the same mistake last time of waiting too long to treat my sciatica. To reward my efforts, doc said I didn’t need an xray or a steroid shot, but just a whopping dose of steroids to bring down the inflammation in my back. “Take these right away, like immediately when you pick them up at the pharmacy.” Um…okay, sure, why? “They have a tendency to cause horrible insomnia.” Okay, no problem. <<fast forward eight hours>> Okay, big problem. I tried everything last night to fall asleep, but I got maybe two hours total. I had to take another dose this morning, so luckily I’ve been wired all day, but I’m hoping for some rest tonight at least. The pain is almost all gone, which is the miracle I was hoping for.

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And that was my week.  And I’m ready to move on.

Friday Five: No Sugar Challenge – Week 5 (The Recap)

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

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Today, after 33 days, 13 hours, 39 minutes and 14…15 seconds (give or take a few minutes), I had my first bite of sugar in the form of frozen yogurt. Ben, one of my partners in no-sugar crime the last few weeks, said he was ready to break his fast and we felt like we should do it together since, after all, we had gone through it together.

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We had also agreed that we should give each other a non-food reward at the end of this challenge. Ben wanted an “Indiana-Jones-ish” journal.

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#nailedit. My choice hasn’t come yet, but I thought it was most fitting for the challenge.

Let’s talk fro-yo. Here’s my cup from tonight…

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Meager, right? Would you think I’m crazy if I told you that none of the toppings looked that good to me? I could barely pick the two I did (mango juice balls and crushed butterfinger bars). Who am I?!  Here’s what my typical fro-yo cup looked like earlier this summer…plucked straight from instagram.

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Shame! That’s probably a good 9-10 ounces. Today, mine barely broke 3. And it was enough. I was satisfied. It was so very sweet tasting, too. Like I had lost the taste or something.

This was the idea, right? My plan all along? To break myself of a powerful addiction. To tell myself that sugar was not the end-all-be-all to my problems?

I’d say it worked.

Today was a very stressful day at work. With two positions in my department still vacant and the other web person on vacation for two weeks, I felt swamped and overwhelmed and right around noon I got a killer stress headache. I sat at my desk, rubbing my head thinking of all the sugary things I would normally use to self-medicate, and realized that this was the first headache I’ve had all month since that very first week I went off sugar. I find myself prone to headaches and hadn’t realized they were completely MIA during this experiment until one creeped up today.

There have been big and little revelations like that throughout the last 33 days. Moments that have caught my breath; moments that have made me reflect long and hard about my lifestyle and the choices I have made and the ones I could make moving forward.

Here’s my final recap on the challenge and my thoughts on the future:

5. Who Am I?

I would say that my identity with my friends and my family is firmly cemented in a “foodie/baker” category. I bake for my friends; I cook for my family. The kitchen is where I love to be and I identify MYSELF that way. That plate of cookies is my I-love-you. Those enchiladas are my screams of you’re-so-important-to-me. They were also my “love me”s. (Hello, are you a therapist?) Food has been my love language for years. Take that away and I feel mute. How can I redefine myself? Do I need to? Throughout the last five weeks, I have ruminated on this point the most. Who am I if I’m not the one carrying the plate of baked goods into the party? The answer is…I don’t know, but I’m working on it.

4. Food v. Fitness

I wasn’t ever doing this challenge to lose weight, though I thought it might be inevitable once I cut out my main food crush. In the last 33 days, without changing my exercise routine of a few longs walks a week, I’ve lost 10 pounds. Five of those in the challenge’s first five days alone. The scale has had my attention. I really didn’t anticipate that I’d hit double digits and it has made me realize that in the never-ending battle of weight, what I eat is way more important to watch than how much I exercise. Both are crucial, yes, but do the math and eat better. (I’m mainly talking to myself here, but maybe a few of you need to hear it too.)

3. Moderate this

“Everything in moderation, including moderation!” Gag. This has never worked for me. After reading Better Than Before earlier this summer, I know I have an Abstainer personality—meaning that it’s easier/better for me to stay completely away from a bad habit than try to moderate its place in my life. Take Diet Coke. I have been addicted to the stuff before and have been totally free of it for two years come November. It’s easier for me to say a strong no than to have one once a week and pine for that one moment the other six days. Sugar has been the same way. Turning my back on it for 33 days will prove to be easier than me trying to incorporate portions of it back into my life. I know this, which is why I was a little scared to have it tonight. I almost didn’t want to face the demon. But…it ended up being fine and I feel completely in control. Which brings me too…

2. Even-Keeled

I have never felt better. My mood swings are gone. My mid-afternoon lull (nap time) hasn’t been a thing. My blood sugar never crashes leaving me hungry or aching for a sugar pick-me-up. I hardly snack because I don’t feel hungry. It’s foreign and it’s wonderful. I feel like my brain is clear and I can work harder/longer with more focus. This is the miracle drug we’ve all been looking for. Cut the processed sugar and feel the difference! The veil has lifted and I don’t want to go back.

1. 30 Days

As Morgan Spurlock taught us: You can do anything for 30 days. Researchers agree that doing something for 30 days will make or break a habit. When people ask me about being a vegetarian and are interested in trying it, I always encourage them to test it for two weeks. (That’s as long as I needed to be convinced it was the right choice for me.) I remind them that it’s not for everyone, but you’ll know in two weeks. It’s very much the same with this. I encourage and support anyone reading this to try being sugar-free for two weeks. It’s not forever, but it’s enough to make a difference and feel the change. Four weeks, though twice as long, wasn’t a death sentence and I’ve actually enjoyed it. 30 days might just change your life.

This is about as vulnerable as I can get on this blog, but I think it’s important to write about this challenge and shine the light on our society’s addiction to sugar and processed foods. I have a strong family history of diabetes and pounds to spare, so I know I’m at risk. It’s not too late to turn any train around. If you want to make a change, reach out; I’m with you 100%.

Thank YOU for all of your support and encouragement, especially my Aunt Pam and Ben who valiantly fought the good fight by my side and are still talking to me. And to Joe, for always being my #1 fan and loving me fully whether I am eating brownies or plain oatmeal. Life with him is sweet enough.

# the time is here

It’s baaaaaaaack. Football. Did you know there’s a section of greeting cards just for me during this time of year?

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Quick recap: Tonight brought the NFL back into our lives and last week was USU’s first game of the season. Tomorrow they head south to play the Utes (on ESPN2 for those that want to tune in). Our next home game isn’t until October, so I wanted to share a few highlights from the start of the season before we have a few weeks off and I push football from my mind.

First, band camp:

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I was able to catch their first rehearsal in the stadium, which is under construction and, at the time, littered with wasp nests. I didn’t last long.

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I do love seeing Joe in his element, though.

The first game was a mere four days into the school year, which felt all kinds of too-soon for me. It didn’t help it was also a Thursday night. And a storm was hovering practically over the stadium parking lot.

The band rocking pre-game. Missing: ticketholders and the top half of the stadium.

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I was joined in the stands by friends and fellow music faculty: Chilali, Jason and John. They made the game so much more fun.

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Especially when I convinced Jason to “milk the cow” during The Scotsman.

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New this year was the very hot, very intense flames that the team runs through. It was hot from where I was sitting, so I can’t imagine what it’s like to run through it. What was wrong with just the inflatable helmet??

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I spent more time tracking this rain cloud than I did the low-scoring game. (Seriously, the score for most of the game was 9-5, SUU.)

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But it made for a gorgeous sunset. In the age of Instagram and Photoshop, I present these to you….WITHOUT FILTERS! *gasp*

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We moved to the opposite side to watch halftime, which gave me a bird’s eye view of the student section, which is always entertaining. Storm Trooper Aggie was my favorite.

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Halftime was great! The band is the largest it’s been in years, which is awesome.

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We ended up winning 12-9. Hopefully our offense will buck up or this is going to be a long season.

I predict the next game will bring sweatshirts and mittens and blankets. It’s getting real…real quick. Happy footballing, everyone!

Friday Five: Math

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

In what feels like a Christmas miracle, both Joe and I had today off. Together. At the same time.

After last week’s hello-see-you-in-15-hours band camp and yesterday’s see-you-in-10-hours football game, it was drastically needed.

Here’s what added up to be a perfect day. No calculators needed.

5. Road Trip

We debated going on a little mini-vacay this weekend to officially say adios to summer, much like last year’s jaunt to Park City, but I was having trouble wrangling the troops (Joe and Bells) into spending a few days in Idaho, mainly to see Hemingway’s grave. Doesn’t that sound like fun?! Bueller? Bueller? After we threw in and threw out a lot of ideas, we finally settled on staying home, but doing something out of the norm each day. I love driving down to SLC together. It’s beautiful and it’s perfect for catching up since our phones don’t get service for half of it. #utahproblems

4. Good Food

Fellow foodie Trent told us about this great sandwich place downtown that donates a sandwich for each one they sell. Awesome, I’m in. We’ve definitely found a new favorite in Even Stevens.

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3. Shopping

There’s an awesome outdoor mall in downtown SLC that has a lot of our favorite shops that haven’t made it to our tiny town up north. We spent a lot of time just roaming, hipster watching, holding hands and arguing whether Joe should have this button-down shirt with Judy Doughnuts all over it in his closet. I say yes. It’s ironic! (Yep — that’s a men’s shirt…and yep — we he passed on it.)

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2. VEEP

One of our favorite things to do is binge watch a TV show together. Lately all of ours have been heavy and dramatic, so I suggested we lighten it up with VEEP. It’s perfection. I’ve cried from laughing so hard. Gary = Buster, and I love him. We’re plowing through Season 2 tonight.

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1. Work?

Other than a few emails, I’ve been able to blissfully stay work-free today. Hard to do when you work from home! It’s been the icing on the cake of this truly recharging day and the start of a great weekend.