Friday Five: Bowie & Rickman

Wow, what a week of loss. Two impeccable artists that had deep roots in both my childhood and adulthood. We’ve honored their art and their lives this week through a few of our favorite movies.

5. Labyrinth

David Bowie as the Goblin King was the nightmare fuel for most 80s kids. Doesn’t mean he was anything less than fabulous. As fabulous as his music, which I also love.

4. Love Actually

Even though I wanted to tear his character apart, Alan Rickman was the perfect choice as the cheating husband in this mish-mash story about all kinds of relationships. Always the bad guy.

3. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

I’m a little too young to appreciate his turn as villain Hans Gruber, but man did he nail it as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the only version of Robin Hood worth knowing, IMHO. One of the many reasons I love this movie.

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

J.K. Rowling created the best “is he, isn’t he” in history with Severus Snape and I can’t think of any role better cast in the movies that Alan Rickman as the brooding teacher with everything to hide. Of all the movies, his darkness is most apparent in the sixth. This was the first one I watched after hearing of his death. I loved him in every installment, but was captivated by him in this.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two

Finding out the truth about Snape is right up there with finding out if Harry will live. Alan Rickman brought to life the dark, the light, the love, the pain, the redemption. This is a beautiful collection of his best scenes, in chronological order. Spoiler alerts for anyone that hasn’t read the books (Sean…).

Friday Five: The Best of 2015

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

Like the holidays before it, Joe and I will be ushering in the new year in the most low-key way possible: a little football, some special food, some homemade cassis from Chris and Chilali…and, if all goes well, peanut butter brown butter rice krispie treats. And, of course, lots of time with this little one who is the most precious of snow bunnies.
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Her wish for the new year? Snow. Carrots. Apples. Snow. Sleep.

My wish for the new year? Health. Happiness. Adventure. Health. Sleep.

We’re not too far off from each other.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready for this year to end. In life’s land of peaks and pits it feels like there were way more pits to navigate, but it doesn’t mean we were without some really spectacular moments. Here are some of my top-five favorites of the year:

TV

5. Modern Family
4. The Man in the High Castle
3. Game of Thrones
2. Downton Abbey
1. Homeland

Movies

5. Inside Out
4. Pitch Perfect 2
3. Jurassic World
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
1. Woman in Gold

Music

5. The Lone Bellow
4. Tony Bennett and Lady GaGa
3. Leon Bridges
2. Adele
1. Brandi Carlile

Books

5. The Girl in the Spider’s Web
4. The Nightingale
3. Go Set a Watchman
2. Station Eleven
1. All the Light We Cannot See

Recipes

5. Thanksgiving Gravy
4. Carrot Coconut Scones
3. Homemade Gnocchi in Tomato Broth
2. Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
1. Chocolate Bourbon Peanut Butter Cake

Moments

7. Biggio HOF (part 1, part 2)
6. Reuniting with Miami (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)
5. Summer with the Vores
4. Utah Littles (part 1, part 2, part 3)
3. Bella Feeling Better
2. Trip to Texas (part 1, part 2)
1. Hawaii (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)

Friday Five: Christmas 2015 Final Countdown

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

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We are checking things off our list like mad. Two days, everyone! Since I missed last Friday’s post, here’s a recap of how our final countdown has looked.

5. Prime Time

We finally started exploring perks other than the free and fast shipping of our Amazon Prime membership. Turns out The Man in the High Castle is just the kind of show we love to watch. For those who haven’t heard, it imagines our country if Germany (and Japan) had won the war. Very interesting and compelling. (It’s also based on a book.) Since we’ll be spending Christmas in Utah, we’ve decided to binge watch the latest season of Homeland this week. Nothing says the holidays like fighting terrorism.

4. Winter Wonderland

Like last year, we’ll have another white Christmas. It’s been relentless and I’ve become that crazy lady that goes out every morning and sticks a ruler in the snow. It’s the only way I can wrap my mind around it. We have even more coming tomorrow.

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Bella surrenders to her boots every time. They are getting quite the work-out.

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3.The War of Stars

After months years of anticipation, we saw the new Star Wars movie last  Thursday night. Waaay past this girl’s i-work-on-Eastern-time bedtime. It was well worth it, though, if only to see Joe’s excitement.

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2.Bowl or Bust

USU’s bowl game was today, marking the end of the season. Finally. It’s been a long one. ESPN granted me this glimpse of Joe early on in the game.

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1.Cookie Plate Success

Remember my plan for 2015’s cookie plates? I’m happy to report they were a hit.

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I combined my famed sugar cookies with those cookie butter truffles that I topped with course sea salt.

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Not bad. Joe really liked them, but I think I would have been way more excited if they had been peanut butter. What’s new?

It’s possible I was way too preoccupied by these guys.

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The chocolate candy cane kisses were out of control. So good. Everyone said they were the favorites on the tray.

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The cookie itself was like a rich brownie that split perfectly around the peppermint kiss. There’s only one left and I’m going to savor each bite. Here’s the recipe. The only change I made was rolling the dough in regular sugar before baking. That’s what makes those deep crevices. Don’t skip it!

A very merry Christmas from a very snowy Utah!

Friday Five: Christmas 2015 Sweets and Snacks

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

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We are two weeks away, people. The tree is up. The music is on repeat. All that’s left is a bowl game and then we are there.

I have a few cookie plates to make for friends and Etsy business partners, so I’ve been working on that menu as well as our own home menu.

Same as Thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to having a few favorites and trying some new treats. We plan to spread these out between next week and New Year’s so we’re not overloaded. Though, let’s be honest, we’ll be overloaded. ‘Tis the season!

Before I get to the new, here are some of the traditions we’ll be continuing:

Sninny Rolls (now that I know how to handle yeast dough in high altitude)
Sugar Cookies (this time with the new cookie cutters!)
Chocolate Crinkles (because, wow, are these amazing)
Lemon Bars (Joe’s favorite)
Pizza Bread on Christmas Eve

And now for the new…

Drum Roll, please. Drum Roll.

5. Sausage Stars

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Okay, this isn’t new, at least not a new-to-me recipe. This is a request from Joe. He first tasted them at a Christmas party I threw in grad school, months before we were dating. Mere babes at this point.

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Maybe they are what sealed the deal. If so, I should thank my sister. This is her recipe and its all Oklahoma in an appetizer. Ranch + Cheese + Sausage. Pre-vegetarian me loved them, so I’m going to have to come up with a veggie version to try this year. Or I may just eat my weight in my family’s Cracker Crew.

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4. Cookie Butter Truffles

I don’t do most fudge, and growing up we had a bar version of my favorite chocolate-peanut butter buckeyes, which was as close to fudge as I would ever get. Instead of making buckeyes, this year we’re trying some cookie dough truffles. The jars from Trader Joe’s have a better life to live than one that just involves me and a spoon! They are screaming for a chocolate coat to wear.

These and these look promising!

Don’t like Cookie Butter? I bet you like Baileys!

3. Chocolate Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

These are mostly for my cookie plates to distribute. I have a freezer with three bags of Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses (I like them in ebelskivers) that I need to use and this seems like the ideal way to do it: Cookies for other people!

This is the recipe I’ll try.

2. Seasoned Pretzels

Instead of Nat Nix (gasp!), we’re going to try this baked pretzel as our main snack. As much as I love Nat Nix, it always makes a lot, which means I eat a lot. We’ll see how it goes. I may break down and make Nat Nix for New Year’s!

This is the recipe I’ll try.

1. Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Since we won’t have our normal buckeyes, Joe requested this peanut butter treat and I was absolutely on board. Especially when I noticed Joy the Baker had a browned-butter-peanut-butter version in her first cookbook. I’ll follow her to the ends of the earth for providing our INCREDIBLE Thanksgiving dessert.

The recipe is found in her first cookbook. Stay tuned, I just might cut them into Christmas trees. Probably not. But, maybe!

What are you making this year? Check out my new Pinterest board dedicated to all things holiday.

 

Friday Five: Christmas 2015 New Decor

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

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Ask anyone in my family and they’ll tell you I’m the most nostalgic of the bunch. I love to remember and revisit. This year we have a few new decor pieces that remember and revisit both the high points of our year, as well as high points from my past. And since the big camera was out to capture a certain amazing dessert I’m STILL obsessing over, you get real-deal pics. It’s a blog miracle!

5. Hawaii

Hands down, the best part of our year was our anniversary trip to Hawaii. My family has a tradition of collecting ornaments from trips and it’s one I’ve happily adopted for us. If you search for “Hawaii ornaments” you’re going to get a lot of hula-ing Santas and sunsets painted on sea shells. Not really our style, but we did hit gold with this Oahu highway sign.

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It’s so perfect since our condo was on Ala Moana Boulevard on Waikiki and we hiked Diamond Head. I was SO BUMMED to learn its matching Maui ornament (that also featured the place where we stayed) is (forever?) out of stock. Ugh. Sad trombone.

But, I still love the one we have. Especially it’s glittery edges that shimmer in the tree’s lights.

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We also nabbed this sparkly sea turtle since it was the highlight of the highlight. We are still enamored with our chance encounter with these guys on the beach.

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4. Penguin Paradise

You might remember a very special visit by my sister and her family a few months ago. Another big highlight from our year. Since Lily, Tim, Joe and I got to feed the penguins together, I thought it would be fun to have matching ornaments commemorating the fun.

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This tiny penguin playing a horn totally fit the bill, so now we both have one on our tree. He’s in good company with my favorite ornament of all time, near the top of the tree.

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3. Doughnut Dreams

Great minds think alike. That’s typical when it comes to me and my sister; we’re almost always on the same wave length. She was already on her ornament game when I sent off our matching penguins. But she totally knocked my socks off with his handmade Judy Doughnut, complete with orangey-pink frosting.

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EXACTLY like the ones Lily and I made together while they were here. Melted my heart. What a sweet (literally!) reminder.

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2. My Angels

2015 wasn’t a walk in the park, by any means, despite these highlights. I lost two wonderful men in my life. After Gramps died, my friend Bobbie–who knows me so very well–gave me the most perfect gift. A metal ornament with special photos honoring our time together. I was blown away.

Christmas, we agree, is the best time for remembering those we’ve lost. So I made two more ornaments for Pops and Uncle Dick and now my tree is covered with special moments I can relive each holiday season. Can you hear my heart about to burst? The seams are splitting as I type.

Each one has color photos on the front with their names, while the back has black and white photos with their dates. I am absolutely in love with them. I miss seeing their faces, but this is a wonderful way for me to see them every day.

Here’s Gramps‘:

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Here’s Uncle Dickie‘s:

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And here’s Pops‘:

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All the hearts, all the memories. Thank you so much, Bobbie, for starting a new tradition.

1. Cut(ters) to the Heart

Making sugar cookies is the #1 holiday memory from my childhood. You can click here to see all of the photographic proof of our obsession, along with the dang-good recipe, but one thing that really made it special was the cookie cutters. They are Hallmark cutters from the late 70s and early 80s. What one would now call “vintage.” You’d be hard-pressed to find an old photo of us making cookies without them being there.

Like in this Halloween example.

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My mom still has her set that gets pulled out every year and I know my siblings and I would each love to eventually own them and continue using them every holiday. So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands and–with the help of ebay–created my own matching set.

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I had my mom take pictures of the cutters she has and hit up in the interwebs to find exact matches. And I had so much fun doing it.

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Eventually I want to have them sitting in my kitchen in glass jars like these, but until the snow melts and I can get to Target, I’m using a glass mixing bowl I already have.

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I love my new centerpiece and the flood of memories that wash over me when I see (and smell) it.

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Plus, they’re all ready for me whenever I’m ready to make my own set of cookies.

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For someone whose holiday is hijacked by NCAA bowl games, this is just one sweet and special way to bring my hometown holiday to me. (I also recreated our Halloween cutters, so stay tuned for October 2016! Ha!)

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Are your decorations up? What new traditions are you starting this year?

Friday Five: Thankful

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

Yesterday we gave thanks with a quiet day at home with Bella, our favorite foods, PJs, football, facetime with family, and a marathon of Homeland. It was a good one. Definitely one of the most chill Thanksgivings we’ve ever had. And we needed it.

Now starts my favorite time of the year and even though this has been a hard one, I have a lot for which to be thankful.

5. U S of A

Despite the current political maelstrom taking place, we live in the best country. I’m thankful my days aren’t spent figuring out how to flee or worrying about who will take me in. Let’s not take that for granted. Ever.

4. Health

We’ve had a lot of family health scares this year and I’m thankful that everyone seems to be feeling better and is on the road to recovery. Health is everything. Health insurance is also everything.

3. Support Network

We have the most amazing network of family and friends that lift us up and make us better. Whether they are five minutes away or five hours by plane, we are blessed by those who fill us with laughs, hope and love. And we’re remembering the two we lost earlier this year with reflections on a lifetime of happy memories.

2. Bella

This past year was her hardest yet, but I’m happy to report that she is back to 95%. Even though she can’t hear (hello, last 5%), she is playful, cuddly and attentive. So happy we’re far from where we were at the start of 2015.

1. Joe

I’m reminded daily—especially lately—why Joe is the perfect man for me. I’ll never grow tired of his strength, integrity, work ethic, perseverance and humility. I’m lucky to navigate life with him, and I’m eager to see what new adventures 2016 has for us.

Friday Five: Thanksgiving Prep

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

We’ll be celebrating another Thanksgiving in Utah this year thanks to football and the Nutcracker. Instead of spending it with friends as we’ve enjoyed the past few years (here and here), we’re going to be having a quiet Thanksgiving at home. It’s what we need right now.

Thanksgiving = Tradition where I come from. We have so many dishes that make their annual appearance at our Turkey Day spread and I love those dishes. But when I’m away from home, I like to trade tradition for the ability to try something new.

It took us about five days to settle on a menu, but we finally did it. Here are a few ways we’re changing things up this year:

5. Brie for Bites

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My Aunt Pam’s Baked Brie is my #1 always-have-at-Thanksgiving dish. I am absolutely obsessed with it and have made it for several away-from-home holidays. But, this year we’re going to try our favorite pretzel bites with a cheesy cider fondue. Joe plans on watching a lot of football that day, so I thought it would be an easy TV snack/appetizer while the rest of the meal is coming together.

4. Mash It Up

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I looooove my Dad’s sweet potato casserole, but Joe and I eat sweet potatoes every single week. I really wanted to splurge and do Pioneer Woman’s guilty mashed potatoes instead.

3. Bring on The Grit

My brother-in-law once gave me a cookbook from his favorite vegetarian restaurant in Georgia, The Grit. I’m excited to try their gravy and green bean casserole for the first time.

2. Sweet Tooth

I’m just not a huge pie fan and, to me, the best Thanksgiving desserts are the ones that are out on a counter for post-meal or post-nap grazing. Joe, on the other hand, needs his pumpkin pie. Luckily I found two new recipes that fit the bill for both of us…and both have bourbon, so we’re already off to a great start.

1. Rollin’ the Dough

Despite recent yeast-dough success–which I still need to blog about–we’re going to buy our rolls this year. I just don’t want to mess with it when other people can do it so well. Part of having a great meal is knowing your limits and this is mine.

Looking forward to sharing our culinary adventure with you! Happy Thanksgiving Week, everyone!

Friday Five: Linc turns Two!

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

What the what?! Linc is shedding his baby status by turning T-W-O today…with no terribleness in sight!

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Just like last year, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos of the big boy. He’s the cutest of the cute and I’d celebrate him every day if I could.

5. Our Mouseketeer

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This boy LOVES some Mickey, who up until recently was “Tickey.” He loves reciting the whole gang’s names and is having a Mickey-themed party tomorrow that I’m so sad to be missing.

4. Our Silly Sweetheart

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Linc is always all smiles, all grins, all laughs and all silly. One of my favorite parts of his (and his family’s) recent trip to Utah is hearing his giggles and watching him run around to make us smile. I feel like his personality has exploded in the last year…probably because I’ve seen him more, but also because I feel like he’s finding his groove among big sister and others. He holds his own just fine.

3. Our Snuggle Monster

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I love Linc’s cuddles. He’s definitely a snuggler—when you can get him to sit still—and has such a kind heart. And he freely gives Aunt NoNo kisses, which quickly sends him soaring to the top of any list.

2. Our Boy’s Boy

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This was {somewhat} painfully obvious when he only wanted his Uncle Mikey Joe, or “Minaco,” when he was here. I didn’t mind…I couldn’t mind…because my heart was exploding with love every second the two of them were together.

1. Our Linc

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He’s the perfect addition (I first wrote ‘addiction,’ which is also pretty true) to our family and the incredible joy we felt when Lily came along has just grown and grown since he joined her ranks. They are a special pair and we can’t get enough of them.

Happiest of birthdays, Linc. We love you so, so much.

Friday Five: Lily’s Utah Recap

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

Pictures are all good and everything, but I wanted you to hear it from the source. Please welcome back everyone’s favorite guest blogger, Lily.

M: Hey, Lil.

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L: Helllll-oooo! Want to see my map? I thought I’d mark it so I remember where you live.

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M: Perfect! I thought maybe I could ask you a few questions about your trip.

L: Sure.

5. What did you think of Utah?

L: I loved it! I loved that NoNo and Mineco (Linc’s version of Mikey Joe) were very nice. Oh, andguesswhat? Guess what I’m wearing for socks.

M: No clue.

L: Daddy’s stinky socks!

M: Nice! Hey, how do you spell “Mineco?”

L: Okay, spell MINE, but take off the E and then add C-O.

M: But, wouldn’t that spell MIN-co?

L: Oh, yeah. Okay, put the E back in there. (Mineco = pronounced “MY-nuh-co”)

4. How is Utah different than Oklahoma?

L: You have a lot more mountains, and I would say it’s probably a lot colder, and, hmmmm, I also say it’s easier to catch a cold there.

M: Did you say that last one because your mom just coughed?

L: … Yeah.

3. Were you surprised when you finally saw the mountains?

L: Yes, I liked ‘em. I was like, “whoa! I wish Oklahoma had mountains as high as yours.” We have hills, but not as high as Utah’s.

2. What was your favorite thing to do here?

L: I liked spending time with NoNo and Mikey Joe and I liked playing Bean Boozled. It was fun to throw a tomahawk with Mikey Joe.

1. If you came back, what would you want to do that we didn’t get to do this time?

L: I want to go to the museum next time. I want to see the penguins again, but maybe not feed them. If it was winter, I’d want to go skiing. I’m not sure what else.

M: Any last thoughts?

L: I wish there was snow when we came, but other than that? It was good.

M: Good is good. Love you.

L: Love you, NoNo. *muah*

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Today’s blog post comes from Lily

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Lily is a sassy seven-year-old, an amazing big sister, smarter than most and loved by all. She likes to swim, read, play with her baby brother and she still shoots guns like a boss.

Above sentiments also shared by her brother with the killer blues, Linc.

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Friday Five: Latest and Greatest

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

Unlike this summer when I took a few weeks off just to not be blogging for a while, these last two weeks have been so jam-packed with happenings and stress and moving-and-shaking that I just haven’t had a moment to construct a Top Five list or other post…which is a shame because I do have lots of exciting things to blog about like the cutest littles coming to Utah, how my Dad now gets to add HOF to his FACOS, and some delicious treats to start my fall baking ritual. It’s all there…and by there I mean here, in my brain…but it’ll soon be here, on this blog. Clear as mud?

Here’s what has us hot and bothered lately:

5. iMarci

My employer has been borrowing/testing a Beam telepresence robot, which means I’ve been channeling the future for a few weeks. It’s ridiculous and amazing all at once. I want my family to have one so I can just follow them around the house, bombarding them with weird questions and inappropriate jokes…exactly as if I was there in person! Like everything, it reminds me of Modern Family.

What they see of me:

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Not pictured: make-up or a brush (Easy, people…I work from home.)

What I see of them:

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Pictured: some of the coolest people I know

So crazy!

4. Matchy Buddies

After a lovely visit to Utah, I received a call from my niece Lily asking me to facetime right away. When she came up on the screen she yelled “GOOD NEWS! I got glasses!” First of all, she is adorable and I can totally relate to her excitement in being told to wear glasses. I wanted them for years…until I finally got them. I haven’t shared that secret with her, but judging by how many selfies I have on my phone after she asked me the week before if she could borrow my glasses and my phone, I think she’ll be great with them.

Utah selfies:

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Her own glasses:

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I’ve never been so excited to be Matchy Buddies with someone!

3. Coming Home During Homecoming

Homecoming weekend was last weekend, which means we didn’t get a weekend! It was filled to the gills with events and, of course, the big game, which had a rain delay right when the band took its position on the sidelines before halftime. We instead spent halftime in an indoor facility. USU ended up winning after 85% of the crowd left during the delay (including me).

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2. Go ‘Stros!

The Astros are wild-carding it up and making my family so proud these days. Joe and I are enjoying actually having Astros games to watch and the family text threads continue to fly. Bella is our official good-luck charm, especially when donning Pops’ hat.

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1. Webbed Out

This week marked the soft launch of the website I have lived, breathed and wanted to strangle since I came back to NWS full time last December. It’s the source of constant frustration and joy and stress and pride. It’s basically my child. Lots of bugs to flush out in the coming weeks, but so far so good.

The night we pushed it live, the four musketeers of this project stayed on a 2.5-hour google hangout so we could make sure all fingers were crossed and all wine glasses were filled. Literally.

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Bella even made a few festive, stress-relieving appearances.

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It was so gratifying to finally release it into the world (again, I’m the parent here) and also to collaborate with such talented co-workers and say “omg, we did it.” To make up for the repeated 10-to-12-hour work days, I’m planning on sleeping all through this coming Sunday. This is your public service announcement.

More soon, I hope! But, first: S-L-E-E-P!