# a tale of two states

Hello, friends. I haven’t forgotten you. Despite the implication that summer has down-time, I have found myself working harder than ever and, more often than not, consumed by stress. There are some that wear their busyness like a badge of honor, but not me. I strive every day to find the work-life balance of my dreams, but certain work circumstances that prevented that lately and things that I would normally love to do in my free time, like blogging, have had to take a {very} back seat. And, oh yeah, among all that we moved to a new state. It’s been madness.

But!

I’m determined to catch up. To tell you all about birthdays and family trips and finally having Joe in Wyoming with me and all the books that kept me company while we were apart. There’s so much. But, let’s take it back almost 10 weeks ago, when the summer was fresh and my energy level was twice what it is now. When our address still read Utah, but not for long.

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We started packing about three weeks before our move, which is roughly 3 weeks later than any other move I’ve done. May was full of Miami and Tampa and friends/visitors and anniversaries. So much happy, it somehow seemed blasphemous to cloud up the fun with cardboard and tape. But when we started, there was no looking back. Thank goodness for garages to keep the growing number of boxes out of sight. This was early on in the game, when there was still room to move.

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Packing makes me feel like a total mess. Even though we kondo’d our stuff, there were still a few surprises, like this Chinese bus ticket from ten years ago found tucked in a necklace box…

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…and our senior pictures, which made me realize how much Joe and I look alike. Do you see it? The eyes, the blue, the non-smiles. Geez.

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Side note: When we were engaged we had no less than five different people ask if we were siblings, the funniest one being the lady who processed our marriage license. ?! We didn’t see it then, but I’m seeing it now in these pics. 

Since this move was relatively easy compared to our last two in terms of distance, we decided to do it ourselves with Joe driving the truck. I wasn’t convinced everything could fit into a 22-foot truck, so we went with the 26-er. When we went to pick it up, Joe warned me it was going to be big and to “not lose your crap” when I saw it. I’m glad he gave me the disclaimer, because I did have an internal mini freak-out, followed by immediate prayers that he’d be okay behind its wheel.

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We loaded it up the day before we left with the help of two “professional” movers which ended up being a guy and his 80-pound girlfriend in strappy sandals that managed to move our ginormous wooden music case. Color me impressed.

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The rest of the boxes we loaded with Jason. This was at the very end. Totally didn’t need the 26-foot truck. #oops!

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The next day it was Wyoming, or bust. We couldn’t have done this without our very good friend, Ben, who joined the caravan in Joe’s car so I could drive mine with Bella. Who, by the way, is the laziest co-pilot ever.

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It took us around seven hours, I think, and once we did arrive it was time to unload it all again.

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Every other move I’ve done has had a nice two-week window between when we packed up our stuff to when it arrived. Just enough time to forget about the hell it was to pack everything and to make it feel like Christmas when you open each box.

Not the case when you pack everything for weeks and your only day spent not packing is the day you’re driving and then, surprise, you’re unpacking items that night. UNCLE!

Speaking of that night…we took a break to grab some dinner and managed to lock ourselves out of the house thanks to me wanting to try locking the screen on the front door. Cue us having to break into our own new home and our neighbors catching us. Oh, hi, nice to meet you. Yes, we’re breaking into the house we just moved into. I promise we’re normal.

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Joe managed to get the garage door open and then made me swear on Bella’s paw that I’d never lock the screen again.

The next day we piled back in our caravan to return the rental truck in Cheyenne, which is about 45 minutes away. This time I got to ride with Joe and see what it was like spinnin’ the big rigs.

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I’m amazed at how well he handled it, but ohmygosh were we so excited to dump that baby and be done. This might be my very favorite picture and perfectly captures our joy.

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We. did. it.

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On the way back we stopped to say hi to Abe and then collapsed from exhaustion.

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Joe and Ben had to leave later that day to get back to Utah, beginning our summer apart. I wish I could tell you that I put on my brave face and tackled the staggering number of boxes with grace and determination, but mostly I just sat on the couch and watched Netflix. I couldn’t bring myself to touch the boxes I had just, JUST, sealed with tape. It was far from easy to make this move and stay behind to set up house while Joe went back to Utah for his festival, but I know why we had to do it. And now we’re here, building our new home, learning how to deal with temperatures in the 30s in August and so happy to not be handling cardboard.

Upcoming posts in my quest to catch up: Everything I did to avoid unpacking, a musical week in Utah, a killer birthday cake baked at 7200 feet, a family-filled adventure in Colorado and an interview with my favorite third grader. Let’s do this.

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# the last of Logan

I cannot believe we’re halfway through July. That a month from now will bring band camp and, shortly after, school starting and a new season at NWS. This summer has been a blur of cardboard, asphalt and stress. That’s why this post is a nice reminder that before we moved, there were four great weeks in Logan with friends and family. Here’s the rundown of mid-May to mid-June:

# Rachel graduated from high school

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Thanks to modern technology, I watched in real time as she crossed that stage, all smiles.

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# I loaded up on Tallis Time

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We are all so smitten with this little guy.

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Chris and Chilali took me to Pocatello on one of their Cosco runs. It was a gorgeous day and drive, with a very special stop at the Pepperidge Farm outlet. Tallis, meet Goldfish.

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Chris, who won’t touch my homemade ice cream or any other, seems to be infatuated with Cosco soft serve with berries. Here he is trying to sell me on it….not working.

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On the way back, I took every opportunity to make fun of his geriatric sun glasses as revenge.

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Yeah, we have *no* fun together.

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I also combined my ice cream and Tallis time on Memorial Day…

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…and it wouldn’t be a real goodbye without a final trip to Charlie’s, our local hangout spot, the day before we left….

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…and a visit to Logan’s new ice cream shop BJ BUCKETS, where we mainly just went to laugh over the name and see what Tallis would look like with his dad’s hair.

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# Date Nights for days

Joe and I hit up all of our favorite spots one last time and I insisted on documenting my view for each. Clockwise from top left: Elements, Herm’s, Even Stephens and Paco’s.

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# Girl’s Week with Pammie

But the best part of the month was having my Aunt Pam visit while Joe was out of town.

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We had a total blast and laughed entirely too hard. When we weren’t laughing, we sampled great eats at Caputo’s…

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…saw all of the {LDS} sites…

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…ate all the crepes…

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…and made Jeni’s Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World and tried our best to keep it off the walls. It was RIDICULOUSLY delicious. One of the best chocolates I’ve ever had.

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This was a fast month and filled with way too many goodbyes, but I’m so thankful for my friends and family for giving me so many bright moments and memories. And ice cream.

# sixth anniversary : easy candy bar tart

Remember me? I’m so behind thanks to work, packing, almost taking my entire knuckle off with a cheese grater and, oh yeah, sheer exhaustion. But I’m determined to catch you up on our trip to Florida, this blog’s third anniversary and all the other latest and greatest from Utah. Moving day is in less than two weeks, so let’s get crackin’….

Joe and I celebrated anniversary #6 two weeks ago with a day of fun and Utah-bucket-list check marks. It was a rainy, dreary day, but we piled in the car and headed to Utah’s most famous doughnut shop: Banbury Cross in SLC. By the time we got there the line was still out the door (in the rain), so we figured that was promising.

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I, of course, chose sprinkle…

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and Joe tried a chocolate cake with icing.

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They were fine–not as good as Daylight or Spudnuts, but that didn’t stop us from digging in! We shopped around some of our favorite places before checking out our main reason for driving 3-hours round trip: Chedda Burger.

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Joe had found the former food truck on Yelp. One look at their “Kill Me Softly” burger and he was sold.

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That would be a beef patty with bleu cheese, bacon, arugula and cranberry sauce on a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

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That’s Joe fainting..or his heart exploding…either one.

The best part was definitely the cheddar tots that Joe had with his burger. I could have eaten them all day, especially their cilantro chipotle dipping sauce.

I went for the “modest” Hipster: veggie patty, brie, roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula and hummus. Wowza.

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Then, to top it off…or make matters worse, we split their Urban Camp Fire milkshake — ice cream, toasted marshmallow, fudge, peanut butter and graham crackers. It was also magical.

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But WAIT! THERE’S MORE! {food}

Sixth anniversaries are marked as either the candy anniversary by traditional standards and the wood anniversary by modern lists. I really wanted to use this to create a fun anniversary dinner at home for Joe. Candy I could do…but wood? I wracked my brain before Joe came up with the perfect solution: Risotto. What do you need to make risotto? A wooden spoon.

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So we stood over the stove to coax out those incredible starches together with that wooden spoon and a bottle of wine. Totally my love language.

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Joe paired his roasted sweet potato risotto with a steak, which was heavily guarded by Bella until it went on the fire.

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But, the dessert! I knew the “candy” theme would win, but I didn’t estimate by this much. I made Baked’s (those Brooklyn boys I love) Easy Candy Bar Tart — a no-bake miracle.

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Especially when paired with our sweet anniversary forks from the Z’s.

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The tart starts with a simple oreo cookie crust, but then you top it with homemade caramel mixed with slightly over-toasted walnuts. Get ’em as smoky as you can without burning them.

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Then topped with chocolate glaze…it truly lived up to their description of it as a “gigantic, chewy candy bar.”

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This would be a perfect don’t-you-dare-turn-the-oven-on summer dessert!

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Easy Candy Bar Tart

Source: Baked Elements

Chocolate Cookie Crust:

30 oreo cookies
1 Tbs. water
3 oz. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Caramel Walnut Filling:

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 oz. (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. fleur de sel
2 c. walnuts, toasted at 300-degrees for 12-15 minutes

Chocolate Glaze:

4 oz. good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened
1 tsp. light corn syrup

Toast walnuts and set aside to cool. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse the cookies into a very fine powder. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. Place the crumbs in a medium bowl and stir in sugar. Pour the butter over the crumb mixture and mix until well combined. It should feel wet.

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and press into the bottom and up the sides using a large measuring cup. Put it in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

****

In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and 1/4 c. water. Stir the mixture gently so you don’t splash any on the sides of the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, and, without stirring, allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich amber color, remove it from the heat and slowly stream in cream.

After the mixture stops bubbling, return the pan to very low heat and whisk in the butter. Continue whisking gently until the caramel is uniform and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and fleur de sel.

Remove pan from heat and stir in walnuts. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and chill for at least an hour.

****

Place chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the bowl of a double boiler over medium heat. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until everything is combined and smooth. Remove the bowl from the water and stir to release excess heat.

Pour the glaze over the tar and use an offset spatula to smooth to edges. Refrigerate for 1 hour to set glaze before slicing and serving. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Or share with friends, like we did, and you’ll have no leftovers. Just really happy friends.)

# utah littles, part 3

Our last full day started with a kind invitation from our friends to let Lily meet their new endangered desert tortoise, Rose.

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Rose likes to eat dandelions and strawberries.

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I like to eat at Herm’s, so that’s where we took them next!

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With pumpkin pancakes and sandwiches around the table, there were a lot of smiles, but I especially love these smiles.

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We rested a bit at home with some books before our next excursion: hiking.

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Insert all of the heart-eyed emojis here.

Since Wind Caves were a little out of Lily and Linc’s league, we opted for the pretty Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

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We had the place to ourselves, which was great for Linc who wanted to run and run and run and run and run.

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Always making sure his Mikey Joe was right with him.

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Seriously, it was the cutest.

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This sign is about where I decided we should head back. *ah, look at the time..*

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And poor Linc ran until he couldn’t…so he ran into Mikey Joe’s arms.

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Oh, my heart!

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Before our last bed time together, I had one last surprise. If you have kids in your life or are a kid yourself, you might want to check out Bean Boozled. It’s a jelly bean game that Sean told us about where you have to eat a certain color at the same time as everyone else, not knowing if it’s a real flavor or a disgusting one.

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It. Was. Hilarious. In the online album, there’s a video of us eating Skunk Spray v. Licorice. It’s worth a watch.

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The next day we said some tearful goodbyes. Namely Linc when Joe left for work. (I get it. I, too, look like this when Joe leaves.)

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Group hug!

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Having them here was definitely one of the highlights of our entire year. It’s a rare treat to have them all to ourselves and we loved every single action-packed minute. Stay tuned tomorrow for a special Friday Five recap of the trip by Lily.

# utah littles, part 2

Before they got to Utah I had asked Lily if she wanted to bake with me while she was here. She said yes and we decided on Judy Doughnuts—a family favorite.

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All. The. Sprinkles.

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I love being in the kitchen with her. It reminds me of SO MANY wonderful times I spent with my Aunt Pam in the kitchen.

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Especially when we get to lick the bowl or try the treats first. (If ever there was a time to have matching jammies, it’s now. I want them.)

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Linc dubbed them a total success, and so did Bella, who kept a vigilant watch over him.

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Our big Saturday adventure was a fall festival just south of town.

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There were lots of attractions to check out, but Joe quickly solidified himself as the Cool Uncle by showing Lily how to throw a Tomahawk and shoot a gun. *shake my head*

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The real reason I wanted to visit was to do their huge Corn Maze with the group.

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Linc was lovin’ it. This is his best Nell impression. “Tweeees in the wind…”

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Childress of the Corn.

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Turns out, a corn maze with a stroller isn’t too fun, so Joe and I took Lily on our own.

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Annnnd we used a map this time so we weren’t aimlessly wandering around the same section.

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It didn’t take us too long to find the middle.

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We did it!

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Wouldn’t be a proper farm visit without saying hello to my other favorite littles…the goats!

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Later that day we took them up to USU to see where Joe works. They were pretty excited! I especially love the Star Wars outfits.

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Lincoln and Lincoln. So meta.

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We explained the importance of the A…

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…mainly so Linc could be a True Aggie with me.

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That night was Lily’s slumber party, so we did nails…

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…she did my hair…

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…she and Mikey Joe read about Star Wars…

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…and Joe got bumped so she could sleep in our room, where we stayed up and giggled about boys read.

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The perfect ending to a perfect day!

# utah littles, part 1

I’m catching up this week by blogging about some of my very favorite visitors yet. Joe and I had some serious quality family time when my sister brought her family out to visit last month. We were busy while they were here, so I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

For the full album of our adventures, click here.

Upon their arrival, we celebrated my birthday with dinner at Olive Garden (where I had lettuce in my hair) and a homemade skillet cookie cake that Lily helped me make. Baking with her is all the thumbs up.

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It turned out perfectly—chewy on the outside, and warm and gooey on the inside.

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Lily and Linc helped me with gifts.

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And “Mikey Joe” helped with homework before they called it a night. Quite a long day for them!

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The next day was our Explore Salt Lake City day! First up: the aquarium.

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This is where Linc’s infatuation with his Mikey Joe burst onto the scene. Lily’s always loved him and I was loving him even more watching him with these precious babes.

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Booh surprised us all with tickets to the Penguin Encounter! We were pretty excited.

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We got to put on heavy coats, crocs and gloves so we wouldn’t spend the rest of our day smelling of fish.

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Lots of penguin pictures in the online album. Most were molting, so they weren’t very hungry, but they sure were cute.

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They really gravitated to Tim.

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Molting does not look like fun.

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But being around those penguins was the most fun.

Other aquarium highlights included the shark tunnel…

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…and watching the otters swim and play.

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My highlight was when Linc wanted to hold my hand from the stroller. There was a lot of heart melting going on during this trip.

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That night we stayed in Salt Lake City for the Young House Love—my favorite former bloggers—Book Signing.

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Booh had the great idea to do our family’s “intentionally-closed-eye pic” and it snagged us a spot on their site and Facebook page. We’re basically famous.

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The only thing that could make the day better was snuggling with Bella when we got home. Mission accomplished.

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Parts 2 and 3 coming right up!

# 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?