Conquering Mt. Garfield

Mt. Garfield

Right now is the perfect time for hiking around here.  As soon as it warms up, it is too hot and the only good hiking is up in the mountains.  We are trying to fit in as much as we can this spring and over the weekend, we took the older kids and my niece for a hike to the top of Mt. Garfield. Mt. Garfield is a landmark in our area as it is the most prominent peak in the Book Cliff Mtn Range. This is a hard hike! The hike is about 4.5 miles round trip and the climb is 1900 feet up. Most of the hike is straight up the mountain!  The scenery isn’t too amazing, it is very rocky and deserty {yeah, deserty 😉 } and it is hard to look around too much because you have to constantly watch to see where you should put your feet.  BUT once you reach the top, you have an amazing view of the entire Grand Valley.

Here are a few pics from the way up:

kids part way up

The kids taking a break part way up.

Kirsten's Lion King rock art photo

Kirsten’s rock art work. It is supposed to be Rafiki’s drawing of Simba. Not too bad!

family on top of Mt. Garfield Vaeh and Kirsten The girls Mike and Brenda on top of Mt. Garfield

We finally made it to the top!  Last year when we hiked up here, my friend and I joked about how we should have brought some wine to enjoy while admiring the spectacular view. So this year, in honor of her, I brought a small baby food jar of wine and a piece of cheese. Mike and I only has a small sip each but it was pretty awesome!

Wine on top of t. Garfield Cheese and Wine


How is the weather where you are at? Is it hiking season yet?


It’s a lot of work!

What my Friday afternoons before a movie night usually look like… Today I am working on “Olaf Snowman Cookies”, “Anna’s Frozen Hearts”, and “Kristof’s Ice Punch” for our Frozen family movie night tonight!


The Night Circus Gifts and Printables

My pick for book club this month was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I LOVED this book! And by loved, I mean I obsessed about it, thought about it and just completely fell in love with the story, the atmosphere and everything about this book!

We usually just meet for dinner and discussion but this book gave me so many creative ideas and I decided to put together some small goodie bags for our book club meeting.


I  included a CD, a bookmark, caramel popcorn and a “fortune teller” (ps. free printables at the bottom of this post!)

For the CD, I found this post by the author Erin Morgenstern about the soundtrack she envisioned for the book and made CDs with the songs she listed.

They ended up looking like this:

Here is the song list:
A Seated Night by Moby
Prelude & Rooftops by Bernard Herrmann
Aria by Delerium
White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes
Favorite Cities by Azure Ray
Cataracts by Andre Bird
All I Need by Radiohead
Behold! The Night Mare by Smashing Pumpkins
Sister Janet by Tori Amos
Lonely Ghosts by O+S
Signs by Bloc Party
Cosmic Love by Florence & the Machine
The Trapeze Swinger by Iron & Wine


I made the bookmarks by finding some awesome Night Circus artwork and using my favorite quote from the book:

“Stories have changed… There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue.  Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case”.



And found this super pretty/awesome fortune teller and inserted my own answers:


For the front of the bags I used this graphic from Luis Beltran:


It reminded me of the quote from the book:
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

but instead chose to write these words from the book:
“Opens at Midnight. Closes at Dawn”

Just going back through this reignites my desire to have a midnight dinner party! Or, I am not big on theme weddings but I think a Night Circus themed reception would be absolutely stunning!!!

If you haven’t read this amazing book yet, I highly recommend it!

Here are some free prinables if you are having your own Night Circus party or just want them for yourself. 😉 Just click on the link for the pdf.

Bookmarks and Fortune Teller:

The Night Circus Bookmarks   fortune teller


CD Covers and Label:

Night Circus CD Front and Back   Night Circus CD Label


BWBC 2013 Reading List

BWBC 2013 Reading List -


We read a lot of very good books this year! My two favorites, and the club’s favorites also, were Shadow of the Wind and The Night Circus. Both were SO good! Not only did we rate them high, we couldn’t quit talking about them!

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zaffron rated 8.71/10
Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck rated 8.12/10
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho rated 6.6/10
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley rated 6.35/10
The Dinner by Herman Koch rated 7.33/10
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern rated 8.75/10
Madam Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution rated 8.23/10
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple rated 8.08/10
When will there be Good News? by Kate Atkinson rated 7/10

5 thoughtful and inexpensive anniversary gift ideas

Mike and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary yesterday!  As we were eating dinner last night he said, “It seems like we have always been married but also that we were dating just a year or two ago”.  Isn’t it funny how your brain does that?  I think it’s because when you are super close to someone you feel them in every part of your life but time in general just goes so fast and the years can easily fly by. Especially when you are having fun!

One of my favorite quotes for Mike and I is from Game of Thrones (shocker, right? ha ha).  It isn’t sappy or super deep but it is simple and true. Ygritte says to Jon Snow: “You’re mine and I’m yours. And if we die, we die, but first we’ll live.”  It reminds that life is ultimately short and unpredictable and so we need to really live. We need to have fun, go on adventures, spend quality time together, talk to each other, and laugh.

I was thinking of all our “living” we have done over the past 8 years and decided to make him this fun video using flipagram showing some of our best moments. I used the song “Love Don’t Die” by The Fray which I am totally in love with right now and I think has great words.

He loved it! He watched about 10 times last night! And so did I. 🙂  And the greatest thing was that it was free! The other cool thing is that although we are not too big about sappy Facebook love professions, we were able to share it with our family and friends. Many of them have been part of our journey and many were in the video.

5 anniversary gifts

Which led me to think of some other inexpensive but thoughtful gifts that would be great for an anniversary.  Here are my top 5:

1. Flipagram video – make a video of your wedding pictures, of all your adventures, of your favorite moments as a couple, or all of those things combined! Pick the perfect song (you can pick from theirs or use one of your own), customize it, and combine it all together. Then you can share it with your partner publicly or privately.

2. Make a mixed tape – well, maybe not a mixed tape but it is the same idea.  Make a playlist or a CD that they can play in their car, at the office, or whenever they like and think of you. You could include favorite songs from when you were dating, or songs that you feel describes your relationship, or songs from all the concerts you’ve been to. There are a ton of possibilities and all are thoughtful and romantic.

3. Love Quotes – find a quote that you love for your relationship or that you feels describes your partner.  It can be from a book, a song, a movie, the bible, or a historical quote. It can be long and sappy or short and sweet. Use PicMonkey, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher or any other program you like to design a print (or search google images for the quote you like and you can almost always find a pre-made printable). Then print it on your printer or at your favorite print shop and put it in a frame.  One of the great things is that you can make it the perfect size for a special a spot on your wall, their office, night stand, etc. And since it is so in expensive you don’t mind switching it out when a new quote speaks to your soul.

Here are a few quote prints I have in our bedroom (f you click the picture, it will take you to a pdf of these four quotes that you can print out).

Bedroom pic collage

A few of my favorite quotes, besides the ones pictured above are:

“A thousand years go by but love don’t die” – The Fray

“No matter where we go
Or even if we don’t
And even if they try
They’ll never take my body from your side” – The Fray

“I have found the one whom my soul loveth” – Song of Solomon 3:4

“You’re pretty much my most favorite of all time in the history of ever”

“When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew”  – William Shakespeare

Click here for a Pinterest Search that brings up lots of great love quotes.  Many of them already designed and ready to print off.

4. Personalized Card – I am not a huge card person.  They seem like a lot of money, usually with a cheesy message, for something that will get thrown away. One exception to that though, is a card that is very personal.  One of my favorites I’ve seen is a card that says, “I have loved you for ____ days”. Isn’t that sweet? Write a a sweet note inside such as, “and each day I love you more”.  The card alone is enough but it would be extra sweet on a mixed CD. 😉

To make a card like this, go here and enter the important dates and it will calculate how many days that is. Pretty cool right?  I didn’t use our anniversary date, I used the date I knew I loved him and made this cute card using PicMonkey:

loved you for days


5. Personalized Coupon Book – no matter how thoughtful we are, it is really hard to keep up with the special extras. A coupon book offering there favorite “extras” is a great present.  You can print a free book from I Heart Nap Time here with super cute coupons for all the standard items like breakfast in bed or a back massage. And while those are great and appreciated, I think it would be more special and fun to make ones that unique to you and your partner.

It’s funny how life and your priorities change because the things that would be special extras to me now are much different than what I would have liked 5 years ago.  Some of the coupons I would love to get are:

For a night off from cooking dinner (and I don’t mean dominos)

Free from handling bath time – so I can just sit down on the couch and relax and watch whatever I want while some else takes care of getting two adorable little boys, who hate to have their hair washed,  squeaky clean.

One morning where the house is quiet and I can sleep in – without feeling guilty. Of course the guilt part is on me. 😉

One free day, kid free to do anything that I want and come home to a clean house <— oooh, that sounds awesome!

What is it that your partner would enjoy the most? Would he love a day of watching football with no nagging? Would he love to have a guys night? Is there a special meal that he loves and you hate to cook? Whatever it is, make a coupon for that and make him feel loved and special.

Here is a free template (just click on the picture below). I would recommend printing it on cardstock to make them more durable. Then cut them out, write on your coupons and tie a ribbon around them to make a super special, super cheap gift!

Free Printable Anniversary Coupons

All Original Parts Sign – Free Printable!


About a year ago, I had a friend ask me if I could give her some decoration ideas for a 60th birthday party for her father-in-law.  I, of course, happily obliged! I mean, what do I like more than party planning? Besides coffee, probably nothing! The fun thing about this party for me was 1) I knew the honoree (he used to be my boss at my first real job out of college) and 2) I wasn’t actually doing any of the work.  I was just giving her ideas and helping her get the right “feel”.  She was either going to do the work or hire other people to do the work.

To make it a little easier to convey my ideas, I started a Pinterest board (you can see my other ideas here). She used a lot of my ideas and the party turned out great! The two things that she asked me to do were the invitations and the “Made in 1951” sign (except as 1953).


Since then, the “Made in 1951” sign has continued to be popular on Pinterest.  It is one of my pins that gets re-pinned the most! Not a surprise really, it is really cool. 😉  The only super duper bummer is that the link that I pinned it from is gone – it’s completely vanished! I have searched for it, I’ve had Google search it but no luck. 🙁

Since I’ve had so many people asking me for it, I thought I would post the sign that I made.  It isn’t identical but VERY close to the one I originally pinned. Here it is in lots of different years. Just click the one you want and it will open up in a new window without the watermark. If you need it for a year that isn’t below, please let me know in the comments section and I will make it for you. I am also working on one that is editable. My only issue is keeping the font correct, so if you have any ideas on the best way to do that, please let me know.

I hope you enjoy!

1934_logo 1944_with logo 1953_with logojpg 1954_with logo 1955_with logo 1964_with Logo

Our Italia Vacanza! Venice, Part 3: Getting Lost in Venice!

My favorite thing in Venice, well and all of Italy for that matter, was just walking around, watching the people, and taking in the ambiance of such a beautiful, ancient and culture packed place. I read in a few different articles to “just get lost” and that we did – more than once.  With tiny, curvy roads, signs in a foreign language,  and unreliable GPS on our phones, we got to experience many different back streets.  The first night we wondered around it was a little nerve racking but even by just the second night it started to feel very comfortable.  Of course, I am sure it didn’t hurt that I had a strong, handsome man on my arm!

We never took a water taxi – we hoofed it everywhere! And it was awesome! Here are some of my fave pics while we meandered around and just got lost in Venice.

Venice, Italy Venice, Italy Venice, Italy Venice, Italy Venice, Italy


Venice, Italy


Venice, Italy Venice, Italy



Venice, Part 1: Canals and Bridges

Venice, Part 2: Doge’s Palace

Our Italia Vacanza! Venice, Part 2: Doge’s Palace

My favorite museum type building we went to in Venice was the Doge’s Palace. Not only because the building was really interesting but the building (and interior museum) along with self guided tour from *Rick Steve’s book immersed us into the very unique history that Venice has.

Probably my only complaint about Italy is that cameras aren’t allowed in most of the buildings or museums.  There were plenty of people who just ignored the rules but me being a stickler for rules and also always afraid of getting in trouble (especially in a foreign country! Eek!), was only gutsy enough to take a few sneaky pictures.

The Doge (Doge, meaning Duke) lived and ran the government from his palace. And the Palace was designed to impress and show off Venice’s immense wealth. First visitors climbed the Stairway of Giants and then went through the Golden Staircase (the ceiling is gilded in 24-carat gold).

The Stairway of Giants - Doge's Palace, Venice Italy

Golden Staircase, Venice, Itay

Mouth of Truth, Venice

The Mouth of Truth was for complaints and accusations.  Originally, any Venetian could anonymously place their suspicion of someone in the mailbox and the powers that be would take charge.


Chastity belt, Venice, Italy

Remember the couple times I was gutsy enough to sneak a picture?  Well it was for these two interesting devices in the armory museum part of the Doge’s Palace.  Above, is a chastity belt worn by the wife of Francesco da Carrara, Lord of Padua in the 15th Century. Ouch!  And below, another ouchie… a thumbscrew torture device.

Thumb Screw Torture Device


Here are a few more pictures of the outside and courtyard of this amazing building:

DSCN0087a DSCN0086a DSCN0089a DSCN0090a


Up next: Venice, Part 3: Getting lost in Venice

Previously: Venice, Part 1: Canals and Bridges




Our Italia Vacanza! Venice, Part 1: Canals and Bridges

I realized yesterday that it had been one year – to the day! – of when Mike and I started our incredible Italian vacation.  And then I sadly realized that I still hadn’t done anything with the over 800 pictures (yes, 800!) I took while we were there!  Of course at the time, I had grand intentions that involved photo books and a power point presentation to our interested friends and family but like so many things, it got pushed aside. And left there.  Well it seems like the perfect time to start going back through all those pictures and start sharing some of the best ones and our story.  I am not a professional photographer nor am I very good with photo editing software.  Luckily for me, these pictures didn’t need anything – all I really did was crop them and put a frame on them. It wasn’t me or the camera that was amazing, it was Italy.

As many of your know, Mike travels a lot for his work.  As soon as we found out that he would need to travel to Italy, I started figuring out how I could go with him.  Italy had always been one of my dream vacations and I wasn’t about to let it slip by.  Korea, Hong Kong, Columbia, yeah of course I’d love to go with him to those places if it worked out (which it never has) but ITALY?! I was prepared to pack myself in a suitcase if need be. In the end, although he had to do some work most every day, he was able to spend 8 days with me touring the top three destinations (the Trinity as it is often called) Venice, Florence and Rome.

One of the amazing things about Italy is that it is stunningly beautiful.  Everything is beautiful. Old buildings, bridges, fountains, the street (ha ha – no really, I am sort of serious). And now you know how I took over 800 pictures when I wasn’t even allowed to take pictures inside most of the places we went.

The first thing that struck me in Venice is what I think probably strikes everyone. The canals and bridges!


There are no cars in Venice so everybody walks (or bikes) or rides in a boat. One of the reason that Venice is so expensive is because all supplies and groceries have to be brought in by boat.

If you look closely, you can see how the canals have risen and fallen over the centuries and how that has affected the buildings.




IMG_4284a ^ This picture was from out hotel window.


Bridge in Venice, Italy Scalzi Bridge, Venice, Italy Walking over a bridge in Venice, Italy Bridge in Venice, Italy

I did take a picture of the famous Rialto Bridge but it didn’t turn out well, kind of like how I felt about it.  I just didn’t get the hype – it was so crowded that it was hard to walk over it and it was hard to see.

The Bridge of Sighs, on the other hand, completely lived up to it’s hype for me.  It was my favorite bridge and one of my favorite of all sights in Venice.


The Bridge of Sighs connects the Doge’s palace to the prison and it was given it’s name for the condemned men that would be led over this bridge on the way to prison, take one last look at Venice and sigh. Tragic and beautiful.

Next up: Venice, Part 2: Doge’s Palace