Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Merry "Little" Christmas

I can't believe it's taken me so long to post on our happy little blog here. I figured I ought to update everyone on what we've been doing and tell about our "little" Christmas we are having, seeing as we aren't going home to see family this year. But we are a family just the two of us, so it's pretty great! First off, you like our Christmas card? Many of you have probably seen this already, but I'm sharing it here with those we weren't able to send it to so everyone can be wished a Joyeux Noel from the Black family! We were hoping to take a nice picture in front of a palm tree, to be true to the Floridian landscape, but instead we took a picture in front of our pretty live Red Cedar Christmas tree!

Here's a list of a few more things that have been going on with us:
  1. Michael and I have been getting even more settled in here in Tallahassee. We both now have callings in church, which makes us feel more like a part of the ward. Michael is the Assistant Scout Leader for the 11 year old boys. I'm the Assistant Leader for Activity Days (8-11 year old girls). Both groups meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. It's kinda like we're back in the Young Men and Young Women organizations. We're pretty used to leaving mid week for activities with kids at church. This should be fun!
  2. Everybody keeps asking us about the weather here in Tally, so I'll fill you in. We've decided that it's weird to not have snow surrounding Christmas. Even though I grew up in Louisiana, I think I got spoiled with the magic of the white stuff around the Holidays. And not only do we not have snow, but we have rain, humidity, and quite a bit of warm weather. It's actually been cooling down a bit the past week, so we've been appreciating that. Generally, we've been able to walk around in a light jacket or even without this whole time we've lived here. Which, I do have to admit is kinda nice. When I'm out and about for my internship, it's nice to not have to worry about bundling up and stepping in slushiness.
  3. What can I say, this internship thing makes me really BUSY! I spend 40 plus hours each week practicing, learning music, making home visits, documenting (the real time consumer), going to meetings, and driving all across the county to my visits. It's a lot of hard work, and I'm really enjoying it. I sang at my first funeral this week for a patient and I was honored to have been asked to participate even when I'd only met the patient once. I sang 4 hymns and accompanied myself on the guitar. It was a special occasion. People keep asking me how I can do work in Hospice and I have to tell you, it's really an amazing experience. I don't feel like I'm a "special" person or have superpowers that allow me to work with people who are dying, it's just what I do. There is a need for Music Therapy in Hospice, and I am able to provide it. The comfort that I see music give to people and their families is astonishing. I'm the facilitator, which I think is a pretty sweet job!
  4. Michael and I have made some good friends with a couple girls from my internship. Their families are from Pennsylvania and Connecticut, so we're all here in Tally for the holidays. It's just too far for us to go home, so we're having a little "Intern Dunch (Dinner/Lunch)" on Christmas Day. We're also making some good friends at church with 2 couples who both have babies that are about 1 year old. We're excited to spend more time with them as they are both fun. And one of the couples has a baby named Roman who is HUGE. Like 24 lbs. huge! He's the cutest thing ever and Michael and I call him "The Chunk". Michael is super good buddies with him while his father and I are in ward choir practice and Michael gives his mom a little break. 
Other than that, things are going well here and we're looking forward to waking up Christmas morning, opening presents, and having some fun video chats with loved ones. Thank goodness for technology being what it is so we can stay in touch with those we most cherish and miss!

I hope you are all having a Merry Christmas and that you have a Happy New Year! I've tried out many new recipes that I hope to share with all of you soon. Let's hope 2012 allows me a bit more time to devote to this blog and keep everyone updated on our lives and good times.

Love you and Joyeux Noel!

    Sunday, December 04, 2011

    Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine

    This recipe inspiration came from the awesome Sweet Paul. I look forward to their Recipe Mondays like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Everything they do is simple and amazing (even when they're doing crafts and design). The style is beautiful. 

    Mushrooms were on sale yesterday, and the weather was a little cool and damp, so I knew it was perfect timing for me to finally pull out this recipe. Follow it with some hot cocoa, and you have yourself a warm, comforting holiday evening. Here's the skinny.

    Creamy Mushroom Fettuccine
    (adapted from Sweet Paul)

    1 tbs. olive oil
    1/2 small onion, finely diced
    1 1/2 lbs. fresh mushrooms, sliced
    2 cloves of garlic, chopped
    1 tsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 cup chicken stock
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tsp. dill
    1/2 tsp. rosemary
    salt and pepper, to taste
    fettuccine (or vermicelli, spaghetti)

    1. In a medium sized pot, boil some water. Salt the water liberally, then add fettuccine and cook until al dente.
    2. While pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute just until mushrooms start to turn color. 
    3. Add flour and mix until a slight paste forms. Add chicken stock and milk and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and add herbs. Simmer until sauce thickens.
    4. Plate fettuccine on a nice plate and ladle sauce over the noodles. Top with freshly grated parmesan.

    Saturday, December 03, 2011

    O Christmas Tree!

    Last weekend, Michael and I went out and bought our very first LIVE Christmas tree! I looked up Christmas tree farms on the internet and found a couple just down the road from us in Tallahassee. I grew up with a live Christmas tree every single year and so I've missed having one the past couple years of marriage. 

    When I found out that it would be quite cheap to buy one this year, I told Michael we just HAD to do it. So we got in the car and made our way to the Wright Brothers Christmas Tree Farm where we were greeted by kind people who handed us a saw, gloves, and a pole to measure our tree with. We walked around for half an hour and ended up returning to the very first tree we saw. Michael sawed it down, and it was ours!

    Our tree found the perfect home in front of our large window in the living room. We brought a few select ornaments with us, and I crafted a few more to fill in the empty spaces. I made some bows out of leftover fabric from my recent jewelry hanger project and then made those gold paper ornaments you see. I love how everything turned out! It's simple and cute, and "us". This tree makes our apartment feel so much more festive.

    I'll have to post pictures of the "fireplace" we created for the little mantel we have in our living room. It was Michael's brilliant idea and he was the mastermind and creator behind everything. It's a sight to behold! 

    We're looking forward to Christmas with just the two of us this year. We are surely going to miss our families, but we think it'll be kinda nice to have special time with just us. Most likely, this will be our only year to have a Christmas without family near (or without another member of the family in our house). And no, we're not pregnant. :)

    Hope everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit and enjoying the happy thoughts and feelings this time of year brings. I know we are!

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Thanksgiving and a Facelift

     Michael and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. We went down to spend it with some family on the Edmond side, which is my mother's mother's family. A lot of them I hadn't seen for over a decade, so it was definitely nice to catch up. We ate dinner outside by the beautiful pool, in perfectly comfortable weather. It seems weird to spend Thanksgiving without snow, and it was especially odd to be able to wear flip flops. I guess I've gotten so used to Utah weather, that I can't imagine the holidays otherwise!

    But it was beautiful, and we had a lovely time. We even brought home some really yummy leftovers, which I enjoyed for lunch today. The turkey coma can continue...thank goodness!

     On a separate note, I updated my blog header to Christmas-ify it. I figured it needed a little something to help this blog feel a little more festive. I may change it, as I'm not sure I really love it yet. But, I'll give it a couple days or so, then we'll see. :)

    I hope everyone has had a fantastic time with friends and family this Thanksgiving. There are so many things we have to be grateful for. For good food, a warm and comfortable home and a roof over our heads, for Michael and I being able to move all the way across the country together so I could complete my internship, Michael's job letting him remote while we're here. For always having more than enough to make ends meet each month, for the gospel in our lives, and so many other things. We are truly blessed!

    Stay tuned for a few more blessings (and luxuries) we were able to partake in, today, the day after Thanksgiving! Also, have a wonderful evening and Thanksgiving weekend!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Crispy Butterfinger Cookies

    I love Butterfingers. They have been my absolute favorite candy bar since I can remember. Peanut butter and chocolate were meant to be together. And Butterfingers are the perfect way to combine the two. As Michael and I had a bag of Fun Sizes leftover from Halloween, I decided to experiment with another cookie recipe!

    I chopped up some Butterfingers. Don't you just want to shove your face into that pile right now?

    Then I mixed a basic cookie dough, and added some Cocoa Pebbles (for a crispy effect) and oatmeal. Look how pretty it is when scooped onto a baking sheet! You can tell this is going to be good. 

    The finished product. Chewy, peanut butter-y, crispy, and FANTASTICALLY yummy.

    Michael and I sorta ate all 3 dozen of those cookies within a 2-ish day period. That's how good they are. And that is also an illustration of how pitiful we are when it comes to some good cookies. We just can't help ourselves! I'm sure you will feel the same way when you make these.

    Crispy Butterfinger Cookies
    (adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 tsp. salt

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup granulated sugar

    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1 tsp. vanilla extract

    1 cup old-fashioned oats
    1 1/4 cups Cocoa Pebbles cereal

    1 cup chopped Butterfinger candy bars

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Combine butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy, about two minutes. On low, add in the egg and vanilla extract. Beat until combined.
    3. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix in the flour mixture. Then stir in the oats, cereal, and Butterfinger chunks. Don’t over mix (you don't want to crush the cereal too much). 
    4. Scoop dough into balls, about a tablespoon each, and place on baking sheet. Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown (the centers should still be soft). Allow cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet. Move cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
    Makes 3 dozen cookies

    Saturday, November 05, 2011

    Chunky Snickers Cookies

     Michael and I went grocery shopping and just "happened to notice" that all the Halloween candy was 50% off. Okay, maybe we went grocery shopping with the exact plan to purchase said candy on sale. What can I say, we're suckers. And we never buy candy or keep it in the house any other time of the year. So this was a special occasion!

    I've been reading so many blog posts about what to do with all your leftover Halloween candy, and knew I wanted to do the same thing. This recipe only used up one bag, and there are many more to go through, so expect more candy-filled recipes in the future!

    Now what candy would be perfect in a basic cookie dough recipe? Snickers, of course! I just made my usual cookie dough for chocolate chip cookies, and replaced the chocolate chips with Snickers chunks.  Aren't they beautiful? I had to seriously resist grabbing a chunk after I chopped them all up. But I couldn't let anything go to waste. Every last chunk needed to go in the cookies!

     Oh my. Now I REALLY had to restrain myself here. I may have taken a couple bites at this point in time. Cookie dough plus Snickers...amazing.

     And because I couldn't help myself. And as if Snickers in the actual dough wasn't enough, I topped each cookie with another chunk. You can tell, this is going to be great. 

    And they did not disappoint. The Snickers, with the melted caramel and nougat, made the cookies moist throughout and quite a bit chewy. It was fun to bite into a bit of caramel and have it "string" out of the cookie. The smell from the kitchen was fantastic, and filled with a very peanutty aroma. Which gave me the idea: I should have put peanut butter in the dough. I bet the combo would be even better than my original plan. Oh well, something for next time, or for someone else to try!

    Chunky Snickers Cookies

    1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. salt
    1 stick butter, softened
    1/2 cup shortening
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    2 large eggs
    1 package fun-size Snickers (about 16 bars)

    1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Chop Snickers bars into 8 small chunks per bar (or you can go larger/smaller, if that's what you prefer) and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in Snickers chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

    3. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
    - If you don't have fun-size Snickers, you can use regular size bars. I figure you'd need at least 4-5 of those. 
    - As I mentioned above, adding some peanut butter could be a great flavor combo for this recipe. Maybe consider adding Snickers to your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.
    - If you don't have whole wheat flour, you can use unbleached all-purpose for the full portion of the recipe.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2011

    DIY: Corkboard Jewelry Hanger

     Since moving to Tallahassee, we've been pretty busy and creative here at the Black household. We couldn't bring all our furniture with us, so we've improvised quite a bit to make everything work. This DIY project is a perfect example of what we've been up to.

    I've recently been trying to get back into the accessorizing world, and my mother bought me a bunch of jewelry for my birthday, but I had no cute way to store or display it! I knew I didn't want to buy some jewelry box where everything was hidden, and I knew that we had some extra wall space in our bedroom, so through some inspiration from Pinterest, I set out to find materials to make my own jewelry organizer/hanger.

    I first went to Goodwill, looking for an old frame, which I was planning on filling with square corkboard, then painting. No good frame in sight, I stumbled upon a large circular corkboard, with hanger already built into the back. It was painted some very pre-teen flowery pink and green on the front, so I knew I'd have to cover that up.

    Michael and I then went to Jo-Ann's and found a couple different kinds of fabric remnants, which were on sale for 50% off their original prices. Sweet! I liked the layering of the fabrics because one was a silky teal, and the other was a sheer white with little sequin-type sparkles all over (you can see them in the picture above). Just glitz and glam enough for my jewelry to be displayed well without being taken over by a huge print or anything.

    Here I am working on it that night in the kitchen. I needed the hard tile floor to hammer in all the thumb tacks. Now, I would've used a staple gun if we had one, but seeing as we don't, thumb tacks were the next best thing. And they looked pretty cute once all hammered in. I was kinda sad I couldn't have them on the front. Oh well!

     Hammering process. Didn't take me too long. I trimmed the excess fabric from around the edges, so it wouldn't hang funny and that's it!

    And just so you know, I cleaned the corkboard with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water and allowed it to dry, before starting the crafty part. I wanted to kill any grossness that might be on there, considering you never exactly know where things come from when you get them at Goodwill!

     And the finished product. I used clear push pins to hang all the jewelry, and everything is very secure. I love how it looks like its own piece of artwork!

     Nice bit of bling, huh? With all the materials, this entire project cost me less than $10 to make! I'd say that's a pretty good deal. And I even have leftover fabric for some other crafty project. Not sure what'll come of that...guess we'll have to wait and see. :)

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    The Quest for Tallahassee

     I figure since we've been in Tallahassee almost 1 week, that it is about time I share with you the particulars of our journey here! It was filled with many interesting things, and a few realizations about the midwest and other areas of our country. So buckle up!

    We started our grand journey, or "quest" for Tallahassee early in the morning, two Sundays ago. We were up before the sun even decided to come up! First thing, the car had to be given a little jump from Michael's dad because it was pretty darn cold outside. We've never had a problem with the battery before, but I think the fact that there was frost on the windows had something to do with it. I think Blanche is going to be happy not to freeze in snowy conditions this winter!

    We spent a lot of time sitting on our butts. And staring into the sun. Hence the picture above. I think the craziness was beginning, and only into the first day! We drove 16 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Michael's awesome cousin and her family put us up for the night. I don't think it ever felt so good just to lie down and sleep on something flat. Thank you Keller family! 

    I think this tunnel was actually somewhere in Wyoming. Michael wanted to see if he could hold his breath all the way through, and...he was successful! Story about Wyoming: It really is insanely windy there. We stopped at a grocery store and walking through the huge gusts of wind in the parking lot made us realize that we definitely never want to live there. :)

     Our second day was the long journey through the last little bit of Nebraska, through A LOT of Missouri, a smidgen of Arkansas, and ending with Memphis, Tennessee. Missouri, had a whole lot of nothing, we decided. But, we loved see the Kansas City Temple (still in construction and on the right) and the St. Louis Temple (left) along our drive down the freeway!

     Living in Utah, I definitely missed seeing bridges like this. You can tell that we're further South now. 

    Lovely traffic somewhere in Missouri.

     We stayed the night at the Courtyard Marriott in Memphis. The King Size Bed was amazing. And Michael found us a great deal for only $65/night on Priceline. That hotel room was over twice the price originally. Score!

     Michael setting our course on the GPS as we head out on our last day toward Tallahassee. Thank goodness for that little piece of technology. Saved us on more than one occasion.

    Obligatory morning picture in the car. Notice the USU Aggie flag in the back. It was a great sun-blocker and representation of our Aggie Pride!

    We planned the trip out to decrease by about 2 hours each day, so our last day from Memphis to Tallahassee was only about 10 hours. We were glad when we finally entered Florida. Alabama was very green, but maybe driving diagonally across the state, we missed some of its better parts. We weren't too impressed until we got to Dothan, just on the border. Now that was a pretty town.

     It's kinda hard to tell, but those lights say, "Peace on Earth". Apparently, someone on in Florida was already decorating for Christmas. Made me happy to see that.

    We arrived to our new apartment around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night and our landlord met us there with candles, seeing as we didn't have any utilities set up yet. Tallahassee makes you go in person to turn in the request if you've never had power in the city before. Silly, I tell you. We were without electricity for almost 24 hours, but thankfully the water came on early Wednesday afternoon, so I could clean up to go to a meeting at Big Bend later in the day. 

    We're enjoying getting our place all put together, with the few things we were able to bring with us in that U-haul. But we're comfortable and happy as long as we are together. Our landlord is the nicest lady and we have some nice neighbors. It's definitely an adventure being back in the South. Things are coming back to my mind after being gone for 5 years. I forgot how outgoing people are, and how someone will tell you their whole life story in 5 minutes waiting in line at the store. It's fun.

    P.S. People should come visit us ASAP. We have a nice air mattress waiting for you!

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    My Best Friend's Wedding

     Meet the new Camille Berry, and her husband Justin. I love these two. They are a great couple, and so cute and happy together. Originally, I didn't think I'd be able to go to their wedding because we were scheduled to leave for Tallahassee on the exact day of their wedding. But, I talked to my awesome supervisors at Big Bend Hospice, and they let me postpone my arrival for pre-internship particulars by a couple days. So, we were able to make it to the wedding in the Logan Temple!

    I was so happy, I cried. Course, I always cry at weddings. Michael has to hand me his handkerchief every. single. time. He thinks it's kinda funny and cute. 

     But, you know what, I think that this couple is kinda funny and cute. It makes me so happy that Camille found such a perfect match for herself. Justin is as good as they come. A total goofball, just like Camille, and one of the sweetest guys I've ever met. Score, Camille, score. 

     The duo. We've been best buds ever since my first semester at USU in 2006. I think we bonded over crazy opera rehearsals and lack of sleep. I can't imagine not ever having her as a friend in my life. I've always been so lucky to find best friends wherever I go, and Camille is 1 of the 3 who holds that title in my book. I love her dearly, and miss her so!

    We wrote throughout her entire mission, and are planning on starting that tradition again, for old times sake. Although, we will be able to talk on the phone now, which is an added bonus. That'll help to keep me sane!

    Yep. We're cool. Look at that silliness. By the way, isn't she just a gorgeous bride?

    Congratulations to the new Justin and Camille Berry!

    Pre-Birthday Weekend

     A couple weekends back, before Michael and I moved to Tallahassee, we went down to Midway, to have a little stay in our friend Hunter's parent's vacation home there. It was a little pre-birthday celebration for me with friends, seeing as we were going to be moving away right before the actual date of my birthday. 

    The weekend consisted of hot tubbing, sweating out all our impurities in the sauna, eating unhealthy food (amazing cobbler by Hunter, by the way. I'm still dreaming about that.), watching the new X-Men First Class movie, and of course, a little XBOX dancing action. You can see the proof of our mad dancing skills in all these pictures. 

    I think that Michael and Jen were the best dancers, by far.

     Look at that man of mine. He's so cute. 

    Although, I gave them a run for their money...not. I've always said, I'm a really good "car dancer". Hips and above are great, but once you put my feet into it, that's a different story. ;)

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

     I got a serious craving for chocolate last night. This craving may or may not have come right after dinner when Michael's dad said, "You know, I haven't had any chocolate all day long!" What can I say, I'm gullible. And a sucker for any excuse to bake. 

    This may be a shock, but I had never before baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies until last night. This fall classic had just passed me by each year, and I knew that now was the opportunity to make it happen. So, I researched and found a good recipe I wanted to play with. Thanks to Two Peas and Their Pod, I found the inspiration I needed to bake something wonderful. I loved their recipe for the following reasons: the addition of oatmeal, applesauce, and whole wheat flour as ingredients. Just reading that made me feel healthier!

    These came out wonderfully moist and the perfect fall cookie. A little spice, a little chocolate, and of course, that nostalgic presence of pumpkin. Yummy! A bit of advice I would give is to maybe add a bit more flour, just to ensure the cookies don't fall apart. They are really moist and dense, and could benefit from more flour to make them cake-ier (in my opinion)!

    Oh, and I almost forgot...double or triple the recipe, because they will be gone before you know it. Happy Friday!

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
    (adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

    4 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup applesauce
    3/4 cup pumpkin
    1 egg
    1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. baking powder

    1/2 tsp. baking soda

    1 tsp. cinnamon

    1/4 tsp. nutmeg

    1/4 tsp. allspice

    3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
    1 cup chocolate chips

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until light and soft.

    3. Add in applesauce, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix on medium low speed until all ingredients are mixed well.

    4. In a separate bowl, combine and whisk the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and flours together.
    5. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients, with the mixer on low. Mix until well incorporated.

    6. Add the oats and chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated.
    7. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet and bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes. Remove from oven, cool on a baking rack, and serve with a large glass of milk!
    Makes about 3 dozen small cookies

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Weekend in Logan

     Michael and I visited my mother in Logan this past weekend, considering we technically only have one more of those before we move away to Tallahassee. Michael spent Saturday morning down in Salt Lake working with his dad on the old Jeep. My mother drove down and picked me up early in the morning, then we headed back up to Logan. We, of course, stopped at Target in Centerville, because my mother LOVES Target. I still can't believe there isn't one in Logan yet. That town NEEDS a Target.

    Anyway, she was in search of old Halloween DVDs, which we didn't find. So, we made it back to Logan in time to visit the Gardener's Market. It was cold, damp, and definitely felt like fall. Sadly, the less than perfect weather made many of the booths scarce. But the produce stands were abundant. Look at all the beauty.

      After the Gardener's Market, my mom and I perused some local shops for holiday decor, then went shopping for my birthday! Kohl's had its Power Hours, and so we took advantage and my mother bought me a LOT of jewelry for a really good price. I'm trying to get back into accessorizing. I've never been really big on it, because I always feel like I'd rather buy a shirt than a necklace or earrings for the same price. But we got super lucky and found some really cute stuff.

    Michael eventually came up to Logan and made it to my mom 's house where we had Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup along with a yummy loaf of Asiago Bread we purchased at the Gardener's Market, watched her old Halloween videos (yes, the were actually VHS), decorated around the house, and snuggled Jack (the coolest dachshund in the world).

    It was really nice to just relax on Saturday after a really busy (and somewhat stressful) week. I even got to see my dear friend Natalie! She came over to watch movies, then we stayed up talking and visiting until about 1:30 a.m. Boy, was I tired for 9:00 p.m. church the next morning!

    Church in my mother's ward was nice. She is in the Logan 1st Ward, which just celebrated its 150 year anniversary. The chapel itself was beautiful with old pipes, pews, and sacrament trays that you deposit the used cups in little tube thingy-s on top. It was cool!

    After a nice nap after church, we headed back to Salt Lake, happy from our nice relaxing weekend. It was good to just do some fun things that we wanted to do, and to get a little bit more in the holiday spirit. This is definitely my favorite time of year!