If he weren't my Dad, I'd want him to be

I can't imagine a summer in my childhood without a night spent star-or-moon-gazing in my Dad's telescope. We grew up going camping, snow-skiing, rock climbing, horse riding, hiking, traveling, swimming and singing due in large part because of my Dad's love of adventure, the outdoors and because he is the Renaissance man. He built the Okeedokee corral from the ground up and even made a wooden sign, naming it, to hang under it's tin roof. He always buys in bulk so he has plenty to give to friends and neighbors. I have so many memories of driving around, Dad at the wheel, delivering plates of cookies, cinnamon rolls, honey-baked hams, books tied in Christmas bows, and candy, among other things. I am thinking of him today as he celebrates his birthday. I hope he's getting lots of TLC and homemade cake.
Happy Birthday, Dad!


Simple Serendipity Giveaway

My friend Sara just opened her Etsy shop, Simple Serendipity. It is eye candy.

Everything in her shop is $5 or less (I bought these green earrings here and I LOVE them!)

So today she's offered to give away an item in her shop to Life at the Chicken Coop readers. To enter the giveaway, just go to her shop here, pick your favorite item, then comment on my blog which one is your favorite and why. The winner will be drawn Wednesday morning at 9 AM EST.
Happy Commenting!


Alternative Folk Pop at it's Finest

My sister Emily did the artwork and backup vocals recently for Brian Andelin's album, Stars of Leo.

This guy is talented. I heard him and Emily perform at a show in Provo, UT in February and it really hit the spot, in a folksy-rockabilly-catchy-smart way.

Read about it.

Listen to it.

(You can thank me later)


She Just Keeps Getting Better

Today Whitney, the oldest of 7 and the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family, celebrates her birthday (although I'm not sure how much you can really celebrate when you're sick with a head cold). But, nonetheless, I wanted to send well wishes her way today.

When Whitney graduated from high school, the Senior class voted her "Most Likely to be a Millionaire." She was also Prom Queen. She excelled at basketball, journalism (the school newspaper's Editor, no less) and kissing the exchange students (hahaha...just kidding, kind of). She is still a talented writer (just check out her blog), has a keen eye for detail, and is an inspiring Mom of two sweet and smart kids. She married well and if there's one table I'd like to be sitting at come Sunday afternoon, it's hers. She can put out a spread like no other.
Happy Birthday, Whitney! I wish you the best year so far!


Settling In

{new door: Spring 2008}

{my Lil' Luce with binky: Spring 2008}

{Finn the builder: Spring 2008}
And I consecrate this land unto them for a little season, until I, the Lord, shall provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence; And the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn unto them for their good.
Doctrine and Covenants 51: 16-17 (emphasis added)
I seem to have caught a case of the "what's-in-store-for-me-ahead" anxiousness. For about a week now, I haven't been able to be still. My mind is constantly churning, looking for the next project, the next move, the next big thing. And with Spring peeking her head around the corner, I get a little antsy this time of year. Alot of our friends are moving on in their careers, their schooling; they are relocating. I can't help but wish I were in their position. Why? I still haven't figured that out. But, waking tired and slogging through the Monday morning chores, my mind settled on a solution to my restlessness. The words I had read several weeks earlier (which I have been knawing on ever since I read them, they were so applicable to me), came back to me and I felt I needed to settle in and "act upon this land as for years." Though that wasn't the feeling I wanted to embrace, it was the right one. So, I will continue to raise my babies in this land of the Ohio. I will make jam, change diapers, cook meals, even help sew the costumes for the summer pageant. I will mow the grass on land I don't own, and fashion window coverings on windows I pay rent to look through. I will say hi to neighbors watering their yards, as I pass by pushing my double stroller, and suppress my jealousy that they are watering plants on their own soil, their property.
Until you make peace with who you are, you will never be content with what you have.
Doris Mortman


Finding My Way Through the Years
(Homecoming 1996: my first school dance)
I am having a hard time deciding what to save as I sort through the years of school papers, pictures, report cards, and all sorts of random things. (I mean, am I really going to be glad I saved the program from a grade school piano recital?) Any tips or helpful suggestions you have would be much appreciated. I just need some guidance. I don't want to hold onto stuff that I really won't appreciate in 30 years.


Can't Help It
I dug up an old box of pictures in the basement last night and after looking through some of them, I am grinning at these ones. They're of Travis as a missionary in England and Wales almost ten years ago. He was so handsome. He was having a tart-eating contest in the second one. Isn't that a great shot? These are making my day.


My New Favorite Carrot Cake

I hadn't made carrot cake in a long time and I got a craving for some Sunday. If you want a very moist, flavorful carrot cake, look no further. Just go here for the recipe. Leave it to those Southerners...
(I didn't make the buttermilk glaze, just the cake and the frosting....still so good)


Simple Pleasures are the Best

Today I am thankful for these simple pleasures:
  • eating a piece of homemade carrot cake by myself while getting my daily Googlereader fix and Miles and Lucy nap
  • watching Finn and Lucy construct a marble run and play with it for a solid hour this morning
  • pulling off the small window hardware in all the upstairs windows that I had put off since we moved here (years of old window treatment hooks and screws)
  • patching my living room wall where I made a sizeable hole while hanging my curtains a few years ago
  • caulking the front door (which I'd put off for two years)
  • open windows letting in rainy cool air
  • a clean kitchen
  • the sound of clean clothes in the dryer, twirling and tumbling in the basement below me


Relief Society Birthday Dinner 2010

We went with the official Relief Society colors of yellow and blue and tried to go for a whimsical, Springy theme. We assembled the dinners in lunch bags and had everything on the tables when the guests got there, which makes for easy eating (no serving!), clean-up and just an all-around more simple approach. When the dinner began, I had nothing to worry about, and I could enjoy the meal and conversation.

I made the centerpieces out of homemade suckers on wooden skewers. They were practically free to make. The skewers are stuck in rock salt, which is such a cool trick I saw online. It beats foam and hot glue hands down, and it's so easy to clean up too.

I gave a couple ladies disposable containers for salad and condiments and I was so excited to see what they came up with to put inside the lunch bags.

The menu:

Thai peanut noodle salad

Turkey and provolone sandwiches on country wheat bread

Cranberry dijon spread

Pesto mayonnaise spread

Vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting

It was such a fun evening and it reminded me of how fortunate I am to belong to this amazing group of women. Happy Birthday Relief Society!


Peeking In

We had plans to take the whole family swimming on Saturday, and I took this photo at 7:30 that morning. Finn was not only excited, he was prepared with suit and floaties to jump into the pool at a moment's notice. He didn't even take them off to play Legos.

Tonight's dinner: Miles had spaghetti coming in by hand and spork. Here he is multi-tasking with the grab and shovel technique, with no thought as to his facial cleanliness (or the floor's, I might add).

The leftover breadcrusts, after the first dinner finishers had made their way up to the bathtub. I took my sweet time, enjoying every bite of my plate of food, enjoying the silence of an empty table almost as much as the meal. (I remember my Mom always being the last to finish her dinner, often sitting at the dining table eating, long after we'd finished and cleared our plates. She seemed to savor that time, and the chance to eat in quiet. I now know her little secret. It's all about enjoying the calm after the storm).


She's Got the Sparkle

Literally. This girl is always on the lookout for "bling" if you know what I mean. This princess backpack (which clanks with small metal pans and an assortment of dishware and plasticware) is her constant companion, along with a pair of frilly, sparkly, or in any way over-the-top pair of shoes. (Tonight, as we were leaving our weekly financial class held at our friend's home, she was holding a pair of tween-sized metallic sandals behind her back, which she'd taken from the daughter's room, trying to sneak them home with her). Now you know I'm not kidding when I say I have to sleep with one eye open on Lucy's behalf.

She only stops to let her mom fix her dollar store earring. And she's back in the game. Ready to sing, talk on her sherbet pink cell phone, don princess garb, and prepare endless meals served on plastic pastel plates and Ikea children's ceramics. Ahh, the fascinating life of a 3-year-old. (And, yes, that is Finn's orange t-shirt underneath her blue princess dress. Her dad must have dressed her. He thinks it's funny. The other night he dressed Miles in Lucy's purple butterfly pajamas. I always protest, but somehow I end up laughing so hard that I lose.)


Holy Toledo!
These are good. (I know I've done alot of posting about food lately, but come on, what do you expect? It's winter, and because of my current state, I have a love/hate relationship with food). So, if you want to know how to make these really easy, really tasty donuts, here's how: Pop open a can of refridgerator biscuits, take a medicine cup and punch holes in each biscuit, drop in 375 degree oil, flip, place on paper towels, then glaze and let drip on a drying rack. For the glaze, I used powdered sugar, milk and a little vanilla.
These were seriously so easy and so good!


He's Done It

At 16 months, my Number Three has decided he only wants to eat with a utensil and feed himself. (I'm having a little bit of a hard time with this because this means messes, and lots of messes). But, in his defense, he's actually pretty good at feeding himself. And don't even try to spoon anything into his mouth. You'll get a big, fat "Nah" straight from the horse's mouth and a hand-shove to whatever you're trying to give him. He means business (even if he does wear an Alaskan flannel bear bib).


Snow Day

When school is cancelled due to snow, we spend the morning:

singing Princess songs while donning several layers of ballerina and Princess attire,

Taking out-of-focus photos,

Toddling around in pursuit of nabbing older siblings' stuff (thus making them really mad),

And twirling while singing and pretending to be a real princess.