Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies--2011

Here I am, looking the part of a seasoned baker...
Don't let the apron and look of intesity fool you!

 I stink at cutouts!
They never turn out like my mom's!

The kids were good helpers and we managed to get about a dozen or so cookies out of the batch... 

The final product!

Friday, June 3, 2011


I know most people could give a rat's rear about seeing pictures of well,-- rats!
But I am so smitten with them that I can hardly resist another minute of not blogging about their cuteness.

Meet Roxy.
She is our newest rat addition.
She's a double rex dumbo rat (are you salivating, Jesse?) I was thinking about you when we had the opportunity to adopt her. Didn't you say the next time you got a rat, it would be a dumbo rex?
She's rather homely, but in a cute sort of way...The lack of fur on the top half of her body gives her an almost newborn kitten appearance.

They love to hide in our hair...
Pepper is the little dumbo rat on the left and peeking out on the right is Roxy.

Peanut is our original rat. She loves hanging out on shoulders. Her sister died recently and we decided to find new playmates for her, which is why we have the other two. Brian wants nothing to do with this menagerie of animals that we have acquired...Look at all of the cuteness he's missing out on!

Rats are clean, intelligent, social, funny, loyal and just downright great pets to have. Once you get past being squeamish about the long tail, they are pretty much perfect in every way! They're like miniature dogs!

How could anyone resist this? Seriously! Kelly, I think you would even agree that this is too cute for words! No? Have I convinced anyone else out there?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Women's Conference recap

I had the opportunity at the end of April to attend Women's Conference in Provo, Utah. 

The added bonus was that I got to stay with Heather and in her beautiful house! (which will soon have a small flock of smiling sheep!)

Jen Pond and I flew out on the same flight which was a nice way to kick off the week...

(she also stayed with Heather...)

I got the royal treatment! Look what Heather had waiting for me when I arrived! I should have taken a picture of the fabulous tub I got to take a bath in each night! Talk about luxury!

The next day, I got the grand tour around town. And lucky for me, I finally got to see what all of the hoopla was about with a Cafe Rio salad. Definitely worth the wait! It was delicious!--

--As was the seafood dinner that Heather treated me to at Market Street Grill later that evening.

I look a little glazed over. I think it's from the lack of humidity. My body isn't used to comfortable weather.

It was so nice to be together again. This past year, since she has moved to Utah, has been difficult on us both...

The next day was the first day of the conference. Although our seats weren't the best for the opening session, it was still pretty awesome to be a part of such an event...

After the opening session, we were able to attend other classes on various subjects...

photo by Jill Stuart

photo by Jill Stuart

photo by Jill Stuart

Jen's daughter, Megan, goes to school at BYU so she was able to attend th conference with us.

Look how close we got to sit to Julie Beck?!

I think I got my pictures out of order but oh well...

photo by Jill Stuart

While browsing around in the bookstore, I was utterly blown away when I heard someone say, "Shannon Monson!"....I looked up and low and behold, it was Jill, my blogger/pen pal/friend who I've never actually met in person but feel like I've always known. I even have dreams that she comes to PA for a visit and we do all sorts of fun stuff together. I feel like I've played the scenario when we will finally meet over and over in my mind. I'm such a dork...

Here's the perfect picture of me spazzing out with glee...

photo by Jill Stuart

the long awaited photo of the two of us...
I should make that my blog header, right?

photo by Jill Stuart

Silly me thought that wearing my high boots would be a good idea. The weather was suppose to be chilly and I thought boots would be a good choice since they were comfortable to walk in. Little did I know that that day would end up sweltering It felt like I lost 10 pounds off of my knees! (Note: the next day it SNOWED!--what the?!)

I wanted to fold them over, but the size information and brand name was printed on the inner flap. Fortunately, Kristi Cutler, (another cute blog friend and thrift store foody like myself) came up with the genius idea of blackening it out with a sharpee.

Thanks to Kristi, my knees were singing praises to her name for the rest of the day!

We met up with Susan's gang (Michelle, her daughter and Denise her sister as well as Denise's daughters) and decided on a place to go to dinner...

Heather and I rode with Jill and Kristi. On our way to the car, we stopped to take a few pictures...

Jill suggested we take a jumping picture, so here we are getting ready to spring into action...

here it comes...

photo by Jill Stuart

Bingo! (notice the black circle over my lower section?--that's because my dress flew up and my whole underwear situation was exposed to the world) We had some pretty serious laughs over the whole thing. What's even funnier is that we must have jumped about 5 times just hoping for the perfect shot and there was traffic behind us the entire time. Good times.

photo by Jill Stuart
We all met for dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen...

photo by Michelle Olivier

Kristi and I really hit it off...

photo by Michelle Olivier

Kristi, "You mean to tell me that you haven't buried your cat or your pet chicken yet? Are they seriously still in your freezer?"

photo by Jill Stuart

photo by Jill Stuart

Our dinner and conversation was very enjoyable. I could hang out with this group all the time!

After dinner, we went to Down East Basics to do a little clothes shopping and ended up bumping into Wende, Patsy and Kristy. (other blogger friends who I've been dying to meet as well!)

It was such a thrill for me to be able to put voices to their faces...

photo by Jill Stuart

The next day was filled with more classes. I got to go to the class that Stephanie Nielson (nienie dialogues) was speaking at. That was a highlight for me as she is someone who I admire greatly...

I met up with Jill, Kristi, Susan and Michelle at the Marriott Center for the closing talks...

photo by Jill Stuart

One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't get to spend much time with my blogger friends...(Wende, Kristi and Patsy!) I was happy we at least got a picture together before parting. These girls are rockstars in my book! I adore each one of them and have sooooo enjoyed getting to know them through blogging.

It was such a thrill to put voices to the faces and personalities that I've come to know and love.

photo by Jill Stuart

photo by Jill Stuart

There's cute, mucho talented Michelle peeking out from behind Susan...I seriously feel like I should have gotten her autograph! 

On our way home, we experienced a little car trouble and ended up having to have to page the roadside service to come bail us out...

This ended up being a hilarious moment as we found ourselves describing to the hoaky woman on the pager (who at one point actually said "Jimminy Cricket") where we were located. It's a bit of an inside joke as to why we all got so giggly about finding ourselves in the Del Taco parking lot. (We're not in Kansas anymore, folks!)

After about 45 minutes of waiting to have her car traded out, we were punchy but still hanging in there. We ended up going to a mexican restaurant right next to Del Taco and although the outside was divey, the food was fantastic!

It was a great week... one that I will always remember with fond memories...

I left feeling very bouied up and ready to face life's challenges with a new found enthusiasm.

What more can you ask for?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nice day for a-- chartreuse wedding here's the deal...

Once again, I've gotten totally behind on blogging. Life just keeps getting in the way and I never seem to have undivided time with just me and the computer...

There are so many things that I want to document, but I get so overwhelmed and discouraged with the thought of catching up.

So I'm jumping back into the blogasphere...

Here goes--

I recently did the wedding flowers for a girl that got married in our church...Her colors were chartreuse and white. I can't think of a lovelier color palette.

Since she was scheduled to be married in the Washington DC LDS temple on Friday, the bridal party flowers needed to be done early in the week. I picked up the flowers at the wholesaler on Tuesday.

Here's a little sneak peak of part of my kitchen floor mid way into the leaf/stem carnage! This was actually partially cleaned up! I almost forgot to get a picture!

All of the stems of the flowers needed to be cut and placed immediately in water. I borrowed buckets from every neighbor within a mile of my house, I swear!

I cranked my air conditioning to 63 degrees and covered up the window with a quilt to try and make the room as dark and chilly as possible. I needed these babies to last until Saturday!

I had to laugh when Susan came over and asked if I had a space heater. What the?!

"Is that the Total Gym I see in the background?" you ask. "Why, Yes it is...and hasn't been used since the day I bought it." (Sorry to disappoint you, Nick Norris and Christy Brinckley)

On Wednesday evening, Susan and I worked on the wedding party flowers...(which needed to be delivered on Thursday morning as the bride and groom to be and families were driving to DC).

Incorporating rosemary was a request from the bride as it held sentimental value, and Susan and I just adored working with it. The fragrance in the room was heaven!

This was one of the bridesmaids bouquets...

Bridal bouquet...

Although my entire downstairs bedroom was cold and dark and packed with buckets of water and flowers, I decided that I would rearrange my refrigerator to accommodate at least 2 of the bouquets.

I opted to have hand held bouquets because I was concerned with how the hydrangeas would fair. They are very temperamental and don't do well in oasis. Because they would have to withstand the commute to DC and back, I wanted the stems to have access to water at all times. I put them in mason jars filled with water and called it a night.

To my HORROR, when I went to check on the flowers in the morning, the flowers on one side of BOTH bouquets had frozen, and the water had ice crystals in it!!! And as if that wasn't bad enough, the water had wicked up through the stems and bled onto the ribbon! All of which had to be replaced...

Upon seeing this, I panicked and literally felt like I was going to throw up.
Fortunately, Brian hadn't left for work yet and was able to hold the bouquets while I made the adjustments.

The other challenge was keeping the flowers fresh until Saturday, when the reception was taking place.

On Saturday morning, Brian helped me load everything into my trunk and it was onto the reception hall...

One of my favorite elements was the use of the tiny cabbages. They were very hardy and added an interesting touch.

The head table had a large arrangement in the middle and was surrounded by smaller little vases of coordinating flowers. Notice the rosemary was continued in the well as golden oregano and lemon balm.

I needed some additional fillers, so I used spirea cuttings (which is a common landscaping shrub). Look how that color just pops!

The collection of flowers made for a nice take home treat for the wedding guests. The containers were inexpensive, as we purchased them from thrift stores. It was a big success!