Friday, February 26, 2010

Not sure how to blog lately.

I asked Landon what it is that he wants to see me blog about (is there anything that YOU necessarily want me to blog about, dear reader?). He said that he wants some more serious posts. But I'm just not too serious these days. And a lot of things that would be serious enough are things that I don't necessarily want to expend on this here blog for the whole world to read (including future employers).

On that subject. I'm looking for a new job. It makes me sad because I love my current job. My employer was wonderful enough to let me know that though they were closing out my program, that I would still have the job through June. Amazing that they are giving me six months to find a job.

(photo by deanmeyersnet)

So for the last 2 months I have been doing some very minimal browsing, just trying to get my feelers out - finding good search engines and job sites and also trying to get an idea about what kind of job I would like to do / am qualified for.

With a degree in English literature and 3 1/2 years experience in a non-profit sponsorship program, I know that I have learned some important skills but I do not feel qualified for the majority of jobs out there. I would love to continue to work for a Christian organization. The pay isn't great, but it really is amazing to LOVE my job and feel like I am making a difference in the world! But... Utah is pretty sparse of Christian organizations. Yet I know that jobs in Christian organizations could be unfulfilling just as much as I could actually learn to love and be passionate about a position in a company without any religious affiliation.

I know that wiht our nation in it's present situation it is difficult to find a job. So March is the beginning of some serious looking and applying. I'm thinking it definitely could take me 4 months and I don't want to sit around and twiddle my thumbs and then arrive in July without any income for Landon and I. That would be scary. And stupid considering my employer has been so awesome to give me the heads up.

(photo by chtyson)
What I would really love is to get a job with the US Forest Service. But in order to do that I need a degree in biology or some serious experience, of which I do not have (besides the hundreds of days I've spent enjoying and exploring that national forests!).

(photo by anniebee)
I think the jobs that I best qualify for are probably administrative positions.

(photo by nic's events)
Another job that I would really love is an editing position (not an ediTOR's position) for a publishing company.
I still have a strong desire to be a teacher. But I need to go back to school to get my teaching certificate. And right now I don't really want to have both of us in school.

So I will be putting a resume together and seeing what I can come up with.

What a bummer. Looking for jobs is a little stressful and it's scary to imagine being a member of the 10.5% of America's unemployed. But perhaps, just perhaps, God might bring along another job that I love - one that makes a difference in others' lives besides my own. And maybe it might offer me benefits too. That would be amazing. That is what I hope for.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


For the last two evenings, Landon and I have spent a few hours in the University of Utah theatre.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is in Salt Lake City!!!

Each night we got to watch about 8 videos varying from 4 - 50 minutes long. All of the movies were about mountain sports. All movies were beautifully done and the sports were amazing. From skiing to rock climbing, to kayaking, paragliding, extreme mountain biking, nordic skiing, and others. All executed and enjoyed in beautiful mountains, rivers and oceans across the world. It was amazing. And inexpensive - much cheaper than the Warren Miller films (well, Landon got in for free since he is a student, but it was only $7 for me).

Maybe see if there are any screenings in your town. It would definitely be worth it to attend at least one night's screening.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another ski weekend

We have been so blessed lately to have family here to visit. Pooks came President's Day weekend and then my dad came this last weekend for a ski trip. Unfortunately we didn't get any fresh snow for his trip, but the snow still wasn't bad at all.

Landon's learning to use his helmet cam ever better, so I'll post some videos of dad's ski trip to Utah:

This is my dad. He's amazing.

This is me. I'm still learning.

It's wonderful to have family here to visit and to ski.

This is an open invite to anyone else that would like to come out here for a ski trip! We are 30 mins from the nearest ski resort and lift tickets are $57.00/day. Pretty cheap. I'll cook for you and you can stay at our place. All you need to buy are the lift tickets and your plane ticket. That's a sweet deal for a one-time chance to experience "the greatest snow on earth". Get your booties out here!

Monday, February 22, 2010

For the first time in a few years I feel like I'm me. Like I'm living my own life again.

Maybe it's because I'm over the self-pity (so destructive, you know?!) and 3am mornings, maybe it's because Landon is finally in a PhD program which shows a not-so-close but fairly tangible end in sight to his marathon education., or maybe it's because i'm living with the mountains again.

I am elated. For the first time in years I am spending my evenings doing things that are actually me: crafting, making music, baking, reading, watching movies, etc...

 I don't feel like a slave in the kitchen, but I have found that cooking dinner with a beer is a wonderful transition between work and home (which is sometime hard to distinguish when work is at home). I haven't done the dreaded dishes in weeks, as Landon does them each night and the dishwasher takes care of everything else.

Every weekend (and often days in between) i am enjoying the wild here: hiking, rock climbing, SKIING! And it makes the work days within the fun days much easier.

For the first time in years I am not aching over the child that isn't mine. I no longer think upon my little Danieli with aching and hurting but more with fond remembrance. And the children that Landon and I have not had the opportunity to conceive do not plague me. I used to cry with each period - another chance lost - the ticking clock in such a graphic reminder each month. But lately I am realizing how delightful this season is: the childless season. I am enjoying my relaxing evenings and fun-filled weekends. I am enjoying the selfishness that I am free to indulge when I am not the caretaker of anyone but me. And I am utterly amazed that I have found this attitude without even searching for it. I am happy right now without a child. It's something that I didn't think I would be able to say. I just thought the longing would hurt me until God gave us a baby. But that is not the case.

Landon continues to wow me. And I wonder how we can still make each other laugh at a regular basis - I would think that one would predict the other pretty easily these days. We do that too.

I don't feel like I am just trying to keep us afloat in our life any more. We are not sinking. Sometimes the responsibility of being the only financial provider in our family is a scary burden, especially as I will soon be laid off of my job, but it's not too heavy yet.

And i'm so grateful for the loving perseverance from my husband. And from God. Unconditional love is an amazing thing to live within. It is freeing and compelling and healing and inspiring.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I"m getting wrinkles.

I'm not sure if they just appeared after 2 years of 3am Starbucks mornings.

Or maybe it's from sleeping on my face - I've read that you're not supposed to sleep on your stomach because it smooshes your face.

Well, it could be because I've always been a person that is outside a lot. As a kid, I was always playing one sport or another. In the summer my sister and I spent our days riding around the neighborhood with our Barbie Dolls and Nurf guns on our scooters. We would catch craw-dads in the rivers with hot dogs and sticks and drag them home in a paint bucket only to dump them back out into the stream the next morning as they had died overnight and were stinking up the garage. Every day that my parents had off of work, they were taking us out of doors. Camping, hiking, skiing, playing all sorts of sports, riding bikes to Dairy Queen, driving with the windows down, etc... A lot of my summer jobs through college were outside: Sea World vendor, camp counselor, working at the orphanage in kenya, etc... And now as an adult i'm outside a lot still. Every weekend, Landon and I try to fill our days with sunshine, rocks or snow.

Or maybe it's in my genes, to get wrinkles. With my red hair and freckly skin, I'm pretty sure i'm just more sensitive to sun damage. Maybe that's it.

Or....maybe it's just my time. Maybe time has claimed my youthful years. Yeah, I am feeling older lately. Whenever Landon has a birthday, it actually makes me feel older than when I have a birthday. We're in our late twenties, which is nothing to cry about. But I don't feel that close to 30. We were looking through the church directory of small groups to find one that would fit us perfectly. "Young Marrieds" is what we were looking for. And then I realized that we aren't necessarily newly-weds any more....and we're not actually that young either. Landon insists that we still fit in that category, but I'm just not so sure. And one of the things I really enjoy about skiing is meeting people. Last week when I was skiing alone, I talked with a couple of middle-aged men. Nice guys. I initiated the conversations (of course), with something like, " wow, the visibility is crappy today, isn't it?" One of the men responded to me in the way I hoped he would. He was very friendly and told me that I was doing a good job skiing (after I told him that this was my first season on the mountain) and had more of an uncle-ish response - he's old and friendly and wonderful. The other guy, I asked what time it was, and he got the  wrong idea. He actually thought I was hitting on him! Which threw me for a loop. I had to evaluate that whole experience. I wonder if I'm old enough now that guys my dads' age don't respond to me like someone that could be their daughter, but as a young woman who might be "interested".

Well, whatever the reason for the wrinkles, I'm not gonna cry about it. It just took me by such surprise, since I haven't really had wrinkles before. And I'm getting them other places: my forehead, and especially around my lips...

I should ask my grandmother about wrinkles. Since she told me growing up that freckles are angel kisses, I wonder how she would console me these.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I think this is awesome. Also, it makes me grateful that Landon and I get the opportunity to own a car that is fueled by clean diesel.

South of the Border Stew

(photo by ::big daddy k::)
When I was a little girl, this quickly became my favorite dish. And when i would visit home while away at college and Mom asked me what I wanted her to cook, this was always it. My fav. family dish. So easy to cook, very cheap and so very yummy - and just as delicious as left-overs. 

I cooked this for the McBrayers (read triple the recipe) while we were in GA for Christmas and I've had familia asking for the recipe ever since. Enjoy:

South of the Border Stew

1lb. ground beef
1 onion
1 can tom. paste
1 can tom. sauce
3 cups water
1t salt
1t cumin
1/2t garlic salt
1 C cooked rice
1T sugar
1t oregano

Brown meat and chopped onion. add sauce, paste, water, oregano, salt, sugar, cumin, garlic, and simmer until reduced (about 15-20 mins, i think). stir in cooked rice at the end.

We serve this over a plate of fritos and top it with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, coconut, jalapenos, or whatever else you might want!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ski weekend with Pooks

We have had an amazing President's Day weekend! Pooks (Landon's cousin-brother) came to visit us this weekend to enjoy some amazing Utah powder! Sadly, his home in North Carolina had more snow than our house did this weekend, ha! But the mountain was awesome. Two days of powder and one blue-bird day made for some very wonderful skiing.

If you care, check out the videos:

Pooks on some black groomers. This is actually the run that was the womens downhill race in the 2002 Olympics here in Utah. You can see that we were socked inside of a snow cloud for much of the day, so the visibility is sketchy. But this gives you a good idea of what a day is like when Pooks and Doons get together. Not too easy to tell, but they are going pretty dang fast.

Pooks and Doons were in constant search of untouched powder through the trees. The next 3 videos are through some nice powder that Preston chose for the video venue.

Landon making some beautiful tele-turns in the "pow"...followed by me falling.

And we even got a video of me. I was reading through our skiing magazine about how to ski through powder. One of the things it says is that you are supposed to have a stance like a boxer, not like you are sitting on the toilet. I definitely look like i have the toilet stance in this video.

Landon just left to take Pooks to the airport and I'm sitting down to get into my work week. It was AMAZING to have Preston here at our house. We don't get to see him too often and we love him dearly. Sad to see him go, but we definitely had a blast this weekend!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lovey-dovey Playlist for this weekend only. No worries, it goes bye-bye come Monday!

St. Valentine's Day

(photo by DerHannes)

Today I was thinking about it and realized that i don't really know the history behind Valentine's day. So I've been doing a quick bit of research and reading and thought I might share with you. So keep in mind, this is just what i've read within the last hour - definitely not a deep search, but maybe just a little bit to get you thinking about the origins of this day.

St. Valentines Day is a day of feasting in remembering Priest(s) (for there are 3 priests recognized by the Catholic church that were martyred named "Valentine") that were martyred. One in particular is celebrated. He was imprisoned for aiding Christians during a time of Roman persecution against Christians under Claudius Gothicus (270ishAD) (though I've also read that he could have been performing marriage ceremonies to those that were not allowed to marry) . Valentine was brutally beaten and then beheaded.

I guess it wasn't until Geoffery Chaucer's "The Parlement of Foules" that people began to see St. Valentine's day as a day for love. Chaucer writes a story of  birds looking for mates ("love-birds") and this ritual just so happens to be on St. Valentine's Day. I pulled my good 'ol compilation of works by Chaucer from my lit classes and thought I would read it a bit:

"For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh there to chese his make,
Of every kynde that men thynke may,
And that so huge a noyse gan they make
That erthe, and eyr and tre, and every lake
So ful was taht unethe was there space
For me to stonde, so ful was al the place."
The Parlement of Foules 308-315

(photo by Ajatierra)

So then the people started celebrating romantic love on St. Valentine's Day instead of their faithful martyr (or perhaps if he was the one conducting marriage ceremonies for young lovers, he is still honored on this day?). And I guess that France and England's royal courts made a huge deal of it, with poem writing competitions where women were made the judges and a huge love-fest ensued. But I was reading through a an essay by Jean Jost on Chaucer's prose turning a religious holiday into a day to celebrate love and wooing, where she claims that "idealizing and therefore distancing of women perpetuates their social objectification and isolation under the guise of praise." (Jost, Subversive Poetics, p.55) Ha! I thought some of you would like that. 

And for those of you who think that Valentine's Day is just a huge scheme put together by the greeting card companies:
According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. And the holiday brings in about 14 billion dollars annually. (

Wishing you and your loved one a happy valentine's day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thinking back on this night makes me happy.

But not as happy as thinking about these guys. I' m even putting dialogue in their mouths in my mind and it's hysterical.  Remember that we had issues with some people because you guys put beer in the burger meat?

What also makes me happy: the look on landon's face in the picture above....

And the look on the rest of the guys' faces in the picture below.

Some days I really miss those good 'ol college days when there was always someone to be with, somewhere to be, something to be done that was thrilling and new and significant. 

I wish we could be so carefree in this season.

But at least I am not now sitting home alone looking back on these pictures and remembering how my heart yearned for Landon and wondering where he is these days. In fact, he is just down stairs, in my house, sleeping in my bed, eating at my table, as my husband.

Now, that really makes me happy. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Food, Inc.

Yesterday was a proud day for me. My sister called me and told me that she has chosen to eat free-range. She told me that she watched Food, Inc. and though she was only half way through, she decided that she needed to take responsibility to buy ethically grown food. I was so grateful to hear that someone outside of our house would be compelled to live this way.

"But...", she said, "I'm afraid to dissect a chicken." Ha!

No fear, my dear, free-range chicken comes in breasts just like dirty chicken. You just have to pay for it!

Food, Inc.

Think about sustainable living. 
Think about responsible consumption. 
Think about stewardship of the earth; of its creatures. 
Think about our responsibility to our own health and the health of our family.

Yet again, I will remind you that I have an awesome tab on the sidebar of my blog brought to you by the "Eat Well Guide". Enter your zip code and they will provide local places for you to purchase your happy foods. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

words of wisdom from the Rev. McB

Landon and I were talking about skiing last weekend. He mentioned that Superbowl Sunday is one of the best days of the year to ski because people are at home watching football so the slopes are empty. So we decided to skip church and spend a whole day on the mountain. And boy, was Landon right. The snow was great and we had an awesome time.

I am still very much getting my ski legs. I am still slow and apprehensive and over cautious and just not good yet. But Landon, who is actually an incredible skier, skis with me anyway. And at every bend he is waiting for me (even if I have been trying my darndest to keep up with him). And I always feel bad that he has to wait for me. I tell him to just go and we'll meet up for lunch later. But he says, "it's okay - waiting for your wife is a part of life". And I told him that if more men had that philosophy there would be much happier wives in the world!

One of the things that Landon consistently says every once in awhile is "marriage is about sacrifice". He always says this, of course, when he is making a sacrifice for me. And this weekend I presented Landon with my eco craft idea (the panty liners) once again and we made a little compromise about them and he gave me the go - then follows, "marriage is about sacrifice". He's great! So I had a hay-day putting together a few of those and getting to learn how to use my machine. My Singer has a foot that makes button-holes! And a foot that helps sew on buttons - how fun! So I have some very very pitiful looking sewing projects, but at least I am learning. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

The votes have been cast and counted. These are the winners for the 2009 Project 7 $15,000 gifts. 
Even if you didn't vote, maybe check out these non-profits and see what they are doing. A lot of them are currently putting together projects to help in Haiti. Pretty awesome. Click on the picture to see their website.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bringing the Outside In

Landon and I love the outdoors

We LOOOOOOVE being out of doors. 

Nature inspires us. 

Being in the wild.

Being WILD! 

It's part of who we are and what we live for

God's beautiful Earth!

And so, it would only be natural that our home would be filled with the wild things. Only that is trickier in the winter, isn't it? Without things growing to bring in and nurture and enjoy. But I try to bring a bit if this seasnon's beauty into our home to enjoy. And i'm not talking about snow.
My father made these amazing tealight holders for us for Christmas. My father is amazing with building things, and it's really special to me that he made something so precious and feminine and beautiful for me (and my sis) for Christmas. These are part of a fallen Aspen tree from his neighbor's yard. Now I get to bring Colorado Aspen into my house!

Landon found this antler. Coupled with a barky candle holder it works well as a book end!

These pheasant feathers are off the tail of some beautiful pheasant Landon killed a few years ago. The weeds, I pulled from the ground surrounding a lake across the street.

Pine cones from all over (Illiniois, Utah, Colorado - do you know that I like to take home my favorites?). They are currently sitting beside this painting in our family room. It's a wonderful wintery/autumn thing, to have pine cones at home.

This is my most recent craft (I've been so excited to share it with you!!). I collected these slices of wood from a trail beside the Des Plaines River in Illinois. They were doing some trail maintenance there and left these on the ground. I love that I can see the "rings" of the inside of the tree and even the crack that is consistent in each piece. These are just so beautiful, i think.  
I know the words-on-the-wall decor is very trendy right now. But i still think that mine is pretty unique!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The McBrayer Nation

Our family. The McBrayers

This was my first Christmas with the McBrayer's: 2006. (04 we were with my fam and 05 we were in Africa) With all of us together, there were 16 of us (and 2 pregnant mommies).
(sorry the pictures are so teeny tiny. click to enlarge)

The family consists of "the Oafies" (Mike and Charleen) and 7 children: 5 men and 2 women, with their spouses and children. With a family this large, it's hard to get everyone together at the same time (especially when we reside in 6 different states). So we've made it official - that we will all get together for Christmas every 3 years. Of course, everyone tries to see everyone once a year, but we aren't actually all together in one room except for weddings (which are now finished!) and Christmases.

This last Christmas: 2009
With all of us together, there were 24 of us (and 2 more pregnant mommies).

I've done the math and have discovered that by the next time we are all together (Christmas 2012), if we continue to grow at the rate in which we have been these last 3 years, we should have 36 family members. I'm not sure about 12 more kids in 3 years. Yikes, that means Landon and I would probably have to take some responsibility in that (which we wouldn't mind at all!). It's fun and exciting to be in an ever growing, always changing family. And it's amazing that once a new member is added, to imagine the family ever without that person makes the family seem not quite whole. It's really a blessing to get to love and be loved by so many people!

p.s. kudos to my amazing sis-in-law, Crystal, who is a fantastic photographer. we're very fortunate to end up with such wonderful pictures of our family every time we get together! thanks, titol!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Angel's" Food Cupcakes

I have had cupcakes on the mind a bit these last few years. You've followed my journey as I've looked for local cupcake shops in my town(s). I love the gourmet, decadent, creative wonder that are cupcakes. And not only have i been in search of amazing cupcakes in my area, but  I've been wondering at the idea of seeking out a little guidance to create my own cupcakes.

And so Mom and Dad got me this book for Christmas.

Kevin and Cori got us an amazing Calphalone cupcake pan for our wedding ever so long ago, so I was set.

Anna, my sister-in-law (that i too often mention) told me that Martha Stewart recipes are wonderful and sometimes a little too much work. I've never really done anything Martha because she is the queen of creating and quite frankly, intimidates me like crazy. 

So this was my first time with Martha.

I searched and skimmed through my beautiful book and found what I thought to be the easiest looking recipe: Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting and Chocolate Curls. (which Landon has so endearingly changed to "Angel's" Food Cupcakes in honor of his mother who calls Deviled Eggs "Angeled Eggs - we don't want to give the Devil any credit!" Love her.)

I went to work, already having most of the ingredients, and it took me forever to put these together. Who ever knew that a simple cake badder could involve so much? In this case, I was very very grateful for my KitchenAid which made the tedious mixing so much easier. 

And then the ganache, once conceived had to be put in the refrigerator and taken out and stirred every 5 minutes. sheesh. I guess if I'm doing things Martha's way, i should expect a two hour cupcake making process. But, it was fun. It was fun! And we've been enjoying these cupcakes [at least] once a day ever since. And the recipe says that they can be frozen for 2 months, so if you show up in the next 2 months, i may just be able to give you a taste of this deliciousness!!
I've been wanting a cake stand for awhile now, for little things like this. But i saw something online where a lady screwed a plate into a candle stick holder. I just balanced one of our nice dishes on top of a candle holder that I wasn't using...that's good enough for me for now! 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recycling Party!!!

Yesterday I was talking to my sister on the phone on the way home from church. She told me about this awesome party that she went to on Saturday. As I'm listening to her tell me all about it I'm thinking to myself that this idea needs to be shared with the masses. Then she said, "I think you should write a blog about it..." And I said, "no, YOU should write a blog about it"

So friends, this is the first of hopefully many guest blogsposts (maybe you want to write a guest post too?) written by my dear lil' sis: Janelle Sheely (she's the red head beauty)

I wanted to share something that a group of women and I have been doing recently - a swap party.  It is the most fun recycling you will ever do!  We get together and share food and conversation, but also swap things we no longer want.  So far we've done a "book and movie swap" as well as an "accessories swap'. 
 We all have that movie we don't care to see again, or that necklace that looked great in the store, but doesn't go with anything in our closet. Why not trade your not-wants for someone else's unwanteds? After all, as the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure".  
Here's how it works:  you bring as many items as you want to go home with - but everything must be desirable - no junk.  Everyone draws numbers to determine the order of who gets to choose next.  The first round you get to keep what you pick - so everyone is guaranteed to go home with something they want.  We re-draw numbers every round and it runs like a white elephant, where you can pick a new item or steal one each round.  It's a great excuse to get together on a Saturday night and the bonus is you get new things without spending a dime.  I've enjoyed it so much, I told hannah she should mention it on her blog!  But we are now getting to the point where we are running out of ideas of themes for the swap parties.  Any ideas?

Thanks Janelle! I love this idea. It's a great excuse for a party and I love that it's free and it's also environmentally conscious. I really want to be conscious of purchasing things that have been pre owned and already used (not EVERYTHING, of course), but it really is unnecessary to dump old things for shiny new things, when it takes so much energy and resources to produce everything that we consume. see for some freebies in your area. 

and Janelle, my idea for your next party: cook books!