Friday, October 29, 2010

Making it Official

 Last night Dooney carved his first pumpkin

 Getting his fingers dirty - I love this part

 Getting creative

 This is my laughing pumpkin

And Doons' monkey.
Although I think this was supposed to be a self portrait or something. haha!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

First Snow

You should have seen the three of us yesterday.

As we drove up Mill Creek Canyon, our excitement was impossible to contain as we saw the snow get deeper and deeper as we climbed in altitude. 
Landon and I were giddy as we clicked our toes into our cross country skies and headed into the woods. Duvick was running and pouncing through the snow; if he could talk, i think he would have been singing. We're just a snow family, is all.


Can you just see how beautiful our first snow is? I love it!

 Every year, our first snow in the Rockies is spectacular. As the sun breaks through the clouds, the world is not only twinkling with the snow, but in places it is golden as the leaves are glistening-wet and  reflecting the light. It's incredible to experience the snow with the fall foliage. I LOVE IT!

Although, you can see it's hard on the trees to bear so much weight as the snow clings to the leaves.

We are so fortunate to have a ski-able snow so early in the year!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I just snapped this photo of Duvick in our backyard. 
First morning of SNOW in the valley this year!
And 16 inches on the mountain. 
Ski season couldn't come soon enough! 
T minus 24 days!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

shadows on the walls

This morning I have been thinking a lot about this old house. Never have I lived in a place so old, and I wonder about the lives of the people who called this little house "home" long before we ever did. Built in 1917ish, this little house has known many generations of people - enough to house a family for their lifetime. I do wonder if this little house was ever some one's home for their entire adulthood. I wonder if their children returned to this little house for family holidays with their own children.

I picture a young couple being gifted this house for their wedding day back in 1917. He left to fight the Germans and she stayed at home expecting their first baby, herself only 17 years old. That was pretty common, I think. A few miles up the street (across from the University of Utah which was established in 1850) are the Fort Douglas Barracks. From 1917-1920, Fort Douglas was a prisoner of war camp that housed 784 men: Germans and Austro-Hungarians as "prisoners of war, civilian internees and conscientious objectors". The local ward is two blocks down the street and it has been here before 1900. I am sure the families that lived in this little house walked there each Sunday. 
Nibley Park Ward

These colder days have me imagining what it must have been like to shovel coal each day to keep the home warm. Wake each morning and build a fire in the fireplace, in the kitchen stove, and shovel coal. I wonder if there were ever chickens in the yard. And if these fences dividing the properties were always here, or if at one time all the children ran around together without property lines, the mothers greeting "good morning" from their back doors. The woman who lives in the house behind us makes me think of this. She is very elderly and has lived in that house all of her life (right now her daughter and her great-grandkids live with her). She always yells at me from her back door while i'm in my fenced-in back yard, "if it seems like i'm being nosy when I look into your yard, it's because I am," she said to me once.

Utah State Pen.
Up the street is St. Ann's Catholic School, which was once an old Catholic orphanage. And down the street in the other direction was the state penitentiary (which was removed in 1950). To get from our little town into the heart of Salt Lake City there was a cable street car with tracks all the way to the temple. 
street car, 1933

When our house was built, the Salt Lake temple had only been built for about 25 years. Polygamy had only been denounced by the church for 27 years, and I wonder if the first owners were children or grandchildren of polygamist families. I wonder the pain that inhabited this valley when at one point it was the duty of a good Mormon who could afford more wives to take more than one, and do so faithfully for 60 years worth of generations to suddenly be told that it is no longer allowed. The identity of those families must have been shaken, and the people must have been heartbroken. 

This little house is so small, I wonder how the families fit in here. With only two bedrooms, and the second being extremely tiny, it's a mystery to me. I would guess three children at most could live in this house (which would be seriously stretching it - if we ever have a baby, i'm not sure we could continue to live here). But I know that families in those days, especially Mormon families, were much larger.

Doons, watching the rain pour out of the edge of the gutter

I was outside yesterday looking at my house (trying to figure out where a mystery noise was coming from - the roof) and discovered that there is a chimney raising out of the kitchen. I never noticed that before because my refrigerator covers where it was in the kitchen. And it made me happy to think of all of the food that was lovingly prepared in my kitchen, just as I feed my family in love and joy, so did many other women before me.

It's pretty fun to imagine the history of this old little house, filled with poodle skirts, wedding dresses, Christmas trees and babies. It's a kinship I enjoy, to know that I shared this "home" with so many others who lived and slept and cooked and loved here. One hundred years holds many stories, memories, and shadows on the walls.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cutsey floral bobby pins

Let me just start by saying that posts like these make me feel desperate for a new camera. Ours is 5 1/2 years old and in digital camera years, that's pretty old. Although, it has been absolutely wonderful all of these years. But lately (like the last year-or-so - have you noticed?), I've had a difficult time capturing the images that I want, no matter what kind of lighting I have. It could definitely be a user error, but, alas, it's still frustrating. So please, I apologize for the crazy blurry / flash-necessary-color-destroying images.

A few weeks ago I bought some new bobby pins from the grocery store. The world of hair holds so many possibilities with good bobby pins and I had been out of them for awhile.

After unloading the groceries, I spotted these flowers in a box in the corner of the kitchen (with my sewing stuff). I bought these a long time ago thinking I would do something wonderful with them. They've been decor in my bathroom (but have i ever mentioned how Mr. McBrayer HATES artificial foliage?), I've used them to decorate hand made birthday cards, and that's about it. Hm.... my mind started reeling.

 I removed all of the plastic pieces from the flower and sewed the petals together making an "X" on the inside of the top and going crazy with the loops on the bottom around the bobby pin. It's messy, but no one sees it - who cares!?

They're fun. And pretty. Even though they are fake flowers - they're just a sweet little embellishment. 
did i mention i'm having camera trouble?

but....seriously.... taking pictures of the back of one's own head has got to be one of the most difficult shots!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making it Scary

I don't own any Halloween decorations. Not. Even. One.

I have TONS of Autumn decor, which is lovely because Autumn lasts longer than Halloween. I can leave that loveliness up until the end of November!

Growing up, my mother decorated for every single holiday (like, EVERY one!), which my little sister and I LOVED. Although when Halloween came around, we had a rule - Halloween must be celebrated in a Christian manner. So nothing magical or gross or evil or dead. We had a lot of pumpkins and artful little skeletons and black cats, but nothing evil allowed. When other girls were witches for Halloween, I was an Indian Princess or a Rock Star or Cheerleader. Very wholesome. And Dad had to check through all my candy when I got home before I could eat any of it.

I ran into this idea online a few days ago and thought that it would be a very easy start to Halloween decor.

I got this idea from Dana's blog. If you have never been to MADE, you have to go. You really do. She has 4800 subscribed followers for a reason. Very creative and wonderful lady. And she's a miracle worker with the sewing machine.

She got the idea from Country Living. Their bat template is here.

And if you stop by the bat cave this Halloween, you will be greeted by my winged friends with enough candy for everyone!

Can you tell by my pictures that we're having a cold cloudy morning in SLC? And we're expecting snow on the slopes this weekend (eeee!!!! yay!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Well friends, it isn't officially ski season until Warren Miller comes to town! And the Warren Miller film will be in Salt Lake City this weekend! 

Going to a screening of these films each year is an awesome tradition to bring in the ski season! Each viewing gives away tons of free stuff from local vendors. Last year we got two free tickets to ski the Canyons (along with EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON who forked out the $20 bucks for tickets) and the year before we got a t-shirt. It's fun to be surrounded by winter-lovin' people. You'd think there was a dress code with everyone sporting their down sweaters and approach shoes - ha! Because we had a super-fun anniversary celebration this last weekend, we will be sitting this one out this year. But we'll be checking out previous years' Miller films on Netflix to get the excitement going around here.

Don't miss it! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pillow Project Completed

Back in April, my girl Kris and I got together to have a girls' crafty night. It was WONDERFUL and I think I was a little nieve to think that we would actually accomplish this pillow craft in one night. Of course, we just had fun talking and eating and laughing and enjoying each other with crafts on the side. So we each took our craft home and were determined to finish it eventually. Kris finished hers much quicker than I was able. 

Here is V and Co's tutorial for the pillow

Here is my pillow. 
And this is my first pillow case so it was a learning experience.
It's shaped weird, I guess.  
 And I really didn't know what I was doing with the zipper - you'd think that zippers would come with sewing instructions - they don't. This was my first zipper experience, you see.
Making the little roses was fun, and took a lot of time. It was even trickier sewing them onto the pillow case - I think - but maybe I just didn't have the best method. 
The fabric is Jersey so it is sooo soft and comfy.

Here is Kristen's finished pillow

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Craft / Paperless project

My first sewing craft after receiving my sewing machine was making cloth napkins. I made two under heavy supervision. And it took a long time. And they weren't perfect squares. But I learned how to thread my machine and measure and pin and sew. And that was about a year ago. 

When Mom was in town, we picked out some cute fall fabric for some fall table napkins. Although I didn't get around to making them until this last weekend.

I like each of them to be individual because at my house each person gets a designated napkin until they're too gross to continue use and then they are washed. So these four should get the husband and I through a week of meals, hopefully. 

Unless I decide to make something awesome for dinner. 

...don't push your luck.

We have plenty of cloth napkins that we use year 'round. Since Autumn is my favorite and most celebrated season, I actually have a box of leafy kitchen linens and when I got out my Autumn decor, I traded out the towels and napkins in the kitchen for Autumn linens and put the rest on sabbatical. It's just another way to enjoy the season even more! 

When I was visiting the family a few weeks ago, my Grandmother gave me some beautiful fall table napkins. They are so pretty and fancy! We've been really enjoying them. Now that my sewing machine has spit out these casual napkins, I think that hers will be reserved for special occasions and for company (or for when these are in the laundry). 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another year of the same promise

Yesterday Mr. McBrayer and I celebrated SIX YEARS of being married to each other. 

It's pretty amazing where God has taken us since this day. In some ways, I feel like we are exactly where we were then: in school, in the mountains, and poor. But in other ways we have grown so much and our lives have changed accordingly. 

I'm remembering our first year of marriage and what a disaster I was in the kitchen. For the entire months of October and November I cooked chicken breasts for dinner every night - I had never cooked anything else before in my life. And it was awful. One day the hubs and I were grocery shopping together and he sweetly asked if I could cook something besides chicken breasts and I just started bawling and was inconsolable. I used to cry when I would put the meals on the table before we even started eating - I knew they were just awful. My sweet husband would thank me for dinner and ask for seconds.

I made a McBrayer family recipe for venison stew one evening and put two TABLESPOONS of peanut butter instead of two teaspoons - the whole thing tasted overwhelmingly like peanut butter. 

We used to have Dooney's roommates over for dinner - they would bring the liquor and we would provide the food (I think we all knew that the McBrayers were getting the better end of that deal). One night I made dinner with red wine vinegar instead of red wine, not thinking it would be awful and it was AWFUL! 

That year I was finishing my degree in English and Mr. McBrayer was working at Compassion International. Three days a week, I would drive to his work and we would eat lunch in the parking lot together. I loved that.

(click on the picture to see full size - this one is click-worthy!) 
If you know me, then either you or someone you know is probably in this picture.

Thanks to all of our family and friends who continue to support us and encourage us in our marriage and in our life. Our lives wouldn't be the same without you!

That first year was fun, being surrounded by family and friends in Colorado. We didn't know then how short and precious that season was. After we had been married 9 months we moved to Kenya and celebrated our one-year anniversary in Nairobi that year.

I am happy that our future is in one place for the next few years - I see the potential for some roots to be planted. The baby itch has found me again and is pesky and cruel as before, but I do continue to hope for some babies. Or maybe I'll get a job and things won't be so tricky financially. But even if none of these things are to occur, at least I know that whatever does happen, it happens to us both, and that we are together in this life. It is wonderful to have a partner in life, especially one as resilient,  hilarious, adorable, exciting and wonderful as my Mr. McBrayer. 

My dear, home is where you are.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I saw this video today on a blog that I read every once in awhile, Mormon Coffee

I am so grateful that "it is by grace that we have been saved, through faith- and not from ourselves, it is a gift of God - not by works, so that no one  can boast" (Eph. 2: 8-9)

I wish that people would not carry upon themselves the burden of good works.

Do you know that more women are on anti-depressants in Utah than any other state in the U.S.? I think that there is a lot of pressure on women in society, but especially within Mormonism. I am amazed at how wonderful and hard working the LDS women are. Although I pity them, that so much of their worth within their community is based upon their participation and what they do.

It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free. His yolk is easy and his burden is light.  I wish that everyone could know the freedom that is in Christ and that knowing him is not being put on a leash and under the pressure of right acts and good works. But we are found without fault before God because Christ carries our works (or lack of) and thoughts upon himself so that we do not have to face life and death with them on our own shoulders. I am so grateful to know and be loved by such an amazing God.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gearing up for Winter - DIY coat rack ideas

I have written a draft the last few days, never wanting to publish what I've written. I'm not sure of what to write.

Looking for jobs is exhausting emotionally. Some days I am so tired by the end of the day. Why it is so difficult?

We are winterizing our house this week. It's getting cold enough at night that we now keep all of the windows closed and I have turned on our gas fire place at least once each day. It still is around 70 in the afternoon, so the days here are just beautiful.

Yesterday we drained our sprinklers, drained and covered our swamp cooler, and removed the cooling fan from the bedroom. Before the first frost I need to cut back the roses and plant my tulip and daffodil bulbs. I will try to get around to that this weekend while Landon is climbing Indian Creek but my rose bushes are just beautiful right now so I've been putting it off. We need to do a few more things to close out the cool air and get the furnace ready but we're almost there. We saw a mouse in the house 3 weeks ago, which makes me wonder how many we have now that the weather is getting colder. I try not to think about it.

I am in desperate search for a very cheap coat rack and I'm contemplating creating my own. We need this soon. This house has only 2 closets total and one of them is not a hall coat closet and I have already found myself throwing my fleeces on the back of the couch or on the back of the kitchen chairs. Besides this being sloppy, we really need a coat rack once we come home with snow-soiled things from brilliant ski days. I also need to find a place for our box of winter woolens and I can't remember if I washed them at the end of the season last year.

Mornings are cold already. Yesterday when I went outside to let Duvick out of his kennel I could see my breath in the air, and the thermometer read 37 degrees. No frost yet, though, which is good. So we still have yellowing leaves on the trees. The Autumn seems to last a little longer here than in Colorado. Maybe it's because our elevation is a bit lower. It's nice, though.

Fun DIY Coat Rack ideas I found online:
By Kate and Design Sponge

From Apartment Therapy

from a beach cottage only I think it would be fun with an old ski

kind of like this one from Orvis ($150)

and I really like this one.
also from Orvis ($800)

another one from Kate at design sponge
this is probably something that is more in my scheme of creativity. And I love the mis-matched hooks

Do you have any ideas?

Monday, October 11, 2010


One of my favorite cold weather enjoyments are fires.

This weekend I went camping with a handful of women from Salt Lake City and I ended up sitting beside the fire for probably 10 hours, as the night was below freezing and it was dark by 7:30p and we cooked (except i did zero cooking) all of our meals over the fire in dutch ovens (a new experience for me - and it was a long process but so so so yummy!). I came home smelling like smoke. And I was wondering if people used to smell like smoke all of the time - when fire was the only option for warmth in the winter months and cooking year-round. 

For the first time in 4 years, we live in a house with a fireplace. 
It's a gas fireplace, but it's still a fireplace.

Today I have had it roaring in the other room because my house is cold and we haven't gotten the furnace winter-ready yet. I love having the heat from the fire permeate through the house. I especially love the emotions and feelings that a fire in the fireplace evoke in me. Every home in my childhood had a fireplace and it reminds me of family and security and warmth.

What about you? 

Do these pictures make you feel any certain way?
Sorry, no picture credits for any of these

I can almost smell this picture!

This one confuses me a little but it still looks nice. I can't decide if it's warm or cold out there.


This one I love especially. This is Snowbasin, and the cafe' where Landon and I enjoyed our lunch every day on the slopes. So warm and cozy next to the fire and beautiful views and cozy chairs. I will miss that this year.