Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some More Christmas Activities

 We had a great time on Saturday when Melissa and Stephen came over with their kids to make graham cracker houses and read the Nativity story together.  Much sugar was consumed.

On Sunday, Ellie and I wore the Christmas dresses I made for us.  We currently serve together in the nursery and so we brought a plush Nativity and told the Christmas stories to a 18-24 month charges.  They may not have really understood, but I think it is so important to share from a young age.

And here is Ellie playing with Ben.  It's so cute to see the two of them play together.  For instance, whenever I get done nursing and Ben comes into the room to change her diaper he first comes and sits on the bed across from us and says, "Hey Ellie!" and smiles at her.  She looks towards him and her face lights up in a huge grin, even her eyes smile.  Gosh, I love my family!

Ellie's Newest Trick

She has recently taken to sitting up for much longer stretches.  She rarely falls over!
 Unless is turning about trying to locate whoever in the room might be talking to her (granted, it's usually me)

She's a pretty sweet baby.
Sometimes playing so hard and working so hard rolling over and sitting up just wears her out.

(Deon and I had been assembling graham cracker houses and she had been fussing to take a nap but I wanted to finish the one we were working on.  When we finished I came over to find her like this.  I love my girl!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas So Far...

The first "Christmasy" thing we did this year is go to a local nativity exhibit that our stake was holding.  There were hundreds of different nativities, even some from Alaska that were like mine.  Someday Ben and I will buy a "real" nativity, but in the meantime, this one will do.

Plus, it always reminds me of my mission.

Our ward has a Christmas Brunch at our NEW meetinghouse this past Saturday.  Ben had a meeting, so Ellie and I went down there with Grandma and Grandpa Lewis.  I took this opportunity to take Ellie's first picture with Santa.  She was kind of tired, so wasn't really interested in smiling, but she's cool with Santa, so at least it's not a screaming picture (though that might be more amusing to look back on).

We also set up our Christmas tree (that we bought last New Year's on clearance for 12.95-score!) and lights (ditto, paid a dollar a box or something).  We only own about 5 ornaments, so Don and Deon pulled theirs out and we put them on.

 Ellie liked looking at the lights and playing with the angel (see my lap) from a plush nativity set that Don and Deon own.  It was great fun to decorate while listening to Nat King Cole. When we first were married I asked Ben if there was anything special we needed to do for Christmas, and listening to Nat King Cole was the first on his list.

Just saying hi.
We are very excited to drive to Nevada next week to spend Christmas with my side of the family, especially since some of them have never seen Ellie (like my brother Andrew and my Brown grandparents).  We love this time of year because of the focus on family, but especially the focus on Christ.  How thankful I am that He was born, that He came to earth as our Savior and King.  Joy to the world indeed!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Double Delight Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

My father-in-law found this recipe in the Teas Co-Op Power magazine.  Random place, I know.  BUt they were amazing!

2 1/4 flour (divided)
1 cup oats
1/2 c. chopped peanuts (or use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy, see below)
1 c. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter (if using crunchy, do 3/4 c.)
1/4 c. applesauce
1 egg
1/4 c. wheat germ
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine 1 cup flour with oats and peanuts and set aside.  Combine remaining 1 1/4 cups flour with remaining ingredients, mix well.  Stir in reserved oat mixture.  Form into walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet (seriously, don't grease it!).  Flatten balls with bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar (tip:  Flatten the first ball without sugar, then sprinkle sugar on top.  Now dip in the sugar and it will stick to the cup and transfer to the next ball). Bake 11-12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.  Place on rack until completely cooled (seriously,  they must cool completely.  I made this mistake the first time around and it was a mess).  Spread with Peanut Butter Frosting (see below) on bottom side of one cookie and top with second cookie to make sandwich!  Awesome!  I recommend putting them in the fridge for a bit so the frosting will set (otherwise the frosting all comes squishing out when you bite into it).

Peanut Butter Frosting
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. softened butter
3-4 Tbsp. milk
1 3/4-2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat ingredients until creamy, adding either more milk or more sugar to achieve desired consistency.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Almost 5 months!

I can't believe how big Eleanor is getting!  In just a few days she'll officially be 5 months old.  She pretty much mastered rolling over, though if she knows someone's around she'll just complain until someone takes her off her stomach, and has recently started slouching up.  It's not quite sitting, and she can't get there by her self, but she balances!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Winter Day

Today is a big day for the Melissa Ward.  We are having our open house for the new chapel (yeah for not having to drive a half hour to church anymore!)  and we had a float entry in the Melissa Christmas Parade.  Surprisingly, we were the only church with an entry and the only one with anything having to do with Christ on it.  Some of the seminary kids were Mary and Joseph and they asked my in-laws to be a modern family gathering their family together for the holidays (the theme was "Home for the Holidays" though no one else's entry seemed to have taken note of that fact).  At any rate, they asked us to also be part of the float, as well as another family who looks like they could be Lewis's.  So I made Ellie a hat last night so she would be warm.  Here she is all ready to go!

Well, it got pretty windy and just too cold for Ellie, however seriously bundled she was.  So Ellie and I watched the 15 minute long parade and then waited in the car for Ben. 

She was completely worn out by the time we got home.  Don't worry, I picked up candy in her stead...yum!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Too cute not to share

I've been working on gifts for my nieces and nephews and I'm really excited about them.  This morning I finished the boys capes.  But for my nephew Preston, who is only a few months old, a cape just wouldn't work.  So I made him a super-bib.  I was quite proud of how it turned out, so I have to share it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A New New Year's Tradition

I love the holiday season!  I love Halloween for dressing up (and candy), Thanksgiving for family and food, and Christmas for the music, the smells, family, and mostly for celebrating the birth of our Savior.  But New Year's has always been a bit anticlimatic for me.  As a teenager there were dances (where most stared at each other awkwardly at midnight as balloons dropped).  Our first New Year's together we switched between watching an Andrea Bocelli concert on TV and a program about the Universe.  And last year we flew back to Utah from Texas.  Nothing terribly memorable to ring in a new year.  So I was very excited to discover a new tradition I want to start with my little family.  I read it in a local magazine that came in the mail (Mckinney something-or-other).  Anyway, here's the idea:

A New Year's Time Capsule!  I've always loved the idea of a time capsules.  As a kid I thought it would be cool to open one from a "long time ago" and see what people thought was cool or important or sentimental.  So this year, on New Year's eve, we'll gather together a few photos of the year, maybe a few things that remind us of what has happened during 2009 (which was a pretty big year for us), and write letters to our future selves about what we hope to accomplish during the coming year.  Then we can open it next year and do it all over again!  I'm stoked. Though I don't think we'll be registering it with the International Time Capsule Society, since it will probably just be in a shoe box or something (maybe we'll go durable and put it in some tupperware).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For

1.  My wonderful little family.  I have an awesome husband who works so hard at everything he does and is a good man.  And my little Ellie is such a joy.  It is a wonder to look at her and think about where she came from and how much is ahead of her, and a little daunting to think about the important role I play in that, but still the most exciting thing I've ever done.

Seriously, how can you not love these two faces?

2.  A wonderful extended family.  I married into such a great family.  They are so talented and generous!

3.  And food...because it's Thanksgiving!  Last Thanksgiving I was 8 weeks pregnant and very nauseous all the time, so I didn't get to eat as much as I wanted.  This year...well,  let's just say I want to start training for a 5K.  Just kidding, I didn't over do it, but I do want to start training for a 5K.  It's my newest goal.

That's all.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Favorite Pastime

During the may years I spent at BYU, both as a student and while teaching there, I picked up a favorite pastime that I was sad to leave behind when we moved.  I loved to pick up the campus newspaper, The Daily Universe, and read the the letters to the editor, but even more so the Police Beat.  Police Beat at BYU is particularly amusing because of the nature of the student population.  There usually aren't any serious crimes, the worst usually being theft of someone's backpack (that they left laying around thinking that no one would steal it because, hey, it's BYU) or someone's (unlocked) bike.  But frequently there are very, very amusing "reports."  I think BYU students have a tendency to get scared easily.  Take this entry for example from Oct. 14:
October 6: A suspicious looking backpack and lunch box were reported to be on Maeser Hill. Police came, but they did not find anything.
October 9: A suspicious male was reported to be wearing a long black coat and cracking a whip in a parking lot. Police were not able to find him.
I love it.  So I was very excited when I remembered that I could read these little gems online, at the Daily Universe's website.  I've done some catching up and decided to share a few of my favorites.  For a good time, keep reading.  For an even better time, you can read them all by clicking here.

Nov. 13: At 5:30 p.m. a woman was walking up Maeser hill to the testing center when a Latino male walked up behind her, asked her the time, then grabbed her buttocks. The suspect then ran westbound on the path and the female began chasing him. The suspect then stopped, turned around, and yelled obscenities at the victim. The female reported the incident to the police two and a half hours later, after she took her test.

*now, harassment is not funny, but what is funny is that she tried to chase him down, and then didn't report it until after she took her test.  I noticed that a few weeks earlier a similar report was filed.  Some guy is getting a big kick out of grabbing girls at BYU.  I hope the police get it him, but that will require a quicker report, I think.
Nov. 6: A car was moved out of its original stall at Helaman Halls and was parked perpendicular to the parking spot. Police arrived and concluded a large group of people picked up the car and moved it.
Costume Crimes (it got it's own heading!)

October 24: A boy in a gorilla suit was reported attempting to scare girls in Wyview Park. Officers located the monkey man, asked him to go home and he did.

October 30: Several males were running through Brigham Square wearing only capes and underwear. When officers arrived, the caped crusaders were gone.
*clearly the reporter doing the write up for that particular Police Beat has a sense of humor.  I think you must in order to write these. 
October 31: Six individuals were reported throwing something wet off the Tanner parking structure. The substance was determined to be soup. The suspects were instructed to clean up the mess.

October 26: A caller reported a male behaving suspiciously in a parked car. Officers investigated and the suspect was simply taking a nap.
October 23: A call was received at 4 a.m. from Heritage Halls reporting five students arguing about a laser pointer. The students were shining the laser into the eyes of people driving and students walking by. The students with the laser pointer were informed about the dangers of laser pointers and given warnings.
*I would like to point out that probably 90% of all "disorderly conduct" reports are committed in on-campus housing (aka-Freshmen, bless them).
Oct. 11 Several female students left their apartment for 30 minutes to attend ward prayer. When they returned to their apartment, they found a severed elk head on their kitchen table. The suspects could not be identified and the elk was disposed of at the materials handling building.
And on that disgusting note, I'll leave you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A New Blog

I decided to start another blog.  I've been able to do a lot of sewing lately that I'd like to share, and so instead of posting everything to our family adventures blog, I started  So if you want to see what I'm working on, go there.  I'll also be posting links to things I think are cool and I want to try.  And to giveaways (because I love free stuff).  That's all.

Silly Faces

Yesterday I put a bright yellow dress on Eleanor and took some pictures, trying to get one that I liked enough to blow up to a 5x7 to give to grandparents.  Mostly I got some seriously silly faces, and her trying to eat her dress (everything goes into her mouth these days).  I did get some nice ones, but I love the silly ones maybe even more.

I think this is the one below I'll print out, unless I can get a better shot today (though it may not be in the yellow dress because she spit up all over least it wasn't anything out the other end!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to do Lattice Smocking: (this is for you Melinda!)

I was first introduced to lattice smocking when I was working as an assistant costume designer for BYU's production of Hamlet.  I was enlisted to smock nearly two yards of red velvet for a costume that was worn all of 10 minutes on stage (see Gertrude, the standing woman.  I did the red stuff, which is about how it looked onstage unless you were in the first 6 rows).

Needless to say, it took me a total of 24 hours to do.  I did it at home (my roommate Tiff can attest to that), during my TESOL/BEEDE classes (anyone whose ever taken those will understand why that was possible and possibly more educational that the actual classes), and whenever I had some spare time. 

But boy have I put that skill to use!  I used it on my baby's blessing dress, and on another dress I recently made her (I call it her Spain dress, because it's red and yellow, and I love Spain).  So I've had a lot of people ask me how to do it, and I swear it's really easy.  So here is a picture tutorial, if your interested.

1.  First, you'll need to decide how big you want your lattice work, and make a grid.  The red velvet above is done on a 1 inch grid, and the baby dresses I did on 1/2 inch.  I wouldn't do anything smaller than 1/2 inch, which is what I'm using in this tutorial.  I just made a grid on Word and printed it out, then poked holes in it, pinned it to my material and mark the holes.  For this tutorial I used a marker, but you'll want something that will wash off or dissappear.

2.  Here it is marked out (I just did a little bit for demonstration).

3.  Below, I marked with a line the points you will be pulling together.  I don't normally do this.

4.  You'll start on the bottom of your second row of dots.  Make a tiny stitch to secure your thread.  Then make a tiny stitch on the diagonally to the left.  You'll pull the thread all the way through until the two points are connected.

5.  When the points are pulled together, it will look like this.  I like to make a little knot onto the fabric so the fold stays secure.

6.  You'll notice that tucked into the fold you just created is the point that was the next one up from the first you started on.  You'll make your next tiny stitch here, but don't pull the points together.  Instead, give just enough length in the thread so that lays just how it is, and secure it by making another knot.

7. You'll now be connecting this point with the one diagonally to the left.  So make a tiny stitch, pull together, and make a knot to secure it.

8. You'll ten find the point that it tucked inside the fold and do as you did before (secure the thread to this new point) and keep alternating left and right.  A row will look like this.  Tie off the thread when the row is finished because you'll start the next row from the bottom.

The front will look like this.

9.  Now it is time to start the next row.  In reference to the first dot we worked with, you'll move to the right two rows.  Secure the thread here and pull it together with the point diagonally to the left (just like you did on the first row). 

10.  You'll continue in the same pattern as before.  You'll notice the thread lines line up making zig-zags across the fabric.  You'll know that your off if your zig zags aren't lining up (or the front doesn't look like it's making a lattice).

With the second row started you can see the lattice forming on the front.

Here is the Spain dress I made using this fabric.  I  modified baby dress pattern I have; instead of cutting the yoke separate from the skirt, I cut out the top of the yoke and then extended it down to make the skirt so it used the fullness that the smocking created.

When you have to cut out your smocking for sewing into clothing, I recommend tracing the pattern onto the smocked fabric, doing a basting stitch just inside this traced line and then cutting out along the line, otherwise you might loose some of the smocking work when you cut the threads that created it. 

Pie Crust

This is my new favorite pie crust recipe.  I think the key is chilling the shortening.  You can substitute butter just fine as well.  I think the next time I make it I'll do a little less shortening, maybe 1/3 cup, because it felt just a little greasy to me (though it could have been my old shortening).


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water


Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium size bowl. With a pastry blender, cut in the cold shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water over flour. Toss mixture with a fork to moisten, adding more water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together.

Gently gather dough particles together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling. (I have done it both chilled and not-chilled and they came out the same).

Roll out dough, and put in a pie plate. Fill with desired filling and bake.
Alternative:  If you need it to be a pre-baked crust, bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Helping Dad

The other day Ellie started fussing after Ben and I had finished eating dinner, so Ben volunteered to go up and get her out of her crib and play with her while I finished loading the dishwasher.  Since Ben isn't able to be home very much while she's awake, it was a great arrangement ("doing the dishes" isn't so bad when a machine actually does them).  So I filled up the dishwasher and then went upstairs to get Ellie and feed her.  I walked into the computer room and was greeted by this sweet sight.

She was a happy camper just sitting in Ben's lap watching him work on the computer.

These are definitely my two most favorite people in the world.  Heavenly Father must really love me to have made them part of my family!

And a token picture of happy Eleanor at 4 months.  She was trying to grab the camera...silly munchkin.  Oh, I meant to include this in the last post.  We have a lot of little nicknames we call her (like munchkin, or chica), but my personal favorite was first uttered by my brother-in-law Aaron when we told him we were having a girl and naming her Eleanor and calling her Ellie--Ellie, Ellie, Jelly Belly.  Now, I happen to love Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, so sometimes I call her my Jelly Bean.  I'm totally making that as her costume next year...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

4 months

Ellie is officially no longer a newborn.  That's what my mom says anyway.  But she certainly is bigger and smarter too!  For instance, today I was working on the computer but she sure wanted some attention and was squealing to get it.  So I got a blanket and I tossed it over her, holding onto one end and slowly pulled it off, playing a kind of peek-a-boo.  She grinned as it came off and started kicking and quickly realized that she could kick it off.  So we just kept doing it over and over.  I'd through the blanket on her, and she kick and kick till it came off and then grin at me.  She's a pretty quick learner, I think anyway.
I'll get a better picture of just her soon, but in the meantime, let me do a little bragging.
Here are things that 4 month old Ellie loves to do:
squealing-not necessarily our favorite thing, but sometimes it's cute and she KNOWS she'll get attention if she does it.
blow spit/milk bubbles-this is cute, until there are so many that they are all over her clothes.  But she get a big kick out of it
playing with her toes-this is by far the cutest and never annoying, so she can do it all she wants.
playing with toys-she's progressed a lot in holding onto things, bringing them to her mouth, switching hands and the like.  She just doesn't do a good job of picking them up on her own yet.
sporadic rolling over-she's gone from tummy to back a few times now, and even from back to tummy.  She's mostly good at getting onto her side and then sucking her hands.
trying to crawl-when she gets tired of laying on her tummy she puts her face down and tries to scootch forward by doing a crawling action with her legs.  It's frankly not very effective and just makes her more frustrated.  But she gets points for trying
standing-obviously assisted by a grown-up, but she holds her own weight and she loves it!  It seems to be her favorite vantage point because she can see so much more from up there!
laughing-usually this are kind of silly-not-exactly-laugh-sounds, but every once in a while we get a soft chuckle or a nice real big laugh.  It's my favorite noise in the whole world.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Quick Funny Story

Ben has been substitute teaching during the day and usually comes home with some amusing stories (just like I did when was a sub).  This one does beat all.  There was a boy who was more talkative that he needed to be, so Ben was chatting with him.  The kid was in junior high, but I'm not sure what grade, but here's how the conversation went (basically):

Kid:  I think I have some sort of disease that makes me laught all the time, like, I think of funny things and then I just laugh.

Ben:  Yeah, it's called adolescence.

Kid:  Really?  That's a real disease? (other kids in class snicker)

Ben:  Yeah, you're going through it right now.

Kid:  Wow.

Then one of the other students explained that adolescence is another term for your teenage years.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shabby Apple Dare to Design Limoncello Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Shabby Apple Dare to Design Limoncello Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Just doing another one. I love yellow and I love pintucks.

Shabby Apple Dare to Design Lawn Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Shabby Apple Dare to Design Lawn Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

So I found this website where this woman makes and gives away clothes. And their beautiful. So I'm posting this so I can be entered. That's all.

Get a FREE Photo book

I've been working on making a digital scrapbook at  I really like this site and it is pretty easy to use.  After you create the scrapbook you can have as many or as few copies of it printed as you'd like in lots of different formats (hardcover, softcover, lots of sizes too).  Anyway, I just got an email announcing that they are giving away 1,000 softcover 8 x 6 books this week only (ends Nov. 11).  Click here, make your book and then just put in the code TRYMIXBK at checkout.  I'm going to make something, but it's a surprise!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guess who?

I know I already posted something today, but I couldn't help doing another one.  I found some pictures of Ben and I as babies and I can't believe two things: 1.  How much we look like each other, 2. How much our daughter looks like us.  The question is, who does she look more like?  Now taking votes.