November 27, 2011

New Obsession

There are a few things that can quickly turn any day around. They are (1) getting something in the mail, and (2) getting something for free. It was not until a few weeks ago that I figured out how to go about getting these two things in greater abundance.

As with any obsession story, it started on Facebook. I saw that one of my friends from high school kept commenting on a Facebook page called My Free Product Samples. I was intrigued so I checked it out. Sure enough there were links to free samples and coupons of all kinds. I signed up for the samples on the page that caught my eye, then followed the link back to the blog and signed up for some of the older samples that were still active. What did I have to lose? The worst that will happen (as long as the site is legit, and they most often are) is that they will send me junk mail, or junk email to an email address that I have dedicated to the process.

I was ecstatic when my first samples arrived and now I’m even more excited to check the mail each day, as I get something special almost every day. To date (I’ve started sending for samples at the beginning of November) these are the samples that I have received:

Free Samples

That’s not even including countless prints which are already filling up the pages of multiple photo albums. I’m super excited to try all of these products. The photo prints are all of a great quality and the two books pictured are great reads so far.

For anyone who is interested in trying for your own samples or interested in getting condensed news about cool discounts and coupons (I guess for some people those are cool) check out the Facebook pages below for my top sampling sites:

  1. My Free Product Samples
  2. Free Sample Frenzy
  3. Free Sample Momma
  4. Free Sample Freak
  5. Free Sample Deals
  6. Free Sample Agent

I will say that I am trying to get into couponing, but it really is a skill that is very foreign to me right now, mostly because I only see coupons for things that I don’t really want or need. However, I do expect some Suave, Lactaid and Breathe Right coupons in the mail over the next few weeks, all of which WILL be used.

September 16, 2011

Did Curiosity Kill the Cat?


No. A heart attack did.

I joined Pinterest a few weeks ago and since then I have had a non-stop flow of ideas of all sorts. Naturally the first thing I pinned was the same thing that makes it into almost everyone’s first 10 pins…Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I decided to make this my first “Pinterest” recipe to make at home, and oh boy was I in for a surprise.

The recipe itself is fairly easy. It’s just an Oreo with chocolate chip cookie dough wrapped around the outside. But let me tell you, these things are the real deal. They are huge.

They are not only as wide (or a little wider than) a normal chocolate chip cookie, but these bad boys are TALL.

As I ate the first one I though, I can eat a ton of chocolate chip cookies, and even more Oreos, in one sitting. This won’t fill me up. But no. It did.

As I scrambled for the milk, I could feel the sugar pulsing through me. Not like a normal sugar rush, but way more overwhelming. More like I was tripping on sugar.

That being said, these things are amazing. Try them. The Oreo literally melts in your mouth.

The recipe only makes 20, so eat one yourself and take the rest to a party or something. Everyone should have at least one of these during their lifetime.

September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

I was in my first month of 6th grade and had just made the move into middle school. Everything in my life was changing. I had a locker, wore a gym uniform and was making new friends.

Each morning before school I would watch TV, usually PBS, Disney or Animal Planet, while I ate breakfast and got ready for school. It was my young version of “me time” and I liked it that way. One morning, things were different. The phone rang sometime in the 6 o’clock hour and immediately following that my parents rushed downstairs to change the channel. I will admit, I was a little put off, but what I saw shocked me.

The first plane had already hit the World Trade Center. I could not fathom that anyone would do such a thing on purpose, and thought that it must have been an accident. I wanted to watch more but it was time for school.

The was easily the longest drive from my house to the school. We listened to the events on the radio as they unfolded. The second plane hit the WTO, the buildings became unstable and began to melt. It was then clear to me that it was not an accident.

School was eerily somber. While many of us knew what had happened, some did not know. When class started children began raising their hands asking questions like, “Can we watch the news?” and “Can we go home early?” Nobody was looking for an excuse to goof off. We didn’t understand what was happening and we were afraid and sad. An announcement came onto the intercom almost immediately telling us that we would not be going home early and that teachers should go on with their normal lessons.

That was a long day. I have never been more eager to get home and watch the news. After all, it was not until then that I actually saw the footage of the crumbling buildings, the people running through the streets covered in dust or the news of the two other planes. More and more information and footage seemed to come in by the minute. Some people had made it out of the building, while others leapt from the upper stories, some of them holding hands as they fell to their deaths. It felt surreal, but knowing that this was not a movie, this was real life, it was enough to put a pit in my stomach.

In my mind I was taken back to the only other time I had felt truly afraid or upset while watching the news, yet now, Columbine felt like such an insignificant thing.

As I continued through middle school and high school, terrorist attacks would happen in Europe, or be attempted in the United States. These often killed nobody, or only very few people and barely crossed our minds. We had become calloused to the reality of suicide bombings, hostages, explosive mines. Nothing could hold a candle to the 9-11 news footages.

Many boys from my high school went on to join the military. On February 21, 2010, my classmate Eric Ward was killed in action in Afghanistan. I never really knew him, but it was still surprising news. He, like others since 9-11 and up until now, gave his life to fight terrorism.

It was not until earlier this year (2011) that the elusive Osama bin Laden was finally found and killed during the raid of his compound. He had hid in his hatred and cowardice for nearly ten years.

Of course the war still goes on. We went from ten years ago, pulling together and setting aside our differences, to now, where people question the very ethics of defending ourselves against the people who want to destroy us. Politicians seem even lazier than before and people are once again complacent.

But I hope that as we are once again surrounded by the horrifying images of 9-11, we can remember not just those who suffered on that day, but how we became a country that provided so much freedom and opportunity, as to make nations without those things hate us.

God bless all those who still suffer from the loss of family and friends on that day, and bless all those who continue to fight on our nations behalf.

September 8, 2011

Outrun My Gun

I started hearing Pumped Up Kicks on the radio over the summer. I haven’t heard it since I got back to Utah, along with Little Lion Man (another one of my summer favorites).

This is such a happy upbeat song but check out the lyrics:

Robert's got a quick hand.
He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan.
He's got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he's a cowboy kid.
Yeah he found a six shooter gun.
In his dads closet hidden in a box of fun things, and I don't even know what.
But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you.

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet.                                                                         

Daddy works a long day.
He be coming home late, yeah he's coming home late.
And he's bringing me a surprise.
'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice.
I've waited for a long time.
Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger,
I reason with my cigarette,
And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah.

An upbeat song that is also cleverly written. Not something you see a lot of. Of course I would have liked the music video to reflect a little more of the song’s meaning, but the director steering away from that may be to maintain the upbeat nature of the song.

Like everything else on the internet, this song attracts some strange comments of various websites. Some are kind of interesting, dissecting the song like you would in a high school literature class. Others are weirder…like the guy who said that they played this song at his dad’s funeral.

On that note, I have to compile a list of songs to file along with my will.

September 7, 2011


After our wedding, we flew out to New Orleans and then took the short drive out to Panama City Beach, Florida for our honeymoon. Nick planned it himself, and he did a fantastic job.

We stayed in a condo at Cabana Cay, right across the street from the beach. The pool was amazing. In fact, in walking and driving around town, I didn’t see another one that compared.

The beach was gorgeous. Fine white sand as far as the eye could see and waves that you could walk through without stepping on too many rocks (very unlike the beaches in Washington).

We built sand castles, walked around the boardwalk mall, played mini-golf and one night we even went crabbing. We caught 17 small sand crabs.

It was so much fun. We hope to go back again some time.


September 4, 2011

A Very Washington Wedding Reception

Because Nick’s family is from the New Orleans area and it would be difficult for all of our family and friends to gather to one central location, we decided to have two receptions. It was so much fun being able to get all dressed up twice, eat cake twice and try all sorts of fun traditions.

Since we got married in the Seattle Temple, we had our Washington reception first. We had it at Tibbetts Creek Manor in Issaquah.

It was beautiful and the perfect amount of space. Plenty of room to get dressed upstairs, and party downstairs. There was also a gorgeous back yard with a tented deck and plenty of blooms.

My parents had worked to plan the perfect reception and decorations and with the help of my sisters, aunts and uncles it all came together. So I hope you enjoy seeing what it looked like. And, as a note, our colors were pink and brown.

The driveway to the house was lined with trees and white paper lanterns.

In the entry way, three of my bridal photos were set up, along with the guestbook, and a place to put gifts and cards.

We made our guestbook on Shutterfly, using the engagement photos that my cousin had taken. Guests used a sharpie to sign in any of the white space in the book, kind of like a yearbook. The best part is that this is the kind of guest book we will take out to look at again and again.

For the cards, guest could slide the envelopes through the slots in the bird cage.

Reception Ancestor Photos

Within the past year, I have become very interested in genealogy. As a fun addition to the d├ęcor, we printed out wedding photos for each of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on. We framed them in different black frames and then labeled them. They were such a hit at the Washington reception that we had them sent to Louisiana for the reception there as well.


We did not have a sit down dinner, but since we had finger foods and punch, we still had tables both inside, around the dance floor, and outside on the deck. Our centerpieces were very simple and put together by my Mom and her sisters.


For our favors, we chose to follow the cute trend of allowing guests to scoop their own candy from large decorative jars. I love that this was both a decoration and a treat for the guests.

For our receiving line, we stood under an arbor that had been decorated with pink and white flowers and petals.

While the main room in the facility come with a tile dance floor, we rented a wooden one the increase the size a little bit and make it more dancer friendly. My sister and her boyfriend put together the stereo equipment and colorful party lights.

Outside under the tent, the tables were set up the same as the ones inside, and lights were strung along the top of the tent to give it a more romantic feel.


For food, we had some bread, crackers and dip, as well as punch to drink. The reception started at 7pm, so we focused on light finger food and treats. The biggest food items were the cake (obviously) and the chocolate fountain.

Included in our dipping options were strawberries, cinnamon gummy bears, marshmallows, cream puffs and cookies.

Finally, our cake…

The cake was white and vanilla flavored with buttercream frosting. It was rich, but easily the most delicious cake I’ve ever had. Instead on fondant on the outside, we opted for a buttercream coating, which made it taste much better. The flower topper and other flowers were provided by Countryside Floral and Garden, in Issaquah. The cake was made by Karen Nelson.

The reception was absolutely beautiful and we had a great time. We would like to thank all those who put so much time and effort into make our special day that much more special.

Photos by Joshua Gene Photography.

Bridal Photos

In June I got my bridal photos done by Joshua Jean Photography.

We started out at the Woodland Park Rose Garden just outside of the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. There weren’t many flowers blooming yet, but the garden was beautiful.       

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In looking at other women’s bridal and wedding photos, I loved the up close pictures of their shoes, and sometimes even their sneakers. Using that as an inspiration, I brought my pointe shoes.



We really lucked out when it came to the weather. It had been raining all day, but thankfully, the rain stopped right as the shoot began.

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Several minutes into the shoot the sun even started to shine though the clouds.



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Next, we went over to the University of Washington campus. I wanted some older fashioned brick buildings in some of my pictures.

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The dress and veil are from Abella Bridal in Provo, Utah. I loved it from the moment that I tried it on. My hair was done by Rachel Mark of Delphinium Salon, and I did my own makeup.

hillary097 b&w

I was starting to get tired and cold, but then we spotted an excellent wooden door inside of a little nook.



Every time I look at these pictures it makes me wish that I could dress up in fancy clothes and get pictures done more often!