Pup Tents and Carrying Bag (Including Directional Fabric!)


These pup tents are adjustable in width which varies the height, but a rough estimate of 48″x 44″x 44″. Meaning, they take up floor space of 48″ in depth, are around 44″ in width, depending on how close you move the legs, and the height varies slightly from 44″ (unless your kids army crawl in their tents and you move the legs out to do the splits!).IMG_9477

1-2 children comfortably play in our tents, and all 4 of our kids have secret pow-wows in a tent pretty regularly. Although, they each love having their very own tent.

Note: The Carrying Bag does not fit the rods, as little bodies could not comfortably carry 4 foot dowels and 1 x 2s.


  • (2) 8 foot 1×2 pine boards, cut in half
  • (3) 3/4 inch diameter dowels, 48 inches in length
  • (1) fabric quarter of contrasting fabric (18x21inches)
  • (1) 8 inch x 36 strip of (contrasting, if desired) fabric for bag strap (or this measurement is exactly included in bulk fabric for the tent)
  •   5 yards of fabric (44 inches in width)
  •  22 yards of 1/4-1/2″ contrasting bias tape (I made my own double fold and like the smaller thickness, but you are welcome to buy it already made. Just remember, if you are buying only single fold, you will need to fold in the unfinished edges again and your thickness will decrease by half)*
  • (1) 8-12 inch long piece of iron-on or sew-on velcro, up to 1 inch thick (thicker is better)
  • Drill with 3/4 drill bit

*You can certainly get away with less bias tape, or even using only bias tape on the flaps, and ribbon for the ties, but for small hands, my children prefer longer strings to practice their bows!


Step 1-Gather and Prep Materials

If you didn’t have your pine 1×2 boards cut at the home improvement store, cut them in half. Sand all surfaces of the boards and dowels so your littles do not get splinters. Drill 3/4″ holes on each side of the 1x2s, so the hole begins 1″ from the end.  Stain, if desired.

Prep all large pieces of fabric (I like to launder and iron first, then cut).

IF your fabric pattern is multi-directional, cut 1 piece at 98″. If you have directional fabric, you will want to cut 2 pieces at 50, sewing them together so if they are draped over a rod, the pattern’s direction is right side up from floor to rod, on both sides (Use 1″ seam allowance, making your completed piece 98″ x 44″). Sew median line with a zigzag stitch for extra durability.


Cut (2) pieces of fabric at 36 inches (by 44″). Cut these pieces exactly in half, hot-dog style, to make 4 rectangles 22″x 36″


Time out for some origami to make an equilateral triangle. Take a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ paper. Fold hot-dog style (making your paper now 4.25″ x 11″). Unfold. Measure up your midpoint 7 3/8″, mark with a heavy dot, mentally label “A.” With a ruler, draw a line from each lower corner to “Point A” and crease. You now have a triangle that measures 8.5 x 8.5 x 8.5. Measure to double check. Cut out this triangle.

Use this paper template to trace and cut out 2 triangles from your FABRIC QUARTER. (The picture below is ~1″ too big, measurements have been revised above).


You are now ready to hem, (bias) tape, and sew!

Step 2-Hem and Bias Tape

Take your long piece of fabric, 44 x 98″, and we are going to quickly hem the 2 short sides (44″) and use that hem to strengthen our pocket for the dowels to go in. I used a 1-inch hem that I double folded to get rid of raw edges.


On both sides, measure up 3.5 inches and sew this hem to that spot across the fabric. These pockets we are creating will house the dowels. (I like to tuck my fabric in on the sides of the pocket, so you see no fray)IMG_9145

Set Aside.

Let’s move on to the flaps that will enclose the tent.

If you have directional fabric, you will need to pay close attention to the direction of your fabric in these next directions.

Lay out your 4 pieces of fabric in front of you two-by-two, right side up, and in the direction you want them to lay. Hem the bottoms of all four pieces (1 inch, double-folded again to get rid of raw edges). Again, lay out your fabric in the same 2-by-2 pattern, facing up, with directional fabric facing up. These 4 pieces will need contrasting bias tape to cover their raw edges in the center of each pair (Going from top of the picture to bottom). IMG_9146You will need (4) 36-inch long pieces of bias tape. If you want to make your own, here‘s an excellent video on how-to. Sew your bias tape on. You should now have 2 panels with bias tape on the left, and 2 panels with bias tape on the right.


Now, we are going to cut these to make each flap of the tent.

Measure 4.25″ from the bias tape on the top of your fabric (that has not been hemmed). Fold that outer corner until your measurement meets with the lower corner. Check below for reference.  Cut a clean line here. Mirror the same cut on the other pieces, always measuring from the bias-taped edge.IMG_9156 Do not discard your scraps! Set aside these 4 triangles for the Carrying Bag.

Next, your Bias tape will need to be sewn. All pieces need to be sewn into one long strip. See this video again for clarification on how to join bias tape. Then, all edges need a quick run through the sewing machine to close up open ends and make your tie-backs for the flaps. Cut 16 tie-backs at 30 inches. (Tip: You can cut another if you want to hang lanterns from the center dowel once the tent is up!)IMG_9138Tie ends to prevent fray. IMG_9139

We will call these “Tie Backs,” referring to them tying back the flaps, and tying the tent to the 1 x 2s.

Hemming and Tie Backs are complete.

Step 3-Sewing Together Tent Flaps/Doors

First, lay your two sets of flaps out, face up, bias tape in the middle. They should look like an upside-down V with the top chopped off. Place your Equilateral Triangle at the top, wrong side of the fabric facing you, paying attention to the orientation of the fabric (your triangle fabric, if directional, should be upside-down). You are going to be adding the point of your upside-down V. Line up your edges and pin.IMG_9177

Sew, iron press edges open, zig-zag stitch the seam for durability, running over the flaps a few extra times with stitching for added strength.



Now, roll down the top of your triangle and pin or you can hem. You can lop a small triangle off of the top, or just fold 1 inch down to give some room for the top dowel to fit through.IMG_9181

Repeat with the other two flaps and triangle.

All done with the flaps!


Step 4-Sewing Together Tent Body

Now to sew all the pieces together!

Lay out your long piece of fabric, right side up.

Now we are going to place our tie-backs…. 4 ties per side below the center seam, and an additional one in the middle to tie back the flaps open.

From center, place a tie at 8″, 17″, (place a pin at 22), 27″ and 38″. The center tie back is a little different. To be able to tie back the open flap correctly, it needs to be placed on each side of the flap to allow it to tie back nicely. Let’s put that tie back with only half on our fabric. (This picture also shows how to place the first set of flaps on your large piece of material)IMG_9185  Take one triangle pieces, wrong side of fabric up, and line up the edge with the triangle piece starting an inch lower. (If you have a selvage edge that is not printed on, you can move your whole flap piece over to allow the selvage to not be seen once you sew the pieces together.) IMG_9202Pin. Place the middle tie back to the front of the flap and pin. (mirror image below)IMG_9337

Sew down that side from the top of your hemmed triangle to the pocket where the dowel will fit through at the bottom of your large fabric rectangle. Repeat same process on the left side of the fabric (not forgetting that middle tie back, and stopping at the dowel pocket).IMG_9318

Now, the raw edges of your flaps need to be sewn to the opposite sides of the large rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half and take the bottoms of your unfinished flaps and place them 1 inch from the end of the un-sewn rectangle. See image below:IMG_9206

Don’t forget about your middle tie backs!

Sew, ending at the dowel pocket.

Now iron your seams so that you can stitch a topstitch on all of your loose ends…IMG_9211

Turn in your bottom “flap” corners and iron as well.IMG_9212

We are going to sew these flaps with a decorative and sturdy topstitch. Start at the bottom right side of your tent and topstitch all the way around the entire flap/doors triangle, avoiding the loose tie backs…IMG_9214

Once you get to your Equilateral Triangle, stitch carefully around your folded edge and make your way all the way back down the flap. IMG_9216

If you don’t want to tuck under the small piece that will be touching the dowel and your center seam, you can sew that while you’re up here, also. Be warned that it makes it more difficult to put in the dowel because it catches on the fabric, so I opted out).IMG_9215

Finish up your “flap” ends by tucking in those raw edges when you sew that last inch.

Repeat with the other side of the flap/door triangle.

Step 5-Quick Carrying Bag

Obtain your 4 triangles left over from your flap/doors and one 8″ x 36″ piece of fabric.

Sew the triangles opposite of each other to make 2 rectangles.IMG_9440 Iron seams. Using your 8×36 piece of fabric, make a giant piece of bias tape rope, like we did before, double-folding lengthwise, to tuck your raw ends in and make a strap 2″ wide. Turn the ends of your straps in so no raw edges out.

Sew the open ends of your strap together.

Double-fold and double hem the 1 top of each rectangle.IMG_9442

Lay the strap diagonally on to one of the face up rectangles 1″ from the sides, folding the ends in 2 inches and sew 2 inch squares with a middle X design on both the top and bottom of the strap.square strapbag Sew the 3 raw edges of the bag together. Iron-on or sew on a strip of Velcro to the mouth of the bag.velcro

Your bag is complete.


Yay! The best part! Put together your tent!

First, thread all of the dowels. One dowel through the holes you made above each of the doors, and 2 go in the pockets you made at the bottom. Place (2) 1x2s on each side of the dowel and secure side by side. Make an A-Frame.IMG_9217  Put the bottom dowels through the holes in the bottoms of your 1x2s. Tie your tent to your frame.IMG_9218 To store, you can keep you dowels in and put your 1x2s on the inside of your flattened tent, and roll them all up and tie together with left over bias tape….IMG_9329


Or, you can take your dowels out and stuff your folded tent in your new carrying bag (here are my kids’ sleeping bags stuffed in their Carrying Bag on Christmas Day…IMG_9477

I hope my first tutorial was clear and you love and cherish your tents as much as we do ours!

Much love,


Thanks Be to God


One year ago I experienced the most difficult trial of my life.

After a long winter of recurring illness and multiple waves of sickness through our family, I continued to lose weight, had a loss of appetite, and immense stomach pain. When I ate, I had difficulty keeping any food down. Toward the end of February, I was miserable enough to go to the ER. Tests came back and showed some spots of concern in my GI Tract and pointed to the need for a specialist. A few things were mentioned that could be, but I was basically just told to wait things out until I could meet with a Gastroenterologist 6 weeks later.

Unfortunately, things continued to get worse. I would wake up in a panic some nights, I had heavy sweating like I was in a furnace, I was having bouts of heart palpitations, and dizzy spells. We searched for answers. I tried multiple diets (sugar-free, dairy-free, grain-free, liquid) to no relief, I visited different local doctors, had multiple tests. No answers.

Meanwhile, I had lost over 30lbs. I previously weighed 125 and didn’t have much fat to lose. I was losing muscle mass and my ribs were becoming prominent and my face sunken. I was malnurished, had daily migraines, I didn’t have energy to take care of my family, cook meals, or care for the house. I again visited the ER. All tests continued to prove normal. The only thing that the tests could show was that I had a Bowel Disease, likely Ulcerative Colitis, an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation in the lower portion of the bowels, but shouldn’t be as problematic or symptomatic as we were seeing.

At this point I was adamant they needed to find the problem, or I would die.

Eventually doctors started to wonder… Since there wasn’t any science to back my symptoms, nor were there test results indicative of any further issues, I was admitted to the hospital. Monitored. During that time I saw many specialists and psychiatrists. The doctors began telling me my symptoms weren’t real. I was causing them. Exaggerating. I was released with multiple drugs. My husband was threatened that I could be placed in a psychiatric ward if my fears and “instability” continued to plague me.

8 excruciatingly long weeks passed as we waited to see another GI for a second opinion. During this time I was depressed, anxious, hopeless. I started to believe the doctors, maybe I was crazy.

DISCLAIMER: I have nothing against my local hospital; they were doing the best they could with the evidence and results they had.

I continued to get more ill but refused to go back to the hospital. Many nights were rough, and some times during these weeks, I would feel a strong prompting to stay awake and not sleep, uncertain if I would wake up the next morning if I closed my eyes.

Finally, I received a GOD-SEND of a doctor, Doctor Garg. He listened to my symptoms all the way from the beginning, 8 years prior, when I started to see blood in my stool (back then I had a sigmoidoscopy that came back “normal” and was told I might be seeing these problems due to pregnancy, and I never questioned the streaking in my stool after that). Not only did Dr. Garg listen to me, but HE BELIEVED ME. He vowed to find the cause. He ordered more specific tests. Even when those tests, like the HIDA Scan, came back normal, he took things further and asked if I would be willing to have a exploratory procedures.

The day I went in to have Dr. Garg do the tests, I was so sick he immediately admitted me to the hospital. I was in so much pain that he scheduled a laparoscopic exploratory surgery with another angel of a doctor, Dr. Weiss.

Dr. Weiss vowed to take a thorough look around.

As I sat in my room and prepared to go to surgery, I hit the lowest moment of my entire life.


Not because of the surgery or the agonizing pain at this point, but I was truly terrified that this surgery would happen and they wouldn’t find a single thing wrong with me. Perhaps all of this pain was inside of my head???

To add insult to injury, the Hospitalist came in before I was wheeled to the operating room to tell me not to be surprised if my surgeon didn’t find anything wrong and that she believed my sickness was a manifestation of my mind. I shared a moment with my mother as we both sobbed, and I said, “if they don’t find anything wrong, there is something very wrong with my head. This pain is so real, I am so sick, and I don’t know if I am crazy.”

I went in to surgery both fearful and hopeful.

During surgery, Dr. Weiss called Lars. He told Lars something along the lines of the following:

I have your wife here on the table. I found 3 Major problems.

  1. He gallbladder is extremely diseased. It’s shriveled up, covered in scar tissue, and shows years of damage. It’s filled with sludge and disease.
  2. Her appendix is about to burst. It’s inflamed, shriveled and twisted.
  3. She has Meckel’s Diverticulum, it’s likely acting as an extra organ. It’s rarely seen in adults. I don’t have time to explain it. M-e-c-k-e-l-s. GOOGLE IT!

They ALL need to come out immediately, but I need your permission to continue and take them out.

My husband asked Dr. Weiss the opinion of my beloved GI, Dr. Garg, whom he had already spoke to. Dr. Weiss said that Dr. Garg also agreed and all three should be removed. Of course my husband agreed.

Immediately after coming out of surgery I felt I could do a cartwheel off of the gurney! I felt instant relief.

The doctors came in shocked. “You really were sick!”

Later they explained more of Meckel’s Diverticulum to me. It is a portion of the yoke sac in the fetus that usually disappears in about the 7th week of gestation. it’s made up of many different digestive tissues, secretes pancreatic enzymes, hormones, and is made up of stomach tissue. It secretes acid into the abdomen after meals, produces insulin, causes heart palpitations, drops in blood pressure, ulcers, blood sugar irregularity, bleeding, seizures/fainting (which I had very prominent as a child and had even seen a neurosurgeon which testing came back inconclusive), hormone imbalance, menopausal symptoms… Adding all of that on top of Chronic Gallbladder Disease and Appendicitis (which showed to have a fecalith and was likely to burst at any moment).

The doctors said I likely wouldn’t have made it another week. Knowing that I was not going to go back to the ER for ANYTHING, I would have suffered at home and likely just not woken up some morning.


The trials didn’t stop after surgery. I ended up getting Clostridium Difficile, or C. Diff, a hospital-acquired infection, had a kidney stone, financial difficulty with high deductibles and continuous doctor appointments. Lars took multiple weeks off of work lessening our yearly income, I was making up for lost time that I missed out with my kids, trying to get healthy. Still, a year later, I am struggling with gaining muscle back, regaining fitness, learning dietary restrictions… Admitting to the emotional trauma & processing the things that happened have also been difficult.

During this trial I have often pondered this quote by Orson F. Whitney,

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience, is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called CHILDREN OF GOD… It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we came here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in Heaven.”

I’d like to expand on tender and charitable. Specifically being more charitable.

Mormon (from The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ) taught us, Charity is the pure love of Christ.

Apostle Paul’s words were, “Abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest is charity.

From 1st Corinthians we can also read, Charity never faileth

Christ loved all people with a perfect love.

A quote from President Thomas S. Monson reads, “There are many attributes which are manifestations of love, such as kindness, patience, selflessness, understanding and forgiveness. In all our associations, these and other such attributes will help make evident the love in our hearts.”

We experienced many of these manifestations of love through the last year. Many of you sent prayers, meals, notes, concern for our well-being. Some of you took care of our children for hours or days. A few even rushed to our aid at inconceivable hours of the night or morning. Allowing others to show love through service was very difficult for our family at this time. Especially a sensitive time of torment and sorrow. I have to publicly express my gratitude and love for our friends, neighbors and family that so lovingly took care of us through such difficult times. And if you didn’t know our struggles, I know you would have done more if you had.

This same love and charity can be applied in our homes.

As we perform acts of kindness and show love, we will be transformed, little by little, to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. Our awareness and concern for those that need our love will increase and we will be able to see others the same way our Heavenly Father does, with perfect love. Through charity, our hearts and minds can experience a mighty change.

If there is only one thing I can share through this entire experience, it would be that love is the most important thing we can do in this life.

Another quote demonstrating my same feelings is, again, by Thomas S. Monson:

“Some of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate love will be within the walls of our own homes. Love should be the very heart of our family lives and sometimes is not. If we would keep the commandment to love one another, we must treat each other with kindness and respect.”

Forgiveness goes hand in hand with respect. The Ultimate Sacrifice by our Savior, Jesus Christ, allows us to recover from these trials of life, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Through this trial I really had to apply this Atonement to forgive myself, allow myself to be forgiven and forgive others.

I wrote my children a letter while I was sick, in case I didn’t make it through my illness.

A love note to my children:
Maddie, Max, Connor, Jack,
I love you. Never forget that.
God’s Plan of Happiness is perfect. Enduring life, and succumbing to death ourselves are two of the most difficult trials we will face. Death is necessary for salvation, but enduring trials and affliction is, perhaps, more difficult than death itself.

Some things that will help you endure a life of trials and opposition are: Speak softly, laugh with your bellies, embrace those around you, say “I love you” more often (to strangers; some people never hear that phrase their entire lives. I try to say it at least 100 times daily, minimum), and serve those around you. Those simple things will help you forget your woes and be strengthened and edified in Christ.

At times you will feel helpless. You will feel isolated and alone. Perhaps you will even feel that no one cares about you. This is where applying the Atonement is critical. You will lack, you will fail. You will not be perfect in all aspects of life, but Christ will make up for the areas you lack, IF you allow Him.

I want you to know of some very dear things I have learned through the years. Life is not easy. Not only is it not easy, but it’s a constant battle of trials, decisions and consequences. Understand that your trials are blessings. Every time that Heavenly Father gives you a new trial, He is spending time to teach you something new. Perhaps you will think you mastered that trial long ago and it returns: instead of simply enduring, try a different, more humble approach. Thank God. Our trials, like muscles, may ache and cause immense pain, but after the muscles heal, your strength, endurance and capabilities are unmatched. Thank God during your trials. In fact, maybe you might even find yourself praying to understand your upcoming trials, because none of us are without complications. If you are getting comfortable, you are not growing spiritually. A blessing God has promised you (as found in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 1) is that with every trial, equal measure of strength and consolation are applied. Put down your umbrella, as President Uchtdorf counseled, so that you can receive the abundance of blessings being rained down upon you. God blesses you always. Even when you don’t think you deserve it. Look for the small coincidences in life that prove God is always looking after you.

God’s plan is a perfect plan. Although this life may seem like an eternity, it is only a short glimpse of time in our Eternal Lives. You are here to gain experience, to learn all that you can, and to become prepared to meet God again. Try hard to return to Him. He is the reason you are. We owe Him everything.

People make mistakes. Forgive them.
The voices of evil can be very persuasive. After all, Satan is our brother. He knows us well. Forgive those that trespass against you. The best present you can give is to forgive and forget. Physical scars may be left behind, but you can choose to overcome adversity. Do not push back when others push you down. A stronger man is not one that fights back, but one who withholds the fight. Wicked people can become good. With the power of the Atonement, even the worst of transgression can be forgiven if your heart has changed. You are never too far from the path that leads back to Christ. Make the choice to turn around.

Be aware that the things you put in your mind are recorded; pictures, stories, experiences and music permeate your brain in a way that cannot be removed. Be cautious of what you let be filed in your mind. Even the forgotten memories can corrode your future.

Go to church. Not for the people, or the talks, or the food served afterward, but for the commandment. God told you the Sacrament was important, so partake of it. Repent of your wrongdoings and commit to do better next week. Going to church weekly will help this to not be as daunting a task.

Talk to your family members. They need you. You need them. The purpose of families is to have the support necessary to be buoyed up in times of need and rejoice when others need rejoicing. Even when you’re not close in distance, a phone call can offer support when solidarity seems certain. Again, say “I love you.” Often.

One of the most important decisions you will make is of whom to spend eternity with. This decision vastly affects eternity. Marriage is not about having exceptional times together, but enduring the hardships as a righteous, committed and commandment-following couple. Look for someone who will be kind, uplifting, supportive and proactive in raising your children. Remember that we all made the plan together in Heaven of what families and hardships we would endure. We talked about returning together as a family unit. Remember that and choose to be an honorable parent that builds confidence, educates and plays with your children. Remember to keep your marriage vibrant. The key to a happy marriage is compassion, commitment, companionship, communication and compromise. Forgive. Truly forgive each other often, if not always. Learn quickly how to speak each other’s love language and use it daily. Do the same for your children.

There will be times in your life when you feel like giving up. There will be times in your life when you feel like things are impossible. There will be times when you think this particular trial will never end. Talk to your Heavenly Father. He loves you. He will answer you. He will guide you and counsel you and open your mind to teach you if you are willing. You must be humble. And you must counsel with those around you to understand your promptings.

I am your mom. I will be there for your triumphs and I will be there when you fail. Do not spend your precious time being angry. Focus on being kind, patient, loving and Christlike. I know who you are; I am very proud of you. You are my greatest blessing and my biggest accomplishment. I love you.

I am grateful for my trials and how this last year has helped me to grow closer to my family and has refined me into a better person. I believe that God knows us personally. He gives us experiences to help us grow, to see how we will react to certain situations, and He is by our side when anything goes wrong in our lives. I am grateful for that knowledge and grateful that I am alive to tell my story.



breakfast mcgriddles

If you LOOOOVE breakfast foods and the convenience of a quick breakfast the kids can eat during carpool, but don’t love the idea of fast food restaurants or excessive calories, this post is for you!

The following is straight from McDonald’s Website on their Sausage, Egg and Cheese McGriddle…

McDonalds McGriddlesHomemade will cut you some calories, fat and added sugars. We made ours without cheese today, but add another 90 calories or so with a slice of Cheddar, and you’re still under par. Here’s the nutrition facts for our Homemade Version:

Homemade Mc Griddles

The trick to these fun shaped pancakes is a pan from NordicWare. You can cook your eggs and pancakes in these fun shapes, and just flip them on to a large griddle to cook the other side (I use a large electric griddle to cook my round sausage and finish the opposite-side of the pancakes).mcgriddle panYou can buy a bigger version here.

Add your egg, Precooked Jimmy Dean Sausages, and cheese, if you’d like, then throw it on a plate or napkin the kids can toss once they get to school.
homemade mcgriddles

The best part about making these pancakes beforehand is that you can just pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds while you pan-fry your eggs and sausage, and you’re out the door with breakfast-in-hand in under 10 minutes.


If your favorite part of the McGriddles are the pockets of maple flavoring, mimic that sweet taste with a dash of Maple Flavoring in your pancake mix.
maple flavoringOur favorite Buttermilk Pancake Recipe comes from Top Secret Recipes, and rivals the famous IHOP recipe. This is also a great recipe to mix in your blender, put in a squeeze bottle and make super fun messages in your pancakes, or 3D shapes and silly faces.

2016 pancakes

And here it is:


1 1/4 cup flour

1 egg

1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/4 cup milk with 1-2 T vinegar)

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 cup oil

Combine all ingredients. Cook in pan until bubbles surface, flip.



Healthier Living Resolutions are in full swing right now!

We’re all about healthier living over here! Errr….This is me ignoring what happened in my house, where on January 3rd, my husband made the kids Ice Cream Sundaes for breakfast (with a side of waffle)!!!!

It’s always fun to walk in to the store and see everyone out shopping in their gym clothes and hotpants, and the scores of healthy food lining the visible end caps and front displays of the Big Box Stores… But don’t you worry, in February they will be lined with sweets and treats again! 😉

Here’s a recipe for delicious Oatmeal Cookie bars, similar to the Larabar texture, that can curb that sweets craving and give you some fuel for those grueling mornings of New Year’s Exercise.oatmeal cookie bars meme

This is a twist on a recipe my sister gave me, in which she called, Oatmeal Yummies.

Nutrition Information from Myfitnesspal.com
Nutrition Information from Myfitnesspal.com

Oatmeal Cookie Squares

1 cup Almond Butter

2 cups Oatmeal

1 cup Flaxmeal

2/3 cup honey

2 tsp vanilla

4 T chia seeds

1/2 cup Raisins

oatmeal cookie

Mix all ingredients. Roll out to desired thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then cut into 40 equal squares/rectangles and store in airtight container between sheets of parchment.oatmeal cookie 2

Note: I like mine thin and cut them into 1.5 inch squares, but my kids like them thick and cut into bite-size rectangles. You can do it however suits you!

I absolutely LOVE Larabars. When making these Oatmeal Cookie Bars, I also whipped up a batch of Coconut Cream Larabars in my Food Processor.

larabarGood stuff! Out of curiosity, I evaluated the nutrition on them as well…

Coconut Cream Larabars

larabar 2
You’re welcome!

Jesus Christ Is My Anchor

Picture Credit LDS.ORG
Picture Credit LDS.ORG

Once there was a girl in a small boat on the shore of a bay. In the summer heat, she laid back to relax and enjoy the sun. About an hour, and possibly a nap later, she found she had drifted away from the shore. Frantic to return home, she picked up the oars and started to row. Despite her efforts, the wind was stronger than she and the undercurrents continued to carry her in a route contrary to where she desired. As her efforts doubled, the wind grew stronger and she continued to lose sight of the shore as she drifted toward the endless ocean. All efforts that this young woman could muster would not match the strength of the sea and she was lost.

Do you have a firm anchor to keep you from ever-so-slightly drifting with the wind and underlying current?
James 1:6 reads, “…For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ should be your anchor. It was prepared for a divine purpose and designed to provide safety and guidance.
The teachings from the scriptures and Modern-Day Prophets help keep our anchor tight.

How strong is your anchor line?
Daily practice of scripture study, prayer, developing talents, and acts of compassionate service help to build your anchor line, one link at a time; bringing you closer to Christ and fortifying your testimony of the Gospel.

Deiter F. Uchtdorf explained the importance of a firmly set anchor with the following quote:

“Life has a way of testing our anchors and tempting us to drift. If our anchors are correctly placed in the rock of our Redeemer, they will hold- no matter the force of the wind, the strength of the tide, or height of the waves.”

We must firmly set our anchors on the bedrock of Gospel Truth.

As you continue to strengthen your testimony and fortify your anchors, you will be able to endure any hardship that comes your way.

If you feel you have drifted out to sea, all is not lost. The strongest link we have is the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Wind, storm, and prevailing currents may tempt us to drift into danger, but the Gospel and its divine power will keep us on our path back to the safe harbor of our Heavenly Father.

What’s on the Horizon?

Into the Wild

In the book, Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer, a young man makes a rash decision to abandon his current lifestyle. He decides to become nomadic and hitch rides up and down the Western States, before experiencing a trip into the Alaskan Wild. Although being a nomad doesn’t allure Lars and I, we often entertain the idea of temporarily moving somewhere different and experience life with different cultures and broader horizons. Here is an excerpt from Chris McCandless’ letter to a friend before his big adventure. This really resonated with me:
God has placed [Joy] all around us. It is in everything and anything we experience.
“I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endless changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, [Ron,] you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty… Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, [Ron,] and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.
You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.”
Excerpt from Chris McCandless in a letter to a friend with the pseudonym, Ron Franz, from the book, “Into the Wild,” by Jon Krakauer

This last year has really changed the way Lars and I view our lives. There are things that used to be important to us, or at least we thought they were things of importance, but they have dimmed and faded as we have reevaluted our lives and tried to reorganize what we put effort into. We can honestly say that we have changed over the course of this year and become better versions of ourselves. This year certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park, and the things that have remained as priorities have simply, and most importantly, been our children. Perhaps we will make a drastic move one day, perhaps we will not, but as long as we are together as a family, our adventures, here or there, will be together, and that’s really all that matters.

You Will Never Look at Cauliflower the Same Way Again

Cauliflower is the least sought out veggie on the veggie tray. In fact, when you eat it, it HAS to be followed with another vegetable as a chaser or be doused in a dressing to hide its flavor. It’s so bad that when we receive it in our Bountiful Basket, we “accidentally” leave it behind for someone else to claim. We’ve been known to take random heads of Cauliflower and put them in unlocked cars of people we seek revenge. It’s the only food that isn’t devoured in our house and stays in the back of the fridge until it gains a slimy greenish-black film and I feel pity enough to throw it in the trash, as if I’m putting it out of its misery. Actually, don’t take any of that as truth, it’s all lies, we LOVE cauliflower over here…and this is why:

alfredo memeY’all, I trick my husband, the Ultimate Loather of Cauliflower, with this delicious Alfredo Sauce.  It’s a super simple blender recipe that can be thrown together in minutes, no (stinky!) boiler steaming required, due to these amazing Microwave Steam Bags:
ziploc steam bagsHave you used them? So easy; you can even wash and reuse them, after steaming veggies, to be frugal. I break up my cauliflower, throw it in the bag, give it a quick rinse, and pop it in the micro for a few minutes (recommended times are right there on the bag!).
steamed CauliThen, I throw in all of my ingredients into the blender,
blend Cauligive a really good mix for a couple minutes,
Blended Cauliand throw it in the pot with my cooked chicken or shrimp to heat and go over my noodles.
alfredo sauceAMAZING!

Smooth and Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

1 package of cream cheese

1 head of steamed cauliflower

1t garlic salt

1/2t onion powder

1 cup chicken stock

BLEND IN BLENDER. HEAT. SERVE. (Yields approximately 4 cups/1 quart sauce)

shrimp alfredo

DISCLAIMER: DOES NOT MAKE GREAT LEFTOVERS. The cauliflower will be noticeable after a day or two in the fridge. Not too bad if you love Cauliflower, but you’d be lying if you said you did!

The Best of Friends Share the Worst of Moments

boys sleepingI awoke early one morning to an unpleasant sound, deep and bellowing, from my four-year-old’s stomach. You know the sound. That noise is unmistakable. The kind that makes you jump up into an automatic upright position anticipating what is coming. As I made it into the kids’ room, Connor is standing on the bed in disbelief as his body is suddenly betraying him. Jack then awoke only long enough to realize what was going on before vomiting with sympathy and disgust. I bolted to their aid, to rub their backs and comfort them, trying hard to remove myself from the reality, so I, too, wouldn’t join in. Once the vomiting stopped, we ran them a warm shower and helped them clean up. The clock said 3:30am, and I’m sure you’ve all been there. As I was taking the sheets down to the wash, I was lost in a moment from the past, before being a Mom, when I wasn’t able to remove myself from reality as easily.

It was a burrito, a bean and cheese burrito. One from Taco Bell that was so recently digested that it almost came out whole. My Aunt, just a few years older, ran to the bathroom to rid her stomach of it, and I anxiously followed to help hold back her hair. It was awful. The warmth and the smell of those beans and the thought of her choking trying to get it out of her airway was too much to handle; I abandoned my job of clearing the hair from her face and joined in on the vomit fest. A Spring or two later, we repeated this same scenario with a Mega-Value Bulk Canister of Jelly Beans and a glass or two of soda. Those times are still so vivid of a memory; it has taken over 15 years to even consider a jellybean or a Taco Bell Burrito.

As I poured in the laundry soap, and delayed the wash until the boys would be out of the shower, I thought about the memories I have of my loved ones. My favorite memories aren’t glamorous. They don’t include big trips or fun things we were doing, but times when we were present during trials or were just experiencing average life together. Those moments are precious to me because I was never alone.

I think about my youngest boys, best friends, 16 months apart, and I think of how lucky they are to have those moments together. The moments when they are giggling together, or chasing each other around the house, even throwing up together. Perhaps they are too young to remember that night last week, but I’m hoping even those moments will be ones that strengthen their bond and give them everlasting memories.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year


As a child, I have memories of my mother unwrapping the fragile Christmas ornaments to carefully place on the Christmas tree. There was a reverence she had, as she methodically opened each tissue-covered emblem and directed us to the perfect spot for it on the tree. I always felt special watching her handle my school-made ornaments with that same delicate hand.

In efforts of helping my children to feel that same wonderful sentiment of my mother, we have a family tradition of making Christmas ornaments to adorn our own Christmas tree. Every year, we make Cornstarch/Baking Soda Ornaments (which are very white in comparison to the salt dough counterpart) and Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments. The kids enjoy decorating their ornaments as we watch a Christmas Devotional, and we add a special few to our own Christmas Tree.  Later, they deliver carefully thought out ornaments to friends, teachers and neighbors with notes of love and appreciation.

While the kids make the ornaments, Lars and I are usually making a tasty treat for all of us to enjoy together. This year’s treat is inspired by our favorite seasonal drink, Eggnog; I mean, who doesn’t like Eggnog (don’t answer that if you don’t!)?! So, if you love Eggnog as much as we do, here are the steps to making our favorite seasonal bread to bake up smiles at your house, too!

This is what we call Eggnog Pound Cake. You can call it that, or Eggnog Bread, if you want the calories to be ignored. Go ahead; it’s the Holidays! Although it’s not a traditional pound cake with a pound of flour, butter, eggs and sugar, it is dense and delightful, just as a pound cake is!

First, set your oven to 350 degrees, and line 4 mini loaf pans with parchment paper and a quick spray of canola oil, or whatever you prefer.
Parchment is your friend

Cream 1/2 cup softened butter with 1 cup sugar in large mixing bowl. Once mixed well, add in eggs, one at a time. Then, vanilla and eggnog.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, pudding and nutmeg.

Slowly add in your dry ingredients to your wet until incorporated throughout.

Divide out heaping 1 cup measurements into your loaf pans and use a toothpick to swirl your mixture flat, if you don’t like to bang it on the counter and interrupt your Christmas Devotional. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake for 30 minutes.

eggnog bread uncooked

Let rest for a few minutes in the pan, or place on wire racks to cool before cutting.

baked eggnog bread

eggnog meme

EGGNOG Pound Cake

1/2 Cup softened butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups eggnog

2 ¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 small Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 Mini Loaf Pans with Parchment and spray with cooking spray.
1. Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl on medium speed. Add in eggs one at a time, vanilla, and eggnog.
2. In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, pudding mix and nutmeg.
3. Slowly combine dry ingredients into wet while mixing.
4. Pour into loaf tins and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Add a dollop of whipped cream of your choice and/or sprinkle with nutmeg before serving.sprinkled with nutmeg bread

Now, go hand your kids some ornaments to decorate and admire on your own Christmas Tree, make your family some delicious bread, and listen to the 2015 Christmas Devotional here.

And remember, while you wrap up those beautiful homemade ornaments made by your little ones this year, wrap them in some extra tissue paper, and delicately place them in your box to reverently pull out next year, and make sure your children are there to watch you do it.

A Woman of the World or a Woman in the World?

As I have learned over the years to embrace Motherhood, I have become even more connected with my femininity. In the past, my idea of a strong woman was one that never cried, was dominating, empowered and independent. She was the lady that ruled the office, had multiple laborers beneath her, by choice wasn’t married until she was well over 30, and had a nanny, a chef, a housekeeper, and personal consultants. In my youth, I was determined to be that woman. In my years as a Mother, I have found that my former aspirations have been replaced with a new Model Woman.

I’ve often asked myself, “Who do I want my children to remember me as?” I also ponder what my friends, neighbors, and associates will say of me if/when I have moved away. Most importantly, what does God think of me? In Proverbs, 31:30, we read, “…a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Do I fear the Lord’s thought of me? Do I strive to do His name honor?


The Model Woman I now strive to be is virtuous, respectful, honorable, compassionate, hard working, faithful, forgiving, and primarily (not occasionally) nurturing. I believe that in Heaven, before we were formed in the womb, we had gender identities, and divine qualities that separated us, male and female. Is it improbable to think that we were emulated after a loving Heavenly Mother? Are we not all born with natural tendencies specific to our gender? Is it not in our very nature as women to be nurturing, gentle, compassionate, and humble? Why, then, have we allowed ourselves to be taught that a Woman of the World, everything opposite to our divine nature, is desirable?

In an inspiring message given by Margaret D. Nadauld highlighting the joy of womanhood, professes the following,


“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”


Now, to clarify the question, “Who is the Model Woman I strive to be?” She is, just simply, MOM.

great strength

My name wasn’t always Mom. I also go by the name Chellie. I often switch my nametag to Devout Christian, Connoisseur, Over-Confident DIYer, Obsessive Organizer, or Health Seeker.