Name: Brooke

Posts by Brooke:

    Family Moments

    January 5th, 2014

    2014-01-02 12.55.46

    2013 came and went so quickly that I hardly remember what happened. There were some big changes, such as Catherine moving to the Midwest, Robear graduating with her Masters Degree, and Jens getting married. In looking back and remembering I also found some great snapshots of small family moments.

    2012-12-29 16.41.46
    Sparrow shows off her cool nail art she received for Christmas.

    2013-01-19 16.11.41
    Missy K with Robear and Restoration Whisperer in Zions National Park in January.

    2013-01-19 16.14.43
    TS unenthusiastically poses for a picture at Zions National Park in January.

    2013-02-12 20.47.40
    Missy K dresses up!

    2013-02-12 18.15.18
    Sparrow and a big bear.

    2013-06-01 16.53.50
    Squash and Robear at graduation!

    2013-06-19 20.28.38
    Paula and G share a fun moment at Jens’ rehearsal dinner.

    2013-08-17 17.06.53
    Sparrow learned how to swing on her own…no parents required!

    2013-09-09 11.20.14
    G & R are one-year-old techno babies.

    2013-12-23 20.10.49
    Missies K & L goof while enjoying the Christmas lights.

    2013-12-25 11.07.51
    R enjoys some of G’s Christmas presents.

    2013-12-25 11.08.30
    G rocks as a shepard/warrior in the Christmas play.

    2013-12-25 11.07.00
    Catherine and Stacie laughing.

    2013-12-27 03.53.49
    Squash is the only one Gypsy will allow to hold her like this.

    2014-01-02 12.55.46
    R shows off her horse riding skills.

    2013 was a good year!



    2 Minute Project: Bookcase Makeover

    February 21st, 2013

    I generally think of myself as a clean and tidy person…I am…really…until I notice that I have blinders on regarding certain areas in my house. Well sometimes the blinders come off and then…YIKES!!


    This is one of those Yikes areas of my home. (Please do not look too closely at the cork board covered in 3 years worth of wedding announcements and outdated Costco coupons.) Bookcases can be useful and necessary, but they can also be a place to shove unwanted items. Well this bookcase in my kitchen nook area was my go-to shove-it-somewhere-because-people-are-coming-over-and-everyone-knows-that-bookcases-don’t-count place. Well, needless to say, yesterday morning while eating breakfast I actually looked at the offensive corner and realized something had to be done.

    Commence Project: Bookcase Makeover


    The bookcase is one of those cheap, IKEA-like bookcases…you buy them for function, but they don’t really have any style. A girl needs some style in her life. Bookcases that basically consist of a few laminated particle boards and a fake cardboard back do not, I repeat, do NOT equal style.

    So I put on my WWAD (What Would April Do) Hat and decided that a fun backdrop on my bookcase would be just the inspiration I needed to keep it clean(ish). This project was very quick and easy and only cost me about $30. I know that others could do it for much less, but I don’t have that kind of patience.

    bookcase makeover materials

    Materials and Tools I used: (Note the other options I mention below)

    • Scrapbook paper-Note other options below
    • Spray Adhesive
    • Exacto Knife or some razor blade
    • Straight Edge (I used a metal square)
    • Cutting surface

    The first order of business was going to the local scrapbook store. There I found some square scrapbook pages that I liked and got about 15-20 sheets. (A way to save money would be to actually know just how many pages you need so you do not over buy, but that requires planning ahead and that is not my talent. Look to my sisters for this. April designed a whole cart from scraps and even designed the plans.)

    You could also save money by choosing a different material. Why not use old pages from a book instead of scrapbook paper? You can get the book from a local goodwill for a dollar or two. I also thought it might be interesting and fun to use newspaper, left over roll of wrapping paper, or children’s artwork. My only concern with these options is that it may be slightly more difficult because they are thinner pieces of paper.

    But you can count on me to do the quick and easy thing, so the scrapbook store worked well for me. (Despite what my sisters think, I do care about costs, so I passed on some awesome papers that were $2+ a sheet.) The great thing about the scrapbook paper is its thickness. The thickness was helpful in putting up the pieces, because you didn’t have to be concerned that it would wrinkle. This made the project very fast. (It is also very useful to have a Robear in your life; working with someone sped everything up.)


    After cutting off the unwanted edges of the scrapbook paper, we sprayed the backboard and the back of the paper with spray adhesive, waited 15 seconds and then placed the pages on the backboard. They will stick together without any chance of getting them apart, so be careful when putting them up. (The thick cardstock made it much easier.)

    The paper I chose had a bid of yellowing on the sides which makes it look old. If you don’t want the seams to show up as much as mine do, make sure that you choose a paper without any gradation of color on the edges.

    bookcase makeover in progress

    Make sure to have a straight-edge and a razor blade to cut the paper to size.


    For my bookcase makeover I choose to use two types of paper. One color on top and one on the bottom. Mostly I did this because I couldn’t decide which I liked better, but there is no real stopping anything you want to do.



    I really like the end result and perhaps it will even stay looking tidy for a day or two.

    bookcase makeover final

    If you do a bookcase makeover be sure to show us what you’ve done.


    2 Minute Project: Easy Valentine’s Day Wreath

    February 5th, 2013

    Pink valentine's day wreath on door crop copy

    A couple of days ago I posted about April’s wreath made from a project she and Paula saw on Pinterest. Well not to be outdone, Catherine and I decided to make our own “pinto” wreaths. But the thought of using teenie, tiny, pinto beans did not really appeal. Plus, I wanted a Valentine’s Day wreath.

    Materials and Tools for Valentine’s Day Wreath:

    • Large bag of candy conversation hearts
    • Straw wreath
    • Spray paint in color of your choice
    • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
    • Newspaper or cardboard to work on and spray paint on to protect other surfaces


    We found a large (very large…costco worthy…) sized bag of candy conversation hearts and straw wreaths. We then got out the glue guns and went to work (with help from Squaush, Stacie, Melinda and Robear).


    I was right about not going with the pinto beans…my fingers were burned multiple times just while gluing the hearts…


    It was easier and faster to do the gluing with a partner. Catherine and Melinda were speedy, but in the end we both got our wreaths covered in delicious heart-shaped sugar.


    I actually really liked the look of the wreath at this point, but since I wanted this to be a response wreath and I had not painted or covered the straw wreath before gluing on the hearts, we did spray paint them.

    Joy & Wreath


    As you can see, Catherine and I were inspired by the 80s. She went witht the classic baby blue and I went for hot pink. (I kind of love that hot pink is hot again.)


    We then glued on letters because April had put a large D on her wreath.



    Lastly, we enlisted the help of Robear. She was great at making us some extra fluffy bows. Its Valentine’s…go big or go home!

    Happy Valentine’s Day wreath!

    blue valentine's day wreath on door copy

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    Christmas Door Remodel

    February 1st, 2013


    April is ambitious when it comes to projects. I have had a small hole in a ceiling for almost 3 years that I can’t seem to find the time to patch. But April wouldn’t even see that as a project. (Notice the door behind the cute baby and children gathered around the tree? Look hard, it is just barely seen in the righthand corner. That was gone shortly after this picture was taken.)


    Since moving into their larger home, April has tackled many projects: bathroom remodels, kitchen remodels, and furniture remodels. So the fact that she wanted to move her garage door from the living room into the laundry room was a minor project.


    So when better to do this “minor project”? Hmmm…how about Christmas morning? Who doesn’t remodel on Christmas morning, right?!?


    After the craziness that is Christmas morning with 6 children, 1 teenager and 8 adults. April and Niel with some “help” from Jens moved a door and patched the wall in the living room. So basically, Christmas morning there was a door next to the Christmas tree and by the end of the morning there was a wall instead.


    They framed up the door opening with 2x4s. (Do not be fooled…when I say “they” I really mean “Niel”. Jens just picked up a hammer or drill when April was snapping the pictures; making us all laugh, including Niel.)


    They then put up remnants of sheetrock that April just happened to have in her garage.

    And suddenly there was a wall.


    Since Christmas, April has taped, sanded, texturized, painted, and re-texurized the wall…


    If it wasn’t for the patch of laminate on the floor by where the door was and the rogue lightswitch in the middle of the wall, you wouldn’t have any idea there ever was a door there.

    Personally I am looking forward to the project for next Christmas…Tiling the bathroom? New windows? A deck? I am sure that April has endless projects swirling around in her brain…can’t wait to see what happens.


    How to Make a Pinto Bean Wreath

    January 31st, 2013

    Bean wreath copy

    [Disclaimer: April has been very busy being a mother to 5 intelligent, rambunctious, and vocal children and one cute, but demanding baby. But April, being April, could not help but do all sorts of amazing projects as well as being super-mom. However, she has not had as much time to blog about all the projects. So I begged her to let me put some of them up on the blog and brag about how amazing she is. She approved the blogging part, but not the bragging part. Luckily, this is my blog post and I get to do what I want!]

    Apparently April and Paula saw a project on Pinterest in which a super creative person made a wreath out of lima beans and white paint. So Paula and April decided to try their hand at the project.



    Materials and Tools for Pinto Bean Wreath:

    • Lots of pinto beans
    • Straw wreath
    • Glue gun and plenty of glue sticks
    • Spray paint
    • Ribbon to hang the wreath
    • Additional decorations (optional)
    • Drop cloth or newspaper to spray paint the wreath on and keep everything clean.

    However, rather than using lima beans (because they have no redeeming value and who wants those left over after the project is completed) they used pinto beans.


    The found straw wreaths at the local craft store and used a coupon to get them 40% off. (Chaching, chaching!)

    After debating about it for a few minutes they decided to leave the plastic packaging on the wreath to ensure the wreath stayed together after gluing beans all over it. The plastic did melt a little during the gluing process, but it remained in tack and was the right choice.

    April chose to glue her beans as fast as possible, burning her fingers a little in the process, but getting done much faster than Paula who decided to painstakingly glue her beans on in tidy, even rows. But because beans are different sizes, both wreaths looked very similar despite Paula’s careful precision verse April’s random git-er-done version. We suggest just gluing the beans on in a random pattern. The pinto bean wreath naturally started looking like snakeskin, but this was remedied with paint because none of us wanted a faux snake skin wreath this time.

    April wanted her wreath to be appropriate for all seasons, so she chose a burnt yellow-orange spray paint and two different ribbons she could swap out depending on the season. She also added a large wooden letter D, for her family’s last name, and opted to keep it quite natural with just a slight whitewash on the wood.



    To hang the wreath, April simply looped the ribbon through the hole in the “D” and through the center of the wreath and then using a large, flat headed nail meant for hammering down shingles, tacked the two ribbon ends into the top edge of the door.

    I liked the result. My one hesitation in making my own is the idea of individually gluing all those little beans onto a straw wreath. Thus, for another version see my alternative wreath here.

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    January 29th, 2013


    “Zion” has several different meanings: 1) a hill by Jerusalem (sometimes Jerusalem), 2) a religious reference to a holy place, and 3) the name of a national park in southern Utah.

    A couple of weekends ago, the family got out of cold, wet, and snowy Salt Lake City and took a pilgrimage to “Zion”…National Park.

    Needless to say, it was much warmer than Salt Lake, at least in the sunshine.


    There was much goofing around, laughter, and at times tears(usually when children hit their limits).



    But nature did not disappoint us; it was beautiful.



    Twin Outfits

    January 25th, 2013


    This may have been mentioned before, but after April had Buddy, she started telling everyone that she wanted twins because they are 2 for 1 – two kids, one pregnancy. No one in the family or extended family has twins, so we told her that this was probably not going to happen.

    However, the Gods must have been smiling on April. I received a phone call from her while I was at work a couple months after she found out she was pregnate for the 4th time. She had just had her first ultrasound. We had been down this pregnancy road before, so I thought it was suspicious that she called. Plus, she sounded so gleeful on the phone. So I guessed the most ludicrous thing possible: “Are you having twins?” When the answer was, “Yes!” I couldn’t help but be just as excited. 5 years later, April and the Sports Addict were sufficiently recovered from the excitement (read this as hard work) that is twins.

    Speaking of twins, Missy L and Missy K are the best and funniest twins that I know. (Admittedly, I don’t know a lot of twins.) So a couple of months ago, I promised to take Missy K and Missy L out to buy “twin outfits.”

    This was partially due to the fact that Missy L and Missy K had started kindergarten. They are in different classes (for several reasons), but they had to be convinced of why this separation should occur. One of the techniques was being told that they could then wear “twin outfits” (aka matching outfits) to school. As true girls, the promise of new clothes did wonders for convincing them that separate classes would be okay.


    Our shopping expedition was a lot of fun. In the end, after several different outfits, the Missies decided that Hello Kitty was a fashion statement they wanted to make in kindergarten. It helps that Hello Kitty almost exclusively favors the color pink.

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    Oh, Brother!

    January 18th, 2013

    As the youngest, Squash has had to suffer through many siblings falling in love, but it doesn’t change how annoying that can be…


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    The Name Game

    January 17th, 2013


    We used to play a lot of games as a family when we got together – board games, card games, etc. But as April and Paula kept adding children to the mix, the number of games went down. It was too hard with small babies who needed constant attention and liked to randomly grab anything in front of them. As the children grew, they were too small to really understand and play the games, but wanted very badly to be part of the “adult crowd.” So the games faded out of our activities, except for one game….The Name Game.


    This game can be played with a variety of ages. It doesn’t take a lot of skill other than to remember all the various names and guess who would have picked that name. The children love it because they get to play with the adults and by the end of the game pretty much everyone is laughing, which is always much better than everyone in tears.

    How to play:

    1) Everyone picks a name and writes it on a small piece of paper. (Sometimes you can pick a theme like all Disney characters or only historical people, but sometimes we don’t put any restrictions on the name and people (generally small people) choose really wacky and bizarre names.)

    2) One of the players (or a moderator) then gathers up all the names in a bowl and reads them all out to the other players, twice, and only twice.

    3) The players sit in a circle and then take turns guessing who picked which name. A player only gets to guess one name on each turn, unless they guess correctly. If the player guesses correctly, then the player whose name was guessed joins the “team” of the player who guessed his or her name. The player’s turn continues until they make a guess that is incorrect.


    This sounds relatively simple, but the more people you have the more names you must remember. Eventually you have large teams competing against each other until everyone is on the winning team. The best part of this game is that everyone is a winner in the end which works really well when you are playing with a lot of fun, but competitive children.

    Sunday we played this game at my house. Luckily, I joined TS’s team relatively early so I had the opportunity to snap a few pictures.

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    Beach Bums

    January 19th, 2012

    Great Salt Lake 1-15-12

    The other day Catherine, Squash and I decided we needed a break from regular life and impulsively jumped in the car and went to the beach for the afternoon. No, we haven’t relocated to California. We visited the beach at the Great Salt Lake.


    The Great Salt Lake beach smells like a regular ocean beach with a salty tang on the air. It looks like a regular ocean beach with miles of wet sand and signs of animal and insect life. But even with these similarities, there is something different about this beach.


    Maybe it is because the water in the Great Salt Lake is about 10 times more salty than the ocean. So everything that has been in the water or near the water is crusted with a white film of salt.

    Or maybe it is the eerie stillness of the water and the lack of vegetation.


    No matter what, the beach is a good place to go with your sisters.



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