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Hot Diggity Blog !

creative.amusing.mostly random.thoughts

Updated: 2018-03-06T14:23:10.516-05:00


Mother's Day


Here's me and my little crew on Mother's Day. Honestly, I couldn't imagine a better group of folks to spend my days and nights with. Also, Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful moms out there, especially my own beautiful mom. Love you!

Welcome to the World Little One


 Brynn Charlotte arrived on October 27th at 2:24 A.M.  One day before hurricane Sandy hit the east coast and just a few days before Halloween. She weighs 7 pounds 8.5 ounces and is 19 inches long.  After watching way too much hurricane and election coverage at the hospital, I'm now enjoying the fleeting moments of snuggling my sleepy, soft and sweet newborn babe. Welcome to the world little Brynn!



At the beginning of October, Jared and I decided we should have one last family hoorah before the baby arrives. We decided to head west for a camping trip in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Unfortunately the weather was not so cooperative and we basically got rained on for two days straight before we decided to cut the trip short. It was a bit of a bummer but we still managed to have a good time in spite of mother nature and we were even able to catch a first little glimpse of fall foilage along the Blue Ridge Parkway.All packed up and ready to go! Our first stop. Morrow Mountain, a nice, well kept state park outside of Charlotte.  Caroline's first camping trip-she had a great time!  Next stop, Lake Lure (where Dirty Dancing was filmed) and Chimney Rock State Park.   In case you are curious, this is what it looks like trying to take a picture with three kids and a dog on top of a mountain on a big rock shaped like a chimney when all of the above mentioned are trying to fall to their death off of said rock. Stressful. :) More from Chimney Rock:After leaving Chimney Rock, we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove to Mount Mitchell: the highest peak east of the Mississippi at over 6600 feet. This is where the trip got a little hairy. We arrived at the park after dark and the ranger warned us that black bears were a real problem so all food had to be kept locked away. (Scary!) It was also freezing outside and the ranger also warned that foul weather was iminent. However, since it was already 8:00 and we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the middle of nowhere, driving to a hotel didn't seem like a viable option. Another bummer was that we couldn't drive into the campsite, we would have to carry all our gear (in the dark, in the cold, with the bears) about 100 yards into the site. This wouldn't have been that big of deal under different conditions but after a brief scare with a bear* in our would-be campsite, I said no thanks. (*I didn't see a bear, but our dog Ruby, who never barks, was growling and going crazy barking at the tall brush that surrounded our campsite. There was definitely something lurking in those weeds!) So, this is what we ended up with. Something Mitchell termed a "pop-up camper" in the parking lot. Our kids thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. It was windy and rainy all night but we stayed dry and we didn't get attacked by any bears so while it wasn't ideal, I'd still call it a success.All and all it was a good trip. Had the weather been better, it would have been amazing! Thankfully our kids LOVE to camp and kids in general are pretty resiliant. To them, a make shift tent on a trailer turns into a "pop-up camper" and dense fog and rain turns into an adventure "sleeping in the clouds."The Blue Ridge Parkway has been on my list for awhile so even though the weather dampered things a bit, it still didn't disappoint. We'll definitely head back under more favorable conditions. :) [...]



My little Spencer is finally five! I say finally because to Jared and I it seems that he has been five for a long time already. When he turned two, it seemed like he should be turning three, when he turned threee it seemed like he should be turning four. You get the idea.  I think this is mostly because he spoke well pretty early and he has been riding a two-wheeler bike since he was three. Accomplishments that have made him seem a little older to us. Spencer is friendly, outgoing and very thoughtful. (He picks flowers for me on a daily basis!) I have a feeling this one is going to break a lot of hearts and I definitely couldn't imagine our family without our spunky little Spence. Happy Birthday!

Country Mouse


Jared likes to say he married a country girl but when he says that I have to gently remind him that while I grew up in a rural area surrounded by country, I myself am not what you might term a country girl.  Small town girl, yes. Country girl, no. Growing up my family always lived in a neighborhood with a sidewalk and participated in no activities one might associate with country living: farm animals (we had house cats), hunting, gardening, horseback riding. I don't know, name anything that might be associated with the country and I most likely had never experienced it.  The closest I ever came to farm animals was an annual visit to the county fair.  Jared on the other hand grew up in a rural area and lived in the country surrounding it. He grew up in an old farmhouse on five acres and raised animals: rabbits, goats, pigs, chickens and who knows what else. He hunts, he gardens, he has bailed hay, driven a pick-up truck and likes Hank Williams Jr. In other words, he is a country boy and embraces it. So here we are, somewhere in the middle. Living on two acres, in a neighborhood, with bee hives, a dog and a small flock of chickens. Call it the best of both worlds, if you will.  It actually took me a few months to feel comfortable touching the chickens with my bare hands but I can honestly say I rather enjoy them now. Also, watching our kids take care of those chickens is pretty much the cutest thing ever. (Caroline squeals and chases them all around the yard and Spencer and Mitchell treat them like little babies.) So, while I still wouldn't consider myself a full fledged country girl, if Jared has anything to do with it, I'll be milking my own cow and cleaning out horse stalls sooner rather than later. :) What about you? What things do you associate with country living? Are you a city mouse or a country mouse?

Thirty Two


So this is what thirty two looks like.
Thirty two weeks prego and thirty two years old.
Happy Birthday to me (and happy birthday to baby in just a few short weeks!) 

Guess Who's Seven?


It's hard to believe my first born babe turned seven yesterday. Seven! I don't know why but that sounds a lot older than six for some reason.  Mitchell has always and still loves anything with wheels and an engine. He wants to be a race car/monster truck driver, an astronaut and a cowboy when he grows up. He is a kind and patient older brother to his siblings and like me (at least when I was a kid) is pretty reserved most of the time. There's nothing quite like becoming a mother for the very first time so today I'm feeling extra grateful we've had this cute dark haired little babe turned handsome little man running around our house for the past seven years.
Happy Birthday Mitchell, we love you!



Jared and I are celebrating nine years of marriage today. I don't like to get too cheesy or sentimental in public forums but just for the record, marrying Jared was the best decision I've ever made. Also, just for fun, here's a quick recap in pictures: May 2003: Jared surprised me with a weekend trip to Chicago. I had never been and he knew I wanted to go. He popped the question in Lincoln park and we spent the rest of the day sight seeing all over the city, with me admiring the new ring on my finger.  Engagement picture taken outside of my apartment. We look so young! :)July 26th 2003: Short engagements are best. We were married in the Columbus Ohio LDS temple just three months after we were engaged. (And no, I was not pregnant.)   We honeymooned on a Carribbean cruise. Here we are above Meagan's bay in St. Thomas. We also stopped in Aruba (our favorite), Martinique (our least favorite) and Barbados. July 2004, First anniversary: We celebrated our first anniversary with dinner at a fancy  restaurant in downtown Columbus called "M." We also went to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra's outdoor performance, Picnic with the Pops. We also made a stop a the temple and took some self timer pictures together where we were married.  July 2005, Second anniversary: This year, I was 8 months pregnant with our first child Mitchell. For our anniversary, we cleaned out our kitchen cabinets (can you say nesting?), then went for dinner at the Yard Club. (A pub style restaurant in Hilliard that is no longer open.) We also continued the tradition with a few self timer pictures at the Columbus temple.  (Awkward hand placement on my part but this is the only picture I could muster up.) July 2006, Third anniversary: Dinner at the Columbus Fish Market and Picnic with the Pops afterward. We also managed a few more self timer pics at the temple just for kicks. July 2007, Fourth anniversary: I was 7 months pregnant with our second child, Spencer. We had dinner at at the Eddie George Grill on Ohio State campus. (It's a sports bar, and it was loud and noisy. Definitely not ideal for an anniversary dinner.) Afterward we walked around a little street festival, The Lazy Days of Summer, in Grandview and of course self timer temple pictures.   July 2008, Fifth anniversary: For our big five year celebration, we decided to do something a a little out of the ordinary and very romantic. We went to Cedar Point and stood in long lines with hot, sweaty people all day. I believe it was my idea, not sure what I was thinking. (You might remember I blogged about our experience here.) July 2009, Sixth anniversary: We didn't take a picture this year but we had just moved to Marietta for Jared to start Physician Assistant school. It was pouring down rain and after trying to have dinner at two local restaurants with no luck, we ended up eating Italian at a cute little place called Spagna's. Afterwards Jared took me on a tour of his new home away from home: the Ricky Science Center on the campus of Marietta College. July 2010, Seventh anniversary: Caroline was one month old. We had dinner at a local place in Marietta called Da Vinci's.  July 2011, Eighth anniversary: Jared had just graduated from PA school. We were visiting Columbus and went on a triple date with my sister +bro-in-law and Jared's brother+sis-in-law. We had barbeque on high street and then went back to the church building at Ohio State where Jared and I met. We also walked around campus and toured the brand new student union.  Nine years later and we are living in North Carolina with three beautiful children and a fourth on the way! Time sure flies when you're having fun, doesn't it? [...]

Miss C Turns Two


Miss Caroline turned two last week! We celebrated with lemon cupcakes topped with fresh cream cheese frosting, yum. Caroline wasn't so sure about the candles at first, but after a little help from her older brothers, she was determined to try it on her own. Again and again and again. Happy birthday sweet Caroline! We love you to the moon and back. 



Welcome Summer


Happy summer solstice. Today was hot, humid and hazy. Pretty lazy too. We woke up with no real plans for the day but ended up watering the garden, playing in the sprinkler, filling up the kiddie pool on our deck, eating popsicles and shucking fresh corn on the cob for dinner. The kids ate dinner in their swim suits and bare feet:  cold watermelon, said corn on the cob and fried zucchini from our garden. Today was one of those days where nothing was planned, but everything ended up sort of perfect. And that my friends, is the beauty of summer.

Adventures in Beekeeping


(Mitchell and Jared suited up.)Back in December, Jared and I became the proud owners of five bee hives. Someone in our church was preparing to move and was looking to sell their hives and all their beekeeping equipment. Since beekeeping is a hobby Jared has enjoyed in the past with his older brother, he thought it would be fun to have a few hives of his very own.  Jared read some books on the subject, and opened the hives a few times to tend his bees. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.  However, in March, we had an unexpected visitor. The hives sit about a hundred yards behind our house and back up to a large wooded area. The unexpected visitor was a black bear which completely destroyed two of the hives!                                        (I took this picture of the devastation with my phone.)                            Jared pieced the two hives back together only for the bear to return the next evening and destroy one of the same hives again. The next night, we decided to move the hives farther away from the woods and surround them with an electric fence. We also shone a flashlight into the woods and saw the bear, watching our every move! Our neighbor scared him away with bird shot and thankfully, we haven't seen him since.Fast forward to April, it seemed that every other day, one of our hives would swarm. This is when a new queen is born and the old queen and all her minions leave the hive for good to start a new hive. I have learned that this is a natural part of hive reproduction but as a beekeeper, it is something you should try to prevent. Because, unfortunately, the old queen and all her workers eat a bunch of honey before they take off.Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend. With the bear attack and all the swarming we had going on, we were uncertain how much honey would actually be in our hives. Jared decided to open the hives to check up on them and found them loaded! It was harvest day. Even though it was hotter than hades, Jared roped me into putting on a bee suite and helping him get all the honey out of the hives and into the house. It was crazy! The bees were really aggressive, and rightfully so. In the end, Jared ended up with one sting on the ear, I ended up with one really nasty sting on my ankle but on the bright side, we ended up with about 8 gallons of honey! Not bad for two relatively new beekeepers. Thankfully the bees do most of the work. :)(Harvesting day with crazy bees.)[...]

Happy Spring!


Enjoying a fresh bouquet of buttercups the boys picked especially for me. Hope you're enjoying bright colored blooms today too. And although it feels like summer, happy spring!

Life Lately



Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake


This cake is so yummy and so easy, I'm not sure why I don't make it more often. Maybe it is because of the name. Although I've heard it called many different things, it is commonly referred to as "Better Than Sex Cake" which I think is the dumbest name ever. Who wants to tell their family or dinner guests that is what they made for dessert? Seriously. Is it just me or is that name totally dumb and trashy sounding? Call it what you will. The cake is yummy and here is the recipe:

Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cake (the best alternative name I could come up with)
1 box devils food cake mix
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz caramel ice cream topping
1 8 oz container cool whip
2-3 Health candy bars crushed

1. Bake the cake according to package directions for 9x13 inch pan. Cool for 5 minutes and then poke holes all over the surface of the cake with the end of a wooden spoon.
2. In a saucepan, combine the sweetened condensed milk and the caramel topping. Heat over low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour mixture over warm cake.
3. Let the cake cool completely. Top with whipped cream and crushed heath bars. Garnish with a drizzle of caramel just before serving.

P.S. What do you call this cake?

Why Can't Every Day Start Like This?


Soft morning light streaming in through the window, three children quietly gathered around a book read by the eldest. And me, hiding behind the couch trying to capture the moment without being noticed, knowing very well it will end all too quickly.

Valentine Round-up


A collection some of my favorite homemade Valentines' past and present.

Photobooth Valentine (By me, from a few years back)

Heart Man from Inchmark

A scribbled Valentine by Lovely Design

Matchbox Valentines' from Inchmark


You make my heart race by Paper and Pip



Birthday Surprise


I don't consider myself much of a surprise person but I recently did a birthday surprise via the mail for my dear friend Nicole who was turning 30. It was so much fun to organize that my head is spinning with ideas for who I want to do it to next! I originally found the idea right here at Inchmark. To make it happen, I did a few hours of research on Facebook to contact what appeared to be Nicole's 30 or so closest friends and family. (I made my decisions based on who commented on her posts most frequently, who had given her heart felt Facebook birthday wishes in past years and also who was tagged in her oldest photos. Also, can I just say it is awesome you can send a message to someone on Facebook without actually being their friend? This would have been so much harder had that not been possible!) Anyway, after I gathered the names and addresses (it took about three weeks to hunt everyone down) I designed postcards in Publisher with the numbers 1-30 in different colors and fonts. I printed them on 8.5 x 11 110 lb. cardstock, four postcards to a page. Since I ended up having more than 30 people get back to me, I also made some extra postcards with various greetings like "Happy Birthday" and "The World is Way Cooler With You In It!" I think it would also be make a big impact to make all the postcards the same number (in Nicole's case the number 30) or postcards with funny quotes about getting older. Just a thought.) The backs of the postcards were left blank for friends and family to write their heartfelt wishes but I did pre-address and stamp each one to make it easier. I then sent Nicole's favorite peeps a blank postcard along with a little note with instructions:I hope Nicole enjoyed reading all her birthday wishes as much as I enjoyed connecting with all her friends and family to put the surprise together! Once again, all the original design and content ideas were found here. I was also inspired by these other great postcard birthday surprise ideas here and here. [...]

18 months


(image) (image)
(Caroline at 6 months and 18 months)

Hard to believe that last year around this time, Caroline was a toothless, bald little babe just starting to sit up all by herself. Now she is a busy, piggy-tailed toddler who runs around the house unraveling toilet paper, biting the erasers off all the pencils, climbing on the table, splashing in the potty and trying her hardest to keep up with her two older brothers. What a difference a year makes. Love this little one to pieces.

2011 Highlights and Pictures


JanuaryHighlights: a visit to Amish country, snow days and chubby legs in polka dot leggingsFebruaryHighlights: color on gray winter days, bundling up for a walk in the sun, a Valentines' party and cut out cookies (let's be honest. the real highlight was when the month came to and end!)MarchHighlights: Signs of spring, Jared's birthday, a day that required sunglasses and Caroline sitting upAprilHighlights: Marietta in bloom, warm days spent at the park and Uncle Austin's farm, Easter Sunday and egg huntsMayHighlights: Mother's Day, a pet turtle named Sparky and a lost toothJuneHightlights: Pool days, Jared and I's whirlwind trip to North Carolina, a canoe trip to Hocking Hills, a SafetyTown graduate and Caroline's first birthdayJulyHighlights: fireworks, Jared's graduation, family visiting from out of town and celebrating 8 years of marital blissAugustHighlights: A trip to Columbus including a stop at COSI, a day at Idlewild amusement park and Mitchell starting kindergarten at home.Low lights: A babe with a broken armSeptemberHighlights: A Labor Day trip to Lakeside, Mitchell's birthday, my birthday, homemade applesauce and a trip to visit Grandpa B. at the T-county fairOctoberHighlights: Spencer's birthday, fall foilage, family portriats, tricks and treatsLowlights: A weekend spent at Children's hospital with Caroline NovemberHighlights: moving to North Carolina, visiting the beachDecemberHighlights: warm weather, gingerbread houses, a ride on a firetruck and Christmas in striped jammies [...]

Christmas Eve Firetrucks


On Christmas Eve we partook in a fun tradition in a little town just up the road. Every year they get out the city fire trucks and let all the kids (and adults) ride. The trucks go up and down main street with the lights flashing and sirens blaring. Santa rides on a vintage fire truck at the end of the line. This first photo was taken toward the end of the ride, just as we were about to get off but I'd say a good time was had by all.




The Beach


After we left Ohio, we had about a week to get settled before Jared started work and the weather was sunny and pleasant so naturally, one of our first stops was the beach! On ourway, we made a quick stop at the home of "Grave Digger" for a photo-op and then we went on to Jockey's Ridge State Park. Jared and I both agree, it is the best place to let kids run free. It is a huge sand dune so they can't get lost, they can't drown (or get hurt really) and there is nothing for them to break. After Jockey's Ridge we went to Nags head to see the ocean and our last stop was an Aquarium on Roanoke Island. It has since cooled off but I'm excited to make some more day trips to the beach when the weather warms up again![...]

We Have a New Backyard


We North Carolina! The day after Thanksgiving Jared and I said good-bye to the good old Buckeye State and drove south. We landed in North Carolina, sort of in the middle of nowhere but just for reference, about an hour south of Norfolk, Virginia and an hour and half inland from the Outer Banks. The past month has been hectic with our move, the holidays and Jared's new job happening all at once but we are slowly getting settled and feeling more at home every day. Here's to a fresh start and a sunny, mild winter (insert hallelujah chorus here) in 2012!

Long Time, No See


I have been MIA since the end of July! Yikes. As it turns out, three kiddos are keeping me pretty busy and I am having a hard time making time for blogging. Although I hate catch up posts, they are, unfortunately, a necessary evil. Here are a few things I've been up to since my last missive:- Caroline broke her arm at the beginning of August. (not badly, but still sort of traumatic none-the-less.)- We tried to savor every last bit of summer we could, even though Caroline's arm splint put a damper on our outdoor water activities. :(- Mitchell turned six!- I turned 31! As a naive child/teenager, there were a few things I thought would be different about my thirties. First, I thought i would be heavier. I really am pleasantly surprised I've been able to stay fit. Second, I thought I would have a lot more money. I am realizing now that becoming a millionaire is a lot harder than I originally thought. :) Also, I thought for sure I would be done getting zits. (What's up with that?)- I am home schooling Mitchell. So far so good. It was a little rough at the beginning but we've gotten into a routine and things are going well. I started thinking about it because I'm sort of anti all-day kindergarten. I don't think it's horrible, just a waste of time. Also, I read, Well Trained Mind: A guide to classical education at home and watched Waiting for Superman, a documentary on public education in America in the same week. (Bad combo if you feel like you want to home school and are trying to talk yourself out of it!) However, if you are thinking about it, I'm definitely no expert but, I would recommend the Well Trained Mind. I put together a simple curriculum based on their recommendations.- We made a bunch of homemade applesauce-delicious!- I am playing tennis again! I played tennis growing up, including on my high school tennis team. It is something I love but for one reason or another, (being pregnant, having no money, having no one to play with, being pregnant again...) I haven't done in a long time. Lucky for me, Marietta has a really well organized community tennis association so I've been playing on their women's league and have met some fun new people to play with. My game is still sort of rusty but it's slowly coming back and it feels great to whack some yellow felt around even if it is just for a few hours each week.- We spent a relaxing weekend watching our church's semi-annual general conference. A weekend full of spiritual enlightenment and encouragement. What? You missed it? No worries. It's all archived, here. Seriously, even if you are not LDS, you should watch some of it. It is so good! Try this talk and this talk.-Spencer turned four! (In case you are wondering, his cake is supposed to be a rocket ship. Unfortunately, it had a few mechanical/structural malfunctions and toppled over several times before we sang happy birthday. It was pretty sad looking by the time the picture was snapped!)- A few of my old thrift store revival projects have been buzzing around Pinterest. If you are here from Pinterest and have read this far, welcome! Unfortunately, I didn't do tutorials for most of those projects so you won't find them on the site. Sorry! :)That's all the major happenings around our house. It seems like it suddenly turned into fall this week; the leaves are beautiful and Halloween is just a few short weeks away. Hopefully I can get back to blogging on a more regular basis soon! :)P.S. I changed the template on my blog and I don't [...]

Shrimp Tomato and Basil Pasta


(image) A delicious Every Day Food recipe I found via my culinary genius friend Vanessa. I made this last week when it was a million degrees outside and it made a nice, light ending to a very hot and hazy day. All the better if you grow tomatoes and/or basil in your backyard! Recipe here.

My notes: The recipe says to add two cups of water along with the diced tomatoes to make the sauce. I made it that way in the past but found the sauce was too watery. This time I made it using one cup of water and that was plenty. (I actually added a couple tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken it up a bit. So really, you could probably omit the water altogether and just use the juice from the tomatoes. You live and you learn.) I also used 1 pound of bow tie pasta instead of angel hair.

Mr & Mrs


(image) Celebrating eight years as Mr & Mrs today.
Happy Anniversary Jared!

(photo taken in Michigan City, Indiana shortly after our first anniversary.)