Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Continuing the Nichols family holiday season adventures, we headed up to Salt Lake City yesterday for some fun.

First we went to Sugarhouse Park after a quick stop at ShopKo for sleds, handwarmers, and yet another pair of gloves for me which, according to my horrid track record this season, I will likely lose within 48 hours. The ginormous sledding hill at Sugarhouse was packed, as usual, so we drove to the other end of the park and found a nice hill that we had all to ourselves.

Taylor loved sledding (almost as much as I did) and also helped us build a snowman which he then proceeded to try to kick over. We had a couple of snowball fights, ran around, and just had a blast. I really can't remember the last time I had so much fun in the snow.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank our snowman for doubling as a tripod so we could take this family picture:

After a trip to Grandma's house for a nap, we went with my sister and her boyfriend Keelan to see the lights at Temple Square. Downtown was super packed for a concert at the "Meganacle," so we parked up on 4th South and took the Trax train. Taylor LOVED it, of course.

I haven't been to Temple Square at Christmas time for a couple of years and I am always in awe of how amazing that many Christmas lights look at night. Taylor had so much fun and I think he loved seeing the temple just as much as the lights.

I love this girl:

The Nativity scene in the middle of the reflection pond:

Yesterday was honestly one of the best days I've had in a long time. I love having an amazing husband and son to celebrate the Christmas season with. I am so blessed!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009


I love road maps. LOVE them. I found this picture on Land of Nod's website and let out a big sigh thinking about how amazing it would be to decorate the walls in Tay's room with maps:

Some day...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

'Tis the Season

We here at the Nichols household have been busy enjoying all that the Christmas season has to offer.

The day after Thanksgiving we put up our Christmas tree and decorations and had lots of fun putting up all our ornaments. We took Taylor to Gardner Village and helped him find a new ornament this year at their Christmas shop. We decided when he was born that we'd start the tradition of getting him an ornament every year that expresses his interests or something fun he did that year. This time he chose a John Deere digger, which we thought was quite fitting since he's obsessed with any and all heavy machinery. (Pictures to come soon!)

Last week we went down to Provo for their annual Winterfest. There were cute performances from some local dance companies, some adorable little munchkins singing carols, and the weirdest local band attempting to play Christmas songs. Then Santa came out and after a countdown all the holiday lights were turned on in downtown. It was absolutely FREEZING cold, but we had a lot of fun and Taylor was absolutely amazed at all the pretty lights.

Last Thursday we went to Heber Valley Railroad to ride on the Polar Express. We've never gone before but thought Taylor would have a blast after riding on Thomas for his birthday this year. It was ridiculously cold in Heber, so we were happy to only have to be outside for a short period of time before boarding the train. We also came equipped with blankets to keep warm on the train car.

All in all it was a great experience! They brought everyone cookies and hot cocoa, read the Polar Express book, and we all sang songs and had a fun train ride. Once we reached the "North Pole," Santa boarded the train and spent a small amount of time with each child on the train. He gave each of the kids a sleigh bell and asked them what they wanted for Christmas. Of course Taylor's answer was the same he's been giving us for the past two months: "A big GIANT dinosaur puzzle!" (Luckily I have it on good account that Santa ordered said puzzle a few days ago and it'll arrive in the mail shortly.)

The highlight of the night happened during a stirring rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas." We were given a sign to hold up for the "six geese a laying" part of the song, and the second or third time we held it up and sang the line, Taylor simultaneously lifted up his shirt for all to see and screamed, "BELLY BUTTON!" at the top of his lungs. It was priceless.

We're having a really great Christmas season and I hope that all of you are too! We love you all!

The Lego Dog

A few days ago Taylor and I were playing with his blocks in the living room. I decided I'd show off my mad building skills and make a dog. Well, my dog turned out pretty sad looking and Taylor kept laughing at it and saying, "Mommy, that's not a dog. That's a weird cow or something."


So I told Taylor to try his hand at making a dog, thinking there was no way that a two-year-old could make a better dog than me. I was wrong.

Why is it...

...that I leave Taylor in the living room unattended for just a few minutes while I'm cleaning his room and this happens?

He's like our own cute little natural disaster.

Oh, and don't worry, Mommy cleaned it up:

Comfort Food

This is certainly the season for warm, yummy soups and stews. My very favorite is also the easiest to make: Taco Soup. I'm sure most everyone has some form of this yummy soup as a staple in their dinner recipes, and some are more complicated to make than others. Here is my version of Taco Soup, or as I lovingly refer to it - the "just open cans" soup.

Here are the ingredients:

- 1 can of turkey chili
- 1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can of black beans, undrained
- 1 can of corn, undrained
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 package taco seasoning

And here are the directions:
- Empty all the cans and taco soup package into a large pot.
- Simmer until heated through.

Yep, that's it!
We here at the Nichols household also like adding toppings - our favorites are crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

I usually serve this soup with cornbread muffins (made with a Jiffy cornbread mix. Easy!).

What are your favorite winter recipes?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Our Thanksgiving this year was really low-key and peaceful - just like I like it. We had dinner at my dad's house this year and it was nice having some amazing food with some of the most amazing people in my life. I have so much to be thankful for this year.

Here are some photos from our day (sorry there are no pictures of the actual food. I was hungry and forgot to take any).

I was in charge of decorating this year - something I definitely don't mind doing. I spent about $15 total for the centerpieces and placeholders, and I think it turned out really well!

Tay and Grandpa waiting for the turkey to finish:

Kristi Kay with a full tummy - chillin' and watching her Cowboys:

Jimmy and his girlfriend Mary. Yep, that's my brother.

My step mom and step brother Russell:

We hope everyone had a very happy and safe Thanksgiving! We love you all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This is exactly what it looks like:

A toy shark full to the brim with pieces of hot dog.

Have I mentioned how much I love my son?

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Thankful

This will be the third year I've done a list of things I'm thankful for, and I think that this is the perfect time of year to really reflect on my blessings and the things in my life that I love. So here is my 2009 list of the things I'm most grateful for (in no particular order).

- To be married to a man who absolutely adores me, even with all my flaws. Sean has stuck by me even at my worst and is the most incredible, loving, selfless man I know, and the fact that I'm married and sealed to him makes me the luckiest woman in the world.

- My amazing little boy who makes me laugh at least 50 times a day. I am constantly in awe of his intelligence and ability to observe life around him. He is my sunshine.

- Oreos. Need I say more?

- My sewing machine. I've had it for several years, but I feel like I'm just starting to really appreciate it and understand it's full potential.

- To be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. the "Mormon Church"). I'm grateful to have the gospel of Jesus Christ to lead and direct my life. I'm grateful for the blessings that have come from following the Church's teachings, and I'm thankful to have a modern-day prophet - President Thomas S. Monson - to lead us today.

- My health. I've been on a health kick lately and I love how much better I feel when I take care of my body the way I should.

- My parents. My mom is one of the most giving, considerate women I know and I love her so much. My daddy is an amazing, strong, intelligent man and I absolutely adore him.

- Bedtime and Naptime. All mothers will understand why this made my list.

- A warm, comfortable home. I love our apartment year-round, but especially at this chilly time of year. My home is my refuge.

- Friends. I love every friend I have - those that I've grown up with, those that I'm just beginning to know. I love friends that live close and friends that I wish were closer. I love friends I see on a regular basis and those that I haven't been able to see for a while. You are all precious gems to me.

- My siblings. I think I'm just starting to really appreciate my brother and sister. They are some of my best friends and I love them unconditionally. I worry for them like I would my own children, and I love watching them succeed and become adults along with me.

- A reliable vehicle. Old Petunia - our '97 Nissan Sentra - might not be the prettiest belle at the ball, but she gets us from point A to point B and has a working heater and air conditioner. Couldn't ask for anything more than that.

- Paradise Bakery's fire-roasted tomato and basil soup. I seriously dream about it.

- Books. Reading has always been a passion of mine and I regard my books as precious treasures. Now if only I had more time to read...

And rounding out the list - hot glue, antiques, warm blankets, hot chocolate, hot dates with my hubby, the magic of the holidays, extended family members, and our enormous tufted ottoman in the living room.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week of Thanksgiving, and remember to take the time to think about what you're grateful for!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Strange Dream

I took a nap with Taylor this afternoon. I'm not usually a nap person but lately I've been getting up at the crack 'o dawn to get my bum to the gym, so by 2 p.m. I'm exhausted.

Anyway, today during naptime I had the strangest dream. I was at a party with friends and family and everyone was laughing and playing and having a great time. At one point I needed a break and found a quiet corner to sit down. As I sat I overheard a conversation that took place between two women sitting next to me. I glanced over and had to do a double-take - sitting there next to me was Stephenie Nielsen (a.k.a. "NieNie") and her sister.

(Side note: If you've never read her blog, I suggest you start. She's an amazing woman, to say the least.)

So at one point her sister got up and it was just the two of us sitting there. I wanted to say something to her but wasn't sure what to say without sounding like some weirdo. Eventually she broke the silence by complimenting me on my sweater. I said thanks and then told her that I read her blog regularly and thanked her for being such an inspiration to so many women. We then sat and had a long conversation about everything - life, love, fashion, anything we could think of. I told her that I wanted her to know that she is so much more beautiful than she thinks she is. We had this wonderful heartfelt conversation and toward the end even exchanged books with each other. I gave her one of my favorites that I thought she would like, and she gave me one of hers. Shortly afterward I was abruptly woken by a little monkey who was laying on my chest and smiling at me. For a brief second it felt like I was still holding the book Stephenie gave me.

Strange, huh?

I woke from the dream feeling such a strong connection to women throughout the world. We all go through separate trials and hardships, but somehow have this strong bond of womanhood that connects us all and helps us to feel strong. I'm so grateful for all the amazing women in my life, the women I read about and gain inspiration from, and the women throughout history that have carved the path I now walk as a fellow woman, wife, sister, mother, and daughter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween Deals

I went to Walmart tonight and noticed all their Halloween costumes and decor on sale for 90% OFF! Now I know Halloween is a year away, but I can NOT pass up 90% off.

Here is everything I scored:

- 3 Platters
- 3 Serving bowls
- Wall decals
- 3 glass votives
- 2 yard stakes
- Happy Halloween banner
- 2 sets of 20 mini puzzles
- 5 plastic trick-or-treat bags (that I will be using for some cool fused plastic projects in the near distant future)

Total Cost: $4.20! Can't beat that!

I'm excited to pack all this stuff into our growing Halloween decor box, and it'll be fun to use all these cute decorations next year.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Decorating Projects

I've been in a super crafty, decoratey (yeah, I know that's not a real word) mood lately! I decided to re-arrange Taylor's room to make it a bit easier for him to find the toys he wants, plus un-block one of the two closets in his room for easier access. As soon as I finished I quickly took pictures to document the fact that his room really is clean sometimes. (Those of you who were at his second birthday party might recognize the banner on his wall).

I'm also really into holiday decorating right now. I took some great ideas from my Aunt Leanne's AMAZING blog and made some super inexpensive Thanksgiving decorations for the wall in my living room.

I'm really proud of the "Give Thanks" banner, and thought I'd show you all how to do it! I had the letter cards in my craft stash (I believe they're available at JoAnn's) and just sandwiched the cards between some dark brown double-fold bias tape and pin with clothespins. Voila! I clipped the ends of the bias tape on an angle and pinned the banner to the wall with pushpins hidden under the top fold of the bias tape. I then made some little bows from ribbon and safety pinned them to the underside of the top fold of the tape. Confused? Here's a picture to make it a little easier to understand:

I then went over to the Graphics Fairy and printed off some Thanksgiving-themed sheet music and a turkey, put them in some 8x10 frames I already had, and hung them above the banner.

I love how this turned out, and all together it only took me about 30 minutes to put together and cost me just a few dollars!

What are your inexpensive ideas for Thanksgiving decorations?

If I Had...

I saw this on another blog and thought it was cute, so I decided to do it too! It was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be and it took me a while to decide what I'd do with certain amounts of money.

If I Had...

$1: I would give it to Taylor to put in his piggy bank.
$5: I would go to the Dollar Store and buy some random craft supplies.
$10: I would buy a couple books from Amazon that I've been wanting.
$25: I would take Taylor to the Living Planet Aquarium.
$50: I would go to Pei Wei with my hubby for some nummy sweet 'n sour tofu.
$75: I would buy some new winter clothes at Ross.
$100: I would put it toward paying off the Neon (yep, still paying that dang car off).
$200: I would go on a shopping spree at Roberts.
$500: I would take a spontaneous trip with my hubby to St. George/Zion National Park.
$1000: I would cancel our lease and move to a 3 bedroom townhome.
$5000: I would pay for Sean to get Lasik surgery.
$10,000: I would pay off the majority of my student loan.
$25,000: I would pay off all my debt and open an IRA.
$50,000: I would put a huge down payment on a house and invest the rest.
$1,000,000: I would buy a house, invest $500,000 for retirement, take my family on an amazing European vacation, and donate the rest to charity.

What would you do?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

This was one of the best Halloweens I've had in a long time, mostly because my little bug was so excited about it this time around. For months he's talked about pumpkins and dressing up like "Leo-ardo" the ninja turtle (completely his idea; Sean surprisingly had nothing to do with this decision).

We started our Halloween festivities with carving pumpkins and decorated the porch. Tay loved pointing out to our visitors which jack-o-lantern was his.

Then later last week we baked a TON of Halloween sugar cookies for the neighbors (and ourselves). Taylor helped with the cookie cutters, and then when it came time to decorate he was in charge of sprinkles. He thought it was super fun, but very quickly started demanding a sample of our cookie creations.

On Friday night we went to our ward's trunk-or-treat. Sean and I dressed in our Doba Day garb as the Mad Hatter and March Hare. We both got lots of compliments on our costumes and it was nice to wear them again since we put so much work into them. Taylor had lots of fun during the trunk-or-treat, but, "Trick or Treat" quickly turned into, "Gimme some candy!" We had to have a little chat about the proper trick-or-treat etiquette.

On the big night Tay was super excited about going trick-or-treating, but we had a hard time convincing him to wear his costume. It was a bit frustrating that the kid who had talked for two months about how much he wanted to dress as a Ninja Turtle now didn't want to wear his costume for more than a couple of minutes. He was fine once we got to my aunt's brothers house and he got to see all the other kids dressed up too.

He had a blast trick-or-treating this year and was a little better able to keep up with the older kids. He had a hard time just saying "thank you" and continuing to the next house after he got candy though; he wanted to tell each homeowner his life story and thank them a million times over for their generous candy giving. He also had a hard time being assertive and at least once was lost in the back of the pack of kids and didn't get candy. It was so cute watching my little turtle run from house to house, and he got pooped out pretty quick.

It was a really great Halloween this year and now we're gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I love celebrating the holidays with my hubby and sweet boy!