We have had pretty consistent flow of house guests over the past few months. Which always leaves my emotional state sitting somewhere between completely overjoyed and a frazzled ball of stress and anxiety. We love company and hosting in our home. My stress comes from that internal nagging that I can’t seem to quiet. “The house is a mess. Our kids will wake the guests too early in the morning. We aren’t finished with renovations.” You know, that sort of thing. What does “finished” mean anyway? Will my home ever be in such a state that I won’t feel the need to change or rearrange something? No. Probably not. So all of the stress seems to be a huge waste of time. Funny how I can rationally express this after the fact.
But once guests arrive, the insanity subsides and a smooth flow carries the rest of their visit. Our most recent visitors, long time friends from LA, always feel very comfortable in our home. The reason for that being that we once all lived together. A few years back we shared a four bedroom home in Los Angeles. So when they come into town there is a very natural routine that seems to pick up where we left off in 2014. Although 2 children have been added to the mix since then 😉 I think we all learned, this trip, that staying up until 2am reminiscing is something we can’t do anymore!
This will be the second Thanksgiving that they have made the drive from LA to Utah. As much as we love having the big Thanksgiving celebration with my husbands family, which is usually the case, we love hosting our own even more. Cooking that giant meal is something we take great pride in.
If I had to choose a theme for this years celebration it would have to be “simple.” We kept the menu small and traditional. The entire day had a very laid back vibe. No rushing. No forcing the kids to wear nice clothes that would only end up covered in gravy and mashed potatoes. Matching olive colored overalls were the outfits of choice for my little ones. We moved slowly through our morning. After brining the turkey over night (my husband has been perfecting this brine for years and it makes for some of the most delicious turkey I have ever tasted!), we started to cook early afternoon and all was finished by 3pm. We couldn’t have asked for better weather so rather than attempt to drag the kids indoors, we brought our party outside and ate Thanksgiving dinner, sans shoes, at our pallet table in the backyard. A giant cable spool made for the perfect kids table (which we somehow failed to photograph) I find a certain appeal and warmth in everyone gathered on the floor around that rustic old table, barefoot and blissfully full! Our favorite teen even helped with the dishes which I have documented below 😉
The weekend began as we all sluggishly moved through Friday in a food induced coma (yet we still decided pie was an acceptable breakfast choice) The day continued with a few toddler tantrums, a trip to the park and a last minute decision to decorate our tree together before they hit the road late that evening.
My husband even whipped up a quick parting gift for Jenny after admiring our stocking hanger 😉
We used our Saturday to reorganize and declutter. The idea of decluttering before Christmas is something I started last year and touched on briefly in this post. We told Cove that he could donate toys that he no longer played with to kids who didn’t have as much. He found this idea super exciting was happy to put together a box.
Whether we chose the mountains or they chose us is still undecided but either way we piled into the car and drove, no specific destination in mind. It had been a long while since we had done this. Exploring new and interesting places and checking them off of our “must see” list one by one. A weekly occurrence turned monthly then not at all. Despite our promise to not allow meaningless adult distractions and stressors to get in the way of our memory making!! Lets be real, life happens. No point in beating ourselves up about it. We move forward and pick up where we left off.
Not sure what made this particular day any different. Maybe a bit of cabin fever. Maybe the allure of a cloudy grey sky that promised great photo lighting 🙂 Maybe a little of both. Whatever the motivation, we packed our camera, snacks, some extra jackets and hit the road. A 30 minute drive south brought us through Spanish Fork Canyon. Never one to take the same route twice, my husband chose Diamond Fork Canyon as the side road to explore. We parked and let the kids run around a beautiful campground (which we will be returning to in warmer months). They climbed, jumped in puddles, attempted to restore a birds nest and collected rocks. We even set up the tripod for a family picture. Our oldest, having recently shown an interest and an eye for photography, snapped some photos of my husband and I which I am completely in love with. Im hoping this is an interest he continues to foster.
On the way home, before exiting the canyon, the smell of sulfur filled our car. The kids complained about it until we explained to them where it was coming from. We had come across the most beautiful, crystal blue water and realized that the water was flowing from a natural hot springs just a few feet ahead. Add this to our list of must see places.
A week spent with family. Something I have come to cherish more as Ive gotten older and had children. Watching my kids establish a relationship with my parents and grandparents evokes emotions that are hard for me to put into words.
Only after hitting my 30s did it become increasingly apparent to me how important it is to nourish and maintain relationships with family and friends. Especially with those that are willing and wanting to do the same because I’ve also learned that, unfortunately, sometimes thats not alway the case. Relationships of any kind can be fleeting. There were parts of my family that I didn’t get to see much of, for one reason or another, as a child so to be able to change that pattern and provide my children with strong family bonds is extremely important to me.
All emotional blabber aside, this week was wonderful. My dad has visited a few times before but this was a first for my grandmother. I love introducing new visitors to the beauty that I have fallen in love with. Utah is such a magical place. We have yet to have a visitor who wasn’t in complete awe of the mountain views that surround us in every direction.
Although our Fall colors have come and gone, there is never a lack of beautiful scenery around here. So when my dad mentioned taking photos of the 4 oldest of each generation (My grandma was the oldest in her family, my dad is the oldest of his siblings, so on and so forth) We knew exactly where these photos needed to take place. This park is one of our favorites. It has been the gathering place for many birthday parties and the backdrop of most family photos.
We were all sad when the week inevitably came to an end. We may or may not have shed a few tears but look forward to this being one of many visits to come.
As most of you already know I am a huge supporter of small shops and buy from them as often as I can. But when I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and finally update our living room, I knew that I was going to run into some trouble finding the exact items I wanted, in the decor style that I gravitate toward, on the budget I was working with. Pillows and Art were the two items I was most worried about as they tend to be on the pricier side. Mud cloth had been catching my eye for awhile but everything I was finding was well over $50 for each pillow and knowing that I needed at least 4 of them, I just couldn’t afford what I was looking for in the smaller shop market (even though I know the quality would have been far superior and well worth the price)
It was during a trip to Hobby Lobby late in October while picking up last minute pieces for our homemade Halloween costumes that I saw exactly what I had been searching for in their home decor section and above the pillows there it was…. that glorious 50% off sign. The wonderful thing about Hobby Lobby is that everything is half off at some point depending on the week. They rotate their sales each week by department meaning that you can always get what you are looking for, on sale!! I find that their selection caters to so many styles.
That trip I ended up grabbing 4 pillows. I spotted 2 cactus prints that I knew were the exact pieces I needed to help fill the empty space on the wall above one of my couches but they weren’t on sale that day so I went back the following week, and picked them up. The pillows were originally $25 and I got them for just over $12. The Cactus prints were originally $20 and I got them for $10. Such a steal! Our living room is nowhere near being complete but these few items have brightened up the space and helped make it feel more like our home.