Month: December 2013

Perfect Christmas

Rachel2013 back up

Both of my Christmas Trees
Both of my Christmas Trees

So I don’t know if you can knock on wood via a blog but if I could, I’d knock.  This has been such a great Christmas season that I’m afraid it is all going to explode and suck but I’ve got a week left and that doesn’t seem likely.  I suppose part of it is that last year’s Christmas was pretty rough and stressful living out of boxes and being alone that it set the bar for a great Christmas pretty low.

Even so look at all I’ve done (and I still have a week of Christmas left!):

Gone to BYU Christmas choir concert

Put up 2 Christmas trees including my memory tree and first live tree

Attended Christmas dance with friends

Made fudge and watched- Elf, White Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas Vacation

Gone to Christmas Carol at Hale Theater

My family is here so I don’t have to fly!!!!

gotten all my shopping done and gifts wrapped ( I think I scored this year!)

Performed at Christmas Recital

Went to Tabernacle Choir concert and saw the lights at Temple Square

Put lights on the front of my house

Done anonymous act of service (yes even from this blog!)

and still worked very hard and a week left to enjoy the holidays (tomorrow I am going to the messiah sing in!)

I guess this year I like a pretty busy Christmas.  Not every year but I really haven’t hit overkill.  I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done (except for when the tree fell on me!).

How have all of your Christmas time been going?  Is this one a good one, hard one or average?  It’s Ok to admit if it is a bit of a downer.  I’ve been there.  There is nothing worse than feigning happiness when you feel depressed, so if you need to vent I get it.

But thankfully this year is going great and I’ve been very blessed.

What traditions are your ‘must have’s’ for the holidays?  I’ve noticed that holiday food varries a ton depending on family.  My family makes a german meal for Christmas Eve and then goes lighter on Christmas but I’ve talked to people who make fajitas, breakfast for dinner, pizza, traditional turkey dinner.  What are your food traditions?  What makes a perfect Christmas for you?

Please share your comments.  I’d love to hear what you are all doing.

I will continue to keep you posted as the holidays continue.  Merry Christmas!!

5 Love Languages at Christmas

Something to think about at Christmas

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

Having a relationship free Christmas with no family/spouse to spend it with has made me think a lot about past holidays and why some were more effective and loving than others? What made one Christmas happier and lighter in feel than others?

I’ll be honest when I was in college we had a pretty mean streak of chaotic Christmas breaks.  For about 3 years some or all of us ended up getting sick, my parents had a new baby (always tough) and they had just moved to California and hadn’t really settled in.  Life was a challenge.

That said, we did always manage to leave the season with a sense of unity and purpose and particularly Christmas Day never failed to be magical. A lot of this credit goes to my Mother who does whatever she can to make our somewhat odd family united.

Anyway, I was thinking about…

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Falling Trees and Christmas Cards

I’ve had quite the crazy last few days! As I mentioned in my last post I had put up my tree after a long battle to get it delivered by Five Star Christmas Trees.  The installer did a terrible job and it felt wobbly but I was feeling optimistic so I went ahead and decorated (stupidly!).

This was Saturday but it kept getting worse and worse until finally I felt under the tree and it was floating in the stand.  There are 3 screws on the bottom of the stand which the tree should be hammered into so it is secure and then 3 flat surfaces to keep it straight.  All that was holding it up was the three flat bolts and yesterday it came crashing down.

To make it worse the tree was cut at such a slant that it had no chance of being on a solid footing.  Look at the stem.


The whole reason I had decided to get a natural tree was because of the install and delivery option.  A tree is too heavy and too much for one person to deal with, which I found out when I was pinned down by the tree after it fell a second time.

tree down

Thankfully none of my ornaments got broken.  As I’ve mentioned before I have collected them over years, some of them being irreplaceable.  But after the second fall I was feeling pretty discouraged and covered with tree sap and needles everywhere.  The tree was too heavy for me to lift on my own and I didn’t have a saw to fix the stem.  I called a bunch of people but naturally everyone was out on a Sunday  night in December.  It was proof positive that I can’t do everything on my own! 🙂

So I tried my bishop more of out desperation than anything else because I know how busy he is and I don’t want to be another burden.  I must admit that I cried when I talked to his wife and asked if they could do me a favor and help me out.  They came over and we sawed the tree and got it back up as securely as it could be.  Hurray!

back up

I’m grateful that I found people that were willing to serve me during this Christmas season.  It really meant a lot to me.  It’s nice to know you can lean on your safety net every now and then.  Thanks!

So remember that serving others at Christmas can be as simple as answering a phone and helping a neighbor with their tree.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.  Just be available and willing when the opportunity presents itself and if you are praying for it will be presented!

Merry Christmas and I wanted to share with all of you my Christmas card for 2013.  I have done custom valentines and Christmas cards with my friend Joan for 3 years now and this one doesn’t have a photo.  I developed the concept from a Christmas card I had seen of Santa Claus lighting lanterns.  I thought it would be fun to showcase the year I’ve had with balloons as an homage to my Up birthday/open house from earlier this year. Rachel2013and here are my 2012 and 2011 cards




What do you guys thinks?  Pretty fun right! I love designing something unique and fun each year.  I have also done valentines.  See them at

To design your own go to

There is still time to order your Christmas cards!

Merry Christmas and thank you all for reading!

Christmas Fun

So I have had a great start of the Christmas season!  It’s only the 7th but I have done so many fun things.  It all started yesterday with the singles 31+ dance at the Utah State capitol building.  I kind of hate dances but the idea of dressing up sounded fun so I went with some friends from my ward and we had a great time.  I asked someone to dance so I did my duty!

Capitol dance is so pretty!
Capitol dance is so pretty!
My friends and I from my ward looking cute from the dance!
My friends and I from my ward looking cute from the dance!
My earrings are super pretty
My earrings are super pretty
I got this belt from Faleblla Bridal on etsy
I got this belt from Faleblla Bridal on etsy

dance 5

I never got to go to prom so the idea of dressing up for the dance sounded fun
I never got to go to prom so the idea of dressing up for the dance sounded fun

After the dance we all went Village Inn and the girls were very bubbly.  I was definitely the grown up of the group despite being the youngest.  They even flirted with the waiter.  It was pretty hilarious.

Finally I got home and at about 3 am I got to sleep.  Then today I met up with my parents and we braved the snow to go to the Christmas choral concert at BYU.  It was wonderful. Here is one of the songs as recorded on my phone.  It was the grand finale with all the choirs surrounding you and the orchestra.

My Mom, Anna and I at the BYU Christmas concert.  Great!
My Mom, Anna and I at the BYU Christmas concert. Great!

Before I went to the concert my Christmas tree was finally delivered. I had ordered it through a company called Five Star Christmas Trees and the experience was a disaster.  They had promised me they would deliver it yesterday between 10:15 and 2.  It didn’t come until today at 11:30.  I tried to get through on the phone and they were not helpful or very apologetic.

Then when I did get the tree today it was smaller than what I had ordered, the delivery man had no idea about the install that I paid for and I didn’t get the recycle bag I ordered.  Buyer beware!

Anyway, I got the tree decorated tonight and I think it turned out very beautifully.  I love it.  I put on 900 twinkle lights and my memory ornaments and framed photo ornaments.

My tree!
My tree!

I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas festivities!  Merry Christmas!

Both of my Christmas Trees
Both of my Christmas Trees

Frozen: Movie Review


So I just got back from going to the movies with my friend Lisa and we saw the latest Disney offering Frozen and I went in with high expectations.  Alonso Duralde from What the Flick said it was the ‘best Disney movie since Lion King’ and I believe it had 94% rating on rotten tomatoes.  Pretty high praise!

I have always been a huge fan of animation and typically they are my favorite movies of the year.  They certainly can be stinkers but the potential for creativity and clean humor is there too.  This is certainly the case with Frozen and it is worthy of all the praise heaped on it.  I liked it as much as Tangled if not more so, and I loved Tangled.

The story is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Snow Queen which I think will be new enough to most audiences to feel fresh and exciting.  I have read it but it isn’t as familiar as say Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella (or Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast).

One nice thing about the story is there is no true villain.  There is a helpless but powerful character but no true villain.  In Pixar’s Brave there is also no villain and in that case I think it hurt the story but this has enough of a sense of dread to make up for a central evil character.

The voice cast is uniformly strong with Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell playing two sisters who are orphaned princesses in a far away land.  They grow up isolated from each other and the public but are forced to interact with each other and the Menzel sister becomes upset and turns the town into an eternal winter.

Isolated she creates a castle and Bell’s Anna must go and find her sister with the help of a charming snow man (who is in the movie just long enough to be entertaining but not annoying), a reindeer and his owner named Kristoff.  There is also a dashing Prince that figures in the midst and several other characters.

The cold and icy scenery is beautifully drawn and the songs by Robert Lopez of Avenue Q fame are wonderful.  They are more obviously broadway style than anything since Beauty and the Beast (Tangled was wonderful in the score but more of a pop feel).

My only qualm with the music is that going out of it all of the songs kind of run together and sound similar.  It’s not like Hakuna Matata or Be Our Guest where the song feels different and exciting, something new.  Maybe part of that is I saw those movies as an impressionable child and I saw this at 32.  I don’t know but I really enjoyed the music.

The story has a nice message about family, sisters, and the many forms of true love.  It surprised me at points which is tough to do in a princess movie and the snowman was very funny.  It’s completely appropriate for young children with only one scary snow monster that isn’t too frightening and is only in the scene briefly.

I think any young girls would love it. Whether it will appeal to young boys I’m not sure.  It doesn’t have as much to appeal to boys as Tangled but there is some (the snowman, Kristoff, the reindeer would appeal).

So, go!  Take your kids, especially your girls to see Frozen.  It is worth your money and will be an experience that will stick with them forever just like the princess movies stuck with me.  Plus, these are strong, independent women who come to their own rescue without the need of Prince Charming.  Love that.

Hope I didn’t spoil anything.  Tried.  Go see it.  Let me know what you think! 🙂

Fast Comfort Food Contest

Don’t forget to send me your recipes for the cooking contest and get 6 month birchbox subscription!

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

cooking contest2So friends we are going to have some fun together 🙂

Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun.  Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then.  I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!


So here are the rules to the contest:

All entries must be in by the end of 2013.

They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).

The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.

Make it…

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Single Christmas Traditions

I wrote this years ago but was recently asked how I keep Christmas as a single adult and basically this still holds true. I started my own traditions that are just for me and do them every year without fail, even last year when it was such a mess with moving and building my house (although I didn’t put up a large tree) the spirit of the tradition is always kept.

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

It’s hard to believe there is only a week left until Christmas.  As is usually the case, the month of December has flown by and I have packed it in with tons of cool Holiday experiences.  I decided a long time ago I was never going to miss out on a full life because I am single- this includes Christmas.  As a result, I have established a number of my own Christmas traditions that are unique to me (meaning I did not necessarily do them in my family while growing up).

1. The first ‘single tradition’ I have developed is what I call my “memory tree”.  I’ve mentioned my tree before on this blog, but it’s a way to decorate with ornaments that symbolize or were purchased concurrent with special moments/vacations in my life.  I have an ornament for the colleges I attended, the states I’ve lived in, the places…

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