Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Winward Super Lazy Christmas Card

This ain’t no Christmas card. I am too tired for that. But this is our Christmas blog…. a sort of  quiz called “Who did NOT and who DID?”

Which Winward did NOT go running one single time this year?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hallie but she IS getting pretty good at paddle ball…..but Nathan and Ilene DID run hundreds of miles this year training with the Provo High Cross Country team.

Sometimes in pink socks.

Which Winward did NOT get to reenact a family photo at the Long Beach Aquarium?
Hallie did NOT, she wasn’t born yet for the original  but she DID makes tons o’ Jello for her science fair project…..But the rest of us DID!

Which Winward did NOT teach an accounting class at BYU?

          Nathan did NOT, but he did apply to BYU, University of Utah, and UVU for next fall. But Paul did! He even ended up on BYUs Snapchat account.

Which Winwards DID have coffee for the first time?

Ilene and Cynthia! They ordered caramel shakes at Starbucks in Hollywood and didn’t know coffee was an ingredient. Ilene threw hers away but Cynthia drank hers anyway. Oops!

Which Winward did NOT go to Prom?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hallie did NOT, although she did play the ukulele by a campfire on New Year's Day......but Nathan did and doesn't he look sharp?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Which Winwards did not leave the country?
Nathan, Ilene, and Hallie did NOT but they did go to see the lights in Salt Lake City at temple square which is almost the same thing.

But Paul and Cynthia did go to Mexico

……..………..and Israel.

Which Winward did not get braces this year?

Nathan did NOT (his came off) although he did wear shades during a race or two. But Hallie DID in August! Aren’t they cute on her?

That's it folks!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chewy Brownies

Who doesn’t like a good chewy brownie made from a mix..…only the ones made from a box aren’t very chocolate-y. In comes this recipe from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. These brownies have it all! And with three types of chocolate it is sure to please chocolate lovers.


See those spots of melted bittersweet chocolate in there? A nice added bonus stirred in at the end.


Notice in this picture all that chocolate! I like to use Hershey’s Special Dark Dutch cocoa (mmmm dark chocolate brownies) but I have made these several times with regular cocoa powder.


Make a sling out of parchment paper or foil to make removing them extra easy.


Look at that shiny crackly sugary crust.


And all those gooey chocolate bits push these over the top. These are adult brownies, and expensive with all that chocolate, but so worth it.



(click here for printable version)


⅓ cup cocoa powder (Dutch-processed if possible, I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 ½ cups (17 ½ ounces) sugar (I only use 2 cups for high altitude plus I prefer less sweet)

1 ¾ cups (8 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon table salt

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips (I have used semi-sweet chocolate chips in a pinch)

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make a foil or parchment sling for a 9x13-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk cocoa and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely if you can stand the wait!

Original recipe from

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Van Gogh: The Mulberry Tree

I have a new art print in my home, all framed and hanging happily in my family room.


What makes Van Gogh’s The Mulberry Tree so special to me is that I found it at, what was for me, a very difficult time in my life. I had spent most of the previous year trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered life. I truly wondered if I would ever be really be happy again. What I went through isn’t important, we all have excruciating days and sometimes years where the sun just doesn’t seem to rise for us. I found solace in reading, meditating, and praying and begging God to help me rise above the ashes.

So in May of this year (2015) I made a trip to see my sister and my parents in Chino, California. I found solace with them. My sister Carolyn is a magnificent person. She is smart, intelligent, non-judgmental, and so very fun to be around. I knew I could count on a weekend of fun diversion with Carolyn. Everyone needs to forget their troubles once in a while. We went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena one afternoon. Beautiful art is divine. I had fun wandering the exhibits with Carolyn.

van gogh2

And then I saw this Van Gogh painting. “The Mulberry Tree”


I couldn’t stop staring at it. The  colors, the harsh brush strokes, all fascinating. Then I read the plaque and began to cry.

van gogh

How is possible to suffer and still see beauty all around you? How did Van Gogh paint this and many other work of arts when he was at the lowest point of his life? In fact his suffering would claim his life, just months after this painting. I have no idea what it is to have a mental illness but I do know what it is suffer and yet to still desperately try to see the beauty of life.

I came home from that respite of a weekend, bought this print at and it now happily hangs in my home. It reminds me that the beauty of life is everywhere—even in a Mulberry Tree at an asylum,as depicted by a man, gifted and troubled. There is always beauty no matter the turmoil. Don’t give up.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blue and White Quilt

I’m absolutely in love with solid  two colored quilts. Red and white, blue and white, gray and white, you name it. So many gorgeous antique quilts fall in this category and my modern aesthetic approves.

Well yesterday my hand-quilted ‘Storm at Sea’ quilt in blue and white arrived from New Holland, Pennsylvania. Isn’t it dreamy?




Paul and I were in Philadelphia in June for a conference he needed to attend. I tagged along and wandered the streets of Philly for four days, eating my way through the town and going to all their glorious museums. After the conference we took a road trip out to Lancaster County to see the Amish homes and of course to see the quilts. I went with high hopes that I’d find one for my king-sized bed. Oh and I wanted to see an Amish buggy. I know, what an amateur.


I looked and looked for a blue and white quilt to no avail. All were gorgeous and well made but most were busy with dated fabrics. Dust rose and burgundy ain’t my favorite colors.


I would’ve happily looked through every stack in this shop above! And then I did look at every stack in this shop below. It it called Witmer’s Quilt Shop in New Holland, Pennsylvania.


How cute is Witmer’s Quilt Shop from the outside? Just a little old house turned quilt shop.


I saw this red/white quilt with the classic ‘Storm at Sea’ pattern in her shop and thought….. “Now we’re getting close!” (In fact I’ve since seen this exact quilt on her daugther’s etsy shop. Click here.)


I’ve been eyeing this pattern in one of my quilt books for over 10 years now. But dang it I am one lazy quilter. You know what they say about good intentions.Not gonna happen.


Once I saw this blue and white version of it hanging to dry on her back porch I knew that was the one I wanted, but with no border. This one was heading off to a customer but the owner Emma assured me she could make me one of my own.


That was June 4, 2015 and yesterday August12, 2015 it arrived! (I know the turquoise dresser doesn’t match the room anymore—time to strip it and stain restain it.)


I’m gonna be in a a lot of trouble when navy blue goes out of style and dusty rose takes its place. Even my doors are blue now. Read here about those doors.

Did I mention this king size quilt is hand quilted?


Look  at those tiny stiches? A thousand years ago in 1997 I hand quilted a baby quilt in anticipation of our son’s arrival. I swore on a stack of batting I’d never do that again. But I love the look of it. Leave it to the Mennonites and Amish in Pennsylvania to keep that skill alive. God bless them and their fingers.


I’m tickled pink at this quilt. I wanna spend all my savings and order quilts for every bed in my house.


Oh and I got new carpet for our room last week. Isn’t that basket weave pattern classy?


Between the new carpet, new paint (Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist) and now my quilt my master bedroom has gotten quite the overhaul this summer.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Fitness Blender makes me happy—and healthy!

Normally this is how I feel about exercise posts.


But I am not a skinny minny who starves herself. I am a real life middle-aged mom who believes in exercise and cake. So I hope this post is ok and doesn’t make you roll your eyes.

I love to exercise at home, in the comfort of my living room. I went to the gym for years when my kids were babies—it made a great escape. But it’s been at least 12 years since I’ve had a gym pass. Instead I opt for workout videos. As we approached January 2015 I asked my husband if he’d like to start exercising with me. He’s never been much of an exercise in our 20 years of marriage but he agreed. He’s trying to make healthy mental and physical changes to his life. That left me thinking, “Well, I better find some less-feminine workout videos that we can both do together.”

fitness blender calendar3

In comes Fitness Blender. I discovered them on You Tube searching for different workouts. You can find their workouts on You Tube or their website.  Daniel and Kelly are a married couple who think everyone should have access to good fitness trainers no matter your income. We tried their Five Day Challenge and Paul and I were hooked. Those five days covered High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), cardio, abs and core, upper body strength training, lower body strength training and even some yoga.  Did I mention all videos are FREE!? And they have over 400 exercise videos?

It has been six months of working out 5-6 days a week with Fitness Blender videos. We have also purchased (under $10)  and completed some of their fitness programs, like their 8 Week Fat Loss Program and most recently their Butt and Thigh Program which was a 4-week program. Loved them both! But I also love to just choose my own workouts for the week and set it up using their FREE calendar program. (I honestly don’t know how they can keep this up for free. They must get really great advertising dollars from You Tube. In fact, I hope they are millionaires if that’s possible from hosting a You Tube channel. I love their no-nonsense personalities.) Here’s what our calendar looks like so far this month. The red dots are all our scheduled workouts.

fitness blender calendar


It makes waking up at 6am easy (well, relatively) because the schedule has already been made for the week—just click on the day and start working. The little yellow squares you see on some days are when I add a note, like “this routine was a great combo, do again”. Here’s a sample of one day’s workout routine with my added note:

fitness blender calendar 2

Previous to doing Fitness Blender workouts I was working out 5 days a week with Tracy Anderson workouts. Those are great toning workouts but I have to say I am happier now that I am doing heavy strength training which Tracy frowns on for women. Boo!  My measurements are nearly the same but I actually weigh 7 pounds more now than I did a year ago! That proves the scale means nothing and it also proves that strength training adds loads of muscle. I can eat more calories now because muscle requires more calories than fat. Oh yea! Win-win!

I post these photos with complete embarrassment because I don’t ever want anyone scrutinizing my body but the photo on the left was working out 5-days a week with Tracy Anderson videos and the photo on the right is with Fitness Blender. A lifted bum for sure!


Exercising is NOT about looks for me. It’s about having muscle mass, a strong heart, lower cholesterol, and dense bones. I am 41 years old now. I am not interested, nor is it possible, to look like a model. Or to even look 21.  I want to be strong. These photos simply prove that exercising changes your body. Just do it.


Stash your weights under your furniture. Tacky, I know! But I have fallen in love with strength training again.


I want to have strength to run around with my teenagers and also to run around big cities like Philadelphia. I walked the old downtown cobblestone streets of Philadelphia last month for 5 days straight, alone, while Paul was stuck in a CPA conference. My iphone says I walked about 5 miles a day. Never got tired. We even did our Fitness Blender workouts in our hotel room. Body weight only since we didn’t have weights. Don’t I look happy outside the Benjamin Franklin museum? This was day 6 as I was just about to head back to the airport and return to Utah.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

My top three Fitness Blender videos are At Home Cardio (better than a stupid treadmill, very dynamic moves), Tank Top Arms for upper body—the pulses are killer!, and Lower Body Workout for strong legs.

fitness blender calendar4

So ladies and gents, strength training is the key. Lift heavy weights. Dumbbells are cheap. Work your heart through cardio to keep it ticking too. Do it for your health, not for your looks. Oh, and keep on eating cake.


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