Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas From My Babies

My kids submitted (some more gracefully than others) to our annual Christmas Sunday photo shoot.
I love to get them new outfits for church and dress them up matchy matchy.
Yes, I'm that mom.
But I only do it once (or twice) a year.

This was the best we could do for all of the kids together.
 The others involve crying and/or wrestling.

My two little girls are so excited for Christmas they can barely sit on their chairs at dinner.
One or both of them falling off their chairs is becoming a regular occurrence. 

And for our own Christmas Miracle : Neal and Amberly posed nicely together for a picture. And strangely enough, they've been getting along the whole day.

From my family to yours :
We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The House Girl - Book Review

I don't know how many times I've repeated the same conversation with others. It goes, essentially, like this : "It's so hard to pick a book for a book club that everyone can enjoy. An otherwise well written, insightful book is ruined by profanity or unnecessary sexual scenes." It can be frustrating to find really good books. So, when I find one that I can recommend to everyone, I am especially delighted.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin is such a book. Well written with superb attention to detail and a wonderful ability to make scenes come to life, The House Girl tells the stories of two women--Josephina, the artistically talented house slave in Virginia and Lina, the ladder-climbing young attorney in New York City. Their stories become intertwined when Lina starts working on a retribution case for a big client. Looking for the perfect plaintiff, Lina discovers that Josephina may actually be the true artist of the famous works of her owner.

To be honest, the story began slowly and I struggled to stay involved. I must admit that I only had quick moments of time to read lately and The House Girl sat neglected on my night stand for a few weeks. It was only the last few days that I was able to devote the time this book deserved. I spent the last few evenings devouring the story and falling in love with the likable and rich characters.

Part heartrending tales of the abuse of slaves; part a genealogical mystery and part a story of individual healing, The House Girl won me over.

** I received a complimentary copy of The House Girl is exchange for my review. No other compensation was received. **

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Winner of the Initials, Inc. Give-away

I feel like I'm always apologizing on the blog any more. And here's another one. I am announcing the winner of the $25 gift card from Initials, Inc. Give-away a day late.

Better late than never. The winner is . . .


Congratulations! Please contact me right away with your information so that you can receive your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered the give-away and who follows Utah Mom's Life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Favorite Books of 2012

I am no where near reaching my reading goals for 2012. I have plenty of excuses but the fact remains that I have not read as many books as I generally do or like to. However, as I was going over the list of books that I did read in 2012 there is something that is very obvious.

I am clearly drawn to and enjoy a certain kind of book more than others. Of the books that I rated five stars, the majority were rip-your-heart-out historical fiction novels.

Since my reading list is shorter than usual, my favorite books list is also shorter than usual. Here are a few of my very favorites that were also published in 2012--in no particular order :

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

You can read my review **here**.

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

You can read my review **here**.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

You can read my review **here**.

Perla by Carolina De Robertis

You can read my review **here**.

Honorable Mention :

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Initials, Inc. - Review and Give-away

Initials, Inc. is an exciting direct sales company that sells lovely purses, bags, luggage and totes. As a mom, I can never have enough bags to carry all the stuff that is part of our lives, so I was really delighted to be able to try two bags from Initials, Inc. I got the classy black and white Soho Shopper purse and the sports duffle.

I've been using the Soho Shopper as my church bag. It's not as big as a traditional tote but the three-ring binder I need for my calling fits fine.The fabric is beautiful and trendy as well as sturdy. I'm impressed with the quality of construction. I love that I was able to personalize my bag with my initials.

I love love love the Sports Duffle. Big enough for a few soccer balls or all our winter gear, the duffle is perfect for my family when we're on-the-go. With handles on the sides, top and back, the duffle can even be carried as a backpack. Again, it's made of good quality materials. And no one will mistakenly take ours after the game, because our last name has been embroidered on the back.

Amy Bonner, an Initials, Inc. consultant is sponsoring a $25 Initials, Inc. gift certificate give-away! All you have to do to enter is check out her facebook page and take a minute to look through the Initials, Inc. catalog. Come back to this post and leave a comment with your favorite Initials, Inc. product.

The contest will be open to entries until Saturday, December 15th at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Sunday, December 16th.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Minted - Holiday Cards

I've been mostly absent from the blog for awhile. Goodness! It's hard to keep track of all the crazy and busy things that have been going on around here. I'm sure you all understand. The calendar at Christmas time really fills up with fun stuff and all the day-to-day, regular busy stuff doesn't really go away (including shopping for a new hot water heater and renewing the driver's license-ugh!). December is just seriously awesome.

One of the things on my to-do list this year has been to actually get Christmas cards sent out to my friends and family. I just spent several hours hand addressing the envelopes because it used to be one of my favorite things to do. It's been awhile but I found that I really enjoyed it again. I might have to get out my paper crafting stuff again -- some day.

So, while we're on the subject of Christmas cards . . . there are so many great options for printing beautiful Christmas photo cards. And Minted is one of the great ones. It's a partnership between independent graphic designers and a print shop. Seriously! You are going to need to check out the very beautiful holiday photo cards at Minted.

Then, while you're visiting the Minted website, check out all the other cool paper stuff -- stationary and journals and invitations and cards for every occasion. You're going to be impressed. 

** This is a sponsored post, but the opinions are 100% mine. Really. **

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Winner of the Shutterfly Give-away

OK, this post is later than I planned but better late than never . . .

The winner of the give-away from Shutterfly is . . .


Please let me know your email address as soon as possible so that you can redeem your prize.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Cards by Shutterfly - Give-away!!!

*** Cyber Monday:  visit Shutterfly's Facebook page  to get the 25% off unique code (valid on top of already discounted site wide - up to 50% off) *Offer ends November 26, 2012 (11:59 P.M. PST). ***

Oh, it is that time of year again when I start stressing about sending out photo Christmas cards and wishing I had better family pictures to showcase to our friends and family with our holiday greetings. We actually have a few semi-presentable pictures this year so I am much more excited about all the new designs and colorful cards from Shutterfly. From trendy to classic, fun to traditional, Shutterfly offers a variety of options for your Christmas card needs.

You are sure to fall in love with some of the very beautiful cards. And since I know some of you also have very beautiful family pictures (**wink wink to my photography clients**) you should definitely check out Shutterfly. Be sure to check out their special offers too.

The only thing better than Shutterfly Christmas cards are free Shutterfly Christmas cards. One of my readers can win an extra $50 off order of $50 or more (excluding tax and shipping & cannot be combined with any other promos (expire 12/14/2012 – no extensions).

Just enter here by leaving a comment on this post. The contest will end on Friday, November 30th at 11:59 pm MST.  One winner, chosen randomly, will be announced on Saturday, December 1st.

**This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. **

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Disney On Ice 100 Years of Magic - Review

Last week the girls and I got all dressed up for our "Girls' Fun Night" at Disney On Ice. We had dinner at Applebee's where Lilly and Molly ate each other's dinner. And Amberly refused to order from the kid menu. Our waiter was friendly and the girls enjoyed talking with him. They pretty much told him our life story.

We were all excited to see the show and got there plenty early. The girls were very good about not asking to buy any of the over priced treats and paraphernalia/memorabilia that was pushed by the peddlers walking up and down our aisle every few minutes while we waited.

Then finally the lights dimmed and the show began. The girls were mesmerized by seeing their favorite Disney characters on the ice. The only thing Lilly said during the first half of the show was : "The boys would have liked this too, Mama."

Celebrating 100 years of Disney magic, so very many of the beloved Disney characters, including our favorites Mickey and Minnie Mouse and several of the princesses, skated to the delight of my dear girls. They also enjoyed seeing Nemo, Simba, Pinnochio, the Incredibles and Mulan. 

Amberly, Lilly and I were able to attend a different Disney On Ice production a few years ago. It was hard for me not to compare the two events. In the other performance, the show focused on just four Disney stories with spectacular productions filled with special effects and amazing shows. 

This event focused more on the characters. Instead of dozens of skaters doing a full-blown production, there were fewer skaters--only the main characters--with less special effects. I was disappointed. However, my children were just as delighted. They were able to see the characters that matter to them.

Overall, we had a wonderful Girls' Night Out at Disney On Ice. The girls loved it and were anxious to get home and tell their dad all about it.

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Disney On Ice - & Ice Carving in Salt Lake City


Salt Lake Community College Culinary Club Students to 
Carve Iconic Disney Ice Sculptures at The Gateway Shopping Center

on Wednesday, November 14

To kick off Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic coming to the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, members of the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) Culinary Club will participate in a fun-filled ice carving demonstration depicting iconic Disney character images during the morning of Wednesday, November 14th at The Gateway Shopping Center’s Olympic Legacy Plaza. The event will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., with special appearances by the stars of Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic.

“We were delighted for the opportunity to participate in this event and showcase our passion for all things culinary,” said Stephanie Callison Tanner, SLCC Culinary Club President. “Our three competing members can’t wait to roll up their sleeves and get carving.”

The three carvers include SLCC Culinary Program students Gary Manoukian, 36, Oscar Villalobos, 25, and Jerry DeStafano, 29.  All three chose to partake in the demonstration to enhance their artistic skills and learn new techniques for ice carving.  When asked why he entered the carving demo, Villalobos said, “Ice and a chainsaw, what could be more fun?”

The fun will continue that evening with the opening night performance of Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic at 7:00 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena, where more than 60 of Disney's captivating characters and their unforgettable stories will come to life in this commemorative celebration, produced by Feld Entertainment. In this lavish ice show, everyone's favorite sweethearts, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, take audiences on a fun-filled adventure, sharing memories with Disney friends including Goofy & Donald Duck; the beloved Disney Princesses; Buzz Lightyear & Woody; Nemo & Dory; Pinocchio & Jiminy Cricket; Belle & The Beast; The Incredibles plus many more – and magical moments from Disney’s Aladdin, Mulan and The Lion King.

Don't forget to buy tickets to Disney On Ice in Salt Lake City. Use code : MOM to save $5 off each ticket.

November 14 - 18, 2012
Wednesday, Nov. 14      7:00 PM
Thursday, Nov. 15            7:00 PM
Friday, Nov. 16                  11:30 AM & 7:00 PM
Saturday, Nov. 17            11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, Nov. 18               1:30 PM & 5:30 PM

EnergySolutions Arena – 301 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT  84101

Ticket price levels are $16, $23, $37 (VIP) and $50 (Front Row).  Opening Night tickets available for only $12 each (not valid on premium seating). All seats are reserved; tickets are available from the EnergySolutions Box Office and all SmithTix locations, charge by phone at 801-355-SEAT or
            800-888-TIXX begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            800-888-TIXX      end_of_the_skype_highlighting       and online at or

Visit Disney On Ice online :

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Community with Heart

We live in a neighborhood with hundreds of kids. Seriously. Hundreds. It's really very awesome.
This is was our playground.
Certainly better than nothing but just not enough to accommodate all the children in the neighborhood.

Meet Marion:
Marion saw the need. She and others knew that our kids needed a bigger and better playground.
That was over 2 years ago.
Marion has worked tirelessly. Gathering signatures on petitions to present to the city and the HOA.
Going to endless meetings.
Finally getting elected to the HOA board.
And mediating a compromise between the city and the HOA to buy a new playground for our kids.

Then Marion organized a neighborhood service project 
to install the playground and save money.
Today people from our neighborhood gathered to work together to install a
playground for our children.

Marion didn't have to worry that people wouldn't show up to help.
We're a community of helpers. Sharing potatoes, food coloring and even toilet paper with our neighbors. Babysitting each others kids.
Helping with yard work, finishing basements, move ins and outs, and drives to doctor appointments.
We all know--just post your need on our magic Facebook neighborhood wall 
and someone will be there to assist you.

The playground is just one very big, very exciting example of what our neighborhood can accomplish.

A fellow from our neighborhood provided entertainment and music to the work force. 
Several local businesses donated food to the workers.
Some guys from the city came to help.
We'll gather again this evening for a potluck dinner.

Marion for Mayor!
Then we plan to send her to congress.
This is one community organizer that deserves to be in the White House.

I love the neighborhood I live in!!!