Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The BEST turkey recipe ever!

Guys, I have a confession.

I hate turkey.

Well, I should amend that -- I used to hate turkey. Every Thanksgiving, my mom would go through all this trouble to thaw and cook a massive bird that always turned out flavorless and dry, no matter what. ALWAYS. And we'd all smother it in gravy and choke it down because it's Thanksgiving, you know? But in reality, we couldn't wait until the leftovers would pass into the trashcan.

Last year, Dill and I took on the task of hosting Thanksgiving for my family. I strongly considered skipping the turkey altogether, but I knew my dad would never go for that (he's big on the turkey tradition). I figured, in this age of Google, I should be able to find the best way to cook a turkey. And it probably wouldn't be too hard. I mean, I got through AP Physics in high school and there's no way baking a turkey could be any more complicated than some of the labs I completed for that class.

I scoured the Internet and read everything I could about basting, not basting, brining, not brining, deep-frying, smoking ... and I was two seconds from placing an order with Honeybaked Ham when Dill located this blessed YouTube video from renowned chef Gordon Ramsey.



We watched Gordon do his thing. It didn't seem too difficult, honestly. I had been really concerned about brining the dang bird in a bucket and failing miserably. So, anything that didn't require a brine was a winner in my book. Once the video was over, we decided to proceed with Gordon's method.

You guys. YOU GUYS. First of all, butter. Lots of butter. That is a sure sign your turkey is going to be delicious beyond your wildest imagination. Second, garlic. And onions. And lemon. And parsley. And BACON. YES, BACON.

The bird smelled divine as it cooked. I had high hopes it would taste as delectable as the scent wafting on the air. Maybe, for once, I would actually LIKE turkey!

It looked picture perfect when we took it out of the oven. Once we started carving it, it became apparent it was going to be so moist and delicious. And holy cow, it really was! The butter on the outside gave the skin a crispy texture, yet the inside was perfectly supple and oh so flavorful. I couldn't wait to dig into those leftovers!

If you're still unsure about how to do your turkey and you're tired of bland, dried-out meat every Thanksgiving, give this method a try. You really won't be disappointed, I promise!

Here's the link to his site where the full recipe can be found. Bear in mind he uses English measurements for temperature -- the Fahrenheit conversion is 420 degrees for the initial roasting and 350 degrees for baking. It's also 30 minutes of baking for every 2 pounds, roughly.

Get to it!

UPDATE: I've had a few complaints the above link isn't working all the time. Try this one if you can't get the one from Gordon's site to work: http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/510522/gordon-ramsay-s-roast-turkey-with-lemon-parsley-and-garlic

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fire of faith.

Last night, America did something unthinkable -- we elected President Business from The Lego Movie.

via

Yeah, we really did.

Ironically, when The Lego Movie came out, many speculated that President (and later, Lord) Business was actually supposed to be Mitt Romney. In retrospect, though, I think the comparison to Donald Trump is far more accurate.

Anyway. Enough about vapid, power-hungry characters made of plastic. 

Come January, we're going to inaugurate a president who ran on a platform of fear and distrust. Fear of minorities, immigrants who steal our jobs and rape us, refugees who are smuggling in bombs, women who bleed from mysterious places and The Establishment -- "drain the swamp!" "Make America Great Again!" He sold it like magic snake oil and a majority of Americans bought it, some willingly, but many did so out of fear.

The funny thing is, his opponent Hillary Clinton also ran a campaign based in fear -- fear of the lunatic Cheeto and his nationalist followers who wanted to take America back in time and strip its citizens of their basic civil liberties. Never mind the fact she's a career politician who isn't exactly the paragon of honesty and yeah, what was the deal with all those deleted e-mails? Never mind that -- it was, "We are running against a MADMAN and we have to beat him to SAVE AMERICA!!!" Thanks to Trump's abysmal debate performances, her argument was compelling.

And so, many people who didn't really like Trump voted for him out of fear, and many people who didn't really like Clinton voted for HER out of fear, and at the end of yesterday, we all sat on our couches scared crapless because we elected a lunatic Cheeto ... out of fear.

As you may have deduced from my past posts, I did not vote for either of those candidates. I voted for Gary Johnson. I drafted many a blog post about why I was voting for him, but I ultimately decided not to publish anything. Why? Sadly, my failure to explain my position was also a response to -- you guessed it -- fear. I'd read and heard far too many insinuations that third-party voters are idiots who spoil elections. At first, I fought the good fight against the character assassinations. But I eventually grew weary. I became sick of the nastiness I received for taking the position of a principled voter. I gave up.

We third-party fiends caught a second wind when Evan McMullin surged in Utah following the release of the Trump tapes. Utah found its courage and said, "No, we aren't going to vote for this man who brags about sexually abusing women. We're going to choose someone better." Other states followed suit and Johnson also saw a rise in poll numbers at that point. For a good while, it looked like Evan McMullin would actually win his home state, and maybe the whole election would be miraculously thrown to the House.

But then, that ever-reliable fear crept back in. Voters who had firmly decided they could not vote for Trump upon hearing his vile admissions decided they were more scared of Hillary Clinton in the end. Back to Trump they retreated.

And then, there were the WikiLeaks e-mails, proving that Clinton is all about that "pay-to-play," that she talks out of both sides of her mouth, that she cheated in the debates and unfairly targeted Bernie Sanders. But her supporters turned a blind eye, because Trump was scarier, and Trump had to be beat. They dug in their heels and voted for her anyway.

In the end, we basically had a stalemate. Very little support went to principled, honest candidates Johnson and McMullin, and the rest, equally divided, went to those fearmongers. Trump pulled out an electoral win, though the popular vote has him nearly tied with Clinton. Two sides of the same coin.

We voted out of fear, and yet, here we are. Scared. And it wouldn't have mattered who won. We would've been scared either way, just for different reasons.

I hope in vain that despite all the things Donald Trump has said, he will act differently. I hope he won't rack up even more debt, nor end free trade, nor completely disregard the Constitution, nor scorch the earth with nuclear warfare. I hope he will advocate for our God-given natural rights, including those held by minorities, disabled people and women. I hope he will be diplomatic and kind. He's indicated otherwise, but I hope he can change. And quickly.

However, a small part of me wants so badly for this to cave in so we realize the two-party system is an enormous failure and we can start over. It might hurt,  and it would probably be devastating. But how long can this go on, anyway? A collapse is bound to happen. Better to yank off the bandage quickly than peel it slowly, ripping out one hair at a time, I think. Maybe Trump and his Republican establishment will do the honors.

Alas, I know in reality that revolutions are not five-alarm fires ignited by combustion and doused in gallons of lighter fluid. A fire of revolution is like the hand-built kind you make when you're camping, crafted out of tiny sticks and dried leaves and started with the strike of a simple match. Those kind kindle slowly and catch fire in time. They start from the bottom and work their way up. And though they take time and patience, they endure.

This revolution begins with us, the millennial generation. It starts in our homes as we teach our children that the government doesn't own them, that this nation was built on principles of liberty and justice and sealed with the blood of our patriot forefathers. It proceeds to the community, where we have these difficult conversations with our friends and neighbors. It continues to the civic level when we vote for candidates and ballot measures that decrease the government's power and influence. Once the fire gets to a certain point, it can't easily be extinguished. The flames burn and grow, consume and refine. And unlike a blaze crafted from the wrath of the afraid, it is pleasant and inviting.

If you're feeling scared right now, cold, abandoned, and forlorn -- come huddle by our fire, the fire of the liberty movement. It's small, but its warm. And it's getting bigger.

It's a fire fueled by faith and hope -- in God, in our inspired Constitution, in our ability to choose good over evil without the forceful hand of government. Those of us around it welcome you, whoever you are and whatever you believe, so long as you're not going to hurt anyone else.

The outcome of this election has hopefully taught us something very valuable: it's unwise to vote out of fear. And it's time to stop voting against people we dislike and instead, vote for what we believe in.

We just have to find the fire inside us to do it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

5 Sacrament Meeting Survival Tricks

I'm a Mormon. "I know it, I live it, I love it--" but, I also have to survive it every Sunday for the first hour and 10 minutes of our church services.

Called sacrament meeting, this portion of church worship is arguably the most important part, since it involves the sacred ordinance of the sacrament (much like Communion or the Eucharist). It also requires the congregation to sit quietly in the chapel while we sing hymns, pray and listen to speakers and musicians. Afterwards, the kids get to go to their own program, so this is really the only part they struggle with.

Now, I've been a Mormon for my entire life, and as an adult, I'm fully capable of being reverent during sacrament meeting. My kids, though? Not so much. Particularly my younger two, who have very high energy levels. Once we arrive to the church building, about 20 seconds passes before they are squirreling around, trying to escape the pew and causing a general ruckus. And since we're considerate folks, we often end up taking one or both out once they're disturbing others around us.

Teaching reverence to children is important, but not easy. Since they differ in age, level of energy and capacity to understand, Dill and I have different expectations for each of our children as they learn this valuable concept. But these ideas are some we've used with great results, and maybe they'll help you, too!


1) Google Images Search

One of the trickiest parts of sacrament meeting is keeping the kids quiet during the sacrament ordinance itself. I don't like to bust out snacks or toys during this portion because I want to teach them to think of Jesus and sit reverently so as not to distract other people with their activities. It's only about 10 minutes long.

What I've found to be effective is to search "Jesus Christ" on Google Images and let my antsy kids swipe through the pictures on my smartphone while the sacrament is passed. There are literally thousands of images and many different depictions so they don't get bored too easily. Just make sure SafeSearch is on, because people are freaks sometimes.

2) Quiet Book

Last Christmas, my mom bought this quiet book by My Growing Season -- plushy pages with soft features and silent activities -- for Clara, my youngest. Let me tell you, it has been a game-changer! It's just about the cutest thing ever, and Clara loves it. It keeps her busy for a good chunk of time, too. We keep it hidden in our church bag during the week so that it's still fun and interesting every Sunday. I also like how it's gospel-themed -- not a must, but great for keeping the focus on spiritual matters.

If you're crafty and would rather make your own quiet book, check out this pin from the blog, "And Next Comes L." Any project with "No-Sew" in the title is a winner to me! And this one is just adorable.

3) Boogie Board

We used to bring tons of coloring books and a box of crayons to church, but before long, we found out it's quite a hassle.  It's super-annoying when the crayons roll down into the crack at the back of the bench and get lost on the floor of the row behind us. Plus, coloring books are bulky and take up too much room in our church bag.

We recently picked up one of these Boogie Boards and it's been great! Compact and thin and reusable. What's not to love? The kids can play tic-tac-toe, hangman, or just draw quietly. And with the click of a button, everything vanishes! I don't know exactly how it works (LCD or something?) but whoever invented it is a genius in my book. They're also great for road trips, doctors' visits, and anything that involves lots of waiting.

4) Magformers

These toys are amazing! Magformers are little colorful plastic shapes with strong magnets in the sides, so you can stick them together to create two- and three-dimensional objects of all sorts. They seem to be the perfect ergonomic size for little hands, too. And they best part is they travel well, because you can stick them all together in a stack that doesn't break apart.

5) The Friend magazine

This Church publication has been in print for as long as I can remember, and it's always a favorite with the little ones. They now divide the magazine into two sections -- one for older kids, and one for those who are just starting to read. Since I happen to have a child in each of these age groups, it's perfect for our family! The Friend has tons of great stories and articles as well as activities the kids can do. If you would rather not subscribe, you can always download any issue from the Gospel Library app for free.

What about you? Do you have any tricks for occupying your kids during sacrament meeting? Let's hear 'em in the comments!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Favorites: My Wedding Favors


Ah, weddings. Young, attractive people so very in love, gathering up their favorite people, putting on some pretty clothes, committing to stick together for forever and celebrating the momentous decision with dancing and cake. What's not to love about 'em?

To me, one of the most fun little things about weddings is the party favors the bride and groom send home with their guests. I've seen some very clever gifts, from customized M&Ms to personalized fans to mix CD's of the couple's favorite love songs to gourmet fortune cookies. No matter what it is, the thoughtfulness of these tokens of appreciation goes a long way in making a couple's special day just a little more memorable.

MyWeddingFavors.com is a great site that offers TONS of party favor options, ranging from traditional ideas (bubbles!) to more unique ones (are these salad servers not adorable?!).

from MyWeddingFavors.com

Not only can you choose from plenty of doo-dads for wedding guests, but MyWeddingFavors.com also has thank-you gifts for bridal party members. Because -- don't forget! -- if you decide to have bridesmaids and groomsmen to help with your wedding, you'll want to thank them properly for their service.

For bridesmaids, I absolutely love this black and white Kate Aspen tote bag. Its design is simple and clean, yet it makes a statement. And it's practical -- everyone can use a tote bag in their life!


This one is roomy enough to be useful, yet not so big that it's bulky and cumbersome. AND, you can personalize it for your bridesmaids with an elegant monogram. Plus, since it's only $19.99, you could easily stuff it with additional gifts for your best girls.


Whether you're in the midst of wedding planning or just an old, married lady shopping for party decorations or tote bags (*raises hand*), MyWeddingFavors.com is a really cute site with some impressive products at very reasonable prices, don't you think?

Go ahead and browse a little more and then, if something catches your eye, use my promo code MOMTHEINTERN at checkout for 15% off -- no minimum purchase required! Offer expires 9/26/16.

Tell me, what's the BEST wedding favor or bridal party gift you ever received?


This post was sponsored. All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The time I almost got kidnapped.

Racing with my brother Josh, 1993.

Every Wednesday, my kids' school gets out an hour early to give the teachers some extra preparation time. I remember when I was little, attending a school in the same district, we were also released an hour early on Wednesdays.

As a kid, I thought this policy was just about the best thing ever. But as a mom, it stresses me out a little because I have to remember that my children will be home an hour earlier than normal on that day. And yes, I have forgotten once or twice!

I know I'm not the only mom who has -- in fact, my own mother forgot to pick us up on an early release day, too.

My twin brother Josh and I were in first grade, about the time the above picture was taken. We lived in the same residential tract as our school, but we were still too young to walk by ourselves. So, our dad walked with us most of the way each morning, and our mom picked us up from school each afternoon.

I remember on this particular Wednesday, we got out of class as we always did and I headed up to the front of the school. Normally, Mom was already there waiting in her car by the time we came out. But not this day.

I was a very worried child, so I started to panic a little inside. She's probably on her way, I assured myself.

The minutes ticked by. Any second now. I had faith she would show, but it was quickly waning.

The playground slowly emptied as children found their parents, hopped in their respective cars and drove away. Soon, all the buses had departed, too. Even Josh was worried now. It seemed Mom had forgotten us! Horrified by this realization, we started crying.

We were just about to go back into the school to ask a teacher for help when a man pulled up in an old brown car. At that moment, I noticed there was another kid who was still waiting there, too. He was older than us, probably in third or fourth grade. I assumed this man must be his dad.

The man pulled up and got out of his car and the boy got into it. The man then asked us if a parent was coming for us, though he he surely must've noticed our tear-streaked faces and knew the answer to that question. THEY WERE NOT COMING.

Strangely, at that moment, he simply told us he would take us home. He didn't offer to walk us back to the school's office and didn't even ask if we wanted his help. He just directed us to get in his car.

Well, lucky for us, our parents had discussed "stranger danger" with us prior to this incident, so we didn't oblige him. We first nicely told him, "No, thank you." But he kept pressing the issue. "Get in, and I'll take you home!" I remember him saying. He even seemed a little angry about it. We adamantly refused.

At this point, my insides were starting to collapse in on themselves and I was pretty certain we were going to be kidnapped. The tears were really rolling now. We were surely going to be forced into this stranger's car, and then? Who knows where we'd end up! I felt sicker than ever.

Just then, Mom came barreling around the corner in The Green Car, an ancient boat from the 1970's that had olive green paint, velvet seats and only lap belts for restraints. Never had I been more thrilled to see The Green Car in my life!

Mom hopped out and we screamed, "Where WERE you?!" She sheepishly apologized for forgetting to pick us up. At the time, it seemed like she was about an hour late, though I'm now pretty certain it was no more than 15 minutes.

The man nervously explained to her that he offered to take us home, but we wouldn't get in the car. He even laughed about it a little. I felt embarrassed.

On the drive home, Mom interrogated us about that guy who was trying to take us home. "Why didn't you get in the car with him?" she asked. We answered that he was a stranger and we were taught never to go with a person we didn't know. She was proud of us, I could tell.

Thinking back, he probably wasn't a kidnapper or anything of the sort. But he WAS a stranger. Now that I'm a parent, I can hardly imagine telling a child I didn't know to get in my car. But I can imagine forgetting to pick up my child.

Actually, a few years ago, I did.

I didn't normally pick up the kids in the afternoon, but the neighbor who carpooled with us asked me if I could. It was an early release day to boot.

I was nursing Clara when my neighbor called, asking if I was having trouble picking up the girls. In horror, I yanked Clara off my boob, threw her and Carson into my van and raced over to the school as fast as I could, all the while apologizing to my neighbor for my colossal mistake.

On my way there, the school called to notify me they had Audrey and her friend in the office. The lady was very nice about my forgetfulness. I was relieved that they were safe. I had imagined them wandering the streets, crying as I had at about the same age 20-something years prior. I couldn't bring myself to consider anything worse than that.

When I arrived, the girls were both tear-stained and fuming with me as I had been with my mother when she made the same grave error before. "How could you forget us!?" Audrey asked, indignant. I sighed and calmly said, "Well ... I'm a mom. I have a lot on my mind. And I was feeding Clara, and I just forgot! I'm so sorry!" I imagined my mom saying something similar to me. It somehow seemed funny now.

Thankfully, another mom had seen Audrey and her friend roaming the streets looking for my car and walked them back to the front office of the school. Notice how she didn't try to put them in her car, because that's just asking for trouble. Rule #1 of Being Lost is STAY PUT and Rule #1 of Being a Child is don't get into cars with strangers. So you're probably not going to get too far if you try that on a kid who's been taught better.

Anyway.

It's interesting to be a parent and reflect on your childhood. You see so much of your parents in yourself. It's both humbling and humorous. I was so outraged when my mom ABANDONED my brother and me at our school, even though it was an honest (and really insignificant) mistake. And then, my own daughter was similarly offended when I did the exact same thing to her. Someday, she too will forget to pick up her child at school (thanks to that cursed Early Release schedule), and she'll recall my mishap and finally forgive me.

It's the circle of life. It moves us all.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Favorites: Iron Mantis Pest Control

I love almost everything about Arizona. We have the most beautiful skies in the world (especially at sunset), heavenly weather during the fall and winter months and the intoxicating smell of orange blossoms in the spring.

But the one time of year I go from loving to just tolerating this great state of mine is during the summer. Because let's face it -- the heat here is brutal.

And, aside from being incredibly uncomfortable, the warm weather also brings out all the little critters that I despise. Namely, roaches and SCORPIONS.

Last year, we bought a new home in an area that used to be a grove of orange trees. Scorpions tend to like orange trees, so I'd heard there were quite a few of those satanic beasties in the area. I vainly hoped we could avoid them, but no. Sure enough, after a few months of being here, we started seeing more of them. Mostly outside .... but, one did find its way into my kids' playroom.

That's when I said NO MORE! I'd have to get pest control. I cannot and will not live in fear for my life in my own home.

Lucky for me, I have a great friend from high school who started his own company locally, Iron Mantis Pest Control.


First off, such a clever name and branding, right? Unforgettable.

I LOVE how I get a text message notifying me a few days before I have service. Of course, it's very easy to call and reschedule if there's a conflict, which I have done with no problem. They are always so accommodating.

When the technicians come out, they're right on time, super-polite and very efficient. They can treat the interior and exterior of my 2200-square-foot home in about 15 minutes.

After a few months of treatment, I hardly ever see bugs around my home anymore. And when I do, they're dead. It's great! No more noisy crickets outside my bedroom at night, no more disgusting roaches trying to make their way in, no more icky earwigs and no more creepy spiders!

However (and if you follow me on Snapchat, you might remember), about a week ago, I did find a lone scorpion in my bathroom. He was hanging out on our bathroom vent and I caught sight of him in our mirror while brushing my teeth before bed! It sure freaked me out, but I knew what to do. I called Iron Mantis the next day and they came right out to spray for me. They have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and will come out for free should you find any bugs between treatments.

They also offer nighttime blacklight treatment where they'll go hunting for the scorpion nest and eliminate the problem at the source. If I find anymore, I'll definitely be utilizing this service!

Some of the other critters Iron Mantis exterminates include ants, roaches, termites, bed bugs, bees, wasps, spiders, silverfish, carpet beetles and mice/rats. Basically, if it crawls/flies and annoys you, they've got you covered.

Iron Mantis also uses "green" pest control if you have chickens outside or other safety concerns. They incorporate organic plant-based solutions to deter the bugs, which is just the coolest! But rest assured, their traditional spray treatment is also safe for children and pets if you choose to go that route.

Icing on the cake -- if you're already under contract with another pest control company, Iron Mantis will pay your cancellation fee up to $150 so you can make the switch! Sweet.

I hoped I would never have to use a bug guy in my life, but in Arizona, it's just the way things go! Especially when it comes to scorpions. I'm glad I have a pest control company I can trust, who does a good job and treats me well. So, if you're in the Valley of the Sun and are seeing any unwanted visitors in your home, give Iron Mantis Pest Control a call and they'll give you a free pricing quote based on your home's size. They'll annihilate all the buggies for you!

Also, be sure to check out this handy article from Pest Repeller Center on simple ways you can further eliminate or detract pests from your home.


This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are mine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What do I do with all these $&@! papers?

In two weeks, my kidlets will be heading back to school. I love this time of year with its new beginnings, fresh haircuts, spiffy new clothes and sharp pencils. I can just smell that brand-new box of perfectly-pointy Crayolas now!

But, back-to-school also signifies the return of those dreaded piles of paper ... "Welcome Back" packets, school reminders, returned homework and projects, permission slips, you know the drill. And don't forget, you undoubtedly already have stacks of bills, coupons, receipts, and other miscellaneous sheets of paper of your own collecting somewhere in your house. And let's not even get started on junk mail.

Don't be ashamed -- we all have our loose paper piles. Some of us are just better at hiding them than others.


Here are five simple tricks to controlling those annoying stacks of paper that clutter up your life and drive you bonkers!

Get a paper organizer.

I recently got so fed up with the veritable paper fire hazard in my home that I decided it was time to do something about it. I'd been using those office paper trays that stack up, but they were taking up valuable space on my kitchen counter. Plus, I wanted a method that would enable my kids to organize their papers they collect, too. I went to Hobby Lobby and found these adorable wire paper hangers for the wall next to our "command center" (what I affectionately call our computer desk). I picked up two of them so we have a pocket for each kid, plus one for the grown-ups.


Here's a similar item you can purchase from Amazon if you aren't close to Hobby Lobby.



Throw away the junk! This one seems so simple, but I still struggle with it at times. When you get junk mail, put it straight in the recycling bin! You've already decided it's junk, so don't make a home for it on your desk or kitchen counter. I've made a habit of looking through all the mail, sorting out the important things, and then tossing the rest immediately thereafter.

Another pro tip: be sure to shred anything with identifying information on it, like credit card offers or bank statements.

Use a filing cabinet.
I think filing cabinets are a household necessity, right up there with a vacuum cleaner! Every adult needs one, even if it's small. Fact is, life's going to give you papers you need to keep, at least for a little while. I'm talking about interest statements, insurance documents, medical bills, warranties, or even just cute things your kids have made, and a filing cabinet is perfect for this. Just make sure to go through your files once a year so it doesn't get too full and ... well, disorganized!

Scan what you can.If you've got a scanner -- and I'd be willing to bet most people do -- use it! Scan those old photographs, certificates and art projects straight into your computer, and then, throw away whatever you don't need anymore. And if you do intend to keep the original, scanning provides you with a back-up copy in case your hard copy gets lost or destroyed.

Go paperless.
I don't know about you, but I'm much more likely to check my e-mail than my snail mail. Yes, I'll admit that I sometimes go days without stopping by the mailbox! This is mostly because I so often check it only to find junk. I've opted to have the important documents (like bank statements and bills) sent to me by e-mail.

Many financial institutions and utility providers have the ability to send you statements and bills by e-mail, and some even incentivize you for "going paperless!" This trick has really helped cut down on the amount of paper coming through my door.

What about you? What tricks do you have for keeping the paper monster at bay in your home?