I've Got Answers, Part 2

I finally have time to answer another round of questions from my Got Questions? post.
Here are the answers to Part 1.
Now....On to Part 2!
1. What would you do if you could have one "dream" day: a) by yourself b) with your husband c) with your family

Love this question! Okay, if I had a dream day all to myself, I would sleep in. Then, it would be time to head out for the day. (While I was gone, there would be a house cleaner at my house deep-cleaning my ENTIRE house! A girl can dream, right?) I would go to my favorite coffee shop & get a vanilla latte & cinnamon roll. I would then go get a manicure & pedicure. Then, I would head over to the Farmer's Market. And, I would go walk around the little shops in our downtown area that I never go in. Then, I would go pick up a sandwhich at my favorite lunch place. They have the best turkey, cranberry, avocado sandwich on freshly baked honey wheat bread! It is SO good. And, of course, I would get a Diet Coke & fresh chocolate chip cookie to go with it. I would get my lunch to go & go eat it on the big grassy area in front of the library & while reading a book. After lunch, I would go shopping at my favorite outdoor mall about 10 minutes from our house. After shopping for a few hours, it would be time for my 1 hour massage. Then, it would be time for dinner. I would get my dinner to go at Cheesecake Factory. I would get the avacado egg rolls, bang bang chicken & shrimp & a piece a Snickers cheesecake to-go. I would eat my dinner at home while drinking a glass of wine while staying up late watching chick-flicks in my spotless & sparkling clean house. :)

Now, if I had a dream day with Kevin, I know exactly what I would want to do. We would sleep in (because the girls would be at a sleepover at Grandma's house) Then we would go to breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot for omelets & coffee. After breakfast we would head to the Napa Valley for the day to go wine tasting at some of our favorite wineries. We would get lunch at Dean & Duluca and have a picnic at one of the wineries. After our day in Napa, we would head into San Francisco for dinner & a musical. After the show, we would go to the Buena Vista for Irish Coffee's. It would be a great day!

If we had a dream day as a family, we would surprise the girls & catch a 7am flight to So Cal & go to Disneyland for the day and then fly back that night. Our girls would be perfectly behaved on both flights & at Disneyland :) Our girls had so much fun at Disney World this summer. They talk about it all the time & want to go back. Going to Disneyland for the day would be such a fun thing to do with them. Maybe one day...!

2. I just wonder how you work and still have time to have great parties and everything else you do. Also you are always posting pictures of all the yummy food that you make...what are some go to quick dinners that you make?

I am a night owl. I do almost 100% of my party planning & party prep at night when the girls are in bed. I can easily stay up until 2am getting stuff done. So, whenever we have parties, etc. most of my time prepping for it is at night. I make all my labels, cupcake toppers, etc at night. And, the night before the party is when I prep all the food. Same goes with cleaning my house, editing photos, etsy orders & blogging.....I do all that at night! I just work better at night!
In terms of quick dinners that I make for our family, several of them I have posted here:
Taco Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Easiest Dinner Ever
Homemade Mac & Cheese
I also make meals that last more than 1 night so that we have leftovers. Chicken Enchiladas, Lasagna, Chicken Spaghetti, Chicken Tortilla Casserole, Fajitas, etc. We like Mexican & Pasta, so a majority of our meals come from that genre. I also LOVE the Pioneer Woman, so I make a lot of her recipes! The crock pot is also used once a week, check out this post for tons of recipes from blog readers when I had my Crock-tober link up!

Are you and hubby both from CA? Did you grow up there?
If you could live in any other state what would it be?
Yes, we both grew up in California...born & raised! It is such a wonderful place to live & we are so lucky that both sides of our entire families live in California also. We never have to travel for holidays! If we could live in any other state, it would be ....COLORADO!
That is a no-brainer!
I went to the University of Colorado and living there for 4 years in college was a dream.
It is sunny in Colorado over 300 days a year. And, there are seasons. Oh, how I loved having seasons. I loved it when it snowed. SO much fun.
It is such a beautiful state (& we have a TON of friends who still live there)
Before we had kids, Kevin and I would talk about moving to Colorado (the price of living is so much cheaper than California) But, since having kids, moving there is out of the question. We have both sets of grandparents just minutes from us. You can't beat that.

4. What is the one holiday activity/tradition you do with your children that I must try?

In terms of a favorite holiday or tradition, I LOVE ALL holidays, so narrowing it down to one tradition is very hard for me to do! Like Kelle Hampton says, "I wave my Holiday Freak Flag at every holiday!"
I think of every holiday as a chance to celebrate and create tradition.
Basically, I use any holiday as an excuse to create something with my girls or throw a party.
I can't just pick one that you must do, but I will highlight some of my favorites!
My favorite traditions include my girls (of course!), spending time with friends & family and doing something that blesses someone else.
For St. Patricks Day last year, there was a lepruchan that came to our house & the girls had to go on a treasure hunt. That was SO fun.
For Easter, we make Empty Tomb cookies & read about the Resurrection.
On 4th of July, we spend the day with friends & family at parties & the parade and have the annual Sausage Fest and Jimmy's Homemade Ice Cream.
On Halloween this year, we had friends over for dinner before we went Trick or Treating and then all went Trick or Treating in our neighborhood. New Tradition? I think so!
My favorite tradition this year was Thanksgiving, when we made Pumpkin Bread for every family on our court and the girls and I passed them out on Thanksgiving. So fun.
And of course, there is Christmas...so many fun traditions. My favorites are Cutting Down our Christmas Tree, Wrapping a book for each day of Advent, Handing out Blessing Bags to the homeless & Candle the Elf.

5. I'm 16 and in high school. I'm interested in growing my faith, my parents don't go to church and don't have a religion base to teach me off of. Where do you suggest I start? Thanks!

What a great question! That is so awesome you want to grow your faith. Do any of your friends go to church? I would say get involved with a youth group at a church in your town, or see if there is a Young Life group in your town. Going to youth group when I was in high school was one of the #1 things for me that helped me grow my faith. I loved going to the weekly meetings & hearing the talks from our youth pastor. I was also in a Small Group with 6 other girls in my youth group & we met weekly to do a Bible Study. And, of course one of the most fun things about youth groups is going on the trips. Winter Retreats, Summer Camp & going to Mexico over Spring Break to build houses & help in the orphanages helped shape me in high school.
You might need to check out a few to see which one works for you. I know when I was in college (in Colorado) I checked out a few different churches/college groups on campus my freshman year before I found one that worked for me!
If none of your friends go to youth group, you could also see if there is a Christian Club on your high school campus. That would be another place to get involved & meet other Christians. It is so important to become a part of the Christian community to help you grow your faith, keep you accountable & have people praying for you & with you. Good luck! I will be praying for you!

6. I am curious how you find time to do all of your creative things and work, keep a home running, etc. What time budgeting tips do you have?

Well, I don't know if I am the best one to give advice on this one because like I mentioned earlier, I am a total night owl & stay up WAY too late most days. So, all the creative stuff happens from the hours 9pm-midnight! (But, I will mention that I have been SO good about going to bed earlier in 2012!) In terms of keeping my home running, well that is still a work in progress! First of all, Kevin is VERY, VERY helpful!!!! Every Sunday, I try to have the entire house cleaned & prepped for the week. Because I am a working mom, I like to have Monday start off on the right step with a clean & organized house. So, Sundays are when we do most of the cleaning. I meal plan for the week every Sunday so that I know what is for dinner that week. I like to prep Monday night's dinner on Sunday night so that when I get home from work on Monday, I can just pop it into the oven (or plug in the crockpot) Starting the week right, helps me stay organized for the rest of the week.
As far as other time budgeting tips, I am also trying to figure out a new system for our family so that Sunday's after church can be more relaxing & not so focused on cleaning.
My friend Erin has a great system that I am trying to implement this year!
This is a picture of her daily schedule:
And, she has a thing called Top 6 & every night she writes down a list of the Top 6 things she needs to do that day (ex: 1. make dentist appointments 2. pick up clothes at cleaners 3. return library books 4. pay mortgage 5. email Karen photos 6. charge camera batteries)

I think her system is awesome & I am working on it! And, I think it will help also help with my laundry situation (which, by the way, thank you for all your tips/comments on that post!)

Do you take pictures for others, for payment? What program do you use to edit photos?
Do you offer prints or just give the CD?

Yes, I take pictures for payment on the side! I have been doing that for about 3 years. I use Photoshop CS3 to edit photos. I give clients the CD and I also offer printing from my professional lab if they want nice prints.

What is your schedule/organization tips/secret to doing it ALL? simply don't know how you find time to teach (as a former teacher....HARD work!), raise a family, cook, do fun activities, blog etc. would LOVE to know what works and how you can accomplish things but appear to still be enjoying the moment!
How DO you do it all?!? :)

I DON'T DO IT ALL! Let me make that clear! :)
I have always been a high energy person. Some people have even referred to me as a spaz :)
I just try and channel my energy onto what I am doing at the moment.
I have learned to set boundaries....since having kids, I don't bring ANY of my school work home. I do all my grading at school & prep for the next day before I leave. That way, when I get home, I don't have to think about school :)
In terms of enjoying the moment, I am a glass is half full type person & try and have fun each day. Yes, there are days when the girls don't listen & I loose my patience with them, but for the most part my mantra is, Keep Calm & Carry On :)
I also try to include the girls in our activities, like baking & cooking. And, if I am working on a crafty project, I do it at the table with them while they are coloring or doing a craft.

In your opinion, what is the best college in all the world?
The University of Colorado!!!! GO BUFFS!!!
Do you have more hours in your day than the rest of us?
I wish!!!! Then I wouldn't have to stay up so late :)
What is your favorite Bible Study of all time?
This is a good one...I have 2 favorites. 10 years ago, I did a Precepts study on Exodus and it was the first Old Testament Bible Study I had done. I had just graduated from college & moved back to California. I was the youngest one in the study, but that study impacted me in a HUGE way. It was SO hard & a lot of work, but I learned so much. And, it was the first time I realized that the Old Testament can & does apply to our lives in the 21 Century! God has a master plan for each of us and has since the beginning of time.
Another favorite Bible Study we just did with our Small Group this Fall was The Hole in Our Gospel by Rich Stearns. It was a great book & study. I challenge you to read it!

Are there words you don't like? (I don't like "tenderloin" or "chunk" or "moist" or...)
I actually don't have any words I don't like. But I have friends who don't like the word moist or ointment, so I make sure I say it to them all the time. ha!

Did you ever have boy names picked out?

We have had 2 boy names picked out since we were married!
If we had 2 boys (instead of 2 girls) they would have been named Luke James & Grant Thomas.

Surely you still work out. What's your routine?

Ummmm....I haven't worked out in 6 years, since I became pregnant with Kate in the Spring of 2006. I am one of those lucky people who has fast metabolism. Sorry. Don't hate.

I love how thrifty you are! How do you find great deals and not spend so much on decorating...whether it be for the holidays or just everyday?

The reason I am thrifty is because I basically ONLY shop at TARGET!!!
I love that place. And, Target has sales ALL THE TIME, so I have scored some really good deals there. Most of my house is decorated with things from Target. Of course, I would love to shop more at Anthro or Pottery Barn, but the reality is...I have young kids and I can' justify buying expensive things that my girls will ruin! And, I don't want to stress about them ruining stuff, so I shop at Target. Same goes for their clothing. Gap Kids & Nordstrom have adorable clothing, but I just can't justify spending a lot of $ on clothes that my girls will grow out of in a few months or ruin because they play so hard in their clothes!
Most of the really good deals I get on clothes are on clearance. I get it AFTER the season & buy a size bigger for my girls to wear the NEXT year. I have done this several times for holidays. It works great! I do the same with decorations, I buy them when they are 50-70% off...after that holiday!

So, there you have it! Part 2!
I will answer Part 3 in the next few weeks!
If you have more questions, you can ask them!

Happy Friday the 13th!
I am counting down the hours until Friday Night Pizza Night and when the girls are in bed so Kevin & I can watch Friday Night Lights! (Almost done with Season 2!)


  1. So fun to read. My oldest son is Luke James. : )

  2. I seriously want to be just like you when I'm a mom! I just love reading your blog :)
    Oh, and GO BUFFS!!!!

  3. Turkey, cranberry and avocado sandwich?! Where???

    That is an awesome organization system Erin's got going on. I may need to implement that.

    Happy Pizza Friday! Can't wait to see you on Sunday!

  4. Fun read Mel.
    I loved your dream alone day.
    Mine would be very very similar. :)

  5. I enjoyed this as much as part 1. Great advice. I like your boy names a lot. My boys are William James (Will) and Benjamin Grant (Ben). And, I try not to bring school work home. I like to leave it at school and focus on my boys when I'm at home. The organization system is incredible. I'll have to check it out. Have a great weekend!

  6. OK ~ I am going to join you on the perfect day! It sounds amazing! We could eat lunch anywhere you wanted!

  7. Fun to read your answers!! I LOVE Target as well...they have great kids clothes and I love their home stuff!

  8. I would move to Colorado also! We currently live in Nebraska, so we're only 7 hours from Denver and love to visit as often as we can. My mom recently bought a vacation home in the mountains. Being there is one of my FAVORITE places to visit... next to seeing my brother in San Francisco ;)



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