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The Spiral Jetty at Sunset

When we were moving to Utah last year, I scoured the internet to find a bunch of things that we could go and do as a family, and created this post about 28 Free Things to do in Utah with Kids. We've chipped off at a lot of things on the list, but one of the things I have been dying to do since we moved here was drive to Promontory to see the Spiral Jetty at sunset. 

The Spiral Jetty is not a natural occurrence. A local Utah artist actually created the formation into the shore of the The Great Salt Lake in the 70s. It's made of mud, crystals, and basalt rocks. It's truly a sight, and to think a single person did this by hand is truly an amazing feat. 

It's a bit of a drive to get there. About 90 minutes and 80 miles from where we live in Layton, but totally worth it for the views and fun adventure at sunset. We actually hadn't planned on going last night when we did, but bedtime was getting near, and summer is winding down, and I thought it would be a fun adventure to cap off one of our last Family Home Evenings before school starts next week. So we threw the kids into some jammmies, hopped into the car, and we were off for a nighttime adventure. 

We got there right as the sun was falling, and I was blown away by the pictures I was able to capture of the sunset with my camera. Derek told me about a photography competition that has happening in his office, so I pulled out all the big guns in an effort to win. I'm nothing if not competitive. 

The kids had fun climbing on the rocks (until Em fell off a rock she was sitting on), and it was so fun to literally watch the sun fall out of view behind the mountains. I don't think I've ever actually sat and watched the sun fully set like that, and it's something I don't think I'll ever forget. 

If you're planning a trip out to the Spiral Jetty, you can plug "Spiral Jetty" into your GPS and it will take you right to it. Right at the end though when you're on a gravel road, don't pay attention to the GPS and follow the signs, as it will want you to turn left on a single track road. Keep following the main road, and it will lead you to a parking lot right in front of the jetty. 

Fall Dining Nook Tour + Free Printable Fall Banner

A few weeks ago a reader left a comment saying that my blog has gotten boring over the last several months. That really struck a cord with me, not because I thought the comment was rude, but because it was true. We've certainly had a lot going on, a lot of which I can't openly share, but I find when I have things going on in my life that I can't share, I end up sharing nothing at all. Which mostly results in me spitting out content for the sake of having content, but it's certainly not my best work. 

I've thought a lot about what I used to love about blogging, and what made me super excited, and seasonal home projects were definitely at the top of the list. Since living in this house, I haven't loved our dinning nook, and haven't known how to decorate it seasonally for regular blog content, but this weekend I decided that I was going to get in there, and be creative to make this a fun space for our family and to make something for the blog that I was proud about! 

The main thing that is hard about this dinning nook is that it's so small, and the canoe light fixture has always been... not my favorite. I decided that hanging a banner on the wall would do a lot to break up such a large and empty space, and I love how it turned out. 

I made the banner on my computer, and then picked the font color to be the same shade as craft paper to give it that fun fall look. I've made it into a printable for you (linked at the bottom of this post) to print from home, cut out, and then hang in your house as well! 

Once I had the banner hung, I felt like it needed a little something more, so I added this fun little tassel garland. It was my first time making one, and it's not really as big as I would like it (I had no clue how much ribbon you need to make one of those!), but I think it does a good job of adding a pop of color to the wall and giving it some more interest. 

When I was at Hobby Lobby, I saw this black and white checkered runner, and knew that I wanted to add it to our table for this cozy fall look. I paired the runner with my grandmother's Currier and Ives dishes, with a signature fall pumpkin in the middle, and loved how well all the pieces worked together! Finally, I got the metal pumpkin in the middle from Hobby Lobby. I just couldn't resist those dreamy rose gold accents! 

Free printables and downloads are definitely something that I want to do more of in the future. If you love this "Happy Pumpkin Spice Season", banner as much as I do, feel free to download it here! When you hang it in your house, take a picture and tag me in it on Instagram (@thehappyflammily) I'd love to see it and share with others how you styled it! 

Taking You Through Our Fixer Upper

Now that we're finally out of the closet about not building anymore, I thought it would be fun to take you through what our new home looks like, and what plans we have for the space so far. The greatest challenge with this home is that it has a lot of "architectural details" on the inside that I'm not a huge fan of, but that are very common among Utah homes that were built in the late 90s and early 2000s. We have peek through walls, and more ledges near the ceiling than you can shake a stick at, but I'm up to the challenge to make it work! 

When you first walk into the front door, you're immediately greeted by our kitchen that is on the left hand side. It's spacious and has a ton of cabinets for storage, but there are some things we would definitely like to change down the road, as budget, and time permit. 

The first thing on the chopping block would probably be swapping out the old lighting fixture with some recessed can lights. Switching that out will do a lot to make the home feel more updated, but won't completely break the bank either. 

In a dream world, I would love to replace all the cabinets, and rip out the ones that are directly in front of the window, and make two built in desk seats with drawers in the middle of the two spaces, for the kids to be able to sit and do homework and other projects. Realistically, we'll probably keep the existing cabinets, paint them white, add some black hardware, and then replace the counters with granite, and add a white subway tile backsplash. 

I would also love to rip out the carpet that is in the living room and dinning room, along with the tile that is in the kitchen, and replace it all with wood plank tiles. Again, another dream world situation, but something we want to do down the road. 

I also don't LOVE the wall that peeks out to the dinning room, and the doorway that leads into the kitchen, and would somehow like to figure out a way to rip that all out and make it look a little more modern and up to date, but my mind hasn't quite grasped how to do that, and what to replace it with yet. 

This probably goes without saying, but we fully intend to paint every single inch of this house white/gray before we move in, so removing the red wall in the dinning room will be happening very quickly. Other than that, this room will remain the same, except for an updated light fixture, and hopefully a flooring change at some point. 

I am so excited to get to work in this living room space. I haven't quite figured out how to work the furniture situation with this corner fireplace, but I'm so jazzed about the makeover that I'm going to be doing to this fireplace the second we move in! I found a DIY online showing how to paint the fireplace tile white, which I can't wait to share with you. Derek is then going to build a new mantle that will essentially be a wooden box that will cover the existing mantle. For under $100 we'll have a dreamy white fireplace with a dark wood stained mantle, and I cannot wait. It's going to be dreamy guys, so dreamy. 

Our master bedroom is an interesting situation. Not only does it have that massive ledge near the ceiling that I have no clue what to do with, but there is also no door separating the bedroom from the master bathroom. I would love to install a barn door like my friend Janssen did in her house, but there would still be an awkward gap between the ceiling and the top of the door... I think eventually we may need to hire a contractor to make a proper doorframe and door there, but for now (and probably the next five years), this is what we're dealing with. 

Our two bathrooms are typical builder grade bathrooms. I would eventually like to get a double vanity in the master bathroom (top), and replace the tub because I'm not a huge fan of the existing one (brown marbling and starfish accents), but that would be a massive undertaking, so we'll probably die in our house with the tub the way it is. I'll likely replace the tile in the bathrooms to match the new tile in the kitchen and living spaces when the time comes. 

Em's bedroom currently looks like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. This will 100% be getting some fresh paint, and a new lighting fixture, and then this room will be done and finished! 

Although Jay's room is the one room in the house that isn't an offensive shade of bandaid beige, the paint in here is definitely roughed up a bit, and so we'll likely paint this room too, and swap the lighting fixture for a more updated one in the future. 

This laundry room is tricky because it's not a room at all. We have this small hallway that leads to a bonus room, and there really aren't any doors concealing the laundry from the rest of the house, which means this space will always have to look immaculate. There is a large part of me that wants to hang some palm leaf printed wall paper behind the washer and dryer, but I'm doubtful that Derek is going to approve of that. 

This bonus room is 100% my favorite room in the entire house and is the main reason why we wanted it so badly. When you walk into the house from the garage, this is the room you walk into. We plan on this being the room where we have our TV, and then we'll also store the kids toys in here, and use it as a guest bedroom as well. It's a little narrow (although not as narrow as this picture makes it look), so it will be tricky to find just the right furniture to make it serve all of our needs, but I'm confident in our ability to make it happen over time. 

We have a couple projects we want to do in the back of the house. You can't see at all, but there is a cement patio that we want to eventually put a fire pit on, and next to the fire pit is a 20 year old deck that is in fairly rough shape. Within the next year, I could see us completely replacing the deck, and adding a small ramp to it so that Em can easily get down into the grass on her own. (There are currently two steps down from the deck that we'll have to deal with... but better than the eight steps that we would have had on our new build. 

I realize that I just spent a lot of time picking apart all the things I don't like about this home, but the truth is, I couldn't be more grateful for it. It is perfect for our family, and it's a home I can see us thriving in for years and years to come. As a blogger, part of my job is sharing fun projects with you guys, and so it's fun to take you guys through the mental process of what I would like to do in this home. Will all my dreams and aspirations for this home come true the second we move in? No. But it's fun to have a plan, work through design challenges, do fun projects, and document the entire journey along the way! 

Walking Away From Our New Build and Buying a Fixer Upper!

We have had a whirlwind of events happen over the last several weeks in terms of our homeownership situation. I shared a few weeks ago how we might not be able to move into our new home due to not being able to obtain a loan if the interest rates went too high, but we never would have expected not being able to move in for a completely different reason.

When we put down our deposit on the home, we sat with the builder and made our plans handicap accessible so that it would be a home that Em could live and thrive in for the rest of her life. When we were in that meeting the builder did not take into consideration the house on the actual lot that we chose. Because the lot slopped in the back, they gave us a daylight basement without telling us. This meant that when you went outside the kitchen from the sliding glass door, you now had eight stairs to walk down before you made it to the backyard, meaning that Em couldn't simply walk out to the backyard in her gait trainer and go play like we originally thought, taking away from the entire fact that this was supposed to be an ADA home. 

We signed the papers and walked away from that house officially last week. While we were in the middle of all the chaos with the first house, a house in our current neighborhood, in our same ward, in our same school zone, that was handicap accessible enough for what we needed went on the market, and we jumped on it the second we saw it. We were the first ones to get an offer in, and even offered quite a bit more than asking price, but actually got beat out by an all cash offer. 

Derek and I decided to just wash our hands of the home buying situation, and decided to stay another year in our rental house, and then used the money that we would have used for our earnest money to pay off some debt and be responsible adults. 

Low and behold, a week or so goes by, and our realtor calls us and tells us that the previous buyers found another house that they liked better, and now the house was ours if we wanted it. Hooray! However, we used all our earnest money to pay off some debt, and now had no idea what we were going to do. We needed $1,500, and only had about $1,000 in extra cash sitting in our bank account, and were sweating about how we were going to come up with an extra $500 in 24 hours. We lied to our realtor and said we had the money no problem, and figured we'd go get a cash advance on a credit card at the last minute if we needed to.

The next morning I woke up, grabbed my phone, started scrolling through my email, and got a message saying that $550 had been deposited into my back account for a blog project that I wasn't expecting payment on until the end of the month. It was insane. A miracle really. A huge tender mercy that came right when we needed it! 

We're so excited to get into this home and make it our own! We already have some awesome DIY projects and renovations planned, all of which I can't wait to share here on the blog with all of you. I've truly missed owning my own home and doing all of the projects and sharing it all on the blog with you guys, and so I'm very excited, jazzed, and motivated to be able to share all of that with you again!

Heavenly Father has been in every single detail of this home situation. We always prayed to know if building was the right choice for us or not, and that if it wasn't, for Him to block our path. He tried stopping us with the loan situation, and we worked around it, so then He slapped an eight foot deck onto the house so we'd get the message. And then the right house, at the right time, in our favorite neighborhood in the world pops up for us. He knew what he was doing, and we couldn't be more grateful. 

Keeping Schedules Organized For Back-To-School

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PowerToThePen #PilotYourLife #CollectiveBias

With school starting in just two more weeks for our family, I've been trying to figure out all the best ways to keep all the schedules organized for the busy school year ahead of us. Between school, church responsibilities, doctor appointments, after school sports and more, it's easy to feel like something can get lost in the shuffle. 

When I was doing my back-to-school shopping at Target this year, I bought an assorted pack of G2® pens by Pilot Pen, so that I could make an organized family calendar in our kitchen. I love G2® pens by Pilot Pen because they are the smoothes gel ink pens that I've ever used, and they've been a long time favorite of mine since high school... and for good reason since they're the number one selling gel ink brand in America.

For this project, I simply bought a large calendar for my kitchen wall and then assigned each family member they're own color ink with my G2® pens by Pilot Pen. Once everyone was assigned a color I then went through my planner and transferred everything on our calendar to the large one. 

I realized that between my own work projects on the blog, my church responsibilities, and my own assignments for my last year of college I'll be starting soon, I had a lot going on and was actually able to assign myself several different colors of ink so I could keep everything balanced and in order for myself. I love that that quality of Pilot Pen products is the same throughout their entire color range so that I don't have to worry about ink skipping, or smearing when I write, and that everything looks clean and orderly when I'm done. 

Once I finished writing in all our upcoming events, we simply hung our new calendar on the wall, right by our garage door, so now everyone sees it when they leave for the day. I've found that it's a great way for us as a family to stay up-to-date on what's going on in everyone's lives and so that there aren't any surprises with a last minute practice or work project that someone forgot about. 

Right now when you purchase your G2® Pens by Pilot Pen at your local Target store, you can get $.75 off your purchase of any four pack or larger. I know all parents are looking to save money for back-to-school, and basically all kids want these pens anyways, so you might as well save yourself some money in the process! 

Three Back-To-School Breakfast Ideas With Eggo Waffles

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveMyEggo #ReadingWithEggo #CollectiveBias

Last year was our first year sending the kids to school. I didn't make a huge event out of our first day though because Jay was starting preschool, and we knew we would be switching schools in a month once we got to Utah, and Em didn't start school until almost October, so I feel like we didn't have a huge first day of school celebration. 

This year I want to put in a little more effort into making the kids first day back just a little special for them, without completely burning myself out and wishing I hadn't gone through loads of effort in the first place. 

Last year our kids ate Eggo Homestyle Waffles basically everyday of the school year. I loved that they were an easy and portable option that I could pop in the toaster and then toss to the kids to eat while we were heading out the door. It's a no brainer for us that this year, there will also be a lot more Eggo Waffles in our lives.

Since I'm looking to make the first day back a little special this year, I purchased Eggo Waffles from Walmart, and practiced my hand at making some fun little animals and pictures, to make a wholesome and filling meal for the kids, that is also quick and easy for me! 

  1. Start with one whole Eggo Waffle in the middle.
  2. Slice strawberries in half, and then place them around the waffle to make the flower petals. 
  3. Cut a small thin rectangle from another Eggo Waffle for the stem. 
  4. Cut an apple slice in half, and place it on each side of the stem to make the leaves. 

  1. Start with one whole Eggo Waffle for the body. 
  2. Cut a "v" shape out of another Eggo Waffle to make the head. 
  3. Use a banana slice for the eye, and a chocolate chip for the pupil. 
  4. Use two strawberry halves for the feet. 
  5. Cut a small half circle shape for the tail.
  6. Cut a few apple wedges in half, and place along the spine and tail of the dinosaur to make some spikes. 

  1. Use one whole Eggo Waffle for the body.
  2. Cut another Eggo Waffle in half, and then in half again, to make four quarters. Use two of those pieces to make the wings for the owl. (Then snack on the other halves while you finish making breakfast.
  3. Use two strawberry halves for the ears.
  4. For the face, use two banana slices for the eyes, and two chocolate chips for the pupils. Then use a small strawberry half for the nose. 
  5. Finish your waffle by using three chocolate chips for each foot of the owl. 
Right now when you purchase one Eggo product, you get one free scholastic book for your child, a friend, or your school. You can purchase any Eggo product during the promotion and then simply uploading your recipet to Kellogg's Family Rewards. Visit their site for more details. 

Sign up for Ibotta and earn money back on the purchase of Eggo varieties while supplies last!

Three Ways To Teach Your Kids About Recycling In The Kitchen

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #HonestKidsRecycle #CollectiveBias

Over the last few years I've had a lot of thoughts about our personal environmental responsibility, and ways that we can cut back on trash to be better stewards of our planet. Until recently, I've never done anything to actually follow through on any of those ideas. As we embark on a new school year, where I'm sending Jay to school with a lunch each day, I've thought a lot about the packaging, wrappers, and trash that go along with that, and have made changes in our home to eliminate some of the waste, even if it's on a small scale. 

Hover over and click on the image below to shop your own Honest Kids® products and learn about their recycle program!
1. Recycle Your Juice Pouches
I recently stared purchasing Honest Kids® Organic Appley Ever After® juice pouches at Walmart. I feel better about purchasing these over other juice drinks because of their really awesome recycling program. We've never lived in a place where recycling was accessible to us, and so I've loved being able to teach this principal to Jay, even if its on such a small scale. 

Walmart and Honest Kids® help you recycle your old juice pouches for free. When you finish drinking your juices, simply head over to this link, where you can print off a shipping label for free. Attach it to your Honest Kids® juice box, and fill it with all of your empty juice pouches, and they'll recycle them for you free of charge. This program is not only good for the environment, but I love that it also helps to establish a culture of recycling early on in your home and family life. 

2. Use Reusable Snack Bags
Just this summer alone I feel like we've gone through quite a few boxes of snack sized plastic bags. Between church on Sundays, swim lessons, and soccer camp, we've packed a lot of snacks. My friend Emily introduced me to the idea of reusable snack bags and I decided that was something I really wanted to implement in my home. 

I've found that they're really easy for kids to open on their own, and they're leak proof, and can be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher, which makes them really easy and convenient to use.

3. Purchase A Bento Box
Everyone loves Bento Boxes right now, and you can find some variation of them everywhere you go (even Walmart!) I love that they're reusable and eliminate the need for bringing a brown paper bag each day. The small compartments mean that you can pack many different foods for your child without using tons of disposable packaging. Like the reusable bags, these are also dishwasher safe, making after school cleanup a breeze.

You can find all sorts of variations of these from ones that have a built in thermos for hot foods, some that come with a built in ice pack (like mine!). Some come with removable compartments, or others have fixed slots built in so you don't have to worry about losing pieces. Mine has a silicone insert and the compartments can bend in and out for whatever configuration you need. I love that I can have four little snacks for my kids, and then fit their Honest Kids® juice right in the middle!

What are some of your back-to-school hacks for removing the clutter and the trash in the kitchen? This is totally a new concept that my family and I are trying to implement this year, so I'm welcoming any and all advice in the comments below! Also, don't forget to print out your Honest Kids® shipping labels so that you can return your pouches too!