Monday, January 18, 2021

Sweet Ways to Remember a Pet

Have you ever had to say goodbye to a beloved family pet?

I had not until earlier this month.  We said goodbye to our 12 year old cat Oliver.  It was unexpected and sad, but I'm happy to report that we're all doing alright.  Yes, we still miss him, but we are thankful for all the good years we had with him.

I thought I'd share some ways that we've remembered our sweet cat that have brought happiness to our lives since he passed away.  Sure there were plenty of tears right when it happened, but all of these ideas are things that we've done to heal our hearts and help our kids process the loss.

1. Paw Print Keepsake

Our vet's office uses a service called Pet Angel and offer a paw print keepsake.  It took us a week to get ours. I am so glad that we did.  We all loved seeing Oliver's paw print.  I think you can get name plate and frame them, but we were just happy to have the paw print.



2. Talk about it

The kids have been really chatty wanting to reminisce about Oliver.  We've looked at pictures, I wrote a blog post about Oliver and we've been sharing Oliver stories.  Also, tell the people you love that you lost your pet.  It'll be good for you to share.

3. Cat Heaven

This is a really sweet book by Cynthia Rylant.  There is a Cat Heaven and Dog Heaven and they're both great.  They're sweet, silly, happy books that leave you with the warm fuzzy feeling that your pet will always know they were loved and are happy now in heaven.

4. Cards

I was really surprised to get several cards in the mail after Oliver passed away.  It was such a sweet surprise for friends and family to acknowledge the loss and just say they cared.

Hugs to you if you've lost a pet!  Furry family members are special.


Here are my Amazon links to those cat and dog books.  The cat one is wonderful and I've gifted the dog heaven book to a friend.  I'd recommend both if you know someone who's lost a pet.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday Favorites

It's been weeks since I've done a Friday favorites post.  I have missed them!  I love documenting all the little things that add up to a good week.

Let's get started!

1 // Boxwood Wreaths - they're my favorite!  I've always wanted one to hang inside my house.  I scooped this one up at TJ Maxx for under $20.  It came with the bow and I hung it on our guest bathroom door.  Now when we have friends over, we can say that the restrooms is the door with the wreath on it.  I smile every time I walk by it.

 2 // Get Outside - We aren't letting the cold keep us inside.  The sun finally came out this week and we met some friends at the playground, went on a couple of walks and really enjoyed the fresh air.  We even got Leo a stroller bubble to keep him extra warm.

3 // New Plants - I picked up this snake plant from Walmart.  I've always wanted one.  Their house plants are all really affordable and have done great for me.  A local flower shop was having a plant sale so Olive and I swung by to check them out.

4 // At Home Date Night - it's no secret that date nights are pricey by the time you add up babysitters, dinner, and an activity.  We've been trying to get creative and do fun things after the kids go to bed.  We picked up DQ Blizzards.  Tip: Pick them up during the day and then pop them in your freezer when you get home.  That way they'll be ready for you to eat at bedtime without any of the hassle of having to leave your house to get them late at night.

5 // Leo turned 9 months old!  He's so busy and so sweet.

6 // Personalized Snowflakes - a family friend made us a snowflake for each child - Olive, Leo & Fletch.  I frame each one and they look so pretty on our mantle every January.  I just love decorating with metallics and winter whites this time of year.

7 // Penny & Pearl

The kittens are growing quickly.  They're so sweet and so silly.  They greet us at the door when we get home, are strangers to personal space and they're working hard to convince Topher to love them.  He's still seeming sad after he lost his kitty best friend of 11 years, Oliver, last week.

8 // Exercise - I've exercised almost every single day this month - 13 days - and for me that's an awesome start to the new year.  Despite my best efforts last year I struggled to be consistent with exercise.  It's becoming part of my daily routine and something I look forward to doing.  The leopard yoga pants help with motivation, too.

9 // Delicious foods - we tried a new pizza place called Marcos and it was amazing.  That crunchy pepperoni was fantastic.  And to balance out that yummy pizza, I made really colorful big salads for lunch every day. 

We are looking forward to a 3 day weekend here.  Hope you have a good one :)

Linking up with Momfessionals

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Photo Printing Challenge

When is the last time you printed photos?

Are you in the habit of regularly printing them?  Updating your frames?  Making photo books?

I am trying hard to get better at printing pictures.  I love to have our frames current - with all 5 of us in them as well as some sentimental frames that never change.  The kids get excited to see our family memories documented around the house.

I've talked about the Walgreens app on Instagram a few different times, but it deserves a blog shout out, too.  Printing photos from the Walgreens app is super simple.  The app is very user friendly.  You never have to pay full price because there are always coupon codes available.  Usually the app will pop up a 20% or 30% off code when you log on.  But many times they offer coupon codes for 40-50% off prints, gifts, projects, etc.  Always google for bigger discounts to see if they are an option.

I used the code BIGDAY40 earlier this week and got 40% off my order.  The app offered me 20%.  I just swapped that code out for the bigger one at checkout.

I've ordered and been very pleased with the following things from Walgreens Photo:

Photo Calendar (available for one hour photo!)

Photo Magnets

Prints of all sizes

You just log on, upload the pictures you want to print, select the sizes, checkout, enter your discount code and then Walgreens keeps close tabs on your order.  You'll get an email when they receive your order, when it's done and when it's ready for pickup.  You can select curbside or drive thru pick up to make the process even easier.  Curbside is my favorite.  You pay online, let them know when you arrive and where you are parked and they bring it right out to you.  It's so handy!

Here is my challenge to you - PRINT THE PICTURES!

And tell me about it.  I'd LOVE to hear how it went for you.

It's okay if Walgreens doesn't work for you, but if you have one close to your home, I totally recommend them.  Then update your frames or frame some new favorite pictures.

I've done both this new year - gotten new frames and updated frames.  I decided our collage of sunflower maze pictures was looking tired.  Since we added a new member to the family this past year, I wanted Leo to be in our pictures.  I smile every time I walk past our new and improved family gallery wall.  I also framed the kid's school pictures from this year.

I am going to be better about printing pictures this year! 

My next photo project is to learn how to make and get into a good routine of printing Chatbooks for my kids to enjoy!  Have you done those before??

Good luck with your photo printing.  Keep me posted!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Ritz Cracker Chicken

Ritz crackers are my favorite salty cracker.  They're the perfect topping, perfect cracker for peanut butter crackers and go great with cheese.  I always have them on hand and buy them in bulk at Sams.  Does your family have a favorite cracker?

I am so excited to tell you about Ritz Cracker Chicken.  I whipped up this new recipe right before Christmas and my whole family loved it.  Major mom win - right?  None of my family loves sour cream by itself, but they loved this recipe.  It really binds everything together and makes the chicken really flavorful and moist.


Thawed chicken breasts (1 per person)

1 T sour cream per chicken breast

Ritz Crackers (2 crackers per chicken breast)

Butter (1 T per chicken breast)

salt and pepper.


Place chicken breasts in a greased glass pan.  Salt and pepper them to taste.  Squeeze sour cream on top and spread it around evenly to coat the top.  Melt butter, crush the crackers up and mix together.  Spoon on top of the sour cream evenly.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.  

Let cool and serve.



This chicken was delicious right out of the oven and it reheated really well.  I'm going to add this to my list of meals that would be great to deliver to a friend.  It's easy to make and is delicious!  Serve with colorful sides.

Side note: If you aren't buying squeeze sour cream you should be!  It lasts so much longer than the tubs of sour cream.  You can't contaminate it by dipping into it.  You just squeeze out what you need on tacos, chicken, baking recipes and more.

Would your family enjoy this chicken?                                         

Monday, January 11, 2021

2021 Word of the Year

Have you picked a word of the year for 2021?

It's time to reveal mine.  This is the 9th year in a row that I've selected a word and used it to guide my plans for the year.  I look forward to picking out my word every year.  I started when I was a brand new mom looking to add some direction to my days.  I found that picking a word of the year helped me set goals for myself for the new year.


2021: FOCUS

Let me share my game plan.

I want to FOCUS on my family.  

Listening to their likes, figuring out their love languages and make sure they are my top priority.  I asked each family member - What are you favorite things to do with me?  I wrote down for things for each person and I'm going to make sure to do those 4 things and more regularly for each of them.  They each said a mix of things I would have guessed with a couple of things that surprised me.  It was really sweet to hear from them what I should focus on this year.  We love doing things together so my hope is that we will find some fun new things to do together this year.

I need to FOCUS my health.  

2020 was a hard year for me with a C-section and two abdominal surgeries.  I'm feeling better now, but I need to keep the momentum going.  My goal is to exercise most days, eat real food, drink lots of water and curb my late night snacking.  I got a treadmill for my birthday and I love having the option to go do a quick workout at home.  I'm hoping to change up my doctors a bit to ensure that I've got a great team of resources around me.  I'm also turning 40 this year (how is this possible!?!?) and really want to make every day count.  I would also love to put together a great skin care, hair care and vitamin routine for myself.

FOCUS on hobbies.  

I love to bake, blog, take pictures, craft, make meals for others, write snail mail, decorate, DIY and garden.  I would love to spend much larger chunks of time on these things rather than mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds.  I'm working on something behind the scenes that I can't wait to share with you.

I would like to FOCUS on my community and get involved.  

I'm president of my local Mom's group for several more months and want to give that my full attention.  Life is different with covid restrictions so I'm determined to make our group fun, engaging and do creative things with my friends.  Volunteering at the kid's school has been mostly called off thanks to covid.  I'm hopeful that I will be able to help more in the schools in the Fall.

As a family we are going to FOCUS on making friends.  

We'd love to have families over to our house, meet for dinner and get to know more whole families.  I've worked hard to make mom friends over the years, but now it's time to branch out even more.  We made a list of all the families we'd like to get to know better this year.  I think it would be really great to have a group of families we all get excited about seeing. 

An archive of my past words of the year:

2020: Family

2019: Listen

2018: Grow

2017: Care    

2016: Invite

2015: Enjoy

2014: Thrive

2013: Change

What is your word of the year?

It's not too late to pick one for yourself or to set some goals for the new year.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

It's been a super sad week at our house (and in the country - right!?!).

On Tuesday, we had to say goodbye to our oldest cat, Oliver.  

It was unexpected and so sad.

As my dad reminded me, "Old friends are hard to lose"  So true.

Oliver was 12 and had been with us for so many of our family adventures.  

We adopted him as a tiny kitten in Utah.  He's lived in 5 different homes in 4 different states - Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi and Indiana.  He was a road trip champion minus the one time he escaped our hotel room in Arkansas and was running the halls.  He would always find the sunniest spots in any place we lived and loved to look out the windows.  He adjusted to adding 3 kids to the family and learned how to pretty happily coexist with them.  He slept at our feet every night.

He was our first pet.  He was my side kick for grading papers when I was teaching, working on homework when I got my masters and I was his person.  He played along with being dressed up for the holidays and then played along with the kids. He taught us that cats are better in pairs.  He was happiest when Topher was near.  They were the snuggliest of brothers.  They were just a year a part in age and bonded just like real brothers.

Oliver was always my late night buddy.  He seemed to enjoy the quiet evening just as much as me.  The kids were all asleep and he got more attention.  We nearly lost him 5 years ago right before Fletcher was born, but then he rallied for some pretty great years.  He got to know Fletcher, lived long enough to meet Leo and welcomed two more kittens to the family.  I wasn't sure how he'd adjust to Penny and Pearl, but he was the first to befriend them.  His health has been touch and go and I think he was just done.  Daily medicines and health concerns were hard on the poor guy.  He always loved a good chin rub and would purr anytime I was near.  I was his favorite human.

Fast forward to now: Earlier in the week I had noticed he was not acting like himself.  I tried to give him some extra TLC and then made him a vet appointment for the following day.  That night he slept right beside me and purred the whole night.  He seemed so lovey.  The vet determined that he was suffering and his health struggles were now causing him pain.  We'd promised him that we wouldn't put him through any more or do anything extreme to extend his life.  We made the super hard decision to put him to sleep.  

We loved him too much to see him suffer.

It was hard on Kevin and I.  Adulting is hard sometimes.  It was even harder to explain to the kids.  We all cried.  They had tons of questions and were sad to lose their buddy.  It was hard to see Topher missing his BFF of 11 years.  I'm so thankful we added the kittens to the family this Fall so that Topher now has two built in buddies.  They're eager to be his friend although he's a little skeptical of all of their love.  God was looking out for our family - the kittens have brought us lots of joy!

I'm going to do a little walk down memory lane today with some of our favorite Oliver moments.  It made me so happy to go back and see all the sweet moments we had with him.

Oliver in Utah:

Oliver + Olive:


Oliver + Olive & Fletcher:

Olive + 3 kids + 2 kittens:


 Go ahead and squeeze your pets a little tighter today :)

Saying goodbye to an old friend is never easy.  Miss you, Oliver!