December 31, 2013


Posted by Lori~

SPOILER ALERT:  If you are on my Christmas not read on.  This invitation will literally be going in the mail this weekend, so save the suprise.

Once again, Steve whipped up our annual Christmas mailing.  I just LOVE IT!  We wanted to hold-off until after our Christmas vacation.  That is why there is a delay.

Check it out here:

You can also view past Christmas cards.  Check-out 2012:

 And, here is 2011:

I cannot believe how BIG MUR-MAN HAS GOTTEN!

Here's wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

I will be back tomorrow!

December 30, 2013


Posted by Lori~

We just got back from our family vacation on a cruise to Belize and Cozumel.  It was dreamy...especially the temps.  We loved every minute of it...and I do plan to give a recap of the trip as well as provide you with some thrifty travel options and ideas to consider when booking a cruise. 

But first, a few quick Christmas themed posts.  I realize tomorrow is New Year's Eve, but I am still in the spirit and wanted to get these in before the New Year.  

We continued our Christmas ornament travel tradition...and picked up three ornaments from our latest vacation.  You can read more about the tradition here.

A mini-ornament of our cruise ship Liberty of the Seas!

Unfortunately, we did not visit the Belize islands, but did explore the main land and it was BEAUTIFUL!

Finally, an ornament from Cozumel!
My sis also decided to start the ornament tradition.  Souvenirs are GREAT, but to me this is the BEST!  Each year as you decorate your tree, you can talk about your travels.  

Steve and I look forward to adding to our collection.  

Happy New Year's Eve!  More holiday posts tomorrow!

December 29, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up - toeless pantyhose do exist!

Posted by Ethne~

Hey everyone!  Last two days of the year, I can hardly believe it!  

I'm working on a couple foodie posts for you, but the family are testing them out first, to see if they're good enough to post about.  Teaser: homemade almond milk (and possibilities from the almond pulp) and creme brûlée (with my new torch I got for Christmas).  I'll also give you an update about our gluten-free adventure once we get into the new year - we're still sticking with it.  [They have siphoned off several recipes I could've posted about as not good enough - and this is the recipe's fault, not mine.]

I met up with bff's Steph and Grizz this weekend.  It was so great to see them.  I'm fairly certain I took no pictures, seeing as my yap was too busy flappin'.  Darn.  But we had a good time, ate some really good food (Ciao Bella in Edina, MN) and decidedly did not solve any great problems.  But, we did evaluate whether I could find toeless pantyhose (which I know exist) to wear to Shaun's brother's wedding next weekend (I'm wearing peeptoe shoes in January, I know, I'm silly - Shaun belabored this point until I suggested that I could alternately just go out and buy another pair of shoes, just for the wedding).  My Dad said, "no luck", but we felt I had a shot at Macy's or Nordstrom's.  I was nearest to Macy's so I went there first and, wouldn't you know, but they had some: Hanes [also found online apparently].

I talked to Lori and Steve.  They're back from their cruise and a great time was reportedly had by all.  I am still unconvinced to come on a cruising vacay with them anytime soon (ocean deep water + Ethne = NO) and, quite frankly, very relieved to have my beloved Lori back on dry land.  She'll tell us all some tales with pics this week, she said.

I'm debating what to do for New Year's dinner (along with the creme brûlées).  The girls think that any of these meals are "feasts" now, so I don't want to let them down - but I'm really hankering for tamales - and I know several friends who have tamales at New Year's.  I even have a from-scratch recipe (thanks D&F).  So that's what I'm leaning towards, even if it doesn't exactly jive with my dessert choice.  Heh, it's me, I make up my own rules.  Shaun doesn't even question this.  Why am I?

We take the girls to the dentist tomorrow and Easy Mac has her first loose tooth hanging by a thread.  I'd be surprised if it lasts till the appointment tomorrow, but honestly, I kinda love the timing.  It does mean I have to sew the head back onto her tooth fairy STAT though.

And we are anxiously awaiting the family wedding on Saturday.  I just have to get tights for the girls and pantyhose for myself for the groom's dinner and we are SET.  I'm pretty excited.  I've been to far more summer weddings (mine included), but I have to say that the January weddings I've been to have been awesome.  It really is a great time of year to get married.  Shaun's brother and his fiancee are very stylish, so I'm sure there will be lots for me to report back about.  I'm bringing the good camera, dudes.

Have a great Monday!

December 26, 2013

Per Steph, TOYS R US exploded in our living room.

Posted by Ethne~

KD and Easy Mac got some pretty cool gifts this Christmas.  Two of those I'll probably have some seriously good fun with are their Our Generation dolls (Target's version of American Girl).

It's been my observation that you get a lot of doll for the money, and considering that my kiddos are still pretty tough on their baby dolls and Barbies at this point, I wasn't keen on American Girl money being spent only to have their faces being scribbled on.

I'm loving all the little accessories.  I'd have loved this stuff as a kid.  I remember when AG came out, but I was just past doll stage, so it was really a no-go for me anymore.  I was into clothes by then.

When I figure out loading the good camera pictures onto my new computer, I'll do some pictures worthy of these things (as well as the Furby Booms, bikes, cheerleader Barbies [I died] and DreamHouse Barbie with real eyelashes - and other goodies) but here are a few shots KD took tonight:

The dolls are named Sadie and have the features matching KD and Easy Mac.  I've been the hairstylist and Sadie on the left now has double French braids.  They may also have new names, but not sure.
Sadie 1 has the same knobbly knees as KD.  Priceless.
Red glitter shoes matching KD's for Christmas.  Adorable!  I was pretty impressed KD took this close-up.

2013 Christmas Home Tour at Ethne's

Posted by Ethne~

Hello everyone!  I hope you all survived Christmas?!  We did, though I never managed to get through a whole viewing of A Christmas Story this year.  What the heck?

In my online perusals over the course of the season, I found a ton of lovely blog sites (such as Carmel at Our Fifth House) that participated in holiday home tours.  Now certainly, my house isn't quite like those homes, but there are many little touches that make the holidays special to me.  My family is best of all, of course.  You saw Easy Mac and me in my Christmas post (KD refused jump in for the selfie).  These here are a few of the things I love to see when I look around my own house at the holidays.

The nativity, my Santa mat (I made that and it's one of my very favorites) and my basket of Christmas cards .
A jar of sparkly (unbreakable) ornaments in my kitchen.  I thought I would just replace the ornaments with food, but I like it so much I was thinking I'd maybe just replace it with decor for different seasons now.
We don't have a fireplace at this house, so Lyle had to bring the girls a Santa key so he could get in our front door.  Here, it's waiting to be hung outside.
Lyle sitting on the tree Christmas Eve, for the last day of "watching".  You can see he found a classy spot to sit - amongst Shaun's Homer Simpson, Vikings and beer mug ornaments (all from me).  Just to the left is our Christmas Vacation house ornament.  I'm gonna need a second tree just for more ornaments.

I love crafty stuff.  Christmas crafts may be the pinnacle of all - especially after KD told me, "Mommy, I love how you make everything" as we put up our decorations this year [she was referring to the decorations, BTW, because she was not referring to my gluten-free cooking, which has been hit or miss on their palates].  Melt my heart!

This was our crafty ornament gift to family for 2013 - a car carrying home a tree.  If you looked ANYWHERE online, you saw they are EVERYWHERE.  Ours are made out of Hotwheels: here a '69 Pontiac GTO.  I found an orange Datsun pickup truck for Whit, which was the EXACT SAME VEHICLE we drove in high school, to carry her wee tree. (It clips to the tree w/ a glue-gunned-on clothespin BTW)
I made this ornament this year out of rosebuds and petals from my wedding bouquet, which didn't survive our last move very well.  I figured if I didn't preserve it in something like this soon, it may well disintegrate.  The little blue ribbon held my pearls at the right length on my wedding day (and was something blue) and the ivory ribbon was saved from wedding gifts.  Shaun says the roses look like cigar butts.  SO ROMANTIC!  Ratty or not, it's one of my favorites.
I love the Grinch quote here.  My hand-painting isn't that artistic, but my girls don't care.  This hangs in KD's room this year.
I made Christmas tree hair bows for the girls and their cousins.  They are really cute.

I love kid-made stuff, which we are getting a lot more of nowadays!!

The girls made these button trees last year, but this year we decided to spruce them up with tree skirts and mini presents.  I glue-gunned everything together and put white ribbon (barely visible against the white door, which was the idea) connecting tree and skirt for support.  They look so festive now.  The middle presents are flat, to which the girls said, "those are DVD's".  "Or books," said I.

And much as I want to swat Sandra Lee for coining the term (she's the one I heard say it anyways) "tablescape" I enjoy having company over to my house, so I did have fun putting this [*gag*] tablescape [*hack*] together for dinner.  When I told my sister about it, and cursed Sandra L. for putting the term in my head, she chuckled.  When she came in the house and saw it, she said, "Yup, it's a 'scape".  Sure, it's not over-the top like some of those gorgeous bloggers' tables, but I was pretty proud.  First, it was very pretty, but second, it had some cool touches.  Each person had a stocking for their silverware, with a piece of candy inside (I could pick a meal-plan-approved kind of candy for the girls that way); I tied on a candy cane and name tag.  The girls hand-wrote our guests' names onto the scrapbook-paper tags I made.  I tied on with Christmas color string and placed the stockings on Christmas fabric napkins I found at Target on 50% clearance.  I found Shaun's and my jute-ish placemats there for 30% off, and while I eventually found more of those kind at other Target stores, I elected to get red ones for the other guests because the red ones are washable.

My beautiful Christmas Eve table - ready for prime rib.
Oh, and the silver bows I snatched off the wedding poppers from Shaun's brother's wedding shower last weekend.  I have just the thing, I thought - and I did wait for the poppers to be used before pilfering the bow.
Whitney.D (even though her last name isn't Denham).  So sweet.

The centerpiece was from my work party last year.  I snatched that, with permission, and it was perfect.

I hope your holidays were perfect and that you ring in 2014 with style!  We're amping up for Shaun's brother's wedding just after the new year - very exciting!

December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

Posted by Ethne~

Hey dudes!  Cheers on this very special day!

It is a beautiful day of chaos today.  The children are in their glory.  Furbies and Our Generation dolls are the stars of the day (along with Barbies and bikes).  As for me, I'm typing on my new MacBook Pro, meaning I can save loads more pictures from the good camera on here with no memory problems.  Thank you, Shaun, my darling.

To all my friends and family, love and kisses.  To Lori's and my blog family, thanks for checking in with us this year.  We love you guys too.

December 23, 2013


Posted by Lori~

Steve, Mur-Man and I did not have coordinating Christmas stockings and I decided it was about time to put a stop to that.  I searched around town and online and found these at TJMaxx.  The price was definitely right!

I then found the iron-on letters and ironed them on to make each stocking personalized to each of us.  I think they turned out really cute.

Our dog, Roger, has his own stocking too! 

Stockings purchased at TJMax for around $8.00/stocking.

Iron-on letters purchased at Hobby Lobby for $2.29/letter.

Iron on cotton-heat setting for 30 seconds.  I did use a light cloth in-between iron and letter.


Posted by Lori~

Look at the adorable thank-you gift we put together for Murray's teacher!  You could do this with anything gift; and could give the gift after winter break, if you forgot to do this before school got out.

Paper stars purchased at TJMax for $4.99.

Steve whipped up the card!

December 19, 2013

KD lost her first tooth - and drama ensued!

Posted by Ethne~
Hello everyone!
We had a big event in the Denham house on Thanksgiving Day.  I’ve been saving up the exciting news since Lori’s been posting at the front of this month.
KD had a noticeably loose tooth for a couple of days as we approached Thanksgiving (the dentist had proclaimed in June/July that it was oh-so-teeny-bit loose).  We kept telling her not to mess with it, since if the baby tooth falls out too soon, the big tooth beneath it is exposed and might get damaged if it’s not ready to come up yet.  She listened as well as if we’d been talking to a wall, and wiggled away.  I remember wiggling my loose teeth as a kid too, though, so I tried not to be too much of a nag about it.
Anyway, RIGHT AFTER DINNER on Thanksgiving – and I mean ‘supper’ not ‘lunch’ since if you’re from North Dakota or Minnesota, sometimes you call lunch ‘dinner’, which totally confused the heck out of me as a kid since my family called lunch ‘lunch’ and supper ‘dinner’.  [The vernacular up here is totally whack.  At least they call pop ‘pop’ and not ‘soda’, which is the RIGHT way to say it.  Why would you call any beverage by a two-syllable name when you have another one-syllable name right there available?  Oh, and if you’re from anywhere in the whole country besides Minnesota and North Dakota, you call mint chocolate chip ice cream ‘peppermint bon bon’.  I don’t know what to say about this except it doesn’t actually have whole bon bons in it so I think our way is better since it’s got the chocolate chips in it.  Major fights in college over this, dudes.]
Ok, back to my KD.
Right after DINNER, KD and Aunt Heather were wrasslin’ and kicking (like when you hold a baby’s ankles and do the running thing) and Heather let go, thinking they were done wrasslin’ and KD kept kicking and kneed herself in the mouth, knocking her loose tooth right on out.  She grabbed the tooth from the floor, blood coming out of her mouth, and said, “you knocked my tooth out!”  We all started laughing (because we’re GOOD PARENTS) and she ran off and hid.  Then we told her it was totally awesome, she came around, and Easy Mac started pouting because she didn’t have any loose teeth and wasn’t getting any attention (the pouting lasted for weeks until a few days ago when her tooth started to get a little wiggly).

Freshly popped out.  And a cold to boot.  See her self-haircut growing in straight across her hairline?  She's the total package.

So after bed that night, Shaun and I got into a HUGE FIGHT (exaggeration, but it sounds better) over how much money to leave.  Remember from my tooth-fairy-making post here how I talked about leaving $20 since my mom thought the tooth fairies I made were ugly (she’ll dispute this, but she totally meant it with her *demeanor*).  Per Shaun, even a $5 bill was out of the question, since he and I each got a quarter for our teeth.  Uh, I reminded him, “THAT WAS 30 YEARS AGO!”* “NO, IT WASN’T,”* he said.  “YES IT WAS, BECAUSE YOU ARE 36 NOW, SO YOU STARTED LOSING TEETH WHEN YOU WERE 6,”* said I.  This was clearly solid logic, but he still was not budging.  So I said, “FINE, THE MONEY IS ON YOU IF YOU’RE SO CLEVER.”* and ignored him completely after that (the last part is also an exaggeration, but the * reflect actual quotes).

KD's fairy

So, my sweet KD lost her first tooth, and found 8 quarters in her beautiful tooth fairy the next morning.  She was very excited.  When I get my turn at the money for future teeth, some $5 bills will totally be involved. You see, you pick your battles, ladies.  It’s a marital fact.  Shaun thinks he won that round, but no, I just let him have it.  I’ll dish out the clams from here.  They say, “happy wife, happy life” but I say, “a clever wife is happiest of all."

December 18, 2013

It's probably best if you don't know me.

Posted by Ethne~

My latest obsession is Man of Steel.  That’s right, Superman.
That's right Bi#ches.  He's glorious.
This inspired the following text exchange with bff, Kari, who is the very same friend who introduced me to 50 Shades of Grey.  It is for that reason that she gets these texts.  She also may or may not be randomly shown binding marks on my wrists due to said introduction.  I’ll let you use your imagination to determine if that last sentence is true or just me being funny.

Me: OMG, I am in love w[ith] Henry Cavill from Superman.  Totally shoulda been CG.*  Too goody goody now as Superman to play a dom I suppose, as I’ve said b4.  Still.  Dreamy.  I decided if I ever met him I would ask to feel his Superman muscles.  Not the naughty ones.  That’s reserved for Jamie Dornan now.

Her: We can always dream…

Me: Totally!  In my Henry Cavill daydream I momentarily told him that people often asked to touch my belly when I was pregnant with the twins but then thought that would make him throw up and I wouldn’t get to touch his superman muscles.  I am very thorough.

The lesson here, people, is you need to be careful which books you suggest to me or you may be subject to inappropriate and/or pointless commentary for the rest of your life.

*Dudes, the first pic in the link about him being CG makes my point.  Don't taunt us with the gray suit, Henry.

Elf on the Shelf - don't be a jerk about it.

Posted by Ethne~

Hey guys, did ya miss me?  Lori leaves for her Christmas vacation soon, but I'm not too jealous for once since I love this time of yearAt any rate you get me now for a while.
So, what is there to comment about?  Plenty.  Let’s talk about the old Elf on the Shelf.  They’ve been getting equal parts notoriety and criticism this season.
I get the notoriety.  Target has been selling them in droves.  Our family has doubled up, with the grandparents’ additions of Lucy (at Thrifty Nana’s) and Lily Lolita (at Grandma and Grandpa D’s).  Trust me, our kids need watchers at all locations.  They’re bordering on coal.
But the girls love them.  They look for Lyle (our elf) every morning.  If we forget to move him, they comment about that too, to which I say, “that must be a really good place to watch you from.”  My co-worker and I (he has twins, too, plus another – oy) lament the stress of remembering to move the elf every night.  He has a post-it note on his bedside table to remind himself.  If I go to bed first, I text Shaun to remind him to move Lyle – this is modern marital communication, people, another reason to celebrate.

We were fairly creative last year.  His grand finale was to zipline down to the Christmas tree.  The girls still talk about this.  You can see the Christmas mess on the floor.
He also made a trip down to Omaha to visit Grandpa Paul and Grandma Connie - riding a buffalo bronze.  Whoa!

Shaun and I haven’t been uber-creative like some of those nerds from Facebook and Pinterest.  They make their elves fish out of the toilet and make snow angels on the countertop in flour.  I’d be worried he’d fall into the toilet water.  Lyle has brought the girls a Christmas fairy garden, though, which is pretty much the cutest thing ever, and when Easy Mac accidentally knocked Lyle on the floor and became hysterical, Shaun and I bandaged him up and Lyle wrote her a note, promising her Santa fixed him up.

Sorry about the photo quality on these; I took great pics on my good camera but couldn't get them to load AT ALL.  I don't know why I decided to take the worst ever pics on my phone at the time but too late now.
It says: "I brought you a Christmas fairy garden for your winter fairies.  Love, Lyle"

I don’t get the nastiness, though.  People say they’re creepy and that they’d never get one.  Whatever.  Shut the he## up then.  They were commenting about a few of those emails/reddits going around (google naughty elf or something, it’s funny) about elves being bad.  They said, basically, that elves were promoting domestic violence and that they should be banned – my words – but pretty much.  It’s true, I dressed Lyle up as Christian Grey for a blog challenge, with Barbie handcuffed to the bed, but the kids didn’t see that.
The lesson is, have fun with your kids.  You only get the Christmas magic for so long, and then they grow up.  If the elf can be a part of it, ENJOY IT!  If you want to keep the magic tied to Jesus, like we did, then make your story have Jesus connected to Santa – we told the girls that Santa helps kids celebrate Jesus’ birthday by spreading good cheer.  Lyle is part of Santa’s magic.  It’s beautiful and wonderful.  And not creepy at all.
But if you do want to see people being really creative, be sure to google naughty elves.  It’s good stuff.  Even the nerds on Facebook get major kudos - they give me all sorts of ideas.  The rest of you, just don’t be nasty about the elf.

December 16, 2013


Posted by Lori~

Steve, Mur-Man, and I are busy getting ready for our cruise-ship vacation with my entire fam!  I cannot wait to escape the -30 degree weather...sun HERE I COME!

And honestly, spending Christmas in the sun with the family is AMAZING! Nothing is better.  You can read about our last Christmas vacation away from ND at Disney World here.

I have a few mini Christmas posts in the works before I leave.  Ethne will then be on WOM-MOM DUTY!

December 15, 2013

BRIGHT WHITE--FRESH PAINT (and room remodeling update)!

Posted by Lori~

Steve and I are in the middle of a mini-basement makeover.  Remember, here we started laying tile in our basement.  We ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT and will be grouting starting tomorrow night.  Wish us luck--we have over 500 square feet of tile to grout (Steve and I).

Before we put down the tile, I decided to re-paint the guest room.  It was this horrible purple color and it needed a major up-date.
I pulled all the baseboards off the wall (and we have since decided to replace with thicker boards).
I picked-up my Hardee's un-sweet iced tea, and slapped on my plastic gloves (great for painting)!
I decided to go with Glidden semi-gloss white paint.

The following are the painting progression photos...
I started by cutting the edge.  Because the ceiling was white (taping was not necessary) and honestly, I NEVER TAPE.  I just take my time.

Coat One done!  ONE MORE TO GO!

Two coats on.  We are replacing the windows.  Also, the trim still needs paint.

And, here is where we are at with the tile.  WISH US LUCK ON GROUT!

More updates coming this week (hopefully)!