look who arrived...


Harrison John Challis made his way into the world on Monday September 26. My sister Melissa and her husband Chris are some of the most loving, special people I know. I told Missy that baby Harry was probably bragging to his friends in heaven about coming to these parents. He is guaranteed more love than you can comprehend.

Just to prove it, here are some photos of his nursery. I love that it is clean and masculine without being cheesy or overly trendy.




Congratulations on his arrival Challis family! We love you so much.


what we came for

Pinned Image

I attended a funeral today - my grandfather's, and my dad spoke at it.

He said, "Maybe we go along life and expect all of the lights to be green,
and we think that the elevator should come as soon as we push the button.
Maybe we think that things should always be easy,
and when they're not we say,
"I didn't sign up for this."

But we did. - - It's exactly what we signed up for."

This reminder was necessary. This life, this existence and this person I am becoming -
Is exactly what I came to this earth for.
I am exactly who I came to earth to be.


things to say

I have so many things to say.

How my new nephew's face makes my heart beat fast and all I can think about is holding him and feeling his softness for myself.

How a week of writing technically and for advertisements is not the same at all as writing here.

That my sister had a birthday and it brings a lump to my throat to say it because now she is 21 and she is leaving me.

How watching my primary kids sing so loud in church was overwhelming and sweet - their tones the most pure and honest thing.

How nostalgic it is to eat peaches and sugar on my parents deck at sunset in the summer, a copy of Dandelion Wine in one hand, (but my eyes are on the sky.)

That being loved by someone who is forgiving and patient is more important than someone who is handsome. (although that doesn't hurt.)

How I have come to take care of myself, because I am the best candidate for that job.

How there are stories in my head begging to be written.

How much love I have for this world and this season and this existence of mine.

(these are all things i have to say)


too much to handle

I have been kidding myself. I have been trying to bite off more than I can chew, and it is really getting to me. This blog started as a way for me to share my writing and thoughts, and has turned into something much more. It is my creative outlet - but also one that has been neglected for months.

My life has become increasingly stressful this past year with life as a "newly wed", a promotion at work, more travel, and more responsibilities. I recently received a time consuming calling at church and with teaching and freelance work and personal fitness classes - I am more overwhelmed than I ever remember being. Last night I got home at 11:30 from a busy day at work only to find my husband asleep with the light on and his textbooks surrounding him - trying to wait up for me to get home. The sad thing is, I leave for business to Vegas this morning and will be gone the rest of the weekend. I am spread so thin that I have neglected friendships and family and everything else in my attempt to "Do more", and I can no longer lie to myself.

I am going to continue blogging, but it can no longer be a priority. I have compared myself to other bloggers who seem to always have fresh content and parties and people to blog about - but at this time in my life that's not my focus. I would rather post less and post better. Thanks for reading, and sharing my life with me. I think as we all grow and our lives change we have to adjust the things we did before and make room for what is most important.

(and I think you will see me more often than you think.)



Sometimes I emphasize beauty and fashion and perception too much in my life. Don't get me wrong - I always plan to beautify the space around me and I think that is a good thing. But I never want to let my possessions get in the way of who I really want to be. I think Marjorie sums up exactly what I want my life to consist of.

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.

I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."

- Marjorie Pay Hinckley

I want a simple life surrounded by those I love. I want to take care of myself while also taking care of those around me. I want children who remember me being there for them no matter what. I want friends who know they can call me at any given time. I want a life of love to others and to God. I want the imperfect.



I was getting a little tired of listening to audio books. The narrator's voice bothered me after hearing it that long, and I hate that when I want to hear a part again I have to go back and listen to the two minutes prior, which frustrates me and I end up not appreciating the part I wanted to hear again because I am so annoyed. Listening to books is not the same at all as reading them, and although it was good for awhile I am on an audio book break.

After a frustrating week of listening to "Party Rock" and way too much Avril Lavigne, a friend recommended podcasts, and while I wasn't sure what to think of them I gave some a try. By far my favorite have been "Stuff You Missed in History Class." They are free, easy to download onto my iPhone and so addicting. Aspects of history that I have heard of but knew little about, narrated in an interesting, thoughtful way with all of the facts. As nerdy as it sounds, I look forward to my daily commute because I get to listen to them and often sit in my car to finish after I've arrived at my destination.

So far my favorites have been:

The Disappearance of the Lindberg baby
Lizzie Borden and Her Axe
The Kidnapping of Patty Hearst
The Virgin Queen's Great Love
Gandhi's Salt March
The Amelia Earhart Mystery

Surprisingly, I have been inspired to write after hearing these stories. So many unsolved historical mysteries, so many incredible people, so many small events that made such an impact in hindsight.

Are there any favorite podcasts you have? I would love to hear new stories.


Little Mermaid




Little Mermaid has always been my favorite Disney movie, and Ariel my favorite princess. When I was little, my dad would pretend to drown in the pool while I rescued him like Ariel did with Eric in the movie. He must have been so tired of playing that game with me, but did it several times every time we went to the pool.

So when I found out that the Tuacahn theater in St. George was putting on Little Mermaid, I knew I had to go. We made a girls trip of it with my sisters and my mom. A four hour drive each way turned out to be totally worth it. The play was magical to watch. The whole stage flooded with water, and the actors skated around while they sang. The costumes, live orchestra and attention to detail amazed us.

At the very end of the play, fireworks exploded just like on the movie and all of the feelings I had when I watched the movie as a four year old came back to me. Some stories are meant to be told over and over again, and The Little Mermaid inspired me just as much as a 22 year old.

And the girls time part complete with chocolate, good podcasts and endless talking didn't hurt either.


Finding Beauty

It would be different if I could live my life in the woods - but I know I would not be more alive there. It's just that I would feel more alive, and it is something that I confuse too often in my daily life. To be alive and to feel it are different, and so even though I work in a boxy office with no windows for the majority of my day, and sometimes get home when it is too dark to see outside the window at the beauty that has been waiting for me all day, I still feel alive, when I try.

But to be honest, I do lack some beauty in my life as of late. When I was a college student I witnessed the changing of the seasons with my whole body. My breath on my walk up the hill told me the season. The sound of the leaves - or the snow - or the heated slap of my sandal reminded me of the time of year and my place in it. My wool mittens became my most used possession, second only to my pack that hit the back of my legs gently when I ran down the hill, just to feel my cheeks warm up from the cold air and my pounding heart. It was often on those long, sometimes cold, usually brisk walks that I had the most time to think.

It is a challenge to fill my life with beauty the way I could as a student. Back then my work was to read Wordsworth and Austen and today I write reports and forget sometimes, what it is like to read literature for my living, to write poems for my work. So I find beauty in my small moments, everywhere I can.

I find it in the thick tufts of Kevin's hair that welcome me each morning, and in the simplicity of my morning granola and fruit. I find beauty in the poetry that others write, and make sure to read at least one poem a day at my desk to remind myself of who I am. I take walks at lunch outside when I can and leave my iPod in the car so I can listen to the city and the train but also breathe in the air that is different from the air in my office. I read the thoughts of others on blogs like yours and find that they inspire me as much as Wordsworth and Austen because you are real people to me and are learning in this life just like me. Learning how to balance the good and the ugly and the kindness and the hard times and learning to love ourselves.

I maybe don't feel as alive as I used to - but the point is, I am alive and I try to feel it. Consciously discovering that feels very necessary.

Oh Canada




I visited Toronto, Canada last week which is why I had guest bloggers. (Aren't they wonderful girls?)

Canada was interesting. I was expecting America - just Northern, but it was much more European than American. Although it was more business than pleasure, I got to walk around downtown Toronto for a few hours with my boss and was enthralled with it. The juxtaposition of new and old elements was so interesting. Sweet sidewalk cafes juxtaposed with Dolce and Gabbana. An old church in the center of the city, and a modern building as an extension of a brownstone.

I also shopped in high-end stores with my boss. Although I have been in those stores before, I have never shopped in them. He laughed at me as my jaw dropped when he spent a mere $900 on Hermes leather shoes (on sale) and $350 on a Coach wallet. Someday.

Have you been to Toronto? What did you think?


Strawberry Cake



I made this cake last week for Kevin's family. It was no one's birthday, but I was craving cake - and not the box kind. I used Bake's yellow cake recipe and was amazed at how easy it is to make a cake from scratch. The cake is so much more fluffy and sweet than a box cake, and the extra effort is so worth it. I don't think I will ever make a box cake again.

I then used Martha Stewart's strawberry buttercream frosting. The frosting doesn't spread perfectly, but the taste makes up for how it looks cosmetically. As a girl who loves cake and strawberries, this was the perfect treat for a winding down summer dinner.


kristen on oh the places you'll go

Kristen is our last guest post for awhile. You might remember I guest posted for her here, and we did a little swap. (Did anyone else notice that all three girls that I asked to guest post are blond and beautiful?) Kristen went to my high school too, and is a kindred spirit. She is funny and witty and the way she writes makes me think. You can tell she writes from experience. I appreciate that kind of honesty and know you will love her as much as I do.

recently i moved back into my parents house.

i know, right? how’s that for an opening statement. destroying my credibility with a brand new audience. and right off the bat too.


the truth of the matter is, i’m in one of those transitionary phases of life. i’m ‘in between’. done with college. began a career in one direction. and am now in pursuit of something new.

tried out one thing i love. and am now chasing another.

the american dream right? i’m young. able. and want to find that every happiness. the same happiness i’ve day-dreamt of since creating fairytale stories for my barbie dolls.

an anatomically correct life. in every way.

i never pictured anything different.

unfortunately. it isn’t always as simple as the barbie mansion we created out of cardboard boxes in the closet beneath the stairs. we can not just make believe and have it be.

choices can be overwhelming. decisions can kick your butt. decisions like moving to a new, unknown destination all by yourself. where to go? east. west. north. south. you question whether you have what it really takes. you tell yourself you do. your parents tell you that you do, but maybe you don’t. you question whether you are brave enough. you question if it is right. you question your future.

decisions involving relationships. marriage. dating. choices involving family and friends. career moves. decisions that will take you in drastically different directions.

and then their is the small stuff.

like diet coke or coke zero?

i mean, these choices get tough ladies and gentlemen. and that magic eight ball starts looking awful tempting.

then we have the dilemma of too many options. too many choices. overload.

i have talked about this on my own blog before, but our generation is the generation of the greener grass. and sadly, i am a perfect example for you.

we are built--programmed really--to strive for the very best and in the most timely of ways. like wanting the latest and most innovative new apple products. but only feeling satisfied with it until the newer version hits stores six weeks later.

that is the story of our world. our touch-of-a-screen, click-of-a-button, instant gratification kind of world. even when we have something good--really really good--sometimes we mess it up, thinking that a better and stronger whatever lies ahead. something greener and full of even more promise.

when in fact, we are missing out on the vibrant green grass we are already squeezing between our eager toes.

but no matter what our various ‘decision-making-hold-ups’ are, there is one place--a place i am guilty of finding myself in so many different times--that we should try our hardest to avoid.

a scary place.

the land of indecision. the land of just wondering. the land of forgetting to make something happen. the land of letting the days pass by with little-to-no meaning. the land of letting the world continue on, while we do not.

yes, we all know this place. granted--most of the time we don’t mean to wind up there.

it’s not exactly a ‘destination b’ we set out to find on our gps.

one of my favorite descriptions of this magical land is given by none other than the brilliant dr. seuss--in his book Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

he calls it ‘the waiting place’. and is--in his words--’a most useless place”.

a place where people are simply waiting. waiting, unable to make up their minds.

“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.”

and like i said, usually we don’t end up there by choice. usually it is a combination of intense speed and slight disorientation that harshly drop us off there. they pat us on the head--just hard enough to be bothersome, tell us to figure it out, to play nice and eat our green veggies.

we’ll think of a million and one reasons to justify it, to not progress...and then we’ll wait.


and wait.

but then. then the rocky theme song will start playing. and dr. seuss will continue on.

“No! That’s not for you,” he’ll say. “Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky.”

i like that. you?

i’m not here to preach. i’m not here to tell you that i’ve never been there. i’d be a shameless liar if i tried to tell you anything of the sort, but i do know that we can all relate to this. that we all have been here at some point in our lives. it is part of being human.

it is part the whole ‘learning from our mistakes’ thing.

but i also know that we’re perfectly capable of finding our way out of these ruts and states of confusion.

recently. i’ve learned that sometimes it’s just about making the decision.

deciding on the turn. whether it be right or left. then taking a deep, deep breath of faith, mixing up a protein shake of courage and packing up a fanny-pack full of passion. and just going for it (yes, with a fanny-pack on).

no guarantees it will be perfect. no guarantees it will be easy. you might fail. you might conquer.

either way, we’ll go for it. and we’ll keep moving forward, right?

plus, i really don’t think we should keep those boom bands waiting.

they sound like a lot of fun.


Kelsie on New Zealand

Our second guest post is Kelsie from Thoughts From the Girl Next Door. Kelsie is one of those real-life friends I have who really knows how to live life. She has taught me so much about celebrating the small things, not taking life to seriously, and how therapeutic dancing to Justin Bieber and Beyonce can be. I love this girl so much.

Hello everyone! I'm Kelsie from
Thoughts From the Girl Next Door. I was so excited (and honored!) when Mandy asked me to guest post the other day, except I have to be honest: not only was I semi-intimidated (read: completely), I also had the hardest time figuring out what I wanted to write about.

Mandy was actually one of the first "blog friends" I made years ago. Not long after, I was lucky enough to become real life friends with her over a lunch at Cafe Rio and cupcakes at the Sweet Tooth Fairy. What I can say from being lucky enough to know Mandy, is that she is an intelligent, ambitious, beautiful person inside and out, and that she truly did marry the doppleganger of Jim off The Office. Looks, personality, everything = Kevin. So thank you Mandy for letting me be a part of your darling and beautiful blog, and letting me guest post!

What I wanted to write mostly about today was the experience I had this summer while living in New Zealand.

My parents like to tell me I have a small comfort zone; stubbornly I disagree, but I think most of the time I know they're right. I eat turkey, cheese, and bread for 90% of my meals. My friends are the same friends I've had since I was thirteen. And with one small 4-month exception, Utah has always been home.

When my dad first accepted a job that would take him 7,000 miles away, I remember one night asking him how he could be so brave? I think his response fell something along the lines of what Robert Frost once said, and that he was "taking the road less traveled" - but for whatever reason, that conversation has always remained with me.

When the chance came earlier this year to spend a part of my summer in New Zealand, although I knew it would be out of my comfort zone, I knew it would be an experience that could bless my life. So off I went!

Living six weeks in another country certainly doesn't make me an experienced world traveler, but those short six weeks gave me a taste of something different, and I think a little bit of courage. A few days after coming home, I saw a trailer for the movie "Life in a Day" (has anyone else seen it??) and watching it only confirmed what my experience abroad taught me in small a way.

I think the world has so much to offer; but it wasn't the beautiful landscape or the amazing countryside of New Zealand that inspired me so much, (and that's not to say that the country itself isn't completely gorgeous) - but it was understanding a different way of life through the people I met. Whether they were from South Africa, Pakistan, Australia, or New Zealand, these different ways of life made me appreciate the beauty life so much more.

And the best part of all of that? It was something that I didn't have to leave behind. As I boarded the plane and looked out the window, I realized that what I was taking home with me wasn't just the Tim Tam cookies in my carry on bag, it was a new perspective. It reminded me of something Henry Miller once said, "One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”

Not everyone is going to travel the world, and I may never be able to visit another country again, (and unfortunately I still remain the worlds pickiest eater) - but my summer in New Zealand taught me that it's not going to be the postcards or stamps in my passport that broaden my horizons, but the people and lives that I really take the time to really get to know.
And best of all? That can happen to anyone, anywhere the world will take you.

Thanks again so much Mandy for letting me share my thoughts!
And thanks to all of you for reading them!