Thursday, December 25, 2014

Three Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Mr. Brown Eyes works Christmas Eve and Christmas this year, so we're celebrating tomorrow. Today I am doing my best to distract my kids from their pile of presents at home by hanging out at my parents' house. We've opened presents, played legos, and eaten cookies for lunch.
And tomorrow--we'll do it all over again!
Here's to three days of Christmas!
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Gingerbread House

Homemade graham crackers
 + homemade frosting

+ not-so-homemade candy

= an awesome gingerbread house

Or more like a gingerbread cottage.
It taste delicious,
The Brown-Eyed Girl



Monday, December 22, 2014

Share the Gift

If you are trying to get into the Christmas Spirit, please go here and watch this video.

I love everything about Christmas--the lights, the music, the food, the presents, the excitement (ok, I don't love Santa, but that's a story for another time)--but when it comes down to it, the Savior is what matters. He is the reason we have Christmas at all. He is the greatest Gift we have ever been given.

Merry Christmas,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Brushing my teeth at the sink, I turned away from Baby Blue Eyes for just a second. When I turned back around, she had emptied an entire box of band-aids, scattering them all over the floor.

Normally I probably would have sighed, scolded her, and told her to clean them up. But instead, I immediately knelt down beside her, held open the box, and said in a gentle voice, "Help me put them away, sweet girl."

As she smiled at me with that heart-melting, gap-toothed smile and started shoving bandaids into the box with her baby hands, I suddenly had the feeling that this is how Heavenly Father deals with us.

He sees us make messes. All kinds of messes. Sometimes horrible ones. And He doesn't roll His eyes at us and yell, "Look at that mess you made. Clean it up."

No. He kneels down next to us. Puts His arms around us. Says gently into our ears, "Let me help you."

Sometimes our efforts are clumsy. Our hands shake and falter. But He is so infinitely patient with us. He will see our efforts, take our shaking hands in His, and give us of His strength.

I am so grateful I don't have to clean up my messes alone.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Saturday, November 15, 2014

He Will Bless Us

“Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of the Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence” (George Q. Cannon, “The Logan Temple,” Millennial Star, Nov. 12, 1877, 743).
I could go on and on about the Phoenix Temple and how I love it so much already. Helping with the open house in October was such a blessing to me and my family. I wish I could do it again. Aching feet and empty stomach included.

The last few months have been tight financially for the Brown-Eyed family. I signed up for one shift to help at the temple, but when I saw that lots and lots of shifts were still open, I thought, "Well, we don't really have the gas money to drive out there so much."

And yet.

A little voice whispered that that was inconsequential. If we made the committment to serve, we would be blessed.

So I signed Mr. Brown Eyes and myself up for four more shifts.

I can't say anything miraculous happened. Money didn't pour down from the sky. We had to fill the car up with gas multiple times. We had to take money out of our savings account to pay our bills. We even accumulated extra bills when Baby Blue Eyes had to stay in the hospital for a few days.

And yet.

We had everything we needed. We didn't go hungry. Our children were happy. Baby Blue Eyes quickly recovered from her bronchiolitis. In the middle of all our stress, we felt peace.

If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.

Already, before it's even dedicated, the Phoenix Temple symbolizes to me this truth: if we obey the Lord, if we serve Him, if we try our best to show Him we love Him, HE WILL BLESS US.

He wants to bless us.

He's aching to bless us.

We just have to let Him.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, November 7, 2014

Slow Cooked Beans

This is one of our favorite fall meals. Or summer meals. Or any time of year meals.

Although after making a huge pot of chili for our ward Halloween party and hardly any of it getting eaten, we've been a bit overwhelmed with beans lately.
Which, if you know my husband, is a very, very dangerous thing.  

So, we probably don't have plans to make this dish in the very near future. But it's scrumptious, full of flavor, and perfect with a side of cornbread.
We sometimes add pork because Mr. Brown Eyes is a voracious carnivore, but it's also delicious meatless.
And feel free to switch up the beans however you like. I think I've used a different combination every time I've made it. Just as long as you add five cans of beans.

As an added plus, this is possibly one of the easiest meals known to man. Chopping up the onions and peppers probably takes the most time. Then you just throw everything into the slow cooker and you're done!
Just, you know, beware the beans.

Slow Cooked Beans

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 1 med green pepper, chopped
  • 1 med sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/2 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz) lima beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 1/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained

  •  In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine the first 10 ingredients. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the onion and peppers are tender.

  • Beans, beans, the magical fruit,
    The Brown-Eyed Girl




          Friday, October 31, 2014


          Happy Halloween! 

          This year our family dressed up as Mr. and Mrs. Count Dracula, a baby bat, and Spiderman.

          (With our pet zombie in the background).

          I hope you enjoy this day of playing dress-up and eating your children's candy as much as I do.

          All the Kit-Kats are mine,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Wednesday, October 22, 2014

          Being a Girl

          I used to think I would have to teach Baby Blue Eyes about a being a girl.

          Turns out, she was born knowing.

          Before she was a year old, she was snatching shoes whenever she got the chance.

          Now she loves walking around in her cousin's pink heels.

          And my heels.

          Brown-Eyed Boy never gave a second thought to the clothes I put on him, except to maybe exclaim over the monster trucks on his shirt. But Baby Blue Eyes will dig an outfit out of her drawer and insist that I put it on her, refusing everything else I offer. Then she will strut off down the hall to show Daddy.

          Yes, she struts. Who taught her that?

          She loves having her hair combed, getting her toe nails painted, wearing hats, and dancing.

          I guess boys and girls really are different after all.

          Of course, I already knew that.

          As the Family Proclamation explains it, "All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."

          So while I don't have to teach Baby Blue Eyes how to be a girl, I hope I can teach her--and show her--how to love being a girl, to cherish that spark of divinity in her, to walk happily and confidently in the knowledge that she is a daughter of God, and to never, ever, think that she needs to change who she is to fit the trends and whims of the world.

          But for now I will watch her strut in my high heels and wish that she could stay little forever.

          Girls Rule,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Wednesday, October 15, 2014

          Phoenix Temple

          Since I posted this a few months back, I thought I would let you know about an exciting opportunity to view the inside of a Mormon temple.

          For those of you in the Phoenix area, the Phoenix Temple is complete and open to the public through the end of October.

          Free tours are available Mondays from 8-5, and Tuesdays through Saturdays 8-8. You can go here to make a reservation, or just show up. (But be sure to park at Wet & Wild, not the temple, unless you need handicap parking. There will be buses available to shuttle you to the temple.) There will be lots of friendly people there who will be happy to answer your questions.

          Mr. Brown Eyes and I spent eight hours at the temple on Saturday, helping with parking. Man, did my feet hurt. But you know what? The spirit of peace I felt just being near the temple more than made up for it.

          And so did the sushi we ate afterwards.

          The temple is an amazing place. I hope you feel that as much as I do.

          With all my heart,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Friday, September 12, 2014

          A New Obsession

          While in Oregon, we took a day trip to Washington to meet my brother and his wife.
          Since Brown-Eyed Boy has taken on a sudden interest in volcanoes, we decided to meet at Mount St. Helens.

          I visited Mount St. Helens with my family as a kid. I remember being afraid to get out of the car, sure the volcano was going to erupt again.

          I was much less paranoid this time.

          In fact, this time, visiting Mount St. Helens sparked an obsession in me. I could have stayed at the Johnston Ridge Observatory for hours, reading the stories of survival and destruction, listening to the rangers describe the science behind volcanoes, admiring the stark but beautiful landscape, still making a comeback after being obliterated thirty-four years ago.

          I kind of wish I'd studied volcanology in school. Instead of, you know, English.

          When we got back to Arizona I took the kids to the library and loaded up on volcano books. Children's books, because apparently adults aren't interested in that sort of thing.

          Brown-Eyed Boy likes looking at the pictures, but I stayed up reading them late into the night, fascinated.

          I can now tell you all about volcanic rocks, different types of lava, and the difference between shield cones, cinder cones, and composite cones. I can tell you stories about Mont Pelee, Lake Nyos, Paricutin, and dozens of other volcanoes.

          I think it's safe to say I'm way more interested in volcanoes now than Brown-Eyed Boy.

          Although he did tell us, while at the observatory, "I think I want to be a firefighter, a race car driver, and a scientist, so I can go inside volcanoes."

          Maybe I'll have to live my lost dream of being a volcanologist through my son.

          Oh, and while walking around the marsh near the visitor's center, we learned this interesting little tidbit of information:

          Sometimes nature is just too awesome for words.
          Water-dwelling Bladderwort,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Friday, August 29, 2014

          Bad Bugs

          Brown-Eyed Boy wandered into the kitchen with a little brown bug on his finger.

          "Look, Mommy, a beetle."

          We often find strange bugs in our house, so I thought nothing of it. "Take it outside," was all I said.

          "But I want to play with it."

          "Take it outside," I ordered, and he grumbled but obeyed.

          A few minutes later, Mr. Brown Eyes hollered my name in a worried tone of voice I don't often hear from him. He held Brown-Eyed Boys' beetle up on his finger, and then showed me a picture on his phone.

          A picture of a bed bug.

          My heart sank. My worst nightmare had come true.

          We tore our house apart. Seriously, it was a disaster. Tools, toys, and cleaning supplies everywhere. Furniture upheaved and pushed aside. Clean laundry piled the dining room table and dirty laundry overflowed the laundry room.

          Mr. Brown Eyes took the beds apart piece by piece. We threw everything--toys, books, clothes, blankets, shoes, stuffed animals--into plastic bags and and piled them outside in the hot sun. We bought expensive bed bug-proof bags for our mattresses, box springs, and pillows. Then we sprayed and scrubbed and vacuumed, then sprayed and scrubbed and vacuumed again.

          But the next morning we still woke up with bites, so we did it all over again.

          Something I didn't know about bed bugs until I watched Animal Planet's "Infested" (I love that show. Disgusting and yet so morbidly fascinating. I know, I'm weird), is that they don't just live in your bed. They can seriously hide anywhere. And you won't know they're there until they crawl out while you're deeply asleep and drink your blood.


          Needless to say, I have been paranoid for the last week. We haven't gotten any new bites since that first night of cleaning, and we're staying on top of vacuuming and spraying. But I find myself going crazy, thinking of all the places they could still be lurking. Electrical outlets. Baseboards. Cracks in the walls of our log cabin. Mr. Brown Eyes told me they have even been known to crawl between the frame and glass of a picture frame.

          He's so good at calming my fears.

          In an effort to not lose my mind, I put together a list of things we could still be grateful for, even though there are blood-sucking parasites hiding in our house:

          1. Arizona is hot. Heat = death to bed bugs.
          2. Our dryer gets super hot. Again, heat = death to bed bugs.
          3. At least we're not infested with spiders.
          4. Or cockroaches. *shudder*
          5. Bed bug bites are not fatal.
          6. At least our house is clean now.
          7. Mr. Brown Eyes being suspicious about that "beetle." Good thinking on his part.
          8. It could be much, much worse.

          Although we suspect Mr. Brown Eyes brought the bed bugs home from work, I have resolved to never, ever, ever, ever, ever, stay in a hotel again.

          You just never know.

          I overheard Brown-Eyed Boy talking to his cousin about the bed bugs the other day, and he called them "bad bugs."

          I did not correct him.

          Still shuddering,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Wednesday, August 27, 2014


          Every time we go to Oregon, my awesomely talented sister-in-law gives me a haircut.
          This year, since she knew Mr. Brown Eyes and I were going on a date that night, she wanted to do my makeup, too.
          I think my beautiful sisters-in-law cringe at how low-maintenance I am.
          I've just never been one of those girls who piles the makeup on. I never learned how, I don't like the way it feels, and I'm not really interested in forking out the money to buy it.
          Although you can't really see it in these pictures, my makeup is piled on.

          I look pretty from a distance. But up close, it's all fake.

          My sister-in-law was hoping to knock Mr. Brown Eyes' socks off when he saw me. But what she doesn't know is that a few weeks before our wedding, when my friends were slathering my makeup on in practice for the big day, I went to Mr. Brown Eyes' house wearing an inch of foundation and heavy black mascara.

          My future husband looked at me as if he didn't recognize me. "Is that how they're going to do your makeup for the wedding?"

          I laughed. "No. They're just practicing."

          Later that night he brought it up again. "Please don't let them put too much makeup on you, " he begged. "You're so pretty without it. You don't need it."

          That's when I knew I was marrying the right man.

          So, while Mr. Brown Eyes thought I looked pretty that night in Oregon, he thought I looked just as pretty after our date, when I took my makeup off. 

          That, and he could finally kiss me without tasting concealer.

          Pretty happy,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Friday, August 15, 2014

          Oregon 2014

          We just finished a two week vacation at one of my favorite places in the world.

          Meaning Oregon, not Sushi Town, though that is one of my favorite things about going to Oregon.

          This year, Brown-Eyed Boy joined us on our crabbing trip. He loved it.

          We ate cheese at Tillamook...
          Froze at the beach...

          Played at Jones Creek...

          And ate lunch with ghosts.

          This year was the first time we've ever driven to Oregon. Can I just say that sitting in the front seat during a twenty hour drive, mediating arguments between children, doling out snacks, and occasionally checking the map felt like a rite of passage? I feel like I can finally call myself an adult now.

          Well, sort of.

          I have fond memories of road trips from my childhood. Long days stuck in the car with my siblings, listening to the radio and telling stories, eating fast food and drinking soda, playing with my favorite cousins, and seeing new places. I want my children to have the same experiences.
          Except they'll never know what's it like to drive without watching movies or playing games on the tablet for hours.
          They have it rough, I tell you.
          We had so much fun playing with Mr. Brown Eyes' family.
          I married into an awesome bunch of people.
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Tuesday, July 15, 2014

          The Truth About Mormon Temples

          I recently read a blog post bashing Mormon temples.

          The temple is a sacred, cherished place to me, so reading that blog post hurt. In fact, I couldn't even read past the first page.

          San Diego California Temple

          Days later, it still bothered me. Not because I thought that any of the disparaging remarks were true, but that anyone believed those remarks at all. How could a place so wondrous and holy to me be so hateful to someone else?

          So, to clear the air, I decided to post the truth about Mormon temples.

          I am a Mormon, I was married in a Mormon temple, and I visit Mormon temples on a regular basis, so I think I'm a pretty good resource.

          I also quote from Boyd K. Packer's book, The Holy Temple. It is an awesome reference for anyone who has questions about temples.

          Nauvoo Illinois Temple

          The truth is, our temples are sacred to us, not secret. There is a difference. Everyone is invited to come to our temples. Yes, you do have to be an active, worthy member of our church. But guess what? Anyone can become an active, worthy member of our church. As The Book of Mormon teaches, “[T]he Lord…doeth that which is good among the children of men…and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female…” (2 Nephi 26:33)

          President Packer says, “Temple ceremonies are not something that we try to limit to a restricted number of people. With great effort we urge every soul to qualify and prepare for the temple experience. Everyone who comes within the influence of the gospel is urged to prepare to go to the temple and participate fully in the sacred ordinances which are available there” (25).

          And when I say worthy, I am not inferring that everyone else is a "lesser-worthy," or less loved by God. Attending the temple and understanding the things that are taught there requires preparation. Someone attending the temple unprepared would be like trying to take a college-level class before taking the prerequisites; it would only cause confusion and resentment. The Lord doesn’t work that way. His house is a “house of order.” And since it is His house, it only makes sense that “He directs the conditions under which it may be used” (35).

          Washington DC Temple

          The temple is like a school where we are taught the things of God. In order to learn properly, we need the Spirit of God to guide us.

          “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

          But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

          For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God...

          But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:9-11, 14).

          Says President Packer, “Without the spiritual atmosphere of the temple itself, and without the worthiness and preparation required of those who go there, the temple ceremonies would not be quickly understood and might be quite misunderstood” (36).

          Salt Lake City Utah Temple

          As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I testify that the temple is a holy place, the house of God. It is not a place that divides families. It is a place that brings them together eternally. If the temple divides us, it is because of our choices.

          Please go to to learn more.

          The Brown-Eyed Girl


          I love birthdays. What could be better than a day entirely devoted to celebrating you?
          That sounds really selfish, doesn't it?
          But, seriously, what could be better?
          Here are some pictures of our recent birthday celebrations.

          So to all you people with birthdays out there, happy birthday!
          Never stop celebrating.
          Still five years old at heart,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl

          Sunday, June 15, 2014

          Rocky Point

          Between beautiful beaches, warm ocean water you can actually swim in, and all the Mexican food I can eat, I think I've found a new favorite vacation spot. 

          My husband has been dropping hints for years that we should buy a camper. After three days at an RV Park on the beach , I think I actually want one more than he does.
          He couldn't be happier.
          Me gusto mucho,
          The Brown-Eyed Girl