sky full of stars

Flag crew

I'm pretty sure there's a reason my dad wore this shirt.

I’m pretty sure there’s a reason my dad wore this shirt.

"If you go down, I'm going down with you and our cameras are toast!"

“If you go down, I’m going down with you and our cameras are toast!”

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DSC_5427 copy Our team on the other side of the canyon!

Clay reeling in the first line.

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My brother is a serious gamer from the future! Actually, he is using his ninja filming skills to control the camera that’s attached to the helicopter.

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Perfect shirt for my British-American brother-in-law!

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Sisters, minus one. {We miss you Cami!}

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My husband pretty much ROCKS.

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Snow a few days after the flag went up.

Nothing is impossible for Harold Haugen.  Some may know him as the “Star Man.” Ten years ago, he dreamt of lighting a giant star on the mountain above his home for the Christmas season, and he made that dream a reality.  It’s now a tradition that hundreds look forward to each year.  Last year he had another dream…to suspend a massive American flag in that same canyon, and he made that happen too.

I’m proud to say that Harold Haugen is my dad, and I love that he dreams big and does it for the community and nothing else.  He is on year two of hanging the flag for the summer holidays, and I see this as the beginning of a new tradition many people will look forward to each year.

Why would anyone want to go to such an effort?

My dad’s parents came from Norway at the end of WWII, and they loved becoming Americans.  They struggled learning English, but they did it.  My grandpa fought as an American soldier in the Korean war, and they taught their children to work hard.  They have always flown an American flag in their front yard and taught all of us to appreciate the freedoms and liberties we so often take for granted.  My grandpa still tells about the day the U.S. forces came to his small town of Haugesund and freed them from the Nazi regime.  He teaches us to be proud to be Americans.  On a special family trip to Norway years ago, my grandma insisted that we all wear matching sweatshirts that said “USA” in big letters on the front.  She was so proud to bring her family to her homeland, and wanted everyone there to know we were American {trust me, it was pretty obvious, even without the sweatshirts}.

So that’s a little background for you.

Now let me tell you, my dad is the most selfless, hardworking person I know.  He’s also very patriotic and I’ve seen him tear up talking about our country’s flag and what it represents.  Throughout the history of our nation, the flag has been a symbol of bravery, freedom, liberty, and happiness to all the world.  It waves hope to all who see it.  At least that’s how I see it.

When my dad saw small European villages displaying their countries’ flags in canyons on his travels, the idea sparked to do this in his own neighborhood.  So, a couple family dinners worth of talking and planning and the first flag went up last year.  I didn’t think it could be done, but he did it!  It was three days worth of work last year.  This year, there was a new plan involving a couple remote controlled Phantom helicopters to carry lines {and video cameras!} from one side of the canyon to the other, which made the work so much faster {three hours instead of three days!}.  And next year it will probably be even better.  He is grateful for the team of people that help him with this project.

The flag is 25×40 feet, and the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.  If you live in the SLC area, you’ll find it at the mouth of Little Willow Canyon off of Wasatch Boulevard in Sandy.

Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave?  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

I hope it always will.

Please go watch the amazing video my sister Hailey edited with the footage she and my brother Trevor shot that day:  http://www.somethingdevineblog.com/2014/07/red-white-and-blue.html

A news article is here: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=30571279

And to see me make a fool of myself on the news go here:  http://fox13now.com/2014/07/03/giant-american-flag-flying-in-canyon-inspired-by-european-custom-patriotism/

Happy Fourth of July!

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This makes me laugh so hard.

This makes me laugh so hard.

a pirate’s life for me

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Avast, me hearties!  Behold me wee pirate lad, set to sail the seven seas and find where ‘X’ marks the spot!  Now where be me treasure map?

This little Halloween costume has been one of Will’s go-to outfits for the past year {who wouldn’t want to wear this everyday, right?}.  So, all last summer I was scheming a photo shoot of him like this.  On a beach.  With a treasure chest {thank you, Mom, for having crazy things like this at your house}. 

It was a warm day last September and my schedule was open.  Let’s go!  The very next day, cold weather snapped and I don’t know if I would’ve had another chance for months.  Although the sun was shining, this shoot was SUCH an immense effort!  I wish somebody had taken some behind the scenes photos or videos because they would be so funny to see now.  {Why do I do these things to myself?  Am I a crazy person??}

Here’s how the pirate shoot went down:

Four of my five kids came along for the 45-minute ride out to the Great Salt Lake {Hannah opted out of this one. smart girl}, and when we arrived, the water was disappointingly low.  Meaning Ben and I had to lug this incredibly heavy treasure chest for about a half mile?  A mile?  I have no idea.  And we still didn’t make it all the way to the water.  It took forever, as we tried not to lose our flip-flops in the squelchy, slippery mud.  Thank goodness for my teenage boy, I couldn’t have done this without his help!

When we finally set the chest down, the girls of course had to pee, and I realized I had left the coconuts in the car {palm to the forehead}.  Ben ran another mile and back to grab the coconuts while the girls tinkled on the beach…which I figured was fine because we were still at least a mile from the water’s edge anyway!

Exhausted before I even pulled out my camera, I was SO thankful that Will was happy and completely in pirate mode.  I shot all of these in about twenty minutes, finishing up just as somebody came to tell us they were locking up the parking lot and we needed to leave right now unless we wanted to spend the night.  Arrgh, matey!!  Running this time, back to the car we heaved the chest and the other props, with ten pounds of sticky mud glued to the bottoms of our feet, mosquitos attacking us from all sides, and children whining all the way!  Some members of the crew were nearly forced to walk the plank, I tell you.

I’d do it all over again though, because I LOVE these pictures of my pirate boy so much.  Yo-ho!

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norwegian cinnamon + cardamom buns

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He gives it his thumb of approval.

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It was one of those cozy, cloudy, rainy spring days.  The kind that makes me want to do nothing but bake up something warm and sweet.  What better than cinnamon buns?  And Norwegian ones at that?

I have two favorite cinnamon bun recipes…I couldn’t decide which one to use, so I did a mash up of them both.  Here is my version of Norwegian Cinnamon Buns, based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and this one from Tessa Kiros, author of Apples for Jam and Falling Cloudberries.  I love Kiros’ addition of cardamom, such a Scandinavian flavor that brings back memories of my grandparents for me.

Norwegian Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

for the dough:

  • 5 cups white flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons yeast (yes, really!  3 TABLESPOONS.)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 eggs

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar {plus additional for sprinkling over buns, optional}
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

for the glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a few spoonfuls of sugar {for sparkle effect, it’s a good thing}

OR…you can do this frosting instead of the sprinkled sugar glaze if you’re craving something extra sweet and sticky:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract {or vanilla, but almond is better in this particular recipe}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and yeast in a large bowl {that’s right, you don’t need to dissolve the yeast first! I know, it’s completely insane but it works, trust me!}. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture.  Mix to combine and then knead the dough either by hand or using the dough hook of an electric mixer until it’s smooth and springy.  Add a little additional flour if the dough is too sticky.  Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl {I usually use the one I mixed the dough in, just so I don’t have so many dishes to wash}, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes.  I’ve heard that a slightly warm clothes dryer is a great place to let bread dough rise…I’m going to try it next time!

While the dough is rising, mix together all the filling ingredients.

Take half of the dough and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a 20×10 inch rectangle. Spread the dough with half of the filling mixture, doing your best to cover it entirely.  Roll it up from the longest side.  Now, grab your sharpest knife or a pizza cutter, and get ready to cut your dough into buns.  You can just do the traditional, slice, slice, slice straight across, but if you want to up the wow factor here is what you do.  Imagine you are cutting the letter ‘V’ right side up, then upside down, all across your rolled up dough.  The point of your ‘V’ should be about 3/4-inch across, and the base of it should be about 2 inches across. Does that make sense?  See the photo above if I’m not making sense, which most likely I’m not.

Great work!  Now do the exact same thing with the other half of your dough and filling.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a cookie sheet, or grease the pan if you don’t have parchment paper around.  Take all those little ‘V’ shaped pieces of pudgy dough and sit them on their fat bottoms into the pan.  So it will look somewhat like an upside-down ‘V’.  Now press your thumb down into the center of each one until you almost reach the pan, but be careful not to break a hole through the bottom of your dough.  Along the sides you will see the cinnamon stripes peeking up and outward.  Leave a little bit of space between each one to allow room to rise while they bake.  Brush them with the beaten egg {and sprinkle with sugar if you’d like} and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes.

Put into the hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.  They should have risen and turned a golden brown.  If you are using the frosting, allow the buns to cool slightly before drizzling it over the tops.  Enjoy warm with an ice cold glass of milk.

Makes about 24.

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camping 2013 part 2

I told you I fell in love with camping again this summer, so of course we had to squeeze in one more trip before the cold weather moved in.  The High Uintas have become our favorite…can you see why?  Look at this meadow…we even spotted some moose here.

Ben helping Olivia build a fairy hammock.

Ben helping Olivia build a fairy hammock.

Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake.

Building s'more city.

Building s’more city.

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We ate like royalty once again with the Camp Chef stove {breakfast burritos, taco salad, blueberry pancakes…}, jumped and twirled through the grassy meadow, spotted a moose, felt grateful for our portable throne, built fairy houses and hammocks {fairies even came overnight and left treasures!}, read books and played games during the rainstorm, and talked about first kisses around the campfire {Ben had a couple stories!?!}.  Oh, and we tolerated some drunk, fighting neighbors and celebrated when their big, fat motor home bumped away into the distance!

Roll over the photos for descriptions. :)

superhero birthday party

super hero party invitation

Come to our party!

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Easy party craft…paper plate Captain America shields!

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Little heroes creating their super shields.

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Part of our superhero training–toss the Kryptonite through the hoop.

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Another part of superhero training–”Hulk-smash” the city.

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Will is three!

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I was going to label these Kryptonite, but remembered that Kryptonite is a bad thing…

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A peek inside the treat bags.

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Treat bags for all the superheroes as they fly home.

My little superhero has been “planning” this party for months on his own, telling me that the cake should be a red heart with Avengers stickers all around the sides and a toy Nick Fury on top.  I didn’t quite do that, but his cute little ideas definitely helped inspire this party.

For the invitations, I put to use the goods from this photo session and tried my best to put it all together in Photoshop (links below for fonts and graphics).  I really wanted it to look like it came out of a comic book.  What do you think?

The decorations were pretty simple to pull together, really.  Enough white butcher paper to cover the table, some bright cups, plates, stripey straws, and some nicely designed Iron Man napkins.  I wrapped every smallish-sized box in the house (including boxes of pasta, with pasta still inside) with more butcher paper, and glued yellow “windows” to create skyscrapers.  The windows aren’t exactly straight, but hey, I was in a hurry (as always).  I loved Will’s idea of putting a toy superhero on the cake, so not only did we do that, but we scattered them all over our table cityscape as well.  Heroes are always in the city, fighting crime, right?  I found “BANG” and “POW” graphics online to add a little pop to the scene.  At the last minute, I had the idea to put some newspaper on the table since Clark Kent and Peter Parker work for the newspaper, but since I don’t subscribe and I was out of time, I had very little to work with.  My son, Ben, however found a great newspaper article he had stashed away that featured Spidey.  Perfect!  We had Hulk stomp through the grapes, and Iron Man protect the strawberries from any bad guys.

Of course, I had to include tissue paper pom-poms…what’s a party without them?  So I had some red and aqua blue ones floating over the table.  Since my husband loves superheroes as much as Will does, we happened to have a couple framed prints to hang on the wall, which I personalized with a comic-style speech bubble.  Then I added a few blasts of yellow stars to finish off the wall.  The console table in the other room was covered with superhero books and masks.

What do you feed little superheroes?  Captain America star-shaped watermelon, Hulk grapes, popcorn, pretzels, Iron Man strawberries, raspberry sherbet and a patriotic cake (topped with toy superheroes and other fun things).

Since our party guests were just little guys, I had to think of a very simple craft for them to work on as we waited for everyone to arrive.  Hey, how about super shields made from paper plates?  Yes!  I stapled a strip of red elastic onto the back side for a handle, and then provided a pile of superhero stickers for them to plaster all over their shields.  Success!  They loved it, and it was nice that they could do it on their own while I was answering the door.

Superhero Training was next.  Each hero had to display their shield throwing skills, toss “Kryptonite” through a hoop, and detonate bombs (black water balloons).  They “Hulk-smashed” the “city” with big, green fists, and shot down a bad guy (a Loki figurine) with “webs” (Silly String).  When their training was complete, each one received a gold medal to show off their bravery.

We always end birthday parties with the “fishing pond.”  Kids love it!  Old-fashioned games are the best.  Wooden dowels with strings and clothespins attached are the “fishing poles.”  We cover the railing with a blanket so the kids can’t see into the pond, and they fish over the railing for a surprise.  My older kids sit on the stairs below and help the little kids catch a treat bag to take home.  Inside the treat bags there were patriotic butter mints from the party store (perfect for Captain America!), blue Hershey’s kisses “bombs”, red licorice “laser lassos,” and “anti-Kryptonite” rock candy sticks (because Kryptonite is a bad thing for Superman…this builds his immunity to it).

Such a fun day, watching Will soaking up every minute of his dream party.  I hope this gives you lots of inspiration for your own superhero party!

P.S.  Fonts I used for the invitation and decorations found here and here.  Here are the PNG files I found for the yellow explosion stars, BANG, BAM, POW, KA-POW, and speech bubbles one, two, and three.

the seven of us in 2013

Back in November 2009, I asked my amazingly talented sister Hailey to snap a few last minute family photos for our Christmas card.  Olivia was barely a year old, and little did I know that I would shortly discover that surprise baby number five would be joining our family in 2010.  Of course, Hailey came along to help me out, and so did my brother Trevor.  They wondered if we’d mind if they did a practice run family video?  Um, yes please!  I have plenty of photos of my kids, but not as much video, much less with me and Clayton in them.  I was so excited about it.

The day of the photo shoot was completely stressful, getting everyone dressed and hair done, and a husband showing up in NOT the outfit I laid out for him.  Grrrr…  I told him he had to kiss me in one of the photos even though we were really angry at each other and I remember looking at each other at that moment like, “Seriously, I am so ticked off right now, but I love you and I will kiss you anyway.”  Ha!  Please tell me that we aren’t the only family that fights on photo day!  That particular photo hangs on my wall to this day and in a way, it’s a reminder of our unconditional love.  Funny how the imperfect photos are so perfect.

The video that Hailey and Trevor filmed that day in 2009 ended up being such a surprise little treasure for me.  I cried as I watched it over and over.  It meant the world to me, and still does.

Flash forward four years and another child later, I’ve been craving another family video…before little Will loses his soft, squishy baby chub!  It’s disappearing so fast it makes me sad.  Hailey and her husband Brad are so busy traveling the world with their video work I wasn’t sure if they’d have the time to squeeze us in this year.  But of course, being the generous and sweet people that they are, they said they’d love to shoot a new video for me.

I had a plenty of time to plan clothing and props, but my life is such a whirlwind these days that I found myself scrambling at the last minute to pull things together the day of our shoot.  I didn’t feel as prepared as I would have liked.  “Oh well, here we go!” I thought.  Will fell asleep on the drive to the location and when we woke him up, he was so grumpy and incredibly clingy.  My two youngest girls wouldn’t let me do anything with their hair, and Clayton {who hates being in photos, and videos even more, but who humors me and smiles anyway} was having an allergy attack throughout the entire shoot.  Achoo!  Achoo!  And nobody brought tissues.  We were a little late too, so we didn’t have much time before we would be losing light, and to top it off I was having a bad hair day.  Dang it.

However, I wasn’t too worried about it.  I told Hailey, “I know you’ll work your magic and make this look more amazing than it actually is!”  She assured me, “Yes, don’t you worry!”  She is incredible at what she does, so I knew that despite all that was seemingly going wrong, we were in good hands.  She would add my cute little selected Beatles song, “I Will,” and that would help.  She would turn it into something better than I could even imagine.

And she did.  This video is another little treasure for my collection, and yes, I cried as I watched it over and over.  It means the world to me to have my little family captured for a little moment on film.  I’m sure that as the years pass it will mean even more and I won’t even remember the worries I had that day.  Maybe I will.  But it won’t matter.  This is us in 2013.  Funny how the imperfect can be so perfect.

Here’s our 2009 video if you’d like to see it.  xoxo

baby prestley

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I am SO behind on posting photo sessions from this summer, but how about we don’t talk about my overwhelming to-do list.  Instead, how about we talk for just a minute about this dreamy little boy?  Yes, I have to be honest, I’m a little biased because he is my nephew, but seriously…that hair?  Soft and silk and thick as can be.  I can almost smell that yummy new baby-ness just by looking at thses photos {no, I am not baby hungry, I am not baby hungry…}.  This little fella is destined to be a rock star because he was literally born with a faux hawk, a tattoo, and a guitar.  And his name is Prestley, so there’s no way around a future filled with stage lights and cheering crowds.  Okay, I’m exaggerating a little about the tattoo and guitar.  But he is still the coolest little baby in town.