Christmas time is here

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Christmas time is here

Our first Christmas I wanted a beautiful tree and so with our tight budget I bought some old dress shirts from a thrift store, felt from a craft store, a glue gun, glitter and got to work. That was over 2 years ago and I’m actually glad I never got around to posting pictures of my creations until this year with my much nicer camera.

For a homespun-country feel I centered my ornaments around nature themed shapes. I added some glitter twine globes last year and holly berry ornaments. With only half a tree, I’m pretty much done for now, but when we finally have room for a regular tree, you bet I’ll be making more!

Click the pictures below to see you can spy the following:

  • Owl
  • Bird
  • Star
  • Heart
  • Snowflake
  • Pinecones
  • Holly Berries



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Plan on for Christmas dinner!

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Greenberg Turkey at my door

This year we ordered our turkey from and it was amazing. You may have heard of these birds by their more formal name, Greenberg,¬† but I still can’t get over whoever was bright enough to purchase that domain name asap. #genius

Left over thanksgiving dinner

Ali grew up with Greenberg turkeys and insisted that for our first Masterson family Thanksgiving we purchase one. I was skeptical at first because this meant seriously relying on a company in Texas to pick, smoke and ship us our turkey on time and in good condition. Not to mention the photos on the site showed blackened birds on the dinner table – I can’t serve burnt food! Not to worry though, smoked turkeys have to get a little black sitting in, well smoke right? And you’re not supposed to eat the skin. ūüėČ

Left over turkey

To finish off a brief post written in my car on the way to Rite Aid (WordPress mobile app) I have to say I LOVED my Greenberg and highly recommend ordering one for Christmas dinner. It’s flavorful to the bone, required little to no prep and costs comparably close to basting and cooking your own bird. Make more time to spend with your family this Christmas. Plan on a Greenberg turkey.

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Taming our stray cat: Peterson

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How to tame a stray cat

‚ÄúPeople have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn‚Äôt forget it. You become responsible forever for what you‚Äôve tamed.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Antoine de Saint-Exup√©ry, The Little Prince

Meet Kitty Peterson. She’s our new cat and my forever responsibility. We think she’s¬†a longhaired, flame point siamese mix and she lives on our back porch. I first saw her last winter slinking through the snow. I couldn’t believe it, but Alex continues to remind me that she indeed does have a fur coat.¬†Peterson has always been hanging around our house and this Fall I decided to try and tame her.

There is actually a lot of information Online about taming stray cats and gaining their trust. I read all about the true difference between a feral and a stray, what ear tipping is and how some stray cats will never bond with their care givers. Learning that it can often take months for a cat to finally let you pet her, was my biggest light of hope that finally came to be this October after feeding her off and on since August.

12268483_10153221453761658_1691238393_oLike most taming experiences go, Peterson went from running at the sound of my steps¬†to peaking from around¬†the corner. One day she just stood there and meowed. Stared right at me and Ali and meowed over and over. She wouldn’t let me touch her and didn’t appear to be hurt, so I brought her some food instead. She liked that.

A few days later she let us watch her eat and even crawl up close enough to get a picture (literally crawled). I tried to pet her but she was quick and ran down the alley to stare from a safe distance. Another morning she ran vertically up the fence and watched from her perch.

When Peterson let me finally pet her I was absolutely surprised. I don’t even know what came over me to even attempt to touch her. She had run away so many times before, but mid-Meow-Mix bite I did it. I was late to pick up Ali from school at the time, but I couldn’t let the big break-through pass by. I spent at least 10 minutes with her, stroking her fur and I was so excited I called my mom afterwards to share the news. Ridiculous I know, but then again, maybe not?

12214168_10153207181471658_1497138840_oBefriending my fluffy friend didn’t stop with pets. She was still nervous around Ali and I had no idea what she’d do when Teddy came into the picture. One night I picked her up and carried her inside. She yowled and cried just like a baby¬†(I’m serious) but after a bit she relaxed and sniffed around.¬†Inside is still Peterson’s least favorite place to be.

After a few days I brought Teddy into the room during one of our indoor visits and Peterson actually let him lick her. She seemed to like it and brushed up against him like cats do when they’re claiming a person or thing as their own. Alex mentioned how we did the exact same thing when we bought a cream-colored collar for her with pearl studs on the back.

Peterson continues to claim us and Teddy, each night and day when she comes out to visit during doggy potty breaks and of course for food. She’s become so comfortable with the family now that one evening after parking the car she was brave enough to hop up onto hood for a saunter over to my driver side mirror, meowing for dinner. It was cute and annoying ūüėČ

My favorite experience was catching her sunning outside. She looked perfectly peaceful and it warmed my heart to realize that she was there out in the open because she felt safe. It wasn’t easy to get her to that point, but she made it. And now I have a cat. Did I mention I’m also allergic to cats?


p.s. The name Peterson came from a dream I had about our first family cat (Ali’s a cat person). He was named Peterson in the dream and so naturally Kitty Peterson was called that until we realized she was a girl. We threw on Kitty¬†so her name tag would show she’s a girl, but we still call her Peterson.

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How to decorate for a classy Halloween party

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12197337_10153198784596658_1549440504_oWhile we only had one little turtle stop by to Trick-or-Treat, he was still adorable. Especially when after saying “Trick-or-Treat” and me taking a while to get the candy bowl, he started stepping¬†into the house asking, “Where’s my treat?”, all while the mortified father patiently repeated, “We don’t do that buddy…we don’t walk into their house…”.

It was adorbs.

I had honestly been planning Halloween¬†since September not really for any particular reason, but more because I just love a good project. You can find all the inspiration for my ideas and actually most of the products I used per my Pinterest board: “A Halloween Movie Scare”.

Step 1: Picking a Theme

My goal for this event was something a little formal, cute and anything but gory. I found just what I was looking for after some Pinterest Pinning, internet shopping and of course browsing for deals. was my final choice for invitations mostly due to a 20% OFF sale, which they seem to have a lot of.

12170041_10153181654746658_432447381_oStep 2: Invitations

While my invitations did come with their own envelopes (which I didn’t realize when I ordered them), I wanted something a little more interesting than plain white. I came across the brown ones at¬†Jo-Ann’s¬†for $6 and found ideas for the spooky drawings online. After deciding not to pay $20 for 10 custom Halloween Stamps (ridiculous right?) I went with a spooky black and white stamp of Ingrid Bergman from good ‘ol

The attraction for this party was the 1987 horror flick: Monster Squad which meant I had to include a mini movie poster and of course Halloween Themed ticket stubs which I found on Etsy for super cheap!

Step 3: Cute Indoor Decor

Halloween decorations are usually either pretty gross or painfully cute but luckily after some consistent searching I found some more modern/classy alternatives through Zurchers and Always buy on-sale, especially paper fans РDo not pay $25 for those, seriously.

My living room is all drapes and windows so I went with hanging decorations like a paper chain, pennants, fans, etc. I love how everything turned out and I’m hoping I can at least save the fans and sparkle Halloween sign for next year. I’m afraid the paper chain might get destroyed in a box — but hey it was on sale and recyclable!

Step 4: Decorating Outside

Our Jack-O-Lanterns turned out perfectly thanks to the help of Ali, Helaman¬†and dad. Teddy¬†gorged himself on a few handfuls of guts and I must say that the “Pumpkin Gutter” was an excellent purchase. Ultimately it took just as long to gut the pumpkin with a power drill as by hand, but it was 10x as fun and didn’t involve me getting sticky.

Did I power drill carve that glowing pumpkin down in front? Why yes I did, and I have some quick tips for any of you out there looking to do the same next year:

  1. Be sure to charge your drill battery well in advance
  2. Your power drill will get pumpkin guts in it so plan on rinsing it off
  3. Please take the batteries out/unplug your drill before rinsing it off
  4. Try varied bit sizes for more creative designs
  5. Hand exercises at the gym are optional, but may increase your drilling resiliency

I covered my door in some paper bats and used orange lights and fall leaf garland to decorate the rail. The little cat lantern was a cute find from Walmart last year.

Window silhouettes came during a moment of weakness where honestly I could have stopped while I was ahead, but hey, Pinterest called and I had some extra paper bats and black garbage bags. I cut them out by hand — I know some of you might be hating me right now — but honestly look at them, they aren’t perfect and garbage bags are hard to trace a pattern onto. I also made a little cat silhouette, but looks like I missed a picture for that window.

Step 5: Munchies!

Everyone loves food right? Mummified Pigs in a Blanket, Gooey Monster Cookies and Candy Corn colored Veggies were our choice for the evening. The Cherry Limeade was red. Red=Blood. It works. Thanks to Rachel for the Bloody Popcorn that showed up later! I ended up using some left over orange fabric from Ali’s costume (yes I did that too, remember I like big projects) as a makeshift table cloth and found the paper products at Walmart.

Step 6: Costumes

All of our guests were required to wear costumes and while I failed at taking pictures of them I can say that we had the following in attendance:

  • Superman
  • Batgirl
  • Pirate
  • U.S. AirForce Cadet
  • 2 Rock Stars
  • Police Woman
  • Cowboy
  • The main characters of Breaking Bad
  • Skull Kid
  • Link
  • Zelda Cuckoo

The Masterson family made up the Zelda tribute which is where my first ever sewn pair of pants and a t-shirt came into play. I admit to buying mine and teddy’s costumes but a $400 Majora’s Mask was a bit of a stretch for this year’s budget ūüėČ ūüėČ (had to buy those invitations didn’t I?). So I did what my mom taught me and I made one myself!

Majora’s Mask was quite the adventure and took about month to complete. The hardest part was layers upon layers of paper mache (thanks to the Universe) and the spikes (thank you YouTube!). Painting it was honestly the fun and easy part and made me appreciate my kitchen counters, because bending over at a table is murder on your back. All-in-all it’s not something that’ll last for years, but it was super fun to do and Ali was happy with the result.

Some final thoughts:


Did I go a little crazy with this year’s Masterson Halloween party?


Did I have fun planning and putting it together?

-Heck yes!

Did I save money?


Do you have to have a crazy detailed Halloween party too?

-Heck no!

I planned this event because I wanted to do something a little over the top this year and to get my creative juices flowing. It was super fun – which is the most important reason to throw a party and I hope everyone who made it had a good time too!

My final question — Did I succeed at throwing a cute, fun and classy Halloween party?

-That’s for you to decide, leave a comment! Tell me what you think!

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My biggest Halloween mistake & what I’m doing differently this year

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Every year I make the same mistake of carving Halloween pumpkins long before Halloween. I have the vision in my mind that they’ll be perfect for my Trick-or-Treaters until about 7 days later when they’ve turned into moldy, mushy, ew. This year I finally got up the strength to resist my desire to carve and have replaced it with planning my decorations for Halloween night, which you will only see if you’re lucky to drive by my house Halloween night. Just kidding, I’ll be taking pictures, but seriously all friends with children, bring your kids by my house, please!! If just to give me the honor of giving them my candy. The past 2 years we’ve had almost no one stop by, but that’s likely because there haven’t been any families living nearby. This year though, I’m determined! Determined to mark my house as Trick-or-Treatable!

So, how again, am I solving this year’s pumpkin carving dilemma?¬†It’s painfully simple:

I’m not carving pumpkins until the week of Halloween! And until then, I have this gorgeous pile of squash doing exactly what I would want my Jack-O-Lanterns to be doing on Halloween night: looking gorgeous and evoking the¬†holiday’s spirit.


Now I know, 5 pumpkins are a bit much to carve, especially the week of Halloween. What with Ali’s Skull Kid costume, working full time and saving hundreds of toilet paper rolls (more on this in a couple posts) how in the world do I have the time? Well let me tell YOU! In my pinteresting adventures I recently came across one of the greatest inventions ever known to man: The Pumpkin Gutter. Yep, it’s a drill bit that carves all the guts out of your pumpkin in just a few swipes, aaaand all you have to do is dump the pumpkin out! Don’t believe me? Check out this video clip:

So yes, next Monday I will be enlisting the help of my brother, my husband and my father to carve 5 pumpkins using the Pumpkin Gutter. And to make things even more exciting we’re going to be putting the drill bits I used to hang my curtains to good use. Seriously, my goal with one or two of these squash buddies is to create something to the effect of well, this:


P pumpkin powerdrill       Power-Drill-Designs

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The year we got a pup

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Masterson Fall 2014 4x6-1It was about 6 months into our marriage when I¬†started talking about the family dog. Honestly Ali knew I wanted a dog from the day I said “Yes”, but¬†we always talked about how it wouldn’t happen until we bought a house first.

I’m laughing to myself now as I write this with Teddy, our Corgi, squeaking an Angry Birds toy in the background (he loves squeaky toys).¬†

So yes, at about 6 months into marriage I was googling dog breeds. First it was Chihuahuas because I missed my mom’s dog, Lily at home. Then Border Collies because I missed my stepdad’s dog, Tahoe. Then Great Danes because they’re awesome. Mastiffs, Dalmatians, PitBulls (they’re seriously misunderstood and excellent family dogs), Adopting a shelter dog, I was on a Newfoundland kick for a long time because they’re so gentle with children. I grew up with Black Labs and while beautiful I knew I wanted a different breed, especially after living with a Chihuahua for so long. Oh and there was our sweet Honey, my step dad’s St. Bernard. She was a beautiful animal and a wonderful dog. Anyway I digress…

249f5f964422ab47d0b21ae498a1cafbI’d always seen pictures of Corgis online, I mean they’re everywhere these days –not to mention CorgiCon, Corgi Beach Day, etc. I always worried though, that a Corgi would be too active and what about their herding instinct? They’re adorable, but after doing a lot of reading, they really aren’t the best breed for small children, and I plan on getting¬†some of those one day too…so a Corgi was definitely out; until Ali saw a picture of one and Animal Planet’s Dog Breed Selector recommended a Corgi as one of our top breed matches. Yep, it was that easy, and I’m pretty sure it was this picture that sealed the deal with Ali

The next thing I knew I was searching KSL, found a litter of 4 pups and had emailed the breeders about taking one home.¬†He’s the second one from the left in the first picture¬†and the little red head in the front, next to Mom in the second:


We were lucky to find a breeder who would keep Teddy for us until we had moved into dog-friendly housing (yes, I made Ali move for a dog – isn’t he amazing?). We took the pup camping about a month before we brought him home¬†where the poor little guy got sick on his first hike. While this next picture is adorable, it’s really a sick puppy in a backpack coming down the trail.

10420700_10152123219806658_1213755062_o (1)I got past my concerns about kids and Corgis after doing some more research and realizing that ultimately if you’re going to have kids and any kind of dog, you have to teach them both how to interact with each other. We’ve worked really hard to socialize Teddy and teach him basic obedience commands and tricks here and there. I’ve tried to get him used to being touched, held and pulled on and even loud noises. I hope that I can do similarly with my kids. Reminding them that Teddy might bite if they chase him into a corner. Teddy will chase him if they run, because chasing and herding is in his blood. Teddy will also cuddle them, follow them everywhere and ideally protect them at least with his bark.

Ultimately I’ve fallen in love with the Corgi breed and I think Ali has too. While I’m pretty sure he’d rather be with me than Teddy, I do know he appreciates the Corg’s ability to learn tricks quickly and his general obedience.

Today Teddy is about 20 months old. We’ve decided that someday we’ll get a second tri-colored Corgi, but for reals: not until we have a house . . .

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Newlywed Valentines

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Valentine’s Day with Ali was fantastic!Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 12.21.58 PM

The holiday is becoming a big deal at our house. Last year I canned Alex’s Valentine on BYU Campus — seriously, I sealed his candy and sock monkey in a giant CAN — ironically his can opener broke and we had to cut it open with some heavy duty scissors… Alex bought me yellow daisies and my favorite chocolates from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory¬†— I insisted that buying my absolute favorite types of chocolates (turtles) would be 10x better than any large box of assorted candies (PS it totally was).

1937655_10151935304046658_60931211_oThis year, we kept the chocolate giving tradition alive. My Alex came through with turtles and truffles, while I picked out half a pound of BYU fudge to add to my “Cuddle Kit” surprise for Alex (Big shout out to Dating Divas for the idea!). Yep, no canning for me this year…instead I wrapped up a bottle of sparkling cranapple cider, BYU fudge and a Clint Eastwood movie in a bright red throw. The throw was totally inspired by our living room colors — two birds, one stone!

Breakfast was heart shaped, sunny side up, egg yolks — forgot to take a picture — with warm Cinnabons and sausage patties. I also can’t forget the free printout sign I got from Dating Divas too (they think of everything).

1618209_10151935408611658_81734316_oAlex surprised me at work with orange and pink roses — so much prettier and more original than red — and took me out for a surprise dinner date.

When it comes to dinner on Valentine’s Day, DON’T let your hubby skip out on making a reservation. I was so glad Alex didn’t skip. We drove in right on time to our 7:30pm dinner appointment and sat down in the nicest pizza restaurant I’ve ever been to: Pizzaria 712. The location was tiny and quaint, but don’t let that fool you on the experience. I LOVED how although the place was packed and sappy 90s love songs were playing on the stereo, I STILL was able to HEAR my husband talking to me. We originally were going to eat at the Tortilla Bar (whose food is to die for) but the place is soooo loud and crowded (we decided to move that date to the spring when it’s warm enough to sit outside).

1920745_10151937231326658_1936112457_oThe Pizzaria 712 waiters recommended sharing an appetizer, salad and a pizza, so we ordered:

A little something: rockhill creamery gouda mac & cheese, crimini mushrooms, breadcrumbs, crispy speck

Greens: frisee, hand pulled mozzarella, pear, date emulsion

Pizza: housemade sausage, caramelized onion, roasted fennel, tomato sauce, mozzarella

The mozzarella is handmade fresh, daily — sooo delicious! We also each enjoyed a bottle of Cream Soda — which I’m actually glad I picked over RootBeer.

1900869_10151935292956658_197227611_oDessert was an off-the-menu Valentine’s Day special: Chocolate tart crust filled with ganache, caramel and raspberry sauce, topped with sea salt flakes. Delicious, perfect and a darned shame it won’t be on the menu again (a pro and con to original restaurants).

We ended the evening with a RedBox adventure. Apparently every single girl in Utah had rented “Austenland” so we arrived home empty-handed after treking all the way to Springville to check 3 RedBox kiosks. Praise be Amazon, when I found it for rent on Instant Play at home — yep, my husband loves me enough to watch a sappy chick flick based off a book I read two summers ago — the night was perfect and of course ended with 100 kisses.

I want to keep every Valentine’s Day ¬†of our marriage this way. It’s important to have several extra special dates throughout the year — along with the usual Friday night escapade — It won’t be easy when the kids come along, but I know it’ll be worth it. I love my Alex and am so thankful for all that he does for me. The best part of the day was the note he sent with my flowers:Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 12.22.07 PM

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What Shall We Give? -The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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“Wise men still follow that star that shines within us. Will you help your friends and family reach Him?” -Elder Ammon Burdge

Click the picture to hear the song "What Shall We Give?" performed by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Click the picture to hear the song “What Shall We Give?” performed by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

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Really Good Carmel Corn – Crystal T.

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This carmel corn recipe is to die for and oh so easy. I made it one night in our glass Kitchen Aid bowl — which was super useful because it has a lid (that way I could stop myself from eating).

Crystal's Carmel Corn

Really Good Carmel Corn -By Crystal T.

1/4 cup Butter/Margarine

1/2 cup Karo Syrup (Corn Syrup)

2 cups Brown Sugar

1 Large bowl of air popped pop corn

Melt butter and add syrup and sugar. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the popcorn a little at a time while stirring the popcorn. Allow to cool and enjoy!

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Philadelphia Marble Pumpkin Cheesecake – Ah! Delicious

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I think this pumpkin cheese cake was the first thing Alex and I made with our Kitchen Aid. It was delicious and we’ve made it at least once or twice more since. I’m definitely keeping this recipe as a staple. We found it of course at You can follow the link or find it below. PS: it’s super easy!!

Marble Pumpkin Cheesecake


Philadelphia Marble Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients:

18 Ginger Snaps

1/4 cup Finely Chopped Pecans

1/4 cup Butter (Melted)


Cheesecake Ingredients:

3 (250 g) Packages of Cream Cheese

3/4 cup Sugar, Dived

1 tsp Vanilla

3 Eggs

1 cup Canned Pumpkin

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1 dash Ground Cloves


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine cookie crumbs, pecans and butter. Press onto bottom of 9 inch springform pan.
  2. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Remove 1 cup plain batter; place in small bowl. Stir remaining 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin and spices into remaining batter. Spoon pumpkin batter into crust; top with spoonfuls of reserved plain batter. Cut through batters with knife several times for marble effect.
  3. Bake 45 minutes or until centre is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Cut into 12 slices. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

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