3 Easy Dishes You Can Cook For Thanksgiving (Even If You’re Not A Cook)

Thanksgiving….I can smell it already! It’s all about family, friends, and fooooood. I’ve never been one to really spend much time in my kitchen, but lately I’ve had the desire to be a better homemaker and learn new skills. However, after an ambitious week of babysitting three kids for a few days all while trying to move into a new apartment, I have lost the motivation to cook. Some nights (alright, most nights) cereal or Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets for dinner felt like a major culinary accomplishment. So to slow down my life for a brief moment, I thought I’d make this quick and easy. If you’re learning, like me, these 3 simple recipes will help you round up the ones you love around your table for a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving celebration!   Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes Ingredients: 1 head of garlic 4 pounds medium red potatoes 1 ½ cups hot whipping cream Choose at least 3: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Chives, Parsley 2 to 3 tbsp butter Salt & Pepper to taste Directions: Place garlic in a small baking dish and roast in oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until skin is brown and sides give easily

How to Love 13.1 Miles of Running

I have had a handful of friends reach out to me asking how I train for half marathons, so if you’re one of those who are wondering, I have good news for you: I am a runner not because I run fast, and not because I run far. I am a runner because I run. You must know this first before I go on with any more of my running advice. Running is a dreadful, awful thing (so some think), but for me it is a rewarding, amazing sport. I have learned to love it, let alone I have learned that I can not live without it. It isn’t about the times, the number of miles, or the most expensive shoes. It’s about you; pushing yourself, your mentality, your limits of what you think you can do. Whether you are prepping for your first half marathon or your 15th, make the most of your 13.1-mile experience — from sign-up to finish line — with these ways I’ve learned to love it. 1. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop. I haven’t always been able to run a six minute mile. At one point, an

Marriage Needs More Than Just a “Date Night”

I’m going to go out on a limb & make a sweeping-generalization-type-of-statement: Aside from the glimpses we get online about marriage from freshly-penned blog posts about life as a newlywed, Instagram photos of a shiny stone, a perfect manicure, and an “I said yes!” caption — all tastefully filtered in Amaro, of course — most of us base our assertions, values, and desires surrounding marriage off of our parents’ relationship. Today my parents celebrate their 32nd “wedding birthday”, as Aaron calls it, and for some reason, this year’s milestone seems particularly significant to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched several of my own friends get married, and I have also seen their marriages fall apart. Or, maybe it’s because I am nearing my own anniversary of marriage, and after two years, I can say that I’ve received an accurate depiction of what it’s like to be married. In my (almost) two years of experience, marriage requires these 3 things: Expression of love, more than just a “date night”, and…yes, I’ll say it. Hard work. Expression Of Love Let’s face it. Most of us are not Shakespeare. We have all the feelings, but not so many words. I say that even as

8 Acts of Kindness You Could Give Today

I woke up at 8:28 a.m. to a text message from a gal I used to work with at Rage Salon in Logan, Utah. I quit working there in August due to the demand of my nanny jobs but she asked at 8:05 a.m. if there was any way I could work her shift today, starting at 9 a.m. She was throwing up and feeling terrible. My quick response was, “Sorry girl! I just woke up! I can cover you!” I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth & hair, threw on deodorant and a dress, said morning prayers with Aaron, and ran out the door. Never in my entire life have I gotten ready in 10 minutes flat. It was a true miracle! I sent Alex (the girl who is sick) a text letting her know I was on my way to the salon. Shortly after she responded, “Marlee, you are a saint. Honestly I am crying because I am so thankful for you right now. Thank you. Thank you.” Now I’m no saint, she was just fuzzy from her cold medicine. But it did get me thinking: What are acts of kindness we can do for someone

Friday’s are for Journal Writing (or Reading)

I love Friday’s. Particularly this Friday. Aaron and I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night because, HELLO, Stranger Things Season 2 premier! I’m not big into sci-fi, or even fantasy or adventure fiction for that matter, but this show is strangely addicting (ha, see what I did there?). Because of our late night we both slept in until about 10:00 this morning. #heaven Due to the late start, Aaron decided to stay home with me today and do his school work here so we’ve been sitting at the table together now for about 3.5 hour pecking at our keyboards. Well, he has. I’ve been entertaining myself by reading my journals from 2008 & let me tell ‘ya something…I was totally a teenage girl! My life was all about boys, Target, dance, work, high school friends, EFY, girl’s camp, etc. etc. And about every other journal entry I wrote something like, “Life is good! Gram & Papa bought a condo in Saint George, I passed my history test, and… I gotta pee so I’ll write later!” Some things really never change. In my journal from Sophomore year in college, I found an entry about my experience attending a funeral

Grandma Rose’s Recipe for 50 Years of Good Life

I had the best birthday present of indulging in the small-town charm of Carson, Washington the past 5 days with my husband and my father. My 93-year-old Grandpa Ray, my dad’s dad, lives there and it’s where he raised his family on 7 acres of evergreen forest with the Columbia River Gorge nestled right behind it. Growing up, I loved our vacations there. We hiked, we swam in my aunt & uncle’s pool, we jet skied on the Gorge, and I got to know the Matta family a little more. But the truth is, I never got to know my grandmother. My Grandma Rose passed away with cancer when I was four years old. I don’t remember her, but Grandpa Ray says my smile reminds him of hers. We spent several hours a day laughing with him, eating with him, listening to his polka music with him (he was quite the musician in his young years), and learning of his stories about he & Grandma Rose. They met at a dance hall, had a double wedding, traveled Europe together for 3 weeks, were devout Christian’s, and raised 4 sons. What I didn’t know about Grandma Rose, though, is her love for

25 Quarter-Life Lessons (& Realizations)

Happy 25th birthday to me! I almost went out and took pictures in a dolled up little black dress holding gold balloons to look Instagram perfect. Sometimes as a blogger I feel that’s what the internet expects of me, but let’s keep it real. I woke up early for a morning run, packed my husband’s lunch, met with a dear friend for lunch (she drove 2 hours just to come see me. Gosh I love her), read a book on the grass in the backyard, and spent the remainder of my day pecking at my keyboard in sweat pants, hair pulled back, no make up and my thick purple glasses eating Mike & Ike’s. That’s real life for an aspiring writer. I’ve been contemplating this milestone for about a month now, and it’s made me feel a little nostalgic to think back through all the years that have flown by. In 25 years, there’s plenty I’ve realized, and even more I’ve learned. So here it is: 25 lessons I learned by age 25. 1. Life is really what you make it. Be creative. We so easily get lost in the mundane routines of life. It can be boring and

“We are Daughters of our Heavenly Father”: A Testimony of The Young Women Theme

Hi friends, it’s been a while (like, a month & a half while)! I thought writing + my blog was on the top of my priority list, especially after quitting my day job but — HA! Yeah right. It’s not, but at least it’s still a once-in-a-while hobby. I think we need those, our own “once-in-a-while hobbies” to energize us and refocus us. Mine are running, getting a pedicure, writing in my journal (or, if I have a few hours, on my blog) and napping. We need these activities because life is full of surprises. Some are amazing, some are imperfect, but we find fulfillment from our crazy, chaotic lives in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For the past 13 days, and the following 15, I am living out my husband’s gigantic worn-out missionary suitcase moving house to house as I tend children of various families while the parents go out of town for mini getaways or work-related trips. I refer to myself as “The Travelling Nanny” because it’s who I am, really! It’s a fun gig where I’m able to meet so many cute little kids, drive them to and from school and soccer practice in a snazzy

Face Plants and Prayer: Why It Takes all the Energy of our Hearts to be Converted

At a Women’s Conference I attended earlier this year, a speaker expressed this thought: “Prayer keeps us converted. It’s a commandment because He wants us to seek proximity to Him.” We are constantly on the path to conversion and it takes all the energy of our hearts to become converted, to become like our Savior. Sometimes, though, life feels like a constant face plant. See, just like this, and they hurt. We experience stresses of mortality (illness, arguments, death, financial problems, work difficulties, sleep deprivation, parenthood, media overload) that have the ability to numb our eternal vision. We judge others and hold grudges, we’re jealous, impatient, and experts in self-doubt. Each of these are referred to as our “weapons of rebellion” and it may begin to feel nearly impossible to become as He is. A weapon of rebellion in my life recently has been demanding answers to the “if’s, why’s, how’s, and when’s” of mortal life. Aaron and I are anticipating some significant changes within the next few months (change is still the only constant in our lives and probably will be forever) and we have found ourselves overwhelmed with doubts that have only led to fear and arguments.

From a Father to a Daughter, These are the Lessons I’ve Learned About Real Love

I’ve spent many of my recent quiet moments reflecting on my father and my special relationship with him. Some of his lessons come from conversations, but most come from observing how he interacts with the world, and with me. From a father to his daughter, these are the lessons I’ve learned about real love. Real love was making me Minnie Mouse pancakes on Saturday mornings. Growing up, I’d often have cousins or friends sleep over on Friday nights. My dad would pitch up the tent in our backyard (or we’d camp out in the living room) and he’d stay up late with us teaching us about the constellations, telling us funny stories, and wake up early to prepare our favorite pancake breakfast.  He’d pour the batter by hand in the specific shape each kid wanted: monster trucks, letters, and soccer balls, but I loved my Minnie Mouse pancakes and I loved even more that my dad would make the time, and the mess, to cook them for me. Real love was sneaking a note in my lunch when he knew I had an important test at school, a dance performance, a late-night shift at work, or simply felt I needed a little extra