This summer as been one of the hardest times in my life, for a variety of reasons. But this week I have been reminded of the many blessings that my family has enjoyed this summer, and I just wanted to share a few of them with you all.

This summer was kicked off with the wedding of my cousin Garret to his wife Elizabeth, and the commissioning of Vaughn’s brother Cooper as a 2nd Lt. in the US Air Force.

Cooper Owen Emmons, Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Cooper Owen Emmons, Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Mr. and Mrs. Garret Lane Phillips

Mr. and Mrs. Garret Lane Phillips

A few weeks later, our family gained another member when my Aunt Elizabeth married her sweetheart Tiger. While I couldn’t attend their wedding in Alaska, I am so glad they found eachother.10557381_1503839306512713_555268632491252921_n

Then lil’ Cooper graduated from Portland State University in June.


And then I celebrated the wedding of my dear college friends Casey and Stacey Graham,DSC_0278

and the wedding of our close friends Steve and Camille Northrop.2014-08-05_1407202349

Vaughn and I celebrated our four year anniversary with a delicious dinner.2014-08-21_1408590820

We found out this summer that my cousins Sam and Derek, Garret and Lizzie, and Kora  are all expecting sweet beautiful babies.10484514_813401525178_2888669374374279421_n 10665127_198692963637834_6191919903684101347_n

And just this week my cousin Adam started his college career at Easten Oregon University.1234017_10203979379797470_862101597964782279_n

It is easy to focus on the negative things and get bogged down in the bad, but look at all the good things that have happened in my family this summer! I am so very grateful and lucky to be surrounded by this loving community.


Menu Monday: Smashed Potatos

Okay, I may have a potato problem. So many potatoes. All I want to eat is potatoes. I do not eat potatoes as often as I’d like, but this easy recipe definitely hits the spot and is just so tasty. This is also a great, easy potato appetizer. Here it is.


  • Small Red Potatos
  • Salt
  • Baked potato toppings (sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, whatnot).
  • That’s It2014-09-10 20.30.01


  1. Preheat Oven to 425 degrees
  2. Boil potatoes in salt water until they are soft.2014-09-10 20.28.33
  3. Cover a cookie sheet or baking pan with aluminum foil.
  4. Once potatos are soft, lay them out on the aluminum foil with space in between (think cookie spacing).
  5. Using the rounded part of your spatula, press each potato until it is “smashed”. 2014-09-10 21.06.17
  6. Drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Heat in oven for 10 minutes.
  8. Top with toppings and enjoy.2014-09-10 21.20.30



Why I am a Democrat: Medicaid

I believe firmly in the notion that I want to live in a country where every citizen has quality access to healthcare. I am willing to pay higher taxes to insure that my community is healthy and that people are taken care of, and that my community does not have people dying of preventable illnesses.

Medicaid (known by different names in different states-here in Oregon it is “The Oregon Health Plan”) is a program that we have had in the United States since the early 1980s for disadvantaged low-income populations. Namely, pregnant women, children, and older Americans. It is a free program that either provides health insurance or health insurance supplements to people, enabling them to gain access to preventative healthcare. As of 2014, this program was expanded by the Affordable Care Act to include all low-income Americans who’s household income falls within 138% of the federal poverty guidelines (about 23,850 a year for a family of 4, or $11,670 for an individual).CommonwealthMedicaid09272013

This program is taxpayer funded, but I think it uses taxpayer money very intelligently. Firstly, just like with any insurance companies, medicaid applies HUGE “contractual adjustments”, sometimes up to 100% of the cost of services. This means that taxpayers are not paying for the full costs of services provided, whereas often times hospitals are able to take huge tax write-offs for uninsured patients. Yikes! This enables pregnant mothers to get quality care, children to get vaccinations, etc.

Healthcare policy is more complex than I can easily explain, but I am proud that the Democratic Party supports healthcare access for all, and I’m proud to be a Democrat. Below I’ve included some links for additional medicaid policy information.

Menu Monday: Easy Carrot Cake/Pudding Poke Cake

A few weeks ago our friend Steve celebrated his 32nd birthday, and requested a Carrot Cake. Now, I don’t know how to make Carrot Cake, but I hate cake mixes and try to make things a little more rich if  I can. So I took a cake mix, spruced it up, and made a pretty darn good cake, if I do say so myself. 🙂


  • 1 box Duncan Hines Carrot Cake Mix
  • 1 cup carrot, finely grated.
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • Cooking Spray
  • Cool Whip
  • 1 box instant cheesecake pudding mix (two pictured here, but I only used one)

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  1. Grate one cup carrot finely (I used the smallest grate on my cheese grater) and add to dry carrot cake mix. This mix comes with dried carrots and raisins which I promptly threw away.2014-09-11 20.05.51
  2.  Add three eggs, vegetable oil, and 1 1/4 cup milk to dry mix. Essentially you are subbing the water on the cake mix recipe with milk. Delicious. 2014-09-11 20.09.48
  3. I baked my cake in two well-oiled 9″ layer cake pans as directed on box.2014-09-11 20.11.26(1)
  4. Let cake cool completely.
  5. Once it has cooled (if you are using a layer cake), flip your bottom layer over so the bottom is facing upward.
  6. Mix together your pudding mix now.
  7. poke a million holes in your cake either with a skewer or a wooden spoon handle. 2014-09-11 22.21.41
  8. Slowly spread pudding over the surface of your cake. Add your second layer (face up) and repeat.2014-09-11 22.24.31 2014-09-11 22.24.502014-09-12 16.56.41
  9. Let sit for at least 3 hours (or overnight).
  10. Spread whip cream as frosting.2014-09-12 17.02.57
  11. Decorate as you like.
  12. Nom!

Favorite Dog Accessories for an Active Dog

As most of you know, in January Vaughn and I adopted a beautiful sweet German Wirehaired Pointer named Marlow, and she is the love of our lives.

She is also afraid of fireworks....

She is also afraid of fireworks….

We are fortunate because Marlow came from a very loving home, was well trained, and is quite the little love-butt. She is also VERY active and needs a lot of exercise to not drive us insane.

Here are some items that have saved us over these last 9 months and have helped us be better dog parents to our sweet girl.

  1. Outward Hound Port-A-Bowl. This great little travel bowl is the perfect thing for hikes and car rides. It collapses into itself and can easily be stowed in a daypack or a side door on the car. Durable and holds plenty of water for a thirsty pup. The pliable bowl also allows you to pour water back into a water bottle for your dog to drink later.819ogAtWSzL._SL1500_
  2. Collapsible Water Bottles. When hiking with a dog, you have to carry extra water, but you don’t want to have huge clunky water bottles all over your pack. These small collapsible water bottles are a life saver, and enable you to even out your pack by distributing water weight better.81fwQh9OnaL._SL1500_
  3. Petco Easy Step-In Harness for Dogs Our Marlow is a harness dog. Because she needs to be on leash, we love this harness because it is more comfortable and loose on her for running and playing in off-leash areas, but still is secure and keeps her safe when she needs to be on-leash. For example, when we are around cats.

    Marlow after a nice run in the ocean...

    Marlow after a nice run in the ocean…

  4. Zoink! Fetch n’ Fling Ball Thrower Marlow is, in fact, an addict. And as much as I love her, I have no desire to touch her slobbery gross tennis balls. This thrower is great because it allows me to throw the balls really far, but not ever touch them. Also, the fact that it folds up makes it easy to throw in a bag for our walk to the park so my girl can’t see the ball and be a spaz for the entire 15 minute walk around the neighborhood.zoink
  5. Nite Ize Spotlit LED Carabiner Light If you have a dark colored dog and you like to be out and about in the dusk in the evening, this is a great little tool. This enables me to easily spot Marlow running accross the field or digging in something she shouldn’t be. It’s cheap and easy to turn on and off.aeccc91b-224d-4848-8914-b90d6baba5f1