Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Christmas Friday!

I can hardly believe Christmas is a mere few days away! Forrest turns in his final project today (cheers throughout the land!) and we hit the road tomorrow for Arizona. I can't wait! What are your weekend and Christmas plans? I hope you are able to spend the holiday with people you love, and, as cheesy as it sounds, I hope your heart is full of joy, peace and wonder.

In the meantime, here are a few fun links around the web!

Have you seen this video about an airline playing Santa to its passengers? I totally got choked up.

51 Times in 2013 Jennifer Lawrence Proved She Was Master of the Universe.

8 Items Every New Parent Needs. Made me laugh.

I absolutely loved reading this birth story. I also love watching her HGTV design show.

Mocking It Up: a fun infographic about all the Mock Newbery lists around the country.

Finally, my friend Julia writes a hilarious & thought provoking blog called: Eating Stories Like Grapes. You should check it out!

Merry Christmas, friends!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Very Manly Christmas

You are probably already done with all of your Christmas shopping, but just in case you're are a few ideas for that special fellow in your life!

Make magazine
$34.95 for a year (6 magazines)

Image retrieved from here

This magazine is perfect for the guy who loves to know how things work and is interested in building a few special projects of his own. Forrest had a subscription for a year (6 magazines a year) and he loved it.

Dear Mr. Watterson
$18.99 for the DVD (check out the link for all the bundle gift options!)

Image retrieved from here

For the guy who loved reading Calvin and Hobbes as a kid. Or, if you are my husband, still loves reading them.

Knitted ties
$ depends on the type of yarn you buy

Image retrieved from here

Maybe this one will need to wait until you have a bit more time, but how awesome are these hand knit ties? I love homemade gifts and this one is so original!

ASOS Cable Sweater with Elbow Patches
$35.39 ON SALE

Image retrieved from here

Because...who doesn't love their man in a sweater that has elbow patches??

NBA League Pass
$39.99 for mobile

Image retrieved from here

Because the Blazers are ON FIRE this year and he needs to watch all of the games.

What are your go-to items for your fella? I'd love to hear.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Eyes of Faith

The snow started to fall on Saturday morning. The flakes were small but consistent. I watched as my neighborhood was transformed from normal to wonderland, and my heart felt full.


The baby and I enjoyed the glow of lights from our small tree and played while Harry Potter battled trolls and dragons in the background. Still my heart felt full but also distracted.

Despite the beauty of our cozy home, I felt discontentment and jealousy creep in. Instead of being still and soaking in the glow of Juniper's smile, I focused on the small screen in my hand and the pictures of other homes with better decorations and trees. Later, I was, I am, embarrassed that I let myself be distracted from the loveliness that is my home and my life.


It is so easy for me to get wrapped up in the lives of others. To put more energy in watching and assuming what life is like for so-and-so. To get caught up in jealousy and envy at the good fortune of others. Why is it so hard for me shut off Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Why do I focus so much on the perceived lives of others instead of marveling at the beautiful life I have been given?


Yesterday morning I listened to an Imago Dei podcast from the first Sunday of Advent. I was so encouraged by the songs, the Scripture and the message. One question that stood out to me was:

In this Advent season what kind of eyes do you have? Natural eyes or eyes of faith? What distractions are keeping you from having eyes of faith?

Welp. Ain't that just so appropriate?

I decided that for this Advent season I need a break from so much social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). I removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my iPod Touch and I am going to try to check it less frequently. I want to be present in this season. I want to focus on my beautiful girl and really listen to her babbles because, as I'm always reminded, these days together are just too fleeting. I want to soak in the light from my tiny tree and breathe a prayer of thanks for a warm house and a roof over my head. I want to look for the Christ child and ponder His coming, and I want to be ready and waiting for His still small voice.

Happy Advent season my lovely friends.
Much love to you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Very Merry Humblebug Holiday (& Giveaway!)


And the winner is....Julia! "It's a Wonerful Life. Hark the Hearld Angels Sing while people throw love and money at George Bailey gets me every. single. time."

Me too, Julia, me too.

Contact me at elizabethcheri (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize!

Thanks for participating, guys!

The holidays are upon us, and, if you're like me, you are loving all the gift guides out there. Like this one or how about this one?

Well, I'd like to add my own two cents to the discussion and offer up the perfect holiday gift for that special lady in your life. Whether she is your mom, your sister, your best friend, your wife, or your daughter, she will love a piece of Humblebug Jewelry which is handmade by Crystal Humble.

I met Crystal twelve short years ago at a small Bible college nestled in the Rocky Mountains of Estes Park, Colorado. I remember feeling so nervous and alone as I climbed the steps of the Chalet for the first time, but then Crystal bounded up to me with her bright smile and I was able to take a deep breath. We have been friends ever since.

Crystal is so full of joy, energy and imagination, and when you look at her jewelry you can't help but feel joyful, energetic and full of imagination too. I am the proud owner of one of her necklaces, and I hope to add a few more pieces to my own jewelry collection (hint, hint, Forrest).

Today, I am beyond thrilled to announce that you, dear reader, have the opportunity to win one of Crystal's beautiful necklaces. Take a look...

"Vanity of a Beautiful Mind"

Isn't it gorgeous?!

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment below answering the following question...

What is your favorite holiday movie?

One entry per person. (Facebook comments do not count.)

The winner will be announced on Sunday.

As an added bonus, from now until December 15 use this special holiday code -  "Holiday Cheer" 12252013 - to get 20% off orders of $100 or more on the Humblebug website. Thanks, Crystal!

Also, feel free to like Humblebug's Facebook page! Crystal is always updating her portfolio and the pieces are always so gorgeous to look at.

Happy Holidays!

Check back next week for gift ideas for the special fella in your life.

P.S. For some, leaving a comment has been tricky. If you do not have a Wordpress or Google account, go ahead and use the Anonymous option; however, please make sure to leave your name in the comment. Thanks!

This giveaway is sponsored by Crystal Humble of Humblebug Jewelry. Thank you so much, Crystal!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Trip (all the gory details)


What a week.

Here is a snippet of our trip...

The drive to Estes was a little more stressful than Forrest and I were hoping for. First, I got pulled over an hour outside of Pocatello. Sigh. Thankfully, the copper let us go with a warning. Then we hit ice and black ice outside of Wyoming and the baby screamed for a good long time. I was so stressed out I took a Dramamine and then marveled at how heavy all of my limbs felt. When we finally got into Estes we were greeted with a snowy winter wonderland. Unfortunately, our car was not as enchanted as we were and promptly slid into a ditch. Steve and Lesta rescued us and then we all collapsed into a heap of exhaustion.

Good times.

I could tell you about all the fun we had while in Estes, but I think pictures do the job just as well.

Juniper met Santa and was less than impressed.

See, I told you.

Thanksgiving outfit

The kids table

Snuggles for everyone. Seriously, this girl LOVED all the attention.

4 generations


Playing with Adrien and Nora

The whole gang together all the babies.

Christmas! Yep, we crammed a lot into this trip.

Darling girl

Love these people

We really had such a lovely time with everyone. It is so wonderful to see so many people love on our girl. Plus, Forrest and I got to have a date night - the first in many, many months - and we got to go see Catching Fire which was amazing. Also not pictured...a trip to the Science and History Museum in Denver, haircuts for Forrest and I, lots of football, lots of laughs, and so much good food. Honestly, I think Forrest and I need to eat only salad until our next big trip in three weeks to go see my family.

When we left Estes on Sunday we planned to split the trip up so we wouldn't go crazy from the screaming baby. What we didn't count on was 65 mph winds that threatened to blow our car over. I'll admit that I cried at one point because it was so scary. Then the motel we stayed in was laughably horrible. The first room they put us in had three doors - the one from the hallway, one for the room next door, and one that went outside. The latter was not closed all the way so the room was freezing. A chair was pushed against it (to keep it closed?) but we were able to shut and latch it completely and then promptly blasted the heater. I went to the bathroom and chuckled at the broken toilet paper holder but then shuddered at what looked like blood in the sink. I kid you not. All of us were trying to be brave but when we found hairs and dirt on one of the beds Forrest called the front desk and asked for a new room. The new room was better but we still wouldn't let the baby crawl on the floor.

Ah, memories.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Check back later this week for some holiday gift ideas and a special giveaway!!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Happy Weekend!

Do you have any fun weekend plans? We are driving to Colorado (pray for safe travels) to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Forrest's family. We are looking forward to plenty of family time, beautiful Estes Park scenery and eating lots of yummy Thanksgiving food!

Have a happy and safe weekend, and, in the meantime, here are some fun links around the web...

I admire this woman's bravery in confronting the hateful things people were saying about her.

Catching Fur - I don't know, it might give Catching Fire a run for its money. :)

You have probably already seen the ad for GoldieBlox, but just in case you haven't...

Speaking of ads, this one is crazy!!!!

Haha! I hope Forrest and I do stuff like this when Juniper is older.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Drips & Trips

Seems like everything is leaking over here. And by everything I mean the sky and Juniper's nose. While I love a rainy day, I do not particularly care for a drippy nose especially when our holiday trip to Colorado is right around the corner.

Whenever we take a trip I tend to go overboard with the planning and preparation. For example, we leave on Friday so this is what my week looks like...

Monday - Laundry
Tuesday - Grocery shop
Wednesday - Clean house & car
Thursday - Pack & prepare snacks

I don't know about you, but when I travel I like to snack... a lot. Since we are trying to make healthy choices, I didn't want the car to be an excuse to eat Oreos and Cheez-Its. I found a lot of great ideas from the website, 100 Days of Real Food and then some ideas that are variations of what we eat everyday. Here is a list of what we'll be munching on from Idaho to Colorado!

Cheese & Triscuits (did you know there are just a handful of ingredients in Triscuits??)
Carrot Sticks
Peanut Butter
Homemade Granola
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (our sweet tooth indulgence!)
Roast beef sandwiches
La Croix

There you have it! What are some of your travel go-to snacks? I'd love to hear.

My kitchen helpers (ha)

Because everything is better in a jar

PS - The posts might be a little more infrequent over the next two weeks. Keep checking back though because I'll be posting some Christmas gift ideas that I think you'll love. xo

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Weekend!

What are your weekend plans? Forrest has class all weekend and Juniper and I have a Christmas shopping trip planned.

As usual, here are some links for your clicking entertainment...

I'll admit, I'm intrigued.

Mom, I like this color. (hint: buy a cheaper brand :))

Ten True Things About the First Year of Parenthood. I really love this blog, especially because she is from Portland and her daughter was born around the same time as Juniper.

 I totally got choked up at this.

A chalkboard wall is such a brilliant idea for a kids room!

I wouldn't mind this book for Christmas. :)

Do you watch Parenthood? The episodes lately are so dramatic...and I love it!

Finally, for your viewing pleasure...

please ignore my ridiculous laugh

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eating Healthy - The Second Step

Last week we heard from Laura Chapman about the first step to eating healthy. Today she is back to continue the conversation as well as offer some surprising and encouraging advice. Enjoy! xo

Image by Icatus

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Motherhood is exhausting. It is mind-numbing, hair-pulling, cry-my-eyes-out exhausting.

It is also beautiful, life changing, and the most wonderful job I have ever had. My heart swells when I see Juniper's eyes light up over a favorite book previously forgotten, over the tinkle of bells, and over the sight of my face or Forrest's. Her wobbly steps are getting more bold and her jibber jabber fills the house - even at 6am. She is a light and a joy - as well as a terror. And I wouldn't have it any other way.


This happened on Saturday...

We have already decided we'll retake the class when it is offered in January. I am hoping that friendly exchanges with other moms will turn into play dates and coffee dates. Plus, Juniper didn't blow one bubble so I think it wouldn't hurt to keep working at it.


This tea is my new best friend. It is mild and comforting. Sweet but not cloying. A perfect way to end the day cozied up with either a good book or a knitting project (more on the latter later).

Image retrieved from here

I am lonely. Little things remind me of friendships that are states away - things like Catching Fire and the coming holiday season. Pictures fill my Instagram feed of friends laughing and spending time together and I just keep thinking - I should be there, but I'm here.

I'm trying, I'm really trying to put myself out there and make some gal-pals. But, it's hard, you know? Most of the women I have met are Mormon and I know I could/should get over my fear that somehow they'll convert me but something just holds me back.

We are the youngest couple by about ten years at our church and we love the opportunity to learn and socialize with the wiser and older crowd, but are we sacrificing something by not going to the church that is cool and has people our age? Is Juniper socialized enough by weekly story times and occasional cousin play dates? So many questions, so few answers.

Even though I am lonely, I am not depressed. My marriage gets sweeter every day, my daughter makes me laugh (and cry), friends that are states away pursue me through weekly phone calls and messages, and family is just a Skype call away. This season, this new place is teaching me contentment in all situations and my eyes are opened daily to the blessings present in my life.

Thank you for listening, for reading. What are some of your lately's?


Friday, November 8, 2013

Happy Weekend

Hard to believe this was a year ago

What are your weekend plans? We have our last swim class (sniff) and piles of leaves that need to be transferred to black trash bags. Fun! I'm also planning on whipping up a batch of these.

If you're in a browsing mood, here are some fun links around the web... 

Who doesn't love Jennifer Lawrence?! She's amazing.

Speaking of Jennifer Lawrence, I can't wait for Catching Fire to come out!! Will you go see it?

Speaking of movies (sorry), I also really want to see Ender's Game. The book is so good.

"The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity."

Have you read my friend Amy's blog? It's hilarious and thoughtful. I love it.

Happy weekend!



Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Goodness of Sauce


The baby is asleep.
The sky is gray.
A hot cup of tea is beside me (Honey Vanilla Chamomile by Celestial Seasonings).
Dinner is already in the works.

I am so thankful for a quiet moment in the afternoon which are few and far between in the Johnson household. Part of the reason I am grateful has to do with a very yummy sauce that I have been meaning to tell you about.

As you already know, I make a big pot of beans fairly regularly around here. It is cheap, a good source of protein and everyone from the baby to the husband likes it. Plus, there are so many variations - beans & rice, enchiladas, burritos, chili, etc, etc.

However, here's the thing: sometimes I feel that black beans and rice is, well, bland. Even if I doctor it up with some avocado, cheese, and salsa, I still get the feeling that this is a poor man's dinner.

There is a place in Portland called The Whole Bowl which serves a bean and rice dish but it is anything but ordinary and poor feeling. I think it has to do with their sauce. I found a recipe for the sauce back when we were living in Portland, so this past week I wanted to find it again and recreate it. But, here's the thing: there is also a place in Portland called Cafe Yumm! and they have a special sauce too. For some reason, I googled Yumm sauce instead of Whole Bowl sauce.

I'm actually really, really glad I did.

The Yumm sauce is a little tart (from the lemons) and a little savory (from the garlic and spices) and it is heavenly on a plain old beans and rice bowl. In fact, it elevates the plain old beans and rice bowl to oh-my-gosh-I-could-actually-eat-this-for-every-meal-bowl.

The ingredients are simple and cheap which keep this meal in a lovely price range.

I hope you try it and love it as much as we do.

Yumm Sauce
adapted from the Original Yumm Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup almond meal or finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1/4 cup cooked soybeans or 1/3 cup tofu*
1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro

Just put everything into your blender, food processor, magic bullet - whatever you've got, use it - and blend.

*I couldn't find soybeans at Winco and I loathe tofu, so I just added a few more garbanzo beans and it tasted fine.

One more thing, I couldn't find out how long this stuff is good for. I'm guessing a week in the refrigerator. Any other guesses?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eating Healthy - The First Step

I am really excited about a new series of posts here at The Little Reviewer. Over the next several weeks, we'll be talking about healthy eating. 

The author of these posts is my friend of ten years, Laura Rice Chapman. I mentioned her once before, and I am one of her biggest fans (no really, I am). She is a wife, a mom (of two dogs), a friend, a doula and a nurse. She is also an inspiration and example of healthy living.

I hope you enjoy her story and thoughts on healthy living. xo - Elizabeth

Monday, November 4, 2013

13 Months

Juniper turned 13 months on Friday, and I want to tell you some of the funny stuff she's up to these days.

The church that we (finally) decided to attend here in Pocatello has a less than desirable nursery situation, so Juniper stays with us. We usually start the service in the sanctuary (at the very back) and sneak out near the sermon to hang out in the upstairs cry room which has some toys, comfortable chairs, and space to crawl around. Well, this Sunday we were in the sanctuary and the choir had just finished singing a song that was basically the word "amen" over and over. When they finished, Juniper sang out her own amen. It was precious but also hilarious, and I couldn't stop laughing. She has never said "amen" before and I was pretty sure that everyone heard it because her little voice echoed throughout the room. After the service, people kept coming up to us to say how wonderful and delightful it was to hear her singing. Since we are the youngest family there (by a good 10-15 years) I was relieved that everyone was so positive and happy by Juniper's singing and babbling.


Every night Juniper takes a bath. While she certainly doesn't need a bath every day, it is a nice way to segue into bedtime. Anyway, for her birthday she got all kinds of fun bath toys - thanks, Aunt Annika - including a small basketball hoop and three balls. As you might have guessed, Forrest loves shooting hoops with Juni but it is usually him making baskets and Juniper watching. Recently, however, she has started putting the ball into the hoop and then watching as we cheer like crazy people. I'm talking about waving our arms in the air, shaking our heads and screaming "yes!" Crazy people, that's us.


Sometimes after a nap, Juniper and I will cuddle on the couch together. Lately, she will hold my face in her hands and put her cheek to my face. Sigh. I love those moments.


She is getting so feisty and independent. No walking yet, but I think it's coming pretty soon. Sometimes I just want to freeze these moments, but it is so fun to watch her grow and learn about the world around her.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I learned an important truth about myself yesterday. While I may make awesome birthday cakes, rock the gift giving and am generally a terrific mom, I am not gifted in creating Halloween costumes.

Someone gave me the idea of dressing Juniper up as a skunk for Halloween - a pretty clever idea, I thought! The execution, however, well...take a look for yourself...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday, my fall dreams came true.

A pumpkin patch huntin' did we go!

When we lived in Oregon (sob), we had a tradition every fall of going on the Hood River Fruit Loop. For one thing, it is a beautiful drive through leaves that are every shade of yellow, red and brown. For another thing, we always stop at a beautiful white house for wine tasting, Rasmussens for pumpkin picking and this other stand (I can't remember the name) for apple gathering. For the last thing, it is tradition and it pained my heart to not keep up the tradition this year.

The pumpkin patch we found near Pocatello was pretty darn cute. There was a hay ride out to the pumpkin field, a corn maze, tons of activities for kids and two greenhouses full of already picked pumpkins. This year, we forego the hay ride (Forrest is a tad allergic) and we got our pumpkins from the already picked pile.

We still had fun posing the little girl on the pumpkins, near the pumpkins, etc, etc.

Apparently we are those parents.

We have yet to carve up the large pumpkin, but I let Juni paint her little pumpkin. She lost interest pretty quick, but it was fun while it lasted.

How was your weekend?