This morning I took work off so that we could go to the temple with the Picketts, as this was the only time we could go before we leave the country. I got to wear one of my new outfits from shopping (it was like getting new school clothes all over again; looking at them sitting pretty and new next to all of your old clothes, just begging to be worn) and Tyler wore his kangaroo pin. We are both so giddy with delight that we are leaving for Australia in just a couple of days. We are only semi-ready, with very little packing or planning under our belt, but we do have some things taken care of. (Did you know you could have the post office hold your mail for you up to 30 days and then have them deliver it all on a date of your choice? My husbandry is so smart for getting that taken care of.) Good-bye July, you flew by quickly; hello August, we can't wait to meet you! Also, I should note here that my oldest nephew turns eight today; I can't believe I have an eight-year-old nephew, can you?



This is Zach, one of my very good graphic design friends from when I lived in Provo (one of the five good things that came from living in that town). He is quite the fashionable specimen and was willing to lend a helping hand in giving me a bit of a wardrobe update for our upcoming Australia trip. He met me after work at the City Creek shopping center and we got right down to business. We scoured the racks for comfy clothes that were still chic enough to be in a billion photographs and meet loads of people in a country I've never been to. We went to both H&M and Forever 21 and I ended up with 3 maxi skirts in navy, olive, and black; 1 set of black leggings (yes I jumped on that bandwagon); 3 tops: one pocket tee and two striped; 1 black jacket with gold zippers; and to top it all off, the perfect bag to end all bags for my DSLR (shhh don't tell the handbag company where I work). Tyler met up with us after he finished up some homework and we shopped a bit for him as well, walking out with two hoodies that fit him like a glove (thank you H&M). Once all was said and done we treated Zachary to a meal at the Blue Lemon and it was delightful. Thanks Zach, you're so kind to take me under your fashion-forward wings.



How amazingly amazing are my co-workers? Last week they took me to lunch and decorated my desk to oblivion, and today they gifted me with this necklace that I have been coveting. It was all wrapped up in a brown paper box and completed with string tied in a bow (they know me so well, in more ways than one). Let me list the ways that this necklace is perfect for me: a. it's gold, 2. it's a triangle, and d. it has one of my very favorite catch phrases from one of my very favorite television shows. Parks and Recreation always has a special place in my heart because it is the show that brought Tyler and I together, and now I get to wear it around my neck. Now, go 'treat yo' self'!



It's no secret that we love to home make birthday cards around here, and while I usually take the lead on them, I am proud to say that Tyler does a tremendous job to boot. Today we made our way to Duncanville for a combined birthday celebration for our new brother-in-law and I (yes our birthdays were two weeks ago, but hey, why not celebrate all month long?), complete with cards and dinner. Speaking of cards, my mom mentioned to us that she was going to be sending out an envelope to Cody, my nephew, for his birthday. Tyler created this card for him showcasing Cody doing his two most recent loves: bike-riding and swimming. I always love Tyler's stick figures—my oh so very favorite.



Tyler had to go into work extra extra (read-all-about-it) early this morning, but I slept in. Once I was awake I decided to read these two coffee table books: I Feel Relatively Neutral About New York and K is for Knifeball. Both of these lovely books are brought to you by my thoughtful little sister, Aubrey. She got them for me way back on Pioneer Day in honor of my belated birthday. Speaking of Utah holidays centered around fireworks, our neighbors came over and invited us out to enjoy the mound of explosives they got at the firework stand they worked at this summer. They really were amazing; tons of aerials that were loud and colorful to boot. Now the firework shows are really over, as it is the last week in July, but at least we got three instead of only two. Hooray!



A somewhat random and funny thing happened to me this morning. I was driving to work and decelerating down the off ramp near the office. When turning right, the end of the ramp merges with the flow of traffic without a stop light or sign. Before reaching the end of the ramp, there was a small SUV completely stopped in the middle of the road. There weren't any obstacles in front of the car, that I could tell, and soon the rear lights of the car kept shifting from brake lights to reverse lights to normal lights. I sat there quite confused and then noticed the driver's door opening and a petite lady motioned me to come forward. I drove forward and rolled down my window—it was clear she didn't know how to roll down hers, hence the opening of the door to talk to me while she was still buckled in. In a very thick European accent she exclaimed that she only knew how to drive a manual and had no idea how to get her rental (from Washington), an automatic, out of neutral. I told her she needed to put it into drive… the big D. The graciously thanked me and we both went on our way. I'm still trying to figure out how she managed to get to the middle of the off ramp without this crucial piece of information.



(I hope I successfully got this song stuck in your head with the title of this post.) Tyler didn't have work today and I forgot lunch… what does that equal? Tyler coming to whisk me away from work to buy Chick-Fil-A sandwiches with a coupon that's been in my desk since I started working there. We took a late lunch, and I was extra excited because I have been dying for Tyler to see where I work. It has also hit me a little bit more that we are going to be leaving for Australia in ten days. I shall miss our house and our families, but I still can't believe this is happening to me, to us! We both managed to wear yellow, and we both ate so much that we needed to wait until the late afternoon to finish our sandwiches on our couch together.



Today was lovely and lazy. We spent the early evening over at Lynchland since we had spent the 4th over at Duncanville. We had a delicious steak dinner that was devoured with haste because both Tyler and Nicole had to go to work at 6 pm. While they were gone I played Nintendo with the brothers and was completely demolished at Double Dash (I guess my brother-in-laws have been going easy on me…). After doing so poorly that I was almost lapped a second time by Matt, I decided to bow out and let the masters hash it out. Soon it was dark, and even though Tyler wasn't quite home we decided to light up the explosives. The Lynch family has a tradition every year to take a whole case of those little snappers or poppers (the ones that come in sawdust and look like little white paper tadpoles) and create a speed bump out of them that spans the entire width of their street. It was quite hilarious to watch the cars drive over them and we even got some longboarders. Jason was our pyrotechnic tonight and I must admit he did a mighty fine job and managed not to hurt himself. Bravo Utah; thanks for making July that much more awesome by having another excuse to light 'em up.



You know what makes an amazingly terrible day into one that I never wanted to end? This. This kid. After a very long day for the both of us and some lame happenings at work, this is all I wanted to do. Not fold laundry (see that massive pile in behind him?), not do dishes, not do anything else, but just sit on the couch with this kid and do nothing… nothing at all. Just turning our brains off and smiling at each other while anything and everything plays in the background. I realize this is quite mushy, but it needs to be said. Days like this are often, but this day was even better because we didn't have to get up early in the morning—note the clock behind him.



I don't know if you know this about me, but I completely adore birthdays… especially my own (but who doesn't?). It's not that I didn't doubt my co-workers—they usually go all out for any members of the marketing team when it is their birthday—I just thought they had plum forgotten. This was to be expected, because we had been at conference, and people were out of town after that week, including me. Imagine my giddiness when I came to work to find hundreds and thousands of these glitter rods sprinkled about my area and my desk covered in these pillow mints exclaiming bits of birthday delight. It's also a marketing team tradition to go to lunch wherever the birthday-er sees fit. I, of course, chose the Indian joint up the street that has the most amazing lunch buffet. I tried not to be a birthday-zilla about it, but if they really truly had forgotten, I may or may not have had a mini tantrum. A tantrum that only Tyler would have heard.  



We woke up in a bit of a rush this morning, due to the fact that we thought we had two more hours before needing to check out than we actually did. We scrambled to clean up camp and then we were off. The drive seemed shorter on the way back and we unpacked the cars fairly quickly. In the evening we had plans to Skype with all of my sisters and my parents so that we could all be present for Aubrey and Jordan opening the book (Finally, right? The book actually came on my birthday, but this was the day we could all be around for the event). Well, when I say that "we could all be present", I mean nothing went right, preventing us from all being present. We met at my parents' house and they were nowhere to be seen. We tried hopping online to create a chat, but their internet proved to prevent that from happening. Finally, after what seemed like too long to bare, we got on Jordan's iPad and the month-overdue gift was given. Aubrey and Jordan had to immediately rush off and my sisters needed to get back to their evenings too, but I think it was received well. Shortly afterward, my parents arrived and we gave them the copy we had printed for them. I can't wait for everyone to finish thumbing through it and finding all of the little details of care and wittiness we tucked nicely in a 7x7 365-page thick novel.



It didn't rain a bit today, but it wouldn't have mattered because we sat at the picnic tables playing Five Crowns and Monopoly Deal until the sun went down. Tyler and I took a brief break to go and get some gas for the drive home in the morning. We ran into some trouble trying to find a gas station, but it was a minor blip on the radar of greatness that this weekend gave us. We cooked up a storm with dinner again tonight: hamburgers and hotdogs. Not just any though, with Papa Lynch and Peter Q manning the grill. We even got fancy; Tyler and I had teriyaki pineapple burgers, complete with the ring melted under the cheese—can you say mouth-watering? Of course, when the sun set it was time for fire treats once again. Goodness gracious I couldn't get enough. 



We woke up to breakfast and fresh air, although that didn't last long. Soon the muffins were gone, and after a short walk down to the lake, it began to rain. We quickly made our camp waterproof and spent the afternoon under tarps preparing the amazing soup we had for dinner. Our family was in charge of the meal and might I say that we nailed it on the stew and cheesy potato soup served in bread bowls. After the rain let up and dinner was cleaned up it was my favorite camping activity of all: fire treats. Roasting marshmallows that will soon be squished between chocolate and graham crackers. Foil-wrapped bananas stuffed with chocolate chips and marshmallows and heated to a gooey perfection. And let's not forget the newcomer to the group: biscuits on a dowel. You take a dowel (obviously), wrap some biscuit dough around it, and smoke it 'til it's brown. You then take some honey butter and fill the hole left by the dowel and devour that lovely pastry. And yes, I know fully well how much of a sweet tooth I have. Why do you think I limit my camping to once a year?



Aren't clouds the best? They are by far one of my very favorite things in the whole world. It has always fascinated me that they are constantly moving and they'll never be the same again—they're like snowflakes, but on a much bigger scale for those of us who don't carry around a microscope in the freezing cold. Clouds are always the best on a road trip and while you're camping (let me just note here that clouds are also quite stunning from an airplane, but that usually costs way more money than a quick drive to the mountains). Guess what—that is exactly where I will be viewing them for the next three days. The Lynch extended family reunion/campout officially started today. I left work early to help Lynchland pack up both our car and theirs for the lovely drive up to Fish Lake. I can't wait for a fun weekend with all the little cousins, not to mention some much needed Brooke and Tyler time.



Remember how my co-worker Sydney didn't board that plane with us in Denver? Well, she ended up missing her train Monday morning, so she didn't leave Denver until yesterday. She came over today after work to pick up her suitcase that we brought home for her from the airport. She commented positively on my new birthday coat rack, one of my "paper gifts" from the Lynch family that arrived while I was in Milwaukee. I couldn't agree more with her; it's so sleek and curvy, and more importantly, out of the way. Our apartment is so skinny, but it fits it so well. Come winter it will be used to bits. And yes, those picture frames in our entry way still have the black and white stock photos in them. Oh bother.



This. This is healthy fudge. Well, as healthy as fudge can get. I made it last night for a work barbecue potluck we were having today. It was not as big of a hit as I thought it would be because I completely forgot that the barbecue would be down the road at the nearby park. That meant this fudge would be in the scorchin' sun for an hour and a half, melting away into little puddles of goodness. They didn't look very appetizing so no one really took the bait. Oh well, that just means there is more for my co-workers and Tyler when they want to make the trip to the fridge.

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge (serves 1-8)

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder, good quality
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Refrigerate.
Bonus: Tyler and I added Rice Chex into it the first time we made it and it was delicious!

Fun Fact: this recipe is in the book we made for Aubrey and Jordan (thanks Sara)!



Happy Birthday to me. I slept oh so very in while Tyler went to work and got slightly puked on. I took a compensation day today so I didn't have to go to work (thankfully). One of my favorite traditions way back from when Tyler and I were very first dating is he buys me flowers and attaches a card that says " I know you hate flowers, but I hope you don't hate these." And of course, I don't, because they are from him. In the evening I opened presents and boy howdy did Tyler treat me well this year. Wrapped in brown paper bags—my very favorite—were mini Oreos in chocolate and vanilla flavors, three Shel Silverstein books (Tyler even found his one and only book that is in color; I didn't even know it existed), and Pitch Perfect and Wreck It Ralph DVDs. Then he gave me a little brown envelope that had triangle-shaped puzzle pieces inside, which formed the shape of a heart. The message on the back sent me on a short treasure hunt for my very last present: hightop wedge sneakers from Target. We then ordered Winger's take out—enough to feed the five thousand—and it was delicious to boot. Tonight, I started my Line-A-Day book so that it will conclude on my 30th birthday. That will be a great book to read when I am old. I love -a-day things so much. You know what else I love so much? Tyler. He does such a good job at making my birthday as special as a birthday should be. I'm so lucky.

P.S. This morning Tyler was emailed the confirmation of our Australian itinerary. I still cannot believe that we are going there in two weeks. Eek!



Today was the longest day ever, but I loved every minute of it. A couple of co-workers and I decided to take a day trip to Chicago since our plane wasn't leaving until 6 pm. We rented a car and hopped on the road for a three-hour stay in Chicago. We arrived and got straight to it: the Taste of Chicago was on its last day and we were there to be fed. You buy a sheet of tickets and walk up and down three closed streets lined with pop-up restaurants offering tastes of their food in exchange for tickets. We made our way through and tasted a whole slew of food: an official Chicago dog, a lamb burger, a bite of Adrienne's streusel, a nibble of Damian's garlic potatoes, a churro filled with vanilla cream, a lick of Damian's frozen fruit bar, and the rest of Caroline's chocolate-dipped banana. We then broke away from the packed streets for some sight-seeing: Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate (aka The Bean—shown above—where we took billions of photos), Crown Fountain where we cooled off for a bit, and the infamous lions outside of The Art Institute of Chicago. We then went back to The Taste of Chicago to finish using our tickets: watermelon Italian ice, a bite of Caroline's peach cobbler, a chunk of Adrienne's fudge, and then the cream of the crop: a rainbow ice cream waffle cone from the Original Rainbow Cone (orange sherbet ice cream stacked on pistachio ice cream stacked on New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts stacked on strawberry ice cream stacked on chocolate ice cream). It was so hot that I had to snarf it down right away before it liquefied, but it was so worth it. After we used all of our tickets, we made our way back to the car for the trek back to Milwaukee to fly home. The flight from Milwaukee to Denver was very rocky and shook some people, especially Sydney. She made the decision to get a hotel in Denver and ride the train home tomorrow. I couldn't blame her, especially since we landed in Denver right as we were supposed to be boarding our connecting flight. Maybe it was because of that, or maybe it was a combination of other things they weren't telling us, but our flight was delayed for another hour and a half, meaning we would land in SLC at 1 am. Awesome. Luckily Tyler was a super sport and picked me up in his Sunday best (I love me a man in a suit). After we got my luggage and Sydney's we made the short drive to the Dunkin' Donuts downtown for my very first birthday dessert as a 25-year-old. Good thing I'm not going to work tomorrow, eh?



We had two main stage presentations today, one in the morning and one in the evening. Because of this, I had a bit of a break between rehearsals to go exploring around the small block that the convention center takes up. This is a huge mosaic in the atrium entrance to the convention center that I have walked on almost every day this week. It is oh so random, much like this crazy city called Milwaukee. After the awards show we went out for dinner at a Thai place down the road. We finished with dessert at the Miller Pub on the corner. We don't fly out until tomorrow evening, but at least the work part of the week is over. I can't wait to get back to Utah.



Today… did not go as swimmingly as yesterday. In fact, I hit my breaking point between the rehearsal this morning and the actual presentation in the afternoon. I needed a break to cool off and went back to the hotel for a rest before Saturday rehearsals in the late afternoon. All in all though, I am so happy to be backstage, where if I lose my cool, no one is really here to see it. There have been some very frustrating times and more than ever today I just want to go home. Hopefully it will be here before I know it.



The first main stage presentation went swimmingly today and I love being a part of the whole production. Tonight was our fashion show where the representatives get a sneak peek of all that is to come. We also announced our jewelry line after the fashion show. Reception was okay; I think they need to see it and touch it to get on board. Everyone made their way back to the convention center to pick up their jewelry goodie bags and attend the most roarin' Gatsby-inspired after party you ever did see. They had a big band, a glowing bar, jewelry displays for people to oo and ahh at, and let's not forget the biggest display of desserts I've ever seen.



I woke up early with a full day ahead of rehearsals, edits, and revisions galore. For lunch, Sydney and I went exploring and found a quaint hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop where I had the most amazing spinach wrap and the biggest plum you'd ever see. Representatives have started arriving for the conference and tomorrow the games will begin. This is the longest I have ever been away from Tyler and I can't believe it is barely half over. Luckily I have giant fruit to keep me company.



This morning I was a bit late for the rehearsals due to the fact that the city of Milwaukee decided to change the name of the convention center so I couldn't find it. I spent the whole day in the green room going over scripts with three of the executives of my company, making edits and revisions of each presentation. In the evening, the rest of my co-workers finally arrived and we had a bit of free time to go exploring. Adrienne, Caroline, Sydney, and I ended up having dinner at a restaurant called The Capital Grille where I ate every morsel of this monstrous dessert. Late into the evening I worked more on the presentations in preparation for the real rehearsals in the morning.



I hopped on a plane very early this morning, Milwaukee-bound for a business trip. Every summer my work has a conference for all of our representatives worldwide to attend for learning, perks, and shopping. I flew out earlier than a lot of my co-workers because, just like last year, I am backstage, working the presentations on the main stage. I had a brief layover in Colorado after spending the SLC to Denver flight sitting next to someone I have a lot of ties to (he married my oldest sister's best friend who grew up in my parents' neighborhood, and now he, with his wife and their family, live down the street from Tyler's parents; small world). We had a lot to talk about because we have such a strange and roundabout way of knowing each other. The flight to Milwaukee was a bit lonely—I did fly out with some co-workers, but they were all older men that didn't really know who I was, and to top it off they kept forgetting I was even traveling with them. We finally got to the hotel in the late afternoon where I settled in and took a quick nap. I worked the rest of the night on the presentations for the dress rehearsal in the morning, only breaking for a short stroll down the street to a pizza joint for some grub. When it came time to sleep, I couldn't. My roommate wouldn't be here until tomorrow night and I have a terrible time sleeping in a room by myself anymore, whether the lights are on or off. Not a good beginning to my week in Milwaukee.



Today was the last day that I will see Kevin before he leaves on his mission, for tomorrow morning I will be on an airplane for Milwaukee. We crammed everything in to accommodate the scenario/dilemma mentioned above. We celebrated my birthday early with Lynchland after church because Kevin won't be here for my real birthday. We ate my very favorite birthday meal (Cafe Rio sweet pork barbacoa salad), opened presents (some were just like Tyler's in that they were just little pictures because they haven't come in the mail yet) and had cake and ice cream. The gifts I got tangibly were a Joseph Joseph Rolling Pin, and a sort of baby Ninja, the perfect compliment to our Ninja blender. The paper presents were a car adapter/converter to listen to my iPod in the car, a coat rack, and Creationary. The night soon came to an end and I said one last goodbye to Kevin until I see him again in two years. Once home we wrote our first letters to Kevin so he has something to open when he enters the MTC this week. I always write a postcard to the missionary brothers on the back of a random photo from years passed.



Today was filled with things long overdue, one of them being this all-in-one picture frame, mirror, and hook thingy. (Oh and remember the funny story behind this little guy?) We finally got it hung up and boy oh boy am I glad to see it up off the floor and serving a purpose (thanks Tyler). In the evening we gathered with everyone from Lynchland once again to finally cash in Mama Lynch's birthday dinner and a movie from March 2012 (yikes!). It's an unwritten tradition to have the movie be the Pixar flick of the year, so we first ate at Sweet Tomatoes and then all filed in to see the much anticipated Monsters University. We loved the movie and it was a tremendous Saturday.



Tyler was lovely enough to make me lunch and run it over to my work before he had to go into work himself; he makes the best egg salad avocado sandwiches. Work was a bit hectic, but we were both so ready for the weekend (even though we both had work off yesterday). We live for the days we get to spend together. Tonight we met for dinner at Panda Express with all those of Lynchland and finished the night off at Desert Star for The Lone Stranger show. It was quite hilarious, but my favorite part was when Tyler kifed the popcorn basket from the empty table next to us. They give you a complimentary basket at the beginning of the show, but by intermission there was still no one sitting at the neighboring table. He stood up, stretched, then swiftly swooped it up over the railing and onto the table for Nicole, Peter, and I. What a lovely boy I have.



On the fourth of July we slept WAY in and got ready for the patriotic day ahead. My parents picked us up and we made our way up to Clearfield to visit with my Bush grandparents. The Cramers met us there because they were coming from visiting Steve's grandparents in Orem. We had quite the feast of food and desserts. We then visited for a bit in my grandparents' backyard. Tiffany gave me these earrings because she had an extra pair from her mother-in-law. I don't usually wear silver or dangly earrings, but I do love them. The kids played tag with Tyler, weaving around the fruit trees with this brick red wall as a backdrop (these bricks always strike up plenty of memories of my grandparents' house and the many get-togethers we spent in their backyard). After our visit we drove back to Duncanville to lounge in the front yard, enjoying everyone else's aerial shows. My parents walked with the older kids to a neighbor's house for their show, but Tyler and I just stuck with Tiffany and Steve, visiting deep into the night. I can't believe they are leaving tomorrow; we've enjoyed soaking up their awesomeness for two weeks.



I left work a bit early today to dash to Duncanville for some more time with the Cramer clan. They arrived into town from their mini Las Vegas trip just in time for our brand new brother-in-law to show us his cooking skills. This kid cooked up quite a Mexican storm: homemade juice from cantaloupe, a delicious bean soup that was the talk of the town, and some smoked meat topped off with fresh pico. After the delicious Mexican feast Tiffany opened gifts from all of us (very belated, but at least she got them in person). By the time all the presents were unwrapped it was dark enough for the firework show to begin. These kids loved the fireworks and somehow all ended up in one chair sharing Tyler's lap. Boy we've missed these guys.



On Sunday during the festivities for Kevin, I began to get severe torso pain. It was like my body was trying to saw itself from the inside out. Nicole let me lay in her room and rest it off a bit. I missed out on the tail end of the party, but managed to feel better enough to help with the clean up. After all the events of the day I put the puzzle together that my kidney infection was probably back. I immediately started taking my antibiotic and hoped that it would clear up before I needed to go to the hospital. Yesterday it was mild enough for me to go about my day, but today it hit me like a sack of bricks. I spent the entire day in bed, in the darkness, constantly waiting for the pain to subside. After a full day of medication, consistent water, and plenty of rest, I hope I'm on the road to recovery.



My brother-in-law, Steve, and I have a lot in common. I look up to him quite a bit because he was my first brother(-in-law) and in a little-sister-kind-of-way I always want to do what he is doing. It also helps that ever since I was 15 he thought I was so cool when no one else did; I beam with delight that he still thinks I am cool. When he and my sister and their cute family were here last week, he asked me why I don't use my DSLR anymore. Let me back up and say that he has amazing photography skills, and of course they are all self taught (he's such a renaissance man). It was no surprise that I got a tad embarrassed when he asked me—since getting my iPhone a year and half ago I have completely transitioned over to iPhonography. Tonight after work I pulled out my dusty DSLR, the very camera that inspired me to start my now three-year photo-a-day excursion. I've missed it, but in a way I've kind of forgotten the ways of the manual camera. I took some photos of various objects in our apartment to sort of retrain my brain and I am quite rusty.