Summer Sippers – Dirty Soda (aka Mixed Sodas)

Rumor on the interwebs is that there is a little spot in St. George Utah called “Swig” that makes mixed sodas

My parents are both from Southern Utah so I understand the love of soda that permeates that part of the country. And the idea of mixed sodas? Saaaaayyyyy whaaaa??? Recently, I made Erika stop while driving to California, and check the joint out. She basically told me we need to open one.

Swig became a blip on my radar when I heard they serve a drink called a Dirty Dr. Pepper.

(Screeeeeech . . . ) Wha? A Dirty Dr. Pepper you say?!

The “dirty” is coconut. You better believe I immediately jumped in the car and headed to Sonic to get myself one.

It was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more.

Now, mixed sodas aren’t a new concept. Flavor syrups and soda go together like cookies and milk.  They are, however, a concept that deserves some attention. I’ve been adding cherry and vanilla to sodas for years. Erika is a huge fan of Vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic. When I was prego with my youngest, I drank Vanilla Fanta Orange every day.  Until I got gestational diabetes! Stinking ‘betes.

However, adding coconut?  Oh, this is a treat.

But wait. There’s more. Torani makes SUGAR-FREE coconut. Diet Dr. Pepper with sugar-free coconut? This is the salvation of dieters everywhere, peeps.

I may or may not have gotten “Hey Megan” addicted to the stuff as well. So addicted that she contemplates stopping by my house just to get a shot of sugar-free coconut for her Diet Coke. When you develop an unhealthy habit, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The key to mixing soda and syrup is finding your preferred ratio.  I personally like 1 ounce of syrup to every 8 ounces of soda.  Sometimes a little more.  In case you are wondering, an ounce is either 1/8 cup or 3 squirts using the Torani pump.  Yeah, I make the little beauties a lot.

In the interest of convincing you to buy only three syrups, I’ve put together the following guide to help you get your dirty soda on. Each flavor comes in regular and sugar-free. Each soda also has a diet version. Do what feels right. But do it. Quick.

Also, be sure to check out the final combo. This combo popped up all over Google and while I haven’t tried it yet, I’m about to go hit Sonic. That’s right, I love you all so much I’m willing to go get a ridiculous soda. Happy sipping!

Here are some of our favorite mixed soda recipes.
Mixed Sodas

Dirty Little Secrets — Movie Loves







First of all, yes. Yes we did just begin a post with a definition. Probably every English teacher in America is cringing and all the greats of writing are turning over in their graves right now. But, second of all, don’t judge us for it: we did it because it’s important to our cause this week. Or rather, it’s our theme. This week, we are discussing all things “dirty”. Now, before you go and get your panties in a bunch, let us assure you… this is still a “family-friendly” blog. And all our topics will be such. And trust us, they are great topics — you won’t want to miss a single post!

Today, we are talking about our dirty-little-secret movie loves. We each have picked two movies to keep it “short”, but rest assured that our lists are impossibly long — there are just so many amazing movies available for viewing. We love us some good cinematic adventures.


Tracey’s Dirty-Secret Movies

1) 17 Again — So I should probably start off by saying that the cast alone is enough to make me love this movie. Zac Efron, Matthew Perry AND Scarlett Mann? Yup, I’m going to love it. Second,  it is a do-over movie in that Matthew Perry’s character gets to be 17 again and reassess his life. Who doesn’t love a do-over/live-in-the-future movie?! This category includes some of my other guilty pleasure movies including Big, Freaky Friday, 13 Going on 30, The Kid, Back to the Future and Never Been Kissed. Plus, the soundtrack includes “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. Talk about the perfect movie song.

2) Sweet Home Alabama — If this movie is on, you better believe I’m going to stop and watch it. Reese Witherspoon is at her absolute cutest in this movie. Every time I watch it I think I need to cut my hair short. It is cheesy and predictable, but it delivers everything anyone desires in a chick-flick: comedy, romance, and a happy ending. Not to mention, this movie has the greatest quote of all time. “Look at you, you have a baby… in a bar.”

Tracey’s Honorable Mentions:
Runaway Bride
The Fast and the Furios
One Fine Day
Grease 2
Sky High
Miss Congeniality
Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion
Bad Boys
Independence Day
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Mean Girls
Freaky Friday
Never Been Kissed
50 First Dates

Sarah’s Dirty-Secret Movies

1) Stepsister from Planet Weird — I gotta be honest: I looked up the Wikipedia page for Disney Channel Original Movies, and I more than kinda want to do an entire post dedicated to them. Sure, everybody knows/loves/hates High School Musical. But remember Zenon?! And how everyone in the future was supposed to be driving Volkswagen Beetles? I could hardly pick which one was my pleasantest of guilty pleasures; Suzy Q had the Pink Ranger after all, and Wish Upon a Star is everything late-90s fashion should be. And while I love Smart House – but who doesn’t? That nonsense is dope – I had to come back to my perennial favorite: Stepsister from Planet Weird. There’s next to no plot – something about saving a bubble planet and a wedding – but there is plenty of corny melodrama, cute boys with odd accents, and the argument that Earth is a great place because it has “fully 18 flavors of potato chips”. Classic. Classic.

PS –  If you feel the same way I do, or rather, if you are my sister, have I got a gem for you. There’s a Henry Feagins fan club you can join! He’s in the movie (one of his four IMDB credits, FYI). The fan site is hosted by none other than angelfire, and it has had exactly 757 visitors.  F’reals. It’s like traveling back in time to visit my 11 year old self. Check it:

2) Kal Ho Naa Ho — Bollywood. That’s all that needs to be said here. But don’t worry, I’m about to say more, because this one has a little back story. While in college, I happened to be reading a forum discussion about great songs to dance to. The song “Maahi Ve” was suggested, and I looked it up right quick (and you can too, just follow the link!) It wasn’t long before my roommates and I were bopping around our apartment to it at just about every “study” break.  We knew very little about the movie that the song was from, and just as little about Bollywood movies in general, but eventually curiosity got the better of us and we bought a copy, because those were the dark days before Netflix came into my life. And guess what we found out? This movie is THREE HOURS long. Apparently, this is typical for Bollywood flicks. Intimidated, we set it aside until a very, very late night of (Mormon) revelry. We figured we could start it and pause it when we got too tired. Guess who stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, crying and laughing and yelling at the television and shaking our white girl shoulders to the music? It’s like that moment when you realize you’ve just eaten an extra large order of fries by yourself; Kal Ho Naa Ho just packs in so much entertainment you barely notice the time passing.

Sarah’s Honorable Mentions:
Take a Chance
Drive Me Crazy
The Cave
Pretty much everything Tyler Perry has presented
Dumb and Dumber

Erika’s Dirty-Secret Movies

1) Stick It — I want to start with a bit of a disclaimer that when it comes to movies, I am an open book. I can’t think of any movies that I’m ashamed to claim to love. So this particular blog post for me isn’t so much about my “secret” movie loves, but more about movies that I luuuhve that I think are severely underrated. And Stick It is just that. If you haven’t seen it, you are really missing out. I am a firm believer that the sign of a really great movie is how many one-liners you can get out of it (Dumb and Dumber.  I mean.) And Stick It is full of those one-liners. It’s juvenile delinquency and gymnastics and all things sass all rolled into one. PLUS, Jeff Bridges! Need I say more? I think that just about covers it.

2) Calamity Jane — To be honest I haven’t watched this movie since I was just a girl, because I only have it on VHS but no VCR (insert #FirstWorldProblems or #21stCenturyProblems here), but it’s just such a great movie. It’s a classic western, with singing. And dancing. And Doris Day. And I’ve heard (via Google) that it’s loosely based off a real woman, whose claim to fame is for “fightin’ injuns”.  Wow.

Erika’s Honorable Mentions:
Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken
Hot Rod
A Little Princess
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Holiday
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Any musical. And I mean, any. Rogers and Hammerstein, really.

Dad, You’re the Best.

In honor of Father’s Day, I asked one of my favorite fathers, Ben (of Ben’s Book Club Notoriety) to share with our reader’s some thoughts on the subject of dads.

Scene: A typical Austin apartment. A good looking and put together wife and two precocious kids sit on the couch while a shlubby dad sits on a chair.

Son: Baby, you’re the best…

(Audience goes awww…)

Son: Mom, you’re the best…

(Audience goes awww…)

Son: Dad… (pause)… you’re just ok. (With a teasing smile.)

(Audience laughs heartily)

Scene out

Now this may seem like a scene right out of CBS’s new hit sitcom How I Met Two and a Half Broke Girls or something like that, but sadly this is a scene which occurs in households all over this great nation, specifically our house.  On a daily basis. Now do not get me wrong, I think moms are the best (Hi Mom!), but maybe just for this one day we can give Dads a little Father’s Day love.

This week I heard on the radio some list of TV’s greatest dads. While I do not agree with this entire list, (Captain Stubing? . . . Really?)  I thought most of the characters chosen were great dads. These dads are fountains of real world knowledge, while still able to make those typical dad mistakes.  Roll the clip.

Ok, so cutting the center of the cake is not exactly a “typical dad mistake” but I contend at least he was bonding with the “little girl they added to hopefully boost ratings”. Isn’t that type of interaction what really makes a great dad?

I have one of the greatest dads in the business. Just like those TV dads he is ready to impart good advice, share his vast knowledge, and spend the quality time that his kids need. I can’t even count the number of sprinkler systems he has put in, or yards of sod he has set. How great he is playing with the grandkids could have its own post. I could go on and on, but I just wanted to share one of my favorite Dad memories from my childhood.

I grew up in the frozen wasteland called Idaho Falls. For approximately 12 hours a year it would get warm enough to go swimming without risking frostbite. Now, near Idaho Falls, there is a  place called Heise hot springs. The major draw for Heise (at least for a kid) was that they had a “big” waterslide. I put the big in quotes because I am sure if I went back I would find it was about 3 feet tall. Anyway, one of my favorite memories was when just Dad and me went and rode the waterslide. I will always remember it. First, because I think it is the only time I have seen my dad wear shorts in public. Second, because it was a chance to spend alone time with my dad doing something I loved. It was that personal time that made it special.

So on this Father’s day, let’s show some love to those guys that often get overlooked. If you can, spend some personal time with your dad and tell him “Dad, you’re the best.”

My dad and my kid.  The kid who thinks I'm "just ok".
My dad and my kid. The kid who thinks I’m “just ok”.


Dude Food – Cap’n Crunch Buttermilk Pancakes & Buttermilk Syrup

The best part of holidays is undoubtedly the food. Since holiday calories don’t count, we figured we would help you pack in as many as possible tomorrow with some ridiculous pancakes.  Pancakes filled with Cap’n Crunch.

I have your attention now don’t I?

I love buttermilk pancakes.  My grandma has been making this recipe for as long as I can remember.  Over the years, I’ve experimented with adding fun ingredients. Cap’n Crunch is my very favorite pancake addition. They are always a giant hit.  Last New Years Day, my sister-in-law Susie brought her buttermilk syrup to our family pancake breakfast.  This syrup takes these pancakes to a whole new level.

So if you are looking for something to feed your dad/husband tomorrow for Father’s Day, give these babies a shot. If you aren’t feeling Cap’n Crunch, just leave it out and enjoy the greatest buttermilk pancakes known to man.

Father’s Day printables

fathersday2My dad is pretty great. I know, I know. You all probably have pretty great dads. But, I mean, really. My dad takes the cake as far as great dads go. For example. In my growing up years, almost every single night my dad would tickle my back (to this day, one of my favorite things) and sing lullabies or his favorite songs to help me fall sleep. To some of you (my husband included), this might sound kinda cheesy. And though cheesy it may be, those moments were the highlight of my day a lot of times. “Puff the Magic Dragon“, “Feelin’ Groovy“, “Lemon Tree“, and “Pooh Corner” were juuuuust a very few of my favorites. The “Chocolate Ice Cream Cone” song alwaaaaays made me tear up (that pooooor kid)! If it was ever raining (which wasn’t very often since I grew up in Arizona), dad would sing “It’s Rainin’ Again“. If he was going out of town, “I’m Leavin’ on a Jet Plane“. Seriously. Some of my very best memories.

My dad traveled every so often for work, and it was always bittersweet when he’d sing the “Jet Plane” song the night before a trip—sad because he’d be leaving for who-knew-how-long, but awesome because when he came back he’d have treats/presents! Some of my coolest gifts came from dad’s business trips. One time he brought back a yard stick of bubble gum. Yes. An entire yard of bubble gum. When you’re 8, that’s a looooot of bubble gum. One time he brought back the biggest bubble maker I’d ever seen! (It was similar to this and we loved it!) Another time, he brought back these cool little eagles that balanced just about anywhere by their noses. Again… when you’re 8 and living in the 90s, that’s a pretty sweet thing to get. When I was older, he brought me a beautiful, handmade, jewelry box from a trip to an African country. I still have it!

Now that I’m older, I’m beginning to understand just how special my dad is. I mean, I knew that when I was young too, but now I realize it for different reasons. I understand a little better the sacrifices he made for us. I am beginning to realize the amount of love and dedication he put into helping my mom raise and support our family. And I will be eternally grateful for the example that my dad was and still is to me of all things in this world that are good and worthwhile.

And so, to celebrate my pretty great really incredible dad this Sunday, I got him a pretty great gift, if I do say so myself. In the interest of not spoiling the surprise, I’m not going to disclosure what I got him on these here interwebs. But I’m excited for him to receive said gift come Sunday. And for those of you who haven’t had time or money yet to get your really incredible dads a gift, we’ve got your back! Here are some free printables just for you. They can be customized if you’d like them to be. For example, if you’d like a different color combination, just let us know! Or, if for some weird reason you’d rather use a picture of you and your own dad, instead of the picture of my dad and me or the picture of Tracey’s son and his dad, just send me an email with your picture and I’ll switch it out for you—you can find our emails on our About Us page.

And Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there—I’m sure you deserve it, and then some!

dadcard dadcardBEN fathersday1 anchor

I Love You, Men

Just dudes being dudes, right?
Just dudes being dudes, right?

You know what I’m tired of? Being allowed to rag on men. As in, men as a whole gender. Like that awful, “Men. Easier fed than understood.” ad campaign from Ball Park. So, women shouldn’t waste their time trying to “understand” men, they should just set a hot dog in front of them and leave them to their strange, foreign man things?   Or pick your average sitcom for the last 15 or 20 years – the bumbling idiot of a guy is darn lucky to have his hot, smart wife to tell him what’s what when he messes up.

How did we get so comfortable watching men getting treated so poorly? It’s an old trick, but would you be okay swapping out men for women in those situations?  Of course not, and I’m glad for that. That used to be the case, and it took a lot of work for us to get where we are now. But somewhere along the way, we forgot that men don’t need the generalizations and condescension any more than women do.

Listen, I roll my eyes plenty at my husband.  But that’s not because he’s a dude, it’s because he’s a person, and in a relationship with another human being there are moments of frustration. He rolls his eyes just as much at me, you can be sure.

And we complement each other’s strengths, too. It’s not a case of, “Oh man, I don’t know how he ever got her.” One of us isn’t eternally indebted to the other for deigning to be married.  The fact is, we’re each lucky to have the other. And I think 90% is because we choose to see it that way.  I see my parents that way, too – each of them lucky to have the other.  They are both smart, both strong, both flawed, and both wonderful.

I don’t feel men and women are indistinguishable, just to clarify. Men and women have different things being asked of them, both culturally and – more importantly – in an eternal sense.  This is certainly a discussion for another day, but suffice it to say that still, after we acknowledge the unique attributes of men and women, there’s a whole heck of a lot more in common than there is different.

So can we all agree that it’s a good idea to celebrate the individual instead of constantly referring to a stereotype?  In that spirit, here’s a very short list of some of the great things men have done for me.

Dear various men of my life:
Thank you for the best puns a girl could ask for.
Thank you for that bacon turkey and pear panini you came up with. It was scrumptious.
Thank you for screaming during the haunted house, because I didn’t feel as scared after that.
Thank you for doing crosswords with me.
Thank you for never being too tired to shoot hoops with our kids.
Thank you for asking how I’m doing, and really wanting to know.
Thank you for setting standards in your life and living them.
Thank you for your love.

Happy Father’s Day, men!

Summer Sippers – Dad’s Root Beer Cream Cooler

My dad loves root beer. He traveled a lot while I was growing up and he often brought home variations he came across in his travels. Once, when I was in high school, he had a root beer tasting party. Each root beer was judged based on flavor, scent, color, smoothness (Is that a real word?), and packaging. We cleansed our palates with mini candy bars. My family is fancy like that.

His love of root beer doesn’t stop at just drinking it. Oh, no. We have to make it. Ask my mom about all of the glass coke bottles in her garage waiting to be used to develop Paul’s own special recipe. In the meantime, he makes dry ice root beer. Not long after Ben and I were married, my dad drafted Ben to help prepare a church cookout. They made at least 60 gallons of root beer. It was during this time that they perfected their method. A method that I will share someday when I feel like heading out to buy some dry ice.

So in honor of my dad, the Summer Sipper of the week is “Dad’s Root Beer Cream Cooler”. Think a blended root beer float topped with vanilla whipped cream.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

As you might know, Father’s Day is on Sunday. This week we will be featuring posts to help you properly prepare to honor your favorite men.

Last night we received a request from one of our favorite readers (Hi Shannon!) requesting gift ideas. We have lots of fun ideas. In fact, we have so many we are each going to write our own post. Check our the list below for Tracey’s (aka Ben’s) picks.
Tracey Father's Day2


Grilling is an important part of the “Dad Domain”. It is also an important part of summer. How convenient that Father’s Day happens early in the season. Here are a couple ideas for the carnivore in your life. My personal favorite is the thermometer. This has been on Ben’s gift list for the last 7 months. Maybe someone will take pity on him and buy it this month.

(1) Meat Shredder // (2) Bacon Kit // (3) Kebroak Hardwood Charcoal // (4) Infrared Thermometer


Personal fitness trackers are all the rage right now. We talked about the Fitbit for Mother’s Day but we thought that the Nike Fuel Band might be a little more manly. It tracks your steps and calories burned. Combine it with some new Nike kicks and the Polar H7 (which I received for Mother’s Day) and you are set for getting in shape. If he is looking for something more intense, try getting him a membership to your local Crossfit gym.

1. Nike Fuel Band // (2) Crossfit Membership // (3) Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor // (4) Nike Free Trainer 7.0 Shoes


If your dude is like mine, he enjoys a good book. Check out Goodreads and see if you can find anything that matches his interests. Here are a couple of picks for the man library in my house.

(1) Outliers // (2) ESPN: Those Guys Have All The Fun // (3) The Book of Basketball // (4) The Prophets of Smoked Meat


Finally, a couple of ideas for helping Dad relax. There’s a good chance my dad will be receiving the cotton candy machine on Sunday (thank you Amazon Prime shipping) and I know Ben would love the box set of ESPN’s “30 for 30”. Actually, that gift might be more for me. Have you watched any of them?! Check out Broke. 

(1) Hammock and Stand // (2) Waring Cotton Candy Machine // (3) The New World Champion Paper Airplane Book // (4) Box Set of ESPN’s “30 for 30”

Apps We Love Part 2: Dots: A Game About Connecting

photoLast night, a photo like this turned up in my Instagram feed.  The culprit, my long-time bestie Kara. Within about 20 minutes she received a message cursing her existence.

Why?  Because of an awesome and addicting name called Dots. I wish I were joking saying that I spent the next 1.5 hours playing it while trying to follow “House of Cards” on Netflix. Not an easy task.

The good news is, according to an article on Dots might actually make you smarter.

More recent research confirms that cognitive perks picked up from gaming are skill-specific and not general gains in intelligence. According to research published in open access journal PLOS ONE by Adam Chie-Ming Oei and Michael Patterson of Nanyang Technological University-Singapore, playing video games for an hour each day can improve subsequent performance on cognitive tasks that use similar mental processes to those required in a specific game.

So in honor of summer, late bedtimes and nights of lame TV, waste more than a few precious hours of your life playing this game. Or just consider it working on your IQ.  Whatever makes you feel better.

Any hate mail sent to me will immediately be forwarded to Kara.


Word to Your Mother – A Mother’s Words About Teachers.

In honor of the last day of school, I felt like it might be appropriate to talk about teachers. I’m going to take a minute to talk about some important teachers in my life and the things they taught me.

Without teachers, I literally would not be here. My Grandma Dannelly was a High School English teacher. Obviously, the fact that she birthed my father is pretty monumental. Even more importantly, my mom was her yearbook editor in high school. When Grandma decided my dad needed to date a nice girl, she put my mom in his path. The rest is history.

Grandma introduced me to Mercer Mayer as a child. This translated into a love of books and reading. As I got older, she expanded my library  In Middle School I could always count on Grandma to buy me the newest Babysitter’s Club book or introduce me to classics like Where the Red Fern Grows. As I became an adult, she was always good for a bag of used romance novels to take home.  She encouraged a love of music and always requested a performance of whatever piano piece I happened to be learning. She taught us in the kitchen and still sends me copies of cookbooks that she thinks I might enjoy. Grandma undeniably will always be my very favorite teacher. (Followed closely by my sweet elementary teaching mother-in-law.)

In elementary school I was enrolled in the gifted program. My teacher was Mrs. Nancy Gasho. Thanks to her, I wrote my first “paper” in third grade. It was about England. I used an encyclopedia and my mom typed the entire thing for me. She took us on an trip Dana Point, CA where we spent the night as the “crew” of a tall ship. In fifth grade, we were tasked with making our own civilization. When we were done, we went to Mount Charleston outside of Las Vegas for our own archaeological dig. From her I learned about photography and how to develop photos in a real dark room. Who knew at the age of 10 that I would one day have my own photography business. Most of all, she taught us to be creative and resourceful. If anyone in the Las Vegas happens to know Mrs. Gasho, please give her a giant hug from Tracey Dannelly.

IMG_8866-web-copyThe final teacher I want to talk about is Ms. Laura. She has been my little guy’s teacher for the last two years. My mother-in-law calls her a “real Texas woman” and that she is. She is kind, friendly and just all around lovely. Sam has thrived under the love and care of Ms. Laura and her crew Jill, Ann, and Cory. They took a little guy who barely talked and helped mold him into the smart, funny and social guy he is now  They helped us learn that “different is ok” and that sometimes being a “risk taker” is fun. They helped us work through biting, potty training and learning to accept the word no  As I walked Sam out of school today, he was greeted my an entire class of Kindergarteners and a slew of fifth graders. They all had knew him by name and were excited to see him. Wishes for a good summer were passed his way and even a couple little hugs. The experience that we’ve had at this school is irreplaceable. The love and kindness he (and I) have felt over the last two years will remain with us for years to come. I know that these women will truly be the teachers that he remembers as he grows to be an adult. This is a gift that is special and rare.  The contributions they made will help shape him into the man that he will someday be. Hopefully, he will continue to remember that different is ok and that we all need to be a risktaker sometimes.

In words of Ms. Laura, “Peace out. Holla. Word to your mother.”