Friday, May 30, 2008


Yes, domestically challenged me, MADE a CAKE. Completely from scratch - even the frosting.
Needless to say, this was a first-time venture. Possible a last-time venture as well.
It took FOR-EV-ER. Seriously like 2 hours. Plus an incredible mess in my normally pristine kitchen (ha!)
But I really wanted to do it for Brians birthday. Not that he especially cared... honestly, I couldve picked up a cake at Smiths/Costco/Albertsons whatever and he wouldve been one happy bday boy. So this was more for me. A self-imposed challenge.

Like the little car on top? That was for my Enterprise car-man.
The cake turned out beautiful - both looking and tasting. Yes, I am bragging. Get over it.
The secret is to tweak almost everything the recipe says to do, then cross your fingers.
I will post the recipe here, as found here, then in parenthesis what I actually did. FYI, this was actually mild tweaking compared to what I usually do with recipes. Im not a color-inside-the-lines type person (in the kitchen, at least)
Makes 12 servings (ha! if you eat lil JennyCraig slices)
ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes (20 hours)
TOTAL TIME: 1 3/4 hours (3 days)
EASE OF PREPARATION: Moderate (unless your name is Chelsea McKell)

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour (I dont have any in my house, and I certainly wasnt going to BUY any. I used all WW instead)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used 3. I like cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter (I used Smart Balance Omega)
1 large egg white
1 large egg, separated (this recipe is ridiculous. why use 2 eggs to get one yolk and one white? I just used 1 egg, separated)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (i have NO idea how I already had this in my spice rack. I know I didnt buy it. Mom??)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided (I used turbinado sugar. Or yellow-D. Whatever that stuff at the health food store bin was. Maybe its healthier, maybe not...)
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas - 2 large ones
3 tablespoons canola oil (I used just one TB)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used regular milk with lemon juice in it. Found that sub tip online)

Frosting: 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut chips or flaked coconut (I used sprinkles instead :)
12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Just used 8 oz. It made PLEN-TEEE)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (had no idea what this was. Found out its just powdered sugar. Didnt have any on hand, so I used splenda)
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (didnt have any, used almond extract instead. 3/4 teaspoon)

1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Dust lightly with flour, shaking out the excess (I did NOT preheat the oven this early. It would have stayed on for over an hour! I preheated when I was nearly done. Gotta watch that utility bill).
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.
3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, swirling, until it turns a nutty brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. (SO annoyingly tedious. But I did it).
4. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. This can take up to 5 minutes. (Try 15 minutes. Again, annoyingly tedious)
5. Combine the melted butter, egg yolk, remaining 1 cup sugar, bananas, oil and vanilla in a large bowl (and get ANOTHER bowl out and dirty?! HA! I just put it on with the dry ingredient bowl). With mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk; beat until just blended. Beat in a heaping spoonful of the whites. Using a whisk, fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
6. Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto the racks and let cool completely.
7. To prepare frosting & assemble cake: Combine cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and coconut extract in a large bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. (VERY VERY MESSY)
8. Frost the cake, using a little less than half the frosting between layers and the rest on the top. Garnish with toasted coconut. (as I said before - I used sprinkles instead. Its a BIRTHDAY cake. And I put a layer of thinly sliced bananas in between. Cool huh)
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 346 calories; 12 g fat (6 g sat, 4 g mono); 39 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 2 g fiber; 370 mg sodium. (blahblahblah... yeah, its loaded, I know.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Happy birthday Brian McKell

A tribute to Brianna's Dad, born 26 years ago today
Reasons I love Brian McKell:

-He is so NOT superficial. He doesnt care if our groceries are name-brand or generic. He doesnt mind when I dont feel like putting on makeup that day. He doesnt walk around like a billboard for a namebrand clothing company. I love that.
- He knows when to stand up to me and when to shut his mouth. He has gained my respect because of that.
- He is really, really ridiculously good-looking.
- He is absolutely hilarious without even slightly realizing it. I wish I had an audio recorder with me all the time - he really says the most quirky things. Like yesterday, I asked him "how much TV should we let Brianna watch when shes older?" He responded "not much, and definitely not in her room. There is a lady who works at the airport who says she got pregnant at age 16 because her parents let her have a TV in her room." Then he left; end of conversation.
-Brian McKell is an amazingly hard worker. He puts in 11-14 hours every weekday at Enterprise. Thats 11-14 hours of fast-paced customer service, marketing, car maintenance, car washing, computer work, finance management... and I have honestly never heard a word of complaint from him.
-Extreme loyalty. You will never convince him that SUU is not the best school in the world, Blackforest is not the best deli meat brand, Philippines is not the greatest mission ever, and that voting Republican is necessary for celestial exaltation.
-He may not work out every day (or every week...or month...) but when he is challenged with a serious physical exertion, he rises to the occasion. Eg: last summer he ran a half marathon with me - NO training, and managed a 1:55!
-Brian is SO go-with-the-flow. I could say "B, we are going to go spend thousands of dollars at Home Depot and completely remodel our house. Lets leave in 10 minutes." And he would say "ok - can we go to taco bell on the way?"
- This may be cliche... but honestly: he makes me want to be a better person.
-He is really, really ridiculously good-looking. Did I say that already?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Art Exposure

Brianna had her first encounter with fine art sculptures when we toured the gardens of the Alpine Arts Center after a friends reception.
She must have classier taste than these pieces... as you can see from her facial expressions, she wasnt too impressed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy Anniversary to US!

Today marks the THREE year celebration of team Brian-Chelsea.
Since we made it this far, we decided we are gonna go all the way. :)
Here are a few pics of us on that wonderful day three years ago... and some mushy stuff afterwards.

I am so very grateful to be married to Brian McKell. He has made my life so happy and complete. Despite the rough times we have had, I know that he loves me unconditionally and that we are eternal companions. Brian is an fantastic father to our baby girl. I couldn't have chosen a better companion for me. We balance each other out. He is my best friend and I look forward to all the great experiences ahead of us.

We plan to celebrate our anniversary with a little trip to Flaming Gorge!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PHAT baby

People need to stop beating around the bush.
Just say it...
My baby is FAT.
Im tired if hearing "oh my! She is sure growing!" and "wow she changes everyday" and "my goodness, she must be a good eater."
Its okay to just call it like it is. I have a chunky little girl. She has rolling thunder thighs, double chin, beer belly, and dimples just about everywhere. I would also add that she has junk in the trunk... but that applies to every non-pottytrained child.
But that is OKAY with me! I LOVE her rolls and roundness!
To show how proud I am of every inch of her squishy body, I am posting this picture fully exposing her post-bath gloriousness. Big, bold, beautiful Brianna.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lacrimal Duct Obstruction

Every mothers worst fear has come true.
Our little Brianna has Lacrimal Duct Obstruction.
I know you all must stay up late at night fretting this dreaded condition will strike your infant.
No worries - we have the great fortune of an Optometrist in the family. Dr. Mark McKell, also known as the Markster.
But not just any optometrist... a dang good one. The kind that must have studied his bum off during school. For now he has no bum (its a male mckell thing). But he does have an extremely kind and generous heart, for when we alerted him of Briannas suspicious eye gunk and red lids, he made a house call. This picture shows Briannas first professional eye exam.
He wrote us a prescription for some antibiotic cream on the spot, and also prescribed daily digital massage (translation: rub the area between her eyes a few times a day). This will undoubtedly be accompanied by intense pampering and serious loving on my little baby, as I have learned how heartbreaking it is to see your child suffering.

Hope everyone understands Im being overdramatic. Kindof. I actually started bawling when I was rocking her to sleep, because she was so fussy and just burring her beautiful chubby face into me. I am planning on this being the worst ailment that ever afflicts her for the rest of her life. I dont think I can handle anything more.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008


We trap cats in our yard and call Provo Animal Control. They come pick them up and take them to the Animal Shelter, where... lets be honest...they are likely euthanized.
The alternative to this is to continue to let these cats use our yard as a litter box. Or worse yet - mating grounds. Last year we captured and turned in 5 baby kittens. Sad? If you look at it that way. I am simply following Bob Barkers admonition to "help control the pet population." (just realized that if Brianna is reading this years from now, she will have no idea what I am referring to. Sweetie - either ask me, or google it).
Estimates are that the US has 900 million domestic cats. That is about 3 per person. So unless we all have 3 pet cats at home, millions of strays out there running around using the world as their litter box and mating grounds.
So Brianna and I will continue CAT HUNTING.

Brianna meets Boston Housley!

Brianna got all dressed up in her favorite Hawaiian dress to go meet BOSTON RHETT HOUSLEY, her 6 day old future boyfriend!
Jumungous congrats to Rhett and Jules on the birth of their adorable perfect little boy.
Brianna really wanted to join him in that cool bed... but we told her that really isnt appropriate. No spooning til married.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happiness on Mothers Day

My thoughts on motherhood, written way too late at night when I should be sleeping:

Here I am, a mother. I walked into the hospital one person—in my maternity pajamas—and came out another. Now I am wearing pants that last fit me sometime in my third month, cleaning out a purse loaded with diapers and wipes (some new, some USED), and marveling at my newly developed forearm muscles from nursing my baby 5 hours a day.
But more has changed than my clothing and my accessories. I have changed. I have transformed. I have fallen in love with a creature that weighs no more than my gym bag and has ears like my mother’s. I am weepy. I am elated. I feel as though I have been let in on the secret of the universe: Babies. My baby.
Now I understand. The mother summoning the strength to lift a truck off her son: of course. My sister-in-law not letting me hold her new daughter until I completely disinfected myself: perfectly normal. I even understand my mother. Well, I will never understand her penchant for impulse purchases and aversion towards new technology, but I do, finally, understand the breadth and depth of her love for me.
What is really important is suddenly clear. If my priorities are in a pyramid, my baby is at its pinnacle, with everything else falling into place beneath her....clean house is at the bottom, personal hygiene and world news in the middle, lunch dates to catch up with people I don’t really care about - gone entirely.
My husband isnt on the pyramid... he is right next to me, with the same pyramid in mind. We are co-founders of our McKell family. Our child is the focal point of our lives.
Mothers Day is traditionally established as a day to honor mothers.
But today - my first mothers day -I find myself, more than ever, thanking my Heavenly Father for this great opportunity and calling of Motherhood.

and yes... this is a picture of me blogging. I am blogging a picture of me blogging. I should take a picture of me blogging about taking a picture of me blogging.

Picnic in the Park

Our ward had a service project/BBQ picnic/game day. Brianna loved it - she got to lay on a blanket on the grass and have dozens of people stop by to pinch her toes/hands/cheeks and comment on how big she is getting.

Brian is trying to give her a hotdog. I am obviously not happy about it. No worries, Brianna abstained. She is a smart girl, well aware that hot dogs contain a mixture of cow and poultry livers, kidneys, hearts, and other mechanically separated meat (a paste and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve to separate the bone from the meat tissue).

Friday, May 2, 2008

New cousin for Brianna

Jumungous congrats to Brian and Becky Smith in Arizona on the birth of their baby boy - DEAN CHRISTOPHER SMITH! Brianna now has 21 cousins.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

tummytime success!

Confession: I have been a negligent mother.
As every baby-wise mommy knows, the AAP recommends infants spend at least twenty minutes a day lying in the prone position (aka "tummy time"). So - in my quest to be the consummate mother, I made my first attempt to help Brianna do this when she was a couple weeks old. Ten seconds later, she firmly let me know that she did not approve of being placed this way. Tried again the next week... and it resulted in escalating squawks again.
So I gave up.
I accepted that Brianna didnt like tummytime, would never learn to crawl, and would have a bald spot on the back of her head forever.
UNTIL I had a revelation. Actually, I just read some tips on (very helpful website, BTW. I visit it more often than Craigslist, which says a lot).
I am proud to report that - as you can see in the pictures - Brianna will now tolerate tummytime if she is propped up on the boppy pillow! So we do it everyday. She does her baby pushups, while I do my real ones. At this point, she can do more than I can... but just gimme a few more weeks....