Category Archives: Hobbies

White Rock – La Madre Spring Loop

The weather here in Vegas has been gorgeous so I have been trying to make the most of it! Tij is hobbling around in his brace so I have been enlisting friends to go hiking at Red Rock with me. My friend Makenzi and I hiked La Madre Spring Loop last Saturday. It was supposed to be an (ambitious) 6 mile jaunt but we ended up adding an extra 3 miles onto by missing our turn off and hiking up to a springs. Needless to say, I was exhausted when we finished but I was pretty proud of myself. I’ve also hiked Calico Tanks twice this month too.

I know Tij hates his knee brace but his recovery is going quite well and he can stop wearing it in 3 weeks. He’s started physical therapy and he plans to start swimming soon. (It’s one of the few exercises he’s allowed to do right now.) It was Tij’s birthday last week. We met up for lunch and I bought this divine French chocolate truffle cake to celebrate, but it was pretty quiet. Valentine’s Day was the same. We exchanged cards and I made a nice dinner and we stayed in and watched a movie. It was lovely!



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Oak Creek Canyon


Tij had work off Monday so I dragged him on another hike in Red Rock Canyon. This hike was actually more of a glorified walk, but it’s good to switch things up. Oak Creek is a different area of the Park that we haven’t explored yet and we went in the evening when things had cooled off which was nice. (It’s still hitting 85 here in Vegas. Hasn’t it got the message that it’s fall yet?) We were in Salt Lake City two weeks ago for my cousin’s wedding and it was much harder to leave than it has the last few times I’ve been. The leaves were starting to change color, the air had a slight bite to it, (insert every other fall/autumn/harvest/pumpkin cliche you can think of,) and it was just gorgeous. One morning I took my sister and cousin for brunch at Bruges Waffles & Frites and then drove them around a historic neighborhood and just goggled at the charming homes and canopied streets. It just got me wondering about what our life would be like if we’d stayed in Utah, living the lifestyle that we’re living now…

Once we were back in Vegas though, I was happy to be back. I love our little apartment. Our ward family is wonderful. I missed our rat babies. And Vegas is beautiful in its own way. It’s not the type of beauty that I’m naturally drawn to or that I’m used to, but if you go looking for it, Vegas has a lot to offer and a lot to feast your eyes on. I don’t know if we’ll stay in Vegas permanently, but for now, I am really trying to enjoy all that it has to offer. I think part of my regret with Salt Lake is that whenever I go back I think about all the things I didn’t do, all the restaurants I didn’t try, and all the experiences I missed out on. (Tij and I were broke students with zero time so if I went back in time I don’t know if I could do anything differently. Our circumstances just really sucked.) I am determined to leave Vegas with no regrets! Maybe I need to make a Vegas bucket list? There’s so much to see and do here, I might need to prioritize!




handsome and me

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Hello friends. I took a little break from the blog this last month. I needed a breather after toying with the idea of trying to be a “professional blogger” (AKA: becoming one of those people in impeccably styled outfits who have the cutest burlap DIY tutorials and adorable pictures of their children accompanied by witty anecdotes). I have been exploring things that I enjoy and trying to plan some projects and I thought “why not blogging?” I do so enjoy posting about our life and journaling on our blog and I was seriously considering whether I had the desire or the drive to turn this into something more than just a family blog.

Turns out I don’t.

And that’s ok. I tried really hard for a month to blog 3 times a week, come up with “features”, re-vamp my pages, etc. I researched blogging on pinterest. I read FAQs and advice columns from bloggers I admire. I reached out to friends who have tried their hand at the blogging game. And you know what? I decided that I really didn’t want to “brand” myself or feel pressure to share more of my personal life than I feel comfortable in order to grab followers. I don’t have the desire or the drive. I have some serious respect for those people who actually make money off of blogging, because from what I read it sounds like a ton of work and is incredibly competitive. I tried some new things out and shared some things that I wouldn’t normally share in an effort to flex my blogging muscles. I don’t regret that and it was an interesting experiment, but ultimately this blog is going to go back to what it was before: just a little blog about the von Nieda family. Maybe some pictures of our rats, our vacations, maybe some thoughts, but nothing fancy. I have some other fun projects I’m hoping to work on in the future instead. Thanks for reading!

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Bath Time With Zee Babies

I give my girls a bath every week when I clean their cage. (Rats spend a lot of their time grooming so you don’t have to bathe them unless you want to. I just like to put clean smelling rats back into a clean smelling cage.) Most rats don’t like water, and zee babies are no exception. I have, however, perfected the art of bath time and now I can bathe all 3 of them in under 5 minutes. BAM! Tij was home yesterday so I recruited him to take pictures for me. (Thanks babe! I really can’t take pictures myself with wet hands and a squirmy rat baby.)


suds-ing Bianca up with baby shampoo


giving Bianca a rinse


“oh, that’s better!” drying off is their favorite part


you can see how well they “tolerate” bath time

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Finger Lickin’ Good

Just a quick video of zee babies overcoming their fear of the sink! They like to explore my bathroom vanity but they would run away every time I turned the faucet on. I showed them that they can drink from the sink and now they’re okay with it. You can see Ms. Bianca’s “nub” (which you can read about here) when she is holding my finger at the end of the video. It’s on her left paw. See if you can spot it!

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Back with Zee Babies

I am glad that for the rest of July Tij and I are staying put – I have missed my girls so much! I left them in great hands (thanks friends!) so I wasn’t really worried about them, but I just missed seeing them. I have gotten used to hearing their sneezing, shuffling, and noisy drinking at night. It was weird to sleep in such total silence in Montana! Since our return, they have been extra cuddly and it makes me feel good to think that they may have missed me too. (At least that’s what I tell myself. Who knows what rats really think about!) I have resumed training too and have been pleasantly surprised with how much they remember. We’re working on coming when called and standing when I say “up”. I’m hoping to make a little video to show them off once they’re doing it consistently. This rat-mama is happy to be back with her babies!


Bianca striking a very dramatic pose while cleaning


Daphne (also cleaning) on top of their cage

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Zee Babies and Instagram


I signed up for an Instagram account several years ago and then never used it. I felt like I had nothing to take pictures of and I felt/still feel weird taking selfies. Flash forward to the present, and I am putting my Instagram account to good use, flooding my friends’ feeds with pictures of zee babies! My friends are posting pictures of cool places they’re traveling, their cute kids, etc. and I’m over here like, “Look! Look at my adorable rat babies! Aren’t they cute?!” 90% of my pictures are of my ratties or Tij. I guess we know what’s really important to me, haha!


Life Lately…

I have a stack of books on my bedside table and I couldn’t be more excited! I spent almost 3 hours at the DMV Wednesday to (finally) get my Nevada driver’s license. Afterwards, I rewarded myself by signing up for a shiny new Clark County library card! They say you can check out 50 items at a time but I tried really hard to pace myself. I wanted to bring all their books home with me but I can only read so fast. My little challenge has already been worth it since it motivated me to check two things off my to-do list that have been sitting there for 9 whole months. (Gosh. 9 months! That’s embarrassing. I kept meaning to do it and somehow just never got around to it…)


these trees are everywhere and they’re so cheery


the koi pond at the nursery where I got my succulents

We are officially entering summer! Spring in Vegas has been surprisingly green and very beautiful. Everything was in bloom and there are so many new colors and flowers to be seen. Friday it got up to a balmy 98 degrees and I spent most of the afternoon floating around the pool devouring one of my new books. Just about the perfect afternoon.

We teach the 3-year-old “Sunbeams” at church and it is an adventure every Sunday. I’ve babysat 3-year-olds before, but that’s been at their house, with their toys, and I wasn’t trying to teach them anything. We come home after church totally tired. I caught Tij indulging in a very well deserved nap.


Life is good. We are just trying to enjoy things. Heaven knows life will throw us another curve ball soon enough. But for the time being, I am very grateful for the smooth sailing.

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My Girls



Just a few pictures of my girls! I love having them around. Tij likes to remind me that not every husband would be cool with his wife having 3 rats…and he’s right. I usually reward him for his cool-ness with extra rat time on the couch. We sure do love these little rat babies!

Also, in honor of my challenge, I have finally started training them! Right now I am working on getting them to come when called. It’s going to take a little while, but they’ll figure it out :)

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Around Our House



Behold! The fruits of one of my daily “challenges”!

I managed to keep my first set of plants alive for a couple months so I went back for more! I got these tiny succulents to cheer up my bookshelves. I love having a touch of green in the house. I also moved my basil plant out to our deck to join “George”, our new tomato plant! There are few things better than fresh tomatoes, so let’s hope George makes it through the heat this summer.

After documenting my plants, I tried to get some more photography practice in. Here are a couple photos of Tij’s contribution to our home’s decor/design. (Just a little reminder to our guests that we’re kinda geeky.)



And of course, zee babies! They’re doing so well. We bought them some new toys, some of which have been a success and others…not so much. We got them one of those plastic balls that are like a mobile rat wheel so they can run around the house annnnnnnnnd they don’t get it. I have to trick them to get them into it and then they just sit there. I try to slowly roll them around to show them what to do, but they’re not buying it. I’m going to call this one a loss.


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