Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh Where, Oh Where Did My Batteries Go?

I have been debating whether or not to do a Christmas post. I don't think I can put my emotions into words so I'm not going to try. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my rechargeable batteries for my camera and the other ones I had were almost dead. That equals almost no pics, which equals a boring post.

I was able to go to Sabrina's class and help her make a gingerbread house since my classes were finished before the kids' school got out for vacation. She is very proud of her creation.
I tried to keep our same traditions, even with my crazy December schedule with finals and everything. The one tradition I did get a photo of is our silly socks. We wear them on Christmas.
We went to a ward Christmas party with a sing-along and Santa (and no camera), but that was the only party. Christmas morning the kids and I opened our presents to each other and then we headed over to my parents' house where all my siblings and their families came to celebrate...all except my sis Tiff and her husband Adam who live in Georgia and got to spend it with his family. (We miss you guys!) I only snapped a few photos with the draining battery. Gotta get photos of everyone I didn't get on Christmas!

This is my niece Aileah. It was so cute to hear her say, "Thank you" after opening each gift.
Here is Alex playing pool with his uncles. That little guy at the bottom of the pic is my nephew Avi and this is sadly the only photo I have of him from Christmas. I didn't even get a single one of his brother. 
Sabrina played ping-pong with me off and on, but got tired of standing, so she played sitting down. Didn't work so well!
Elisa decided to get in on a pool game. She had played ping-pong with me, my sister Heather and my sister Sheri for a while too.

Today I found some batteries so I put them in the camera and decided to take a photo of the party at my house.
Oh, yeah. It's just me here alone. 
I was grateful for this time after finals when my mind was clear and relaxed to reflect on our Savior's birth and life, and the miracle of all that the atonement means for me. I hope everyone has a good time bringing in a new year with renewed hope.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pretty Blue at CamBray Creations

I am loving blue lately. And one place I have found lots of pretty blue things is on etsy. Don't you love etsy??? I wanted to share with you some pretty blue items I found on CamBray Creations. Taylor has awesome bags, wallets and fobs of different colors and patterns, but I'm featuring the blues.
And look at this super cute Diaper Clutch Wristlet for carrying just a few diapers and some wipes. Mommas can be stylish too!

So in case you were so busy shopping for everyone else and didn't get anything for you, now is a great time to grab something for yourself cuz Taylor is doing a big sale to celebrate the upcoming birth of her third child! Congrats, Taylor!! What's the sale? Free shipping, no sales tax AND take 10% off using coupon code: babydays10 at checkout. But you gotta hurry because Taylor's baby is coming soon so she's closing up shop temporarily starting January 10th.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

Can you tell I love sandwich cookies yet? I really like these! The cookies are flaky and the icing makes them special and they just look cute. I used a scalloped cookie cutter. I will be making these again since I only got to try one before delivering them with the Christmas treats. I found them at Pineapple Hill Designs.
Lemon Sandwich Cookies 
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1 c. powdered sugar
1 T. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/2 t. salt
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 T. granulated sugar, for sprinkling
In a large bowl using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add flour (dough will still be stiff); finish mixing with a wooden spoon.

Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, pat into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour (and up to 3 days). Preaheat oven to 350º.
Unwrap dough; place on a lightly floured piece of parchment or waxed paper. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick (if dough cracks, let it warm up slightly).

Cut out cookies with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter (reroll scraps once, chilling of too soft). Place 1 inch apart on two baking sheets; sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake until barely beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Form sandwiches: Place about 1 teaspoon Creamy Lemon Filling between two cookies, sugared sides facing out; squeeze gently.

Makes 3 dozen

*Creamy Lemon Filling: Makes enough for 3 dozen sandwich cookie
1 (4-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1 T. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 to 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and zest until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, mixing until smooth. Mix in remaining sugar as necessary to create a firm but spreadable filling.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pumpkin Bites

I know this is more of a fall recipe, but I didn't get to bake much in the fall and I've had this recipe in my file for a long time after finding them at She's Becoming Doughmesstic. Susan piped the cookies, but I just spread them with a spoon. They're like little pumpkin-y whoopie pies. I made them a little too big, but they're still pretty cute. The cookies puff up and are very cake-like. I love the cinnamon in the icing. I made some way too big to sandwich easily so I just frosted those with the same icing, but I love the cute sandwiches.
Pumpkin Bites
3 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. ground ginger
2 T. cinnamon
½ t. ground nutmeg
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup canola oil
3 cups pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.

In a mixer bowl, whisk the sugars, canola and melted butter together. Add the pumpkin puree and combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the flour mixture over the wet ingredients and slowly whisk to combine. Do not overmix.

Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a SilPat.

Place entire mixer bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes while oven preheats, then transfer batter to piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe cookies in about 1 inch circles onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies look done. Once cool, fill centers with cream cheese icing.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
Dash of Salt

Beat cream cheese, butter, salt and cinnamon until lump-free and smooth. Gradually add sugar until well combined, added more as needed to make icing consistency. Add vanilla until just incorporated. Pipe onto cookies and sandwich them together.
Here is Elisa, nervous to be a hand model, especially since her hands are still red from playing in the snow outside.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

I finally started making Christmas treats to take to friends. I wanted to make new recipes since I rarely get a chance to try them anymore. Here's the first one. I found it quite a while ago at Your Home Based Mom. Hers look prettier than mine. I think I should have baked it a little longer and then refrigerated them before cutting them. So mine are messy, but they are good, especially the bites with the raspberries. I used frozen raspberries because they were on sale.
Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

1 c. flour
2 c. sugar
14 T. (7 oz.) butter
7 oz. dark chocolate
5 oz. raspberries
14 oz. cream cheese
1 t. vanilla extract
5 eggs


Preheat oven to 350º.

Combine butter with 1 cup sugar and mix.  Add 3 eggs one at a time.  Melt the chocolate and mix it in with the butter and sugar.  Gently fold in 1 cup of flour

Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan and line with parchment paper.

Put the cream cheese in a big bowl, add 2 eggs, 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix until it is smooth.

Spread 2/3 of the brownie mix on the bottom of the pan. Pour the cream cheese on top.  Add spoonsfuls of remaining brownie mix on top of cream cheese and marble it together with a knife.  Sprinkle raspberries on top and push them into the cream cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting them into squares.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Grateful Day

Today I was grateful for beautiful snow and my children's first snow day off of school. It is a rare thing in Utah! 

Elisa spent morning until dark with her friends so I didn't get a photo of her in the snow. We got stuck a couple of times when driving, but luckily were able to wiggle-jiggle free.

I am also thankful for this notebook. It's just a composition notebook that I glued a picture of Jesus on the front of that I have had for quite a while now. I take it to church and firesides and keep notes on the speakers and quotes, but also write down inspirations or promptings that I get (at church or home)--from call Carrie and offer to babysit to teach this in Family Home Evening next week. And, of course, I write things I want to post about. I was reading through some of it this week and was reminded of so many beautiful things that touched me and I was so glad that I wrote them down. And there is soooo much in there that I haven't yet posted.
A big thing I've been grateful for is that although my father had a stroke last week (really scary!), he is doing okay. He had to stay in the hospital 2 nights and is now at home. He can talk and walk and although his left side is still a bit weak, he can move everything. We are so grateful that it was a relatively small stroke and that he is okay. We love you, Dad! 
I found these two versions, one in English, one in Spanish, about how to spot if someone is having a stroke. You might not be able to make it through the whole thing, but they're kinda amusing while they are educational. 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Baby Changes Everything

I have not done a single Christmas post yet, but so many Christmas thoughts are in my head. Today Elisa gave a talk in testimony meeting. When she was first asked, she said, "No way!" She has never liked getting up in front of groups and talking. I asked her to pray about it and think about it overnight before making her decision. Alexander said he'd do it if she didn't want to. Those two have such different personalities. I have to admit I'd be hesitant to actually volunteer myself. But Elisa decided she'd do it. Her topic was "What I can learn from Mary and Joesph". What a beautiful thing to contemplate. She did a wonderful job writing her talk and delivering it! She even said it wasn't too bad being up there. I'm so proud of her for doing something that wasn't easy or comfortable.

One of the things Elisa talked about that we can learn from them is how they were willing to be the parents of Jesus, the son of God, even when it put them in such a difficult position. She quoted a song from the church's musical drama Savior of the World.

"Ask God all your questions,
Hear His voice so still,
Let the Spirit's whisper
Teach how to do His will
Then go and do His will."

It sounds so easy. Listen for the Father's will for us, just as Mary and Joseph did, and go and do it. I am so imperfect and while I desire to do this, I can see times when I have not. Instead I let my pride stop me or I have a reason that probably that's not really what I'm being asked to do. I am so grateful for the examples of this very special couple that someday I hope to know and thank.

And of course, I am eternally grateful for that baby who came to the earth in such humble circumstances and never asked for more than that. He served others and always honored the Father. Because of that little baby being born, growing up doing the will of the Father, and atoning for our sins, I can repent and my Heavenly Father will forget all of my stupid mistakes that I wish I could go back and erase. Because of that baby, we all have hope.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Follow Your Blisters

My finals are finally over, as of a couple of hours ago. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow to post since I have hardly slept during the last week, studying and studying, so I might not make much sense. Plus I'm pretty emotional. This last final, genetics, was my hardest and I don't think I did well on it. I was driving home kinda debating with myself what to do. This is such a hard major. Why do I want to do this? Why do I have to like biology? Maybe I should just get a job. At least when I'm not at work, I can concentrate on my children and not be studying all the time. What if I'm wasting my time trying when I am not good enough to make it through all these very difficult classes?

Don't worry. I'm not looking to you for answers. I had thought I would come home and clean my neglected house right away, but I am so tired, I just can't get myself to do it quite yet. So I thought I'd try to come up with a post since I have also neglected my blog. I opened a file I have where I have saved things that I want to post about some day. I randomly scrolled down and stopped on this talk that I listened to this summer. Pretty good timing. It's about finding your calling in life and enjoying your profession.

I really liked it when I heard it and it has helped me today. It's called What's Your Calling in Life by Jeffrey Thompson. I hope you get a chance to watch it or read it. I am including quite a few excerpts, but there are still so many wonderful gems in the talk. So maybe this post is just for me, but it's my blog. Hehe

"As I begin my remarks, I want you to understand that finding my calling in life was not easy. My career path was circuitous, and I often felt great anxiety about it. I always knew I wanted to care passionately about my work, but for years I had no idea what that work should be. Several times I felt utterly adrift, as if I had somehow missed the path I should have taken and could never get back on it. In hindsight, those moments are important parts of the tapestry of my career. Each thread that felt out of place at the time now provides structure to the pattern of my life. They helped me distinguish and define my calling. I learned, to quote Romans 8:28, that all things do indeed “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (emphasis added).
"My aim today is to encourage you to think about your future life’s work without the anxiety—because when we ponder our calling in life through the lens of the restored gospel, we don’t need to feel anxious."

"After the Lord charges us to anxiously pursue good causes, the next verse begins: “For the power is in them” (D&C 58:28). Think about that. The Lord hasn’t just told you to pursue good causes, He has equipped you with power to do so. You—you personally—are full of divine capacities to do good that you probably don’t even fully appreciate."

"Joseph Campbell, a professor of literature who studied and taught about hero myths, introduced the phrase 'follow your bliss' back in the 1970s. The idea was that heroes don’t chase money or prestige; they look into their hearts to find their passion and then pursue it (see Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, ed. Betty Sue Flowers [New York: Doubleday, 1988]). Now you see the phrase 'follow your bliss' everywhere. Later, Campbell developed misgivings about how people were using the phrase. It was reported that he quipped, 'What I should have said was, ‘Follow your blisters.' ' Brothers and sisters, you may do the most important, exciting work in the world. Nonetheless, some days will be mundane and no fun at all—kind of like the days I spend grading papers. You will be called upon to sacrifice. Don’t expect deep meaning without paying the price for it."


"…I testify that our Heavenly Father is intimately involved in the doors that open for us and in the circumstances that lead us to the places we should be—the places where we are equipped, with power, to serve. Have faith that your unseen Navigator will lead you gradually to your life’s calling. I also testify that, as with all important questions, when it comes to asking what our calling in life is, Jesus Christ is in the answer. The grace of Christ, that same power that helps us do things we otherwise couldn’t, is what will guide us to our callings and enable us to excel in them. You can call upon the grace of Christ to help you with your professional calling. In fact, He pleads with us to do so. In Alma, He invites us to pray over our flocks (see Alma 34:20). Even if we are not shepherds by trade, we all tend professional flocks, and He is mindful of them. Knowing that helps us expel anxiety."

A few months ago when I was still not sure if I would be able to go to school this semester or if I'd be working, I was talking with a friend. I told her that I think I missed my chance to follow what my patriarchal blessing said about studying and work. Her answer was exactly what I needed to hear and I've repeated it to myself many times since, more or less word for word. "Our opportunities and blessings aren't as linear as we think they are. There can be more than one way to them." That's what this professor is saying at the beginning of his talk too.

Actually when I look back, if I would have studied biology and then become a stay-at-home mom, that degree wouldn't have done much good right now. So much has changed and discoveries have been made. This way I know Spanish (what I studied before) and can use it in just about any field, besides using it to help others translate and for me to make new friends I wouldn't have been able to get to know. And now I can study and then go straight into the field. I will just keep trying a step at a time, even if I feel like I might fall all the way down sometimes. And I'll be pleading for the grace of Christ to enable me to continue. I'm so grateful for that gift our Father gives us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Firework

2 finals down, 2 next week, along with a big presentation. I have been studying lots so I gave myself 10 minutes to create a post as a break.

Don't you hate it when you hear a song on the radio and like it and then you hear who sings it and you wish you didn't like it? That's how I was with this song.

I heard it on the radio a couple of times kinda in the background while I was thinking of other things or my children were in the car talking to me. Then it came on again and I heard this part of the lyrics "Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed so you can open one that leads you to the perfect road" and I burst into tears. And I listened to the rest of the song and liked those lyrics too. So I looked online to find the lyrics and find out who sings it. Then I found out--Katy Perry.

I am not a fan of hers and don't listen to her music...but I LOVE this one. I looked up her official video to see if it was postable. I was surprised that most of the video was okay, but unfortunately there are a couple of things that prevented me from sharing it. Too bad cuz Katy looks really pretty in it. Anyway, I found this video on YouTube and while it isn't dramatic, it allows you to hear it and see the lyrics. Maybe some of you don't listen to this kind of music and might find it annoying to listen to, so I copied the lyrics below it.



Firework—by Katy Perry
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag

Drifting throught the wind
Wanting to start again?


Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in?


Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing?


Do you know that there's still a chance for you?
Cause there's a spark in you.

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine.
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July.


Cause baby you're a firework.
Come on show 'em what your worth.
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y.


Baby you're a firework.
Come on let your colors burst.
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own.


You don't have to feel like a waste of space.
You're original, cannot be replaced.
If you only knew what the future holds,
After a hurricane comes a rainbow.


Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
So you can open one that leads you to the perfect road.
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know.

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine.
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July.

Cause baby you're a firework.
Come on show 'em what your worth.
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y.

Baby you're a firework.
Come on slet your colors burst.
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own.

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon.
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through.

Cause baby you're a firework.
Come on show 'em what your worth.
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y.

Baby you're a firework.
Come on slet your colors burst.
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em goin "Oh, oh, oh!"

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon.
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon.
-----------------------------------------------------
Let's keep hope for our future. Let's try to see those things inside us that we need to bring out, for ourselves and for others. Let's learn to have confidence and joy, and find uplifting, encouraging thoughts wherever we can, even if they come from unexpected sources.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Bars


I wanted to make something new and yummy to take to my parents' huse on Thanksgiving. I looked through my files and spotted this one from Woman's Day. Their photos are really pretty and I love cheesecake. Even though this is has three chocolate cheesecake layers and a chocolate crust, it wasn't overly chocolate to me. It isn't my very favorite cheesecake, but I do like it and I like how it looks. I'll have to practice my swirls some more to make it prettier. What yummy Thanksgiving dessert did you have?
Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Crust:
24 Oreo cookies
3 T. butter, melted
Cheesecake:
3 (8-oz) pkg. Neufchâtel, softened
1 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
3 large eggs, at room temperature
8 oz. (scant 1 cup) reduced-fat sour cream
2 t. vanilla extract
4 oz. premium whitechocolate
4 oz. milk chocolate
4 oz. semisweet baking chocolate

Heat oven to 300°. Line a 9-in. square baking pan with foil, letting foil extend above pan on opposite sides. Coat with nonstick spray.

Crust: Break cookies into food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form. Add butter; pulse to blend. Press firmly over bottom of pan. Freeze until firm.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Divide batter into 3 equal portions (about 13⁄4 cups each). Melt each flavor chocolate as inside of wrapper directs. Stir 1 flavor into each portion of batter. Spoon 2 Tbsp white chocolate batter into a ziptop bag, seal and set aside.
Pour milk chocolate batter over crust; spread evenly. Spoon on white chocolate batter; gently spread to cover milk chocolate layer. Repeat with semisweet batter. Cut tip off 1 corner of bag; pipe on white chocolate swirls.

Bake 45 minutes, or until center still jiggles slightly when shaken. Immediately transfer to a wire rack and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Holding foil, lift cake to cutting board. Cut in 4 rows down, 8 across.

Planning Tip: Refrigerate bars in an airtight container up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month (thaw 1 day in refrigerator before serving).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

He Knows My Name

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for so many things. I am most thankful for a loving Heavenly Father that is willing to forgive us for our sins and mistakes. He knows my name and always is aware of me and my needs. I'm grateful for his promise to heal us through the atonement and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


He Knows My Name

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Lenore-Emerald

I hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving Day!
The winner of The Lenore-Emerald from Kelly's The Pink Elephant Shop is
Minola! 
Congrats to you. 

And everyone else can go back and check out some new items that Kelly posted and find great Christmas gifts! Thanks to everyone for participating in both giveaways. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Pioneer Heritage (And a Winner)

During November, we always think so much about what we're grateful for. I am very grateful for my own pioneer heritage. As far as we’ve been able to determine, we don’t have any ancestors who joined the church during the beginning years, but that doesn’t mean there are no pioneers in my family. My parents are both the first members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their families (and the only ones) and they are our family’s pioneers.
I am so grateful that they accepted the gospel and were baptized. They raised me and my siblings with a knowledge of our Heavenly Father’s plan. I never doubted that my parents had/have a testimony. I am so thankful for this place.
The Los Angeles temple is where my parents were sealed a few years after their wedding, so it is where our eternal family started. It is a blessing to know I am sealed to them.
And despite my divorce, I am so thankful for my sealing in the Provo temple.
Because of my sealing years before we had children, my children are sealed to me and to their father. Attending the temple regularly had been one of my weaknesses, but no more. I love to go feel the peace and to contemplate the eternities I will enjoy with my family.  
While I was growing up and my parents and siblings and I were the only church members in the family, I didn’t get to hear testimonies from aunts and uncles, go to youth conference with cousins, or have my grandparents attend my baptism. But my children have their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins who are members because of the legacy of my parents. They have the examples of so many in their family. They get the blessing of having them attend their baptisms, primary programs, ordinations and someday attend their temple sealings.


“Many of our challenges are different from those faced by former pioneers but perhaps just as dangerous and surely as significant to our own salvation and the salvation of those who follow us. For example, as for life-threatening obstacles, the wolves that prowled around pioneer settlements were no more dangerous to their children than the drug dealers or pornographers who threaten our children. Similarly, the early pioneers’ physical hunger posed no greater threat to their well-being than the spiritual hunger experienced by many in our day. The children of earlier pioneers were required to do incredibly hard physical work to survive their environment. That was no greater challenge than many of our young people now face from the absence of hard work, which results in spiritually corrosive challenges to discipline, responsibility, and self-worth. Jesus taught: ‘And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matt. 10:28).


“The foremost quality of our pioneers was faith. With faith in God, they did what every pioneer does—they stepped forward into the unknown: a new religion, a new land, a new way of doing things. With faith in their leaders and in one another, they stood fast against formidable opposition. When their leader said, ‘This is the right place,’ they trusted, and they stayed. When other leaders said, ‘Do it this way,’ they followed in faith.



“Two companion qualities evident in the lives of our pioneers, early and modern, are unselfishness and sacrifice. Our Utah pioneers excelled at putting ‘the general welfare and community goals over individual gain and personal ambition.’ That same quality is evident in the conversion stories of modern pioneers. Upon receiving a testimony of the truth of the restored gospel, they have unhesitatingly sacrificed all that was required to assure that its blessings will be available to their children and to generations unborn. Some have sold all their property to travel to a temple. Some have lost employment. Many have lost friends. Some have even lost parents and extended family, as new converts have been disowned for their faith. This must be the greatest sacrifice of all.”
Dallin H. Oaks, “Following the Pioneers,” Ensign, Nov 1997, 72


And onto the winner of the $65 CSN Stores gift certificate…..
Valerie from All the Pieces of Me
        (Go check out her recipes and get to know her and her family)
For everyone else who didn’t win this time, I’m hoping to do another CSN Stores giveaway in the future, so maybe next time! Congrats, Valerie!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

German Chocolate Brownies

I've had this dilemma for years now. It's a serious one...I love the frosting on Geman Chocolate Cakes, but I don't like the cake. See how serious? Okay, not really, but I looooove the coconut/pecan topping. And now after all this time, I found the solution! And I found it at The Cutting Edge of Ordinary. It's a brownie with the same delish topping. Oh.So.Good!

Lisa actually made it with a brownie mix, so that's a time saver if you wanna do that. I don't buy brownie mixes so I used Chewy Cocoa Brownies that I like. (You gotta scroll down to find the recipe in that post.) I didn't use the chocolate topping with it, but next time I think I will for an extra layer of yummers. The recipe doesn't say to marble it, but Lisa's photos look like she did. I think I'll keep a little of the brownie batter to drop by spoonfuls on top of the coconutty topping and then marble it.
German Chocolate Brownies
1 pkg. (19 – 20 oz. size) brownie mix
¼ c. butter, cut into smaller pieces
4 oz. cream cheese
½ c. packed brown sugar
1 c. flaked coconut
1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

Oven to 350º. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package for cake like brownies. Pour batter into greased 9x13 inch pan.

Place butter, and cream cheese in small saucepan and cook on medium heat until cream cheese is completely melted. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled, it will come together when you add in the remaining ingredients. Stir in the brown sugar and take the mixture off the heat. Add the coconut and pecans and mix well. Mixture will be thick. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture all over the top brownie batter.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes clean. Cool before devouring.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trying to Walk on Water

I checked out the talk on CD "Walking on Water: When the Lord Asks the Impossible" by S. Michael Wilcox recently. This is not the first time I’ve listened to it, but I was so grateful to hear it again at this time in my life. I have listened to it 5 times in the last couple of weeks. There are so many gems in here that seemed just for me, but I know that we all could use them. I don’t want to spoil everything so I will leave a lot out, but want to share some of Brother Wilcox’s words with you (even though I’m sharing it out of order).

The very beginning of the CD talks about Peter walking on water  in Matthew 14  .
Brother Wilcox tells this story and then shows how each of us is given our own walk on water moments with our own unique challenges.

Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and Brother Wilcox says he was probably thinking,
“If my master does this, I want to do it too. If my master can do this and he invites me to do it, if he bids or asks me to do it, I can do it. I can walk on water…I can do even the impossible.”

When the Savior bids Peter to come unto him, Peter immediately leaves the boat and enters the water, apparently without hesitation. But then while he is walking, the winds become stronger and he starts to fear and begins to sink. He cries to the Lord to save him.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

I don’t picture the Savior saying this with anger or disappointment, but as encouragement, telling him that he didn’t need to fear because the Lord was there and he has the power to keep him up even when Peter didn’t. In that moment of fear, Peter had cried out. It is the same in my life. I feel like a few months ago, I was walking on water, although not by own power, but doubt started to creep in my mind. I had thought that I will somehow get through these hard classes and get a good job. I will some day have a job good enough to get a good house. I will somehow meet someone worthy to take me to the temple and be my eternal companion. Then I started looking around me and seeing how impossible those things seemed. I started sinking. I cried out, “Father, I cannot do this. Please don’t ask me to walk on water.”

We all have our own trials, and they change from time to time in our lives. Mine isn’t nearly as bad as many others. The beautiful thing for me and for you is that when the Lord bids us to walk on water, we don’t have to do it alone or with our own power. And if he is asking us to do it, he will help us.

Isaiah 40
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.


We do not have to rely on our own strength, our own stamina, our own ability. The Lord will take what we have and add his power if we believe.

“God will increase what we have, making it sufficient for whatever need we have. We see it again and again and again in the scriptures.”

Brother Wilcox gives the examples of the fishes and loaves, how Christ took the amount of food they had, and gave them what they needed and more. Then in the story of the widow in 2 Kings  who needed money to pay her creditors. The woman was given oil to fill all her vessels and those she had borrowed, so more than she needed. Our Heavenly Father will do the same for us. We may not be removed from our situation, but we can be given the strength we need and more.

“Time and time again we read in the scriptures of people who have needs that are not sufficient. Christ asks them to bring what they have. He’ll bless it. Multiply it and make it sufficient for the need and always beyond. God will strengthen us. He’ll give us eagle’s wings so we can fly, not only run, not only walk, but fly, mount up.”

One last topic that Brother Wilcox talked about that I’ll mention is fleeces. Recall how in Judges 6, an angel appears to Gideon to tell him he is to deliver Israel. Gideon asks the Lord to show him a sign so he is sure he is supposed to deliver Israel.

36 And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,
37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said.
38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water.
39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.
40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.


Brother Wilcox says that often Heavenly Father will give us a fleece, a way to see what Heavenly Father really wants us to do—a scripture we read that speaks to us, a General Conference talk that answers a question or maybe words of a local church leader.

“Our human need to find reassurance or validation or courage to face our walking on water challenges is not an invitation to engage in subtle sign seeking, rater a desire to interpret God’s will correctly, to advance in a manner he wishes, to increase confidence not so much in Him nor in his commands but in ourselves… Neither must we be afraid that our request for a fleece will be seen as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness or that the Lord will perceive it as sign-seeking.
"If I say, ‘Father, it is not a matter of seeing with the eyes before I move forward, nor one of comprehending with the mind though understanding would be helpful, but one of feeling with the heart. I’m not trying to do an end run around faith but there is comfort from feeling the water on my hand when I wring the fleece’.”


I am so grateful for words that uplift and encourage me. I’m grateful to know of the infinite love and patience of my Father and of the enabling power of the atonement. If you come across this CD, I hope you take the time to listen to it so it can uplift you also.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Pink Elephant Shop

Okay, I couldn't even wait a single day to post this next giveaway. I'll have both going on at the same time and you can enter both!

Kelly used to be in my ward (church congregation) and is now all grown up and has a husband and kids AND an etsy shop full of the coolest stuff ever--headbands, earrings and necklaces. She is so talented. I love that she loves buttons and uses them lots in her creations because I always think of her as "cute as a button". Stop by her etsy shop The Pink Elephant Shop. Kelly sent me this cute headband called The Anne just for me. Pretty, pretty! I wore it today and received many compliments.   
Kelly said she'd send me a headband for the giveaway and I was anxious to see which style she'd choose. This is called The Lenore. When I saw it, I couldn't believe it. It is so beautiful. AND it goes perfectly, I mean perfectly, with one of my shirts.
See??????
(I do wear a Half-Tee under it, just for the record.) But the Lenore is for one of you. So now I have that headband on my wish list, along with several others. Something fun about her items is that several of them are named after a movie character. This one below is The Mrs. Peacock, inspired by Mrs. Peacock from the movie "Clue".

And this one is The Alice-El Mondo Guerra (for those of you who watched Project Runway). Kelly explains that she named it The Alice "because I created it when I needed something sassy to where on a hot date to the opening of Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland'." If you've seen the show, you can tell the fabric choice was inspired by Mondo!
So if you'd like to enter to win The Leonore-Emerald (along with some chocolate I'll throw in), please visit Kelly's etsy shop The Pink Elephant Shop and leave a comment telling me which one other item you'd choose for you or for a gift from all her pretty items. Tell me if you're a follower and you get an extra entry. The comments are welcome until midnight on November 23rd. I'll randomly choose a winner and post it soon after. Yay for fun giveaways!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CSN Strikes Again

I am so excited! And you should be too. I have two, yep two, awesome giveaways for y'all. I'll do this first one today and the other super one later this week. So it'll pay to come back even if you've given up on me since I can't post often any more.

CSN Stores is letting me give one of you a gift certificate for $65 for whatever treasure you find just for you at their online stores. The hardest part? Deciding on what to get. They have such a variety of products like


        children's backpacks (really cute ones!),

Beautiful throws to snuggle inside.

Or maybe something Christmasy.

So just leave a comment here telling me one of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. If you're a follower, let me know for another entry. This giveaway closes on November 22nd at midnight. Then I'll try to post the winner on the 23rd.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Matters Most

Today’s post is about a subject that has been on my mind almost constantly the last few months. My children are my treasure and a special blessing in my life, and it also my responsibility to use my time and energy to teach, guide and learn from them. I have felt how great that responsibility is even before I had children and it scared me.


My freshman year at BYU, right out of high school, I was pre-med. I took two classes from Dr. Bloxham who was the pre-med advisor. In the classes, he taught how important our eternal relationships and callings are no matter what our career or hobbies were. He would tell us how after this life, we will no longer be doctors or dentists or whatever other profession, but we will always be father or mother, wife or husband.

“Brethren, when we stand before the Lord to be judged, will He look upon the positions we have held in the world or even in the Church? Do you suppose that titles we have had other than ‘husband,’ ‘father,’ or ‘priesthood holder’ will mean much to Him? Do you think He will care how packed our schedule was or how many important meetings we attended? Do you suppose that our success in filling our days with appointments will serve as an excuse for failure to spend time with our wife and family?


“The Lord judges so very differently from the way we do. He is pleased with the noble servant, not with the self-serving noble.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, November 2008, 54-55 
I heard something else at a funeral before I had children. A mother died and in the eulogies, they talked about how much time she dedicated to her volunteer work in several organizations. I heard one of her daughters, sitting not far from me, say something about how she had so much time to volunteer and no time for her children. I’m sure that part of that was her intense grief, but I still remember that. I have always tried to give my children lots of time, attention and love so they never feel that anything is more important to me than my family.


It is easy to say, “I love you” and “You are the most important thing in my life”, but it is not as easy to show it day after day by your choices. Can our children tell by what we do what is most important to us?

“As we seek to balance the demands for our time and attention, as we are forced to make hard decisions or sacrifice activities or service that may be important but not imperative we will come to recognize that we have lost nothing essential but rather have gained in terms of rediscovering inner peace.”
Dean L. Larsen, “ The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom,” BYU 1984-1985 Devotional and Fireside Speeches, pp72,74

Some of the quotes I will include here say “mother” and others say “father”, but I know that both are important to children and are a part of Heavenly Father’s plan.

"Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

One of the hardest things about my situation is knowing that I will soon have be out of the house during many of the “crossroads”, which has been so important for me to be at—when my children get home from school, when they go to bed, when they leave for school, and way too soon when they go on dates and come home.
"Mothers in Zion, your God-given roles are so vital to your own exaltation and to the salvation and exaltation of your family. A child needs a mother more than all the things money can buy. Spending time with your children is the greatest gift of all. With love in my heart for the mothers in Zion, I would now like to suggest ten specific ways our mothers may spend effective time with their children.

"Be at the crossroads. Take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going.
Be a real friend. Read to your children. Pray with your children. Have weekly home evenings. Be together at mealtimes as often as possible. Read scriptures daily. Do things as a family. Teach your children. Truly love your children."
From an address given by President Ezra Taft Benson at a fireside for parents, Feb. 22, 1987, and reprinted in a Church pamphlet titled "To the Mothers in Zion".
I so admire mothers who work (single or married) and still find ways to do their most important calling and joy well. And I know there are stay-at-home mothers who don’t keep their family as a priority. It’s a challenge for us all. I am just worried about learning new ways to do it now that I have to study full-time and then work. I always want my children to see in my choices that they are eternally important to me.

“What matters most is what lasts longest, and our families are for eternity.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard, Conference Report, October 2005, 46

How can I find that balance? How can I do everything I need to do at school or work and in my callings and still give priority to my family? I obviously won't be called to be a bishop (like one of the quotes below mentions), but I could devote too much of my family time to my calling, whatever it may be, and it would not be pleasing to our Father.

“Even trying to do good and faithfully live gospel principles, especially amidst the challenges and complexities of modern society, can be carried to extremes and upset the delicate balance of our lives, painfully intruding upon our personal peace and family harmony.”

“Striking the proper balance is one of the keenest tests of our agency. Therefore, we need to ask regularly for inspiration in the use of our time and in the making of our daily decisions.”
Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness, p. 5

“It is imperative to personal peace and family harmony that we recognize that even our service in the church should never become a means of neglecting our more eternal personal and family responsibilities.”

“Satan doesn’t care whether you are in the bar or the bishop’s office if he can get you to neglect your family.”
J. Ballard Washburn, as quoted in Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness

I hope my children will someday see how I give them priority by making time, no matter what, for prayers, scripture study, fun time with them, time to sit and listen or talk, and know what is important to them.

"As parents and adult leaders of youth, we cannot expect our young people to take to heart the things the prophet says to them if we show a complacent attitude toward his counsel in our own lives."
M. Russell Ballard, "His Word Ye Shall Receive," Ensign, May 2001, 66

A large part of our responsibility is teaching our children about our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, their commandments and how we can obey them. Our children see what we do and notice when what we do doesn’t match what we teach. Anyone who has spent time with a child knows how eager they are to point out our shortcomings, even though, luckily, they are also quick to forgive. Will they think the words of our prophet and other leaders are important to us if we do not follow them ourselves? They do notice.

I know that I have to stay close to my Father and listen for the Spirit to guide me to know what I can do and how to do those things most essential, important and eternal with the energy and time I have. I was happy last week to have a teaching moment. I was tired and we were reading scriptures right before bed. After explaining something in one of the verses, Alex said, “Mom, you said you are tired. This would take a lot less time if you would stop commenting on every verse.” So I shared how important it is for us to understand the scriptures, not just quickly read them so we can get to sleep and that we will be blessed for our obedience. I don’t know if they will actually remember this, but I appreciated the opportunity to teach it. Then this morning Sabrina wanted to draw a picture to send to The Friend and was thinking about what to draw and quickly went to work. On the top of the picture she wrote, “Read your scriptures daily with your family”. I am glad that they have learned something from the time I take away from my studies for that which is of more worth, my children and my God. I hope to teach them so many more things in the short time I have them in my home.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Alex and Elisa were so eager for me to try out our new ice cream maker that I got from CSN Stores, but I was a little afraid. I know it's silly, but I've never used one before and wasn't sure how to use it. But it was so easy to use (and you don't have to add all that salt like in the old ones) and the ice cream was ready in less than an hour. I decided to make peanut butter ice cream from Baking and Boys! and throw in some Resee's Peanut Butter Cups. We loved it and I can't wait to make another flavor next.

In case you know that Sabrina is allergic to peanuts and think I'm such a mean mom to make something she can't eat, she doesn't like ice cream. I just got her a Kit Kat bar, her favorite, and she was very happy. But after seeing the ice cream maker work, she decided that next time I make another flavor without peanut butter, she'll try it to see if she likes it more than "regular" ice cream.
                 
Peanut Butter Ice Cream

¾ c. smooth peanut butter
¾ c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 2/3 c. half-and-half
Pinch of salt
1/8 t. vanilla extract

Puree the peanut butter, sugar, half-and-half, salt, and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not So Long Locks Now

Sabrina has had very long hair for quite some time and I've been trying to convince her to cut it shorter. She doesn't like me to brush it or put it up so long hair wasn't fun. She finally decided she wanted it cut short and then it took me forever to take her to get her new do. I love it and I'm glad she does too.
She had a little more than 10 inches so she donated to Locks of Love. 
This is what Sabrina wrote about it.
I’m proud to donate to my hair people with cancer. I like my new hair better then my old hair. People say I look cute and its better to brush.(my parents.) I don’t like to have hair like Dora. I would just hate to have cancer like that so I donated. I didn’t agree at first but then I thought that I wouldn’t like to have my hair fall out. my hair feels kinda weird but I like it its cuuuuuuute.

Utah Local: Rico Cocina y Tequila Bar

I wanted to find somewhere different to have dinner with my children, but it had to have food that all of them would eat. It's not easy ...