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


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

24 Oreo cookies
3 T. butter, melted
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).

Japanese Cheesecake

My son Alex, who was in Japan for 2 years, has asked me a couple of times to make Japanese cheesecake. I've never had it before, so I di...