Saturday, December 29, 2012

Deliciously Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Two of my kids and I love cheesecake. Sabrina doesn't. Sadly for Sabrina, I made this new recipe to take to my family Christmas celebrations. Luckily for her, though, her aunt made other desserts that she did like. Crazy girl. I found this recipe at Bright Ideas.

Deliciously Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

20 chocolate wafer cookies
1 T. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, melted

10 oz. DOVE 71% Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate, chopped
4 (8-oz.) packages cream, fat-free 1 cup sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
4 eggs

½ c. heavy cream
5 oz. DOVE 71% Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate
1 t. sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Place the cookies and sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground. While the processor is running, drizzle in the melted butter and continue processing until well-mixed. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the buttered pan, packing well and making sure to leave a level surface. Bake 5-7 minutes, until set. Let crust cool while you make the filling. Do not turn off the oven.

Melt the 71% chocolate in a double boiler or in a glass bowl over simmering water. When it’s melted, remove from heat and allow it to cool until it is lukewarm but still liquid.

While the chocolate cools, cut or tear the cream cheese into chunks and place it in the food processor. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and process until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, processing thoroughly between each one. While processor is running, drizzle in the lukewarm chocolate and continue processing until thoroughly mixed.

Pour the filling over the crust and smooth the top. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until center is lightly set and looks dry. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to make sure it doesn’t stick as it cools. Cool on a rack for one hour, then refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. Do not remove the ring of the springform pan and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

To make the ganache, stir together the chocolate, cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Cool slightly, then pour the ganache over the cheesecake, spreading it to the edge of the top, but not over. Chill for one hour, until the topping is set.

Before serving, allow the cake to sit at room temperature for one hour.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge

My kids and I have had fun making some treats for neighbors and friends and this is one of the new ones we tried. I gotta say it is goooooood! I love cherries and chocolate together. I found the recipe at Karma Per Diem recently and knew I wanted to make it for Christmas plates.

I copied and pasted the recipe as it was originally, but I did some things differently. It calls to just put it into a loaf pan and there will be "some" fudge leftover, so I put it into an 11 x 7-inch pan, thinking it is bigger than a loaf pan so all the fudge would fit into it. But I could quickly tell there was too much white cherry fudge for just that pan so I also put some into a loaf pan. There was enough fudge to fill both pans well.

Also, I did chill the first layer for 6 hours before adding the second, as directed, but the milk chocolate layer kinda falls off of the white layer. So next time I will make the white layer and chill it just while I make the milk chocolate layer and then add that on top. And believe me, there will be a next time!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge 
Bottom layer: White Cherry Fudge:
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 (12-oz.) pkg. white chocolate chips

1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow crème
1 t. vanilla extract

2 (approx. 10 ounces each) jars
maraschino cherries, drained, rough-chopped, and dried thoroughly

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 234°. Remove from heat, stir in chips, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Beat until blended. Gently fold in maraschino cherries. Pour into foil-lined 9″ loaf pan. Allow to cool at least six hours in refrigerator.

Top layer: Milk Chocolate Fudge:
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 (12-oz.) pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow crème
1 t. vanilla extract

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 234°. Remove from heat, stir in chips, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Beat until blended. Remove cherry fudge from refrigerator and using a heat-proof spatula, gently pour and spread fudge (about ¼ cup at a time) on top of cherry fudge. Allow to cool at least six hours in refrigerator. Note: you will probably have leftover milk chocolate fudge unless your loaf pan is extremely tall.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Handy Excuse

A couple of years ago while trying to find help for my aching heart, I read this interesting article titled
about something that is now said often with men or women who leave their spouse. "I love you, but I'm not IN love with you and there's nothing I can do about it."

Of course, all marriages go through ups and downs and they aren't all super-romantic all the time. You see your wife without make-up or your husband sitting with his shirt up and his stomach sticking out above his pants. You see his or her weaknesses. You have hurt each other. They have sometimes failed to do what you have wanted and needed.

But through all of this many people are able to do what they promised to do, keep loving through it all and to stay with his or her spouse forever, progress together, hold hands, give hugs and kisses with meaning and feeling, make memories and say "I love you". If you have that, like most of my readers do, realize what an enormous blessing that is. No matter how much he doesn't help around the house or makes you watch stupid movies or how much she makes you late because she's doing her hair or she vents as soon as you come home from work.... It is a blessing.

Here are a few parts of the long article, but go to the link above and read it all. It's not specifically an LDS perspective, but it is religious perspective and cites many Bible verses.

“The excuse ‘I’m not in love with you anymore’ is nonsensical. Let me tell you why. There is no such emotional condition as falling out of love; it’s a justification for doing whatever you are planning on doing. It’s a way to let your spouse down easy.

“What you’re really feeling and should be saying is ‘I don’t want to love you anymore.’ It usually means that the attitude towards your spouse and marriage is not what it once was. Perhaps you are talking yourself into having an affair or perhaps you have already had an affair.

“The person who says ‘I’m not in love with you anymore’ is searching for a feeling. The marriage has stopped giving them a feeling they want and expect to have.’” (Angie Lewis from the article titled “Testimonies: Falling In and Out of Love" — which you may want to read to learn more on this issue.)

"As I said before, feelings can come and go.

“A person who says, ‘I love you, but I’m not IN LOVE with you,’ is making a distinction between 2 different feelings. But NEITHER of those feelings are love! When a person says, ‘I love you, but I’m not IN LOVE with you,’ they’re saying that I CARE about you but I’m not EXCITED about you.

"...You can’t MAKE your spouse participate in your marriage in the way he or she should, but you can ask God to keep your heart and mind and focus centered on doing things His way, and to give you peace of mind in the process."

I know too many people who are hurt and alone. The divorce rate just seems to climb. I know there are times to leave like when there is any abuse or often if there is addiction or adultery. But too often people just give up because they want to move on to someone and something new. I know this is not what the Lord wants for us or our children. This is not what we need in this world.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Integrity Through & Through

I get tired of seeing liars and hypocrites seem to get away with what they do and even earn praise and popularity from others. This world just seems to get worse and worse, but I need to focus on the positive things and the good examples I know.

I need to just remember the law of the harvest and know that what they reap, they will sow someday. And someday I will be rewarded for my plodding along, day after day, holding fast to the iron rod and ignoring the chances presented to let go and to live opposite to everything I am and believe.

I think that for those of us who do not stray, it is not because we aren’t surrounded by the same sorts of chances to do wrong, but because in our hearts and the core of our beings we are disciples of Christ. In order to remain strong, we must become a better person, not just practice better behavior. We will ultimately be judged by who we have become, not just what we have done.

People can do the right thing because of fear of guilt or fear of getting caught. But they have not become a better person for doing the right thing. And they will not be rewarded the same.

"People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach. And the Savior stands as the finest example."
Elder David A. Bednar, "Be Honest," New Era, Oct. 2005, 7

“In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, 32
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Sabrina if she remembered what integrity meant. I really liked her answer and have been thinking a lot about it. She said, “Integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking because it’s what you want to do.”

There are so many people who pretend to be one type of person in front of others, but when they think others aren’t looking, they do what they really want to do in their hearts---steal, lie, commit adultery… And there are others who have no desire to do any of those things even if they wouldn’t get caught or somehow not feel guilty. Those are the people who have integrity and would not give away their eternal blessings for temporary, fleeting rewards.

I recently watched Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin’s talk Personal Integrity and a certain word he used to describe integrity stood out to me. “Incorruptible” Oh, how the incorruptible people shine with the Savior’s light. Have you ever seen someone who you know is hiding something from others or living in a way contrary to what they say they believe? They are the corruptible, corrupted people and you can see the lack of light. I have seen it. Following are some quotes from his talk.
"To me, integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequences. It means being righteous from the very depth of our soul, not only in our actions but, more importantly, in our thoughts and in our hearts. Personal integrity implies such trustworthiness and incorruptibility that we are incapable of being false to a trust or covenant.

"…many today trade away their integrity for a very small price tag. A person who shoplifts for a candy bar, or makeup, or jewelry trades priceless integrity for a meager gain. A person who falsifies a tax return by not reporting income or claiming invalid deductions compromises valued integrity for a pittance of unpaid income tax. One who avoids paying bills promptly for goods or services received exchanges cherished integrity for a perceived temporary advantage. Husbands or wives who are unfaithful to their spouses trade their prized integrity for a fleeting moment of mirth. Integrity is so precious that it is beyond price; it is invaluable.

"Joseph’s integrity placed him among the greatest of our Heavenly Father’s sons. He did what was right and good; he was trustworthy and incorruptible, self-disciplined never to violate a trust.

"Because of his integrity and righteousness, Joseph was favored and blessed of the Lord in every circumstance. His life is evidence that “all things work together for good to [those who] love God.” (Rom. 8:28.)

“A man’s true greatness is not in what he says he is, nor in what people say he is; [but really] in what he really is.' (Hartshorn, p. 38.)"

President James E. Faust also used the same word that I now like to describe integrity in his talk Integrity, the Mother of Many Virtues
"The dictionary defines integrity as a firm adherence to a code of moral values (see Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary). It connotes soundness and incorruptibility. It is the mother of many virtues.
Complete and constant integrity is a great law of human conduct. There need to be some absolutes in life. There are some things that should not ever be done, some lines that should never be crossed, vows that should never be broken, words that should never be spoken, and thoughts that should never be entertained."

The world teaches the exact opposite of that last paragraph, teaching that anything goes, there should be no rules to hold us down and no vows that can't be easily broken.
There are many blessings for having integrity, some of which come soon (like peace and the presence of the Holy Ghost) and others that come later, even in the next life. How could anything be worth throwing away those blessings away forever? Are those people who have no integrity trustworthy or respectable?

…till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
Job 27:5

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Books to Read in the New Year

Thanks for the entries in the last post. The winner of the 3 books giveaway is...


And it's not because I happen to think she has a pretty great name.

Congrats, Valerie.

We'll be in touch to get the books to you soon. I hope they are great.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Done With Shopping? (Giveaway too)

I know many of you are good at planning and shopping ahead of time. I used to buy things here and there, little by little. But with my full-time student schedule these last couple of years, I have waited until after finals and then it's a mad rush. Just in case any of you are like me and aren't finished yet, or you are looking ahead for a gift for someone's birthday, I'm posting a few links from people I know in the real world and am happy to refer you to. Please check with them about dates since I don't know what you might actually be able to get before Christmas.

Decal Geex has decals from small for laptops to large for walls. (Make sure you check the size before ordering.).  Don't spot what you're looking for? He does custom orders, so just send him a message and he'd be happy to fun-ify your wall. If you like Decal Geex on Facebook, he'll send you a code for free shipping.

Looking for a unique gift for someone special (or even for yourself)? Angie has lots of vintage items--kitchen stuff, toys, jewelry and more and the prices are really great at The American Homemaker She has 76 items in the $5 and under section.
Angie is super-talented and I'm sure the funnest photographer you'll ever work with. Make sure you book early because she is very popular and busy. Visit her site and you will see why.

Visit Kelly's etsy shop called The Vintage Bob, where she has cute and fun jewelry and headbands. (I featured her a couple of years ago and even gave away one of her beautiful headbands. And I wore my headband from her yesterday.)

And just for fun, I'm throwing in a giveaway. It can be a Christmas gift for you or you can give them away so it's one last thing you have to shop for.

A couple of years ago, I went to a few book signings and bought these books (got all three signed). It was back when I would have been able to read for fun, but then I started school full-time and haven't been able to read them. I'm giving them away to a reader so they can be read by someone.
The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
Within the Flame by Leeanne Hanks
Nothing to Regret by Tristi Pinkston
All three are LDS authors, but I haven't read them so I can't comment on the content. I hope one of my few remaining readers out there will like them.
For a chance to win all three, just leave me a comment with the title of a book you really like. The giveaway closes Friday, December 14 at noon MST and I'll announce it sometime that day. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fill Up the Goodie Trays

This is my last week of classes for this semester and then finals are next week. Almost made it through another semester. This last week I have several assignments and even an exam, so I won't have time to bake or post for a bit. I thought I'd post my top 10 most popular dessert recipes, the ones that have received the most hits. Maybe you can find a new favorite for your goodie plates this year. What is your favorite treat to make every year?

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Peanut M&M Cookies is #1 by far.

Swirled Lemon Raspberry Poundcake with Raspberry Glaze

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles

Homemade Milky Way Bars

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Choco-nut Dainties

Jam Layer Bars

Larger-than-Life Praline Cheesecake

Better-than-Brad-Pitt Brownies

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Experimentalist

I'm sharing an indie artist again, but this one isn't from Utah. He is The Experimentalist from California. I discovered his music on Reverbnation, of course. He's a young music student who writes, produces, sings and plays. Think we can talk him into doing a show out here in Utah???
His song Mr. No is especially catchy and fun. Check out some more of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Get A Grip"

This morning I woke up pretty early so I was able to get ready for church and still have quite a bit of time to study scriptures and then talks and my notes. I kind of put a couple of talks together in my head to go with this quote from President Hinckley that I found in my notes.

"This is a first priority. We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments."
President Gordon B. Hinckley, If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear, Oct. 2005 General Conference

I'm sure we all know people who want to break the commandments and avoid doing the basics we are taught to do (go to church, pray, read our scriptures, do as we are told by our local leaders and follow the words of our Father through our prophets...), yet think that they can still be blessed with those blessings that only come to those who are imperfect, but willing to follow the commandments and keep doing those basic things. It's kinda like the thief running away from someone trying to stop him and catch him while he is praying not to be caught.

There are consequences which come from sin and one of them is the loss of the Holy Ghost. How can we be guided to what Heavenly Father wants for us when we are not doing what we already know we should be doing? Or in the words of a bishop in my stake who recently spoke at stake conference, "We cannot know what we are supposed to do if we aren't where are are supposed to be."

 Another consequence is the loss of peace. There is a peace that is only felt when we are living in the way that we know we should. I plan on writing a separate post on peace sometime soon...when I can.

The first of the talks that I re-read this morning that I wanted to share is Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by Elder Pearson.

"True faith must be centered in Jesus Christ. 'Faith is a principle of action and of power' (Bible Dictionary, 670). It requires us to do, not merely to believe.

"Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: 'Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith' (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 264). If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient.

"These Six Destructive Ds—doubt, discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief—all erode and destroy our faith."
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, April 2009 General Conference

If we want to feel more faith, we have to be more obedient. How simple. We cannot live contrary to what we know is right and then just pray for a desire to stop and for faith to know what to do. We must live it and know it before we will be endowed with more faith and we will also be given more strength to continue to live righteously.

The second talk is called Hold On by Ann Dibb. She talks about the iron rod. Some people mistakenly believe that if there is something fun that takes them away from the iron rod, they can go participate and then quickly return to the rod, just where they left. How wrong they are. When we let go of the iron rod and indulge in worldly things, our hearts and desires are changed. It is hard to feel the Holy Ghost so we might not hear the callings to return. And even when we do, we may no longer want to return, after having tasted of the world and all it has to offer. Some people take the long and hard process of repentance, that is always harder than people think it will be, but some people never return and remain lost in the fog and darkness.

"Our mortal probation is not easy, and it is not brief. We are blessed to come to this earth and gain a mortal body. This life is our opportunity to prove ourselves and exercise our agency (see Abraham 3:25). We can choose to follow Heavenly Father’s eternal plan of salvation (see Jarom 1:2; Alma 42:5; Moses 6:62) and redemption (see Jacob 6:8; Alma 12:25; 42:11), or we can try to find our own way. We can be obedient and keep His commandments, or we can reject them and face the consequences that will surely follow.

Heavenly Father has not left us alone during our mortal probation. He has already given us all the 'safety equipment' we will need to successfully return to Him. He has given us personal prayer, the scriptures, living prophets, and the Holy Ghost to guide us. At times, using this equipment may seem cumbersome, awkward, and horribly unfashionable. Its proper use requires our diligence, obedience, and persistence. But I, for one, choose to use it. We must all choose to use it.

In the scriptures we learn about another key piece of safety equipment—a “rod of iron.” Disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are invited to hold on to this rod in order to safely find their way to eternal life...In modern terms we might say we are invited to 'get a grip.' We must hold on tight to the iron rod and never let go."
Ann Dibb, Hold On, October 2009 General Conference

Our Heavenly Father loves each of us and wants us to return to Him. He wants to reward us with increased faith and strength against the adversary, so he gave us clear instructions, an iron rod. We must each make a choice whether we will hold strong to what we believe or whether we will choose the world. It is a choice that we can make every day. I am grateful for the oppportunity to show my Heavenly Father how much I love Him by following His commandments.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Banana Split Salad

Fruit-studded sweet cream makes an easy treat. Sounds perfect for summer, but we whipped it up for Thankgsiving and it is good in the fall too. I found it quite a while ago at Baking Like Betty (apparently it's a Paula Deen recipe) and I finally got around to making it after all this time of the recipe sitting in my file.
Banana Split Salad

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12- or 8-oz.) tub of Cool Whip, thawed
1 (21-oz.) cherry pie filling
3 medium bananass, sliced
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
Garnish: Pecans, coconut, strawberries and chocolate fudge (all optional)

In a large bowl combine milk and Cool Whip till well blended. Fold in the cherry pie filling, bananas, pineapple, pecans, coconut and strawberries. Garnish as you wish. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Crunchy Caramel Corn

The kids and I just finished making food for Thanksgiving tomorrow that we'll be taking to my mom & dad's tomorrow. Sabrina, who is picky and doesn't often like to try new desserts, has been begging me to make crunchy caramel corn. I looked up a recipe and found this one from Martha Stewart and we LOVE it. It is crunchy and sweet and not overly covered with caramel. Sabrina even loves it. Another approved dessert to add to her short list, even if it is a bit strange for Thanksgiving.

Crunchy Caramel Corn

4 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking sheet
10 cups plain unsalted popped (from 1/2 cup kernels or a 3.3-ounce bag microwave popcorn) popcorn
1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
Coarse salt
Preheat oven to 300°. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Place popcorn in a large bowl; if using cashews, add to bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring butter, sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil, stirring constantly. Working quickly, drizzle popcorn with sugar syrup, and toss.
Spread popcorn evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until golden and shiny, about 40 minutes. Transfer hot popcorn to parchment-paper-lined baking sheet; let cool.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Val's Juicy Skillet Chicken & Peppers

I threw together a new dinner last night and I was happy to have many compliments about the taste and that it looks gourmet. It's nice to have something so easy please my family. I didn't really measure out anything so I'll just estimate the amounts I used.
Val's Juicy Skillet Chicken & Peppers

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, sliced fairly thin
1 each red, green and orange bell peppers
Salt & Pepper, to taste

6 T. brown sugar
1/2 c. soy sauce
2/3 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T. lemon juice
3/4 c. canola oil

Mix marinade ingredients well and place HALF of it in bowl or bag with chicken in marinade. Marinade for at least 3 hours.

Slice bell peppers into rings (or half-rings). Warm skillet with a small amount of oil on medium heat. When warm, place bell peppers in skillet and cook until tender. Remove from pan.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken (not marinade) in skillet and brown both sides of chicken, pouring liquid out of skillet if too much accumulates. When all browned, but not cooked through, put bell peppers on top of chicken, and pour reserved marinade over all in skillet. Let chicken cook through completely.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

To Talk Like Christ

I was reading through my notebook where I take notes from all the conferences and meetings I go to and was reminded of such beautiful things I've heard from so many people. It's Christlike Communications from the October 1988 General Conference by L. Lionel Kendrick, now emeritus general authority. I was introduced to this talk by Brother Barrett at a BYU Women's Conference. Unfortunately, I didn't write his full name and I didn't write the year, so I don't have more information than that.

Brother Barrett read Mosiah 3:19.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

We are told that we should "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit" and that "through the atonement of Christ the Lord" we can change from a natural man to being Christlike and childlike in every way, including, as the class was about, in our relationships with a spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers or anyone.

In 3 Nephi 11:29, it is very straight-forward in telling us that contention is of the devil. It doesn't say, if you are right, it's okay to fight until the other person sees it your way.

 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

This scripture follows the direction to the Nephites on how to baptize and is giving this direction on how they need to be united. Because it is a commandment and part of the baptismal covenant, Brother Barrett taught, we are empowered to do the 4 things that L. Lionel Kendrick says are necessary in practicing Christlike Communications.

I love how he opens his talk, speaking of the importance of communication.

"Heavenly Father has given us a priceless gift in our capacity to communicate with each other. Our communications are at the core of our relationships with others...Our communications reflect in our countenance. Therefore, we must be careful not only what we communicate, but also how we do so. Souls can be strengthened or shattered by the message and the manner in which we communicate."

I'm sure we have all been uplifted by someone's words to us and we have also felt hurt by other words. And the words we use will be recorded.

"We will be held accountable for all that we say. The Savior has warned 'that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.' (Matt. 12:36.) This means that no communication shall be without consequence. This includes the slight slips of the tongue, the caustic communications that canker the soul, and the vain, vulgar, and profane words which desecrate the name of Deity."

This is a good incentive, besides the pain we could cause to others, to choose our words and tone with care. Those who think they can say whatever they are feeling, hurt others, and blame the other person for "taking it the wrong way" will see someday that they are accountable. It is still our choice to be offended or not, but that doesn't let them off the hook.

He lists four NO's of Christlike Communication, which I have written in the order Brother Barrett discussed them in class, not the same order as Elder Kendrick

1. No lying. "To lie is to be untruthful, deceptive, deceitful, and dishonest."
I've been talking to my children a lot about the sin of lying lately because it seems I have seen it so much around me lately and it makes me sad to see so many people who think it is a little thing.

"It is a serious sin to lie. The scriptures teach us that 'lying lips are abomination to the Lord' (Prov. 12:22) and that 'he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out' (D&C 42:21). "

Brother Barrett mentions that lying is not just an outward telling of an untruth, but keeping something from someone in an attempt to deceive, making promises that we don't keep and not following through on our end of a deal, however small that deal may seem.

Besides it being hurtful and a sin, when another person knows that we are dishonest, it "minimizes our power of influence" on that person, as Brother Barrett pointed out.

2. No anger "This is perhaps the most common form of un-Christlike communication. Anger causes anguish to the souls of all of those who experience the feeling as well as to those who are the recipients of this emotional explosion. Anger shows a lack of self-control and an inability to relate in a righteous way to others".

3. No criticizing. "This caustic communication is cruel, and it tends to crush the character of all of those about whom it is directed." Brother Barrett reminded us that we are to inspire people to change and to help them lovingly see problems and correct them, but not bring them down. He talked about sarcasm as "humor wrapped in barbed wire" and said that it is not a good way to communicate.

4. No blaming. "This is a condemning communication... It has been from the beginning and it will be till the end that the natural man will have a tendency to rationalize and to blame his behaviors on others or on certain circumstances. When we attempt to place responsibility for our choices on others, we are responding in a less than Christlike manner."

Finally, Elder Kendrick's words at the end of his talk are beautiful and can help serve as a guide.

"Christlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Goodnight Annabelle

I know I just posted some music this week, but I'm stitting here listening to my playlist on Reverbnation while I'm studying and I realized that there are still so many local artists that I haven't shared on my blog. I chose to feature Goodnight Annabelle from Provo since they will be in Bandocalypse, the Battle of the Bands at UVU in Orem, on November 27th. Doors open at 6:30 and it's $7 a person. Lots of fun!!

The band got to play on KSL when they were participating in a competition. My favorites of their songs are Stay and Sad Song (scroll down on the music player to listen to it).

I think this picture is a little old. On KSL, they had 6 guys playing/singing. If you like their music, they have 3 EPs you can buy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Signal I Send to the Lord

In a recent post, I talked about one of the topics at our recent stake conference where Elder Packer from the 1st Quorum of the Seventy presided and spoke. Now I’d like to talk about a second topic which several speakers touched on and also which Elder Bednar recently spoke at General Conference in his talk Converted Unto the Lord . I seem to be hearing it a lot lately so I think there is something important for me to learn from it right now. The subject is being fully converted unto the Lord and the difference between conversion and testimony.
Of course, we must begin our process toward becoming disciples of Christ by first gaining a testimony, but we must continue the journey by putting into action that which we learn and believe in our hearts. First I will share with you parts of Elder Bednar’s talk. It is so hard not to just share the whole thing so it is a long reading assignment for you, my readers. I added the bold to a few of the parts that stand out to me---but I love it all.
“The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God (see Acts 3:19; 3 Nephi 9:20) and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.
Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony.
For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.
Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. Some members of the Church with testimonies have wavered and fallen away. Their spiritual knowledge and commitment did not measure up to the challenges they faced.
Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.”
As Elder Bednar says, a testimony alone is not enough to help us withstand the tempests that are all around us in the world, the discouragement, the temptations, the filth everywhere we turn. We must take that step and become fully converted to the Lord and show that change and conversion by our strict obedience, by our every action. That gives us a protection like armor that we need. It is easy to say we believe and even easy to feel it for many of us, but it takes commitment to act in the way be believe and to center every decision in our lives on what our Heavenly Father would have us do, making our heart’s desires align with His.
Let me share now a few of the thoughts from speakers at stake conference about this.
President Daines, President of the Provo Temple, spoke to us and quoted Elder Oaks.
“Testimony is to know and to feel, conversion is to do and to become.”
    Dallin H. Oaks, quoted in Kenneth Johnson, “Coming to Know for Ourselves,” Ensign, July 2008, 29
I really liked what President Daines said following that, which I summarize the best I can here. “We send a signal to the Lord about the depth of our conversion by what we do and become.” I want to send a strong, bright signal to the Lord that I love Him and am willing to do all He asks of me. I can only do that by obedience and enduring faithfully in all things.

In his talk to us, Elder Packer told us that the only way we can inoculate our families towards the enemy in our world is through personal spiritual conversion. We as parents need to help our children gain their own testimonies and be fully converted by our example, giving them opportunities to feel the Spirit and recognize it, teaching them and loving them. Elder Packer also said (I put in quotes, but it’s the best quote I could write down as he spoke), “When we are converted, we make decisions that honor our Father because we know who He is and who we are.”
The final note I wrote from Elder Packer’s talk is “Our destiny is tied to our obedience to the doctrine.”
We do not have a set fate with no choice in this life. Our lives are full of agency and choices and those choices lead us to how happy or unhappy we will be here and where we will eternally be. We cannot say on our judgment day that the ruling is unfair. Because of the atonement, we will all be resurrected. Because of the atonement, we can repent and our spots made white. But we cannot live contrary to that which we know to be true and then expect a reward in the life to come. Mercy cannot rob justice. We can live with our Father in Heaven and with our family in the celestial kingdom someday, but only if we choose it with our daily choices, with the degree of our conversion.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It'll All Be Clear

If you are one of my family or friends who comes to my blog occasionally, then you know I love music. I like a variety of music and can't really figure out what I like best. But usually the music I like to put on my blog is from local artists that haven't yet signed with a major label. Occasionally, though, I really like a song on the radio and share it with all of you.

So a lot of you have probably heard this one already. I heard it three times on the radio today and I wasn't in the car much (the only place I listen to the radio). When I first heard this song on the radio, I thought it was very Mumford & Sons-y and was surprised when the DJ said it was Phillip Phillips. I remembered him from American Idol, but didn't realize this is the song he sang to win American Idol. I do remember loving the song he sang, but didn't remember what it was. Who knew that since he sang it on AI, it was featured in a Clint Eastwood movie, the summer Olympics and an insurance commercial?? Well, probably a lot of people, but I didn't know.

I love it because of the sound of his voice and the beautiful guitar, but also because the words really speak to me, and I'm sure to lots of people.

This is my favorite part of it.

 "Settle down. It'll all be clear.
Don't pay no mind to the demons.
They fill you with fear.
The trouble, it might drag you down.
If you get lost, you can always be found."

Someday the reason for all our troubles, trials, weaknesses and heartaches will be clear. And who wants us to forget that? Satan and all his angels (demons), who want us to feel fear because faith and fear cannot exist in the same place at the same time. But if we can make it through all of this, we can make it home. Just some positive motivation and awesome music.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be Careful Where You Walk

We had a wonderful stake conference this morning with Elder Allan F. Packer, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, presiding and speaking, along with his wife and several more local leaders speaking. There were many touching words spoken and topics touched on. One that stood out to me (I'll try to share others soon. I'll try.) is one that I've been thinking about a lot over the years since I'm a mother, but even more with this last conference.

For those of you who don't speak Spanish...this picture I saw on Facebook says,

"Son, be careful where you walk. Father, you be careful. Remember that I follow your steps."

That is so powerful. Our children really do watch our footsteps and see what we do, how we do it, what we say, our attitude, our devotion and where our heart really is. Once we become parents, we are no longer responsible just for our own salvation, but to teach and lead our little ones to know the truth and the word of the Lord. Our children should be able to feel the love of our Heavenly Father through our love for them.

With the announcement that the age of young men to go on a mission has been lowered to 18, I felt an electric shock go through me. What??? I already was afraid I wouldn't be able to teach my son all he needed to go out into the world as it is and now I'm losing an entire year with him? He is 16, getting close to 17 and I am not ready. I've been thinking and making lists of all the things I want to teach him and that I wish he can have in his heart, not just in his head. I know he knows a lot of the gospel and has a desire to do what is right, but we are all learning and growing as we go.

Have I done my part? Even with family home evening, church attendance, scripture reading, and all the normal stuff, there is so much more we can do with our children to "inoculate them from the evils in the world", as one of the speakers today said Elder Packer said in a meeting yesterday. 

Right after President Monson's announcement, the first talk of the October 2012 conference talked about families, along with other subjects.

"How we treat those closest to us is of fundamental importance. Violence, abuse, lack of civility, and disrespect in the home are not acceptable—not acceptable for adults and not acceptable for the rising generation. My father was not active in the Church but was a remarkably good example, especially in his treatment of my mother. He used to say, 'God will hold men responsible for every tear they cause their wives to shed.' This same concept is emphasized in “'Family: A Proclamation to the World.' It reads, '[Those] who abuse spouse or offspring … will one day stand accountable before God'14 Regardless of the culture in which we are raised, and whether our parents did or did not abuse us, we must not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone else.15

The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish. There is indeed 'beauty all around when there’s love at home'16"

Then the following really hit me, as it is what we’ve been told and what I’ve been thinking about, but was such a strong reminder of our duties.

Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord. With President Monson’s announcement this morning, it is essential that this be faithfully accomplished in homes which are places of refuge where kindness, forgiveness, truth, and righteousness prevail. Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family. Bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders need to support families and make sure that spiritual principles are taught. Home and visiting teachers can assist, especially with children of single parents.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, Can Ye Feel So Now?, October 2012

Brother Winkle, a counselor in our stake presidency who also happens to be my daughter's friend's dad, said that he's been thinking about Elder Bednar's talk (which you can watch below) from October 2009 called "More Diligent & Concerned at Home". Brother Winkle also spoke of a boss he had who was a very hard worker, spending countless hours at the office and expecting the same of others and accomplishing much in the business world. This man found out he had cancer and was dying. What do you think his advice from his hospital bed was to Brother Winkle? "Spend time with your family. Love your family. Work on building lasting relationships with those you love."

A bishop from another ward was asked to give his impromptu thoughts for 3 minutes. Of all the things he could have spoken about, he chose to speak about families. He said that one of his biggest fears is that the may say or do something that may have a negative effect on his grandchildren's testimony or future. It reminded me of the picture above.

Then an Elder's Quorum President from another ward was asked to speak (sorry I didn't write his name down) said that he asks himself, "Am I the type of father my children can look up to as an example to show them what to do out in enemy's territory and that they can come to for spiritual guidance?" (Well, that's my version of what he said since he spoke faster than I could take notes.)

I feel an increased need to make sure that the MTC is a review, not a revelation for Alex, but also to prepare all my children to be strong, good adults who love their Heavenly Father and follow his commandments, and to be loving spouses and parents, which is the most important thing we can do on this earth. That's all. So I better keep working at it since that job that is easy to explain takes so much time and energy and guidance from the Spirit to accomplish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apple Cobbler Cookies

I've had this recipe in my "To-Try Cookie Recipes" file for a long time and I finally tried them last week when we bought a box of apples from a neighbor who was raising fund for a track trip. Good excuse! I left the pecans out because of my kids' allergies, but I did put pecans on a few of them for me. I had it with and without and I like it better with because it gives a nice crunchy texture to an otherwise soft cookie.
These are so good and I especially like the sugary crumb coating. The only problem I had is that the dough was too sticky to actually roll in the crumb coating, so it was a bit messy. I just didn't have time to stick it in the refrigerator for a bit to aid in rolling into balls. I forgot to count how many it made and the recipe, which I found at Chocolate & Chipotle , says the yield is 18. I'm not sure how many cookies that is per serving since it's more than 18 cookies, but it makes a bunch! Plenty to enjoy and to share. 
I do have to admit that I disobeyed the recipe since it says not to put on the cookie sheet since I didn't have any parchment paper. I sprayed it with Pam first and as long as I didn't let the cookies sit long after taking them out of the oven, they didn't stick at all.

Apple Cobbler Cookies
3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1 ½ t. cinnamon
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
1 c. butter, softened
 2 large eggs                                    
2 t. vanilla
¼ c. apple juice
½ c. apple butter
2 c. tart apples, peeled and diced    
1 c. pecans, chooped
1 c. craisins (optional)
Crumb Coating Mixture:
2 ½ c. brown sugar
3 c. quick oats (not instant)
2 ½ t. cinnamon
1 c. butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 325°. Combine flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon, set aside. Cream butter then add the sugars and cream together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth. Add apple juice & apple butter and thoroughly mix. Add flor mixture, scraping sides ½ way through. Mix in apple, pecans and craisins until just blended. (Dough will be sticky) DO NOT OVER MIX!

Crumb Coating:
Combine sugar, oats & cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix until all dry are moist.
Using a ice cream scoop (2.5 oz) Roll dough in the Crumb Coating and place in a sprayed muffin top pan or on a parchment lined cookie sheet (DO NOT PLACE DIRECTLY ON THE COOKIE SHEET!!!!) Bake for 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...