Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lara Johnston

My music post today isn't of a local Utah artist, like my usual music features, and she isn't even a beginning singer, but probably some or most of my readers haven't heard of her yet. She is Lara Johnston, daughter of Doobie Brothers’ singer Tom Johnston. She was previously on MTV's Rock the Cradle and on American Idol. She has opened for acts like KISS and Heart, and has performed as a backing vocalist for artists like Don Henley and Belinda Carlisle. I first heard her on Reverbnation and added several of her songs to my playlist.

The song K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) is one of her original songs that really stuck in my head. She is a talented song-writer and singer and this song seems ready for the radio to me.

I also like "Last Time", "The Party's Over" and "The Girl Next Door".
Okay, I like lots of them. Take a listen and see which are your favorites.

*Just a quick note: Some of you might want to skip "I Don't Give A" like I do. From the little I heard, it doesn't have the swear word that people would finish that with, just a little pause.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Right for You

Just a couple of Sundays ago as I was getting ready for church, I was listening to several episodes of Mormon Channel Daily and this one stood out to me. It's an interview with Joe Fowler and Joe Sines, who made the recent Mormon Message that some of you may have already seen called Wrong Roads, in which Elder Jeffrey R. Holland retells a story that happened to him and his son in the Grand Canyon.
I won't tell the story since it is told so well in the video. It was originally told by Elder Holland's son Matthew Holland (currently the President of UVU in Orem) in the New Era (a gospel magazine for youth) in the article Wrong Roads and Revelation. It discusses how sometimes Heavenly Father may send us down a path that isn't the right one in order for us to know which is the right path.  

Joe Fowler and Joe Sines talk in the interview about making the video and even before that about how they were sometimes inspired to go down an alternative path before realizing it wasn't the right path. (Click on their names in the first paragraph to listen to the podcast.) One of the Joe's talks about how he and his wife felt that it was right for him to get a better job so they started to do all of the necessary things for that change. Then it was soon obvious that it wasn't working out and they needed to stay where they were and he needed to keep his job. Because of the confidence they felt that this was the right job, despite other good opportunities being out there, they were able to be happy where they were. If they had not started down the path (a few times) to other employment, they might not have been sure that they were where Heavenly Father wanted them to be.

Although it is not in the video, I appreciated that the 2 Joe's emphasized that when they spoke with Elder Holland for the video, he mentioned that Heavenly Father will not inspire you to sin. That is a different kind of wrong road and is only prompted to be taken by the Father of Lies. The type of wrong road that he is talking about is one that is a good option, just not the correct one for that person at that time. 

At the time I was listening to the interview, I hadn't seen the Mormon Message they had made, so right after listening to it, I searched for it and found it right away.


I really liked the message and decided that I would use it for a Family Home Evening message and told Alexander, my son, that I was going to use it, but didn't want to tell him about it until the lesson. I just said that I had watched it and it had a great message. Then we went to sacrament and my visiting teaching companion gave a great talk and talked about this video and its message. As she started to talk, I told my son not to listen because that was the video. (Of course, I was kidding.)

Then the next day one of my friends shared it on Facebook, and then another friend. It was a message that is for everyone, and one that I felt was very personal and needed for me. I love that Heavenly Father cares enough about us to want us to be happy, confident and sure about the road that is right for each of us.

We have so many choices in this life and so many difficult ones are not between good and evil, but between two or more that could be good. Only our Heavenly Father knows which one is truly right for us and He will guide us to that, sometimes directly and sometimes after a bit of winding around or going down a different road.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Bake With Struesel Topping

I made this for a church Christmas breakfast that we had today. I got to try just a little piece of it. It was a hit and I had none to take home with me, so I will be making it again soon. Like next week. It is really delicious!

I found it at Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch . I followed the directions except for the struesel. Instead of using a baggie, I mixed it in my bowl using my hands. I didn't want any of it getting stuck in the baggie.

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Bake With Struesel Topping
1 loaf French Bread, ripped or cut into cubes
1 1/2 c. blueberries (If frozen thaw and drain juice.)
7 whole eggs
2 1/2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
3 t. vanilla extract
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 c. cold butter, cut into 8 cubes

Grease a 9"x 13" baking dish.

Add 1/2 of French bread cubes and top with 3/4 cup blueberries to dish. Add remaining bread cubes and top with remaining 3/4 cup blueberries.

In a medium sized bowl combine eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour egg mixture over the top of bread and blueberries. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

In a gallon sized Ziploc bag add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Close tightly and use fingers to thoroughly combine ingredients. Add butter and re-close bag. Use fingers to combine butter and sugar mixture until it resembles pea sized pieces. If butter becomes soft mixture, it will re-harden overnight in the refrigerator. Place Ziploc bag in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350°.

Remove casserole and streusel topping from the refrigerator. Use fingers to crumble streusel topping over the top of the bread and blueberries.

Bake for 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Serve plain or with additional butter and maple syrup.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

From the Dust Giveaway

Salt Lake City Comic Con might not be the first place you’d expect to see LDS products, but this one was there and it was a hit!  It is Volume #1 of From the Dust, an LDS serial graphic novel. Yes, a comic book. A beautifully illustrated comic book that is meant to entertain, but also informs.
And the author/illustrator is my almost-brother-in-law. You haven’t you heard that term before? He is really my sister’s brother-in-law, but that makes him almost mine too, right? His name is Michael Mercer, a graduate from BYU, and he is very talented and has big ambitions with this series.

My daughter Sabrina, a comic book fanatic, has the 107-page print version of Volume #1 The Last King of Judah, but there is also a multi-touch edition for iPad and iPad mini that I’m sure kids would love. The printed book is good quality paper, not like the typical comic book. The illustrations are amazing. In this first volume, you are introduced to the series and to many of the characters with information about each one, like Jeremiah, Zedekiah, Lehi, and Nephi.  Then there are several pages that describe the geography, the “Dangerous Empires”.

Then we get to the 16-page storyline that starts with Jeremiah in this volume. The comic storyline is followed by scriptures and details to explain what is going on. It helps teach what is going on in the scriptures in a way younger and older children will enjoy and understand. There’s also a sneak peek at Volume #3.

When I first heard of this comic book, I thought it would be just for kids, but I learned several things reading it. There is a lot of good information included with all of the entertainment and it’s really meant for the whole family. Don't forget to check out the apparel available on the website.

I especially enjoy how Michael links the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon history and stories together. So often we study them separately even though they are part of the same history.
This is just the start to a whole series. Michael would like to expedite the release of Volume #2 and others so he started a Kickstarter  page.  He’s hoping to get more volumes out and eventually a series of movies. I love the idea of this being made into movies!

So go like From the Dust on Facebook. And order a hard copy or multi-touch edition for a great family Christmas present. Check out all the great reviews on Amazon so far. And you can also enter to win one print version of Volume #1 The Last Kind of Judah here right now. And I’ll throw in some popcorn and candy so you can enjoy some fun family time when you get it in the mail if you are the winner.
To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me one thing you are doing this Christmas season to remember our Savior in your home. And to help get the word out about From the Dust, if you share this information on Facebook or on your blog, leave a comment here letting me know that you did and I will give you 2 extra entries. Enter until Wednesday, December 11th at 11:59pm. I will choose a winner and post it here as soon as I can after. (I have finals that week and the next, but I will try to post it soon after.)

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 ...