Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Photos of Japan

Alexander finally sent me just a few photos of Japan. I really hope to get more next week. His letters are very short and without many details. Honestly, it drives me crazy. I want some stories. I want to know how he's feeling. So many things. His current companion apparently writes his mother a bit more than Alexander does and she told me that Alexander is fearless and talks with everyone and that he was a really good sport in a blizzard. It's so good to hear a little about him from somebody.

Random pic he sent. It apparently says "I love Australia" so it is probably one of his roommate's who is from Australia.
Food from a market in Japan
Japan in December

Here's his latest letter to everyone:

Well, I can't say that I have anything specific that I want to say in this, besides that I've been having a fun time here.

Japan is awesome, and fun, and wonderfully cold. I love the snow and the people (not necessarily in that order). 

Missionary work basically shuts down for new years eve and day, because it is so important to be with family for new years, that if you try to visit people during this time, then you get very angry looks. So we get to deep clean our apartments instead. Yay! :D Shouldn't be too hard. :)

At any rate, things are doing well here, and wish I had more to say, but I don't have a clue what to say and I'm bad at the who talking thing when I want to be :P So, until next week. May it be full of fun and questions that I can answer so that I actually have stuff to talk about! ;)

With my deepest love,
 Elder ---------

And here is part of his letter to me:
I am warm enough when I'm outside, but it's always nice when we get to go inside to a house, especially if they have mugicha (a type of tea that is a-okay for members to drink). The food budget is perfectly fine! I haven't spent all of my money for this month yet (still about $20 left, more or less), and that's more than I'll need.
As for the baptisms, I don't really care about what other people have to say about how "effective" an area is for baptisms, because "the field is white and ready to harvest," and I know that I'll find those that the Lord wants me to find in every area I go to-- regardless of whether or not others are successful in an area! :D The investigator said that he isn't quite sure yet, that he still has his concerns, but that if those concerns work out that he'd definitely like to get baptized. I know that he'll be able to clear up those concerns, and I'll do all I can to help him get to the point where he feels comfortable with it!

Monday, December 22, 2014

He's in Japan

Alexander made it to Japan last week and I got my first email from him from there on Sunday, which is Monday there. His debit card hasn't worked since he got there so we've had fun trying to figure out all that stuff long distance and just writing once a week. He says there is about 7 1/2 feet of snow and that it has been snowing non-stop since he got there. He is serving in one of the coldest parts of Japan. I've been so worried about him keeping cold, but he says he loves the snow.

He said he talked to people on the streets of Sendai before heading off to his new home in Yonezawa. Ever heard of it before? I hadn't.

But he didn't send any photos of Japan yet. Since he didn't send any while in the MTC, he sent me some of his old ones first so hopefully I'll get some next week. Fingers crossed! I did really enjoy getting some photos from him!

Can you find Japan on a world map?

Outside of the Provo temple, Alex bumped into a friend of his from our ward who was also sent to Japan also, but a different mission. (But he didn't send me a pic of him with his companion at the MTC yet)

One of our dear former stake presidents is a branch president of a Japanese branch (he went to Japan on his mission too) in Provo and saw Alex every Sunday while he was at the MTC.

Alex sent us pics of his MTC teachers. They all look so very young to me!

We sent Alex his Christmas gifts while he was in the MTC since it was so much cheaper than mailing them to Japan.

We were able to get a few photos of him in Japan from other people. The one above is the new group along with the mission president and his wife.
And this is Alex with his brand new companion in Japan and with his mission president and his wife after a very, very long trip from Provo to Sendai with a layover in Portland and then another in Tokyo.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

I pinned this recipe a while ago from House of Yumm and my daughter Elisa really wanted it for dinner tonight. I gotta say, it was easy and really good. We used ham from the deli instead of Canadian Bacon.

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese
2 slices of bread
3 slices of pineapple, fresh or canned
3 slices canadian bacon
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Oregano and parsley
Butter one side of each slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley and oregano to taste
On non buttered side of bread place the shredded cheese, then the canadian bacon, pineapple, and top with the other slice of bread, buttered side facing up.
Cook sandwich on stove top on a griddle or frying pan. Once bread is toasted on one side flip the sandwich to toast the other side. Cook on a low heat to allow the cheese to melt while the bread is toasting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Usually December is cold and snowy in Utah, making it good weather for warm soup, but this year we've had it really warm, and totally, in my opinion great. But I still made some warm soup with homemade breadsticks today and enjoyed it.

This is an Olive Garden copycat recipe of a soup that I only tried one spoonful of one time so I can't really compare it very well. I like it a lot, but will put a little less thyme in it next time. I didn't actually measure it out today. I found the recipe at CopyKat Recipes.

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

4 T. butter
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. finely diced onion
1/2 c. finely diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. flour
1 quart half-and-half
2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried parsley flakes
1/4 t. ground nutmeg (optional)
1 c. finely shredded carrots
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 c. diced cooked chicken breast (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
1 (16-oz./500 g.) package ready-to-use gnocchi
Melt the butter into the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the half-and-half. Simmer until thickened. Whisk in the chicken broth. Simmer until thickened again. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, the thyme, parsley, nutmeg (if using), carrots, spinach, chicken, and gnocchi. Simmer until the soup is heated through. Before serving, season with additional salt, if necessary.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Letter

I had a good time at my parents' house for Thanksgiving with lots of family. I even got a wonderful surprise. My son Alex told me that he wouldn't be able to write on Thanksgiving since they had a special day planned with humanitarian service at the MTC. But they finished early and he was able to send an email after all. I always love his letters, but I cried more with this one since it was unexpected. Still no photos from him so I'm using one of him this summer in Canada.

To Everyone:
Another week gone by, and another time to reflect on everything I've done and pick from it what I want to share with all of you.

This week I had the opportunity, along with 600+ others, to sing to two of the Twelve apostles. One of the songs we sang was "Nearer My God to Thee" and the other was "Come thou Fount" on Tuesday and Thursday Respectively. Every week I have the opportunity to sing a new song and learn new stories, and every week my appreciation for music grows more.... I learned so much about these two songs and the truths they contain. If you ever have a day of sadness, a day of weakness, a day of pain, a day of loneliness, listen to Hymns and pay attention to the words that are said; the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, and that includes listening to songs of righteousness. There is so much importance in music, it matters more than most realize.

Anyway, the first Apostle that came was Elder Oaks, and he came on Tuesday. It was an amazing talk and I learned a lot from the promptings of the Spirit during it. I don't, however, have much to say pertaining to his talk right now, mostly because the other talk was given more recently and I feel more impressed to share about the Thanksgiving devotional.

For this year's Thanksgiving devotional, Brother Eagett (spelled to some extent like that), the choir director, decided that a good song to sing for Thanksgiving was "Come Thou Fount." This song has never before in the history of the MTC been sung in the choir, or at least this particular arrangement, because it's just too hard. Or so it was said. But we practiced after the Tuesday night devotional, and this morning and were able to pull off the song at a General Conference performance level after only those two days. Nothing is impossible when you dedicate it to God.

I'm running out of time, so I'll have to write more about the talk later I guess. It was nice to talk to you all again and hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
With all my love,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

We Don't Want a Smelly Elder

My son didn't get to write a letter "To Everyone" this week because he ran out of time. In his letter to me he mentioned that along with singing in the choir, he auditioned to sing the tenor part of some carols at a surprise party. There are only 2 people chosen for each singing part and I'd imagine there are some elders who have been in choir in school or even had vocal coaches. He is brave and loves music so I'm sure he did well even without all of that vocal experience.

He won't get to send me or anyone a letter next week since his p-day is Thursdays and the MTC is having a special Thanksgiving day planned for them, including humanitarian service. Hopefully he'll still get to do his laundry. Hehe I will really miss hearing from him.

I recently learned from a Facebook group of Sendai missionary moms that Japan does not have effective deodorant and their toothpaste is different than what we're used to, so I'll be sending him an exciting Thanksgiving package of those two, along with some other things. Some moms have sent 10-15 sticks of deodorant. It gets very hot and humid in the summer so it's pretty important to have.

Alex did send his testimony to share with everyone so I'll end with that.

"I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he suffered and died for each of us. I know that through him we can be forgiven of our mistakes and our sins, because I have felt of his love and mercy personally. I know that God gave his Only Begotten Son for us, that we may return to live with Him again. God is our Loving Heavenly Father, and cares about us each individually and personally. I have no doubt that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church on earth, once again restored--as it was in times of old--through his love for us. I know that God appeared to a 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith, and called him as a prophet for these latter days, and that through Joseph Smith much of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. I know that the current leader of our Church, President Thomas S. Monson, is Joseph Smiths authorized successor and is also a prophet of God. I have chosen to serve a mission for His church--to a place that I myself did not chose--to share this message of love, joy, happiness and peace to the people of Japan, that they too may feel our Father's love, that they may be able to be freed of guilt and shame from past mistakes through the blood of Him who died to make it possible. I testify that what I say is true, that man and woman can come to know God, and that anyone can know of these truths if they sincerely pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ with an open mind and a willing heart. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, as an official representative of Him, and with all the love I can muster. Amen."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Insert Clever Title Here"

It's Thursday so I heard from my missionary son this morning. I found out last week that Alexander was wrong when he wrote the Japanese word for Elder, which I thought looked like 5L3. Instead it's ちょうろう , but he said I can still call him 5L3.

In his letter to me, he told me that he gets to play the piano each p-day. I'm happy he can still find ways to bring music into his mission. I felt bad that the only music he could take with him was "appropriate" music on an iPod, but he didn't have one, so he didn't get to take any of this favorite music to listen to.

He said the only way to get photos from his camera to the computers there is to buy a card reader and they're expensive so he doesn't want to do that. So I don't have a single photo of him for this whole last month and it looks like I won't get any for the next month either. *Sad mommy!* So here's one of him from the day he went into the MTC, just minutes before we dropped him off.
He seems to really be enjoying his time in the MTC, which I'm so glad about since I've heard many missionaries not like their experience there for different reasons. Here's his letter from this week.

To Everyone:

It is hard to come up with clever titles for these emails! Hopefully when I get out to the field I'll have an easier time!
This week has been like just any other I'd say. I'm learning the language, speaking it a lot, and being a good boy and going to choir.
This week we sung "Praise to the Man"; the exact same version that David Archileta (forgive me for not knowing how to spell his name) sang while he was in the MTC in General Conference. They got the music specifically for General Conference, and it took them weeks to get it prepared enough to sing in General Conference. We had two two hour rehearsals to prepare it for the Tuesday night devotional. Needless to say, the Spirit was strong and we were able to sing it really well on Tuesday night. It's a bit different than normal choir, because we sit during the performance, and there's not a requirement of memorization (although memorization is always a plus), but I enjoy choir so much. According to one of the Elders in my district, I get a lot of face time on the cameras, so if you happen to find a recording of the MTC devotional's special choir numbers, be on the lookout for me. ;)
We get two native Japanese Elders next week, so I'm really preparing for that. I'm talking in Japanese as much as possible (even when it's just conversations at the dinner table), and I really hope I'll be able to help the Japanese Elder's experience a good one!
If you haven't noticed yet, there is no such thing as structure in my letters, so let's talk about what my ADD brain just thought of! Going to the temple every week is such a blessing! If you have a temple recommend, I highly *recommend* (so punny!) that you go as often as you can. Even if you don't have a temple recommend, I suggest you go to temple grounds as often as possible, because temples have such a different atmosphere about them. It's almost as if there's something different about them ;) 
Being in Narnia is great, I absolutely love it here! (Can't remember if I mentioned this before, and I"m too lazy to check, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about, say something, and I'll explain what I mean!)
Every day I'm more and more excited to go to Japan! I've enjoyed every second of being on my mission, and I know I'll keep enjoying it for the next two years (1 year and 11 months now).
Have a great week everyone!
Love you all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Texas Roadhouse Sweet Rolls

I pinned this recipe a while ago from Hoodwinked in Houston and finally got time to make them yesterday after getting home early from work. I actually messed up and they still turned out so great. I started making them and after adding the first addition of 2 cups of flour, I realized I had no more flour. So I had to let the dough sit there while I ran to the store and then came back and finished up. This is my family's new favorite roll recipe. Soft and yummy!

Texas Roadhouse Sweet Rolls

4 t. active dry yeast (about 2 1/2 packets)
1/2 c. warm water
2 c. milk (*scalded and cooled to lukewarm)
3 T. melted butter, slightly cooled
1/2 c. sugar
6-7 c. flour
2 eggs
2 t. salt

*To scald milk, place in a sauce pan on heat until it just starts to bubble and then remove from heat.

Dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. Then add yeast, milk, & sugar. Add about 2 cups of flour. Then whisk together and let stand until light and foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add eggs, melted butter, & salt. Beat well. Add enough flour to form a soft dough, about 3-4 cups. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the counter to set the dough on and let rest.

While resting, grease a large bowl and cookie sheets. Then knead the dough until smooth (by hand or with a mixer). Put in the greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Punch down. Put on a floured mat/board and divide into 3 portions and then let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Take one portion at a time and roll out to about an inch thick. Cut into strips and then cut the long strips in half. Fold each rectangle in half and press sides together. Place on greased cookie sheet and let rise 10 minutes. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lomo Saltado

This is one of my favorite meals, a recipe from Peru. The rice vinegar gives an awesome tang to the tender beef. I did post this recipe once before, but it was 5 or 6 years ago and the photo wasn't good, so I'm re-posting it. I often make it with Rice & Lentils with Onion and I'll be posting that recipe soon too.

Lomo Saltado
1 1/2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil

1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin, cut into strips
2 medium red onions, cut into strips
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Salt & pepper, to taste
1-2 jalapeño pepper, cut into strips
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
4 potatoes, peeled & cut into strips
1/2-1 teaspoon paprika
Canola oil, for frying

Make a paste by combining the garlic & salt. Whisk together the garlic paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce, canola oil, cumin, & ground black pepper.
Place the steak in one bowl & the onions in another. Divide the marinade between the 2 bowls & let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Pour a small amount of oil in a wok & turn on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the steak with marinade & cook until brown. Add the tomato & simmer for a few minutes. Add the jalapeño, cilantro, & onions with marinade to the wok, slowly stirring until well blended. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

As the ingredients are cooking in the wok, sprinkle the potatoes with paprika & fry in a separate pan. Once done add to the other ingredients.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lessons Learned

Update from my son Alexander in the MTC. He said he hasn't taken a single photo since being there, but said he is finally charging his camera and will send me some next week. He sure better!
Alexander and our bishop on the day he was set apart

First of all, to those who were not included in last weeks email, I'm sorry that I hadn't added you to the list. Second, if you know someone that might want weekly emails from me, please send me their addresses; we both thank you for you help.
This week's message is entitled "Lessons Learned," and for good reason. Last Friday, the day after my Preparation day, I contracted the flu, the cold, whatever you want to call it, and as a result of it going to my Larynx, I got Laryngitis. I lost my voice, and couldn't speak at all, unless I really strained to get out a quiet whisper; worse still, I couldn't sing! As a result of my vocal arrest, I needed alternate means of communications, naturally. So imagine my dismay when I realized that I should have taken ASL classes in high school. I only had finger spelling to rely on, and even then I couldn't remember the letter "q" for the life of me; not that it mattered considering the only person in my district who knew any ASL was a Sister missionary, and even then she only knew finger spelling (I say finger spelling, but I'm not too sure if that's the correct term.... oh well!); besides that, I only met two people who knew ASL, and I wasn't going to be able to have any of them tag along with me to interpret what I was saying. Nevertheless, I really wish I had known more ASL because it is a useful thing to know. 
I found out that there are some missions that are encouraged to learn JSL (Japanese Sign Language), so I'm going to commit myself to that as soon as I can! After only a small amount of time being mute, I already have so much more respect for those of us whose only way of communicating is ASL or other sign languages, and I don't want the message I have to share to be limited to my vocal voice; "the sound of a trump" is meant to be heard by every ear, even if that ear happens to be the eyes
Besides not having a voice, I really can't complain about anything. I love it here. I've all but forgotten that Earth is more than just MTC campus and the Provo Temple, and that's not a bad thing for focusing on the work. That being said, I can't say that all of you haven't been on my mind and in my prayers. I wish you all the best, and if God allows something bad to happen, just remember: "it is for thy benefit"*
Love you all with all my heart!
*Disclaimer: This passage of scripture was cited from memory and not with 100% certainty or accuracy. If there be any mistakes, they are the mistakes of men, and not of God.

Monday, October 27, 2014

My 5L3 Enters the MTC

So it's been almost 2 weeks since my son Alexander entered the MTC. I did a pretty good job with keeping it together for the last week or so when I thought I would be sobbing uncontrollably. Well, that is except for when our Stake President asked me to say the prayer at Alex's setting apart. Why would you make the mom speak at all? We got to spend time with family and he let me take more photos than he usually does.
My parents with Alex the night before he left
Before we dropped him off, we stopped at the Provo temple for photos, where almost everyone stops for photos. Lots of people, lots of cameras and lots of hugs and tears all around.


I was checking my email every day, waiting for a letter. On Wednesday, a week after he went in, we received a real letter in the mail, then the next day emails from him. I was so glad to hear from him and was really glad that he said he is getting along well with his companion and other roommates and they are already like family to him.
He started his first Japanese language class on his very first day at the MTC and the teacher didn't speak a word of English. He is definitely going to learn quickly. I thought that it was funny that in his short letter to us, he mentioned that they get BYU Creamery ice cream twice a week. I'm kinda hoping he gains a little bit of weight during his 2 month stay there since he could use it.
In his letter to us, he wrote, "This week seriously feels like it's been a month, if not longer. Time works so differently here in Narnia. I am so excited to fight on Aslan's side, and hope that one day I'll be able to meet such majestic a Lion."
I had thought about starting a new blog just to post his updates, but I decided that I'll just post them here. So here's the email he sent me to share with everyone.
Hello everybody!
I have been enjoying my time so much over here in the MTC! The last week flew by yet it feels like I've been here for a long time. I hear that by the end of your stay at the MTC you feel like you were born here, and I am already starting to feel that way!
Language study is hard, because they do full immersion classes here (everything is spoken in japanese by the teacher, and he only writes the translations of words on the board), but that just means that I can learn the language quicker! I'm so glad I'm used to that kind of learning from my German classes in high school. Even then, I think I know more about Japanese now than I do about German after two years of classes!
As for the spiritual side of things, what isn't there to tell?! All the buildings are dedicated and set apart as holy buildings, so you can feel the spirit strongly everywhere! We have a devotional every Sunday and Tuesday night, and we have some great speakers! And, the choir here is amazing! I love singing in the choir, and I've only done it for two days (practices are Sundays and Tuesdays). This week we sang an arrangement of "Faith of our Fathers". It was so beautiful, and the Music Theory behind the song was cool! (Yay for music nerds! )
I have been so focused on learning what I need to learn that I've all but forgotten the outside world. But that's a good thing, because focus is so important in here! They drive you so hard (my first investigator discussion was on the third day of being here! And in full fledged Japanese too!), but the work was never meant to be easy. Just like Elder Holland said in one of his recent talks.
A quote that has really helped me while I've been here that was shared during my orientation: "There's little growth in a comfort zone, there's little comfort in a growth zone." I've been feeling the growing pains, and I'm guessing that I'll be feeling them my entire life now, but I don't want a different life! Besides, as long as my focus is on the Lord, he'll make it so that I can bear it. He may not take it away right away in his wisdom, but He will help support me if I follow Him.
You guys are always in my heart and in my prayers!
Elder ::::::: (ちょろ)

So that Japanese word right there is Elder, but it looks like 5 and then a cursive capital L and a 3, so now I'm calling Alex "5L3".  I really miss talking to my 5L3, but there is nowhere else I'd rather him be right now, learning and growing and getting ready to teach his brothers and sisters across the world all about our Savior.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creamy Chicken Soup

I'm finally sitting down after a day at work and then coming home to make rolls and this soup. Totally worth it! This soup is full of yummy veggies and isn't difficult to make at all, especially if you use rotisserie chicken. The recipe was at The Cookie Rookie. I didn't use the white wine or turmeric.

Creamy Chicken Soup
4 T. flour
2 T. olive oil
2 T, butter, unsalted
2 T. butter, unsalted
2 T. olive oil
4 stalks carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
4 c. chicken stock or broth
3½ c. milk or cream or Half & Half
2 T. chicken base granules
1 t. fresh cracked pepper
1 T. dried parsley or 2 T fresh parsley
3 bay leaves
1½ t. Herbs of Provence
½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
¼ t. garlic powder or 1 t. chopped garlic
3 c. rotisserie chicken - cubed or shredded and cooked
¼ c. white wine
Shredded gruyere cheese to sprinkle on top after spooning soup into bowls

Make the roux by heating the oil and butter in pot then sprinkling the flour on top. whisk together until fully absorbed and turns almost golden. take off the heat and set aside.
Chop the vegetables and set aside until ready to saute. In a Dutch oven, saute the vegetables in 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter until softened.
Add all other ingredients including the roux, stir well. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to low and let simmer 20-30 minutes until the soup thickens to the desired consistency. Stir every 3-4 minutes. Do not leave the soup unattended.
If you need to thicken the soup a little, mix together some cornstarch with milk or water (per box instructions) then stir into the soup. Stir frequently since the soup is milk-based and can burn easily.
Before ready to serve, take out the bay leaves. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with shredded gruyere cheese.

Friday, October 10, 2014

No-Bake Pumpkin Cookies

I have been sad about not blogging for so long, but I don't know if I have any readers left anyway. Just in case I do, I'll give a quick update as to why I haven't been blogging. I graduated with a bachelor in biotechnology in April and enjoyed a bit of time off with my kids this summer before starting a job in a lab at the end of July.

I had the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom for quite a long time and it has been a huge adjustment for me to be a full-time working mom. I do not know how to make the time for everything and I don't deal with stress well.

On top of that, my son is leaving for a mission in Japan this week so we've been doing stuff to get him ready and try to spend time together before he's gone for 2 whole years. I'm so excited for him and I know he'll learn and grow so much while he's gone, but I will really miss him and our conversations and watching his concerts and marching band half-time shows and parades.

I do still cook and bake, but I don't try new recipes as often as I used to and even when I do, I don't have time to blog it. But I'm making time today as I watch Psych with my kids. We made this no-bake cookie recipe recently and while I admit that it won't replace my old regular peanut butter/chocolate no-bake cookies, it's a fun change and a nice new way to use pumpkin. I found this recipe at Reluctant Entertainer

No-Bake Pumpkin Cookies

2 c. sugar
3 T. butter
1/2 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. Pumpkin Pie Spice
3/4 c. pumpkin
4 c. quick oatmeal, uncooked
1 c. chocolate chips
In a pot, mix the sugar, butter, and milk. Bring to a boil. Remove from the stove and add the pumpkin, salt, vanilla, and spice. Quickly add the oatmeal and mix. Add more or less for the consistency that you want. Toss in the chocolate chips and lightly mix.
Drop with small scoop onto parchment paper, on a cookie sheet. Cool the cookies in the refrigerator and let them set before eating.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Temple Education

I took my kids up to the LDS Church History Museum and Temple Square in Salt Lake City last week. A couple of different missionaries stopped us and told us things about the temple. I've been there many times before, but am no expert in the history. I learned some new things.
Did you know that there used to be lights on each of the spires on the Salt Lake City LDS temple and on a crown on the Angel Moroni? Someone had to climb up on the roof to replace them. In 1930 flood lights started to be used and the spire lights eventually weren't used any more and the crown was removed.
I thought I'd look it up online to find more information on that and found an article The Salt Lake Temple by Dean R. Zimmerman (New Era, June 1978) that talked about the lights and even more history. Like...did you know that there are two "record stones" that are like time capsules on the temple? One of them is the ball on which Moroni rests and it has several things inside.
"The ball or capstone on which Moroni rests is a second record stone. It contains music composed by C. J. Thomas entitled the “Capstone March”; the “Temple Anthem,” with words by C. L. Walker, music by Evan Stephens; a polished brass plate; as well as the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Voice of Warning, Spencer’s Letters, Key to Theology, a hymn book, a compendium, and some other works. Also sealed in this record stone are pictures or photographs of Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith and a photograph of the Salt Lake Temple as it then stood."
I'll let you read the article to find out where the other record stone is in the temple.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mushroom Turnovers

I have had this recipe so long that I don't even know where I originally found it. The crust is soft and rich and I love the thyme and mushroom combo in the filling. For my daughter's 16th birthday recently, she requested just these mushroom turnovers and a spinach salad. My kinda meal!

Mushroom Turnovers

Cream Cheese Pastry:
8 oz. cream cheese                                          
½ c. margarine
1 ½ c. flour

     Have cream cheese and margarine at room temperature.  Put into bowl and beat together well.  Mix in flour.  Shape into ball.  Chill at least 1 hour.


3 T. margarine                                                  
1 lg. onion, finely chopped                               
½ lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped                     
2 T. flour                                                          
1 t. salt
¼ t. pepper
¼ t. thyme
¼ c. sour cream
1 egg, beaten
            Preheat oven to 450º.  Combine margarine, onions, and mushrooms in frying pan.  Sauté about 10 minutes until tender.  Add flour, salt, pepper and thyme.  Stir together.  Add sour cream.   Stir until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Cool thoroughly.
            Roll pastry fairly thin. Cut into 3" rounds.  Place 1 t. filling in center of each circle.  Dampen outer half edge with beaten egg.  Fold over and press edges together with fork or fingers to seal. Arrange on greased baking sheet.  Cut tiny slits in top of each.  Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. 

           *2 (10-oz.) cans of mushrooms can be substituted for the fresh mushrooms.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Utah Local: Fotochic Photography

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Utah Local post to share something great in Utah. This is Fotochic Photography, a photography studio in Orem. I know the owner and one of the photographers personally and they are awesome, professional, talented and full of spunk. They love delivering high quality photos for long-time memories at a great price.

You should like them on Facebook so you can always see their great deals. They even have online booking at their website. How great is that???? I don’t know about you, but I always think of things I need to do when I’m in bed and it’s too late to call and talk to a person.  

They are located at 1629 North State Street in the strip mall on the northwest corner of 1600 North and State Street. They have fun, unique backdrops in studio and will also do outdoor shoots  -- families, seniors, missionaries, engagements, babies, children… They do it all. And when you walk into the studio, you can't help but laugh at the unforgettable photo they have on the wall. I won't spoil it for you.

And right now they have an awesome deal for members of the military or first responders. July 1st – July 3rd all service members and first responders and their immediate family can have a FREE photo shoot. Please pass this info on so that many of those people who sacrifice so much for us can take advantage of this deal.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Smoke Alarm

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream that echoed what I was feeling in my awake hours, just in a different way. In the dream, my kids and I were all in bed and I heard the smoke alarm go off. It was loud and constant and I immediately jumped out of bed. I ran to my children’s rooms to make sure they were out of bed and coming downstairs and outside, as I’m sure they would due to the piercing warning of the alarm. Two of my three children were up and worried, but my other child remained in bed, still sleeping. I told the two who were awake to go outside and we’d be out soon.

I tried waking my daughter, but she barely moved. She finally responded to my pleadings to get up with, “I don’t hear anything. I’m tired.” I couldn’t believe she couldn’t hear it. I knew my other children had so it wasn’t my imagination and the sound continued on. “I’m fine here in bed. Leave me here. There is no fire.” I was panicked because she would not move and did not feel the urgency and reality that I did.

Then I woke up.

This is my child who in real life does not like rules and who thinks they are lame.
There are many alarms in this life, like the Holy Ghost, words of the prophet, scriptures, guidance from our parents and other loved ones. Sometimes we can’t see the fire, but if we heed the warnings that come, we won’t be burned.
But it isn’t enough that the alarm is going off. In order to avoid the danger,

--We must hear it.

--We must believe there is danger.

--We must act.

If we do not do our part to stay close to our Father in Heaven and be worthy of the Spirit, we are often too far removed to hear the warnings. Even if we hear a warning, maybe from a loving parent or friend who wants to help, if we do not believe that there is danger, the warnings mean nothing to us. And if we do hear the warning and believe there is danger, if we do not act and move away from the danger, fortifying ourselves, the warnings are no use to us.

Agency is an integral part of our Heavenly Father’s plan. We must each choose how we will respond to the alarms and dangers in our lives. No one can pull us to safety. It is my responsibility as a parent to teach my children all that I believe our Heavenly Father expects of them and the paths that will lead to happiness and freedom instead of bondage and sadness.

I’m grateful for the alarms that have guided me away from dangers. I will continue to try to warn my own children from dangers they perhaps can’t see yet, and pray to hear more warnings now and in the future.

Doctrine and Covenants 88:81 “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”


Friday, June 13, 2014

Easy Chocolate Pudding

Just a couple of days after my oldest son graduated from high school, he had his wisdom teeth removed. Poor guy! So he ate soft foods for days and I tried to give him a variety of healthy things, but also some treats. The original recipe that I found at Chow Times called for whole milk, but they used 2%. I actually used skim milk for a lower fat dessert. It may have been less thick than it was supposed to be, but we liked it. I used almond extract instead of vanilla and you can easily use peppermint or another flavoring to change it up.

I took the pudding and made little parfaits with coconut and sprinkles, but you can use all kinds of yummies like fruit and nuts!

Easy Chocolate Pudding
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
3 c. milk
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or good chocolate chips)
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in large bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients.

Place the bowl on top of a double boiler over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form.

After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add in the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Serve warm, or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to chill before serving.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Do You Like You?

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with self-confidence. When I look in the mirror in the morning, I don't see me, all of who I am. I see the flaws glaring at me. Even with make-up and clothes I like on, I see the flaws. There are so many of us who are focused on silly things and who TRY so hard. So I'm sharing this for anyone like me.

Colbie Caillat just came out with this new single with Babyface and Jason Reeves on the guitar. Beautiful message and music and voice.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

This is a very moist, fudgy, delicious chocolate cake that is inspired from a William-Sonoma recipe and I found it at Lick the Bowl Good. This is Sabrina's favorite chocolate cake now. We gave some away to neighbors, along with a little card. Sabina wrote on the card, "Trust me. It's good!"

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake
1 c. cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pan
7 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c. boiling water
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/4 t. kosher salt
1 1/4 c. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
4 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. heavy cream

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Preheat an oven to 325°. Grease the Bundt cake pan and dust with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.

To make the cake, in a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.

Over a sheet of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are about 1 inch higher than the center. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, 60 to 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the ganache: In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the melt and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing the ganache, to drip down the sides. Let the cake stand until the ganache is set, at least 15 minutes.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grilled Orange Chicken

I made this for the first time today and we loved it. Simple, but so full of flavor. I followed the recipe from AllRecipes except that I marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts in buttermilk before grilling and brushing with glaze. I used green onion instead of chives.

Poor Alex just had his wisdom teeth removed on Friday and he couldn't eat it, so I'll be happy to make it again soon when he can enjoy it too.

Grilled Orange Chicken  

1/2 c. orange marmalade
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 T. olive oil
1 t. rubbed sage
2 T. chopped fresh chives
1 (3-lb.) chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat grill on medium heat.
Combine marmalade, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sage in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes until smooth. Stir in the chives, then remove 1/3 of the sauce to serve with chicken later.
Season chicken pieces with garlic salt and pepper. Grill for about 15 minutes on each side, then brush with glaze. Continue cooking until done, 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing with additional glaze. Serve with reserved marmalade glaze.  

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 ...