Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Letter From Santa!

The other day my neighbors were telling me that last year they helped their two kids write letters to Santa. They took them to the mailbox and stuck them in. Guess what? Coolest thing ever, the kids each got personal letters back with a little ornament! How neat is that?! Apparently there is this fellow in town who gets all the Santa letters from the post office and writes back to all of the kids. I love it! What a sweet thing to do!

Of The Messiah

So, on a more cheerful note, I have to say, I am SO happy, even despite my disturbed slumber last night. (Hey, I've got an infant--you'd think I was used to being woken up in the middle of the night!)

One of the reasons I am so happy is that I get to perform in the MESSIAH this weekend. Our 100+ voice choir has been preparing for this since October, and not to brag too much, but we sound pretty darn good! Tonight we had our invited dress rehersal, and it was also the first time we have heard all four of our soloists, and the second time we have heard our orchestra. HOLY COW! Amazing! The orchestra members are (mostly) professionals who have volunteered to perform. Our soloists are incredible. There is just no other word to describe them. Jon Huntsman is one of our soloists. For you LDS people, he is the guy who did the Manti pageant. The other male soloist is the head of a music department at a San Diego college, and the women, I can't remember their claim to fame, but WOW! are they good!
I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of this amazing oratorio. I have loved this powerful music for as long as I can remember, and I know it has been one of the most sung Christmas pieces for well over 200 years for good reason.

Anyway, sorry to rant and rave about this. I wish all my lovely readers could enjoy the concert, but please, if you haven't taken the time to listen to this yet this season, get the CDs from the library and pop them in. They will bring a great spirit into your home.


Of Car Alarms and...better not say!

Wow. Halfway through December and no posts yet. I've got a backlog, I know. So let me just start my December posts with a cheerful little note about car alarms, one of which woke Curtis and I (and the entire neighborhood) up last night around two, and wasn't shut off by its owner for nigh unto half and hour.

I despise car alarms, and think they should be banned. There is definitely a cost/benefit issue there, and in the case of car alarms, I think the potential benefit of being a theft deterrent far deceeds the cost of alarms disturbing the peace. I mean, come on, a car is bumped accidently and the alarm goes off. Usually the owner is nowhere nearby. You'd think that the crazy, nay, stupid, alarms would have an automatic shut-off after a certain amount of time. Grrrr!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Of Nuts and NUTS

O.K., I am a little confused. Am I missing something with the whole Costco craze? I don't get it. I just purchased my first Costco card (so I could get nuts--not that we don't already have enough in our family!) and went on Saturday to check the store out. To my surprise, every single parking spot was taken, so I ended up circling the lot a couple of times then went home, thinking I would try again on a weekday, since Saturday was obviously not the day to go. So, I tried again today. When I got there shortly before 10:00, the parking lot was only half full. However, there was a huge crowd of people milling around outside the store, shopping carts already in hand. I discovered I had gotten there 10 minutes before the store opened. I figured that since the place is obviously so popular, the prices on stuff must be amazing. I wandered the isles looking for these incredible deals and....nothing... Everything I looked at seemed more expensive then Wal-mart, and the produce there, which I've heard was wonderful, looked about the same as what I would get at the health food stores I shop at, only again, more expensive. I guess a couple things were slightly cheaper...milk, by a few cents, butter, the same...but not enough to be worth the membership, in my opinion. Again, the nuts I think are a decent price there, but I couldn't see what the big draw is for other items. I am very curious, so if any of my readers are big Costco fans, please enlighten me! Are there amazing deals on some items I am not aware of? Let me know, please!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Of Boring Ol' S'mores and the World's Best Hot Chocolate

O.K., I wanted to share a couple of great "accidental" treats we have fallen in love with recently.

The first is S'mores. "S'mores?" you may be wondering, "but s'mores are nothing special." Yes, but these are no ordinary s'mores, no sir! I have always thought the original s'mores were alright, but really, I could take them or leave them. I'd almost prefer just to eat the chocolate plain and not bother with the crackers or marshmallows. That has all changed as of a short time ago. Let me explain. We have a gas fireplace in our apartment, which we use frequently, and a couple of weeks ago for Family Home Evening treat the kids wanted to roast marshmallows on it and make s'mores. We were out of graham crackers, so I substituted Ritz. OH SO GOOD! WAY better, in my humble opinion, then the old fashioned graham cracker deal! There is just something about that delicious buttery crunchiness with the chocolate...mmmm. It reminds me of soda cracker candy almost, which is another of my holiday favorites.

The second treat is my self-proclaimed World's Best Hot Chocolate recipe, which no one knows about besides our little family! That must be remedied! The world must know what they are missing out on. Just as an aside, I don't understand people who won't share recipes because they are "family secrets." I mean, I can understand that with restaurants, but seriously, why, if you have an amazing family recipe, would you want to hog it all to yourself? Do you want people to invite themselves over to your house any time they get a craving for it? You might get a lot of unwelcome company that way! But sorry, I digress. It's just that I was thinking about someone who I want some recipes from who says the recipes are secrets. I wonder if I could wow him with this chocolate recipe and tell him it's a secret, and I'll only divulge it in exchange for one of his recipes! Hmmmm...I'll have to try that!

Anyway, so my hot chocolate recipe is actually based on a chocolate sauce recipe that has been a favorite on my Mom's side of the family for several generations. Seriously, most of us could drink the stuff by the gallon, it is that good. In fact, it is rumored that one of the aunts once actually made several gallons of this chocolate sauce at one time, supposedly due to a slight miscalculation involving one of the key ingredients, but that is a story for another time. I will say however, that I have my doubts as to whether this was truly accidental. Anyway the story behind this Hot Chocolate is that the kids wanted some chocolate milk one day, but we had no chocolate syrup with which to make it. (I find the Hershey's stuff quite disgusting, to be honest, so I don't buy it often.) I did however, have a small amount of this homemade chocolate sauce in a jar in the back of my fridge, so I decided to just try that and see how it tasted. It was AMAZING! Thus was born, the World's Best Hot Chocolate. Try it and you will see why it is capitalized! (-;

The recipe is as follows:

2 cubes butter (no wonder it is so good!)
2 cups sugar
3 T. cocoa powder

Melt these ingredients in a saucepan until the lumps are out of the cocoa, then add one can of evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add a teaspoon of vanilla.

I like this recipe because it is simple and uses ingredients I usually have on hand. I don't have to go out and buy cream or something.

Anyway, to make the chocolate milk or hot chocolate, just add this sauce in to taste, and there you go! Leave a comment if you try it, and let me know what you think!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Shrimpy Shrimp

I don't much care for shrimp. They are weird looking, for starters, and they're pink. I don't like eating pink critters. Plus, they taste....shrimpy.

Maile, on the other hand, LOVES them. Curtis took her to some party where she had a taste, and now every time we go grocery shopping and we pass the seafood isle, she asks for some. Finally, I gave in and bought her a box of breaded shrimp (the pinkness is more hidden) to share with Curtis and whoever else wanted to try some. After I fried them up, she became the resident expert on shrimp, and it was so cute listening to her instructing Arden in the finer points of shrimp cuisine. ("Make sure you don't eat the tail--it's a bone!")


I had a darling roommate my second semester in college who would always speak in acronyms. I don't remember many of them, but one oft repeated acronym she would use (and by oft I mean every single night for the entire semester) I remember particularly well: DFTSYSP. Don't Forget To Say Your Secret Prayers.

I am proud to say I have made up my very own acronym, which has quite a nice ring to it if I do say so myself. It is "FLINDY." I intend to repeat it to myself over and over as occasion warrants. I am hoping it will have a calming effect on me. It stands for "Frontal Lobe Is Not Developed Yet." Can you guess which kid of mine will provide ample opportunities to use my new acronym?!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Of Hills of Beans

So, something interesting about living in Utah or Idaho where there are large Mormon populations is that we are big believers in having a food storage. In fact, for decades our prophet(s) have encouraged us to obtain a years supply of food. That means, whenever a good sale on any sort of food item occurs, LDS people typically buy large amounts to stock up. The grocers in Utah and Idaho know this, so they have boxes and cases of the item conveniently stacked up so people can just grab an entire box/case of whatever. Also, they usually have the canning supplies in a very visable location as well. Of course, Mormons often get teased for this propensity to "hoard" food. I hold no hard feelings for the teasing though. I suppose this practice would seem a little odd to those not of our faith. I wish more people would do it though. Why is it that we have so many different types of insurance--health, car, renters, homeowners, etc.--but people don't have food insurance?! What if you lose your job and have no money? All the time I hear stories of LDS folks (Mormons) to whom that has happened and who have had to live off their food storage, and boy were they grateful they had it! What if a drought occurs and food prices skyrocket? We already know that the price of commodities is on the rise. Wouldn't we be grateful if we had a bunch of the basics stored, so our food bill doesn't become astronomical?! What if there is some sort of oil crisis (which very well could happen!) and the trucking industry is affected? I don't think it would take that much for something like that to actually happen. We saw food prices go way up a couple years ago when diesel prices were getting out of control. Another thing, and this has haunted me. A couple years ago I read an article online quoting this Dad, who was so angry at the government because after a natural disaster that occurred in his hometown, the only thing he had in the fridge for his hungry kid was a coke. Can you believe it? This guy expected and felt entitled to help from the government in providing food for his kid because he had neglected to even have a few extra groceries on hand to prepare for something like that. Wouldn't we feel like loser parents if we had nothing to give our kids to eat in this kind of situation because of our own negligence in this area? What if there comes a point where the government can't provide for people's needs in a situation like this? Frankly, I have little trust in our current government as it is! I am certainly not going to depend on them to take care of my every need in a disaster situation!

This leads me to some amusing conversations I had the other day at the grocery store here in California. People are kind of shocked when I ask for large amounts of a sale item. Here is just one example of a conversation I had the other day. They had a great sale on pinto beans at the health food market so I thought I would go get a bag.

Me to a grocery clerk in the bulk isle: Do you happen sell these beans by the bag?
Him (slightly doubtful): Um, yes, we do, I think. You want an entire bag?
Me: Yeah. What are they, 25 lbs., 50?
Him (slightly incredulous): Yeah, they are 50 lbs. You want an entire bag?
Me: Sure, that would be great.

after checking out...
Teenage bag clerk: "Wow! That is a lot of beans! How much did that cost you?
Me: About 16 bucks.
Him: Wow! That is a lot of beans! What are you going to do with all them?
Me: Ummm...probably eat them.
Him: Wow! That is a lot of beans!

Yup! And it will feed my family a lot of meals for just pennies per serving!

Of Philosophy and Fried Froth

O.K., time for some quotables. I have all these little quotes and sayings that I hear or read jotted down on little scraps of paper floating throughout my house, which inevitably get lost or thrown away. I would like to write down a few of them here before they get lost forever, and so I can start decluttering!

O.K., first a few from John Taylor:
"I prefer a faded coat to a faded reputation."

Isn't that the truth! My good name is of utmost importance to me, and I hope I have never done anything that would cause people to question my honor or integrity.

"If a thing is done well, no one will ask how long it took to do it; only who did it."

And this next one I just love, and repeat often to myself;
"Never arise in the morning or retire at night without dedicating yourself to the not let any circumstance stand in the way of it."

What a wonderful way to show our Creator how grateful we are for the many, many blessings we have been given. I think when we dedicate ourselves to the Lord, we open our souls to the wonder and beauty of life around us, and we look for opportunities to serve others less fortunate then ourselves. I would love to buy the book by Dr. Seuss, "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" because it gives a good perspective on situations that many of us could complain about. The book's message is basically, be grateful, because there is always someone less fortunate then yourself, or in a worse situation then you! It reminds me of a quote my Dad had up on the wall growing up (and I think it is still up on the wall!)--"I'm too blessed to complain!" AMEN!

Last one from John Taylor; "Philosphy is fried froth." We have all met people who purport to be philosophers, who talk themselves in circles, not to mention everyone around them, and at the end of the day, they have no idea in what or whom they believe! I had a conversation some months ago with a friend I used to know back in my highschool days. He used to be a member of the church, but has since left it, and is pursuing various middle eastern/Asian philosophy and religious ideas. I was interested, as I love learning about other's beliefs, so I asked him what some of the things were that he now believed. What he said made very little sense, and I am certain he didn't actually believe what he was saying. It sounded very convoluted and weird, and I just wanted to shake him and say, "WAKE UP! You are looking for the truth in the wrong place! The gospel of Jesus Christ is so beautiful and simple! Just believe in that!" But of course, I didn't say anything because there would have been no point. I simply smiled and nodded. The thing is, I believe that one of the laws of God is that you have to be actually following a correct principle in order to gain a testimony of it's truthfulness, and this young man was certainly not doing that. ("Faith is a principle of action.") I felt bad for him, because he is missing out on a lot of peace and happiness in his life...But I digress. I am not necessarily against people philosophizing. I think it is often fascinating to listen and participate in conversations where we try to make sense of this world, and why people do the things they do. However, at the end of the day, I think it is so important that we are well grounded in truth, however much we may like to philosophize, because, well, often philosophies are just fried froth!

O.K., Um, I am not sure if this next one is John Taylor or not--it is written at the bottom of my John Taylor quote scrap of paper, so I will assume it is. "Two men can do anything as long as one of them is the Lord." How often we forget that, yet how important it is to remember it.

Well, I will end with just one more, as at the moment I can't find my other scraps. This one I know by heart though, because, again, my Dad had it on the wall growing up and I have probably read it a thousand times. It goes something like this; "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and disguised as hard work." I think nowadays most parents do a grave disservice to their children in not giving them enough opportunities to work and contribute to the well being of the family. I know I am guilty of that myself, and it is an area I really need to figure out better. (Along with a million other things!)

Anyway, that is that for now, folks.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication"

This week has...not been a good one for me health-wise or sanity-wise. Too many snitches of the kids' candy, too many delicious goodies, chocolates from my husband (for no particular reason! What a sweetie I married!), bags of chips in the house (and no self-disipline!), too many late nights compounded, of course, by multiple interruptions to my much needed beauty sleep from my lovely 9 month old...

Not only that, but I feel like I have been running from place to place this entire week, leaving me feeling harried and bereft of energy, and leaving my house feeling disorganized and never quite as clean as I would like it. Additionally, the few quiet moments I like to spend daily visiting with my Heavenly Father have been too hurried and unfulfilling. Overall, it is obvious to me that I need to make some changes this coming week.

Tonight I begged out of going with the family to our ward trunk-or-treat and chili dinner, so I could have some much needed "mommy time" to unwind, ponder and reflect. (And hopefully get my house clean as well--we'll see!)

As Leila and I sat down to the healthiest dinner I could concoct in 10 minutes, I turned on the conference talks from the latest general conference. I decided to listen to President Uchtdorf's talk, entitled; "Of Things That Matter Most."What an amazing talk, and just what I needed to hear tonight. I love how the Lord gives us these timely, gentle reminders of what we need to be focusing on in our lives. President Uchtdorf quoted in his talk something that Leonardo DeVinci is purported to have said; "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Beautiful! I have been thinking a lot about that lately--how I want/need to simplify my life much more.

This morning, as I was glumly contemplating my messy house and Maile was in tears on the floor because I wouldn't let her watch a second movie, I decided we all just needed a change of scenery. I quickly packed a picnic lunch and stuffed Maile's little school workbooks in a bag along with a pencil and our picnic blanket. We all jumped in the car and headed over to the library, where we spread out our blanket on the lawn, ate a yummy lunch together, and then did some of Maile's little school worksheets together. We just lounged around and took our time, and it was so delightful! All tears were gone. Why can't we make every day like that? Why so much running hither and yon? Why is it so hard to remember and focus on the things the truly matter the most?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Of Right and Left Wings and In-betweeners

Well, crum, crum, crum. I spent all evening yesterday reading through my voters guide to pick out who and what I wanted to vote for, and then at the end of the guide noticed that there is a deadline to register to vote, and sadly, that deadline was October 18th. I guess I assumed when I got my driver's licence that I was automatically registered. Grrrr....

Anyway, this leads me to a conundrum I have had on my mind. I have become somewhat disenchanted with my current political party, as I think they have digressed from what they have historically stood for. I have been leaning more towards becoming an "Independant," as I think their tenents are more in line with my desire to follow the constitution as closely as possible. It's a hard choice in many respects, because none of the political parties match exactly what I am looking for, so I feel like I have to make the choice that matches my beliefs the best. So, my conundrum is thus: when I am voting, do I vote "Independant," knowing that my vote will most likely have no real effect either way? I mean, let's face it, third parties rarely if ever get voted in. That would in effect make my vote completely neutral, perhaps giving the advantage to a party whose beliefs I oppose. If I vote for one of the two major parties, my vote might make more of a difference. Sigh...any thoughts?

Monday, October 25, 2010

"The Prophet Said to Plant a Garden, So That's What We'll Do"

Some things are making a lot more sense to me as I have been reading and researching about items my family has consumed over the past number of years. For example--the prophet's advice for decades to plant a garden. Most people don't because, well, it IS expensive (we spent several hundreds of dollars last year putting in raised beds with "Mel's Mix soil.) and time consuming. Now that I am learning about the pesticides and other things that much of our produce contains, I can more easily see the wisdom in the advice to have a garden. Stuff is fresh, in season, and you know that there are no pesticides on your plants, which could potentially cause health problems down the road. An added benefit--it is great time to visit with your spouse or kids, if they are out helping you with it, and you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you eat stuff you grew and picked yourself. Maile would spend hours in our garden in Rexburg picking every thing she could see, and we all would get so excited when we saw fruit growing on our trees. I loved that, and I miss it! I think I will buy Maile a potted fruit tree for Christmas....

Of Taxing the Poor Children

Some time ago, I started demanding (or requesting, is probably a better word) a "mommy tax" on any goodies that suited my fancy that the kids would acquire from school/church/friends, etc. They usually grumble a bit, then hand over a little nibble of whatever it is I am wanting. Maile brought home a delicious looking brownie from joy school the other day, and without me even asking, said; "Mom, you can have some tax if you want." I love it!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Of Ostriches in the Sand

I hate becoming educated. I much prefer to be like an ostrich with my head stuck in the sand. Life is simpler that way...and cheaper.

O.K., I don't really want to be like the ostrich, but WHY DOES EVERY STINKING BODY PRODUCT I USE CONTAIN SUSPECTED CARCINOGENS?! Not to mention the food I eat! Blah!

O.K. So after reading Kayla's blog on homemade shampoo, I have been doing a little research of my own. So yeah, all those unpronouncable chemicals in my shampoo and body wash?...not so good for you, and toxic to the environment. I will be making my own shampoo and body wash as soon as I finish my current bottle. I don't want my babies exposed to any more chemicals then they have to be.

Food. Yeah, made the mistake of watching Food, Inc. (a documentary on mass food production, specifically meat) on Netflix instant play. Now I am thoroughly disgusted by the normal meat I buy from the grocery store. Nor have I have touched a fast food hamburger since watching that movie. Don't get me wrong--I like meat, and if someone puts a hamburger fresh off the grill in front of me, I will most likely eat it, but from now on, I will be looking at the health food store for more healthy (and sustainable) alternatives to the meat I normally get from Food-4-Less. By the way, if anyone wants an incredible money maker, here is an idea for you. There is a guy who comes to our local Farmer's Market who sells free range grass fed cows (and free range chickens and pigs, etc.). The cheapest item he sells is $9/lb. Hamburger, or stew meat maybe? The most expensive item he sells is $27/lb (a steak fillet), with most items selling for somewhere in between that range. I have not done the math or anything, but I would suspect he earns about $5-8,000 per cow. Last time I went to the market, his was the only stall that had a hoard of people standing around it, so I assume there is a big market for organic meat like that, especially as more and more people are becoming educated about what exactly is in their food. Another reason I want to have my Oregon Organic farm!

O.K. Here is just a little teaser info to scare you from a book I have been reading (The Gorgeously Green Diet):

1. Nitrites/Sodium Nitrate; Found in lunch meats (I confess that I scoffed inwardly at a lady I heard asking at the deli for nitrite free lunch meat. Not any more!), bacon, sausage, hot dogs, canned meat, etc.

Effect: Can form "carcinogenic nitrosamines" in your body--in other words, they can cause cancer (breast, prostrate, stomach).

I found some nitrite free bacon and lunchmeat at our local health food store--it was really good! A couple bucks more expensive, but we will eat them less often. (Which is probably healthier anyway!)

2. BHA/BHT: Chemicals found in chips, veggie oils, cereal, gum, and soup bases.

Effect: Can cause neurological problems (I love chips--maybe that explains something!), can cause allergic reactions, and can be harmful to liver and kidneys.

3. MSG: This stuff is in tons of foods, from your Campbells soups, to your Ranch dressing mix. I have started making my own salad dressings because of this. (They are SO good, too!)

Effect: Can cause sudden cardiac arrest; often causes severe headaches and nausea.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup: This is in just about everything in your grocery store. Look at the label, if you don't believe me.

Effect: (Copied and pasted the following from the internet)

Please see:

Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles found.

They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.

"These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation," Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.

5. Pestcides on fruits and vegetables

Effect: They are all neurotoxins, according to Sophie Uliano. I will be researching natural pesticides for my farm produce.

Eeeks. There's more, but I will have to save that for another day, as Leila just woke up from her nap.

My feelings upon learning all of this? The more natural you can get, the better. It's what my Grandma always told me, and I believe it wholeheartedly.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Of My Grand Dream

O.K. I have been thinking...(scary, I know!) I need a dream. I have needed one for a long time now. I have needed some dream that when I wake up every morning it makes me excited to be alive--something that I can think about during the day, some sort of purpose, raising my beautiful children aside. There are only a handful of people whom I know of that actually have a real, significant dream. Or maybe I just don't know what people's dreams are...either way, it appears to me that most of us (and yes, I am including myself in this category--at least until now) just float through life, without any big hopes or plans. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with that. I know people can go about doing a lot of good for a lot of people, just while they are travelling along the road of life.
However, does that kind of life make people excited to wake up every morning? Does it give people something to look forward to, to dream about, to research and learn about and keep those old brain cells alive? That is what I am after. So, the past several weeks I have been thinking a lot about my current interests, and what I might like to do with them--what I would like my dream to be. I think I have found it.

First, my current interests (a few of them, anyway):

1) I like to eat (don't we all!). More specifically, I like to eat really healthy foods (not that I always do, mind you.). I have been learning some very disturbing things lately about common foods we eat all the time, and the additives, preservatives, colorings, etc. in them, and the effects they can have on our health. It is fascinating to learn about, and makes me want to change a lot about the way my family eats. (This will be a future blog topic you may all look forward to with great anticipation!)

2) I like to garden. I'm probably far too practical for my own good, and as such, I'm not really a flower garden type of person (I leave that to Curtis and Maile!), but I love to grow stuff I can eat. You know, fruits, vegetables, nuts...that kind of thing. I didn't really discover this interest until I had a home/yard of my own, or I might have had a different major in college! (It's amazing what a difference ownership of something makes!) I find it so therapeutic to be around green, living things that I can nurture and care for, and see awesome results!

3) I like to help people. Mom and Dad gave all of us kids a great legacy of service to others. That is important to me on many levels, and makes me feel good when I can touch someone's life. I have been blessed on countless occasions by people who have come into my life and made a difference, and I would like to be that person for others as well.

4) I enjoy teaching. I particularly enjoy teaching teenagers. One of my first jobs in high school was for the county extension office, going throughout the county teaching health and nutrition classes to kids. It was so fun, despite my two partners, who, well, let's just say they weren't as enthusiastic around the kids as I thought they could have been. On a religious level, my favorite calling in the church thus far has been a youth Sunday school teacher. I love it! I loved it when the kids felt like we were good enough friends that they could come over and shoot paintballs at my fridge, or have water fights with us, or play capture the flag in the house. Teenagers are so alive and engaged, and I think some of their energy and zest for life wears off on me when I am around them. I thrive on it!

5) I also really enjoy being around the elderly, again, thanks to Mom, who had us volunteering for years at the Nursing Home, and also thanks to my job there as a teenager. One of my hopes for when Curtis and I become millionaires is to go around the country donating aviaries and square foot gardens to old folks' homes.

6) I love warmth and despise coldness. The weather here in CA is perfect, although the landscape is a little too deserty for my taste. (Is "deserty" a word?!) I am looking to head to Oregon, I think, though I am still researching the perfect place to live. It has to be plenty green, lots of rain but not too much, and a fairly temperate climate. I think I am alright with a VERY short, mild winter--just enough snow for the kids to play in on occasion, but not enough to have to do any serious shoveling. If anyone knows of such a place they could recommend after reading the rest of this blog entry please tell me! If your recmomendation is the winning ticket, I will reward you with cash and prizes galore!

7) I want to do humanitarian work. I got my BA in International Development, and by golly, I want to do something with it!

8) I am also very interested in using sustainable energy sources, and would love to eventually be completely independent as far as powering my house and appliances.

So, what to do with all of these interests? Well, I have decided I want to be a gentleman farmer, so to speak. Have kind of a U-Pick place, plus. I want to grow organic, healthy, good food, raise my own chickens and cows, have a kickin' orchard, I want to press my own apple juice, crack nuts in front of the fireplace from my own pesticide-free trees.....the list goes on.

I like the peace and tranquility of being in the country, but I have a problem, because I also love to be around people. I am very much a people person, but I don't like feeling crowded, if that makes any sense at all. So, that's where the U-Pick part comes in. Let the people come to me! Invite folks from the rest home to come and dink around in the garden. Maybe provide scholarships for inner city kids to come for camps/internships in the summer, and teach them about making healthy food choices, where their food comes from, and how to care for animals--give them responsibilities. Provide an inexpensive place for families to come and enjoy trying out life on a farm--let them pet and feed the animals, help gather eggs, and milk the cows, give them hayrides around the farm, let them slide down the slide I plan to have in the hayloft, or splash in the kiddie fountain, let them pick pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. Let them enjoy fresh organic apples from the orchard, or raspberries from the patch. Let them help take care of the animals at our in-house pet rescue. (-; I also want to provide temporary jobs for people who are down and out, until they can get back on their feet. One thought I had about that is maybe I could offer a system where people can pick stuff and keep a percentage of the produce to sell at a Farmer's Market or something. I do not believe in giving handouts, but I do believe in rewarding hard work! I am all about finding ways to do things that are mutually beneficial to all parties involved, and I think a system like that would be perfect.

I am very interested in employing some wonderful new farming techniques I have been learning about. I want to do grass farming with my cows, which is where the cows go into a field, munch on the grass for a few days, and then are rotated to a different pasture, and the chickens in their mobile coops are brought in to clean up the bugs after the cows. It is a little more involved then this, but you get the picture--very good for the environment, very sustainable.

I want to make my own cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese, from my antibiotic/hormone-free milk cows, and know that my family is getting the best, most healthy milk available (more on raw milk later).

I do have a slight drawback to this big, grandiose plan. I like to travel occasionally. I don't want to be so tied down to a farm like this that I could never take a vacation, or go visit family. That being said, I think it would be highly advantageous to do something like this with family members or perhaps close friends, so we could help each other out. Obviously, this dream I am forming would be way too much for just our little family to manage. If anyone is interested in sharing my dream and making it your own as well, let me know! I figure we can get a lot of acres, then everyone who wants to can build on a little spot, with a common area for everyone to enjoy. Just FYI, since I am dreaming, I do plan to have a very awesome heated pool/hot tub in the commons area for relaxing in after a hard day's work. I am a farmer girl at heart with city tendencies, or the other way around, or something! I do enjoy the finer things of life!

So, that is about it. I will be researching a reading a lot of books over the next years to find out the best methods of doing things, the best varieties of fruits and veggies, the best gardening techniques...I am so excited! I have woken up every day the past couple of weeks with something to look forward to and TONS to learn about. My hope is to have this ready to go by the time Arden begins high school. He is six now.

Here's to being independently wealthy and being able to finance something like this! Better get busy, Curtis! (-;

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Of Yogurt Adventures

Well, I am woefully behind on my blogging. (What else is new!) I'd better get cracking, as I have a lot to write about!

First off, I have to say how blessed I feel to have gotten involved with this lovely group of women I have met here in the area. It is so nice to have good friends who lift you and make you "aspire higher."

Last night we had a little ladies night with four of our little group. It was fun to sit and gab and eat good food. Kayla (my lovely sister in law) gave us a juicer demonstration, and we enjoyed sampling each other's fudge (well, I enjoyed sampling fudge--I have never been able to perfect the art of fudge making. I always...ahem...fudge it up. Ha Ha. O.K., I know I am not that funny.

I had also made homemade frozen yogurt out of (drumroll please) real homemade yogurt.

Here is the recipe for anyone who wants to try it. Actually, I will just put in the link here for my readers' purusal.

I followed the instructions to the T, finished up at about 10:00 at night, and trotted off happily to bed, expecting to wake up to a lovely batch of creamy yogurt in the morning. Sadly, the next morning when I removed the lid and gave the pot a stir, the liquid looked exactly the same as it had when I had poured it in the night before. I whipped out my handy dandy thermometer, which I had purchased expressly for the purpose of making yogurt, and took the temperature of my liquid. The idea is to keep the yogurt at a constant 110 degrees for several hours so the bacteria can do it's thing. Too warm and you kill your bacteria. Too cool and it doesn't grow. It was no where near the necessary temperature. The heating pad had failed me. Next thing to try: stick it in containers in my crockpot. I poured hot water into my crockpot and set in my two containers of yogurt milk. After a little expirimentation, I found that if I turned my crockpot on warm and left the lid off, it was almost exactly the right temperature. Presto! Several hours later, perfect yogurt. (Maybe "presto" is the wrong word to use.) One more note: as a beginner, I used whole milk rather then a low-fat milk, although supposedly you can use any kind of milk and any fat content you want--I think the consistancy is just thinner if you use less fatty milk.

Next step. Attempt to impress the ladies coming to my house later in the evening with a FROZEN yogurt treat. This is where the adventure comes in. First of all, I had planned to freeze my yogurt in an ice cream maker that was recently given to us, but that we had never used. It looked similar to my friend, Karen's, that we have borrowed in the past, so I figured that would be no problem. WRONG. After I poured my yogurt in the canister and arranged the ice and salt around the outside, I discovered that I couldn't for the life of me get the doggone lid on. After much silent cursing, I dumped the ice out on our deck and decided to pursue a new tactic. I had about three hours before my guests arrived, so I thought if I spread the yogurt out thin enough in the freezer, it might freeze in time. So, by turning my cookie sheet sideways, I managed to finagle it into our freezer, where it fit perfectly--not an easy task I might add, seeing as the freezer door butts up against our counters and therefore does not open all the way. I then poured my liquid directly on to the cookie sheet already in my freezer. Smart....or, not so much. I then discovered that the freezer door wouldn't shut. Eeeks! Now what to do...cookie sheet full of liquid, can't get it out...can't shut the door. I had no choice but to do my best to dump it out, trying to get as much as possible into another container. Of course, most of it spilled, which I expected would happen. What I didn't expect, was that most of it managed to pool UNDER the fridge, I think just to spite me. To top it all off, a canister of little plastic heart beads that had been happily sitting on top of my freezer for weeks had the nerve to fall on my head and scatter hearts everywhere, right as I was finishing cleaning under the freezer.

Of course, Leila wanted to give me her advice on how to best make a mess (although I told her I was doing just fine on my own, thank you very much), but she still felt she had to chime in with her very loud opinion. Just what I needed, a squawking kid in the background to add to the excitement. Anyway, I finally managed to get the remains of my peach yogurt in the freezer. We enjoyed soft serve peach yogurt that evening. (At least I told the ladies they'd better darn well at least pretend that they enjoyed it!) They were kind enough to act duly impressed.

Lesson learned from all this? Never keep containers of heart beads on top of your fridge.

Oh yes, my peach yogurt recipe:

2 cups pureed peaches
2 cups plain yogurt
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 pkg. unflavored gelatine (opt.)

Dissolve sugar, water, and gelatine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Mix this together with all the other ingredients. Freeze as desired, preferable in an ice cream maker.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Of Artichokes and Garlic

O.K., call me crazy (my kids always do!) but I am so excited about the grocery stores here. Produce is CHEAP! So, just to make you all jealous, let me share with you my receipt from last week. This is what $18 bucks will get you at a grocery store here.

a bag of celery
5 lbs. peaches
2 bags of spices
2 seedless watermelons (yes, two)
a thing of tofu
two red bell peppers
a bag of carrots
2 lbs. grapes
2.5 lbs. pears
a small bag of pepitos
3 lbs. brocolli crowns
7 ears of corn
a jar of crushed garlic
5 artichokes

18 BUCKS!!!!!! Can you believe it?!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Of Cove Fort and Whisky Pete's

Well, we are now here in Carlsbad California, and we’ve been here nearly two weeks. Here is a brief recount of our adventures for posterity’s sake, and some of my reflections thus far.

The trip out here was fairly uneventful. We split the drive up into three days, so it wasn’t too overwhelming. The first night we stayed in Utah at my folk’s house and dropped off Amari (my little niece), Joseph, and Enoch’s friend Will. Enoch was not so lucky. We kidnapped him and took on to California with us as entertainment for our kiddoes and muscles for unloading the truck. (His assistance was much appreciated, though!) The second day we drove to a place just past Las Vegas, where we spent the night. On that leg of the journey, we (amidst some minor groans and complaining from my dear Curtis and Enoch) stopped at Cove Fort, a church historical site, and had a wonderful tour from one of the senior missionaries that was there. Then on to Jean, Nevada, where Curtis insisted he wanted to stay because he had heard it was cheap. Two hours later, we had finally made it the last 15 miles from Las Vegas to Jean. The traffic was creeping along, with all the gamblers going back to California from Las Vegas. Leila was pretty cranky by that time from being in the car so long (so was her mother!) so we stopped at the first place we saw right off the freeway in Jean--Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino. I’ll tell you, what a contrast in feeling from the peacefulness of Cove Fort! I didn’t particularly want to stay there, but our options were pretty limited in Jean. Cute little side note; On the way into the hotel, I asked Arden if he knew what whisky was. He didn’t, so I told him. He then informed me that he didn’t want to stay there anymore. What a good kid. Anyway, the place was booked, so we went across the street to check out the other hotel in town. It too was booked (apparently, everyone creeping along the road back to California gave up and decided to just spend the night in Jean. Either that, or like Ben suggested, Jean stages a pileup on the highway every Sunday night to try to get people to stay in their hotels.). Anyway, we decided the best course of action was to travel back 10 or 15 miles to the little town right before Jean. We still had to stay at a casino, but there was no line, and we got right in to a room that I think was still sufficiently inexpensive for Curtis. (No animosity there…)

The next day, after starting the day right with a delicious and very unhealthy breakfast dripping in gravy and a great Scooby-Doo cartoon, we were off once again. We arrived at our destination without any problems, and we very much appreciated the wonderful help we had unpacking all our stuff.

Now, a week and a half later, we are pretty much done unpacking (thank goodness) and have just a few more wall hangings left to put up. Arden asked me the other day if we were finally settled in to our new homestead. (We have recently finished the Little House on the Prairie series!) It is nice to be settled, although it was a bit of a challenge finding places for everything, as the place we are currently renting is about a quarter of the size of our house in Rexburg. It’s all good, though. I think we’ve got it all figured out.

So, California is nice. I quite like the area we are in, and our neighbors are great. I sometimes wonder how much they hear of us--we, particularly the kids--are not used to having to speak quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors! We are in a condo--a fourplex. At least we are on the ground floor though, so we can still jump around and dance and stuff. The beach is nice. The pool in our neighborhood is great (we go all the time). People here are incredibly friendly in comparison to Idaho and Utah. Why is that, I wonder? (No offense to Idaho and Utah--I love those places, it just seems to take a while to get to know people!) There are also a lot of spiders here. And ants. I sent the kids out to take a walk around our house the other day, and next thing I know, I hear this piercing shrieking coming from Maile. I rushed out to our deck, thinking she is being attacked by, um...some incredible scary creature. When I finally got Maile to tell me what was wrong, she sobbed out in great distress; “There’s an ant on me!” Get used to the bugs, kid.

Curtis and I are also in a little babysitting club with Kayla and Ben, and Jon and Jenny Whetten (thank you Jenny!), so we switch off every third week babysitting with them, and we get to go on dates the other two weeks. I am so excited for that! Curtis took me to an Armenian restaurant by the ocean for our first date in CA, where we got to enjoy some delicious food, live music, and even a belly dancer. It was really nice. By the way, Elvis lives. We saw him walking past the restaurant. He had great hair.

The ward we are in is also really nice. I hope I get called to the Young Women’s. The first Saturday we were there, the ward had a “Battle of the Bands” activity. Four bands duking it out. Lets just say, it weren’t no Janice Kapp Perry! I don’t think that kind of music would have ever been allowed in our ward! (Probably partly because our Rexburg bishop is a classical violin professor at BYU-I!) Anyway, it was fun. I enjoyed it.

Anyway, more to follow, but I don’t want posterity to think I am too long winded. Suffice it to say, I think we will enjoy it here very much, although I am still researching the Washington or Oregon areas to retire in. (One is never too young to plan for retirement!) Yeah, Curtis gives me a hard time about being here for a week and already wanting to move! (-:

One more note, I want to give a huge thank you to our wonderful friends the William’s and the Jackson’s for all of their help before we moved. I don’t know how we could have done everything without you. Also thanks to our great neighbors and friends in the ward who have been so good to us the years we have been there. What a blessing it is to have so many dear people we know we could have called on if we needed, and they would have been right there. Thank you, thank you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Of Top Hats and Funerals

I am a big fan of Abraham Lincoln. We grew up in this beautiful old house in Illinois, and it was rumored that Lincoln had occasionally stayed there on his trips between Bloomington and Springfield.

Anyway, Uncle Steve and his family were here for education week last week. Steve was able to attend a class on Lincoln, and shared a cute anecdote about him. I decided I would take the opportunity while my kiddoes are visiting Grandma down in Provo to do a little more reading about this great man. Not only did I find the story that Steve shared, but I also found quite a few others I shall copy down here for my readers’ enjoyment.

Of course, we are I’m sure familier with Abe’s nickname “honest Abe,” and among his neighbors, he was often called upon to settle disputes. On one occasion, two men had been arguing for a considerable amount of time about how long a person’s legs should be in proportion to his body. They came to Lincoln to ask for his opinion. Lincoln listened carefully to the two men, pondered for a few moments, then offered the following opinion:

“This question has been a source of controversy for untold ages, and it is about time it should be definitely decided. It has led to bloodshed in the past, and there is no reason to suppose it will not lead to the same in the future. After much thought and consideration, not to mention mental worry and anxiety, it is my opinion, all side issues being swept aside, that a man’s lower limbs, in order to preserve harmony of proportion, should be at least long enough to reach from his body to the ground.”

It is well known that Abraham practiced law. At one point in his law career, he had an office in Springfield that was directly over a courtroom, and Lincoln could keep track of the proceedings by opening a little trap door in his floor and listening in. During one case, apparently things got a little out of hand, and Lincoln simply dropped down through the trap door and rebuked the audience! Can you imagine being in that courtroom when that happened?! What a surprise!

One time, there was a young officer who had been indicted for assaulting an old man. Lincoln opened the case by saying “This is an indictment against a soldier for assaulting an old man.” The defendant interrupted and said, “Sir, I am no soldier, I am an officer.” “I beg your pardon,” replied Abe. Gentleman of the jury, this is an indictment against an officer, who is no soldier, for assaulting an old man.”

The story I heard from Uncle Steve, and found in one of my books, was about a fellow who had come to Abraham requesting his services in regards to collection of a debt that was owed to him by an impoverished young attorney, in the amount of $2.50. Abraham told the fellow that his fee was $10.00, payable in advance. That was fine with the man. Lincoln then sought out the young attorney, gave him half of the fee, and escorted him to court where the man accepted judgement and paid the $2.50. What a great example of the compassion Lincoln had for others who were in distress.

Lincoln was not a very organized person, and often stuffed important papers in his top hat, so he could get to them whenever needed. Problems arose however, when he bought a new hat, and forgot to transfer the papers from his old hat. He had several people wondering what had happened to their important documents!

While in Quincy on one occasion, Lincoln met a young reporter and humorist. The two men talked about a number of things, among them, the recent death of a military figure who was held in high esteem by both his countrymen and himself. “If the general had known how big a funeral he was going to have,” said Lincoln, “he would have died years ago.”

O.K., I’m running out of time, so I will try to write more fun little anecdotes later. No promises, though!

I Wanna Be Rich! Ooo-ooo, oo-oo-oo-ooo

Curtis and I flew out to Carlsbad the end of June to look for housing. On the way there, we sat next to a fellow who was from Newport Beach. As we visited, we learned that his career is a financial consultant or planner or something for extremely wealthy individuals there in CA. We also found out he was LDS and a bishop of one of the wards there. Anyway, we chatted, and learned some interesting things about money, and perhaps why the Lord doesn’t see fit to give more of it to more of us! This fellow said that he could count on one hand the number of wealthy clients he had who had intact families with good relationships. I was curious, so I asked him if he thought that there was a direct correlation between being wealthy and bad family relationships, or because of other factors. He said it was absolutely because of their money, and the process he went on to explain was quite interesting. Apparently, when one becomes wealthy, one can afford to hire someone to do their yardwork, their housecleaning, their finances…then one decides to hire a decorator to fix up the house just how one wants it. Soon, it becomes all about what “I” want, and selfishness becomes a big issue. Of course that is devastating to a marriage. Not only that, but when one becomes rich, all of a sudden, one doesn’t know who their real friends are, or who is simply trying to pander.

I still kinda hope we might be cursed with riches, but I hope if Curtis and I ever do become wealthy, no one will know except the bishop who we pay our tithing to. I hope I always remember the source of our material possessions, but also remember to put God first!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

No More Weeds! No More Weeds!

Well, I think this is a new record this month for lowest number of posts since I started blogging. I've written a whopping one post. This will make number two. I will definately be better once we get settled in California.

So, just my random thought for today.

I come from a family of do-it-yourselfers. Not just my immediate family, but my entire extended family is the same way. However, as I was weeding our 1/2 acre this morning in preparation for another house showing, the novel thought came to me of how nice it would be to have someone else be doing the weeding! (I'll admit, it is not the first time I have had that thought!) I don't mind the hard work, in fact I kind of like weeding. The problem is, we have a beautiful yard, but the only thing I can see when I go out is all the work that still needs done. I would much prefer to be playing with my kids, or gardening with them then weeding, but I was also raised to do "work first, then play." Unfortunatly, as I am discovering, the work never ends, so if you wait to play until the work is done, you will rarely get that chance.
Anyway, so maybe someday if we ever have extra money burning a hole in our pocket, I will hire someone to do some of the yardwork for me--at least the weeding. I still want my kids to know how to work, so there has to be something left for them to do!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"You Watch Out for that Fella--He's Not Normal!

We had a family reunion on my Mom’s side of the family last week, camping outside of Heber down in Utah. It was so good to see everyone, and I have come to the conclusion that our extended family is not normal (“You watch out for that fella--he’s not normal!” ~Mad, Mad Mad Mad World). As Grandpa would say, not only do we love each other, we like each other too! From my observations, there are few extended families as big as ours that are as close as we are. We all like to meddle in each other’s business, trade kids around on occasion, and offer lots of unsolicited advice, but by the same token, we know we could show up on any one of each other’s doorsteps unannounced and they would gladly let us stay and feed us if we needed it. We’ve got each other’s backs, I guess you could say, and what a wonderful feeling it is to know that any one of 60+ people are concerned about you and love you and would give you a soft place to land if needed. Few and far between are families like that.

One of the things I love about our family, is that everyone LOVES little babies. It was so neat to see all the babies being passed around from person to person. Our family believes that little ones are a special gift from Heavenly Father, and those little ones are definitely treated as such. I noticed though, that there were a few people that seemed to have a special gift with little babies. My brother, Joseph, has always been amazing with kids, and they all just love him. Nephi, Aunt Kristi, Eliza, and Nathan also seemed to have a special affinity with the little ones. Anyway, it was fun to observe….I feel like I am alright with kids, but my calling in life is with teenagers. (-:

Speaking of teenagers, I have to report on the Bajio's quesadillas. They were AMAZING! So delicious! I actually bought the uncooked tortillas from Bajios, and boy, are fresh tortillas good. If I were to do something differently next time, I would make a big batch of chicken, and a big batch of the chutney, and just have it in the freezer in small portion size baggies. Oh, another note, I peeled the peppers that went into the chutney, just like you would do for chillies rellenos. (Broil them 'til the skin turns black, then they peel pretty easily.) Anyway, I highly recommend trying this recipe, and make sure to load it up with all the toppings!

Oh, speaking of toppings, rather then buy a $4 bag of tortilla strips, heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan, cut some corn tortillas up into strips with a pizza cutter, and fry those puppies up. Sprinkle a little salt on, and MMMMM!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Of Wingers and Franks

So, I don't know why I have been on a copycat recipe thing these last few days, but I found a recipe for Winger's wings, that all the comments said tasted spot on. I tried it last night in one of my rare fried food indulgences, and boy, was it tasty with a capital T! The recipe is so simple, I can write it down from memory.

3 T. Frank's hot sauce (apparently it absolutely has to be Frank's)
2 T. water
3/4 c. brown sugar

Cook these ingredients in a small pan until boiling, then remove from heat. Meanwhile, fry your frozen, breaded chicken nuggets in a frying pan in a little bit of oil until crispy, drain on paper towels when done, and pour the sauce over them. (I put my chicken in a large tupperware with a lid, poured the sauce on top, then shook it 'til the sauce coated the chicken.) Arden made us some yummy homemade ranch sauce to dip the wings in (which Maile promptly knocked over, then stepped in on accident, and yes, we still ate it. Be warned if you decide to eat at my house! To be fair, in an attempt to preserve sanitation, we did try to rescue the bit that hadn't gotten stepped in or touched the countertop.) Anyway, it was fantastic.

Of Hot Rods and Designer Clothes

Isn't it ironic that when we are young and want the fancy cars, designer clothes, and expensive "toys," we can't afford them, and then later in life, when we can afford them, we just don't care about stuff like that as much. (At least I don't--I'm sure others would beg to differ.) Curtis and I have experienced this same type of thing with our house. For the last three+ years we have lived in a beautiful, large house on 1/2 an acre, right by the Rexburg temple. At first, it was a wonderful novelty, as we had previously been in small apartments the entirety of our married lives. Now, I look back, and I am grateful that we've lived here--it's been perfect for us, and we've loved playing host to all the family members who have passed through, but I just don't care about the size any more. I don't care about a big house or yard, because I know how much work and expense goes in to maintaining them. I still want to have a beautiful house, because I find that being surrounded by beauty brings peace and tranquility to my soul, but as far as the size, I could care less. My only hope for whatever place we find to move to in California, is that we will have a little room for visitors, because I love to see friends and family. Other then that...I am happy with pretty much whatever!

I love Baloo the Bear from "Jungle Book" when he sings his song, "Bare Necessities." Isn't that all we really need to be happy--the bare necessities? Food, clothes, a place to live, friends and family, and most importantly, the gospel? I guess other things are niceties, but it's all about the bare necessities of life! Da da dada...da! Yeah!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why Did I Open My Big Mouth?!

Wow, I was just sitting here looking back over my journal briefly. Last time I wrote in it was 2008. I originally intended my blog to become my "public journal," and reserve writing in my other one for my more private and personal thoughts. (-: Judging by the amount I have written though, I apparently don’t have any private and personal thoughts!

Changing the subject, it’s kinda funny--about a year ago, I remember Curtis and I commenting to each other how easy we felt our life was--like we didn’t really have any significant trials, so to speak. I guess we shouldn’t have opened our big mouths, because I feel like this whole last year has been one heck of a ride! First of all, Curtis starting a company, then all the medical stuff that was going on with Leila, then insurance issues, a two inch high stack of medical bills following Leila's birth (I measured it!), and now trying to sell the house in a down economy for our impending move from Curtis’ change in jobs. Selling the house right now I think is the most stressful thing for me by far, mainly because we have done everything we can possibly think of to sell it, and there is nothing else really to do--it is out of our hands at this point. I know I am a really type-A personality, and it is hard for me when I have no control over something. I am trying to have faith that it will all work out for the best, but some days it is harder then others.

I keep quoting to myself the beautiful scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants; "...Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

I Hope They Have Bajio's in Heaven

Every time Curtis and I go to Bajio's (which is never as often as I would like--would that we were born rich instead of beautiful!), he teases me because I always order the same item--their chicken green chili quesadilla. Heaven. One time, I succumbed to his taunts and ordered something different from the menu. It was o.k. (hey, could anything from Bajios not be good?!), but it just was not a chicken green chili quesadilla! My figuring is, if you have found something wonderful that you love, why change it?

Anyway, (oh joy and rapture) the other day I happened across a copycat recipe, which I will submit for your perusal. note: I have not tried it yet, so I can't guarantee any results, but I fully intend to attempt it this week after I go grocery shopping, and I will report on it then!

Bajio's Green Chile Chicken Quesadilla
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts
1 cup Green Chile Chutney (recipe to follow)
1 cup of Caramelized Onions
1 cup Shredded Cheese (a mix of cheddar and jack cheese)
4 large Flour Tortillas
Marinate Chicken Breasts in 1 cup of lime juice and 1 cup oil, let stand for at least two hours in the refrigerator. On a hot grill, grill the chicken until done and set aside to rest. Once the chicken has had time to rest and cool, shred into small pieces.
Slice 1 whole white onion into slices. In a medium saute pan, add 2 TBL spoons of oil and saute the onions until they are translucent.
Once the onions are done, add the shredded chicken and cup of Green Chile Chutney, and saute all together until well heated.
Warm up each tortilla and add shredded cheese to each tortilla. Spoon in warm chicken mixture and fold the tortilla over. Cut into 4 wedges and serve.

Bajio's Green Chile Chutney

3 large annaheim peppers, halved, seeds removed
1 - 2 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeds removed
4 oz. can diced green chiles
5-7 tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
dash of chili powder
dash of cumin
dash of salt
1 large sweet onion, halved

Place peppers, tomatillos, and onion on baking sheet/rack. Roast in 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Place tomatillos and about 1/4 cup onion in blender and process until mostly smooth. Dice peppers. Add all ingredients except the remaining onion into a large pot. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened and reduced. Add more sugar/peppers to adjust the spiciness/sweetness to taste.
For Carmelized Onions:
Slice the remaining onion and saute with a little bit of the green chile sauce over medium-low heat until carmelized.

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

“The Department of Homeland Security has recommended every family in America have a backup food reserve in case of natural disaster or terrorism. Think of it as the "insurance policy" that you can eat. In today’s uncertain world, it pays to be prepared one year too early than one day to late. Be safe… Be Prepared!”

“The time will come that gold will hold no comparison in value to a bushel of wheat.”
(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, p#250.)

“I ask you earnestly, have you provided for your family a year’s supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel? The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.”
(Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, Oct. 1973.)

“The principle of self-reliance is spiritual as well as temporal. It is not a doomsday program; it is something to be practiced each and every day of our lives.”
(Elder L. Tom Perry, Conference Report, Oct.1991)

The principle of the fat and lean kine is as applicable today as it was in the days when, on the banks of the Nile, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dream. Officials now warn us, and warn again, that scant days are coming. (President Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay (First Presidency), Conference Report 1942 as quoted in We Believe, by Rulon T. Burton)

Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.
(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375)

You do not need to go into debt to obtain a year's supply. Plan to build up your food supply just as you would a savings account. Save a little for storage each paycheck. Can or bottle fruit and vegetables from your gardens and orchards. Learn how to preserve food through drying and possibly freezing. Make your storage a part of your budget. Store seeds and have sufficient tools on hand to do the job. If you are saving and planning for a second car or a television set or some item which merely adds to your comfort or pleasure, you may need to change your priorities. We urge you to do this prayerfully and do it now. I speak with a feeling of great urgency. (CR October 1980, Ensign 10 [November 1980]

Of Bleeding Hearts

Yesterday Maile asked for "Tree of LIFE cereal." Ha! Ha! She is so cute.

The other day she went over to our backyard neighbors and announced she needed some hearts. They were a little confused until they realized she meant some of their bleeding heart flowers. She is a little flower girl, for sure!

Of Fire in the Bones

I just finished reading a wonderful book called "Fire in the Bones." It is about William Tyndale, who is often referred to as the 'Father of the English Bible'. He is not very well known nowadays, but he should be, as he was primarily responsible for giving us one of the greatest gifts the world has ever had--the Bible translated into English. One of his better known quotes is (speaking to one of his critics): "If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou dost."

God bless William Tyndale for the great gift he has given us, and for sacrificing his very life so we could have and read the great truths of the scripture today.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mesa Falls

Eeeks! I am falling further and further beind on my blog---must update!

Last month we very much enjoyed a visit from my family (not just because they helped us put in $500 worth of shrubs in the front yard and dig out the old stuff that didn't survive the winter!). After getting the yardwork done, we took a delightful trip to Mesa Falls with them, and Ben and Kayla. In the evening, we enjoyed ice cream sundae's and a rousing round or two of frisbee golf in the back yard.




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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Of Wind Memorials

Today we went with Curtis' folks to a windfarm dedication just outside of Idaho Falls. Curtis' dad owns some land that a windfarm company is leasing for the next 20 years to put wind turbines on to produce energy. It was quite a neat shindig! They had a bunch of speakers, including the governor of Idaho (whom I like less and less the more I know about him, but that is a story for a different post). After that, we got to sign one of the windmill propellers, which are enormous! 132 ft. long to be exact. Arden went around to the back side of the propeller and ran his marker nearly all the way from the front to the back. Our whole family on the Nielsen side is now memorialized forever on a wind turbine propeller--how cool is that! After that, we were fed a delicious lunch, and got to take a little van tour. Very neat. And guess what? The energy they produce here will be sold to Southern California, where we will be moving. Thanks Idaho!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ahoy, Mateys!

Curtis and I wandered back to our bedroom last night at about 10:00 to hit the sack, and the kids were STILL chattering away in their room, long after they should have been asleep. We asked them what they were talking about, and Arden informed me that he didn't think we had enough wood in the basement to make all of his birthday party guests their own pirate ship, and we would need to purchase more. (We are having a pirate themed party for him and a few friends this week.) This is going to one disappointed kid on his birthday. It sounded like he was also planning some sort of elaborate waterfall in the back yard for the pirate ships to go down. Hmmmmm.

Pizza Rebellion

So, I was feeling a little rebellious the other day, and I decided to put TWO stuffed crust Papa Murphey's pizzas in the oven at the SAME TIME, despite being warned on numerous occasions that it wouldn't work. Guess what? It worked just fine! The pizzas were both cooked well, and tasted delicious! I just switched racks halfway through.

Speaking of pizzas, why do people make salads to go with a pizza? No one really wants the salad, if we're being honest. I think salads are made so people don't feel so guilty about indulging in a delicious, fatty, cheesy, pizza. Ironically, one feels guilty anyways, when the salad is ignored and the pizza is indulged in.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Of Delicious Mangoes

Found on the label of a Mango:

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For our mother's day gift, Arden's kindergarten class put together a cook book for all the mothers. I thought it was absolutely adorable--too cute to keep to myself. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, Ben and Kayla suggested we go for a caving adventure, so we grabbed the kids, waterbottles, glow sticks, treats, backpacks, flashlights, extra batteries, extra warm clothes, hats, mittens, extra kids, and various other sundries neccesary for going caving. The cave was interesting, and perfect for a family excursion involving young children. The caves are basically lava tubes. I have heard tell they are called the "civil defense caves" because supposedly back in the day, if there were ever some sort of civil disaster, all of Rexburg was going to go out there and dwell in the caves for a time. One big happy family. Yeah!



Arden is the smart one of the bunch.

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Back in April (the 8th, to be precise) we celebrated cousin Greg's birthday, Toshi's birthday, and Kayla's birthday, with a delicious ice cream cake made by yours truly, and several fun games. It is always a delight to get together with our "college group" here.




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Here are a couple of photos of our beautiful angel, Leila, in her lovely blessing dress.


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Leila's cranky time of day is usually in the evenings right when Curtis gets home from work. He was convinced that Leila doesn't like him, and never smiles, so I had to take a few smiley pictures to prove otherwise. Normally she is a very happy and content baby, and if you sit her in front of you, she will coo and smile--she is quite the conversationalist!


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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Of Maddening Monopoly

I was reminded once again today why I do not play Monopoly. A sweet, soft-spoken friend of mine had come over for dinner, and had requested that we play monopoly afterwards. I grudgingly agreed, and was sorry I did, because the game ended up with her near tears, and very angry at both Curtis and I (because we played using the "fast dice," which came with the game, mind you, and she had only played Monopoly once before in her life, so apparently, Curtis and I should have known better then to play with that dice and confuse her). Sigh...

Of Buffalo and Cancer

Church today was pretty much wonderful. There were a couple of testimonies that really stood out to me. The first was by the second councillor in our bishopric. He talked about Yellowstone--He just recently took a trip out to enjoy watching the animals. We are only about two hours away from here, so it's relatively close. Apparently, the buffalo have figured out this system of getting their baby buffalo across the high spring rivers. The adult buffalo line up in a line across the river downstream from where the baby buffalo cross. That way, if the baby buffalo hit a spot in the river where their feet don't touch, and they are swept downstream, the adults can "catch" them, so to speak, and nudge them to shore with their shoulders and heads. He likened that to why we need to go to church. Besides just taking the sacrament, we are there to help each other "reach the other side of the shore." When people are struggling, others are right there to help and assist. I thought it was a good analogy.

The other testimony I really enjoyed was from a returned senior missionary. He and his wife actually just got back from their mission in New Jersey a couple weeks ago, and the Elder had come back early because he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer which necessitated a bone marrow transplant, according to the doctor. The doctor recommended he go to the Huntsman institute where they would be closer to family, hence, their early return. Anyway, when he went to his initial appointment at the Huntsman institute, and after he had gotten the results from the tests they ran, it turned out that they could not detect any of the cancer. The doctor was amazed, and said he wanted to write a medical paper about this guy. The elder said that would have been fine, but he would have had to include a section explaining how 150 missionaries from his mission, along with ward and family members had been praying and fasting for him, and how his name had been put in temple prayer rolls all across the country. What a miracle. There is certainly great power in prayer.

How I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how grateful I am for it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Zumba, Baby!

Wheee! I am so excited (kind of!). I signed up for a zumba class (see clip) that starts in a week or so. The "kind of" is because it is at 6:00 in the morning, three times a week. I already know it will be hard to drag my self out of bed after a long night with Leila, but I can do it for six weeks.

I also signed up for a digital photo editing class. I have long been interested in doing portrait photography. I have done a few photo shoots for friends' engagements, but I would like to take it to the next level. Also, I told Curtis I would like to start collecting equipment (backdrops, lights, etc.)for birthdays, holidays, etc.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy news! My sister had her baby on the 2nd of April! This is her second, and is particularly exciting because they didn't really expect to be able to have any more naturally. Happy day! I am an aunt again!

Of Shoes On My Floor

I won't miss the weather when we move to California in a couple of months, but I will miss this! We have been so blessed to be here when many of our cousins are here at school, and it has been wonderful getting to know many of their spouses.

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Of Family Photos

I have had a few people ask me to post some of our recent family photos on my blog, so here you are! I don't know a better way to do this, so sorry you will have to scroll a lot!