Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!


A few weeks ago this beautiful painting was decorating the foyer of our church for our Stake Christmas Fireside. What amazing talent we have in our stake and especially our ward! Amazing!

This painting touched me deeply, the beauty, the simplicity, and the bow! I love the bow! It reminds me of the precious gift the birth of a tiny infant brought to us all, the hope it gave to all mankind and the perfect example this baby grew to be.

Last night we watched the movie The Nativity and I was deeply moved by the way it portrayed the birth of our Savior. I love how in the movie pregnant Mary asked Joseph if he ever wondered when it would happen that Jesus wouldn't be just any baby, that it would be apparent to others that he was the Savior for all mankind. How great that their speculation was answered even before His birth. It shouldn't be surprising to those who have felt the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost that some were given this powerful revelation. What a gift! The Nativity is a beautiful movie. Very thought provoking, spiritual and a perfect way to spend part of Christmas!

The other message that touched me in a personal way was that of love. Loving others, it's not always easy is it? Sometimes it's not at all like we expected it to be, or perhaps it takes extra effort. In the movie The Nativity, Joseph loves Mary. Mary was young and was taken by surprise when she was betrothed to Joseph. She did not love Joseph; she did not know him. She wasn't the happiest of brides; you could tell it wasn't her plan for herself. In the movie, it shows Joseph, loving Joseph, making so many sacrifices for Mary and the child she was carrying. It was moving to watch the change in Mary. She learned to love Joseph, and couldn't be happier with any other man she may have chosen for herself. You know, sometimes God knows more. God can change hearts, heal hearts, help us love others and learn from others. One thing Mary's character in the movie portrayed was deep faith. Faith in following God's plan even though it was the scariest thing ever. I love Joseph and Mary more after seeing this movie. Yes, I know it's not THE EXACT way things happened, but my heart tells me that much of it is. I am so grateful for Joseph and Mary and their commitment to God that led them to do His will of bringing His Only Begotten Son to earth! I am so grateful for that sweet baby, Jesus, and the man he grew to become. Grateful for His sacrifices and his love for us!

Merry Christmas to all my family and friends!! May our Savior's love be in your homes and his loving guidance watch over you!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy for No Reason


So, I walked by this book at the public library and was drawn to it. My recent enrollment in Psychology and my study of Personality, Emotion and Learning has created a sort of passion for those subjects. Mix it with the past year of my life and my personal growth and attempts of growing into the woman I want to be... well, I couldn't pass it up. I checked it out and have been frustrated that it sat there unread because I had finals to study for.

Now, I can't put it down! There is so much good stuff in there!

Here are a few of my favorite treasures found inside this book:

1. "You BRING happiness to your outer experiences rather than trying to extract happiness from them. You don't need to manipulate the world around you to try to make yourself happy. You live FROM happiness, rather than FOR happiness." She explains that most of us strive to sting together happy experiences like beads on a necklace to create a happy life. She says, "Being Happy for No Reason, in our necklace analogy, is like having a happy string. No matter what beads we put on our necklace- good, bad, or indifferent - our inner experience, which is the string that runs through them all, is happy, creating a happy life."

2. "When you are Happy for No Reason you're UNCONDITIONALLY happy. It's not that your life always looks perfect - it's just that however it looks, you'll still be happy."

3. "Some people enjoy their lives no matter what happens, while others can't find happiness no matter how hard they try."

4. An INTERESTING tidbit on Thomas Jefferson's famous line from the Declaration of Independence... "the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"... In 1776, the common usage of the word "pursue" was not "to chase after". To pursue something meant to PRACTICE that activity, to do it regularly, to make a habit of it. SO: Let's stop pursuing happiness and start practicing it. We do that by practicing new habits.

5. Chasing happiness is a bit like a hamster on a wheel. We often believe we "will be happy when.... (fill in the blank here) " OR we believe that when we acquire something IT will make us happy. "With each one, you experience either fleeting satisfaction or out right disappointment. But how long will it last?"

6. When you are not able to change the events in your life that you don't like, change your response to them.

OH! There is so much more inside this book!! She talks about habits to develop and practice. Changing responses to real life. Taking responsibility for your own happiness. GOOD STUFF!!

Another GREAT quote, different book:

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." - Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Now, I have to say that I am 80x happier today than I was a year ago. I have also had the toughest year of my life. It is strange but, I believe that I had figured a bit of this out on my own!

One of the habits Shimoff talks about is gratitude. Gratitude has really helped me appreciate all of the awesome things I have in my life! I have SO MUCH more than I don't have. Yes, there are a few things I really desire to have in my life right now. The things I want most though, I cannot put on a Christmas Wish List.

Another habit is believing that the world is not out to get you, but to help you. Sometimes bad things happen but, looking at them as if they may be avenues for greater blessings helps. Your attitude improves! Your happiness is greater!

Good Luck Bad Luck!

There is a Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer's neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, "Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?" A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, "Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?"

Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, "Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?"

Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

Who knows?

Everything that seems on the surface to be an evil may be a good in disguise. And everything that seems good on the surface may really be an evil. So we are wise when we leave it to God to decide what is good fortune and what misfortune, and thank him that all things turn out for good with those who love him.

Author Unknown

*Check out Marci Shimoff's website HERE.

On Motherhood

I'm very grateful for the opportunity God has given me to be a mother. I take this responsibility seriously. I think it's the most important thing I could do in my lifetime. Raising these two, to not only be responsible citizens, but to have great character and morals, to LOVE God and follow His plan, to honor themselves and their family, to achieve greatness. It's a big job; trust me I've felt the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders!! I believe I am a great mom! My kids make me proud; they're making me look like a success! That said, I'm always looking for ways to be better and the challenges of motherhood are constantly shifting with the children's growth.

I have a friend that I've always thought was the best mother to her boys. In my younger motherhood years I used to believe it was her gift, her talent, and that she was just a better mom than most others.

I'm a little wiser now and although I recognize that she has a gift and talent in her abilities as a mother and I still believe she IS a fabulous mom role-model, I finally see WHAT she does differently that sets her apart from other great mothers. She lives the advice that Sister Wixam gives in this conference address:




She teaches her kids in everyday moments. She bears her testimony often in simple yet powerful ways and with enthusiasm. She creates spiritual opportunities like a scrapbook about her testimony, visiting temple grounds around the country, service, researching her son's priesthood lineage, and supporting her kids spiritual needs. She lives as an intentional mother, with clear focus of her end goal that keeps her perspective as it should be.

I LOVED this talk by Sister Wixam. These things stood out to me:

1. Reach out to "hold" onto our children... anchor them on the path of faith
2. Hold TIGHT to the rod ourselves. Set an example for our children
3. Read scriptures together - the Spirit will increase in our homes
4. The world will teach our children if we do not
5. Teach what we want them to know 5 years from now
6. Teach in everyday moments

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A hot soup for a cold day

I don't mind the cold weather too much, unless it's windy. Today is windy. It feels about 20 degrees colder than yesterday! I put on my Smart Wool base layer and REI wool socks.

I've been wanting to try some new soup recipes; today seemed like the perfect day! I'm home studying for a final and even though it's toasty warm inside it's a soup day!





This one is perfect: yummy, cheap, and simple to make!

Tomato-Tortellini Soup (feeds 8)

48 oz. water
4 Knorr chicken bouillon cubes
1 lb. package refrigerated cheese filled tortellini
8 oz. tub cream cheese spread with chive and onion
2 cans low-sodium condensed tomato soup

Bring the water and bouillon cubes to a boil; break up the bouillon as it softens. Add tortellini; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the cream cheese into a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup of the hot broth, stir until smooth. Add cream cheese mixture and the tomato soup to the tortellini and broth. Stir until smooth and heated through.

Options: I topped with diced tomato and sliced green onion. You could use 48 oz. of canned chicken broth instead of the water and bouillon. You could also replace the cheese filled tortellini with cheese and chicken filled tortellini.

Cost: (My cost at Winco) - $8.88 ($1.11 per serving)
Knorr bouillon cubes (use 1/2 the box): $1.56 for the box
1 lb. package cheese tortellini: $ 3.98 (this is super cheap! I usually spend around $6 for it)
cream cheese spread with chives and onion: $1.98
tomato soup (2): $1.36

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

For the Love of Limes.... (for Jen)

This was dinner tonight and the kids LOVED it!

Garlic Lime Chicken
(recipe from McCormick & Co)

1 tsp. McCormick minced garlic
1 tsp. McCormick minced onion
3/4 tsp. McCormick Ground Cumin
3/4 tsp. McCormick Oregano Leaves
1/2 tsp. McCormick Cilantro Leaves
1/2 tsp. McCormick Coarse Ground Black Pepper
1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients except for the chicken in a large plastic bag. Shake or knead to mix well; add chicken and refrigerate 30 minutes or longer to marinade.

I baked the chicken in a 350 degree oven for about 20 -25 minutes. (? - probably depends on the size of the breast halves)

The original recipe is actually for fajitas. It calls for you to cut up the chicken into strips and cook on the stove top with bell pepper and onion. Serve in tortillas. Instead I baked three large breast halves.


Lime Cilantro Rice

2 cups water
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup long grain white rice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Bring the water to a boil; stir the butter and rice into the water. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir the lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro into the cooked rice just before serving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My daughter is pretty talented. I need to show off a few of her creations...


I'm thinking I'll just hand her the stack of baby photos and let her make her own scrapbook. :-) She is interested in learning photography right now too. She has a great eye for design and fashion!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today, it's about me...


This post is about me. It seems so egocentric, which is not me at all. In fact, I've historically had a tough time putting myself first at times, and I hate to be the center of attention.

It's been a long time coming but, I really like me right now. I'm proud of myself for accomplishing certain things, living through painful things, and not just surviving, but thriving!

I feel strong. I've learned strength is an endowed characteristic. It is not holding in the tears, it is crying and allowing yourself to feel the pain, then moving forward. Strength is not insisting on doing things alone, it is letting people in and relying on others compassion and love. It is also allowing God to lead and recognizing that you don't always know best.

For me, it is like finding the path you've been searching for. Your very own path, that runs along side the path the whole family or marriage walks on. It's a path that goes on, even if the path next to it stops abruptly or takes a wrong turn. It feels good to be on the path, to move forward and gain strength with each new step.

So, I'll share a few of my "steps" with you, to give you an idea where I'm headed...

1. I recently started to run with my son. We started out a half mile and my goal is to run a half marathon in October 2011 with my cousin Carie and friend Amy.

2. Continue to go to BSU next semester. To approach the learning process with a good attitude and lots of hard work.

3. To continue to get healthier by biking, eating well and taking care of my spiritual/emotional well-being.

4. Continue to make new friends by taking advantages of opportunities to get to know others and creating opportunities as well.

5. Start a "bucket list"

6. To nurture my relationships to the best of my ability

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homemade Pesto



I made Pesto two days in a row (extra basil). It's how I get on my daughter's good side. Hahaha! It is her all time favorite food. She likes it on pasta, cheese tortellini, pizza, sandwiches, etc... I've caught her leaning over the food processor eating it by the spoonful... like frosting.

Last night I was the hostess for the Bunco group I joined around our neighborhood. It has been a lot of fun gathering with them and making new friends. There are a lot of very cool ladies in our neighborhood! So, I hallowed out some cherry tomatoes and stuffed them with the leftover pesto from our dinner last night. Delicious and a cute little appetizer. Sorry, I didn't get a photo of them.

So, if you've ever wondered... Pesto is very simple to make. SUPER easy!! Here is my favorite recipe...

Pesto

2 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree' until smooth. Add more olive oil if you desire a thinner pesto.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Keep VIRTUE a strong trait in our personalities & lifestyles

Caitlin gave her first ever talk in Sacrament Meeting today. Mid-week I mentioned to her that we needed to work on her talk and she informed me that she had chosen the subject and had written it already! Wow! Yep, I have an awesome kid. She said it was making her nervous, so she wanted to "get it out of the way". She said having it written was like having a 20 lb. weight lifted off her shoulders. Smart girl. No procrastination here!

So, Grandma and Aunt Meme wanted to hear the talk and of course I'm so impressed that I've decided to include it here. She did great! Perfect in every way. Perfect subject. Perfect delivery.

Cait's talk:

I was asked to speak today about a young women value, and how it is important to include it in your life. I decided to focus on Virtue. I would like to quote some of Elaine S. Dalton’s talk about returning to Virtue.

Her definition of virtue “is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.” It encompasses chastity and moral purity. Virtue begins in the heart and in.

She states:
"Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtuous means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost. President Monson has counseled: “You be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness—and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.

I truly believe that one virtuous young woman or young man, led by the Spirit, can change the world, but in order to do so, we must return to virtue. Now is the time to set our course and focus on the finish. A return to virtue must begin individually in our hearts and in our homes.

Now is the time for each of us to arise and unfurl a banner to the world calling for a return to virtue. May we so live that we can be instruments in preparing the earth for His Second Coming, “that when he shall appear we shall be like him, … purified even as he is pure.”

I would also like to refer to some of my favorite scriptures about Virtue.

D&C 121:45 “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.”

Articles of Faith, 1:13: “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

And my personal favorite,
Proverbs 31:10: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

Virtue is EXTREMELY essential to keep in your life. What Sister Dalton said was definitely true. You don’t hear about Virtue that much outside of the church. That, is why, here in the present day, we have been given a hard trial to keep virtue a strong trait in our personality, and lifestyle.

In the book, Keepers of What Matters Most by Emily Freeman it says,

"How can we learn to be men and women of strength? It takes practice. How do you practice having virtue? Well, anything virtuous would be anything that gives you strength. Think of the movies you watch, the books you read, the music that you listen to. How about the conversations you have with your family and friends? Do all of those things make you stronger?? More importantly, do they strengthen your testimony of Christ?

If what you are about to do won’t strengthen your testimony of Christ, learn to walk away from it. Leave it behind. In the world we live in today, you can’t afford to waste time on anything that will not make you stronger. And your strength comes from the Lord."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Learning about Forgiveness

Today I came across this video and I am in awe at this man's faith and forgiveness.



It is refreshing that somebody out in the world is so Christlike and selfless. In his grief and loneliness he found healing and impressively was able to experience deep love and forgiveness to the very person causing his heartache.

I LOVE that he said that he felt and sensed that he needed to let his anger and anguish go. His Stake President worded it "There's Jesus' way to solve problems, to address situations, and handle sorrow and then there's some other way." - This man, Chris Williams, seemed to get that Jesus' way responds with love and forgiveness. Miraculously, his very response to forgive and love has helped to heal him too!

My favorite quotes from Chris Williams in the video:

"I am merely a vessel that His Spirit, His example, His intelligence and His brilliance could shine. That's really all I had to do, was to NOT get in the way. I really didn't have much to do with that... (it was only the Spirit working through me)."

"I'm grateful that God allows trials and tragedy to occur in our lives. Not because they are easy or desired but because they help us love."

"Coming to know a man of sorrow and one who is acquainted with grief, as I've now come to understand it, is really why I was sent here. And it has been incredibly difficult to have to learn those lessons in the way that I've learned them. But I've always ended those episodes with an assurance and a hope that one day perhaps I will see Him... one day I will hopefully be like Him."


In THIS Ensign Article, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

"Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way."

"(Forgiveness) may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed."

"May God help us to be a little kinder, showing forth greater forebearance, to be more forgiving, more willing to walk the second mile, to reach down and lift up those who may have sinned but have brought forth the fruits of repentance, to lay aside old grudges and nurture them no more."

This is my goal to forgive as this man did... choosing to forgive brings happiness. Harboring resentment and withholding forgiveness will only make us miserable. Choose happiness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On mothering the greatest kids...

There's nothing I love more than being a mom. I happen to believe I've been blessed with the two sweetest kids ever! They are amazing! I can't believe my luck in being selected to be their mom!

Watching them grow is so bittersweet. It's sad to see their babyhood and childhood pass away so quickly, yet I love to interact with the people they are becoming!

I thought I'd brag a bit on their greatness! I truly believe that each of us is born with some natural talents and wonderful character traits. I hope my kids learn to recognize theirs, because they will come in handy during their lifetimes.


Caitlin has always been my sweetheart. Born with love in her heart and a passion for life. She is funny and fun to be with. She's always game for a new adventure and the scariest roller coaster. She is wise and has a kind, loving heart. Those gifts have brought many compliments from her teachers and her friends' mothers. I love that she makes good choices consistently and thinks about others. It is always impressive to see her compassion for the underdog, the one who is struggling. That Christlike charity will take her far. Caitlin is also very smart and an exceptional reader and writer. She has an awesome musical talent that brings our family joy!


Jared is a boy who knows his heart. He knows what he likes and what he wants. He has determination and problem solving skills that enable him to shape his life and help others. He is very intelligent and uses that gift together with his creativity to constantly impress me with his ideas. He has a passion for art, music, math and science. He is a people magnet because he is fun, entertaining and interesting. I love when he chooses to be a great example to his peers, that makes me proud! Jared is also sweet and loving. He loves people and loves to be recognized for good things he does for them.


God gave me these children and they are my biggest blessing, my proudest accomplishment and bring me the most joy in my life. I am so grateful for my sweet children.

I hope they will always know how much I love them and adore the people they have grown into. I am honored to be their mom and hope to follow the Spirit in that job so I can teach, nurture and prepare them for life.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Choosing to be happy in the midst of imperfection

A friend posted this quote on facebook the other day...

Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.

... funny how I've been thinking a lot lately about how much happier I am with life. Even though there are things in my life happening right now that make me sad and are difficult on a day to day basis, I feel happy!

I've learned an interesting lesson in the last several months about happiness. It all comes down to a choice we make. We choose our reactions to life. We can't make decisions for others, we don't get to choose our trials in life, and frankly sometimes we are dealt hard blows that we aren't sure we'll live through. Finding that strength to be happy in the midst of an imperfect life is a talent worth seeking. I've never been good at it, really.

Until now, that is. I can remember the day not long ago when I felt that I was confronted face to face with that choice. With clarity I could see that by choosing to be happy, I would experience LESS pain in an already painful situation. Could it be that easy? Yes, it was. A simple choice that I made, backed up by a whole lot of work, effort and prayer to make it happen.

It's strange to look back on that experience now. I see God's hand in it; it does seem like a super-human ability. And yet it's continued to be clear and "easy" - because it's working!! Choosing to be happy = feeling happy = BEING happy... even in the midst of imperfection.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It's hard to watch our kids learn tough lessons

I had taken the kids to the pool a short time ago, my two and their cousin.

The girls took a small blow-up beach ball that my son had abandoned about a half hour earlier. Soon they returned complaining of my son's behavior upon discovering that the girls had "his" ball. I agreed his behavior and reaction was inappropriate and could quite possibly could get him kicked out of the pool.

Carrying the ball he joined the girls and I. Anger sparked in his eyes ans he complained loudly that they had taken his ball without asking. Big sister often tries to "help" me discipline him so, I pulled out another beach ball from the beach bag. I handed it to my daughter and instructed the girls to go play.

IF I had thought I had established world peace I would have been sadly mistaken. This I knew as soon as my son proclaimed that that ball was his too!

"They belong only to you?" I asked, wishing I could remember how those balls had come to live in our beach bag.

In one breath he informed me angrily that they were and that long ago he had made a decision. His face was red, his words bitter. The decision he had made was to NEVER, EVER, EVER share anything with his sister EVER again! He's mad that she takes his things without asking for permission, and he has a point, it happens a lot.

"That was very wrong of her," I empathized. "When we get home we'll all sit down together and work this out. Meanwhile maybe you can share your ball with the girls and join in the game they are playing."

"No. She can't play with my ball, that's her consequence." It was about this time that the girls returned the ball to the beach bag and ran off to play in the lazy pool. As they ran off, my sons eyes filled with tears and his lip quivered. "Now they will NEVER play with me. They'll only play with each other for the rest of the day!"

I tried to explain that he had made it so. We don't usually pick friends to play with that are mean, selfish and angry. Others don't like to be hit either.

"Well, I'm not changing my mind!" he declared angrily and stomped off.

As I watched him leave, I was hit with compassion for that angry boy. I obviously have a few morals to teach him but, what affected me most was the pattern I saw.

We all sin, but sometimes we refuse to be humbled by the natural consequences that follow. With tears and anger he acknowledged that he had "burned his bridge" in having playmates at the pool. Did this pain and suffering bring about sorrow and repentance? No, his pride burned brightly and he was angrier still. It was hard to watch.

As he stomped away alone, I wished he had only allowed himself to consider for a moment that he might be in the wrong. If only he had softened his heart and thought through his choices. He assumed his decision to not share was bringing him protection of his belongings and would therefore bring him joy. It really brought him pain and unhappiness as all sin does.

My heart ached for my little boy who left to suffer his own natural consequences. It's hard to watch sometimes, but I hope to help him learn this lesson long before the sins bring consequences that are harder to bare.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yet another goal...

I might be needing to order some of these lawn ornaments. How can I NOT be a more serious BSU Bronco Football fan when...

I will be starting to attend BSU this fall...


Just shy of my 40th birthday, I'll be picking up my schooling once again!! That thought is a bit unsettling, but it's the right thing to do.

My life is about to get CRAZY! Scotty works out of state Monday - Friday. The kids are older but, it will take some serious organization to make this work! Guess I'll be posting a lot more about time and home organization, I'm beginning the research now.

... onward I go!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

50 mile Armstrong Foundation Challenge (CHECK)

It's been a goal of mine. Something I had to do for the great cause. Selfishly this first ride was actually more about me, and also about supporting my brother-in-law, Tony, who was recently diagnosed with a malignant myxoid lyposarcoma. I have been working hard on myself lately, changing all sorts of things in all aspects of life. Improving in lots of areas... which I will talk about many of those at later times.

Yesterday I rode my bike (well, actually Caitlin's bike) 51.3 miles in San Jose, California. It was hard. Harder than I actually imagined it would be. I've been training for about two months, but 20-25 miles a day is just not the same. Scotty told me it was just doing the Greenbelt ride twice... not exactly true, the Armstrong ride had some mountainous climbs that I wasn't anticipating. I climbed about 1,200 ft. in elevation throughout the ride.

It was a great feeling to cross the finish line! I met these goals:

1. finish a 50 mile Armstrong Challenge Ride
2. DO NOT take the SAG bus (the bus that hauls you up the climbs or too the next "fuel stop" when you get too tired to continue)


I'm physically in a different spot than I was even two months ago, so although this ride was hard I am proud of my accomplishments. I have lost 30 pounds, and have begun to crave exercise.

A few of my friends have asked me how I got started:

I was happy to discover that bike riding is an exercise that doesn't aggravate my Achilles tendon injury when our family would go on 10-20 mile rides on the Greenbelt. Running and step-aerobics (my previous favorite forms of exercise) were out of the question since walking even a 1/2 mile would leave me limping for a week.

I signed up for two rounds of physical therapy, had my tendon "scraped" to get rid of calcium deposits the size of a grape and then joined a gym to finish the therapy on my own. I set a goal to walk or ride 300 miles and realized I could complete the goal faster if I rode the bike. So for the past two months I've been riding our indoor cycle and my own mountain bike, at first 10 miles and then 20-30 miles a day. My tendon has almost completely healed, I feel better than I have in years. It feels great to be able to exercise! My only advice to those of you who wish to start cycling is to buy a padded pair of bike shorts... they are your friend.

The lessons I learned from the Armstrong Foundation Ride:

1. Strength train my quads
2. Carry TWO bottles of water or Gatorade between "fuel stops" - stay better hydrated
3. Start going to a spinning class to improve my overall cardiovascular strength and capabilities
4. I need a road bike; Caitlin's bike is too "heavy". It's 30 lbs. as opposed to 8 lbs.
5. I have a lot of very awesome supportive friends
6. Fear is meant to be conquered
7. Cancer survivors are very STRONG people, they are impressive!!
8. The Livestrong Foundation is an awesome organization that does some amazing things when it comes to helping to fight cancer!
9. (last but not least) I CAN DO WHATEVER I SET MY MIND TO. I AM STRONG. I AM CAPABLE OF ACCOMPLISHING GREAT THINGS ON MY OWN (with the Lord's help).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Improving Small Talk

I have conversation struggles. I imagine that those of you who know me are either thinking one of two things:

1.) You're telling me!

OR

2.) HUH? You never shut up!

Well, that's part of the trouble. When I get nervous I chat (okay, ramble). It's a nervous habit. I also tend to ramble about myself, which is not always a good thing. LOL!! I was given some advice years ago as a pre-teen when I was encouraged by some adults to go and make friends with other pre-teen "strangers" at a park. I was very shy and told the adults I didn't know what to say. The advice I got was to smile and tell them about myself. OY! I am now recognizing the blunder in that.

Well, years later... I was in search of a little conversational help with my adult peers. I was also in search of a little help in improving my listening skills.

I found THIS awesome book and it is perfect for improving and learning to start up personal or professional conversations. I have read every page & highlighted a high percentage of the book. I now find it fun to have a conversation with a stranger. I make it a game to see how many strangers I can have a conversation with and what type of things I can find out about them.

Before this book I would rather give a public speech, teach a lesson, give a talk in church, etc... than go to a social event filled with strangers where I was expected to "mingle". It still isn't my FAVORITE thing, but I now enjoy it. I like people. I love socializing. I am enjoying finding things out about people and improving my communication skills.

I give this book my highest rating, it is so worth every penny I spent on it and every minute I read it. It has become a terrific go-to reference book for me!! Can't say enough good things about it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A fitness goal reached.

300 miles!!

I did reach my goal of riding 300 miles! YAY!!! I have really discovered that my body craves that riding now. I am now training to participate in the next Livestrong Foundation Ride which is in San Jose' in about 3 weeks. It will take a lot of dedication on my part, but I am committed to that! I'm really excited to push myself farther than I remember ever pushing myself when it comes to exercise. It is just hard enough that I know it's going to be HARD, but that I can do it if I prepare myself and decide that I can.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A favorite BBQ Potluck recipe


I tore this recipe out of a magazine awhile back. I wish I knew who to give the credit to, this is an AWESOME salad! My favorite coleslaw.

Two-tone Coleslaw

2/3 c. mayo
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
7 c. shredded green cabbage (I use the shredded mix with carrots)
3 medium red apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 c. chopped sweet onion

(If you plan to chill this salad for more than 2 hours, toss the apple slices in a little lemon juice to keep it fresh and crisp looking.)

For dressing mix mayo, vinegar, dill, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well.

Stir together cabbage, apples, and onions in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 48 hours, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I've never met a vegetable I didn't like...

It's true, I love vegetables! Fresh produce is one of my all time favorite things. I sometimes can go a bit nutso in shopping the produce section, buying more produce than we can eat before the freshness expires.

I enjoy spring and summer cooking because I love vegetables. It is the BEST time of year for making salads and side dishes. Believe it when I tell you I even LOVE chopping vegetables. I own a food processor but, it rarely gets used. Give me a knife and cutting board almost anytime, unless they have to be SUPER fine or cut in mass quantities, such as when canning salsa or chile sauce.

So, I challenged myself this year to try to find some great tasting new sides that are heavy on the vegetables and other healthy foods. Of course, if they have protein I'll do a few cartwheels.

Both of these recipes come from Cooking Light magazine, the March 2010 edition. They are both winners, great fresh taste! (Excuse my photography, it's not the best... and I'm thinking the magazine let their pasta cool a bit before adding the feta so it didn't melt and get all soft like mine. Tasted good though.)


Penne with Chickpeas, Feta and Tomatoes



8 oz. uncooked penne
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup small fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and garlic; saute' 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in bell pepper and chickpeas; saute' 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes; saute' 2 minutes. Stir in pasta and reserved cooking liquid; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add feta and remaining ingredients; toss to combine.

Yields: 4 servings (serving size 1 1/2 cups)



Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts

My results (without the pancetta) looks a bit plain but was delish! It could use a bit of red color because the one in the magazine looks much better!

8 ounces uncooked cavatappi pasta
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 oz. diced pancetta
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 oz.) crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat; add asparagus to pan during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain. Sprinkle pasta mixture with garlic; return to pan, and toss well.

Arrange pine nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Place in a small bowl.

Increase oven temperature to 465 degrees. Arrange pancetta on the jelly roll pan. Bake for 6 minutes or until crisp.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over the pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts, pancetta, and cheese.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 2 cups)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

...my parents love me...

...you know how I know?

They gave me one of these...

One night they came over and saw that I had purchased one of these. It sat by the front door still in it's box...

They said "take it back, you can have ours!" (Mom said it streaks her wood floors)

You see, I don't know where I have been but, I have not known about this little gadget. I first saw it when I was at the gym and due to treadmill boredom I watched an employee clean up the dirty "rain tracked" floors. After my workout I got a bit of a closer look and I almost offered to clean part of the floor myself but, I thought that the girl may think I had lost my mind. So, I asked twenty questions. How does it work? How does it clean? Do you love it? Is it easier? blah... blah...

Upon the gym employee's words of praise I started to search the weekly ads for a sale. Finding one, I purchased the Shark Steam Mop and fortunately my parents paid a visit before I cleaned my floors.

What do I think? I LOVE IT!! I was a bit scared after reading some of the online reviews, so happy they are wrong. I think my LEAST favorite household chore is mopping. It is such a pain, and I've always had a enormous amount of tile flooring that makes the job tempting to procrastinate until I can no longer avoid it.

I think it is a miraculous product. True, it is not perfect... but it's very close! I couldn't get it to work at first (no steam would come out) but called the customer service number and they said it was probably due to water being left it it during months of no usage. They told me to shake it real hard and I admit, I rolled my eyes as soon as I heard it. After a thorough shaking it has worked each and every time.

This gadget makes cleaning my tile flooring 10x easier, it ranks right up there with the dishwasher on my list!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce


Here's a yummy recipe that I found at allrecipes.com

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste*
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake the asparagus in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until tender. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. pour over the baked asparagus to serve.

(*I went easy on the salt since the sauce uses soy sauce. It's easy to season later if you feel it's necessary. I didn't need to.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Shelf: Time Riders


I can't put this book down! It is a witty, sci-fi, romantic mystery. A very fun read!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares


So, I tried out a Pioneer Woman recipe a few weeks ago. It was delicious and very easy to prepare...

Want to make some? Click below...

Pioneer Woman's Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

Friday, May 7, 2010

Storing Digital Photos

Not too long ago while at a salon/spa awaiting a pedicure I was browsing through a magazine and spotted this:


It's beautiful isn't it? See those drawers and how she organizes her digital photos? By year (blue tab dividers) and the various colors of the jewel cases that hold the cd's represent something. Red could be Christmas, Blue could be vacations, etc... She labels each cd and files it by date. I just love it!

This is a perfect idea to store my digital photos. I had to learn the hard way that creating a backup, OFTEN, is the way to go. Last summer there was a lightening storm and it wiped out our computer... software, photos, files, etc... I know that probably not every photo was saved to the backup. The most recent photos are gone... it's something I don't like to think about. Lesson learned though... back up and back up often. IF might really mean WHEN.

This drawer filing system is also an excellent storage idea if you need to free up some hard drive space.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chickpea & Pistachio Salad


In my most recent efforts to eat healthier I am trying to eat more natural foods and increase my protein. The protein is a big deal for me because I am a vegetarian, so I have to watch my numbers to make sure I am getting enough...

This was simple to prepare, a delicious light, fresh-tasting salad! I love lemons though. I did not add all of the salt and I substituted white rice because I had a lot leftover from dinner the night before. I think I would prefer the brown rice, but then again I really like both.

I have no idea WHERE this recipe originated. It was scribbled down on a piece of notebook paper in my handwriting. I most likely copied it from a magazine I found in a doctors' office. That would be typical... enjoy!

Chickpea & Pistachio Salad

I Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 of a whole red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. water
2 c. cooked long grain brown rice
1/2 c. cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/4 c. shelled pistachios
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 whole lemon (you'll use the zest & the juice)
2 pinches salt

Saute' onion and garlic in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add water and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add cooked rice and chickpeas, heat through. Remove from heat and add the pistachios and parsley. Stir in lemon zest and the lemon juice. Stir. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Want to join a Book Club with me?


I'm joining an online book club that I thought some of you might be interested in. Check out THIS post on the blog Diapers and Divinty (Finding faith in Motherhood).


I really loved General Conference and thought this would be a great springboard for me to apply the talks one by one to my life... and to do additional study.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's General Conference Time!!

I LOVE General Conference!! I've looked forward to it for months and have some fun activities planned for the family as we gather around the TV.

Perhaps you've seen some of these activities, but if not here are a few links to help make watching General Conference a bit easier with the kids...

lds.org has a few activities you can print off HERE: activity packets, Conference Squares (bingo)

HERE is a blog that I'm so glad I found with a few conference awards. I LOVE the caterpillar with multiple body parts to discuss the talks. I think we are going to do that for the overall message as conference is going along, we will take turns filling out the body circles. It is very adorable. The testimony growing flowers are super cute too! I am loving preparednotscared.blogspot.com

One spot to always find a bunch of fun ideas regarding most anything is sugardoodle.net. I use it all the time to help me prepare my Primary lessons that I teach on Sundays. HERE is a general search on General Conference at sugardoodle. The personalized magic carpets are a brilliant idea to keep little ones still. There are activity packets for multiple age groups here.

WHAT WE ARE DOING: I combined parts from a packet for youth and senior primary packet to keep my kids on their toes listening to the talks in an active way. I also am doing one of the bingo games and letting them use Jelly Beans as markers. When they here a specific word (like prayer, missionary work, pioneer, etc... ) they mark the square. I also thought that I would start to have a few traditional foods for Conference.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

350 miles to Salt Lake City


I'm biking/walking from Boise, ID to Salt Lake City, UT. That is 350 miles! It is a huge goal for me! But, let me explain...

When I say bike/walk I mean it in a virtual sense. I will actually be using a treadmill and an exercise bike. So far I've logged in 33 miles!

I originally set a goal for 300 miles by June 11th which is the day we leave on vacation and the first day the kids are out of school for summer break. I hope by adding on the extra 50 miles I am not pushing my luck! Today I rode for 10 miles. I walk a lot less often because I can only walk for up to two miles due to the weakened Achilles tendon that is recovering from a partial rupture injury.

Frugal Tip for Saving Money


For years, I've procrastinated setting aside some time and getting online to figure out what all this coupon madness is all about. Finally, about six weeks ago I made that happen. I immersed myself in reading about it, going out and putting it to the test at multiple stores and have reached a point where I feel that I get it for the most part.

My last shopping trip I spent $22 and saved $87. NICE! I loved paying only .18 cents for three bottles of balsamic vinaigrette, .26 cents for a package of Band-Aids, .45 cents for a 24 pk. of Cottonelle TP, 13 cents for body wash, etc...

Of course, part of the real saving is stocking up on things as they go on sale for rock-bottom prices. My grocery budget is still the same (for now) as I am stocking the pantry and other storage. I've been told it won't be long before I will be able to allocate some of that grocery budget money to other things, that will feel great since I recently took a big grocery budget cut. So, if you've been wondering how to save $$$ on groceries, check out my favorite beginner's website...

thekrazycouponlady.com

She has an amazing post called Ten Days to Become a Krazy Coupon Lady. Go ahead, click it... it's like finding money!

It also helps to find a coupon expert blogger who lives in your hometown. I like fabulesslyfrugal.com as my new coupon homegirl. She posts the deal and I follow. It makes it simple by taking up less of my time. (By the way, if you get an error when you click on fabulesslyfrugal.com just click on the tab home and it will take you to the right page. She recently made a blog host change and is getting some glitches fixed.)

I will admit that it does take time, but time well spent when it comes to saving money and building food storage. It is also feels good to be using our resources in a way that we get more for the same amount of money. It is a sense of control that is really empowering...

If you've been on the fence about trying out coupons, I say go for it!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Catching Up....

I teach Primary at church, it's like Sunday School. The kids are six years old and I really enjoy teaching them. I try to keep things interesting because it makes it fun and keeps them quite. I am also thinking it helps the kids to remember the lessons.

Here are some ideas I used around Valentines Day.

First: this was my gift to the kids. It is a bag topper stapled to a sandwich baggie. You could fill the baggy with anything. I chose this big heart for the message, but one of the kids is allergic to all types of sugars and he had to have pretzels in his. The clipart of the Savior was found at sugardoodle.net and the blue heart is a Microsoft word clipart image.


Second: Lessons are best when kids can participate. I had several "case scenarios" that the kids had to tell me if they were good choices or bad choices. I typed the red numbers in Microsoft Word and used a circle punch to cut them out. Laminate, if possible, and place on a tray. Put a cookie on top of each number. The kids select a cookie and answer the question that corresponds to the number underneath the cookie they chose. You could use graham crackers or even felt cookies like these. This idea would also work well for Family Home Evening.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A new St. Patrick's Day Tradition

Shame on me... life got a bit complicated. Lots of doctor appointments going on here. Specialists, new diagnoses and all the fun stuff that comes with those.

Awhile back our 11 year old complained that I did not ever celebrate St. Patricks Day. Apparently it is not enough to wear green. I had to get a bit more creative, like I do for other holidays. Of course Family Fun has some great ideas. That's where I found this one. It was simple and the kids enjoyed the new tradition! Instead of buying all the fruit individually, I bought a fruit bowl at Wal-mart. I figure that saved me a ton of money since it is not peak season for much of the fruit right now. The "clouds" are canned whipped topping...



A rainbow and the treasure at the end of it....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A few Valentines for my loved ones...



These are the the regular sized Hershey chocolate bars. I love the colors!


... and FINALLY, I saw this adorable idea all over blogland. No telling who started it. They are pink grapefruit Tic Tacs. A little ribbon and some paper. It was that easy!


It sure has felt good to get a little bit of paper crafting done lately! I finished my February projects already, in the first half of the month even!! Not only does it feel nice to have a few pretty things to give away, but I had a great time getting re-acquainted with my stamping supplies!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Monsters

Perhaps it's because my little guy's drawings look very much like these monsters but, I just love this stamp set from Recollections called "My Little Monsters". (I bought the set at Michaels)

It has been awhile since I've done any stamping. My craft room is about three quarters unpacked but, I had to get a bit creative as I was throwing these together for a challenge I'm doing to complete four cards each month this year. That doesn't sound very hard, but here I am at months end. :-) Namely my challenge was not being able to locate my watercolor pencils, they are probably still in one of six boxes left to unpack. So, don't tell anyone but Crayola colored pencils work too- when you are under a deadline! GIGGLE, giggle...







Thursday, January 28, 2010

Spicy Pine Nut Pasta


There are certain things that I am "forbidden" to eat while the kids are at school. And NO, it's not bon bons.

You see, they have their favorite foods and IF it is discovered that I did eat those favorite foods without them I hear a few disappointing whines. Of course, they always figure it out, especially my daughter who has the nose of a blood hound. It doesn't look like a blood hound's nose, just works like one. (I had to clarify that, just in case she reads this).

Of course, if you know me then you also know I don't really let my kids dictate what I eat for lunch so, I made something yummy today... it is my favorite pasta dish. It's my own recipe, which just means I made it up. It is also one of my daughter's favorite meals.


Spicy Pine Nut Pasta

1/2 cup shelled pine nuts
1 tsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups medium shell pasta (that is approximately half of a 1 lb. box)
4 1/2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (the amount you would use to make 1 cup of broth each)
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped finely or pressed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 can of Italian Style Stewed Tomatoes
ground cayenne pepper
black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste (I don't add any extra)

In a small skillet over low heat toast the pine nuts in the olive oil until they just begin to turn a light brown. Set aside.


In a medium saute' pan bring the water and one bouillon cube to a boil. Add pasta and cook 7-8 minutes until al dente. Drain pasta, rinse with hot water, and set aside. In the same saucepan heat up 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, add garlic cloves and over medium heat saute' for a minute to soften. Add the canned tomatoes, the remaining bouillon cube, 2 dashes of ground cayenne pepper, and 2 dashes of black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the bouillon cube is dissolved. Add pasta and pine nuts; gently stir the pasta mixture. Serve with crusty, warm bread.

My daughter took one step inside the front door and asked, "Did you save me any?"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A rainbow in the midst of a sea of kleenex

Now I am sick. The kind of sick that you choose to sleep all day, even ALL of the hours your children are away at school. The kind of sick where you cannot sleep well regardless of the amount of hours you spend in bed. Fevered, then cold, body aches, sore throat, congestion, migraines, an annoying cough... the list goes on a bit more.

Even though my challenges these last few weeks have been very small in comparison to others, this is a week when I didn't want to be mom. I wanted to be the one taken care of, or at least the one left alone to sleep my way through the week. I have less ambition to tackle the dishes, feed the family, wake the kids for school and settle their tiffs. Basic stuff has been a sacrifice.

In the middle of my self-pity I have seen a rainbow this week, and it is beautiful. I did find beauty in the middle of a sea of Kleenex and a foggy brain on cold medicine. I was blessed with sweet parents willing to come take one child to his martial arts class, children who surprise me by cleaning the house while I am away at a the pharmacy, a son who offers to rub my feet when I complain of the aches spreading to them, and a daughter who decides to bless me this week with taking her showers without begging, pleading and threats. (Just kidding about the threats, sorta.)

I just feel so blessed that joy in my family can be felt even when I am fevered. I no longer resent the "chore" of caring for them while I am feeling miserable, only grateful that I have them around when I am feeling miserable. I am also grateful to discover that joy in family life doesn't mean that life has to be going well, there are things that bring happiness even in the middle of life's challenges, big or small.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Boston Cream Pie


I usually order Boston Cream Pie from a bakery... but, no more! This recipe was a hit with us! I made a few slight changes to the original recipe, those are noted in color. Try it, it is just yummy...

Kraft Boston Cream Pie

1 (3.4 ounce) package JELL-O vanilla flavor instant pudding (I used French Vanilla)
1 cup cold milk (I used 1 c. heavy cream + 3 Tbsp. milk)
1 1/2 c. thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 round yellow cake layer (8 -9") (I used two 9" rounds made from 1 boxed cake mix)
1 (1 ounce) square BAKER'S unsweetened chocolate
1 Tablespoon butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons cold milk

1. Beat pudding mix and 1 cup milk (or 1 c. heavy cream + 3 Tbsp. milk) for two minutes. (It should appear quite thick and smooth) Stir in Cool Whip, let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile cut the cake layer horizontally into 2 layers with a serrated knife (or use two layers, as I did).

2. Stack cake layers on a serving plate, with the pudding mixture in between layers.

3. Microwave chocolate and butter on HIGH 1 minute; stir until chocolate is melted. Add powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk; mix well. Spread over the top of the cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Black Eyed Pea Salad


Here's one of my favorite side dishes... it is delicious on it's own or as a dip with tortilla or regular chips. It came from a Weight Watcher cookbook or magazine.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

1 (15.8 oz.) can black-eyed peas, rinsed & drained
1 (11 oz.) can shoepeg white corn, drained (or frozen regular kernel corn, thawed)
1 c. chopped seeded cucumber
1 c. finely chopped celery
1/2 c. finely chopped red onion
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies (either mild or medium)
3/4 c. KRAFT Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing with Parmesan
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; cover and chill. Serve with a slotted spoon. If using as a dip, drain liquid.

Yields: 7 servings (3/4 c. = 2 WW points)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to fix a cake blunder PART 2

I used BAKERELLA's Easy Buttercream Frosting, which turned out very yummy and indeed easy to make, and I covered the top of the cake.


Easy Buttercream Frosting (this is BAKERELLA's recipe)...

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1b. 10X powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk, half and half or cream

  • Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth.
  • Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more.
  • If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture.
  • Then, just use icing color to tint the frosting the color of your choice.


I decorated it with crushed graham crackers (dirt) and green frosting (grass)... added a few cars and flags... there you go... a suitable "PLAN B cake". It especially looked beautiful to me at 1:00 am, knowing I now had a cake for the birthday party just hours away, and I was going to get at least a few hours of sleep! MORE to come about the party...

How to fix a cake blunder PART 1


I searched the web for a great cake for our son's 9th birthday. We planned a party at a local hobby store where they have a big track set up with jumps, etc... for R/C cars. I found the perfect cake. Simple enough for me to do myself (so I thought), and adorable. You will find that HERE.

I thought what a great time to try out a new recipe. I usually use the boxed cake mixes when I make cake, which isn't that often, a few times a year. I've been trying to expand my collection of "tried and true" recipes, no better time to add a homemade yellow cake recipe! So, I went to the queen of baking: BAKERELLA and found her favorite recipe. How could I go wrong? Well, Bakerella I am NOT! Look at my results:


What did I do wrong? Still not exactly sure. I just knew I didn't have the time to start over.

Time for plan B. Walmart bakery was Plan B. Went there at 10pm and found a big enough cake with suitable colors.


Removed the decorations and the icing off the top.


See PART 2