Christmas of Peace!

I have had a lot of thoughts going through my mind the last few weeks. I have thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas season and I was trying to figure out yesterday what the difference was. Last night my extended family gathered for our traditional Christmas Eve program/evening. My mom gave the Christmas message. She told several stories and talked about different messages of Christmas and how they can vary each year. As I contemplated on this I realized my personal message of Christmas this year has been peace. As soon as I write that I automatically think of the countless moments and days that were not peaceful in my house leading up to Christmas and I'm sure will continue in the future. I am a mother of two young boys with a little girl on the way. That is life and so much craziness comes with that, at least in our household!

I have tried to be really organized and not stressed out. (Being pregnant has caused me to, perhaps, over plan things.) I have tried to focus more on the Savior and not on all the projects and things I need to do. I started a tradition in our family last year that each day for family scripture study we read a story about Jesus starting with his birth and Christmas Eve is His resurrection. I tried to not pack our days but do several meaningful things. Was this really the difference? Honestly I am not sure. My visiting teacher came to visit last week and the message she shared was the Savior being the Prince of Peace. This part specifically touched me:

"'The Savior is the source of true peace,' said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 'Even with the trials of life, because of the Savior's Atonement and His grace, righteous living will be rewarded with personal peace.'"

As she shared that with me I immediately reflected on my day. The Smart One was working late, again, the boys were at that moment being crazy/loud and running, and I was tired. There was no peace surrounding me and yet I felt it through the spirit.

I am grateful for this wonderful Christmas Season to learn about and celebrate the Savior. He truly is the way to find joy and peace in our lives. Merry Christmas!


Never Forget

13 years ago I was a senior in high school. During my first period class I received a note to go to the counselors office to discuss a issue with my schedule. I walked down there and sat to wait to talk to my counselor. As I waited I heard the radio that the secretary was listening to. I started listening and didn't believe what I was hearing. They were talking about planes crashing into buildings in New York city, the secretary started talking to others about how this couldn't be real. Was this a joke? But how could they report something so serious and have it be fake? It wasn't a joke, it happened and many innocent people died. That day seemed so surreal, still does in away.

I won't forget where I was and what I was doing that day. I also will never forget the way I looked at the community around me. For several weeks afterward you could drive through any neighborhood and American flags would be lining the streets. It was amazing to me, someone who was not quite an adult, to see people come together in that way. I didn't know anyone who lost loved ones but it didn't matter, they were Americans and so were we. People came together as Americans despite many differences and I look to that time as one I hope we can return to as a nation. "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

This morning I told my husband I was conflicted as to which flag to hang up. BYU plays tonight and I usually hang the Y flag for game day. But as I walked with my oldest to school I had the thought that I'm an American first, no matter what else. I also saw a creative option and followed suit when I got home.

"How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!" - Thomas Jefferson


Positive Challenge - Day 5

Here we are at Day 5, five days later than day 4. There are positive things that happen each day and most are rather small but focusing on them helps make things better. Here we go:

1. Baseball game for FHE. We tried to go Saturday as part of our Summer Fun list but it was postponed because of the rain. I'm glad we finally made it tonight. 
2. I enjoy food and making it for my family (most of the time!). I especially love when my kids love what I make, today was a success with poppy seed muffins for breakfast and fish for dinner. 
3. Tomorrow I celebrate 8 years with this guy! 
This was us at the Ogden Temple open house a bit over a week ago. We got to celebrate Friday night which was great, tomorrow is the one Tuesday I work in August each year. Each year gets better and better, it has been a wonderful ride and I am excited for what the future will bring and that I have my best friend by my side. 


Positive Challenge - Day 4

Cheers for me to post my positives actually today!

1. Play dates with great friends. I have a great friend from high school who has kids close to my boys' ages and we often get together and while the kiddos play we chat. I look forward to those days.

2. Dancing and singing to "Roar" by Katy Perry with my boys while cleaning up the kitchen. Yep, one of their favorites. :)

3. Anyone that knows me well knows that I clean the laundry but don't often get it folded in a timely manner. Tonight I folded a lot while listening to General Conference talks and it feels great to have it done.

Positive Challenge - Day 3

A couple of days break but here are my positives for yesterday and hopefully tonight I will get today's posted.

1. I love summer because of the warmth. Yesterday it rained and cooled everything off quite a bit but I rather enjoyed it because it was cool enough for the boys to play with the kids in the neighborhood outside for a couple of hours. It was lovely.
2. The flowers on my front porch are just beautiful right now with the rain we've been having. Just simple petunias and snapdragons.
3. School starts in one week for the Silly One. We are pretty excited about it and got to meet his teacher Monday night at Back To School Night.


Positive Challenge - Day 2

Positives for day 2:

1. We started the day bright and early going to the Ogden Temple open house, it was amazingly beautiful! I love going to then temple and behind reminded of my covenants and hope that there is.
2. Getting a pedicure. Sometimes as a mom it is nice to have someone else take care of you. While I was doing that my husband was home preparing for a surprise dinner.
3. Tonight we did a surprise birthday dinner for my mother-in-law. It was great to be together as family and fun to do a fancy dinner. We also used my china, first time in 8 years doing a dinner with it!


Positive Challenge - Day 1

My sister-in-law is amazing, I have several that are all wonderful but the first one joined my family when I was 13 and I look up to her in so many ways. She challenged me on Facebook to: Post three positive things each day for five days and invite three new friends to join the challenge. I decided to post here and link to Facebook because this fits right in here. I am a day late starting, but better late than never right?
1. Spending time with family. I love my family which includes my in laws, they are wonderful people. They happen to be visiting this weekend from out of town and it is always great to spend time with them, and my boys love them too!
2. BYU football scrimmage, we were able to fit in 30 minutes of a football scrimmage this evening. It is always exiting to get caught up in the hype of the upcoming season. 2 weeks!
3. Yorkshire pudding with vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce. Need I say more? Another fabulous sister-in-law made it and it was delicious!


Patriotic Little Ones

I always remember loving America and love that my boys do too. This morning I put out the flag for the USA world cup game. I told the boys what I was doing and the Small One responded, "Now everyone can see our flag wave!" They are so passionate and I love it.
This was the guys last night at the gardens. Google+ has a #PaintUSA to paint your face for the world cup, just in time for the 4th of July as well in my opinion. 


Easy DIY Valance

I have had this piece of fabric for my boys' room for like 2 years, sad I know. I finally saw this idea and was motivated to get it done for their room. So here is my material list:
Fabric (At least 12" long and several inches longer than the window)
Ribbon (optional)
2x3 board (an inch or two longer than the window)
Spray Adhesive
Small Angle Brackets
Wood Screws

Fabric Instructions:
1. Hem the edges so they are crisp and clean. I just did a simple fold over hem. I used pinking shears to prevent fraying. You only need to do the sides and bottom edges.
2. I added a ribbon to embellish it a little and add some interested. I just used a simple gray grosgrain and stitched it straight across on the top and bottom of the ribbon. 

I thought about adding pleats and then had to reign it in because it is for boys, I think it needed to be more simple for them. I prefer spray adhesive because it applies smooth, is tacky to re-position if needed and dries quick. 
1. Glue each end of the board with fabric flush to the bad edge as shown above. Leave enough fabric on top to meet the back of the board. 
2. Center the fabric on the board and glue the front of the board. Fold under the excess on the sides. This adds some interest and gives the side a little flare. Play with the folds before gluing to make sure it is positioned exactly where you want. 
3. Fold over the top and glue. 
Back view, glued and ready to hang. 

Get out the drill! I think I am weird but I actually love getting the drill out.The drill doesn't scare me but not making it level does, huge pet peeve for the Smart One, so I was a little nervous just doing it myself. I was extra careful and was very pleased with how perfectly level it ended up. :)
1. Attach the brackets to the bottom of the board, spaced evenly. I used 4 brackets to just make sure it was supported enough. 
2. Using a level mark the spots with a pencil for the screws to attach to the wall. Notice the space between the top of the window and bottom of the board. Most often there is a metal plate at the top of the window and will be much harder to screw in needing a special drill bit and screws. 
3. Starting in the middle start attaching with the screws. Adjust location of screws as needed, things shift a little when inserting the screws. 

Stand back and enjoy! I am really happy with the way it turned out and added a little interest and pattern to the boys' room. 


Entry Refreshed

Remember when I posted an in progress picture of the board and batten we were working on in the entry? Oh yeah that was back in January. I helped my sister do her entry as well, the whole idea started with her. Here are a couple of pictures when we first moved in almost 4 years ago. 
Pretty boring
The stairs are the only interest in the space
Ready to be painted, the tape is the green. 
Painted and deciding if we should paint the doors or not. 
Still needs some interest so the idea to pant the bench comes in. 
All painted, including the doors

I moved some things around and made the pattern on either side of the picture. The idea came from here. And as I was taking a couple pictures today I realized the pattern from the mirror is repeated with that little toilet paper art. I should have seen that before, ha!
Complete with hooks and painted bench. I love how the bench turned out. 
I really do love the way the whole project turned out, it is amazing the difference it makes. It is funny how after we painted the Smart One said that he always thought the walls were white but obviously not with the "Dove White" next to it. The inspiration and ideas to build the project came from this entry and this dining room. It is always nice to get a project finished!


My Version of Neiman Marcus Dip

I tried this dip at a Pinterest party (which was fantastic and so much fun, by the way) and thought it was delicious. Every priesthood conference the women together and some snacks and I chose this, and as you can it was a big hit. I just took a picture of what was left for me to bring home. So here we go my knock off Neiman Marcus Dip:
8 oz package of cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
4 green onions sliced (really however many you want)
1 small package of slivered almonds
Garlic Powder
Cream together mayonnaise and cream cheese. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle garlic powder. I am sure it would be good with bacon bits as well, I was just too lazy to defrost and then cook the bacon. Enjoy with crackers or bread. I made the wheat baguette which will have to be another post.


The letter Q

The Silly One was learning about the letter Q one day at school. They made a crown for the "Queens of the House." He was so excited to give it to me and I was happy to wear it. 

I often don't feel like a queen while cleaning up this and that, changing poop in pull-ups or countless other things that happen in a day. But hugs and love from my boys definitely make me feel closer to that!


Hawaiian Coconut Rice

Here is a delicious side that my family enjoyed, especially the boys! (You know it is a keeper when they love something other than hot dogs.) I don't know how much like Rumbi Rice this is because I don't really care for Rumbi and it is just what the recipe said when I got it. 

Hawaiian Coconut Rice with Red Beans (aka Rumbi Rice)

2 cup long grain white rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed

Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker. Gently stir it all together so the beans are mixed in. Place the lid on and start the rice cooker. Fluff rice with a fork before serving. 
If you don't have a rice cooker: combine water, coconut milk, and sugar in a saucepan. Stir in rice and beans. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18-20 minutes until rice is cooked. 

I used a lite coconut milk and think the regular would have more flavor. We'll be having this again.

Lemon Parmesan Chicken

It is April and I am ready for grilling season, anyone else with me? I think the hit and miss 60's days are tricking me. Here is another of our favorites on the grill. And the best part is that it is about 170 calories per serving!

1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 cup lemon juice

2 chicken breasts
grated Parmesan cheese

Mix marinade ingredients and add chicken. Let sit for a few hours and they are ready to grill. Cook chicken until juice run clear. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and let it melt. Enjoy!

I've done this and other marinade meals as freezer meals. You just mix the marinade, add the chicken, label the bag and freeze!


Ginger Pork Tenderloin

I love trying new recipes, my husband never knows what to expect. I have told my family about my recipe trying and my sister suggested I start a food blog with my tried and true recipes. I thought about it and then realized it would be one more blog I neglect and post on erratically. So I'll just post them here, I love food and see a lot of good in that. I have a quote on my kitchen wall,
"People who love to eat are always the best people." - Julia Child.
Anyway, back to the recipes. I've tried some great ones that we have had numerous times and this is one of them.

Ginger Pork Tenderloin

2 to 2 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin (cut into slices if not already sliced)
1/2 cup Wildtree Asian Ginger Plum Dressing and Marinade
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lemon pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

 Mix marinade ingredients together and add meat. This can be marinated for several hours and grill. Or  frozen and used at a later date, just thaw and grill. I love freezer meals! Couple of notes, I got the recipe when I bought a bottle of the marinade mix from Wildtree, it is fantastic. But if you don't want to go that route I did find a Newman's Own dressing - Sesame Ginger Dressing that also works, I bought it at Walmart. The dressing does have soy sauce in it so I actually just add two tablespoons to the dressing amount and don't add more soy sauce. I have made this with a pork tenderloin roast and cut the slices myself. The pictures show a pork sirloin chop which was good as well. My kids even like this. :)


Women and the LDS Church

I started a similar post last fall, it started to take a contentious tone so I stopped and never posted it. I hope that I can just convey my thoughts and opinions as a way of understanding. I feel the need to write down my feelings and thoughts no matter if no one else reads them. I know that not everyone agrees with me but I feel there is a missing voice, or perhaps a not so vocal voice, on my side of the issue. What issue is that? Women and the LDS church. It all started last September with articles about the injustice of women not having the priesthood and those same women wanting to attend priesthood session of the upcoming General Conference. Everything got stirred within me again this last week. I was talking with some neighbors who are LDS women about some issues and some people who have decided to leave the church. There was also recent article in the NY times about this that was pretty good and somewhat fair but still had to thrown in what I call the “Joanna Brooks Camp.”  I am not part of that. I tend to get frustrated when they make blanket statements as if they are talking for all women of the LDS faith. They do not and that is the reason for this blog post. 

I am a quite passionate person and this passion can push me to act rash at times but I feel also is why I feel so strongly about my faith. Let me give you some background about me and why I have the perspective I do. (Why do people always have the need to explain themselves especially when stating an opinion? To justify it? Perhaps a question for my rhetoric studying lil’ brother) I grew up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah. Yes, what you would call a typical “Mormon Girl.” I attended church weekly with my family and was involved in Primary and the Young Women program. I attended Seminary in high school and my dream was to attend BYU. I made a two-year stop at BYU-Idaho but did make it to BYU where I met my wonderful husband in our singles ward(congregation). Like I said, typical Mormon girl.

Here is where I didn't feel like I was “typical.” From about the age of 14 I had a great interest in architecture. My family built a new home and I was fascinated. I had a desire to become an architect, not the typical stay at home mom that is common in the LDS church. I also was a very independent person. I wanted to do things my way and for myself. One time a male friend of mine told me I was “dependable.” I took this that I was a great friend. No, what he meant was that I needed or depended on having a boyfriend. He also said this right before my boyfriend at the time left for an LDS mission. I was determined to prove this friend wrong and being stubborn like I am didn't have a boyfriend for two years. Also while in my first semester of college I was taking a Book of Mormon class and we were discussing foreordination in Alma 13. It was focused on male foreordination to the priesthood. I raised my hand during the discussion and basically said this is all great but what about me? Where do I fit? I don’t have the priesthood. My professor responded with a generic answer that we are mothers and all that goes with that. I was somewhat satisfied but was incredibly impressed the next time we had class. The professor got up and expressed how he had not felt he answered my question completely during the last class. He proceeded to share numerous quotes by prophets and apostles about the divine role of women. It was amazing and what I see as the start of my shift in perspective.

So with that being said are women in the LDS church equal to the men? In short, yes. I believe that. I believe that men and women have divine and also uniquely different roles that without each other cannot be perfect. Perfect like the Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Father in Heaven. That is what we are all striving for, right? My final shift in perspective was the first time I went to the temple to receive my own endowments. I was engaged to marry my husband and before being sealed in the temple I needed to be endowed. I sat there in the temple that day and learned more of what that partnership between man and woman was. The next week I was sealed for time and all eternity to my partner and eternal companion. A partnership in creating a family. A partnership in helping each other learn and grow. A partnership that can also be partnered with a loving Father in Heaven. That is why I believe women are important and equal in the LDS church.

Where am I now? I am a wife and a mother full-time, you know 24/7. I am also a part-time instructor at a small college. I teach a Computer Design class in the Interior Design department. I teach my students to draw and create floor plans and other drawings of the spaces they design. I teach a night class once a week. I have a supportive husband who leaves work 30 minutes early once a week to switch cars with me and go home with our boys. It is a small job right now and I have goals to one day own a design consulting business. We'll see where the future takes us.

Saying what I have, I don’t want to discount others feelings and past experiences that are painful or discouraging that I myself have not experienced. Those are real and can be difficult to overcome. I thankfully have never had bad experiences with my priesthood leaders. I know that some women who have not married may not feel that same faith in a partnership that right now doesn’t exist for them. But all of us are promised the blessings of heaven if we are faithful. That includes an eternal partner in the future.

This doesn't come close to all my thoughts and experiences on this subject but I feel it all comes down to a few thoughts for me. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, the men and women within the church are not. This fact is why it is important that we doubt our doubts first and not our faith. I don’t understand everything and feel so inadequate at my roles and responsibilities all the time. (My husband could second that with the amount I cry to him about this and that). But when I start to doubt I go back to my faith. I have a testimony that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and restored Christ’s church to the earth in these last days. I have a testimony that he translated the Book of Mormon and have personally read that book and have a testimony of its truthfulness. I also have a testimony that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet today. I have a testimony that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live. They love us and are in the details of our lives. I have a testimony that as my husband and I strive to work together toward perfection that we can gain our eternal exaltation. This is my faith and it strengthens me when I start to doubt.


Photo of the Day - A Game

This was just too perfect for today's picture. We are big BYU fans and went to the basketball game tonight. We loved watching our Cougars beat Pacific tonight!
Near the end of the game. 
Here we are cheering on the boys in blue!


Photo of the Day - Laugh

Laugh was actually the challenge for yesterday but I loved this picture. The boys think they are pretty funny. One thing they love to do is put on their Daddy's shoes and show him they are wearing them. Of course he makes a big deal so it is even more fun for them. This was the Small One this morning:

Photo of the Day - Making

We've been "making" a few things around here lately so I'll share two. Here is the finished wreath that I showed the start of the other day. My inspiration came from here and I am pretty happy with how it turned out, especially after how it started a year ago. One project done and another in progress!
 Remember the project I showed the plans of on my computer? So excited to have it going up on the wall! The Smart One is so good about my projects. True it takes some convincing to get him on board, but he is wonderful about making them come alive. This morning the Small One kept saying, "You and Daddy made these?" as he looked at the progress we made even after the boys went to bed last night. Sanding, caulking and painting are still left on the check list. 

We also made these lovelies for dessert tonight. They were fantastic!


Photo of the Day - On My Plate

Of course I thought I should take a picture of my Loaded Baked Potato Soup with toss salad and baking powder biscuits but then I ate most of it and it didn't look as good or at least presentation worthy. :) So here is what is on my craft plate, of course another project.

This is a Valentine wreath I started last year that started to look like poo so I stopped and it sat in my basement in a bag until last week. I am doing a redo and just finished wrapping the wreath with yarn. So far so good. 


Photo of the Day - Black and White

I've missed several days, but I am dealing with it. I had a sinus infection and I was trying to get things back to normal including myself this week. I am hoping this is it for my sinuses. :) Well here is my black and white pic, not technically black but it is Dark Chocolate hot cocoa.
We were outside for awhile and the boys were playing with some of the neighbor kids. At one point I told the Small One his hands looked cold. He looked at me and then at his hands and kept going. They eventually did get cold and we came in to warm up before making dinner. Good times.


Photo of the Day - a building

This should have been an easy one because there are so many buildings I love and have seen. I could share millions of pictures of ones I love. But as I was driving through the old part of my city I came across this great house. I am guessing early 1900's as to when it was built. I wonder if it is on the historic register and has a date. I'll have to check it out. The design is so intriguing to me, I would love to go in it and know the stories that house could tell. There are some great details in it as well, the stained glass windows, the chimney shape and balcony railing are my favorites. I couldn't do the house justice with just one photo so here are two.
The house sits on a corner which makes the shape and orientation so perfect. The front door is on the right.

Cool brick work for the chimney and interesting balcony railing.


Photo of the Day - artwork

Friday night we had a movie night here at home and the boys made some decorations for the event. As you can see there are some favorite characters around here. 


Photo of the Day - Dark

When I first saw today's description I wasn't sure what to do or if I wanted to take a picture of something dark. Anyway we went to the library this morning and someone must have lost a glove but it looked so cool with the icicles hanging off of each finger. The boys also thought it was pretty great, we love discovering neat things like this together. I put a dark filter on it, that counts right?

Photo of the Day - Delicate

This is the photo that was supposed to be for the 9th but don't worry, today's is not far behind. Guess what is in bloom? Seriously I bet you wish you had this beauty blooming on your counter in January. I love this flower!


Photo of the Day - Looking Up

Yesterday was the first day of school for me and it snowed all day. I did take this picture while on my way to work, I was obviously stopped at a light lest you think I was doing something horribly dangerous. It is one of the many old and pretty buildings downtown. Something draws me to trees with newly fallen snow. Hopefully today's picture will come before the day is done. 


Photo of the Day - outside

This picture was taken actually Saturday evening as we were driving to a basketball game. I will admit that the snow can help make beautiful sunsets. The world is so beautiful, God knew what he was doing when He created it all. 

Photo of the Day - on the counter

This was actually yesterday's picture, I fell asleep while the Smart One was working on the wireless. So it is a photo of something I love on my counter. I love plants and I have a Christmas cactus that seems to prefer blooming in January. I prefer it to be that way because then I have beautiful flowers to enjoy when the world is frozen outside.
I will definitely take pictures when it is in full bloom. 


Photo of the Day - Fresh

January means here come the new house projects which obviously needs the fresh ideas. Here is the project in the works:

Obviously it is just in the plan stage, and yes, I draw up on AutoCAD most of the house projects. (I draw picture layout options in AuotCAD) My sister is the one who found the idea and told me about it. Now we can do it together. I also knew my husband would want in on the action and wanted a saw for Christmas so he could help with the project. ;) It is always exciting for me to have a new project especially if I can get my paint brush out for a fresh coat of paint!


Photo of the Day - Organize

A little introduction. I am not a photographer and I am not one that thinks I take fabulous pictures or even tries to take fabulous pictures, I just enjoy taking pictures. With that said, anyone that knows me knows that January is hard for me. It is a let down from the holidays and having lived in Utah my whole life, with the exceptions of two years in Eastern Idaho, January is usually cold and depressing. This is where you can start thinking about the lines from Groundhog Day, "It's going to be cold, it's going to be wet and it is going to last you the rest of your life." Really I feel that way at times.

One of my goals this year is to be more positive but I'll blog about that later. So part of that I am going to try to take a picture each day the month and January and hopefully that will help me not hate the next 30 days. And I am not going to get frustrated or down on myself if I skip a day (ahem, like yesterday, you know, January 1st.) I am using the photo list from the Idea Room. Most days probably won't have this long of an explanation. I guess I just had to write down my reasoning to justify myself?

Today is Organize:

We've been sorting and organizing toys. It helps when you get cute blue bins for Christmas and a great deal on more bins at IKEA!