Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Farewell of Sorts

Dear Family and Friends,

When I started my blog, I really didn't know anything about blogging. I just knew all my nieces were doing it and I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with family.

But now two years and 278 posts later, I have learned a lot. One thing I learned is that there is a vast blogging community filled with wonderful women, and many have become friends. Some of you I have had the blessing of meeting personally, but all of you have blessed my life in some way.

I have had women who were once complete strangers offer to take dinner to a sick child at BYU, another offer to run to Walmart in Utah to find a Christmas tree ornament the stores in Arizona were out of. I have had women send me recipes, ideas for parties, and suggestions for helping with children and other challenges. I have had women pray for my mother when she was ill, and celebrate with me on the birth of a grandchild.

But, I have also learned that not having a plan for my blog wasn't the best idea. Over time my blog has seemed to have gotten away from me and evolved into something that I am not really very happy with.

I have considered just moving forward with this blog, making the changes I would like to make. But in the end decided it was better to just start over. So, beginning today I will be shutting this down, and in January I will debut my new one. (I decided starting it now before the holidays might not be the best choice).

However, between now and then, I still plan on making frequent visits to all of you, as I cherish your friendship and the things I learn from you.

May you all have a wonderful holiday season, and may your life always bring . . .

Joy to your journey!

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Not At All Scary Wes

My husband's birthday is in a few weeks. It is also our stake conference on the same day. And he is one of the speakers.

He is just lucky like that. :-)

Personally, I think Wes is an amazing speaker. He never has a single note. And most of the time he doesn't even know what he will be speaking on until he stands up to the pulpit. He just prepares by reading the scriptures and conference talks and praying--a lot. And then he gets up and gives the most wonderful sermons.

At least that is my opinion.

I have heard from a few sources that there are some people in the stake who think he can be pretty scary. I admit he can be forceful, but that people find him scary is a bit humorous to me.

Seriously, this is not a scary man. And here are two stories about Wes that illustrate what I mean.

First Story
There is a woman in our stake who is a good friend and a great bread maker. On occasion when she would bake bread, she would share her delicious talent with us. One Friday night she told me that she had made bread but it had not turned out (a very unusual occurrence) and so she could not bring us the loaf she had intended.

I shared with Wes our friend's sad story before heading off Saturday morning to all day meetings. When I returned, I found four loaves of bread sitting on the kitchen counter. They weren't the prettiest things, but they tasted great. When I asked where they had come from, Wes told me he had made them.

Now, Wes had never made bread before. But when he heard our friend's plight he decided to make bread for her family. So he got out the wheat grinder and went to work. He told me he knew his bread wasn't pretty, but he was sure our friend wouldn't mind. And of course, she didn't.

I thought that was the sweetest thing! And since that day he has been making bread every few weeks so we continue to enjoy the blessings of his service.

Second Story
A few years ago a family of birds built a nest on a pillar on our front porch. After the eggs hatched, however, one of the babies died and the birds knocked the nest to the ground. We assumed all the remaining babies were killed by the fall.

However, I was outside the following morning and noticed the mother bird was very distressed and kept flying around a bush. As I listened closely, I could hear the faint chirping of a baby bird and realized one had survived. The mother was trying to rescue the surviving baby but had no way of doing so.

My son and I were able to get the baby out of the bush and place it in a shoe box. Then my husband got a ladder and climbed up to the top of the pillar, where the nest had been, and taped the shoe box to the pillar.

If I had not been in love with Wes before that moment, I would have fallen head over heels in love with him right then. It totally melted my heart to see him doing that, but what even touched me more was hearing him talk to the baby bird. It was obvious the baby was scared, and so Wes attempted to calm it by talking to it in a soft, sweet voice. And after he taped the box to the pillar, he asked the bird, "Now is that better little kiddo?"

Now does that sound like a scary man? :-)

By the way, the story has a happy ending. The mother resumed care of the bird and about a week later it flew away.

So there you have two not at all scary stories of my "scary" husband. Two stories that have brought . . . joy to my journey!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Super Easy, Super Delicious Pumpkin Cookies

Want a super easy recipe for delicious (and low fat!) pumpkin cookies?

Here it is!!

I got this from my friend Viki. Viki is totally cute, fun and loves to party. She has made these cookies for me before, but it wasn't until she brought them to our stake service project yesterday that I learned they are a Weight Watcher recipe--and VERY, VERY easy!! (And sorry but the picture was taken at the service project which is why the cookies are not sitting on a cute plate. :-)

You will love them!

1 box Spice Cake Mix

1 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin

1 C. Mini Semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray cookie sheet with Pam. In a large bowl, stir cake mix and pumpkin together until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Use a cookie scoop or spoon to drop tablespoons of dough on cookie sheet. Bake for 12 -14 minutes. Remove to cooling rack after 1 min on sheet.Number of Servings: 48

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Reality Of It All . . .

Dawn at Momza's House accepted a challenge to write the "Real Deal" of her life. I am pretty sure Dawn always writes the real deal as she is very open and honest in her posts which is one reason I always enjoy reading them.

After reading her post yesterday, however, I decided that for today I will write some things in my life that do not bring me any joy--not in the least. I don't mean to be a downer, I just intend to give a more accurate view of my life.

I also may not leave this post up for more than a few days but . . .

So, here is "The Reality Of It All" or the "Real Deal" and the joyless side of my life. I am leaving out some of the details out of respect for the privacy of those involved.

1. We have an immediate family member who was just recently diagnosed with cancer. The seriousness of it will not be determined until after a surgery that will be performed next month. This has made for a very teary week for me.

2. We have another immediate family member who is currently in the hospital undergoing a stem cell transplant for cancer. He is sick beyond sick at the moment--dealing with not only the cancer but the ravages of the treatment. This has resulted in considerable worry, concern, tears and prayers in his behalf.

3. I have a daughter in law who is six months pregnant with their first child--a boy. She is currently suffering from health complications that have severely restricted her activity and require that someone be with her at all times. Although her health and the health of the baby are our primary concerns, the mounting medical bills, the increase in health insurance costs and the fact that my son is only working part-time while going to school full time, brings additional stress to their little family.

4. My husband is a partner in a construction company. Since construction in our area is nearly dead, the company has had to lay off hundreds of workers over the past year (at considerable angst to my husband) and cut back on costs in all areas. In an effort to keep as many families on the pay roll as possible, the owners have cut their own salaries this past year to practically nothing.

5. I suffer from chronic back pain that restricts my activities and requires me to spend a lot of time with a chiropractor, and walking. If I do without either, the pain gets rather unbearable.

6. And I have a great big zit on my chin! :-)

I was visiting with a friend yesterday who asked me how I can feel any happiness with so many difficult things happening. My answer--I pray for peace, and when the feeling comes, I hold tight to it.

That, and I try to focus on the things that bring . . . joy to my journey. :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

While I Was Gone . . .

This is what I missed while out of town . . . Homecoming!! When we planned our trip six months ago, I didn't know we would be gone on such a big night!

But thankfully Ryan and Kali came over, took pictures and then spent the night so Michelle would have someone to come home to after her date. Thank you so much both of you!!

Here is a picture they took of Michelle and her friend Preston. I think it is a cute picture, but if I had been home they probably wouldn't have been standing so close together. :-)

And here are a few more pictures from the trip.

Whenever we travel I like to do the local thing. I like to eat where the locals eat and stay at B&B's so we can get to know more people. I think that is the funnest thing for me about traveling. Here is a picture of Wes and Cory fighting with their lobsters at a local lobster pound. Notice it took deep concentration.

I wanted to upload pictures of the two farm houses we stayed in. Both were over a hundred years old!! Unfortunately my computer had other ideas and wouldn't let me upload them. Hopefully I will get them loaded sometime. They were both darling and the owners were wonderful. We also met great people at both.

One of my favorite stories was when we got up on Sunday. We were traveling that day to Vermont, but stopping to attend church on the way, so we came down for breakfast in our Sunday clothes. A fellow tourist asked us why we were dressed up so I told him we were going to church. He turned to his wife and in laws (who were traveling with him) and said, "We should be doing that." After breakfast we made sandwiches to take with us. When they asked us why we were making our lunch I explained that since it was Sunday we didn't want to stop to eat at a restaurant so we were taking our lunch with us. He once again turned to his travel mates and said, "We should be doing that." Then his brother in law said, "You young people are setting a good example for us older folks."

At that moment I thought he was a wonderful man! I loved being called a "young people"! We very much enjoyed getting to know them. We sat up the night before in the living room for over an hour visiting with them. I love that!

But since I don't have pictures of the farm houses, here are some more of the scenery.

Wes took this one on our hike up Great Head in Acadia Park. I thought it was beautiful. And see those rocks on the left--that is what we were climbing up--just not quite so steep. Almost though.

This is one more picture of the beautifully quaint town of Deerfield, MA. I love this picture. If you don't look at the leaves very carefully you will think it is spring in stead of fall.

This is just outside Acadia. I love the color!! At night when I would close my eyes to go to sleep I would still see all sorts of colors in my mind. It was so beautiful!

These next two are closeups. This one is my favorite. I love all the different colors of leaves you can see against the bright blue sky.

A tree in Vermont.

And lastly, this isn't a very good photograph but it is pretty amazing when you realize that I took it very quickly out the car window while driving down the freeway. You can't tell very well but those are deer.

So there you have it . . . the last pictures I will post of our trip. The rest I will print up for our photo album. :-)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Visit To My Neighborhood

My neighborhood is a little unique.

I live on a cul-de-sac in the county, on a street with no name, that has seven houses all facing different directions and is also home to five dogs, several chickens, numerous jack rabbits, an occasional rattle snake, a large family of quail, and about 30 other birds that live in the orange tree in my front yard, eat all the oranges and greet me each morning with a cacophony of squawking.

When we first moved here, we were on the outskirts of civilization. We were the “edge of the desert” where teenagers went to have drinking parties, and an occasional dead body was found. We didn’t have cable TV or Internet service and every time the wind blew, our electricity went out—which also meant we had no water since our well pump requires electricity to run. The nearest grocery store was twenty minutes away, and going to church each Sunday was a half hour drive.

And the one road out of our neighborhood, when flooded, would become impassible.

During those early years we also suffered through what I call “the plagues”.

We had the mouse plague (which recently returned), the scorpion plague—where thankfully no one got stung-- the black cricket plague, the Indian house cricket plague and my most favorite—the plague of the centipedes. During that time, every morning I would awake to centipedes crawling across the floor, or hiding in my shoes. On two occasions they didn’t even wait until morning to pester me, but rather during the night, climbed into my bed!

It was then I wondered why we had willfully moved out to “the prairie”!

But civilization has since come out to meet us. Cable lines run under the ground, a Super Target is only a half mile away, a church building is down the street and monthly pest control has eliminated most of the unwanted creepy crawlers.

And I no longer wonder why we would ever want to live out in the desert. For besides the incredibly beautiful sunrises and sunsets that bless us each day . . .

We have our neighbors

Wonderful, fun, and very good neighbors.

Everyone on our street has lived here at least 10 years, and some as long as 15. Five of us belong to the Mormon Church, and all five were in the same ward (church unit) at one time before moving out to the county. The other two families actively participate in other religions.

But all of our kids have grown up together. In the beginning, there were Friday night “Capture the Flag” games, “secret” clubs, dance parties, and bake sales where we all got to buy back the items we just made. And we have all been the victim of the occasional prank—from the harmless toilet papering to the more destructive time when a garden hose was put inside a car window, the water turned on and left running over night.

Now we mostly celebrate prom dates, weddings and the birth of grandchildren.

We have had up times and down times, achievements and heart breaks. And through it all, we have been bound together by car pools, tragedy, sickness, health, and love.

I love that I can walk over to my neighbor’s home at any time to ask help with anything, and they are always willing to help. Whether it is shoveling 20 tons of rock on a Saturday morning, or help with a sick child in the middle of the night, someone will be there.

Our next door neighbors are particularly close friends. We have lived by each other for 24 years, served in many church callings together and have children who are best friends.

I count as one of my greatest blessings our friendship with Bryan and Connie. We are welcome in their home at any time whether they are there or not. If we go to their house while they are there, they will always feed us (something my kids learned very quickly) and if they aren't there we are still welcome to go in and watch TV (they have cable and we don't so my husband often disappears to their house to watch sports).

There are no walls between our houses and there are no walls between our hearts.

It is an honor to travel through this life with all of my neighbors. For they are definitely people who have brought, and continue to bring great . . . joy to my journey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Dream Come True

Since I was a teenager, I have dreamed of visiting a certain area of the United States.

Well, this past week I finally got that opportunity!! We went with some friends, and as usual (when we are with them) had a wonderful time.

Look at the pictures below and see if you can guess where they were taken.


Picture A is of the Boston Temple at dusk. We spent a wonderful evening there doing work for Jenny's (my friend) ancestors.

Picture B is of Rockport, MA on the tip of Cape Ann. We were only there about 20 minutes, but we thoroughly enjoyed strolling around town and sampling the homemade fudge.

Okay, keep reading and see if any of these pictures look familiar.





C, D, E and F were all taken at Acadia Park in Maine. I was so thrilled to be there, especially in the fall!! It was so beautiful and the weather was perfect. The first two pictures give you an idea of the fall foliage. The third picture is of the many lobster boats. The harbor was filled with them! What I didn't understand is why lobster costs as much or more in Maine as it does anywhere else--even though you aren't paying for the shipping fees. Even so, we enjoyed our share of it.
And the last picture is of the light house on Bear Island. We took a boat across the harbor to Cranberry Island and passed this lighthouse on the way. So darling!!
Okay, ready for another picture? How about this one?


And this one. . .

G is actually a picture of the drive going into Joseph Smith's Birthplace in Sharon, Vermont. The drive and the views from there were so beautiful!
H is a very cute touristy town called Woodstock, which was nearby. We loved this town but would have loved it even more if there hadn't been so many tour buses driving by.
Okay, here is the last group of pictures. Can anyone guess where these were taken? I will give you a hint. They were all taken on the same street.




The answer is Deerfield, MA. I had never heard of the town before this trip, but was so glad to discover it!! The town is considered one of the best preserved historical towns in the U.S and dates all the way back to the late 1600's. We loved walking the street and admiring the cuteness of it all!
So that was my trip! It was very fun, very beautiful and filled with gorgeous weather! We returned home this morning at 9:30 a.m., which means I have now been awake for 22 hours straight!
I am off to bed!