Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter anticipation

We are starting this Easter weekend off right with a day off of school. Hooray! We don't have any plans today, but we are hoping to attend the Easter Pageant at the Mesa Temple tonight. If you are local, you should come!

I love Easter. It fills me with hope and peace. I know that because Jesus Christ came to earth and suffered and died for me, then when I make a mistake, I can try again. And because of Him, I can live with my family after this life. Nothing brings me more joy than my little family, and the thought that we can be bound together forever is so important to me.

I really like this little video:

I hope you feel the hope of this Easter season in your own life this weekend and always. Have a happy one.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

headaches and water

It's warming up here in the desert. Blerg. This week has been nice, actually, but last week was much too hot for early April. I noticed I was ending each day with a headache, and I was fairly certain that dehydration was the culprit. Increasing my water intake became my goal. Sometimes you need something new and pretty for motivation, so Elliot and I braved a trip to Target (that of course ended in tears for Elliot, and a few extra things we "needed" in the cart) and bought this cup. It holds 20 ounces of water, and I think I filled it up at least 5 times yesterday. It felt really good.

We still have a few lemons left on our tree, so sometimes I stick a lemon slice in there. I don't know if I believe them all, but here are 11 benefits of drinking lemon water.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


A few months ago I discovered a mysterious grain in my pantry. After a quick google image search, I was happy to see that it was quinoa. I had only eaten quinoa a few times before, and I was anxious to try cooking it for myself.

It turns out that it is super easy. I found this post to be particularly informative. (I use broth for the liquid.)

I made a batch this morning to keep in the fridge and use for my lunch for the next few days. I'll probably do a variation on this recipe for quinoa with black beans and corn each day. I have a few avocados that are threatening to go bad, so I better dice them up asap. Cold, warm, plain, wrapped up in a tortilla, I've found Elizabeth's recipe to be delicious each way.

Do you have a favorite quinoa dish? I'd love to try some others.

Friday, April 11, 2014

summer heat, late nights, and some pretty light

Oh man, am I ever ready for the weekend. This past week has felt particularly long and much too hot. We had temperatures near 100, and they completely wiped me out. I am hoping for a cooling trend. Even if it's just to the upper 80s. I'll take it!

Mabel is planning a late night with some friends tonight. Do you do late nights? We have a no-sleepover rule, along with everyone else around here, it seems, so late nights are a thing. One of her friends has never seen Studio C (and I am pretty sure her parents are even BYU alum, so it is extra shocking!). Obviously a Studio C marathon is on the agenda. My kids love that show.

I sort of never have a reason to go down to the basement while the kids are at school, so when I popped down there to put clean sheets on the girls' beds the other afternoon, the pretty light in their room stopped me in my tracks. I am a sucker for pretty light. I'll admit that once the sheets were back on the beds, I laid down for a minute and soaked it up.

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

on sibling friendship

I couldn't resist snapping a picture of my two matching boys last night. They might be five years apart in age, but they are good friends already. I'm so glad. This is what I have decided lately: more than wanting my children to need me, I want them to need each other.

From time to time, Mike and I leave them, to go running, or out on a date, or even just to the grocery store. When we do this, I hope we are teaching them two important things: that our relationship as husband and wife comes first, and that they can rely on each other.

Maybe we are just lucky that they all get along so well so much of the time. But we make a conscious effort have lots of time with just our little family, too. We play with each other more than with other friends, they share teeny rooms, etc. I think if we can help them solidify those sibling friendships now, then we will be giving them such a wonderful gift. I know I treasure the relationships I have with my own siblings. I want my children to have that, too.

p.s. Happy Sibling Day! Who knew that was even a thing.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

a slightly healthier banana bread

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a classic white banana bread. And sometimes I am trying not to eat too much sugar, so I want a banana bread that's a little bit healthier. Something with whole wheat, maybe even some oats. I had a few bananas looking sad and spotted sitting on my counter, so I started looking for a recipe that included coconut oil, flax seed meal, whole wheat flour, and oats. I found lots of recipes that had one or two of those things, but nothing seemed exactly right.

So I threw caution to the wind and I winged it. I never do that in the kitchen. It is not one of my talents. I used a little of one recipe, and a little of another, and then I added a bit of cinnamon. What I ended up with was a squat little loaf, but it was so moist and delicious, with a crunchy crust and just the right amount of sweetness inside. I am pretty sure I'll make this one next time I have over ripe bananas hanging around. Elliot and I thought it was just right. The real test will be whether or not the other kids gobble it up after school today, though. But I have a feeling they will.

A Healthier Banana Bread

In a medium bowl, whisk together these dry ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a different medium bowl, mash up 2-3 very ripe bananas. Then add these wet ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Makes one loaf.

I know there are so many banana bread recipes out there. Do you have a favorite?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Conference weekend is the best weekend.

When I was little, conference weekend seemed to stretch on forever. But now, I can hardly believe it when the final session has ended. I would happily sit through another day or two. The peaceful feeling in my home and the absence of outside distractions during this weekend make it so special. On Saturday, I looked around the room, at my little family, with the spirit so palpable from the words being spoken on the tv, and I thought my heart would burst. Oh, it was just what I needed! It always is.

I've been mulling the talks over in my mind, and I listened again to my favorites as I went about my housework this morning. These are the ones that really stuck out to me:

Elder Holland always bears such a powerful witness. My favorite quote: "Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them." Also, "Pure Christlike love, flowing from true righteousness, can change the world."

In one of my favorite talks, Elder Uchtdorf spoke about gratitude. "Gratitude is a disposition, a way of life, that stands independent of our current situation," he said. Instead of being thankful for things, we should focus on being thankful in our circumstances. Another good quote: "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain."

Perhaps my most favorite of all, though, was Elder Bednar's talk on how it is our "load" or our burdens, or what we choose to burden ourselves with, that bring us back to Christ. "Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness." Am I burdening myself with a load that will increase my spirituality, or is it simply distracting me from the things that matter most? He went on to speak about the Savior and His atonement. It was really wonderful.

Some honorable mentions:

Elder Packer said, "The ultimate end of all activity in the church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home." Sometimes I feel like as a member of the church, so much is required of me, at times maybe too much. But really, everything that I do for the church is so that my family can be happy at home. I know this is true. He also spoke to those who have yearned for marriage and family and whose dreams haven't yet been realized.

Elder Perry said, "The time in which my grandfather lived was a simpler time, especially regarding the choices between right and wrong. . . I am of the frame of mind that today's complexity demands greater simplicity." Yes! Despite how complex the world might be now, what we need are simple, solid truths. He focused on listening to the holy ghost, faith, and obedience. "Our faithfulness through obedience will ultimately rescue us." Another great quote: "Someone who is all wrapped up in himself makes a very small package." Loved that one.

And if you've ever been curious about how our church began, Elder Corbridge gave a great summary. He spoke about the restoration of the Gospel, and the organization of the church in these latter days. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one, especially if you are not a member of our church.

It was a really nice, slow, quiet kind of weekend. And I have a renewed desire to hold fast to the covenants I have made with my Father in Heaven, to be the wife, mother, and woman that He knows I can be.

Friday, April 04, 2014

weekend plans and a big thank you

Phew! We made it. It's the weekend! And General Conference weekend at that. My big plans include: not budging an inch from the couch and soaking up as much inspiration from our church leaders as I can. This weekend only happens twice a year, and I so look forward to it. It seems like I am always in need of a little uplift and wisdom by the time it comes around again, and Conference provides those in abundance. Let's meet back here next week to discuss our favorite talks, ok?

I owe you all quite a bit of thanks for your nice comments here on my blog always, and on my guest post this week over on Clover Lane. Your support means so much to me. Thank you! I have felt nothing but love and acceptance here and I am so grateful. I wish we could all meet for lunch.

I snapped that picture during Elliot's morning cuddle yesterday. Of all of my children, he has required the most affection. Do you think it's because he knows he's my last? He gets to hang on to the title of baby for a lot longer than anyone else and he is taking full advantage of it. Thank goodness.

Here's a little blurb about Conference:

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

coming home

I am reminiscing about my decision to stay home with my children over at Sarah's blog today. I am so glad that Sarah asked me to share my story. It is always in the writing (and sharing) that my beliefs are re-solidified. I have a renewed desire to be present at home, and that feels really right.

Thank you Sarah!

Monday, March 31, 2014

sunday thoughts on a monday afternoon

I had every intention of sitting at the computer first thing this morning and writing down the thoughts that have been swirling in my head since yesterday. But there were dishes to be done and floors to scrub and fittings to do. So here I am, finally, with a few minutes during "nap time" to empty my head onto this page.

I say "nap time" because Elliot is very likely sitting on the stairs right now instead of laying in his bed. We've reached that point, I think, where naps just aren't going to happen much anymore. I suppose I can't blame him. He has given me nearly four good years of daily naps. It had to come to an end eventually. But oh man, I will miss them!

And now, some deep thoughts. I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be truly converted. It is one thing to be raised in a religion, and to believe in it because you were taught to believe in it. It is quite another thing to come to know truth for yourself, and then even more - to have a change of heart based on your knowledge of that truth. That is true conversion.

To me, being truly converted means serving others, not because I am supposed to, but because I genuinely want to. It means studying my scriptures, not because I know it is good for me, but because I know that through my studies I can come to know my Savior better. It means leaving worldly things behind and not missing them.

True conversion comes by obedience. Years of obedience to things we know are true leads to that all-important change of heart. And then our desires elevate and our focus becomes more clear and we find ourselves full of joy.

It's a road we all have to travel in this life, at our own pace and in our own time. I am just grateful to be somewhere on the road.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's always more fun when Gramma is here.

My mom was in town for a few days this week. She flew out early this morning and we miss her already. Something fun we did while she was here: we let Stella skip school and we spent the morning at the zoo instead. I think it was Elliot's first time and he was duly impressed. Plus, the weather was gorgeous. I honestly don't think we'll see another day that nice until October.

Do you have anything fun planned this weekend? I'm getting my hair done. Yippee! That's always cause for celebration. And I am super excited to bring Mabel with me to the first ever General Women's Meeting for our church. We are going to watch it at our church building, but you can view it at home, too. That link will tell you how. I am anxious to hear from our women leaders. I know they will have many good things to tell us.

Have a happy weekend!

p.s. Thank you for all of your nice comments about my dress. I will be sure to forward them on to Mike. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a day dress for summer

I was in the market for a light weight summer dress with sleeves, that actually went to my knees. Something more than a flimsy, boxy knit, and something that wouldn't make me melt any more than I already will come June. When I saw a remnant of chambray linen at the surplus fabric store I snatched it up and this dress was born.

I used my nearly worn out copy of Simplicity 2245 (which is sadly out of print) as a slight guide for the sleeves and bodice, and then added a full skirt (with pockets!). The waist is elasticized in the back to give it shape, but still be comfortable.

The good news: It is easy to wear. The bad news: Mike doesn't like it. Oh well. Maybe he'll learn to like it after seeing me in it all summer long?

Do you consider your husband's opinion when getting dressed? I'd like to, but sometimes what he likes and what I like are so far apart from each other.

p.s. This is the updated version of the pattern, but I am sad to say that I don't like it nearly as well as the original.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Warm Lemon Pudding Cake

I am in the middle of juicing and freezing our lemons, so when I was deciding on a dessert for Sunday dinner yesterday, I had lemons on my brain. And my kitchen counter. A quick Pinterest search led me to Warm Lemon Pudding Cake. Yes and yes.

The best part: during baking, a light, spongy cake forms on top, with a rich, puckery pudding beneath. Oh man, every bite was like a burst of warm sunshine. They were light and so lemony, and just about the most perfect way to end a meal on a warm spring evening.

I increased the recipe by half and had enough to fill 10 6oz. ramekins. (It can also be baked in a 1.5 qt baking dish, just fyi.)

This is a recipe I will make again and again, I just know it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break 2014

It was a good thing that we didn't have anything exciting planned this week, because Elliot spent most of it on the couch battling a fever. He's better now, thank goodness, and we finally left the house for the first time yesterday. We met Mike for lunch and then friends for shaved ice. When you haven't left the house all week, little things seem like lots of fun. There's the secret to a successful spring break right there, folks. Happy Spring Break to us!

However, it was awfully nice to lay in bed with my book* in the mornings instead of rushing to get breakfast on the table and kids out the door. As much as Stella loves school, she is already dreading having to wake up early again. We all are. Sigh. Summer break will be here before we know it, I'm sure.

Two questions: Did you do anything fun this week? And what are you reading right now? I finished my book and I'm looking for something new.

p.s. My friend Sarah started an interesting new series about why women choose to stay at home on her blog, called Coming Home. If you have a minute, I hope you'll check it out. It is really fantastic.

p.p.s. Have a good weekend.

*Katherine, by Anya Seton. So good, even the second time.

Monday, March 17, 2014

spring break chatter

It's spring break at our house this week. Hooray! We are already off to the laziest of starts and it feels wonderful. A few hours in, though, and I've realized that I'd forgotten just how much Stella likes to talk. I'm determined to enjoy our constant conversation for the next few days. Sometimes I feel like kindergarten has stolen her away from me, so I am going to appreciate having her glued to my side this week. I am. I am. I am.