Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Christmas

Well, I'm officially shutting down the computer and signing off until the New Year. But I'll be thinking about you and wishing you a very happy and peaceful holiday, friends!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

good tidings of great joy

One last video to close out the week. This one sums it all up pretty well. I hope you enjoy it. Now, let's bake some cookies and get ready for the weekend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

mr. kreuger

Last night we ordered a pizza and ate it in front of the tv while we watched Mr. Kreuger's Christmas. It just isn't Christmas without it. In keeping with the unexpected video theme this week, here's a clip of my favorite scene. I hope it brings a little Christmas cheer to your heart on this gray afternoon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

peace is possible

My sister shared this little video on Facebook, and I thought it was too beautiful not to share here. The Christmas Truce happened 100 years ago this Christmas Eve. It is a wonderful reminder that we can love each other, despite our backgrounds and our differences. That we can find peace, even in times of great difficulty. For me, that peace comes from faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ. He makes all of those things mentioned in the video, things like change and hope and healing, possible.

Let's love each other a little more this Christmas season.

Monday, December 15, 2014

on that holy night

"Think of the simple yet dignified way our Heavenly Father chose to honor the birth of His Son. On that holy night, angels appeared not to the rich but to shepherds. The Christ child was born not in a mansion but in a manger. He was wrapped not in silk but in swaddling clothes.

The simplicity of that first Christmas foreshadowed the life of the Savior. Though He had created the earth, walked in realms of majesty and glory, and stood at the right hand of the Father, He came to earth as a helpless child. His life was a model of modest nobility, and He walked among the poor, the sick, the downcast, and the heavy laden."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Fill the World with Christ's Love

As I head in to this last, too busy week of school, I needed a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. This video filled me with peace, and the quote from President Uchtdorf helped me to remember what is most important. Service, love, modesty - the hallmarks of Christ's mission on this earth. Those are the things I want to remember this Christmas season.

Good luck this week!

Friday, December 12, 2014

happy weekend

Is it Christmas break yet? I really want it to be Christmas break. For several reasons. One, I am tired. Tired of waking up before 6 am to get kids ready for school. I want to sleep at least until the sun is up, please. Second, our beautiful and fragrant and fully decorated Christmas tree is already starting to shrivel. It stopped drinking water as soon as we brought it home. Aack! I don't think it's going to last two more weeks, I really don't. But what can you do?

Mostly I'm ready to hunker down at home with my little family and not go anywhere. School is totally cramping our style right now. We have movies to watch and cookies to bake and really fantastic weather to enjoy.

I guess I'll just have to settle for the weekends for now. Have a good one!

p.s. The navels are ripe!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Heavenly Peace

This past weekend was Mabel's Christmas concert, Heavenly Peace. She sings with the East Valley Millennial Choir and Orchestra in their Youth Chorus. Participation in the choir is time consuming and strict and demanding. But she loves it, and I feel really lucky that she is able to experience it. The conductor expects perfection from these kids and he gets it. Their concerts blow me away every time. There is nothing like hearing a group of 500 or so singers plus a full orchestra fill a hall with the Christmas spirit. I think I had goose bumps almost the entire time. If you happen to live in Orange County, California or Dallas, Texas or Utah Valley or here in the East Valley of Arizona, find the Millennial Choir and Orchestra concerts (the next one will be in April). Or, if you are able, participate. Mabel is taking this next semester off, but she is already looking forward to starting up again in the fall.

Monday, December 08, 2014


Once I realized that I didn't have to master the art of the perfect pie crust (meaning: it's ok to buy a frozen or pre-made crust), the whole world of pie opened up to me. And now pie has become my favorite dessert. More so than cake. I don't even know what to say about that and I can't believe I just typed it, but it's totally true.

This weekend, I made two pies. I'd like to share the recipes with you because they were both delicious, and not terribly complicated, especially if you use a pre-made crust like I did.

Pie #1: Double Cream Blueberry Mike has always loved blueberry pie the best. We both like this one because of the sour cream layer on top. It cuts the sweetness and adds a really creamy consistency. I followed the recipe exactly and the pie turned out top notch. The combination of the blueberries and cinnamon and that creamy topping was just really perfect. I'm definitely going to make it again soon.

Pie #2: German Chocolate

1 uncooked pie shell (deep dish is best)
1 4-oz package semi-sweet baking chocolate (or 4 oz chocolate chips)
1/4 cup butter
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cups flaked coconut (I use sweetened)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional, and since Mabel is allergic, I always opt out)
1 cup sweetened whipped cream
chocolate shavings (or chopped chocolate chips)

Defrost the pie shell, or make the dough from scratch and place in a large deep dish pie plate. Set aside.

Combine the baking chocolate and the butter in a small pan over low heat. Stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the evaporated milk. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gradually stir in the chocolate mixture, using a whisk. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and sprinkle with coconut and nuts.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. The pie might appear soft, but it will become firm while cooling. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Fun fact: Both of these pies are copy cat recipes of Marie Callender's pies. Marie Callender's started in my home town and played heavily into my childhood. It wasn't Thanksgiving (or any holiday, really) without a Marie Callender's pie or two or three. And dinner at their restaurant was always a treat.

Friday, December 05, 2014

happy weekend

This week was full of good Christmas-y things. And there will be even more this weekend, starting with Mabel's East Valley Millennial Choir and Orchestra concert tonight. This is her second year singing with this choir and it is such a wonderful experience. Their concerts always blow me away. I am excited to help out behind the scenes this time around.

Here's a good thought for the weekend: "Let us make Christmas real. It isn't just tinsel and ribbon, unless we have made it so in our lives. Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior's teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others." Thomas S. Monson

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

my Christmas goals

I love how my kids arrange the nativity sets. Everyone is crowded around the baby Jesus.

I want Christmas at our house to be about family, about giving, but mostly about Christ. That is a difficult task, I think. It feels like the world is shouting at me, telling me that I need more, that Christmas is about things, that I should be buying and stressing and hurrying about. But really, what I need is to be home. To be creating memories. To be quiet.

At the dinner table last night we talked about our expectations for this Christmas. We reminded each other of the things we have. That we have enough. And that maybe this Christmas we can try harder to give more.

But talking about it and doing it are two very different things. What do you do in your family to keep the focus on Jesus Christ and giving this season? I'd love to hear your ideas. While Mike finishes up the shopping, I am compiling a list of things we can do together to enjoy the season. Things like seeing the Christmas lights at the templemaking gingerbread men, bringing treats to our neighbors, reading the account of the birth of Christ in the New Testament, watching these fantastic Bible videos, and a new tradition for us, watching the Christmas Devotional this Sunday. I think we'll work with our kids to find some toys and clothes they can donate as well.

Christmas will be here before I know it, and I don't want to waste a minute on things that don't matter.

Monday, December 01, 2014

welcome December

This weekend we put up our Christmas decorations, including this mini tree filled with family photos from my grandmother. Our house feels cozy and festive now. It makes me happy.

I'm finished with my thankful posts for the season, although I am not finished with feeling thankful. I am thankful for you! Thank you for following along and for always being so kind here. I hope you have felt an increase in happiness and contentment in your life this month. I know I have, and there is no better way to kick off the Christmas season.

Hooray for December!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

for the principle of obedience

Last summer we drove through the desert to my parents' house in Sundance, Utah for a visit. Because of repairs being made to the main road, we were detoured onto a temporary road that we had never traveled before. It was late at night and so dark outside as we made our way along this small, two lane road that wound through the Indian reservations of Arizona. The car was silent, as everyone slept but me, the driver. This unfamiliar road had many twists and turns, with only my small headlights to light the way. I remember being grateful for the signs I saw, warning of turns or dips ahead. I was grateful for the posted speed limit that kept my family traveling at a safe speed. As I had never driven this particular road before, and because I could not see beyond my own headlights, I didn't know what dangers might lay ahead. But I knew that if I followed the signs and obeyed the laws, I would arrive at my destination safely. I think about this experience often, and I was reminded of it again during my church meetings this morning.

I believe that Heavenly Father has given us signs that warn us of danger ahead. He has given us speed limits. He has given us laws, and if we follow His safety precautions, we will return to Him. Because I have never traveled this road of my life before, I am not aware of the dangers that lay ahead. But because my Heavenly Father loves me (and you), He has shown me (and you) the way to travel with safety. I know that if I follow His laws, I will arrive at my destination intact. That is not to say that there won't be turns or dips or detours along the way. Surely there will be bumps in my road. But my Heavenly Father will help me to navigate them if I will follow Him.

I am thankful for His laws that keep me safe, and for the desire to obey them. For I know that it is through obedience to His laws that blessings come.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

for the Christmas season

Elliot crawled into my bed early this morning, long before anyone else was awake, and sweetly asked if we could read books in front of the Christmas tree. I couldn't say no to that, no matter how early it was. So we plugged in the tree lights, found all of our Christmas books in the bookshelf, and hunkered down on the couch together. It was wonderful. I am thankful that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in our little house. It really is a magical time of year.

p.s. This is my favorite Christmas children's book.

Friday, November 28, 2014

for a day off

This day was just what we needed. Just our little family, all together, all day long. We slept in. We went to the park. We went out for hamburgers. We picked up a Christmas tree! It was a great day. I am thankful for my family, that we enjoy each other's company, and for days spent together.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

for doing hard things

Mike and I ran a 10k race this morning. I am thankful that my legs didn't buckle during mile 5, when I was fairly certain that they would. I am thankful for a husband who ran with me and pushed me to go faster when I didn't think I could. It was hard, but I am thankful that I can do hard things.

Happy Thanksgiving!