Thursday, April 13, 2017
If you are looking for some extra Easter inspiration this week, here are my four favorite little videos (each is only about 2 minutes long, but so powerful!):
#Hallelujah - As Easter Message about Jesus Christ
He Lives - Celebrate Easter because Jesus Christ Lives
Because of Him
His Sacred Name - An Easter Declaration
more Easter videos here
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
We went to the Easter Pageant last night. If you are local and haven't been yet, it is running through Saturday at the Mesa Temple. It is one of our favorite Easter traditions, and portrays the life of the Savior through song, dance, and drama. It is the largest Easter pageant in the world, and I feel really lucky to live so close to it.
Speaking of Easter, my kids and I have been talking more about the Holy week this year. I think it's important that we know what the Savior did during His final week in mortality. The more we know, the more real it will be to us. So we've been taking just a few minutes at dinner to talk about what happened to the Savior each day. And then we've been watching one of the videos highlighting some principles of peace that the Savior taught. These videos are super short, but so relevant to our life today. I really like them.
My favorite quote from General Conference this week is from Mark A. Bragg's talk, Brighter and Brighter Until the Perfect Day. It's a short talk and worth a listen. In it, he said, "May we be strengthened by the light that is available to us through greater participation at church and greater application of gospel principles in our families." I have a testimony of this. I believe that our Heavenly Father wants to bless us with light, and peace, and understanding, and comfort, and everything else that we need, but it takes work on our part. We must make an effort to seek that light. I have found in my own life that as I seek the light through participation at church and application of the gospel in my home, it has come. Little bits of it have consistently come that add up to a bright understanding, which gives me peace and assurance - two things that I really need in this life.
Something that has helped me get through my sewing projects this week: the Escape to the Country Collection on Netflix. The show highlights an area of the English countryside, then shows prospective buyers three adorable properties. It is helping me to fulfill my life-long dream of living in the English countryside in a home full of centuries-old character. Plus, it's British, and I think we can all agree that they make better television. Have you seen it?
I hope your week is going well!
posted by stephanie at 11:09 AM
Friday, April 07, 2017
It's little league season! Hooray! Elliot and I went out to the park after school yesterday to practice hitting some balls. He was mostly excited about wearing his new baseball socks, but he did manage to hit two balls out of the park and into our neighbor's yard. It's volleyball season, too, and after a little bit of practice with Stella, she asked if she "could go inside and do [her] homework now." Ha! So maybe volleyball isn't her thing, but she sure has fun with all of the girls on her team.
Here's some good news: Mike placed second in a pitch contest at school! He got a humongous check and everything. He did a great job and I am so proud of his hard work. His winning idea was a mosquito killing fan, so maybe we're getting into the mosquito killing business? I'll keep you posted.
I have a mountain of laundry to catch up on today, and some sewing projects to finish. But then I'll be ready to party. And by party, I mean attend little league and volleyball games. :)
Have a happy weekend!
posted by stephanie at 7:21 AM
Thursday, April 06, 2017
These are the busiest days of my motherhood, and I don't think things are going to slow down. As my children get older and are more involved in school and sports and music and church and everything else that is beneficial and good, I think this will become the norm. I have never been a "busy" person, and so this new reality has been a difficult adjustment for me. But I had a revelation at the temple this morning and I'd like to share it here.
I have always been uncomfortable with the story of Mary and Martha. Remember, when Jesus Christ came to their house, Martha got busy. There was legitimate work that needed to be done to prepare for and accommodate His visit, and she was going to see that it was completed. Mary, on the other hand, ignored the work and sat at the Savior's feet. I have always been a Martha, and so when the Savior gently rebuked her for complaining that Mary wasn't helping, I couldn't help but take a small bit of offense. But I am beginning to see that sometimes (all the times), I need to be a Mary.
So when there is housework to be done and children to shuttle and food to prepare and so much sewing to do, I can't lose sight of the most important work--the spiritual and holy work--for myself and my family. On our busiest days, I need to set aside those less important things to make sure I am making time for personal and family scripture study, for meaningful personal and family prayer, and for things like Family Home Evening, family councils, and church callings.
I was feeling particularly burdened by my load this morning and thought about skipping my weekly temple time to get some work done. But I remembered the commitment I had made to my Heavenly Father to get to the temple as often as I can, and I remembered how great I feel when I visit the temple, so I went. And in the midst of my worry and weariness, the Spirit taught me (as it does every time I let it).
Here's to being more like Mary, for setting aside more time for holiness and for worrying a little less about the less important things.
posted by stephanie at 11:37 AM
Monday, April 03, 2017
The blossoms were popping in Salt Lake City this weekend. It was so fun for me and Mike to be there on Saturday during General Conference. We didn't attend the meeting, but we watched it in our hotel room nearby and then listened to some of it on Temple Square before we flew home.
Usually when I watch General Conference, I find a theme. My theme might be different than your theme. In fact, it probably is. That's the amazing thing about conference, we can receive inspiration that is personal and specific to us, even though the same messages are given to millions of people.
My theme can be summed up in a quote from Joseph Smith. When asked what the fundamental principles of our religion are, he answered, "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."
It is easy to get caught up in the "other things." But Jesus Christ is the only thing that really matters. That is the message I heard at conference. That I need to know Him better than I do now. I need to study His life more than I do now. I need to follow Him with all my heart. And if I do, I will have His peace in my life, for He is the #PRINCEofPEACE.
posted by stephanie at 4:23 PM
Friday, March 31, 2017
A couple of weeks ago, we hiked the Treasure Loop Trail in the Lost Dutchman State Park. We loved it. The trail was only about 2.5 miles long, not too difficult for Elliot's 6 year old legs, and it was SO pretty. It was totally worth the $7 entry fee, and we can't wait to go back to the park to try the other hikes. We've lived in view of the Superstition Mountains for 11 years, and for 11 years I have admired them from afar, but this was the first time I'd ever been up close, which is so silly because they are only about 30 minutes away.
Mike and I are about to hop on a plane to Salt Lake City. We'll be attending his mission reunion tonight (Canada Calgary). It should be fun! We'll be back home tomorrow, and hopefully we won't miss too much of General Conference while we're traveling.
Because it's General Conference weekend! My most favorite weekend! General Conference always leaves me with answers to my questions and with the feeling that everything is going to be ok. It's just the boost I need every six months. If you have a few minutes to spare, tune in! I'd love to hear what you think about it.
If you want to know why mormons love General Conference (and a little bit about the beginnings of our church), this is a great article about why we believe that God still speaks through prophets today.
Have a happy weekend!
posted by stephanie at 6:11 AM
Thursday, March 30, 2017
I am determined to perfect my biscuit making abilities. I have the fondest memories of my grandma B making buttermilk biscuits each time she visited. In my memory, hers were tender and fluffy and warm (and served with molasses, of course). Her recipe called for crisco, which I just can't bring myself to use, so I am always on the hunt for another recipe. My favorite so far is this one:
Buttermilk Biscuits, from the kitchn
6 tablespoons butter (I use salted, so I omit the salt called for in the recipe)
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk, plus a little more for brushing
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Cut your butter into little pieces and stick in the freezer while you assemble the other ingredients.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in the very cold butter with a pastry cutter, or with your fingers. Add the buttermilk and stir until just barely holding together. (It should be a mess.)
Dump onto a lightly floured surface and press the dough into a rectangle. Work fast and don't handle the dough too much. Cut it into three even pieces, stack them on top of each other, and with the heel of your hand, press it into a rectangle again. Repeat once.
Then roll or press the dough into a rectangle that is about 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 6 or 8 pieces, depending on how big you want the biscuits to be. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush with a little buttermilk.
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden and starting to brown.
I have always used a biscuit cutter to make round biscuits (like in the picture), but I made them last Sunday with this method of cutting them with a knife. I loved that there were no leftover bits that had to be re-rolled to form another biscuit. I'll be making them square from here on out. Also, don't substitute whole wheat flour, please. Biscuits are only biscuits if they're made with all-purpose.
Two other things we've liked lately (both from Cookie and Kate):
Banana Nut Waffles (minus the nuts)
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
posted by stephanie at 7:04 AM
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
I've been down with a cold all week. The kind of cold that makes your brain feel fuzzy and your limbs feel weak. It hit Stella, too. So we're taking it easy and putting off our chores and work for another day.
I've been replaying the talks from last Saturday's Women's Conference the past few days. They were all so great, but Sister Carol F. McKonkie's talk on holiness really resonated with me. If you have a few minutes today, it's worth a listen.
She says, "Holiness is in the striving and the struggle to keep the commandments and to honor the covenants we have made with God. Holiness is making the choices that will keep the Holy Ghost as our guide. Holiness is setting aside our natural tendencies and becoming a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Every moment of our lives must be holiness to the Lord."
And, "If we would be holy, we must learn to sit at the feet of the Holy One of Israel and give time to holiness. Do we set aside the phone? The never ending to-do list? The cares of worldliness? Prayer, study, and heeding the word of God invites His cleansing and healing love into our souls. Take time to be holy, that we may be filled with His sacred and sanctifying spirit."
As I have changed some habits and given more of my time to holiness, I have felt an increase in knowledge and peace and love in my life. I know that our Heavenly Father wants to bless us with these things, but we have to seek them. Reading my scriptures everyday, attending the temple as often as I can, and fulfilling my duties at church have helped me to feel His peace.
I am grateful for church leaders who instruct and testify and help me to come closer to my Savior. This weekend is General Conference, two whole days of instruction and testimony, and I am really looking forward to it.
posted by stephanie at 8:52 AM
Friday, March 24, 2017
I went downstairs to make the kids' beds yesterday morning (as I do every morning) and found Elliot's bed already made! What a kid. He won the prize for favorite yesterday for sure. Cleaning is totally the way to my heart.
This week I pulled out a dress pattern I've had (and have never used) since high school. It's been a long time since I've sewn something for myself, and I had such a good time working on it. The funny thing about sewing clothing is that you are making a decision based on a picture. Then you spend lots and lots of hours constructing something that you might not even like once it's finished! Ha! Good thing I like the dress I just spent all week making. I've made lots of things in the past that I ended up not liking, and that's no fun.
Don't forget about Women's Conference tomorrow! You can see how to watch it here. It's always such a nice, uplifting meeting. I look forward to watching it with my girls.
Is it snowing at your house? We had a little dip in the temperature here, which feels like our last hurrah before the heat comes. I'll take 70 and breezy over 94 in March any day.
Have a happy weekend!
Monday, March 20, 2017
This Saturday will be the semi-annual Women's Conference of our church, where leaders (mostly women) speak specifically to girls and women. I look forward to it every six months. To get ready, I figured that I had better review what was said last time. As I reread the talks that were given last September, Bonnie L. Oscarson's talk, Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion, really caught my attention.
Sister Oscarson talked about the challenges women face these days. To counteract the influence of the world around us, she said, "We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve."
She continued, "It will take concerted effort to be converted and to keep our covenants. To do so, we need to be girls and women who study the essential doctrines of the gospel and have an unshakable testimony of their truthfulness."
She suggested three areas that she believes are foundational to strong testimonies: "First, we need to acknowledge the centrality of God our Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, to our faith and salvation. . . Second, we need to understand the need for the restoration of the doctrine, organization, and keys of authority in these latter days. . . And third, we need to study and understand temple ordinances and covenants."
These truths have buoyed me time and time again. Through prayer, scripture study, and consistent temple attendance, I have gained a testimony of them. But that doesn't mean I can stop there. Like Sister Oscarson said, it requires a "concerted effort", which means constant and focused.
Finally, Sister Oscarson shared some very applicable and common sense advice when it comes to teaching our children. She said, "I worry that we live in such an atmosphere of avoiding offense that we sometimes altogether avoid teaching correct principles. We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don't want to offend those who aren't married or those who can't have children or to be seen as stifling future choices. On the other hand, we may also fail to emphasize the importance of education because we don't want to send the message that it is more important than marriage. We avoid declaring that our Heavenly Father defines marriage as being between a man and woman because we don't want to offend those who experience same-sex attraction. And we may find it uncomfortable to discuss gender issues or healthy sexuality.
"Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching our children and youth the essential gospel principles they must understand to navigate the wold in which they live. If we don't teach our children and youth true doctrine--and teach it clearly--the world will teach them Satan's lies."
What a good push to try harder and be better! It was just what I needed to hear at the start of this new week.
Anyone can watch the Women's Conference, by the way. It will be broadcast live at lds.org on Saturday, March 25 at 6:00pm Mountain Daylight Time, but will be available to view anytime after that.
posted by stephanie at 7:20 AM
Friday, March 17, 2017
I've been giving wisteria updates on my instagram feed this week. Just when I don't think it can get any more beautiful, I wake up the next morning to more leaves and fuller flowers. When we drive away from our house, I make everyone stop and admire it with me. Oh, I love it! I look forward to it all year long.
This is our last day of spring break. We have had the best week. We have mostly stuck close to home, which suits us all so well. I had to run a few errands yesterday and nearly had to drag Stella and Elliot along. They would have been more than happy to stay in the basement, but they needed some sunlight on their skin. The mornings have been cool and the evenings just right for a jump on the trampoline or a walk around the block. This morning we took advantage of our last day off to go on another hike. Even Mike came along. Seeing my whole family together made my heart grow a few sizes. I'll be sad to send them back to school on Monday.
We keep putting off the yard work, but tomorrow we are going to have to buckle down and get it done. We have lemons to pick and new flowers to plant and the lawn to mow. I'm excited to use the new hose I bought yesterday (it's kink free and won't leak!). It's the little things. :)
I saw this quick little video on Facebook and wanted to share it here. It has such a happy message:
Have a great weekend!
posted by stephanie at 9:36 AM
Thursday, March 16, 2017
One of my goals for this spring break was to take my kids hiking. There are so many hikes nearby and this is the perfect time of year to try them. First on our list was the Hieroglyphic Trail in Gold Canyon, about 40 minutes away from us. It is a gentle sloping trail, about 3 miles long, there and back. It wasn't too difficult for Elliot, my six year old, but he was definitely worn out by the end of it. There were lots of pretty vistas and the whole area seemed so green (relatively speaking, of course). The best part is that at the top of the trail are ancient petroglyphs covering the rocks.
They were pretty amazing. There was also a small waterfall and a little trickling stream, with lots of large boulders to climb. It was really fun and the cool shade was really refreshing. My kids didn't want to leave.
Every once in a while (usually when I am standing next to a ginormous saguaro cactus like this one) I remember that we really live in the desert here. I am learning to appreciate it!
posted by stephanie at 6:43 AM
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Last week, Mike and I were in San Jose del Cabo. To be honest, I didn't really know where we were going, but "Cabo" or Los Cabos is actually made up of five towns on the tip of the Baja peninsula. Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are two of them.
Our second day there was a Sunday, so we found the local congregation and walked 3 miles through some tough parts of town to get there. Mike and I don't speak Spanish, so we didn't understand the meeting, but it was wonderful just the same.
We split our time between two resorts. The first, Cabo Azul, was incredible.
We alternated between a beach cabana and the serenity pool, napping and reading. It was really nice. Food was not included at this resort, so we made a few trips to the grocery store for drinks and snacks and then Mike would search out delicious local restaurants for our meals. We spent a lot of time walking and riding the Urbano (old school buses repurposed), and ate some really good food. It was so much fun.
Our second resort wasn't quite as nice, but it was all inclusive, so we stuck to the resort more and ate at the restaurant there and drank lots of fun non-alcoholic drinks.
My favorite thing to do was to walk into town. San Jose del Cabo has a pretty, little, and very old downtown full of shops and restaurants. It was a lively place and lots of fun to explore.
All together, we were gone for almost 9 days! That's a long time to be away, and I sort of had a major homesickness breakdown on day 6, but we had a really nice trip. Being away for so long leaves lots of time to think and plan and consider changes that need to be made. I came home ready to get to work.
posted by stephanie at 9:28 AM
Friday, March 03, 2017
Every year Mike and I go away for a week together without our kids. It is stressful but it is also the best thing ever. Next week is that week! So I've been spending this week getting ready - freezing meals, cleaning house, bathing cats, etc. My mom is coming to take care of our kids and I am so grateful.
I love my life, but I am really looking forward to not thinking about five am wake up calls, carpools, and making dinner. I know Mike is really looking forward to not thinking about school and work. Instead, we'll be sitting on the beach, making plans and setting goals for this next year, and probably doing lots of thinking about nothing, too. I can't wait.
The best part is that I know we will come home refreshed and revived and ready to get back into the thick of it. Do you go away with your spouse without your children? It takes a lot of work, but I am really glad that Mike has made it a priority in our marriage.
Have a good weekend and a great next week!
posted by stephanie at 12:04 PM
Friday, February 24, 2017
There were lots of tears at our house this week, as Stella's sweet little gray kitten, Pedro, passed away. I think he'd been sick for a long time, and he just got weaker and weaker and was no longer eating. We buried him underneath our pretty lilac vine and now every year when it blooms, we'll remember him. It was hard watching my kids mourn, but I think it brought us all a little bit closer together, which was a happy blessing.
Mike and I didn't have any big plans for our anniversary yesterday. We lifted weights together and grabbed Cafe Rio for lunch before he went to class. But we're not big celebrators, anyway, so it felt just right. I got him a pretty brass tie bar with M + S engraved on it. He made me ring once, long before we were married (and even before his mission) that had our initials engraved on the inside like that. And then he did the same on my wedding ring, too.
Almost everything I made for dinner this week was a big flop. Some weeks are like that, aren't they? Mabel and I liked this Broccoli and Cheddar Gratin, but we were the only ones who did. Next week I'll save myself some grief and make fish sticks and pancakes every night instead. Ha!
I'm trying to muster up the energy to go for a run this morning. Wish me luck and have a happy weekend!
posted by stephanie at 8:20 AM