Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Love it. Got to be the perfect holiday: free candy, creative costumes, all about the kids, 
low expectations=difficult to disappoint. What's not to love?
 Plus, it's in the Fall--Best. Season. Ever.
Dino (and Handler), Holly Golightly, and Clark Kent 
On a Candy Mission

Tyler Scarecrow, Taylor Clark Kent, Kyle the "Chick Magnet", Larsen???,
 Colton Super Banana, & Trent Scary Clown (is there any other kind?)
Audrey Hepburn and James Bond, off to an Evening Gala
Minestrone soup is a classic hearty Italian soup with tomatoes, white beans, pasta and vegetables.   1/2 onion, chopped 1 cup carrots, chopped 1 celery rib, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained, rinsed (cannellini or navy) 3 cups chicken broth 1 fresh rosemary sprig 2 bay leaves 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp dried) 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (or 2 Tbsp dried) Garlic salt and fresh pepper to taste 1 medium zucchini, chopped 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach 2 cups cooked small pasta like seashell or elbows (al dente) Parmesan cheese to top Rinse and drain beans. Puree beans with 1 cup of the broth in a blender. In a crock pot, combine broth, tomatoes, pureed beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Add cooked pasta, cook 10 minutes more. Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprig. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Worth the Effort

Tonight I accidentally dropped my bowl of hot soup down my front, in the process splashing my clothing with broccoli & cheese, breaking my bowl on the granite, and creating a liquid explosion which doused my counter, cooktop, cabinet front and floor.
My first thought was to react with exasperation, but quickly extinguished it with the affirmation, "This is not a big deal. It's a mess to be cleaned up; I've cleaned up a million messes before."
Upon turning to face the mess, however, I suddenly became angry. Many recent trials sprang to my mind. This past year has been a seemingly endless string of stresses, worries, fatigue and fear. I exclaimed to Troy, "When was the last time life was fun? Why is everything hard? Why do I even bother trying when it doesn't seem to make a difference?"
As I went to the laundry room to change out of my soupy clothes, a calm voice came into my mind which said, "Nobody owes you anything. Everything you do have is a gift, and nothing you have has been earned. Remember to be grateful and you will not be tempted to feel entitled."
Pomegranate Jewels
Beside my bed I knelt to pray. I asked for forgiveness, thanking Heavenly Father for the refinement I receive through the trials He gives me. His love surrounded me as He accepted my offering and relieved me of my burden.
Life is and will always be hard. Moments of serenity and beauty, though, however fleeting, must take center stage. If nothing else, the pain helps me to appreciate the joy when it does come, just like I appreciate my extended family so much more because I know what it is like to live without them nearby. Acting in anger leads to regret; gratitude always brings peace.
"Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love." --President Thomas S. Monson
Kenji's tasty wagonload of arils

Hash House A Go Go

Thomas Legos

Monday, April 30, 2012

Epiphany of Grace

This morning I awoke with a feeling somewhat like that when one awakens with the remnants of a pleasant dream in mind. You know the type: it's one where you don't want to move for fear the feelings of the dream will slip away; the further into consciousness you go, the further the dream drifts, until it's just a hint of memory and the peace of the dream is lost. The feeling I had was not an emotion, but a knowledge. I was infused with the indubitable reality of my worth. It was an assurance not only of worth, but also that I am actually a daughter of God. The thought ebbed through my mind, "You are a daughter of God." And then the thoughts grew stronger, rather than weaker as they do in the case of a waking dream.
I began to think of my own beautiful daughter and her worth, and my husband and his worth, and my boys. Then the thoughts poured in: we all need to be loved because we are, to be cherished because we exist. How I got there I don't recall, since I don't remember dreaming anything in the night. All I do know is that this knowledge felt like the last piece of a puzzle sliding into place, but precariously. I got down on my knees again and again after getting out of bed, thanking the Lord for the epiphany and pleading with Him to help me not to let it slip away. The first thought I had was that I wanted to transmit the feeling to everyone I love, to infuse them with the love that I felt and to strengthen each one of them for their individual struggles and trials to come. It occurred to me that if we could all feel this love, all of the time, no one would ever want to hurt anyone else again. There would be no sin, because all pride and selfishness would disappear. We would understand that pride is useless, and that when we sin we inherently hurt everyone, in one way or another, ourselves included.
As the morning passed, many scripture references and quotes ran through my head, relative to the principle of worth, especially the following: “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” Joseph Smith, Jr.
On my run, I pictured a sea of humanity, all gathered together in a mass, and I thought, "all of those people are equal in worth to me and we are all children of God". All my life I've sung "I Am a Child of God", and repeated the words, "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him..." Nothing from what I've ever been taught changed for me--what changed is that I finally inhaled. I finally got it, it finally became real in my mind this morning. So what does this mean? It means the lens of my perspective has changed. Having a clear view of self-worth enables one to clearly see the worth of others. It's impossible to separate the two; it's what the Savior meant when He gave the command to "Love thy neighbor as thyself".
Understanding worth means walking the solid ground between self-degradation and self-aggrandizement. It means giving those who need it, including myself, the benefit of the doubt. It means being slow to judge and quick to forgive.
The gift of this epiphany means that I humbly acknowledge that I am indeed "less than the dust of the earth".  In a seeming paradox, this same awareness gives me the surety that I am God's child, and that because of His grace He knows me and loves me beyond my ability to comprehend, despite my nothingness.
The feeling I experienced this morning may not remain with me continually, but now that I have seen, my perspective has changed. I will continue to make many mistakes, but hopefully this knowledge will aid me in doing more of what I know to be right. I know now that Gods' love is not separate and distinct for each of us, but it is universal and all-encompassing; when I choose to sin and thereby hurt another, I choose remove myself from the circle of His love and to shut myself out from receiving all of the love that he Has to give. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God'; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

Friday, April 27, 2012

Taylor's War Wound

So, normally I have a "deep thought" to write about. I think I've been avoiding those types of thoughts for several months now, or perhaps am incapable of having such due to sleep deprivation. I'm hoping I get some of my brain back after all is said and done. I miss it. Anyway, I digress.
Today I'm posting Taylor's basketball tournament war wound: a large gash on the right side of his forehead, just below his hairline. He was running for the ball in the second game of the tournament and hit the bleachers 4 subdermal and 13 exterior stitched on the right side of his forehead. 

This was Troy's and my first experience with stitches in one of our children. I have little hope that it's one of the last, especially with our own "Stitch" bringing up the rear. ;-)
Taylor's biggest disappointment of the day was not being able to finish playing the game. The best part of his day was being brought two 1/2 gallons of Tillamook Marionberry Pie ice cream by two sympathetic moms (Erinn Thompson and Theresa Kruse).

"Pomum Granatum": Apple of Many Seeds

Isn't She Cute?

Today I learned that the flower of a pomegranate is a "balaustine", and the red, fleshy tubular portion from which the petals emerge is called a "calyx".

To me the blooms just look like little tropical dancing girls with bright, fluttery hula skirts, and our trees are filled with hundreds of them.

Come Halloween there will be seemingly endless pomegranates to pick;
little Kenji will be in Hog Heaven.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

White Chicken Chili

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 3-4 cans chicken breast)
1 med. onion (or 5 Tbsp dry onion)
3 cloves garlic, crushed (or 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
2 4-oz cans green chiles
3 c water (reserve broth from boiling chicken)
3 tsp or 3 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper (black or cayenne)
2 15-oz cans great northern beans, drained
1 can Cream of Chicken soup, optional
1 c sour cream (or 1 12-oz can evaporated milk), optional
Shredded cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Cojack--whatever suits your fancy)

Boil chicken breasts on low-medium heat for 20-30 min. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit on stovetop for another 30 min. or so. After 30 min., pull out chicken breasts and dice. Reserve 3 cups of broth to put into the soup.
Combine all ingredients (except sour cream or evaporated milk and grated cheese) in a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off burner and add sour cream or evaporated milk, if desired. Serve hot. Top w/ grated cheese, if desired.

Note: I put in substitutions so that you can also use food storage items for this recipe. The Cream of Chicken soup, sour cream and/or canned milk make this recipe higher in fat, however, they give the soup a creamier, richer base. You may use low-fat versions of these ingredients without compromising flavor as well.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Mom, this one's for you. XOXO

1 c peanut butter
1 c sugar
1 c light Karo syrup
6 c Rice Krispies
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt together peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup. Pour over Rice Krispies in mixing bowl and stir to coat. Press into 9" x 13" cake pan.

In a glass bowl, melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in the microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals until smooth. Pour over top of Rice Krispie mixture.

Let cool to set up.