We Seek After
These Things
Recently returned from serving the people of Honduras for 3 years

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Thankful for Thanksgiving!

I'm so thankful for warm fuzzy holidays.

I get really excited about almost every holiday. I think that came from growing up in a household where my mom always went to a lot of work to make the holidays special days. I've been looking forward to Thanksgiving since about hmmmm . . . the day after Halloween, the most recent holiday we celebrated at our home. Every couple of years we host a family gathering at our home for Thanksgiving. That usually ranges anywhere from a dinner for 10-40 people depending on the year and the family. This year I think were expecting about 27 people, a mixture of our family, my husbands family (it's the Klein year), and many of our BYU student friends.

I'm thankful for the blessing of having everyone gather in our home.

We host many events and dinners at our home throughout the year and most of them are pretty casual affairs. But not Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving for me is an opportunity for a sit down dinner for everyone. Everyone gets to mix and mingle amongst family members and friends, complete with beautiful tables (that doesn't mean everything matches - quite the opposite in fact), real plates and silverware, real glasses - none of the paper stuff, although sometimes I dream about how much easier the clean up would be, but then it wouldn't be Thanksgiving!

I'm so thankful for all our family and friends!

Usually we haul out the living room sofa and rearrange to make room for the 4 or more tables needed to accommodate the holiday crowd. While a formal dinner for 27 could be overwhelming, it usually works out just beautiful by the time everyone brings something to contribute towards the meal. I always reserve my favorite food items for our family to prepare and let everyone else bring the rest. So far our menu looks about like this:

Thanksgiving Menu
Roast Turkey with Sausage Craisin Stuffing
Spiral Honey glazed ham
Baked Potatoes with butter & sour cream
Sweet Potato Casserole
2 different salads by family members
Green Bean casserole
Fresh Cranberry / Orange Sauce
Pumpkin Cobbler with whip cream
Grandma Kleins famous pies
Vanilla Ice Cream

Wow, just seeing the whole list, that looks like a lot of food! Don't all of you wish you were coming to my house! :) Thankfully, everyone is so helpful with dinner and clean up - it will be a wonderful day. I just thought I'd share a few of my very favorite Thanksgiving recipes just in case anyone is looking for something new this year. Almost all of these recipes come to me from dear friends or family members that have inspired my cooking over the years.

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole
(a favorite, wish I could remember who I got the recipe from!)
6 C. cooked / mashed sweet potatoes
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. milk
2/3 C. butter - melted
2 t. vanilla
4 eggs beaten
1 1/2 C. coconut
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
2/3 C. Flour
2/3 C. butter - softened
1 1/2 C. chopped pecans
Blend the first 6 ingredients with a mixer. Pour into 81/2 x 11 size baking dish. Briefly mix the topping with a fork and sprinkle on top of potato mix. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 min or until hot and bubbly, and topping starts to brown.

 (photo credit - A Sweet Pea Chef)

Crock pot Honey Glazed Spiral Ham
(one of my friends gave me this great idea!)
1- Spiral cut ham 7-10 pounds

Place ham in the crockpot with:

 1/2 C. apple juice
 1/2 C. orange juice
 1/2 C. brown sugar
 1/2 C. honey
Heat on low for 6-8 hours, brushing with glaze occasionally.
(See comments below for additional tips)

Cranberry Orange Sauce 
(thank you Dee Aullman
 I always thought canned cranberries were wonderful on Thanksgiving until you 
shared how easy this was to make!)

1/2 C. sugar
1 orange, zest and the juice

1/2 C wa
 12 oz fresh cranberries
 1/4 t. salt 

Shred zest from orange and then juice the orange. In a medium pan combine the zest, juice, water, sugar and salt, warming and stirring until dissolved. Stir in the cranberries, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst and sauce has thickened somewhat. Cool and serve. This can be made the day ahead and served cold from the refrigerator.

 (photo credit - Two Peas and Their Pod)

Sausage Craisin Stuffing 
(Thank you dad, I added the Craisins)
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 1/2 C. diced celery
 1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1/2 C. butter or margarine

 1/2 lb. Jimmy Dean spicy hot bulk sausage (browned)
1/2 C. Craisins

2 t. poultry seasoning

 1 t. sage
 2 t. salt 
1 t. pepper
 3/4 C. chicken broth
 8 C. dry unseasoned bread cubes. 

Cook onion, and celery until almost tender in the butter or margarine. Add sliced mushrooms for the last 4 minutes and finish simmering until tender. Stir in the seasonings and craisins. In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs with the sauteed vegetable mix. Stir in the chicken broth just before stuffing the turkey. For convenience - the stuffing can me made the day before and stored in the fridge overnight covered in the large bowl. In the morning, just add the broth, mix and stuff the turkey. I always double the recipe and make extra that I cook at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes in a greased casserole dish. 

 Hopefully you all are down to your last preparations. 
Here's to a Happy Thanksgiving for all of you and yours!

Time to set the table - 
So many wonderful ideas for lovely Autumn table settings.
I thought I'd share some of my favorites
 to get you started!

 (Photo credit - Fancy Cribs)

I'm so thankful for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas Help for the Holidays

Guess what? It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go! I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but there's a few things that I always like to think about early when it comes to Christmas.

One of my favorite hymns has always been "Because I Have Been Given Much I too Must Give". It seems especially appropriate at Christmas time that our thoughts turn toward what we can do to share our many blessings at this time of year. Especially with the approaching holiday season - this starts to be in the forefront of my thoughts as we prepare for Christmas. One of our family's favorite Christmas traditions is to get involved in some way during the holidays and look for ways to be of service. Some of the things in which we've participated in the past have been Sub for Santa, a giving tree of some sort where you select individuals off of a Christmas Tree and then provide the Christmas item for that individual, Toys for Tots, or just adopting a family that we know has particular needs and doing what we can for them to brighten their Christmas season.

I've noticed with my family getting more spread out, married kids, college kids - we have to organize well in advance to be sure we can all get together to make it all happen. Dustin and Cami recently shared their thoughts and desires to be involved this year in this type of Christmas project. So I've been doing some research the last couple days to see what the community needs might be this year.

Maybe this list will provide some inspiration to all of you who have been looking, or deisre to get involved in a Christmas service project, but don't know where to look or where to start:

United Way of Utah County has several possibilities -
Sub for Santa - adopt a family for the Holidays. You can find all the guidelines here.

Angel Tree - select an ornament off the tree, buy the appropriate items and return to the Angel Tree office at University Mall by mid December.

Also, United Way in general you can do a search for various Christmas volunteer related services.

Provide blankets for "Santa Flight" Operation Linus. The blanket can be knitted, crocheted, quilted, tied or fleece. Consult the sight for further information.

Deliver Christmas to children in rural Utah - once the items are returned to the Angel / Giving tree, you can be the ones you deliver all the items to the various families.

Chain Breaker Foundation - Dec 2, new coats, new toys to Joan Shippen, for abused women & children - this is for the annual Christmas party - they would like everyone to receive something for Christmas. Also Joan is in my ward - so let me know if you'd like to help, I'll get you involved!

Many opportunities in Salt Lake County can be found at this website - volunteering with the Christmas Tree Festival, The Arc "Give a Gift" program, Road Home - Project Blanket, Blankets for the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House of Charities - small groups to provide meals for 40 people, kitchen provided - and many others.

I'm sure there are many more holiday needs out there. Feel free to share any needs that you are aware of by leaving your comments below. We're getting excited for Christmas! And getting excited to think that we can do something to make someone else's Christmas a little bit merrier and brighter this year. It seems like no matter how tough the times may get, we always seem to be blessed with something to share!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Deal on Laptops . . .

Hello all - I have so many different people always asking me to keep an eye open for them for a great deal on a laptop. I know with the holidays approaching there are probably many of you looking at the possibility of updating your computer or purchasing a new laptop for the holidays. I have a great bargain that I've found - the tricky part is that it currently is a ONE-DAY only sale from Dell.


I highly recommend Dell for a couple of reasons - when you purchase from the "small / medium business center" online, you get decent customer support if you have any problems down the line, which is getting extremely difficult to find these days. And secondly, and even more important, it's one of the few, if not the last place you can still have Windows XP installed on your computer as the operating system. Don't be impressed with the bells and whistles of Windows Vista. It's a memory hog, SLLLLOOOWWWW (did you get that means extremely slow), and will do absolutely nothing that you can't do with Windows XP. So sorry to offend any of you who currently have Windows Vista and love it. You just don't know what you're missing :) I purchase all the computers and laptops for my husbands business, and have purchased exlusively from Dell for the last 5 years and I can seriously say I have not had one unresolved (and quickly) problem with any of their systems both laptops and desktops.

Anyway - here's the scoop. They have a VOSTRO 1510 system available right now for $499. It includes the following components (with my comments): Intel Core 2 Duo @ 1.8ghz (a perfectly adequate core speed unless you're into architechural drawing/rendering or editing multiple video files at the same time), Windows XP, 1 yr limited warranty+1 yr onsite service, 15.4 " WXGA LCD anti-glare display, 2GB DDR2 SDRAM 667 MHz (great memory actually), 24X CD burner/DVD combo drive (does not burn DVD's but does burn CD's), integrated graphics, 80GB 5400RPM SATA hard drive (a little small these days, but perfectly adequate for everyday use and student use), Dell Wireless 802.11g, 6-cell Lithium Ion Battery, McAfee Total Protection 30-day subscription (just what you need to get started, if you have your internet through Comcast you have access to the best protection through them for free). FREE 3-5 day shipping, and possibly no tax. Not sure exactly what their tax status in Utah is currently. This offer currently expires NOV 18 at 6AM CDT. (Not to say that they won't have a similar deal sometime again between now and Christmas - but you never know . . .)

Additional information you need to know. This computer comes with no software installed. You need to install your own Microsoft Office programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook etc. Most people have them available from previous systems. I'm still installing Microsoft Office 2002 on new systems and it still works great! If you don't have it available - there are actually fantastic free online programs now where you can get by without ever installing Microsoft stuff on your computer anymore (contact me if you need recommendations).

You possibly will find less expensive laptop deals. Why you probably don't want them: they probably have Intel Celeron processors (don't buy one of these!), they have Windows VISTA as the operating system (don't buy one of these unless you have at least 2 GB memory, and even then you're better off with Windows XP even if it costs you a little bit more money).

If you have a little bit more money to spend and would like a few upgrades - here is what I recommend: Upgrade the optical CD drive to the 8x DVD+/RW with double-layer DVD+/-R write capability for $15 more. Upgrade the hard drive to 250GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive for $75 more. That still keeps your total for the laptop at $589, still includes FREE 3-5 day shipping, which equals a great deal on a laptop that would fit the bill for almost everyone (except maybe a rocket scientist - so if that's you, sorry, I'll keep on looking ;)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Me? Homemade Christmas cards!??

I had the greatest time on Friday night (I know . . . it was supposed to be date night, and I appreciate my husband being so understanding and willing to take me out on Saturday this week!) with my cute and creative daughter-in-law 'Crochet Cami'. She invited me to attend a Scrapbooking Christmas Card 'make and take' event with her and her family and friends. Apparently, it's something they like to do on a regular basis and scrap together a bunch of cute cards for all different occasions. This was going to be a specific Christmas card making night. I think the group came up with a completely different and fun idea that I recommend for 'scrapping' groups everywhere!

Instead the six of us gathered together, had a potluck Taco Salad dinner and then put together our own bunch of creative Christmas cards. Each person attending was responsible for coming up with an idea for a Christmas card, gathering the needed materials and making any advanced preparations like cutting out the little pieces, providing the stamps or inkpads, ribbons, brads or whatever else was necessary to assemble the personal card. Each person provided enough materials so that every person went home with 4 of each of the 6 different cards and also the envelopes.

I can see this becoming a new Christmas tradition! I used to be a great cut and paste creative scrapbooker, but sadly I've fallen very behind in the scrapbooking arena. ~~~~Although, I do absolutely love the new digital stuff that's available from the photobooks online (did you all get your free 8x11 from Snapfish.com this week, that my niece Nicole mentioned), and also the free Creative Memories scrapbook program~~~~ So, while it physically taxed my mentally insufficient creative brain cells trying to come up with a card idea, once I got going it was so much fun! Then you all have the opportunity to visit together and catch up on everyone's busy lives, and you take away these gorgeous beautiful Christmas cards that all my neighbors and friends are going to be so amazed with, and won't even believe that I actually produced them. And I only had to come up with one idea!

I'm sure this is old news for many of you, but if not, you have to try this with your friends and family for the holidays. It could just be a new tradition for you too!

I do still have one kit left that will make up four cute cards from my design. Hmmm . . . I always need new fabulous recipes . . . anyone want to trade?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

So proud of my girl!

I'm really bursting at the seams to share what our big family activity was last Saturday morning - thank you very much to Karianne. She decided to enter her first sprint triathlon, the T3 Turkey Tri in Orem, UT. This is very much something I never expected Karianne to be involved in. She was always the dancing (literally) child. Pirouettes, tutus and toe shoes have now been replaced with water bottles, running shoes and shiny lycra. She has made quite an amazing transformation and inspired us all in the process with her diligence and intensity.

I have to really admire her passion for the sport. I think she originally took up jogging to stay in shape while she was in college at BYU - Idaho. I can't really say when she made the change over from "I really hate running" (she used to take after me, now I'm hoping to take after her :) to "I think I'm going to do a triathlon this weekend". Nevertheless, that's where we all found ourselves on that freezing cold but sunny morning as we gathered to cheer her on and offer support.

I could tell in the weeks leading up to the event that she was a little hesitant and nervous, not really understanding how the process worked . . . "did she really have to wear her swimsuit under her running clothes?" Could she survive a three event race and live to see the finish? But she took on the challenge wholeheartedly, scheduling increasingly difficult workouts to prepare her for each event of swimming, biking and running.

Finally, the big day arrived and each one of us was so excited to come watch her. you'd have thought it was Christmas. Suddenly, everyone had nothing else to do on a Saturday morning. Dustin and Cami arrived complete with bright, cheery posters, designed to inspire Karianne from the sidelines. Cory came from his studies in Salt Lake, Kelsie got out of bed much earlier than usual on a Saturday morning not wanting to miss the beginning of the race. Even the temperamental weather of Utah in the middle of November cooperated for a beautiful sunny but cool day.

You can tell from her smiling face in the photos that she was really happy with her performance. I, on the other hand was ecstatic for her. While watching the race from the sidelines I worried that maybe at the end she would be exhausted, nauseated, physically sick or all of the above, like many of the other participants. But no, she hardly appeared out of breath, with a big smile on her face she said that she had a great time. No wonder we all want to participate next time! She made it look entirely too easy! Way to go girl! You did so wonderful and I'm so so pleased for you with what you've been able to accomplish.

If anyone is interested, we'll all be training for a similar event next spring in Orem - the Timpanogus Harley Davidson Triathlon. Hope to see you all there!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Hormone Guide - I just couldn't resist . . .

As an RN in the Women's Center, and as a woman and friend of many women, I just couldn't resist sharing this with everyone -

The Hormone Guide
Women will understand this! Men should memorize it!

Every woman knows that there are days in the month when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life in his hands. This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, co-worker or significan other!


What's for dinner?
Are you wearing THAT?
What are you so worked up about?
Should you be eating that?
What did you DO all day?

Can I help you with dinner?
Wow, you sure look good in brown!
Could we be overreacting?
You know, there are a lot of apples left.
I hope you didn't over-do it today.

Where would you like to go for dinner?
Wow! Look at you!
Here's my paycheck.
Can I get you a piece of chocolate with that?
I've always loved you in that robe!

Thirteen Things PMS Stands For:
Pass my shotgun
Psychotic mood shift
Perpetual munching spree
Puffy Mid-Section
People Make me Sick
Provide me with Sweets
Pardon my Sobbing
Pimples may surface
Pass my sweatpants
Pissy mood syndrome
Plainly; men suck
Pack my stuff
and a favorite one - Potential murder suspect.

If you have any other thoughts about what PMS stand for - feel free to share!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"I just felt like running"

Well, I don't usually blog on the spot, I seldom have time in the middle of the day to sit down and record a thought here and there (not exactly true, but I usually prefer to waste my minutes doing something else like eating ice cream or chocolate . . .) but I had an exciting event occur today. No one else might think it's exciting but for me it was a milestone!

I am not a runner, used to run sprints in high school many years ago, and since then can barely tolerate jogging for brief periods of time - and I'm not kidding! Most people who know me know I love to walk and hike the foothills of Alpine. But occasionally when I don't have the required hour in the morning to do so, I put on my actual "running" shoes and walk / jog for two miles in about 30 minutes. Usually more walking than jogging, but over the last couple months I've been going out with Karianne occasionally and she has motivated me to pick up the speed a bit and it has felt really good. So today was one of those days where I needed to do the walk / jog thing instead of hiking.

I loaded my ipod with my favorite "country" and most inspiring music and headed for the street. Usually I warm up by walking up the big hill just right up the street from my house. Today as I headed for the hill I was feeling pretty good and just couldn't resist the impulse to get moving a little faster. I ended up jogging all the way up the hill. Wow! I didn't know I could do that! But I kept moving and kept jogging all the way to the top. When I got to the top it felt so good going down the other side that I just kept going. Pretty soon I passed the first checkpoint where I usually stop jogging and start walking and I was still feeling good, then I passed the second checkpoint where I switch again. Wow! I was impressed, don't know what got into me but suddenly I thought, "maybe you can jog the whole first mile". I was already halfway there. And so I did! Then I walked for the next 1/2 block and I was back to the bottom of the hill and decided I would try it again. (Two times around is two miles - or a mile for each loop) Same as before, jog to the top of the hill, feels so much better going down, kept going around the second mile!

All in all, I cut 7 minutes off my previous time by not walking, and accomplished something I really thought was impossible for me to do. Of the two mile route, I probably walked less than 1/4 a mile. It may never happen again but guess what? It's kind of scary now because I know I CAN do it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Secret Life of Bees

Our book club decided this month to do something a little out of the ordinary for us. The book we were focusing on for the month was "Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. Rather than gathering for the usual luncheon and book discussion at one of our homes, we decided we would travel to the theater together and watch the movie as we were all eagerly anticipating the opening of "Secret Life of Bees" in the movie theater. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the book except me! I just couldn't really get interested in it. So after reading about 100 pages I put it down for a while and decided I'd come back to it later.

Along came our movie day - and we all stood in line, bought our tickets, bought our popcorn and drinks, and took our seats right in the middle of the theater. It was a great escape to get away from home in the middle of the day with a bunch of girlfriends. I would have watched almost anything actually!

The movie begins like the book with a short mildly violent scene, Lily then age 4 supposedly shoots her mother while trying to protect her from an abusive husband. Then quickly zooms forward to where Lily, played by Dakota Fanning (can she really be playing someone who is 14 already?) lives with a mean, abusive, drunk peach farmer father played by Paul Bettany. Eventually Lily escapes, and runs away with her black Nanny Rosaleen, played by Jennifer Hudson. (Are you seeing this all star cast here? Wait there's more!) Their destination is Tiburon, a small country town Lily only knows about from some old keepsakes of her mothers that she had kept buried in the orchard back home. Lily has a photo of a black madonna type woman that was associated in someway in the past with her mother, and Lily wants more than anything to learn about her mother, who she always fantasized as being the most perfect and beautiful of mothers.

I won't spoil the rest of the movie for you, but want to say that I enjoyed the movie immensely. Enough to inspire me to come back home, pick up the book and finish the book in just a matter of hours. It's funny what visual stimulation can do sometimes. I found the movie to be a warm, 'wrap you all up in your favorite quilt', therapeutic type of movie. You may need a box of tissues if you're like me. Queen Latifah plays Miss August, the queen bee, worker bee and mother bee all wrapped into one character, wonderfully. While Alica Keyes plays her cello playing, political activist sister, June. Visually, I thought the movie was a delight, colorful and warm with beautiful backdrops of the south mid 1960's. You get caught up in the racial aspects of the times, yet the sisters who live in a pink victorian house manage to provide the loving, nurturing environment that Lily is so desparately seeking.

While Miss August does occasionally talk of the bees with Lily, once I completed reading the book, I felt like the movie goers don't really comprehend the same 'beekeeping' life similies and metaphors that the book is so filled with. Also the movie really can't include all the wonderful and classic quotes from many of the characters that are revealed in the book.

So overall, I just have to recommend that you read this book and go see the movie too. I highly recommend them both. Especially if you're a fan of any of the cast members, they do play their characters marvelously.
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