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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I am NOT a Quilter

But every once in a while, I TRY to IMITATE a Quilter.

Like a couple years ago when my oldest son Dustin got married. With the inspiration of a friend I put together a really cute quilt (for me at least!) for him and his cute new wife, Cami.

And when my daughter got ready to go away to college, we made one especially for her together. Something she could have on her bed everyday to remind her of home.

And now, I have another daughter (my youngest of all the bunch) graduating from high school in TWO MONTHS! I can't believe it! And getting ready to go away to college this fall.

And once again, I'm preparing to imitate a quilter. She has been planning this graduation quilt for quite some time. She knew just what kind of colors she wanted . . . what she wanted on the back . . . the approximate pattern for the front . . .

Did I forget to drill into her head that

I had imagined a simple patchwork type quilt like the one we did for her sister. But no! She knows exactly what she wants to do, and it involves constructing 70 - 8" square blocks, although the pattern is pretty simple and super cute. I guess I'll have to keep you all in suspense as to what the exact pattern is . . .

So yesterday, we went shopping for the fabrics to get started on this masterpiece.

Kelsie, interestingly enough has a great eye for color and patterns. So I pretty much let her have a free reign. It will be really fun to see how it turns out. I'll have to keep you posted. That lovely (can you say "expensive") soft, embossed looking fabric on the bottom is for the back. That is the part she is the most excited about.

Darn! Guess I should have given her a budget as well:)

Once again, just Blisssfuuuullly Dommmesstic!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our Parable of the Peach Trees

Every year at this time of year the dilemma of how to prune the fruit trees comes upon my husband and I. It's always been my husbands job, not exactly officially, but he's always been the one to haul the ladder out, climb up to the top of the trees with the loppers and prune away. I always have an opinion, but do I climb up to the top of the trees with the loppers? No way! So I just have to be the supportive one and say, "looks lovely dear", "once again, you've done a wonderful job"!

(wild untrimmed tree on left - vs - pruned tree on right)

But frequently I'm really asking myself, "I don't think that's exactly how the trees are SUPPOSED to look". So this year, I took an active role . . . I volunteered the husband to go to a tree pruning workshop in our community at Thanksgiving Point. A wonderfully marvelous garden nearby our home that teaches fantastic gardening classes each Spring. What could be better? Let's just find out how you really ARE supposed to prune those fruit trees!

And to be a supportive wife, I signed myself up to attend the class with him. Mostly, just to have a chance to go do something together, and maybe two heads would actually be better than one.

Oh no! Come the day of the class the husband had a conflict with another important meeting . . . I would have to go to the class by myself or lose the tuition. Bummer! (I don't really WANT to learn how to prune fruit trees - awwwh!) But I went. And it was actually a really good class.

My favorite tidbit of knowledge gleaned was, " you really can't ruin the fruit tree with bad pruning". Oh thank goodness! I was really worried after last year! It wasn't our best year for fruit tree pruning. And I came home with some really helpful information about the suggested way to prune a tree.

So the next week, there I am, out on the ladder, loppers in hand trying to prune the ______ fruit trees! It was harder than I thought! Our trees didn't look anything like the ones in the videos or the handouts. Pretty soon I'm taking out branches here and branches there, trying to follow the guidelines I'd been given. But ouch! It was kind of painful! These were hard decisions. I was tempted to just forget the whole thing . . . I mean what happens if you don't prune at all? I remembered the master gardener saying that it actually protects the tree, and gives the tree the opportunity to produce greater fruit and really reach it's full potential. If you leave ALL the branches on the tree, the tree can become overwhelmed with poor fruit, break apart in places, and maybe in reality lose the WHOLE tree!

(this is my first tree that I pruned - so proud)

While I'm standing on the top of this ladder, my head amidst the branches, I'm starting to see a parallel here . . . this must be how Heavenly Father feels when he sees us overloading our lives down here on earth. Over scheduling each minute of the day. Trying to be involved in so many . . . TOO many good things. He must be whispering, "wait, that's not an important branch there", that one isn't going to do you any good REALLY!", "wait, that branch is going to interfere with the most important branch over there that really provides the strength of your tree!"

Have we received counsel to "prune our branches"? And just like pruning the fruit trees, it CAN be painful! Cutting branches here and cutting branches there, how to decide? Which one do you leave and which one do you take out? And just like the counsel of the master gardener we have received some guidance about which ones to leave and which ones to take.

"We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families."

If you haven't reviewed that talk recently, maybe now would be a good time. I know that's what I'm going to do right now.

After all - I need all the help with pruning I can get. . .

I must admit, my husband did come along after I did three of our seven fruit trees and rescue me. That's why you see a photo of him up in the trees with the loppers. After all, I am the picture taker . . .

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Personal Recipe File

I've been thinking and thinking about how to organize all the gazillions of wonderful recipes I keep coming across through everyone's fantastic blogs. Every day I see mouthwatering cookie recipes, recipes I want to make for dinner, salads for lunchtime gatherings . . . and on and on and on . . .

All these fantastic recipes . . . what to do?

I think I came up with a GREAT solution - at least it WORKS FOR ME!

I went over to gmail (you all oughtta have at least one gmail address, even just to put in the 'blank' for registrations, signups, etc - to channel all your junkie type mail) and created a new email address specifically for my recipe collections. It's super easy, hopefully if you're blogging you don't have anxiety about creating a new email address:)

Also, I picked gmail because they have a really great labeling feature that is super easy to use; more about that in a minute.

For example: my new recipe collection email is called 'kristins.recipes at gmail.com'. Then every time someone emails me a recipe I forward it to my new recipe email. Everytime I find a recipe online with great instructions and wonderful photos, I copy the URL, shoot off an email to my new recipe email address that contains the link / URL. (yup! you're sending an email to yourself!)

Pretty soon - you have a really nice collection of fantastic recipes. Many of them with instructions, photos, all the GOOD STUFF.

Now - with gmails label system, you can label the recipes so they are SUPER easy to locate. Just click the little boxes to the right of all the BREAD/ROLL recipes. Go up to the top on the "label" tab and enter "BREAD/ROLLS" in the box and click "create new". A little label pops up next to all those recipes you selected that says "Bread/Rolls". Amazing! Continue on down your list of recipes labeling them with whatever titles you like; main dish, dessert, misc, salads etc.

Then you can choose to keep a LONG list of these recipes in your inbox. OR, you can click on "select" "all". And then click on the "archive" button and they will all disappear, but will still be available under their LABEL in the bottom left corner of the gmail screen.

Other ideas - do you have favorite PEOPLE or WEB SITES that you collect recipes from? You can create a label for them also. My friend Donna is a super cook. So I created a label for her. Now it's easy to find just my recipes from Donna by clicking on her LABEL.

Here'a a few of MY favorites to get you started!

Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake - from Sherry
Best Ever Buttermilk Biscuits - from Safely Gathered In
Asian Noodle Salad - compliments of Pioneer Woman (awesome!)

What's cooking at YOUR house today?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Four Dates . . . . Nine Days

In an extremely rare circumstance, which I'm quite sure hasn't occured in the last 28 years of our marriage, my husband and I discovered that we've actually been on

four dates together in the last nine days

Usually - we try to reserve Friday nights as our "Date Night" out. But usually, even that is kind of hit and miss. So I don't know what exactly got into us this last week but we've actually had a lot of together time.

Day 1 started off with a little weekend get-away provided by a company my husband does some volunteer work for, and they were providing educational workshops for the volunteers at a beautiful hotel downtown in Salt Lake City. That was a lovely way to start things off and we hated to leave and come back to the real world back home.

Day 6 - we had some friends we don't get to see often call and invite to come join them for dinner. They live in a canyon just east of Springville, Utah - and we had a beautiful drive to travel there, and enjoyed all the signs that spring is perhaps arriving at last.

Day 8 - Alpine City's Time Out for Family - Guest speaker, and dinner at the Blue Lemon, a lovely little new bisto located in the heart of downtown Highland, Utah! We couldn't make up our minds what to order so we tried several things and can vouch for all of them . . . the sweet potato french fries, the tomato bisque soup, the oriental chicken salad and the fish tacos! Can't go wrong with any of them!

Day 9 - The Phantom at Hale Center Theatre. We have long been fans of the Hale Center Theatre and have enjoyed taking our family there over the years. Their production of Phantom was so enjoyable. A very unique story in contast to the Andrew Lloyd Webber version - it was also a beautiful musical with some great tremendous talent.

Lest you think we were neglecting our parental duties - we gathered all the little children up, handed out water bottles and granola bars before locking them in the bathroom :) (evil laugh - ah hhhhhaaaa!)

(Actually - no, Kelsie was enjoying a spring break down in St. George with her cousins and grandparents. Which is another adventure I'll be blogging about soon.

Let's just say - it's a good thing she called AFTER the hike to Angels Landing.

(don't you think that I am just Blissfulllllyyyyy Dommmmestic!)

A Favorite Party Pleaser

As promised . . .  this is one of my family favorites.  Someone requests it every time we have a family gathering.  

Corn & Black-eyed Peas Salsa

1 can black-eyed peas with juice
1/4 c. vinegar
1 pkg. Italian dressing seasoning (like Good Seasons)
3 T. chopped cilantro
1/2 c. chopped green onion
1 can corn
2-3 chopped Roma tomatoes
2 medium avacados, diced
Corn or Tortilla chips

Mix all in medium bowl; prepare and add avacado
 just before serving.  Servie with corn or tortilla chips.  (We like whole wheat crackers, and the new veggie chips you can get at Costco)

Tres Bien!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do you Blog? Gather 'round!

Hello to all my friends who blog! You won't want to miss this big blogging event. I stopped by to check it out and it really is a lot of fun. (But wait! Pick a day when you aren't tooooo busy, cause it's kind of addicting!)

There are tons and tons of really cool, informative, helpful, friendly, kind, courteous (ooops - getting carried away here, starting to sound like my little cub scout group . . .) blogs out there to go visit!

You'll find new recipes, ways to decorate your house, places to travel, things to do,
sights to see!

Sounds like a party right?

It is!
It's the Ultimate Blog Party 2009.

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

They even have prizes too. Many of the bloggers have donated cool prizes for those who come by, visit other bloggers and leave comments. Even if you don't have a blog, you can still win a prize. I donated a few myself - so I'm excited to see who wins. I know -
I would be happy to win any of the fun and exciting prizes they have available.

In fact, here's a photo of the prizes I donated. You can win one here by commenting on my blog.
For every 5 comments I'll send one randomly selected winner one of these beautiful book marks.
(Up to 3 total).
They are one of my favorite things, and turn out really nice. So you have a one in five chance of receiving a bookmark created especially for you just by leaving your comment here!

Come to the party!

Especially if you blog, it will be a lot of fun. I hope you can find a way to participate also.

Oh yes! - And what would be a party without food? I'm going to post some of my favorite party food recipes this week - just for a more festive atmostphere!

My View from the Garden

After one week of scattered sunshine and above average temperatures for this time of year in my community; my garden is free from snow! I can see the dirt, lying there, with almost an anxious look about it, awaiting the tiller and fertilizer which are always first on the list to get the spring gardening underway.

Does your family like to garden? There's never been a better time to enlist your family in a family gardening project, or revive a previous tradition if you came from ol' gardening stock. With the bad economic news surrounding us from all sides every day, there are more families cutting back, becoming more frugal, and just plain trying to "save" some money wherever they can.

I don't know about your opinion of the "Economic Stimulus Package", but just about the best economic stimulus package for most of us would be to develop a thorough gardening education. Each of us have the potential to grow a little (or a lot) of our own food, whether it be in containers on a sunny balcony or a full spread garden in the backyard. Once you try those flavorful home grown herbs and fresh tomatoes, warmed by the sun - you'll never want to go back to the store bought stuff.

Nearly three decades ago, President Spencer W. Kimball admonished the saints to gather their families around and plant a garden. His advice is still applicable and perhaps even more important today. He said:

“We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments … can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods. Make your garden … neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities”
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 170–71; or Ensign, May 1976, 124).

When President Kimball asked each of us to grow a garden, he reminded us of the words of the Lord:

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
Luke 6:46).

Gardening has many benefits. It expands our appreciation of nature and the world around us. Even the creative period of the earth in general as we get down in the soil and physically touch it with our hands. It provides an opportunity for families to work together. Something that is frequently lacking in our world of conveniences today. When we have a garden that is producing fruit and vegetables in season; we are not entirely dependent on others for food. Growing our own food gives us the satisfaction of providing for ourselves, as well as providing a more nutritious diet. We have a greater opportunity to save money, help others and trade with fellow neighbors and gardeners.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind as you plan or design your family garden -

The first is location - growing vegetables requires approximately six hours of full sun each day. More would even be better. A loamy soil is preferable, but almost any soil can be made to produce with the addition of the modern garden soil enhancements available today. Those who want a larger garden can dig up portions of lawn or flower beds. Kits for raised gardens are available at local nurseries and online at many of the popular seed catalog companies. Some of my favorites are - Burpee and Park Seed Co. Those who live in apartments can garden in pots and containers.

A nearby water source is another essential.
For small gardens, containers and pots, hand watering may be the method of choice. For larger areas drip irrigation works well.

What to plant? If space is limited choose vegetables that grow upwards, climbing berries, pole peas and beans, tomatoes on stakes. Choose crops that produce a lot for the space they take up, such as squash or tomatoes, rather than those that produce a small amount for the space they take up - pumpkins, corn. etc. Making a map of your garden space helps put your available resources to their best use. Research what crops grow best in your unique climate.

If you haven't had much experience in gardening, you can find oodles of information online at state extension services, gardening blogs, and the seed companies. Look for information that is specific for your climate and location. Most communities have local gardening classes available at libraries, colleges, and gardening clubs.

What you waiting for? Get some seeds, some fertilizer and get to work! We can show the Heavenly Father that we love him and trust him by being obedient and doing as his prophets have asked us to do. Each of us will receive blessings if we plan and prepare for our gardens, and do our best to maintain them in an orderly manner.

Involve the whole family in the project and plan to have a successful gardening season.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Come Visit . . .

Come visit Modern Molly Mormon . . . they highlighted an LDS author recently that I'm an anxious to read. Her name is Annette Lyons. This is her 6th book and she writes LDS fiction about some of the early Utah temples.

Her 6th book entitled "Tower of Strength" took place during the construction of the Manti temple and is about a young women widowed at the age of 19, and left to raise her infant son alone.

You have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for a free copy of the book over at Modern Molly Mormon. So come on by for a look see or review the new book at the links included above.

It's What's for Breakfast . . .

Ever since our family discovered this new recipe for Banana / Chocolate Chip Muffins, we've never had our old bananas go to waste again! These are so delicious and I received the recipe from a woman in our neighborhood who makes wonderful muffins. My college kids and even my husband who is not fond of bananas loves these muffins! Very easy to make also . . .

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 large bananas mashed
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg slightly beaten (but I just throw it in)
1/2 c. butter or margarine melted
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 t vanilla
sprinkle of sugar to top them off

After smashing bananas, stir in sugar. Add butter or margarine, and stir well by hand with wooden spoon. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients all at once to banana mixture. After batter is almost mixed add chocolate chips. Drop into muffin cups that are coated with PAM cooking spray, or use muffin pan liners. Sprinkle tops with additional sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven an let cool 5 minutes. Then remove from baking tin. makes 10-12 large muffins.


It's what's for breakfast!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Last Days of Winter

We had a long weekend coming up and decided to spend the last days of winter at the family cabin in the Uintah Mountains of Utah. It's certainly a small real cabiny sort of cabin, but it does sleep a tremendous amount of people if you are organized about it. We decided to open it up pretty much as a free for all and let the kids invite their friends to come whenever they could arrange their schedules to be there.

It turned out to be such an adventurous weekend. All our children came, and they all brought at least someone to spend the weekend with us. Cory wins the grand prize, I think that over the whole weekend about 15 of his friends came and went during the time we were up there.

We had snowmobiles and sleds, snowshoes and snowboards, lots of food, games and movies to watch. We made treats and stayed up late, got up early and visited with each other. Best of all - none of the activities were interupted even once by someone's cell phone or a text message. I think everyone truly didn't believe they could exist for that period of time without contact from the "outer" world. We are kind of on our own up there with no regular or cell phone service. But we all survived and thrived on good food and good company.

So, what do you get when you put 16 people and 2 dogs into a cabin for a long weekend . . . .


(But we had a great time!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Prepare to be Amazed . . .

Have you ever tried this?

I have ONE better!

Chocolate lovers . . . Prepare to be Amazed!

Cake in a Cup

4 T. flour
4 T. sugar
2 T. cocoa
1 egg
3 T. oil
3 T. milk
3 T. chocolate chips (I used Semi-sweet)
1 small splash of vanilla
1 medium MUG

Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk and oil, mix well. Add chocolate chips and vanilla, mix well.

Put mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 Watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed. Let cool for about 1 min, then turn on to a plate. Yummy! Serves 1-3 people.

Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it turns into this. Wow! It is so yummy, so easy, and so inexpensive. Just a few pennies compared to what you pay for the prepared mix at the grocery story.

Okay, everyone off to your kitchens!
You have these ingredients in your pantry. Give it a try! The chocolate lovers in your household will be in heaven.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Grand Kitties . . .

Well, after a very busy week of moving Dustin and Cami's belongings out of their old apartment and into my basement we just about have everything settled. Dustin is off to Raleigh, North Carolina (sniff sniff) and Cami is staying temporarily with her sister who lives nearby while she ties up things here in Utah and finishes up projects with her employment.

Dustin is on a mission to find an apartment. Stay tuned for that next update . . . or you can read all about it on Dustin & Cami's blog. You really should check it out, it's an amazing journey!

And guess what I have downstairs in my guest room! ?

The Grand Kitties!

Dimitri and Princess Sophie.

They have to hang out in the guest room so they don't get lost in here.

Meow! The kitties are calling - I'm off to play with the Grand Kitties!
They love me come visit :)

 photo s_03.jpg  photo s_04.jpg  photo s_05.jpg  photo s_06.jpg  photo s_07.jpg  photo s_10.jpg