Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The power of a SMILE!

Tuesday was another crazy and hectic Autumn day and I heard the sweetest words from Mr. Smith to me last night as I was getting ready for bed.

"Your smile makes everything better"!

That just made me melt and truly made my day! I am indeed the luckiest girl in the world to be married to such a wonderful man that adores me as much as I adore him.
Life is truly wonderful and my marriage is a cherished possession that I never take for granted!
So, I got to thinking about how powerful a smile really is. It really is the only thing that we can give Everyone we meet!! It's free and it's amazing how much just a simple thing as a "Smile" can do to brighten someones day!

Just this Sunday a sweet lady in our ward came up to me after church and told me how much she LOVED my smile while I lead the singing in Sacrament meeting because it made her happy and want to sing the songs!

Here are some Smiling photos and some quotes to help us remember to "spread a little sunshine" today with one of the greatest gifts we can give...our Smile! :-)

(Click on the photos to see the JOY!)

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.
It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.

~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today,
And I started smiling too.

~Author Unknown

Everytime you smile at someone,
it is an action of love,
a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.

~Mother Teresa

A smile costs nothing but gives much.
It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.
Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
~Author Unknown
Everyone smiles in the same language.
~Author Unknown

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Are we human...or are we dancer"?

(What ever those lyrics in The Killers song "Human" are supposed to mean?!)

It was another HIGH ENERGY
weekend full of FUN!

However, life is CRAZY right now! I feel like I’m swimming in laundry, overloaded with garden produce since our weekend consisted of being gone from 2:00 to 9:00 Friday afternoon and evening at Jades Cross Country meet....Leaving for Utah at 11:30 on Saturday…..we took Ethan to my parents house, then drove to West Valley City and met up with friends and then attended a concert, got back to my parents house at 1:30 in the morning. Left my parents house at 7:30 Sunday morning, got home just in time to get the car unloaded and showered up and headed to church at 12:00 since I help out in our ward library, I’m the ward chorister and it was our Primary Sacrament meeting program so we couldn't miss church. After church we relaxed as we were sleep deprived and then today it was back to school and work as normal.

With all of that said it was another

First off, it's so funny how many people judge something by the name of it. Tracy had done a Facebook update one day last week stating how excited we were to take Jade to "The Killers" concert. Our Bishop's wife responded "Sounds Awful". It made us chuckle.

Tracy and I really enjoy "The Killers" music, however, we don't know all of their songs really well. Our sweet son Jade has some struggles in life and so he doesn't have a lot of close friends to go and do things with and so we thought it would be SO fun to take Jade to do something that a teenager would enjoy doing.
I'm SO glad we bought tickets to take Jade to this concert. He had SO much fun...It was priceless and I LOVED seeing how excited he got and how he danced and got into the songs that he knew when they played them!
It was one AMAZING night for all of us!!
I love meeting new people and so what a joy it was to finally meet Ann Marie and Chad. We had such a great time and she is SO friendly, nice, honest and SO easy to talk to!!
Chad is awesome as well and what a great couple they are! It felt like I was talking to an "old friend" and I can tell you that Ann Marie is the type of person that cherishes friendships greatly and when you talk to her you feel appreciated, important and cared about!
As you would guess from reading her Blog she is SUCH an extra miler and SO thoughtful! I can't believe how sweet she was to bring me a basket of goodies!
A jar of homemade peach jelly and pickles! YUMMY!
She also had a "Mumkin" and an antique potato masher and iron pan. I LOVED them all and the "Mumkin" has found a spot on my entry shelf and every item will be enjoyed immensely!!

After our meeting and dinner we headed off....
to the concert!
Jade was ONE Excited kid when we hopped out of the car at the "E-Center". He had to stand in front of the large marquee until it said "The Killers", however, the lighting was not right and you can't read the words on the sign.

Jade and I walking up the stairs to go into the "E-Center".
It was SO exciting to see the other marquee saying "The Killers" LIVE in concert tonight September 26, 2009!

(these are NOT the best photos because real cameras were not allowed into the concert, but iPhone photos are better than NO Photos!! )
Here are some photos showing us while we were waiting for the concert to start. As you can see it was a FULL house and lots of teenagers/middle 20's aged kids there. I also saw quite a few parents taking their kids to the concert.

The first opening group was so loud and not enjoyable at all. However, the 2nd group was quite good. They were a Mariachi band and quite talented, however, that wasn't what we came to listen to and we just wished they would get on to the main event!
Despite technical difficulties at the start
of "The Killers" concert, (and it didn't get started until way after 9:30) it was AMAZING!! I was kind of sad thinking it wouldn't be as good as "Depeche Mode", but it was AWESOME!
(although, I can't compare the concerts as that would be like comparing apples and oranges).
Jade saw his mom go a little bit CRAZY when they played
"Somebody told me",
I was dancing and screaming all over the place!! WOO HOO!!
Jade and Tracy and I also went crazy when they played
"Spaceman"... "Read my mind"...

Concerts are SO much fun! I pretty much moved my hips and shoulders the whole time dancing to the awesome music! I think one of my favorite parts was when Brandon Flowers sang a little bit of of the song
"I can't help falling in LOVE with you".
(That same song is played at the end of my favorite movie..."Some Kind of Wonderful").

Brandon Flowers is the
He was on the move almost the entire time and he put his ALL into every song he sang. His energy was out of this world! Not once did he even give an inkling to the audience that he was tired.
Amazing CONFETTI!!
This was a wonderful way to end the show (or so we thought it was the end of the show). A huge cannon of confetti exploded and was SO cool to watch as it fell and you could see it with the light show going on stage!

And the audience was screaming after they had left the stage hoping that they'd come back and do one more song. They didn't let us down and they came back and did an Encore of three more songs and during the last song they had FIREWORKS on stage!!
It was an incredible sight to be behold!!

I had the time of my life with my hubby and son!!
It was a once in a lifetime experience and worth every penny spent to get to enjoy an evening with Jade and to see him get SO excited and have SUCH a fun time!!
These next photos I found of Brandon Flowers at the concert at the E-Center and thought I would share them. To see all of the here)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"It's Autumn Time"

Autumn is a second spring

when every leaf is a flower.
~Albert Camus

SO, many wonderful memories associated with Autumn Time...
BRIGHT Colorful Leaves on the trees... Starting College...
my hubby...Hay rides...Pumpkin patches...Corn mazes...Cinnamon rolls,
LOTS of yummy things made out of Pumpkin and Squashes,
Homemade Stews and Soups served with fresh out the oven bread
Caramel apples...Carving Jack-O-Lanterns...
runchy Colorful Leaves under your feet,
the Crisp chill in the air in the morning and evening.
Apple pie...Apple crisp and hot Apple cider,
Haunted houses and HALLOWEEN!!

Autumn time also brings back many memories of the FUN I had participating in the community classes.
I LOVE to learn and so since this is not the season in my life to go back to college, I looked forward with great anticipation to the community parenting classes we used to have available. Thursday nights were for me!
They were my "mini college classes" as I would refer to them.

A wonderful woman named Joleen
donated her TIME to offering such wonderful classes and I am a better mother, organizer, "love and logic parent", add more FUN to dinner times/holidays kind of mother because of her classes!
I have a 3 ring binder of her wonderful handouts that she gave us and I refer to them weekly. They are my "Tools" to help me in raising happy and successful children.
She is an extra miler,
she is my inspiration and I miss her!!

Well, one of the weeks that we went to class it was on September 22nd and the class was
"We have lost the family dinner table"

and it was all about getting your kids to LOVE eating together as a family and how to add FUN to dinner times to make it enjoyable and memorable and something the kids looked forward to. Here is one of my favorite quotes from this class...

"Think of dinner hour as a special and enjoyable time
to build the values you would like your children to live by. It's when you're all together sharing the details of your day that real bonding happens"!

She had such a fun idea in her handouts to celebrate the First Day of Autumn with a fun meal and I have been doing this for the past five years.

It is SO much fun and a much looked forward to tradition.
Dinner in a Pumpkin
Hot Apple Pie from local apples
It just doesn't get any yummier than that!

Dinner in a Pumpkin
small to medium pumpkin
(OR you can use any winter squash--"Sweet Meat Squash" is what I used this time)
1 chopped

1 pound ground beef
2 Tbsp
soy sauce

2 Tbsp
brown sugar

1 can
cream of chicken soup

2 cups cooked BROWN rice (or you can use white…I prefer brown since it’s healthier)
1 can sliced water chestnuts drained

Cut off top of pumpkin and thoroughly clean out seeds and pulp. If desired draw a face on outside of pumpkin with permanent marker or acrylic paint. (This is a great thing to let kids help you with)
oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet cook onions and hamburger until hamburger is cooked and onions are tender.
drippings. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, and soup.
Simmer 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add cooked rice and water chestnuts. Spoon mixture into cleaned out pumpkin shell.
pumpkin top and place entire pumpkin with filling on a baking sheet.

Bake 1-2 hours
(depending upon the size of the pumpkin) It will be done when the inside of pumpkin is tender.
Put pumpkin on a plate. Remove pumpkin lid and serve meat and some of the cooked pumpkin.
Kids get a kick out of this and
it is SO Delicious!!!

Apple Pie
(pastry for double pie crust)

(for yummy pie crust recipe click here)
6 cups thinly sliced cooking apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp.

1/2 to 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp
. butter

pie plate with half of the pastry.

6 cups sliced apples in large bowl.
Pour in sugar, flour and cinnamon and coat apples well. (if apples lack tartness, stir in the 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)

apple mixture in on pastry in pie plate.

Dot the top
of apples with the 1 Tbsp. butter.

top half of pastry on top and crimp and seal edges.

Cover with foil
and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and bake 30 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Cool slightly and this is just absolutely delicious
served with ice cream!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some Happy Things!

some things
that made
this summer!
(LOVED the coconut bra my hubby made me to go to our family Luau! It was awesome!)

What a lucky thing that we have so close to us...people in our area that have BEES and so when it comes to the time of the year when they "spin honey" you can bring in your own jars and they will fill them for $1.69 per pound. I got 30 pounds of honey for $48.00. I was THRILLED to add such a yummy thing to our food storage for such a great price!
(Honey is a great food storage item...
it's one of the only known foods that never goes rancid)

Apples and Zucchini
We have neighbors who had an abundance of apples and gave us a full box of them and I was SO excited to make them into apple pie filling (to make Tracy Dutch Apple Pies through the winter)
(thanks for the recipe Mel) <----click here
and also bottled apples to make our traditional "Gumdrop Bread" during the holidays.
Feeling SO grateful to have 30 cups of shredded zucchini in my freezer to be able to make Ethan's favorite treat...Zucchini Bread!!

After all of our hard work as a family
spending 2-1/2 days out in the mountains picking Huckleberries we ended up with 89 cups (5.56 gallons)
of Huckleberries in our freezer!!

WOW! This is the first year we have been able to grow pumpkins that were bigger than a coconut. We must have had some GREAT compost this year as our garden did amazing!
Looking forward to carving pumpkins with my kids for Halloween!

(YES, we have many plans for getting our backyard finished, but for now it is a work in progress---Someday it will be finished and beautiful)

One of the top 10 things we look forward together as a family is when artichokes go on sale and we each get our own and we don't have to share them! This particular artichoke dinner we got the artichokes for .69 each and so for $2.76 we each enjoyed our OWN artichoke!!
It truly is the simple things
n life that bring me the most excitement
and joy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Room with a View!!

(WARNING...this is a LONG, detailed post because I wanted to do our hike justice and wanted to preserve the memory well of our hiking trip...So don't feel obligated to read all the way through this (that is unless you want to). Lots of great photos!! It should be enjoyable to read...I hope!
OH, and BTW...all of the photos are click-able and you can see MUCH more detail by making them larger!!)

If I could have my dreams come true,
this is what the view would look like from my "summer home"...
a base camp somewhere up in the high country
where we could spend a WEEK at a time
enjoying hiking trail after trail and summiting mountain peaks!!

(this is my dream) <---- click here

(The awesome view from our Mountain Hardware Shelter.. Alaska Basin 2009)

August 7th, 8th and 9th 2009
were 3 marvelous days spent in the high country with my family!! I can't tell you how much I LOVE and look forward to our backpacking adventures each year!
Even though we hike into similar places each year,
each year brings a different view, perspective and experience.
This year we had the sad reality that our kids are growing up and Jade ended up going on his Young Men's High Adventure activity instead of our yearly backpacking trip. (I think more than anything he was worried that his ankle would bother him from his accident he had this summer and he was wanting to play things safe and not risk being up in the high country and having something go wrong with his ankle)

Anywho, I loved every moment of our journey this year and it was a year unlike any we have ever had!
We prepared our breakfast before we left, which consisted of
Carnation Instant breakfast drink
which we cut open the packages
put in 1/8 cup of powdered milk powder
and 1/8 cup malted milk as well.
These we would pour into our Gatorade containers half full of water and it would be our breakfast energy each morning along with an Odwalla bar and jerky or nuts.

Ethan was just SO excited the night before that I had to snap this photo after he went to bed...he had set out all of his stuff. And the photo on the right is him dressed and all ready to go in the morning.
(Kids are SO cute and get SO excited).

This is showing all of the YUMMY things that we took to nourish our bodies on our trip. It may look yummy now, but after so many backpacking trips of eating these, I can tell you I don't crave any of this when we are NOT out hiking.

Now, to our adventure!!
Backpacks on and ready to hit the trail!
Front: Tracy, Ethan, Ty and Isaac
Back: Tom, Shae and Sheldon

What COOL kids Ethan and Ty were in their sunglasses and gotta love finding a log to climb up along the way as well!

The meadow and the blue sky were Gorgeous!

Wildflower beauty everywhere!!
Sheldon "tipping his hat" to the ladies at lunchtime.

Heading up the trail towards Devil Stairs!

Higher up we go!

The view of Tracy behind me and Shae in front of me.

And even higher...
this was one rugged trail.

Taking a rest and enjoying the view.
We're almost to the top!

I LOVED this rock...
it was FULL of little fossils!

Ethan, Ty, Tom and Isaac enjoying the view after getting to the top.
It is a 1,000 foot elevation gain in 1 mile of hiking to get to the top of Devil Stairs!
I was SO proud of those kids...
they are Awesome hikers for being only ages 7 and 9 and 13!

These 2 kids were the best buddies and every time I stopped to take a photo they would put their arms around each other! SO cute!
What an adorable couple Sheldon and Shae are!

Amazing view!!
I love this photo...probably one of my favorites!

Heading down the trail and as you as can see,
gorgeous wildflowers the WHOLE time hiking!
Shae looks SO pretty!

Isaac taking a rest as we stop for a snack!

Our favorite Teton mountains in the distance!
Ty and Ethan....Tracy and Kimmie

Such beautiful things we saw along the way!
The big rock reminds me of the Grand Teton!

More Gorgeous scenery!

More gorgeous flowers.
It' amazing that there are just fields of wildflowers with just a little trail running through them.
My favorite...Purple Fringe Flower

Self taken photo and the trail behind us that we just hiked.

Storm is rolling in!

It's getting pretty ominous.

Trying to make it off the mountain before lightning strikes come.

It started snowing!!
This is one amazing photo with the majority of the group in the background getting ready to head down the mountain!
Pretty ominous sight!

And more snow! We always stop and take a photo by this big crack, but everyone was just hustling off because it was cold, snowy and lightning was heard in the distance!

YAY! We stopped and enjoyed some shelter from the snow!
Loved this leaning tree and I couldn't resist snapping a a photo of Shae and Sheldon and Ethan! (even though my hands were SO cold I could barely push the camera button)

This means we're almost there...
crossing the stream and once we get to the other side we are almost to our camp spot!

Setting up camp!
My favorite mountain...
Battleship Mountain!

We get a perfect view of this from our tent and camp site.

Kimmie is HAPPY with the view from her shelter!

Tracy refilling all of our water containers!
Up where we are there's no running water and it makes you appreciate SO much all of the "Simple pleasures" in life!

First night's meal...
Tracy is boiling water to make our potato soup. You can see the steam rising out of the pot! Boiling water means COMFORT!

Tracy "Bear Bagging" all of our food and toiletry items.

I LOVE our bright orange shelter because even when the weather's gloomy outside, it's bright and cheery inside our summer home!

Rise and Shine!
Early morning photos of Ethan. Such beauty!

The giant slabs of granite that surrounded our camp and the morning fog were beautiful!

Making our first breakfast!

Still pretty chilly outside...
another storm is about to come in!

All snuggled in our sleeping bags and Tracy reads to Ethan
("Through the Looking Glass") that he had loaded on his "iPhone" while we wait for the storm to pass.
Grateful we could commune with our sleeping bags!!

The view from inside our tent.
Mountain Hardware logo and the water on our little window!

We were SO excited there was finally a break in the bad weather and even though it was foggy, we were wanting SO badly to go on a hike somewhere.
So, we headed up the trail.

I was in AWE at the gorgeous fog! It was like nothing I had ever seen before!

Gorgeous water fall and "W" rock!

More rugged terrain with wildflowers as well!

And more beauty...

And even more Beauty!!

The fog didn't stop the flowers
from stunning us with their beauty!!

I LOVE my best friend and hiking buddy Tracy!
I enjoy SO much watching him head on down the trail!

Sunset Lake in the distance!
(We were wishing the weather would have behaved so we could have hiked down to it and then up Hurricane Pass to see the grand view of the Tetons. However, the weather did not permit that this trip.

More cute photos of Sheldon and Shae!

And the inevitable happened...
YES, it started snowing on us and so we eventually had to head on back to the tent. The poor kids could barely feel their fingers by the time we got back to camp.
They were THRILLED to be able to get out of their wet clothes, put on their PJ's and get all snuggly in their sleeping bags!!

By this point of the day, Tracy, (being the adventurous hubby that he is), was NOT happy to spend the afternoon locked in our tent and he really wanted to do some more hiking...snow and all.
SO, he left Ethan and I in the tent and headed out into the bad weather. He came across some snow fields that you couldn't even see the trail at all.
I'm SO grateful he arrived back unharmed.
Ethan said the SWEETEST prayer asking if our Daddy could come back safely and that he wouldn't get struck by lightning and that he wouldn't have "hypothermia".
It was a precious moment for me!

After Tracy arrived back, this is the FUN we had in our tent. Ethan helped him light the stove with our lighter and we made up potato soup and enjoyed talking about Tracy's adventures!

The first sun.....

and BLUE SKIES we had seen all day!!
Last night in camp!

Breaking camp and getting ready to head on out.
"Good bye Alaska Basin"!

Our Awesome hiker Ethan!!

Sheldon, Shae and Isaac...
Another great photo showing the awesome view from our campsite!

Dads and sons...
Tracy, Ethan, Ty, Isaac and Tom

Gorgeous high mountain lake Tracy discovered on his journey the day before.
We spent a little bit taking some photos. They were amazing with the FOG that lingered the majority of the morning.

Yes, every once in awhile Kimmie can actually be silly in a photo and have it turn out.
I LOVED being here with Ethan!!

Shae and Sheldon by this amazing lake and I LOVE the reflection photo of Shae on the right!

The Stunning BEAUTY
of the fog, mountains and amazing reflections!!

More lake photos and reflections!!

Ty and Isaac...
Ty was SO cute because he kept on saying: "I can't wait to see my photos on FACEBOOK when my mom puts them up there"!

Kimmie was a He-Woman for a few minutes.
With the help of Tracy she was able to lift Tracy's backpack on her back, long enough to take a photo. WOW! I don't think I could carry that thing too far down the trail!

Final photo before we headed out!!

I couldn't resist taking even MORE photos!

Tracy, Kimberly and Ethan.....Tom and Tracy
The fog lifted enough to reveal Battleship Mountain again!

Heading on out!

My one chance to get an "Ansel Adams" photo. This is the ONLY view we got to see of Buck Mountain. Glad I took this before it covered up again with fog.

Blue sky is finally starting to show through again.
I love this photo of Tracy looking at Battleship Mountain.

Another photo of Battleship Mountain!

YES, SNOW in August! (in the high country)

Crossing the stream...
Another AWESOME reflection photo. I love how Ethan looks in the photo on the right. He was such a trooper!!

Final stream crossing and heading down the trail again!

SO sad...
we wanted to take the trail on the right and head up Hurricane Pass, but we had to take the one on the left to head back down Teton Canyon to our car awaiting us!

This was a happy little site not too far from the trail turn off.
I thought this was SO cool because the way the roots are coming out of the ground from the trees, it looks like they are "Holding hands"
YES, even in the woods, nature finds "Romance"! (Wink)

More Amazing flowers...
Tracy and I enjoyed the entire hike out. It seemed that everyone was in a hurry to get to the car, but not us. We didn't want the day to end and so we "Enjoyed the Journey" out and never were in too big of a hurry to stop and take photos of the beauty we experienced!

My awesome hubby Tracy!
I love his Lichen colored backpack and blue shirt!

Stopping and savoring the view!

More streams to cross...

A perfect spot to enjoy lunch!

More amazing granite slabs, blue sky and clouds!

The last view and final view of Battleship Mountain!

Nature is just amazing to me....
how a tree can take root and grow out a tiny hole in a big rock!!

Another amazing water fall!

Ethan looks SO cute posed by this post.

More streams and amazing trails!

It doesn't get more precious than this...
Kids out enjoying the beauty of nature and this little stream and waterfall were spectacular!
Love Ethan's side profile. He is just plain adorable!

Filling up water
and Tracy decided to cool off and dunk his head in the water!

Enjoying the moment and relaxing a bit...
and then heading on down the trail again.

One of our favorite spots for kids along the way...
The PAC MAN rock!
You have to use your imagination a little bit, but the big rock is a circle that looks like it is opening it's mouth and then there is a rock inside the mouth that looks similar to how PAC MAN looks when he is eating in the video game.

The gorgeous flowers we saw on the last 2 miles of the hike!

Sweet photos and the one in the middle is priceless.
Ethan picked me a sunflower to have!

Stopping to "Smell the flowers"
and enjoy the last little bit of beauty!

The excitement of finding some Huckleberries along the trail!

And the last of the breathtaking beauty!!

We made it back to the start of the trailhead!
The bottom right photo of Ethan is hilarious. He was hugging our car!

3 days of trail food and backpacking and we had built up quite an appetite!
We were thrilled to enjoy burgers at Burger King as that is the only place there was to eat!

Sad to be home...
but looking forward with excitement to our next adventure!!