Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Week of Joy and Thanksgiving!

"Gratitude is the fairest blossom
which springs from the soul."

- Henry Ward Beecher

What a wonderful, week in November it has been. As I headed into town everyday I was amazed at all of the lights on many houses and also many Christmas trees all lit up and decorated in peoples windows.

I'm kind of traditional, in the fact, that Thanksgiving means Turkeys, Pilgrims and pumpkins at my house. I love Thanksgiving SO much that I want it to be special for the things that it stands for. So, needless to say, Christmas doesn't get put out one moment before the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27th...
I awoke to such a gorgeous sunlit sky. Next to our yearly backpacking trips, one of my next favorites events of the year is Thanksgiving Day. WHY? Because, of the wonderful, inspirational, Thanksgiving morning program that I am able to be a part of.

This has been a tradition in our community for over 35 years and it has been a tradition of our family for the past several years . I'm grateful that I have been able to be a part of the community choir for the past 2 years.

I've had to be creative with my time and plan ahead a little bit, but I was able to bake up 3 pies (Coconut cream, Apple and Three Berry) and 4 dozen rolls on Thanksgiving Morning before I had to leave at 8:30 for warm up before the 10:00 program.
This was the sight that I saw
as I pulled up to the Tabernacle.
I just LOVE the tree with orange berries and the electrifying blue sky.
We couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous morning.

The banner outside
telling the community about the Thanksgiving morning program.

This building is 100 years old
and has such gorgeous details all throughout the Tabernacle.

The program...
I LOVED every song that we sang:
"Go out with Joy"
"I'll Flay Away" (Medley)
"We Thank Thee, Dear Lord"
(this song was written by Newell Dayley
and our choir was the first group to perform it)

"You'll Never Walk Alone"

Remembrances from the morning!!
I am SO sad this over. Our practices were every Sunday night from 7:00 to 9:00 from the second Sunday in October until Thanksgiving Day and what an uplifting and spiritual experience! It was the perfect way to start my week. These people enriched my life greatly and I will miss them!
Music feeds my soul!
(Top photo...our little family after the Morning Program.
Bottom photo...three generations photo)

We ate Thanksgiving at Joel and Shelley's house (Tracy's sister and brother-in-law).
It was an "off year" and so we didn't have everyone there, but it was a wonderful time, nonetheless.

LOTS of yummy food!!
Joel and Shelley
always make the yummiest stuffing and their turkey gravy was the biggest hit of all. Close seconds was the cranberry and orange relish and of course the homemade rolls.

We enjoyed watching "Stalking Santa" and "UP" after dinner, enjoyed lots of great conversation and laughter and best of all...we enjoyed PIE and Oatmeal Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!
OOPS...the leftovers were too tempting and calling our names and so we all made up a late night snack of turkey, potatoes and gravy and rolls!
What a WONDERFUL day from start to finish!!

This time of year
I am grateful for....

The Love of my Life Tracy!
He always makes sure we have time for US each day and the highlight of my week is our date nights! I'm so proud of the wonderful dad he is to our kids and now he will be a wonderful example to the 12-14 year boys in our ward as he just got put in a Scout Master.
It will be ALOT of work, but I look forward to helping him to magnify his calling and help these boys be able to reach their goals. Tracy has SO many awesome talents in regards to the outdoors, camping and spirituality and he will be an influence for good in these boys lives.
I'm SO lucky and so are they!
I'm grateful for Candace (Tracy's neice) who took time out of her busy life to snap a few photos of the four of us as a family so we can have an updated family photo and also a photo for Christmas cards.
(I will post the results of family photos in a week or so..I want them to be a surprise for Christmas cards).

I'm thankful for being able to see my children do the things they have been taught. I was touched as we were walking into the mall last week and Jade was a little ways ahead of us and he noticed a lady struggling to open the door with her stroller and Jade ran up and held the door for her. It made me get teary-eyed!

I'm thankful for FOOD, shelter, warmth and clean water...
phone calls from family,
the gorgeous colors of the sunrise and sunset that brighten the somewhat gloomy days we experience this time of the year.

I'm thankful we at least have a bathtub and we aren't living in days of old where all they had was a wash basin to bath once a week. Tracy is redoing our shower and so we aren't able to take showers right now...only baths. (Jade thinks it's terrible, he has been a little grumpy about taking baths).
I'm thankful that Tracy had five days off work during the holidays and he took such good care of us. (even though I'm sure he wished he would have had more time to work on projects, he did the "little things that matter" for all of us). I came home from work to a yummy soup for lunch on Wednesday and Friday and he fixed the kids pancakes and eggs for breakfast on these days as well.He is AWESOME! I LOVED our afternoons. Since, I don't get to be with him in the afternoons during the middle of the week, it was such a treasured time and I loved every moment of it!

I'm thankful for a supportive husband and children who let me go and enjoy my Sunday night Choir Practices for the past 7 weeks.

Most of all I'm grateful to have a home where LOVE abundantly abounds and I look forward to the JOY that comes as we head into the
"Most Wonderful Time of the Year"!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gift of Time!

"Time is the coin of your life.

It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you".
~Carl Sandburg

A few weeks ago one of Tracy's friends on Facebook made the following status update:
"The phrase “spend our time” is very apropos. Time is a spendable currency. The accounts into which we deposit time get stronger. Individuals and activities that we spend the most time with, ultimately get our loyalty, devotion and love. Everything, other than time, is counterfeit. Are we budgeting and spending wisely?"
I got to thinking this past few weeks about something that happened that I didn't handle the way I wished I would have, when Ethan came and tugged on my shirt and showed me the following picture.
"Mom, I want to show you my drawing"
and how do you think I responded...
"I'm busy right now, but I will look at it later, Okay? I promise"!

As I heard his sigh and then "okay" as he walked away I had a pain in my heart and couldn't stand to see his disappointment. I immediately sensed this and said...
"Hey buddy, I'd love to see your drawing come tell about what you have drawn".

His face lit up and he proceeded to talk for what seemed like 30 minutes about every detail of his drawing (only it was only 5 minutes)

I witnessed Ethan approach Tracy and get a similar response.
It made me really stop and ponder about life. This is a hectic time of the year and are all of the so called "obligations" we are doing taking us away from giving the one on one attention to our children that they so desperately need?

do our children get "brushed off" time and time again and we never quite get around to sitting and looking at that drawing, playing a quick game, throwing a ball, reading a story, etc...?

OR, even though it is MUCH easier for us to do a project ourselves, are we taking time to let them help and be part of the project
(even if it doesn't turn out quite how we'd like it to).
I'm learning each day that TIME is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others, especially our family and one must remember and keep the perspective that the TIME we spend on family means THEY are the ones getting our loyalty, devotion and love!
So, during the hustle and bustle
of the holiday season fast approaching, with church and community obligations, dinner dates, shopping to do, programs to watch, decorations to put up, baking, baking and more baking, I hope to have it be more instinctive to give 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to make sure I'm there for all of the little moments that really add up to the BIG moments in Tracy, Jade and Ethan's lives!!

Sometimes it's easy to do things to "impress others" and to want others (neighbors, co-workers) to think you are neat, or creative, etc...
Friends are wonderful
and I cherish my friendships greatly, but in the end....
it all boils down to FAMILY... They
are the people that I want to impress and think I'm cool, FUN and wonderful and love what I created. etc....
Family truly is who will be there by your side through the thick and thin and it is truly where JOY and HAPPINESS abundantly abound.
If only we take the time daily to nurture and feed the things that really matter most in life!
Time spent with Family,
truly is one of life's most cherished gifts!
Be in the moment!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh Happy Day!!

"It's my most favorite day...of the week"!!

Journal entry for Kimmie's remembrance.
Words can't express the JOY I feel
towards the most wonderful man I know...
My hubby "Mr Smith"!

It's just a few hours away from being Friday...
my most favorite day of the week
What does that mean
it means I get to get all gussied up and go out on a DATE with the love of my life!
There are 3 things I look forward to more than anything...
(in order of occurrence during the day or week)
coming home each afternoon and having my Notebook opened on the counter with a little love note from Mr. Smith. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't come home to this joyous sight!
Head over heels in love is what I am!

These little "notebooks" are truly my treasures.
To know the thoughts and feelings of my hubby to me and the joy and appreciation that he so willing expresses. I truly am the luckiest girl on planet earth!

The second looked forward to time of the day is having us all home safe and sound and enjoying family time together.

The third looked forward to time of the week is...

I am always SO excited to go on our dates...we get to talk, dream, walk hand in hand, laugh LOTS, enjoy reading books and magazines, enjoy a little treat and listen to music as loud and crazy or mellow and quiet as we like.
Mr. Smith is always surprising me by purchasing songs from iTunes that we have never heard that he really likes (he listens to various Internet radio stations at work and is always discovering new music)

I just LOVE this song that he purchased recently. It is by a UK band MUSE... titled "Uprising"
Everytime I hear this song I get SO excited and can't help but be happy and dance around and think of the JOY of hearing this for the first time
enjoying a Friday night date with Mr. Smith.

With "New Moon"
(the movie from the Twilight Series) coming out this weekend a lot of my girlfriends are picking sides; team Edward or team Jacob?
For Kimmie, it's 100% team Tracy!

Here's to Friday Night Dates!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A twist on an old favorite!

Oh the memories of Childhood...
(circa 1981)
I was the oldest child of six kids
and my parents had a dry-farm that was 40 miles away from where we lived and so from Monday-Saturday most weeks of the summer were spent at the farm, helping with the crops and animals, cleaning the house and most important, making sure the hard working men had a YUMMY meal to eat each afternoon.

Our main meal during the summer was at NOON.
(the evening meal consisted of bottled fruit and bread, sandwiches, or something light).

I remember vividly, helping my mom in the kitchen preparing the Noon-time meal. The thing that stuck with me the most was when she would make up Hamburger Gravy. She would brown up hamburger with chopped onions and garlic powder, add in flour and milk and boil and simmer and the serve it over a plate of mashed potatoes.
It was SO yummy and yet SO easy
and I always marveled at that.
Basic ingredients that tasted SO good when made into this tasty dish.
A few years ago
I came across an article on replacing cauliflower for mashed potatoes and so I made up hamburger gravy served over lightly steamed cauliflower and it was SO delicious and a big hit with my family.

We have
a local store (WINCO) where quite often you can get a whole head of cauliflower for .98 to $1.48 each and I buy plenty of cauliflower and make up this tasty meal.

I always have HAPPY kids
and hubby when this meal is fixed!

Hamburger Gravy
1 pound
ground beef

1 large
onion chopped

1-1/4 tsp.
granulated garlic

1/2 cup

2-1/2 cups
Salt and pepper to taste

ground beef and chopped onion until meat is no longer pink.

Add in granulated garlic and flour and coat meat well.
Then add in milk
and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat
and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Serve over our family favorite...CAULIFLOWER

(or you can do the old fashioned way of serving it over mashed potatoes).
Any way you serve it, it will be delicious!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Joy of Sugar Cookie Dough!

Oh the joy
of a plate of sugar cookies...
They just seem brighten any day and make it a happier one!!

I'm always amazed...

At how you can take a bowl
of sugar cookie dough that is just a big

Roll it out using plenty of flour with a rolling pin and then
use cute cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes
and bake them...

and then frost and decorate them or fill them and
WOW! The faces of people who see, eat and are the recipients of these creations just LIGHT UP!

The possibilities are endless to the cute shapes and creations you can make with a bowl of sugar cookie dough.

Sugar Cookies truly bring JOY to people lives!
Most people are used to sugar cookie dough being cut into cute shapes and frosted with frosting and then topped with sprinkles or candies (These Pink Sugar Cookies are something I am well known for). However, another favorite in my family was a recipe my Grandma Laura used to make up and these are one of my dad's favorite cookies.
RAISIN filled cookies!
Just basic sugar cookie dough cut into circles,
filled with raisin/nut filling and then the edges are sealed and baked until golden brown.

(I made up a batch of these just this weekend as we went to visit my parents for a birthday dinner at the famous MADDOX in Brigham City, Utah...
my mom's birthday 11-14 and my dad's birthday 11-18).
"Happy Birthday"!
This is a PIONEER recipe that goes back many generations!
(although I've used the modernized sugar cookie dough recipe of using sour cream instead of milk, but other than that, the dough/filling are something that has been passed down through the years).
So, yummy and SO easy...
You can take one batch of sugar cookie dough and bake it up two different ways so that EVERYONE is happy, plus it adds a little variety.

served with a cup of tea or hot cocoa on a cold fall OR winter's day!!

I know what some of you are thinking. "RAISINS I don't think I could eat them!" Trust me, they are SO good and the raisins have a nice texture and consistency after baking in the cookies...
SO I am going to tell you a saying that I tell my children quite frequently...
Dr. Seuss says it best:

"Try them you will like them you see"

Raisin Filled Cookies
Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe...(CLICK HERE)

(Raisin filling)
1 cup raisins ground
½ cup sugar
½ cup walnuts
½ cup water
1 Tablespoon flour mixed with a little bit of water. Put on stove and boil.
This was my grandmas recipe.

Roll dough with plenty of flour and cut with round cutter.
Drop filling on dough and top with another round of dough.
edges together to seal well.
Bake at 375 degress for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

One of my Motto's in life truly is
that a plate of homemade cookies makes ANY day better!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Spots...Happy Thoughts!

Peace -
that was the other name for home.

~Kathleen Norris

My friend Cherie had made a post this week and gave a challenge to share things in our home that made us happy!

Even though I just LOVE my kitchen because cooking is one of my favorite things to do, one of my favorite spots to be is my Living Room.
My Living Room is always in order and it is peaceful in there. It is a place where I can sit and meditate and be to my thoughts or read a book.
Or, visit with friends, or where we sit and sing a song as a family for our Family Night.
This is what my Living Room
looks like in the afternoon.

One corner of my room is lit up by a gorgeous stained glass lamp that belonged to my sister. I LOVE the color purple and her favorite color was purple and so it is so fitting that it is providing light and filling the room with such a nice warm glow.
This ratty old chair is my favorite place to sit in my house. It was FREE in one of the cars that we bought. The man that sold us the car told us we could have it or take it to the dump.
SO, we shampooed it well, threw a colorful throw over it to tie it into our other furniture and it does the job. Someday, I hope to recover it in some colorful fabric.

Most afternoons you will find me sitting here and eating my lunch. It's my place that I sit when I look at the coupon ad's for the week and where I sit and read most any book. My VERY favorite thing I used to do in this chair is rock my babies to sleep, but they are too big for that now.
Oh how I miss those days!

This is the view from my rocking chair.
I LOVE looking at my curio of our treasures!
Each shelf has a theme to it.
My curio stays the same all year, except at Christmas all of these treasures get put away for a little bit and it gets decorated for Christmas.
This is the top shelf of my curio.
It is full of keepsakes for marriage and love.
A Logan Temple my mother made for me,
Willow Tree statues depicting True Love and a family of four.
An anniversary clock,
Cupids that we have had since we were first married, a LOVE cross-stitch I made for Tracy on one of our anniversaries and a little house that Tracy gave me for Christmas inscribed with the following on the bottom: "Merry Christmas '96...Look at this little house and dream of our own someday soon. I love you!"
The second shelf is full of keepsakes from our trips and getaways we have gone on as a family. This photo will always be on this shelf as it was from a Cruise that we went on with my family the year after Kandee died.
The full view of our second shelf...
rocks, statues, stained glass, pottery vase from Roatan, tops, shells, etc... from our family adventures. We add something new every year to this shelf.
This is the center shelf of my curio..
a shelf that is a tribute to my sister Kandee.
My sister died in 2003. She suffered from bi-polar disorder and depression and ended up overdosing on her medication. The things on this shelf are the treasures of hers that I got the privilege of getting...her vase of flowers she had on her kitchen table. scarf, perfume bottle, luggage tag, box of jewelry, lamp and I found the statue in the back right hand corner that matched the statue on the lamp and the 2 photos were the last 2 photos that were taken of her before she died.
My adorable, sweet sister Kandee!

SISTERS forever!

The fourth shelf has photos
of both of our grandparents.

The photos on the left are Tracy's Grandparents.
The photos on the right are my grandparents.
Both of our grandpas were farmers and so that is why there is a little tractor. Our grandmas both loved pearls (these were the pearls I wore on our wedding day) Tracy's mom's first camera was a "Brownie Hawkeye" and we were thrilled to find this at a second hand store. Tracy's grandma Beth crocheted the doilie and the antique purse is just for fun.
The bottom shelf has trinkets
from Tracy's and my youth.

The crocodile and clown were made by Tracy's Grandma Zona.
The frame of stamps are various stamps Tracy collected when he was on his mission.
The baby shoes, and 2 figurines were trinkets from youth.
These are our Parents...
Tracy's parents on the parents are on the right.
Our parents photos are in a cute little frame sitting on my window sill.
These pieces of art are also on the wall.
There was a 92 year old man in our community when we moved in our house that loved to draw people and this was a drawing he did of me.
The sketch on the right is a drawing of Tracy when he was just a little boy.
I love this "Recycled Glass Vase"
hanging between my 2 windows. It is such a unique color and I love filling it with greenery/flowers for whatever season we are in.
Tracy's mom bought this as a gift for me when we went to "Art in the Park" with them in Boise a few years ago.
I LOVE being in my Living Room at night.
It has such a nice glow and I love to come and sit after the kids have gone to bed and think and ponder and be to my thoughts for a bit.

I also LOVE my 1960 Cable-Nelson piano. It was a Mother's Day gift from Tracy and the boys in 2005. We got it at a second hand store for a great deal and we spent a little money to get it tuned and it makes beautiful music. Even though a bigger piano would be nice, this little spinet fits my small room perfectly and I love to sit and play and Tracy enjoys laying on the floor listening to me play while he reads the newspaper or a magazine.

We also have in-wall speakers in this room so I can enjoy beautiful music as I sit in my favorite chair.
"When you look at your life, the greatest happiness is family happiness"
SO grateful I have a place in my home to have happy thoughts about my sweet sister and my grandparents.
There isn't a week that goes by that I don't ponder and reflect with happiness the wonderful times I once shared with these special people in my life!