Tuesday, January 27, 2009

bishop higgins blog

OK - if you click on my link entitled totally FAKE, but really funny bishop's blog, I want you to know three things. 1.This man is not a real Bishop 2.Everything he writes is purely comical - and has no basis in reality 3. It is really, really funny.
You have to read the "Update to our 'Tithing Elite' Program" post, and follow the link within it to the original post. The comments from people who think it's real are hilarious.
Ah. At least we can laugh at ourselves.

A quick roll update

So my friend Kim took pity on me and my true lack of roll making skills. She invited me over a couple weeks ago to watch the Kim Lovejoy cooking show. It was awesome. I had a front row seat. She gave me some great tips on how to make sure your yeast is activated (I love the adding a bit of sugar trick) and on where to let your dough rise (in the oven that has been heated to 170 degrees for 2 minutes and then turned off)...and I am proud to report, that it's been working! I also have to give props to Jen's Bosch, which she is letting me use at the moment --- it's made all the difference.
Dan will tell you that my rolls don't taste EXACTLY like his mom's, but they're way, way, closer than the rocks I've thrown on the table before.
Thank you Kim (you really could give Rachel Ray a run for her money) & Jen (and Robin too, I still need to try your recipe - but it looks great!)
PS - I realize that many of you will read this and think, "how could she not know those things?". And I will tell you - before my experience with Kim, I had zero, and I mean zero experience actually baking rolls/bread with anyone that knew what they were doing, and I didn't take the time to research it on my own. Sometimes it's the little things that hold us back, and in my case...it seems that it really was two very little things!

Monday, January 12, 2009

CAUTION! Bragging Alert!

OK – I warned you…here it comes…I am so excited!
As many of you know, I have a few Twilight inspired t-shirt designs on a website called http://www.cafepress.com/ . They literally have millions of designs available to choose from on their site. In fact, if you search for “Twilight” you will pull up 15,500 different designs to browse through. And this weekend (still up today) they featured one of MY little designs on their HOMEPAGE as one of 16 “HOT DESIGNS. Yay! I texted my family, and frantically called Dan down to see it – you would have thought that I made the Forbes 500 list. Far from it…but it makes me seriously excited that so far, there are about 380 people out there who chose to buy something I created, and that the site recognized me out of thousands of designers!
You might still be able to see it on their homepage by following the ABOVE link... if it has already been taken down - you can see that Isle Esme design as well as some NEW DESIGNS I've posted by following my direct link below:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Better Late Than Never - My List of Thanks for Thanksgiving

I'm posting this a little late...but what's new?

In November, our RS President challenged us to keep a log of something every day that we are thankful for throughout the month, to help us focus on our blessings, and increase our gratitude for all that we have. Here are the 30 things I was thankful for in November {and am still grateful for now!} PS - this is really, really, long. Feel free to skim!

1. First & foremost, I am eternally grateful for my knowledge of the gospel, and for parents who were so dedicated in teaching me that Christ lives, and that he should be the center of my life; of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, of the great plan of happiness, and that families truly, really can be together forever. I can’t imagine what my life would be without my testimony of these things. I wouldn’t want to know. (want to learn more? Ask me or go to www.mormon.org)
2. So thankful for my husband. Through all the teasing, and our less then optimal days, I have to admit that I love the guy. He loves me and our children, and he works so hard for us. I am so grateful for all he does for our little family, and for me especially. There have been so many times when he has hugged me and comforted me through times of stress, trial, sadness, or a drugless childbirth – that has meant more to me than he will ever know. Plus, I LOVE to listen to him sing off-key country music. I usually hear his version of songs first, before I hear the real artist, and when I do finally hear it on the radio, it always, always, makes me laugh to realize that it’s the same song Dan has been singing around the house for days. Love it.
3.Being a mom. There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing to prepare you for it. And nothing that can change you in the way that being a mother does. Of course, it has it’s crazy, stressful, make you want to cry until you fall asleep moments, but at the end of the day, it’s so worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. There was a lady I once knew who honestly and seriously told me that she would trade all of her 5 kids for her 19 year old body back, and then just get cats instead. She was NOT joking. It must have been a really bad day, but still…I can’t imagine every really thinking that. I love my kids, I love what they have taught me, and who I am because of them.
4.Bella: sometimes, she reminds me a lot of myself as a little girl – which can be a little tiring with all of the energy, and performing. But she also reminds me to be excited about little things. And to love wholeheartedly. She does, everyday. She has a very tender heart, and is so compassionate towards others. On the soccer field, she wouldn’t really care too much about following the ball, but if someone got knocked down or hurt, she RACED to be the first one on the scene, to help them up, give them a hug, and be the first to ask them if they were ok – whether they were on her team or not. And that’s when I would be the proud mom on the sidelines. And really, what’s more important, knowing how to kick a ball or knowing how to comfort and tend to those in need? Dan might disagree, but I definitely opt for the second. I love that little sweetie!
5.Azure: that girl lives to make people laugh. She’s a lot like her dad in that respect, and it works. She keeps us lighthearted and in stitches. She comes up with comedy routines (most of which make no sense) and shares them regularly. She is also so curious. She wants to know how everything works and why, and loves to create…anything and everything. And I know this is really, really, shallow, but I love her hair. It’s so much fun to play with! She too has a sensitive heart to those around her. It’s awesome to see her in action when she’s calming someone down, or whispering to her cousin who had just hurt Calvin, “Sienna, all I ever wanted was my little brother. So please, please, be nice to him.” She is a peacemaker – and every family needs one of those! I love, love, love her.
6.Calvin: His life is such an example of strength to me. From the moment he was born, I knew that we should feel very blessed to have him in our family. I knew that his soul was strong. That his testimony of Christ will someday be the strength that holds our family together – and I cried in his presence, feeling of his greatness. He has overcome so many obstacles in his life already, and has been such a blessing to our family, as we were served by others, and as we learned greater patience and faith. I love that sweet boy with all of my heart!
7.My sister, and best friend, Lia. She is the first one I call to complain to, and the first one I call to brag to. She consoles me, and cheers me on, and completely gets me. She knows my sense of humor, and I know hers, and we can laugh, and laugh at things that others would just raise their eyebrows at. She doesn’t mind when my kids call her four times a day, and she gets concerned when they don’t. I absolutely love that girl. I always know that she will be there for me, and I hope she knows that about me too!
8.My Dad. I know everybody is fond of their parents – but I am seriously a huge fan of my Dad. I have the utmost respect for him. He was an art teacher when I was growing up, and then moved on to be a vice principal, and then an elementary school principal. He would do stained glass work on the side, and take on jobs some summers – like life guarding, or jobs with Parks & Rec organizing track meets or teaching summer kite-making workshops . Things were definitely tight growing up, but he was the BEST dad! He was always there, but much more than that, he was always INVOLVED. He played with us, and took us to do crazy things like skim board in a field flooded with irrigation water, and snowboard on boards he made himself before they ever became popular, and on trips by himself while my mom was working. He took us all to Disneyland one Christmas by himself, and on a spring break trip to Grants Pass one year too. (same trip we got in the big car accident - miraculous story for another day). He never raised his voice to me, but the time I can remember feeling the most sorrow for anything I’ve ever done in my whole life was after he sat in my room and told me he was disappointed in me about something I had done that day.
I cherish his advice – I used to read, and reread a letter he sent me while I was in college, and having a hard time with roommates and boys, and school in general. His words meant the world to me, and got me through a rough time in my life. I look to him for guidance, and am always awed by his vast knowledge of the scriptures and church doctrine. He is a man of many talents – and I credit my creativity to him encouraging that in me as a child. He would come home with refrigerator boxes or other materials – and expect us, and help us, create; to make anything our little hearts desired. I loved it. And I am so grateful for him.
9.My Mom. Oh, my mom. I think there are moments in every girl’s life when she doesn’t get along with her mom, and I can’t say that I’m an exception. But I can say, that we’ve moved onward and upward, and I am grateful for all she has done for me and my brothers and sisters, and my family. Growing up, she went without so that we could have what we needed. I remember her nine year old pair of tennis shoes that she wore nearly every day finally giving out, and her debating about whether she should buy herself a new pair of shoes. The first time I remember her shopping for herself was when Joe won the Oregon State spelling bee (I came in second to him, but it was ok, because he was older than me. I came in second the next year too.), and she was going to accompany him to the National Bee in Washington D.C. She bought a floral wrap shirt, and a new pair of khaki pants to wear on their adventure, and I remember thinking they were so pretty, and that she looked so pretty. And that it was odd that I had never seen her buy anything for herself before. She was always so organized with the finances…she would plan a monthly menu, for every day in the month, go shopping, and not go back to the store but for eggs and milk until my dad was paid again the next month. She wrote checks for bills as soon as she got them, and paid their tithing promptly. Now that I am the one in charge of all of those things – I praise Auto Pay! I just wish the church would figure out a way to do auto pay for tithing. Wouldn’t that be so much easier? Anyway – She was such a great example of responsibility and taking care of yourselves. Even though we scraped by a few months (remember Dad’s September cookies made with bacon grease?) we never asked for financial assistance. We lived within our means – she made sure of it.
10.My Family: I have a large one – but I can honestly say that I love them all. Of course, we’ve all got our quirks (some a little more obvious than others) but that’s what makes us exciting. Hyrum, Joe, Lia, Charity, Rachel and Sam --- love them all!
11.Opportunities to serve
12.Friends who care about me
I can’t tell you what a sweet soul I have for a mother-in-law. She has truly become a second mom to me. She has taught me so many essential things that I somehow escaped home knowing, like how to cook and clean, and how to serve others, and she continues to teach me through her ever Christ-like example. I love that woman! And two of Dan’s sisters are just like sisters to me…it’s been awesome to grow to know and love them, his brother’s wife too, and same with his cousin – Jen, I love them all! They do so much for me…it’s incredible.
14.Talents – I’m not fabulous at any one thing – but I’m ok at a few things, that I love to do, ie. singing, dancing, acting, and being crafty. Thanks to a dad who taught me how to draw, and a mom who told me that “all the smart girls sing alto”, when I was too scared to stop being a soprano. {I know it's not true...no snarky comments necessary...but it helped me at the time!}
15.My new home. I never thought of it as my dream home – but now that I live here – I absolutely do. I love it!
16.Holidays – of course, they’re crazy, and so busy, but full of friends, family, singing, traditions, and the makings of really great stories.
17.My Job: I love what I do; my employers are so good to me; and I can work from home, mostly when my kids are asleep. It’s such a blessing!
18.Being involved in Bella’s school: I’ve met such great friends there, and I can see my little star in action – it’s so much fun.
20.My van with sliding doors
I love food. Especially dessert. Oh, I love treats. What would life be without chocolate delight? My mom used to make a dessert everynight (as far as I can remember). And bless her for it. My children only wish they were that lucky!
22.Nursery: I get to attend church & be uplifted while some sweet souls tend to my children. They are Heaven sent!
23.Living in Colorado: I grew up in small little cowboy towns in Oregon. I love Oregon, it’s a beautiful place, wonderful to visit, but I don’t know that I’d ever want to live there again. I also lived in Utah for 5 years while I was going to school. Again, a great place to visit, but I am so grateful that I live here, in Colorado, where my children will grow up knowing that they do have different beliefs than people around them, and that they do need to be an example, and share their testimonies with others - while still living in a place that is predominantly Christian, and where families are concerned about faith. Also, I think it's a great place for them to learn that they can be friends with people of other faiths, and learn from them, and respect them, while still holding strong to who they are. However, I am NOT a fan of the snow, so I’m looking forward to spring – but I could probably live here forever and be happy as a clam.
24.Relief Society: It’s where I learned to teach, and to serve, and to be humble. It’s also introduced me to some of my dearest friends, who have been mothers and sisters to me – leading and lifting me when I needed it. I can't imagine life without it. So inspired.
25.BYU: It is after all, The Lord’s University. Ha!Ha! I had great experiences there, learned a lot, loved a lot, and found my husband there – what’s not to like?
26.Girl’s Camp: It’s where my testimony was solidified, and where I got to shine as the writer, director and star of our cabin’s skit every year. I was a total ham! A shocker, I know.
27.Disposable diapers: I remember changing my little brother Sam’s, cloth diapers, all the time. So glad I don’t have to do that with my own kids – and more power to you mom for doing that with seven, yes, seven children!
28.Good Ward Choirs: I love to sing in the choir. My Dad used to take me when I was a little girl, and taught me that if you have a talent, you should use it to praise the Lord, and support your ward too. It sure makes it more fun to do that when you have a great group to sing with!
29.Babysitters: I think I can count on one hand how many times I was babysat growing up. I can’t imagine what I’d do without some time away, with my sweetheart; knowing at the same time, that my children are well taken care of.
30.Jenco: When Dan was working days at Lockheed Martin and nights for the new business he was starting with Kent – I thought I would go crazy, I never saw him. Then, right after I had Bella, and he quite L.M., a stable job, with great health benefits, to work on Jenco full-time – I was a teensy bit nervous – but truthfully knew that he could make it work. I always knew that he would do great things…and I believed at the time that Jenco might be the beginning of that…and it has proven to be true. I am so proud of what they have made of themselves – and feel so fortunate to be able to share some of that with others. It has opened my eyes in so many ways, and I am soooo grateful for Jenco.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Calling All Colorado Bakers!

I seriously need some help.

In 2006 – I decided that I was going to teach myself how to make great homemade rolls. {My mother in law makes the TASTIEST rolls – honestly, on my dying day, they are what I would request for my last meal – with lots of butter, and her strawberry freezer jam. Amazing.} Every other Sunday that entire year, I tried my hand at her roll recipe. Never once did I even come close to duplicating her scrumptious rolls. They were either flat, or too yeasty (to the point of smelling like beer), or hard as rocks. On my 26th try, I finally gave up.

In 2007 – a sister at church brought the best pull-apart “Monkey Bread” rolls for a potluck. I convinced myself that I could do rolls again – and that maybe, just maybe, I could make this recipe work. To no avail. I probably made her monkey bread 15 times, before I admitted defeat.

I took roll making off of my agenda in 2008. {I discovered Pillsbury “bake from scratch” Hot Roll Mix, and used that for a year. Not too shabby, but not Grammy's rolls, either.}
Today, our sweet Relief Society President asked me to help put together a meal, and asked if I could make a bread, and a dessert. Of course I said yes, and since I didn’t have any Hot Roll Mix on hand, set to work trying a different roll recipe - one from the “Oakwood Ward Cookbook” that was sure to be a tried and true Colorado recipe that would work in this altitude, and in my kitchen. They looked good, they smelled good, they didn’t exactly rise as much as they should have, but I thought with a couple more tries, THIS could be my go to recipe.

After I dropped off my creation, I tasted one of the rolls {don’t ask me why I waited until afterwards} and they weren’t terrible, but they really didn’t taste like anything. With enough butter and jam, they could be dressed up to act like a real roll, but without it – it was kind of like just eating a pile of flour.

So this is where you come in! I need your dinner roll recipes – ones that you have used here in Colorado – that actually turn out – that you love! Another requirement: the dough must respond well to hand kneading. I don’t have a Bosch, or a Kitchen Aid, or really any other mixer than the little hand-held one we got for our wedding years ago – so hand kneading is a must!

Thanks to all! Maybe we should get together for a roll tasting party!
{sorry, I know that was soooo cheesy. I just couldn’t resist}