The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family. ~Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Dear Prophet

President Hinkley's passing has brought a mixture of emotions. I am happy to know he is with his dear wife Marjorie again. I am sad that I will not hear his words at conference and see that twinkle in his eye. He has such a special place in my heart.

There was a talk in 2003 that I loved. I have it printed off and in a binder where I can reference it. It was called "To the Women of the Church". It spoke to my heart... I can't figure out how to link it, but you can go to www.lds.org and do a search for "To the Women of the Church". The talk comes up right now as #13.

He begins with a quote "Someone has said: 'Be kind to the women. They constitute half the population and are mothers to the other half.' " Another part that caught me because I wondered if I should work more and help financially more and I wondered if what I did at home really mattered (you know, some days it's just hard to measure your success at home!) ... he said "Count your blessings; name them one by one. You don’t need a great big mansion of a house with an all-consuming mortgage that goes on forever. You do need a comfortable and pleasant home where love abides. Someone has said that there is no more beautiful picture than that of a good woman cooking a meal for those she loves. Weigh carefully that which you do. You do not need some of the extravagances that working outside the home might bring. Weigh carefully the importance of your being in the home when your children come from school."

In President Hinkley's honor, our family has chosen to renew his challenge to read the Book of Mormon. Last time the challenge went about 5 months, we are setting that as our goal. We will need to read approximately 1 1/2 chapters each day to reach our goal.

I love our dear prophet. He was certainly inspired of God in the manner that he led his life and led our church. I will miss him. There will be a new President of the Church, and the work will go forward as God intends. All is well.

Home Made Granola

I've committed myself to feeding my family more healthful meals and snacks this year. I don't buy a lot of junk food, but I make cookies and brownies a LOT! Yum! lol Dave and I have decided since we're not getting any younger, we'd like to get as much mileage out of our bodies as possible... which means some life changes.

Our plan:
4-5 times per week. Dave plays basketball for an hour in the morning 3 times a week. I always used to count my waitressing as exercise, BUT I'm adding in 15-20 minutes on our new (free to us) elliptical... and doing pilates a few times a week.
Diet will have some changes. Mainly we're adding in more fiber, which increases the amounts of fruits and veggies we eat. Switching to more whole grain breads, pasta's and cereals. Which brings us to today's topic.... Home Made Granola. Yummy! I got part of this recipe from a friend years ago and the other part from a make a mix cookbook. I adjusted here & added there and the result is pretty much my own now. :) This granola is filling, tasty, and a healthy way to start your day. (or end it, or as a snack throughout lol)

Joy's Home Made Granola

10 C. quick oats (or you can use old fashioned rolled oats if you like to chew a lot more)
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. wheat germ
1 C. toasted sunflower seeds (shelled of course)
1 C. sliced almonds
Optional: coconut, chopped walnuts or other nuts, dried fruit such as raisins.

Mix these ingredients together in a BIG bowl. Then mix the following syrup:

3/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. olive oil (or any other preferred oil)
1/4 C. water
1/2 C. molasses
1/2 C. honey
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla

Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour over dry ingredients and stir until everything is coated evenly. Grease 2 large cookie sheets and divide granola between them. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool, store in an air tight container.

This is so easy it's crazy! If you are short certain ingredients, it still seems to work fine... the whole wheat flour and wheat bran can be left out entirely. They do add to the nutrition of this though. The nuts provide a good protein, are cholesterol free, and tasty. :) Molasses adds extra iron.

I'm working on adding more whole wheat flour to baked goods. We've enjoyed whole wheat tortilla's (made with my usual recipe substituting whole wheat for 1/2 the flour) and whole wheat noodles (1/2 the flour as whole wheat). So far the kids have enjoyed all the changes and I feel so accomplished for doing them.

Challenge yourself! Try something more healthful this week! You could always start with GRANOLA!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Airport Observations

I love watching people. We are the most interesting species, aren't we!

While at the airport this past week, I had ample opportunity to people watch. What a variety of people from all walks of life. Young and old, rich and poor, all dressed in their own fashions. I saw young mom's packing babies, one older woman carried along her little dog just as carefully as if it were her child. Crisp looking business men, people traveling to a vacation. Wow. What a wonderful variety!

The one thing that struck me the most though, and I'm sure it's in a large part because I'm from a small community, is how totally separate those travelers were. We walked down the concourse and many seating areas were full of people waiting.... and pretending they were the only ones there. Reading newspapers, working with laptops, reading a book, watching the football game being broadcast. Eyes met as little as possible, smiles were rare. If it were possible, there was an empty chair between travelers to protect their personal space. It was almost funny to watch people avoid each other. :o)

Well, not my ideal world, I much prefer quick smiles, friendly eyes, a kind word. I don't think I'd do well in a large city. I realize that in some places it's just not safe to invite a glance or interraction. Never-the-less, my airport experience was interesting to say the least.

Oh, and the best part, I found my favorite French Mints at the Rocky Mountain Candy shop. YUM!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hello from Arizona!

Ahhhhh...... I checked weather.com this morning to see how it was at home & it was -12! Brrrr! It was a balmy 45 degrees at 7am here in Phoenix and should get up to 70 later today. What a blessing this little vacation IS!

The resort we are at is beautiful. Brightly colored buildings, palm trees, FLOWERING plants (I forget that SOME places are not covered in snow in January!), beautiful, blue pools. We are on the 3rd floor overlooking a captivating courtyard. Yesterday I took the elevator to the roof (5th floor) and enjoyed sitting on the sundeck there reading my Anita Stansfield book. A few little birds flitted around but otherwise I was alone. It was heaven!

We've eaten some awesome meals while we've been here. I love eating out. It is one of my frugal downfalls. we don't do it really often, but I DO love it. lol I could go on a food vacation around the world just sampling each countries cuisine! Monday evening we went to the Stockyard Restaurant. It was established years ago by a rancher in the area. The decor was beautiful. Black leather booths, dark wood accents, low lighting. I had a filet minion. Melt in your mouth. Last night we had our dinner connected with the training conference Dave is attending. We are staying at a Hilton Resort, and this was typical Hilton food. Always very delicious and all about presentation. We started with a lettuce salad.... these crack me up. A large head of iceberg lettuce had been sliced in about 4 thick slices and one big slice on each plate. Shredded carrot, cabbage and a few garnishes placed on top. It just makes me laugh when I see those huge slices or wedges of lettuce... makes me think they ran out of time to prepare and left out tearing up the lettuce for salad! LOL! I know it's supposed to be classier... I guess I'm just a small town girl & it makes me giggle. The main meal was a steak and mashed potatoes. Dessert was some sort of marshmallowy, chocolate covered thing... with swirls of chocolate syrup across the plate.

Monday we went to a museum of Indian ruins dating back to 1000 ad. I loved touring the site where they had excavated and discovered pottery and tools from the Hohokam people. I wish we had more time to visit Sedona and the Indian ruins there. I read that there are some cliff dwellings you can view. I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was young. I guess some of that is still in my blood. :) The closest I get now is digging through the pile of laundry finding an article of clothing someone has lost. lol

Today Dave has meetings until noon and then we have the rest of the day to go exploring. I think we're going to find a mall to wander through, do a little more site seeing. There is a trail head across the road from our resort, we might wander on that a bit.

We are missing the kids like crazy, but otherwise, I am really enjoying someone else doing all the work and pampering me here. Thanks to Audra and her husband for taking care of things there at home!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Little Vacation Goes a Long Way

Wahooo!!! Dh and I are leaving tomorrow for Phoenix. He has a business meeting and the company will pay for me to go along with him. It's so much fun to have a little alone time. kwim? I know there are all sorts of places we could go and see and so much to do, but I am looking forward to reading a good book uninterrupted. (Is that sad or what?) Also looking forward to someone else making my bed, cooking my meals, doing my dishes. This is a true vacation, unlike camping where I just take my daily chores to the forest where it's less convenient to do them. ;o)

Audra's been sweet to agree to come stay with the kids. I won't even worry about them while she's in charge.

We went shopping today for a few clothes and such. My post Christmas body weight doesn't look as good in those darn full length mirrors in the dressing room. Shoot. I did find a nice pair of jeans and a hip length shirt (that covers part of my Christmas weight lol ).

I'm off to finish packing. I'll post about our adventure when I return.... or possibly while I'm there since we may have internet available and can use dh's laptop. :)

Have a wonderful week.... I know I'll be enjoying weather a good 40 degree's warmer than here. How good can it get!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Pot Roast in the Oven

I can't wait until dinner's ready tonight. I have a pot roast in the oven and some winter squash baking right beside it. Potato's are waiting to be mashed & gravy made to go over them. Yummy. Almost a whole meal of comfort foods for me. :)

I crave this stuff! (along with chocolate & potato chips) Sometimes I wish I were born with the inclination to crave carrot sticks or apple slices. Why don't I crave whole wheat bread instead of steaming hot, just out of the oven, white bread slathered with butter and home made strawberry freezer jam? Ah well... where would the challenge be if I only craved healthy, low-fat food. LOL!

I'm off to make gravy... hopefully dh will be home shortly so we can eat.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Good Cup of Hot Chocolate...

You know, I've never been big on hot chocolate... UNLESS it's homemade. Tonight for Family Home Evening treats we made a big, gallon sized pot of hot chocolate. It's so easy to make! I heat 3-4 quarts of water, add powdered milk - enough to make up that equivalent of milk. (and if you like it extra creamy, add another cup or so of powdered milk) Then, using a mixing bowl, I mix a couple of cups of sugar & 1/4 - 1/3 C. cocoa powder until blended & the cocoa lumps are mixed out. Pour about half of that mixture into the hot milk and taste to see if it's sweet & chocolaty enough... if not - add more until it tastes the way you like. :) I like to add 1/2 tsp. of vanilla as well.

Tonight, we added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to our steamy cups of hot chocolate. Sometimes we add candy canes, orange or raspberry extract, or marshmallows. Yum!''

I have about 2 quarts left over tonight... it goes in the fridge & in the morning I'll dilute it a little with some regular milk and it makes great chocolate milk. Doesn't last long here. lol

I also have a favorite Hot Chocolate Mix... I'll save that for another post.

Happy Sipping!


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Crazy Titles!

Okay... I admit... I was just frustrated setting up my profile because under "Work" it didn't list what I wanted to choose. :) Out of the 40 listed options, I figure my status of a Wife, Mother, and housekeeper, qualified me for at LEAST 20 titles. Here are my thoughts on those...

1. Accounting - I figure this is tracking the checkbook & bank balances. I work under my dh here.
2. Arts - Motherhood is an Art. Am I right or what?!
3. Banking - online or otherwise, depositing or withdrawing.
4. Chemicals - what I clean the toilets with.
5. Communications - Two year olds or teens, All Mom's become experts in communications.
6. Construction - Think 5th grader with a science project.
7. Consulting - counciling children with friends, homework, and siblings. Dave consults with me as well.
8. Education - from birth on, education is happening... potty training fits here. :)
9. Environment - monitoring environmental safety by removing obstacles from the floor, refereeing disagreements, keeping surfaces clean.
10. Fashion - purchasing clothing for younger kids, monitoring clothing for older kids, figuring out my own suitable fashions. (Mom! You CAN'T wear THAT!)
11. Human Resources - I have seven children. Enough said.
12. Internet - I have become quite proficient here as well. lol
13. Law Enforcement - in the home
14. Libraries - trips TO the library, reading books FROM the library.
15. Non-Profit - you should see our budget. LOL!
16. Religion - just can't separate that from daily life.
17. Science - exploding baking soda bombs, powder sugar fueled fire-breathing kids, orange peels lit over a flame, etc.
18. Sports or Recreation - Hours spent in the gym or at the track, camping and playing in the yard.
19. Student - I'm always learning.
20. Transportation - Tell me you don't figure Mom's need this title!

Am I right? So many titles for girl to choose from... It would only allow me to choose one title... Which would you have chosen? :)

I'll keep thinking - maybe I'll just pop on here & change my "Work" title several times a day... you'll know when you log on what I'm doing at the moment!

Life IS Good!

Life IS good, isn't it! Reality says there are ups and downs all along the path, but overall, Life is good!
Beginning each year I'm inclined to "count my blessings" more than any other time. This year some of those blessings are; a patient husband, Seven terrific kids PLUS a great son-in-law and the cutest little grandbaby you ever saw. I have a comfortable home to live in, a wonderful community to raise my children in, parents and family that live close by. I've been blessed with a sense of humor and a husband with a crazy sense of humor... some things in life are best laughed at.

God has been good to me. I know He loves me and knows who I am. He has been there to carry me during the tough times and there for the celebrations of the wonderful times.

Life is Good!