Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A few Goals for 2009-It Can Be Done

See this spread?

My yearly assignment for the extended family Christmas Party, layered bean dip. It has layers of refried beans, hamburger, salsa, onions, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole. Wanna know the secret????????

Well, this year I am focusing on frugality and food storage so I decided to make my dip this year with mostly food storage ingredients, as far as possible. I used:

First I smooshed up the home canned beans in my food processor and spread them on the pan, then I took my home canned hamburger meat and heated it up a bit on the stove, then sprinkled it on top, then I put cannery salsa on top of that and some cheese I had frozen in my 3 month supply, then I cooked it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then I topped it with green onions from my garden.....the tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole were purchased. (I figured I shouldn't go too far with my powdered sour cream.....ha)

This year I plan on sharing more ideas, successes/failures on our quest to be more frugal and work on and USE our food storage in real life ways. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day of the Ultrasounds

Today I woke up with dread and anticipation. How could that be? Because bright and early I was scheduled for the d.r.e.a.d.e.d. p.e.l.v.i.c. u.l.t.r.a.s.o.u.n.d.

"Ma'am, please drink 32 ounces of water one hour prior to your scheduled ultrasound."

Right-o. I can do that. Mission accomplished.

"Arrive 15 minutes before scheduled ultrasound."

Sure 'nuf.

45 minutes later, I am acutely aware of my overfull bladder.

"Ma'am, we seem to have misplaced the requisition for your ultrasound, it will just be a few more minutes....."

Uhh......yeah.....starting to sweat.

A few more minutes later, my name is called, I shuffle back to the room.

30 minutes later, bladder empty, feeling slightly violated, I exit the facility.

Results? The doctor will call.

A few hours later......the phone rings......
The results?

Happy Birfday!

To My Middle Sister........
You do know that all the top models and actresses use blurry lenses when they have their pictures taken to appear younger on camera???? (worksforme!)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Photo Essay

Christmas Eve Tradition: Fajitas
Beware of overtired, crazed woman with large knife cutting fajita meat.

The delicious spread......complete with refried beans creating copious amounts of intestinal gas...but surely yummy at the time.

Your mouth is a convenient place to stuff a chip while folding arms for the blessing on the food.

Christmas Morning

Grandpa Santa passing out gifts. (don't forget your glasses so you can read the gift tags)

How many children can we cram on their Pottery Barn type train tables to prove how strong they are? (tables hand crafted by Grandpa Santa for way less than Pottery Barn charges!)

These children were definitely NOT on Santa's naughty list this year...Santa's workshop created:

Tutus for little girls and Darth Vader/superhero capes for little boys....

Pretty aprons for good big girls!

Warm, cuddly quilts for families.Pretty intense games of Mario Kart

We missed ya' this year Elder Steve, but next year this stocking won't be empty!

Santa helped us create warm hearts, full stomachs and happy memories this year!

Huge disclaimer: Quilt tops were created months in advance and sewn on the sewing machine, and my neighbors received goodies this year and Christmas cards did not get sent......Gasp!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Call

Well, since we have been Merry Christmasing and I've been decluttering today, there isn't much time for blogging these days, but trust me I have about 11.5 billion photos to edit to share-mostly not taken by me......but one of the most important things about our Christmas Day was The Call. (capitalized of course)

We were SO lucky. We got TWO CALLS! One in the morning with all the fam, and then another wonderful, quiet one in the evening just with mom & dad. (with mission pres. permission of course) We even got to visit with his companion in Spanish-a sharp young elder from Barcelona, Spain. Our Steve is on the right and his comp is in the middle.

It was so fun to hear from him and see his spiritual growth and maturity and yet he is still the fun-loving good ol' Steve. Our evening call was wonderful and the main topic of discussion was his release and the plans..... Guess who's going to Nashville, TN???

Mom & Dad of course to pick him up and take a little tour and escort him home. So we are highlighting the day of April 6, 2009 for a quick (ha) flight to Nashville, then the next day, a wonderful temple visit with the elders, then the next day we get to keep him for good and meet some of the wonderful people he served. Then it's home to AZ and the welcome from the fam.....So you can see we have some exciting times coming in 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

"Christmas is more than trees and twinkling lights, more than toys and gifts and baubles of a hundred varieties. It is love. It is the love of the Son of God for all mankind. It reaches out beyond our power to comprehend. It is magnificent and beautiful.
It is peace. It is the peace which comforts, which sustains, which blesses all who accept it.
It is faith. It is faith in God and His Eternal Son. It is faith in His wondrous ways and message. It is faith in Him as our Redeemer and our Lord.
We testify of His living reality. We testify of the divinity of His nature. In our times of grateful meditation, we acknowledge His priceless gift to us and pledge our love and faith. This is what Christmas is really about.
To each of you we extend our love and blessing. May you, wherever you may be across the world, have a wonderful Christmas. May there be peace and love and kindness in your homes. May you husbands smile with love upon your wives. May you wives know the sweet joy of being loved and honored and respected and looked up to. May your children be happy and filled with that indescribable magic which is the spirit of Christmas. May those of you who are single find sweet companionship in the knowledge that you are not alone, that Jesus stands as your friend. He came “to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79).
To each of you we extend our love and blessing. May it be a happy and wonderful season. We leave a blessing upon you, a blessing of Christmas, that you may be happy. May even those whose hearts are heavy rise with the healing which comes alone from Him who comforts and reassures. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).
So said He in His hour of great tribulation: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
In the spirit of that great promise and gift, may we all rejoice this blessed Christmas season." Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grandma's House

Today we went to Grandma's house for a party. First we made cards for our Daddies....Then we made a Santa ornament.

We even got to play legos with this big boy with messy hair. He's pretty cool. He knows lots about Legos.

Next we decorated our very own Christmas tree. The best part is eating the stuff we got to decorate the cakes with.

I like to put my candy on very carefully.

There were lots of us kids there, all cousins. We had a good time!

I like treats!

Then we played outside in the warm sunshine on Grandma's grass. We had to watch the little ones so they wouldn't run in the street.

It was us little boys against the big boys in football so we needed a good huddle...

I had fun at Grandma's house. Let's do it again next year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Starry Nights, Temple Lights

A longstanding tradition in our family is to head out to the Mesa Temple, which is lit up during the holiday season with thousands of beautiful lights, to enjoy the spirit of the season and try to keep from losing wandering toddlers. Some years it has been freezing cold, but Sunday night, it was perfect!

And trying to take non-blurry photos of wandering toddlers is nigh near impossible!

We're off today for the 3rd annual grandkid later and....

Happy Birthday Mommy!(it's the 4th annual 29th birthday!!!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

For those of us in the Desert Southwest, a little frost is the closest thing we get to a "white Christmas." But it can create havoc in the garden!

We tucked our babies in for the night. How did they fare ?????

Ahh, it looks like they were happy under their warm blankies!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rite of Passage-Poor baby!

Four fewer wisdom teeth in this world-welcome to being a grownup Bubba D. I'm off to play nurse today.


This is what makes the 90+ days straight of over 100 degree weather worth it. Why we live in AZ.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I've never really documented our adventures with the wonderful Spanish branch we have the opportunity to serve. About 4 1/2 years ago, TL was called to be in the branch presidency of a brand-new Spanish speaking dependent branch created in our stake. After the shock-I was super excited because I realized now was the time I was going to learn to speak Spanish! My first Sunday visiting was very interesting-I only understood about 1/4 of what was going on. They were a tiny group of people working hard to start their unit and help it grow. So I think to myself....."self-I know how to lead music....I can help out by leading the music in church on that the people who actually know how to speak the language can serve in other areas...." "I mean, hard can it be?"

It's a lot harder than I expected. Sure, the songs sound the same, but for me, leading the music in Sacrament meeting in Spanish has kinda been like rubbing your stomach and patting your head (or is it patting your stomach and rubbing your head?) Anyway.......I have to keep the beat-read the words (which I didn't understand at the time)-lead the music-and so often the cadence or rhythm or whatever you want to call different with the Spanish hymns. But as time has gone on, and I have learned more of the language, and the songs, I truly love singing the hymns in Spanish. In fact, I have sung duets and in other groups-something I may never do in English! My lovely hermanos and hermanas accept me and don't criticize my less than perfect singing voice and when I get off on the beat-well-whatever......
So these days I'm still beating time to the hymns in Spanish-some songs I love singing in Spanish more than English-TL is now on the high council responsible for the Spanish branch and we still love to go party with our Hispanic friends.
Our recent Fiesta de la Navidad:

The gentlemen on the left and right were the first converts in the Dominican Republic. Wonderful faithful people!

Some recent converts.

Party hearty and eat well.....the food.....oh yum....don't get me started!

Left to right-faithful stalwarts, the R.S. Pres, her husband, the former branch pres., the oldest member of the branch, faithfully attending at age 93 and his wife, taking care of his needs.

Oops, there's me-we were making Christmas trees out of ice cream cones. Chaotic but fun. (did I mention I serve in the Primary pres. in my ward too?) These are my little buddies. SO SO CUTE!

Singing their little hearts out-Jingle Bells (in English-LOL) trying to persuade Santa to come see them.

WOW! He snuck up behind them! Santa was hilarious. He even spoke SPANISH!

How is it going these days? Well, I understand at least 1/2 to 3/4 of what is going on now-depending upon who is speaking-I can hold a fairly coherent conversation-I was even asked to pray last Sunday in a very large group (200) which scared me spitless-but I managed to do it (I pray like a five year old in Spanish!)

But I still love it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Soggy Harvest

It's been raining since Monday here in the desert Southwest. For those of you who live in Forks, Washington, that may not be a novelty. But, since we have an average of 359.5 sunny days per year here, it is SUCH a treat to have a gray day with moisture. I love listening to the dripping of the eaves and the patter of rain on my roof-as long as it isn't leaking into my house!

I just had to post a photo of my wet harvest last night. Honestly, I'm really not trying to be braggy about this, but I LOVE eating food that we have produced.

I harvested the first cabbage of the season. It was about the size of a large softball-perfect for our Chinese noodle stir-fry along with the onions. We are starting to eat salad greens every day now and it is just so fun to go out and pick a batch, wash it (thoroughly), dress it, sit down and eat it! Fresh tastes so much different than grocery store-it's amazing.

So, now to all of you who are entering your season of snow-I hope I am inspiring you to get a large pot next spring and throw some lettuce seeds in it and grow yourself a little green! (while I weep and wail and cry about my greens going bitter)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Food Storage Night

Long time no posting! I haven't had time either to check out other people's blogs. Here's my intro to my food storage posts today!

Food Storage

Every year for the last few years TL & I have decided to give food storage to our married kids for Christmas. It seems to have been a hit because that is one of the most requested items first on the list. With the economy as it is, lots of people are thinking about returning to basics and what better Christmas gift could there be than to give a little food storage?

Food storage is one of my obsessions and I have surfed the internet months and months and come across some favorite web sites that I am going to share to give others some encouragement and a "you can do it" attitude. So here goes......(and I know that this won't happen until the holidays are over--LOL) Lots of these nice people update their blogs every day so you have lots of information and encouragement!

Everything Under the Sun- I actually went to this lady's presentation and it was AMAZING. She made me feel like having my food storage was a do-able, attainable thing. It completely changed my thinking about food storage. She hasn't updated much, but she outlines her plan on her blog.
I'm sure there's lots, lots more out there. Good luck and Happy Food Storage!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small and Simple

"It's just the little things...." Just another time-worn cliche, or is it? The reason this statement has stood the test of time is that it is based on true principles.

".......And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things."
1 Nephi 16:29

".....And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
D&C 64:33

"......a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm..."
D&C 123:16

Today my heart is full of gratitude for the small and simple things that assist me daily in my own private struggles and heartaches. For the people I have met, the words others have written, the casual conversations that come just at the right moment, the private whisperings of the Spirit to comfort me in trials, the scripture that pops out in a time of need. They let me know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and loves my family.

My challenge to you today is to look for those tender mercies that may go overlooked daily as we rush through life-especially this time of year. Maybe the small and simple isn't quite so small and simple after all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa's Workshop

I'm heavy into Santa's workshop these days. Boy oh boy-I wish I could share-but my kids read my blog and then that would be just no fun spoiling the surprise-would it?

I've always loved to create for Christmas. Maybe I got this from my mom, who made literally hundreds of Barbie outfits, doll clothes, baby blankies, dresses, etc. etc. I still to this day have no idea how she pulled it off because we never knew. My earliest memory of the desire to be creative for Christmas was when I was about 9 or 10 years old. (We were still living in Mesa, Mom). I wanted to make something for my sisters for Christmas so I took two shoeboxes and made them into Barbie houses complete with cardboard furniture and fabric for a bedspread, etc. I remember slaving over them, thinking they were just the GREATEST thing. I'm sure they were very crude but I'll never forget the way I felt while creating them.
Years later, when creating Christmas for my own family, I spent hours sewing doll clothes, Barbie clothes, I even made PVC pipe doll strollers and chairs one year, and many a time I sewed late into Christmas Eve....trying to finish up the Christmas pajamas.

So these days I still overdo it, trying to create for Christmas, but it sure is fun! And no, kiddies, I'm not going to be convinced to spoil the surprises! You'll just have to wait until Christmas morning!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

K-for fun today I've decided to answer questions that have come up in the comments section:

Spanish Final-AWESOME! I give all glory, laud and honor to my lovely dialogue partner who managed to calm me down and get my brain functioning so I could speak in coherent (Spanish) sentences. I'm taking Spanish because I have been wanting to learn to speak it forever, and I serve in a Spanish speaking branch-along with my ward calling. I'm going to school for fun and to keep my aging brain functioning and maybe, just maybe graduate from college-but I think I'm taking a little Spanish break now, thinking of maybe taking another academic class next semester.....What should I take?At the end of the Christmas season, the Christmas tree gets crammed back into the box it came in, (why is it they never fit exactly the same way again?) and goes into the garage to await its debut again in 360-ish days.

Random fact about my Christmas tree:

Jessica pointed out to me this afternoon that I have an ASU tree-complete with red and gold decorations, a fact which will make my rabid ASU fans happy. (boo UofA)

Elder Steve is currently serving in Nashville, TN Spanish speaking mission. His arrival date is April 8, 2009. (this is one of my favorite photos of him-taken at the MTC-his first snow!) This is his last Christmas away. His Christmas package got sent off today-and nearly got sent to the wrong address-----(long story) Hooray-one more thing checked off my list.Thanks for the garden love. Now remember, I live in ARIZONA. It freezes maybe 3 days a year here. We grow all our "cold season" veggies now like lettuce. If I tried to grow lettuce in June here-well, who likes wilted lettuce? or no lettuce at all, or very, very bitter lettuce? This is my favorite time of year to garden. I can go outside without being fried like a french fry. I now present a little ditty penned by my talented niece-Miss Mari.

Marilyn Marilyn not so contrarian,

how does your garden grow?

With cabbage heads and lettuce beds

and carrots being pulled from their rows.

Isn't that just the cutest?