Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas cookie plan

I'm stressing over the end of the semester, but I'm starting to plan Christmas baking.  This is my favorite source of recipes for Christmas cookies.  It's the most adorable book (as all Gooseberry Patch books are) with cute ideas and cutouts for cookie exchanges.

I always completely skip over this chapter, because cut-out cookies are too much hassle for me.

This is the tentative plan for this year.

S'mores fudge
Cinnamon fudge
Chocolate cherry fudge
Chewy molasses dreams
Banana split bars

New experiments:
Potato chippers
Peanut butter swirl bars

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful post

It's November and I love posting one thing each day for which I am thankful, but I have friends on Facebook who hate it.  I'm going to update this blog post every few days instead.

I'm thankful for...
1: The beauty of God's earth. There are so many amazing places to explore within a reasonable traveling distance.
2: Getting home safely even though we drove through rain and snow storms and lost traction a few times.  Time to replace my tires!
3: People who let me into their lives.
4: How fluffy my carpet feels after vacuuming with the vacuum I just bought.
5: Knowing exactly where to turn for peace when dating brings disappointments.
6: Scoring 86 on my last exam!  Way higher than the first two!
7: The peace and inspiration I find in the temple.
8: Beautiful fall weather.
9: Laughter.  I laughed my way to tears several times today.
10: Rain on my birthday.  I love it.
11: My sweet sister doing yard work for me.  It's ready for winter!
12: My parents' 32nd anniversary.  I'm grateful they stuck it out on this go-round.
13: Sweet friends who make me sweet birthday treats.
14: New tires and the $ to purchase them, so I can drive safely this winter.
15: The empowering feeling that comes from repairing things in my home.
16: Heat.  Baby, it's cold outside.  (There's ice inside my windows.)
17: The flexible schedule of my new job position.  I love the reduced stress.
18: The talents and accomplishments of the lovely young (and not-so-young) women at church and their willingness to share.
19: The semester being almost over!  Only one more new concept to learn and then it's all review and assignments!
20: The repair to my water heater being simple and inexpensive (and my banging pipes being fixed as a side benefit).
21: The opportunity to appreciate good music with a fellow music-lover.
22: Men who act as gentlemen on dates.
23: Sisters who remain dear to my heart across the miles and through divorce.
24: Living in a city where I feel safe.  (Praying for those in rioting areas.)
25: The beautiful view of lights across the valley from my dining room.
26: The healing power of the Atonement.
27: Peace.
28: The Christmas season.
29: Leaves to rake - just the right amount to keep it enjoyable!
30: The opportunity to learn by preparing a talk for church.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chocolate party, year 2!

Remember last year's chocolate party?  It had to happen again.  I invited lots of lovely ladies, looked through my Pinterest and cookbooks, bought brown paper goods, and had a blast!  Somehow I didn't even have anxiety about it.  I knew whatever fell into place would be enough, and the important part was to have a place for everyone to enjoy themselves.

S'mores fudge - a make-again recipe

I've been planning for several years to tackle chocolate satin pie.  It wasn't the cheapest pie, but it was delicious and cheaper than buying it from Marie Callender's.  It wasn't hard to me, but I realized how grateful I am for all of the cooking knowledge I've gained over the years.  I knew what it meant to whip cream until stiff and to fold said cream into the chocolate mixture.  This will definitely make it to future Thanksgiving dinners.

I also made chocolate peanut-butter cake balls and chocolate dipped Nutter Butters, and bought ice cream.  (Huh.  I just realized I tackled three new recipes in one day - even though cake balls aren't hard, grocery shopped, shopped for and went to a bridal shower, and still wasn't stressed.  I didn't even wake up early. That rocks.)  The rest was provided by other people, including a gourmet hot chocolate bar.  

 I shoved around furniture and then watched the place transform into this!  

People helped clean up.  I managed not to overindulge and therefore didn't feel sick, and had a (mostly free thanks to credit union rebate) burger to balance out the sugar.  Success!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Utah State Fair

This is my first attempt to catch up with blogging about summer.  A month ago, I went with friends to the Utah State Fair. We ate greasy fair food and played people-watching Bingo with a card I created.  Darrin found these awesome sunglasses (and other accessories to match) to model. 

I loved the animal buildings and all the jars of preserved goodies, plus this butterfly cake!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trust in God's timing and promptings

Tonight I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes: "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom."

I got home after a trying day and my visiting teacher called.  She was clearly frustrated that she has tried so hard to find me at home to deliver a treat, and I've been gone A LOT.  She came over and I went outside in jammies.  She told me how she had thrown together a spiritual message and bag of chocolate at the beginning of September, and had been trying for weeks to find me at home.  What she didn't realize was that I didn't need it for all of September.  I needed a hug and some chocolate right then.  God's timing is perfect.  It can be really hard to see this while you're in the midst of trials.  Tonight though, Chauna served me exactly when I needed it.  I was too stubborn to call and say, "I need you," but Heavenly Father sent a friend anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Just wait until the summer is over

I know I haven't been blogging. I'm too busy loving my life this summer to stop and blog.  I promise I'm taking pictures and making memories, and I'll update once I've completed my summer goals.  The semester just started and algebra is kicking my trash, so the fun is wrapping up quickly.

Dating, dancing, camping, good food, and much laughter...I am so blessed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Seattle trip

My best friend in the teen years was Melissa.  It was the kind of friendship where I stopped by every day after work and just walked into her house, where one of us could go pee or take a shower while the other was in the bathroom, where I didn't even go to Target without her... until I introduced her to a guy and she ended up in an abusive and controlling marriage.  I didn't get to see her anymore and I blamed myself.  Eventually they got divorced, but our friendship had been reduced to a letter every year or two.

She lives in Washington now.  Last October (I know, I'm super late at blogging about this) I got to go visit her.  She was expecting a baby, which was a complete miracle given her health history.  I felt like such a grown-up, flying out of state to attend a baby shower.  It felt really important to me to support her in this.  Unfortunately, after I booked my flight, the shower got rescheduled.  It was too expensive to change my flight, so we planned on a nice little weekend together.  Then she ended up in the hospital with complications. 

I got a rental car and a hotel near the hospital and mostly devoted the weekend to visiting with her and her mom.  It was just like old times, hanging out in a hospital, but our lives are so separated after years of being out of contact.  What kind of lame elevator doesn't want you to jump in it?  The radio in my rental car was touch screen - so cool!

On Saturday morning, I went to the Seattle LDS Temple.  I was not missing the chance to visit it.  The leaves were gorgeous on the temple grounds.

This statue is also in Temple Square and it's one of my favorites.  I love this example of a woman who is dressed very femininely and is enjoying time with children.  

I had an awful time navigating the Seattle/Tacoma area.  The speed limit was painfully low and the GPS gave directions at the very last second.  Also, the hilly streets with flat intersections and closely spaced lights caused me to get confused of which light belonged to which intersection.  I accidentally ran a red light in Tacoma because of it.  While I was visiting on Saturday, Melissa needed a PICC line put in, and they let me stay in the room if I wore these adorable accessories.

I wanted to fit in a tiny bit of sightseeing while I was there.  I decided to visit the giant ferris wheel over the water.  My GPS and I were complete enemies in this venture, but I made it and found an overpriced parking garage.  

In this glass gondola, I instantly recognized that my fear of heights was much worse than I remembered.  I spent serious effort calming down a near panic attack, taking selfies to distract myself.  When I got off, I had very little time to get back to my car before the parking garage closed...but I had run to the waterfront in such a hurry that I hadn't kept close track of directions.  By the time I found my car, I was panicking again.  

From there, I went to visit another good friend from the teen years who also happens to live in Washington.  She had some health issues and hadn't been able to take the bus to the city, so I made the drive to a restaurant near her and we enjoyed talking. When I took her home, I was shocked at how well I recognized her small town from my visit 10+ years before.  



Sunday morning, I went back to visit Melissa in the hospital before my flight left.  Her water broke while I was there and she went into labor, so I left and chilled at the airport for a bit.  There was never really a good time to take a picture together.  

Two weeks ago, she came to Utah for a family wedding.  I got to see her again as well as her grandparents (we played games together frequently growing up), and meet her baby.  I didn't have much time to visit, but I'm so grateful for the time we had.  Life doesn't turn out as you plan.  Friendships change.  She was once a huge influence in my life and my world was shaken when she left it.  I'm thrilled that she is a mom and continues to defy medical odds.