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  • Archive for August, 2009

    Cooking for One

    Monday, August 31st, 2009

    Today was payday (hallelujah!)  and I went grocery shopping.  Until fairly recently I would buy a lot of prepackaged meals (like Smart Ones or Top Ramen), because it seemed a lot of work to go to just for one person.  About six months ago, though, I decided to spend one evening a week cooking one or two dishes for the week.  I make a recipe for a family (4 or 6 servings), and then Tupperware it up for the week.  Then I just heat up a container for lunches.  It’s easy and I get the benefits of a homemade meal, including the savings.

    Today I made Mama’s Pot Roast:

    Pot Roast

    Here’s the recipe, in case you would like to play :)

    4 potatoes

    4 carrots

    1 beef roast


    salt & pepper

    1) Brown roast in butter, add salt & pepper

    2) Add H2O to 1/2″ depth, cover & simmer

    3) Peel potatoes & carrots, add to roast

    4) Simmer, covered, adding H2O periodically, until tender (approx. 2 hours)

    Voila :)   It’s tres yummy…

    Sitting around, eating bon bons

    Monday, August 31st, 2009

    “To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are.”   -Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

    Last week I was present at an activity with the Young Women wherein we had them write down things they were good at.  (It started out as a way to have them brainstorm for activity ideas, and then shifted gears when we saw what was happening.) The girls struggled and whined a little bit, some had a list of 4 or 5 things, the most anyone had was about 10.  When we suggested things at which we knew they excelled, they said that just because they could do something didn’t mean they were good at it.

    Then we had the girls turn over their papers and write a list of things they wanted to be better at. Pencils flew.  One girl asked for more paper.

    My heart broke.

    It’s good, great even, to want to improve. To see our weakness and want to progress, to be better. But being honest about ourselves means seeing the strong with the weak, the accomplishments with the imperfections.

    Forgetting planning activities, we took a paper for each girl and had the other girls write down things they knew that girl was good at.  Again, pencils flew, sheets were filled; this time with confidence building, truth revealing observations.

    “She always participates and makes me want to participate too.”

    “She always smiles at me and makes me feel better.”

    “She works really hard at school.”

    “She is an amazing singer/swimmer/dancer/writer/friend.”

    How would other people describe us? What would they see as they watched us going about our days?

    In that spirit, I offer this list of things I have accomplished today, as seen by the fly on the wall:

    Woke up at 5:30. Did not yell at Heavenly Father in prayer form.

    Successfully moved Z into my room so that she could stay asleep and A could go back to sleep, without A seeing me or Z waking up enough that she couldn’t go back to sleep.

    Said morning prayers while laying on the couch. Did not fall asleep while saying prayers.

    Took 20 minute nap on the couch.

    Had a smile on my face when I got a screaming A out of bed.

    Fed A and got her happily playing.

    Read scriptures and checked e-mail. Noticed something new while reading scriptures, which means I was actually paying attention to what I read.

    Noticed the beauty of the morning outside. Took  pictures of Z’s tomatoes.

    Welcomed Bruce and Z to the morning when they woke up.

    Fed Z.

    Got everyone dressed. (Bruce dressed himself.)

    Refilled my well by talking to my sister on the phone.

    Went for a walk with my visiting teacher and enjoyed the beauty of a cloudy day.

    Talked with Z about visiting teaching and why it’s important.

    Picked up lunch and watched two little girls enjoy it.

    Successfully gauged when to put A down for her nap so that she actually fell asleep rather than screaming for an hour.

    Called a dear friend to wish him Happy Birthday.

    Figured out meals for the week.

    Ordered groceries.

    Got Z down for a quiet time.

    Tidied up the house.

    Thought of something to post about.

    Did not throw a fit when Z pooped in her pants even though she was in a room with a bathroom in it.

    That’s more than 20 things I’ve done today. I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t done, but I’m focusing on those 20+. That’s a lot of things to have accomplished by 1 pm.

    I’m amazing.

    And so are you. Please, share. What have you accomplished today? And like I told my girls, “don’t be modest. I mean, do be Modest- don’t run around half naked- but boast, people! C’mon!”

    Everyday miracle

    Monday, August 31st, 2009


    A little inspiration

    Sunday, August 30th, 2009

    “Progress, and improve upon and make beautiful everything around you. Cultivate the earth, and cultivate your minds. Build cities, adorn your habitations, make gardens, orchards, and vineyards, and render the earth so pleasant that when you look upon your labors you may do so with pleasure, and that angels may delight to come and visit your beautiful locations.”

    -Brigham Young

    Discuss. :) Personally, I love the connection between cultivating the earth and cultivating our minds- gets right to the heart of nurturing for me.  And I love that we’re supposed to do these things so that we can look at our labors with pleasure (not stress!) and that our homes can literally be heavens on Earth, with the very angels in attendance.

    At Home Retreats

    Saturday, August 29th, 2009

    I find it easy, in the hustle and bustle of my life, to let the important things slip away in my rush to do the mundane.  I forget to exercise regularly or email my Mama.  Periodically, I find it worthwhile to set aside some special time for what is really crucial, not just urgent.  This summer I did that twice.

    Silent Saturday, inspired by this fantastic book, was a revelatory experience, and has led to other, smaller, attempts to bring silence into my life.  A long walk (sans iPod) early on a Sunday, or just doing the dishes without the TV on, have really awakened me to my own life.

    My week practicing the Liturgy of the Hours using a pocket breviary has adjusted how I pray.  Stopping seven times a day, morning and night, to praise and petition the Lord brought Him more fully into my life than He had been for a long time.  I purchased the full three volume breviary, and have been praying the Offices now for two weeks.  I feel lighter and more grounded simulatneously, and I especially feel the Spirit more at work since I take time at lunch to pray the Midday Office.

    There are several excellent books to craft your own at home retreat, doable on your time frame and with very little expense (a recession retreat, if you will…).  My Mormon friends might enjoy 21 Days Closer to Christ, Evangelical Christians should find The Purpose Driven Life a good fit, and Catholics can gain new perspective from The Rosary.  In truth, though, I’ve read all of these books and done the spiritual pracitices, and found so much good for my life.  All of the books left me increasingly aware that Christ is real and present, and cares for me.

    Have any of you experimented with an at home retreat?  Or if you pick up one of these books, please comment on your experience.  May God bless you on your journey.

    An excuse to not put things away

    Saturday, August 29th, 2009

    I have a lot of crafting supplies. A lot. I’m a collector (voracious hoarder? You say tomato, I say tomato) by nature, and I enjoy 1) having  lots of options, 2) being able to put my hands on exactly what I’m imagining, 3) buying pretty things, 4) looking at pretty things. Add to that my tendency toward dabbling in many different crafting genres, and the end result is A LOT of supplies.

    Did I mention there’s a lot?

    I struggled for a long while figuring out the best storage solutions for all the supplies, and I’ve pretty much hit on what works for me. It’s a strange conglomeration of containers that resides in my closet.


    The top shelf is the sewing machine and other sewing items- yarn, crochet needles, knitting needles, yarn, thread, scissors, rotary stencils, etc.

    The second shelf holds the Cricut and all related items- as well as paper cutters. And apparently sandpaper and bottle of pink paper flowers.

    Third is scrapbook paper and embellishments, and that section overflows into the  fourth shelf in those lovely Martha Stewart boxes.

    The ground houses all the generic supplies (glue, scissors, tape) and various inks, glimmer mists, and stencils.

    And there’s more in the rest of the closet – stamps, fabric, stationary, chipboard and o-wires.

    (Somehow my clothes, shoes, and bags fit in there too.)

    It’s really nice to have everything in one place and accessible when I need it. But because it’s put away and out of sight, I find I don’t “need” things as often, because I get distracted by the rest of life and forget about the 17 projects I have going and the other 15 I’m thinking up.

    Earlier this week I got out the sewing machine to work on a set of baby blankets I’m making for a friend who is having twins. I got almost done with one blanket and hit a rough patch, so I put it aside. But since the sewing machine was out, I decided to tackle some other projects I’ve been thinking about but hadn’t gotten to, because it was “too much trouble to get the sewing machine out”.


    Pillows for Z and A to play their favorite game on- appropriately called “Fall on the pillow”. They were later used as stepping stones:


    A new bag to cart A’s toys to church on Sunday:


    Two easy, quick projects out of the way and done, and all because the instruments to make them were out and ready. I wonder how many other projects I would magically find time for if the sewing machine (or scrapbook stuff, or knitting stuff) was always out.

    I’m tempted to pick a supply and leave it out in plain sight for a week, and see what comes of it. Will you join me? Let me know what you’re leaving out in the comments.

    Meal Plan

    Saturday, August 29th, 2009

    I am working on a family goal near and dear to my heart. Family Dinner. As simple as that sounds, the past year has really challenged us to find time to sit and eat and enjoy a meal in the evening as a family. After the birth of our twins the little rhythm we had established with daughter one was out the window and food, dinner especially, became whatever could be tossed in the oven and shoveled down between bottles, diapers, sleep, loves and the “rinse and repeat” pattern of dual infants.

    As the little ones established an early (6:30 PM or they were toast) bedtime, dinner morphed into whatever could be made between the ritual of bedtime for wee ones and the ritual of bedtime for a toddler. Most nights, I opted on a three-headed-dinner approach: Feed toddler “toddler food” while spooning dinner into the twins. Put babies to bed. Put toddler to bed. Make some kind of adult food and eat on the couch after all children were asleep. Sometime around 8 PM.

    This is not me, nor is it the family time I imagined when my husband and I envisioned having children.

    Fortunately, babies grow. Bed times can be pushed back and moms can restate the importance of sharing a meal at the end of a busy day. For me, it is a chance to reconnect as a whole family. The girls haven’t seen Dad all day, and neither have I. We love to share stories and some quiet time before the hustle and bustle of getting three small girls to bed. And there is always a new dish to try. Something fun to cook and taste. Meals in out house are about more than body nourishment. They can be about comfort, adventure, excitement, remembrance, or even about having found that perfect “something” while wandering at the Farmer’s Market.

    Enter a commitment to dinner time. My husband and I have made a pact. Dinner will be done at 6:00 PM and he’ll be here to enjoy it with us. With this arrangement dinner has become a new cornerstone in my day. An added bonus for someone as hopelessly inept with schedules as I am. Dinner is now a goal and a way for me to focus the late afternoon post-nap-time-lethargy that tends to overtake me. I know I have to get prepping and chopping and cooking once the wee ones wake up, if not before, if we are going to share a timely meal. And a timely meal leads to a timely bed time and more quality time for the grown-ups to share.

    Dinner time has also changed my shopping habits. With a meal goal (and a weekly plan to make it happen) I am also focusing the food brought into our home and seeing less waste as a result. I am also able to take full advantage (most weeks) of the local fresh produce which is a blessing and a gift where we live.

    All of this is my way of introducing myself to you. I am by no means perfect in my Family Dinner goal, but it’s been a great month so far. I’ve seen my little babies be excited to try a variety of new foods and have seen my toddler eat more than microwave chicken for a meal (ah three, where did my little adventurer-eater go?). I’ve broken bread with my husband surrounded by our children and felt the happiness that brings to our home.

    I would like to share some of that with you. Be it lunch, dinner or a snack (or breakfast which belongs in a glorious category of its very own food-wise) I’d like to share some of the magic the food contains and explore some of the ways food connects us together.

    Thank you, and enjoy.

    Love is Spoken Here…

    Friday, August 28th, 2009

    I have a dirty little secret…

    I’m a serious emotional nutcase.  I fly off the handle at the slightest thing.  I can sometimes see that this is regulated by my hormones but other times I don’t see any cause other then me possibly being slightly crazy.

    For the most part, my inability to control my emotions is not necessarily a bad thing.  It doesn’t bother me too much and it doesn’t bother my husband or family too much.  The times that it really bothers me is when my children are acting up and I have a difficult time staying calm and dealing with the situation in a logical, firm and loving way.  Sometimes I do this better then other times.  Somedays I feel like my children are in time outs all day.  Some days are tiring and not fun.

    I am a firm believer in fun.  I believe childhood should be filled with fun.  Life should be filled with fun.  Motherhood should be a daily exercise in fun.  It is hard to encourage fun when you are having a difficult time staying happy.

    So, the other day as I lay down with my 2 year old to put him down for a nap, I was focusing on saying a silent prayer.  I was telling the Lord about my concerns with how I was feeling quite upset and not enjoying Motherhood that day.  I was telling Him that I really wanted our home to be a place where the Spirit is in abundance and we treat each other kindly and lovingly.  I was praying that I would find some kind of help, inspiration and guidance to help me be a better mom and help my home be a more loving place.

    Then I drifted off to sleep.

    I woke up a bit later with this song running through my head.  This particular verse is what I keep singing.

    Mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood power, with Father and Mother leading the way, teaching me how to trust and obey; and the things they teach are crystal clear for love is spoken here.

    I can often feel the Savior near when love is spoken here.

    I really feel like this was an answer to my prayer; kind of a reminder that I have to really focus on my tone of voice and make sure that love is spoken in my home.  As mother and primary care giver in our family, I have to remember that this is my responsibility.

    Since I woke up with that song in my head, it has replayed over and over many times.  I found myself mentally singing that song this afternoon when a trial reared it’s ugly head.  I focused on speaking with love and that trial was vanquished!

    My personal list of things that I have to do to make my home a better place is this:

    • Read my scriptures daily
    • Pray often.  Don’t forget to pray when I am feeling angry or upset.
    • Sing this song and other wonderful songs from the LDS Children’s Primary songbook as often as I need.
    • Play the mp3′s from the LDS Children’s Primary songbook as often as needed, as well. (Which can be downloaded along with other collections for free here.)
    • Be aware of my tone of voice.  If something is coming out negative sounding then I need to stop, mid-sentence, and fix that problem.
    • Read the scriptures to my children at bed time.

    It is very important to me that my home is filled with love.  Some of these things I do regularly, some of them I need to work on.  All together en masse, I should be a force to be reckoned with!  No negative feelings should be able to enter into our home.  Now I just have to do this and make it a habit.

    That, I am praying for.

    I kind of want to add a disclaimer here:  My children are wonderful.  They are inherently sweet, loving little boys.  Our house is not a home filled with major strife and contention. I am not an angry mom who is yelling and hitting her children all day long.  I just want to be a better mother and homemaker and I know that I need the kind of help that I can only receive from the Lord.  You don’t need to fear for their or call CPS on me or anything.  I’m actually not that crazy!:)

    How do you refill your well?

    Thursday, August 27th, 2009

    We are all so busy, working in and/or out of the home.  We give, give, give, and I think it’s so important to take a moment every now and then to refill your well, to recharge your batteries (whatever metaphor you prefer).  How do you refill yours?

    Today I refilled my well by taking a moment to soak up some sun and pray…


    Thursday, August 27th, 2009

    “Creativity goes deeper than the “art” sense of the word; it encompasses a whole way of living and being. Gratitude, and recognizing gratitude, can have a powerful effect on our whole lives. When we feel grateful, we feel full- full of love, full of inspiration, full of ideas, and full of creative spirit.”

    From The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule

    Do you find this to be true in your life? How do youremember to be grateful?