Monday, April 25, 2011

Exercise #14: Suspending Judgement

The next time you're tempted to judge someone, stop and think instead, "What could I do to help?"  Then do it, and be glad you're in a position to be so strong. 
There is a sweet sister in my ward who is going through a difficult trial.  Adam and I had, unthinkingly, joked about her situation early in the week, but by the end of the week I had an opportunity to spend time with her and I saw for myself how serious and frustrating her trial is for her and her family.  My time with her was meant to be of service, but I feel like I was probably less than helpful.  In a way, I feel like I missed the mark with this exercise, because I still came away from this experience feeling...I don't know...empty?  Like I should have done more, helped more, felt more.   I only hope I'll have another opportunity to help her, for real this time, soon. 

Anne has a cute sister in her ward with whom she has a lot in common that she's been trying to befriend, but they just keep missing each other.  She shared how she ran into her this week, and how she felt like, yet again, she missed the opportunity to spend time with her and become a better friend.  In the end Anne said, "So I will put myself in her shoes.  I really think she could use a friend, but I also realize that if I had five kids, I would probably feel like I didn't have the time/coping/energy to build a new friendship." 

So, basically, we both were feeling this week like we didn't quite meet the expectation of the exercise.  But, as we said last week, we are each a work in progress. 

Next week: Hearing

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Exercise #13: Making Lasting Changes

If you have a hard time following this blog post, my sincerest apologies!  Check out for answers to your questions...or feel free to email me, and I'll help answer them!
 You may have noticed that I skipped a week.  Oops!  I got a little behind and needed an extra week to work on this exercise.  It gave me a little more time to make a better effort at making a change.  Here's what we were supposed to do: 
Choose one small thing you want to change about your life.  Don't pick a full-on diet, for example, but maybe just one eating habit you could alter.  We're starting small on purpose so we can feel some success.  Pray and ask for the Spirit to help you make that change.  Write down all the reasons why you should make it, and why you can.  Decide what motivators would help you stick to it.  And then take a deep breath and do it! 
I, of course, being a rebel (you know, 'cause I'm such a rebel!), did pick more than one thing.  So, of course, I didn't accomplish all that I could have.  But, in the end I did improve in two of the three areas I was working on, and I'm going to focus on one of those: family scripture study. 

All the reasons I should do it:
  • Elder Richard G. Scott said in the last General Conference, "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. Righteous character is a precious manifestation of what you are becoming."  This just hit me really hard as he was speaking.  And part of that was that it is imperative for my character and my family's that we are consistently reading the scriptures together. 
  • This year's Primary theme is "I Know the Scriptures Are True."  Um, yeah, how are my kids going to gain a testimony of that if they aren't cracking the scriptures at home? 
  • A few weeks ago the children ran off to primary after sacrament meeting, and Adam and I were taking our time coming out of the chapel.  As I came out of the chapel, I saw Isaiah run from his class to the library to check out a set of scriptures--even though I know he had his scripture bag with him.  It dawned on me that all he has is the little blue Book of Mormon and that he probably needs the Bible and Doctrine and Covenants now that he's in Senior Primary.  And that he's looking up scriptures in class and has never been taught how to do that, even in family home evening.  Dang!  Time to get to work...
All the reasons I can do it:
  • Just like anything else, it just takes making it a part of our routine.  Once it's a "normal" thing to do, it's not hard to forget.  I realized this as I was trying to figure out why we've been so successful with family prayer and family home evening, not to mention attending church and activities--it's just part of our normal routine, it's just what we do.  Reading scriptures just needs to become one of those things. 
  • The kids want to do it, they have asked several times (of course, always at an inappropriate time, like an hour and a half after bedtime, or when we're late to be somewhere).  They may grumble occasionally, but we're still in the "I want to do what's right" stage of life, so now is an excellent time to start. 
  • God wants me to do it.  He will help me find a way! 
And as for motivators, all I really have to do is think of my reasons why I should do it, and I feel the good old Mormon guilt kicking in! 

So, once I worked through all this, I sat down and thought of the best time to incorporate reading scriptures into our routine.  Adam and the kids suggested bedtime, dinner time, and breakfast.  But all these times can become rushed as it is, and adding one more thing is not really wise.  Then I realized that Isaiah is frequently ready to leave for the bus early and plays around for a while before family prayer.  That's when we needed to do it.  So I called everyone in for family prayer 5 minutes early one morning and we read the introduction and the first verse of First Nephi.  I know, big deal, right?  But remember, we're taking baby steps here.  Right now we're still figuring things out, but I think our new routine is to each read a verse before family prayer.  It will take a while to get through the Book of Mormon, but that's not really the goal here.  The goal is to consistently read the word of God as a family, and this accomplishes that. 

Speaking of baby steps, that reminds me of something Anne said about what she chose to change: "The thing I have been working on for the past few weeks to do differently is to a) make a decision more quickly and b) not second-guess myself.  I'm getting better at just PICKING something, but I still agonize afterwards about my choice.  I'm a work in progress."  I, too, am a work in progress.  We are all a work in progress!  But we just have to keep working so we can keep progressing! 

Next week:  Suspending Judgement

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wake up to yum...

Some more recipes, hope you're all in as cooking a mood as I have been (or maybe it's an eating mood?).  My fridge is about to explode, though, so I think we'll need to eat leftovers for a couple of days and recover before trying the next new recipe!  Today's recipes were made for a brunch with my bestest girls.  Seriously girls, we need to get together more often.  (Though next time, I promise I'll put the quiche in the oven earlier, and we'll try not to have any bee stings!) 

Broccoli Quiche, Crepes, and Black Forest Crepes
Broccoli Quiche based on this recipe from

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced (I used half an onion, I'm not super fond of onion)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups milk 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter over medium heat in a large pan.  Add onion, garlic, and broccoli, and cook slowly until vegetables are soft.  Press cheese into crust, then spoon vegetables over the cheese.  Combine eggs and milk and add salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese (depending on the size of your pan, you may have extra egg mixture--just make note to adjust amounts if so).  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until center has set (which for me was about 60 minutes, but I was cooking two quiches). 

This was super yummy!  I have had 3 slices today, and I know I'm not the only one who went back for seconds...
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2/3 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and oil.  Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and brush with oil.  Pour 2-4 tbsp of batter into pan, tilting to completely coat the surface of the pan.  Cook 2 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden.  Repeat with remaining batter. 
These take a bit of time.  That little bitty amount of batter took me about a half an hour to cook up, so don't cook them while your family or guests are waiting impatiently to eat (unless you're much faster or more talented than I am, which is entirely possible!).  Much better to cook them ahead, slipping a square of waxed paper or parchment paper in between each crepe, then refrigerate.  You can always warm them up (in the microwave or oven) before serving. 
There are lots of ways you can eat crepes.  My family's favorite is to roll strawberries up inside, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and dollop with whipped cream or whipped topping.  They are also yummy spread with Nutella and filled with bananas.  You can go the peanut butter and jelly route.  Or the diabetic special with syrup, powdered sugar, and whipped cream--Katie's creation.  Or if you're in the mood for a savory crepe you can fill it with ham and cheese, eggs and bacon, or whatever else your heart desires. 
Black Forest Crepes
from Hershey's Classic Recipes
3 eggs
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light cream or half-and-half
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter or margarine, melted and cooled
Cherry pie filling
Chocolate sauce (recipe below)
Sweetened whipped cream
1.  Combine eggs, water and light cream in blender or food processor; blend 10 seconds.  Add flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and butter; blend until smooth.  Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. 
2. Spray 6-inch crepe pan lightly with cooking spray; heat over medium heat.  For each crepe, pour 2-3 tbsp batter into pan; lift and tilt pan to spread batter.  Return to heat; cook until surface begins to dry. Loosen crepe around edges; turn and lightly cook other side.  Stack crepes, placing wax paper between crepes.  Keep covered. 
3.  Just before serving, place 2 tbsp pie filling onto each crepe; roll up.  Place crepes on dessert plate.  Prepare Chocolate Sauce; spoon over crepes.  Garnish with sweetened whipped cream. 
Chocolate Sauce
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/8 tsp salt
Stir together sugar and cocoa in a small saucepan; blend in evaporated milk, butter and salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat.  Serve warm.  Cover and refrigerate leftover sauce.
Yum.  Just yum.  We're not big cherry fans, so we like strawberries (or raspberries!) in these, too.  But even with cherries...mmmm. 
Sadly, in the process of writing this post I have gotten up and got another slice of quiche and three more crepes.  I'm going to go roll myself to bed now...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lily - 6 months

six months

14 lbs
26 inches

Likes: Katie, looking at, holding, and tasting new things, being outside, the trampoline, music, splashing in warm water
Dislikes: sleeping, napping, being tired, being held too long, being left to play alone too long, the carseat, being bored
Milestones: playing peekaboo, sitting unassisted for a few seconds, first food (potatoes)

Happy half birthday, Lulu!  It is so fun to watch you become more and more interested in the world around you.  You are most happy rolling around  (back and forth to turn yourself around) on the floor while watching the big kids play around you.  You like spending time outside, and it's making me excited for the summer.  We took you swimming in Vegas this month, and you loved splashing in the warm water.  You are still so little to me, so I'm having fun getting use out of Katie's old wardrobe.  You always look so cute!  It's also easier to carry you around than it would be if you were heavier, so you still get the view from Mom's arms or the sling a lot of the time.

You are still a poor sleeper, and it makes me (and Dad) very tired.  It takes you a long time to fall asleep, and usually I have to nurse you.  And then you wake up quickly; your naps are short and you usually wake three times at night.  Your doctor thinks we should leave you to cry yourself to sleep in your crib, but it just breaks my heart so I haven't done it.  I just keep hoping we can find a solution that will at least help.  Grandma Bubbles lent us a white noise machine that seems to help you stay asleep a bit better, especially at night. 

You have a lot in store in a short while!  I am excited to see you try some more foods and learn to sit alone.  I love you Silly Lily!

Exercise #12: Adjusting Expectations

Take an honest inventory of your life situation. Are you holding on to unproductive behaviors with the unrealistic expectation that they won't really hurt you?  Is is time to reach for a "new normal," maybe even on a higher level? 
I'm not really sure where this post is going to end up, but here goes with some rambling thoughts I have about this topic...

Our author uses a story from Candid Camera to illustrate her point, and I decided to share part of it here because it really did help me work toward what I need to change in my life.  She tells how they put an actor in a car from which the engine has been removed, position it at the top of a hill, and coast it into a service station.  The attendant fills the car with gas, then when the actress asks sweetly if he'll check the oil, he opens the hood to find that there is no engine!  Despite his protests, she pretends to have no idea what he's talking about, insisting that he fix it. 

We laugh our heads off whenever we watch this clip. But one of the things that makes it funny--and even a little painful--is that it is so true to the way we live our lives. How often do we insist that someone make the car run, even when we know in our hearts that the car has no engine? 

That behavior takes many forms.  We take an energetic two-year-old to the movies and insist that she sit quietly for two hours, then get mad when she can't.  We spend all our money and then insist on buying more things even when we can't imagine how we'll pay for them.  We fill our bodies with junk food and deprive them of sleep, and then get upset when they don't run properly.  We're like Alma's son Corianton, who had to be told plainly, "Wickedness never was happiness," as much as he would have liked it to be otherwise (Alma 41:10). 

When our expectations are clearly unrealistic, we have two choices: live in denial and find ourselves unhappy at every turn, or adjust those expectations.
I have very unrealistic expectations for myself.  I have a hard time not thinking in absolutes, and so I often feel like if I am not doing everything perfectly, I am failing completely.  Which is completely untrue, and I should know better.  I've been taught all my life that while I must always try my best, only Christ is perfect.  Even Flylady taught me several years ago that "housework done incorrectly still blesses my family!"  I still sometimes find myself repeating that mantra as I ignore the dust bunnies in the corners and just sweep up the Cheerios everyone keeps crunching on as they walk through.  But it translates to so many areas of my life, and I need to remember that. 

Because I often feel like I can't do something perfectly I shouldn't do it at all.  And this is really destructive and selfish behavior, like the child that is too overwhelmed to clean his room and whines "It's too hard!"  I have been hiding from being the wife, friend, mother, and daughter of God that I know I need to work toward being.  Listening to General Conference this weekend really helped me understand that.  Whining that "It's too hard!" isn't going to cut it when it comes to my personal spiritual growth and teaching my children the gospel.  What is going to make the difference is consistent efforts at reading scriptures as a family, consistent personal prayer, and consistently finding ways to serve others.  Those are the things that I need to make my "new normal," not the destructive selfish attitudes I've held so close for so long.  It's easier said than done, but making goals is a start.  And if I can't do it perfectly, doing it at all will still bless my family and myself. 

And, appropriately, for next week: Making Lasting Changes

Friday, April 1, 2011

Girl Food

I am in a serious mood for girl time, girl food, and apparently, girl dishes.  So I've been planning some lunches with "my girls" and that's good news for you all who like when I post recipes.  You know what else is good news?  The auto-focus on my camera lense was working again this week, so we have pictures!  Yay! 

This week the occasion was visiting teaching (um, yeah, I am aware that I did my visiting teaching on the 31st of the month, it still counts!).  My partner, Jen, brought the yummiest roasted red pepper soup and cake with strawberries and cream...mmmm, I need to get recipes from her.  And Sallie brought us banana bread...and I need to the recipe from her!  But it was more than just an eat-fest, really, I had so much fun visiting with these awesome ladies and it was the most beautiful day (yes, we are hitting 80s here, my northern friends, you need to come visit). 

So, here we are with the recipes.  First up, a chicken salad that began many moons ago, when I was pregnant with Max and headed to a Stampin' Up retreat...speaking of girls, I sure miss those girls.  Anyway, it was yummy then, and it's yummy now.  And a green salad from one of my long-time "imaginary" girlfriends (she's real, I've just never met her in real life...but we're really friends, I promise).  These are both some of my favorite go-to recipes for potlucks and lunches. 

Check out the floral dishes!  Probably the first floral thing I've owned since marrying Mr. "No Floral, No Way" Adam Ellis.  He insists they will be perfect for all my "tea parties."
 Fruited Curry Chicken Salad
adapted from

8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and diced (or a rotisserie chicken and a couple of breasts, or you can even use the canned chicken from Costco)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped (I use much less, I'm not a fan of too much onion)
2 small apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I like the tartness of Granny Smith)
2/3 cup golden raisins or craisins
2/3 cup seedless grapes, halved (I prefer red when I have golden raisins, green when I have craisins, but usually use just whatever is convenient)
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (I left these out this time and kinda missed them)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (or a couple of grinds from the grinder)
1 tsp curry powder (I never measure, I just shake, stir, taste and repeat until it tastes good - I know I use much more that it calls for)
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (again, I don't really measure, I just add it until it's not dry anymore, which I'm certain is more than it calls for)

Mix it all up and serve on croissants or rolls.  Just another side note, I halved this for our lunch this week (there were five of us) and had half of it left.  The original recipe is supposed to serve 16. 

Bookclub Chicken Salad
from Ramona Mathis aka "Mona of the Babyboard"

6-8 chicken breasts (I don't think I've actually made this with the chicken, only as a side, but here are the directions because it would be awesome with chicken in it.)
  • Cook chicken breasts for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool and cut into small pieces. 
Sugared almonds
  • 8 ounces slivered almonds
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • In a small skillet, sprinkle sugar over almonds and cook over medium heat until almonds are coated and sugar dissolved. 
  • 2 bags European blend salad mix (and/or Spring Mix)
  • 1 head Iceberg lettuce (or Romaine), torn into pieces
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup craisins
1 cup shredded Mozzarella

Toss everything but the almonds, reserving to sprinkle on top.  You will need a gigantor of a bowl, this salad is huge

Dressing (The dressing is seriously what makes this salad.  I currently have a mason jar of it in the fridge, just for my own use.)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Finely chop red onion in food processor.  Add sugar, dry mustard, salt, and vinegar and blend until frothy.  Slowly add oil. 
Dressing may be tossed into salad before adding sugared almonds or served separately.  (I prefer to serve it separately because my family is filled with Hidden Valley Ranch snobs that prefer to dress their own....)

I have another lunch planned next week, stay tuned! 

P.S.  I just went back and read this post and I sound at best, ADD, at worst, like I'm hyped up on something.  I promise, I'm not taking anything.  Oh, wait, I ate an entire package of Peeps today...dang Easter candy!