Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best Way to Feel Heaven in Your Home is to Have Someone You Love in Heaven

My mom received a plaque with the words "The Best Way To Feel Heaven in Your Home is To Have Someone You Love in Heaven". I thought those words to be fitting for the title of this blog. My dad passed away recently, and though this blog is difficult for me to write, I feel it is important to pay tribute to him. Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard story after story of the service and love my dad gave to the people around him. I knew my dad to be a generous man who followed promptings without hesitation, but he almost always did his acts of service in a very quiet and private way, so it wasn't until after his passing that I was able to hear of the impact he had on so many people. His acts of service ranged from playing his bagpipes for those that were sick or grieving, to offering a perfect stranger money, a hotel room and a bus pass to get home. He showed love and acceptance in such a way that so many of the people he knew thought that he was THEIR best friend. Not only was he a good friend to nearly everyone he came in contact with, he was a good son who took care of his mother after his father passed. He was a good brother who always had his siblings best interests in mind. He was a loving and devoted husband who continually searched for ways to make his wife happy. Most importantly to me, he was a good father. Not only did he take time to play with us and laugh with us, he always took advantage of opportunities to teach us valuable lessons. I am sure Kiera, Ian and Sam learned similar lessons from my dad, but these are lessons I personally learned from him. He taught me to be an honest and hard worker. He taught me to think of others before myself. I learned many lessons from him just by observing him. I remember after a serious work accident he was in about eight years ago, he was laying in the hospital covered in dirt, with bruises and broken bones and he asked a nurse how she was doing when she came into the room to take care of him. It wasn't a casual "how are you doing" either, I knew he sincerely wanted to know. That really impressed me. He taught me to have a better understanding and love for my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as he lead us in family prayer and scripture study and talked to me often about different areas of the gospel. I will miss his council and comforting words. I will miss his constant support of the decisions I make. I will miss those rough and worn, but gentle hands that would playfully tug on my hair and pat my shoulder as he walked by or squeeze my hand in times of discouragement and reassure me that everything would be ok. Although I won't be able to feel those hands any more or see his face, I know that heaven isn't far way and he will often be near. Whenever I hear his name mentioned or think of the life he lived, my heart will swell with pride to know that he was my dad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adventures in Primary Teaching

So Matt and I have been teaching the nine-year-old's in primary for several months now and it can be such a challenge sometimes! The boys are constantly trying to be silly and make each other laugh. We often hear comments like " um..uhh...if Samuel the Lamanite was being shot at by arrows, would the arrows hit his bed? he he ha ha" What the heck does that even mean?! There is one child in particular that just...exasperates me. I know she has some learning disabilities, and I try to take that into account, but sometimes, I'm just not sure how to handle her. A couple of weeks ago we were practicing for our primary program and the poor girl was in a terrible mood! I was offending her left and right with my attempts at keeping her from breaking a chair or disrupting the practice. At one point she said, "That's the last straw!!" and angrily grabbed a piece of paper and started EATING it! I practically had to beg her not to eat the paper with her part in the program on it. This has become a new habit of hers. She's always eating paper! Should I let her eat paper? Should I just ignore this behavior? How do I distract her? I've tried talking about her pretty dress etc. Doesn't work. Thankfully, she really likes Matt and she listens to him most of the time. He has been sick these past couple of weeks, so I was on my own. Anyway, if anyone has any ideas for keeping nine-year-old's interested in primary, I would LOVE to hear them. I think I'm better off with two-year-old's.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


When Matt and I got engaged, the thought of handwriting names and addresses for around 150 to 200 people sounded awful, and I truly thought it was when I actually had to to it. I was such a wimp! I had only experienced a fraction of the monotony, aches and pain that I have come to know over the past two weeks. Matt and I decided we wanted to make a little extra money so we could pay off our new car quickly, so we resorted to THIS!! It may not look like much, but that's 1100 envelopes and 8 hours of work. The processes involves signing and folding each paper, followed by hand writing each name and address and stuffing the envelope. We haven't even gotten around to the other 400 or so envelopes still waiting for us. We also have to seal and stamp each envelope. That part really isn't so bad, it just makes my back hurt. Though the piles of envelopes seam never ending, Matt and I work well together and I usually get a good back rub out of it. We get 12 cents for each envelope, so it's a pretty decent deal. This car better be worth it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Matt and I took a trip to Wyoming, Idaho and Utah about a week ago and it was so nice to be able to spend time with family. After a very long, but relatively smooth plane ride, we arrived safely in Utah much to Matt's relief. Flying is not something Matt enjoys in the least bit, and often dreads months or weeks before the actual event. About two hours after our arrival, we headed straight to Idaho to visit my cousins. The next day we headed to Yellowstone. On our way there we stopped in Jackson Hole and got a picture of the famous antler arch. We also got a great picture of the Teton Mountains. They have such a Dr. Seuss look about them!

Yellowstone was fun and just as stinky as I remember it. We went to Yellowstone when I was a kid and the terrible sulfur smell is the one thing that stands out it my mind. One of my favorite places we visited was painters point....or maybe it was painters pallet. Anyway, I thought it was beautiful. Here is a picture of Matt and I in front of the perfect view.

We didn't see the variety of wild life we would have liked to, but we did see buffalo, buffalo and more buffalo. We saw a baby wolf which was fun...no bears unfortunately. Of course when you go to Yellowstone, you have to get a picture of Old Faithful. I had my camera ready and I waited and waited for Old Faithful to go off and just when that moment came...what do you know, the battery dies. So I'm settling for a family picture in front of some random mud pot.
Our little vacation was fun, but a little too short. I wish we could have spent more time with the extended family, but we did enjoy the short time that we had with them. Hopefully we will be back soon!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Love Food!

I LOVE food. I love making it and seeing the satisfaction on someones face when they taste something really delicious. My current TV obsession is the food network. I could probably watch it all day if I let myself. It is so entertaining for me to watch someone make something different and interesting. I love experimenting with different flavors, spices, and textures. Over the past couple weeks, I have been experimenting with homemade ravioli. I found a ravioli maker at Williams Sonoma and it makes perfect little ravioli shapes. I don't have a pasta maker, so I have to roll out the dough myself. It works for now and I'm actually developing some muscle from all that rolling. After the dough is rolled you place it on the ravioli shaper and press the dough down with this press that looks kind of like an egg carton. Then you fill each little pocket, place another layer of dough on the top and roll over it with a rolling pin. It's so easy and fun. My biggest challenge has been the pasta dough. I tried one last week that called for eggs, flour and olive oil and it was just terrible. All we could taste was the egg. I know it's silly, but I seriously get so upset when food doesn't turn out the way I expect it to. Anyway, this week I tried a different dough recipe without eggs and it was much better. I made sweet potato ravioli with a brown butter and sage sauce, topped with fried shallots and toasted pine nuts. It was sooo good that I even took a picture. I would recommend the recipe to anyone who has the time for it. It's well worth the work!

Ravioli dough
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 cup boiling water

In a food processor, place the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the flour has the texture of rough cornmeal. With the machine running, slowly add the water. Gather the dough into a ball and place on a floured surface. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough in half and keep one half covered while you work with the other. Roll out dough to a 19x4" rectangle 1/8 inch thickness. Place 1 teaspoon of filling about one inch apart on rectangle. Fold over and press around the edges (use egg wash to seal around the edges). Cut into squares. Ravioli freezes well for 2-3 months. Cook fresh ravioli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes or frozen ravioli for 9-10 minutes. You can also use wonton wrappers. Cook until ravioli floats to the top.

Sweet Potato Ravioli
2 1-lb sweet potatoes (yams)
2 T. golden brown sugar
2 T. butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil rimmed baking sheet. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise; place cut side down on baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 35 minutes; cool. Scoop potato pulp out of skins onto small bowl. Spoon 1 1/3 cups pulp into medium bowl. Add sugar and butter. Mash well. Season filling with salt and pepper.

Fried Shallots and Sauce:
1 C. vegetable oil
4 large shallots, cut crosswise into thin rounds, separated into rings
6 tablespoons butter
8 large fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/3 C. pine nuts toasted

Heat vegetable oil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, fry shallots until crisp and dark brown, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer shallots to paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Cook butter in large pot over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add sage and red pepper. Add cooked ravioli to pot with butter sauce; toss to coat. Transfer to plates, drizzling any sauce from pot over ravioli. Top with fried shallots and pine nuts.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kid's Say the Darndest Things

I teach two-year-old's at a school called Oak Brook. Yes, it is actually considered a school. I know, I know..... it doesn't seem like two-year-old's are quite ready for pre-school, but they actually learn a lot and I am always surprised at the growth I see in them within just a few months. This job is not easy, in fact it is exhausting. I have just spent the past week preparing for a new class of two-year-old's.....17 of them! I don't know what I'm going to do, besides loose my mind. The only thing that really keeps me happy and sane is to hear some of their comments. A few of which I probably shouldn't share. A couple of days ago one of my little girls said to me with her sweet little voice, "You got spots on your face." I smiled and said, "I do! What are those spots called?". She said, "They come when you get old". Hmmmmm. It's also fun to hear their little southern accents. One little girl calls toilet paper "toolet paper" haha. Occasionally I will hear them repeat things that I have said, such as, "We don't run in the classroom" or "We use our loud voices outside." I was a little bothered the other day though, when I asked a little boy where he was supposed to be sitting and he automatically said, "Outside!" I pointed to his chair and told him to sit in it. After everyone was seated I asked "Where do we need to put our hands?" (I always have them put their hands infront of them before I pass out paper for art), the same little boy shouted "Outside!". Huh? Somewhere along the way, this little boy got the impression that the answer to every question is "OUTSIDE".
Most of my kids are moving on to the next classroom and I am getting at least 13 new children in my class in addition to the four that will be staying. It's going to be intersting and I won't deny I'm a little nervous. But, as long as they keep their innocent little comments coming, I'll survive.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hilton Head

Matt and I took a trip to Hilton Head, which is a small Island in South Carolina. We were only there for a couple of days, but we had a great time. We stayed with some friends in a condo next to the beach. The night we got there it was raining and the waves were pretty big, so we decided we would go swimming. I even tried a little body surfing! I had so much fun. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures while we were on the beach.

The next day, we went to the outlet malls (that was for Matt!) and then we rented bikes. There are over 25 miles of trails on the Island apparently. Matt and I rode around by ourselves for a couple of hours and we even saw a long black snake. I don't know what kind it was, but it was just hanging out in the middle of the bike trail. We tried to get a picture, but it slid away too fast.
I haven't ridden a bike since I was like 10 years old, so I was a little scared at first, but I got the hang of it. I kind of felt like a little kid again, riding that bike. I have that classic "look mom! I'm doing it!!" picture. You know, the one where your proudly looking over your shoulder at the person behind you. Honestly, I'm lucky I didn't run into a tree trying to pull a stunt like that. Anyway, it was fun and Matt and I have decided we will eventually invest in some bikes!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blueberry Pickin'

I have decided that I need to take more opportunities to experience the South, and I had the perfect opportunity over the weekend. There is a town called Thomsan (about thirty minutes away from Augusta) where a little old woman by the name of Bernice, owns a blueberry patch. I think Bernice is such an appropriate name for a little lady with a blueberry patch. My friends (Troy and Kristina) and I made our trip out to the patch only to find a sign that said "Closed, due to heat index". We were so disappointed! Just as we were about to leave, we saw a van pull up on the far side of the blueberry patch. We weren't about to give up on picking blueberries after driving a half hour to get there, so we pulled up next to the van and Troy convinced a sweet little woman to let us pick the berries. She was a good friend of the owner. It was insanely hot and humid! I have never sweat that much in my life! I wore sandals (I don't know what I was thinking) and about five minutes into picking, my toes started to sting. I looked down to find fire ants crawling all over my toes. I moved from bush to bush, trying to escape those darn ants, but they always found me. There was an older man picking berries while sitting in his wheel chair and the poor man was practically eaten alive by those awful things! He had welts everywhere. I felt so bad for him! Fire ants have to be one of the worst features of the South....along with the roaches. I don't know which are worse. I got about 5 lbs. of blueberries for only $1.50/lb. We made blueberry jam when we got home and the next day I made my own blueberry syrup to put on my favorite pancakes. I'm not a pancake lover, but I love this recipe!

Ricotta pancakes
2 cups ricotta
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt

Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Sift the dry ingredients: flour sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the ricotta mixture and stir until fully combined. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold into the batter. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add a little butter. Cook 2 to 3 pancakes at a time using a 6-ounce ladle or measuring cup to pour the batter into the pan. Cook the pancakes on 1 side until they set. When small bubbles appear on the uncooked surface, flip the pancakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes.

Blueberry Syrup
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons sugar
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
Combing ingredients in a saucepan. Crush some of the berries to release juices. Simmer until sauce thickens. Serve warm.

I like to spread a little lemon curd over the top of the pancakes and then pour blueberry syrup over that. It's soooo good!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

So I decided that it was time for me to join the blogger world. Being as Matt and I live across the country from most of my family and friends, I thought this might be a good way to let everyone know what we are up to. We have been in Augusta for just over a year and we are unsure at this point, when we will be returning back to Utah. Matt is in the process of applying for jobs in Augusta as well as Utah. I miss my family and friends, but we both feel that we need to be out here just a little longer. We will see what happens.
Matt and I were just called to be primary teachers for the 9-year-old's. We have taught the class twice and it has been a good experience so far. I love watching Matt interact with the kids. We have one little girl in the class that has been a challenge for teachers in the past. We were told that she didn't like men, but apparently she feels differently about Matt! She warmed up to him very quickly and was eager to be near him. As we made our way down the isle of the primary room she said, "I gonna split you guys up!". Although she sat between us, she insisted we hold hands across her lap. She's a character! I have no doubt that this calling will provide many learning experiences for both of us!