October 15, 2017

A Beacon Of Hope

This past week our family was able to spend some much needed time out at the coast. One day while out exploring, we came upon this lighthouse. This lighthouse was once a beacon of hope to those out at sea. I couldn’t help but notice that this lighthouse no longer had a light, it was worn and beat up. This lighthouse caused me to pause and reflect on life.


Each of us has the light of Christ. Those we come in contact with see that light, that light is a beacon of hope. Just like that lighthouse, if we don’t make righteous choices and nourish ourselves spiritually our light can go out, we can become worn and beat up. My challenge to each of you is to take a moment, pause and evaluate where you on the path of righteousness. Do you need to make some changes? Is there room for improvement? If so, start now to make those changes. Add oil to your lamp so your light can continue to shine bright.

October 5, 2017

Trust In The Lord

We found out today that Andy will be getting laid off in March. This all feels very surreal right now, I feel as though I am in a state of shock. Am I surprised by what is going on? Not at all. I am calm. I am nervous to take a step into the dark, to wander on an unknown path and to travel to someplace I have never been. Is it scary? Yes! But the scriptures say, "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30). We have been preparing for this day for a long time, I am just surprised that it is actually here. We have prepared as much as we can and now it is time to put our trust in the Lord. Because with God, all things are possible.

September 22, 2017

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

I don't know about you, but I struggle when it comes to meal planning. For me, meal planning feels too restrictive. What if what I planned to make for dinner that day doesn't sound good? What about my leftovers? When will they get eaten?

Another thing I struggle with is wasting food- I hate to waste food! I hardly ever throw food out, I manage to find a way to use everything. On the rare occasion that something doesn't get eaten in time, we feed it to the chickens.

And, I only go grocery shopping twice a month. The exception to this rule is making a milk run (we only have one fridge).

At this point you might be scratching your head wondering what we eat. Honestly, we eat a lot of whole grains, lean meats and A LOT of fruits and vegetables.

On more than one occasion Andy has suggested that I should blog about what I make with "nothing" in the fridge. While it's a good idea, I'm not sure it would help very much, since what is in my fridge is probably different from what is in your fridge.  

I guess I should get back on track-- this post is supposed to be about chili. About a year ago my sister gave me an awesome chili recipe, I changed a few things in it, entered the chili in a couple of chili cook offs and won. Since it's chili season again I thought I would share the recipe with you.



Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Ingredients
1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1.75-2 Pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
2 (15 Ounce) White Beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 Ounce) Cans Diced Tomatoes
2 (4 Ounce) Cans Green Chilies
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
8 Ounces Neufchatel Cheese (found next to the cream cheese at the store)
1 Tablespoon Oregano Leaves
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Chopped Cilantro, for topping
Shredded Cheese, for topping
Corn Tortilla Chips, for topping

Directions 
Place the onions and garlic on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place chicken on top in a single layer. Add the beans, tomatoes, chilies, chicken broth, neufchatel cheese, oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper and cover. Cook for 8-10 hours on low or until chicken is very tender. Remove chicken and shred with a fork. Once shredded stir the chicken back into the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with cilantro, cheese and tortilla chips.  Serves 6-8

While the photos are not the prettiest, this chili is the tastiest! Your belly will thank you for eating it. I took some chili to my neighbors this evening and they came running outside asking for the recipe-- it's that good! Enjoy!

September 17, 2017

Oven Pancakes

Those who know me well, know that I am a healthy eater. I don't typically enjoy eating out and I don't enjoy prepackaged foods very much. I love to cook and I enjoy cooking with healthy raw ingredients.

Several months ago when my mother-in-law came to visit she asked if I had any flour. My response was, "I have whole wheat flour." I haven't bought white flour in years. I tend to use whole wheat flour, spelt flour, tapioca flour and coconut flour. Whole wheat flour wasn't going to work for my mother-in-law, so we made a trip to the grocery store where she purchased a bag of white flour. This flour has been sitting in my cupboard since then and I decided to bite the bullet and start using it.

I was craving oven pancakes (German pancakes, Dutch babies, fluffy pancakes--I'm sure there are many more names for this dish) one day and decided to try the Pioneer Woman's recipe. I was really disappointed with her recipe, it had too much egg in it and was kind of rubber like.

Just the thought of these pancakes makes my mouth water.

A few days later I called up my step-mom to get her recipe (I'd had it before so I knew it was good). I made a few changes to it and had the most amazing oven pancakes of my life!

The dish was so good, I made it two more times in the matter of a few days (shh, don't tell anyone I ate half the pan by myself). I tried experimenting with my favorite kinds of flours and it wasn't the same, some more experimenting may be needed in the future but for now this is the winning version of the recipe.

Ingredients

6 eggs
1 C milk
1 C white flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
Optional: fruit

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan. Mix eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until smooth. Pour the mixture into your pan. Sprinkle fruit on the top of the mixture (We have tried raspberries and blackberries together and we have tried peaches and blackberries- both were really good). Bake in the over for 18 minutes. Serve immediately with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!

 Maybe one of these days I will get good at taking photos of food, in time I guess.

September 12, 2017

Through The Eyes Of Bubba

I think I live a pretty good life. In the morning, I get to lay in bed for about an hour with Mommy and Daddy. Daddy heads to work and Mommy and I play with toys in my room. Then we head to the kitchen and Mommy makes breakfast and I eat Cheerios, they are my favorite!

Often we go outside to water the plants, feed the chickens and check the mail. We usually go visit our neighbors and say hi to Marnie (she is a puppy that lives next door).

Sometimes we run errands or go to the library for story time.

I love going on long walks and hikes with Mommy! I enjoy taking in all the sights and sounds around me.

During the day we sing, read stories together and dance around the house. Dancing with Mommy is so much fun! It makes we laugh and smile.

Sometimes Mommy says, "Meow." I don't  know what that word means but I like the way in sounds. It sounds funny and I laugh.

I laugh a lot. Laughing is the best though when Mommy and Daddy tickle me!

Usually I only cry when I am "done" or when I Mommy and Daddy try to put me down for a nap-- naps are the worst. Mommy and Daddy insist that naps are good for me, but I'm not so sure.

September 6, 2017

Count Your Many Blessings

It is easy to get bogged down with the mundane tasks of day to day life. It is easy to forget to look for God's hands in the intricate details of life. Sometimes it is nice to take a break and count your blessings. For me, counting my blessings helps shift my focus to God and it lifts my spirit. For the last week or so, I have been feeling particularly blessed for no reason at all. So, I thought it might be a good time to count my blessings.

  • I have a home that keeps me safe, warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • I am so blessed to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • I am grateful for my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and a beautiful son.
  • We have enough money to make ends meet.
  • I am able to be home with my son each day- it is both an honor and a privilege.
  • Even though they live out-of-state, I have some really good friends.
  • I have healthy food in my fridge and on my shelves.
  • I have transportation.
  • We have been blessed with freedom- speech, religion, etc. 
  • I have a bountiful garden and four healthy chickens.
  • I have clothes and shoes to wear.
  • I have fresh water to drink.
  • I am blessed to have a temple within driving distance. 
  • I have been blessed with good health.
  • I live in a relatively safe neighborhood.
  • I have some really good neighbors.
  • I live in one of the prettiest parts of the country.
  • I am grateful for the firefighters who are working so hard to put out the wildfires that are currently burning nearby.
  • I am grateful that I am able to seek medical care when needed. 
  • I am grateful to those who touch my life for good.  
  • I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the opportunity I have been given to repent and start anew each day.
  • I am grateful for a living prophet who leads and guides with love.
  • I am grateful for the beauty that surrounds me.

August 20, 2017

Is It I?

For the past week or so I have been struggling emotionally. I have felt incredibly lonely which in turn has caused me to feel depressed. I started reflecting on my life and I realized that all of my really good friends live out-of-state. Those people who live close to me that I thought were friends have really let me down.

Have you ever made plans with someone and then when it comes time to execute said plans they won't answer the phone or show up? Have you ever text or called someone and they never got back to you? This has happened to me more times recently than I would like to count.

While at the library this week for story time, I tried chatting it up with two other moms but the one made it very obvious that she didn't want to talk to me. I got in my car and was on the verge of tears, when I realized that Heavenly Father blessed me with a beautiful little boy who is always by my side.

Some days though I wish my sidekick could talk with me and say more than "Dada." Some days I wish I had a friend to hike with, laugh with and occasionally cry with. 

I started questioning myself- Is there something wrong with me that people don't want to be my friend? Do I smell bad? Do I have food in my teeth? Am I weird? I've been assured by those closest to me that there is nothing wrong with me that people are just flaky.

Needless to say, I am in need of some new friends. Hopefully I will cross paths with someone soon.

August 7, 2017

Sweet Creek Falls

It was a busy week for us, Bubba. Sleeping in your own room has been hit and miss, but overall I think it has been a positive thing. You seem to sleep for longer durations of time in your own room and that is a plus for all of us.

The H.O.A. election took place on Wednesday evening (it was 107 degrees that day). All of my door knocking paid off, I won a spot on the Board of Directors and will now be serving as the Secretary. What made the election even better was the other people that I was hoping would make it onto the board did. Here's hoping we can make some great things take place!

Life has been so busy lately that we haven't been able to get out and hike as much as we would like to. This Saturday we decided that we could all use some time outdoors. It has been really smokey here in the valley so we decided to head out towards the coast. We hiked Sweet Creek Falls, this trail is a hidden gem.


The hike is approximately a mile and a half long and a gradual climb. The entire trail is in the woods and runs along the "creek" which is more like a river. There are pools of water the are scattered throughout the creek that you can swim in. The scenery is just breathtaking. This is probably the prettiest hike we have ever done!



As we were hiking along, Andy pointed out a bird's nest with baby birds in it. I had never seen a nest with little birds in it before, the whole scene was beautiful!


Bubba's first time waving and somehow we happened to catch it on camera.



We hope to go back and do this hike again. Next time we will be sure to bring out swimming suits and crawdad traps (we saw quite of few of them, they were orange in color).

As for you Bubba, you have really taken to this rolling thing. You have been rolling all over the place! I would not be surprised if you start crawling soon. You have also gotten a lot better at sitting up on your own. I am still afraid though that you will throw yourself backwards and hit your head on the ground-- I guess that's how you learn though. As much as I want to protect you from everything, I know I can't.

August 4, 2017

What Matters Most Is How You See Yourself

I have stolen two things in my life. The first was a piece of candy as a small child. The second was a picture our leaders hung in the bathroom at girls camp. When I first saw this picture at camp, it resonated with me. I looked at this picture every time I went into that bathroom that week. At the end of the week when we were cleaning up, I went into the bathroom and I swiped it. Its new home became my bedroom mirror, where I looked at that picture every day for years. This picture became my mantra and I lived by it.

You might be wondering what was so special about this picture that I stole. It was a picture of a chick looking into a mirror and seeing itself as a beautiful peacock. The phrase written beneath the image said, "What matters most is how you see yourself."

As a teenager, I was pretty carefree. I didn't care what anyone else thought of me. I was happy with who I was. I tried to be kind to everyone I came in contact with. Life was pretty good aside from the hardships and trials that are naturally a part of this earthly journey.

Somewhere in young adulthood I forgot about that picture that once hung on my mirror and I began to listen to the voices that echoed around me that I wasn't good enough, that I would never be good enough unless I conformed to some else's idea or standard of what "good enough" was. I was bullied and belittled to the point that I had to say, "Enough is enough. I'm done with this." I had to walk away from the bullies in my life. I closed that door and chapter in my life.

Rediscovering myself has been nothing short of a grand adventure! I have seen, done, tried and experienced so many wonderful things! I have grown as a person. I've become a better person. And I think I can safely say, I am genuinely happy. I am happy with myself and where I am in life.

This past week I have been thinking a lot about the phrase "What matters most is how you see yourself." Those words are so true! It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you! The only thing that matters is how you see yourself and how God sees you.

I think it is safe to say that at some point in their lives most people will experience what it is like to be bullied. Bullies seem to be lurking everywhere. Bullies can be friends, family, neighbors or strangers. It doesn't matter who someone is, bullying is never okay and you don't need to put up with it or tolerate it. The mean things people say are a reflection of how they ultimately feel about themselves.

Remember, God loves you! He is cheering you on! Don't be so hard on yourself. What other people think of you doesn't matter.  "What matters most is how you see yourself." And when you love yourself, life is so much more enjoyable!

July 31, 2017

The Hot Season

I think it is safe to say that we have entered the "HOT" season here in Oregon. Temperatures have climbed into the 90s this week. When it gets to be that hot out, it is too hot to play outside (exceptions: water activities and hiking in the woods).

We stayed inside most of this week. We did sneak off the library for story time, but otherwise we stayed home.

The "tickle gloves" make great slippers.





I am running for a position on the H.O.A. Board of Directors and spent just about every evening knocking doors with my 84 years old neighbor trying to get people to come out and vote. I'm excited to see how things pan out with the election in a few days. I'm hopeful I can get on the board and we can make some much needed changes.



Bubba, you decided this week that it would be fun to start rolling. You've known how to roll for quite some time, but you weren't interested in it. I think now that you have realized you can move around on your own you are enjoying it. You roll all over your room, it is so fun to watch you!

Look what I can do!

Peek-a-boo!

The other big milestone that occurred this week was you sleeping in your own bed in your own room. You did surprising well. We will see how this next week goes.

July 24, 2017

Uncle Shaun Comes To Visit

Little one, as you go through life you will come to learn that every family has their trials, struggles and problems. Some challenges are harder than others, but somehow we manage to get through them. Our hope is that you never have to experience the bad and hard things that we have experienced.

One of the trials we have been going through has been going on for many years now. One of the downsides of this trial is it has caused some family relationships to be non-existent. A few months ago, we learned that your Uncle Shaun felt like he didn't know us, we were saddened by this. We invited him to come stay with us for a month. He wasn't able to come for an entire month, but he was able to come and visit for six days.

We played really hard with Uncle Shaun while he was here.

Monday

Monday was beautiful and sunny, we decided to hike up Spencer Butte. It was a relatively easy hike. We had to stop a lot for me to catch my breath. I'm not used to hiking with a twenty pound baby strapped to my front.






On the top of the butte we took in the view and Uncle Shaun fed the squirrels.

Tuesday

We went to pick blueberries only to discover that the field was closed. We made the best of the situation and decided to drive up the road a little bit further to the Leaburg Fish Hatchery. Uncle Shaun had never been to a fish hatchery before. He enjoyed looking at the fish and feeding them.




Then we went to Daddy's work for lunch. Uncle Shaun spent the rest of the day with Daddy at work- he thought Daddy's job was very boring.

We tried to go swimming that night but swimming lessons were going on. We opted for playing at the park instead. We put you in the baby swing and you hated it.

Wednesday

We started the day off with story time at the library. We all enjoyed listening to the stories and singing songs with the storyteller.

Then we drove out to the coast. We spent the afternoon at the Heceta Head Lighthouse. We enjoyed looking out at the ocean and watching the waves crash in. We all put our feet in the water, it was cold but we all had fun getting wet. This was your first time to the ocean, Bubba.














Thursday

We made a trip down to Winston to go to Wild Life Safari (this was the one place your uncle really wanted to visit). We learned that Uncle Shaun's favorite animal is an elephant and we thought we would surprise him by making arrangements for him to touch an elephant. He was really surprised when we told him what he would be doing. Not only did he get to touch an elephant, he had an elephant paint him a picture!










Then we drove through the park to see all the animals, we let your uncle drive (he just got his learners permit- don't worry he has been driving farm equipment since he was about eight years old). He did pretty good driving, except for when he hit the gas pedal too hard and peeled out next to the bears lol.

We walked through most of the walk through area of the park and then piled back into the car to drive through the park a second time (Daddy drove this time). We like to drive through the park just before it closes because it's not as busy and you can often get a better view of the animals.

For the first time ever we saw the rhino up close! Your Daddy was so excited to see the rhino, he drove on some staff roads so we could get closer to it (ssshhhh don't tell anyone).

On the way home we pulled off on the side of the road so Uncle Shaun could try fresh blackberries- they grow like weeds here. He loved the fresh berries! He said he didn't like blackberries before, but these were nothing like the berries you buy in the store.

Friday

Mommy got smart and called the blueberry farm to see if they were open this time, they were, so we went berry picking. Daddy and Uncle Shaun at so many berries off the bushes that they felt sick. We let you eat some berries too, Bubba, you loved them! We came home with 32 pounds of berries.

Saturday

On Saturday we went up to Blue River Reservoir and went stand up paddle boarding. Uncle Shaun and I went out on the boards first. We saw a few salamanders swimming in the water as we were out on the lake. While we boarded, Daddy played with you on the shore.

Then Mommy and Daddy switched places and Daddy went out on the water. Daddy and Uncle Shaun had a great time. Daddy even fell in. Oops!




That evening we had a bonfire in the backyard and roasted smores.

Sunday

We were up at 3:50 am to take Uncle Shaun to the airport. We were sad to see him go and he seemed  sad to leave. We hope he had a good time and that we comes to visit us again soon. More importantly though, we hope he feels like he knows us a little bit better.