Trendy Knitting Patterns from me, to you...

Trendy Knitting Patterns from me, to you...

polka dot

polka dot

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Puppy Surprise...

I don't know if "Puppy Surprise" toys had as much of an impact on you as they did on me, but as a child, mine played a big roll in my you remember them?  The weird looking fluffy haired dog that has a "SURPRISE" number of babies in her velcro enclosed tummy?

wait for it.....

My sweet little Princess Polly is absolutely head over heals for dogs, and so, last year for Christmas, I tracked down a vintage puppy surprise toy for her {or maybe Santa tracked it down, I can't remember}.  Anyway, she just loves it!  But it still hasn't stopped her {or any other child in our home for that matter} from begging for a REAL puppy.  So after our long drive to Alberta and our long drive home... wonderful husband and I promised the kids that they would get a special reward for being so good and helpful in the car {and I must say, I have incredible kids, they were awesome travellers}!  So when the kids and I rolled up, Jordan came running out to meet us...he then escorted us inside the house to find...

A special new addition to the family!  His name is RAMBO {yes, we are big Sylvester Stallone fans} and he is our little {for now at least} red Doberman Pinscher puppy.  He is 11 weeks old and I am completely smitten, as are the kids.  

I am so impressed with my sweet children.  They have taken on the responsibility of having a puppy like little champs.  They have each stepped up to the responsibilities of feeding him, wiping up his little accidents, they've even taken on full-time pooper-scooper duty in the back yard!

{I promise Wilson likes Rambo too, he's just not super thrilled with his Mom's obsession with picture taking!}

Growing up on an acreage, I always had the opportunity of having constant litters of puppies and kittens.  I also started raising rabbits in High School, and I learned so much from those experiences.  Jordan grew up always having a dog, as well as horses, and so we both have reaped the benefits of growing up with pets.  We have always wanted to get the kids a puppy, because we feel like there's no better way to teach our kids about birth, life and death than to care for animals.  Over the course of our marriage; years of school...and moving...and changing our minds, we've always had a reason to wait for one thing or another to happen before getting a pet...I think doctor Seuss says it best...

"Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused 
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a  train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape..."

~Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss~

So we took the plunge!  We finally decided that there would never be a PERFECT time to get a puppy, but there's no time like the present right?!?  And even if I have to repeat in my head "No complaining Lise-Anne, no regrets Lise-Anne" a zillion times every day for the next...{what's the life expectancy of a dog again...?} well'll be worth it...

He's a Michel now...and there's no going back from that!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tasty Trio of Ground Beef Recipes...

The first time Jordan and I spent apart was when we'd been married almost two years.  We were living in Nashville, TN at the time and I was pregnant with our first {Peter}.  Back then I was just living my little dream, playing house and dreaming of the soon-to-be day when I could start dressing up little babies and changing little diapers, and all those fun things I pictured motherhood would be like.  I thought I was just an all-star house wife, working hard to wash our two mesely little plates after every meal and vacuum our little apartment {that was like what 8x10}.  It's funny to think back and see how time changes our perspective of things.  I swear we ate cabbage rolls about 3 times a week because I only knew how to cook about three things {not to knock cabbage rolls, because they are still one of my all time faves}.  Anyway, that summer we were living in Nashville, my parents came out to visit, and after they left, they were headed up to Virginia to visit my two brothers who were living there at the time.  I decided I'd tag along with them, since Jordan was at work 6 days a week anyways, and I clearly had the time to spare.  So, being the good little domestic wifey that I saw myself as, I made my dear husband a huge croc-pot full of chilli for while I was away.  I can still remember how proud I was, and I still remember how excited he was.  He was just so thrilled to have a good little wife to take care of him.  He bragged to all his co-workers about my thoughtfulness, and we parted just so pleased with the whole situation.  Well...a few days away shocked us both into reality when we learned that a strictly chilli diet isn't a great thing to follow for even one full day, let alone five, and it ended up not being nearly as enjoyable as we both imagined it would be.

We like to bring this story up from time to time and have a good laugh, and to this day, Jordan isn't a big chilli fan.  I've really expanded on the cooking front since those early days of marriage, as well as been jolted into reality of what being a wife and mother of 4 is really all about.  It doesn't mean I love it any less, just saying that it's not all sunshine and rainbows like I imagined.  Luckily, it's even better than sunshine and rainbows, and way more rewarding than I could ever have imagined, even if it did prove to be a bit more of a challenge.  After all, I'm always up for a challenge.  

So, speaking of challenges, I have made it a point ever since that first time apart to do a bit better every time I'm away...and because of that little personal vendetta, I was a very busy lady last Friday, prepping my soon-to-be bachelor husband for our time apart.  He's a bit spoiled, and I love to show him that I love him, so I stocked up the freezer with 22 individual meals; a lunch and a dinner for each of the 11 days we would be apart { romantic}.  I know I'm a little cheesy, but I also know that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so I'm okay with cheesy.  Here's what the end result looked like...

22 meals, fit for a King, complete with a 9 oz beautifully marbled steak for Thanksgiving Day 
{he hates turkey}

And then of course a little love note to go along with each meal, so he remembers all the reasons that I love him while I'm gone.

You may think I'm a little corny, but I can live that.  He was beyond thrilled and he's loving every meal so far.  Jordan is not crazy about chicken dishes, so I made his three favourite dinners with ground beef, divided them up, and spread them out over the 11 days.  Here's the three beef recipes I put together and what I'm sharing with you today...

1. Super Deluxe Hot Dish
2. Taste-Bud Tantalizing Beef Enchiladas 
    {with bonus Cilantro-Lime Rice Recipe}
3. Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

First off...

Super Deluxe Hot Dish:

1 lb ground beef
1 med. onion
1 1/2 c. celery
1/2 c. raw rice
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 c. water
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 c. frozen peas
1 can mushrooms
2 cups cheese

1. Brown ground beef...add in onion and celery...sauté. 
2. Add the rice, soups and water.
3. Stir well.  Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add in frozen peas and mushrooms, and stir.
5. Place mixture in a 9x13 inch casserole dish.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs.
6. During the last 1/2 hour, top with grated cheese and return to oven.

This dish may not look like much, but it is our family's all time favourite.  It is SOOOO good, trust me! I never cover mine with tinfoil, because we love the crispies around the edges, but if you're not into the crispy sides, a little tinfoil solves that for ya.

Next up...

Taste-Bud Tantalizing Beef Enchiladas:

2 t. vegetable oil
1 med. onion
2 t. minced garlic
1 lb. ground beef
1 med. orange pepper
1 c. mild salsa
1/3 c. chopped cilantro

1 1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. water 
1 t. chicken bouillon
3 1/2 T. flour
1 t. dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

6 large flour tortillas
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
2 T. cilantro

1. Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until onions are translucent.
2. Add ground beef and brown.
3. Add orange pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.
4. Add salsa.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add cilantro and set filling aside.
5. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine evaporated milk and water.
6. Add chicken bouillon, flour, mustard, salt and pepper.
7.  Whisk together over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
8. Add cheese.
9. Whisk together until melted and creamy.  Pour half the sauce over the filling.
10. Evenly divide filling/sauce mixture between 6 flour tortillas.
11. Roll up tortillas and place seam-side down in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
12. Pour remaining sauce over rolled up enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.  
Bake @ 425 degrees for 15 mins.  Top with cilantro and serve!

{This is my all-time favourite salsa.  It's runny and authentic tasting, just like in the restaurants.}

Here's a quick little something extra to go along with your enchiladas...

{Cilantro-Lime Rice}
Place the following ingredients into your rice cooker:

1 c. long grain white rice
2 T. butter
2 c. water
1 t. chicken bouillon
2 T. lime juice
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Press Start!  Fluff with a fork and voila!

My third Beef Recipe for the day is...

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground beef
4 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 c. water
1 can {680 ml} original pasta sauce

1. Brown ground beef.
2. Add carrots, celery and onions.
3. Add water.
4. Cover and steam until water has mostly evaporated and veggies are tender 
{about 10-15 mins)
5. Add can of pasta sauce.
6. Stir and serve over spaghetti!

{This is my favourite pasta sauce.  I always choose the simplest looking, no-name brand sauce, with no cheese, and no competing flavours, to be sure the finished spaghetti sauce can speak for itself.}

So after all the meals were done, I made up some more little love notes and riddles for him to find throughout the week.  I put a few little bags of candy along with some little notes inside his shoe, in his sock drawer, beside his watch collection etc...I also hid a package of nibs in the console of his truck and a bag of Chicago Mix on the bed.

{Chicago Mix...mmm}

Lastly, I made sure the freezer was good and stocked with baking, made a few more loaves of bread and some more Monkey Poop Cookies and Pizza Buns!  

I'm thinking not only will he not go hungry, but we may need to start an exercise program the day after I get back...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Date Night!

It's amazing what a powerful emotion love is.  When you are tied to someone with the bonds of love, you are capable of the widest range of emotions one can experience.  Your deep love for another makes you vulnerable to deeper feelings of both joy and happiness, or pain and hurt, but mostly that deep love gives you the motivation to move forward, to know there is someone there who will forge through anything with you, because they feel the same way about you that you do about them.

I feel like the very luckiest person in the whole world because I've found in my life a love that will last through the eternities in my husband and best friend.  It's hard to describe exactly how I feel about him, because my feelings are so deep and so complex, with so much dimension to them, because of the range of experiences we've shared together, that it feels impossible to put it into words.  Suffice it to say, I love him A LOT!!!  He is the man that comes up and rubs my shoulders at exactly the right moment, when I'm chopping up vegetables in the kitchen and my back is in agony.  I don't have to say a word, and he knows me so well he can read me like a book.  He's the one that I can laugh so hard with that I cry, and when sad times comes, he's the one I hold onto as we sob together.  He's the one that when I hug him I feel like I just completed myself, like we just "fit".  He is the one that slides his hand over and grabs mine first thing in the morning, and it feels like my day just got better before it's even started, knowing that it's starting with him by my side.  He is considerate and kind.  He comes to my rescue when I can't take the stress of the supper and bedtime routine with the kids.  He supports me and backs me in all that I take on.  He allows me to be me, to make my own decisions even if they aren't his first choice.  He notices when I'm worried or stressed, and he's the one that after a hard day, when we sit down to watch a movie together, will grab the remote and press pause, just because he can tell {again without me saying a thing} that something is wrong, and he genuinely wants to listen.  He will listen to me for as long as it takes, with a smile on his face and a look in his eyes that makes me feel not only loved, but valued.  He listens until my stress just dissipates or we find a solution and can press play again.  Our relationship is centred on a mutual love for and belief in God, on communication, trust, love for our children and mutual respect.  It is something more precious than jewels to me.

{my best friend forever}

On Monday I am leaving for 11 days to trek across the country with four little kids to go visit their Grandparents for Canadian Thanksgiving {a 20 hour drive each way, yikes}!  I will miss my husband so much while we are away.  Being apart is truly not our thing, and I just never like to leave.  Because we will be apart on my birthday, he surprised me Friday night with a very special date night as an early birthday gift to me.  He took me out to The Caribou Restaurant, which was to die for!  The menu was simple yet elegant, so we went all out and ordered the Short Rib Poutine as an appetizer {for all you non-Canadians out there who have never had poutine before, I'm telling you, you haven't lived}.  For our main dish I had the Chicken Pasta {it might sound simple, but it was the fanciest pasta dish I've ever had} and Jordan had a 16 oz steak, cooked to perfection.  We finished it off with a beautiful custard and caramel dessert topped with raspberries that was perfectly succulent {like a crème brûlée but with soft caramel rather than crusted}.  It was a beautiful dinner.

{the night is young...ready for our big date in my mostly thrift-store digs!}
Afterwords we cruised around in the date-mobile, enjoying each other's company.  Now, the date-mobile is a very special truck, complete with state of the art after market sound system, classy new rims, and dark tinted windows.  You may not know this about me because it may seem out of place to you, but besides church and family and knitting and cooking, and all the things I normally Blog about, I am PASSIONATE about cars.  I especially am fond of muscle cars {specifically, I would love a 1970 Nova} and I love trucks.

{the date-mobile}
I also love quads and I like to go fast.  I have to admit, I am a bit of an adrenaline junky at heart.  So there's my little confession for the day.  I am a girl who appreciates a beefed up, mean sounding engine, as well as a respectable sound system, so although it may seem like a "guy thing", Jordan was right on the money when he put together this little "Date Night" playlist for me { romantic}.

{our magical date-night playlist}
Nothing like laying your head on somebody's shoulder {not just anybody mind you}, feeling subs thumping all around you, listening to great lyrics and basking in all the memories and feelings of why you love the guy next to you so much!  He is exactly the right guy for me.  He planned our date so well that he even had our best buds Chris and Kayla all ready and lined up to come over and babysit for us.  What more could I ask for?!

So there it is, I love my husband {as I hope all wives out there do}. I am so grateful every day that I
am blessed to be his wife, and I am going through a bit of mourning about the thought of being away from him.  I hope that I can always show him just how much I love him in all the things I do and say.  I am a firm believer that relationships need to be nurtured and cared for.  I know that without the serving and listening and caring for each other that we so cherish, we wouldn't have the beautiful marriage that we do.  We recently read together Gary Chapman's Book The 5 Love Languages, and I highly recommend it to any couple, whether your marriage is already well into bloom or shrivelling up, it's an inspired read and will only help any marriage grow stronger.

So thank you Jordan for the beautiful date night, it is a night that I will cherish always.  I love you Jordan, for all that you do for me!  Thank you for being exactly who you are, and always striving to become even better!

Speaking of always striving to be better, this weekend is an extra special time in our home, because our church is holding it's semi-annual {October & April} worldwide broadcast {aka: General Conference}.  We had two beautiful sessions we watched yesterday, and two more we are looking forward to watching today.  General Conference always inspires me to be better and make goals to reach a higher potential.  I am of the firm belief that we must always strive for self improvement, because as the saying goes...

"There is only progress or regress, there’s no standing still. 
You’re either moving forward or you’re moving backward." 
~author unknown~

Today while I listened to Tad. R. Callister's talk, I was touched by the story of a young boy named Ben.  Here is Ben's story...

"Ben Carson said of himself "I was the worst student in my fifth grade class.  One day Ben took a math test with 30 problems.  The student behind him corrected it and handed it back.  The teacher, Mrs. Williamson, started calling each student's name for the score.  Finally she got to Ben.  Out of embarrassment, he mumbled the answer.  Mrs. Williamson, thinking he said nine, replied that for Ben to score nine out of thirty was a wonderful improvement.  The student behind Ben then yelled out "Not nine.  He got NONE right."  Ben said he wanted to drop through the floor.  

At the same time Ben's mother Sonja faced obstacles of her own.  She was one of 24 children, had only a 3rd grade education, and she could not read.  She was married at age 13, was divorced, had two sons, and was raising them in the ghettos of Detroit.  Nonetheless she was fiercely self-reliant and had a firm belief that God would help her and her sons if they did their part.  One day a turning point came in her life, and that of her dawned on her that successful people for whom she cleaned homes had libraries...they read.  After work she came home and turned off the television that Ben and his brother were watching.  She said in essence, "You boys are watching too much television.  From now on you can watch three programs a week.  In your free time you will go to the library, read two books a week, and give me a report".  The boys were shocked!  Ben said he had never read a book in his entire life except when required to do so at school.  They protested, they complained, they argued, but it was to no avail.  Then Ben reflected, "She layed down the law!  I didn't like the rule, but her determination to see us improve changed the course of my life."  

And what a change it made.  By the seventh grade he was at the top of his class.  He went on to attend Yale University on a scholarship, then Johns Hopkins medical school where at age 33 he became it's chief of Paediatric Neuro-surgery and a world renowned surgeon.  How is that possible?  Largely because of a mother, who without many of the advantages of life, magnified her calling as a parent."

Ben's story gives me a deeper desire for self-improvement, while Sonja's gives me a strong desire to teach my children correct principles, strong values and a good work ethic.  I love being uplifted by General Conference.  What a blessing it is in my life.  For any of you interested in listening in on tomorrow's sessions, there is one at 10am and another at 2pm {MST}, and you can watch online here.

{enjoying General Conference at home with the family}

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Casting back on...

So it has officially been far too long since I have released a knitting pattern and a little part of me is just slowly dying inside because of it.  I absolutely LOVE being a mommy and a wife, and those are definitely my top priorities, but it is so tough when you have to put aside something you are SO passionate about at times.  I am very glad that I took the time to enjoy my kids the past few years, because with only one left at home during the day, I am beginning to mourn their loss already!  It has been almost two precious years since we welcomed in our special little Reggie Boy, and there hasn't been a day that's gone by since that I haven't knelt down and thanked my Father in Heaven for such a perfect little blessing in my life.

Reggie ~ just seconds after birth
Reggie ~ 21 months
He has been my little angel, he is exactly what I need in my life, and I feel so lucky to have been entrusted with him.  My heart just feels like it is overflowing when I think of the many ways he has been the perfect addition to our family.  And although I have longed for it at times, I don't regret for one minute setting aside my knitting for a while to be a full-time mom, because there are so many simple moments that would have slipped by without me, so many precious experiences that I would have been too preoccupied to enjoy.  Having said that, I am so so ready to be casting back on!  Polly is off to school this year 2 days a week {pic of her first day below}, and Reggie is so independent and secure that I'm feeling totally at peace with the decision to pick up my needles again {YAY!!!}

Polly ~ first day of school 2014
So...I have been working on a headband that for whatever reason I am exceptionally fond of, and out of my piles of projects and ideas, this is the one that I haven't been able to shake these past two years, so it is the first one I am coming back to now.  I would love to know if anyone has any inspired names for this pattern, but I'm thinking it might end up being the "Polly Headband", after my cutie patootie. Up until now it has been known as my "Asymmetrical Flower Headband", which just doesn't have the same ring to it!  I'm thinking the pattern will most likely include 7 sizes, ranging from sizes 6 months - adult.

Here is one of the headbands I have finished so far...unfortunately I was a little eager to get some pictures out for you guys, so Polly {who is 4 and a half} is actually modelling the 6 months size {oh dear}, and so you can see that the buttonhole is pulling.  I didn't even bother taking pictures of the back because of how small it is on her, but the back is my favourite part, as the headband twists as it wraps around the back of the head quite elegantly {if I do say so myself}.  I do have a little model that will be coming by in a few weeks to model the 6 month size properly, so stay tuned for some darling pictures of little "K"!

If you are interested in test-knitting this pattern when the time comes, please leave a comment in my Ravelry Thread or on this post with your Ravelry username!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Elastic Shoelace Solution!

So we have had a few shoelace conundrums lately...shoelaces are my nemeses, and quite frankly {judge if you will}, I am quite finished with the whole shoelace "SCENE".  I will no longer be privy to the headache and drudgery that they bring into my life.  If I can gain control of one area of my crazy world and rebuild even an ounce of my sanity, I say why not!

Our first conundrum was that my oldest son {Peter} grew out of his dress shoes  recently, and so I have been searching for his bigger shoes, only to finally find them...{get this}...shoelace-less!  The same day I found the dress shoes, I got a call from the kid's school asking if I could PLEASE send some slip on or velcro shoes to school for my next oldest son {Wilson}, as he is struggling with tying his shoelaces.  It appears that after an exciting summer of flip-flops and fun, he has apparently forgotten how to tie his shoes {sigh...back to square one}.

And so...deciding that it must not be a coincidence that I ran into two shoelace problems in the same day, I decided it was my duty to come up with a solution...and here it is...GIVE UP!  Who needs shoelaces anyway?!?!  With four little kids running around, I can attest that shoelaces and kids equals nothing but headaches and problems.  So as I said, judge if you will, but you all know you're just dying to give up right along with me, and to help you jump on that bandwagon, I have a handy little tutorial to tempt you with {c'mon, you know you wanna}!  May I present to you...the elastic shoelace solution...

Step 1: Remove that pesky, awful, cumbersum looking shoelace!

Step 2: Find some sewing elastic that is approximately the same width as your shoelace, and 
                   cut to the same length as your old shoelace, minus the bow length {I used 21" of elastic 
                   per shoe}.

Step 3: Tie a knot {or two or three if you need it} in one end of the elastic.

Step 4: Pull the length of your elastic through the top hole of your shoe from the inside out, 
                   to hide your knot.

Step 5: Wrap the opposite end of the elastic with scotch tape to make the lacing process
Step 6: Lace your shoe using the lacing method of your choice.  If you're stumped at how to tie 
                   shoes {like I was}, this site has several interesting lacing options to choose from {I    
                   went with the Hidden Knot Lacing}.  Remove scotch tape and secure opposite end 
                   of elastic with knot{s}.  Repeat for second shoe.

Here's how Wilson's turned out...
I love them!  So much cleaner looking and super sleek, plus they are a breeze for him to put on, which makes him happy, me happy, his teacher happy...everyone just seems happier...even the sun seems like it's shining a little bit brighter than it was yesterday...

I repeated the same process for Peter's dress shoes, using a fine cording type of sewing elastic, and they turned out equally as lovely.  My husband {Jordan} even suggested that we do it to all our shoes, and make our house a "Lace-Free" zone, where people can gather and congregate in slippers, moccasins, elastic-laced shoes, velcro shoes, slip-ons and the like, feeling safe in the knowledge that the burden of shoelaces cannot weigh down upon them within the walls of our a sanctuary from shoelaces really {hehe}...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Monkey Poop Cookies

I've been really getting into doing fun and creative after-school snacks for my kids lately, because not only have the snacks been very well received the last couple of weeks, but I think my children deserve something extra special after a long day of school.  After all, it's not always easy being a kid. I've learned as a mother that they can be pretty exhausted and emotional when they walk through that door at the end of the day, and sometimes a warm welcome and a fun snack is exactly what those little guys need.

On Mondays we do waffles, pancakes, crêpes, or something of that nature, because I always have some leftover from Sunday {we have a long-standing "breakfast for supper" tradition on Sundays in this house}.  Every other day though, I have to get creative.

Their favourite so far was my half-healthy, half-not-so-healthy monster faces.  I just couldn't resist all the newly stocked shelves of halloween candy they had at the dollar store!  Halloween candy is so much fun to get creative with!

Last night for Family Home Evening we had Gorilla Poop Cookies, which I grabbed the recipe for last minute, because I was a little rushed.  I was looking for the no-bake cookies like the ones my mom and my mother-in-law make, the ones I remembered eating as a kid.  I knew the recipe I was imagining had coconut, and no peanut butter, but I tried this one anyway.  They were yummy, but not what I had been today I called up my sister and got the "real" recipe for "Monkey Poop Cookies", because c'mon, let's face it, these cute little things are way too adorable to have come from a gorilla.  So here it is...
In a small saucepan, combine: 

1/4 c. butter
3 T. cocoa
1/4 c. milk
1 c. sugar

Bring to a rolling boil...

Remove from heat and add:

1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. coconut

Mix well...

Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet, lined with wax paper...

Let cool in the freezer for 10-15 minutes
{I keep mine in the freezer always, because they are deliciously chewy straight out of the freezer}

Makes 20 monkey poops!

I doubled the recipe, because I am going visiting teaching tonight and wanted to make a plate for each of the sisters I visit {hence the two cookie sheets full}

So now it's time to set the my little culprit.  This is "Long-Tailed Snow Monkey" {my son Wilson is very original when it comes to naming his stuffies}, he's a long time member of the gang here at the Michel home.  Today however, he's looking a little more sheepish than monkey-ish on the time-out chair there, because he knows he's done something naughty ;)  As far as I'm concerned, he can sit there until the kids get home from school and think about what he's done!

After-School Update:

Good joke Mom!  Now you can spend the rest of the night reminding us not to use potty words and un-doing the situation you created for yourself!  On second thought...maybe we should just call them no-bake cookies...?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reflections...another year conquered!

So, it has been a long, long....LONG time since I last posted, and it has been a much needed break from everything.  I took a year off from knitting {maybe even more, because I think it's been more like since Reggie was born, yikes!}, hubby took the year off school, we took a year off from work, and we even moved away for the year!!!  And although it may seem looking from the outside in that we took a year off from life in general, I can assure you that I have never felt more alive than I have in the past year.  It was a year of reflection, a year of trials and sorrow and hardship, a year of humility and in the end, it was a year of rejuvenation, of relaxation, and I can honestly say that it has been the best year of my life.  So chalk it up to laziness, defeat, a midlife crisis or whatever you will, but I feel that a lot of "good" things were set aside in order to focus more on the "essential" things, and now after all is said and done, I feel like we can finally see the forest from the trees.  I feel like I have had the opportunity to grow closer to my Father in Heaven than I ever have before, that I truly have felt his love for me, and felt his love for those around me penetrate my heart.  Through his love and devotion for me, he has helped refine me into a person that I like a whole lot better than the one I was before.  I feel like I have been blessed with a whole new set of eyes, like I see my life, my world, and the situations I encounter in a completely different way, like I have a more eternal perspective in life, and that perspective now is at the forefront of who I am, the decisions I make, and the wife and mother that I strive to be, as well as in my interactions with others I come in contact with.

I wanted to share with you today some of the thoughts I've had this week about hard times, because c'mon, everyone has em', everyone gets bogged down by life, by the responsibilities that sometimes feel suffocating, the trials we didn't expect etc.  I thought about a favourite song I like called "Stones in the River" by Doug Walker.  If you're having a crumby day, and need a little encouragement to persevere, I encourage you to look it up and have a listen.  Although it won't do it much justice without the music, here are the words to the chorus:

"like stones in the river
we are tossed and turned
when the current moves so strong
but stones in living waters over time
are shaped until the edges are gone
polished and smooth, that's what we will be
if we put ourselves in God's hands
each day of our lives is a gift from the giver
to smooth all the edges
like stones in the river"

I know that that is exactly what God's plan is for his children.  He wants us to reach our divine potential, he loves his children and yearns for them to come back and live with him again someday.  In order to accomplish that goal, we need to go through trials, we need to experience hard things, and go through a refining process, just as a jagged rock can never turn into a smooth, polished stone along the riverbed without being tossed and thrown in the current.  That refining process is what our mortal life here on this earth is all about.  We are here to be tested and tried.  We alone have the choice as to what we will do with the trials we face.  We have two choices:

1.  We can choose to become bitter and angry, to turn our backs to God, or to ask that all too famous question; "Why me?  Why is this happening to me?"  We can convince ourselves that our trials are evidence that God doesn't love us, or maybe even that he doesn't exist.  Ultimately this path will lead to greater sorrow, loneliness and despair.


2.  We can learn from our trials, we can grow stronger, and climb higher than we previously were.  We can humble ourselves enough to accept our Saviour's help and together we can conquer them!  As we embrace the love of our Saviour and with him discover the infinite power of the atonement, that power can literally lift the burdens we bear and wash away ANY pain or sorrow that life can throw at us.

This is just a small portion of the things that I know.  I promise that I will slowly share with you more of the lovely, sweet experiences I have had as a daughter of a loving Father in Heaven.  But for now, before this post gets too heavy, I will satisfy myself by telling you all about some of the fun things we've been up to over the last year...

So my wonderful husband surprised me with a trip to Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary.  I got the plane tickets for Christmas, and we left new years day {our anniversary is December 27th}.  The trip was full of...
breath-taking views...

good company {and by that I mean the moustache of course ;}...

more great views...

North Shore surfing...

even more great views...

treacherous jungle hiking trails...

and even a little hobbit hole {look closely, hehe}...

In fact, we had so much fun, that with a little luck, we found some super cheap flights and were able to go back at the end of February and take the kids!  What a blessing!  And what an entirely different experience Hawaii is with kids!  For example...

we still did some hiking...

 still saw a hobbit hole...

or two,

but there was a little more mud involved this time...

{as well as maybe a trip to the emergency room...yikes!}

but sill a lot of fun!

We did a lot more hanging around at the condo...

fed some sea turtles...

and we ate a few good things ourselves!

We hit up the zoo...

and the Polynesian Cultural Center...

{which was a blast}

We did a lot of bonding...

and some exploring...

we hung out at the beach...




more exploring...

a little more hanging around...

and a lot more sand...

Did I mention that a mini van does not have the same effect as a convertible?

Suffice it to say that we had a blast, made a ton of lasting memories to be enjoyed for years to come { the time Peter fell off the cliff on our hike in Hawaii...}...sigh...and we wouldn't trade the experience for the world {well maybe just that one}!

I've missed my Blog!  I want to write more, and I think it's time for me to come back.  So, here I am!  My priorities are as they should be, with God and family at the top.  That being said, I am working in some of my "spare" {I use the term lightly} time to devote to two of my passions...namely writing {in this case on my blog} and knitting!  I'm so excited to fill you all in on all that I have bursting out the seams of my mind!  So, until next time...and I promise it will be sooner rather than later...
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