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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.

or...

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...

sand...

sand...

fun...

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 {...like...remember 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...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Berry Good Muffins

So I made some muffins today, because I had some fruit leftover from the fruit-sicles that I wanted to use up.  Really yummy muffins, and dairy-free too, for my allergy boy :)  My first batch I made with half strawberries and half cherries, and then the second batch was all cherries.  I'm going to try them again with blueberries next time, but all my blueberries got gobbled up by kidlets this time around.

So I took a little from here and a little from there, and here's the recipe I came up with, complete with nutrition facts…

Berry Good Muffins



Ingredients:

    1/2 c. unsweetened apple sauce
    3/4 c. sugar
    1 egg
    2 c. flour
    2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. salt
    1/2 t. rice milk or other milk substitute
    1 t. vanilla
    1 1/2 c. chopped, fresh fruit (strawberries, cherries, blueberries)
    3 t. sugar
    1/2 t. cinnamon

Directions:
Whisk together apple sauce and sugar.
Add egg and rice milk and mix.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. 
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients.
Add vanilla.
Gently stir in fruit.
Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.
Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.
Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes.

Serving Size: makes one dozen muffins

Number of Servings: 12



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fruit-sicles

Why howdy and hello :)

Today I went and bought a variety of fruit while grocery shopping in order to make some fruit-sicles that my husband's wonderful Aunt Patti posted on Facebook a few weeks ago.  Just shared the first helping with the hubby and kiddos and they were a huge hit!  So, because it was my first attempt, I made two separate batches; one with the fruit blended up together, and one chopped up as the original recipe suggests.  Survey results were as follows: myself and my middle son preferred the blended variation, whereas my husband and other two kids liked the chunks of fruit.  Baby, of course, abstained from trying them this time.  His vote is still that mommy's milk is the best :) So it's up to you what your texture preference is as to what you decide to do with yours, but we did all agree on one thing…they were delicious!!!




Here's what you'll need:

Ingredients:
3 cups watermelon puree {seedless if possible}
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 peach or nectarine, diced small
handful fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

Cut the watermelon into chunks and then puree it in a blender until smooth. Set aside.

Set out about 1 dozen popsicle molds (amount needed will vary depending on size of molds). Fill each one with the chopped fresh fruit. Then pour in the watermelon puree until each mold is full to the top. Place a popsicle stick into each one. Place into your freezer and freeze for about 6 to 8 hours.

When ready to serve, run the popsicle molds under warm water for a few seconds and then pull each one out.




I halved the ingredients and did half of them completely pureed and the other half as directed.  I also added a quarter cup of sugar into each batch and blended it into the watermelon puree. My popsicle molds must have been slightly smaller also, so I got 14 fruit-sicles total, and they only took 5 hours to freeze for me.  

I'm pretty excited about these!!!  I'm planning on experimenting and making them again and again all summer!  I thought maybe peach-mango next, or cherry-vanilla {with vanilla yogurt}.  I even thought I might replace the watermelon puree with my favourite coconut drink and replace the rest of the ingredients with shredded coconut and banana blended together.  Anyway, just a few ideas for you all, but really, I don't think you can go wrong with these most delicious {and nutritious} fruit-sicles.  They're so yummy and a great base to enjoy as is or switch things up and do whatever you want with them!

Enjoy!


Update {May 24th, 2013}

Made another flavour of fruit-sicles today...


~ Coconut Banana Fruit-Sicles ~


Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. Foco Brand Roasted Coconut Juice
1/4 c. shredded coconut
2 medium bananas

Blend it up, pour into popsicle molds, freeze for 5 hours and enjoy!  


They are so good!!!  
The sheer anticipation was almost too much for my kids to take!!!



But as you can see, it was worth the wait!

Also, try these Berry Good Muffins to use up any leftover fruit-sicle fruit :)






Monday, May 20, 2013

Lately...

So, life has been pretty relaxed lately.  We've had ups and downs in the weather, and so we're feeling a little leery trusting it when it gets warm out, because it usually only lasts a few days.  My husband had a week off from school before starting his spring semester, so we took a little family vacation to Minneapolis, and when we got back, the snow fort in our front yard had been replaced by green grass {okay, more like brown with a few greenish spots, but we'll take it}, which was a fun surprise.  So the next day, this is what we did…








We got the kids a new t-ball set and soccer ball in Minneapolis, so they played in the yard while the trampoline got set up, and then...they had a ball jumping around for the rest of the afternoon.



It was a lot of fun, and by the end of it all, 3 out of 4 kids were still smiling…not bad eh?

And it's a good thing we got that one spring day in, because the next day there was a foot of snow on the trampoline, and there's only been a few warm days since!

Today, for instance, was a rainy day, so we enjoyed our time inside making puppets…





Precious moments and spending time together are the best parts about being a mother :)



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