Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all the girls went for pedicures. Sweetie Peach and Kitty got penguins painted on their toenails. Thanks Mimi for treating us! Afterwards the kids got to each pick out a new Christmas tree ornament and then we went out to dinner (thanks Papa!).

Right before the feast Uncle Jeff treated us to his famous version of "Choppin' Broccoli" (a la Saturday Night Live). Here you can see Kitty thought it was hilariously funny (which it is).

Patch before heading to the buffet table.

Sweetie Peach enjoying her first bite of mashed potatoes.

Kitty and her fare.

After the Spiers' feast, we headed over to the Irvine extended family celebration where Steve and his brother Tom shot off a rocket. The parachute malfunctioned and the rocket plummeted into someone's back yard. We hope they considered it a gift from the Thanksgiving Turkey up above.

Also over the weekend was my first book signing. Here I am with the kids by my table. Please note the egg shell blue sweater chosen to match the cover of my new book (yes, I am totally cheesy enough to do that!). Thanks to all of you who came and supported me--as well as to Seagull Book and Tape in Mesa for hosting the event.

I hope you all had a marvelous Thanksgiving as well!

Scripture of the Day: D&C 59:15-19

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons #7

The Christmas Season is finally here!
Put up your lights and tree and have a great weekend!

Scripture of the Day: Jonah 2:9

Friday, November 27, 2009

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Shortly after the Thanksgiving Proclamation was written, it was lost for 130 years. The original document was written in long hand by William Jackson, secretary to the President, and was then signed by George Washington. It was probably misplaced or mixed in with some private papers when the US capitol moved from New York to Washington, D.C.

The original manuscript was not placed in the National Archives until 1921 when Dr. J. C. Fitzpatrick, assistant chief of the manuscripts division of the Library of Congress found the proclamation at an auction sale being held at an art gallery in New York. Dr Fitzpatrick purchased the document for $300.00 for the Library of Congress, in which it now resides.

It was the first official presidential proclamation issued in the United States.


Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Scripture of the Day: D&C 98:1

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Signing Off

Before I sign off for the Thanksgiving holiday I wanted to make sure everyone was invited to my Author Signing this Saturday from 10 am to noon. There will be a $20 gift card drawing at 11:45 a.m., so be sure to get there in time for that!

Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope your day is full of family, feasting, and fun.

Scripture of the Day: 2 Nephi 8:3

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Butternut Bean Casserole

This recipe is sure to make your house smell yummy while it is baking. And the end result is delicious! The recipe is an adaptation of one I saw in Cooking Light magazine last weekend while shopping. I have beefed up the veggies and downplayed the beans. Also, the original recipe called for a bread crumb-Parmesan topping, but I was a little lazy and just put the cheese on top (as you can tell from the picture, which is the original recipe version).

Butternut Bean Casserole


Garlic, 3 tsp minced

Chopped Bacon or ham (precooked), about 1/4 cup

Onions, raw, 2 cup, chopped

Olive Oil, 1 tbsp

Butternut Squash, 4 cup, cubes

Chicken Broth, 1/2 cup

Carrots, raw, 1 cup, chopped

Green Peppers (bell peppers), 3/4 cup, chopped

Celery, raw, 1 cup, diced

Zucchini, 1/2 med. grated

Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp

Thyme, ground, 1 tsp

Beans, great northern, 3 cans (about 15 oz. size each)

Bay Leaf

Parmesan Cheese, grated, 2 tbsp

Cook all the bacon, garlic, and diced veggies in the oil until wilted. Add vinegar, broth, beans, and seasonings. Pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheese and bake covered at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings (a generous 1.25 cups each) at 4 WW points per serving.

Scripture of the Day: Mormon 9:31

Monday, November 23, 2009

Family Scripture Study Journal

I have been reading the general conference talks the past week or two and have noted how many of the talks mention writing down our thoughts and impressions that come from the spirit. Many times my thoughts and impressions come from reading the scriptures, so I have wondered about having a notebook to use as a family scripture study journal. In the past I have had the kids write down lists of things to be grateful for, ways to provide service to others, and even how to keep specific commandments. But I have never saved any of these. Now I think I will start a journal in which we can write such things down, and also try to write down specific impressions we have in applying the scriptures to our daily life. I will let you know how it goes...

(Image credit)

Scripture of the Day: Alma 48:12

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons #6

Off to do my grocery shopping today
and this one seemed appropriate!
Hope you have a great weekend.

Scripture of the Day: 2 Ne. 9:52

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Blog Tour Stop - #5

Check me out today on Anne Bradshaw's blog. In addition to introducing Family Home Evening Adventures, Anne let me share a funny personal Family Home Evening experience our family had once. (Be sure to click over and read it--it is pretty funny and uses words like "lighter fluid" and "pyrotechnics." )

I am honored to be able to share an FHE experience on Anne's blog because she is the author of the bestseller Famous Family Nights, which is a compilation of family home evening experiences from 91 famous LDS members (like Alan Osmond, David Glen Hatch, Josi Kilpack, Susan Easton Black, and others). Click here to read more about Famous Family Nights, including reviews and pricing. By the way, it makes a great gift item because it is such a fun read!

Previous blog tour stops:

Diapers and Divinity (giveaway still underway)
Pulsipher Predelections (giveaway still underway)
The Little Things From Our House
Heather Justesen

Scripture of the Day: Alma 45:1

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Life is Busy

Life has gotten so busy that I have started to have to make lists of things that need to be done each day. And then I generally am not able to get everything done on the list, so the next day's list becomes longer as a result. Here are a few of the things I have been up to the past week or so.

  • Writing a report on seniors and Medicare for my job. Boring, but great since work has been meager lately (like all year long).
  • Doing a ton of book marketing stuff. I am trying to learn how to use Photoshop Elements to make some of the marketing materials. I made an invitation and next up is to make a little logo/slogan thing that says, "Truth well taught."
  • In Primary we have been preparing for our Sacrament Program this Sunday. I am praying it goes well, but am nervous about it.
  • Yesterday I got my hair colored (thanks Becky!) and now I need to get it cut. I am so running behind on getting a photo taken for Christmas cards. I need to have Ashley find a time to fit us in...
  • I bought some logs for our fireplace. So glad it is getting cool enough for fires. I love the ones that last three to four hours and don't make too much smoke. I lit the first one Monday night, but am trying not to go too overboard with the fires. I am waiting until Sunday to light fire #2.
  • And finally, I finished the Angel Moroni section on my manuscript. I went a bit overboard and drew 5 of them (I included one above; what do you think?). Somehow I found this part extra interesting, so I couldn't help myself. I can always edit some out if I need to do so.

I hope life is keep you busy, but not so busy you can't keep up. What has been keeping you busy lately?

Scripture of the Day: D&C 89:11-12

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog Tour: Stop 4

Today our fourth blog tour stop takes us to Diapers & Divinity, where blogger Stephanie (very insightful mom of three) reviews Family Home Evening Adventures and offers a new giveaway! Be sure to check it out.

Previous blog tour stops:

Pulsipher Predelections (giveaway still underway)
The Little Things From Our House
Heather Justesen

Scripture of the Day: Jacob 4:3

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nurturing Gratitude

A friend recently passed this quote on to me and I have been thinking about it.

“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” - Sarah Ban Breathnach

I have been asking myself, "How can I more fully focus on the abundance in my life?"

Three answers have come to mind:

1. In the past one little trick has helped me. When I have wanted to buy something new, like a piece of furniture or an item of clothing, I envision what will take place after I get it. If it is a new piece of furniture, then I would bring it into my house, put it in place, and then likely have to go make dinner, clean up a mess, or take care of some other family-related matter. If a new clothing item, I would wear it, then have to launder and iron it. I try to remember that eventually it will get stained and worn out like all my other clothes.

No matter what it is, life will go on the same with or without those items I want.
Of course it is not always as easy as it sounds. I haven't been able to use this trick when it has come to my broken down van. I admit in the past I have looked at what other people own and have felt frustrated by my own lack. But ultimately it is a matter of actively controlling my thoughts and purposefully switching gears when I start to dwell on what I don't have.

2. Counting my blessings by making lists of things I love and appreciate in my life always makes me feel more gratitude. I have lots of lists like this in my journals. They are interesting to look back on to see how my life has grown and changed.

3. Remembering that everything comes from and belongs to Heavenly Father. If I can get in this train of thought and then take a look around me to see what the Lord has placed in my care, then my gratitude seems to grow.

How do you nurture gratitude in your life? Does it come easily, or are there times it seems more difficult?

Scripture of the Day: D&C 136:28

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pulsipher Predilection Giveaway

If you don't read Kristina's blog (Pulsipher Predilections) you are in for a treat! She is so funny! And this week she has a giveaway going for a book/CD set of Family Home Evening Adventures. Click on over, get a big laugh about fanny packs, and leave a comment to enter yourself into the giveaway.

Book Review: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Tomorrow night is book club and I am hosting it at my home. We are discussing Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow's book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I had been wanting to read this book for some time, but my "want to read" stack has been kind of tall lately. However, I am so glad I finally read Guernsey; to sum it up in one word: Excellent! (No wonder it was a NY Times Bestseller for so long.)

The book takes place in Britain in the post WWII era. (From the back of the book:) January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

In fact, nearly the whole book is a series of letters between Juliet Ashton, members of the society, her publisher, and others. I was particularly interested in how well the authors were able to develop characters strictly through these letters. Even more, one of the main characters never even writes one of the letters, yet through the eyes of others she is so well described.

Has anyone out there read this yet? What did you think? What should I bring up in book club tomorrow night?

Scripture of the Day: Alma 37:37

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons #5

Yay for the weekend!

Scripture of the Day: 1 Corinthians 15:57

Friday, November 13, 2009

Banana Oat Bars

Recently my cousin posted a link to a promising recipe on facebook. I read the recipe and a number of the comments on it, then tried it for myself. Here it is, along with a few personal adjustments I made as a result of reading the comments.

1 1/3 C. quick cooking oats
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 C. maple syrup (I used sugar free)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. dried cranberries (I chopped mine up a bit)
1/2 C. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 C. mashed banana
1/4 C. non-fat yogurt
2 egg whites
1 t. vanilla extract

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl, and all wet ingredients together in a separate bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing thoroughly. Pour batter into a non-stick sprayed 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool. Cut into bars.

Makes 18 bars (1 WW point each)

Scripture of the Day: Luke 10:21

Thursday, November 12, 2009

360 Degrees of Separation

This is a cool website that provides links to 360 degree pictures of various places and buildings on temple square. It starts out like the picture above (this pic does not have the link, so you have to click over to do it) and then you can use your mouse to turn any direction around, up or down. Be sure to check it out--it is fun and educational. Just like taking a tour of temple square without actually having to be there. There are also additional panoramas of other locations if you click on a link in the sidebar of the panorama website.

Have fun!

Scripture of the Day: 1 Thes. 5:18

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

And their eyes were my eyes

Last Sunday I heard this quote and enjoyed it -- having the same eyes as my mother it touched a chord with me. I hope it touches you as well.

"I saw behind me those who had gone, and before me those who are to come, I looked back and saw my father, and his father, and all of our fathers, and in front to see my son and his son, and the sons upon sons beyond.

"And their eyes were my eyes.

"As I felt, so they had felt and were to feel, as then, so now, as tomorrow and forever. Then I was not afraid, for I was in a long line that had no beginning and no end, and the hand of his father grasped my father's hand, and his hand was in mine, and my unborn son took my right hand, and all, up and down the line that stretched from Time that was to Time that is, and Is Not Yet, raised their hands to show the link, and we found that we were one, born of Woman, Son of Man, made in the image, fashioned in the womb by the will of God, the Eternal Father."

By: Richard Llewellyn, "How Green was My Valley"

Scripture of the Day: Eph. 1:15-16

Monday, November 9, 2009

Best Mail Day Ever

Okay, what would you say are the best things you could get in the mail? Yesterday I received three things in the mail that were just wonderful! Here's the low down on what I received:

1. Birthday card from a friend (yes, today is my birthday)

Not only was it a card, but she took the time to write a letter in the card, which made it all the more better. I had not heard from my friend for about a year, so it was so nice to sit down and take a few minutes to catch up with her. Thanks, Raylene!

2. A new dress

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know my DH does not have a great track record for birthday gift giving. (In fact, it is kind of funny to see how bad he actually does--I will post about this year's gifts later.) Knowing this, I ordered myself a new dress. I chose this Shabby Apple design--my first ever purchase from them. I tried it on right away and it fits great. I love how the website gives good descriptions of how their designs fit on the body. They made it easy to select the right size.

3. My book

Yep, Family Home Evening Adventures finally arrived! I was so excited to see it in hard copy and hold it in my hands. Such a thrill! I immediately took a copy over to my manuscript editor -- I just had to share it with someone.

Another great part about yesterday's mail: no bills came!

Scripture of the day: D&C 59:15-21

Another Giveaway Opportunity

Just a quick note to inform you of a new giveaway opportunity for Family Home Evening Adventures. Click here to read a new review and to enter the giveaway. (Thanks Amanda!)

Fun Idea

My friend, Amazing Becky, posted this idea recently that was a successful family scripture study session. I could easily see my kids enjoying this idea as well. Of course, a flashlight and a regular book of scripture would likely work just as well if you do not have the high-tech mode to offer (like me). Click over to see for yourself!

(Image credit)

Scripture of the Day: Ezra 3:11

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons #4

Have a great weekend everybody!

(Image credit)

Scripture of the Day: Alma 26:8

Friday, November 6, 2009

And I Saw Another Angel

I have been working on my new manuscript about temples and have learned quite a bit about the angel Moroni statue used atop temples. I learned the angel on top of the Nauvoo temple was never specifically designated as Moroni. I have also learned there are about 4 different versions (or artistic renditions) of Moroni currently on temples. I think my favorite is this one (below) by Millard F. Malin, which is located on top of the Los Angeles temple.

While older versions of the angel Moroni statue were cast in aluminum or copper and then covered in gold leaf, current statues are made out of fiber glass first. This makes them lighter and requires less structural support.

Hope your Friday is going well!

Scripture of the Day: Romans 1:8

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kids Say the Funniest Things

Sweetie Peach: "My favorite nuts are mustachios."

Scripture of the Day: Psalms 136:1-3

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Family Home Evening Adventures Giveaway

My first review! Click over to read Heather Justesen's review of Family Home Evening Adventures and to enter a chance to win a free copy of your own!

Heather Justesen is the author of The Ball's in Her Court, a newly released, clean LDS romance novel. You can read the first chapter of The Ball's in Her Court here.

But read the review of Family Home Evening Adventures and enter the giveaway first :-)!


I stayed up kind of late last night working on the blog move. I am generally NOT a night person, but I was on a roll and did not feel too tired. But then, when I finally made it to bed, my mind kept going and going and going. As if it were powered by the Energizer Bunny. I got up two different times to read... parts of an Emilie Loring book and then the conference issue of the Ensign. Finally, after numerous prayers of desperation, around 2 a.m. I got to sleep.

I am now headed off to take a nap!

(Thanks for switching over for my blog.)

Scripture of the Day: Alma 7:23

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Altared Plans Book Trailer

Here's a book trailer for Altared Plans, a new book by Rebecca Cornish Talley. I am looking forward to reading this one. In fact, I already read parts of the book here (it is in five parts, so be sure to catch them all).

(Should I make one of these for Family Home Evening Adventures? What do y'all think?)

Scripture of the Day: 1 Nephi 5:9-10

Monday, November 2, 2009

Family Home Evening Adventures now available online! Yay!

Click here to buy from Borders

Click here to buy from Amazon

Click here to buy from Cedar Fort (book/CD combo)

In other news, I am in the process of arranging book signings (which makes me very nervous). I will be signing books at Seagull Book in Mesa on Saturday, November 28 from 10 am to noon. I am hoping to also be at Deseret Book in Glendale and in Chandler that same weekend. I will post more details as they are finalized!

Scripture of the Day: Jacob 4:3

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Month, New Theme

I am so excited that November is finally here! It is my favorite month of the year with its cooler weather, Thanksgiving, and a focus on gratitude. This month for family scripture study we will be using this 1981 Friend Magazine article and reading scriptures on gratitude. I am making 4 copies of the fruit (shrunk down in size a bit) and then placing the scriptures on the back. Each morning we will read the scripture on one of the fruit and then place it on the cornucopia. We may also make a running list of things for which we are grateful.

BTW, if you have a copy of Adventures with the Word of God, there is a chapter with scriptures on gratitude. If not, and you still want to play along, you can use your Topical Guide to find them. Or, check back here to read the Scripture of the Day.

Saturday Morning Cartoons #3

Hope your Halloween is going great!

Scripture of the Day: D&C 131:1-4