Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Those Pesky Fires

DeAnn sent me some pictures that she took from her neighborhood. The second picture is taken right in front of their house - the other two from the end of her street looking down the canyon. The fires were very close - they were under evacuation. The flames came right up to the fences of her subdivision but no homes were burned. It seemed like the danger was over for them - they were just dealing with the smoke, ash and a few stray hot cinders - but the fire is back on the other side of their canyon. Once again they can see flames from their neighborhood. I just wrote about how beautiful the area they live in is - it is such a shame that it is all black now.

The most amazing thing to me is that their Bishop drove around to all of the ward member's houses to chat with them. DeAnn told me that after he left she just knew they were going to be all right. I guess most of their ward members live in two large subdivisions that are separated by a canyon and a few miles. The flames have come up to the fences in both of those neighborhoods but no homes have burned.

We are keeping them and all of the people that are being affected in our prayers. It was comforting on the news last night to see footage of Qualcom Stadium in San Diego and see the missionaries in the background handing out food etc... Fires are burning in seven Southern California counties - all except one were started naturally, the fire burning there in Orange County was arson. I heard that if they catch the person who started it they will charge him/her with murder.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tasty Tuesday - Conference Sandwiches">How many have your name?
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

I just found this on someones blog and had to try it. There is not another person in the U.S. with my same name. Our last name is pretty unique. I think we are almost always the only ones in the phone book. Alan has a great uncle who used to keep a condo here in Mesa and so used to be in there too. The funny thing about that is - he and I have the same first name - so people sometimes would get confused if they knew my true first name.

One of the perils of having a first name that you have never used - is that people sometimes call you that. One of the perils of that name being typically a man's name is that when you turn 18 in the 80's you get a notice to register for the draft. That really happened to me. What is worse is when Alan and I were first married I went to the DMV to get my new driver's license. After I got my picture taken I was waiting for them to call my name to come up to the window and get the license. They kept calling my first name with my new last name and it took a very long time for me to register that they were calling me. I kept thinking to myself, "why doesn't that man get up and pick up his license?"

On to the yummy recipe. These sandwiches are so simple - but so delicious. I am calling them conference sandwiches because DeAnn served them to us during this last conference. She got the recipe from her daughter Kelly who had them at a church function of some kind. So maybe it is a good old Mormon recipe like funeral potatoes, chicken/cream cheeses crescents, or any variation on jello salad - but I had never had them before. The secret is the sauce and the refrigerating. Even though the sauce sounds gross - do not leave anything out - and make sure you can refrigerate them for a few hours before you cook them.


15 Costco dinner rolls
lunch meat (your choice)

for the sauce: UPDATED!! since I made these last night!
1/2 stick butter (melted)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder (I actually used minced garlic because I'm not fond of garlic powder)
1 Tbs sesame or poppy seeds


Slice the rolls in half and put meat and cheese on each one. Place in a 9x13 pan and brush all of the butter mixture over rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours (you could make in the morning for dinner that night) Cook at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes.

Updated: I made these for my dinner group and I made 3 pans of 15 and one tray of 20 - and I made the sauce recipe x 3 and it was just right for all four. If you want to make these for a large group you can get 20 - 24 onto a jelly roll cookie sheet.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vacation Report Le Fin

Now that we have been home for more than a week - I need to wrap this thing up. There are so many more important things I need to blog about - like the really good movie we rented last night, the famous people I have seen in my lifetime, and this article I just read about a new kind of breast lift that is outpatient and it puts titanium rods in your chest so they will never sag again.

Our last full day in CA we decided to hit the beach. We thought it would be fun to just go south on the PCH from Laguna until we felt like turning back. Laguna Beach is really just a few minutes from Alan's dads house - and it is a very pretty drive. We only had three quarters for the parking meter so we only stayed at Laguna Beach for 45 minutes. While we were there I couldn't help but imagine the money that is involved in all of the houses just right on the beach there. There were tons of people walking the beach and a lot of boys skim boarding. Devon did the boogie board for a little bit but the rest of us did not go in at all there.

We hit Dana Point, Newport Beach and San Clemente. When we stopped in San Clemente we all decided to get in the water. Lets just be clear here - the outside temperature was about 70 degrees - the water temperature was MUCH colder. Alan went in first - he just went for it followed by Devon. They were having so much fun swimming and playing in the surf that about 15 minutes later - Morgan and I decided to follow them. In that time - Alan and Devon were deciding to get out because the water was getting rougher and rougher and they could feel the undertow changing. But, they didn't want to be party poopers when we were finally going to come out and play. The beach was really sandy - but there was a strip of rocks that you have to gingerly walk over to get to the area where you can still stand in the water and the waves are good sized. Just as Morgan and I made it over the nasty rocks - the rip tide really started. We started to get pummeled. Alan grabbed Morgan and Devon and started heading back - I was pretty sure I could make it back on my own. I am a good swimmer and I have had experience swimming in the ocean and I knew that I just needed to relax with each wave and dive in and swim along to keep from getting pushed down. Now, I know all that, but I could not for the life of me put it into practice. I just held my breath and got thrown around like a rag doll. I couldn't tell what was up or down and I had no idea how I was going to get myself across those rocks. Even though I felt like I was going to die - I was more scared about the fact that my swim shorts kept getting pulled down. I was a mess - Alan came out and helped me but I was bruised and bloodied pretty bad. My swimming suit was so full of sand that I stripped down in the rest room and rode home with just my lava lava wrapped around me and my sweater on top. I took this picture of my knees a couple of days after we got home. My feet and ankles are pretty cut up too. I really need a pedicure but I am afraid to go until all of my owies clear up. But when they do - I am going for the full treatment - I deserve it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Vacation Report Part Deux

Sometimes my computer is so retarded. And other times I am too retarded to run my computer. It took me so long to remember how to get the pictures from my camera to my computer. I don't know why - honestly - I do it all the time, but for some reason (could have been a stroke) I couldn't get it. So that is my excuse for not getting these pictures up and for not commenting on the rest of our trip.

We were supposed to go to Knott's Berry Farm on Monday (we would have seen the Harms there if we had) but Alan and Devon golfed instead. So the girls and I (and DeAnn) went for a downtown L.A. adventure. We rode the subway all around and visited some great places including Olvera Street where we had some so-so Mexican Food. You would think that in an area known as "Little Mexico" the food would have knocked our socks off but it didn't. That day being Columbus Day we had an extra yummy Italian dinner and we ate it in Blaine and DeAnn's backyard.

On Tuesday we made it to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. I Heart Knott's Berry Farm! It is all about the rides for us - so this trumps Disney. Disneyland is great for the Experience - but for thrills it is all about the rides. We walked on every ride - never stood in line once and most of the rides - if we wanted to ride again we just told the operator - Hey, we want to ride again! It was great times. They are only open from 10:00 to 5:30 during the month of October because they close and then open again at 7:00 for the scary stuff. But that 7 and a half hours was perfect. We rode every single ride and several of them four or five times and we had a nice leisurely lunch.

As soon as we got home Devon and I started looking on line at some of the biggest and fastest roller coasters in the U.S. We would love to make a trip to the Six Flags in New Jersey to ride the Kingda Ka but that is highly unlikely - So we are hoping to try for Six Flags Magic Mountain in Ventura, CA sometime soon. Maybe in the Spring.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vacation Report Part One

It has taken me a few days to get back on the blogging horse. We got home from our vacation last Thursday night - but for some reason I have been feeling reluctant. I have said many times that I wish I could be more literary in my posting - I guess that is why I hesitate to make this a travel log - but here I go with the tales of our limited travels.... travails????

We did not set out Friday afternoon like we had planned - things got crazy and we heard about some freeway closings and other traffic tie-ups between here and where we were going so we came up with a new plan. We left for CA at 2:00 a.m. Saturday. A.M. people! We have done this before when driving to SLC when our kids were little. It's nice when they can sleep for a good portion of the trip. It works out for Alan because he likes to go to bed early and wake up early and all that believing in the word of wisdom etc... I, on the other hand, did not even go to bed. I kind of think Alan likes the driving in peace thing, the rest of us slept like rocks all the way to Palm Springs! We had breakfast and finished the drive in record time.

We made it to Alan's dad's house about 10 minutes before General Conference started. I always love the Saturday morning session (I really love all of the sessions) because it feels so great to be able to raise my hand and support our dear prophet and all of the priesthood leaders of the church. When it was hard for our kids to sit through conference - I could always get them to hold still through the first part of the Saturday morning session by teaching them what a privilege it is to sustain our leaders. What a lesson it is for me now to just write that sentence.

We loved being with Blaine and DeAnn, watching conference in their home. We were fed well and between sessions on both Saturday and Sunday - we took long walks through the beautiful canyon that they live in. Saturday night while the priesthood session was going on, DeAnn took all of us girls to a fun outdoor mall in Irvine. We ate dinner at Johnny Rockets there and I got to go to one of my all time favorite stores - Anthropologie. I got some cute stuff - including a journal so that I could take notes during the Sunday sessions. I forgot mine. I also got the cutest little red butter dish - it is adorable on my counter right now!! I got some other fun stuff - including the lip salve that my friend Susie Flake got me hooked on. It seems like I only go to Anthropologie when I am out of town and I never make the trip to Scottsdale for the one there.

So, the Sunday sessions of conference were great. I had some strong feelings about some of the talks. I am so glad I have a testimony of the gospel and that I understand the importance of following and sustaining our leaders. ALL of them - not just our priesthood leaders, or our local leaders or the ones that only make us feel good about ourselves. I felt the strong desire to make some personal changes in my life and the reassurance from the spirit that when we are doing the best we can do, our efforts do not go unnoticed. I know I need to be doing my best - all of the time - or at least a lot more often. The fruits of the spirit are peace, love etc... and that is the adversary who wants us to feel guilty, depressed and inadequate.

That is all of my preaching. Pictures and the fun part of our trip still to come!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Really Lame Post

This week I have been wanting to post about some of my favorite books - you know the ones that you can read over and over and still love the ending... But it has been one of those weeks were a lot of things that I wanted to do - never got done.

I have been preparing for vacation - we are leaving tonight to go to Orange County to stay with Alan's dad and his wife. We will watch conference with them this weekend and then go to Knott's Berry Farm (during the month of October it is re-named Knott's Scary Farm) on Monday, the beach on Tuesday, and L.A./Hollywood on Wednesday. The kids have been wanting to see the Walk of Fame and some of the movie studios etc... Alan and I have tickets to the taping of Jay Leno that night. We are pretty excited about that because the guests include Dana Carvey (Choppin' Broccoli) and the Plain White T's. Watch it and see if you catch us in the audience.

We think we will come home on Thursday so the kids have one day of Fall Break to play with friends. So I will not be blogging until we return - but I hope to have some great pictures to share. I am also hoping to have some kind of Girl's movie night when we get back (I'm sure I will need a break) - maybe try out the new imax theatre..... so my local blog-reading ladies - let's make a plan.

Happy Conference!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I am a creature of habit

I always sit to Alan's left at dinner. I have a routine for lotioning, deodorizing etc... The toilet paper always comes from the top. We leave our house at the same time every weekday for school, (7:12) and every Sunday for church (11:35). We sit in the same pew every Sunday. I don't do well with change.

That being said (sigh)... things are changing. Our Stake had some boundary changes on Sunday. The nine families that live on my street and the next one over are moving back into the ward we came from. For three years we have been the only families in our ward that come from our section of our subdivision. At the beginning of those three years - we felt it. We were definitely the "other side". But now I feel such a part of that ward that I have shed a lot of tears with thoughts of leaving it. i served in the Young Women's program for over 2 of those years and could not have loved a group of Young Women more. Most recently I have been in primary and really been able to know the families through their sweet children.

Last Tuesday night we were called in to meet with a member of the stake presidency. He gave us a brief over view of the changes that were going to happen and then called Alan to be 1st counselor in the Bishopric of our new ward. It almost didn't even come as a surprise - no one could be better at that than Alan. He is a humble, righteous and kind man. The spirit lives in his shirt pocket - he is always being guided to say and do what is right. He leads our family righteously and sets such a good example of clean living for us. But that was a hard night. After our meeting with Pres. Adams, Alan met with the Bishop and I went to an enrichment activity. Every time I started to look around at the amazing women that I have grown to love so much - I would get teary. I really had to try hard to keep it in. The minute I walked out of Robyn's front door - I broke down and cried all the way home.

My most dear friends are in the ward we will now be attending. I couldn't be more happy to be unifying with them again. I know change is good and should always be accepted in our church - especially in areas of growth like ours. I guess the big question is not how much we will miss our friends in our old ward, or if Alan will stumble at the pulpit but will we be able to sit on our favorite bench.

Tasty Tuesday - cookies and brownies

Last Monday we were invited to Alan's boss's house for a cook - out/ swimming/ Family Home Evening. Marci asked me to bring the dessert. Since we would be outside I thought I should make a finger food type dessert and to really impress - I should make more than one. So I made my very favorite chocolate chip cookie. This recipe is supposed to be the famous Neiman Marcus cookie recipe or I have heard it also described as the Mrs. Fields cookie recipe. I have read those recipes and they are very different from this. If you follow the directions and don't try and skip any steps they will always turn out perfect.

Million Dollar Cookie

2 sticks room temperature butter (not margarine and definitely not shortening)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats (blended in blender to flour consistency)
10 oz. chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs; beat. Add soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla; beat. Add remaining ingredients. Shape into ping-pong size balls. Bake 8 - 9 minutes

Last month I played Bunko at Kelly B's famous house. She served lots of lovely food that night - but I almost cried tears of joy and delight when I tasted her yummy brownies. They were so fudgy delicious! Kelly told me that they were from Paula Dean so I knew they had to be full of butter and so bad for me. Lucky for me - I didn't have to hunt down the recipe because Kelly posted it here on her blog. These things are so delicious - and even better served cold.

To cancel out the pound of butter that I used in the brownies - I also made my famous friend Nicole's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I used applesauce instead of butter in these - so they are fat free! Plus pumpkin is a vegetable right? So it is almost like you are not even eating cookies but instead getting your five a day!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup applesauce (or 1 stick of butter if you feel naughty)
2 cups pumpkin puree ( I love saying puree - it is an exclamation in French - like Dang it!)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
10 oz chocolate chips ( I used the mini-chocolate chips - because when they are smaller it seems more like diet food)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together in mixer. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Form dough into ping-pong sized balls (or use a cookie scoop) and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. They will not spread out - you will think they are not done - don't put them back in!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens....

I have a new favorite thing: Google Reader! It is the best if you read a lot of blogs. Watch the little video and it all makes sense! I had all of my blogs on favorites - but now I just bring up the Google Reader and I can tell who has posted something new. It took me a little while to get them all loaded in - but it is worth it.

We had big goings on this last weekend - but it is too fresh for me to blog about. I will save it for another day.