Friday, December 30, 2011


2011 is almost behind us. Only one day plus a few short hours to go. Amazing how fast it went! The past twelve months brought lots of change and challenge my way, and I feel like I have learned a great deal and have had many opportunities for growth. I've learned, in new and amazing ways, that I can do hard things, and I am grateful for the love & support I've received and the many wonderful blessings I have in my life. So as another year draws to a close I thought I'd take a few moments and list some of the things that I consider to be gifts in my life. Some are big and some are small, but for these things I am most grateful today:

1. MARRIAGE. Rich and I will celebrate our 24th anniversary in about four months. I cannot even begin to consider what my life would be today without my sweetheart. Rich, you are the most kind, patient, and all-around decent human being I have ever met, and what an incredible blessing it is to know that you are my companion for eternity! And I also think you're kinda handsome and adorable...

2. MOTHERHOOD. Being a mom makes my life complete. The world changed forever on January 5, 1990 when I became a mother. Stephanie and David, although you are both now adults, you will always be my babies and I adore you! You both make me proud every single day. My girl and my boy, I love you!

3. FRIENDS. This year especially, I am grateful for my friends! You know who you are, and you save me in so many ways. You build me up, you strengthen me, you make me laugh, you make me feel loved, you make me feel important, you make me feel needed, you are there for me in good times AND bad, and you help make life worth living. Big hugs to you!

4. HOME. This word encompasses so much that brings comfort and security to my life: shelter, warmth, protection, safety, hot & cold running water, electricity, food, blankets, clothing... the list goes on. In a world full of so much uncertainty, home is such a blessing. And it's where I can be alone with the three people who mean the very most to me on the planet. 

5. FAITH. Oh, how thankful I am for my faith. It truly sustains me in times of great trial, and there have been a few of those this year! Truth is truth. Satan is powerful, but we are more powerful than Satan because we are God's children and all (whether we remember it or not) have chosen His plan. Satan only has as much power as we allow him to have. And I know that good WILL triumph in the end. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every other name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father."  —Philippians 2:9-11

6. HEALTH. A healthy mind, a healthy body, a healthy spirit, a healthy relationship with my husband. For these gifts I am thankful.

2011, you have been a full year, but it's time to say good-bye. Now it's on to 2012... let's see what the future holds!

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are gong to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day."  —Edith Pierce

(image above is a new unpublished design that will be available next year...)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our First Rocklin Christmas...

Here are some photos of the holiday decorating we did in our new-old home this year. My goal was to keep everything simple, classic, homey, and a little bit fun. What a wonderful Christmas it's been, what an incredible (long, trying, and wonderful) YEAR it's been, and we're looking forward to making 2012 even better.

"At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year."  —Thomas Tusser

"Christmas makes me happy."  —Bryan White

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Past.

What a wonderful Christmas holiday weekend it's been, full of great times with great people, yummy food, naps, gifts, movies, shopping, and the best thing of all, thinking about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! Don't you just love Christmas? Hoping to post more photos soon, but for now here are a couple of Stephanie and David, goofing off with the camera. One is a happy colored shot and one is what Steph called their "model" faces. They are silly. But they are my beautiful children and how I love them so! It's also been great having Rich home with us for a long four-day weekend! Love it.

This month has been a bit hectic with all we had going on, but I did manage to mail our Christmas cards on December 24. Never have I been that late before (that I can remember). Sorry, friends & family! And with having moved last January we kinda fell off the radar. Oops.
Okay, time to go finish some cleaning projects before bed. More later. Merry Christmas!

"Christmas is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas."  —Dale Evans

"Let Christmas not become a thing
merely of merchant's trafficking,
Of tinsel, bell, and holly wreath
and surface pleasures, but beneath
The childish glamor, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind."
                                          —Madeline Morse

"Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine. Love was born at Christmas; stars and angels gave the sign."  —Christina Georgina Rossetti

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Inn Keepers.

"Each of us is an inn keeper who decides if there is room for Jesus."  —Neal A. Maxwell, October 1992

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


December 13th already... goodness gracious, how did we get here? Our friends and neighbors the Wilsons invited us over last night for snacks and gingerbread house decorating. It was so fun! Joyce is truly an amazing hostess. Their house was decorated like a holiday wonderland in true Joyce style, Jerry read us the account of Christ's birth from Luke chapter 2, we had some yummy food, great conversation, a fun evening, and we came home with three snazzy frosted and candy-coated gingerbread houses. Good times!

Quote of the night was from JJ: "Christmas is a minty holiday." So true! Love it.

Ok, time for sleep. We're closing in all too fast on the last twelve days before Christmas. Are you ready? I am so not! But we are enjoying ourselves anyway. It's the most wonderful time of the year, after all!

"I wish we could keep some Christmas Spirit in jars and open some of it every month."  —Harlan Miller

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I can feel it. The days of December are starting to get away from me. I am behind. I fear that our Christmas cards may become New Year's cards, which will be a first for me. I did finally get my gift tags finished last night (hence the title of this post), so I can start wrapping presents today. Maybe. Cards will hoooooopefully get started next week. Maybe. We shall see...

Had a really fun belated-birthday night out with my lady friends last night. They spoil me and I love it! We ate tasty Mexican at ON THE BORDER, then went over to NuYo for some delicious frozen yogurt. I went with the pumpkin flavor, combined with a little chocolate. Yum.

So, this weekend is the big unveiling of the new 2012 Hero Arts Catalog! Exciting times in the Rubber Stamping world. will have the new stuff available soon... and yes, I am a little behind on that as I am behind on just about everything else in my life these days. Big sigh... we do what we can, right? Just trying to keep my priorities in order, first of which, of course, always, are the hubs and the kiddos. Being the wife and the mom is a lovely, wonderful, amazing, joyful (mostly) yet extremely time-consuming responsibility, but it's also the absolute greatest blessing in my life. 

Ok, time to run. Busy day! And as we all go on with our busy lives, let's always remember the true meaning of the Christmas season. Make it special!

"Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."  —Calvin Coolidge

"I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year."  —Charles Dickens (Darles Chickens)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas in the Heart

December 3rd already? Oh my, Christmas is coming! We decorated our house last week and the preparations for the best day of the year have begun. This being the first Christmas in our new-old house, it was fun deciding what decorations to put up, where to put the tree, etc. It all looks kinda pur-dy if I do say so, and I just love turning on the tree and mantel lights every evening and enjoying the ambiance.

What an exciting time of year this is! I've been especially enjoying listening to my two new Christmas CD's (see THIS post for details). And as a side note, I had the privilege of emailing and speaking with the incredibly talented and sweet Mindy Gledhill herself this week! Made me feel kinda special, I will tell you that!

Oh, and the busy-ness of this time of year has certainly begun in earnest, but I love it. Several parties and fun things are already on the calendar and I am looking forward to it all! This weekend I participated for the third consecutive year in my dear friend Sydne's Holiday Boutique in Folsom, which as always was lots of fun! It's great to spend some time with old buddies and reconnect with people I don't often get to see. Lots of memories from our years in Folsom, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, in addition to selling lots of fudge and cinnamon rolls in hopes of adding a little to my Christmas gift-buying funds. And I worked some sweet trades with some of the talented ladies and brought home some lovely things for our home and a few gifts as well.

Thought I'd share one of my new Christmas Clear stamp sets from Impression Obsession today (see image above). It's called Christmas in the Heart and you can get your very own set HERE. Very versatile... why not get one for you and one for your best stamping buddy! (shameless plug, I just don't know when to stop, do I?)

OK, well, I am running on about four hours of sleep so I think I will go put on my snuggly sweats and find a thick quilt to wrap myself in and watch a movie with my girl. Enjoy your Sunday tomorrow!

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people around them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."  —Charles Dickens (aka Darles Chickens) 

"Christmas is the day that holds all time together."  —Alexander Smith

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Word is: LEFT-OVERS

Well. We've enjoyed a relaxing weekend with our Steph home safe and sound, and are just about finished around here with left-overs from the Big Day. I shredded up a pile of turkey meat yesterday, chopped an onion, and simmered it with bbq sauce. It made some delightful pulled-turkey sandwiches. Tomorrow I think I will take the last of the breast meat, probably augmented with a roasted chicken breast or two, and make my favorite and famous Turkey Salad with Cranberries & Pecans. Rich and I love this just out of the bowl with a couple of forks, but it also makes a great sandwich or salad, served on a bed of greens. Enjoy!


2 to 3 cups roasted turkey and/or chicken meat, shredded
1 cup finely-diced celery
1/4 cup finely-diced yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sweetened & dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients, adding mayo to achieve desired level of moistness. Chill until ready to serve.

"Oh Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness."  —Shakespeare

"We would worry less if we praised more."  —Harry Ironside

Friday, November 25, 2011

So Very Grateful

Ahhh. Yesterday was a wonderful day! So many good friends, good times, laughs, and good food. It was the best Thanks-giving/Birthday I could have hoped for! Thanks much to Kim, Kris, Kari, Lisa, Lori, and their families for sharing the day with us!

I found the quote at right while browsing around today. It perfectly sums up my feelings! Good friends fill my soul with joy. Not to mention a husband and two children who are just the best ever! Love them. Thanks also to my special pals who sent me cards and gifts in the mail - you rock, seriously. And again to Joyce, who made me feel like my birthday lasted all week! You're amazing.

Yesterday was a day of great feasting and fun. Now today, we rest. The sun is shining and the world is a beautiful place!

"There is always, always, always something to be thankful for!"  —unknown

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lots to do Today!

I've got a long list of things to do today... I've already been at it for a couple of hours, but I am going at a moderate pace and enjoying myself. Lori and her girls are coming over around noon and we're having a pie-baking party. Should be great fun! I am very much looking forward to our Thanksgiving gathering tomorrow, as some of my very favorite people will be here! Here's the remainder of my to-do list (which the menfolk Rich and David will assist with later today)... it's such an exciting life, isn't it??

- mow & edge the lawns
- rake the leaves
- sweep the sidewalks & patios
- tidy up inside (vacuum, sweep, mop, dust, clean bathrooms)
- bake pies & cobbler for tomorrow
- prep appetizers & chop veggies for tomorrow
- iron tablecloths for tomorrow
- set tables for tomorrow
- finish laundry
- change bedding
- pray for good weather over Donner Summit
- hug Stephanie when she gets home tonight!

This is a week specially set aside for thankful thinking, and that is what I am focusing on: the good, positive and uplifting things in my life, and there are many! Okay, now it's time to get back to that list. Happy Thanksgiving Eve to one and all!

"The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving."  —H. Westermayer

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gathering Leaves

    —by Robert Frost

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms and into my face.

I may load and unload again and again
Till I fill the whole shed, and what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight, and since they grew duller
From contact with earth, next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use. But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where the harvest shall stop?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Who I Want to Be, and What I Want to Have

This week is my birthday, which is another reminder that I am getting older, as are we all. Life has thrown me some curves over the years, and I've learned some things I never fathomed I would have to face and grown in ways I never knew I had the strength to grow. All in all I can honestly say that I am grateful for my trials, and most especially I am grateful for the things I know to be true that help me deal with what comes along. And at the very top of the list of what I am thankful for are my wise and kind husband and my Savior Jesus Christ. Looking back at the person I was when I was a child, and seeing the road I have traveled to get to this point in my life where I have been married for almost 24 years and have raised both of my children into adulthood (although the parenting continues, most happily, and oh how I love those "grown up" children of mine!), I know with a surety that I am thankful for the road. Of course I want that road to continue to be a long and fruitful one, because I still have lots of things I wish to accomplish in my life, and I know I still have lots of things to learn as well. But what a road it's been, and what a road it continues to be. Life is good, and even when it doesn't feel so good I know I am receiving opportunities for learning and growth.

I read some very inspiring words today, written by a very wise man in 2004. This message is titled "Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind" and you can read it HERE. I found it to be very inspiring, and it did indeed bring me peace, which is what I was searching for.

How interesting life can be, and what a blessing each day is. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, my goal is to remember this, and to remind myself to always be grateful for the simple gifts of life, and of love, and peace.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  —John 14:27

"Peace is its own reward."  —Gandhi

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Some New Christmas Music

Here in the Allred home we LOVE Christmas music, and have a tradition of purchasing one or two new Christmas CD's each year. So yesterday, as an early birthday gift to myself, I ordered two that I am so excited about. "Come Let Us Adore Him" by The Lower Lights, and "Winter Moon" by Mindy Gledhill. Take a listen; you'll be glad you did. And how early, you may ask, is too early to listen to Christmas music? Oh, you can listen to it all year long if you ask me. I love it.

It's a cold and rainy weekend here in NorCal. I think I will be bundling up for church: a cute sweater layered with a colorful scarf, and probably boots. Definitely boots. Then it's back home, on with the snuggly sweats and thick warm socks, and then we will rest and do some Thanksgiving preparations with a singleness of heart. I wish you all a happy Sunday!

Three more days until my Stephanie comes HOME!! Oh how I love that girl.

"Forever on Thanksgiving day, the heart will find the pathway home."  —Wilbur Nesbit

"Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way."  —Native American Blessing

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oh Joyce, You Shouldn't Have...

Joyce is a dear friend of mine. This past Thursday, Joyce took me out to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory for an early birthday treat. Then she sent me home with, among other lovely gifts, an ENTIRE Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake. That's right folks - the whole thing. Oh my. Joyce is awesome and she is so nice and she spoils me! Since Thursday we have been in chocolate cheesecake heaven around here, and I think we might polish it off just in time to immerse ourselves in the Thanksgiving feasting that will commence next week. I do believe I'm in trouble, ladies and gentlemen. Time to hit the treadmill and do some extra crunches. And let me say that my earthy-healthy, no thanks I'll just have carrot juice for dinner hubby... he has eaten MORE of the cheesecake than I have! I just wanted to point that out for the record.

Thanks Joyce! Love ya. Really I do. Seriously, I do! So glad we're neighbors, and even more glad we're friends.

PS - Happy 94th birthday to my Grandma! You are amazing and I love you!

"Nothing would be so tiresome as eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."  —Voltaire

"Sleep 'til you're hungry; eat 'til you're sleepy."  —unknown

"Holidays and birthdays are awesome!"  —me

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grateful + a note about avocados

Our Steph is coming home! I have not seen her face for almost six months and I cannot wait to hug my girl. It's been an exciting year and a time of great learning for Stephanie, and it will be oh-so-good to have her back in California. She's a beautiful young woman, both inside and out, and Rich & I are so proud of her... and David too! This is the season of Thanksgiving, and we have lots to be thankful for, indeed!

And about avocados... you know how some avocados are duds and they never get soft? That totally bums me out. Just sayin.'

"To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there."  —Barbara Bush

"Thank you for a house full of people that I love. Amen."  —Terri Guillemets

Friday, November 11, 2011

His Image

Life can be challenging. The older I get the more this fact is etched into my mind. We never know what trials will come into our lives, but they will come and this life was meant to be a test. But it's all for our learning and benefit. In light of some recent trials I have been overwhelmed lately with love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. He literally saved all of humanity. Each and every one of us are children of our Heavenly Father, whether we know it or not. And whether we know it or not, this entire universe was created for us, and Jesus Christ was born for us, and he lived for us. He suffered for ALL of our sins, our pains, our afflictions, and our griefs, and then he died for us. And on the third day he rose again, for us. He was our perfect example, and he did it all because he loves us. And now we can be like him someday. All that is required of us is that we covenant to live by his laws, be faithful, and endure to the end.

What beautiful assurance these things bring to me in this world of strife. It's all about love. He loves us and knows us better than we know and love ourselves. And he wants us to succeed and return to him. We are his. The problem is that there are those that want us to forget this fact, and to become mired in the things of this world and in our own pride, and forget that we belong to our God who grants us the very air we breathe. And these days it might seem like "they" are winning. But I KNOW that when all is said and done Christ will win the ultimate victory, and those found to be on his side will win with him. That assurance brings me great peace, and I hope that when the time comes he will look into my heart and see that I am enough like him that I will be worthy to return home.

This video is absolutely stirring. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is simply flawless here in their beautiful rendition of "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus." The beginning, where 180 men sing in unison: "At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice, but I try to listen as the still small voice whispers, 'love one another as Jesus loves you'" — it brings tears to my eyes. Amazing and gorgeous. Listen, and enjoy. 

"Have you received his image in your countenance? Does the light of Christ shine in your eyes? Will he know you when he comes again because you will be like him? When he sees you, will the father know his child by his everlasting image in your eyes?"  —Janice Kapp Perry

"Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought, for these are the things Jesus taught."  —Janice Kapp Perry

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's the Season for Gratitude

If you've been reading my blog you know by now that I love the Fall! Everything about this time of year brings me joy. And this year, Thanksgiving happens to "fall" on my birthday (or does my birthday fall on Thanksgiving? I guess since the date of Thanksgiving changes and my birthday stays constant, the former is more accurate)... And since I have a brand-new kitchen to cook in this year, we are hosting a large group of beloved friends in our home on the big T-day B-day. I am having a great time planning the menu, table decorations, party favors, entertainment, etc. Can't wait! It's gonna be lots of fun.

I'd thought I'd share one of my newer season-appropriate clear stamp sets today. This one is (appropriately) called GRATITUDE, and you can get it here. When I create my text-based designs I really try to find quotes that are more unique and less-heard-of. I love this set, and it can be used year-round for thank-you cards, scrap-book pages, wall art, and other mixed-media projects. Lots of possibilities here! Enjoy.

Time to run. Go hug someone today!

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch heaven."  —Johannes Gaertner 

"Gratitude unlocks the fulness of life."  —Melody Beattie

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Word is: FALL

fall /fôl/
verb. 1. to move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, from a higher to a lower level. 2. to experience defeat.
3. to occur at a specified time. 4. to come, as by chance.

noun. 1. an act of falling or collapsing; a sudden uncontrollable descent. 2. an over throw or sudden decline in status. 3. Autumn: the third season of the calendar year between summer and winter, in the Northern Hemisphere from September to November, from the Autumnal Equinox to the Winter Solstice.

adj. 1. of, occurring in, or appropriate to the season of fall. 2. grown during the season of fall.

Goodness gracious, look out the window. Don't you just love Fall? Well, you should. There are so many definitions for this word. Go and look it up — you will be amazed! But my favorite definitions are those that describe this delicious, crisp, awe-inspiring, beautiful time of year. Love it!

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days!"  —John Burroughs

"Apples.....yum!"  —Stephanie Allred

"Everyone should take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."  —Elizabeth Lawrence

"Me oh my, I love pie!"  —Dorothy Winters

"The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky."
            —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Friday, November 4, 2011

One Flake at a Time...

In life we search for happiness. Sometimes we expect that it should be easy. But true happiness and true success takes great effort, and that's what makes a truly blessed and happy life so valuable. It's all about dedication, and diligence, and doing the right thing when you'd rather give up.

Elder M. Russell Ballard tells of a young merchant from Boston, who in 1849, as the story goes, was caught up in the fervor of the California gold rush. He sold all of his possessions to seek his fortune in the California rivers, which he was told were filled with gold nuggets so big that one could hardly carry them.

Day after endless day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit until one day an old, experienced prospector said to him, “That’s quite a pile of rocks you are getting there, my boy.”

The young man replied, “There’s no gold here. I’m going back home.”

Walking over to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, “Oh, there is gold all right. You just have to know where to find it.” He picked two rocks up in his hands and crashed them together. One of the rocks split open, revealing several flecks of gold sparkling in the sunlight.

Noticing a bulging leather pouch fastened to the prospector’s waist, the young man said, “I’m looking for nuggets like the ones in your pouch, not just tiny flecks.”

The old prospector extended his pouch toward the young man, who looked inside, expecting to see several large nuggets. He was stunned to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of flecks of gold.

The old prospector said, “Son, it seems to me you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’re missing filling your pouch with these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”

Elder Ballard goes on to say, "Brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, no matter how much we try to make it complicated. We should strive to keep our lives similarly simple, unencumbered by extraneous influences, focused on those things that matter most... Great things are wrought through simple and small things. Like the small flecks of gold that accumulate over time into a large treasure, our small and simple acts of kindness and service will accumulate into a life filled with love for Heavenly Father, devotion to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a sense of peace and joy each time we reach out to one another... Love the Lord, lose ourselves in the service of others, and be kind. That is the way to true spiritual wealth."

I know all too well that life can be full of challenges, trials, and sometimes even great disappointments. But when we focus our energies outward, serving others and making those right choices when life is hard and we'd rather have a pity party, we will be blessed and we will be happy. I know this. It's true. 

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."  —William James

"Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."  —Dr. Seuss

"Be an opener of doors."  —Ralph Waldo Emerson

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."  —Alma 37:6

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time to be Thankful

Whew. I made it through October. Hallelujah. It's been a rough month. This morning I took down the *minor* Halloween-specific decorations, leaving the various pumpkins, fall leaves, branches, and whatnot, and added the few Thanksgiving-specific touches to make it look like November. I love November. I love Thanksgiving. I am choosing to be thankful and grateful and positive. I am choosing happy.

Went to Trader Joe's this morning and picked up a trio of "fairy-tale" pumpkins, you know - the squatty-shaped extra-hard ones with the dull and dusty color to them (love them!) to stack as a centerpiece on my kitchen island. And my maple trees are offering some lovely fall colors in their leaves, and I think I will gather a few branches to bring indoors and display in a large pitcher.

Thankful. That's what I am. November's gonna be better. November rhymes with "remember." I like that.

"We can only be said to be alive on those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."  —Thornton Wilder

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Case I Don't See Ya...

This coming week is going to be a busy one, so in case I don't find time to post tomorrow...

Happy Halloween!

Have fun, be spooky, be careful, and try not to eat too much candy. And if you'd be so kind, please save a toosie roll and a twix bar for me! (image at right is from a new stamp set that will be coming out next summer. It's full of lots of scary fun - stay tuned!).

"Hiss and hark, draw close and tremble, 'tis the night that ghosts assemble!"  —unknown

"Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers? No, they eat their fingers separately!"  —anonymous

It's Halloween! It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night.
Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.
In masks and gowns we haunt the street
And knock on doors for trick or treat.
Tonight we are the king and queen,
For oh tonight it's Halloween!
—Jack Prelutsky

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Into the Spirit

Having a little fun around here with the Halloween preparations. I hope to share photos soon but for now here's some inspiration I found online that is right up my alley. I love the stacked boxes, the text-based sign, the painted chippy table-tray, the moss, the color combo... Love it all. It's yummy.

It's definitely beginning to feel and look like Autumn in NorCal. Trees are turning brilliant colors all around us, some of the leaves are starting to fall, the air is cool and crisp in the mornings and evenings (had to run back in for a jacket the other night - brrrr!), and there's just that indescribable FALL feeling in the air that I love so much. On the not-so-bright side, however, are the skunks. There are more skunks here in our area than we can believe. David went out for a late-night run on Tuesday and had to come back in because a skunk and his skunky friend were hanging out on the lawn two houses down from us. Then last night Rich saw another one walking along the path near our house. We think they live along the golf course. They are a menace. And they smell. Oh, that smell, and we smell it a lot. It's not a good thing. Neighbors who have been here for years say that this is an especially bad skunk year, and just about everyone we talk to has some sort of skunk story to tell. And what does a "good" skunk year look like? Hmmmmmmmmm.

But I digress. That's enough about smelly creatures who roam the streets...

I wanted to share another favorite Fall recipe - These are quick pumpkin muffins with a yummy crumb topping. This can also be baked in a bundt pan with cream cheese frosting. Go make some. It's a winner. Enjoy!


1 pkg. Yellow cake mix
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
3 eggs
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Crumb topping: 
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash salt
1/2 cube (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together dry cake mix, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In a separate bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, eggs, water, oil, and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Pour into greased or paper-lined muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Sprinkle a spoonful of crumb topping over each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter."  —Nova Bair

"There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!"  —Percy Shelley

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Word is: CHOICES

Life is full of choices. Sometimes the right decisions are obvious, and sometimes they can be more difficult and complex. But still, there is always truth and truth is always constant. Truth does not contradict truth. God has promised that to us. We must always seek for the truth, even when it's hard. The following was written by Joseph L. Townsend (1849-1942). I have found great solace in these words at many times in my life. Now is one of those times.

Choose the right when a choice is placed before you. 
In the right the Holy Spirit guides.
And its light is forever shining o'er you
when in the right your heart confides.

Choose the right. Let no spirit of digression 
overcome you in the evil hour.
There's the right and the wrong to every question;
Be safe through inspiration's power.

Choose the right — there is peace in righteous doing.
Choose the right — there's safety for the soul.
Choose the right in all labors you're pursuing;
Let God and heaven be your goal.

Choose the right — let wisdom mark the way before.
Choose the right — and God will bless you ever more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Kind of Mother Am I?

This is something I think about often. And as my children continue to grow into their own adulthood, I wonder what they will remember about their childhoods: what they will remember about me, their mother. What kind of mother was I? What kind of mother am I today? What kind of grandmother will I be? Will I leave something positive in the world when I am gone? Will my descendents want to emulate my example, or will I be a disappointment to them?

The book I am currently reading is "Love Walked In" by Marisa de los Santos. In this story a young girl, Clare, is abandoned by her mentally ill mother and is taken in by Cornelia, a woman who by some coincidence is currently seeing Clare's estranged father. One night Clare is sleeping in Cornelia's home, and during the night Cornelia hears Clare sobbing and saying, "I want my mommy." At that point Cornelia has the following insight:

"I thought about those words, how they contained so much more than they seemed to contain, more than any four words could hold. They meant what they meant and were also a universal cry, maybe the universal, plaintive, openhearted cry for comfort. Soldiers in the heat of battle; death-row prisoners; explorers stranded in deserts, jungles, on mountaintops; anyone sick or lost or just tired and bewildered; we all want our mothers. I thought about my own mother—straight-backed, eternally smiling, never without tissues, Band-Aids, lipstick, aspirin, optimism, and reassurance. Mothers—why didn't they all collapse under such weight? I shivered."

Yes, mothers ought to be and should be the quintessential support for so much of our lives, for all of our lives. I know that I try to be that for my children, and I'll die before I will stop trying. It's what I live for. It's what gives me life. It is almost beyond comprehension that by some great miracle their tiny bodies formed and grew inside of mine, and it remains a miracle that I am continually blessed each and every day to be the mother of my sweet babies Stephanie and David. What a gift it is to be a mother—their mother, and I pray that I can always live up to the obligations, and be worthy of the blessings. 

"A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled."  —Emily Dickinson

"Mother is a verb, not a noun."  —unknown

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It is a stunning and gorgeous fall morning. I am sitting at my computer eating home-made lemon pudding, light as a feather and oh so lovely! The pudding is still slightly warm and it is just simply delightful. I love it! Taking some to share with my dear friend Kari today. Yay - lunch with Kari! Can't wait.

Working hard to be happy these days. Yes, it is work. Everything worth having is worth working for, right? My sweet hubby reminds me that happiness is a choice. Sometimes it takes some doing, but I choose HAPPY!

OK - Gotta run. Go put some HAPPY in the world!

"Happiness is possible."  —anonymous

"Be happy. It's one way of being wise."  —Sidonie Gabrielle

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Comfort Me With Apples

Fall is most definitely here. You know that smell, the one that comes in the morning when the air is crisp and moist, the sky is startlingly clear, and the temperature is cool but not too chilly? That's the smell floating through my windows right at this moment. It lifts my spirits and I love it! That smell went perfectly with the left-over pumpkin cake I ate for breakfast this morning. Yummmmmmmmm.

Here's a fall apple recipe. It's for good old-fashioned Apple Crisp, the kind with the brown sugar & oat topping that just begs to be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Cuddle up with someone you love and make some tonight! (then you can have the left-overs for your breakfast tomorrow......)


5 or 6 large Golden Delicious apples
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup quick oats
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 or 10 wedges, then cut each wedge into small pieces. Combine apples with the granulated sugar, ¼ cup of the flour, and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon. Place apple mixture into a 9x13-inch pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining cup of flour, the ½ teaspoon cinnamon, the brown sugar and the oats. Add melted butter and mix until moistened and crumbly. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over apples. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tender and golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

"Autumn arrives in early morning."  —Elizabeth Bowen

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."  —Carl Sagan

"The invention of a new recipe does more for mankind than the discovery of a new star."  —Brillat-Savarin

Friday, October 7, 2011

If I Were a Zombie...

Found this awesome song the other day. It's appropriate for Halloween, so I thought I'd share. Love Stephanie Mabey. She has a great voice and is very entertaining. If you're in the SLC area you can see her perform tonight at the Rooftop Concert in Provo. (wish I could be there...) Click HERE to watch/listen. Enjoy! Stephanie's one of the opening acts for the headlining group, THE LOWER LIGHTS, which is one of my absolute favorites! Oh, how I wish I were in Provo!
I'm sharing a card today from the beautiful and so-talented Daniela Dobson from Impression Obsession's Design Team. She's used stamps from my "Bump In The Night" clear set, also pictured below. Get yours today! Thanks again, Daniela for showing the versatility of my designs. It's fun for me to see what people come up with! You are amazing. It seems like this card was specially designed to coordinate with my blog color scheme and background, am I right?

It's October (duh), and I've been doing a little decorating for the upcoming Fall holidays. Just the front porch, the fireplace, and the dining room. I prefer to go with pumpkins, fall leaves, etc., and I generally steer clear of jack-o-lanterns and "spooky" stuff. That way the decor works from now clear until Thanksgiving, then the weekend after Thanksgiving we start decorating for Christmas. I've done lots of leaves, branches, a few sunflowers, and pumpkins in shades of orange in the family room, and have done a few white pumpkins in the dining room. It looks swell if you ask me. (I'll work on getting some pictures taken to share. Taking pictures is a huge downfall of mine and I am trying to learn how to do it...) My sweet grandmother has been waiting for six months now for me to send her photos of our new-old home and remodeled kitchen... shame on me! She reminds me of it every time we talk on the phone. Hang in there Kono - someday!). Anyhoo - Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this time of year? Yes I have and it is TRUE! Oh, and it rained yesterday and was quite cool this morning. Yummy weather!

So I bought several bags of Tootsie Rolls for the trick-or-treaters. Keeping the packages sealed so I don't eat them. So far I have been successful. I have no idea how many little goblins to expect since this will be our first Halloween here in this neighborhood. Not too many kids live nearby, so we'll see... Will probably pick up some Smarties to go with the Tootsie Rolls. Love the vintage candies - they take me back.   

PS - Happy birthday to Aunt Julie! You are the best and I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY! 

"If I were a zombie I'd never eat your brain... I'd just want your heart." —Stephanie Mabey

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Good Will & Life

I love to buy books from Good Will. It's great to pay less than two dollars for a book - that way if it ends up being lousy I don't feel too bad about it. I like to have a fresh stack of books nearby. I am always reading, and when I finish a book I need another one. Good Will helps with my book problem.
The book I'm currently reading is Before The Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It by John O'Hurley. That's right - J. Peterman from Seinfeld. Mr. O'Hurley is actually quite wise and well spoken, and I am really enjoying this book. It's a series of essays, written as advice to John's infant son as seen through the eyes of his dog. A chapter I read last night is titled "On Skunks, Poison Ivy and Little League." Here's my favorite excerpt:

"...Life isn’t fair. I am reminded of this every time I see the pictures of the hollow eyes of children in Africa near starvation. Why them? I am also (albeit less profoundly) reminded of it when I continually catch my toe on the end of the bed as I make my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Why me?

Life is not just unfair in cases of deficiency, but sometimes in abundance as well. There are people who have won the lottery more than once. I have seen gamblers bring a casino to its knees without breaking. I have occasionally driven the length of Santa Monica Boulevard without having to stop at a red light. I have found a crinkled-up twenty-dollar bill in a pair of old jeans I no longer wear. But I never say, Why me? in these instances. We tend to think of the inequity in life from the perspective of the have-nots rather than the haves. Sometimes we do get more than we deserve.

I often wonder what life would be like if it were fair. What if we got exactly what we deserved? There would be no skunks or poison ivy. I would never have been kept after school. I would have been co-captain of my little-league team, along with a kid who had thick glasses and protruding front teeth. I would have gotten every role I auditioned for. I would not have lost so many friends through accidents and disease.

But if life were fair, it would be a life without growth and perspective. There is meaning in suffering, as difficult as it is to endure. From it we learn humility and persistence. There is appreciation in abundance. From it we realize that life is full of grace as well.

Much as we depend on gravity to provide weight, we need suffering and abundance to give life a sense of context. Without gravity there would be no resistance, and everything would have the same weightlessness, floating aimlessly without distinction. A mountain grows tall and gives us a better view the more it moves against the resistance of the earth.

It is a pretty philosophy to regard suffering as an opportunity for growth, but it does not fill the stomach of a starving child, and I have no answer for that. I believe that God can do all things, but I have come to realize through personal experience that sometimes He does not. I believe there is a plan that is beyond my comprehension that allows a place for catastrophic human suffering for reasons that reason will never understand. If we accept that unfairness is inevitable as long as we are alive, we can shift our focus to the far more important issue—how do we cope with suffering, both our own and in our compassion for the suffering of others?

Remember this: You are not your circumstances. I’ll say it again: You are not your circumstances. What happens to you, good and bad, is not the essence of who you are. Your circumstances are external to you; don’t invite them in. They are unwelcome guests; they will try to make a victim of you. You will paralyze yourself with fear and depression if you let the unfairness of life become part of who you are. Conversely, you will become vain and arrogant if you become absorbed by the abundance and good fortune that life will also bring your way.

It is not what happens to us in life; it is what we do about it. And that is the second element of coping with a world that is inherently unfair. How you react to both adversity and prosperity will determine your character, and, in many cases, your circumstances.

…So think less about the life you deserve, and enjoy the one you have.”

(note: Above artwork is available as part of THIS clear stamp set from Impression Obsession, designed by me! Shameless plug...)  

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."  —Thomas Jefferson