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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Recipe Time: Pumpkin-Mushroom Lasagna

Ahhhh. Welcome October! We're home this weekend watching General Conference and puttering around. Still lots of organizing to do, not to mention fix-it projects galore. But today I am relaxing and cooking. In the oven this very minute is a lovely vegetarian Pumpkin-Mushroom Lasagna. We will eat this with salad and garlic bread in about an hour. Oh, I can't wait. You should smell our kitchen right now. It's kinda heavenly...

The weather around here is still making up its mind. It's typical fall: warm, cool, even sometimes hot. But oh, those cool evenings and mornings. Love it! Can't wait for sweater weather. 

OK - time to run. I hope you are having a WONDERFUL weekend!  

"Come listen to a Prophet's voice, and hear the word of God."  —Joseph S. Murdock


1/2 pound button mushrooms, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups prepared marinara sauce, divided
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
1 package (8 ounces) lasagna noodles, uncooked

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms, garlic and onions. Season with salt & pepper; sauté until tender and lightly browned. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine pumpkin, cream, ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan, and seasoning. Stir until well blended.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread ½ cup of the pumpkin mixture on the bottom of the pan, followed by three of the lasagna noodles. Spread more pumpkin, then mushroom mixture, then ¼ cup of the shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the last of the pumpkin. Drizzle with the remaining ½ cup of marinara sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with a little additional cheese. Return to oven and cook for five to ten additional minutes to melt cheese. Let stand for ten to fifteen minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 6 to 8 entrée servings.