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