Sunday, September 4, 2011


Are you having a great Labor Day weekend so far? Are you "laboring" around the yard and/or house? Or enjoying an end-of-summer vay- or stay-cation? Maybe you're like me doing a little bit of both. I'm playing matchmaker around here. Lookie what I mean.
Match #1
our pantry filling up for the winter!


Match #2
a new delicious grilling adventure!


Match #3
no explanation needed...throw in some popsicles, friends and family, and a party is born!


Match #4
Well, let's say this one didn't really get off the ground. Soon, though. Very soon. This doesn't shout "holiday weekend" to me, so we'll wait a little bit.

Hoping you and your weekend are a match made in summery heaven!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When life gives you lemons, I mean zucchini...

...make zucchini brownies!

That's right. 'Tis the season for zucchini coming out the wah-zoo, and if you're like me, about this time of year I'm really scraping for new ways to use our bountiful crop of emerald beauties. When we sit down to the dinner table, my husband teasingly asks "OK where's the zucchini?" I've gotten clever at the hiding game!

My mom gave me this recipe a couple of years ago, and it's a winner. Rich, moist brownies with a fudge-like frosting. And, thanks to the cooler-than-normal summer we're having, I can actually stand to turn on the oven in our non-air-conditioned house and bake up a batch of these. I like to grate zucchini and freeze it in 2-cup portions so I can make this year round too.

We're bringing these to our neighborhood picnic tomorrow, and I expect the dish will be empty by the end of the night! I hope you'll try these and let me know what you think.

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg (optional - If you add it, the brownies will be more cake-like. If you leave it out, they will be more fudgey.)

2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Combine first "wet" ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add dry to wet and combine well. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Top with frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk

Mix together in saucepan and boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat and add: 2/3 cup EACH chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are melted and spread on brownies. Let set until frosting firms up like fudge. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We all scream!

Did you know this month is National Ice Cream month? Did you know there was such a thing? Thanks to President Reagan's declaration back in 1984, July is officially the month to celebrate this frozen concoction of deliciousness. The third Sunday of the month (or this past Sunday) is National Ice Cream day.

I don't know about you, but I usually don't need an occasion to enjoy a bowl of cookies n' cream or a pudding pop. But it's nice to know it's celebrated in our country.

I once heard that there is more ice cream consumed in winter months than in the summer. Has anyone else heard that? It's been so long since I learned that surprising fact that I'm starting to wonder if I made it up so I wouldn't fee so guilty digging into a dish of caramal cashew on a chilly February night.

Anyway, we like to make ice cream at our house, but we usually like to make it when it can all be eaten the same day as it's made, so we'll invite you over sometime to help us eat it! Re-frozen homemade ice cream just seems to lose a lot of the texture and flavor that it has when it's eaten right out of the ice cream maker. Here's a site with all the recipes you can imagine.

But for a "quick fix" I love a good Dilly bar or a soft serve cone too! It's worth all the brain freezes in the world!

Happy ice "screaming" this month! What's your favorite kind?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hope for little lambs

I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday, and I wanted to share just a couple of thoughts with you. The subject was mostly on hope, and I related it to the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how vital it is to have hope in our lives and in our families. There is an element of action that needs to take place along with hope.

"As parents, we find our fondest hopes center around our children. We hope they will grow up to lead responsible and righteous lives. Such hopes can be easily dashed if we do not act as good examples. Hope alone does not mean our children will grow in righteousness. We must spend time with them in family home evening and worthwhile family activities. We must teach them to pray. We must read with them in the scriptures and teach them important gospel principles. Only then is it possible our fondest hopes will be realized."
-Elder Steven E. Snow

I realize more and more the importance of the responsibility I've been given to raise righteous children. I'm certain the challenges will be greater the older they get too. But I also know the potential of my hopes and actions becoming exponentially far-reaching, perhaps for generations to come.

"The Echo"
C. C. Miller

’Twas a sheep not a lamb
That strayed away in the parable Jesus told,
A grown-up sheep that strayed away
From the ninety and nine in the fold.
And why for the sheep should we seek
And earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger when sheep go wrong:
They lead the lambs astray.
Lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray.
When sheep go wrong,
It won’t take long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead
For the sake of the lambs today,
For when the sheep are lost
What a terrible cost
The lambs will have to pay.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Well this weeks topic is one of my favorite things. I figure Oprah has them, so I can have them too. Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cranberries, Huckleberries, etc. Yummy!

I love berry muffins too. Here is one of my favorite recipes. It came from allrecipes, but I adapted it a little, so I will call it my own. :)

Blueberry, or any berry for that matter, muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon or so of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or so of nutmeg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries/huckleberries,raspberries/etc

Crumb Topping
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 or more teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter (room temperature)

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2.Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
3.To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon. Mix with fork till there are small crumbles and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
4.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
Try them, you will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It's that time of year when all the berries are their full glory. I guess strawberries have been on for a while already, but the blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are catching up. And that means stocking up!

Growing up, we had a huge strawberry patch at our house, and it was my summertime household job to pick berries and make freezer jam pretty much every other day. Any time my away-at-college sisters would call home and ask what I'm doing, no matter what time of day, the answer would always be "dishes" or "making jam." I got pretty sick of it sometimes, but we were sure glad to dig a carton of homemade jam out of the freezer in the winter when we were craving a little taste of summer.

Speaking of summer, it's having a hard time making an appearance around here. Our heater kicked on this morning! So, our harvest may be meager at best, which means we'll be visiting our local "u-pick" farms for berries. If you haven't heard of, you must go and check it out. You can search by location and narrow your search by the type of produce you're looking for. It has extras like recipes, canning tips and picking tips. Our favorite is blueberry picking at Canter-Berry Farms. They don't use any pesticides or herbicides, and they encourage you to eat as much as you like while you're picking.

If you're looking for something delicious and different to make with your berries, try this Rhuberry Pie. It combines FOUR kinds of berries and my favorite - rhubarb. Hurry before the rhubarb is gone for the season! Or convince yourself to break open one of the 6 bags you're hoarding in the freezer for year-long rationing. Not that I do that.

Happy Independence Day next week, everyone! Make something deliciously patriotic with all those berries out there!

P.S. Speaking of strawberries, this is one of our favorite books! We all love the illustrations, and I love that I totally relate to it (although my freckles didn't go away when I got older either!).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Still here....

Well, Jen has been true and faithful...but the rest of us, well, I guess we're lost. :)

We are still here. I'm can't speak for the rest of the women, but I can say that for myself, I have just been anxiously engaged in a few other good causes...namely the Book of Mormon Challenge, and moving! I have not forgotten about this Praiseworthy blog and our Praiseworthy cause--quite the opposite is true! My mind is filling up with thoughts and ideas and things I'd love to share. However, there is a time and a season for all things...

Last week's topic was "sorry."
I'm sorry I didn't write anything.

The topic this week is "white." I didn't want to let this one pass me by completely! There are so many wonderful white things in this world! For example...

wedding dresses
a big, white-toothed smile
new paint
fluffy clouds in a blue sky
a blank canvas
pages in a book
sea shells
clean socks
fresh whipped cream

The other day my daughter asked me if I knew what her favorite part of her body is. Then she proudly declared "My teeth! Because I like to take care of them."

Clean. White. Smile. :)

My sister is getting married in August. It has been fun to help find a unique and beautiful dress for her to wear to the temple. It has a bow. It has a train. It has been fitted just for her.

Clean. White. Smile. :)

There is just something comforting in the beauty of white in this world!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In bloom

I'm loving this one right now:

And this Japanese variety is pretty spectacular too:
This soft pink one smells like a sweet breath of fresh air whenever I walk by:
But you know which is my favorite? The white one. Look closely and you'll see tiny flecks of bright red in a few spots.

It's a reminder that something doesn't have to be perfect and pristine to be beautiful.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Have you ever heard the saying "Love means never having to say you're sorry."? It's actually a line from a book and a 1970 movie, and I've heard it here and there in various contexts. Two years later, the phrase was repeated by Barbara Streisand's character in another movie, to which her costar Ryan O'Neal responds, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard."

I have to say I agree with his answer. Since being married, I've learned that "I'm sorry" is one of the most important, and necessary, things I can say to my husband. I don't think I say it too much because I think overusing it just becomes a trite cure-all phrase, and because I try my hardest to not do or say too many things in the first place that I'm sorry for. But there are definitely times where I have to put my pride aside, get a little perspective on the situation, and turn on the empathy. It might be easier to just disregard the situation, and when the bad feelings subside, just go back to life as usual as if nothing happened. But, as I'm sure you all know, that doesn't make it better in the long run.

I recently read an article titled "Making a Marriage Work" where Elder Pinnock lists ten ideas to not only make your marriage work, but to strengthen it (I highly recommend reading it individually and then as a couple). The seventh idea is:

"Say, 'I’m sorry,' and really mean it. Contrary to a popular saying, love, in part, means learning how to say 'I’m sorry.' So often when we make mistakes, even innocent mistakes, damage has been done and an apology is in order. Along with learning to say, 'I’m sorry,' husbands and wives must learn to say, 'I forgive.' Jesus taught that to be forgiven by our Heavenly Father depends, in part, on our ability to forgive those who trespass against us. Some of the strongest marriages of which I am aware have been between partners who could say, 'I am sorry,' and who forgive each other."

So, if I could re-write the saying based on my own experience, it would say something like "Love means saying you're sorry even when it's the most difficult thing you've done in a long time and it wasn't your fault to begin with and you want to sulk until the other person comes to you and apologizes and you don't want to talk about it and you don't care about being sorry because you just want to be right."

Now that's TRUE love.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

She was born on a Saturday.

I gave birth to her at 3:27 am on a Saturday.

In these short two years, I've seen some of myself in her.

She's a little crafty...

...and a little domestic.

She loves being outside...

...even if it means getting dirty.

She's independent, determined (sometimes to the point of stubbornness) and has a special admiration for her big brother...just like her mom.

But she's very much her own person.

She takes an unconventional approach to life.

And she could teach me a thing or two about finding joy in simple things.

Yep, she was born on a Saturday...

...and I'm changed because of it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hidden Treasures

Oh the joy of a hidden treasure...

I LOVE to come across a blog or photo or item online that makes my scroll finger pause, and then my eyes widen, and then my heart leap! :) There are so many hidden treasures online--well, they aren't really hidden I guess. They are out there for everyone to enjoy, you just have to know where to find them. And that is why I am totally loving Pinterest! Have you seen it yet? Jenni introduced me to this world of not-so-hidden treasures a few weeks ago and it has quickly become one of my favorite online joys!

For any of you who are like me when people say, "Oh, I just got online and found it..." (a tutorial or cute kid's item, etc.), then you have probably heard yourself say, "Why can't I find that kind of stuff online? Where are these awesome blogs and cool websites?" I always feel like I'm the last to know!

Well, now I find all kinds of treasures online--those same ones that I used to think were hidden somewhere in the mommy-blog sphere where I was not invited. Oh, no, we are all invited! And you can invite your friends.

I'm not trying to promote anything here--except the fun and excitement that comes when you do find something that really makes you smile.

Here is the description of Pinterest directly from their website:
"Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can create collections of things you love and "follow" collections created by people with great taste.
People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things -- wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it."

So, if you want to discover the hidden treasures out there...go to Pinterest and request an invitation. Once you're account is set up, you can find friends, invite friends, make friends, and best of all--pin EVERYTHING and ANYTHING until your heart is content. If any of you have a shopping addiction--this just might kick it. It's like shopping, but without spending any money!  You can add anything you want to your pinboards and look at it as much as you want, so that's almost like having one of your own, right? :)

Happy Friday, all!

ps. The topic for this week is "hidden," in case you wanted to write a little something of your own and link up with us!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's your secret?

OK I need some ideas here.

Let me back up. It's been awhile since I was introduced to a couple of cook books that are all about creative ways to hide vegetables in kids' favorite dishes, and I've tried a good amount of them with success.

I was reluctant at first because I thought, "My kids might not eat many vegetables at first, but I'll keep offering them at mealtimes and eventually they'll try them and decide they like them. If I grind, puree and disguise them in other foods, they'll have a warped sense of what vegetables taste like. They'll think zucchini is supposed to taste like my mom's zucchini brownies or that butternut squash tastes like macaroni and cheese. Then they'll NEVER like them when they find out their green leafy friends really taste like, well, vegetables."

In actuality, I'm the one with a warped sense of reality. The truth is, they each like a few veggies like cucumbers and carrots. But with summer approaching, I'm going to be whipping up all kinds of salads, and I'm not sure how well they're going to go over with the people under 5 years old in the house.

So, what's your secret to hiding a little extra goodness in the meals you make for your family? I've just shared a couple of mine with you (I like to throw in a handful of fresh spinach into our smoothies too), but I'd love to know from you!

Hidden Treasures

I remember while growing up my mom would always have a stash of hidden treasures somewhere in the house. They were things like Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, M&M's, Rolo's, Caramello's, etc. My dad had his own too. His was usually Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. We always new if we wanted a treat, we just had to search.

My Dad's treasure was always somewhere in the freezer. My moms on the other hand, well there were lots of places. In the side drawer in her room, or one of the other many junk drawers she had, you could find them in the basket on top of the fridge, in a bowl in the top of the cupboards, and my favorite place, the wheat grinder shelf/cabinet.

Yes, my mom has a shelf with a built in wheat grinder. It is an old antique from my grandparents. It has the grinder inside with the lever to turn on the out side. We always loved to turn it. Imagine our surprise when chocolate candy and chewed up wrappers started coming out! yeah, I think that was the last time they were hidden in there.

I also had my own hiding places. I had 4 older siblings and one younger one. The younger one I did not worry about, but the older ones made me nervous. Halloween would come around and it was time to hide you stash again. And like my dad, there is something about frozen Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. Well I hid mine in the ice dispenser. Then I forgot about them. Well, my brother ended up with chocolate, peanut butter, foil wrapper ice. Yeah, that was a mess. Oops!

As a mom, I don't really have a hiding spot yet. My kids are not old enough to steal my favorite treats and treasures. I can just put them up on a high shelf in the pantry, and they are safe. I have not had to worry about them climbing the pantry shelves, yet. I see it coming int the near future though, so I will have to start finding my hiding spaces now. Maybe in the e canning pots at the top of the pantry, maybe in my silver flower vase, maybe even in the unused toilet paper roll holder/stacker thing. Oh the ideas.

Where do you hide your treasures.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bloom Where You're Planted (Or Sprout Where You Are)

Apple blossoms in the backyard!

A few months ago, my daughter found that one of the seeds in the apple she was eating had sprouted. We stared at it in amazement for a little while, then wrapped it loosely in a damp paper towel and set that in an empty yogurt container on the windowsill. And forgot about it. Days and days later my husband happened upon the forgotten seedling and what do you know? It was growing! Obviously, this little plant wanted a chance. So we put some soil into the yogurt container and planted the tiny tree. And it grew and it grew. Reaching for the light outside, it got a little lopsided so we turned it around so it could reach the other way. And it grew and it grew.

Here is our little apple tree last week just before we put it in a bigger pot outside. We didn't really have much hope for it in the beginning, but now I'm looking forward to seeing it become what it was meant to be. And when it gets bigger it probably won't bear tasty fruit (apple trees from seeds don't grow the same apples they came from - weird, huh?), but it's worth giving it a chance, don't you think? You know, just in case.

There's an analogy in there about life and relating to other people and seeing the hidden potential in ourselves. Pick your favorite! It's sure to be delicious (hehe!)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Book, A Challenge, A Blessing

We are starting something--it's a 30-day challenge--and we would love you to join us! Beginning June 1st we will be reading the Book of Mormon together. Check it out over on The Book of Mormon Challenge Blog. There you will find a reading schedule, links to other resources to help you complete the challenge, and the best part: a community of people all excited to do it together!  If you are a member of our church, you know the impact of such a challenge. If you are not, you have the opportunity to learn what it's all about with a group of people to answer questions and provide added insight along the way.

I hope you'll accept the challenge!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clean Feels Good, Don't You Think?

Physically, mentally, in any way it comes, clean just feels good.

This has been the center of my thoughts all week. Some mornings I slide out of bed and slowly begin with the daily tasks--breakfast, dishes, laundry, picking up, and more picking up, and more picking up. I stay in my pajamas, throw on an apron, and think that once I've done all the chores, then I will shower and get ready for the day. Sometimes all that picking up can get sweaty, right!?! However, I am so much more motivated to move quickly and get things done AFTER a good shower, when I feel clean and refreshed! Somehow taking care of my body and being clean improves my mental state--it's a wonderful thing!

And then there is the night-time shower. What a beautiful feeling it is to crawl into bed--with newly washed sheets of course--after taking a warm shower. My sleep is so sweet when I go to bed clean.

Now, I am not recommending we all shower twice a day. I am just making note of one thing that can improve practically every aspect of life: CLEANLINESS!

I watched the American Idol finale--did you? Well, I didn't just watch the finale, I watched almost the whole season--almost. And I have to say, there is a stark difference in my mind between the so-called "mentor" of the season (Miss Lady Gaga herself) and the two finalists. Even if you don't like country music and are disappointed with the results of the show, you have to agree that those two young singers are clean. They are young and sweet and eager, and CLEAN! I hope they grow into a stardom that my daughters can enjoy without feeling the dirty and uncomfortable feeling that I had Wednesday night when Lady Gaga performed. I hope I can listen to their music and watch their videos and not have to worry what images might fill my mind. Because clean feels good.

So I'm hoping maybe, just maybe, you've been thinking about our topic along with us all week...and have some of your own thoughts to share about "clean." Link up below (with our faithful Little Shortstacks--thanks for your posts!) and share with us! Just click below--it's easy. And you can add your post up until next Thursday at midnight.