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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My New Favorite Mop

For my Birthday I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet for myself. Well I Left it unopened and left for Colorado. It is there that I heard of the Rubbermaid Reveal. When I got home, I promptly returned it, and purchased the Reveal. I used it for the first time tonight, and have to say, it is awesome! I highly recommend it. (Oh, and I was not even thinking of the blog at the time when I used it, but it all worked out.)
Here are the best parts about it.
It is wider then the Swiffer and other brands
It has washable pads
You can fill the container with your own cleaners and use it over and over again.
You can buy extra pads so one can be in the wash and one on the mop.
It has a Sweeper attachment, so no Swiffer sweeper pads either!
No sink full of dirty water.
No mop to let sit and dry, you just throw it into the wash!
Your floor drys faster since you use less water.
It works great! I highly recommend it! It was on sale for $20 at Target, and I bought an extra microfiber mop pad and sweeper pad so it cost $30 or so, so the same amount as the Swiffer and a box of 10 pads or so. And I can wash these at least 100 times!
If you hate sweeping and mopping like I do, I highly recommend this.

Fresh & Clean

photo source

I've probably already exhausted the topic of house cleaning here and here and here, so I won't talk about that during this week of "clean." So, switching gears a little, what a fitting topic for this time of year, when springtime brings out the newness and freshness that makes me want to open all my windows and bring it inside! That's what I love about living where I do. The rain is nature's shower that leaves everything fresh and clean.

So, now that Memorial Day weekend is approaching and summer is on its way, I've put away the hot chocolate, and I'm stocking up on things for warm-weather drinks. I love mixing up a delicious, refreshing, CLEAN-tasting drink to pair with a tasty salad or with whatever's on the grill. I've always been a fan of citrus, and now I'm particularly all about limes. Here's a quick, zippy refresher I like to make:

Fizzy Lime Refresher

5-6 limes, juiced
1 TB grated lime zest
1 handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sugar (I experimented with turbinado sugar for this and it was yummy)
1-liter bottle sparkling water, like Pellegrino or similar
mint leaves and/or lime slices for garnish

Combine lime juice, zest, mint leaves and sugar. Refrigerate 30 minutes to dissolve sugar and meld flavors. If desired, strain through a fine sieve to remove mint leaves and zest. Just before serving, add sparkling water. Serve with ice and garnish with mint leaves and/or lime slice.

*Note: I like this pretty tart, so if you want it sweeter, either add more sugar, or use 7-Up or Sprite instead of sparkling water.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Clean as a Bean

I can't do it.

I've tried and I've tried, but I simply can't think of what to write on our topic this week: clean. The hard truth is that I'm far more familiar with dirty. I did think of a pop song, though ... again! But I'm not going to tell you what it is, because I think it's time for another giveaway on our lovely little blog. So how about this? The first person who can guess the song I'm thinking of will receive a bottle of one of Jennis' favorite cleaners. Would you like a hint? I used to mishear one of the lyrics; I thought they were singing "clean as a bean." Good luck!

And while we're waiting for someone to guess, here's something I've been dying to share that has nothing to do with clean or dirty. Last Saturday was our stake's Relief Society conference and it was so inspiring. The theme was "Celestial Garden Shop" and all the classes - from dealing with depression, to teaching your children, to making your marriage more fun, to finding joy in motherhood - took some aspect of gardening to help illustrate the point of the class. The keynote speaker was my favorite, though. She shared seven "celestial gardening tips" and I loved how she tied it all together. Here were the tips and my notes about them:

1. Plant in season. Everything has it's season, and you can't have it all at once. Learn what season you're at in your life and plant accordingly.

2. Pick your seeds. A little like the first; you will only have space in your garden for a limited number of things. Don't try to plant more than you have room for. Also, don't plant carrot seeds and expect cucumbers.

3. Nourish your garden. Building a celestial life takes work. She quoted Lou Erickson: "Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration."

4. Reap the harvest. Enjoy what you have, even if it doesn't seem like much. That tiny, funny-looking cucumber can be just as delicious! Feast on the scriptures and bask in the light and warmth of the Spirit.

5. Preserve the extra. The winters in our lives will come. It's wise to store up what we can spiritually to carry us through the dark and cold.

6. Seek guidance from the Master Gardener. I didn't need any notes on this one :)

7. Don't forget the value and importance of fertilizer. And what is the best fertilizer? Manure. Our trials can help us flower! I added a note about pruning, too, as she'd also related Hugh B. Brown's story of the Currant Bush.

Great, huh? As weak as I am as a gardener, I do so love all the life lessons you can relate to gardening!

Monday, May 23, 2011

If You're Happy When You're Cleaning Clap Your Hands!!!

It's that time of year and I don't know about you but spring cleaning can be the worst!!!  How fun is it to stay inside when the sun is shining and wash your windows or scrub your floors?  Ya...I know.  BUT I have discovered a few fun things that have made my long list of to dos more enjoyable. In fact, do I dare say they have made me happier?

First you must turn on the tunes.  My favorites right now are:

and the best for last:

She is my new favorite and who I listen to non stop -thanks to Cortney- which you must look up and buy and memorize and dance to and sing at the top of your lungs while you scrub. She's clean and fresh and soooo adorable in person.  Kinda like how we all want our houses to appear right?  All right. Enough cheesiness.

 Okay so the music is on and your feeling pretty great.  Hopefully it's raining outside, unless of course, you want to open your windows up and let in the sunshine.  In that case it's sunny and brillinat out there. But, don't worry. You're not missing anything because it's still 7 am!!!!!

  Now don't go grabbing your stinky chemical cleaners that you have to use gloves for.  You knwo i don't believe in that  Find some of these AWESOME cleaners and you might just fall in love with cleaning all over again.  Well...maybe not in love but you will love the smells and you'll love the way you feel after their aromatherapiness does it's magic. Plus you'll have a clean house and I know you'll love that.

These first ones are my favorite for in the kitchen.  If you have been following this blog or you know me at all you'll know I am obsessed with lemon.  If my kitchen smells like lemon drops then I am a happy girl.  Plus I found these a Target and who wouldn't pay just a little bit more to be happy while doing a terrible task.

I use this for everything.  My table tops, counters, sinks, appliances...you name it.  In fact I look for things to clean with this stuff because it smells that good!

This other line I discovered a little while ago and have been testing out their different scents.  My favorite for the bathrooms is lavender and for the rest of the house is the Basil.  They are both fresh smelling and have those great aromatheraputic qualities... so don't be surprised if you find yourself grinning from ear to ear while you clean your toilets.

This stuff even comes in a concentrated bottle that you just add a little bit to a whole bunch of water.  I've seen this stuff at TJ Maxx, at Target and Walmart.  Try them.  I think you'll like 'em.

Both brands of product are natural and safe and smell amazing so cheer up and clap your hands.  Cleaning can be fun if you do a little extra something for your house and for yourself every once in a while!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dirty, Dirty, Everthing is Dirty!

Well, I apologize to anyone who was excited to join us in writing this week...I hope some of you are planning to take the challenge...I neglected to post anything on Friday, thus also neglecting to put up the link for you! But here it is, late, but nevertheless, here are my thoughts on the topic for the week: DIRTY! (and a link at the bottom so we can hear your thoughts too!)

I feel like everything in my house is dirty right now. The sun has finally made a welcomed appearance and lingered long enough for me to see just how dirty my windows are. Yikes! Friday was my daughter's birthday--which was filled with parties and friends and tons of fun! But the best part of the day for me was at the very end, when a few of my girlfriends (all of whom you know from this lovely little blog) stayed late at my house to help me clean up. They picked up toys and trash and wiped down counters and did all my dishes! Could a girl ask for better friends? I think not!

However, my Spring cleaning (which feels months overdue), will begin this week and will not be complete until my carpets are clean! Take a look:

(Yuck, I feel bad posting such an eye-sore for you to look at!)

I'm not sure what it is, but the last few weeks seem to have been dedicated to the destruction of my creamy white carpets . Every time I turn around there is a new stain, and I'm starting to get sick just looking at them. I am sure their poor condition has to do with how lenient I am with wearing shoes and eating in carpeted areas of the house. But really, homes filled with children should not have creamy white carpet, agreed?

So, any advise on tired and true carpet cleaning is much appreciated. I can only bear to look at these stains a few more days before I must take action!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Since having kids, I've really had to learn how to relax when it comes to my house getting dirty. I think I'll always be the type to admire fresh vacuum lines in the carpet as much as I cringe at stepping on something crumbly or sticky on the kitchen floor. I don't sleep well on the nights when my sub-conscious reminds me that there are dirty dishes in the sink.

But, as they say, life happens. My kids teach me that it's more fun, and more necessary, to put a train track together than to wipe up the counters. It's more urgent to read a stack of library books together than to get out the broom. And it's more important to watch an episode of Curious George together than to fill up the dishwasher.

Do you remember moments you wish you could go back and change? A few years ago around Halloween, I had some moms and their kids over to our house to play, carve pumpkins and have treats. After the pumpkins were done and most of the carnage was cleaned up, somehow it bothered me that the table was still sticky while everyone was enjoying their delicious pumpkin dessert and hot chocolate. I couldn't leave well enough alone, so what did I do? I got out my spray bottle of cleaner and proceeded to wipe around and, embarassingly enough, under everyone's plate and cup until the stickiness was gone. Why that moment is engrained in my memory, I'm not sure. But I think of it often to remind me to relax and enjoy...there will always be time to clean up, but time with family and friends is precious and fleeting.

I'm a slow learner, but I'm getting there. I'm learning it's OK to enjoy the fun of life, even if it gets a little dirty sometimes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dirty Enough to be Happy

Once, when I was little and we were visiting the extremely clean home of a family friend, I noticed a plaque that read: "Dull women have immaculate homes." After asking my mom what "immaculate" meant, I only remember spending the rest of the visit thoroughly confused. This home was without a doubt immaculate, and I couldn't understand why this woman would call herself dull?

My own housekeeping quote-of-choice goes: "This house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy." (Followed closely by Mrs. Fussypants' "We can't both look good. It's me or the house.")

With two small children running about the place, my house is no stranger to dirt. I can't even tell you how many times a day I clean this one spot right here:

This is definitely the dirtiest spot in our house at any given moment on any given day. (Except, of course, when I'm taking a photo of it. :) But most of the time I don't mind. It's a reminder of how much LIFE we spend outside, and that's a good thing.

In fact, here's something I've been looking forward to for a while, and finally we got a sunny day to do it!

This is our old backyard fence. It's seen better days. We took it apart last fall to build a new one (in process!) because the dog who lives behind us finally came crashing through it to nosh on our tomatoes. Which we actually think is kind of funny, and it's a just a relief our son noticed him before he noticed our backyard chickens running free. It currently stands lined up like this near our garden shed, waiting. For ... something.

Well, today part of that something happened.

I pulled off about 10 of the pickets, grabbed an old can of white exterior paint (left in our garage by previous owners), said "kids, go get your smocks!" and we started painting.

After they were all dry, we got out the Sharpies, and ... Voila!

I just LOVE making good use of old things!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Less Than Perfect

There are some who look at dirty hands and cringe.  There are others who wonder if Mr. Soap has ever been introduced to said dirty hands or if they need a good home.  I, on the other hand, see hands that love to be apart of spring time, that love new projects, hands that are made to create.  I see those hands as doers of good and hard work.  Hands that really know how to live.  They tell a story.

I have never been one to wear gloves or use expensive creams.  I don't protect them from anything and I tend to forget they look the way they do. If I'm going to garden then I need to feel what I am doing and what I am working with even if the dirt stays for days and stains the beds of my fingernails.  If I am washing dishes then why would I not want to soak them in clean warm water?  I actually like to look at my hands and see that they tell my story. These callused, unmanicured, scared hands are mine and each little imperfection either reminds me of my past or gives me glimpses into my future. 

My cute family has a history of hard working women who's hands at one point looked like mine I'm sure.  I use to love looking at my Gammie's hands as she held mine during church and I remember wondering about the reason for her age spots and the tiny wrinkles that had developed.  Her hands were so beautiful to me.  I miss them.  When I would practice my violin long enough I would get black fingertips from the fingerboard of my instrument and I would remember hers and her Gammie sized hugs after giving me a lesson.  My mother's hands are the same and are looking more and more like my Gammie's.  I don't mind seeing bread dough in my wedding ring or age spots starting to appear because that makes me just a little bit more like the women I want to be and it reminds me of them and how I'm trying to pass on their legacy.


Tonight I received a package from my sweet mother who thoughtfully sent my Sadie her own little garden kit. She has been watching me plant our garden and has enjoyed being in the dirt with me so I knew the minute she saw this gift we had to immediately open it and plant. After getting stared I saw my hands in the dirt and yelled for Mark to grab the camera.  This was a perfect way to document a symbolic moment for me and for her. 

Sadie is my little girl who will one day have hands like I do.  She will learn to work hard and to love working hard because I will teach her the way my mother and Gammie taught me. She will hopefully learn how to play the violin and one day, while she is off at school she'll see her callused hands and her black fingertips and think of where she came from. 

Thank you Gammie and thank you mom for setting the example for me and for my children.  Because of you I know that beauty comes from hands that look less then perfect.

Today she began to learn that.



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Asparagus Cake Awesomeness

I know it's Saturday morning and the sun is shining here when all the news said it was going to be rainy today, and I really should be outside in the garden ... but I HAD to show you

I'm not typically a fondant fan, but holy smokes this might just make me a believer!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday is for Our Friends!

image found here

We each have our own day to post here at Praiseworthy. And Friday is my day...but it's not just mine anymore!

As we continue to write here week after week, and grow our circle of friends with all our readers, we are going to make Friday for you!

Starting TODAY, we are inviting our readers to write with us. On Friday each week, you can link your blog to our blog and share your own thoughts on the topic for the week.

Our goal is to link people together with thoughts and ideas that are uplifting. Now you can join us and share your insights as well! And I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

So here is how it works: All week long we write about one topic. At the end of the week I will post a MckLinkey at the bottom of my post, and then you just click on it to link up to your own post about that week's praiseworthy topic at your blog. A list will form at the bottom of my post so that anyone who comes here can click on your post and read it at your blog. It's kind of fun!

This week's link will work until Wednesday at midnight, since I'm kind of late posting it and since this is the first time. So.... give it a try! Write a post and let us know what "Friday" means to you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Date Box

Weekends are THE greatest part of the week!  They just are.  I don't think anybody would argue with me on that!  Not anybody in the world...or maybe the United States.  Anyway...Fridays and Saturdays are always packed at our house but it's all fun family stuff.

Unless, of course, it's Friday night.  That's date night!

For Christmas this last year I put on the Santa hat and for my husband  I created a date box.  It included a year's worth of dates for every Friday night.  So this year - Fridays became our official date night.  This is our box.  It's the most fun box in our house. 

The idea: take an awesome box (I used a quilted jewelry box from TJ Maxx) or a cardboard box (your choice) and fill it with fun creative date night ideas for you and your honey.  For us I decided that every month we would have a temple night, usually a movie night, and two other fun activities for us to take part in. Sometimes we do this on our own. Sometimes with friends. I even have a few date nights scheduled in for girls and guys nights. It's all written in our date book.  There are tickets for our temple night,coupons for him to make his choice (just 4 times), tickets for back scratches, breakfasts in bed and for special treats. I even left him a space to sparkle up (which just happens to be a spot for jewelry).  I'm sneaky huh?

Here is a glance at our May adventures.:

The rest of the box is filled with envelopes containing gift cards, special instructions and other fun little surprises. 

Here is a list of some of the things we have done and what we will still get to do this year with links to the creative blog where I found some of the fun ideas:

There are a bucket load of good ideas out there.  In fact I may just do this every year.  Never mind...I may have him do it next year.  I do believe though that even after you are married and especially after you have children you should act like you're still dating...only better  You may think you know everything about your special friend but I bet if you did some of these things you'll find out some pretty great things about them.

I love new ideas and fun suggestions so bring 'em on! You know you've got some favorites!


Friday, May 6, 2011

This 'n That for Such a Time as This

image found here

I love the topic this week--This 'n' That--because I feel like that is just what my life is; just a little bit of this here, now, and then some of that for a little while, then something else before I get on to that other thing, and in between I'll make some more of that one thing....and finally it's bed time. :) Know what I mean?

Someday I hope I'll be really good at something...one thing that I am just really, really good at, you know?  Right now I have too many loves and aspirations to pick just one. So I'm just kind of good at a few things. I like to cook and bake (yes, there is a difference), and I like to sew. I like music and art and reading and writing. I'm interested in gardening, home decorating, and parties--oh the parties I'd love to plan! I still love photography, and dream of the day I'll have time for volleyball. I love exercising, and hiking and traveling. There are so many good things to fill my time, how can I ever spend enough time doing just one thing to get really, truly good at it? I guess that is just one downside of loving life so much! :)

 Image found here

So, here is some of this and a little bit of that from my life lately... happy to share it with you! Much of it was shared with me by someone wonderful in my life...I sure am blessed to be surrounded by so many fabulous people!

From my sister I found out about Kina Grannis--whose album I am loving!

From my uncle I discovered a few fun things that I am hoping to try sometime...when the budget permits:
Gift Skins
Chocri--Custom Chocolates

From a fun sewing blog I follow, I discovered yes, another blog for lovers of fabric...and yet another aspiration of which I'd love to indulge myself in the discovery...fabric design!

From my mom I found the encouragement to purchase my first piece of this beautiful pottery.  There are some beautiful new patterns and colors being introduced that I really like--I couldn't find the exact one that I purchased online to show you, but that is okay, I am a little embarrassed about how much I spent on just one dish, so we'll just keep that part a secret. But I did get it at Costco, so the price was less than listed on the website I found... that's good right?

From my friend Mrs. Rowdy I have been inspired for Mother's Day. I love that there are so many mommies out there, writing and sharing and learning together. You know, out of all the things that are filling my time, if there is one thing I could say would be the most important to be good at, one thing that will undoubtedly be given more time than the rest of those other good things, it's being a good mom. Yeah, that is probably the thing I want the most.

From an inspired artist I found while searching for images for this blog post: Sascalia--such wonderful art work. I have emailed her to find out if I can get a few prints of some of my favorites...I'll let you know what I find out. :)

From a favorite blog by C. Jane [the C stands for Courtney--which makes me feel an innocently exclusive connection to her :)] I found this amazing art by J. Kirk Richards. Watch the making of the first one, and enjoy the images of all the rest!

Thanks to a few friends who made it possible for me to attend Time Out For Women, I have been inspired by an amazing woman named Miriama Kallon, survivor of war-torn Sierra Leone. And I am loving the pertinent idea of this scripture that she highlighted in her message:

Esther 4:14
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

The idea that each of us was prepared and sent to this world for "such a time as this" has really taken root in me. Now, as I go about doing my "this 'n that" each day, I think, "This is my time, I am here for this, right now. God has given purpose to my life."

And because I am learning each day how important God's words are for me, really for ME, I am LOVING the new feature on LDS.org for My Study Notebook. Check it out!

Well, that was more than I planned to write about, but those are my thoughts for now. A little of this and a little of that--hope you enjoy it all! :)

image found here
Have a happy Friday. I hope it is sunny where you are. And if not, I hope you can find some sunshine and warmth in a friend or a from a blog or in something that makes you smile. I know I've been finding those much needed rays of light all around me, even when the sky is grey.

Sending my love...