Monday, April 29, 2013

Unreasonable Fear

Gems - Week 17: What are you frightened of? Why?
Anyone who knows me is probably aware of the fact that there are two things I am REALLY afraid of: spiders and sharks. I don't know why I have these unreasonable fears, but they are real all the same. I think my fear of sharks stemmed from some Jaws movies I watched in middle school? Yeah...that was the definition of "not smart."

Funny story: on our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Hawaii, and a friend of his who lives there (on the Kona side of The Big Island) took us out into this bay to go kayaking. My husband and I shared a two-man kayak, and his friend took out a single-man one. We followed him out of the bay into the open water when suddenly, I started feeling a sense of panic. Looking down into the water, I realized that it was so deep, we could no longer see the ocean floor. I turned to my husband (who is aware of my fear of sharks) and said, "Man, I really hope this kayak doesn't tip over right now." Just then, as if a finger from heaven came down to tip us over, a wave hit the side of the kayak and dumped us in. We both had life preservers on, so drowning wasn't an issue, but when I came up from under the water, I suddenly felt paralyzed with fear and was completely unable to move. I sat floating in the water with my toes drawn up in front of me (as if Jaws was going to come right then and bite off my toes? Haha), tears streaming down my face.

Now, have you ever seen a movie where there is some kind of attack on a city or village? People are running around frantically trying to escape - yet there is the one, helpless child who stands there alone in the middle of the chaos, crying hysterically? Z jokes to this day that THAT is what I looked like. Haha. It wasn't funny at the time, but looking back, I feel kind of ridiculous. Especially since Z's friend was there witnessing it all. What a great first impression, right?

I soon realized that I would have to force myself to overcome my fear and let my feet hang down in the water long enough to climb back into the kayak (Z would have just tipped us over again trying to do it himself). Once I finally got back in, his friend tried comforting me by assuring me that I never really had anything to worry about. "They are MAN-eating sharks after all," he joked. Haha. Even so, I couldn't tell that story for the longest time without getting emotional and tearing up. lol. I silly.

Anyway, as we paddled back into the bay, Z started feeling a little nauseated (probably all the salt water he had swallowed while snorkeling earlier), so he suddenly said, "Oh man, I think I am going to throw up." Just as the words escaped his lips, we stopped paddling the kayak and he carefully leaned his head to one side, taking care not to lean over too far and dump us out of the kayak again (how romantic, right?). In doing so, though, he ended up throwing up all over himself. Poor guy.

Now, as far as the spider phobia goes, I am pretty sure that stems from an experience I had a few years ago when I went to war with a wolf spider that I encountered while sitting on the floor (cleaning) in M's room. To this day, I am so paranoid about checking curtains, under tables, and other places that spiders might have an opportunity to hide. ((shudders)) I know that it's silly, and that spiders are probably more afraid of us than we are of them, but I guess that's why they call it an "unreasonable fear." ;)

related link:

Gems of Reflection

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Reasons Why...

So, today is mine and my husband's 6-year anniversary. I wanted to do something special for him this year, and got the perfect idea when I saw this column by Jason F. Wright, author of Christmas Jars, Wednesday Letters, and many more. I remember my husband doing something similar for me during our first year of marriage - it was after we'd had an argument though...

After taking some time to cool off, he had sat down to write a top-10 list of reasons why he married me, and ended up with a whole page-full of reasons. I thought it was the most thoughtful, romantic gesture he had made up to that point in our marriage - and to this day, it hangs on the wall in our bedroom. It is funny how a simple piece of paper can become so meaningful. I mean, I don't even remember what our argument was about that day, but I do remember that list he made and how it made me feel. It still makes me smile to read it now, and to think of how much more in love with him I have become since that day - through all of the disagreements, the making-up, and the growing (up) together that has transpired along the way.

Jason F. Wright's list included one reason why he loves his wife for every year that she has been alive (he wrote this column for her birthday), and since we've only been married for six years, I thought it would be a greater expression of my love to follow his example and do the same. I mean, how easy would it have been to just come up with six reasons? Hehe.

So, to my husband, the love of my life, my best friend, and eternal companion: I less-than-three you with all of my heart (hehe). I thank Heavenly Father for you every day, and I look forward to all of the making-up that awaits us in our future together. <3

Now, without further ado:

I love that...
1. You honor your priesthood and
2. marriage covenants;
3. You are such a talented musician and
4. teacher;
5. You inspire me to be the best version of myself;
6. You inspire me to reach for my dreams;
7. You are confident and know how to go for the things you want (and when you do, the competition doesn't stand a chance. Hehe);
8.  You have a solid testimony of the gospel, and
9. Attend church every Sunday, even though you work graveyard and are usually doing so on little to no sleep;
10. You willingly sacrifice so much for our family, and I never hear you complain;
11. You have a warped sense of humor (haha), but you keep me on my toes, and keep me laughing;
12. You love your country, and
13. Are not afraid to fight for what you believe in;
14. You are not afraid to admit when you are wrong,
15. Nor too prideful to correct your mistakes and improve yourself;
16. You have a sweet, tender side that shows every time our sweet baby girl puts her head on your shoulder and wraps her arms around your neck;
17. You make me feel like I don't need to wear a lot of makeup to be beautiful;
18. You have righteous desires for our family, and
19. Strive to raise our children unto the Lord;
20. You have an incredibly sexy smile;
21. You are an amazing kisser ;)
22. I never get tired of spending time with you;
23. You have exposed the kids and me to a whole new world of music (classical, etc...),
24. And entertainment (Miyazaki films, for example);
25. You take pleasure in the simple things in life - like looking at the stars;
26. You accept me for who I am, and love me in-spite of my weaknesses;
27. You gave me two extremely beautiful, lovable babies - and you love our daughter (MNM) as though she were your own;
28. You like to play with my hair;
29. You are selfless and loving - you always put others before yourself;
30. You take time to get down on the floor and play with the kids - tickling them until they crack up laughing;
31. You are easy to please and you enjoy my cooking;
32. You are such an awesome dad, and our children love you unconditionally;
33. You occasionally and unexpectedly do thoughtful, little things to make me happy - like folding towels and changing diapers without being asked. Then, you crack me up with your comments about how conceal carrying while doing so makes the task more manly. Haha.
34. You still take me on dates and open the door for me (even though I sometimes have to give you the evil eye. Haha); and
35. You are faithful and loving, a truly devoted husband.

I know - I totally just gave away your age...hehe. It was for a good cause, though. ;) Anyway, I want you to know that I am thankful for all of the things that make you who you are (yes, even the things that drive me crazy), and I grow more in love with you every day. Happy Anniversary, Mi Amor. xoxo.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Buy a Shotgun!

So, most of you have probably figured out by now that I am a huge advocate for the 2nd Amendment. After our recent victory in the Senate over proposed bills that would introduce more gun control (yay!), I promised myself that I would tone down the political propaganda on all of my social media avenues - but when I see this video, I just can't help myself. It is too hilarious!

Happy Friday! :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

We Be Jammin'

Because we still had half a flat of strawberries after making strawberry shortcake on Sunday, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to quickly use up the rest of the strawberries before they started going bad. I am a HUGE fan of strawberry jam, so I thought it would be a fun way to use up the strawberries and teach M a new skill as well. I had made jam once before when we went for a week-long visit to Utah last summer to see The Purple Lady and her family. Only then, it was apricot jam, and we had tried a recipe that didn't use pectin. My husband wasn't a fan of how the jam turned out (the flavor was great, but he said he wants jam, not syrup. haha. Picky, picky), so I looked up some directions online and decided to give it a whirl on my own with M.

I thought it would be fun to incorporate the jam making with a family home evening lesson, so we talked about the importance of food storage, and then discussed how learning to preserve our own food would be beneficial for our family as we strive to become more prepared in the event of an emergency situation. By the way, for excellent tips on food storage and emergency preparedness, check out The Nutnfancy Project on YouTube.

Anyway, I already had a large stock put that I knew we could use to seal the jars once the jam was made, but there were still a few utensils that I needed to make the jamming project happen, so I ran out yesterday afternoon to Walmart and got the rest of the things I would need: A jar lifter, jars (I used Kerr pint-sized jars, but the recipe I found calls for 8 oz. ones), a wide-mouth funnel, a ladle (as we somehow didn't have one), and pectin. I pretty much already had everything else we'd need.

So, Z had to run and finish writing a paper after the food storage discussion, so M and I were on our own with the jam. She helped me wash and cap the strawberries, then we mashed them and transferred them into a pot to mix the pectin in, and begin the boiling process. We soon decided that we had enough strawberries for two batches, so she started on the second batch of strawberries while I finished the first.

After a few minutes, she stopped for a second, then turned to me and said, "You know, Mom, family home evening was really fun tonight." My heart soared. She usually has such a nonchalant attitude about FHE, and it's truly a struggle to get her to genuinely engage, so it was so heart-warming to see her enjoying herself and learning something from the experience.

Anyway, the jam turned out amazing, but with the half flat that we had to work with, we were only able to fill about 4 1/2 of the pint-sized jars.

The 5th jar was only half full,
so we stuck it in the fridge for immediate use.

I think next year, I will order more strawberries so we will have plenty for jam and more yummy strawberry treats. Now that I have the hang of the whole jamming thing, I am gonna have to try some other types of fruits as well. Oh...I need to think of some tasty fruit combinations now. All this talk of jam and fruit makes me wish that we had fruit trees or something. ;)

For a copy of the recipe that I used, check out

Also, for more fun recipes and meal ideas, follow me on Pinterest. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Delicious Strawberry Shortcake

I posted a comment on Facebook Sunday about a strawberry shortcake that I made from scratch for my family, and promised to share the recipe here on my blog. I had gotten a flat of strawberries on Saturday from a friend of mine, whose family gets them direct from California, so in an attempt to come up with some ideas on things I could make with them, I went on Pinterest to look up some fun strawberry recipes (after we ate several pints of these irresistible, succulent berries, of course. Haha).

Aren't these beautiful? They were so delicious, I hate myself. ;)

Instantly, I thought of strawberry shortcake, as these strawberries were so fresh, and tasted absolutely amazing - and strawberry shortcake just happens to be one of my favorite desserts. I happened upon this recipe from, and decided I would try it out for dessert at my mom's house for Sunday dinner.

Sensational Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  35 mins

Serves: 8

  • 3 pints fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 2 cups whipped heavy cream

Slice the strawberries and toss them with ½ cup of white sugar. Set aside.

Strawberries and sugar...sooo yummy!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour one 8-inch round cake pan. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons white sugar and the salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (I used butter-flavored shortening, and it gave the shortcake a light, buttery flavor - delish!). Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and milk. Stir until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. 

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool partially in pan on wire rack.

I placed the partially-cooled cake on a plate before cutting it.

Slice partially cooled cake in half, making two layers. Place half of the strawberries on one layer and top with the other layer. Top with remaining strawberries and cover with the whipped cream. 


And voila. There you have it - delicious, decadent strawberry shortcake. You're welcome, America. ;) It was a huge hit with my family. My mom even said that she liked it better than the store-bought stuff we usually make. ((pats self on the back)) Hehe.

Anyway, hope you get a chance to try this amazing recipe. In the meantime, check back on the blog tomorrow for a yummy strawberry jam recipe. <3

**Recipe found on

Source: via The Purple on Pinterest

Monday, April 22, 2013

Indecent Exposure

Gems - Week 16
Holy most embarrassing moment was a few years before I met my husband. I had gone to a work dinner/Christmas party with a guy "friend" at a really nice restaurant at Lake Las Vegas. It was cocktail attire, so I was wearing a knee-length black dress and got all dolled up. I felt super amazing that night and was looking forward to having a good night out with friends.

At the restaurant, my friend and I met up with some of his buddies from work, who ended up sitting with us at our table. Near the end of dinner, I excused myself to use the ladies room, which happened to be located at the opposite end of the restaurant, so I had to walk by several other tables to get there. After taking care of business, I quickly checked to make sure that my hair and makeup were tidy, and that everything else was in order, then began to return to the table where my "date" was waiting for me with his buddies. Immediately, as I walked through the sea of tables, however, I felt as though there were a hundred eyes on me. I had worn nylons that night, and had a leather jacket over my dress, as it was cold out, but I suddenly became paranoid that maybe something was amiss with my outfit. I casually felt the back of my dress, and from what I could tell, everything was as it should have been, so I returned my attention to my dinner party.

Not long afterward, the dinner party concluded, and my "date" asked if I'd like to join him and his friends for a quick site-seeing tour around the hotel. I obliged him, and so the four of us (me, being the only girl) went for a little walk through the lobby and into the casino to do some exploring. Again, I started to feel the stares - and most of them were coming from women. I started to fear, once again, that something was wrong with the back of my dress, so I reached back again and casually tried to feel around to see if I could feel anything out of place (should have just gone to the stinkin' ladies room - sheesh), but still couldn't tell that anything was wrong.

I noticed that a couple of times, the "gentlemen" that I was with kind of hung back from me a bit, and I could hear them snickering. I didn't think anything of it at first - just thought they were being silly guys - until FINALLY, a woman who was a complete stranger to me pulled me aside (after we had been walking around for quite some time) and told me that my dress was tucked into the back of my nylons. I immediately reached back without any care as to my lack of discretion, and could definitely tell that the bottom of my backside was exposed! I seriously almost died! I immediately excused myself and took care of the problem, but I was so humiliated. Why had my date not told me that there was a problem with my dress? Why had he let me walk around like that while he continued to snicker with his friends? As you can imagine, I never went out with him again. SO embarrassing. I am just glad that I had been somewhere with people I never had to see again. lol.

related link:

Gems of Reflection

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Baptism

Gems: Week 15
I don't remember much about my baptism. I don't even remember for sure who baptized me. I want to say it was my Grandpa Jensen? But I am not 100% sure (gonna have to ask my dad about this one). I do vaguely recall sitting in the pues of the chapel beforehand, waiting for my name to be called to go into the room with the baptismal font (they sent us in by groups?). I also remember walking down the steps of the font into the water, being so terrified that my feet were going to come up, and that I would have to be baptized AGAIN. Haha.

One thing I remember clearly; though, is preparing for my bishop's interview. I was having a hard time remembering the Prophet's name, and knew the bishop would be asking me if I follow and sustain him. So, I wrote the Prophet's name on a piece of paper and repeated the words, "Ezra Taft Benson," over and over until I was sure I'd remember them. It must have worked, too - obviously, I still remember who the Prophet of the Church was at the time of my baptism. ;)

related link:

52 Gems of Reflection

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"I'm Gonna Wreck It! "

I was watching Wreck It Ralph with my kids yesterday (for like the 100th time since my 2-year-old got it in his Easter basket. Haha), and it occurred to me what an incredibly amazing movie it is. I mean, when I first saw it in theaters, I fell in love with the characters and thought the storyline was super creative, but I had a little epiphany while watching it this time around. I don't know - maybe seeing it again for the 100th time triggered something new in my mind, which is usually otherwise preoccupied with dinner menues and to-do lists. ;)

So, for those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, let me warn you in advance that there are some spoilers in this blog post. I don't want to be accused of ruining the movie for anyone who lives in La-La Land and hasn't been subjected to the AWESOMENESS that is Wreck It Ralph. Who knows - maybe you don't have any kids, or maybe you are just opposed to puppy dogs and rainbows - and basically all things happy. lol. Seriously though, if you haven't seen the movie yet, SEE IT! Then come back here and read this post! You're welcome, America. ;)

Anyway, Wreck It Ralph is about a "bad guy" character in a video game that suddenly, after 30 years of being the bad guy, has an existential epiphany and begins to wonder if there is more to life than being bad. The opening scene in the Bad Anon meeting is absolutely hilarious, but it's also when we first get a glimpse into the heart of this big, "bad guy" named Ralph. In the meeting, Ralph is surrounded by bad guy characters from other classic video games, and he begins to express his doubts about being a bad guy. He communicates a curiosity for how life would be if he could just once experience life through the eyes of the hero, which in his game, happens to be the oh-so-revered Fix-It Felix, Jr., who follows behind Ralph fixing everything he wrecks with a magical hammer that he received from his dad. Fix-It Felix, Jr. is loved and adored by all of the "Nicelanders," who are constantly praising him and bringing him pies.

Upon hearing his desires, the other bad guys in the meeting express their concerns that Ralph is losing his mind - and perhaps that he is "going Turbo." They just can't seem to fathom how any bad guy in his right mind would WANT to be good.

“Turbo? No, I'm not going Turbo! C'mon guys! Is it 'Turbo' to want a friend? Or a medal? Or a piece of pie every once in a while? Is it 'Turbo' to want more out of life?” 

Aww...poor Ralph. We're sorry, Buddy. We feel ya on that score - especially where the pie is concerned. ;)

So yeah, Ralph sets out on a mission to win a medal in order to prove to the Nicelanders that just because you're a "bad guy," it doesn't mean you have to be a BAD guy. He eventually wins a medal in a game called Heroe's Duty - which he in turn loses to a ridiculously annoying, and oh-so-hilarious character, Vanellope von Schweetz. They then join forces to try and win a race that would be their ticket to a new life. Together, they overcome the evil "King Candy," and in the process, Ralph discovers what it is to be a true friend - and ultimately, that anyone CAN be a good guy.

It was a heart-warming film (yes, I shed a few tears - in more than one spot during the movie), which shows the human's potential to love and to sacrifice of oneself. It also serves as a great example of how each of us can overcome the "programming" and the obstacles we are born with in order to rise above what is natural and choose the right. I know that our society wants us to believe in this enormously annoying idea that we have to accept what we are (the natural man), and give in to our innate desires - because, "Baby, I was born this way." Well, I am sorry, but that is a load of garbage - and thankfully, the gospel teaches a higher law.

As children of our Heavenly Father, we have such amazing, divine potential. And yes, we ARE born with certain obstacles - some more severe than others. But as His children, whose desire in coming to this Earth was to prove our faith and return to Him, we are each expected to overcome the trials which we are dealt in this life.

It's nice to see a movie in this day and age that has a good, powerful message for once. So yeah - Ralph, you are my hero. ;)

Source: via The Purple on Pinterest

Monday, April 8, 2013

In their shoes

Gems of Reflection - Week 14
As a child, I looked up to her as an angel from above.
She would kiss away my sorrows and then wrap me in her love.
In an effort to be like her, through her clothes I would peruse.
I was eager, yet, to walk the length of the hallway in her shoes.

I knew him as a selfless man - in serving, he'd delight,
But he'd still take time to let me climb up in his lap at night.
We'd sit and watch tv together, cuddling all the while.
I would say, "I'll marry you some day." Then he'd look at me and smile.

As an adolescent, eager then to conquer my domain,
She taught me to be kind to all, even those who cause me pain.
Her love was always constant, she was patient in all things -
Despite the way I tried to break away and spread my wings.

My dad could fix most anything, quite the genius to this day.
He taught the value of hard work, but also how to play.
He had a truly tender side, was an ever-present friend.
There was no heartache or sorrow that rocky road ice cream couldn't mend.

And now that I have wee ones, I hope to emulate
The example of the Savior, that she'd always demonstrate.
Through the gentle words, the patience - I forever try to show
So the measure of my love for them, in their hearts they'll always know.

I pray that as they grow and reminisce of childhood years,
They'll remember all the times we shared - both the laughter and the tears.
But I also hope they'll learn to be self-governing and free,
That they'll be honest and hard working - lessons that my dad taught me.

I reflect back on my childhood with gratitude to Thee
For blessing me with loving folks, who taught me how to be.
I seek to be as they were, open-minded in my views,
And I pray that as a parent now, I can follow in their shoes.

Related Link:

52 Gems of Reflection

Monday, April 1, 2013

My children, my life!

52 Gems - Week 13: Tell about each of your children...
This week's Gem of Reflection is near and dear to me, for my children are the center of my universe. For the sake of maintaining some anonymity on their behalf, I have chosen not to disclose their names, but will use a more discreet version of their nicknames instead:

M Mae, my 12-year-old daughter, is without a doubt an enormous blessing in my life. As I have divulged so many times in previous blog posts, she came into our family at a time when trial and hardship plagued my life, and I honestly believe that she is the one thing that helped me to maintain a grip on my sanity. She was born in October (she is a Libra, and let me just say that the girl can talk). She loves to read, has an extremely creative imagination, and is already ambitious about writing a book. She has always been intelligent way beyond her years, yet she and I butt heads - a lot - as she strives to find her path to independence. She is very headstrong, and sometimes struggles with the fact that she IS still a child, and is therefore treated as thus. We love her unconditionally; though, and it brings me such joy to watch her blossom and grow into a maturing young woman. I especially love to witness precious moments that encourage her strengthening testimony, and I rejoice in the righteous choices I see her endeavoring to make. 

L Bear will be three in June, and he is SUCH a boy. He is OBSESSED with super heroes lately, though his favorites are Spiderman, Superman and Iron Man. He calls almost all of them "Man" though. Haha. He is such a funny, little guy. He has a bit of a speech delay, so he has been receiving speech therapy for almost a year, and my heart delights in the progress he has made. He is such a smart, little devil, though. He may not always have the exact words for what he is trying to say, but he is very animated in his attempts at communicating his thoughts and desires - and has become quite the little entertainer in his colorful way of expressing himself. Though he has quite a little temper (hmm...wonder where he gets that from), he can be such a sweetheart. He is very protective of his sisters (he often comes to M's defense when she is being discipled. Hehe), he loves wholeheartedly and forgives completely. He gives the best hugs and kisses, and is truly an endearing, charming boy. From the time that he was first born, people would stop us in the stores to tell us how adorable he is. He is going to be a little heart-breaker for sure.

B Boo is our baby girl - and oh, what a sweet one she is. She is truly the most mellow, carefree baby I have ever known, and she is such a delight. She only ever cries when she is experiencing some serious discomfort (i.e. she is hungry, tired, needs a diaper change, or is in pain), but she has a smile that will melt your heart and bring overwhelming joy to your soul. She took her first steps a few days ago, and I know she will be walking any day now. She will be one at the end of the month, and though it is fun to witness this milestone in her life, a part of me wants to stop time and just keep her as a sweet, happy baby forever. She is so lovable; though, that I have to fight the urge on a constant basis to munch on her. Haha. She has an infectious laugh and is so easily brought to indulge us with her smile. She and my two-year-old often get each other cracking up laughing, and it is the most joyful sight to behold. She truly has a way of making a person utterly and inescapably happy, just by looking at them with her smiling eyes. She is truly such a blessing, and I know in my heart that Heavenly Father knew that we needed her in our life, even though we didn't know it ourselves (she was quite the little surprise and we are truly blessed, now that she is a part of our family).

Each of my children brings such incredible meaning and depth to our family dynamic. I am so grateful for the blessing that each of them is in my life, and I thank Heavenly Father for them every day. <3

Related Links:

52 Gems of Reflection

Thirty Days of Gratitude - Day 29: My Babies

Thirty Days of Gratitude - Day 17: My Daughter