Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had another beautiful Thanksgiving this year. Although, this was the Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn't.

Melinda and I had already decided to get our families together for dinner, but we had tried to get the guys to agree to (gasp!) going out to eat this year. (My parents and Scott's mom got together and went to a restaurant this year and the idea sounded tempting...) I normally wouldn't consider something like this, but we have had such a busy few months and Scott is so occupied with studying right now (and since he does a lot of the cooking) I thought he might consent to our evil plan.

Not a chance.

So, we divvied up the work and prepared a traditional feast. SO glad I listened to my husband. It was yummy as always and we'll have leftovers for days...
(Me, Robby, Melinda, Dan...Scott is taking the picture of course, so that he doesn't have to be in it.)

One of my favorite parts of preparing for a holiday dinner is setting the table. My mom always gave me that task growing up and I always took pleasure in making the table look pretty.

One of my other favorite holiday chores is making pies with homemade crust.
I hear a lot of people say that they think making pie crust is hard or it's too much work. I've found that there are a couple of tricks that make it easy and give you a delicious, flaky crust that is waaaaaay better than anything you can buy in the store.

Here's my recipe, with tips...

Southern Pastry

2 Cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 scant Cup shortening ( I like the butter-flavored Crisco. I always put my shortening in the freezer for a few minutes as I start the recipe. You want all your ingredients to stay nice and cold.)

Blend well with pastry blender. (You don't have to worry about handling it too much at this point - just make sure the flour and shortening are well blended.)

Add 6 Tbs. of ice water. Toss lightly with a fork. (This is the part where you don't want to handle it too much. Just incorporate the water gently. If you stir it too much your crust will be tough and won't be flaky.)

Gather into a ball. Divide in half and roll out onto a well-floured surtface. (When I roll out my crust, I sprinkle just a little bit of flour on top before using my rolling pin so that it doesn't stick. I also think a wooden rolling pin works best.) Fold in quarters and transfer to a pie tin.

Makes 2 single or 1 double crust.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes for a pre-baked crust.

Give it a try and you'll NEVER use store-bought crust again.

I'm thankful for so many things - like my wonderful husband, my sweet little dog, my incredible family and friends, the Gospel, the Lord, all the blessings He gives me every day, the gorgeous house I get to live in, leftovers and pie...

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

You don't know how long I have waited for you...

It seems like forever since it was announced that Twilight would be made into a movie. After counting down the days in heart-pounding anticipation of seeing one of my favorite books brought to life on the big screen, the night finally came!

This momentous occasion definitely called for a party. I invited my fellow Twilight-loving girlfriends and we celebrated before (some of us) headed off to the theater for the opening-night midnight showing!
"We'll be there soon, Edward!"

If you're going to have a Twilight Party, you've got to have Twilight-themed food...
Bella's Mushroom Ravioli Bites
Edward's Pizza Bites
Vegetarian Vampire Bites
Non-Vegetarian Vampire Bites
Sparkling Cupcakes
O Positive & AB Negative

We played Twilight Trivia with dazzling prizes, like...

A pine-scented candle (to smell and image running through the forest with Edward)
Freesia-scented hand soap (to smell like Bella)
Irritated Grizzly Bear Cookies (so you can go hunting with Emmett and Edward)
An Umbrella (you'll need it in Forks)
Vintage Vamp Nail Polish (bring out your vamp side)
A Romantic Piano Music CD (pretend Edward is playing for you)
Freesia Body Butter (so Edward will want to bite you)
A Sparkly Nightlight (comes in handy at twilight)
Icy Fresh Breath Spray (to give to your guy....XOXO!)
Vampire Fangs (haha - just kidding!)

My girlfriend Marie helped with the party planning AND picked up the movie tickets for everyone. A kindness on par with Edward saving Bella from Tyler Crowley's crashing van.

Aaaannnddddd.....HERE WE ARE IN THE THEATER!!! YAY!!
So what did I think of the movie? I totally loved it. No movie that is made from a book, especially a favorite one, will be as good as the book. Ever. That being said, I was really impressed. I thought the acting was great (even better than I expected), the script choices were (for the most part) good, and it kept the spirit and overall feeling of the books. I walked out of the theater completely excited and entertained and didn't feel let down at all (which happens sometimes after you've waited so long for something!) I'm sure I'll even enjoy it more the second (and third and fourth and fifth and sixth...) time.

And I can't wait for New Moon!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Am Thankful For Adoption

November is National Adoption Month. How appropriate! In a month when we reflect on all of the things we are thankful for, I cannot think of many things greater than the incredible blessing of a child placed in a home with loving parents.

I, and my two brothers, came to our family through adoption. My parents had struggled with infertility...they got me when I was 9 months old. My birth mother was a teenager who, after I was born, took me home and was planning to raise me with the help of her family. After a short time, she made the choice to place me for adoption through LDS Family Services. I will be eternally grateful for her wise, selfless and loving choice. (Although maybe I was just a really whiny baby and she just couldn't take it anymore! I like to think that it was because she wanted me to have more than she could give me, including a home with both parents...) I'm sure it was a difficult and painful decision for her and her family. I'm sure there have been moments in her life when she wondered if she made the right choice.

She did. I am so grateful. I have a wonderful life and the most wonderful family. And I know I'm with the family God meant me to be with.

Over the years, people have asked me if I have any desire to find my birth mother. The answer, for me, is no. My heart is full of gratitude and appreciation for her, but I know who my mother is. She is the amazing woman who changed my diapers, fed me, played with me, spanked my bottom when I deserved it, giggled with me about boys, cried with me about boys, put notes in my lunches, played the piano for me and sang me to sleep, prayed for me, supported me, taught me about cooking and sewing and service and life and the Gospel and is my best friend and the person I would most want to be like in the whole world.

A few years ago, I did request my non-identifying information to see if there was anything medically or otherwise that I should be aware of. There wasn't. But I did discover that my birth father had been involved in the process of placing me for adoption. I was informed that this is pretty rare. At that moment, I felt a deep feeling of appreciation for him. Up until that point, in my mind he had just been a guy who had...ahem...had a good time. How grateful I am that he was supportive of my birth mother in allowing me the opportunity to be raised by my father, a great man, the rock of our family. It's hard for me to put into words what my dad means to me. It's said that a girl gets her self-esteem from her relationship with her father. I just know that my dad has always been so proud of me and always makes me feel like I am special and like I can do anything. He inspires me to want to live up to his expectations. He is an amazing example of Christlike love and strength. He loves my mother and treats her with kindness and respect. He loves his children and is constantly praying for their welfare. He loves the Lord and serves Him with all his might. I think every child deserves a father like that.

In our church, we believe that families can be together forever. After I was adopted, I went to a Holy Temple with my parents and was "sealed" to them, which means that we were bound together with a bond that will continue after death. My mother will always be my mother, and my father will always be my father. Scott and I were married in the Temple and we will always be husband and wife. If we are faithful, through the gift and grace of Christ, we will be a family forever. I can't think of anything I am more thankful for than that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Random Tag

Jill tagged me, so here goes!

1. I love foods that combine hot and cold. Warm chicken on a crisp salad, sour cream on a bowl of steaming chili, a BLT with hot bacon and cold lettuce and tomato...and the ultimate: a warm brownie with vanilla bean ice cream and hot fudge. Yuuuuuummmmmm!!!
2. The first thing I do when I walk in the door and I know I don't have to go anywhere is to put on my jammies! I pretty much live in my flannels.
3. Paying the bills is one of my favorite chores. I feel very satisfied when I'm done. It's just too bad the bills don't STAY paid!
4. I've had my hair just about every color you can imagine... blonde, brown, red, black, violet, even green. (That wasn't on purpose.)
5. I spent a summer in college selling pest control door-to-door. And I really hate bugs. But it was one of the funnest summers of my life!
6. I can type 40 words per minute using two fingers.
7. I've always loved to read. As a kid, I would read at night under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. One of my favorite books was, and still is, Anne of Green Gables.
Now I'm tagging Rachel, Stephanie, Ilona, Amanda, Cindy, Stacy and Tracey.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Want Reagan Back!

I remember as a young girl and as a teenager, watching the President speak on TV and feeling a sense of pride and privilege to be able to listen to the leader of our country. I remember feeling that he was a good man who cared about each of us and had the wisdom and sense to do what was necessary. I was proud that he was our President, and even though I was younger and didn't fully understand politics and everything that was happening in the world, I loved to listen to him and felt that his messages were, in part, for me.

That president was Ronald Reagan, and I have never felt quite the same about any President since.

This week, we were in Dixon, IL for work and I was thrilled to find out that it was the boyhood hometown of our excellent former President! (A very appropriate place to be as I mourned a little over the choice our country has made on who is to serve next. I have serious concerns about Obama, but I will be praying for him and hoping he proves a lot of us wrong. We'll see.)

Here is the home where he and his family lived. He worked as a lifeguard nearby and during that time saved 77 lives!

This statue is next to the home and depicts President Reagan inspecting some kernels of corn in his hand. (It is Illinois, after all!)

And, for your edification and reading pleasure, here are a few of my favorite Ronald Reagan quotes...

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

“Coersion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him.”

“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin. “

"With regard to the freedom of the individual for choice with regard to abortion, there's one individual who's not being considered at all. That's the one who is being aborted. And I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”

“We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.”

“The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas-a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.”

“Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.”

“There are those in America today who have come to depend absolutely on government for their security. And when government fails they seek to rectify that failure in the form of granting government more power. So, as government has failed to control crime and violence with the means given it by the Constitution, they seek to give it more power at the expense of the Constitution. But in doing so, in their willingness to give up their arms in the name of safety, they are really giving up their protection from what has always been the chief source of despotism — government. Lord Acton said power corrupts. Surely then, if this is true, the more power we give the government the more corrupt it will become. And if we give it the power to confiscate our arms we also give up the ultimate means to combat that corrupt power. In doing so we can only assure that we will eventually be totally subject to it. When dictators come to power, the first thing they do is take away the people's weapons. It makes it so much easier for the secret police to operate, it makes it so much easier to force the will of the ruler upon the ruled.”

“A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.”

Dang, I miss President Reagan!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted today...

and I'm proud to support a man (and woman) who I believe know best how to protect our country, our freedom, our economy, and the sanctity of life, marriage and family.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I am so grateful to be able to take a stand personally for what I believe to be right.

God BLESS America!