Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mexican Fiesta!

For our Date Night Friday we went to 2nd Ward's Mexican Fiesta. 2nd Ward was our home (and still feels like our home) for 8 years. A lot of previous 2nd warders still attend activities and special events in the ward and try to keep in touch. As one of the less affluent wards in our area Modesto 2nd outshines all others when it comes to service and caring for it's members. At the RS Broadcast dinner last Saturday I overheard another ex-2nd warder say that 2nd ward "...is just LOVE!" And it is! Thank you for inviting us and for keeping us part of the "family" :)

Halloween Countdown Calendar

Pottery Barn has a super cute Halloween Countdown Calendar in their Early Fall catalog this year but at $60 + tax it was way out of our price range. With $20 and some creativity I came up with one of our very own...*


Pkg of 36" x 36" black felt
6 sheets orange felt
2 sheets cream felt
Pre-cut felt pumpkins, cats and an owl
Pre-cut felt numbers and letters enough for all 31 days, "Happy Halloween" and our last name
Carpenter's square
Fabric Glue
Wooden dowel

Fold down a 2" section at the top of your black felt and glue on edge to create a sleeve for your dowel (to hang calendar on the wall later).

Center 4 orange felt sheets into a large rectangle 1" from left side of black felt and 2" from top. Use Carpenter's Square to help get everything lined up. Measure 1" on right side and cut away excess black felt. Leave bottom as is for now.

Glue orange squares in place.

I couldn't find everything to make the Pottery Barn calendar exactly like it is in the catalog so I decided to concentrate on trying to add some of the things I loved about it. Like this spooky tree and the fantastic orange and black (Go Giants!) colors.

Using a white crayon freehand the tree onto black felt that was cut away from main 36" x 36" section and cut it out. Cut out a moon from cream felt.

Glue tree trunk first, then the moon behind the branches and then all the branches to the orange felt.

Cut a slightly curvy edge on the bottom of the black felt and fold it up so that it overlaps the bottom of the tree trunk slightly (it will make the ground around the tree). Glue along the curvy edge to secure in place. See below where the pumpkins and cats are placed.

Using the bar code sticker on the felt, I cut out 31 orange squares out of 2 sheets of felt placed back to back. I also cut out a few black squares and 3 bats from my left over black scraps.

Glue stars or pre-cut felt images to front sides of pocket. Top with numbers. Glue pockets onto calendar making sure to glue only the side and bottom edges of the pockets and leave the middle and top open to accept treats.

Spell out "Happy Halloween" on the bottom
(Which I still need to do when I've got time to get to the craft store for white felt lettering).

Fill pockets with candies and begin the countdown!!
It was so fun to make this tricky-treat holder and we can pull it out every Halloween.

*as you can probably tell the calendar isn't finished yet but I hope you can still get an idea of what it should come out like :) Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer's Final Curtain Call

With tomorrow being the Autumnal Equinox, Michael and I decided to try out a new tradition...
Cocoa Sunset!

I am forever concerned with traditions in our home. We haven't been able to have a family of our own (yet) and I sometimes feel like we miss out on a lot of family traditions. I don't want life to pass us by without being able to enjoy some sense of tradition so today Mike and I decided to watch the final sunset of summer on the lawn while enjoying some hot chocolate (it was actually fairly breezy and cool outside).
We talked about the things we experienced this summer and we each took a turn saying one thing we loved about this summer:

Mike - Doug and Aly's Wedding...
Amber - sitting club level at the Giants game for the first time.

Goodbye Summer 2010!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Deaf Church

Today Michael and I had an experience we will never forget. We met a group of saints who were the embodiment of all that is good in the world and in this church. Today Michael and I attended the Carmichael 2nd Branch, a deaf branch. We spent the three hour block with some of the most amazing people you would ever have hoped to meet.

In Relief Society I stood in awe as the sisters, sitting in a circle, asked me questions and through one of the girls I used to have in YW's I answered them (thanks Kaitlyn!). They "clapped" when I signed my name and hugged me calling me by name when the lesson was over. I met the most amazing woman, Velma, who was beautiful and had a smile as big as the heavens. She was deaf, her parents were deaf and she had both deaf and hearing children. It was almost like you could see her testimony radiating from her, like it was a tangible element. Instantly she was the friend you never knew, you'd always longed for.

In Sunday School, we were witness to one of the most insightful lessons on the book of Hosea. Again, the Spirit was so strong it was as if we felt we could reach up and swipe it away from our faces. One of the sister missionaries translated aloud for Michael and I during the lesson so we could understand every word.

In sacrament meeting everyone sat together in the middle. We watched as they signed the sacrament prayer, word for word. We joined in as everyone signed the hymns and we laughed when the Branch President gave a talk about pride. He, jokingly, called out his 2nd counselor as a "sinner" for choosing 1 lolly pop now instead of 2 lolly pops later in a made up scenario where a little patience would have gained a double return. Everyone was rolling with laughter. Laughter is laughter, even for people who can't hear it. It was pure and good.

I am so grateful for this wonderful experience, for the witness I received. Even when I could not understand what was being signed I was granted the blessing of knowing what was being communicated - a love for the Lord and for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thank-you Carmichael 2nd we will always remember you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lucky Girl

Well, I'm off to Time Out For Women in Sacramento. I look forward to this event every year. Not just for the chance to listen to some amazing speakers and musicians but also for the opportunity to spend some time with my friends. The only down side, and for me it's a BIG down side, is that I am away from my sweetheart. Sometimes I find myself enjoying something a speaker is saying and wanting so much to share it with him or wishing that he were there to join in the fun (which I'm sure wouldn't be much fun for him - way too much estrogen at an event like TOFW). I guess what I'm trying to say is that in the end, I feel lucky. Lucky to be able to go, lucky to have friends to share it with, lucky to have a husband that I love so much that I miss him after only a few hours, lucky to know that families can be together forever.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cold Train Coming

"In Fort Benton, Montana, an old collie's master has died and the casket has been put on the train. For the next six years, four times a day, Shep meets every incoming train hoping to see the old sheepherder." Cold Train Coming, set in 1942 Montana, was music to my heart. I enjoyed reading this book more than once and have passed it on to many a family member and friend. It tells the story of 13 year old Ben Colby and his family as he befriends the dog, finds his first love and gets into some hilarious predicaments. It is a *good, clean* read, a truly wonderful story. Perfect fall or winter book. So, make yourself some cookies and curl up on the couch with this literary gem. You won't be disappointed.

Scrumdidlyumptious Cookies

2 C Flour
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C butterscotch chips
1/2 C chopped walnuts

1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 C granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg, beaten

2/3 C butter slightly softened but still cool

1/4 C water

Directions: 1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
2. Add Vanilla and butter and mix until well combined.
3. Add egg and water and mix until all are incorporated.

4. Drop by ice cream scoop fulls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 9 to 11 minutes.
5.Remove to a rack to cool.

"Little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous."
-- Willy Wonka

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The apples on our tree ripened this last weekend. We are in the middle of a short cool down this week and so this morning I made and canned some applesauce. I've never peeled so many apples! And, in other news, one of the baskets of apples had a big spider in it and I almost stabbed myself in all my flailing and screaming. Luckily I survived and I think the spider did too (I threw it out along with a few apples).


Just a glimpse of what's been happening in our casa this weekend...

We harvested three more pumpkins from the garden...
We went up to the Oakland temple last Thursday and Friday nights. What a treat to go two nights in a row. We had so much fun Thursday accompanying the Young Single Adults from the branch for their temple night and Friday we went on a double date with our good friends the Rawes. They are awesome and such good company!
And we got a new bed (ta-da!!)! We have been debating on if we should get a new mattress for a while. We loved our Cal-King but after 10 years it was getting a little too many hills and valleys. The Labor Day weekend sales were too good to pass up. We got a Serta pillow top and our first EVER headboard/footboard. We downsized to a queen to save money and so far we haven't rolled off the bed :) Oh! I almost forgot the most important thing! Michael found us a steal on 800 (that's right 800) thread count Vera Wang sheets. They are so soft and luxurious. Great find Mikey!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

What To Do With Black-eyed Peas??

This "Cowboy Caviar" comes from our friends the Adams family. They brought it to a get together our little FHE (Family Home Evening) group was having and it was such a hit! Everyone begged for the recipe and they were nice enough to share. It is a healthy alternative to fattier cream dips and can be a welcome change to salsa. In fact, Michael took it to his work's potluck today.

Adam's Family Cowboy Caviar

2 cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 can of "Shoepeg" corn - it is canned white corn (Green Giant makes it), drained
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 C cherry tomatoes (or any tomatoes) chopped
3-4 avocados chopped

1/2 to 3/4 C olive oil & vinegar salad dressing (or any other vinaigrette/Italian you enjoy)
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

Hope you enjoy this one - we sure do! Thanks Adams family!!