Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When Family Comes to Town We Celebrate Early




mmmm. Can you feel Christmas in the air yet? Can you smell the cinnamon and hot chocolate as the crisp air nips at your nose?

 oooOOOo I do love everything about Christmas.

Even when it is 45 degrees out, meaning there is no air nipping at noses and I haven't even had a cup of hot chocolate this season. None of the lack of typical Christmas ques prevented us from celebrating a couple weeks early. In fact, I really love Christmas when it is 45 degrees at and celebrated a couple weeks early, because that means something special is going on.

My mom came to town this week. And there is NOTHING better than family during the Holidays to make it feel special. Even Santa got on board with the whole celebrating early thing. 


6 Awesome things that happened this weekend.

1. Seeing my mom. Every year that goes by, I am more and more in awe that I lucked out to have her as my mom. I think as a teenager, I didn't really appreciate the example of faith and hard work and dedication that is my mom. I very much admire her more and more all the time.

2. Zoe seeing Santa Clause. They got a long like old pals. She especially loved his beard. What is that on your face Santy Clause?

3. Babies opening presents are the best. Whoa what is that noise the paper is making? What is this bright new thing in my hands? I can grab these toys? Zoe's eyes just sparkled during the whole present opening time and as she discovered her new toys.

4. My step Dad is a pretty great guy too. I really appreciate his example of honoring his priesthood and his family.

5. I cooked my first pot roast. Granted, I thought I was cooking chuck roast and really had bought pork roast. There is a difference! Who knew more than one kind of roast meat exists? Probably almost everyone but me. But we all learn somehow right? This will be a fun moment to look back on and laugh when I someday make a real roast. 

6. Did I mention a tree fell on our house this weekend? Whew was Heavenly Father looking out for us. No damage to any people or the house. Thanks goodness it did not fall the other way and take out both our cars. Well, since we had this giant tree outside anyways, we cut a small peice off, brought it inside and made the most unique Charlie Brown Tree Christmas has ever known. I don't know if I will ever love a Christmas tree the was I do this one. 

Well, there is more Christmas to be had around here, but the first part of our celebration was unforgettable. Merry Christmas friends and family. I really hope that this time of year is full and merry and bright!





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Banana Bread in a Blender

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes. Blender Banana Bread. I shared this a few years ago, but it's really good and I still like when I have a few minutes to whip some up. And I really mean a few minutes because IT'S MADE IN THE BLENDER! This means it is incredibly fast and easy. People let me say that again this is INCREDIBLY fast and easy.

I also need to share this now before I talk myself out of sharing it - or before I go to town on this recipe and flip it upsidedown and backwards and change it into a whole new glorious monster. I've been learning a lot lately about the importance of soaking grains on having a healthy gut. And everyone knows that a healthy gut is the new skinny. And let me tell you, these grains are not soaked. They are right out of the bag, thought I needed a treat 20 seconds ago type grains. Not I planned ahead and decided to make this today yesterday.

So here we go - the easy blender banana bread with unsoaked grains that will probably soon be back here with a soaked grain alternative recipe. Maybe. Who knows really when I will have the time to learn this new skill of soaking everything.


PS. If you would like to save the recipe card you can click on the picture and just save the image or pin it and share the goodness with the world!


Hope you are having a fabulous day. What are some of your favorite quick and healthy recipes?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Portland is Magical Pt. 1

I am so glad that we ended up here in Portland. We end up on one beautiful adventure after another. This one particilarly was one of my favorites Maybe because we had some amazing company (hi Pat and Andrea!). Okay definitely because we had some amazing company, but also because there is a never ending supply of new places worth exploring.


With Zac's parents being here, we really  wanted to take them somewhere unique to our Portland, something you can't do or see just anywhere. And so naturally we thought of the coast. Yes, lots of places have coast lines, but no where has a coast like Oregon where one second you are looking down the side of huge cliffs covered in green and a minute later you are on a sandy beach.  

For this day trip we headed out towards Tillamook,  specifically starting at Cape Mears.  We drove to this cute little, and when I say little I mean little, lighthouse, and walked around for a bit.  There is a lookout over the water that is a feast for the eyes.  Standing at the lookout you are on top of  a beautiful cliff where the waves, frothy and ferocious because of the true to Oregon stormy weather  crash up on the rocks. 




While we were here we walked over to the octopus tree.  Yes,  you read that right,  octopus tree, 8 trees growing from one stump.  This tree was supposedly trained by local Indian tribes and was a sacred place of gathering.  It's fenced off so you can't really run and jump on it,  but it is still pretty cool to see.  


When we were done here, it was time for food.  We wanted fish.  So we headed to The Schooners restaurant.  I loved the atmosphere in here.  Warm from a wood fire, cozy and the food is as just fantastic.  If the weather was better we could have eaten outside where the walls are glass and there is a picturesque view of the Cape.  You definitely definitely want to stop her for food if you have time if you are in the area.

After this we headed to the Tillamook factory.  Ice Cream and cheese.  Yum Yum Yum. Most days you can see how the factory is run.  We went on black Friday so m  the factory was open,  but not running.  Props to Tillamook for giving most of it's employees a good long thanksgiving weekend. 
Of course we got some ice cream. The smores flavor was my favorite. PS this is the ONLY location where are of the Tillamook flavors are available in one place.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Zoe: 5 Months



5 Months. 5 Months already. When I was pregnant, 5 months felt like an eternity. I remember thinking how has this only been 5 months? This last 5 months has gone by faster than a blink of the eye. I don't know where it has gone or why time has to move so fast all of a sudden. I do know that it has been full. Every day there have been moments that just make me smile and feel so complete. I love life just like this. I don't want a thing to change.

Zoe,

If I could describe you in a word right now it would be clingy. So long as you are in my arms or wrapped up close to me you are the smiliest baby I have ever seen. The second I am out of your sight, it's as if the world has ended. You start crying. You look so little there when I can't get to you fast enough. Your arms start waving and you are just overwhelmed by separateness. Because of this, most of the time I make sure I am close by and we snuggle a lot. I don't mind one bit. I love having you close. And I know that this, like each of your phases, is going to come and go ever so quickly.

Right now I am your world, your everything. And I love that. But someday, things will be different. Someday I will watch from a distance as you shine brightly and take on this big, beautiful, hard world. I will be so proud as you go off to college (or flip burgers if that is your passion) and I will beam as you explore all this world has to offer.

Someday you may walk along the Great Wall of China or step into Rome's Colosseum. Someday your curiosity will take you on great and challenging adventures. But right now, you are safe here in my arms where your world begins and ends. I cherish every moment of the eternity of right now. Because someday it will be gone and I will not get it back. You will grow and likely will not remember this. But I will forever have these moments of closeness tucked deeply in my heart.

Some highlights of this month:

You can roll over on your own, but you don't know you can do this. It still seems to take you by surprise when all of a sudden you flip over.

You love when we dance around the apartment. You have a gaping smile and a cute giggle.

When you get really excited about something you pant like a marathon runner. 

You love changing clothes. I don't know why, but you always laugh so hard when I am putting you in your pjs.

You fall asleep really quickly now when you are tired. We play and play until you are exhausted and then we cuddle and BAM you are out.

Sometime we let you try real food and there hasn't been anything you haven't like yet. So far you've tried a little piece of spinach, a tomato, the liquid part of my somewhat spicy chili, pineapple - you loved the pineapple. and avocado. Your eyes light up and you reach for more and more and more every time.

You are one important little girl Zoe.

Love you,
Mom




Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Best Christmas Music


I'm not going to lie, I started listening to Christmas music a few weeks ago. Zac insists that Christmas shouldn't start until after Thanksgiving, but I disagree. I think that Thanksgiving and Christmas are part of the same long holiday season. We start by soaking in and appreciating the gifts God has given us (Thanksgiving) and then we turn around and share that love with all of those around us (Christmas). So really, part of celebrating Thanksgiving is celebrating Christmas. So there is no reason I shouldn't have started listening to Christmas music when I did. Right?

But I get it, the music can get repetitive and annoying after listening to the same ten songs for a month. BUT THAT'S WHY I DON'T LISTEN TO THE SAME TEN SONGS.

I usually use Pandora when it comes to listening to the radio. I get way better music and much more control over what type of music I'm listening to. So if you really want a nice blend of holiday music this year, you really need to just log in to Pandora and make sure you add these 5 stations. Each will give you something unique so you won't have to suffer from boring blah Christmas music once this year.


1. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! - Michael Buble

I'm a goner when it comes to Michel Buble, so it's  no surprise that this is my favorite Pandora station. It has a great mix of more jazzy stations.

2. Mormon Tabernacle Choir (Holiday)

This is what I listen to when I want to remember and worship during the season. The MOTAB has some of the most glorious holiday music I've ever heard. I could listen to this station forever.

3. Mindy Gledhill (Holiday)

Last year, one of my favorite artists, Mindy Gledhill released a holiday album. I loved it. I listened to it almost every day while I was at work and I am still loving it this year. I like that her sound is different. This station is full of more indie/fold holiday music. It is simple. It is genuine.

4. Lindsey Stirling (Holiday)

Lindsey is another one that is not afraid to go out on a limb and make the music her own. She is a violinist, so you will very rarely hear singing on this station. Just pure beautiful instruments. Watch this video if you haven't seen it yet. You will be left with a sense of humility and awe.



5. the Disney Holiday Station

Ok so this station will drive Zac nuts. Full disclosure there. But it is perfect for kids. The chipmunks singing still cracks me up no matter how old I get and well it's Dinsey, so it belongs here on this list. Side note - this is a sponsored station so there are no annoying commercials if you are using the free Pandora.

Okay, well I am thinking you are a trooper if you read this whole post. Thank you for stopping by! Are there any stations or Holiday music that fills your heart this time of year? If so tell me! I want to hear about them!

Merry Christmas! and if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope you are truly enjoying whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year.



Monday, November 24, 2014

The Time I Spoke at Chruch

Yesterday I had the privilege to speak at church. I chose to share a part of my heart and part of my personal story. I was scared to share such a raw part of me, a part of me that I don't always like to share with the world, but I felt like it was right. I was glad that my church hommies loved this part of me too.  I'm going to share here as well for anyone who is interested (Hi Dad) I hope you are having a fabulous week. 

_____________________________________________________________________________


Good morning everyone.  It really is a treat  to  be here with you today.  Thanksgiving week is a special week for me.  I love kicking off the holiday season by taking time to appreciate how wonderfully the Lord has blessed me.  I’m starting to know a few of you  but for those we haven't met yet my name is Suzzie.  My husband is Zac and our little girl is Zoe.  We moved here a few months ago and have been so grateful for the love and support we've been welcomed with.  

Last week while I was out in the halls with Zoe,  I noticed a beautiful painting.  I don't know about you,  but usually I walk right past the pictures in church buildings.  I rarely take the time to appreciate them.  To soak in the beauty of the story the painting is telling,  the meaning behind the strokes of paint.  In the hallway outside is a painting of Christ healing a man near the pools of Bethseda.

We read the story in St. John 5: 2-9, 16-17 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

I love this moment in Christ’s ministry. He healed many many people. But this one especially touches my heart. There are many sick in the area around the pool, in fact I’ve been told that it was pretty competitive to be the first one in the waters. Hey I would want  to be the first one too. And here is this man. Sick. Sick for a long time. Too sick to help himself. But he has come as far as he can on his own and it is not enough. All this man can do can never ever be enough to be healed.

Let’s detour from our story for a minute. I forgot to mention something about this week of Thanksgiving. One of my very favorite Sundays was this day, the Sunday before Thanksgiving several years ago.  I was sitting in church, in the pews just like you are now when something strange happened. Sacrament meeting started as usual, announcemnts, prayer, song sacrament. All the normal things. But with one thing missing. There was nobody sitting up on the stand, you know on this side where the speakers sit. And over on the other side, the bishop was looking increasingly uncomfortable. Even a little green if I do say so myself.

After the sacrament was given. The bishop stood up. Came to the podium. Looked to the right, looked to the left. and said - today we have no speakers. There was a long pause as everyone looked at each other - what happens now was running through all of our minds. But then the bishop continued “so instead of listening to me or anyone else come up with something off the top of our heads, let’s have a thankimony meeting where we all can share what we’re grateful for this season.’  And then proceeded the most amazing sacrament meeting I’ve ever been in.

This was a student ward. I think anyone would have expected to hear I am grateful for my family and for my friends and for a roof over my head. Which we did hear a lot of and are important things to be grateful for. But not one of the thankimonies left out some version of this phrase “I am grateful for how the Lord has healed me. How he has comforted me in my challenges this year. How he has changed me.”

And I sat there in the pews as person after person got up and told of how the Lord had changed their life. And I started to cry. Because frankly it was a little unusual for me to be in the pews at church. I had been back at church for maybe a month or two after years of staying away. For in my youth I had thought to myself “I don’t belong here. I am too broken, I am too lost. This is not the place for me” Before I understood clearly the message of Christ, church was a painful reminder of all the things I wasn’t. All the things I thought I could never be and never have. Ut reminded me of how sick I was.

And I sat that Sunday of the Thankimonies and I listened to how Christ had healed so many of my new friends. And I was glad that I had come to sit by the pools of healing and to hear of all the many miracles Christ had performed for these people that were quickly finding a place in my heart.

This was the day that something miraculous changed. It was the day I learned that it was BECAUSE I felt broken, wounded and sick that I belonged at church, not inspite of those things. I wasn’t here because I was already perfect, but because I could never be perfect. There were things in my life that no matter how hard I wanted to change, I would never be able to change on my own. It was there that I learned that it was enough to be like the man in that painting outside and  come to the waters of healing as I was - hurt, unsure, confused. Over the next few months as I learned and studied of Christ - I learned that Christ can heal. That he does heal us in very real and substantial ways. I felt God’s love surround me, uphold me and then change me.

A few years ago President Uchdorf told a story about a statue in Germany he said “ A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.””

One thing that I have been incredibly grateful for in my life is the people within the church who truly know that they are part of the body of Christ. I am grateful for the students around me when I was younger who opened the door for me to come to Christ. As I have learned more of him, I have been grateful for the examples of love who have reached out and lifted me and I have been equally grateful for those who have let me lift them. It is in my opinion impossible to do one without the other.

Coming here to Portland, where we have next to no family and hardly know a soul was terrifying. But I have quickly been reminded that there are people here who are actively ready to lift those around them. I am grateful to my neighbor who understands that it can be lonely coming to a new place and will take a break from her busy day to go for a walk with me. I am grateful for those who know that service may be a smile, but it also may be picking up a box and physically carrying another's burden. I am grateful for the community here that has clearly been inspired and led by Christ’s love. I am grateful for those who are part of the body of Christ.

Satan will give us many reasons why we don’t belong. Why we aren’t good enough to be here. Why we can’t come to the place of healing and actually be healed. Why we should spend one more day disheartened, depressed and alone.

There is a lady I much respect that said "I don't care if you smoke, drink, abuse substances, are unchaste, wear pants to church, hate relief society, don't sustain church leaders, don't have a testimony, have a weak testimony, wear tank tops, don't know if you believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, have had an abortion, don't love your husband, don't like being a mother, think women should have the priesthood, are LGBT, don't know if you believe in God, don't relate to Jesus Christ, don't want to go to the temple, wonder about polygamy--you belong here. You belong here. We need you and you need us."

Let me say that again. We need you and you need us. I need you and you need me. It is that simple. We lift each other. We open doors to each other. We lead each other to Christ who is the ultimate healer of every malady sadness and distress.  As I have been reflecting this  Holiday season on what I am most grateful for it is these two things: first the Love of Christ that has entered my heart and healed my soul and  changed everything about my life, second, the people that have led me to him and continue to keep me here.  WIthout these two things, my life would be completely incomplete.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dreaming New Dreams

A year from now where will you be? 

I remember last year thinking and day dreaming about holding my little baby in my arms.  Rocking her to sleep,  all those sweet moments only a baby makes so special (although I never day dreamed about the late nights,  but those aren't so bad either.)  I dreamed about staying at home.  Cleaning more - really our apartment was getting dusty and I just didn't have the time to keep up while working full time and growing a baby and doing all the other fun things I was going about doing.  And you know,  it's a great feeling to have accomplished my dream.  I love my life.  And I am proud of how hard both Zac and I have worked to get where we are now. It is a really great feeling to spend a few minutes in quiet reflection about my life and appreciate that I am living my dream. Every day I get to live my dream. I am so blessed. 

And it all started with just that, a dream, a hope, a plan. 


It's great to be right where I want to be.  But at the same time, if I don't move forward I know I will slip and slide backwards to a place where maybe I don't want to be. So now it's time to set some new goals.  

A year from now,  it will be a Wednesday morning,  the second Wednesday of November to be exact.  Zoe will be 16 months old.  Life will be different.  Here are some things that I would like to have going on then.  

I want to wake up I  the morning to my husband getting ready to go to an incredibly rewarding job.  I want to make a smoothie and chat before Zoe wakes up.  When I hear her stirring,  I want to go to her room (not ours where she currently stays - which I do love for the moment)  and welcome her to the day with a big smile.  Hopefully we will have a fun day planned.  Maybe a mom and me swim lesson or dance class or book time at the library like we did today.  Followed by lunch with a good friend, because right now I have very few people close enough to have lunch with.  While were out,  the cleaners will come to do a thorough clean of the house, sweep, mop, vacuum.  All the stuff I really hate doing but hate not having done even more.  Maybe we we will run some errands and pick up our groceries for the week. Instead of buying what is cheapest, we will pay a little extra for organic veggies and happy meet.  

Then dad will come home and we will meet him at the door with a smile.  This is the best part of the day,  every day.  We'll spend the night playing and laughing.  Maybe we will plan one of our Saturday outings,  because those Saturdays when we have the entire day to explore and play are cherished around here.

When I go to bed I will be tired from the full day I had,  but my eyes will be shining and my heart full.  

Honestly,  it's not too different then today.

Where do you see yourself in a year? 


Our family on one of our favorite Saturday adventures.