December 31, 2009

Yummy Salad

Last night I was over at my mother's place for dinner. She has the incredible ability to throw things together and have it turn out delicious. Me? Well I don't have that ability. It might have skipped a generation.

Last night's dinner was certainly no exception. When I first arrive mum is still working in the kitchen so I offer to help her....I'm a good child. There's a bowl of sliced mangoes on the table (they have had a bumper crop of mangoes this year...YUMMO!!!).

Next thing I know mum is adding onion and celery to the mangoes!! My first thought was 'SACRILEGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!' Which lead to me making a comment about it. I sucked it up and remembered that mango can be used with other things besides desserts or by itself.

Of course the salad was one of the most divine things I've ever eaten in my life!! There is no way I'd ever be able to afford to eat something like it at a restaurant because it would be in such a swank restaurant I couldn't afford the free bread!!!

So here's what mum threw in the salad.

6-7 mangoes diced
2 small onions, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
red capsicum (bell pepper) and green capsicum (bell pepper), finely diced (was just whatever was leftovers in the fridge so it wasn't much.)
2 carrots, finely chopped
cheese cubes
Seedless grapes, halved
dressing was some of Paul Newman's Ranch dressing...and a little cream

Try'll like it I promise!!!!!!!!!!!

December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

It's boxing day now but oh what a lovely Christmas we had. The fact that money played a very little part made it even better.

You see, we couldn't afford to buy any presents for each other this year. Sometimes life is like that and that's OK. We've lived through this in the past and survived and I'm sure we'll live through it again sometime in the future. There's many things you can do without money. My clever niece made her husband and her brother a tie made out of duct tape. They looked really good. We could have made something for each other or we could have given coupons but I came up with an idea that was totally 'It's the thought that counts'.

I had the children go through the advertising catalogs and choose things for each other (and mum and dad) that if we had the money we would have bought.

My husband was feeling very bad about not being able to have gifts this year. I kept telling him that the kids are fine with it. He said that they were only fine with it because they had no other choice. I tried to reassure him that our children were not like that at all.

Anyway...Come Christmas morning there were lots of little white envelopes under the tree. There were even some for our guest we had come over for breakfast. As it turns out this will be one of the most memorable Christmases EVER. Aaron (14yrold) gave Michael (18yr old) a pork roast. Well we were in fits of laughter and that pretty much set the tone for the day. Not only did Michael get pork but Sarah (19yr old) gave our visitors pork as well and Michael gifted Sarah Bacon!!! Can you see a theme here?

I got given 'wooden flooring' from Sarah. My kids know how much I'd love to have wood floor instead of carpet. I also got a big screen TV...I mean a BIG screen...along with a new computer with a nice big monitor. All in all we ended up with three big screen TVs (mine was the biggest of course) and three computers. Someone got insect repellent while someone else got deodorant.

"It's the most wonderful time of the year...." and presents...although very nice....didn't make it 'wonderful' this year. It was so enjoyable I'd be happy enough to make this a new family tradition. Just think of the money we'd save.

May 2010 bring us all more harmony and love.

February 18, 2009

Be of Good Cheer

I was driving with my oldest son a few years ago and asked him:

"If I die before you have children, what will you tell them about me?"

He told me that was a strange question but he'd give it some thought. Later on he said to me, "I know what I'd tell them. I'd tell them you were funny."

YES!!!!!!!!!! That's perfect.

Last year I also asked my 11yr old son the same question. He said “I’d tell them that you THINK you’re funny.”

I LOVE a good laugh. I enjoy making others laugh and be happy.

Many years ago when I was a young adult, we were up in Redcliffe for a young adult conference. It was early morning...maybe 1am. There was a bunch of people already down at the beach so my sister and I along with our friends, walked down to the beach.

The group was there alright. They were sitting on the cement steps that lead down to the beach. I thought it would be so funny if I was to leap over the stairs, right onto the beach in front of everyone and go "BOO"....or something like that. It was going to be soooo funny. I took a little run off and as I hit the top step to jump to the sand, my feet didn't move. Instead of jumping to the sand I fell SMACK onto the cement steps. Hitting each one on the way down. I was on the beach with everyone around me. I decided that was the funniest thing EVER!!! Although I was in pain I saw the funny side of it and to this day I WISH it was on video so I could see it. I joked about the 'beached whale'. I could hardly breathe. It turned out I had broken a few ribs but it was still FUNNY.

The topic of this evening has been "Be of good cheer".

I'd like to think that I am 'of good cheer' altho my daughter would say that I find the negative and make fun of it. For example:

People tell me there's a light at the end of the tunnel. In my life it has turned out that the light was a TRAIN!!!!!

Life isn't passing me's trying to RUN ME OVER!!!!!!!!!!!

People have put their arm around me and said "This too shall pass"....I say "So do kidney stones and they're not much fun either!!!!!!!!!"

So I will accept the negative comment from my daughter. I 'embrace' it.

Three years ago I injured my back and ended up in the ER. They told me I had to stay on my back for a week. I couldn't go downstairs. I couldn't sit up. It was awful. The next week I had a little skin cancer removed from my nose one day, that night my husband and I rolled over in bed at the same time and I got head butted right in the stitches. Blood everywhere. He couldn't drive me because he had no licence, (which is a whole other story!!!!!!) so I drove myself up to the ER. Got home at 3am then got up to teach seminary. Another morning I was walking up to the gate at the chapel to unlock it for seminary and fell over scraping my knee really badly and injuring my foot. By the end of the lesson I could barely walk so it was back up to the ER I went. This was all in the space of TWO WEEK!!!!!!!!! I figured there were three options. 1. I was earning Frequent Flyer Miles. 2. One more visit and I’d get a set of steak knives. 3. Legally change my name to Job. Sure I tried to make light of the situation. I tried to crack jokes but I was sick of it.

There was another time that I came home from teaching seminary and on the way upstairs to my bedroom I said to my husband I QUIT!! I quit being a mother, I quit being a wife, I quit the papers (I help one of my brothers with his paper delivery every week for the past 8 years), I quit...I just quit".

Now nothing had happened in seminary that morning or anything that I can even pinpoint to make me really feel that way or lose it. I had just had it. Of course I couldn't quit. I still had to go down and make sure that the lunches were actually done and that they'd leave the house.

Have ya ever had one of those days?

Sister Hinckley had a delightful sense of humor. She said: "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache" (Virginia H. Pearce, ed., Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999], 107)

There are many things in this life that cause us to feel stress.

Those of us who have children and are racing around doing lunches and chasing kids to get dressed in the morning and then have a child say "MUM!! What about my cooking??!" (For their home Ec. class) or "MUM! I need the deposit for camp today" or "MUM!! Where are the cookies you said you would cook for our class today?" Sometimes happening ALL in the ONE morning.

Of course husbands and children are not the only causes of stress. There are stresses with work, cars, family relationships, drivers that don't use their blinker, telemarketers calling when you are already happy with your phone company etc. There are also those things "in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see" that many of us deal with ALONE.

I think we have all had worries or things that get us down in our lives but the key is not what this is but how we deal with it..

A lot of the time we may not be able to get rid of what causes us to be down or; the husband or the kids. But maybe we can find ways to help us cope with it.

I'm not talking about overcoming depression. That's a whole 'nother ballgame. I will say that if you feel like you are dealing with depression...GET HELP!!!! Medication has been a God send in my life on more than one occasion.

So the scripture goes: D&C 61:36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;

In the Savior's last discourse to His disciples the first thing He said to them was, "Let not your heart be troubled." (John 14:1) And His closing words were, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Let me tell you a story of someone who is an example of being of good cheer.

In 1993 Pres Hunter was giving a talk at BYU. His talk made the news that night. Not because it was unusual for a church leader to speak at BYU but because while he was giving his talk a guy came up to him at the pulpit and grabbed him. The guy was holding a briefcase and claimed there was a bomb in it. He tried to get Pres Hunter to read a letter he had typed but Pres Hunter refused. The 15 - 17 000 people in the congregation began to sing "We thank thee oh God for a prophet". Finally the man was overpowered and Pres Hunter again began his speech about 'challenges'.

He said: " Life has a fair number of challenges in it........ Indeed, you may be feeling that you have more than your share of problems.

"....... we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us.

".......I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do--especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives."

HOW can we be of good cheer then? How can we do it when the world around us seems to be caving in?

I'm not talking about being a Pollyanna and acting like everything is wonderful or drawing a big happy face on as if that's going to take care of everything. There is no sin in being sad or crying when things go wrong. I think the problem comes when we dwell on those things and lose sight of the 'plan of happiness'.

Here's a few ideas. Some of them I have tried. Some of them you will roll your eyes at.....just like I did. But who knows...they just might work. What works for one may not work for another.

• Have realistic expectations for yourself—Heavenly Father doesn't expect you to be the perfect. Just that you are doing 'all you can do'.
• Learn to say "NO"
• Put on makeup.
• Paint your nails.
• Shave.
• Stop and look at a sunset
• Own an outfit that just makes you feel like you look good (a special friend of mine has a 'happy skirt'. It's a cheerful colour and she just feels happy when she wears it)
• Have a hobby (sewing, scrapbooking, blogging).
• Read the Ensign and scriptures.
• Attend the temple.
• Dance like no one is watching.
• Join a gym (I did that once but it didn't work. They didn't explain to me that I needed to actually GO and do stuff!!)
• Girls' overnight trip. (I did this with a group of friends last year. It was good for the soul. I hope to do it again soon.).
• Get online. Join Facebook. Add me as a friend!
• Laugh.
• A tub of chocolate double fudge brownie ice cream and two spoons
• Choose your battles.
* Talk it out with someone who can give you perspective, not just sympathy
* Count your blessings - really name them one by one
* Serve somone else - even in a very small way
* pray "When sore trials came upon you, did you think to pray?"

In spite everything which may be discouraging or frustrating, in spite of anything which causes you to feel lonely or overwhelmed .. . . there is hope smiling brightly before us, and angels WILL attend... help and comfort give us to our journeys end.

Many of you have read or heard about Anne Frank who hid from the Nazis with her family in a tiny space. They were in that cramped situation for over 2 years! They had to remain completely silent from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm every day! In her journal she described their hiding place as "a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds."

I suppose we can't imagine what her circumstances were like, just as I can't imagine your circumstances nor you mine. But I do know that attitude is a choice. We can create and enjoy "a little piece of blue heaven" even at times when we are "surrounded by heavy black rain clouds." So this year let's keep the 'plan of happiness' in focus which leads us to 'good cheer'.

January 2, 2009

Eggplant Salsa

This recipe comes from a dear friend who is Spanish. My family are salsa fiends and simply LOVE this. I can not make too much of it.

This eggplants reminded me of a character from a cartoon called Doug. His friend Skeeter bares a striking resemblance to this vegetable.

Dice up the eggplant

Let it sit in water until you're ready to use it. This will stop it from discolouring.

Dice the onion and the capsicums

Blend/puree tomatoes. When you blend them there is no need to peel them. This makes things so much easier and less messy.

I couldn't find any vegetable bullion easily here in Utah so this is what I used. I have since found I can order the bullion from online stores. All is right in the world again.
Cover the ingredients with the blended tomatoes.

Cook it down till you are happy with the consistency.

1 eggplant, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 red (or green) capsicums (peppers)
Tomatoes (maybe 2 or 3) blended/pureed
Vegetable stock cubes to taste (I use between 3-5 per batch...but can add more if you want)
Oil (I really don't know how much. Enough to cover the bottom of the saucepan you're using)

Heat oil and put in eggplant. Cook until eggplant isn't white anymore. Now add onion and cook for a minute or two. Add capsicum and mix well. Crumble stock cubes into mixture. Taste to see if you need to add some more. Now add the tomato juice....just enough to cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil. Stir every now and again so mixture doesn't stick to the bottom and burn. Turn down to simmer. Simmer until you reach the consistency you like.

You can blend this if you don't like chunky salsa.

I haven't tried canning/bottling this yet. Mainly because it doesn't matter how much I make, it's gone in a matter of days.

I'd love to hear from you after you've tried this recipe to see if you love it as much as I do or to share what you may have done a little differently.

I have found the perfect bowl to go with this salsa recipe. Check out salsa bowl to find out more.

If you enjoy this recipe then you may also like this recipe KUNG PAO CHICKEN