Friday, December 31, 2010

Rexburg or Bust!

We had a wonderful Christmas and I hope y'all did too. It went by too quickly. But with looking forward to Kristi's Birthday, Christmas, Kristi's phone call home, Jered's Birthday, and getting Cassi ready to move across the country it's been wild. It's the first year in a while I didn't put any Christmas cards out. :( I LOVE getting your cards and letters...I am always amazed at the growth of the young-uns, and the moves, and the changes that happen in one year. It's amazin'. I know, I will repent.

Christmas decorations and the tree came down Monday and Tuesday, Dec 27th & 28th. I have a 9' tree and wanted the help of my kids to un-decorate everything. With Cassi leaving and Jered back in school when I get home...I cracked the whip and said, "Now's the time folks!" I think the house looks lonesome when all the Christmas decorations are packed away again. Christmas things make everything look so warm, festive, and happy when they're up. Also, red's my favorite makes me happy.

Yes, I am flying out to Idaho with Cassi to get her all situated. I 'HAVE' to go. LOL! ;) It has been so difficult this time. I mean- My tears are right there beneath the surface. Just the mention of her leaving and I'm all blahhhhh! LOL! I love that she's going, she's ready, and I know she's going to do well...and have a blast...and blah blah blah I'm going to miss her terribly. I keep it to myself pretty well. Except-

I opened Cassi's Christmas present, which was a webcam for the gigantic monitor in my office, and she set it up for me and created a Skype account for me. Then she ran upstairs to her room and grabbed her laptop and called me. Well, as soon as I saw her face so clearly on my screen...I was a PUDDLE! We had not finished installing the software for the microphone yet and so she was like..."I can't hear you. Mom, are you crying? Mom, whats wrong? DAD! Somethings wrong, Moms CRYING!" so I see her face wobble wobble wobble as she runs down the stairs and into my office and all I could bawl-out to them all was,"!" Blaahhhhhh! So yeah, I am convinced Skype was invented just for me. So I can see my munchkin's beautiful face from time to time. (I promise NOT to call alot, she has to call me). That way I don't invade her collegiate space. LOL.

We leave at like 5:30am Sunday morning. Jerry wanted to make sure we flew into Idaho Falls during the day so we didn't have to try to drive to Rexburg during the night. We have a LOT of shopping to do. She has more clothes than should be legal for one person. So many things we have saved to buy when we get there like her pots and pans, and a printer, etc. I also have made an appointment for the Orthodontist for she is getting braces. They probably won't actually go on while I am there. So I am thankful for Skype so I can see her cute smile with braces in the coming weeks. :)

I'm pretty sure Heavenly Father allowed Skype technology for such a time as this. I'm grateful.

~Momma Dodge

Monday, December 20, 2010

Twas an Old Fashion Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas & out on the ranch
The pond was froze over & so was the branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school,
And happier young folks you never did see-
Just all sprawled around a-watchin' TV.
Then suddenly, some time around 8 o'clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark."
Just what I expected," they heard him remark.
"Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago."
"I'll hunt up some candles," said Mom. "With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we'll make out all right.
"The teen-agers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle & started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.
Mom started to sing, & 1st thing they knew
Both Pop & the kids were all singing it, too.
They sang Christmas carols, they sang "Holy Night,
"Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.
They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God's Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight-and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed 'twas a fine Christmas Eve.
Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on..
"The power company sure got the line repaired quick,
"Said Grandpa - & no one suspected his trick.
Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch -
The old Son-of-a-Gun!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Music

If you cannot tell yet, I love Christmas music. I remember the day Jerry came in from running errands to tell me to tune my radio to 103.7. This immediatley told me they were playing their Christmas music 24/7. Yay!

You'd think I'd have a plethora of Christmas CD's etc. But I don't. I like the surprise of what's going to play next on the radio. It's like little Christmas packages I get to open about every 3 minutes.

No I don't like ALL Christmas music. I do enjoy the fun and funny ones as much as the next guy...until about the thousand'th time they play them. Then...I become momentary channel surfer-girl. Oddly enough one of my least favorites is '12 Days of Christmas' (I know, I posted one- but it was too cute to pass up on, and I've only watched it a half dozen times- I'm okay with that). I applaude really creative versions and something about the Title 'The 12 PAINS of Christmas' really spoke to me. LOL!

My second least favorite is swiftly becoming 'Baby, It's Cold Outside', a darling song that has been played to DEATH this year. It's actually a sweet piece of music that won an award in 1949. And there are a few versions of it that are fun to watch like, Ray Charles & Dionne Warwick (Youtube). There are timeless versions like Bing Crosby and Doris Day, and soulfull ones by Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves, and there is actually one done by Nureyev & Miss Piggy that is purely for comedic value (Miss Piggy sings the guy roll) and it's funny but if you are listening for music quality...look elsewhere. The versions that make my ears bleed are the ones by Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews, and the ALL-time WORST version is by the Glee folks. I just wanna shoot myself in the foot to put myself out of my mysery. There is one done by Nora Jones and Willie Nelson that just makes ya go...."Uummmm, EW!" Michael Buble did BICO with Anne Murray....really? Anne Murray....seriously? It is about as romatic as watching grass grow. If you put this on your play-list for your Christmas party this year...I'll be the one outside checking to make sure I locked my car.

Third LEAST favorite are any of the wonderful, beautiful, spirit filled Christmas Hymns and Carols that are butchered and over-sung by various celebrities. Remember the movie 'Superstar' with the Saturday Night Live gal in it? And she'd jump into the..."Super-Star" pose? Well...let's just make that the picture that comes into our heads when we hear celebs kill beautiful music. This would mean any Christmas Carol done by Christina Aguilera. I'm a fan of beautifully done grace notes, don't get me wrong.... But, I have never seen a person who tries to completely sing a song without hitting the original notes. I wonder sometimes if she's just hitting all the notes AROUND the note trying to HIT the note. LOL! Jk...Jk...Jk. I know what she is trying to do...I just feel the stress in my shoulders when she is finished with a song I love. Pass the Advil!

Music I DO love. I have posted a few of my top ten. I love when someone puts a beautiful version of a song with power point replete with beautiful artwork. That way- and see if you agree- you get to see, hear, and FEEL the breathtaking message in the song. Songs that are dripping with production tend to lose the meaning of the song altogether. Lately, I've seen some really poorly done ones including the Celtic Girls changing the lyrics of songs to suit their agenda...which is a little confused! Buyer beware, their voices are so beautifully harmonic and yet somewhere in their silky voices lies some seriously flawed doctrine. Recently I saw one song where they CUT out the eyes of ALL the pictures of Jesus... so there was little round eery circles where his eyes were supposed to be. Portraying what, exactly, that Christ is a spirit and not a man? Hmmm, really? A Christmas carol, celebrating the BIRTH of the Savior of the world into mortality, and His ministry, and atonement for mankind... and.. he is not really a man... WITH eyes? Hmmmm. Someone needs to do some reading. I can suggest a few books even. :)

Who needs a time machine when you have Christmas music? It can (and frequently does) transport me back to the early 1960's when all my parents could afford (while attending BYU with 2 little girls) was a little gray turn-table and a few LP records. Hey- we thought it was very cool because it could hold more than one record. See, there I am with Cindy and my folks listening to Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer, and Silent Night in our little house off Center Street in Provo, in the old Pioneer Ward. We lived by the Jacobson's, Patterson's, Lerwil's, Gleave's, and Mrs. Norman.

Christmas music can take me from 73 degree Texas to a place 1500 miles away where it's snowing outside, I'm 5, and we've just come home from picking a tree that my folks had 'flocked' white with fake snow. Dad had them cut a couple of inches off the bottom of the tree and when we got it hauled home on top of the car, we got to watch as Mom tried to hold it straight while Dad laid on his stomach on the floor and tightened the screws that held the tree in the stand. Then we'd get the boxes of decorations out of the garage. They were the old C9 strings of lights with little hooks on the sides to be hooked to branch's. There were no pre-lit trees. LOL! Our lights were all red and would make clicking noises as the bulbs would hit each other as we'd sit and untangle the lights and lay them out on the floor like one long snake. Mom would painstakingly clip the lights on the tree just right. Then she'd sit on the couch and unpack and hand the ornaments to Cindy and me and we got to decorate the tree. Mostly the bottom half of the tree. But somehow the next morning when we woke up the tree miraculously evened out and looked simply spectacular.

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas puts me in the kitchen watching my mother baking cinnamon rolls, or cookies, or popcorn balls. That song always takes me to a place where I am with my wonderful family, watching Christmas specials on TV, playing games, and visiting with extended family, and friends. Or driving around with the radio playing carols and looking at all the multi colored Christmas lights and laughing, and watching Mom and Dad hold hands.

Christmas music helps me get a glimpse of how the world should operate ALL year...when one can turn on the radio and freely hear the name of Christ spoken, sung about, celebrated, and enjoyed. Everytime I hear 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful' and hear His name...I feel a pang in my heart strings of gratitude.

My very favorite #1 pick which has been and always will be my favorite is 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'. Isn't it funny that we spend so much time as adolecents trying to get OUT of the house, and the rest of our lives trying to get back home. :)

I LOVE Christmas music.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" - Rascal Flatts Official Music Video

Nuts N Bolts!

Contrary to popular belief this is NOT Chex Mix. Call it by it's true S. Alberta Canada nick-name which it has been called for the last 50 years I've been on this planet, Nuts N Bolts.

My dear Mother made hers in one of these old enamel canning pots. Me and all my sisters have followed suite. Either with the canning pot or roaster. These make NnB taste better, I'm convinced. Microwave- Pish Posh.


Moms pans, she used for MANY things besides
canning, or baking her scrumptious turkeys, like,
Nuts N Bolts, popcorn balls, carmel corn, and ham.

NnB Ingredients (what I remember Mom putting in when we were small) :

3 C Corn Chex
3 C Rice Chex
3 C Wheat Chex
1 C peanuts (fancy, no skins)
2 C pretzels (sticks or twists)
1 C Cheerios
1 C fancy mixed nuts
6 T butter (real)
2 T Worcestshire sauce
1/2-1 t salt
3/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder

Heat oven to 250 f. Put all dry ingredients in roaster. In sm sauce pan on medium heat melt butter and add seasonings, just till butter is melted and seasonings are mixed together well. Pour this mixture over dry ingredients and stir well to coat dry mix well. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. My mom would shake hers (carefully).

Then allow to cool. Store in airtight containers, or tins.

Any tin will do.

Mom never threw away a good tin. She had tins from those Danish shortbread cookies, and all sorts of other things. She'd clean them well and put them away for when she'd make our traditional Christmas batch of Nuts N Bolts. Those tins were sent to my brother serving in California on his Mission (many years ago), and me (I have lived outside the state of UT longer than in it), and I'm sure to so many others. It was awesome to open her Christmas boxes and find a tin or two of Nuts N Bolts. In fact, there have been a few Christmas' that opening a tin of Nuts N Bolts in front of the glowing Christmas tree on Christmas morning, and smelling that first rush that comes from home-made Nuts N Bolts has transported me hundreds of miles back home to Moms kitchen and the sight of her standing there, and the tears would come. Mom always had things like this to offer our friends, neighbors, extended family, or any guests that would come over. Our Mother was a gracious hostess, and I think she was a party animal at heart. :)

Here is a delicious variation:

Nuts N Bolts- Christmas Clusters

4-5 C Rice Chex
2 C pretzel sticks (coarsely broken)
1 C cashews (coursely chopped)
1/2 pkg (16 oz size) white choc chips (or almond bark)
1 C semi-sweet choc chips

Spray lg enamel Roaster pan lightly w Pam. Dump in dry ingredients. In 2 lg Pyrex measuring cups (what I use- but you can use any microwavable dish) place chips. Microwave for about 2 minutes, stopping microwave every 30 seconds to stir (important) only microwave choc until it is creamy and melted. You are just melting the choc, not cooking it. I like the looks of the Clusters when I pour the melted choc on seperately. But you can melt them together if you want to. Drizzle over mixture. Let stand until chocolate has set. Break into clusters. Store in air-tight containers. Or tins. :)

Nuts N Bolts- Christmas Clusters.

Me and Shannon made Nuts N Bolts for Mom in her kitchen as she watched us from the adjacent family room, the Christmas before she passed. Christmas shows were playing for the Grand-smoochies on the television. The Chrismas tree was all lit up. It was way fun times. Again, I miss you Mom.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Popcorn Balls (Easy)

This recipe is kid friendly- so don't do it without those little Punkins.

Pop 10-12 Cups of Popcorn

Some like air-popped but we did ours the old fashion way...
 A little oil in an old silver pot, a few T. of Popcorn on high heat.
Shake often (carefully).

1 C light Karo syrup
1/2 C sugar
1 sm pack Jello (any flavor)

Over low-med heat, bring 1 C light Karo syrup and 1/2 C sugar
to boil for about 1 minute.

Then add 1 sm pkg Jello, mix.

Pour over popped popcorn. Mix well.
(Mom would put a little butter on her wooden spoon.)
Butter hands lightly to form balls.

We would wrap our popcorn balls in Saran wrap and tie with curly ribbon. But there are many cute ideas that I've tried. If you have extra popsicle sticks from an old art project, push one in before the Popcorn Balls harden then add some cute ribbon.

Wouldn't these be cute for a Christmas party?

Darling, inexpensive ornaments for a tree.

With a little creativity- voile!

My Mom had a HUGE Santa Claus boot made out of pressed cardboard-type material that they painted in a Relief Society Homemaking Meeting one year when I was small (about 2 and 1/2' tall & about 8" wide, and another 2' from heel to toe). She'd fill that boot up with delicious Popcorn Balls and when we'd have visitors come by, or Christmas Carolers (way more prevalent back then), or Home/Visiting Teachers we always had a treat to give them from Santa's Boot. It is another tradition and memory that I cherish from my youth. Thanks Mom.


Monday, November 22, 2010


I love Mondays. I think it is funny that Mondays have such a negative effect on some people. I understand that it is because it represents an end to a restful, leisurely, fun week-end break from the highly scheduled, stressed, and rush filled work-week. But it also represents, employment, productivity, children IN school, Missionary 'P' days ie. emails, and the beginning of a new mail week. Whehoo!

Gratitude journal for the day: I'm thankful it's Monday!

~Sandi~ (A Missionary Momma)

*Only 33 more days until I get to talk to her. The countdown begins.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mormon Channel

I cannot believe how many times I say, "I just heard this talk, or that song, or that person speak on my Mormon Channel." Yes, I call it 'MY' Mormon Channel, although of course, it is not. But I find it incredible how much the programming that I hear...I needed to hear. Not only for learning, but it has uplifted me, given me insight, and helped me feel more patience and compassion for my children, and brought events and talks to my remembrance. It reminds me who I am, and helps me keep things in perspective. I also like the fact that I am choosing well what goes in my head. Remember, thoughts become words, become actions. So today, I am thankful for the Mormon Channel.

I have an iphone- and they have an AP (application) that I downloaded on my phone so all I have to do is press this:

...and it pops me to a screen that asks me if I want to listen to Conference, Magazines, or the Scriptures, listen to a live broadcast, or watch a Video of several different things. BUT- You don't need an iphone to listen to Mormon Channel. You can just go to to listen live.

I just really enjoy being able to sit at the computer while I am working, or at my sewing machine, and listen to worthwhile things and not a bunch of garbage. I love Christmas music for the same reason.

Lately on Mormon Channel, I have learned about the influence of Native Americans on art in the Four Corners Area, to current Conference addresses, talks by Prophets and Apostles of the Lord, some who passed on long ago and it's a real treat to get to hear their voices again and recall their messages, and to check myself and see how I am fairing as far as heeding their admonitions. I also enjoy the CES Fireside addresses, and BYU Devotionals that I wouldn't normally get to hear.  It's awesome.

I am grateful for Mormon Channel.


Monday, November 8, 2010


You cannot have Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday in Texas without having Tamales! Making Tamales is a huge tradition in this part of the country. Some families have passed down their tamale recipes for generations. Grandma's, aunts, sisters, cousins, travel for miles to get together and make tamales. It's not just about the food, it's a family event.

Tamales are a very labor intensive food. Masa is a spanish word for dough, and it was originally made with sun dried, or fire dried corn kernels that have been cooked in lime-water. This wet corn was ground on a stone plate, with a stone-like mallet called a metate.

A stone matate, or grinder

Luckily,  these days women can find masa flour at the grocery store. But they still have their favorite grocers that carry really 'fresh' masa and they will travel for miles to get it. When they mix the masa and it is ready to make the tamales, the texture is kinda like a cross between gelatin, and peanut butter. Kinda.

Tamale ingredients vary widely, as far as the spices, and degree of heat, but the main ingredients for the filling is pork, beef, or chicken. A 8-10 lb. roast is usually slow boiled with the spices in the water for 6-10 hours and then the water is reserved to add in mixing the masa. The meat is then placed in a large bowl and shredded with forks. Other great ingredients are of course cheese, corn, and onions.

Corn husks are used to enfold the tamale ingredients. Husks too can be purchased by the bag full here. These corn husks are left to soak in warm water while the other tamale preparations are going on, to make them pliable enough to fold. The moisture aids in the steaming of the tamales later.

The trick that is handed down from generation to generation besides the recipe, is also the folding of the tamale. There is a definate skill in folding them just right. But, they tell me practice makes perfect. :)

My friend Blanca's family make tamales and they know how much my husband LOVES them. So whenever they make them they call us to come over, or they bring them to us. The other night was one of those occasions. When we went over, their apartment was filled with family, men watching TV, kids running around playing, and the women happily chattering in the steamy kitchen. They are wonderful people. I could NOT believe the size of the tamale steaming pot that was on the stove. There were literally hundreds of tamales in ONE pot. Blanca says that at Thanksgiving and Christmas time they have 4-6 pots like this FULL of tamales.

HUGE galvanized bucket steamer.

They had been feeding everyone out of this all day.
They had also gotten us a huge bag of them to take home as well.

This is Blanca's Momma, Susana Lugo
Chief cook! ;) Look at the size of that pot!

Tamales were originally made by the spanish when the soldiers would leave home for weeks at a time. Tamales were their women's answer to meals-on-the-go. They would stack them in the soldiers saddle bags. We didn't get our tamales in saddle bags. Ours were in Zip-lock bags...but we definately ate some on our way home. Muchos gracias Susana & Blanca!

Thats where all the pumpkin muffins I made went. That night I sent Jerry with a huge bag of muffins for them. Thats the cool thing about this time of year, sharing! Sharing recipes, homes, food, laughs, invitations, traditions and love.

Here is a great website if you are interested in making tamales yourself -OR- you can invite your family over to help you out. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Be A Hero!

A coward gets scared and quits. A hero gets scared, but still goes on.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (EASY)

2 spice cake mixes (Duncan Hines if you can find it)
1- 30 oz can pumpkin
1- 12 oz bag semi-sweet choclate chips
1/4-1/2 Cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts) Optional

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine cake mixes and pumpkin, combine
Add chocolate chips and nuts, stir in
It will seem very dry at first, but mix the pumpkin in well.
Spoon mixture into lined muffin tin:
These don't rise alot so fill pretty full
Bake for 20-23 minutes

*These are great just like that or you can frost. I don't.

As you can see I am all about quick and easy. I really enjoy recipes that I can make in a jiffy but taste so great that the family thinks I spent hours. You can probably make them prettier by using an ice cream scoop to make them all uniform. Or even them out with a spoon before baking. I don' mine have character. :) If you are planning on icing them for a party or something, then I would flatten the top with a spoon before baking.

I also like the fact that the ingredients to these muffins are usually in my pantry. Spice cake mixes are sometimes tricky to find, but once I find a Duncan Hines spice cake mix...I buy several to have on hand.

There's nothing like this recipe to make your house smell wonderful too. Yum.

This recipe makes about 40 muffins. I like to make a bunch and put them in baggies, and toss them in the freezer for when the kids need something on the run. Yeah, 'the kids', that sounds good....the kids. LOL

Fire up the oven today. These will get everyone excited that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Jeanine's Cabbage Casserole

1 head cabbage, shred
1 Cup rice
1 onion, sliced
1-2 lbs hamburger, cooked, drained
1Tblsp butter
seasoning salt & pepper
1 can tomato soup

Spray casserole dish w Pam, layer in cabbage, onion, rice.
Repeat ending w cabbage.
Pour over can of Tomato Soup & 1/2 Can warm water
Bake at 350 for 1 and 1/2 hours covered, then 1/2 hour uncovered.

Jeanine Molnar

This is my Moms older sister Jeanine. She submitted this recipe to our family cookbook in 1995 also. My Aunt Jeanine is great fun. She has lived in Calgary since before I was born but now her and Uncle Frank spend alot of time during the winter in S. Cal. Visiting her house in Canada was always a blast. She and Uncle Frank have three boys, Ron (deceased), Randy, and Kevin.

When we were kids we'd (my sister and I and Kevin) collect pop bottles and go trade them in at the 7-11 for penny candy. We'd swim at the community pool. One of my favorite things to do was go to the outskirts of town and shoot Kevin's bb-gun at birds, rabbits, and pot-guts. We'd exhaust ourselves jumping on Kevin's bed. And those boys are the ones who introduced me to REO Speedwagon (loudly). LOL!

We'd go to the Calgary Stampede where they still have the only authentic Chuck Wagon races in the world. You should see a team of horses pulling a wagon like that. It's incredible, and those races are sold out every year. You haven't experienced a rodeo like The Calgary Stampede...there's only one. The biggest seller of memorabelia on the mid-way would have to be Cowboy hats, belts, and boots. Being at The Calgary Stampede made everyone want to be a cowboy, or a cowgirl whether you'd ever ridden a horse or not. Then if we didn't attend the Stampede during the day, we still sat out in their back yard at about 10pm and watch the nightly fireworks together.

All my aunts are amazing housekeepers and cooks. Aunt Jeanine has a big heart. She doesn't toot her own horn...but she is one of the kindest people I know. She'd do anything for her family or a friend. My Mom and Jeanine weren't just sisters...they were friends. Jeanine and Frank have been such a kind support system for my Dad since Mother passed away. You'll be seeing more of her recipes in the future. I love you Aunt Jeanine.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mom's Green Jello Salad

2 small pkgs. Lime Jello (or 1 lrg)
3 Cups boiling water
1 (#2) can pineapple
1 Cup sugar
whipping cream
grated cheese

Dissolve Jello and water in 9x13 pan- refridgerate
Boil pineapple and sugar on medium heat for about 10 minutes
Mix with jello and let partially set up in fridge- don't let firm up
Take out- add whipping cream & grated cheese. Mix.
Return to fridge and let set until firm.

Marlene Beaujeu

It's the first week in November and Thanksgiving is almost upon us. We had some really great family traditions when I was growing up, one of which was Mom's green jello salad. I don't remember a Thanksgiving without it. I thought my Mom was an amazing cook and that this was her invention. Not that she ever said it was, but rather, I just thought my Mom was a genius in the kitchen. I was somewhat shocked later in life to hear and even read about Mormon's notoriety over their green jello salad. I have read with some interest the ingredients, and directions for 'other' cooks green jello salad and they do vary. Some cooks add nuts, bananas, even cottage cheese. And, while they sound good, it would not be the same. Mother passed away Sept 23, 2007...I wouldn't change a thing. In fact, the last few years having her green jello salad sitting on my Thanksgiving table has brought me some satisfaction, and a smile when I hear, "Mom, I LOVE your green jello salad." and I say, "It's not's my Mom's." I love you Mom.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Sit N Sew = Friends

Once a month some of my friends and I get together for a special day we like to call, ‘Sit N Sew’, but don’t let the name fool you because there is a lot more that goes on than just sewing. And I will show you a few. 

 Kazue Horikami

This is Sister Kazue Horikami, she is delightful. She set up on an end table in the foyer of Lois’s home and began weaving authentic Japanese slippers to give as Christmas gifts. While I watched her for a minute she told me that in Japan it is too hot to wear shoes and socks all the time so they wear slippers around the house. Then because the slippers are made of cloth they can be thrown in the washing machine when they are dirty. Sister Horikami used to be my Visiting Teacher and she NEVER missed. She is Cassi's first Visiting Teaching Companion. We love her at our house. Her sister is currently serving a Mission in Japan. Sister Horikami is retired and currently is a Dallas Temple worker. I learn from her when-ever she's around. I love to see her when I go to Sit N Sew.

You can read more about her in an article written by Melissa Merrill (Yup- Margo's daughter)- who is currently an editor of the Ensign Magazine. This story is in the June 2009 Ensign at :

Cynthia Riggs

This is Kazue Horikami’s daughter Cynthia Riggs. She is busy cutting meaningful t-shirts from her children’s lives to make t-shirt quilts to give her children for Christmas. We learned that it takes about 20 t-shirts to make one quilt. Cynthia’s dilemma was she had far more than 20. I'm sure her kids will be thrilled. What a thoughtful project. Cynthia is a talented pianist. She is an RN. Her son (also Jered's age) recently did his Eagle project. She is a busy gal. She has a grand daughter, and children in college, and she has a daughter (Erika) who is also on a Mission in Brazil.

Janet Combs

This is Janet Combs, she is just finishing a knitting project that she has been working on. Janet is my Visiting Teaching companion. She has served as our Ward and Stake Relief Society President. Her husband was our Stake President a few years back. She is my scriptural mentor, teacher, and fellow genealogy enthusiast. She works in the Family History Center. If I make a cool discovery or need advise on anything from genealogy software, to where do I find this quote you said 5 years ago.... (LOL) or how to appliqué a star on a quilt top, or a million other topics…I call Janet. Janet is my go-to person. She's known me a LONG time and sometimes all it takes is a look and a hug...and I'm good to go. She 'gets' it.

Lois Schauweker

This is Lois Schauweker, and she is my quilting guru. She has the perfect job…she works at Quilt Country. But she also has a giant quilting machine in her upstairs and she is a professional quilter. I’ll never forget the first time Janet and I went on a ‘Field Trip’ to see Lois’s. She has quilts that literally make me verklempt. Hopefully I will be able to show you a few of her quilts in the coming weeks. We discussed and decided on our project for 2011…we are doing a block of the month club. I cannot wait. Quilting is in my blood. I get so excited that I literally cannot sleep some nights for thinking about it. If I die and go to heaven it will be something like Lois’s. One night my bobbin housing broke on my machine and I made a late night call to Lois, and she ran me over one of her ‘extra’ machines which I sewed 3 quilts with. She is a talented, fun, supportive friend.

Margo Merrill

This is Margo Merrill she decided last year to make each of her siblings a quilt for Christmas. (Shhhh, it really is a secret.) She is putting the binding on one of them (it's fittingly called 'Cupcake Heaven'). I wish you could see these quilts in person. They are happy, bright, and creative. I am sure her sisters and brother are going to be so excited to receive such a beautiful gift. I know how much time and love went into them. This may not be too much of a stretch for some people…but I marvel at Margo and her ability to accomplish so much. She is currently our Stake Relief Society President, and her husband was recently released after serving for many years as our Bishop. Margo has four older children and one son who is also Jered’s age.

There are many other women who have joined us over the months and years, women of like character and goodness (I just don’t have pictures of them). I love my association with these women. At Sit N Sew, great ideas are shared, projects mulled, advise given, opinions offered, color schemes looked at with fresh eyes, funny stories shared, creativity emerges, goals are set, skills honed, plans made, gospel topics discussed, and always verbal appreciation for our families, husbands, and each other.

One of today’s blessings, that I treasure is…Sit N Sew.

Next Date- Nov 16th...won't you join us? Lmk- if you need more info.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Feed an Army)

3 quarts chicken broth (buy, make, or use bouillon)
2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 sm onion (chopped)
3 stalks celery (chopped)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (drain a little)
1 sm can Rotel (tomatoes w green chilies) (drain a little)
1 sm bag frozen corn
3 bags Success rice, or (what-ever left-over rice you have) = 4-6 cups
1 chicken (cooked & deboned) -or- use 2 cans chicken
1 T butter
tortilla chips
sour cream

Directions: In stock pot- spray w Pam, cook onions & celery in the butter until tender. Add chicken broth and turn heat to medium. Dump in black beans, Rotel, diced tomatoes, and corn. Debone chicken & add. Add cooked rice. when it's done. Set out tortillas, sour cream, and cheese to allow kids to add what they like on top.

Truth: Here's what I do- Don't laugh....OK maybe a little- This is one of those cool recipes that can feed an army QUICK because most things I have in my pantry. I love it because it's hearty and filling and my husband LOVES it. You can make it as simple or as difficult as you like (ok- make it difficult) LOL. I buy a BIG rotisserie chicken at Walmart, or use the canned chicken from Costco- you can bake a chicken in the oven for an hour if you want to...ok I just laughed a little. I dump my 3 quarts of (store bought) broth into my stock pot (I was in a hurry so I grabbed store bought this time...but if you have chicken base, it's just as quick to make your own and tastes better). While my kids open the cans... I debone the chicken. Rinse beans in colander, add to pot. Dump tomatoes into colander ( I don't rinse them but just let the juice drain a little) add to pot. Dump frozen corn into pot. Dump deboned chicken into pot. Dump rice into pot. Bring to boil. Done. OH- I 'forgot' the onion, dang-it...I 'forgot' to chop the celery...double-dang-it. Next time. LOL. No-one misses it and I just saved 10 minutes of washin, choppin, & saute'in. Hehe. But if I have company...I'll do the onion & celery. (I also slap myself with a couple of puffs of flour in the face to show 'e' for effort.) As far as the tortillas, cheese & sour family would rather have a fresh roll and some butter, so go with what you have. Also, if your family likes things really spicy, add 2 cans of Rotel instead of 1 of each. We like it milder so I do 1 can Rotel to 1 can of tomatoes. My husband prefers rotisserie chicken to canned so thats what I do...but canned works great. I like to make this when I have left-over rice from another meal. But I have the Success rice in the pantry. You need approx 6 cups so I use 4 cups of white and 2 cups brown. Thats what I like about this can't make it wrong. You can use white rice, brown rice, Minute Rice, or left-over rice. You can also dump all the ingredients into your crock-pot and cook on low for 4 hours, or 2 on high. If you want to add REAL rice...just increase your liquid accordingly. You cannot break this recipe!

Now go, dump, cook, enjoy!

~Aunt Sandi

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dell's Zucchini Bread

3          eggs
1 C      veg oil
2 C      sugar
3 tsp    vanilla
2 C      raw zucchini, shredded
3 C      flour
1 tsp    baking powder
1 tsp    baking soda
1 tsp    salt
3 tsp    cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 C      raisins (opt)
1/2-1 C chopped nuts (opt)

Directions: Mix eggs, oil, sugar & vanilla. Add zucchini.
Mix dry ingredients & add to mixture.
Pour into 2 greased & floured loaf pans.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

- This recipe was submitted to the family cookbook in 1995, by my aunt Della Marie Mertz Bown. Aunt Della is my Mom's oldest sibling, she is currently 82 years young. She was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. She has an amazing life story, and I wish I could do it justice here. Let me just tell you that she has raised a beautiful family. She worked in the BYU athletic department as executive secretary to the dean for years and years. Uncle Keith passed in 1994, but she has not slowed down a bit. She has been to China, sailed the Nile, been on every continent and visited every clime. She is an avid doll collector & maker, and has dolls from all over the world. She also collects clocks. She has been highly involved in the local Senior’s Club, and is a patron and lover of the arts, especially at BYU. She still bakes her own bread, and brings a hot loaf over to my Dad frequently. Aunt Dell was raised on Bread and Coulee Water. I love you Aunt Dell!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Snapware Flip-Top Containers- COOL!

I have to blog about one of my new favorite things. Snapware- Flip-top Conainters, in particular the big 23 cup cereal containers like this:
I got mine at Costco in a 3-pack. I didn't know if I'd use all three but I figured I'd pass them along if I didn't, but I do use them, all the time. Thats what makes this my 'cool thing of the day'. Or one of the happy things that makes life easier, which every Momma is looking for. Remember when I blogged about a gratitude journal? Well, today this would have to be listed as one of mine. :)

I don't think certain people (who shall remain nameless), lol, can open a box of cereal without tearing it up, or ripping it down the side. For SURE they can't open it without ripping the little tab that you have to stick the other side of the box-top in to close the lid. :) So these handy containers make it so there are no worries. When a new box of cereal gets opened I just dump the rest into one of these containers and voile, no problem. Air-tight, dry, and keeps it fresh.

We have problems in Texas with humidity, heat and bugs. So keeping a sugary cereal air-tight gives me peace of mind that I'm not going to attract any unwanted visitors. Ew.

When we have a party or guests for dinner and I pour out a bag of chips, or two, or three into pretty serving bowls now I don't have to worry about re-bagging the left-over chips. The lids on these flip-tops are big enough that I just open the top and dump the left-over chips into the container. Who doesn't like easy clean-up after a party? The flat ones (with no handle endentations) would be great to store cookies.

Also, they are dishwasher safe. Yay! I put the container part in the bottom of my dishwasher, and the top I put on the top rack. I have never had a problem, it has worked out very well. (Just make sure they are completely dry before you use them again)

Now, before you begin to think I am selling these, or have a vested interest, quit it, I don't. I am just sharing something I like. I did try to go on to find out how much they are but I couldn't find them. I also went to but they didn't have them in their online store either. But I did find plenty of them for sale at I found the 23 cup container for $7.39, and the 15.3 cup container for $9.25 (go figure). You may be able to find them at Walmart or Target, I have never tried there. I know the cost might be a little spendy for a container, but the bagged cereal in the cereal isle is even cheaper than the boxed so in the long run it could pay for itself. :)

Recently we had a Dodge-burger BBQ and we had dinner guests (the Missionaries), and I ran out of containers, boo. So I justified purchasing another 3-pack the next trip I made to Costco. I think the 3-pack was under $20. Don't you think that would be a fun kitchen shower gift? :)

I know a bunch of you have food storage items. If you open a big bag of rice, these work great to keep them air-tight, and dry in your pantry. Or dried milk, pasta, beans, or anything like that. The lid is completely flat so they stack well. They're versitile though so don't forget being able to use them for punch, water, and other drinks.

I hope you'll post a comment and tell me your favorite kitchen gadget or time/money saving tip. Make it a great day!

You know, I love you more than my luggage.

~Aunt Sandi

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drug $$

Remember: I told you there would be times I would use this blog to discuss things that float my boat" ..well, this is one of those times.

I have a perscription that the Dr. gives me a coupon for that lasts for three fills. Each fill I should pay no more than $25.oo. Thanks Doc! :)

So I go into Walmart today to pick up the medication and the pharmacy tech says, "That will be $480.oo please." I said..."Um, no." I realized I needed to go get another $25.oo coupon from my Dr's office. Which I gladly did, and was grateful that was an option.

Enroute to the Dr's office, I was thinking, what kind of mark-up is on these little pills if the price at Walmart for 30 pills is $480.oo? But, with a little gold ticket (coupon) I get it for $25.oo? Thats quite a difference.

I'm printing out the Walmart $4.oo perscription list and when me or my family get sick from now on, or need some meds...I'm going to whip out my little list and let the Dr. pick a drug from my list. Done.

Yes, I have insurance. But they informed us that we now have a $1000.oo cap per person, per year. That means on this medication at full price (1 medication) I would run out of benefits the 2nd week of March.

I am thankful that my Dr. let me know about the coupon and lets me come in multiple times to get another one. I feel bad for the folks that need the meds and don't have the $480. for 30 pills or have a little golden ticket like I do.

P.S. 30 pills for $480.oo= $16.oo per pill. Booooo! The price of meds are insane.


Lessons Learned

Today was supposed to be one of those productive, get things done kind of days. I had the ingredients for our dinner waiting in the fridge and I was going to use my time wisely and get things crackin early today. But life has a way of teaching you a few things as the day goes along.

I lost my Crock Pot! I know I'm 50...but seriously? I looked for my big one the other day when I made the Apricot Chicken, couldn't find it. So I used my small one and kinda crunched everything in there. But today, I wanted my big one because I had a nice 3 and 1/2 lb roast I was making and I knew the little one just wasn't going to fit everything in it.

I do have a big kitchen, but it's not THAT big! So I was going to tear it up till I found that elusive crock. I felt like Sherlock Holmes. Let's just say my cupboards have been cleaned out, reorganized, some of the dusty dishes have been scrubbed clean and placed back into a tidy spot. I did find a large crock pot, but, the one I found was my ancient one, the one that the lid dropped off and hit my tile floor and shattered into a thousand pieces. You cannot slow cook without a lid!

Now, I started mumbling. How does one lose a Crock Pot? My husband insists I made something for someone, took it to a funeral, or a party and left without it. LOL. Probably. I just do not remember. So I chopped a gorgeous purple onion, crispy celery, baby carrots, and fresh mushrooms and then had to cram them into my SMALL Crock Pot, the roast had to be cut in half to fit (stuffed would be a better description). It was a good thing Jered was at school, Cassi was at a job interview, and Jerry was taking a blissful nap because someone let Grumpy Grumperson into my kitchen. LOL.

I went online to to see if I could order a new lid for my old crock. But, it said that there were no longer replacement parts for that model. Of course! *sigh* The thought did cross my mind that my Liahona had quit working. Murmuring much?

No, we're not quite to the 'lesson' part. Wait for it......

So, when dinner was finally going and I was at my computer. I was all excited because today is P-day and I get to receive and send our Missionary letters, and pictures. Yay! I feel myself snapping out of my annoyance, and I am beginning to enjoy emailing Sister Dodge...when Cami called me. She is working at Glamour Pets as a dog washer/groomer while she goes to school to become a nurse. Anway, she calls and tells me that one of her customers who lives alone, fell and broke her wrist while she was walking her dog at around noon. The ambulance came and took her to the hospital and she had no ride home. She wondered if I could go pick this lady up and take her home. I said. "Sure." Cami said the lady was going to call me when they got finished with her and she was ready to go home. I told her okay, I'd be waiting.

My mind was going 90 mph. I couldn't quite put the pieces together yet, but I knew my heart hurt for a lady so alone in this world that she had to call her dog groomer to see if there was someone who could give her a ride home.

Her name, I learned, was Mrs. Finley. She called me and told me that they might have to do surgery on her arm and they were still waiting for the surgeon to come and take a look. I assured her that I was gettin ready and would be along shortly.

Soon, Jered came home and I asked him if he would come along with me. He did. We went to the hospital, parked, and went inside the ER to try and find her. I had written her name down so when I got there and asked at the front desk they happily waived me on back to room #2. She was probably about 65, short, maybe 5 feet at the most, and had curly gray hair. The nurses were really glad to see me when I went into the room. They gave me instructions and told me she needed to have her perscriptions filled and that she needed to be back tomorrow for her surgery. I assured them I would see she was all taken care of. She gave her nurses hugs, and they hugged her right back. She was a nice lady.

Mrs. Finley talked and talked as I got her loaded in my truck and buckled in. She said she'd been out walking her dog, Cloe, and the sprinklers had been on and she hit a little slick patch and went down. She said she tried to catch herself with her arm, (which she admonished me never to do) and it hit the cement. Not good. Some ladies who lived near her apartment drove by her, and knew something was wrong so they backed up, saw her arm and called 911. She said, "Honey, those ambulance people were just so nice."  :)

I took her to CVS where she got her perscriptions, and a few groceries. That CVS pharmacy was hoppin' busy, I tell ya, and it took well over an hour. I kept thinking of how long of a day she'd had and what she'd been through, alone. She cheerfully shopped for a few things while we waited. I was thinking that there should be special consideration at a busy pharmacy for the elderly that had been through such a tramatic experience.

When she was ready, we took her to her apartment and helped her in with her things. She was so proud of her apartment and wanted to introduce me and Jered to Cloe. While she was looking through her purse for the key that the nice ambulance driver dropped in it for her...she explained she used to live with her brother at his house and only had one room, and not much privacy. So she felt very blessed to have this studio apartment to live in now. I smiled and nodded.

We were met at the door by a VERY excited dog. Cloe was HUGE! I do mean HUGE! She was auburn in color and her fur was soft like a poodle but she had a kind of boxy face, not a pointy face, so I knew she wasn't a poodle. Plus, she was enormous. I seriously think she was bigger than her mistress. Mrs. Finley told Cloe to be polite and shake my hand. I think that dog looked me right in the eye, smiled, and shook my hand. It was the cutest thing. I could tell this was one sweet dog and I was glad Mrs. Finley had her, and Cloe had Mrs. Finley.

I was humbled by the few posessions this little lady had in this world, but she kept everything clean, and also what she did have she was so grateful for. She told me her sister-in-law was already on her way from Oklahoma City to come stay with her and take her to her surgery in the morning and she would stay with her for a few days after the surgery. She explained her sister-in-law didn't have any children and assured me it wouldn't be a hardship. So she didn't need my help any more. I told her she just never knew when she'd need someone again and to keep my phone number handy. She was a sweety. I hugged her carefully and we left.

When we pulled away in our car Jered was talking a mile a minute. He had so many questions. So did I. Like, where was she from? Where was Mr. Finley? Did she have children? Where were they? Did she have friends, or a church family? There wasn't much time, and I could tell by the way she happily chattered that I needed not to quiz her, but be a good listener. I was hoping she'd get to those things but time passed and we didn't. Jered was glad I asked him to come along. We had a pretty cool conversation on the drive home. The kind Moms and Dads smile about later.

When I walked in the door, my good husband was sitting in the kitchen peeling potatoes for me, while happily watching the Texas Rangers. I could'nt help feeling guilty about how I'd spent most of my day... fussing over a lost crock pot.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apricot Chicken (Crock Pot) EASY!

11 oz jar Apricot Preserves
1 tsp       Dried minced onions
1 T         Dijon Mustard
1 T         Soy Sauce
1 1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp    Red chili flakes (opt)
6-8         chicken thighs (or equivalent)

Grease crock (I use the new Reynolds Crock-Pot Liners & spray inside w Pam)
Mix- all other stuff
Pour on top of chicken.

Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, -or- on high for 4-6 hours

You can even use frozen chicken- just add an hour of cooking time.

Serve with rice and a nice steamed veggie.


1 pkg     Lipton Onion Soup Mix
8 oz       Russian salad dressing
1 Cup    Apricot preserves

(same directions as above)  

~Aunt Sandi

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why Bread and Coulee Water?

Hi Everyone,

I would like to introduce you to a couple of folks.
This is my Grandma Rosina (Nelson) and My Grandpa William John (Bill) Mertz
This picture was taken on their wedding day, the 23rd of March, 1927. They were
married in the Cardston, Alberta, Canada Temple.

As long as I can remember few people could compete with my Grandmother's cooking. When we'd come visit (they lived in Stirling, Alberta, Canada) she would say all she had to feed us was 'bread & coulee water'. Then she'd procede to feed a bunch of us like it was our last meal.

I remember walking in her back door (which she always left unlocked and the porch light on for us) and just the smell made me know we were at Grandma's house. I loved my grandparents, and I loved being at their house. They were hard working farmers and we loved to go there to visit them on that farm. It's to them I pay tribute with the name of my blog.

I hope to add some tried and true family recipes as I go along with my blog. Yes, even some of hers. I have been taught by many fabulous cooks. In 1995 I was asked by my Mom and my aunts if I would compile a family cookbook for the Mertz Reunion....which I did. That was back before there were all these amazing websites, and cool programs for compiling recipes. I was using a friends computer and it was a very long process. But...there were no cookbooks left over after the reunion. All of them were sold. That was a great experience for me. The name of it? You probably guessed, 'Bread and Coulee Water'.

My other Grandma, Maria Beaujeu, was also a terrific cook, as was my own mother...and I feel the need to share some of their dishes as well. Thats one of the ways they loved us, by feeding us well. Look at me....I am SO loved! :) And, I love y', I worry about some of those family recipes being lost to the younger generations. I'll be posting some recipes soon. So keep watching.

As a side note: My blog is not a cooking blog. It is a 'Sandi' and her family blog. I won't be pigeon holed. This blog will feature stories, genealogy tips, journal tips, encouragement, things I'm grateful for, things that make me mad, political insights, hobbies I have, dealing with special education , books I am reading, spiritual experiences, adoption issues, and yes, recipes, or what-ever else floats my boat. There'll be no disclaimers, what you see is what you get. I hope you mark this sight, visit frequently, and come along for the ride.


Blog Beginings


Welcome to my blog!

I originally started a blog for my daughter, Sister Maria C Dodge, to help keep all her friends, and the family posted on what is happening with her while she serves a Mission in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was new to blogging, and felt like a baby, since I know blogging has been 'the' thing to do for a long time. At first it felt like a chore. But then...the more I learned, the better I liked it.

You can visit her blog at: .

Many people have said to me, "I didn't know the Church provides Missionaries with Blogs now." -or- "When does she find time to work on her blog?" -or- "Wow, Kristi sure does a good job with her blog!" It makes me laugh. I never intended for her blog to be a deception. I posted in the begining that I would be doing a blog for her. I take the letters and emails she sends us and I go through and cherry-pick what I think she would like to share and I write her blog. Sometimes from very cryptic rushed letters, and emails.

No...Kristi does not write her blog, or have the time. She is a VERY busy and anxiously engaged (in the work) Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I, do the best I can. Anyway, I hope you enjoy her blog too.
For years I have been the family scribe. I have been encouraged, told, asked, conjured, and arm twisted to write a book. I am a closet writer. I currently have a personal journal that is 618 pages...(yes- I just checked.) I lost about 500 pages a few years ago to a horrible computer crash. I cried for days. But as is my M.O. I picked myself up and brushed myself off and began again. So actually 618 pages is pretty impressive. :)

Before you get too freaked out about the time it would take to write over 1,118 pages let me share a few journaling secrets.

1) Keep your journal handy. My journal is on my computer. It's a simple word document. I keep it on my desktop for easy access. You don't have to have a fancy leather bound journal with your name engraved in gold on the front. You don't even have to have a Monte Blanc pen. Just open a word document and print 'Journal' at the top and begin.

2) Use technology. For example: When I receive or write a letter, email, or FB Status I like, or has meaning to me, I copy and paste it into my journal. My Jr. High School was torn down and I saw a picture of it on a news website so I copied and pasted it in my journal. If you need help, call me and I'll walk you through.

3) Use a Time-Line: I learned in a genealogy class several years ago to use a 'time-line' as a way of organizing entries. That is ALWAYS the first thing I write in my journal entry. Example: 16 Oct, 2010 (Sat): I use the genealogical way of dating ie. day/month/year. Sometimes when I remember I add the day of the week but it's not critical.

4) Date EVERYTHING!  Dating is THE way to journal. That way, if I run across an old letter, email, or when I remember a story from my childhood that I want to write, I know exactly where to insert it into my journal because my time-line is in place. Voile.

5) Add a heading. Immediately after the date, I explain my entry (be consise). Example: 16 Oct, 2010 (Sat)- Email I received today from my Dad: (Then later I may just need to add)- My response:

6) Journal when you can. I wish I could say that I write in my journal daily. What I can say, is that I do write something, or someone daily. When I get behind on my journal. I simply go back to my emails (usually Sunday evening), and spend a few minutes copying, and pasting those things I want to keep into my journal.

7) Only post things with meaning to YOU. I don't keep important business emails, letters from teachers, jokes (unless they're mine), email pass-alongs, falderall -or- fiddle-dee-dee. You get the picture. That way you have a beefy journal that is the heart of who you are.

8) Have more than one. You may want to have a personal journal, one for your kids, a study journal, a reading list (wish, finished, or in progress), or, you may want to have a journal of just your relationship with one person. Example: If your husband travels and you get some sweet emails from him and yours to him, you may want to keep those in a seperate sweet-heart journal, or one between you and your Mom, etc.

9) Complete Signatures. If I receive a letter or an email from someone and they sign it 'Love, Sarah', I simply add her last name to my Journal. If I get a particularly wonderful Christmas letter that I want to keep (only the exceptional) and it's signed, 'Love Eric & Misti, and kids', I would then go ahead and add their kids names and maybe even their ages. You'll be surprised years from now when you are reading that entry how much it helps to know those little details. But don't bog yourself down with too many details or it becomes work.

10) Write your FEELINGS. As a mother I wish I had a nickle for everytime I told one of my children to 'use your words' to describe what they were feeling, or explain what was happening. One of my most cherished entries is the one I wrote soon after I found out my sweet mother had cancer. It was entitled simply 'Cancer SUCKS!' and I went OFF about how I felt about it. I don't visit it often but I find comfort in knowing it's there. Because sometimes when I need to...I visit it.

11) Get started. How many journals have you got lying around your house with the first three pages written in? The cool thing about having a journal on a computer is that it's so easy to access. Remember the Doogie Houser show? At the end of each episode he wrote one sentence, or one paragraph about his day. Don't underestimate the power of one sentence, they accumulate.

12) Baby steps. A few years ago Oprah Winfrey started a gratitude journal. In it she simply wrote down 3 things she was grateful for during the day. She said it was amazing what happened to her. She soon found that after she'd done it for a while she started recognizing and taking a mental note of cool things that happened to her during her day. The things she was grateful for became more and more clear to her. Example: black cherries, shade, and Sonic ice. However, if you have time and feel like you want to elaberate...DO! You can call it what-ever you like, a gratitude journal, or a blessing journal (because thats what it is). It makes it easier to hit your knees at night and talk over with your Heavenly Father what you were really grateful for during the day. You'll begin to notice not just that cool things happen to you every day, but you'll actually see the hand of the Lord in your life and the lives of your children. Then you have something special. You'll actually have a journal that begins to become precious, and the essence of you. Cool.

Alrighty then....time to get busy!