Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Been Six Weeks, Mr. Groundhog!

Just the thought of Spring coming to town has got me thinking of some very fun things. I am really looking forward to all the new growth popping up and spreading some color to the dreary world of winter. Not that I like spring (I really don't like rain and mud and the wishy-washy-ness of the weather), that's my husband's favorite season. But I am a shutterbug and love to take pictures of beautiful things like flowers, so I am looking forward to my colorful friends poking their heads up soon. Plus the coming of spring also means that my favorite season, summer, is getting closer to appearing as well!
So that brings me to my next thought: what am I going to do this summer? I love the outdoors and going camping and seeing new sights! (Which is weird because I hate getting dirty.) Now that we live just a stone's throw from Yellowstone National Park, I'm sure I will be spending at least a couple weekends there. We love to camp at Island Park and float down the river. We have seen moose there, right on the banks as we floated by! We drive to Yellowstone for the day and then come back to the campground and have s'mores. But other than that, I haven't done much camping in Idaho. I grew up camping mostly in the Sierras, places like Mammoth Mountain, Mono Lake, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Angels Camp, Calaveras Big Trees, Sequoia Park and a lot of little places all through those areas that no one has even heard of. I could tell you a lot about California camping as well as quite a few places in southern Utah. We have hiked Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks, Bryce National Park, Brian Head and a few others. But I am, as yet, still unlearned when it comes to Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I have been to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole. I’ve even hiked the Martin Handcart trail at Martin’s Cove. But for "every weekend" kind of camping, I am unfamiliar. Anyone out there have some suggestions? I live in southeastern Idaho and besides camping, I have a couple family members who love to fish. So bring on the camping ideas! And while we’re at it, tell me your favorite camping meals. We love Dutch oven stuff, s’mores (as already mentioned) and foil dinners. I would love to hear about some new ideas, though.
And just so you know, we are hoping to go to Mount Rushmore some time this summer, too. Anyone been there? Where’s the best place to stay?
So, bring it on, everyone! And let’s make this a happy day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chef Wars At Home

So my oldest daughter and I have been having a competition with our chef abilities, much to the delight of my husband and sons. It all started when she decided to go to culinary school and began fixing all sorts of different and delicious meals. This got me wanting to do the same so I fired myself up and got on the bandwagon. She also has been trying to figure out ways to make healthier meals and got me totally hooked on "The Sneaky Chef" books. I have been trying new things, trying to cook healthier, and have actually enjoyed making food for everyone. You have to understand that when my kids were younger I hated cooking because A) nobody appreciated the effort I went through, B) there was always at least one or two kids who didn't like something and C) it was just another mess I had to clean up later. So Lee did most the cooking in those days. He didn't mind. And he did a pretty good job of keeping us from starving to death! It was great to have someone else help me out at the end of a long day of chasing babies, so I love him for all of that!
But now it's his turn to enjoy a meal that he didn't have to fix. I have kids who are old enough now to help out, clean up, and just eat up, shut up or go without!
Now that I am in the kitchen more, I have discovered a few fun things; that there are a lot of cool gadgets out there that our mothers and grandmothers never had. I have an automatic rice steamer that gets the rice done just right every time. I have a bread machine, a slow cooker, non-stick pans, a hand blender, air-bake pans that won't burn the cookies, a microwave, a kitchen aide, and a ton of Pampered Chef gadgets that make cooking a breeze! But what's my favorite, you ask? Well, I have quite a few but I will list just a couple. The first one is my garlic press. I never knew garlic was so much fun until this little thingy! I use garlic in much of my cooking now because I can actually use it fresh. Yay! The other thing would be my Kitchen Aide. I love that I can just put the ingredients in and let it do all the work. I have been trying to make homemade bread and cookies and stuff more often and this really helps. And did you know you can buy an ice cream maker for it? It's $80, so I have to save up for it, but it's on my list! I also want the pasta maker, but it's a lot more expensive. Ahhhh, some day ...
So tell me, what's your favorite kitchen gadget or machine that you like to use? Where can we find one if we want to purchase it? I'm waiting to hear all the favorites - it's almost dinner time!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Helping Hands and Hearts At Home

What is it about depression that is contagious? Maybe as women we just have some kind of sixth sense that allows us to walk in a room and "feel" the atmosphere, thus making it easy to pick up on the vibes of others then emulate them. This is a scientific fact, noted in the expression of our monthly cycles: get two women in the same household and they will soon be on the same cycle, whether or not they started out that way!
My 20 year old daughter has been battling depression for a couple months now and has finally reached the point where she has had to move home for awhile to help deal with it. Whether it's the pressures of working and paying bills and trying to go to college or something else, she needs her family right now. Well, that's okay with us. We always welcome our kids back home, no matter where they are in their lives. But I think I feel a little sad now, too and I wonder if depression is "contagious," at least for women. Men tend to be able to keep their own views and feelings no matter what else is going on around them. They are blessedly oblivious when it comes to matters of the soul. We curse them sometimes when they aren't sensitive or caring (no Mother's Day present for ME???) but when they can go to a party where two women are silently feuding and come home happy, it does seem a blessing.
So, even though I have been through depression myself, what's the best way to help someone else I love through this horrible time? What can I do to make things better? When I talk with her she tells me she knows that time will heal things, that she should do positive things, but it still hurts and she still cries. Well, her sister gave her a box of Kleenex and talks gently to her. I got her a stuffed ducky to hold, heat up the heating pad for her each night, and give her lots of hugs. I even battled a huge spider for her (well, it was bigger than a pencil eraser, and that's huge enough) and won! (I am usually the one begging for one of the boys or my husband to do that for me!) If anyone has any suggestions for some ways to help her out, please post them. After all, "to do whatsoever is gentle and human - to give and to serve in humanity's name" is what we do best!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blast From the Past

What is it about meeting up with old friends again that can make you feel so good? Recently I have been able to find a bunch of friends I had long since lost touch with. It all happened on Facebook ...
First, a good friend named Sheri searched for me on the site and got in touch with me. We found out we lived just 40 miles apart! We met for lunch and the first thing we did? Gave each other a BIG hug, 35 years in the waiting! We had not seen each other since we were 10, hadn't written since we were 22, and were finally able to get back in touch 22 years later. That set off a roller coaster ride for me that hasn't quit yet.
I decided that if she could find me, how many other people would I be able to find myself? I searched first for one of my best friends from high school. She was the first person I met when I moved to the desert at age 11. I was her bridesmaid and we had been able to get together a few times after we started having children, but then we just sort of lost touch. I found her daughter on Facebook and wrote to her, hoping to find Cheryl again. It worked and I have been searching for and finding friends ever since!
Another friend, Taunya, I hadn't seen since our college days and today I am going to meet her in a nearby town to catch up on everything. And I am elated!
So, what is it about finding friends that makes you so happy? Why is it that friendship is so important anyway?
As people, I think we are not meant to be alone. We are creatures of family, needing each other to keep up our hope and our determination to succeed. When my grandmother got Alzheimer's my mom and I found out that one of the ways to combat the disease was to keep socially active. People who withdraw from social activities tend to become worse.
I also think the Lord meant for us to need each other so that we could help each other return to Him. Why else would he have us do temple work? Why would we need to go on missions and teach others? Why would he give men the priesthood, a power that they can only use to help others and not directly on themselves? If you think about it, just about everything the Lord tells us to do is for our salvation, yet it is always about serving others, teaching others, uplifting others, helping others. Missions, visiting teaching, home teaching, callings, families, temple work, genealogy, everything we do is about others. Hmmm ...
This brings me to another point I've been thinking about lately. Somehow service brings feelings of joy to your own heart and I am beginning to realize that the Lord has probably set it up that way on purpose. Whenever I have felt sad or lonely or in any way depressed or bad, if I put someone else first I have always felt better. And it's not the pat on the back or the thank you that you may receive that makes you feel better. It's the built in design the Lord has put in place that automatically feeds your soul. There's a kind of blessing that comes from doing it and the reward is a more happy, confident you.
With this in mind, tell me what you think about it all! What kinds of things have you found make you feel better, what things have you done in the past that really made a difference in the lives of your family and friends? We all need ideas on how to serve one another. So, let's get rolling!!!