Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five-grain Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Hi! I'm guest posting over at Simply Sweet Home today, where you will find the recipe for the yummy muffins above. They make a great Thanksgiving morning breakfast. Click on over and check it out. Thanks to Jerri for featuring my recipe! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Check Your Neck!

Hey friends!

I've been largely neglecting my blog lately. There are lots of reasons for that, but mainly my life is full to the brim with stuff. Mostly good stuff, but some bad too. Which brings me to the title of this post.

Thyroid cancer. Did you know September was thyroid cancer awareness month? I did, and I should have written this then, but it struck real close to home and I didn't get around to it. My oldest daughter, who has made a few appearances on this blog *wink* actually had thyroid cancer surgery that same month. She also is engaged to be married next month. See? mostly good, but we've had to take the bad along with it.

Lots of people have asked me, how did you know she had it? The answer is simple. Other than a lump on the front of her neck, there were no symptoms. No screwy blood levels, no low thyroid, no high thyroid. She didn't feel sick at all. In fact, she ran a marathon last spring! Thanks to a doctor who checked Nicole's neck during a routine physical, felt the lump and sent her for an ultrasound, the cancer was caught and her thyroid removed. Treatment is far from over at this point--getting Nicole's synthetic thyroid hormones regulated correctly is proving to be a long, up and down process--but she is doing as well as anyone could expect. If you look closely in the pic above, you can see her scar, which she has decided that she is proud of. I'm proud of her!

The kicker? Thyroid cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. It's also the #1 cancer in young women under 25. I had no idea on either count, until it struck home.

So peeps. Please Check Your Neck! If you ever feel a lump get it looked at right away. And yes, thyroid cancer may be the "best" cancer to have, but it's still cancer!

See www.checkyourneck.com for more on thyroid cancer awareness.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fight The New Drug

I'm back! I sort of gave myself a little sabbatical....life and all that. But an important cause brings me back today.

Pornography. It's so not cool.

First off, I wanna say that I don't judge anyone who may be addicted to porn, struggling to overcome it, or even wondering if they have a problem. My own research has taught me that more and more young boys, and even girls, are innocently trapped by it before they have any understanding of what it will do to them. That, to me, is the worst part of it: the stolen innocence. If you're trapped, please think about getting help. There are more and more resources out there for you. If you've gotten help and are working to be free of it, keep it up! It's definitely a fight worth fighting and winning. 

IMO, the harm porn does to those who use it, their families, loved ones and society as a whole, isn't talked about enough. If you're like I was, you know it's a problem somewhere, but you might think it doesn't affect you. Well, I'm here to say that, sadly, it probably does. It's widespread in society and it's dangerous.

Why? Because porn is The New Drug. I know there are people out there who think porn is harmless or not addictive, but it's crazy far from either of those. Numerous studies have been done that prove the dangerous effects and addictive nature of pornography. It literally can change your brain just like cocaine, heroin, or any other dangerous drug.

Please check out Fight The New Drug for more. The guys who started the cause are dedicated to showing the world why porn is harmful. The more people--of all ages--who take a stand and join the fight against the new drug, the better. 

Get the facts:  http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/get-the-facts#porn-is-like-a-drug
Get help: http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/get-help

Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm a Mom.

Photo credit: Erin & Nathan Barney
In two days, it's Mother's Day. And I'm blessed enough to be a mom to these crazy, fun kids.

In no way am I the "perfect" Mom. {Is there even such a thing?} In fact, while I enjoy Mother's Day most years, I've had a few that weren't so enjoyable, just because I happened to have a bad day and feel woefully inadequate! I'm sure I'm not the only one....but most of the time, I just try to be grateful for the amazing people my kids are....not because I made them that way, but because we have a Father in Heaven who sent them this way!

All mothers know one thing for sure--it is soooooooo hard to be a mom. I'm finding that it can get tougher as they get older. But the good news is, it's also rewarding. Mostly because these guys are all so amazing! Two of them are adults and are doing great things and it's fun to watch. The other four are on their way, and I realize that before I know it, they'll be adults too. And that right there is the hardest part--letting them go and be their own people--and hope they will come back and visit often. And {ultimately} bring grandchildren with them! :)

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Women in Our Lives

This video came out a few years back, but it's definitely worth watching again. This Sunday, celebrate all the women in our lives who help us be better than we are! For me that means mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, neighbors....

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hot Cheesy Chicken Hoagie

This stuff is yummy, and all my kids love it! {You know if a recipe is liked by all the kids in a family, it's a definite winner!}

The recipe is originally from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and adapted a little by me. I felt like the chicken mixture was not quite enough, so I increased it to cover the french bread better. I also think it's even better after a couple minutes under the broiler. It's an easy weeknight meal the whole family can enjoy.

Hot Cheesy Chicken Hoagie

1 loaf french bread, cut in half lengthwise
3 large cans of chicken breast
2/3 c. mayo
2/3 c. reduced fat sour cream
3/4 t. garlic salt
2 T. dried parsley
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the french bread halves on a large baking sheet. Mix remaining ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over the top of the french bread halves. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Turn the broiler to low and broil 2-3 minutes, or until browned on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and fresh ground pepper. Slice and serve.

Monday, May 5, 2014

It's Official!

Last December, Nicole finished all the requirements for her degree in Human Movement Science/Exercise Science.

Saturday, she officially graduated from Utah State University! It was an awesome day for us. I particularly enjoyed all the ceremonies because I missed my own college graduation....I was prego with our second child and confined to 90% bed rest. Doctor said I'd be on my feet too much if I went to graduation....so it was out.

Anyway, I lived vicariously through Nicole and it was great!! We are SO proud of her for working hard and sticking with her goals! You ROCK, Nicole!! WE LOVE YOU!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ode to Books

China mug from theliterarygiftcompany.com

I wish I had this mug. Maybe if I had this mug, I'd actually make more time to read? I dunno.

What are you reading now? Here's a look at what I have recently read, am either currently reading or have on my to-read list in the near future:

Happily Ever After: The Life-changing Power of a Grateful Heart
by Trista Sutter

This one I would really recommend. It may be written by the first Bachelorette in ABC's The Bachelorette series, but it's a clean read and a great look at the power of gratitude, and that's something I really believe in!

A Pledge of Silence
by Flora J. Solomon

This one I would not recommend for everyone. It is a historical novel set during World War II, and tells the story of a nurse caught in the crossfire in the Philippines at the time it was lost to Japan. There is adult language and situations contained in this book. Overall, it was an interesting look at history, and I'm usually a sucker for historical fiction.

The Selection
by Kiera Cass

Have you read this one? It's on my upcoming list.

by Veronica Roth

Same with this one. I enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent, so I hope to enjoy the conclusion to the series.

Sycamore Row
by John Grisham

Currently reading this one. It's got some language (but no F-word, which I hate), but it's true to John Grisham form with great suspense and twists in the story. I have read and enjoyed most of Grisham's books. My all-time favorite of his? The Runaway Jury! 

The Flight of Gemma Hardy
by Margot Livesey

Another on my to-read list. It comes highly recommended by one of my neighbors who read it for a book club.

Anything I should add to my to-read list?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Homemade Angel Food Cake: 3 Easy Tips for a Better Cake

Have you ever made homemade Angel Food Cake? I have, lots of times, and I have some good tips to help you out.

Baking an Angel Food cake is not as hard as you might think--and the taste really surpasses anything you can buy from the store. Trust me, I've bought my share of angel food, and the store-bought ones always seem to have a chemical aftertaste.

Tip #1: Use room temperature egg whites. It really makes a difference in the finished product because room temp egg whites will whip higher and stiffer than cold ones. It's tempting not to wait when you're in a hurry, but it's worth it.

Tip #2: Sifting all the flour and sugar can be a big pain. I discovered that if I run the flour and sugar through my blender, I get a great result. So much easier and faster than sifting!

Tip #3: You can cut the sugar in this recipe (the sugar that is sifted with the flour) by 1/4 cup. When I did this, it was actually by accident and my husband said that Angel Food cake was my "best one yet."

Homemade Angel Food Cake
adapted from a recipe at Food.com 

1 c. cake flour (no substitutions)
3/4 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar
12 large egg whites, best at room temperature
1 1/2 t. cream of tartar (a must!)
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract

First off, use an actual angel food cake pan. This is a pan that has a large hollow tube in the center and comes apart into two pieces--the base and the sides. This makes it much easier to remove from the pan after you have cooled it. Don't grease the pan.

Preheat oven to 375. Sift (or run through your blender) the cake flour with the 3/4 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar. Set aside.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks, and don't get any yolk into the white or the cake will not rise like it should. Beat the whites with the cream of tartar and salt until it forms peaks. Peaks are when you lift the beater or whisk attachment straight up out of the whites, and little pointy peaks form and stay without falling over immediately. Once you hit this point, slowly add the other 3/4 c. powdered sugar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks are peaks that won't fall over at all when you lift the whisk up out of the whites, and they will actually look stiffer than the softer peaks from before. 

Beating on low, slowly add the flour mixture and the vanilla & almond extracts. After beating, use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and make sure all the flour is incorporated. Do this gently. Spoon batter into the angel food pan. Gently cut a knife through the batter to remove any air pockets. 

Bake angel food approximately 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched with your finger. In my oven, the cake is done at 27 minutes. Invert the cake onto a funnel or long-necked bottle, so that it hangs upside down. Crazy, I know...but this is how you do it. I remember watching my grandma hang angel food cakes upside down like this. I keep an old sparkling cider bottle around just for this purpose. 

Once the cake has cooled completely, remove the cake from the pan by first running a knife around the edges of the cake. Holding the center tube, lift the cake out of the pan. Then run a knife around the bottom of the cake to remove it from the base. 

Our favorite way to eat angel food is either plain or with berries and cream. Yum!   

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life With T1D: Because of Diabetes

I haven't done a "Real Life With Diabetes" post in awhile, and unfortunately that's not because it magically disappeared. Wouldn't that be nice!

Though it would be nice if diabetes "died in a hole," there are some things I would miss about it. No, don't call the authorities....I haven't lost my mind....yet. There are lessons we've learned from it that have been good lessons to learn, and quite possibly, we might not have learned them otherwise.

Because of diabetes, Jared is healthier. I know that seems strange...isn't he in a perpetually "unhealthy" state? Sort of, but as far as everyday illnesses, he's healthier. He takes really good care of himself, works out regularly, and tries to eat pretty healthy, too. I'm pretty sure that if he didn't have diabetes, this wouldn't all be the case. We've been blessed that he is healthy most of the time!

Because of diabetes, Jared is kinder. He is more understanding of other kids who suffer from various ailments and conditions, especially things they have to manage every single day like he does.

Because of diabetes, Jared knows that God is real. He knows that Jesus loves him and helps him. He told me this himself one day when I asked what he's learned from having diabetes. If he learned nothing else, this would certainly be enough!

Because of diabetes, I'm a better mother. I don't know if I can put all the whys into words, but I just know that I am. I'm also healthier and more educated about nutrition.

Last, a good quote from Jared. The other day while he was changing his insulin pump to another site, his grandma was watching and she asked him about it. They got talking, and in the course of the conversation, Jared said this about having diabetes: "Some people just have diabetes." Meaning, it takes over their life. Grandma said, "But not you, huh Jared?" He just smiled and said, "Nope." Some pretty good wisdom right there. I love that kid!