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Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Berry Topped Cupcakes (from http://www.betterecipes.com/)

Serves: 24
Points: 3

1 pkg 2 layer size white cake mix
1 c. fat free milk
1 pkg 4 serving size vanilla flavor fat free/sugar free instant pudding and pie filling
8 oz Cool Whip Lite whipped topping, thawed
24 small strawberries, stems removed and each cut into 5 slices
1/2 c. blueberries

Prepare cake batter as directed on package for reduced fat cupcakes. Spoon evenly into 24 paper lined medium muffin cups. Bake as directed on package. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mix and beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread tops of cupcakes with pudding mixture. Arrange 5 of strawberry slices on top of each cupcake to resemble a star. Fill centers of stars with blueberries. Store in refrigerator.


Pineapple-Ham Kabobs (from http://www.betterrecipes.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 4

3 T. brown sugar2 T. rice wine vinegar1 T. olive oil1 T. soy sauce1 T. Dijon mustard1 lb. fully cooked ham sliced, cut into 1 inch cubes1 (15 oz.) can pineapple, drained2 medium green peppers cut into 1 inch chunks24 medium mushrooms, cleanedSalt and pepper

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, vinegar, oil, soy sauce and mustard. Thread ham, pineapple, green pepper and mushrooms alternately on skewers. Lightly oil grill and heat to medium high heat. Grill sewers basting liberally with brown sugar mixture, 8-10 minutes, turning and basting until nicely browned and glazed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.


Today I started the day GRUMPY! Schedules had required me to work on my only day off, which required me to scramble up some last-minute babysitting arrangements, which caused me guilt and frustration. It nearly broke my heart to hand over my sweet baby Macey at preschool drop off and watch my sister-in-law buckle her in and drive away. I went to work and had a hard day, feeling unappreciated, stressed and tired. When I got home I had to throw together our Young Women's activity, and I at one point, really wished I didn't have to go. It would've been so easy to call another leader and let them figure it all out. . .

We made Easter baskets for the inactive girls in our ward, then had such a great, giggly time driving around the ward delivering them. Serving others was just what I needed on a day like this. As I watched the girls experiencing the joys of serving others first-hand, I saw things in a new light. And you know what? I didn't think about myself or any of my troubles the whole night.

I think that this day's lesson could, if I let it, be a break-through for this difficult stage of life that I am traversing. Maybe finding joy amidst adversity really could be as simple as living my life for others. After all, as our wise YW First Counselor taught us, JOY stands for Jesus Others Yourself. It may not come naturally at first, but I think that service to others could well-be my Balm in Gilead.

Anne Frank stated so eloquently: "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

I will start now, to look for ways to better the world around me. And perhaps in the process, I will also better my own.


It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 29, 2010


My Version of Weight Watchers Meatloaf

Serves: 6
Points: 5

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 c. old fashioned oats, uncooked
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. hot pepper sauce
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. basil
1/8 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350'. In large bowl mix together all the ingredients til well blended. Spray a loaf pan with pam Place mixture in pan and press around to flatten it out. Bake in oven for 1 hour, or until no longer pink inside loaf.


On Sacrifice:

Elder Boyd K. Packer said this: “I’m not ashamed to say that … I want to be good. And I’ve found in my life that it has been critically important [to establish this intention] between me and the Lord so that I knew that he knew which way I committed my agency. I went before Him and said, ‘I’m not neutral, and you can do with me what you want. If you need my vote, it’s there. I don’t care what you do with me, and you don’t have to take anything from me because I give it to you—everything, all I own, all I am—,’ and that makes the difference.” (“To Those Who Teach in Troubled Times,” address delivered at seminary and institute conference, Summer 1970, Salt Lake City.)

"Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life" (President Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ: Gifts and Expectations," Ensign, December 1988).

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power proficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life.” (Lectures on Faith, comp. N. B. Lundwall, Salt Lake City: N. B. Lundwall, n.d., p. 58.)

Try as you may, you cannot put the Lord in your debt. For every time you try to do His will, He simply pours out more blessings upon you. Sometimes the blessings may seem to be a little slow in coming—perhaps this tests your faith—but come they will, and abundantly. It has been said, “Cast your bread upon the waters and after a while it shall come back to you toasted and buttered” (President Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ: Gifts and Expectations," Ensign, December 1988).

"Now we are here. Our memories are veiled. We are showing God and ourselves what we can do. Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us.

God loves us. He is watching us. He wants us to succeed. We will know some day that He has not left one thing undone for the eternal welfare of each of us. If we only knew it, heavenly hosts are pulling for us—friends in heaven that we cannot now remember who yearn for our victory. This is our day to show what we can do—what life and sacrifice we can daily, hourly, instantly make for God. If we give our all, we will get His all from the greatest of all.

Give God your best, and His best will come back to you" (President Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ: Gifts and Expectations," Ensign, December 1988).


"The Atonement means very little if only studied. It is meant to be FELT." --Sister Frandsen, Brigham City 5th Ward, talk in sacrament meeting

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Weight Watchers Bean and Cheese Nachos (http://www.weightwatchers.com/)

Serves: 4
Points: 3

32 baked low-fat tortilla chips
1 c. fat-free canned refried beans
1/2 c. shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 c. salsa

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Layer tortilla chips on an ovenproof platter or baking sheet.
Spread beans evenly over chips and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until beans are hot and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Top with salsa. Yields about 8 chips per serving.
Flavor Booster: Garnish each serving with a thin slice of seeded jalapeno chile, or habanero chile, for a blast of heat.


"You need to pray. If you really want to not be discouraged, one of the best solutions I know of is to pray. Have a prayer in your heart always. To the degree you will learn to pray your way through a day, you will find that Satan and his evil influence will leave, the Spirit of the Lord will come, and you will be on top and be able to go through the trials that come your way" (Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy, "How to Discourage Discouragement," New Era, January 2003, 44).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Suggestions Please!

Another hard week. I am struggling with setting priorities and dealing with an enormous amount of stress right now. It's been a little over six months since Ty lost his job and though we're both employed (and we are so grateful), our finances are feeling tighter and we are fighting back discouragement. Meanwhile, I've gained back all of the weight I worked so hard to shed last year, which is such a blow to me. I am trying to find someway to incorporate a healthier lifestyle while being a working mom, which is, in a word. . . hard. I feel that a lot of the problem with my weight gain is STRESS! I really feel like I need to reinstate my morning devotional (I have fallen out of the habit) and also find TIME in my very, very ridiculously crazy schedule for some sort of outlet.

Do any of you have any suggestions? I'm open to any ideas. What do you do to regulate stress in your lives? How have you coped with discouragement in your past experiences?

Before I start sounding too whiny, I want to share with you a beautiful passage I read the other night. I felt that it applied nicely to my mood that confusing, dark evening:

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." (Psalms 42:5)

"Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." (Psalms 42:8)

Though I am struggling to find my way, I do "hope in God." I shall praise him in the hard times as well as in the easy, peaceful times. I am so entirely grateful for his lovingkindness. (I think that "lovingkindness" is the most beautiful word in the English language.) I acknowledge tender mercies daily from my Father. And yes, my prayer will always be unto the God of my life.

Monday, March 15, 2010



God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"
~William A. Ward

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
~Henry Ward Beecher

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.
~Gerald Good

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~Henry Ward Beecher

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. ~Chinese Proverb

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--All Blessings Come from Thee

I love The Biggest Loser! I realize that it is not realistic; the contestants are isolated and have personal trainers and chefs helping them to plan and prepare their meals. Also, it is not advisable to expect to lose more than two or three pounds a week on average. Still, I love seeing people who, like me, battle with the same trials I bear. I love that moment in each contestant's story when they decide: "Enough's enough!" This last episode that moment came for one man as he worked at a inner-city food bank every day for a week. While working closely with people who had NOTHING to eat, he realized how mindless his own overeating had truly been.

I was touched by this episode and couldn't hold back the tears. I realized that my overeating, in a way, is a form of ingratitude. As I take good food for granted, with which I have been blessed, I am essentially saying to Heavenly Father: "I don't really care that this is YOURS. I do not choose to acknowledge that all my blessings come from Thee."

In this sense, my overeating becomes more than a mere weakness or character flaw. It truly becomes a sin.

This week, I am going to try a little harder to keep track of each bite I take. I want to be able to contemplate how it was made. I want to imagine the wheat fields, gardens, and dairy farms and those loving hands who grew my food. Then, I will think of the employment that blessed the families of workers in the manufacturing and packaging plants. I will think of my husband's and my own jobs, which allow us to place food on our tables. And though it brings back unpleasant moments involving spinach at the kitchen table, I really will think about the "starving children in Africa" who have so very little. In other words, I will remember that "the Earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." And for the many blessings that come from the Earth, I will learn to be more appreciative. I will truly give thanks for all things.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


"Noble and great. Courageous and determined. Faithful and fearless. That is who you are and who you have always been. And understanding it can change your life, because this knowledge carries a confidence that cannot be duplicated any other way." --Sheri Dew

Monday, March 8, 2010


I want to thank all of you who support me by faithfully following my blog and want to let you in on a new way I am challenging myself to lose weight. I have called several of my close relatives and friends, those who I think would be nothing but supportive, and asked them to participate in a "pound-for-pound" challenge. For each pound I lose, those who are participating are invited to (if they are able) donate one pound to their local food pantry. I am hoping that if I know I am helping others in this way, I will be able to "raise the bar" for myself and find the motivation I need to really get going with my weight-loss goals. If any of my followers are willing to participate, I'd love to invite you to do this with me. It's for a good cause and I will try to update you weekly on my progress. Here are a few rules I have established for myself:

* Supporters do not need to donate food to be involved. Those who are pledging to donate pound for pound, need not do so if circumstances prohibit. This is JUST FOR FUN and your participation is always OPTIONAL.

* The pounds I report will always be ORIGINAL pounds. That means if I backslide and have to play catch up, my supporters will not have to donate for those pounds.

* Those who participate, whether on my blog or from my email contact list, are hereby granted the title of AWESOME POSSUM!

Thank you all for your support! You are the BEST and I LOVE YOU!


Chicken and Bean Burritos (adapted from www.foodnetwork.com)

Serves: 4
Points: 7

1/2 cup brown rice
2 cloves garlic; 1 smashed, 1 minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) diced butternut squash
1 cup shredded or canned chicken, cooked
1/2 c. unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 c. diced green chilies, lightly drained
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas, warmed
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
fat free sour cream, for serving (optional)

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Add the rice and smashed garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup water, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the squash and reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer, undisturbed, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken and sunflower seeds over the rice mixture, cover and remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, make the bean salsa: Drain and rinse the beans and chop the cilantro and peppers. Toss with the minced garlic and tomatoes in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the chicken-rice mixture and spoon it down the center of each tortilla, then top with half of the bean salsa and sprinkle with the cheese. Fold in the sides and roll up. Slice in half and serve with the remaining bean salsa and sour cream, if desired.


"No, God does not need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God!
For what we love determines what we seek.
What we seek determines what we think and do.
What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become" (President Dieter F. Uchdorf, "The Love of God," Ensign, November 2009, 21).

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--The Lord is My Rock

I have been reading in Psalms this week. I have always loved the psalms and have often wondered about the trials that compelled David to write with such passion and conviction. Tonight as I read Psalm 18, I was actually moved to tears by its beauty and authenticity.

"I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower" (Psalms 18:1-2).

Verses six through 15 describe natural disasters, storms and general adversity that have plagued the people. I am almost positive that David is also describing his trials and sorrows figuratively here. Then in verse 16, he describes his deliverance beautifully:

"He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters."

I have felt this same way many times, as God has shown mercy to me in adversity. I think that this verse can definitely be applied to those who find themselves immersed in the "'waters" of any type of addiciton. The next verse also applies:

"He delivered me from my strong enem[ies]. . . for they were too strong for me."

Anyone who has dealt with the strangling hold of addiction will surely acknowledge that these trials at times, truly become "too strong" to handle on our own. Thank goodness the Savior has been commissioned to deliver us from ourselves, and our worst vices.

Verse 19 is the one that brought tears to my eyes: ". . . he delivered me, because he delighted in me." I LOVE THAT!!! I am so filled with return love when I read that, despite all my imperfections, He still delights in me. I am his child! Again, I must admit, that I am touched so deeply as the implications of this simple statement sink in.

I do not have to overcome my bad habits alone. I need to recognize that at times, my temptations ARE stronger than me. I NEED my Savior, for without Him, I cannot do this. Only He can deliver me out of the "waters" of addiction and adversity. And if I am righteous, and turn to Him in my need, he WILL deliver me because He delights in me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


"When we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to His help." --President Thomas S. Monson


Fresh Fish Tacos with Crunchy Corn Salsa

Serves: 6
Points: 6

1 cup corn
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup peeled, chopped jicama
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
6 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 corn tortillas, warmed

Preheat grill for high heat. In a medium bowl, mix together corn, red onion, jicama, red bell pepper, and cilantro. Stir in lime juice and zest.
In a small bowl, combine cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, and salt. Brush each fillet with olive oil, and sprinkle with spices.

Arrange fillets on grill grate, and cook for 3 minutes per side. For each fiery fish taco, top two corn tortillas with fish, sour cream, and corn salsa.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Serves: 4
Points: 6

2 medium eggplants, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 T. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
2 c. tomato sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tsp. dried basil

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Place sliced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle salt over eggplant and let stand 10 minutes; rinse salt and pat dry. Dip eggplant in egg then in bread crumbs. Place a single layer on a sheet pan. Bake until tender, about 5-7 minutes on each side.

Add 1 cup tomato sauce to 9x13 baking dish, half of the eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan cheese; repeat layering process finishing with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


On Happiness:

Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves. --Helen Keller

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. --M. Scott Peck

If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. --W. Beran Wolfe

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT--Always with a Smile

Tonight at our mutual activity, our Bishop told a sweet story. He works as an optometrist at a Target Super Center and has established a sweet friendship with the "shopping cart boy" there. Tim is a mentally disabled young man whose only job is to continuously collect shopping carts from the parking lot and return them to the front of the store. Though this doesn't seem to me, a particularly rewarding or desirable occupation, he truly loves his job. He always works with a smile on his face and while whistling or humming a happy little tune.

I was so touched to hear of this young man. Here is someone who obviously has faced adversity in his life. He is also obviously a man of meager means. Yet, he chooses to look at what he DOES HAVE. Instead of dwelling on his inadequacies and limitations, Tim's heart is full of gratitude for his friends and his health. He is happy because he chooses to find happiness around him.

I went to Ogden today with my mom to do some shopping. We were driving down Wall Avenue towards the mall and I saw a auto repair shop that was painted the most beautiful color of green. (As a photographer, I love colors!) As I mentioned the color to my mom, I realized that I was being a "Tim" at that moment. Instead of noticing the gray sky or the dirty city streets or drab, worn-down buildings around me, I had found something that made me happy.

I hope to be able to be more like this exceptional young man, and search for happiness all around me. Thanks, Tim, for your endearing example!