Friday, November 1, 2013

Book Winner

DRUM ROLLLL The winner of the Nancy Naomi Book is Sean and Dixie.  I will be emailing you.  Thank you cousins for commenting and I love hearing from you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy II

I have received many contacts from my post about my fourth Great-Grandmother Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy.  It has been fun connecting with distant cousins and hearing from them.  One in particular has her own family history blog and shared a love story about Nancy's son Henry and how he met his wife.  After reading her post I thought I better share a bit more on Nancy Naomi and even do a give away.   Below is a story taken from Nancy's writings about the  Nauvoo Temple.

"About the last of May, previous to our departure from Nauvoo, I was aroused from my slumbers one night, hearing such heavenly music as I had never heard before. Everything was so still and quiet when it burst upon my ear that I could not imagine where it came from. I got up and looked out of the window. The moon shone bright as I looked over at the temple from whence the sound came. There on the roof of the building heavenly bands of music had congregated and were playing most beautifully. The music was exquisite! And we had to leave all this; the temple, our homes, and the pleasant surroundings and bid farewell. It was to your tents, 0 Israel."
"At another time fire caught in the roof of the temple. How it caught, I never knew, but for a while it seemed that the house would be destroyed. Men, women, and children came out and formed a bucket brigade. The walls were drained and finally they went with wagons and barrels to the river for water and at last succeeded in putting out the flames. The damage was considerable. It seemed that if the evil powers could not harass the people one way, they would do it in another." 

I am giving away this lovely hardbound book.  It contains Nancy's full autobiography.  If you would like to win one, leave a comment and I will choose a winner on November 1, 2013.  We still have copies that you can purchase for the price of printing ($20). Or if you would like a pdf of the autobiography, email and I will send you one.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Right now my heart rate has slowed a bit but I have really been battling the anxiety lately.  I am gearing up to run the Red Rock Relay in Park City.  I will be running with some fun mom's from my church and spending the weekend with other runners.  I get anxious every time I have to leave my home and family.  Anxiety can be debilitating for me, so much that I can't think straight or function.  I have to remind myself to breath and relax. My biggest fear is dying and leaving my family here to fend for themselves.  I am not afraid of actually dying because I know that there is life after death.  I just don't want to leave my kids.  So I can't die for another 20 years.  Sometimes, I always go to worse case scenario.  I still have to pack and get the house in order before I leave this afternoon.  But I can't bring myself to do it.  So I will sit here and write about it.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hangin With The Cross Girls

I have not blogged for a very long time.  Summer hit and well it is just crazy having all five kids home all day.  Plus, I was up early every morning and greeted over 20 teenage girls and Cross Country practice.  So I have been hanging with the cross girls.  We only have a few more weeks of practice and I am not sure what I am going to do without my daily dose of these fun girls.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Some great smoothie recipes from Rachelle

Strawberry Orange Pineapple Chard Smoothie

Have you ever heard people talk about how yummy their green smoothie tasted, but that it was such an ugly color? Well this would be that smoothie, but the kids wouldn't chance you skipping over this recipe so they ran across the street to the field and picked some flowers (picture below). Doesn't it look so much prettier!? I would even say that it is the prettiest smoothie in the book, which is good because it is definitely one of the tastiest!Yields 4-6 cups

• Juice from 3 large oranges
• 1-2 cups of Swiss chard
• 1 cup of strawberries
• 1 cup of pineapple
• water, if needed
• ice, to taste

1. In the blender, add orange juice and chard and blend until smooth.
2. Add in strawberries, and pineapple.
3. Slowly add ice.
4. If needed, add water until the right consistency is achieved.

Pineapple Kale Smoothie
My husband made this smoothie. The kids adore when Daddy is in the kitchen preparing food, you will see why when you try his Almond Butter Milk Shake! But first, drink your greens.

Makes 4-6 servings

• 2 cups of water
• 1-2 cups of kale, stems removed
• 1 cup of pineapple
• 1 lemon, peeled and cut into fourths (or make it a half if you like it not so tart)
• 1 banana
• Ice, if desired

1. In blender, add water and kale and blend until smooth.
2. Add in pineapple, lemon and banana.
3. Continue to blend until creamy.
4. Add ice until desired consistency is reached.

Cantaloupe Parsley Smoothie
This is one of my favorites! I love it so much and in the summer, when cantaloupe is so cheap, we enjoy it often. I never grow tired of it.

Makes 4-6 servings

• coconut water from one baby Thai coconut (or 1-2 cups of water)
• 1 cup of parsley
• 1/2 of a cantaloupe, seeded and chopped
• 1/2 banana
• liquid sweetener to taste

1. In blender add coconut water and parsley and blend until well incorporated.
2. Add in cantaloupe and sweetener (we like to use dates in this recipe).
3. Blend until smooth.

Coconut Watermelon Green Smoothie

Cool and refreshing! Feel free to experiment with the greens in this one. I used cilantro and parsley, but I'm a little different that way.

Makes 4 servings

• 1 cup coconut water or milk
• 1 1/2 cups watermelon, chopped
• 1-2 cups greens
• 1 banana
• Ice, if desired

1. In blender, add water or milk, watermelon and greens.
2. Blend until chunks are gone.
3. Add the banana and blend until smooth.
4. Add ice till desired coldness is reached.

 Blueberry Lemon Smoothie
The chia seed in this recipe is what really makes it special. The kids love it when I put chia in their smoothies because the texture is so fun!

Makes 4-6 servings

• 2 tsp chia seeds
• 1/4 cup of water (for soaking your chia)
• 1-2 cups water
• 1-2 cups of spinach
• 1 cup of blueberries
• 1 banana
• 1/2-1 lemon peeled and cut into slices

1. Soak your chia seeds in the 1/4 cup of water for 5-10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, add water and spinach to your blender and blend until smooth.
3. Add in blueberries, banana and lemon.
4. Add ice until the desired coldness is reached.
5. When well blended add in chia seed mixture and on low setting mix in to your smoothie.
6. Garnish with lemon slices.

Strawberry Beet Green Smoothie

Although the greens make this smoothie so healthy, it is absolutely necessary that you try this recipe without them at least once to see the lovely shade of pink that it will make! It's sure to win your girls' hearts.

Makes 4-6 servings

• 1-2 cups of water
• 1 cup beet greens, with the stems cut off and chopped into smaller pieces
• 1 cup strawberries
• 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 large beet, peeled and chopped
• 1 banana
• 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
• 1 tablespoon hemp seed (optional)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• Ice cubes to reach desired coldness

1. In blender, add water and beet greens until smooth.
2. Add in strawberries, carrot, beet, banana, flax, hemp and vanilla and continue to blend until smooth.
3. Add in ice cubes one at a time until you reach desired coldness.

Cherry Basil Limeade Smoothie

I love basil in smoothies. It has such a clean, fresh flavor. If basil is still new for you, perhaps add a little less to start with, but if you love it as much as I do, be extra generous with your 1/2 cup.

Makes 4-6 cups

• water from one baby Thai coconut
• juice from 1/2 a lime (or if you would like, use the juice from the whole lime like I do)
• 1/2 heaping cup of fresh basil
• 1 heaping cup of spinach
• 1 banana
• 1 cup pitted cherries (or frozen)
• ice cubes if using fresh cherries to reach desired coldness

1. In blender, add coconut water, lime juice, basil and spinach.
2. Blend until smooth and creamy.
3. Add in banana and cherries and blend again, until smooth.
4. Add in ice until desired coldness is reached.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Do Others See In You?

Found this clip on FB and thought it was wonderful. I love Dove and their mission to help young women and women gain a better self-esteem. Great Message!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Healthy Eating With Your Family part 3

Hi Ladies,

Rachelle here. I'm going to be sharing some more tips on getting your family to eat healthy, and some dinner recipes.

Have a great week.


Be Adventurous
Try new things which you never expected you would ever try, like falafel, vegetable sushi, or homemade sauerkraut. It can be so exciting for us at any age to try something that may sound a bit too different to us, only to find that we love it!

Get Creative with Your Food!
Try pairing things that sound good to you, even though you are unsure of how they may turn out. Make your kitchen your own test lab and have at it!   At our house we do this as a family, but it starts at the grocery store, to which we purposely go to as a family.  When we are shopping I like to let the kids look for fun, healthy foods, which, perhaps, we have never bought before.   When we are back at home, we get creative with it!  If it is a new vegetable which we haven't heard of, we Google it and then off to the kitchen to experiment.  Do this with the kids so that they will be excited to try their new creations.

Make Eating Fun
 Having Chinese food?  Give them chopsticks!  Do things to make the meal fun, because nobody likes to sit down to something that looks boring. Keep in mind the importance of having different colors, shapes, sizes and textures on your plate.  If you were given a plate that had all the same colors and no variety, chances are you wouldn't want to eat it either.  Don't make your family do what you would not.

Another thing to make eating fun is to change up the atmosphere. Put fresh flowers on the table for no apparent reason.  Eat lunch by candlelight.  Use your best dishes.  Make the meal special so that people will want to be there. Oh, and on that note, eat as a family as much as possible.  This will bless your family in more ways than one.

Veggies for Snacks
At our house snack time is a bit different than in a typical American household. When the kids ask for a snack, I say, “Grab a carrot”, or, “I'll chop up a tomato for you,” or better yet, “Go out to your garden and see if anything is ready to pick yet.” 

Having vegetables for snack time is a great way to get your kids to eat them. Another great time to offer vegetables is while you are making dinner. You know that everyone is going to be coming in to see if it is ready yet, why not have them snacking on vegetables as they are doing it?

Give Your Child a Bit of Earth to Call Their Own

During the summer, my kids each have their own small garden.  At the beginning of the planting season I take them to a nursery and let them choose which seeds they want to grow.  We then go home and spent the afternoon outside planting them. The kids are in charge of their own gardens (I do help Paige, who is five), but they also get to keep everything that they grow. I will not soon forget hearing Chaz when he discovered that his garden was starting to grow.  All the way from inside I heard him yell to his older sister, “Chloe, I have peas in my garden! Real peas! Real Peas! I am so excited!”  Needless to say that I was so excited too!  Also, needless to say those peas were devoured that afternoon.

Homemade Vegetable Broth
We love using vegetable broth in our meals to replace the water, but it can get very expensive! That is why I was on cloud nine when someone taught me this tip.

To make your own homemade vegetable broth for virtually nothing, all you need to do is wash and save the part of the vegetable that you would usually toss.

Examples of this would be: the outer layer of the
onion, or the stem of the broccoli, the green tops of a carrot, or the middle of a pepper. When you save these things, place them in a gallon sized freezer bag and just freeze until, after enough meals, your bag is full.  When your bag is full, place all of the vegetables into a large pot with about the same amount of water as you have vegetables and then just bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or so. You have just made delicious vegetable broth! The best part?!  It changes in color and flavor a bit each time you make it! Feel free to add in garlic or other herbs as well. I remember how excited everyone in my family was when I had put beet skins into our broth. The color was fantastic! Store your homemade broth in mason jars (I usually end up with three to four jars worth each time) and keep them in the fridge for up to a week. This tip alone has saved me tons of money and has made our meals taste so much better.

When Possible, Start Them Young
Don't decide that your children won't like something just because they are young. They may, in fact, surprise you. I remember how shocked I was by Paige's love for vegetarian sushi when she was only three and a half years old. In fact, all of my kids love nori (and other seaweeds) and eat it by the sheets when I let them. Whenever possible, let your kids try such new foods as young as possible. This is a good way to help them learn to like new foods at a young age. 

Apple, Cabbage and Potatoes
 The apple in this recipe is what puts it over the top for me, but if it's not your thing, feel free to leave it out. However, if it is your spouse that doesn't like cooked fruit, leave it in, as you are likely to score extra apple this way. We especially love this recipe when served with the Dijon Vinaigrette. The flavors pair so very nicely together.

Makes 4-6 servings

• 6 potatoes
• 1 head of green cabbage
• 2 large apples (I used Pink Lady)
• 2-4 cups vegetable broth or water

• 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine or balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener
• 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
• pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, cover potatoes in water and bring to a boil.
2. Continue cooking for about 15-20 minutes—you are not trying to fully cook the potatoes, just get them a bit tender.
3. While potatoes are cooking, chop or shred cabbage into bite sized pieces and core and cut apples into slices.
4. When potatoes are ready, rinse in cold water until cool enough to work with and cut into slices.
5. In a large skillet, add 2 cups broth or water, potatoes, apple and cabbage and cook until all of the vegetables are tender, add more liquid as needed.
6. When tender, drain out any leftover liquid and make vinaigrette.
7. To make the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients except pepper in a small bowl and mix well until smooth.
8. Pour over the vegetables and mix thoroughly. 
9. Pepper to taste.

Cheezy Savory Oatmeal
Thought oatmeal was just for breakfast? Think again! Oatmeal makes a fabulous dinner for when you are in a rush. Because of its neutral flavor, you can pretty much do anything to spice it up! We also love it as a base for stir-fry.

Makes 4 servings

• 2 1/2 cups water
• 2 cups milk of choice
2 tablespoons mustard
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
• 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1-4 tablespoons of water, to sauté
• 1 cup of corn
• 1/2 of a red or green pepper, chopped
• 1 cup of peas
• 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
• 2 cups spinach
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
• 1/2 cup sliced olives
• salsa
1. In a large pot, bring the 2 cups of water, milk, mustard, soy sauce, turmeric, and nutritional yeast to a boil.
2. In a large frying pan, sauté onion and garlic in a couple tablespoons of water, until the onion is tender and translucent in color.
3. Add in the corn, pepper, and peas.
4. Continue to sauté, adding water as needed until the vegetables are tender.
5. Add in spinach and cook until wilted.
6. When the water in the pot with the milk and seasonings is boiling, add in oats, and cook thoroughly.
7. When cooked through, add in the vegetable mix and combine well.
8. Serve with salsa, basil and olives.

Rice and Beans

This one is not a recipe, just some helpful tips. I never knew how easy it is to make rice and beans and how tasty they are when they are homemade until just this last year.  They are ten times better than store bought! I could eat them multiple times a week, and with a little preparation that is totally easy to do!
 First things first, when I am going to make rice or beans I always make extra for another meal throughout the week. For my size family, this means a 2 pound bag of rice and 1-2 pound of beans, depending on what I am planning on using them for. Every 1/3 cup dried beans will yield 1 cup cooked. So for a one pound (2 cups) bag of beans you will get 6 cups cooked.

For the Beans:
Soak your beans in a large bowl with plenty of water, about three times their volume, because they will expand. I like to start soaking mine right before bed the night before I need them and have them ready for me when I need them the next day, but do whatever works best with your schedule. Just make sure to give your beans about 6 hours to soak.  If soaked too long, I am told that they may start to ferment, negatively affecting the flavor, but I've yet to have this problem.  Make sure to get at least 4-6 hours though. Keep in mind that the longer you soak them, the faster they cook.

• When you are ready to cook your beans, drain the water and rinse the beans well in a colander.
• Place beans in a large pot and cover with cold water (remember, they will continue to expand some while cooking, so make sure that you sufficiently cover them).
• Bring to a boil.
• Once they begin boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes, until beans are tender.

*Note: Never add salt or anything acidic to your beans while cooking as it will slow down the cooking process. Always wait until the beans are fully cooked to do so.

Our hands-down favorite way to eat our beans is in refried form. Just take your cooked beans, salt them to taste (this is one of the few times where I tend to go a little more heavy on the salt. If you are watching your salt intake, feel free to use a salt free seasoning, like Spike Brand instead) and enough water to get  the right consistency, and place in your blender. Blend until smooth and free of chunks, unless you prefer it with a bit of texture. Serve with rice and garnish with tomatoes, olives, shredded lettuce, salsa, avocado, etc.

For the Rice
Like I mentioned, I like to make a lot of rice when I am cooking it, though this is not necessary since it is really quite simple to make.
• I use a 2 pound bag of brown rice and place it in a large pot
• Fill with water until the water is 1 inch above the rice. Feel free to measure it more thoroughly, but this method works great for me.
• Bring water to a boil, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes.
• Do not remove lid to check on rice, it will turn out so much better if you just let the lid be unless you feel more water is needed, then add just a small amount at a time.
• Serve alongside refried beans, with homemade salsa, lime juice, and cilantro to garnish.

Garlicky Lentils and Tomatoes

Serves 4

• 7 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
• One 16 ounce bag of green lentils
• 4 large tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
• salt and pepper, to taste
• fresh basil for garnishing (optional)

1. Bring liquid to boil in a large pot. 
2. When water is boiling, add in lentils, tomatoes, onion and Italian seasoning and return to boil.
3. Cover and reduce heat to simmer.
4. Cook for approximately 50 minutes, stirring occasionally and near the end of the 50 minutes checking to make sure that the liquid is mostly absorbed (this is supposed to be a moist recipe, so do not let the liquid completely absorb).
5. If at the end of the 50 minutes the lentils are done, but there is too much liquid, remove lid and continue cooking until it has reached desired consistency (do not worry about the lentils getting mushy, this recipe taste best that way).
6. If during any time the liquid level seems to low, add more as needed.
7. Once your lentils are done, add in garlic powder and salt and pepper.
8. Garnish each bowl with fresh basil.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
This is a favorite dinner around here and this recipe makes a TON of food. Seriously, your baking dish is going to be filled to the brim, so if you would like, feel free to leave a bit of the lentil/tomato mix out and have it for lunch the day after. It's super tasty on its own as well. Around here, this is a typical Sunday dinner, which I like to prepare a day ahead so that I can just pop it in the oven and relax on Sunday. Well at least as much as a mother of four can relax.
Makes 6-8 servings
1 package organic green lentils (16 ounces)
• 7 medium potatoes, washed
• Three 14.5 ounce cans of diced, salt free tomatoes in their own juice
• 16 ounce package of frozen vegetables, or about 3-4 cups of fresh (it is especially tasty with mushrooms, green beans, corn, or peas)
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 2 cups rice milk (mine took 2 1/2 this time, but that seemed like more than usual, so use your judgment)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• sugar free ketchup (optional) for garnishing

1. In a large pot of water, boil your potatoes (in their skins) until tender. The reason for peeling them after cooking is because this helps the potatoes to not become glue-like in consistency.
2. While your potatoes are cooking, in another large pot, cook your package of lentils according to the directions on the back. This is usually about double the water for the amount of lentils that you are cooking.
3. When the potatoes and lentils are almost done (they will likely be done around the same time), start sautéing garlic and onions in a couple of tablespoons of water until onions are translucent in color.
4. When potatoes are done, peel the potatoes and mash them in a large bowl with a hand mixer, adding milk as needed until they are nice and creamy.
5. Mix in garlic and onions, and salt to taste.
6. When lentils are done, mix in cans of diced tomatoes, add Italian seasoning, and place in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch baking dish smoothing out as you go.
7. Pour your vegetables over the top of the lentils and scoop mashed potatoes out on top of the vegetables.
8. Shake a bit of Italian seasoning over the top and salt and pepper to taste.
Bake at 400 F for 30-35 minutes.

Apple Raisin Pasta Salad
We don't usually eat pasta, so this is a special treat for us. I think that it would be the perfect thing to bring to your next get-together.

Makes 4-6 servings

• 4 cups cooked and cooled small pasta noodles
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 2 apples, cored and chopped
• 1/2 cup pecans
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
• 1/2 cup Mayonaise, or mayonaise substitute. We love veganaise.
• salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix pasta, raisins, apples, pecans, celery and green onions together.
2. Fold in mayonaise until the pasta is completely covered.
3. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Everything in a Pot Vegetable Barley Soup
I love recipes which are versatile, and which you can change up depending on what's in your fridge, your mood, or even the weather. This is definitely one of those meals. For this particular recipe we wanted to use up the extra vegetables in the fridge. Feel free to use the same, or add in your favorite vegetables to make this recipe your own.
Yields up to 10 servings

• 6 cups vegetable broth
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup barley
• 2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 green pepper, seeds removed and chopped
• ½ head Napa cabbage, shredded
• 1 beet peeled and chopped
• 1 Serrano chili, seeds removed and chopped
• ½ onion, chopped
• 1 cup celery, chopped
• 1 cup beet greens
• parsley to taste
• seasonings to taste. We used cayenne, Italian, salt and pepper.

1. In a large pot, combine vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling add in barley, tomatoes, and your vegetables of choice. We used carrots, green pepper, cabbage, chili peppers, onion, celery and beets.
3. Add parsley (optional) and season to taste.
4. Cook for 45-50 minutes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Healthy Eating For The Family part 2

Hi Ladies,

It's Rachelle again. This week I want to share some of our favorite lunches, plus some lunch box ideas for the family on the go. I also thought I would share some tips that I have used to help my family embrace eating healthy. I won't say it has been easy, but it has definitely been worth the effort. I hope that you find some of these helpful for your own families (or yourself!) as well.

Drink Water

I think most of us have heard by now that a lot of the time when we think our body is asking for food, it is really dehydrated and asking for water and that most of us walk around severely dehydrated all too often. If we are not getting enough water, it is so easy to start craving (and eating!) things we shouldn't or things that we don't really need!  Make sure you are getting lots of water on a daily basis—the rule is, at least half your weight in ounces—especially in the summer, when you are more likely to become dehydrated. Water will help you not only deal with those pesky cravings, but will also help you lose weight quicker, stay healthy, look young and feel amazing!

Give Yourself a Day to Prepare
I like to do this on Mondays. The kids and I spend much of the day in the kitchen, preparing foods to make the rest of the week much easier. We chop vegetables, cook beans, which we start soaking late the night before, make tons of rice, homemade vegetable broth (I will teach you how to do this for just pennies later on), make sauerkraut, and anything else that needs to be done. This saves so much time later on in the week. If you follow this one tip, everything will be that much less chaotic for you.

Don't Always Offer Them What You Are Eating

I know what you are thinking, “But if I don't offer it to them, how will they ever learn to eat it?” Sometimes instead of offering something to my kids that I want them to eat, I sit and eat it by myself and talk to my husband, or someone else, about how delicious it is. Now, you have to be careful with this, kids are very smart and, if they feel like you are trying to trick them, they won't fall for it. In fact, when I do this, I am not trying to trick them necessarily, I just know that if they don't get some, at least one of them will probably come over and ask if they can try it, and if one of them tries it then I can bet that the others will follow.

Let Your Kids Make Their Own Creations
I remember when I was little I loved to “cook.”  What I mean by cook is that I loved to get a big bowl of water, and put all different kinds of spices together.  I will never forget the time when my cousin and I made carrot soup in her fort. It was just cut up carrots in water, but, boy, did we eat them up!  Or, how I came up with a “recipe” for milk cake—not exactly the healthiest one—where I would take birthday cake on people's birthdays, put it in a cup with some milk, cook it in a microwave for 30 seconds, stir it, and then freeze it for five minutes. In all reality it was probably horrible tasting, but to my young, creative mind it was the best dessert I had ever tasted.

Think about how powerful this step can be for a minute. How often had I had carrots in my childhood before and even after I made that soup with my cousin?  But this one experience left a huge impact on me. So great, that I still remember it today, a good twenty years later. Kids love to create!

My kids will come to me asking for ingredients to make things all the time and I try to say “yes” as much as possible. My son, Chaz, has particularly gotten very good at this. The other day he rambled off his ideas for homemade bread, measurements and all. I remember thinking, “Holy smokes, I think that might just work!” He then sent the recipe to his uncle on the other side of the country because of how proud he was.

Give your kids healthy ingredients and let them have at it!  It's tons of fun, and, who knows, they might just come up with something fabulous one of these days! (Be sure to check out the recipe for Cream of Wheat Pie on week four).

Know Your Favorite Meals
When I say your favorite meals, I mean the whole family's favorites. My husband loves my garlicky lentils and tomatoes, so that has become a staple meal at our house. For Chloe, it's potato angels (Google this one), Chaz loves baked sweet potatoes and chickpeas, Paige loves oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins and almond milk. The baby loves green smoothies, and I can't imagine life without homemade rice and beans.

Once you know your family's favorites—create a go-to list! You now have things to eat when you don't know what to eat! As important as it is to try new things and seek out variety,  it is equally important to have a list of foods that you know you already enjoy to fall back on when you need something comforting.

Know Their Favorite Fruits and Vegetables
 Going along with the last tip, it is equally important to know what fruits and vegetables your family members enjoy, so that you have healthy snacks on hand for when someone needs something extra special.
Offer Options, NOT alternatives!
At our house we do not give another meal (cold cereal, for example) to a child who does not want to eat what we are having. We do however give options. What I mean by this is that if we are having tacos for dinner I might put all of the ingredients into separate bowls so that the kids can choose how they want theirs made, but they cannot choose to have another meal. This is SO important! I have such a hard time with people saying that their kids won't eat a certain food if they are, in fact, feeding into this (no pun intended) by making picky kids separate meals. If your family is having a big taco salad for dinner, do not give your toddler a peanut butter sandwich!   (Unless of course they are too little for a certain food, or have allergies). 

People tell me all the time, “Oh, you're so lucky your kids will eat those vegetables; my kids won't eat them!  They hate the stuff.” So lucky? I think not!  In our home dinner is dinner, and, if they are hungry, they eat it!  It may sound mean to some, but I think it is meaner allowing your child to be picky and not giving him the opportunity to “learn to like it.”

Learn to Like It
”Learning to like it” is something that you will hear around our house quite often. There will always be foods that members in your family do not enjoy, but in our house we do not say, “I don't like this,” we say, “I am still learning to like this.”  We do this because I truly believe just that. Some things taste strange to us because we haven't had enough opportunity to learn to like them yet, or, perhaps, the way that they are being prepared is not our favorite. If you allow your child to say “I don't like this” you are allowing him to give up on a food that he may in fact grow to love.
I hope that you find those tips helpful. I know I tend to ramble. :P And now, on to recipes.

Veggie Tray and Hummus Dips
I think that it is SO important to make sure that your family is getting enough raw vegetables. People always look at me as if I were crazy when I tell them that we quite frequently enjoy a HUGE vegetable tray as our lunch. Period! The kids love it! Afterward they like to get a spoon and finish off any hummus that I had hoped to have saved for the following day.

Vegetables don't have to be dull, though personally I don't feel like they are with all of the different flavors they pack!   Homemade hummus, with no oil, and minimal salt is a great way to enjoy them! And the good news? You choose how hard you make this recipe by either cooking your beans yourself, or buying them in a can, though homemade always tastes better!

I will give you five hummus recipes that we love: Original, Spinach, Tomato and Basil, White Bean, and Roasted Red Pepper. I hope that you enjoy them all!


 Makes 6-8 servings

• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

 Spinach and Cheeze

Makes 6-8 servings
• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• 2-3 cups spinach
• 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.
Makes 6-8 servings

Roasted Red Pepper

• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 2 roasted red peppers, peeled (for those of you who don't know how to roast a red pepper, Google it, it's super easy in the oven)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

Tomato and Basil

• 2 cups cooked chickpeas
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1/2 cup dried tomatoes, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup fresh basil
• 2-6 tablespoons water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or other nut butter (peanut and almond work well too)
• pinch of salt
• pepper to taste

1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.

White Bean Hummus

Makes 4-6 servings

• 1 can white beans, drained, reserve juice for later.
• 1 clove of garlic
• Italian seasoning to taste

1. In food processor, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. 
2. Serve with vegetable tray of cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pepper slices, olives, tomatoes, pickles, etc.


Makes 4 sandwiches

• 8 slices of bread
• 2 large tomatoes
• head of red lettuce, or any other green of your preference
• 2 avocados
• juice from one lemon
• 2 garlic cloves
• salt and pepper to taste


1. In a food processor, add avocado, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. Process until thick and creamy.
3. Toast bread (optional).
4. Thoroughly wash lettuce and tomatoes.
5. Tear lettuce into sandwich size pieces.
6. Cut tomatoes into THICK slices.
7. Slather guacamole all over one of the slices of bread.
8. Top with as much tomato and lettuce that you would like and cover with another slice of bread.
9. Serve with a veggie tray and hummus.

*Jalapenos from a jar are also really good on this!

Quinoa Salad with Rubbed Kale and Beans
I love quinoa. It is probably my favorite grain and is so incredible for you. In this simple salad, the kale and quinoa pair up perfectly together and the beans add a nice, almost sweet flavor.

Serves 4

• 2 cup uncooked quinoa
• 3 cups water (for cooking quinoa)
• 2 cups washed kale, stems removed, cut into bite sized pieces
• 1 cup cooked white beans or garbanzo beans
• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
• 2 tablespoons liquid sweetener of choice
• salt and pepper to taste
• Optional toppings: red pepper flakes and slivered nuts of your choice

1. In a large cooking pot, bring water to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer.
2. Cook for 15 minutes.
3. While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, mustard and agave until well combined.
4. In a large bowl, put kale and vinegar dressing and rub kale with your hands until the kale is wilted and evenly coated.
5. Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.
6. When quinoa is done, remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes with the lid on.
7. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork.
8. Combine quinoa with the marinated kale, add in your beans and mix well.
9. Salt and pepper to taste. 
10. Garnish with nuts and or red pepper flakes.

Avocado Potato Salad
I love potato salad. It is one of my favorite summer time meals. In this potato salad, avocado is used to replace the mayonnaise in traditional potato salad, making it a much healthier, more delicious meal! One word of caution though, prepare this one right before you are ready to serve as the avocados will start to brown after a bit and take away from the beauty of it.

Serves 4 sides or 8 Main course
   8 medium sized potatoes
• 1 cup corn, cooked
• 2 large tomatoes, diced
• 1/2 cup olives, halved
• 1/4 cup chopped pickles (optional)
• 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
• 1/4 chopped parsley
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 avocados
• juice from 1 lemon
• salt and pepper to taste

1. Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover potatoes at least an inch or two.
2. Bring to a boil.
3. When boiling turn down heat to medium high and continue cooking for about 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are tender but not mushy.
4. When they are ready, pour out the hot water and replace it with cold water to cool.
5. When potatoes are cooled enough to work with, peel the potatoes and chop into cubes.
6. In a large bowl add chopped potatoes, corn, tomatoes, olives, pickles (optional), green onions, parsley and garlic and carefully mix together.
7. Cut open the avocados and remove the fruit and place it in a medium sized bowl.
8. Add lemon juice and mash until there are no lumps left and it is creamy in consistency.
9. Add to the bowl of vegetables and add salt and pepper to taste.
10. Carefully mix together.
11. Serve immediately.

Lunch Box Ideas
Here are a few ideas of what you can put in your kids lunch boxes.

• Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
• Veggie Tortilla Wraps
• Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich
• Hummus and Veggies
• Veggie Sushi
• Pasta Salad
• Large Salads
• Chickpea Sandwiches
• Pasta or Brown Rice in a Tomato Sauce
• Scrambled Tofu
• Summer Rolls
• Quinoa Salad
• Any Cooked Whole Grain with Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste
• Pita Wraps
• Soups
• Burritos with Lentil Filling

*Serve all of these with plenty of fruit (fresh or dried) and vegetables.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Are you addicted to Mormon blogs?

I am!  It does help that I am a Mormon.  But it is fun to see other mom's take on family life, food, crafts, money, and right now I am studying up on teenagers.  Oh! boy oh boy, I have teenagers.  You can see from the picture that I am starting into the big thick chapter of teens.  I really don't know what to do when my most level headed child all of sudden starts telling me off.  What in the world?  Where did that come from?  I am still in shock mode, and have not embraced all of the moodiness and quick sassy mouths that have started.  I am wondering if I need a therapist.  No, seriously.  I have already emailed my friend whose husband is a psychologist and asked for some advice.  I will soon be asking a girl(who is a family therapist) at my church, 'Who is good in town?'  My good long time friends and I are doing lunch next week and I have teenagers on the agenda.  I want to know how they handle things.

OK. Back to the point.

There has been some hoop-la over Mormon bloggers in the past few years.  You can read articles here and here.  I came across a fun project last year at 71 toes and then there was a recent article in Deseret News about the project and I figured that was my push to do it. The project is called B.O.M.B- Book of Mormon Bloggers.  It originated over at Or So She Says.  If you would like to learn more about the Mormons and what we believe you can email me ( with your address and I will send you a Book of Mormon with a packet of letters containing thoughts from other Mormon Bloggers.  Or you can click below on any of those participating and see what their thoughts are and they will do the same---send you a Book of Mormon with a packet.  Here is a list of those participating:
Leigh Anne ~ Your Homebased Mom
Megan ~ Brassy Apple
Reachel ~ Cardigan Empire
Caroline ~ Armelle Blog
Carrian ~ Sweet Basil
Melissa ~ 320 Sycamore
Shandra ~ Deals to Meals
Kristyn ~ Lil' Luna
Kelli ~ Lolly Jane
Stephanie ~ Somewhat Simple
Becky ~ UCreate
Arianne ~ Still Parenting
Shawni ~ 71 Toes
Lindsey ~ The R House

Monday, March 4, 2013

Healthy Eating With Your Family

 Hi everyone!
 It's Rachelle again. Mariam asked me if I would do a few posts expanding on some healthy eating ideas. Remember a while back when I did the Relief Society night on nutrition? So I just want to share with you some of my family's favorite recipes throughout the next few weeks, and give you some tips/advise that I've used to get my family excited about eating healthy. I adore eating healthy. I love everything about it. I love studying vitamins and minerals and learning what they do for our bodies. I love hearing miraculous stories of people overcoming serious health problems just by changing the way they eat. I love trying new recipes and I get so excited when I make something new and my family thinks it's amazing. Nutrition and cooking with whole foods is my passion, to say the least. However, I am no expert and I certainly am not a chef! I am far from perfect and still mess up from time to time and binge on a package of Oreos on one of my "off" days, and I certainly enjoy myself at a neighborhood picnic. I'm human. But, I have found that the more I stick to eating a whole foods, unprocessed diet free of all the junk that is so readily available to us these days, the better I feel, and guess what? My Kids and Husband even agree! We are all happiest when we keep our diets simple and eat all of the amazing foods that God placed on this Earth for us to enjoy. I hope that you find these posts helpful. Here's to your health!

 Advice to get your family to embrace healthy eating:

Inspire Them

This might be hard to take in, but in the beginning do not worry so much about your family's health, but about your own. I know that may sound backwards, but it is so very true.

People don't like to be told what to do, or even worse, that they need to change. It is far better to be an inspiration to another, than to try and force them to change things that they may or may not be interested in changing.

If you think about it, we tend to make things too hard by wasting our efforts trying to force others to do things that they are either not ready for, or not yet interested in. How much easier is it to just lead by example and show them your love for whatever the thing is which you want to teach them? Let them embrace it out of their own free will. People have a strong desire to be in control of their own choices and when you try to take that away from them, they are not likely to let you do so easily. They may even rebel! Instead, lead by example. When they see the effects the changes you made have on you, they eventually will want the benefits you are reaping for themselves.

Envision What You Want
It is ever so important for you to know what your goals are. Do you want to overcome a health problem? Are you tired of feeling out of sorts and are looking to feel younger, healthier and more vibrant? Do you want to get back to a healthy weight and have more energy?

Whatever your reasons may be, write them down! Keep a list somewhere where you can see it constantly and let it inspire you. When you lay down at night, don't think of all of the things that you did wrong, or that you didn't accomplish during the day; instead, make a mental note of all that you did accomplish.

You will get so much farther with reaching your goals if you can choose to concentrate on the positive. When you make a list of all of the things you did wrong, like that bag of cookies you ate when you were stressed at work, or sleeping in late and skipping your workout routine, you defeat yourself.

How can we expect to get anywhere when we do not allow ourselves to see how far we have come?

It is ever so important to envision what you want and then be proud of yourself for the steps that you are taking to make it a reality.

It is so hard to stick to anything if you do not know why you are doing it.

If you want to make real changes in your life you need to know why you are making them.

The more you study up on eating whole foods, the more you will see, in a very real way, how beneficial they truly are. The more you read and educate yourself, the more confident you will feel with what you are doing, and the more likely you will be to not only stick with it, but to love it as well. For myself, I know that the more I read about health, whether it be food related or something else, the more excited I become. I have also realized that the more my family sees how excited I am, and the more interesting things that I can share with them, the more they want to educate themselves as well.

We are human, so we will undoubtedly make mistakes. It is so very important that we learn to forgive ourselves and move on. Nothing is gained from harboring feelings of regret. If you make a mistake, get up and keep going.

YOU WILL NOT BE PERFECT. Don't expect to be, because nobody is.

Don't Give Up

It isn't going to always be easy, but it is going to be worth the effort you put into it. When I see my little ones choosing to spend their money on fresh fruit rather than candy it feels so satisfying! When I hear them trying to teach the man behind us in line at the grocery store about how to make healthy cookies rather than getting the junk he is buying, it feels so... well, it feels so embarrassing, but in a way that I am proud of! :p

Hang in there when things get a bit tough. I promise you that it will be well worth your efforts. Even if you have to take baby steps, and most of us do, don't give in to the temptation to give up!

Remember, nothing worth having ever comes easy, and the more we have to work for something, the more we will grow to appreciate it.

Have Fun!

Trust me, eating healthy can be fun, and delicious! There is so much to explore. There are so many exciting things to learn, so many new flavor combinations to try! This need not be a chore, this can be an adventure! I love eating this way. I love everything about this lifestyle. I am so very passionate about it, that I take time out daily to think about the changes that I have made and to enjoy them.


This week I will be sharing breakfast recipes. I hope you enjoy!

As far as breakfasts go, I will be honest. Our family has our favorite breakfast, and we eat it most everyday. It is rolled oats, cooked or uncooked, but always with liquid added, topped off with all sorts of goodies. We like, raisins, cinnamon, flax, frozen blueberries, shredded coconut, apple, orange, banana and grapefruit slices, date sugar, sliced almonds, etc. It is so good and so good for you.

Other breakfasts that we like, yes we LOVE our oatmeal. :P


Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

Orange Creamsicle Oatmeal

Tofu Scramble

Apple, Sweet Potato Bake

Veggie Mash Breakfast Burritos

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
In my opinion, there really is no need for sugar and other sweeteners when it comes to oatmeal. In fact, we all love it plain! This particular version is one of my favorite breakfasts and was one of the first things I made when I started to cook more plant based. It is fabulous with fresh cherries, but is equally good with frozen.  It is an easy and tasty recipe, which I had to include here, along with the Orange Creamsicle recipe. Try the suggestions listed below for spicing up your oatmeal and be sure to come up with your own.  Experimenting with oatmeal flavors can be a ton of fun! As a side note, we love steel cut oats maybe even more than oat meal. Feel free to replace the oatmeal for the steel cut oats as well.

• rolled oats (as directed on box to make 4 servings)
• 1 1/2 cups sweet fresh or frozen cherries, pitted and cut into quarters
• 2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon
• 1/4 cup pistachios or macadamia nuts for garnishing
• Optional: Milk of choice for serving. Our favorite is Almond milk.

1. Cook oatmeal as directed on the box
2. While oatmeal is cooking, add in cherries
3. When oatmeal is done, stir in vanilla and cinnamon
4. Garnish each bowl with nuts and serve with milk, if desired

Orange Creamsicle Oatmeal
Another good flavor! We like to eat this using 100% frozen orange juice concentrate, though nearly not as healthy for you, but if you are in a time crunch feel free to do so as well. You will notice that when the orange juice and the milk combine they may separate a bit, do not worry, this recipe is for taste, not appearance.

Serves 4

• rolled oats (as directed on box to make 4 servings)
• 1 orange, juiced
• cream from off the top of one can of full fat coconut milk, previously refrigerated overnight
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 orange sliced, for garnish (optional)

1. Cook oatmeal as directed on box for four servings. While oatmeal is cooking, mix together the juice from the orange and the cream from the chilled coconut milk . Stir in the vanilla. Once your oats are done, let them cool for a couple of minutes and then add in your juice/cream mixture.

2. Garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes and an orange slice.

Other flavor combinations worth trying
• Green smoothie—my kids love this! Just replace most or all of the liquid with left over green smoothie.
• Pineapple, strawberry, mango.
• Strawberry, rhubarb.
• Apple, cinnamon, nut.
• Banana, walnut.
• Raspberry, banana.

Get creative! Even better, let your kids get creative! What's more fun than being able to try your own concoctions?

Breakfast Greek Tofu Scramble
This is one of my absolute favorites.  It is quick to throw together, and has the most amazing flavor. It is perfect for when you are on the go, but I must admit, the cook in me is dying to make this completely from scratch sometime real soon. It would be amazing as a filling in pasta, for pizza topping, in a casserole with filo dough, or just served with pita bread.

• 1 pound extra firm organic tofu cubed, with liquids drained
• 1 6.5 ounce can of sliced mushrooms, rinsed to remove extra salt; or use fresh!
• One 14 ounce can artichoke hearts drained and rinsed if they were in oil
• 1/2 cup chopped olives of your choice (I used green, but this would be great with black or Kalamata as well)
• 4-8 ounces fresh spinach
• 1-2 cups of cooked chickpeas
• 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes

Greek  Sauce
• 1/3 cup mayonaise, or mayonaise replacement. My family loves veganaise.
• 1/4 cup fresh mint or dill (I used mint)
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 cloves chopped garlic
• 1/2 -1 cucumber, peeled and chopped into small pieces

• Mix all ingredients except cucumber until well combined, stir in cucumber. Chill until ready to serve.
• In a frying pan over medium high heat, pour just enough water of broth to sauté ingredients.
• Combine all ingredients, except spinach, and cook until tomatoes soften a bit and everything is heated through.
• Add spinach and continue cooking until it wilts.
• Stir well.
• Drain any excess liquid.
• Take off heat and let cool for a few minutes, then add sauce and serve.

I served this with HUGE slices of watermelon. Seriously, HUGE!

 Apple Sweet Potato Bake (Two Ways)
I LOVE apples and onions, but for some reason my little ones haven't learned to love that combo yet.... You can make this recipe two ways –one way is sweet, the other savory, and both are delicious!

Apple, Sweet Potato and Raisins

• 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 3 apples of your choice, chopped (we used red delicious, but I think that pink ladies would also work really well)
• 1/2 cup of raisins
• Cinnamon, to taste
• Salt, to taste
• 1/2-2/3 cup fresh orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place potatoes, apples, and raisins in a baking dish or on a cookie tray and mix together.
3. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and salt to taste.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender.
5. When done, place in a serving bowl and mix in the juice.

Apple, Sweet Potatoes and Onions

• 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 3 apples of your choice, chopped (we used red delicious, but I think that pink ladies would also work really well)
• 1/4-1/2 cup red onion, sliced
• Cumin, to taste
• Garlic, to taste
• Salt, to taste
• 1/2 -2/3 cup vegetable broth

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place potatoes, apples, and onions in a baking dish or on a cookie tray and mix together.
3. Sprinkle  generously with cumin, and garlic and salt to taste.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until tender.
5. When done place in a serving bowl and mix in the broth.

Veggie Mash Burritos
This is a great breakfast to add a little variety to your morning. I am going to leave the seasonings up to you because of how versatile this can be, however, I will leave you with some of our favorites for ideas.  It is delicious garnished with salsa, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc., so get your creative juices flowing.

Serves 4-6

• 4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 8 ribs of celery, finely chopped
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 1 cup of corn
• 1 cup of peas
• Enough vegetable broth or water to cover the vegetables
• Your choice of seasonings

1. In a large pot or frying pan, add your vegetables and enough vegetable broth or water to cover them.
2. Bring to a boil.
3. When you have reached a boil, turn down heat and continue to cook at medium low/medium high, until the vegetables are quite tender.
4. Once they are tender, you want to either drain liquid to make approximately one cups worth, or add liquid to do so.
5. Once you have a cups worth of liquid in with your vegetables, you want to mash them until they are almost smooth, but a few chunks still remaining, adding liquid as needed to get the consistency of mashed potatoes.
6. Add seasonings* and serve in a tortilla.
7. Top with ketchup, salsa, avocado slices, tomatoes, etc.

*Seasoning Ideas
• Italian seasoning, garlic, pinch of salt
• Garam masala
• Cumin, chili powder, garlic, pinch of salt
• Salt and Pepper

I hope that you find this helpful. Next week I will share with you some tips that I use for getting my family excited about eating healthy, and share with you some lunch recipes and some lunchbox ideas for the family on the go.

Have a great week.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sunday Lesson

This past Sunday we had a lesson in Relief Society that I wanted everyone to hear.  So I asked the teacher, Sister Cutler to write a summary for the blog.  This way everyone can read it.  
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The lesson on Sunday was from President Uchtdorf’s talk on page 21 of the November Ensign.  He talked a bout a nurse who looked after terminally ill patients.  She asked them if they had any regrets ?  He went on to discus three of the most common regrets people who were dying expressed. 
First they wished they had spent more time with people they loved.  It is so easy to get caught up in the business of life that we worry about things that have no eternal importance.  When my 5th child, a boy, was little he was very insecure and shy.  Sometimes I would spend 2 or 3 hours just rocking him while he sat on my knee with one thumb in his mouth and his other hand twirling my hair around and around.  During that time, I was obviously unable to do any of the myriad of chores or housework waiting for me.  Sometimes people would drop in to visit and my house would most definitely be less than perfect.  I recall one sister, who had been in my home, giving a talk in church about visiting other sisters who had toys all over their floor and wondering why they didn’t just pick them up.  However, today I have a wonderful, outgoing, funny, friendly adult son.  I can’t help but think that I made the right choice focusing my time on him and not worrying so much about how my house looks.  That sister has long since passed from my life and today I don’t know where she is or what she is doing, but my son is a constant reminder that my investment of time in him was something I will never regret.  Elder Uchtdorf said,
I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
I can’t see it.
Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.
The second regret was, “ I wish Ihad lived up to my potential. “ We talked about this in Relief Society and decided that potential was not just developing our talents, but also using the spirit to guide us to use these talents to become more like the Savior .  This often results in us enriching not only our lives, but the lives of others as well.  One sister mentioned how she came to learn that Heavenly Father is hurt when we don’t recognize how special we are and don’t believe in ourselves or see ourselves as a daughter of God.  Elder Uchtdorf said,
Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents.
The third regret was, “I wish I had let myself be happier”.  Too often we spend our time  waiting for things to get better.  As soon as my baby starts school, after I lose 20 pounds, as soon as baseball season is over.  We need to enjoy the journey rather than waiting for the finish line.  Elder Uchtdorf told a wonderful story,
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
How right she is!
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
                  Once we start looking for the good in each day, we are able to find unexpected blessings and beauty in life.  We will always have trials and challenges that is just a part of life.  Elder Uchtdorf counsels,
Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.
Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts. I love the quote: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
                  Our happiness does not depend on circumstances, but on choices.  Trying to develop the ability to find the joy in the journey can create a lifetime of wonderful experiences and memories, don’t pass those by waiting for something that may never arrive.
Cutler Family