Monday, September 29, 2014

I say unto thee, arise

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.  Abraham Lincoln

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Jesus always lifts us up.

Always remember, when it's the hardest to pray, PRAY. That's the moment you need to pray.
'Prayer is not the act of bring God to us, but of lifting us up to Him.'

God speaks in the silence of the Heart.
Listening is the beginning of prayer.

Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start each day is a new beginning.

And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted,
Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.
Mark 5:42

The things we take for granted, someone else is praying for.

YOU teach people how to treat you.

there will be times when you think you cannot continue on… but we have a champion, a Savior Jesus Christ. Trust in Him and His love. With faith in the Lord and the power and hope of the gospel, you will be able to walk tall. Let us rise up and become men and women of God. You can do it now! In the sacred name of our Master and Redeemer.”

Orange Buttermilk Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Orange Buttermilk Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Orange Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Zest of 1 orange (just a little over 1 tablespoon)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, add sugar and eggs and whisk until combined. Add orange zest, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. Whisk until combined. Add cooled melted butter and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and carefully whisk until just combined. Don’t over-whisk. 
Line bottom of 9×2-inch round baking pan with parchment paper or foil and butter top of lining and pan sides. Pour batter into pan, smooth with a rubber spatula, and bake for 30  minutes, or until inserted toothpick emerges clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 30 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack and  allowing it to cool completely. 
For frosting, combine first 6 ingredients and beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined and smooth. 
Cut cake in half. Spread some orange marmalade on bottom half. Spread with ¼ of cream cheese frosting. Place the top half of the cake on the bottom half. Frost cake with remaining cream cheese frosting. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Where there is love, there is life



"Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."
Gordon B. Hinckley
"I invite you to not only love each other more,
but to love each other better."
Bonnie L. Oscarson
“Who we are is not who we can become.”
Donald L. Hallstrom
When we say that's just the way I am,
we concede that we cannot change.
If we show love and respect even in adverse circumstances,
we become more like Christ.
Quentin L. Cook
The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely on
the merits, mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah.
David A. Bednar
You will stand aside and look at your difficult times and realize
He was always there beside you.
“Believe in yourself and in your capacity to do great and good things. Believe that no mountain is so high that you cannot climb it. No storm is so great that you cannot weather it. You can do whatever it is that you set your heart on. ...As you do this opportunities will unfold and open before you, and the skies will clear when they have been dark. Never forget that you are not destined to fail. You are a child of God, of infinite capacity.”
 Gordon B. Hinckley
“Let us not demean or belittle. Rather,
let us be compassionate and encouraging.”  
Thomas S. Monson
What He asks of each one of us is to be able and willing to
take up the joyful “burden” of discipleship.
The most important thing is to keep trying.
…..everyone is welcome to walk that path to eternal life.
As Gandhi put it simply,
“Where there is love, there is life.”
"Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life."
 Thomas S. Monson
“God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living,
keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future...
He expects you to embrace and shape the future to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities. "
Jeffrey R Holland


Toll House Pie

Toll House Pie
1-9 inch unbaked pie crust
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour (3/4 cup if omitting nuts)
1 1/2  cups chocolate chips, Nestle semi-sweet are best for this recipe
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and vanilla until blended well. Next, add all of the dry ingredients into the same bowl, mixing all at once, just until wet and dry ingredients are incorporated.
Pour filling into unbaked pie shell (recipe below).
Bake on center rack of oven for about 50 minutes or until knife inserted about half way from center of pie to crust (outer edge of pie) comes out clean.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Pie Crust
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup solid shortening
1/4 cup cold water
Cut shortening into flour and salt  in medium size bowl, until the mixture resembles small pieces the size of peas. Add cold water all at once. Mix with a fork until dough starts to form into a ball, do not over mix. Add additional flour to the dough just until the dough is not sticky. Sprinkle flour out onto a flat surface. Roll the dough out and place in a 9 inch pie plate. Lightly press into the corners of the plate.  Crimp the edges. Fill and bake as directed above.


Monday, September 15, 2014

You are loved beyond measure

You are loved beyond measure, though we are incomplete, God loves us completely, though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly, though we may feel lost we are without compass, God's love encompasses us completely, He loves everyone of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, broken...
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater, He sendeth more strength as our labors increase; To added afflictions He addeth His mercy, To multiplied trials He multiplies peace. When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources Our Father’s full giving is only begun. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision, Our God ever yearns His resources to share; Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing; The Father both thee and thy load will upbear. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
"So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Fresh Strawberry Bread

Fresh Strawberry Bread
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar (1 brown and 1 white) any combo will work
3 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
grated rind of 1 lemon
3 cups chopped strawberries
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. Stir. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, oil and lemon rind. Spoon the strawberries into the liquid ingredients and stir gently to coat the fruit. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and nuts. Fold (with spatula by hand) until all ingredients are blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow loaves to cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Always with a promise

     So, I have to set the stage here. I just finished feeding my brand new, soft and fuzzy, warm, pink, sweet smelling bundle of joy and have replaced him in the hospital's bassinet. The lights are all off but heaven is shining through the window and makes me feel warm, and the golden grass on the hillside waves as if beckoning me to come enjoy the fresh autumn sun. I can't help but feel pensive today and for so many poignant reasons, this tender email of Susan's being just one of the triggers.  Eleven years ago today, I was moved along with the rest of the world in a way I will never forget. My response to the tragedy of 9/11 was that my one year old son and his 6 older siblings needed a mother at home more than the couple of hundred dollars for which my time away from them was exchanged.
   If I had been particularly clever, I might have realized the exact same conclusion on Mother's Day of the same year, and given our family back a few more precious days together. As it was, the email I received that fateful Monday after Mother's Day 2001, was heeded for what it was, the announcement that my best friend Michelle Diane McCown had passed away along with her unborn 6th child, leaving her husband alone with their 5 other young and brilliant children.   The email was not heeded for what it could have been: an urgent message that this life is short, it is precious, and the only thing that matters is how much charity and compassion we can share with one another to make our brief stay here as beautiful and pleasant as possible, and also primarily that our families are everything and they deserve the attention that being our highest priority should bring.

      So here I sit on this day that is pivotally memorable for me in regards to my family for so many reasons. I look over at my brand new baby through these eyes that are filled with love for him, yet struggle to stay open, thanks to the conveniences of modern medicine for which I am grateful that it does do a little something to ease the discomfort of the miraculous journey (I've either completed or just started, or am continuong on…haha:) one of those three… ) And I am touched by this story that Susan has shared, and I wonder what I would say if I had been in this gentleman's shoes.

     Maybe it is the closeness of the veil during childbirth that gives me this feeling of urgency to share my feelings despite my exhaustion, discomfort or the silly, tiny keys I have to type on, here on my phone… but whatever it is that motivates me, one thing I know for sure, if ever I were put in a position where the moment came and my last thoughts here on this earth were being recorded for time and all eternity, I would want those thoughts focused and standing as a testimony of my Savior and His Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the love that He wants us to share with one another, through compassion and charity and kindness. I would want each of my children to know for themselves, and not just because of my love for the Book of Mormon that it is true. Everything we can do from missionary work, to seminary, Scouts, mutual and Family Home Evening builds our own stronger testimonies, as well as strengthens our relationships with one another. And our relationships with each other are the web that supports us through eternity, and the temple needs to be the center of all our efforts.

    Ok, so knowing this probably isn't the last thing I will ever say to my family, I'm sure I can relax and keep planning an even more poignant and pointed speech. But to be honest, I'm sure I still wouldn't change a word. The thoughts I've shared are at the heart of everything important in life.  I'd give my big toe if Sarah could attend release time seminary and still participate in choir. If there were something I could do to ensure Jeremy and Nathan had perfect circumstances for their recovery, and Joshua and Nolan unquestionably had the means to pursue their dreams of being missionaries, I would hope for that. I don't know what I could say to Brett, Ostin, Miles, Dallas and Dean to more fully express my never ending love for them as well, but I would hope they already feel my love and know I would give my life for them too if there were a chance it would bring them any closer to Christ.

      Life is precious. I know. I am so grateful for all the beautiful ways the Lord has to remind us of that. And Susan, your emails are a delightfully constant reminder of how precious all of life is, thank you!

I love you!
~ Diane :)

---------- Forwarded message ----------

By Emily Freeman
I knew of a family who had an unforgettable experience.  For bad and for good.  One day this family was driving home together from an outing.  Each family member was doing their own thing as they rode.  The radio was on, the younger ones jabbering, mom and dad discussing, some kids poking, some kids laughing.
One of their sons, a boy about to turn eight, was reading.
His book of choice—The Book of Mormon.
You see, several weeks before, the father had challenged his son to read The Book of Mormon before he was baptized and the boy took the challenge to heart.
As the family rode along, the little boy interrupted the chaos by asking out loud, “Dad?  What is s-t-e-a-d-f-a-s-t-n-e-s-s?”  The father, who didn’t quite catch it the first time stopped his conversation, hushed the other kids, turned down the radio and said, “What was that son?”
“What is s-t-e-a-d-f-a-s-t-n-e-s-s?” he repeated.
With the car totally quiet, and unusually attentive, the dad thought for a minute, and then answered his curious child.  “That word is steadfastness,” he said.  Then in his own way, the father taught his family what it meant to be steadfast.  He taught them about enduring.  He taught them about courage and discipleship.  He taught them loving and serving and giving with all their heart and might and mind and strength.  He told them that as members of their family, they would always be steadfast in their testimony of Christ.  It was the way they would show their love and devotion to Him.  Always.
Within a few brief moments an accident occurred on the road.  A loose tire came flying from oncoming traffic and hit the driver side door of the traveling van.  It was unexpected and unpreventable,
but it left the family without their father.
It was a tragedy in every sense of the word.  Tears still flow ten years later. 
For some, this horrible afternoon was evidence that there is no God.
Nephi prophesied centuries ago that the Book of Mormon itself would come forth in a time when people would claim such things.
A time when “they deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people… behold there is no God today… Behold…if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.” (2 Nephi 28:5).
It would come in a time when the devil would rob people’s faith through temptation and trial and leave them hopeless, afraid, and broken.
It would come in a time when sadness would fill the hearts of the children of men because of unbelief.
Yes, some people might be tempted to claim God was not caring after an afternoon like that.
For this family, it was evidence of just the opposite.
The way they saw it, God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, had orchestrated a tender moment when a departing father could offer his last words of counsel and encouragement to a family he would continue to watch over and guide very, very closely from the other side of the veil.  One more chance to bear sweet testimony of the loving God he had grown to adore and serve.
From the pulpit at the funeral and since that day this family, through choked emotion and beaming hope testify of the reality of a living God and of his mercy and His grace.
Always with a promise that they will remain steadfast for the rest of their days.

Cape Cod Salad


Cape Cod Salad
Barefoot Contessa
8 ounces thick-cut bacon
12 ounces baby arugula, or butter lettuce
1 large apple, I like Gala or Granny Smith, skin on, sliced thin
1 cup toasted walnut halves, 1 tablespoons sugar if desired
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place walnut halves on lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until fragrant. If desired, sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of sugar right after removing from oven. 

Remove bacon from package, keeping bacon in one slab, lay on cutting board and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Fry in non stick pan over medium high heat, separating pieces as you cook. When bacon is cooked and crispy , remove from heat. Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss together the greens, apple, walnuts, cranberries, bacon and blue cheese.
When ready to serve, toss all salad ingredients with just enough dressing to lightly coat leaves of lettuce. 
Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Serve immediately.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Only forgiveness heals

Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ.
“Our eternal happiness will be in proportion to the way that we devote ourselves to helping others.”
George Albert Smith

The Pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.
Blessed are those who see beautiful things
in humble places where others see nothing.

“In a world of some discouragement, sorrow, and overmuch sin, in times when fear and despair seem to prevail, when humanity is feverish with no worldly physicians in sight… ‘Trust Jesus.’  Let him still the tempest and ride upon the storm. Believe that he can lift mankind from its bed of affliction, in time and in eternity.”
Jeffrey R Holland

“Somehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.”
Gordon B. Hinckley

“When the Lord requires that we forgive all men, that includes forgiving ourselves.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Forgiveness plants and nourishes the seeds of Christlike love in both the giver and the receiver. Indeed, forgiveness, in its fullest expression, is synonymous with charity, the pure love of Christ.”
Roderick J. Linton

“Forgiveness is a personal attribute, not just a decision we make from time to time when we feel we should.  To have a forgiving heart is to see the world in a different light. It is to forsake the tendency to judge, condemn, exclude, or hate any human soul.  A forgiving heart seeks to love and to be patient with imperfection. The forgiving heart understands that we are all in need of the atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Roderick J. Linton
“There is nothing that will bring us more of the Spirit of God than to … be kind, considerate, charitable, long-suffering and forgiving. There is nothing that will bring more joy to us than to be ready and willing to forgive the trespasses of our neighbors against us, and there is nothing that will bring more condemnation to us than to harden our hearts and to be bitter and vindictive in our feelings towards those by whom we are surrounded.”
Heber J. Grant

We must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things.
That is the Lord's way.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.
We are all in need of Mercy.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.”
Thomas S. Monson

…”During those long, prayerful moments…I tapped into a life-giving source of comfort from my loving Heavenly Father. I sense that he was not standing by glaring at me for not having accomplished forgiveness yet, rather he was sorrowing with me as I wept…. “In the final analysis, what happened in my heart is for me an amazing and miraculous evidence of the Atonement of Christ. I had always viewed the Atonement as a means of making repentance work for the sinner. I had not realized that it also makes it possible for the one sinned against to receive into his or her heart the sweet peace of forgiving.”

Blame keeps wounds open. Only forgiveness heals. ~Thomas S Monson

Italian Potato-Sausage Soup

Italian Potato-Sausage Soup
Recipe by Our Best Bites
20 oz. lean Italian turkey sausage
1/2+ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 cups (2 boxes) chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, diced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups low-fat milk
3 ounces light cream cheese
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
Remove the sausage from casings and crumble it into a large soup pot. Begin cooking it over medium heat and add red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, onion, and garlic. Sauté until the sausage is fully cooked and drain if necessary. Add the chicken broth and Italian seasoning, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add diced potatoes, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender.
While the potatoes are cooking, place the milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. Heat the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, then add the milk mixture and cook over medium heat until thick (like a very thick cream soup or a stirrable pudding). When the potatoes are cooked, add the thickened milk mixture and chopped spinach. Season with additional crushed red pepper flakes and kosher salt to taste and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 8-10.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Banana Bundt with Chocolate Glaze and Walnuts

Banana Bundt
with Chocolate Glaze and Walnuts
Banana Cake
1 box white cake mix
2 bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
½ cup melted butter, cooled
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips, optional
Chocolate Glaze
1 cup chocolate chips
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
Walnuts for decoration
1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a Bunt pan well.
2.   Sift cake mix into a small bowl to remove any lumps; set aside.
3.   In a large bowl, mash bananas using a fork.
4.   Add brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, butter, buttermilk, and vanilla extract; stir until combined.
5.   Add cake mix and stir well. Add chocolate chips if desired.
6.   Dump batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
7.   Bake for 35–45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
8.   Let cool in pan, then turn out.
9.   Chocolate Glaze: In a double-boiler on the stove or in a medium bowl in the microwave, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream; melt. Stir until smooth.
10.  Pour glaze over cooled cake and top with walnuts. If you want your glaze to be a little thicker, let it cool a little before you pour it over the cake.

Tender moment


Faith is bigger than fear :D



Mango Chicken Pasta Salad with Tarragon Lime Dressing


Mango Chicken Pasta Salad with Tarragon Lime Dressing

3/4 lb bow tie pasta
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 bunch chopped green onion, green parts only
3 cups seedless grapes, red or green
1 ripe mango, cubed
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked, cubed, (about 2 cups)
1-2 avocados, chopped
slivered almonds, toasted, optional

Tarragon Lime Dressing:
1 1/4 cups mayo (not low fat)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2-3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dried tarragon or 1/4 cup fresh chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta as directed on package.  Drain and rinse with cold water, set aside to cool.
Prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients in a bowl. If you are using fresh herbs, place ingredients in a blender and blend until herbs are chopped fine.  Pour half of the dressing over the pasta and place in the refrigerator overnight if possible, or for at least 2 hours.
Place chopped celery, green onion, grapes, mango and chicken in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
To assemble, place three quarters of the vegetable, mango and chicken mixture in the bowl with the pasta that has been mixed with dressing. Most of the dressing will have been absorbed into the cooked pasta.
Toss in the remaining half of dressing.
Place the pasta mixture on a serving platter or bowl and top with the remaining vegetable, chicken and fruit mixture, and chopped avocado.  Top with almonds.