Home for the Holidays, by Thomas Kincaid

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Blessings of An Illness

Well, I am at home, nursing another UTI, thinking a lot about all the problems I've had since I was a child with this decrepit kidney of mine, looking for any life lessons this may have taught me..

I was a very healthy child in my growing up years, just the usual childhood illnesses - chicken pox, mumps, the occasional cold. Then, one day out of the blue when I was nine years old, I developed a horrible ache in my left side. It became so bad that it put me to bed. I remember that day very clearly. My sister and I had spent the morning baking cakes with my mother. It was a sort of a craft project. Mama let us each bake one cake a piece - mine was a white cake with vanilla frosting, Jeanie's was chocolate with chocolate frosting. They were just these little one-layer cakes. Then, we were allowed to invite some friends over to help us eat them. I didn't get quite that far. I remember the pain growing in my side while I was waiting for my friends to come over. I remember that everyone preferred Jeanie's cake to mine and so Mama assumed that my "side-ache" was sort of my way of getting attention. The next day I was all better.

From then on, several times a year, I would get these side-aches completely out of the blue. They were devastating and would cause me to vomit, but the next day I'd be all better. It never occurred to my parents to take me to the doctor. They assumed this was all stress-induced. I remember once, when I was 10 years old and was in the doctor's office for a regular check-up, a strong thought came to me to bring up my side-aches, but I was too shy with authority figures to speak up for myself.

The years went on...By the time I hit my mid-teens, when our family life had hit a crisis, my side-aches came every weekend and lasted several days. I remember missing so much school my mother had to write a note to explain what was happening. Still no doctor visit. Because our home life was intensely stressful, everyone believed that my side-aches had increased due to that. I remember that when my sister had a UTI and was complaining of back pain and I made the comment that I felt the same way, but my problems were attributed to my neediness. When I later moved away from home and the frequency of my side-aches subsided, I figured everyone had been right about me. I believed that side-aches were my body's way of handling stress. And so...I never saw a doctor about them.

Fast forward many years to when I was 14 weeks pregnant with Sarah, my first child. All of sudden, my left side swelled up, was sensitive to the touch, and ached. I went in to the OB about it. He took one look at my slightly swollen side, heard my complaints, and put me in the hospital. An ultrasound showed that there was a congenital obstruction to my left ureter, that was only allowing drops of fluid to pass from the kidney, which was over distended with liquid. In other words, my side-aches were not "all in my head". I was sick. The docs rigged me up to get through my pregnancy successfully, for which I am thankful.

Two surgeries later, I have 40% function on my left side and, though I am (thankfully) no longer plagued by mysterious side-aches, I do routinely endure UTIs.

What have a learned from all of this? I realize that I have developed some patience through suffering. All those high school days when I was, literally, writhing alone in my room in pain, listening to music on the radio to try and get my mind off of it, I learned to sort go inside my mind to some place pleasant while unpleasant things are happening to me. I learned some endurance. I also more greatly appreciate the days when the sun is shining, the birds are singing and I feel healthy. What a miracle that all feels to me..to feel WELL.

I know that many of you deal with your own health issues...What have you learned from them? How have they schooled your souls? I'd love to hear from you.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Planning Monday and Thoughts for the New Week

Happy, happy Monday! Welcome to my Menu Plan. Here goes...

Monday - Dinner and Family Night at friend's house

Tuesday - Linguine with Chicken and Sauteed Veggies

Wednesday - Italian Style Meatloaf, Roasted Lemon Broccoli, and Garlic Mashed potatoes

Thursday - Boca Burger on Whole Wheat Buns, Sweet Potato "Fries" (Frozen) and Tossed Salad

Friday - Flat Iron Steak, Rice, Steamed Carrots and Salad.

Saturday - Lemon and Cilantro Shrimp, jello salad, Greens and Balsamic Dressing



I'd like to share some wonderful goals that I picked up at a local church conference today:

Joy In The Journey
  • Express your love in word and deed to those you hold deed
  • Pray individually and as a family
  • Make scripture study a part of each day
  • Hold regular Family Home Evening
  • Follow the example of the Savior in all things
  • Family mealtime...a priority
  • Wholesome recreational activities
"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Successful marriagess and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."
-Proclamation on the Family


Friday, April 24, 2009

Show and Tell Friday

Okay, I realize that this is cheezy, but my Show and Tell today is my beautiful grand-niece, the wee, bonnie, Willow Kate. She is newly 6 months old and the darling of every single person who knows her. She is my very first grand-niece and I am very proud of her...Isn't she absolutely beautiful? Her mother's blog, Leaves In Our Lives, chronicles the life of her family. They are all sweet as can be.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Honeymoon Remembrances and More

Hello, Ladies!

Thank you for all the well wishes for a Happy Anniversary! We had a lovely weekend and are still celebrating in our hearts...I kept a travel journal during our honeymoon and so we know what we did each day for the two weeks that we were gone. I would like to share a little of that with you...(The following photos were taken from off the Internet because I still haven't found anyone with a photo scanner.)

Following our marriage at in the Los Angeles LDS Temple and reception in Malibu Canyon, Mark and I drove down to San Diego, specifically to Coronado Island, where we spent two weeks at the beautiful and romantic, Hotel Del Coronado...
Most mornings, we would awaken to the sound of gulls. When we arose, the Hotel was usually surrounded in a lovely fog...
It made the place seems magical and far removed from everyday, modern life. The first time that I ever heard Enya, was on a morning such as this. Her song, Marbled Halls, came floating in with the fog through our balcony door while I was dressing and preparing for the day. Her ethereal voice drew me from the dressing room and I stood in the open doorway wondering who this was and what was this beautiful song. I will never forget that.

Some mornings, we got up very early and explored the tidal pools at Cabrillo National Monument...

The old lighthouse...
One day, we spent the afternoon strolling through Balboa Park, in San Diego...
The old architecture brought back memories of my childhood years spent in San Diego and my Saturday morning ballet lessons which I took near here...
We visited Sea Port Village and ate out over the water at this wonderful restaurant...We feasted on Blackened Cat fish and fed the little sparrows who came inside the covered deck, looking for food.
One day of these days, while I was perusing a local paper...I found this beautiful poem in the Personals. Mark and I fell in love with it and it has become "our" poem...

A wind Swept Willow Seed Was I
And you, a sparkling stream,
On God's breath I traveled
Miles upon His gentle breeze
I came to rest on your sandy bank
Your water nourished me
And with your love I grew
into this willow tree
The storms Life brought, blew
My stalk bent in the howling wind
But the sun did shine once more
You did sparkle in the light
And I grew strong with time
The shade I give
Is blessed by God
Beside you for all Time...


For my dear Mark, who walked beside me on this sandy beach for two beautiful weeks, dreaming dreams together. You are my own, strong willow tree, who has remained steadfast by my side through all Life's storms. God bless you, my Love. Elizabeth

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Hello, Sweeties!
Happy Monday to you! I appreciate all the lovely comments from Saturday and will be visiting everyone today. Until then, enjoy the following menu and recipes for the week!

Monday - Lime Chicken Soft Tacos, Salad

Tuesday - Turkey Meatloaf, green beans and almonds, fruit salad

Wednesday - Hoppin John and Rice, salad

Thursday - Spinach Tuna Casserole, sliced tomatoes,

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Homemade Pizza, Salad

Sunday - Pork Tenderloin, and more stuff.

AND in case you need more ideas...Try Yahoo's Simple Dinners for The Week - Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Show and Tell Friday/Our Anniversary!

FOR SHOW & TELL FRIDAY, I am sharing about my wedding anniversary...

Yesterday, Mark and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary...We were wed April 17, 1993. I would have blogged about it yesterday, but Blogger wouldn't let me upload pictures.

I was 33, almost 34, when we met and 35 when we married. I had waited and dated many a year, hoping that the whisperings I'd received from the Holy Spirit, that I would one day be married to a fine man, would one day be fulfilled.

One year before I met Mark, I began a diary that went like this:
I thought of you today and decided to begin this journal to you, although I do not know you yet. I guess it sounds a little silly to write a letter like this to a future someone you only hope to meet someday but don't actually know. And yet, in my heart, I have such faith that I will find you that I actually feel I know you. Some days, I am quite lonely for you and wish to hasten the time, to shorten the days between now and when we will be together. But, alas, this is Heavenly Father's timetable and since it is He who will ultimately bring us together, then we must wait for His moment.

In recent months, life has thrown up all sorts of tempting side paths and strewn obstacles in my path all of which have been grievous to bear. But whenever I am tempted to stray, I remember my desire for you, and I hod to my course. Eventually hopefully soon, these days of waiting will be over. But until they are, I will fill this journal with my thoughts of you and our future together. I am praying for a man who will read these things with a gentle heart and if this flight of fancy goes against your, perhaps, more practical nature,please realize this is my expression of faith that the Lord has heard my pleas has provided my future with a righteous man. And also this give direction to a giving heart hat years to pour its love on some choice man. Let him be you."

The next year, I felt a strong impression that I should attend a singles conference being held by my church in a Southern Californian town, near where I was living. In fact, I remember saying a prayer before leaving the house for the 45 minute drive to this conference. I prayed for safety, as I always do, but then I said, "Who knows, Lord, but maybe today I will meet my husband."

It was at the Saturday conference that I first caught sight of Mark. Later, Mark would write the following about our meeting:

"I had looked for her all my life, like a promise made yet unfulfilled. But when that promise comes, it speaks a whisper to the soul and a sureness to the heart. I saw her first at a church singles conference. I could not keep my eyes off of her. As the day proceeded into evening, I felt like a teenager as I tried to position myself in the hallways to meet her. At the dance, that evening, I seemed to be popular as I was the new person on the block, so I was in constant demand. Yet her very presence demanded my attention. At one point, the men and women were asked to stand in two separate lines, as the lines came together people were paried off for a dance. I placed myself so that I could be paired with her. As we danced across the floor and I held her forth the first time, something lept within me. It was then that I learned that the name of the lady with the beautiful countenance and soft manner was "Elizabeth". We sat and talked...and began to reveal the fabric of our lives. Hopes and dreams were shared through a wonderful range of emotions. Her searching blue eyes pierced my soul and left my secrets with no hiding place. She touched my deepest spot. Nevertheless, I felt at peace. The tapestry of our lives was beginning. At last the evening ended and we said our good-byes. I felt a loss at our parting, but a wonderful gain in knowing she existed. As I drove back home with my friends, I felt as though I was floating with the memory of her. I held her phone number in my hands as if it were the grandest of rewards. I looked out the window and the stars seemed to have a special regal quality.

Elizabeth, I thought, is the type of person to always inspire me to reach for the highest mark. And so it has been and so it will be, a promise fulfilled."
We were later married in the Los Angeles, LDS Temple, at 9 a.m. on a beautiful and rare, crystal clear day.
Later, we drove to Malibu Canyon and had our reception at the Inn of the Seventh Ray. We supped on Rosemary Chicken, wild rice and salad. Then, we had a special program for our loved ones whom we knew we'd be leaving soon (we moved to NC). Poetry, the above journal entries and inspiring love stories and scripture were read by various friends and loved ones. Our cake was carrot with cream cheese frosting, decorated with fresh flowers...

None of the above pictures are mine...I borrowed them from the Internet. My friend, Sue, says she will let me scan my wedding photos today so I can share them with you on my blog. Until then, just know that April 17th, 1993 was the wholly most perfect day of my life and it continues to be a great strength to me, as I remember the convenants we made together and the love we shared with so many special people in our lives.

God Bless and have a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Hello, Ladies!

I have been perusing the Internet for gift ideas for Mother's Day. It is only weeks away and I have several special "mothers" in my life...Look at what I found!
A sweet apron from Roses & Teapots...

And from the same site, lovely teapot charms and necklaces
I especially like these last two...This one contains a Swarovski crystal...

...And this one is sterling silver.
I can imagine some of the sweet ladies in my life loving any or all of these items.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dear Lovely Friends,

A wonderful Wednesday to you, hoping all is well with you and your families.

I just finished listening, for the umpteenth time, to Susan Boyle's audition on "Britains Got Talent". There are various YouTube videos of this, but the best one is the long one of 7:08 time (for a link directly to this video, please see the bottom of my last post). What an incredibly inspiring and uplifting experience that is to see of one of the world's Plain Janes, with nothing about her to recommend herself, coming out with such self belief and determination, as well as talent. Incredible. Unstoppable. What a lesson she teaches about not judging a book by its cover. Please, if you haven't yet viewed it, look it up and see it now. You will be so happy that you did!

I have had time now to visit most of you, my sweet friends on the Internet. I have been so deeply touched by your Easter posts, all bearing witness of Jesus Christ. I feel more than a little sad that our family's recent illnesses, including my own, kept us from fully observing Holy Week the way we usually do and that I didn't leave any beautiful posts of my own in celebration of the momentous holiday of Easter. Let me correct that now.

One of our most meaningful traditions for Holy Week is to view over a succession of nights, the film classic, "Jesus of Nazareth" (Franco Zefferelli's). It is a 10 hour masterpiece which was released back in 1977. When it first came out, Zefferelli invited representatives from all the major Christian faiths, including my own, to view the film and give him feedback. Almost unanimously this film was hailed by the faithful, including my church's rep, as a remarkable work. Critics were not quite as kind. Although they all recognized the incredible production values, performances and historical accuracy of the film, not all of them could get into the Jesus thing. Some scoffed at it. I have seen the film many times now and it never ceases to touch my heart, especially because of Robert Powell's inspiring portrayal of our Savior. His humility, purity, love and holiness are other worldly. In my humble 0pinion there has never been, before or since, a more incredible performance of what has to be the most difficult role for a human to portray. If you have never seen it, please consider renting it from Netflix or Blockbuster, or do as we did and go buy your family a copy. The best review I have ever heard of this film came from my 11 yo son, who said a couple of nights ago, "Let's watch a little of Jesus of Nazareth. It makes me feel so peaceful." It does that to me, too.

So, I am looking out the window and watching the snow falling. Snow, snow, falling everywhere, on blooming trees, bushes and grass. The birdies are all in hiding. I am so grateful that our largely desert-like state is getting so much needed precipitation, but I am anxious to behold, green and flowers and birds.

What is the weather like where you are? Is it Spring yet?

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook and Inspiring Link

Outside my window... Spring showers.

I am thinking... about Christ's sacrifice and what it means to me.

From the learning rooms... Our house is (hopefully) a learning house and we are study New Testament scriptures and the Civil War.

I am thankful for...
answers to recent fervent prayers and a warm home while it is wet and drizzly outside.

From the kitchen... My sink is calling me to clean the dishes.

I am wearing... My jeans and a warm sweater.

I am reading... The Civil War in North Carolina and the Gospel of John.

I am hoping... Everyone recovers quickly from illness and that I do not get sick again.

I am creating...a more organized home and Springtime decorations.

I am praying... For the Lord's promises to be made manifest in my life.

Around the house... It is quiet, with the children sick in their rooms. Hubby is on a business call and I feel like turning on classical music.

One of my favorite things... A brisk walk on a beautiful, sunny, Springtime morning.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Get my house back into order. Complete my Spring decorations. Get back into walking for exercise. Do some baking.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...(see above)

Ugh, my pictures won't work again!

Please visit the Simple Woman's Daybook to participate!


Here is a wonderful video to uplift and inspire you today! Please click HERE and enjoy!
Have a great day!
Love, Elizabeth

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easy Yeast Bread, Step by Step

Hello, Ladies!

It's wonderful to be back! I am feeling so much better today and also..the SUN IS SHINING! Oh, what a lovely day!! If I didn't have such a mess going in my home from all of my days of inactivity, I would go dance in the sun. Dance in the sun!!

Well, I'm sorry but I haven't put together my menu for the week. That's normally something I post on Mondays. Instead, I thought that I would share a wonderful, easy bread recipe and encourage you to try this by hand! That's how I do it and, believe me, if I can do this with success, ANYONE at all can do it!!


3 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp yeast (or two dry packets)
3 Tbsp of sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp veggie oil
1/2 cup powdered milk
6-8 cups flour

Okay, I'm going to talk you through this...First of all, I generally make this whole wheat bread or a combo of that and white flour, because I'm concerned about getting enough whole grains in our diets.

First, put the warm water into a large bowl...This is WARM water, not hot. I used hot before and I murdered the yeasties. You don't want to do that, or your bread won't rise. So, warm water in a bowl. Next, sprinkle in the sugar. Whisk it in. Next, goes the yeast. I let this sit until it starts to bubble. Usually, about 5 minutes. Then, I whisk in the salt, veggie oil, and powdered milk.

Alright, here comes the fun part...I usually put in four cups of whole wheat flour, whisking it one cup at a time until it becomes too much for that, then I use a spoon. Next, I add some .... perhaps, a cup of white flour. By that time, the dough is stiff enough to begin kneading.

Exercise time! Turn the sticky dough out onto a floured surface...Start kneading.

Okay, don't let kneading scare you! There are plenty of pretty pictures out there on the Internet to show you how to do this "properly". My kneading looks more like wrestling, but, hey, it works! My bread turns out just fine. Do the best you can...If you need help, check out this video. I do this for about 15 minutes (listen to music or watch TV to cut the boredom, unless you are highly entertained by punching dough around). Alternate kneading on a floured surface and putting it back in the bowl (cleaned out), when it gets sticky and kneading it with oil.

After the kneading, put it in an oiled bowl with a cloth over it and let it rise 45-60 minutes in a warm place. It should double in size.

Then, punch it down (get your kids to do this - it is fun!). Shape into 2 loaves, or roll out and use a biscuit cutter to cut into rolls, or roll out and shape into pizza dough...or braid or whatever. Let it rise again about 30 minutes. Put it in a pre-heated stove (350 degrees) and cook 30-45 minutes for loaves or 20 minutes for rolls.

Any questions?

Your house will smell wonderful and you can flex your muscles and say,"I am a strong, pioneer woman" and your family will think you are crazy! But no one will laugh when they taste this bread. It is DELICIOUS! Even if it turns out funny looking your first time, it will taste wonderful.

See, you did this all by yourself without a machine! Put a gold star on your forehead and have a GREAT DAY!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Lovely Spring Poem

Hello, Friends!

I'm sorry that I haven't been blogging or visiting much over the last few weeks. I have been going from one illness to another. First, the flu, then another UTI and now, a bad cold. So...Whew.

I would like to share with you a link to a beautiful poem, written by my friend, Ruth, over at Visions and Revisions...Spring Planting. Enjoy and I will be back to blogging again as soon as I can.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Monday - Sesame Beef, with brown rice, fruit and Berry Cheesecake Parfaits!

Tuesday - "Easy Chicken", whole wheat noodles, and salad

Wednesday - Brown Sugar Meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli and corn

Thursday - California Grilled Veggie Sandwich, soup of choice and fruit

Friday - Firecracker Grilled Salmon, rice pilaf and baby greens

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Roast Leg of Lamb, Easy Arugula Salad, Oven Roasted Red Potatoes and Asparagus


As for our observance of Holy Week, we will be reading Bible scriptures of Christ last days, His Atonement and Resurrection. We will be watching...Franco Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth", which contains, in my humble opinion, the absolute best characterization of Christ that I have seen anywhere (hm.m.m, am I sure this is a humble opinion?). In addition, we will be discussing Gratitude during Family Night, tonight. There is so much for which to be grateful, but especially as we contemplate the sacrifice of our Savior.

Have a splendid Monday and I hope to see you back here tomorrow!