It’s been hot and dry here (as expected for Utah in the summer time), and both Graham and I have been getting bored with the usual things we do. I’ve been looking for fun places to go and activities to for free or very inexpensive.
Driving down Center Street in Provo a couple of weeks ago I spotted the splash pad in Pioneer Park. I didn’t even know there was a splash pad there! I knew we’d be going there soon, and now that we’ve been, I know we’ll be going back often.
He was a little apprehensive at first, but it didn’t take long for him to jump right in and have fun.
The water starts every hour from 10am until 8pm, and after each water show there’s a 15 minute break to encourage kids to take bathroom breaks. There’s a playground nearby, picnic tables, shade trees and grass, landscaping, and statues, not to mention downtown Provo starts just across the street. Honestly, you could make a full day out of visiting that park.
Graham had a great time, and we may be going there each week from now on. It’s free, and Graham just loves to play in water!
Like father like son.
I’m one lucky lady to have these handsome boys in my life!
I have very fond memories of Christmas mornings as a child. The night before, my brothers and I would build forts in one of our bedrooms staying up late talking, giggling, playing with flashlights, and squirming with excitement in our makeshift beds on the floor about the magical next day. My mom and dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while they inspected what Santa had brought us, and the anxiety of all of our new toys and gifts being right around the corner would drive us nuts. And then they’d tell us to come on down, and we would dive down the stairs, jumping over one another to find our individual pile of goodies, taking turns unwrapping and sharing our presents, and spending time together in the beautiful glow of the Christmas lights and warm morning sunshine. My mom didn’t want to miss any of the fun, and being the smart and wonderful woman she is, she would plan ahead so that all she had to do was pour batter in muffin tins and let them bake. It took her all of 5 minutes in the kitchen and then she could get back to family time.
I’ve been incredibly busy lately (I won’t make a list of everything I’ve got on my plate, but trust me, it’s more than you’re thinking), and I have a hard time not only getting meals prepared, but making sure they’re healthy and balanced. Make-ahead and grab-and-go snacks and meals are quickly becoming my best friends. I remembered this recipe for these muffins and decided they would be my saving grace in the upcoming hectic weeks… At least, for breakfast and snacks.
I bought a 4-quart glass mixing bowl with a lid just so I could make these. They’re Raisin Nut Bran muffins made with buttermilk, but we call them Six-Week Muffins in my family. As long as you keep them sealed and refrigerated, the batter stays good for six weeks (unless you bake and eat it all within the first week). That’s a month and a half! My morning routine can now include popping these in the oven after showering and by the time I’m finished putting on makeup and fixing my hair, breakfast is ready. I can take these on-the-go to work or class, or I can enjoy them with my family at the table for breakfast. They’re delicious with just a dab of butter or your favorite jam on them. And the best part: they’re packed with raisins, nuts, and fiber. They’re pretty healthy, as far as muffins go (excluding the buttermilk and shortening).
I adjusted my mom’s recipe a little to include oats. So here’s my version of the recipe.
Raisin Nut Bran Buttermilk Muffins (aka Six Week Muffins)
Mix, then set aside:
2 cups boiling water with
5 teaspoons of baking soda
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar.
In a large (4-quart or larger) bowl or container, mix shortening/sugar with the following:
4 eggs (beaten fluffy)
5 cups bran flakes cereal
1 cup oats
2 cups raisins or chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 quart buttermilk
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Add in the water/baking soda last. Bake in greased muffin tins (with or without paper muffin cups) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Store in air-tight container in refrigerator. DO NOT STIR BATTER. Scoop from the top. Batter keeps for about 6 weeks.
Tips & ideas:
- My 4-quart bowl barely fits all this batter in it when I first mix it up. I have to carefully stir it all together so that it doesn’t spill out everywhere.
- Walnuts are optional. Try using pecans, sunflower seeds, or any other nuts or seeds you’re interested in.
- Instead of raisins, try dehydrated cranberries, cherries, apricots, or chopped dates. Or any other dried fruit or berry you want to experiment with. You really can’t go wrong.
- I use quick oats in mine, but any kind of oats you’d use to make oatmeal should work just fine.
- I use powdered buttermilk because it keeps so long in the fridge. I never think to go buy fresh buttermilk (is that an oxymoron?) from the grocery store when I bake. Luckily, the powdered stuff works splendidly. Just follow the instructions for how to use it on the container it comes in.
- You might try putting some quick directions on the container you store the batter in so that you don’t have to go and find this recipe every time you want to use the batter and bake a batch of these delicious muffins.
Enjoy this easy, make-ahead solution to your busy mornings!
Or big family brunches.
Or anytime, really.
Don’t let the name fool you. I mean, it is really quick to make, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious! It’s perfect for a chilly evening or a rainy afternoon, wearing your comfiest sweatpants and wrapped up in your snuggliest blanket. The sweet corn in this savory creamy soup releases all of my tension and thaws out my cold fingers and toes. In a nutshell: it makes me happy.
FYI: I adapted my Creamy Soup & Sauce Base recipe to create this.
Quick Corn Chowder
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup corn (frozen or freshly sliced off the ear)
1-2 large potatoes, diced and cooked
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (garlic salt or powder)
3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
Heat butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add onion and corn. Saute 10 – 12 minutes. Add flour, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Stir until evenly mixed and bubbling. Add in potatoes. Stir in 3 cups of broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously for one minute. It will thicken quickly. To make it a thinner, add last cup of broth, stirring until it’s brought back to a boil. Add more until desired consistency is reached. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.
Shared this on Instagram today as I lazily munched it for lunch.
Tips and ideas:
- I actually didn’t use potatoes in the picture here. I had about a cup of leftover brown rice sitting in the fridge, so I put that in instead. (I hate wasting food–especially perfectly good leftovers!) Odd, perhaps, but man, it was still so good! So feel free to look through your fridge and see if there are any leftovers you could throw in–finely chopped bell peppers, bacon or ham, Italian sausage, sliced up green beans, green onion, etc. Go with whatever flavors you’re in the mood for–it will be really hard to ruin it.
- Try topping the soup with grated cheese.
I’ve been obsessed with this creamy base I’ve developed over the last few months. I know this kind of thing is pretty basic, but the possibilities of how to use this are pretty endless. It’s perfect for sauces, and I add a little more liquid to make it into a creamy soup. Bob requests it at least once a week and Graham eats everything that I drizzle it over.
[Note: I forgot to take pictures the most recent time I made this, so pictures are to come! I'm sure I'll be making it again in the next week or so.]
Janae’s Creamy Soup & Sauce Base
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (garlic salt or powder) [optional]
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (for soup, use 3-4 cups broth)
2/3 cup milk (for soup, use 1 cup milk)
Heat butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add onion and saute 7-10 minutes, or as long as desired. Add flour, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Stir until evenly mixed and bubbling. Stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously for one minute. It will thicken quickly. To make it a thinner, add more broth, water, or milk a half a cup at a time, stirring until it’s brought back to a boil and desired consistency is reached.
Here are a few tips and ideas for this recipe:
- If you’re going for seriously rich and decadent comfort food, nix the olive oil and replace it with an additional 3 tbsp of butter. You can even split the 2/3 cup of milk with part buttermilk if you’re really tapping into your Southern roots. Also use fresh ground pepper and 1-2 cloves of finely minced fresh garlic instead of the granulated stuff.
- If you’re going for something lighter and healthier, try using only 1 tbsp of butter and replace the other 2 tbsp with additional olive oil. Use a lower fat milk, or try replacing it with unsweetened and unflavored coconut milk or almond milk. My absolute favorite milk to cook with is the 45 calorie unsweetened coconut milk by SO Delicious. It’s incredibly creamy and low on flavor, making it the perfect milk replacement in any recipe!
- I actually use chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in boiling water for my broth: 1 cube to 1 cup of water. I find that to be much less expensive and space-saving than stocking up on broth the way I do with many of my other ingredients. In recipes like this, the flavor is still very good in the end.
- One of my favorite sauces to make with this is creamy spinach & broccoli sauce. I add 1 cup of chopped broccoli to my boiling water + bouillon cubes and let it boil for about 1 minute, just blanching the broccoli, and add it to the recipe as normal. After the sauce is thickened, I add a handful of chopped spinach (I literally just grab a handful, rinse it, and chop it up–I don’t measure it). It’s perfect over al dente pasta, baked chicken, or anything else you can imagine.
Bob and I just got a new assignment at church. We’re now the teachers for the 10-11 year-old Sunday School class. This past Sunday was our first lesson, and it went really well. The kids are really responsive and eager to learn, which is a huge burden off my shoulders. I was worried they might be disinterested or easily distracted, but boy was I wrong!
We had a lesson from the Old Testament, Genesis 39-41 (Lesson 16 in the Primary manual). It’s about Joseph in Egypt, his false-accusations from Potiphar’s wife, his unfair imprisonment, his ability to interpret dreams, and then his experience as Pharaoh’s second in command during the seven years of plenty in Egypt. We focused a lot of deciding to make good decisions and how to avoid and resist temptations.
At one point I handed one of the boys a single chocolate covered pretzel and told him he had to wait until he got home to eat it. It quickly started melting in his hand, making the task even more difficult. We all discussed ways he could resist eating it, from not looking at it to setting it somewhere away from him. Then I handed out some ‘Decision Certificates’ I made. They wrote their names in the blank on the front, then listed their ideas on how to fill their lives with wholesome things on the back.
(Click on the image for the PDF file for these–4 per page, front & back.)
At the end of the lesson, I handed out these cute little boxes of treats, with the instructions to wait until they arrived home to open them up and eat them.
I even decorated and included the 13th Article of Faith on them.
As soon as I pulled them out of my bag all the girls squealed and said, “Oh! Those are so cute!” It made me smile. Really though. Aren’t they adorable?
Here’s the PDF pattern for free if you’d like to use them sometime as well.
(Click on the image for the PDF template.)
And if you want a blank version, here you go.
(Click on the image for the PDF template.)
Graham caught a cold at the beginning of the week, and along with keeping him from sleeping well, it’s made him cranky and ornery. I’m pretty sure he’s had more tantrums this week than in the past month combined.
After an unusually long, but expected, 3 hour nap this afternoon, I took him out to the park because it was a warm, breezy, sunny evening. I think the fresh outside air and exercise does him good after been cooped up inside all day long. We only stayed about 30 minutes because I needed to get dinner cooking and I didn’t want to wear him out too much. But it was a nice little adventure, and I couldn’t help but snap some pictures with my phone.
So here are some quick, unedited pictures, mostly of the fiery-haired boy.
Offering a robin some wood chips for a snack. He offered it dirt after that.
Spring-time shoe lover.
I love this boy. Even when he wipes snot from his nose to his ear, or when he thinks washing dishes is a splashing game, or when he wakes me up before sunrise because he wants “tow-tow” (toast, aka a pb&j sandwich), or when he has a melt down because I’m putting his black shoes on him instead of his beloved gray shoes (pictured above), or when he grins and runs away as I’m trying to discipline him, or when he wants me and only me to hold him standing up (and screams when I try to sit down), or when he squirms out of my arms to keep playing with his toys when I’m trying to have nightly prayers with him, or when he gets more food in his lap than in his mouth, or when he runs around the house naked after bathtime and pees on the furniture before I can chase him down, I still love him.
In fact, I think I love him more for how much of his silly little personality shows up in those kinds of moments.
I’ve had an unusual history when it comes to college. I’m really bad at school. (Except everything through high school–that was a breeze!) I changed my major 9 times before finding what I really fell in love with, and then I couldn’t make it through all of the first-year courses because of all the emotional and mental issues I was going through in therapy. I was a wreck. I dropped out of school and didn’t think I’d ever go back. I always regretted that, so I planned to finish my last few general education classes online and just get a bachelor’s degree of general studies. But I honestly wasn’t happy with that choice. It was better than nothing, but I still felt so much shame and regret over finally finding a major that I was passionate about, and then being unable to complete it.
Then last year, I realized that I felt ready to try again. I thought I was just crazy at first, and didn’t really make it an option for myself. Then one night, Bob and I talked and talked and the truth came out: I wanted to go back to school and finish that degree.
“Do you mean you want to study online? Or are we moving back to Utah?” Bob asked.
After some contemplation, I replied, “I think I want to move back to Utah.”
I felt bad about that choice in one respect though, because Bob had just finished his coursework in getting his real estate license for the state of California. This would mean he wouldn’t even get the chance to use it. But without hesitation, he supported me in my decision without looking back. I’m so glad I married such a loving and supportive man!
I planned on reapplying to the freshman level courses just like everybody else, but God has a funny way of making sure you know what you should do. What happened next was no coincidence. One day at work, I randomly ate lunch in the employee cafe with a guy named Spencer. Small talk led to the discovery that he was actually a sophomore in BYU’s Industrial Design program. After learning my story, he persuaded me to just email the program director about it, even though classes were starting soon. So I did… three days before the semester started. He readily replied, asking to meet with me. So, that Monday, on the first day of class, I sat in his office and we talked about it. It didn’t take much convincing. He had talked with the other professors and they all seemed to want to see me give it another shot. I got the add-codes so I could add the classes to my schedule, and the following day I sat in the same classroom I had been in a few years back, ready to try one more time.
And I made it through all of the classes this time! I started and completed each of the ones I retook. It’s been a really big deal for me. This is something I’ve fought so hard to do. If my application is accepted and I make it into the professional level courses, it will have taken me 7-8 years to get a BFA. As silly as that might sound to some, I’m really proud of myself. I want to finish and graduate and have that diploma hanging on my wall, because for me it’s so much more than a degree or a career. It will be my victory over the battle of my dark past. It will be my healthy self esteem which emerged from a broken and damaged girl. It will be a symbol of me fighting for myself for the first time ever in my life. Earning that degree will be me living a good life that I never thought I could have: a life of happiness that I deserve.
I turned in my portfolio and application today. Below are six of the 20 pages that I’ve included in it.
The above 2-D assignments were both ones I did the first time I took the classes. I created them using Adobe Illustrator, and I based them on some photographs I found which demonstrated the words we were supposed to be illustrating.
Revalue Assignment: We had to find something that had lost its value, and add value back to it by making it useful in another way.
My professor made up the word “Frizbeck.” This was an assignment where we had to use 3-4 things, use parts from each and create something that looks like a product that actually does something useful, but really doesn’t.
We had to go to Home Depot, and with a budget of $15, create a purse using supplies that we wouldn’t usually consider making a purse from.
We studied bones for about a week, sketching them and really getting a feel for the shapes and forms they create. Then we had to go through the process of making abstract forms based on that bone study. We then carved our final idea out of a block of polyurethane foam, spackled it, primed it, and painted it a color of our choice. The bone I originally studied was a cast of a large dinosaur vertebrae.
Only about 15 students are accepted out of the 35-40 who apply. I’ll find out on Monday if I’ve made it in. Right now I’m feeling pretty confident about it, but I’m also finding myself second guessing a few of my choices of pages that I put in. Well, it’s all out of my hands and there’s no changing it now. I just hope it’s good enough! Wish me luck!
UPDATE: On April 28, 2014, I was officially accepted into the professional level of BYU’s Industrial Design program! I’m SO excited!!!!! This is a dream I didn’t think I’d ever be able to make a reality when I had to stop school to take care of my health issues 3 years ago. I can’t wait to get going on this journey!
Growing up, I was always taught to dress modestly according to both my parents’ and our church‘s standards. In all honesty, I could not have cared any less about it. I was a rebellious, know-it-all teenager with my own set of issues, and when I started feeling oppressed by rules and expectations and standards, I would lash out in defiance to anything that was making me feel confined or like I couldn’t be myself. Why did it matter to anybody else what I wore to clothe myself? Why did my church leaders push modesty so hard and teach it in such irritating and degrading ways?
I’ve heard many arguments and reasons to dress according to that standard of modesty, and none of them have been right. Perhaps I did hear the right reasons at some point, but I was never able to truly understand it because all of the other misleading reasons drowned it out too much: dress modestly so boys won’t think about inappropriate things, because your body is a temple, as a preparation for wearing the holy temple garment, because the prophet said so, because we want to attract the right kind of boys–the list could go on, but those are some of the more common ‘reasons’ I’ve heard. While there may be some truth to some of those, I found them all to be misleading. I was so rebellious that I would purposefully break those standards because they seemed dumb and unimportant to me in comparison to the other problems I was dealing with. In fact, I learned some damaging mistruths from being told to be modest by those motivating factors.
But my defiant, independent, strong-willed self learned better over time.
I’ll influence boys to think of inappropriate things? You’ve got to be kidding me. Millions of girls do much worse than showing their shoulders or 4 inches of skin above their knees, and I’m the one who is responsible for their thoughts? Obviously, I could influence what I want them to think about me by dressing certain ways, but taking their agency out of the equation is the entirely wrong way to teach a girl to dress modestly.
My body is a temple? I understand that it’s a metaphor, but how in the world should a temple dress? Or should it be it based on how we dress in the temple? Have you seen temple gowns that women wear? Floor length, long sleeved, high neck-line, with white stockings underneath. How is that supposed to realistically help me to decide what to wear on a regular basis?
Preparation for wearing garments? In all honesty, even some clothes that are considered modest for teenagers to wear don’t cover up garments completely. Also, garments are worn because of faith and understanding a personal covenant made with Heavenly Father. There’s a very spiritual reason for wearing garments, and it should not be made mundane or become the expectation or reason for dressing modestly until those covenants are made. And even then, wearing clothing just to cover up temple garments shouldn’t be the motivating factor to dress modestly once you’re wearing them.
Because the prophet has counseled us to do so? I understand following commandments by faith, and some people are good at what some might call blind obedience. But a blanket rule for everyone? Specific lengths and requirements of clothing based on some strict standard of what? The “average” female body? How damaging that can be to a girl’s self esteem! Tall girls get to show more leg in a pair of shorts, while, if a shorter girl wore the same pair she’d get to show only her cankles. Busty girls have to wear high neck lines because they’ve been so blessed with breasts, while a more flat-chested girl can wear lower necklines without showing any cleavage. No, a blanket rule of set standards is unfair and misleading in many ways.
In order to attract the ‘right’ kind of boys? I can understand the good intention behind this one, and it’s a bit more on the right track in some ways. But it’s perhaps only part of the real reason we should have for dressing modestly.
That real reason isn’t to obey our parents and it isn’t even to be a good example, though those things do happen as a result of dressing modestly. What we need is to teach our beautiful Young Women to dress modestly because of their own desire to do so. We shouldn’t be putting false-truths in their minds to try and achieve that, nor should we try to scare or punish them into it. Our young ladies need to be loved into it, so that they can love dressing appropriately for themselves.
Why should you dress modestly then? Well, I’ve told you all the wrong reasons. Can you guess what any of the right reasons are?
Your physical body is an amazing gift from Heavenly Father and your life is sacred and your birth was a miracle. Women go through some of the most intense pain and discomfort known to mankind just to bring another little body and spirit into the world. Aren’t you grateful for the talents, abilities, and fun you can have in this life because of your body? Having an attitude of thankful reverence for your own mortality is a good start to understanding why dressing modestly is important.
Most importantly, however, the reason for dressing modestly has absolutely nothing to do with adhering to a list of standards. Clothing ourselves according to those standards might be the way we dress modestly, but that list itself should never ever be the driving force behind following it. The reason for dressing modestly should be something YOU determine. You decide why you want to follow those standards and principles. You choose what motivates you and why doing so brings you joy. There is no all-encompassing reason for modest dressing. It is and should be a very personal purpose that each one of us individually comes up with.
Want to know mine? I’ve got a few, and they’re pretty simple.
I love the Lord. I have faith in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that Joseph Smith was the prophet in these latter-days who restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth so that we all could enjoy the blessings that come with it. We have 12 apostles walking to earth once more! We have the Priesthood available to us as we need it. My husband can offer me blessings of healing or comfort any time I need one, just the same as the Savior offered when he walked the earth 2000 years ago.
I dress modestly because of the joy that fills my heart, the respect I have for myself, and I wear what I want to because when I do, I feel close to the Spirit and I can really focus on the promptings He gives me. I feel my Savior’s love more fully. I can focus on Spiritual things because I’m not distracted by silly physical things, like adjusting a strapless bra underneath a sleeveless top, or tugging a short skirt down so that I don’t accidentally flash my underwear to anyone, or making sure I stand or sit a certain way to look the best in a skin-tight outfit. How could I focus on serving others or listening to the Holy Ghost if I were focusing on my choice of clothing all day long?
Also, I dress modestly because I get cold easily. Bare shoulders and short shorts just make me freeze, whether it’s cold outside or if it’s icy air-conditioned inside.
I do still see the beauty in some immodestly designed clothing. Having studied fashion design and clothing construction, I get excited when I see fashions that are stunningly created, modest or not. It doesn’t mean I’ll wear them, although I’ll readily admit that I would absolutely love to do so under different life circumstances. But I’ve also learned that when we make sacrifices for any purpose, be it a person or a principle, we come to love that person or principle more. True, honest sacrificing miraculously does that, because it’s something we do of our own free will. (If someone else tries to force you to do something, it’s definitely not a sacrifice, it’s just unfair and removes your own agency from you, which is endlessly frustrating–which was my exact experience as a teenager I mentioned above.)
I’m not so focused on the list of standards that I miss the purpose behind it. The point is not to control what boys think or show how perfect of an example you are being. The purpose is to show your own faith and testimony through your physical appearance. It’s entirely up to you how you go about doing that. Nobody can do it for you, because it’s a very personal matter. The Lord knows our hearts though, and He’ll know if we’re trying to justify something we feel deep down that we shouldn’t be wearing, or if we’re stubbornly sticking to the idea that we’re an exception to some rule of modesty. We have recommended guidelines to help us as we learn to decide for ourselves what our individual standards will be, but in the end those guidelines should never control our decisions on how we dress. We should be the ones deciding for ourselves if what we wear is modest, and as we practice making those decisions in that way, we will come to know if something is or isn’t up to our own personal set of standards.
Dig deep. What are your reasons for dressing modestly? And if you have none, I challenge you to find out if you should have some.
Bob grew a nice full beard all winter long. Then he went out of town for a week. When he came back he had shaved his beard into a…. well, this:
I think his facial hairstyle needs a name. I suggested Archibald (punny, much?), but Bob didn’t like it. Our friend Lindsi suggested Lord Alfred Pennyworth. In the end, Bob got a new job and decided to shave his facial hair into something a little more normal for these days. (He now has a Wolverine-worthy set of chops.) I’m glad I captured this while I could!