Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love. Peace. Joy

This year was a simple year with simple but wonderful joys! Watching Keira grow and reach milestones has been so much fun! She's now an adorable curious toddler full of love and excitement. She's so much fun to play with, not to mention a great workout for me, along with my other workouts (she's a great tool for yoga/pilates!) It is the greatest feeling ever when she gives me hugs, especially big ones!!! And her smile always makes me melt, as does her daddy's! ;) Taylor and I are so blessed and grateful that the Lord has entrusted us to nurture and raise this beautiful girl. She made this year for me exciting everyday, as I anticipate what she'll learn next! The the only thing I had wanted to do this past year was go to the beach for my birthday with my family (but it didn't happen unfortunately!) But really, it doesn't matter, I have fun doing anything and being creative with where I am. I truly love just being a mom and wife. Just making dinners for them, playing with them, and simply being with them makes my life sweet. There's always going to be somewhere you hope go to or something you hope to do during the year, but just doesn't or can't happen. But really, for me, I just know that I enjoy this time I have now. I'm glad my life isn't too busy, I can focus on my roles as a mom & wife and how to keep them happy! (and hopefully prepare for when life gets busier when our family grows!). I'm grateful that I'm able to stay home and raise my daughter. The summer days are always long and gruesome. But also brings a challenge to find ways to stay active and have fun indoors and enjoy teaching my girl too. I strive to make the most of life. My life is so blessed, I'm grateful to the Lord for all he's given me in my life and to be where I am, I couldn't be happier than where I am or with what I have now. I'm so grateful to be alive!

Sweet-N-Simple Highlights for 2010
1. Keira learned to walk! (at 15 months)
2. Grandpa Murphy taught Keira how to do knuckles!
3. Taylor was home a lot during summer for the first time in 4 years!
4. Taylor still has A job. (I'm always thanking the Lord for that, as my parents are still struggling during this hard time in the economy)
5. Keira went on her first little ride in her Grandparents Rhino!
6. I conquered making cookies better! (just because I'm a mom and thought I should)
7. I lost 35 lbs!!!
I'm excited to see what 2011 brings and see what my darling Keira will do next!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gotta love Christmas music!

One of my greatest memories growing up was listening to my dad play his violin and my mom play classical guitar. They both together cherished classical music and as a hobby together have always gone to classical concerts. So I'm very grateful to have gained a deep appreciation for classical music because of them. My mom's collection of Christmas music is (((HUGE))) as well as my dad's classical music collection. My mom would even start listening to Christmas music in October sometimes because she wanted to try to listen to as many of her CD's as possible! ( times I had to beg my mom to take a break so I wouldn't go bonkers and hide her music! hah!) But it truly made our family get into the Christmas spirit indeed.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have always listened to George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" throughout December. My dad often holding the thick bound music book singing along to the music. I loved going with them to see the "Messiah" performed at the Oakland Temple and have seen other religions perform it as well. It never ceases to amaze me at how strong the spirit is when it is performed. It is astounding that Handel wrote it in a mere two-three weeks! He was truly inspired! (he always donated money from his concerts to a charity and a London Hospital to the orphans and the ill.) My parents have performed with various programs of the "Messiah" and currently sing in the LDS Glendale Phoenix Stake performance every year. I have sang the "Hallelujah" chorus song in my church choir a couple years ago and enjoyed it immensely! I look forward to doing again when I have the chance. My church stake performed it this year and I went with my parents to enjoy it. I'm always humbled with each word, each scripture, it takes my soul into a different realm of thinking. It makes me reflect on the Savior and His grand atonement and perfect life. His ability to conquer death and ressurect is truly unfathomable. I am so greatful to have a knowledge and testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ, and know that He loves me and knows me. And I know that it is up to me to seek and learn of Him and daily choose to be like Him in all that I do. I am grateful to live for Him and do as He did. Which is, to do the Lords will.

These are my favorite scripture passages used in the "Messiah":

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

"Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:6

"Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, Hallelujah! The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever, King of Kings and Lord of Lords." Revelation 19:6, 11:15, 19:16

"I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and tho' worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep." Job 19:25-26, 1 Corinthians 15:20
"Behold I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a twinkling of a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." 1 Corinthians 15:57

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to recieve power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever." Revelation 5:12-13
Indeed, Christmas music is part of the magic of Christmas. It's the only type of song that I can listen to in any genre of music, whether it's Celtic, Country, Hip-Hop... it's just all around fun. And my mom has a lot of really annoying ones, that our family all had fun laughing at. I played the Chimpmunks, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth," and Keira just looved it, so we played that all month. I have great memories of my Grandpa singing, "Yingle Bells," and boy, was he good at it. My sister and I wrote a song when we were young called, "I remember Christmas" and I still love singing it with her. Oh, how I love Christmas music! This Christmas we stayed home in Arizona. And Taylors parents came down from Utah and stayed with us. It was great to have them here and for Keira to spend time with them. They were so generous in their kind gifts to us (we are so grateful!) They gave Keira a tricycle and the adorable toy I had my eyes on, it's a little fairy boot house that has cute little lights/sounds. And I gave her a fairy toy to ride on, and lots of Megablok stuff. I think she's set with toys for the year!

We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Kate & Uncle Matt's house. Grandpa taught Keira how to do knuckles and Aunt Kate taught Keira how to speak some chinese! Keira loved Aunt Kate's Keyboard/Piano, she was playing some fun circus-like music, it was so funny! We also visited my parents at their home and enjoyed some good food of course! I'm so grateful for the time we had with all of our families. We had a wonderful blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Once there was a crappy cookie maker...but not anymore!

Growing up I loved watching my mom cook various things like bread, casseroles and of course cookies. I remember attempting to make a long tedious bread cake from one of her recipe books with a friend when we were 10 years old. We slaved in the kitchen, asking my mom for help when we needed it. The end result wasn't as tasty as I'd hoped, so I didn't know if it was us that sucked or if the recipe sucked. But it was still a neat remarkable thing that we accomplished. And so as I've grown up I've always loved trying and making new things, but for some reason I was always annoyed with making cookies. I made them a couple times, but would get bored with the list of ingredients and hated the taste of the end result. I hated crunchy hard cookies, such as hard gingerbread or chocolate chip cookies, which were how some of my moms cookies were, I wanted them soft. And believe it or not, I'm not a huge chocoholic like most women in the world, another reason why I didn't like chocolate chip cookies very much. But hey! I'm not dissing all of my sweet mothers cookies! She made some of the most amazing Christmas cookies EVER! And since I've been married, I've mastered most of my mother's wonderful family casseroles and dinners, (I've also invented some of my own dishes and discovered our own family favorite recipes). Like I said, I love to make new recipes ALL the time! Anyhow, I haven't tried making her cookies yet, and ever since I've become a mother, I've wanted to try various cookie recipes and find ones that I will make throughout the year and make every year for Christmas. I want my children to love my cookies and love making them with me. We all know that food are tied with memories. We all have a favorite dessert or cookie that makes us flashback to great times with our families.

My husband will ask me often, "What's for dessert?" (and they say women have the bigger sweet tooth, Humph! ~rolls eyes~) He knows we can't have dessert all the time. But of course, the hard working man that he is, deserves a treat! ;) So I've made brownies for him often. And he loves cookies, so I had to get over not wanting to make them. All year I tried several chocolate chip cookie recipes, until he told me he loved them (and I had to love them too!) So I will tell you, I now can Love a chocolate chip cookie. Why? because this recipe keeps them soft, the way I like it. And I had to change something else in order for me to like them... my little secret, (which my neighbor now loves) is using milk chocolate (Belgian especially) instead of semi-sweet chocolate! (am I the only one that thinks semi-sweet chocolate gets old and nasty after one or two bites?!?) So I conquered the chocolate chip cookie search! finally!
So I knew I could embark on the tougher cookie recipes....Christmas cookies! I have a ton of recipes so I went through them. I had to find something with cranberry. To me, Cranberry anything screams Christmas! I love the smell, the taste, the look, everything about it. They are beautiful & delicious in every way. I decorate with it, so I have to cook with it! :) So, I made Betty Crocker's Cranberry Orange Pinwheels. They were excellent! My mom and friends adored them! (my mom made a similar recipe to these that I'd forgotten about.) Even Taylor liked them, and he's not fond of most cranberry foods, I was surprised he even tried it, haha! And the other cookie I made are called Walnut Balls, but I call them Walnut Snowballs. They are so yummy, they melt in your mouth. So I'm thrilled that I've gone from crappy cookie-maker to cookie crackerjack...(so far! and I'm forever grateful to my mother-in-law for giving me a Kitchen Aid mixer, it makes it more easy & fun!) Because when it comes down to it, either I just suck at making the cookie or the cookie recipe simply just sucks!