Sunday, February 28, 2021

Winter Highlights Backwards

DISCLAIMER: When I uploaded the hundred something photos to this highlight blogpost, I couldn't see the images, and I ended up uploading them in reverse chronological order.  Rather than take the time to correct it all, I'm just going to let it stay, and you can take a walk backwards in time.   There's all sorts of fun things that happened between December 2020 and February 2021: Christmas, New Years Celebration, My Birthday, Cooking Challenges, Steve's Early Birthday Celebration.  So, enjoy this highlight post of the fun that happened!

Steve's Early Birthday Celebration

Since Steve's birthday fell on a weekday, and that meant that he would have to work and would be too exhausted to do any sort of fun celebrations, we planned to celebrate on the Sunday before his birthday.  He wanted to play the Harry Potter game and try to beat Year 5. (which we finally did! ...after 4 hours!!!) He also just wanted to eat snacks and his special Lemon Creme Cake.

Amara split up confetti among herself, me, and Lily.  Then when Steve walked in the house after coming home from church, we all tossed confetti on him.  

Steve prefers snacks to meals

Stake Relief Society Fireside

Because of the pandemic restrictions, the activities in the church were greatly missed.  As things began to open back up somewhat, my presidency and I decided to do a fireside for the stake. We asked people to wear masks and social distance, or watch our livestream from home.  We had a great turnout with around 60 people attending in person and around 80 watching over our livestream, and last I looked there were over 300 views of the event after it was posted online.  We ended up having to take down the video from the web because of church policy, but it was nice to have been able to reach so many more people using technology.

"Encircled in a Spiritual Hug" was our theme, which is what we felt everyone of us needed.  Our speakers for the evening truly brought the spirit and inspired us all.  We also had several musical numbers, one of which was sung by yours truly and my daughter, Lily.  It turned out to be a beautiful evening.  

I conducted the evening and the following was the piece I said about the bookmarks:

"Each of you here this evening have been given a bookmark.  For those joining us virtually, please see your ward relief society presidents as we will be sending extra bookmarks to them.  On this bookmark is the fine art print done by Annie Henrie Nader entitled “Forget Me Not.”  The picture shows a woman kneeling, hands clasped in prayer, worry on her face. Behind her, she is held in the comforting embrace of our Savior, whose expression is one which matches her own, one of concern and care.  I love that His gaze is focused on the same thing her’s is focused on.  True to life, our Savior cares about what we care about. As we come to him with our concerns, he is near and comforts us.  You’ll notice that the woman in the picture is surrounded by the little blue forget-me-not flowers, which was the inspiration for this painting.  Sometimes we feel forgotten and need the reminder that the Savior doesn’t forget us.  

Quoting Isaiah 49:

But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.

For can a awoman forget her sucking child, that she should not have bcompassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may cforget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.

Behold, I have graven thee upon the apalms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

Let us remember to seek the Savior and commit to being in the same boat with Him, for He is the only one who can truly calm the storms in our lives.

The scripture on the back of the bookmark reads: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” -Joshua 1:5  I believe that. It is my testimony that the Savior is aware of each of us and our very personal circumstances.  I know he strengthens us as we commit to going where He wants us to go, and trying our best to follow Him.  He loves you.  I hope you feel that deeply. As a part of my calling, I am given the opportunity to feel the love the Savior has for you, and it is real. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

Random Photos 

Modified Winter Dance Performance

Again, the pandemic restricted many things, including the girls dance.  They had to wear masks for their weekly classes at the studio, even while dancing and also try to social distance.  The winter performance had to have a different venue because of the group restrictions at the auditorium where they normally perform.  It wasn't ideal, but they made it work.  Audience members were grouped by households and distanced 4-6 feet from other family groups.  Everyone had to wear a mask.  The girls could remove their masks only for their performance.  They did a beautiful job and I'm so glad they got to perform, even if it had to be modified.

Marco Polo Cooking Challenge

Last year we did the Marco Polo cooking challenge with my family as a fun way to connect when we had to be distant because of the pandemic.  We took a break from it for a time, but then decided to reinstitute it this year.  It was really fun to connect.  This time, we are doing it twice/month as opposed to weekly.  The winner chooses the next challenge and gets to be the judge.  It has been fun.

One of the challenges we participated in was to make a recipe we find on the internet and submit the photo of the recipe along with our version.
My version of korean baked chicken thighs

My reference recipe and picture

Another challenge issued was cooking your entire meal over a fire.  I used the grill for my fire and had grilled beef and vegetable shish-ka-bobs, served with rice and Garlic-Butter-Pull-Apart-French Bread with a hot artichoke-spinach-cheese dip.

Super Cool Skies

My Little Entrepreneurs

Amara made a digital flyer and had me post it on Facebook.  Within a day she had an awesome part-time job babysitting twice/ week for a few hours.  

Lily continued making earrings and selling them online with Facebook.  She experimented with making lightweight clay earrings as well, which turned out super cute.  Each pair of earrings was uniquely created by her.  

Winter Wonder

Is this still considered an icicle if it formed from the bottom up?  I'm too tired to look up the answer.  Anyway, these two icy stalagmites formed from the dripping of the twin vents from our bathrooms whenever we'd shower and the steam would make it's way out the vent and condensate around the edges and drip down, and then freezing pretty quickly since we're in one of the coldest winter climates in Utah.  Cool, huh?  The taller one is probably around 6.5 feet tall.

My 39th Birthday

I have such a sweet family who makes me feel so loved and special.  My husband made me a beautiful and super tasty cheesecake!  He used his Italian Aunt's recipe, and it's perfect!

For my birthday dinner, Steve made lasagne, asian salad and brussel sprouts.  YUM!  I love all those things!

WOW!  Steve knows how to make a cheesecake look beautiful. 

The house was decorated all cutsie for me.  Can you guess who created the centerpiece below?  If you guessed my mom, then you're right.  She's all about stuffed animals.
Look at my birthday breakfast!  Amara made me a vanilla yogurt parfait, buttered toast, and a cheese egg omelet with lemon water to drink with a striped umbrella straw. Oh! And Werthers and Almond Joy (she knows me well)!  My mom got me a happy bouquet of yellow carnations.
Since my birthday was a Sunday, we celebrated on Saturday by going to a play called Daddy Long Legs.  It was so cute and was such a perfect evening.
Before the play, we picked up dinner at Grilled and Glazed.  Their food is really good!

I ordered the chopped salad and a cup of the ginger squash soup.  Both were delicious!

Steve got me a really expensive gift this year- a new laptop, which I absolutely love!
I also love that he wrapped it in brown paper and tied it up in strings.  I love him for those little details!  I love my family so much!  Celebrating birthdays with them is THE BEST!

Random Fun

Here's Pippin assuming his begging position.  And Lily enjoying her pizza hot pocket on her favorite chair.  We bought that rocking recliner when Lily was born so I'd have a comfy spot to nurse her.  Now she loves that chair!  

Another Marco Polo cooking challenge was to make something healthy.  My meal was not only healthy, but OH SO YUM!  I won this challenge.
My plate with a little of everything

Wild rice with quinoa, and a 3 bean salad with parsley

Spinach-parmesan stuffed steak pinwheels

A beet salad with radishes, clementines, arugula, and a homemade orange vinegarette.

Amara and I one night decided to do yard renovations.  One of us would draw on a white board a yard that needed help and the other would go in and make renovations by erasing and drawing a better yard.  It was fun.
The "after."  An old trough became a fire pit area, the barn got upgraded with a bigger door and turned into a large garage space with built in storage.  The pond got cleaned up and a dock added.  The open dirt turned into a picnic patio with outdoor kitchen next to a raised garden area.  The broken fence was replaced by a new vinyl one and the hill boasts a waterfall.  Clean grass was added under the mature tree, and gravel added to the space next to the garage.

The "before."

New Years Eve Party

We partied at April's new house in Springville.  The little kids found a fun game in sneaking up on grandma and capturing her head with their shirts.

Micah found April's leg massager and gave it a go, which was hilarious because he has thick, muscular calves and the massage was meant for much smaller legs.

Our spread was yummers!  We had crackers, meats, cheese, fruit, salsa, chips, veggies, and dip.  To toast the new year, we had sparkling grape juice.

Visiting Family Over Christmas Break

Amara and Jay's preferred talking location was the porch swing outside in the cold dark night.

This is Toby, Jake and Kelli's dog.  He's cute and sits up like this for a trick.  He's also great at pushing a ball around!
So, Jake's family came to visit for the holidays! It was so fun to have them here!

Gathering at Micah and Mandy's house for a ham dinner!  Food with family makes me so happy.

Micah has the pink elephant!  When I saw this in his basement, I had to get a picture!  My grandpa made that elephant for us when we were kids and it was a FAVORITE toy!  The trunk made a great clacking sound as we'd rock on the elephant's back, and we could fit more than one kid at a time on there.  We'd pull the thick rope tail if we needed to move the big guy around.  Sometimes we'd even knock him down turn him over, and climb into the hollow belly to pretend we were in a boat.  We all got our fingers or toes smashed at one time or another by getting too close when he was being rocked on.  My mom drew new eyes on him with a permanent marker when the blue ball eyes got broken off.  That was a well-loved toy!

Our final lunch date with Jake was at a Mongolian BBQ restaurant near April's house.

Because of Covid restrictions, our party of greater than 10 was asked to separate onto different tables.

High Tea With Grandma Debby in Provo

Now this was a very enjoyable first for me.  I've never had high tea before, but it was such a fun and fancy experience.  I brought my kiddos along, but Steve preferred that we spare the expense of bringing him along.  Truth be told, he would've loved their frozen hot chocolate.  This restaurant is called Taste and it's in downtown Provo.  They specialize in fine chocolate and I'll tell you, their chocolate was rich and decadent.  No Hersheys syrup here folks.

My daughters are growing up sooo fast.  They are good teenagers and I'm glad I could treat them to this experience.

My frozen hot chocolate.  Go there and get this!

The herb teas were pretty, but I recommend getting chocolate.

The foods were small, but even so, I was full before I could try everything (I blame the chocolate drink).  I liked everything, some things better than others, but several from our group were not fans of the olive oil lemon cake thing.
the fancy restaurant

More Fun With Family

Bridger, Tommy, Alexa, and Levi all barely fit onto the little picnic table.

snow angels Amara and Jay made
We chose a crazy windy, cold, blizzard day to go for a family hike to bridal veil falls.  It was sorta nuts, but definitely memories.  I remember the littlest kids were FREEZING! We had to carry, protect, and motivate them to keep moving forward.  The wind was so bitter at our faces on the hike to the falls, but on the way back, it was at our backs and felt fine.

Fun that both my dad and my mom could be there.  Can you see the falls above us?

A Christmas Jerusalem Dinner at the Christensen/Haroldsen Home

Homemade pita bread, cucumbers, lettuce, dried fruits, olives, and more.

Beverli and Steve's mom planned out this lovely spread and gathering.  We had a meal of old world foods that would've been similar to the foods of Jesus' time.  The house was lit with candle light and we ate on the floor, seated around tables that were folded down.
lentils and latkes

homemade challah

seated around on the floor

This was a fun experience, and so memorable!  

Winter Random

the view from April's new house, upper level

Lily and Amara doing a hoodie selfie

Christmas 2020

Surprise!  Amara got a bike for Christmas!  Our good friend, Iris, up the road volunteered to hide the bike in her garage until Christmas Day.  Amara opened a gift that had riddles and led her from clue to clue until she ended up at Iris' house. It was a real fun way to surprise Amara.

The Christmas aftermath

Lily got some fashionable and warm snow boots.

Christmas morning for Pippin too

Stockings on the table

Christmas Eve Jammies

Our family newsletter

A Walk in the Ice

Cooking with April

April makes some delicious cinnamon rolls!  They're gorgeous, too!

And it's always nice to go on a daddy-daughter lunch date when were in the area!