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Saturday, September 29, 2007

A little bit of France

Yes, we have been missing from the blogging world again this week. No, we didn't take a trip to France. But, we did have a little bit of France here with us. Marc has a hobby - 3D illustration/animation - that allows him the privilege of friendships with people all around the world. There's Nick in Australia, Harold in Germany, and the list could go on and on. I love hearing all about these friends that he's met over the years. The only one we've actually met in person is Francois (pronounced "fran-swah") from France.

This is the third year that he has come to visit us, and we always look forward to his visits. Hopefully one day we'll make it to France to visit him, and meet his wife and two kids!

We spent the whole day yesterday at the coast - the coastal weather in Northern California is always rather cool, and yesterday we experienced a wide range of weather. The day started off overcast and a little foggy, then we had a misty-like rain, and then the sun came out, the skies were a beautiful blue, and the weather warmed up considerably.

We started off walking around the touristy, coastal town of Mendocino, and then walked along the edge the coastal cliffs.

We always have to take our picture at this very large bench that sits on the edge of a cliff, looking out towards the ocean. We also discovered a pathway down to some jagged rocks and did some tide pool exploring.

We didn't find anything, but it was still fun to revert back to childhood days of searching for ocean creatures in those little pockets of water. After that, we went to a bookstore where we picked out this book for our growing library of children's books.

By that point the rain had started, so rather than taking the mile walk to see the lighthouse in the rain, we decided to find a cafe to have some lunch. We had some good food and as we left the cafe, we were happy to find clear, blue skies! So, we went back to the lighthouse and enjoyed the most beautiful weather of the afternoon.

We had such a fun day! It was great to get away for a day together. We really enjoyed our time with Francois and are already looking forward to his visit next year!

Fountains of Life

After our trip to the coast yesterday, I was thinking about how much I needed a day away from our normal, everyday schedule. Days like that remind me of how blessed I am, and I come away with a renewed love for life.

There is a beautiful quote by John Muir that I have always loved.

"Thousands of tired, nerve shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."

There is something powerful about being in nature that can take away any fears, worries, or painful feelings (if only for a moment) and fill us with energy and peace. Somewhere in that process, hidden wounds are healed.

In my list of top ten most profound life experiences, the majority of them have taken place in a natural environment. My life has been impacted by those experiences. They define so much of who I am. I love nature in and of itself, but I also love it because of the peace and healing that I find.

So, go out and just be in nature. Let yourself soak up the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the textures of things in nature. Don't be rushed and don't be distracted. Enjoy the moment and let nature's fountains of life fill you up.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Staying Alive...

What a blast! Marc and I chaperoned a dance tonight and it was a costume dance - 50s, Disco, or Cowboy. I love having an excuse to get all decked out and decided to go with the Disco theme. Marc, unfortunately, had to attend a meeting for part of the time while I was at the dance, so he didn't dress up with me. I did, however, make him wear my wig for part of it! (I'll have to get the wig back to get a picture of Marc wearing it - it's priceless!)

Anyway, we had a great time hanging out, reminiscing about our own high school dances, the excitement and the awkwardness that we experienced in those early days, and we even enjoyed a couple of slow songs together. It was so much fun!

Thanks to my Mom's closet where I found my sweet jacket-thingy and to a good friend who let me borrow her afro wig, I was all set. I almost wish I had real hair like that! How cool would that be?!

As you can see, Einstein is really curious about this whole new look I'm sporting!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's Orangeleafytime!

Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.

I'll give you one guess what movie I'm quoting. :)

Yesterday it was summer - we had 81 degree weather, blue skies, warm sun, short-sleeve, flip-flop kind of day. Today we woke up and it was Autumn. It is currently 65 degrees, partly cloudy skies, wind blowing, with a very cool, crisp air. In fact on the news this morning they said there would be some snow up in the mountains near Tahoe. In September? Yep, Summer is officially over.

I actually really enjoy the changes in seasons. I love this time of year - getting out my sweaters and socks, piling more blankets on the beds, watching the leaves change color and carpet the sidewalks, curling up on the couch and listening to the wind blow outside or the sound of the rain on the skylight, pulling out all of my favorite recipes that I've set aside for cooler days. Well, those days are here, and I couldn't be happier.

Being back in school this semester and coaching a soccer team has made me even more reminiscent of those childhood days of Autumn. I love the flood of memories that come with the smell in the air, the changes in nature... it's beautiful!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Life has been so busy since I got back from my little trip! I feel like my "busy-ness" has sucked all creative energy out of me... maybe part of the reason is that I've had to focus so much energy on catching up. I'm hoping to be completely caught up very soon!

So, I don't really have anything exciting to say. But, I thought I'd share my most recent favorite song. It's a cute love song by Colbie Caillat. I especially love the lyrics. So, enjoy this for today... :)

"You make me smile, please stay for a while."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Calzone Recipe

For those of you who might be interested, here's the recipe for the Calzones.

Dough (you can also use your favorite pizza dough recipe):
1 Tbls. yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. honey
3-4 cups flour

Mix ingredients until dough is manageable (not sticking to your fingers). Divide dough into whatever size you prefer, and roll out to your desired thickness. The dough will thicken as it bakes, so it's a good idea to roll it out rather thin. Make an oval shape with the rolled out dough. (This dough recipe should make about 4 large calzones.)

Tomatoes or pizza sauce
Bell peppers
Parmesan (the real stuff)
Italian sausage (already cooked)

On one half of the oval pile on whatever toppings you prefer, making sure to keep about an inch of dough around the edge free from any toppings. Then, fold over the other side onto the toppings and seal the edges of the dough together. Starting from one end, roll the edge of the dough in a continuous twist all the way to the other end, making sure that the dough is completely sealed. Otherwise, the toppings will spill out onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle a little Parmesan on top. Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes.

Here's what the end result should look like:


So some of you have noticed that we haven't been around for the last week, so I thought I'd sit down this morning and play catch up.

Last Friday I flew out to Utah to spend some time with my older sister and help her with the arrival of her sixth baby... only that the baby decided not to come on time. Her due date was on Monday, so I scheduled my trip to be from Friday until Wednesday thinking that I would be there in perfect timing. So much for my plans!

I was sad to leave knowing the baby will probably come in the next few days, but it was still a fantastic trip! I was able to spend five fabulous days with my big sister, spend some time with my little sister, hang out with three of my brothers and their families, and play with a bunch of my nieces and nephews. It was a fun-filled trip, which didn't leave for a lot of spare time to sit and post on our blog.

Unfortunately Marc had to stay home to work. But, I hear that Einstein and Watson kept him good company. I did a lot of baking while I was in Utah, and I promised Marc that he would get all the same treats when I got home. I think he'll be most excited about the Calzones I'm going to make him tonight. YUM!

So, if you were wondering where we were, that's where. But, we're back! And, yes, we missed you, too! :)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)

I heard on the news this morning that Luciano Pavarotti lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. I was surprised at the sadness that filled my heart when I heard the news. As one person said today in their description of Pavarotti - "There were tenors, and then there was Luciano Pavarotti." I guess I feel some small connections with him that made him seem more personal to me.

My mission in Italy started in the magical town of Modena, which happens to be the birth place of Pavarotti. While I was in Modena, I actually met a man who sang with Pavarotti in high school. His name was Oscar Bozzoli. Oscar would tell us about Pavarotti and his memories with him... and then he'd sing for us in his large tenor voice. And, somehow those interactions with Oscar made me feel like I also knew Pavarotti.

The funeral services today will be held at the Modena Duomo, which I rode past on my bike at least 10 times a day for the 6 months that I was in Modena.

The relatively unknown city of Modena still feels like home to me, even 8 years later. My thoughts are filled with memories of Italy and sadness at the death of a great man who touched the world with his voice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Leap of Faith

The topic of faith has been on my mind a lot lately. I think "faith" is one of those principles that I think at times I've mastered... only to then approach a new situation in life that tests my faith on a new level. What does it mean to have faith? And how do we show our faith as we face "the unknown"?

Well, there is a really great clip in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that illustrates the basics of faith really well.

Don't you just love that?! How many times have you found yourself standing at the edge of the unknown, scared to death, taken a deep breath, and then plunged forward, not knowing how things are going to turn out? As frightening as those situations can be, there is great joy that follows, when we've taken a step into the darkness and found light on the other side. Well, Elder Packer says it much better:

"Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that "leap of faith," as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two."

Through my own experiences I've learned that when I face difficult, faith-trying moments in life, I can trust in God. I can trust that He will give me the courage to move forward, that He will answer my prayers, that He will provide a way where there doesn't appear to be a way.

Having faith doesn't mean that life will be easy, but it does mean that we won't be paralyzed by fear and doubt. It means things will still be unknown (to us), but having faith means we can take God's hand and trust that He will lead us to a place of peace and safety. I'm grateful to know that He knows where to lead us and how to get us there, 'cause I haven't got a clue.

So, whatever "unknown" you're currently facing, just take a deep breath and make that leap of faith....