Friday, May 17, 2013

Twenty-seven.

My poor mom thought she was getting a sweet, beautiful baby girl when she had me.
She didn't realize she would instead soon have a life size troll doll on her hands. ;)
Well it's official. Today I am one year older than I was a year ago. The big TWO SEVEN. I have learned a lot in my short time here on this Earth (like how to down a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough in no time flat), but one thing I have yet to even begin to grasp is the concept of time. How is it that during different experiences it seems to craaaawl and others it goes by way too fast? Why is it that it seems like just yesterday I graduated from high school and yet when I was in school it seemed as though that day would never come? Same goes for my oldest child starting kindergarten this fall when it seemed as though he would never grow out of the colicky phase as a newborn.

I may not ever learn how time works, but one thing I have learned (this past year especially) is that life and it's experiences are precious. Every. Single. One. The good, the bad, the happy, the tragic, the beautiful and the ugly. They all stick and mesh together to create each of our individual lives. The combination of all the experiences we have ever been through create a life that is so unique and different from anyone else's and makes us who we are. I have had some crappy things (and a few tragic things) happen to me in my lifetime. Things that when I was going through them I would have gladly given up for something better or easier. We all have. But as I look back on those experiences now, there isn't one thing I would change if given the opportunity. Those experiences (and how I reacted to them and grew from them) made me who I am today. For the better or for the worse. Hopefully for the better. :)

I can't help but recognize my Heavenly Father's hand in all things. I know he has a plan for me and for each one of us. That knowledge has allowed me to get through some pretty tough times in my life and allowed me to appreciate the good times even more. Hind sight is always 20/20 and that has proven to be true for me. I can't help but look back and think "DUH! That's why that had to happen!" on so many different occasions. My hope is to remember that when going through a tough time. To know that whatever trial or experience I am going through at that particular time will only continue to mold me and help me become the woman I am supposed to be.

So here's to twenty seven years and the knowledge that comes along with it. I feel like I have only reached the tip of the ice burg and can't wait for the many life experiences I have ahead. I can't describe just how happy I am and how much I love my life. Life at 27 is good.

p.s. I know you are thinking you wish you knew what to do for my birthday. Have no fear, I have just the thing! ;) Feel free to donate to our 5k we are running in honor of Michael tomorrow. Today is your last chance to contribute!

p.p.s. my sweet friend Marta posted a favorite recipe of mine in honor of my birthday on her blog today. I love just love her!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

General Conference Weekend









Whoa, hey! I am still alive! Just wanted to pop in and let you know what have been and will continue to be up to all weekend. It is our church's general conference and it has been AMAZING as usual. I encourage you to check it out, even if it's just for a talk or two, especially if you never have before. The messages that are given are for everyone and are guaranteed to enhance and enrich your life. The thing I love most about conference is that there is always that one talk or two that I feel was written specifically for me and the struggles I am going through at that moment. I am able to find peace and comfort and feel renewed and strengthened by the words and counsel that are given.

If you have any questions at all after watching, please don't hesitate to shoot me a comment or an email!

You can watch conference for free by going HERE.

Enjoy! :)

p.s. conference is best enjoyed with your favorite treat in hand. our treat of choice today were donuts from our favorite local bakery. I may just have to give Marta's conference trail mix a try for tomorrow's sessions!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reese's Chocolate Cookie Dough Truffles

Happy Valentine's Day! It's the day of love and I love making treats. (If you couldn't tell already by the nature of all the recipes on this blog. I'm pretty sure almost each one of them is some type of baked good or dessert!) I wanted to make something fun and somewhat special for Valentine's day and went scouring through my cook books. I found the winner in my favorite goodie book "The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook" that I got from my dear friend Marta. (She knows me all too well!) I love this book and find myself looking at it quite often because of the yummy treats and gorgeous pictures it contains. This time I landed on an "Inside Out Cookie Dough Truffle" and knew I had to make it. 

As I searched my pantry for all the ingredients, my heart sunk as I realized I didn't have them all. I didn't want to have to pack both of my boys up and drive to the store just to get those specific items. So, I made due with what I had and altered the recipe a bit. They surprisingly turned out REALLY good and pretty darn cute. Below is the recipe I altered and highly recommend you making them some time soon. I plan on making the original recipe once I have everything on hand. :)
Reese's Chocolate Cookie Dough Truffles
adapted from The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook 

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped Reeses baking chips
8 oz almond bark (vanilla candy coating)

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, and salt and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in Reese's baking chips. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place sheet in freezer and chill for at least 15 minutes. Melt candy coating in a double boiler or microwave according to package directions, being careful not to overheat it. Using a fork or dipping tool (I used my fondu fork), dip truffles one at a time in candy coating to cover. Tap fork on side of the bowl to remove excess coating, and return truffles to baking sheets until set. With the left over coating, add food coloring of your choice (optional) and transfer into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (or a plastic bag with a tiny hole cut in one of the corners) and pipe decorative lines over top of truffles.

Refidgerate in an airtight container, truffles will keep for up to 1 week.
p.s. Finding it funny that I posted a super unhealthy treat in the same week that I talked about being heart healthy and running? Me too. But that's just how I roll. ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Heart Healthy Running Mix


Here's a little tid bit for ya'll: February is National Heart Month! Fitting isn't it? Seeing how it is also the month that holds Valentine's day.

Both sides of my family (mom's mom and dad's dad) have had heart health issues and as a result I have always been somewhat paranoid about the health of my own heart. The desire to finally do something and be proactive with my heart health started when I lost my baby due to a very serious heart defect called Ebstein's Anomaly. During that time, amid all of the doctor's visits and echocardiograms, I learned more about the heart than I ever did in all my years of biology classes at school (no duh). It opened my eyes to what a miracle life is and made me never want to take my heart for granted again. It wasn't until last year that I really started to do something about it by signing up for my first 5k, knowing it would get me moving.

Since that 5k last May I have been running every other day and sometimes every day (minus a several week break I took this winter when I was just in a complete funk). It's hard for me, I won't lie. I'm a terrible runner. I have one leg that is slightly shorter than the other, which creates a very comical and somewhat uncomfortable looking run. It also is cause for a very sore back after each run. My heating pad is my best friend at night. Aside from the physical hurdles, my main problem deals with the fact that I'm not good with the mind game that comes along with running. It's hard for my brain to tell me, "You can do it!" when my body is screaming at me "You're going to kill over if you take one more step!".

One thing that helps me out is music. I realize every runner has their own opinion about this. I have a friend who runs to nothing but classical music, and another who runs to books on tape. My husband doesn't like to listen to anything but his feet on the pavement and the birds in the sky. It's all personal preference, but if you are like me and need that one song to keep you moving this mix is for you. There have been many times when I feel like giving up but then one of my favorite songs comes on and I tell myself that I can run until the end of that song. I've compiled a few of my favorites that I love to run to. They are all clean of any swear words (since that's just my style) so get your heart pumping and enjoy!

Heart Healthy Running Mix by H C on Grooveshark

Heart Healthy Running Mix
1. On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
2. Bulletproof by Family Force 5
3. Dancing On My Own by Robyn
4. Too Close by Alex Clare
5. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
6. Carried Away by Passion Pit
7. Tip Toes by Jayme Dee
8. Feel Again by One Republic
9. My Body by Young the Giant
10. Let it Roll by Flo Rida
11. 22 by Taylor Swift
12. Brokenhearted by Karmin
13. Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars
14. Lonely Boy by The Black Keys
15. Sail by AWOLNATION
16. Big and Chunky by will.i.am

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fabulous French Bread (a family favorite!)


My mom first taught me how to make french bread when I was in high school. She had made it one time when a bunch of my friends were over, and it quickly became the most requested after school snack item when they were at our house. It was delicious warm and fresh out of the oven with my mom's homemade strawberry jam. I love that time I was able to spend with my mom in the kitchen during that high school age. She has always been one of my best friends and high school was no exception. I'm so glad she taught me to make this recipe as it is now a family favorite in my own home.

Ever since I graduated and moved away from home, I have had to call my mom and ask her for this recipe. It is no where to be found via the internets and it seriously is the best tasting french bread out there. The other day I was taking dinner to a family in our neighborhood and once again found myself calling my mom for the recipe. I told her that I just needed to get the cookbook. She told me it might be hard as she has tried looking before and doesn't think it's in print anymore. I thanked her for the recipe, once again, and promised not to lose it this time.

To my surprise, two days later a copy of that very cookbook was on my doorstep. I don't know how she swung it, but she was somehow able to find a used copy in perfect condition for dirt cheap. It was seriously the best surprise and I have been tagging pages ever since. I also made us some french bread the other day. My boys loved it!

Fabulous French Bread
from the Jr. League of Salt Lake City's Heritage Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoons shortening, melted, or vegetable oil
6 cups flour, unsifted
1 egg white
Sesame seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

A note from Hil: My mom taught me this recipe using her kitchenaid, I now use mine. I made it without a kitchenaid once in college and it worked, the kitchenaid just makes the process so much smoother. Just be sure to use the kneading paddle during the "mix and rest" portion of the recipe.

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand 10 minutes. In large bowl combine 2 cups hot water, sugar, salt, shortening, and half of the flour; beat well. Stir in dissolved yeast. Stir in remaining flour. Mix well. Leaving spoon in batter, allow to rest again for 10 minutes. Stir vigorously. Allow to rest again for 10 minutes. Repeat 3 more times. Turn out dough onto floured board. Knead once or twice until lightly coated with flour. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 9" x 12" rectangle. Starting at long edge, roll loosely as for jelly roll. Seal edge. Place both rolls seam side down, on one large baking sheet. Gash top of each loaf diagonally 3 times with sharp knife. Brush with beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes (until golden brown). 

Yield: 2 loaves.



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A formula for a new year.


We had a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year. Christmas was spent here at home, which was magical and cozy. After Christmas we headed south to escape the winter wonderland that our little town had become in just a matter of days. Our sweet boys somehow contracted croup and spent most of the time lethargic with fevers and awful coughs. We are still fighting that bug but my boys sure are troopers and never complain. I could learn a lot from them!

As a result, I haven't had much time to think about resolutions. I did, however, read Meg's blog today and love what she has to say. I agree that sometimes we just need a break. In this day of Pinterest, blogs and social media I think we have even more reason to compare ourselves to others. To want to be that perfect somebody that doesn't exist but we think they do because we think we see them on the internet.  Instead, what we see is a little piece of perfect from hundreds of different people. We rarely see the flaws, the mistakes, the normalcy. We need to just be comfortable with ourselves. Who cares if we make super crappy projects that aren't photo quality. Or who cares if we just don't make projects at all (eh hem. like me!). Who cares if we can't braid our hair into a flower or make really nutritious whole food meals for our family every meal. We shouldn't do things with the sole purpose to take pictures of them and post them ASAP to the internet looking for others approval. Instead, we should live in the moment. If that moment happens to present something worth posting, then go for it! But be present. Search for those things in life that are good and raise us up. Find joy in our every day lives. Strive to be a better person than we were the day before, but nothing more (in an attempt to not feel overwhelmed).

I learned something from my dad this weekend. What I learned was, we don't have to be perfect in this life. That is not the goal, if it were it would be an unobtainable one. No one is perfect. We should, however, strive to progress. I love the formula above that came from this quote by President Thomas S. Monson, "May I share with you a formula that in my judgment will help you and help me to journey well through mortality... First, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love." With this formula, I am bound to progress! That is my plan for this year and hopefully it will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Peace on earth.


I'll be the first to admit that blogging has not been on my mind at all lately. I receive the same email every December telling me that my domain name is due for renewal. Every December I contemplate what the best thing to do is. I love the friends I have made through this blog and the people who have touched my life (and maybe I've somehow done the same for them). But my heart just isn't in to writing posts lately. I will be paying the renewal once again in case that desire comes back sometime down the road. But for now, Instagram and Path are my main forms of documenting my life.

I couldn't go without mentioning how completely shaken and heartbroken I was after hearing about those sweet children in Connecticut. The day it happened, I cried tears of heartache, tears of frustation, and tears of utter and complete sympathy to those parents who had lost their little ones so close to Christmas time. The greif consumed me and I couldn't understand how such evil could exist here in this country and on this earth. The only comfort I found was through turning to our Heavenly Father. As I was thinking of all of the parents who were suffering from the loss of their babies, I couldn't help but be reminded of a talk given in October at my church's general conference. Elder Shayne M. Bowen spoke specifically to parents who have lost a child and provides so much insite and comfort to grieving parents. I love the quote, "Because of Him, even our Savior, Jesus Christ, those feelings of sorrow, loneliness, and despair will one day be swallowed up in a fulness of joy."

This is a special time of year. A time when we remember and celebrate a little baby who came to this earth many years ago. With His birth came hope and joy. His life brought the highest example of how we should live. His atonement brought us freedom from greif and pain. His death was necessary in order for his resurrection to take place. With His resurrection came eternal life and the possibility for us to live again and to live with our families for eternity. Words can't properly express the deep love I have for my Savior. Through Him tears are dried, hearts are softened, fears are diminished, sins are forgiven, love is found and hope is restored.

I love the song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and found it very fitting particularly because of the recent events in Connecticut. The right WILL prevail. We can have peace on earth because of that little tiny baby whose birth we get to celebrate in just a few short days. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope that peace and joy will find you this special season!
 
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