Tuesday, August 19, 2014

birthday pie


I love pie.
This year for my birthday, I had a chocolate chip pie.  It's kind of like a giant deep-dish chocolate chip cookie, easy to make, and also amazing.  
People ask me for this recipe ALL THE TIME (not realizing that it's on Nestle's website), so I thought I'd share it.  Try this!  If you like chocolate, pie, and cookies, you will loooove it.



1 unbaked 9" pie crust (I always use a frozen store-bought one)
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I'm a slave to milk chocolate.)
optional: 1 cup chopped nuts (mmmmmm, pecans)

Preheat oven to 325.  Beat eggs in large bowl on high speed until foamy.  Beat in flour and sugars.  Beat in butter.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Pour into shell and bake 55-60 minutes (or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean).  Cool at least a little before eating, and then try not to devour the whole pie in one sitting.  





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"This isn't your average book," said Ron.  "It's pure gold: Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches.  If only I'd had this last year I'd have known exactly how to get rid of Lavender and I would've known how to get going with... Well, Fred and George gave me a copy, and I've learned a lot."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Thursday, August 14, 2014

the seventh goal in the seventh month...

Ok, most of the previous months had more than one goal, so it's not actually the seventh one.  Oh well. :)

July goals!
1. Go on dates with Joel (not just stay-home dates)
2. Learn to love (and hopefully be good at) my new calling - being Primary chorister

Go on dates with Joel (not just stay-home dates)
Joel and I have a great marriage.  We like staying home, and most of the time, splitting a cake-in-a-mug and watching a movie are a good-enough date for both of us.  I like to leave home, too, though! and sometimes I get bored of staying home with the same routine.  In the past, we've had a budget for eating out and a budget for other dates, but we almost never used the "other dates" budget.  This month, I combined and lowered the budgets to be more realistic and we set a rule - we had to use all the date money!  It was fun!  We still used a lot of it for eating out, but we ate at more fun + new places.  I picked Joel up from work one day for a middle-of-the-week lunch date at a new place.  We went to a Young Entrepreneur fair and loved spending $3 for (fill in the blank) because it came from our date fund and was for that!  I want to keep this up, moving away from eating out with most of the money.  There are a lot of fun things to do around here!  Having a date budget keeps me from feeling guilty about spending money on things that logically feel "frivolous" things but are fun, like eating at a restaurant nicer than Wendy's or going bowling. :)

Learn to love (and hopefully be good at) being Primary chorister
When I got this calling at the end of June, I didn't want it.  I didn't want to leave my old calling, and I didn't believe I had time for something new.  If I had to have something new, I didn't want this - it just seemed so hard with a lot of planning.  Being positive about it seemed like a good goal, all things considered.  Thankfully, I had a pretty great resource to call!  My mom's been her ward's Primary chorister forEVER, and she loves it.  So I called her immediately in hopes of getting pumped up.  She gave me a lot of great ideas, but I was still ner. vous!  When my first Sunday rolled around, I prayed that it would go perfectly.  "I know it won't always be perfect.  I know there will be some really hard days, just like with teaching.  But please let the first day be perfect so I won't feel so nervous from now on."  And it *was* perfect.  Heavenly Father is merciful.

I've only had a couple other weeks since then, and there have definitely been times (and days) when I felt overwhelmed with this calling.  It's not a ton of hard work, but it's work I'm not used to.  For most of the month, I never felt caught up.  It felt like people were always asking me to get things done sooner, be more ahead, give more people your early-made lesson plans.  But I think I'm finally starting to come out on top with the planning.  As far as the presentation goes, well, that's always fun. :)  I'll get closer to this goal as I start to feel more comfortable with the expectations, but it sure made my first month go better!  Attitude makes a big difference!




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“Are you threatening me, sir?” he said, so loudly that passersby actually turned to stare.
“Yes, I am,” said Mad-Eye, who seemed rather pleased that Uncle Vernon had grasped this fact so quickly.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday, August 11, 2014

goals: fifth and sixth editions

I know what you all are thinking.  "Alison hasn't posted anything about her resolution since she was complaining about having too many goals in May... She must have given up like the rest of the world."  Wrong!  Guess again!  I've been just as diligent as ever (just less diligent about writing about my diligence).  Here we go!

May
As some of you may recall, my initial goal in May was to try doing all the goals from the previous months.  I wanted to make them more firm habits.  Well, I was over my head, what with school ending, so I decided my new goal for May was to finish the school year with grace.  Good news there!  Things were crazy and hard, and I didn't get much done outside of school, but everything I wanted to accomplish *in* school, I did, and I'm really happy with how it went.  Did I tell you about the ten kids who spontaneously showed up in my classroom to help me clean it an hour before my checkout appointment with the janitor?  They were wonderfully amazing, I love them, and Heavenly Father is merciful.  And thus ended Month 5.

June
I was out of town for almost the whole month spending time with my family, so my goal was a little different in June.  Habits I develop on vacation don't tend to stick around when the vacation ends - life is so different, the goals don't carry over very well.  I flew home and then drove with my family to my grandma's house to help her clean some stuff out and have the world's biggest garage sale. :)  

I had two goals for June:
1. Enjoy every minute with my family as much as possible (and not spend my mental energy missing Joel, who was a peach to let me be gone so long).
2. Strengthen my relationships with them, especially focusing on my younger sisters.  They were who I'd be spending the most time with + one was leaving on an 18-month mission soon + the other is starting college soon + they've always been who I've had to watch my tone around the most, so it made sense to try to make the most of our time together!

Basically, I wanted to avoid arguments, judging, and Facebook (ie, not being present), and be helpful.  :)

Man!  Focusing on thinking before speaking makes a difference!  There were many instances where thinking first came in extremely handy, and a couple where I was almost physically biting my tongue to keep negative comments inside.  It worked!  Peace and harmony abounded.  :)  It was an AWESOME trip, and I am extremely happy with how both of my goals turned out.  

Stay tuned for July!




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“He somehow could not find words to tell them what it meant to him,
to see them all ranged there, on his side.”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Thursday, August 7, 2014

five years


This happened five years ago today!
I'm so happy to be married to this guy!  He's really great.

Here's a taste of what we've done over the last five years...
gotten season passes to a water park
survived each others' studies abroad / business trips
learned about blending two families and establishing traditions
participated in the world's biggest (at the time) water balloon fight
made some really great friends
graduated college (both of us)
attended our first rodeo
bought a sweet piano
gotten grown-up jobs
shaved Joel's head
bought a house
learned how to maintain a house
increased our Lego collection
started a garden
planted four trees
seen two siblings get married and three have babies
sent one sibling on a mission
gone camping
finished a basement
lost one set of wisdom teeth
given many surprises
hosted many guests
read Harry Potter together (and other books)
become proficient bocce players and curlers

Here's to infinity more years of fun!




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“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives….The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies….”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Monday, August 4, 2014

but what do I DO?

When I was 15, I was in an accident on a church youth trip.  I miraculously escaped practically unscathed, with just a few bruises and needing a few stitches in my elbow. After the accident, I was given a priesthood blessing  in which I was told that, were it not for the intervention of angels, I would have died in that accident.

In the year or so that followed, I often wondered why I had been saved.  Did I have a special purpose in life waiting for me?  What would I do that would be worth saving me for?  What was I doing now to show I was thankful for the gift of being alive?  It's been ten years since that day, and I still think about it often.  Whenever I make new friends, start something new, finish something, or give advice, I think about it.  I think about things I learn from those people and experiences, but mostly I think about the influence I have on those around me and try to make sure it's a positive one.  

I think a little about milestones I've reached, but I prefer focusing on people.  I don't think my life was spared so I could graduate from college; I think I'm here to establish good relationships with people.  When my students tell me how much they love me, I ask myself, "What would their Spanish education be like if I hadn't been here?"  I know they would've been fine, but I'm thankful for what I've been able to teach them.  I think of my husband, to whom I'm so happy to be married.  I think about my family and fun things we've done together in the last ten years.  I often think, "Maybe he / she / they / that experience was why I'm here."

I strongly believe this is something we all should do - often.  Think about why you're here.  Think about those you're interacting with.  What are you doing with your life?  Who are you supporting, teaching, loving?  Is your overall influence positive?  What are you doing - every single day - to show you're thankful for the gift of being alive?  

I like when that question pops into my head as I'm stuck in a time-wasting rut - whether with television, the Internet, or something else.  It reorients me.  

Are you stuck in a time-wasting rut?  How will you change your life so it means more?  What are you going to DO?

Focus on doing good.  Then when you look for positive influences you're having on the world, you will find them.





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“It would be nice if you stopped jumping down Ron’s and my throats, Harry,
because if you haven’t noticed, we’re on your side.”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Thursday, July 31, 2014

celebrating with Ricky Martin and other good company


Well, it's not today, but close enough. :)

Joel and his family surprised me with a newly painted sewing room
and a bright green front door with white trim.
AMAZING.  Both projects look perfect!  Exactly as I'd imagined.
When I can, I'll post a couple pictures. :)

Also, happy birthday! to Harry Potter (today), J.K. Rowling (today), 
Neville Longbottom (yesterday), and my sister's baby (soon).




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Sibyll’s prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times.  One, of course, was you.  The other was Neville Longbottom.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

shout-out to Kelli!

Shout-out to my sister, who's leaving this week to serve a mission for our church!  GOOD LUCK, KELLI BELLY JELLY SMELLY DELI!  Have fun!  I love you!




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“Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful.  You may eat me if you like.
I’d sooner be eaten by you then fed by anyone else.”
(Hwin to Aslan)
The Horse and His Boy