PUERTO RICO: day two

We woke up this morning on a beautiful coffee farm- Cafe Pomarrosa. The rooms/cabins were beautiful, clean and comfortable. Eva and Kirk, the owners and hosts are two delightful people, passionate about their work. The breakfast they served was delicious- especially the fresh fruit and fried plantains.

After breakfast we enjoyed a fascinating tour of the farm and their process of making specialty Puertarican coffee. We loved it!


After the tour we headed into Ponce for lunch and ice cream-

And then our home for the night…and more importantly, it’s beach

I didn’t get to the shore fast enough to snap a photo of Kate. She jumps in for a swim as quick as she can and stays the last minute possible. I love how much they love the ocean!

PUERTO RICO: day one

Our friends Dan & Heidi called us in December- “Hey wanna come with us and take the kids to Puerto Rico!?” We checked flights and told them we were in the next day. We flew on different airlines. Our family of 5 landed a few hours earlier. We rented a large passenger van grabbed some gelato at Piu Bello and went back to the airport when it was time for them to land!

Some of the highlights of today:

lunch where fried plantains, rice and beans, with cornbread sticks were the highlight.

tour of Castillo San Felipe

Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Frankie’s 10th birthday today! (I can’t believe she is 10!)

The sights are beautiful, but truly the warm ocean breeze has put all of those smiles on our faces. It feels so good to defrost!

GNOME GNOTEBOOK

I was asked to give a talk at church Sunday. My assignment was to speak about THIS talk given in General Conference October 18, 2018. This was my talk:

Organizing storage recently, I ran across this book.  It is a gift that was given to me when I was 9 years old, from my Great Aunt Dot (she is from the East so it is “aunt” not “ant”).  The inscription says, 

“A…diary-or place to write little stories of things that happen-or for autographs of your friends”

As I looked at the cover, I was flooded with memories of brilliant fictional stories that I had written through its pages.  I loved writing then, even into my teen years.  I wanted to be a writer.  I remember loving this book with my stories, and the feedback others gave me.

Opening the book after many years of it being stored in a box, I was surprised by what I actually found.  Instead of the brilliance I remembered, there were:

  • shallow storylines
  • misspellings 
  • grammatical errors

As a child, as shy as I was, I would share my stories with anyone who would listen…NOW only the flaws in my work stand out to me. 

In her book GRIT, Angela Duckworth reminds her readers,

“infants and toddlers spend most of their time trying to do things they can’t, again and again—and yet they don’t seem especially embarrassed or anxious. No pain, no gain is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to the preschool set…Watch a baby struggle to sit up, or a toddler learn to walk; you’ll see one error after another, failure after failure, a lot of challenge exceeding skill.”

What if as we age…we decide that is still noble to do something…just because we don’t know how, or it’s fun, or we want the experience.  Just think of how we would grow…and really how much fun we would have.  

Elder Richard G Scott said,

“Attempt to be creative even if the results are modest…creativity can engender a spirit of gratitude for life and for what the Lord has woven into your being”

“attempting to be creative, even if the results are modest…” requires a childlike spirit…

A spirit that…

  • -finds joy in creativity, regardless of the outcome
  • -takes pleasure in the simple joys of life

And especially a spirit that…

  • -trusts our Lord and Savior

Elder Gong shared an experience this last General Conference.  Elder Richard G Scott, an apostle and an artist, invited him to watercolor with him.  Elder Scott was experienced and Elder Gong was a novice.  Although he describes feeling apprehensive, he focused on what he could learn instead of what he lacked.  Elder Gong found joy in trying something new, in fact, he was really touched by the opportunity, enough to base his general conference talk around the experience.

What can finding joy in creativity…without concern for ability or outcome change for you in your life?

A childlike spirit finds it easy to take pleasure in the simple joys of life.  

Last weekend my youngest daughter, Sophie had a friend over.  They decided to play hide & seek.  The rules were laid down:

outside + garages were a no hide zone,

Ellie’s room too (her oldest sister)

everything else was free game.

After one round…Kate, my 14 year old, asked if she could play too.  As I stood at the sink, doing dishes, I knew exactly where I would hide if I were playing.  I was thrilled that my 9th grader was playing, as social stress & teenage-hood had been weighing on her lately.  Their laughter and joy lightened the whole atmosphere of our home.  I loved it.

So that night before bed, as we gathered for prayer and scriptures, Sophie asked if WE wanted to play HIDE & SEEK, I quickly said YES….and the rest of the family agreed.  So 4 of us hid in crevices, closets, and bathtubs while one searched.  

Now before you get the wrong idea, that I am a fun mom, let me confess that In the almost 17 years that I have been a parent…this week was the first time I had played HIDE & SEEK with my children…or at all.  And now this week we have played several nights before bed.  And guess what!  Every time I hid I was the last one found.  Who knew I would be so good at hide & seek!?

I had forgotten a lot about the game since I played as a child… 

  • -the thrill and anticipation of trying not to be found
  • -the strategy required to play the game
  • -the suspense of searching

(it’s SO scary to pull back a curtain, unsure if someone will jump out at you!)

As an adult, I realize that I have let the distractions of the world pull me from some of the JOYS of the simple things in life and the gospel.  

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the Stake Activity Day meeting.  To begin the activity, we sang in unison, I AM A CHILD OF GOD.  Those beautiful primary girls filled the chapel with faith as we sang.  When was the last time I really appreciated the JOY of knowing that I am a child of a divine, all knowing, all loving, eternal Father…that knows me, that loves me?  And that pleads with us,

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

A childlike spirit allows our hearts to be filled with more trust in our Father in Heaven and our Savior. 

Elder Gong teaches,

“There is joy in imagining, learning, and doing worthwhile new things.  This is especially true as we deepen faith and trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  We cannot love ourselves enough to save ourselves. But Heavenly Father loves us more and knows us better than we love or know ourselves.  We can trust the Lord and lean not unto our own understanding.”

One of my very favorite scripture stories teaches this principle in a beautiful way.   In Matthew 14 we read,

“…when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

…when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

This story causes me to reflect each time I read or hear it-  Where is my focus…? Is it on the boisterous wind? On my fears? Or is my focus on the invitation of our Savior, “Come…”

It is my hope that as children of God…we will remember, regardless of our age…we are children, we are ALL children.  We are all children of a Father in Heaven…and that is a gift.  Especially when we take time and effort to soften our hearts and:

  • find joy in creativity, regardless of the outcome
  • take pleasure in the simple joys of life & the gospel
  • And especially, trust our Lord and Savior with our focus on Him

Winter Concert

Utah Youth Philharmonic Winter Concert was Monday, January 14, 2019. Ellie loves participating in this group. She began in the Utah Youth Junior Symphony many years ago. I think this is the third year she has played with the Philharmonic. They played:

Lieutenant Kijé Suite Op. 60 by Sergei Prokofiev & Symphony no. 7 Op. 92

The music was BEAUTIFUL! Barbara Scowcroft is a joy to watch as Conductor. It might have been my favorite of their performances. We obviously have a special preference for the bassists.

Danny, Kate, Sophie and I were all there. Nana, Dede and Chase came too. We all had a late dinner at Rio Grande Cafe after the concert.

NEW YORK CITY

Annie, Dede & me phone pic

Annie had her final dress fitting (she’s getting married in July!). It was the perfect excuse for a sister trip to NYC! Her dress is being made by Laure de Sagazan. It is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t show it here, it is a surprise until the big day, but I do have a few photos from their NYC shop-

Some of the highlights of our trip were:

09/11 Memorial Museum, Mean Girls the musical, shopping in Soho, eating at: Antique Garage, Balthazar, and the view from our AirBnB!

I am sure lucky to call these sisters mine!

my mom’s banana bread

(left) 85mm | f2.2 | 1/100 | iso800 (right) 35mm | f2.2 | 1/125 | iso1000

My mom loves making banana bread for people. They love when she makes it too. I had a few visits to make this morning…and a lot of bananas stored in the freezer so I quickly made some bread. I want to post the recipe here so that it is documented one more place so that I am sure to never lose it.

MOM’S BANANA BREAD

mix together:

  • 2 c bananas
  • 1 c nuts
  • 1 c sour cream

In a separate bowl:

  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 c butter 
  • 4 eggs

add banana mixture to bowl

then add:

  • 3 c flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt

mix together well.  

  • add 2 tsp of vanilla

pour into greased and floured loaf pans (about 3 loaves). Bake 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

I sometimes add streusel to the center and top before baking.

in a small pot melt:

  • 6 T butter

remove from heat and add:

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon

stir with a fork until mixed well and crumbly texture

and optional…is to add toasted coconut to the crumble