Sunday, December 29, 2013

Helloooo...anyone out there?

I think I've pretty much discovered that I'm an old lady trapped in a younger body.  Let's examine the facts: 

1) I love cooking & baking in all forms.
2) I sew A LOT. 
3) I love gardening (when my dogs don't tear my yard up). 
4) I have cancer (ok this has to do with my body, but basically I think my body is trying to catch up with my mind.) 

I have been in a paper piecing (foundation piecing) mode lately where I have been creating paper piecing patterns.  I taught myself how to make these patterns with free computer program that is available out there. I have a million ideas, but limited time sadly. 

I love this method for quilting! If you can count...and you know your alphabet...and you can sew straight lines (and you can read...which I'm assuming you can since you're on my blog) YOU CAN PAPER PIECE! 


Miss Enota (aka Kristin) at Mpls. Modern Quilt Guild couldn't have said it any better here!  

Here's the patterns I have finished so far.  All are available in my Etsy Shop or my Craftsy shop

I have created patterns for temples by request or out of necessity.  My niece will be getting married on February 14th and I have pieced this together for her and still need to finish it as a wall hanging.  
For the Beautiful KK. Who will soon be the beautiful KC.

Brigham City Temple

Gila Valley Temple

Thanksgiving Pilgrims 

Out of curiosity I there anyone else out there that likes paper piecing and creates their own patterns?  And...THERE IS! 

Kristy @ Quiet Play has some beautiful patterns (here kitchen item themed patterns are my favorite and very inspiring!) 

Kristin from Fave Crafts Blog gives an excellent beginners tutorial

Generations Quilt Patterns offers some free patterns. 

Of course, there's always one of my favorites Paper Panache.  I've done a couple of her patterns! Love them!

Fandom In Stitches is a great page as well.  I've used their patterns before, too! 

Needles and Knowledge has a great pumpkin tutorial that would be beautiful for Thanksgiving! 

The Sometimes Crafter tried a block that turned out beautiful!

I'm still searching for more blogs and fellow paper (foundation) piecers!  

Comment with links to sites if you know of any! 

One more! Sylvia over at Sylvia's Stitches may have become my new favorite! She paper pieces and she is a CANCER SURVIVOR!  You amaze me! Talk about encouraging to hear of a cancer survivor! Thanks for the inspiration!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How the Grinch Crinkled Christmas Cookies--From Scratch

Kudos to Cookin' Cowgirl for an awesome recipe for How the Grinch Crinkled Christmas Cookies.

I don't buy cake mixes.  I learned that if I buy cake mixes, they just sit in my pantry and expire or get weevils.  Did I mention that when I was pregnant with Buddy someone brought us the most delicious cake balls made from a cake mix?? I took a big bite of my 3rd one and thought that I felt something strange in my mouth.  I quickly spit it out to find the FATTEST weevil I have ever seen in my life. Because I was pregnant, I wanted to vomit. I lived, but it scarred me. (just kidding--sort of)

 Here's my take on the Grinch Cookies. No cake mixes allowed!

Crinkled Grinch Cookies
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. white granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (if using unsalted butter, use 1/2 tsp. salt instead)
1/2 C. nonfat dry milk
8 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Green food coloring (amount of choice--I used about 30 drops of chartreuse, 40 drops of green, and 6 drops of blue)--leave the food coloring out if you don't care if they're green!

1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and non fat dry milk in a medium sized bowl. Add melted butter and beat with a hand mixer until the butter is somewhat evenly distributed. Add the eggs and mix until the texture is even throughout. Add the vanilla and mix again. Next, add the green food coloring until the dough has a nice even color.

Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in small bowl.  Roll balls of cookie dough (about 1 Tbsp. each) and roll them in the powdered sugar/cornstarch mix.  Place on greased cookie sheet (I also used parchment paper) and bake for about 8-9 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool for about 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled.



Another ultrasound

Ten loves our snowman. 

I was scheduled for another ultrasound guided biopsy yesterday.  I was really nervous.  My last ultrasound showed some atypical lymph node activity.  My lymph nodes were enlarged.  I DID have a sore throat and wasn't feeling well when I went for my last ultrasound, so I was hoping that had something to do with it.  But I was still nervous!
Buddy was fascinated by the mailbox with my name on it.
He thought it was a garage for his cars :) 

When you arrive, they always start with an ultrasound to just see what's going on first.  The ultrasounds take forever (or so it seems).  They gel your whole neck up (which makes for a sticky gooey neck for the rest of the day even if you try to wipe it all off.) If you've never had an ultrasound wand gliding over your jaw bone or your collar bone repeatedly, you're missing out! The particular ultrasound tech I had yesterday kept making weird faces.  Judging by the look on her face, either there was some pretty weird stuff going on in my neck, or she needed glasses--had to be one of the two.
Look at that professional! 
Long story short, my lymph nodes look the same or better than the last ultrasound that I had.  But, the radiologist wasn't sure how aggressive my doctor wants to be.  So, he's going to talk to her and then if I need a biopsy, I will have one another day.

Life has been pretty crazy the last few days.  I went to JoAnn's with the two kids.  Yep! I'm crazy! To top that off, both kids started throwing up last night.  We had a long first part of the night, but ended up getting about 6 straight hours of sleep.

The star!
Ten has a talent for undecorating trees...
which will come in handy at some point I'm sure! 
Early morning timer picture! We love Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Whole Wheat--Healthier for you tortillas

Here's my tutorial on making homemade tortillas. This recipe can be done many different ways.  I will try to include any/all variations I have ever tried. Please comment and let us know if you try anything different and how it turned out! FULL RECIPE IS AT THE BOTTOM!

If you're sensitive you may need a pair of ear muffs...I warned you! lol
Blendtec Kitchen Mill. It's loud (but aren't they all?) but not as loud as some I've heard.  It works great, but works better if you take the filter out and replace it every so often while grinding. The filters can we rinsed in water, but have to dry completely (like 24+ hours before you use it again). Mine came with 5 or so, so that's not an issue.

When I quadruple the recipe it BARELY fits in my BOSCH mixer. BUT IT FITS! I used to have a "Champ" mixer similar to this one on Amazon and it only fit 3 times the recipe.  But, I find that tortillas are best made in large batches! They go quick at my house! So if I make them...I might as well MAKE THEM (if you know what I mean)!

Step 2 : Measure out your wheat flour (16 C.). Baking powder (1 tsp). and Salt (1/4 C.)---I know that seems like a lot of salt, but it's not!

See how full the Bosch is already?
Stir that all up! 

Step 3: Add the applesauce (2/3 C.) and oil (2/3 C.)  The original recipe calls for 1 1/3 C. of oil or shortening or lard.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE lard in my tortillas, but when I'm trying to go healthier, I use half applesauce and half olive oil.  
If you measure the oil first, the applesauce just "slips" right
out of the measuring cup! I love that!

I know what you're thinking..."APPLESAUCE!!! IN TORTILLAS???" 

Just trust me on this.  They are great!

NOW-Mix that all up until the oil/applesauce is thoroughly distributed throughout.

Step 4: Add warm water (7 C.) all at once.  You will need your Bosch ring and lid for this step.  Or you will need a mop and rags and kleenex (for all the tears you will shed)...your choice really.

Once the water is added, attach the lid and mix until the dough is a consistent texture throughout.  

Here's mine! 
The dough is going to be STICKY STICKY STICKY! That's why the rings have got to come off!

Step 5: Get greased up! The more oil/shortening on your hands the better! The dough is ready to be divided.  Because I quadrupled it, this recipe should make about 64 tortillas. If you like, you can divide the dough in half, and then divide each half in half, and so on and so forth.  I prefer to eyeball it. But, I've done this many many times. This time I only got 54 tortillas out of the recipe, but they are bigger!

Use your hands to form balls (but be warned, when they are set down, they are too squishy to hold their shape well). Make sure they are covered in a nice coating of oil/shortening/lard (whatever you use). Re-oil your hands OFTEN! I can't stress the importance of oiling these babies enough! Set on cookie sheets (or wax paper if you prefer less dishes), cover with a dish towel, and LET THEM REST for about 10 minutes or so.

Look at those lazy things! 
Step 5: After you have preheated your CucinaPro Flatbread and Tortilla Maker (yep! I'm a cheater! And this bad boy is worth EVERY PENNY).

Place one "ball" at a time just slightly towards the back of center close the lid and press down with the bar slowly yet firmly. Don't press too will blow holes in your tortilla, but don't be too soft either or your tortilla will be too thick.  This will take some practice.  Pay attention to the sounds the dough is making (I like to call it a whistle).  The sound helps me judge when I've pressed enough. White flour tortillas take a lighter hand.  Wheat tortillas take a bit more muscle.

Remove your tortilla from the heat and stack on a towel to cool down.  

Your tortilla maker will look like mine when you're done.  Clean as directed in your instruction manual. It's not hard to get clean though, it's surfaces are non-stick.

(Notice the crockpot? That's pinto beans. Homemade refried beans and homemade tortillas...yum yum!)

These tortillas are still considered "raw" but by if you feel the need you can eat them, nothing in them needs cooked.

I usually freeze/refrigerate my tortillas raw.  In order to do this, you will need to spray in between each tortilla with cooking spray (Pam) to allow easy separation when you're ready to cook them (you only need to spray one side and put sprayed side of one to raw side of the next). Then, I store them in zipper bags and pull them out of my freezer as needed.   

To cook them, I use a cast iron skillet.  Tortillas need a lot of heat to cook correctly.  I let my skillet heat up for a few minutes before cooking.

To give you an idea of how hot I get my skillet: my range goes from 1 to 9 plus has a "high" setting.  I heat the pan up on 8. Sometimes, if I'm cooking a lot of tortillas, I will have to turn it down to 6 1/2 or 7.

The tortillas should only take a brief amount of time (less than 20 seconds) to get the little dark brown spots you usually see on tortillas.  Once those spots show up, flip to the other side.  The 2nd side should cook even faster.


Here is the full recipe:

Single Recipe (Mixed by hand):
4 C. Flour (white or wheat)
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1/3 C. shortening or lard or olive oil (if you use shortening, be sure to use Crisco brand, also note that you can use a mixture of oil and applesauce but I don't recommend replacing more than half of the oil)
1 ¾ C. warm water

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add water and knead by hand. Pinch into 16 golf ball sizes of dough. Let sit for 10 minutes. Roll with flour and cook on stove.

Quadruple Batch (Bosch Directions):
16 C. flour (white or wheat)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 C. salt
1-1/3 C. shortening or lard or olive oil 
(if you use shortening, be sure to use Crisco brand, also note that you can use a mixture of oil and applesauce but I don't recommend replacing more than half of the oil)
7 C. warm water

Mix dry ingredients in Bosch. Mix in oil (and applesauce if used). Pour in water all at once and mix until well combined. Dough will be extremely sticky. Dump out onto well oiled counter. Make sure your hands are well oiled. Split dough into four even parts. Split again and again until each of the original four are split into 16 balls. (64 total). Roll each ball in your well oiled hands. Place on an oiled cookie sheet or wax paper and cover. Let rest for 10-15 minutes. Heat opened tortilla press for five minutes. Place balls one at a time just to the back of the center of press. Close lid and handle with a firm and slow pressure. Cook for about 5-10 seconds. Open press and slide tortilla off onto a towel. When all tortillas are pressed and cooled, spray in between each tortilla with cooking spray (Pam) to allow easy separation when you're ready to cook them 
(you only need to spray one side and put sprayed side of one to raw side of the next). When ready to use, cook tortillas on a really hot griddle just like the ones you get in the grocery store in dough form. You can cook up a bunch at one time or freeze/refrigerate them raw.

***this recipe is a recipe I got from my sister. It is titled "Lollie's Tortillas." Lollie must be an amazing tortilla maker. YUM!

Monday, December 16, 2013

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) by Francisiii' Enjoy this family favorite!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Ps. 100 lbs of elk meat only filled up half of our cooler! The thing's a monster!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Coats, Rain, and Dinosaurs! And a cancer update!

Today was one of those days where you have 10 zillion things to do, but don't feel like doing ANY of them!

First, was getting out of bed...yikes I was tired!

Then, a little while later we were headed to the Favorite's and my little Buddy's favorite store of all time. Bass Pro Shop. But...the trip was specifically for me.  I have a COW ELK HUNT coming up this coming week! Am I excited...sort of.  I would say that I'm more nervous that I won't get one! I have cooked with elk hamburger instead of beef hamburger for over 2 years now.  When I taste beef, it tastes funny to me! I suppose you could say that I've gotten used to the all natural, lean meat that comes from an elk.  No artificial hormones or antibiotics in my meat!
Bass Pro in Arizona

We picked up a pair of hiking boots and a pair of gloves previously but had to order in a coat special for me.  They didn't carry any women's coats...just youth and men's. So, we ordered an XL youth coat in and a Small men's coat.  Both were great, but the youth coat won out (along with a thermal underwear top)! It was cheaper, although if I had an unlimited budget I would have picked the men's coat because it had WAY more features and was much warmer.

Wish me luck on my Elk hunt!

Then, we went to a DIFFERENT vacuum repair shop. They accepted the vacuum for repairs.  We will see if the recall was the reason it wasn't working! Much better customer service than the place I went to yesterday!

Then, I took pictures of a friends baby.  Then, I was supposed to have a play date at the park with some friends, but it started RAINING! And, I can't complain too much about that! It would have been fun to see friends, but oh well.

Lastly, I have been dreading packing.  I have been suffering from anxiety a lot lately.  Because today has been so so busy and because I am about to go hunting, I feel anxious. Thankfully, my husband has informed me that packing does NOT have to be done right this moment and that he will help me later.

So, what have I been doing this evening? Wrangling dinosaurs.  I read this book to the little Buddy this afternoon, and he's been acting like a dinosaur ever since.

I guess I never updated this blog with what course of treatment I have chosen for my thyroid cancer.  I went to Dr. P at MD Anderson Cancer center (after first seeing Dr. M, an oncologist and not feeling right about his recommendations).  I have chosen to go with Dr. P's treatment plan.  The plan entails me not doing radioactive iodine therapy YET.  Dr. P wants us to finish having our family first. We don't feel like we're done having kids.  My prognosis won't change.  I may just be setting myself up for more surgery.  As of right now, I am having ultrasounds on my neck every 6-8 weeks just to make sure everything is looking normal.

The last ultrasound I had showed enlarge lymph nodes (uh-oh). I have to go back for a follow up ultrasound guided biopsy very soon. Cross your fingers (but more realistically...PLEASE PRAY!) that everything is normal.  I think it will be.  I went in for the first ultrasound with a sore throat and feeling yucky which can definitely make your lymph nodes enlarged.

Only time will tell.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Courtesy...not so common any more!

Today was interesting.  Let me set the scene for you. My vacuum is like this one:

A little history:
I have had this vacuum for 4+ years...I know this, because I bought it shortly after I married the Favorite (my husband).  

It's been a really great vacuum.  You really can't beat it for $99 (but I don't think it was $99 when I bought it!). But...I do have some gripes.  I really liked the cord rewind first. 

That was until my little Buddy joined our family.  That cord rewinder is the funnest thing you have ever seen! Loads of fun were had, UNTIL the cord was pulled out far past the red tape that was supposed to indicate that the limits had been pushed far enough! How is a 2 year old supposed to know that red means stop???

Not to mention that the cord must have been run over by the vacuum at some point so the rubber coating surrounding the wires has been nicked...but no wires are showing through...yet. The Favorite put some electrical tape on that spot...good as new RIGHT???? 

Well a couple weeks ago, my vacuum wouldn't even turn on. The Favorite took it apart but couldn't find the issue.  This is the point when we usually google it. 


Liars.... I took it to a local Sew n' Vac shop to get it repaired per the recall.

I walked into the shop and was "greeted" by a grey haired man. I use that term loosely because to me the word "greeting" sounds cordial. He wasn't.

Here's how our conversation went (roughly).

Me: Hi, I brought my vacuum in because there is a recall and my vacuum isn't working most likely due to the bad part.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: Hmm...Let me see.  Why isn't the cord wound up?

Me: The rewinder is broken. My son broke it.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: Your SON broke it?
Look at that little angel...wearing my glasses and holding my kindle!

Me: Yes, he's 2.  I can't stop him from playing with it.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: What do you mean you can't stop him? You're the MOM.

Me: (Doing my best to ignore that snide comment) Yep. The last time I buy an automatic rewinder.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: What is this tape on the cord.

Me: Oh. My husband put that there. There is a nick in the cord so he put that there.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: (Scoffs). And you think that the recalled part is the issue???

Me: Well, it worked perfectly fine up until last week.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: Well, I guess I can try to turn it on.

Me: It won't work. It doesn't have any power.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: (Plugging it in). We'll just see. (Presses button).

Loud "POP" comes from vacuum. Breaker flips. 

(In my defense, I told him it wouldn't work.)

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: Did you hear that!?!?!?!??!

Me: Yes. It didn't ever do that before though.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: This is NOT a recall issue. You just need to buy a new vacuum.

Me: Yeah, I was afraid of that. I will just have to look for a new vacuum in the near future.

Mr. Jerky Vacuum Man: HELLO! You're IN a vacuum store.

Me: (Thinking again how rude this guy is...does he not realize that I know where I am?) Well, I can't AFFORD a vacuum right now. You know with CHRISTMAS and everything coming up!?!?!?

Him: I guess I can understand that. Makes sense.

Lovely, right?  I know that my vacuum has possibly been through the ringer, but I really do believe (and so does the Favorite) that it has to do with the recall.  Considering that the cord has been tugged a little too hard by small hands and all. Here is what the recall says:

"Hoover, Inc. has voluntarily alerted the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of a possible defect that could pose a safety hazard in select models of the WindTunnel T-Series family of upright vacuums. Hoover will repair the vacuums with a new cord rewind assembly at no charge to you. Please watch the video to see if your unit is affected.


This alert is limited to select models of the Hoover® WindTunnel T-Series™ Bagless Upright vacuums. Specifically, models with the cord rewind feature, which is designed to retract the power cord for storage. Some of the power cords may not be routed properly or securely seated in the cord rewind assembly. Power cords could be pulled loose, causing a potential fire or shock hazard. To date, there have been 3 reports of minor burns to carpet and furniture, and 1 report of a minor burn to the hand, which did not require medical attention. Hoover®WindTunnel T-Series™ Bagless Upright vacuums without the Cord Rewind Feature are NOT affected."

Hoover's website continues that they will repair the cord rewind assembly at no cost to you. That's all I ask. That it be repaired. It may not fix the issue, but for pete's sake honor my recall man!

But expect me to buy a vacuum from you after insulting my parenting skills and acting like I was an idiot? Dream on.
Toilet paper CAN be an outfit! 
I can buy a vacuum from a lot of other places.  You will NEVER have my business, sir! And, I will definitely NOT recommend your store to anyone.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Change of direction

When I started this blog, I thought I would mostly be talking about how my small town upbringing affects my everyday life.  I will definitely post about those things...hopefully. For the time being, I have had a major life altering event occur.  I found out that I have thyroid cancer.  I wrote my story.  I hope it helps someone someday.  I will post more as I learn more!

August 26, 2013

“Chance” and “luck” are words that don’t hold a whole lot of meaning to me anymore. 

Tomorrow I will report for surgery that will remove the remaining half of my thyroid.  Five days ago, I got the worst news of my life.

Five days ago, Dr. R, my ENT, left a voicemail that said, “Hello, Dr. R calling for Mrs. B. So, the pathologist called me.  They say that that thyroid is just fine. However, they also said that a few lymph nodes I removed just some teeny ones right in the front, that one of those had metastatic thyroid cancer even though they don’t see that in that half of your thyroid I removed…”  The rest of the voicemail was a blur.  I felt like someone had just knocked the air out of me.  This wasn’t happening! It couldn’t be happening! I was healthy! I was feeling great! I was only 27!

Just eighteen short months ago in February 2012, I had one of the best surprises of my life.  Even though it had taken Jereld & I 10 months of trying to conceive our son Beau, only two months after trying we were expecting another baby—due October 27, 2012! We were beyond excited!

The following month, my sister found out that she had thyroid nodules and would need surgery to remove her thyroid.  Hearing about her thyroid issues made me paranoid that I might have the same thing.  I had always had a lump in my throat when I swallowed, but had always thought that it was “normal” for me.  I didn’t do anything about it right away, but decided to see a doctor about it soon. 

At 9 weeks pregnant, I began to spot heavily.  I was worried that I was starting to miscarry. The Mr’s friend from work (an ultrasound tech) did us a favor and gave me an impromptu ultrasound to check on the baby and my pregnancy.  Nothing appeared out of the ordinary and the baby was doing just fine.  There was no apparent reason for the spotting.  While there, I asked him to take a quick look at my thyroid, half expecting him to say that my thyroid looked normal and that I could stop worrying.

When he started the ultrasound on my thyroid and found a large nodule on my thyroid, to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  The ultrasound tech called Dr. G (an ER doctor that was also a friend of the Mr’s).  Dr. G made the ultrasound “official” by writing an order for it and sent me for blood work to test my thyroid levels.  In the opinion of all involved, my thyroid looked bad.  Too much blood flow to the nodule and calcification are markers for cancer; my thyroid nodule had both.  I needed a follow up and biopsy with an endocrinologist and fast.

Scheduling an appointment with an endocrinologist proved to be difficult.  Every endocrinologist I called either couldn’t get me in for three months or more or didn’t take pregnant patients at all.  Finally, I found an endocrinologist who could get me in within a couple weeks named Dr. A. When I went to Dr. A, he explained everything and scheduled a biopsy.  I was extremely nervous for the biopsy and for what the results would show.  The biopsy ended up being easier than I expected and within a week or so I had the results—BENIGN! What a relief! I didn’t have cancer.  Biopsies can be wrong, but there was only a 1% chance or something that it was wrong.  I was fine! Dr. A recommended that I waited until after the baby was born before proceeding with anything.  He would monitor my thyroid levels during pregnancy, but there was no emergency.  In fact, he did not recommend having surgery at all until my nodule grew to 4 cm. At that point, my nodule was somewhere around 3.5 cm.

We had the answer that my nodules were not cancerous, but something about Dr. A’s recommendation to not have surgery after the baby was born did not sit well with the Mr. and me, but we figured we would address that issue after the baby was born.

In late May, we found out that we were expecting a baby girl! We had already decided what her name would be.  We were excited to meet our little Ten!

As my pregnancy progressed, the Mr. and I decided that I should have surgery before the end of the year because our deductibles would already be met. Ten’s birth would ensure that! So in September, the Mr. and I met with Dr. R, an ENT that had been highly recommended by a friend who had had a similar surgery.  Dr. A also recommended Dr. R but still persisted to strongly recommend that I did NOT have surgery.  He recommended that he could just watch my nodule and do periodic ultrasounds and biopsies and blood work to confirm that I was still doing okay.  Still, his recommendation did not feel right to us. 

During our meeting with Dr. R, he recommended surgery and disagreed with Dr. A’s recommendations to hold off.  We felt this was the right thing to do, so I scheduled my surgery for the middle of December.

On October 24, 2012, Ten arrived.  She was beautiful! She weighed 8 lbs. 10 oz. and had lots of blonde hair.

As my surgery edged closer and closer, I began to feel anxious.  Thinking it was just pre-surgery jitters, I tried to brush it off.  Everyone gets nervous for surgery, right?!?!?  But, the closer it got the more I realized that I could not go through with it.  At the time, I thought it was because Ten would only be 6 weeks old, and it would be too hard to leave her.  I know now that that was not the only reason. The moment I cancelled my surgery, I felt relieved and peaceful.  I would have surgery, just later.  It would be more expensive, so at the time I felt silly and as if I was wasting money, but I still felt peaceful.

The end of January brought more surprises.  the Mr.’s employer informed their employees that payday would be late.  They were struggling financially and could not make payroll.  Any thoughts of thyroid issues were gone at that point.  We were frantically submitting resumes to every job opening that seemed half plausible for our family.  The following weeks proved difficult as payrolls continued to be late and unpredictable.

In February, our little family made a trip to Winslow, Arizona for an interview at the Little Colorado Medical Center.  The Mr. was offered a job (with a significant RAISE!), but we soon realized that what appeared to be a raise would be a slight pay cut when the medical benefits were considered.  On our drive home, both the Mr. and I got the distinct impression that Heavenly Father was saying, “Just be patient, this isn’t it!”  The Mr. went to the temple to confirm our answer and felt confident that the Winslow job was not for us.  So, with the prospect of being out of a job at any moment, we forged ahead.

We continued to submit resumes everywhere!  The Mr. also started applying to our city's Police Department and was excited about that option.  In April, we found out that the hospital my husband worked for would be shutting down.  The Mr. would be out of a job!  Shortly after, we found out that the branch of the hospital (the branch that the Mr. worked at) would be purchased by a BIG name hospital and that the Mr. might possibly be kept as an employee with them.  After lots of worry and stress about who would be out of a job and who would be staying on, the Mr.found out that BIG name hospital would be keeping him.  Relief! the Mr. was able to keep his tenure, vacation days, and pay.  A couple months later, he even got a teeny, tiny raise. His new hours were a hard adjustment for our family (Mon-Thurs 1pm-11:30pm), but that was a small sacrifice for the blessing of a JOB! BIG name hospital’s health insurance was also MUCH better than the benefits we had through the previous hospital.  In fact, they were equal to or better than any benefits we had ever seen!

In June or July, I noticed that my thyroid nodule was starting to bother me more and more, and I was concerned because my hair was shedding.  I wanted to be sure that my thyroid was still functioning properly.  With the new insurance in place, I went to my Uncle’s doctor’s office.  I saw his PA , Jay G. who asked me why I was waiting to get my thyroid out.  He was of the opinion that Dr. R was the best and that if he thought it should come out that I should follow that advice. I got a referral (required by new insurance) to Dr. R and Dr. W (a new endocrinologist recommended by a friend).  Dr. W agreed with Dr. R that it needed to come out soon. 

I scheduled my surgery for August 15, 2013.  In the weeks leading up to the surgery, I was nervous, but the feeling was different.  The feeling I had was that the surgery needed to happen.  So, I kept my surgery date.

Meanwhile, the Mr.'s application to the Police Department was almost complete and was just lacking a few steps in the background check.  We were pretty sure that the Mr. would be offered a job very soon, but he did not feel right about continuing to pursue this option for some reason.  He attended the temple and received a confirmation that it was not the right thing for our family at this time.

The Sunday before my surgery, the Mr. and my brother gave me a Priesthood blessing.  I don’t remember the specifics of my blessing, but I know that the blessing told me that the doctors would be guided.  I also remember the peace I felt as the Spirit washed over me.    

Two days before my surgery, I was able to attend the temple while the Mr. watched the kids.  I had a lot on my mind.  Just a few days prior, the Mr. had gotten news that his fertility had declined even further (he has had fertility issues in the past), making me question whether we would be able to have more children. The thought of not being able to have more children is very painful to me. I have had many occasions where I have felt like there are more spirits waiting to come to our family.  Add to that stress the stress of my impending surgery and it was a difficult combination.

I had had many thoughts about what would happen if I died in surgery or if I went into a coma or other things like that. 

As I sat on the bench waiting for the session to begin, I thought I was going to be sick to my stomach. My stomach was churning.  My Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) was rearing its ugly head and there was nothing that I could do about it but pray for help.  I prayed silently to myself for what seemed like 20 minutes, asking God to settle my stomach and help me relax.  I tried reading the Bible in front of me, but found myself speed reading and not really understanding the words.  The only saving grace was the soft sound of the organ playing over the speakers.  I sang each hymn in my head.

As I made it into the session, anxiety of whether I would have to leave and be embarrassed overwhelmed me and brought on my IBS attack even stronger.  For what seemed like forever, I was fighting nerves, trying to make myself relax and breathe and calm my stomach.  Finally, the Spirit calmed my nerves and I was able to appreciate my time in the temple session.  During my time in the session, I cried.  I have never cried in a session, but this time was different.   This time I felt like my world was crashing in on me.  I felt like there was nothing left for me to do but pray for God to help! Once, I was in the Celestial Room, I prayed harder than I have ever prayed before and I cried. I told God that I was nervous about my surgery.  I told Him that I wanted more kids, but that without His help I wasn’t sure that it would be possible for us to have more.  I told Him that I have health problems that I need His help with. I told Him that I needed help with this surgery because my kids need a mother and the Mr. needs a wife.   Absolute peace filled me.  I wish I could have sat in that room forever.

The next day (the day prior to my surgery), I was a mess. Throughout the whole day, I would find myself crying and then I would pray for strength and comfort.

I put the kids to bed around 8:30 but hadn’t gone to bed myself. I was too nervous.  I stayed up a couple more hours before I decided I had better head to bed. That night I felt the Spirit stronger than I have ever felt before.  At the time, I was humbled and very grateful for this experience, but Heavenly Father knew that I would need this experience to get me through the days ahead.

The next morning, I was still nervous for my surgery, but my nervousness felt minimal. The surgery went great and I was able to recover quickly.  I did have pain, but much less than I expected from having surgery.

The Relief Society scheduled meals to be brought to me after my mom left.  A friend of mine in the ward came to get Buddy each afternoon to play with her boys which he loved! My visiting teacher came each evening to help me feed the kids, give them baths, and get them in bed. Before my surgery, I had wondered why I was given faithful visiting teachers when someone else could probably benefit more from having these faithful sisters come. Now I know why they were assigned to come to me.

After getting the phone call from Dr. R, my world has been turned upside down even further.  I have since researched my specific type of cancer.  According to Dr. R, there is a 95% chance that it can be cured.  I don’t like the fact that I have to worry about odds, but all doctors involved have told me that if you have to have cancer, then thyroid cancer is the one to have.  Specifically, I have Papillary Thyroid Cancer.

The first day after finding out about my cancer was the hardest. Both the Mr. and I cried so much that I wasn’t sure we could cry any more.  I have prayed so many times after hearing the news.  It almost doesn’t seem real.  I feel healthy.  I have the same amount of energy I have always had.  Physically, I feel fine; emotionally, not so much.

During my pre-op appointment on Friday with Dr. R for this second surgery I am getting, he told us that a few cancer cells were found in a lymph node that he “by chance” decided to take out.  He explained that we are lucky we found this.  The half of my thyroid that was removed showed no trace of cancer.  The cancer is presumably in the right side of my thyroid--the side that looks normal on ultrasounds and appears to have no issues at all—the side that is still in my body.  Dr. R said there is a chance that they may never find the source of the cancer since they cannot even detect it on an ultrasound. He’s preparing me for that possibility anyways. 

Even if he believes it, the Mr. and I know that it was not just by chance that Dr. R had the thought to remove the lymph node he saw.  We know that it was not just by luck that this cancer was found.  We both feel that had I had the surgery back in December, the cancer would have gone undetected as it probably had not spread to my lymph node at that point. We know that God has orchestrated the events leading up to this discovery and continues to guide our lives as we go through this struggle.  God has answered prayers before we even said them.  He has provided comfort and support that, at the time, we were unaware we needed.

We look back and realized that God has held our hand through this entire experience.  He helped me find my thyroid nodule so we could find the cancer. He gave the Mr. and me promptings that helped us decide to pursue surgery.  He told me that surgery in December was not the right timing. He helped us realize that the job in Winslow wasn’t right for our family.  He prompted my family doctor to suggest surgery.

Ultimately, I feel like I will be okay.  It’s not my time to die yet.  God is not done with me.

More now than ever, the Mr. and I feel grateful for the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is only through the Enabling Power of His Atonement that we forge ahead, not knowing what tomorrow brings. We know that because of His Atonement, death has no sting. We are grateful that we have been able to be sealed to each other and know that, regardless of when we die, we will be able to be together again! One thing we have both gained more of up to this point is perspective. 

We pray for added strength from God as we pursue a cure.  We have many family members and friends who are fasting and praying on my behalf as well.  For that we are very grateful.

We do have our doubting moments and moments of weakness.  We are only human. 

We pray that we will be able to accept God’s will for our little family, whatever that may be.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Through the Woods

It has been so HOT at home lately! Welcome to summer in Arizona I guess! It was sooo nice to be able to get away and go camping this past weekend! We took the kids and the dogs & half our house (or so it seemed) to the Black Canyon Lake area and met the Mister's family to camp for a few days. 

We had a lot of fun! I didn't take pictures of a few parts of our camping trip that I would like to mention.  The Mr. and his brother spent a good chunk of time wearing ponchos in the rain digging trenches.  That part was not so fun.  My FIL got sick.  That part was not so fun.  Then my little Buddy seemed to be under the weather as well.  But, camping is always fun, and being in nature is what we live for around here!

I also did not take a picture of me trying this little bad boy out...for obvious reasons, the camera was not welcome when I tested it out.

Seattle Sports Solar Camp Shower (Hot Water from the Sun):

I left the water on the hood of our truck for a few hours.  It was cloudy so I was super worried that I was going to FREEZE! Everyone thought I was crazy for not taking a shower in my in-law's 5th wheel. Call me crazy, but I wanted to try this out. 

When it came time to shower, even though the sun hadn't been really shining, the water was pleasantly luke warm and wasn't cold at all! I thought I needed to rush since I had limited water, so I skimped on water as much as I could.  Result: I had more than half the original water left when I was done, so it left me wondering...Do I stop the shower now?? Or, do I stay under the water and enjoy?!?! I decided to stop the shower because I heard little Ten crying, but overall I loved it! It was definitely a keeper. (PS--I bought this product and no one is paying me to use it or review it).

Now, in no particular order, please enjoy the pictures!

 Here I am getting a little archery practice in.  For those who are curious, I'm shooting a Diamond Razor Edge bow.  The Mr. bought it for me when we were dating.  I need more practice!

Here's little Buddy blowing bubbles with Grandpa.  These are the Crayola Giant Outdoor Colored Bubbles. Would I recommend them?? No.  They did have a hint more color than regular bubbles, but not enough to make the price difference worth it.  Besides, as a mother I kept freaking out that the drips getting all over little Buddy's clothes were going to stain. That reminds me that I need to check his clothes to see if they did.

Fort made out of logs, sticks, and pine needles with Uncle T & Lobo (the Yorky).  Highly recommended! Awesome!

S'mores! The Mr. & I like the toasted coconut marshmallows.  Couldn't even get little Buddy to take a bite.  He's a picky eater!

Never fear! Little Ten will eat the S'more.  She's my good eater! We had to confiscate the s'more before she ate the whole thing! S'mores really aren't for babies if you didn't know! He he!

One of the activities that we really enjoyed was taking our German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs) out. We catch wild pigeons (read: rats with wings) at home and then use them to train our dogs. Our dogs performed better than expected.  They have gotten a little rusty over the summer.  Between the Mr. studying for his CT boards (he passed today! yay!) and the hot weather (dogs can't smell as well in hot weather because they need moisture to smell), the dogs haven't really seen a lot of practice. They did AWESOME!

Hide on point

Seek on point

Pepper (our baby GSP) practicing retrieving a dead bird.

Monday, July 29, 2013

City Noise


The sound of my 2.5 year old little guy who we will call "Buddy" knocking at his door or my sweet little 9 month old (I'll call her "Ten") crying because someone or something was noisy and woke them up is the worst!

I cringe when I hear sirens at night or nap time! Don't you?!?!?

In the country, loud noises just don't happen as often.  If you hear sirens you run to the window to see whose house they're going to and hope that "Thelma & Frank" down the street are alright!

Here in the city, I don't even know my neighbors names really.  Well, I do, but that's about all I know.  The guy 2 houses down??? I call him Mike the Yeller.  Yep, he yells A LOT! Most of the yelling contains obscenities.

2 houses down the other direction?? His name is Don.  He fixes our cars from time to time.  Nice guy.  Don't know his last name though.

My advice to you city dwellers with little ones...invest in one of these babies PER ROOM!

The nice thing is that they can use batteries as well! I have 2.  One for each kids' bedroom.  I couldn't live without them!

Homemade is the only way to go!

As a stay-at-home mom, I don't have an income.  I'm sure many mothers/fathers are in this position.  To be thrifty and save money...and enjoy food more, I cook/bake most things we eat from scratch.  Today, I will tell you about the homemade hot dog/hamburger bun recipe I use.  I found the recipe on Budget 101. I usually double the recipe below in my Bosch mixer. Once finished, I allow the buns to cool and then bag and freeze.  My family does not even LIKE the taste of store bought buns anymore!  

8 cups all purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
3/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 eggs

In large mixing bowl 4 cups flour with yeast.

Combine water, oil, sugar, and salt. Add to flour mixture. Add
eggs. Beat at low speed with mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping bowl.
Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in 4 cups flour to make
a soft dough.

Turn out on floured surface, knead till smooth and elastic. Place
in greased bowl, turning once. Cover, let rise in warm place till
double (about one hour). Punch down, divide dough in 3 portions.
Cover, let rest 5 minutes. Divide each portion into eight balls.
Turn ball in hands, folding edges under to make a even circle.
Press ball flat between hands. Place on greased baking sheets,
pressing to 3 1/2 inch circles. Let rise till double (about 30
minutes). Bake at 375F about 10 minutes. Makes 24 buns.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The S word.

Yep! Surgery.

Looks like I will be having surgery sometime (hopefully) in August.

Last year, while pregnant, I found out that I have more than 1 thyroid nodule on the left side of my thyroid! Yikes! They biopsied it and said that it's not cancer (most likely). But, it is now causing1111111111111111111111g me trouble swallowing, so I must get it out! LAME! I always thought that I had an Adam's apple...but that would be weird because I'm a I'm glad it's not an Adam's apple!

Meanwhile.  Post-baby weight loss has come to a screeching HALT! I have known for a while that it's my eating habits, but writing down a meal plan and actually following it today has proven to be HARD! I am doing the old Weight Watchers program since I have the materials already and know what I'm doing (and have had so much success when I actually followed it after baby #1). Let's just say that I was EXTREMELY disappointed when I found out that I was only able to have 5 meatballs today for my lunch meal.  I wanted more so bad! Oh well. Life goes on.

We are planning a camping trip with my in-laws! I'm excited! It's been a long time since I've been camping.  The last time I went camping was when I was barely pregnant with my little guy (who is almost 2 1/2 now!)  So roughly 3 years ago!  Life gets away from you!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Joining the Facebook Resisters?

I'm trying a little experiment.  Based on the ideas in this article.  I want to connect to people more.  I know I'm not really connecting to people by typing this blog, but this blog is more of a journal for me than a way to connect.

I find myself checking Facebook way to many times a day instead of REALLY living.

I will update you as I go.  I will say that I have already wondered what is happening on Facebook without me (I've already deactivated my account).

Then, I realized I probably wasn't really missing much,

We could all learn a little from this Guy.

Back to my roots.

Yep! That's me and my brother and there I am with the silly grin on my face.  I was 10 in that picture.  This was my uncle's "garden."

Going to the "garden" was something I dreaded. As you can see, it wasn't quite the small, quaint garden you think of when you hear the word.  My family spent many early morning hours picking and hoeing and caring for this beast of a garden when I was younger.

I used to fake illness in hopes that I wouldn't have to go to the garden.

But, something in all those early morning hours must have stuck with me because last year I asked my husband if we could do a garden. He thought I was crazy and really didn't want to because he hates most vegetables.

But, I begged and pleaded. And, because my husband is amazing, he let me have a garden.  Soon, he found out that yellow squash cooked with the Our Best Bites Garlic Bread Seasoning and Parmesano Romano Cheese until the cheese is crispy is one of his favorite ways to eat vegetables.  In fact, he learned how to make it himself and started making it a couple times a week at least.

This year, we are getting started a little earlier, and can plant a few more things than we did last year.  We have planted snap peas, beets, carrots, radish, Swiss chard (my favorite), spinach, Kale, lettuce, and arugula. We have also planted some herbs (basil, chives, garlic chives, parsley, dill, cilantro, rosemary).

In March, we will plant yellow squash, zucchini, watermelon, tomatoes (already started indoors), peppers (also started indoors already), and cantaloupe. We may also possibly plant some cucumbers and butternut squash, but I haven't decided yet.

There's just something about watching a plant grow that makes Spring to amazing.

(A row of Arugula)

An Introduction of Sorts

My name is Allison. I'm a freckled face kid from southeastern Arizona. I grew up in a tiny town.  A tiny town with no Walmart, no grocery stores, no McDonalds, and there was definitely no mall.  My mom usually went grocery shopping about every other week in a town a little bigger than ours 45 minutes away.

Growing up I didn't play video games, I built forts on the hill behind our house.  I didn't go to the movies, I took 4-H cooking and sewing.  I didn't go to the zoo, I entered my rabbits in the county fair (Did I mention that I won Reserve Showmanship one year?!? he he).

In high school, dates didn't rent limos or go to Disneyland for Prom, they rode 4-wheelers and drove old beaters that their parents had passed down and graciously let them drive.

Needless to say, life was different.

It's no surprise that I chose to marry a man as backwoods and down home as I am (if not more so). My husband grew up in a small town in northeastern Arizona and loves to hunt and fish and do anything  outdoorsy. He's basically perfect! (I might be biased though)

Now, my two kiddos, husband, and I live in the big city.  Some of the culture here is a bit of a shock to me, and I want my kids to learn at least a bit of the way of life I used to know and love.

You are welcome to follow along as I share our experiences and endeavors.