Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 24

Christmas is family, friends, carols, traditions, wrapping paper, laughter, lights, food, wonder, joy, and of course the birth of our Savior. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 23

Wishing you all a very "warm" holiday season. 

Want one next year? Send me your address so you're not stuck with the poor quality screen shot.

P.S. Did you know that the first Christmas card was sent in 1843?

Friday, December 21, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 21

These cookies just melt in your mouth. They're soft, chewy, and oh, so delicious.

Shaker Molasses Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Combine butter, sugar, molasses, and eggs together. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix well.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tis the Season: Day 20

In 1941, 91 pieces of German soldier's mail was stolen from the Island of Jersey. After 71 years all the pieces were finally delivered--what a Christmas present to their loved ones not to mention a true WWII treasure.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 19

 I'm normally a Christmas Eve type of present wrapper.  This year, I got ambitious and got everything done at the begging of December. Next year, however, they're going to be wrapped early AND beautifully. :) So, I'm going to file these beautiful free tags away (and you should too if you've already finished).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

'Tis the Season: day 17

One day I'll be in London during Christmas, until then I'll just watch youTube videos of the lights.

'Tis the Season: Day 18

Were you lucky enough to attend the 2012 Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert? Wasn't it AMAZING--the best ever! Who else loved all the white parachutes with candy floating down? Have to admit it made me a little emotional. I can't wait until the video/PBS program next year, but until then this little video will have to do.

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 16

Way to go us!! Seventh year Utah is at the top for volunteering. Read all about our gift-giving here.  I have no doubt that we'll be at the top of the list if we follow the advice President Monson gave in August 2008:

“Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.

As we remember that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,” (Mosiah 2:17) we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s immortal "Christmas Carol." Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he: 'Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!'

Marley added: 'Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!'

Fortunately, as we know, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the better. I love his line, 'I am not the man I was.'

Why is Dickens’ "Christmas Carol" so popular? Why is it ever new? I personally feel it is inspired of God. It brings out the best within human nature. It gives hope. It motivates change. We can turn from the paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping. We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can—by showing the way—become a guiding star for some lost mariner.”

'Tis the Season: Day 15

I heart the Muppet Christmas Carol--a lot. I think these song are a timely reminder to be thankful for all the moments we've been given and to offer comfort and forgiveness to other.

Friday, December 14, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 14

I don't thing there's such a thing as too much mistletoe.

PS. Did you know that tradition holds that for every kiss that happened under the mistletoe a berry needed to be removed and once all the berries were gone no more kissing?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 13

Remember the American Girl Kristen?

It was from her that I first learned about the tradition of Saint Lucia and wondered why my Swedish ancestors didn't continue the tradition after coming to America.  Ever since, I loved celebration of Saint Lucia coming in the early morning hours to bring light and sweets to the inhabitants of the house.  Besides the very cool fact of wearing a crown of candles, I loved the symbolism of her coming with light to overcome the darkness and to offer the "sweet" life of the gospel.

P.S. If I was to ever do a Christmas wedding, I'd do it Swedish just like this.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 12

Have you heard of The Piano Guys? They're pretty awesome. Love their rendition O Come, Emmanuel mixed with stunning images from the Church's New Testament videos.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 11

I'm a lover of all things trivia. Did you know that in Greenland the men serve the women on Christmas Eve? (Totally a fan). Or that Kiviak is a Christmas dish made by putting up to 500 whole auks in a seals skin, seal it and let it ferment for a few months? Or that the traditional straw goat put up in Sweden has only made it to Christmas 13 times since 1966 due to vandalism. Or that Catolonia region of Spain has a strange fascination with poop? Or that Christians in Iraq burn thorns in front of their house as they believe jumping over the ashes three times brings good luck.

Want more strange Christmas traditions from around the world? Check out this article on the San Francisco Gate

Monday, December 10, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 10

It takes talent to play Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on glasses and this guy has it.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 9

I know the celebration of Advent is a way to mark the ways leading up to Christmas, but I didn't know much beyond that. So thanks to Wikipedia, I bring you the meaning of Advent.

  • The celebration of Advent is a western Christian religion tradition and is celebrated the four Sundays before Christmas. Eastern religions celebrate the "Nativity Feast" which begins in September.
  • Advent is the anglicized form of the Latin word adventus, which means "coming."
  • Adventus is the Latin translation of the Greek word  parousia which is commonly translated as "second coming.
  • The celebration of Advent symbolizes both the coming of the celebration of the birth of Christ and the second coming of Christ.
  • The common candle color is either purple or light blue. Which color you use is dependent on your religious affiliation. 
  • The celebration of Advent begun in the 6th century. 
  • In many Christian denominations, the Advent Prose is sung as part of the religious ceremony durning Advent. The words are drawn from 45:8.
  • Advents candle wreaths can either have four or five candles.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 8

Normally I'm the type of person to be wrapping my presents on Christmas Eve. So it must be some type of Christmas miracle that I had most of my presents purchased AND WRAPPED before December ever arrived. But, I kind of which I didn't have everything done as it'd be kind of fun to make these beautiful bows.

Complete step-by-step instructions can be found here.

Friday, December 07, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 7

Hey everybody, meet Meri Meri a fabulous design store with the cutest products that will just make you want to throw a party--or two.

See. Wasn't I right? Anyway if you head over to DesignMom, you can enter for a change to win a $150 gift certificate (and it must be Christmas if I'm sharing is because I really want to win this) :)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 6

The Lion in the Box by Marguerite diAngeli is probably my favorite Christmas story. I have fond memories of being tucked into bed and being read this book. The Lion in the Box is the true story of five children of a widowed mother who find themselves in procession of a large box Christmas Eve. The children are told that the box contains a lion and that they're not able to open the box until Christmas morning.  Told through the eyes of a child, this story's simple message of love, sacrifice, innocence of children, and gratitude for blessings big and small stays reminds us what is important during the holiday season. It's out of print, but if you can get your hands on a copy, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 5

Did you know that by visiting you can download a whole slew of Christmas songs from the Mormon Tabernacle choir? Even better, these songs are meant to be shared with coworkers, family and friends. What a perfect way to spread a little Christmas cheer!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

'Tis the Season: day 4

I've decided that only people who don't like cheesy/heartwarming/unbelievable Christmas movies must hate Christmas. I have to admit though, that when my family decided to watch 12 Dates of Christmas I was a bit skeptical. I wasn't sure if I wanted to suffer through the pain of an entire movie based around reliving the same date over and over--though there have been a handful of first dates that I wouldn't mind doing over again until I got them right. :) But I shouldn't have had to worry because it was ADORABLE. Keep your eyes open for the fun ways they incorporated the 12 days of Christmas song references.

You can find 12 Dates of Christmas on Hulu.

Monday, December 03, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 3

I've blogged about my love of Sara Jane Studios before, so I am happy that she has this charming free Nativity Puppet Theatre download  on her website. It's sure to put the littlest ones (and those young at heart) in the Christmas spirit.

Photo from SaraJaneStudio's website 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 2

This is awesome. Who doesn't appreciates a good rendition of Carol of the Bells--especially when done with basketballs?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

'Tis the Season: Day 1

I don't think you ever outgrow advent calendars. I've always loved that moment each day when you finally get to open what's hiding behind that door. Somehow, magically, that small piece of waxy candy can brighten even the worst of day.

To help make this season a little bit more festive (and to remind us why we even celebrate), I'll be sharing some of my favorite Christmas things--blogs, videos, stories, songs, and downloads.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Day 1
A Random Act of Service Calendar, yes please. The Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar sends you 24 small and simple ways to serve. What could be more magical than service?

Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

Yellow--the happiest color ever! I don't think it's a coincidence that some of my favorite things--lemons, sunshine, daffodils--are yellow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

That I get to work with the most amazing people at the Church History Museum who think I'm pretty awesome. Which is pretty much why the museum is the highlight of the week as their praise and love mean so much to me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

 Camera love (love me some Panasonic) and that I can capture, preserve, and share memories. Plus, I can't believe that this is now post 202! Crazy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

For the testimonies of new converts with their simple conviction that reminds us that the gospel doesn't need to be complicated.

Photo courtesy of LDS.Org

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

The small things that make me laugh--a funny video, seeing a child live with abandonment, and awkward moments.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

All the courageous and inspired leaders who have made the world a better place.

P.S. Everybody should see Lincoln, it's incredible.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

The the stamps* to far away places in my now expired passport. You've been good to me.
*England (3x), Scotland, Wales, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Austria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canda

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

For the temple and the covenants we make therein.

Photo from

Friday, November 09, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

For the beyond incredible friends I have in my life that make me laugh, who truly listen, and who make me a better person.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

For being able to turn to true Prophets of God for peace, wisdom, inspiration, encouragement, and love.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

That both my grandma's are still alive and that they've been encouraged me and inspired me and played a major role in my life.

Grandma Sainsbury 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

A family that I can have adventures with.

Bryce, Sara, Me, Laura, Louisa, Spencer
Those that braved the 180 feet Ultimate Rush adventure during our trip to Reno, Nevada.

Monday, November 05, 2012

I am grateful for . . .

The country that has captured my heart*.

*If you need some London happiness in your life, you should follow my London board on pinterest as it may be called Heart Happy aka London. :) 

P.S. Did you know that Observance of November 5th 1605 act is also called the "Thanksgiving Act" so seems kind of fitting that I should also be thankful for the failure of the Gunpowder plot  and the celebration of Guy Fawkes day.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

The fact that I know that the Jesus Christ of the Book of Mormon is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Messiah of  the New Testament. It's because of this knowledge that  I'm able to get through my trails and everyday life.

If you need a reminder of who He is, check out the Twelves' apostles of Him in Special Witnesses of Christ videos.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

For the that it's 65 degree, most of the trees are still still vibrant with color, and that the shinning sun is illuminating the trees. 

Friday, November 02, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

That fact some of my dirty laundry smells like baby spit-up as it reminds me that I had a lot of quality snuggle time with this little angel recently. 

Thursday, November 01, 2012

I'm grateful for . . .

Early voting. Short lines. And living in a country where I have the right to vote for the person/party/platform that means the most to me and I won't be shot for doing so.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What they didn't tell you about being released

After 13 months, my times as Relief Society President came to an end on October 21. Everybody kept telling me how happy I'd be to be released as Relief Society President. I felt that way to. What they failed to mention was how hard being released actually is. It's hard. Like "I may be burned out and I need a good night sleep, but I'm don't want to be released" hard.

As my bishop started getting emotional during PEC over my release, the tears started flowing and I cried my way through three church meetings. Yep, kind of embarrassing. I'm sure everybody was thinking what is wrong with her. Nothing prepared me for the removal of the mantle and how physical of an experience that was. As I felt it leave, my heart was crying out "No. Don't go! How am I supposed to get through everything without this extra strength? I don't know if I can do it alone! I'll sign up for an extra year!"

Now that I've had some time to get used to the idea and to reflect on what I learned, I know I was truly blessed as this calling provided me some much needed strength this past year.

So what did I learn?

  • The power of the mantle of a stewardship is real.
  • If you've got leaders who believe and you and who trust your judgment you can do almost anything.
  • There are times when you just have to walk away because you can only give so much.
  • That you need to be concerned over the quiet ones. Just because they don't express problems, doesn't mean that they aren't there.
  • That very specific thoughts and ideas will come out of no where and those specific thoughts are meant for one of the sister. 
  • That most of us don't see the power and beauty of visiting teaching and so we don't do it.
  • That you truly do lead by example.
  • That your secretary is vital to your sanity.
  • That in a singles ward there's going to be A LOT of change so visiting teaching is NEVER done!
  • That you're not always going to connect with everyone in Relief Society.
  • That you don't have the same concerns and fears at 19 as you do at 30. 
  • That we all need the same reassurance that we are daughters of God who are loved and valued.
  • That until someone is willing to change, there's nothing you can do to make them want to change.
  • That having the gospel embedded in your life really will solve almost all of your problems.
  • That the sisters are so good to listen and respond to the promptings of the spirit.
  • That if you follow the promptings you can have an incredible impact in the life of someone.
  • That you're given really good moments to help you through the not so good moments.
  • That so much of the scriptures applies to whatever calling you've been given.
  • That you really do love the sisters.
  • That being able to pray for sisters by name is a sweet experience.
  • That the "big" callings aren't as glamorous as it seems. It's mostly just a lot of meetings.
  • That you learn more from sisters than you probably taught them.
  • That you are given extra strength to deal with your personal trials.
  • And especially that the single sisters of the church really are amazing! They are beautiful, smart, dedicated, have depth, are truly selfless, and love the Lord. I just want to slap all the boys and be like, what is your problem? Why aren't you asking out/marrying these girls.

I love, love, love my counselors. They were fabulous women who had strengths in areas I was lacking, who always made me laugh, who were wise and kind, who selfless served, but most of all they very devoted to the gospel and inspired me to be better. Since it was a singles ward, change is inevitable and I lost a counselor to marriage, one turned 31 and graduated out, and one to a mission (hence our October release date). Each time I had to say goodbye to a counselor I hated it. But each time I a wonderful girl took their place and I feel so blessed to have served with FIVE amazing women. I've made some wonderful friends and look forward to years and years of friendship.

Us at the end. 
Catherine Curtis--secretary, Ange Murtha--second counselor, Sister Allie Engman--first counselor.

I really am so grateful that I was able to work with and learn from this man, Bishop Kenneth Mays and I'm truly going to miss working so closely with him. Bishop Mays had the ability to make me feel wonderful about everything I did--which was especially helpful on those days when I felt like I was lacking and that there was so much more I should be doing. He was constantly singing my praises. He was grateful for and valued my input. He allowed me to take my wisdom, inspiration, and experiences and to make decisions.  When I presented anything to him he always said "I trust you president." His willingness to cheerfully serve made me want to complain less  and to follow his example. He always had my back and when I had to deal with illness, injury, mental problems, addictions, suicide attempts, etc. he made sure that I received the support I needed to deal with these things.

Monday, October 29, 2012

April 21/22-Tortugero and Goodbye to Costa Rica

Dear Costa Rica, I'm kinds of in love with you. Don't you just want to keep me forever because I wouldn't say no if you asked? Because I kind of HATED leaving you. 

We were told that the best time to see Sea Turtles is after the sun goes down or right before the sun rise. We hadn't had any luck yesterday, so up we got way too early in hopes of catching a glimpse.  We may have struck out in the turtle department, but being the only ones on an incredible beach to watch the sunrise is not a bad consolation prize.

It's amazing how alive the world really is right after sunrise. Our morning ride through the glades brought us the most concentrated sightings of animals, especially birds.

Each boat in our group saw different things, so I was happy that we were see to get a Caimen, a small type of crocodiles found in wetlands in central America.  It's amazing how close we were able to get to it--within just a couple of feet. Unlike other crocodiles, these ones mainly survive on a diet of mollusks and insects.

As we went further into the glads, the views just kept getting better and better.

I've decided that if someone says "I speak good English" they usually don't. So while I'd have loved to learn more about the ecosystems and the culture of Tourtugero, our guides lack of communication wasn't helpful on that score.

Back at the docks after the boat ride
Mawamba lodge was an oasis and with the beautiful sunshine it was just tempting me to stay longer. I could have spent days lying in the sun, walking the beach, and exploring more of the the glades.  Instead, all we had time to do was to eat breakfast before we began the journey back to San Jose.

The pool

The outdoor dinning area
I wish somebody would make this breakfast for me every morning.

Our rooms were perfect with their porches, swings, and cool breeze coming through.

The view from the front door. You can kind of make out the canal  in the distance.

After breakfast we began the long boat and bus ride back to San Jose. :(

At the end of the boat ride back to San Jose.
As we were booking our hotels, we realized that we could stay in a really nice hotel for very little money. We may have been a little out of place in our dirty travel clothes, but that didn't mean we didn't enjoy the plushness.

We had some incredible views of San Jose from our room.

After a rainy swim and a yummy last meal we turned in early as we had to be at the airport at 3 AM. We were told that we needed to be at the airport 3 AM and they weren't lying. It took us almost three hours to go through security (multiple check points) and to get the paper work all filled out.

Saying goodbye to Costa Rica
Waiting on the tarmac

San Jose from the air

Flying over the Eastern side of Costa Rica
Some of us have a knack for looking good after an early morning and long plane ride. I'm not one of them. :)