Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30

So my goal this month was to write everyday. And guess what...

I did it!

That's me giving myself a big pat on the back. :)

My goal this year was to basically keep a journal, but with pictures, but without the time consuming effort of scrapbooking (as much as I love it, I have a hard time keeping up on my own scrapbook--weird, right?). Well I think I'm doing pretty awesome. :) So my plan is to printout my posts from 2011 in a book and then I have a record of what I've done, tried to do, or epically failed at doing this year. And that makes me happy. :)

So on a completely un-related note...

This is what today looked like at my office, pretty much all day:

Awesome. :)

Today I am grateful for the fog. I love fog. I love standing it in. I love running through it. I love exploring life it in--especially our property when I was a kid--the fog made everything seem so much more magical. I even love driving in it. When I was a kid I loved standing on our deck when the fog was so thick I couldn't even see my hand extended out in front of me. It really does get that thick here. I could hear the cars on the road, but I couldn't see them. I loved feeling like I was standing on the edge of the world. Fog makes me happy. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Decorating For Christmas

Last night Christiana and I decorated for Christmas! I had already put up the tree and decorated the mantel, but then I decided that I didn't want to do it by myself so I waited till she came home from with her family.

I was pretty excited when I found this nativity puzzle set when I was recently visiting my brother. Yeah, Mom, I stole it from you. :) I loved this nativity scene. It was the one we were allowed to play with. And the cool thing is that all the pieces fit together into a puzzle. Above is Christiana putting it together. She did it pretty quick. :)

This is Christiana's Christmas mouse that she has had since she was a baby. Isn't it so cute? It also sings christmas songs. :)
This is one of my very favorite possessions. It is a large Nativity Scene that I got as a Christmas present from the family I used to babysit for. They gave it to me for the 12 days of Christmas. It made me feel so loved. :)
Look at all those presents under the tree already! Yep! Those are the super secret Christmas presents for mi familia! I can't wait for them to open them!!

Christiana also took some fun pictures of our tree:

Today I am grateful for winter. I love being able to curl up to a cozy fire, watch movies, and admire our awesome christmas tree. I love christmas music (especially old school music. Stuff that was originally recorded on real vinyl records) and I love that I can now listen to it as much as I want without being judged. :) Yay!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Heirlooms

Today's Prompt:

"Describe an heirloom that has been passed down through generations of your family. What is its significance to you personally?"

There are a few things that I have or will have (hopefully) that I love, including my Nana's china--the pink rosebud set. I love it. It's not the more expensive set, but I have fond memories of Nana rarely letting us use it. And the days that we did, I didn't mind helping with the dishes. Not that I was allowed to, though. :) Grandpa brought it back for Nana when he was stationed in Asia in the '50's I think. I specifically remember when Nana did an FHE night on ettiquete. She told us if we had perfect ettiquete all week, she would make us a fancy dinner and we could use the china, crystal, and silver. We did and she did. I will always "blame" that for our family's good table manners. Hopefully I can do the same thing to, er, for my kids. :)

One of my very favorite things I have is photographs and pictures of my ancestors. I love these. I love being able to see who people look like. It makes my ancestors so much more real to me.

I also have some books that belonged to some of my ancestors. I love books and I love old things. So this is a very happy combo for me. :)

I have beautifully detailed tatted doilies and table runners that my great-uncle (Yep, you read that right, UNCLE) made when he was alive. He died long before my mom was even born, so it's cool that we have so many of the crafts he made.

Something that I also treasure is some of the medals my grandpa received while he was in the military.

I've been really blessed that I'm able to have so many family heirlooms. I look forward to being able to pass them on. :)

I'm soooo grateful that I've been able to have easy access to family history info. I'm grateful for the people in my family that have worked on it before I did, thus making things extremely easy for me. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Loomis 1st Ward

This is my ward building. I love this place. This is my home. When I think of home, I think of my family's house/property and this building. :) It defines Loomis and home to me.

This morning the kid I used to babysit gave his homecoming talk in our home ward. He just got home from his MISSION. Yes, MISSION. I feel so old. That aside, I thought a trip to the home ward was well worth getting up at 7 am on a Sunday. Yeah, this year they start at 8:30am...ewww.

So I showed up and was instantly greeted by several families I had known since I was a kid. So happy. Then I walked into the building. And I took a deep breath and smelled the building. And it smelled exactly the same as it did when I was a kid. Even the remodel when I was 12 didn't change the smell of the building. I love it. Memories swirled around me as I wandered the halls. It was wonderful. It was such a nostalgic day, you might think that I hadn't been here in years, even though it, in fact, had only been a few months.

I've always loved this building. My mom and grandparents helped build it back in the day. In fact some of the electrical was wired wrong and backwards because of my grandpa. A Bryson Boo-boo, if you will. (Oh, and I will.) Who can say that they went to Church in the building that their family helped build? No one. Ok, except for half of Loomis. Half the people still in Loomis helped build that building. People don't leave Loomis. And if they do, they generally come back. Just goes to show how awesome the town is. Especially the fact that it is still a "town."

Ok, back to the ward. I love how, despite the fact that there are tons of new people that I did not know, there were enough people there that I knew and knew me that I felt like I was coming home. Though, it was kind of funny because 1) I got introduced as Erin in Relief Society and then I corrected it and people were disappointed (You better feel special Erin!). 2) Then others didn't know that Erin had a sister older than Steven. Huh. Guess that's what I get for moving away. I kept getting, "Ohhh, that's Erin's older sister." I didn't know what that was supposed to mean. It was pretty funny.

I watched the deacons pass the sacrament and I could distinctly remember some of them being born! Ack! I had no idea who the others were.

Sean gave a great talk about Charity and showing love towards others. It was strange having Kevin sit next to me and thinking about Sean at that age. I remembered Sean being baptized and then getting the priesthood and passing the sacrament for the first time when he was 12, and then blessing the sacrament, and then his farewell talk and now his homecoming talk. 14 years flashed before me in about 5.2 seconds. It wasn't fair. Time just needs to stay still. Just for a few, let's say 15, years. My babies are growing up way too fast and I don't feel like I'm at all.

I love how kooky and quirky the ward is. I have some GREAT memories of church through the years. One time the ward chorister stopped the hymn in the middle of the song in order to correct everyone on how we should be singing it. "The hymn is joyful people! Sing Joyfully!" Awesome. Another time someone read the newspaper at the pulpit. Turns out it was supposed to be some kind of object lesson, but all I remember is that he read the newspaper. Again, Awesome. Another time some one brought LIVE lobsters to Church. My grandpa yelled out during the sacrament. That was totally awesome (and yes, we laughed outloud uncontrollably when he did!). And there have been some interesting testimonies born over the years. I'm sure all wards have funny things happen, but it seems to me that people always are amazed and surprised at things that happen in this ward. LOVE IT! My BFF and I have talked about this numerous times and always agree about the ward.

I think that what I love most about the ward is that, for the most part, I think people are trying to be good. They are trying to better themselves and their families. They are trying to come closer to Christ and they are doing the best they can. Sure, they all have had difficulties, and yes, because the ward is old and close-knit, everyone knows everything about everyone. But it's okay, because we are all one big family.

I am a product of this ward. I am who I am because of my mom, my grandparents, and Loomis First Ward. My leaders and teachers were all fabulous. The Bishoprics and Relief Society Presidencies that helped my family over the years were so great. I had the best home teacher in the world (he still goes out of his way to talk to me and make me feel that he's still watching out for me--even today :) ). I can't tell you how much I love this ward.

So that is my wonderfully quirky and perfect ward. I love it and wouldn't trade it for the world.

Love you Loomis First Ward!

I think it's pretty clear what I'm grateful for today. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Heart Apple Hill

My old roommate Brittney was home visiting for Thanksgiving this week and suggested that we get together and go on an adventure to Apple Hill with some of our other friends. I was game. I hadn't made it up there yet this year and was desperate for Apple Donuts and Cider. I decided to forgo the Carmel Apples this year, they were so expensive and the line to get in was REALLY long.

Unfortunately none of our other friends were able to make it, but I think Brittney and I had a fabulous time chatting and hanging out. We only went to one of the farms (the main one: High Hill Farm) and got our goodies and wandered around.


In front of the Fudge Factory Shop, the bear is holding a sign that says, "Chocolate makes life Bearable." Amen, sir. Amen.
The weather was perfect and it wasn't overly crowded. Awesome!

Brittney enjoying her Apple Donut

Brittney had some family friends that live on Apple Hill so we stopped by and met them. Turns out they knew my grandparents back in the day. In fact my Grandpa drove them around in our carriage when they were married. (Mom-their last name is Wooden.)

Placerville was already decorated for Christmas. :) There must have been 25+ trees lining Highway 50 through the town. They were so cute!

All in all it was a fabulous afternoon full of friends and good food. (I'm seeing a trend this weekend...and I like it.)  :)

Today I am grateful for the mountains. I love the mountains. I'll take the mountains over the beach any day. And I'm grateful that I live in a place where I can easily go visit them. And I'm grateful for the smell of pine trees. It is always so refreshing and exhilarating. :) And I'm grateful for fun places like Apple Hill that are free to visit. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Tree: Christmas Advent Tree!

So throughout this year, I've had this cute manzanita "tree" that I've been decorating with cute holiday & seasonal decorations. See Here, Here, and Here for some of the other holidays.

The idea originally stemmed (Ha!) from an idea I saw of doing an advent tree this way. And I wanted one (in case you haven't noticed, I have this thing for advent calendars). Then I found this super cute kit and combined the ideas. :)
So per the kit instructions, I put together the little boxes, but I did not attach them to each other.

Instead, I punched a hole where I wanted the top and inserted an eyelet and threaded a ribbon so that it could hang. I also inked all the edges of the boxes with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain (fav!) and by the time I was done, my hands were very black. :) I also put glitter glue all over them. Did you know I like sparkley things? :) I used foam 3D stickers to make each layer of the fronts pop more.
Then I just had to put the rest together. I thought this would take me just a couple of hours, but instead it took a couple of hours each day over the long weekend. I didn't mind, it was just more than I anticipated. But I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

Then I got to decorate my little tree.

Here are some close ups of the little boxes:

The only thing I would do differently would be to change the way the fronts open. I did it so they all open in different directions, but I would change it so they only opened from the sides. I'll just have to make sure not to have anything heavy in the ones that open from the top.

So there you have it.  Now I just need to fill them with treats. :)

Today I am grateful for paid vacations. Even though I actually don't get paid for the day after Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the holidays I do get paid for. :) Especially when I get to be out of town and on some grand adventure. As my friend said, "It's great when your at Disneyland and you realize that you are getting paid for it!" Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


As is becoming the tradition, I spent Thanksgiving with the Duff/Hanson Clan. :) That's where Steven and I went last year and had a ton of fun, so we did it again this year. Except Steven was sick, so he stayed home. :( But he did get leftovers. :) He was happy.

So as my contribution, I made a from scratch pumpkin pie. I thought it turned out pretty good. :) (Let's just ignore the not so pretty crust part.)

So I spent the day "slaving" over one pie and having a Harry Potter Marathon, and working on Christmas presents. Good times. :)

Then I went over to the Hanson Home for dinner. It's funny because a Hanson married a Duff who's brother married a girl who's parents come too. And then you throw me and steven (who is an unofficial Duff family member) in the mix. And everyone gets along really well and has a grand time.

Dinner was fabulous. So tasty. And of course, I and everyone else ate way, way too much.

Afterwards we watched the Niner's football game and hung out. The two Duff grandkids played with the Cody the Dog and the dog was done and pinned the littlest boy down so he couldn't jump on him anymore. It was so funny.

While the boys were playing a Mario game, the deaf cat, aka "Stinky" or "Mr. White" was intrigued and kept trying to swat at the TV. It was pretty funny.

Despite Steven not making it, I had a great time and it was fun to hang out with Fallon for awhile. :) Dinner was fantastic and it was fun to be with friends. :)

Today I'm thankful for the friends that I have been blessed to have throughout my life. I've learned so much from each of them and I am so grateful for all of them. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Power of Music

Today's Prompt:

"Write about a piece of music that changed your life forever. What do you feel when you hear it now?"

Um. Music that changed my life? I don't know if there is anything in particular. I can think of lots of songs that have special memories attached to them.

After thinking for a minute, I did come up with a hymn, actually, that did affect me very strongly. It forever changed how I think about the Sacrament. :) Let us flash back to 2005...

My senior year of college was my favorite. I had great roommates and wonderful group of friends. Best FHE brothers, ever. We were a little family of 13. :) So many awesome memories and experiences. Anyway...

One Sunday my FHE brothers were preparing the Sacrament as we were singing "God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son". This hymn isn't necessarily one of the "popular" ones, and the music isn't the most beautiful of the hymns. But I love the words.  I especially love the third and fifth verses. And if you'll notice, the song is supposed to be sung "with dignity." I love that. It is an honor that the Savior died for us. And we should do everything in our power to live up to that honor.

1. God loved us, so he sent his Son,
Christ Jesus, the atoning One,
To show us by the path he trod
The one and only way to God.
2. He came as man, though Son of God,
And bowed himself beneath the rod.
He died in holy innocence,
A broken law to recompense.
3. Oh, love effulgent, love divine!
What debt of gratitude is mine,
That in his off’ring I have part
And hold a place within his heart.
4. In word and deed he doth require
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One.
5. This sacrament doth represent
His blood and body for me spent.
Partaking now is deed for word
That I remember him, my Lord.

So that day, as we sang the hymn and I watched my friends prepare and pass the sacrament, I finally "got it." I understood that the Savior died for my sins and that it was immensely and intensely personal. I don't understand how it works, but I know that the Atonement is real, and that it does work, and it works for me and for you.

And so because of this experience, this hymn is one of my very favorites. It always makes me so happy when we sing it on Sunday.

Today I am grateful for my testimony of the Savior and His Atonement.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


My co-worker and I had an interesting conversation about kids today. I was telling her how Caitlin and Nick have mostly decided on a name for their baby: Rachel. Yay! So cute! And I was explaining how the "deal" was that if Nick got to name the baby Rachel (his choice), then Cait would get to name the next girl Emily (her choice). (Not sure where the "deal" is, but okay.) :)

My co-worker asked if Cait was sad about not getting to pick Emily. Off-handedly I told her that it wasn't really a big deal because they'll have more kids so chances are they'll have another girl. She asked how many kids they wanted and I responded, oh, probably 4, maybe 5. My co-worker gasped. "Really? That's so many!" I told her that I didn't think so. There are four kids in my family and growing up I always wished I had more siblings. She looked at me like was crazy.

I told her that I wanted 5-6 kids. She shook her head as if she were washing her hands of me. :) She said that she said maybe she wanted 3 kids, but that was pushing it. :) She grew up as basically an only child, but has two older sisters that have kids her age. One of her nieces is older than her by a couple of years.

I explained that I grew up in a busy house (there were 7 people) and so I was used to that and wanted that for my future family. I have tons of friends who have very large families and they always talk about them with such great love and affection. I'm sure not every large family is like that, but I would hope that mine would be.

I remember when I was a kid I was scared to have to raise a family in this day and age, but now I look forward to it. I want to raise my family in the Gospel. I want my future children to have the joy I get from it. I want them to have the blessings. And I want lots of children to have that opportunity. :) Someday. :)

Today I am thankful for my family. I love each of them so much and am grateful for the fun and laughter they have provided me over our lives. I can't tell you how many times I've tried to explain our inside jokes (Whenever I pass a trucker on the freeway, I want to roll down my window and yell, "Wanna buy a cookie?" Most of the time I resist the urge. Bwahahaha!) and no one seems to get it outside the four of us. I just don't understand why. :) Memories like the cookie one I'll always cherish. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are you Ready? Because I totally Am!

I'm so excited for Christmas that I've already started wrapping presents. :)

Monica and her family presents:

Yep. I'm one of those people that spend way too much time wrapping presents with fancy paper and real ribbon in order to make the present pretty. But it makes the excitement all that much more intense, right?
This is my blog so of course, I'm right. :)

Today I am thankful for people who try to do the right thing. I like to think that most people try to do what they think is right. It may not be what is actually right, but they are doing the best they can. Especially those that do who work in government. Yes, there are those that aren't doing a very good job, but I also think that others are just doing the best they can and what they think is best. And I appreciate that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yummy Pumpkin Roll Recipe

So I was feeling a bit adventurous tonight and tried a new recipe. Libby's Pumpkin Roll. It is delicious.

I'd never made any kind of roll cake so this was a bit of an adventure for me.

Alright, here is the recipe. I got it from the wrapper of the can of pumpkin.

powdered sugar
3/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
powdered sugar


For Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 15x10" jelly roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin cotton towel with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

For Filling: Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Re roll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Alrighty, now for my steps (plus pictures!)

I followed the recipe almost to the T. Well at least as well as I could. Sometimes I didn't get it. :)
The powder sugar towel. A thinner towel would have been better, but I didn't have one.
The flour mixture and the pumpkin mixture.
The cake baking in the oven. I used parchment paper instead of wax paper and it worked well. Note: I should have cooked the cake a little longer than the15 minutes. It was slightly underdone when I flipped it.
When the cake was cooked, I rolled it up.
The frosting all whipped together. So yummy!
I smeared on the frosting and then began to roll. I had a little problem with the cake cracking and sticking to the towel. So one end turned out prettier and tighter than the other.

All rolled up. I tried to smear the frosting as evenly as possible. Yeah, that didn't work out as well as I thought it did. :)
So the cake turned out pretty good. I did use a bit more of the cloves than the recipe called for so they turned out a little stronger than I would have liked and masked the cinnamon. I tried to balance it out adding whip cream with cinnamon on top. That helped a bit. Over all it was tasty and I'm sure I'll make it again.
Oh, I should mention. The drink in the last picture is my Nana's homemade Egg Nog. So delicious. It has spoiled me from store bought egg nog forever. I think that store bought stuff is so gross. Anyway. Since I was making a holiday treat, I thought I needed a holiday drink to go with it. Hello Egg Nog! Basically it's just a thin pudding with a meringue topping. And Nutmeg. mmmm good!

Here's the recipe:

6 cups milk
1 pkg vanilla pudding (4 person serving size)
Vanilla extract to taste
2 eggs, separated
1/8 cup granulated sugar
Ground Nutmeg (or Cinnamon)

Mix milk, pudding, and vanilla together until well blended. Mix in egg yolks into milk*. In a small bowl, mix with mixer egg whites and sugar till really frothy and somewhat stiff.

Mix in egg whites into milk mixture really well (this makes it frothy and awesome). Sprinkle with Nutmeg (or cinnamon). Chill for at least one hour. Sprinkle more nutmeg (or cinnamon). Serve. Enjoy. Love.

(*Note: This is a little soapbox about raw eggs. Raw eggs are usually a only problem if you get your eggs from a chicken coop (as opposed to a store). Samonella comes from chicken poop. That is why you should always wash your eggs with soap and water before you use them, if you have your own chickens. When eggs come from a grocery store, they are bleached (that's why they're white) and the bleaching process removes bacteria. Now, the bacteria can be reintroduced and so it's still a good idea to wash your eggs, but as long as you do, you can eat raw eggs. The samonella comes from outside the shell not the inside. Otherwise little chickens wouldn't be able to survive. Make sense? Alright. :) End of Soapbox.) :)

Today I am thankful that I was taught how to cook by my awesome Nana. Thanks for teaching me how to read a recipe, Nana! And thanks for the Egg Nog. It makes me happy. :) Love you!