Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Good Things to Come

I often catch myself dreaming about someday when we have a nice home and can have this, and this, and this.

Last week I listened to a Forum at BYU given by Mark DeMoss, an Evangelical Christian who started the largest PR firm that deals with Christian organizations in the U.S.. He told the following stories:

A popular comedian hitting his prime at 22, fell off the grid and moved to Africa. When asked why, he said: Because I learned that the higher up I go, the less happy I am.

When asked if there was one thing he wished he would have known many years ago, a rich author replied: I wish I would have known that when you get to the top, there's nothing there.

I thought a lot about those statements, and how certainly I believe them, yet how quick I am to paint a dream life involving more money, a bigger home, more fabric and cooking supplies, nicer clothing.

Then I think about what we are heading into in the next 2-4 years. Complete poverty is what it feels like. Graduate school that doesn't allow my dear Watson to work, most likely a baby which means I choose not to work, at this point all our savings will have been spent on schooling, plus: student loans, medicaid, how will we afford a place to live? How will we afford groceries? It scares me and I wonder how in the world we'll be happy.

Apparently though, it might actually prove to be some of the truly happiest years of our lives. I used to fantasize about being married and having to scrimp and save and live off nothing but our love for each other. I always said I'd rather marry a poor man than a rich man for that purpose.  Now that I live in the world of adulthood bombarded by bills, insurance, providing my own meals, clothing, shelter, you know, all that real world stuff, I find myself wishing I had all the money in the world.

I don't often want lavish things. I just want to feel like I can buy some fabric to make a gift, or buy some sprinkles to make an awesome cake, or to be able to buy the powdered sugar because I need it now, rather than wait until it goes on sale, or to be able to go grocery shopping when I run out of food, instead of after we've eaten ramen and canned soup for a week after we run out of food.

You know?

Right now we don't even really NEED to live this way, but I'm practicing and preparing for when we do. And guess what? It's hard now and we don't have the actual burden and stress of zero income or little income with a big family.

But, I guess

sacrifice brings blessings and happiness. Sacrifice means giving up sprinkles and fabric. It means buying used, it means wearing out. And, it means being happy -- it really does.

Mark DeMoss also spoke about how there's no such thing as a self-made man.  If you have ever seen a turtle on a fence post, he explained, you know that turtle didn't get there on its own. Someone or someone(s) placed him there.  That's the same with all of us. No matter where we are in life, someone and most likely someone(s) helped us get there.

No matter where our lives are headed, no matter how little we have now, 3 years from now, 6 years from now, 10 years from now; we have each other, and our families, and we have God. There are many good things to come.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken Wrap

Ran 6 miles this morning. Brrr.

I think I might be the Queen of all things involving tortillas. My go-to meal is almost always Tacos or Breakfast Burritos.  A favorite snack of mine is half a tortilla topped with a little bit of peanut butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Put it in the microwave for 15 seconds....GOLD!  (I learned this from some friends during my study abroad in New Zealand).

Anyway, this week's recipe (oops, did I skip last week?) is Teriyaki Chicken Wraps.  There used to be a food place around here called New York Burrito. Perhaps what New York Burrito is most famous for, is the other end of the restaurant: a little ice cream place that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream right before your eyes.

Anyway, I always ordered the same thing every time I went, and in fact, I craved it often: Teriyaki Chicken Burrito. Apparently it was the only good thing on the menu, because no one else liked the place and it finally shut down.  Now, it is just Sub Zero Ice Cream.

Anyway, this recipe is a mock up of the New York Burrito Teriyaki Chicken Burrito--only I call it a wrap instead.  If you don't like tortillas, just cook the chicken and serve it over rice or on a bun or something less cool.

Teriyaki Chicken Wrap

2-3 chicken breasts
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup teriyaki
Drained juice from 1 can (8 oz) pineapple chunks (you can also put the pineapple chunks in if you like them)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 cup rice
black beans
sour cream

Put chicken in the crock pot. Mix the brown sugar, teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice and dry mustard in a medium bowl, pour over the chicken.  Cook on low for 5 ish hours. Shred the chicken. Build your wrap using the tomatoes, lettuce, black beans, rice, a dollop of sour cream (this is how they did it at New York Burrito...the sour cream is a delicious addition), and a little extra Teriyaki sauce from the crock pot.

In order to REALLY be like New York Burrito, serve chips and salsa on the side.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Motivation to Warm Your Insides

This was some good motivation for me today. It's
true that once you start you don't feel as cold. I
quite prefer to run in the cold; it's refreshing.

BUT, it is so dang hard to start.

I bundle up like I'm going sledding--that's the only thing
that will get me out. Unfortunately, before I know it I'm sweating
and soooo ready to take off my bibs and boots. At least I'm not
running in Alaska in -13 degrees, and  I don't come home with
frozen hair and frozen eyelashes. I usually just come home wet.

I'm grateful for access to an indoor track (for FREEEEE)
during these cold, snowy Winter months--even if I have to run
around the tiny half track 22 times (S.O. boring), or share the track
with a million people trying to fulfill their New Year's Resolutions.

Speaking of the track, there is a sign posted near the clock called "Rules of the Track".  I swear the track has had the same rules since the 1800's.  There is the usual no spitting on the track, and always run around the track counter-clockwise, but there are a couple rules that always make me giggle.  The first one is: No stocking feet. What is a stocking foot? Why would anyone be running in stockings anyway? I think the rule should be no bare feet. I hate seeing people run around in their bare feet getting toe jam and foot fungus all over the track. Then we all sit down on the track floor to stretch, and it makes me want to puke. 

The second rule that makes me giggle is this: No grubbies.
As in, weshould wear our nicest clothes to the track like
we would to church? I don't think the youngest generations
even have 'grubbies' in their vocabulary.

Here's some more motivation:


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dear Russell: Our Latest Car Wish-List

Dear Russell,

My dear Watson and I went to the Auto Expo last weekend, and we each found a few cars we'd like you to consider buying for us; you know, when you buy everyone a car like you always talk about?

My first pick is the Volks Wagen Touareg, charcoal grey with a grey interior. 

My second pick is this cute little truck. I don't think I want it in bright red though, but most other colors would do just fine.

My dear Watson wants this giant, man truck (Dodge Ram Mega Cab).

And maybe this.

Okay, you don't really have to get him that one.

And we went for a ride in one of these:

And did all sorts of cool tricks like this:

and this:

and this:

It was scary but also very fun, and I don't think either of us would mind having one for the family.

I'm on the fence about this one though:

And we're both on the fence about the truck we saw with this in the bed:

Grill, TV, stove top, condiment trays, speakers.

Anyway, we just wanted to get our favorites to you so you don't have to do much work when it comes time to buy everyone a car.

Thanks, man.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cinnamon Syrup: Del-ish, for Real

I decided to post my Recipe of the Week in my actual blog, then add a link to the post in my Favorite Recipe of the Week tab. That way you can refer easily to my archived favorite recipes for your own enjoyment. 

Friday was Friday the 13th. Creeeppyyyy.  We made pancakes for dinner, just to lighten the mood.  We didn't see any black cats or walk under any ladders. As far as I know, neither of us opened an umbrella indoors, so I think we aren't cursed. 

My dear Watson is an excellent pancake flipper. I was very glad to have him helping me in the kitchen that night, because let's just say....it was not my night.  I dropped a cup of milk ALL OVER the place in the process of making this dinner (I never realized how sticky milk is...it's like glue!), and then somehow I flipped the spoon I was using to stir the boiling syrup up on to my arm. OUUUCHHHH. Don't be like me. 

My favorite recipe of the week (meaning last week, if you consider Sunday as the first day of a new week), is the delicious syrup we topped our pancakes with.  Of course,  the pancakes were made from scratch too, but I am still on the hunt for the perfect pancake recipe, so I'm not sharing that one.  

Canadian Cinnamon Syrup

I don't know if this is really Canadian. I got this recipe from someone in the Print and Mail department at BYU. They hosted a breakfast and served up this syrup.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water and cinnamon. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over moderate heat. Boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and very slowly stir in the whipping cream. The longer it sits, the thicker it gets. 

The best thing about this is that you'll have some whipping cream left over which you can whip up and use to top your pancakes.  

Here's what the syrup looks like in the pan: 

And this is what it looks like being drizzled on the pancake:

 And this is what it looks like after it has dripped along the sides of the pancake, filling all the little holes with cinnamon-y goodness.

And I'm not going to lie. It's probably going to make you want to do this.  Again, don't be like me :).

This is what you missed out on Brent and Sandi :). 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Thought from the Past

Sometimes while I'm at work I'll write myself a quick e-mail about something I heard, saw, or was thinking about. I keep it in my Inbox in a folder called Journal. The idea is to eventually print them out and bind them. I was thinking it might be a good idea to go through some of them and post them occasionally on my blog. I usually have certain things I'll blog about and then certain things I journal about. But I was thinking today that a lot of what I write in my journal is appropriate to be shared on the blog, and could give it a little more sustenance. 

So I'll go back in time here and there to share with you some of the little things that affect me in a big way. Here's the first one.

March 3, 2011

S. Michael Wilcox came into the office today. (He's a famous Education Week speaker/ LDS Speaker and author. He wrote one of my favorite books: here). He needed to pick up an Education Week broadcast we taped of him several years ago. He began telling us a little about his wife Laurie’s passing. She just died on December 28, 2010- brain cancer. He said grieving does funny things to you, it makes you question what you’ve always known—is she really somewhere good and safe, or is she lost in the abyss of nothingness?

And if she is somewhere, does she love me?

He said he was going through all their stuff and came across several treasures. He found an Ensign article he kept from years ago because it was beautifully written. It talked about a woman whose son died and she always wished she just had a letter from him. Brother Wilcox said he wanted that same thing. As he was going through boxes in their home, he came across 8 letters his wife had written him when they were engaged. He has been reading one a night and he’ll start over again when he’s done.

It just brought me to tears to hear him talk about how worried he is that she doesn’t love him anymore. He says he’s keeping busy so he can keep his mind off everything. It was so emotional for me. You can tell he’s struggling but doing his best to remain faithful.

It’s comforting that even a spiritual giant like him struggles with his faith during difficult trials. I guess it’s okay to struggle to hold on, as long as we don’t let go.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rose Cake for Taya

Here's a story.

I like to search for blogs about cooking and baking so I can learn and find cool ideas to copy (because I've been thinking about it lately, and I can't think of many things I'm good enough at to just come up with creations on my own).  It happens ALL the time that I'll see a picture of an awesome cake, or a scrumptious meal and think, "hey, that looks pretty easy, I could do that no prob." In fact, usually the blog post says something like: "This cake is so easy, I promise. You don't need any kind of decorating experience to whip this up on your own."  And I'm thinking, YES!  I'm gonna try it.

Then I find myself in a tiny, hot, kitchen with counter tops covered in mixing bowls and a face covered in powdered sugar, trying my hardest to produce something that looks like what I saw in the picture on that lady's blog. I find out pretty quick that really, for the layman, this is not that easy at all.

90% of the time I get extremely frustrated during this process. Something always goes wrong and then I feel like I've ruined everything.  I stomp my foot on the ground, let out a humph! and say something like, "Why can't I just be good at this!" Translation: Why am I not already a professional cake decorator, I mean, I've made 3 cakes before this one so this should be easy! p.s. I really stomped my foot on the ground and let out a humph about this very thing just 2 days ago - in case you thought I was exaggerating that part.

This was my attempt.

The cake was pretty easy, but it doesn't look as good as the cake I copied, for sure -- see? I encountered some problems frosting it because I'm not equipped with the right tools to make it easy. Things like, wax paper folding up and smushing my beautiful roses, happened. Or things like not being able to frost the bottom edges of the cake because the lip on my pan doesn't let me reach. I also discovered that you cannot make whipped cream from half and half (I was hoping it would work). It just quadruples in size and becomes foamy. BUT if you add some cool whip to it, it makes a delicious milk substitute in an Orange Julius. Mmmm. Instead of a vanilla mousse in the middle, I just pureed some strawberries and folded them into my store bought cool whip (because my half and half didn't become whipped cream and it was Sunday so I couldn't go to the store).  It turned out deliciously.

In the end, I learned from this particular cake that the little things really don't matter. It's just a cake, after all, and will be cut up, spooned out and turn into a delicious mush inside little and big mouths and tummys. Most little mistakes are easily cover-up-able, and people will be impressed by its general splendor and won't even notice a smushed rose or two on the back.

I also learned that for a 6 year old girl, this kind of cake is a dream come true. My sweet niece Taya, without any prompting, thanked me 3 times throughout the night and each thank you was more heartfelt and genuine than you'd expect from an adult, let alone a not-quite-6-year-old.

It made the experience way worth the effort. Love you Taya!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Anything Your Family Can Do, Mine Can Do Better

Unless you're talking about doing something really slow....my fam doesn't do slow very well.

I have a new recipe, so check it out. the end.

Here are a few pictures of our week after Christmas celebrations. My SIL Valerie took these pictures, and even though they are mostly candid shots for nothing special, the pictures are truly amazing. Check out some of her other work here and here.

Big ball soccer.
Andy and my dear Watson are practicing their karate routine. Way to go guys.

Nice kick little brother, way to put your body into it.

Charades: A Porter family favorite. Hannah might be acting out, "You walked into a coffee shop with a sword and made everyone buy you a pastry."  Good job Hann.

Don't be alarmed, he is not in agony.  We're just playing the fruit basket game. Don't show your teeth or touch your lips together...EVER, or you're out!

This is a good representation of what happened to the 1000 piece puzzle mom, dad, my dear watson, Scott, little brother and I worked on. It was about 800 pieces finished and the little hands did exactly this.


A giant magnet quilt at the Church History Museum in SLC.

I loved learning how to dance with these awesome skirts. Good job Mira and Zoey!

Just Dance 3. I danced about 60% of the time with that tongue sticking out.

Go mom and Andy!

The men.

I love my family.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Year 2012

I love celebrating holidays. I have this thing about not being able to let them pass by without a proper celebration. I'm always telling my dear Watson that someday when we have a house and friends, I'm going to have awesome parties to celebrate holiday's that a lot of people just let slip by.  Did you know that some adults don't even dress up for Halloween? Some people don't stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve? Some people don't make a love potion and slip it in all their friends drinks on Valentines Day, or chase rainbows on St. Patricks Day? (Okay, I've never done the last two...but there's a first time for everything!)

Anyway, New Year's Eve is at the top of my list of favorite holidays. Since I can remember, mom and dad would always let us stay up (or at least try) until midnight. We would watch the Dick Clark times square party and countdown until the ball dropped, then make a lot of noise with pots and pans or whatever we could find, and toast with Martinelli's.

This year my celebration hearkened back to those years as a kid. We stayed up until midnight with Mom, Dad, big brother Ben and wife Val, and niece CJ.  We counted down until the ball dropped (although it's the Ryan Seacrest times square party sprinkled with a little bit of old man Dick Clark now), drank Martinelli's, made noise with cool popper things, and finished it off with a kiss from my hubs. As far as I'm concerned, there is really no other way to celebrate the new year.

I love making New Year's Resolutions. I take them very seriously and sanction them as quite personal. I pray and ponder about the goals I can make so that next year I'm sure to be a better person than I was last year. I love this opportunity for a fresh start, this time designated for CHANGE.

Change is good.

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Does it Have to End?


We had an a-m-a-z-i-n-g Christmas followed by fun-filled exhausting week with most of my family (missed you Betsy and Russ). We topped it off with a celebration with the Watson family, and have now spent the day Spring Cleaning. It's sunny, mostly warm and beautiful outside today, so we were tricked into thinking it was Spring. Where's all the snow?

We really had a great time with my family, and I'll post some more pictures of our adventures soon.

My dear Watson and I sang Baby It's Cold Outside for the Watson family talent show and let me tell ya....we were GOOD. We're thinking of going on tour next summer.

We have such generous parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and friends. We have felt so blessed this year and so grateful for family.

My dear Watson did a really great job picking presents for me this year. He was keeping a secret list that he would add to every time I said it would be nice to have something. I got some cooking stuff, some coupon stuff, some clothes stuff, and a sweet slideshow he made of the last year and a half. We celebrated one and a half years of marriage the day after Christmas.  We're still in love.  I got him boy things: ties, hats, basketball and football etc., and a nose hair trimmer. (Thanks mom and dad for the money that pretty much provided Christmas for us).

We are sad that all this fun and relaxing ends today, and wish it could go on forever!

Christmas morning.

A typical meal with my fam. Half the kids are behind me and the other half all the way at the end of this room.

Playing charades.

We got shoe organizers from my MIL ..... they worked a miracle in our closet. Imagine all those shoes just thrown in a pile along the floor of the closet. Yuck. 

We also got a can organizer that worked a miracle in our storage closet.  Thanks again Wayne and Luana.  

My mom, a few of my sisters and the oldest nieces all got together and made one of these fabric mosaics. It was a LOT of tiny little pieces, but we had a great time and everyone's was so cute.