Saturday, March 7, 2015


Today is the 25 year anniversary of my grandpa's murder.  No arrests.  No news.  Focus on the positive.

I had some lyrics from Frozen pasted on here, about letting it go and no more fears, distance....  But yeah, not feelin' it anymore.  I've already shared how important my grandparents were to me, I've shared how much I want the @%$$%^%^  put away that did this.  It feels like no one cares.  I need closure.  I know his case continues to go forward and stay in contact with those working on it.  Majorly let down this morning to find NONE of the local news sources are sharing how horrific the anniversary of this event is to those that knew and loved grandpa.  (KSBY, KCOY, The Tribune/

Back to positives.

"Coincidences" or unusual things always seem to start up just before the anniversary.  I won't speculate why, but these reminders are almost always very sweet!  A few weeks ago my daughter was doing genealogy and we found Grandpa Frank(a veteran) and Grandma Iva's original wedding license online.  Two days ago I found a Veteran's hat in a lobby, and yesterday my daughter found another Veteran's hat alongside the road.  We turned it into Vets.  It's being reunited.  Little things that just remind me of the man who I wish was still in my life, that my husband had gotten to meet him, and that my own children would have sweet memories of.  This is also the anniversary of the first time Todd called and asked me out.  I had just gotten home and found out about my grandpa when he called so I shot him down.  But then he was like glue, and didn't leave my side.

It is also their wedding anniversary the 10th!  Happy Anniversary Frank & Iva.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I love, love, love macarons!  I loved them before I went gluten free, it’s just one of those dreamy treats I didn’t have to give up.  I tried a recipe from Pinterest for my first try, tasty, but there were some improvements to be made.  This recipe turned out perfect, and of course, I had to change it a little.
This had to be one of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received.  I was at a Christmas party for our church and I eyed a plate, the ONLY plate, of Macarons and by the time I sought out the person who brought them to ask if they were gluten free, they were gone.  I asked her how hard they were to make, and she said she’d tried several and loves them too.  The next week she brought over this recipe book because I had asked her about them.  And it wasn’t only thoughtful, but this book is AWESOME!  They have printable pdf files of templates too on a CD included in the back of the book.  SO cute!  You can buy it HERE.

Measure by weight, not volume!

Basic Recipe (my changes in BLUE)

200g powdered sugar
110g almond flour
100g egg whites aged at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
35g superfine sugar
4-6 drops lime doTerra essential oil
Dab of green food coloring paste

Measure all of the ingredients with a digital scale. 
Preheat oven to 320’ for at least 30 minutes.
Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour into a bowl together.  Combine well using a wire whisk and set aside.
In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until opaque and creamy.  Add pinch of cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Slowly add superfine sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Add food coloring his point if you choose to use it.

Fold and stir the powdered sugar/almond flour mixture into the egg whites, adding 1/3 of the mixture at a time.  The mixture will be the texture of thick cake batter, but fluffy and light.  Add the macaron mix to a piping bag with a tip #12 attached.  Pipe onto silicone mat or on parchment paper circles.  Tap the cookie sheet to release bubbles and help the mix spread out within the circles.  Allow to set 30-40 minutes(I found 20 minutes too short to leave an adequate skin).  They will get a skin and look dull.  This skin helps them rise up rather than spread out.  Turn oven down to 300’.  Bake one cookie sheet on the bottom rack at a time for 10-12 minutes, rotate the pan halfway through to allow steam to escape and evenly distribute heat.  Cookies should NOT brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Peel the cookies off of the parchment or silicone mat to finish cooling. 
Divide the cooled cookies into pairs of like sizes.  Pipe the icing into the center with enough of it to go to the ends, but not spill out.  Refrigerate overnight for best results.

2 sticks softened/room temperature(not melted) butter (I prefer salted)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ Tbl. Rum emulsion flavoring
2 tsp. almond emulsion flavoring
Beat all of the ingredients in a large mixer bowl on high for several minutes.  Scrape the bowl as needed.  Add more milk or powdered sugar to get a thick consistency.  Cover and let sit 15 minutes and beat again.  A cake decorator taught me if you did this then you don’t have to sift the sugar. 

Lime Curd:
½ cup sugar
Zest of 3 limes
½ Cup Fresh lime juice
4 egg yolks(now you get to use those egg yolks up.
Pinch of salt
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup white chocolate chips

Whisk all of the ingredients except the butter and chocolate chips in a small saucepan.  Over very low heat, bring to a simmer whisking the entire time.  It will thicken up as it begins to bubble while still stirring.   After it’s thick, remove from heat and add white chocolate chips.  Stir until they are completely melted and incorporated.  Allow to cool until just warm enough to melt butter.  Add 1 Tbl. of butter at a time and incorporate all of the butter. I didn’t like the look of orange yolk color with the specks of green zest so I added some green food coloring.   Set aside until cool.
When the Lime Curd is cool, add 1/2-3/4 cup to Buttercream Icing and mix well.  Spoon icing mix into a piping bag with another #12 tip. 

Prepare your cooled cookies to fill with icing by pairing them up with like sizes and shapes.  Turn one of the pair over and pipe icing into the center. 

Refrigerate cookies in a tightly sealed or covered container overnight for best results. 

One of my experiments was too ugly to photograph, but yummy enough to gobble up, lavender macarons with lemon icing.  There are countless variations, but I'm partial to anything with citrus in it.  You can even add mashed berries to icing, or even mascarpone cheese/pudding mix(you need something help it stay together).


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Birthday Ally!

photo session

My wedding

Our first cruise

Our first cruise

My little squishy


What I'm sharing is sacred to me.

Some days, I just need my sister.  I know she’d know what to do, I need her patience, and humor.  I’m the big sister, and I rarely admitted I needed her.  We fought like sisters do, but when we got along, we got along and laughed and nearly(okay, maybe sometimes did) pee our pants(a little).  Her laugh was contagious and even if I was pissed off at her, she’d still make me laugh because she was so funny.  She laughed at herself, she made people feel comfortable and like they were the most important people to her, and she found a way to make a personal connection with everyone she met, like an inside joke only shared between the two.  She wasn’t afraid to be goofy or to dish it back if you gave her crap.  She gave everyone multiple chances, she didn’t understand the word, “grudge”.  She also loved people something fierce.  She was your cheerleader and blocker all in one.  She wasn’t competitive so she was self-motivated.  She backed you up, hated drama and bickering, and wasn’t afraid to walk away from friends when they were fighting without picking sides.  And then it was like it never happened.  She was quick to forgive and forget.  She was super excited to finally pass big sis up in height, shoe, and bra size.  The hair was always bigger with adequate amounts of hair spray, lots of blonde, fluffy hair.

On September 25, 2013, I took my oldest daughter to the airport to serve a mission for our church.  On our way we had to stop at the Stake President’s office for her to be officially set apart as a full-time missionary.  It was about 6:30 so it was cold.  We all went into the office and met with him and talked about missionary work, and I kind of expected Ariel to change her mind.  But, something very special happened while the Stake President began the prayer.  We all had our arms folded and eyes closed.  I literally felt like there were people walking into the room, I could even see the room grow brighter through my closed eyelids.  I opened them to peek and it was still just us.  No one else was looking up like they felt the same thing I did.  But I closed my eyes again and I could feel the warmth of hands on my shoulders, I recognized them.  They were Ally’s, and a very calm, peaceful sentence came into my mind, “I’ve always been with them.”  I knew she was my childrens’ guardian angel.  I know those that pass on visit, but I felt she rarely left.  It was an instant, almost tangible event.  I hadn’t even been thinking about Ally having been so wrapped up in getting Ariel prepared to leave and the talks, open house, and final details that needed to be done before she left.  That experience left me nearly speechless for the next few hours.  We pulled over to an empty lot before we pulled up to the gate to give final hugs and take a picture.  Then when we pulled up to the gate she got her bags and left us.  Just walked right in through those glass doors with a big smile and a few tears.  I expected her to run back and jump in and scream, “Go!  Go!  Go!  I changed my mind.  Go!” 

I sat silently while we made our way back home and typed up my experience that happened that morning right away.  I finally told Todd through tears and he said he realized I was processing something big, but he hadn’t had those same feelings.  I started an email to Ariel to tell her about my experience too but didn’t send it.  About a week later I sent it and finally got a response from Ariel.

“Man do i have a lot to tell you. I hope i can get it in in this short time. Where do i start though? Okay so last friday and saturday were kind of rough. I dont know what was going on. Sister Meredith and i both felt like something was up. We discussed it and Decided that i should get a blessing so i asked Elder Yates to give me a blessing. He was scared and i wasn’t sure why. But anyways so that night i got a blessing and in the blessing i heard exactly what i needed to hear. Then at the end of the blessing elder Yates said something along the lines of " Your family and friends in spirit paradise are watching over you. They love you and are proud of you" Yeah i was already crying and then i burst into tears. Poor Sister Meredith had no idea what was going on. Then i explained the whole thing about you feeling the room fill up when i got set apart. So Saturday night after that we went home and of course we cried and Sister Meredith was in tears to.  It was special though and exactly what i needed to hear.”

I wondered later if friends of ours, 2 young girls who were killed in a train accident shortly before were there as well.  Ally would be kindred spirits with Kelsea and Savannah.  Really, if they were in school together, I know they’d be hanging out together.  Ariel had befriended their mom, Jayna, after they passed and she was like a 2nd mom to Ariel.  I ALWAYS felt blessed to have Ariel spend so much time there, never jealous.  I felt like, I like to daydream, that Ally sent Ariel to Jayna because she knew how awful losing a child is and Ariel seemed to inherit Ally’s traits.  Ariel seemed to have a way of showing up at Jayna’s at the just the right moment.  Ally has been influencing my family all this time.   

Eric is much more like me than Ally.  But he has her way of making you also feel important and making a personal connection.  Also like Ally, Casey knows how to laugh at himself.  His laugh is contagious, you get him on a roll, and you forget what you were laughing about because his laugh is funny in itself.  Kenzie is also influenced by Ally in her passion for a particular style.  Not Ally’s style, but that girl knows exactly what she likes and doesn’t like.  She came up with a design of a building that brought goosebumps.  Ally used to dream of and drew up plans for a building with a dance studio for each of us, a craft studio, a daycare, and more.  Something I think she envisioned in downtown SLO and she said I was in charge of all the interior design and architecture.  Kenzie came up with something too, including a theatre.  She also will simply walk away from her friends when they’re fighting and come back to them when they’re done.  She’s also the funny one, you don’t expect it and she’ll deliver a doozy and just get you with her sarcasm.  Improv and theatre are her outlets.  And she is the queen of improv, commanding the stage as soon as she walks out. 

She was my roomie for nearly 17 years.  I recall our finally getting our own bedrooms but every other month we’d put the beds and clothes all in one and make the other room a play room.  Then we’d move the beds back to have our own rooms again, and the cycle went on and on.  Decorating and rearranging was the best part.  Those beds are matching captains beds that our grandpa made for us.  My kids STILL use them.  I got to celebrate 17 of her birthdays with her.  And she cried when people sang Happy Birthday to her. 

I don’t have to go to the cemetery to feel her.  She isn’t there.  She’s right here with me whenever I look into my kids’ eyes.  When I watch them just being themselves.  When I need her.  When I am doing the things that make me a better woman.  I can also feel her in my home, where we laugh and do things that families do.  When I’m watching a movie.  When I’m eating raw bell peppers, which I never used to like.  When I see my kids’ friends do silly things together, TP’ing, playing at the school park at night, making posters for firemen who saved our town, trying on goofy outfits in the stores, and on our trip to Hawaii.  So many special times that I know she’s still influencing my family.    

I miss the girl time she would have gotten in with my girls and I.  She was supposed to come stay with us after she would have graduated high school to help take care of our newborn.  When Ariel was just beginning to coo and smile she used to make faces and talk to a picture of Christ and one I had of Ally.  I believe the veil is very thin for children and she recognized her angel from before she came to earth.  Ally taught her all about us before she came to us and the first time she called her dad a butthead I heard Ally’s voice, that was her nickname for Todd. 

For all of you that knew Ally, I hope you write your memories down and do share them(especially the silly ones).  

Happy Birthday Bree Butt.