Good Communication

The theme of the speakers in Sacrament Meeting was good communication in the home.  Good communication with our kids and  our spouses.  The resounding message was to communicate the tough stuff (issues, struggles, etc) and to communicate our love for each family member.

As I'm sitting here, on my laptop, checking blogs, facebooking & finding recipes for next week's superbowl, I got an email from Brielle.  It says...

Hi Mommy!
I Love You!
(then lots of smiley faces...lots)

This may not be the kind of "communication" that they talked about, but I'll take her kind of "communicating" any day!  It's nice to know that even an 8 year old can hear and appreciate what's said in Sacrament Meeting.


Temporary Relief

A lot has happened in my life this week.  More meetings than usual, a lot of very tough decisions and so much to think about.  Sleepless nights -- check.  Diet Pepsi binges -- check.  Chocolate -- check, check.

During times like these, I really need to laugh.  It doesn't even need to be super hilarious.  Just something to lift my mood and provide me with temporary relief from life's craziness.

Meet kids reenacting Oscar nominated movies...

Social Network (a movie recently added to my list of personal favorites)

127 Hours (No showings in Logan, so I have yet to see this movie)

Black Swan (Chris said this movie was really good, but I don't really have a desire to see it)

The King's Speech (on my list of "must see's")


My Therapy

Why pay a shrink?  I have a blog.

My blog has obviously evolved over the past several months.  In the past, I would brag about my family, post vacation pics, etc.  Now... for me... it's so much more than that.  It's my own personal therapy.  

At any given time, I know not who is reading the words contained in each post, therefore, I feel the freedom to say whatever I feel.  I choose not to worry about what someone might think.  I can say "shit, damn and hell" because my dad's not around to look at me with a disapproving glare at my random use of profanity.  My blog is my judgment free zone.

No one to criticize, to talk back or tell me that I'm wrong.  

I even went as far as to remove the ability to comment on my posts.  Not because someone said something that offended me, or hurt my feelings, but because I realized I didn't need it.  I used to believe that the number of comments determined my blogs popularity.  It doesn't.  All it did was make me feel insecure when no one cared enough to comment on my daughter's darling Halloween costume, or agree with my utter hatred of WalMart.

I don't need that.  

My blog has provided me an outlet for my frustration, a drawing board for my thoughts and ideas, and a way to document my personal growth.  My blog is an outline of the memories my family has created and is a constant reminder of how much my life is blessed.

Blogging has saved me.  It's given me an opportunity to invest my time in something personal, meaningful and something truly therapeutic. 


Magic Oil?

I used to be the one that rarely got sick.  I haven't had a flu shot since I got married, and since a small cause of pneumonia 5 years ago, I really don't get sick that often.  Chris, on the other hand, so much as stands within a 100 feet of a person that sneezes, he's in bed for 3 days.  It is also guaranteed that if I or Brielle get sick, he will too.  His immune system is practically non-functioning.  Until now...

Several months back, Chris's parents gave him an Essential Oil called Le Spice C and told him to rub it on his feet before bed, every night.  Since starting this regime, Brielle and I have come down with the flu twice.  Twice.  And Chris has stayed well.

Magic Oil?  I guess anything is possible.

I jumped online to get the details on this strange concoction and here's what I found.  Le Spice C is made of:  Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Opoponax (???) and Eucalyptus Radiata.  It is the affinity for the respiratory, lymphatic  and immune system and is said to be used frequently during the cold and flu season.

After being hit with a horrible cold multiple times in the past two months, I think I may start using it as well.  But hey, it gives me an excuse to have Chris rub my feet daily... right?  I see no problem with this.

Click HERE for Le Spice C webpage.


Are you Hungry?

I currently have a horrible cold, and have been confined to my bed since 1:00 yesterday afternoon.  I haven't had much of an appetite, but felt like breakfast this morning.

There was plenty of food in my kitchen to choose from.  Cereal, Oatmeal, toast, fruit, etc.  I settled on some Multi-Grain Cherrios with 1% milk and some grapes.  The grapes were super sweet and really crunchy -- just perfect.

I'm pretty positive that when it's time for lunch, I won't be limited on my choices either.  In fact, not only is there plenty of food in my pantry, I am blessed with money in my bank account to grab lunch at Rumbi's or Cafe Rio, perhaps.  It's not going to happen, cause I'm sick, but my point is that I have options.

The Foyer de Sion has no options.  They've been completely out of food this past week.  No cereal, no fruit, nothing.  Nothing to choose from, and no money to eat out.  They're hungry.  They need food.

My dad is currently in Haiti (again), working hard to finish up the new orphanage and unload the containers with all the goods.  While there, he could use donations to help buy food for these sweet children.  If you are interesting in donating your lunch money today, please email me at em.merkley@gmail.com.  I can get the funds to my dad which he can use to by rice, beans and other Haitian pantry staples. Or, you can pledge your support on the Foyer de Sion donation site by clicking the button below.
***A sincerely thanks to a few friends and family members who have made donations to this orphanage***



This is an important date in my future.  And it might be an important date for you.  You see, I'm currently gathering recruits to join me in...

running the Bear Lake 1/2 Marathon on June 11th 2011.  This is a stretch for me.  I currently hate running, but I'm determined to learn to love it.  So far, my hubs, my twin sister and my super cool uncle are joining in on the all the fun.  Really, it's going to be so much fun (insert sarcasm).

In all seriousness... I've got to do this.  CrossFit has provided and excellent opportunity to get strong and fit, but I feel that the only way I'm going to up the weight-loss and truly stay fit long term is to run, and run hard.  The Bear Lake 1/2 poses an excellent opportunity and is, what I think, a worth-while goal.


Can a Horse Remember?

According to the Discovery Channel, they do.

"Horses..... possess "excellent memories," allowing horses to not only recall their human friends after periods of separation, but also to remember complex, problem-solving strategies for ten years or more."

But can they (and I'm just throwing this out there) remember the day they kicked their owner and food provider? I don't know, but I will say this.  Today, Cocoa wouldn't eat carrots out of my hand.  He wouldn't come near me in the pasture.  He backed away as I got closer.  His behavior seemed, I don't know, cautious

Today marks 1 year since the "incident."  I found this behavior strange.


Thoughts Currently Occupying My Brain

  • Brad made a few wise choices last night.  Get rid of the drama queens first and foremost.  People who choose to cause that much friction and chaos are sure not be your future spouse.  Then again, is it really possible to find your future spouse on a reality show?  The odds are most definitely not in his favor.  But maybe the odds increase if this is your second go-round?
  • Costco needs to enter the Cache Valley market.  No one likes Sam's Club, especially not me.  For one, you can't get Kirkland brand toilet paper and I think that's reason enough.  I was in a pickle and had to buy a few rolls at the grocery store until I could find time to venture to down to Ogden.  Later, after stocking the bathroom, I heard Brielle yell "what the heck kind of toilet paper is this?"  I know, Brielle.  It's just not the same.
  • I can't seem to stop thinking about this little house that I found in Providence.  It's for sale.  It has land (1.2 acres to be exact) and a barn (a barn!!!) and water rights (horses need water).  I absolutely love Providence and the house is seriously the perfect place to raise Brielle & the animals and would suit our needs for years to come.  Not to mention, it's going for an unbelievable price, considering the current price of land in Providence.  Of course, I've been racking my brain to figure out how I can purchase this house in a market that doesn't cater to the self employed.  This is what I figure... the sales price of the home is $225,000.  Since Chris's income covers all our currently monthly expenses, I would be responsible for raising the funds.  Homes selling in the $180,000 to $220,000 range seem to still be moving, so this would be my focus.  That's an estimated commission of $5,000.  After I pay state fees, Realtor dues, advertising expenses, franchise fees, taxes, etc. I will make roughly $3,200.  Divide the sales price by my estimated commission and that is 70.3125 houses that I need to sell.  Anyone interested in buying a house and using me as your agent?  I serve the Cache Valley and greater Salt Lake area.
  • It's a good thing Christina Yang decided to jump back into the OR.  Grey's just wasn't the same without her and I was growing tired of her childish behavior.
  • Yoga sure has helped with the soreness I feel from CrossFit.  No longer does is hurt to sit on a toilet, climb stairs or pull myself into my truck on a daily basis.  There is one thing that bothers me though...  My Wii Trainer reminds me every single pose that my balance sucks.  "Your legs are shaking.  Your legs are shaky today. Try to hold your legs still."  I'm so sorry that I'm not a computer generated person with perfectly balanced yoga poses.  Life is obviously not fair.


Benefits of Blogging

One of the benefits of documenting the lives of the Merkley's on this blog is being able to look back at things that might otherwise be forgotten.  For some reason, this particular concert at Thomas Edison when Brielle was only 6 popped into my head today.  Lucky for me, I pulled it up on the blog and was reminded what a cute little bug I have.


My One Victory

After a week of floods, chaos, trouble after trouble after trouble, and endless hours of driving, I can finally feel good about one thing...

My Christmas Tree is boxed and put away. 

Yes, I know that Christmas ended 2 weeks ago.  Didn't you read my above first sentence?



Do you remember that game?  That silly little game that girls played, to predict what your life would be when you grew up?  M = Mansion.  A = Apartment.  S = Shack.  H = House.  You'd also predict who your husband would be, what car you would drive, what job you would have, etc.  I'm sure I wasn't the only person who hoped for the best of everything.

Funny how things change.

The other day, I found exactly the place that I could spend the rest of my life.  It's not a mansion with massive square feet.  It's a little country home nestled on the outskirts of Providence, near where I currently live (and love).  It's not a brand new home -- it's a little dated actually.  It's relatively small, but has plenty of square feet for my small family.  It has so much character and so much charm.  

Izz-the-Friz won't be disappointed with the beautiful, big (fenced) back yard.  The best part about this house... it has a large pasture with a barn!!!  Cocoa & Dandy could live with us!!!

Now, back in the days of playing M.A.S.H. I would have told you barns are stinky, and that me and my rich husband wouldn't want to have one, let alone live near one.  Oh, how things have changed.  Today, my Mansion = Cute Country Cottage, with trees, garden, big back yard for the pup and a pasture and barn for the horses.

I love stacking hay, feeding horses and wouldn't mind mucking a stall.   On a day like today, which was not a good day, it would have been nice to walk out my back door, saddle my horse and go for a long ride.  

One day...



2011 has started off at a pace so fast, I'm not sure I can keep up.

My Christmas Tree is still up.  Does that give you any indication of how behind I might be?

I volunteer in Brielle's classroom each Thursday, and today, my job was helping students pass off 40 multiplication problems in under 90 seconds.  While I held the stopwatch in my hand, I watched as some kids stepped up to the plate and calmly completed the task at hand.  Others, however, were filled with anxiety.  Their hands shook and they bounced their legs, possibly thinking that by keeping their little bodies moving, they might just finish on time.  Sadly, the anxious kids rarely finished. 

I, too feel as though someone is standing over me with a stopwatch, challenging me to work harder, move faster and get as many things done as possible by the end of the day.  And it's not the encouraging type... It's the "get your butt in gear and get moving!" type.  This makes me so anxious and I find my self not completing everything or forgetting altogether what "to do's" I have left to do!

Then I just get cranky.  And probably quite mean.  And for that, I feel sorry for those who have to deal with me.


The Doghouse

Rather than receive gifts under the tree, Brielle chose the opportunity to ski with mom and dad during the winter season.  So, we hit the Beav on New Year's day, despite temperatures in the single digits.  Brielle was seriously tearing up the slopes, even after only having one lesson and a half day of skiing prior to today.  She ski's like a little champ and loves it.  Here, take a look...

Here's Brielle in perfect form heading down the mountain.

 Here she is riding up the chair lift with mom and dad.  She can now get on and off without any assistance.

Wait.  What?  You don't see Brielle in the pictures above?  Why could that be?  It's because Chris forgot the camera and I had to pull the above photos off of Google. Someday, when she is skiing in the Olympics, representing the US of A, I won't have pictures to show of when the little bug learned to ski.

Chris is in trouble.  BIG trouble.  He started off the New Year with a bang... landing himself in the doghouse. 

***He's not in that much trouble, but I still would've liked a picture or two.***


Made with Love

I found this great idea for a super cute Valentine Cupcake on a website called Glorious Treats.  She used a basic Chocolate Cupcake and Cherry Frosting for the filling.  However, I've made a Cherry Frosting before using the juice from a jar of maraschino cherries, and I didn't love it.  So, I put my own little spin on it...

Chocolate Cupcake + Homemade Raspberry Mousse.

It was well worth the effort.  

Raspberry Mousse Filling.

  • 3 cups Frozen Raspberries (should make 1 to 1 1/2 cups when pureed)
  • 1 packet Gelatin
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 6 tsp Meringue Powder
  • 1/3 sugar
Simmer the raspberries in a saucepan until soft.  Transfer to blender and puree.  Using a sieve, separate the seeds from the puree and set aside.

In another saucepan, add Gelatin packet with 3 Tbsp water and let sit for a few minutes to soften the gelatin.  Add 1 cup raspberry puree to the gelatin and simmer until gelatin has dissolved.  Let cool to room temperature.  

In the meantime, add 6 tsp Meringue Powder to a mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.  At 6 Tbsp cold water.  Beat on high until still peaks form, and resemble stiff egg whites.  Slowly add sugar, then raspberry puree.

Next, whip the heavy cream until stiff.  Gently fold in the raspberry mixture and place in the fridge until set.


Use a basic chocolate cupcake recipe, or, if using a box mix, I prefer Western Family Chocolate Fudge.

After the cupcakes are baked and cooled, use a sharp knife to cut the tops of the cupcake, right on the liners edge.  Using a small heart cookie cutter, cut a heart out of the cupcake top, and dust with powdered sugar.

Pipe the mousse onto the cupcake, and replace the cupcake top.  I then piped extra mousse inside the heart.

While skiing up at Beaver on Tuesday, we had lunch with on of Brielle's friends and her dad.  She was eating what looked like a super yummy cookie, and I told her that her mom bakes cookies better than me.  She replied "that's cuz she makes everything with love."

Well there... now I do, too.  And it's obvious, don't you think?

Chicken with Wild Rice Soup

One of the things I most love about winter is making soup.  I love soup, especially when paired with some really good, crusty bread and maybe some Boursin Cheese.  Chicken & Wild Rice Soup is one of Chris's favorite soups and I have a little secret ingredient that makes it extra creamy, and extra flavorful.

In a medium saucepan, start by bringing to a boil 3 cups of a good chicken stock.  When boiling, add 1 1/4 cups Wild Rice, cover, reduce to medium-low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.  You could use water, but cooking the rice in chicken stock will add extra flavor.

Next, you'll need:
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms (optional - I hate mushrooms)
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped or shredded (to save time, a rotisserie chicken from the store works well -- just take the skin off and shred)
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Half & Half or Heavy Cream
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • Salt & Pepper 
  • 2 tsp. Dried Parsley
  • 1 cup shredded Fontina Cheese

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot or dutch oven pot, drizzle olive oil and saute onion, carrots, celery and garlic over medium heat until just cooked through.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and add parsley.  Next add the butter and flour.  Let it coat the vegetables and cook for a few minutes more.  This will help thicken the soup.

Next, add the chicken stock and stir until it starts to thicken, then add cream and let simmer.  When rice cooked and ready, add the rice and chicken to the soup.

Just before you get ready to serve, add the shredded Fontina cheese, which can be found with the specialty cheeses at the grocery store.  This is my secret!!!  Fontina melts very, very well and will make your soup extra creamy, and provide a rich flavor.  Don't omit the cheese -- I promise, it makes a big difference.  Stir until cheese is completed melted and combined, and serve.

This will make enough soup for 6-8 people.  Enjoy!

***Omit the rice and add diced potatoes and corn, reduce the liquid slightly, and you've got the makings of my chicken pot pie filling.  Put between 2 store-bought pie crusts and bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes, until pie crust is golden brown.***

Lemony Blackberry Cupcakes

I crave these all summer long.  They scream "summer cupcake."

Lemon Cupcakes
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, plus 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and yolks, zest and lemon juice.  Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk until well combined.

Line cupcake pan with with liners and fill 3/4 full.  Bake for 16 to 18 minutes.

Blackberry Frosting
  • 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
  • 8 oz Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Blackberries
  • 1 cup Weeks Frozen Blackberry Jam
In a mixing bowl, fitted with the whisk attachment, combine Mascarpone cheese and whipping cream.  Beat on high until well combined and stiff.  Add powdered sugar and thawed blackberry jam.  When well combined, add fresh blackberries and beat for 30 seconds more.

This frosting is not a thick, dense frosting that can be pipped onto cupcakes.  Spoon carefully.  You may even want to stick frosted cupcakes in the fridge to set up a bit before serving.

Beef Stew

I love Beef Stew.  Especially one that isn't too hard to make, and one that I don't need to fuss over the entire time it's cooking.  Pair with some homemade bread, and you have the perfect winter supper.  My favorite Beef Stew recipe that I've found was posted on the Our Best Bites site.  With the recipe, you can throw everything in the pot, stick in the oven and pull out after church.  It's wonderful.