April of 2013, a stray cat that we'd be feeding to keep the mice down gave birth to a liter of kittens. Brielle almost couldn't handle the cuteness of our new baby residents and spent every opportunity she could with them. She wanted them to be hers.

I read what I could about domesticating feral cats, and knew that even if we were successful with one, Mama cat could {and most likely would} chase them off. But we gave in. How do you say "no" to an animal lover like Brielle?


We ended up picking out the one that seemed the most friendly. The name "Chubbs" was only used an identifier at first, but it stuck and became official.


Brielle did everything she needed to in order to get Chubbs used to being at our house, being around people, and most importantly, being around the dog. She spent countless hours in the barn. She'd bring Chubbs up to the house and play with him in the back yard and in the garage, until one day, he'd just come on his own.

LOVE the way he curls his tail around her arm. He knew she'd take care of him.

She'd spend a lot of time monitoring the interactions between Chubbs and Izzy. They needed to become friends and not enemy's if this was going to work.

She was invested in making Chubbs our new family pet and she did it. Everything we hoped would happen, did, because Brielle made sure of it. Chubbs ate and slept at our house, though he'd wander back to the barn on occasion to be with his mom and sisters. Chubbs never missed a day to greet Brielle when she got home from school. He even came when Brielle called.

Chubbs and Izzy became the best of friends. In the winter, they'd snuggle to keep warm, and when warm, you'd see them lounging in the sun together. Chubbs would lay on his back and attempt to catch her wagging tail, or pounce on her back when she ran past him.

And that is what makes the loss of this kitty so devastating. An attachment and connection was formed between Brielle and Chubbs that is making it extremely hard for her to overcome. On our way home from an RSL game late Saturday night, we received not one, but two calls from friends saying they Chubbs had been hit by a car in front of our house. 

Brielle had been asleep in the car when we got home, so we took her house and broke the bad news. It wasn't until later that night {I'm guessing 3 am} that she absorbed what had happened. Since then, there has been a lot of crying, many tears and sleepless nights. She's spent a lot of time alone, which she says she prefers. She's grieving, and it breaks this mama's heart.

Chubbs will be missed, and I'm 100% certain, cannot be replaced. Chris reminded Brielle that pets were never meant to outlive their owners. It's a hard lesson to learn, but with multiple animals, its inevitable that it will happen again.


"Cash Cab" LDS Youth Activity

I was recently called as a Laurel Advisor in my wards Young Women's program. I am terrified of this new calling. Girls Camp, Activities, Personal Progress... am I even a fun enough person to do all these things with a bunch of cute teenage girls??? Time will tell.

I received a "welcome" to Young Women's and a "the Laurels are in charge of the combined activity next week" all in the same day. Luckily, the Laurel in charge already had an idea of what she wanted to do, I just needed to follow through with the rest. And luckily, there was a website that already had the general idea, I just needed to fancy it up a bit. Because I couldn't just print off a bunch of black and white printed instructions with no color and without all the extra details.

Clearly, that's my OCD talking.

If you haven't seen the actual show "Cash Cab" visit YouTube. This link includes a video of a great example. The general idea of the game is that passengers answer trivia questions {in this case, mostly LDS related} and earn money along the way. There were $25, $50 & $100 dollar questions as well as a few bonus questions, and the money was used to purchase ice cream & toppings after the game is over.

***PLEASE NOTE*** We chose not to kick kids to the curb if they "strike out," meaning, they missed 3 questions, as the rules are in the real Cash Cab. Instead, they were just sent straight back to the church with whatever winnings they'd earned to that point.

I coordinated with 12 leaders -- 6 to drive, and 6 to conduct the games/questions while driving -- 6 cars total. Each car would take 4-5 of the youth, depending on how many they could fit. Obviously, you want as many youth in one car as possible, so talk to leaders with larger vehicles. This part shouldn't be difficult...

Each car was given the following {all printouts link available at the end}:





The winnings tracker was used to identify the amount a youth earned, and could then use to buy their ice cream and toppings once the game was over. Each car used the Strike Out/Mobile Shout Out form to track the number of Strike Out's {missed questions} & Mobile Shout Out's. If 3 questions are missed, it's game over and they must head back to the church. 2 Mobile Shout Out's are given if they need help with a question. They could call a friend, parent or whoever they know that could help. 

I took the time to create 6 different routes for our area. It was time consuming, but worth the effort. This ensures that no one travels the same route and that all routes are of equal distance and time. All cars should generally arrive back at the church at about the same time. Each of our routes were roughly 10 miles long, taking about 22-25 minutes.

To make sure we had younger youth with older youth, we randomly assigned them numbers that coordinated with a car & driver. I know that some will complain because they want to be with their friends, but it's only a short time, and they'll enjoy it regardless. Each group piles into their car, and instructions for the game are read before leaving the parking lot. Make this part as fun and as loud {while still being safe} as the leaders in the car are comfortable with.

Start with the $25 questions and work your way up to the $100 questions. You only have so much time, so encourage the youth to answer quickly. When you pull up to a red light, you'll pull out the envelope labeled "Red Light Challenge." Alternately, at your discretion, you can pull out the "Picture Challenge" at any time during the game. Both give the youth the opportunity for extra winnings and an extra challenge.

When you get back to the church, the game is over! Winnings were calculated based on the number of youth in the car and divided evenly. We provided lots of ice cream, sauces and toppings -- but they all came at a price! The youth used their winnings to purchase what and how much they wanted.

I had a really fun time putting this activity together and I think all the youth and leaders alike really enjoyed themselves. It was relatively inexpensive, a great learning experience and we had a lot of fun!

Click the following links for printables of all the forms I created.


Baffled by the "Ordain Women" Movement

The women from the Ordain Women group released a statement following April General Conference {which I loved BTW -- the conference, not the statement} which basically read that these individuals are "faithful Mormon women" trying to get gender equality in the Mormon church.  

I'm completely baffled by this "movement."

"The truths of this gospel are everlasting and eternal. Philosophies change. Customs change. Culture changes. But with all of these changes, there are gospel fundamentals that have never changed and never will change."

Isn't the very word "faithful" defined as devotion? true to one's religion? and adhering to a standard? a firmness and steadfast belief in ones faith? Which to me would then imply an unwavering allegiance to those beliefs?Logic {not faith} tells me that if one does not have faith in the divine design of the church, how can one have faith in its leaders? Or teachings? Therefore, how could one be considered a faithful follower?

My faith in God's word and in the words spoken by our prophets tell me that my role as a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is EQUALLY as important as the role of the men, even though it may be different.

"Women in the Church are associates with their brethren in carrying forward this mighty work of the Lord. It is no small thing that there are enrolled in these organizations, presided over by women, some two and a half million members.

Columnists and reporters for the media have occasionally tried to paint a picture in which women of the Church are demeaned and placed in a status of inferiority. Nothing could be further from the truth. The very presence of these three capable women in those meetings with General Authorities and candidates for the presidency of the United States was an indication that under the plan of the Lord women carry tremendous responsibilities and they are accountable for the fulfillment of those responsibilities. The head their own organizations, and those organizations are strong and viable and are significant forces for good in the world."

I am a Mormon woman, who in no way feels inferior to my husband who holds the Priesthood, or the Priesthood holders that I serve with in the church. I know in my heart and in my mind that I have a divine role to fill, and it doesn't include Priesthood powers. And I am 100% okay with that.


Crockpot Mexican Chicken | Baked Chicken Flautas

I'm loving this Crockpot chicken for several reasons.
  1. It's so easy! And flavorful!
  2. It makes plenty, so I usually end up getting two meals for one.
  3. It's so low in calories!
This is the type of meal you can throw in the Crockpot on the way to work and have ready when you get home and only has 4 ingredients that you most likely have on hand. If you know you've got a busy week ahead, this is the perfect meal to prep early and use throughout the week. Which is exactly what I've used it for this week!

Crockpot Mexican Chicken
Recipe Adapted From: Tasty Kitchen
MAKES 10 SERVINGS (108 Calories Per Serving)
  • 4 large Chicken Breasts (or 6 regular sized)
  • 1 packet McCormick Taco Seasoning
  • 16 oz. Salsa {I used Fresh Salsa from Mario's - a local mexican gem}
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Chicken Stock
Throw the first 3 ingredients into your Crockpot, stir, cover, and let cook for 6-8 hours on low {4-5 hours on high}. When cooked, use two forks and give the chicken a good shredding. At this point, the chicken will start to absorb all the juices and may begin to look a little dry. I start adding chicken stock, 1/4 cup at a time, until it's slightly juicy. You don't want to make it too juicy or you have soggy tacos/nachos/flautas/whatever you are using it for.

I divide in half and store the rest in the fridge or freezer for future meals. The rest, we'll use for tacos, burritos, salads or, a family favorite..........

Baked Chicken Flautas
MAKES 5 SERVINGS - 10 Flautas (586 Calories Per Serving)
  • 3 cups Crockpot Mexican Chicken
  • 10 Tortillas
  • Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Condiments, such as Salsa, Guacamole & Sour Cream {not included in calorie count}
Place 2 Tbsp of cheese on a tortilla, along with several fork fulls of the Crockpot Chicken. Roll and place seam side down on a greased cookies sheet. Repeat with the remaining 9 tortillas. Brush olive oil on the tops of the flautas {to give them a crispy textures without having to fry them}.

If you are lucky like myself and have a super wonderful awesome friend that lives in California who sends you goodies in the mail, then you'll brush on a Jalapeno Olive Oil to give it an extra little kick. But if you have a picky child who prefers her flautas without the kick, you'll brush regular olive oil on a few just for her. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with your favorite Mexican condiments.


Baby Animal Days {2014}

A local living history museum called the American West Heritage Center put on an event every year to welcome Spring, and all the cute little baby animals born this time of year. You would think that as Brielle grows up, she'd become less and less interested in attending, but no. My little animal lover cannot get enough of baby animals, no matter what kind of animal it might be.

And who could say no to such a beautiful face?

Cutest thing E.V.E.R. Baby horse trying to play with his mama. I didn't want to leave without this little guy.

Of course, we couldn't leave without paying a ridiculous price for greasy carnival type food. It's just want you do, right? Mini donuts covered in sugar are the best.

Teriyaki Meatballs - Damn Delicious

I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately that I've pinned on Pinterest. And lately, those recipes have sucked. I'm not joking.

Caramel Cheesecake Brownies--Fail. I've made them 3 times now and they have yet to look like the picture {oh yea, and cooked all the way through}. Chris has asked me to quit trying and stop wasting the ingredients. Crispy Shrimp Pasta--Fail. Where's the flavor??? The Shrimp was not crispy and the Cajun sauce tasted like warm, creamy milk. Nothing "Cajun" about it. Raspberry Oatmeal Smoothie--Nasty! The oatmeal changes the texture and flavor of the smoothie. Whoever thought that was a good idea was nuts!

After my recent recipe failings, I considered making pancakes for dinner instead of the Pinterest find I had scheduled for tonight. I chose to be brave and stick with my plan and made Teriyaki Meatballs by Damn Delicious. I rarely {if ever} make Asian food. If it doesn't taste like the local Chinese joint's yummy takeout, it's a complete fail. Therefore, I just hit up the local Chinese joint. It's easier this way... for both of us.

But tonight, I hit the jackpot with an easy to prepare, full of flavor Asian dish that even the pickiest of eaters {Brielle} loved. You so much as whisper the word "Chinese" or "Asian" and you'll have to bribe her with money to even try it. And sometimes even that won't work. But this recipe was different. This recipe was amazing!

We served the meatballs over white rice with a side of steamed, salted Edamame and it was delicious! Flavor -- check. Easy to prepare -- check. Kid liked it -- check. Damn Delicious was exactly how I would describe this meal. I can't wait to try more of her recipes!

Photo Credit Given to Damn Delicious

Teriyaki Meatballs
Recipe Adapted From: Damn Delicious
MAKES 36 MEATBALLS - 6 SERVINGS (512 Calories Per Serving)
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef (80/20)
  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1/2 cup Panko 
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, pressed
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated Ginger
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • Sesame Seeds, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a Tin Foil lined baking sheet {for easy cleanup}.

In a large bowl, combine Panko, Eggs, Green Onions, Garlic, Ginger, Soy Sauce & Pepper. Mix well. Using your hands, gently mix the beef and pork with the Panko mixture. Using a small 1" inch cookie scoop, divide the meat mixture into 36 balls {give or take a few}, then roll using your hands. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.

In a skillet over Medium heat, made the Teriyaki Sauce.
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 cup Water
Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp Cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. This will be used to thicken the sauce. Add to the sauce, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened {about 5 minutes}.

When meatballs are cooked through, add to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat. Top with Sesame Seeds and sliced Green Onions for garnish.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Mornings seem to be busier than ever lately, and smoothies are becoming harder to make. Not harder in the sense that they're difficult, but harder because I'm running out of time. It's easier to pour a bowl of Cheerio's and throw a diced banana on top than prep the fruit, blend, pour and clean the blender.

Actually, now that I think about it, it probably takes the same amount of time to make a smoothie as it does to sit and eat a bowl of cereal. Awesome. Looks like I'm just making excuses. And my husband always says that "excuses are like butt......." Wait. I'd better not say. It's not classy by any sense and I'm sure you get the idea!

I love buying the giant bags of frozen blueberries at Costco. It's way cheaper than buying small bags at the grocery store and they pack so much flavor and nutrition. Blueberries have more antioxidants than any other fresh fruit or veggie and they're known to strengthen your immune system and we certainly need that right now! My husband and daughter returned home from a Spring Break trip where they spent a lot of time with a bunch of runny-nosed cousins. A few days later and they are both battling serious head colds.

Photo Credit Given to VitaMix

Another study showed that the polyphenols found in blueberries can break down belly fat. Whoo-Hoo! Looks like we'll be eating blueberries every day now! Blueberries also help with constipation, help with bone development, is a cancer fighter, helps lower blood sugar and it's suggested that blueberries reverse age-related memory loss. Plenty of good reasons to add blueberries to your morning smoothies.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie
MAKES 4 CUPS - 2 SERVINGS (199 Calories Per Serving)
  • 8 oz Milk (I used 2% Lowfat)
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • 2 cups Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 large Banana
  • 4-6 Ice Cubes
Place all ingredients in your blender, secure lid and blend until smooth. I use the "Smoothie" feature on my Blendtec, which blends for roughly 40 seconds. Enjoy!