Friday, December 30, 2011


My aunt recently passed away. Her funeral is tomorrow. She was my mother's last living sister. In my aunts final days, her family said that she often talked with her sisters. They wanted her, I think, to come and join them. She wanted to stay as long as possible with her family. I love you Aunt Leona. Here is a poem that I wrote when my mother passed away.

Life’s Passage

The passage of time it seems

Runs quickly like a day.

Eternity has just begun

When this life ebbs away.

Those we love are missed as

Their journey bids them on.

While others come to greet them

With a new eternal dawn.

Our sorrow turns to joy with

A shining gospel ray.

This knowledge gives us hope

And our grief soon fades away.

Thoughts of ever-after are like

Wings upon the soul.

Then, gratefully we turn to God,

He’s our eternal goal.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

COLD RIVER, a book review

Cold River, by award winning author Liz Adair caught my interest from the first paragraph. Along with an expertly woven tale about love, loss, moving on, and hanging in there when things seem impossible, is a story that is both suspenseful and charming.
Mandy Steenburg, hoping to recover from a bad relationship, banishes herself from her comfortable job in New Mexico to a small Washington town as the school district’s new superintendant. Things start off badly when she arrives late and then realizes that none of the staff wants her there.

Although the town is small and her coworkers hostile, Mandy attracts the areas eligible bachelors like flies to honey—or rather like hillbillies to moonshine.

Vince greets her with large bouquets of daffodils, and a private dinner at his new local winery.

Rael, an accomplished musician and the father of two teens, seems to fit easily into her life.

Grange Timberlain is her first and greatest adversary—Mandy took his job—and he has a chip on his shoulder.

Bouquets of yellow daffodils aren’t enough to ward off the sting of rejection, the ache for family and familiarity, and a desire to runaway home. But just as she thinks she might give up the lease a cute little A-frame she rented and move back to New Mexico, her teen-aged half sister Leesie shows up on her doorstep and announces that she will stay the school year.

It’s nice to have someone to confide in and things begin looking up with her friendly and optimistic sister there. While Many tries to take charge of a school district where no one includes her in the district’s daily business, she learns to take the high school kids’ teasing and practical jokes in stride—including their setting a box of stinkbugs on her doorstep, decorating her car like a huge stinkbug, and knowing that they call her Doctor Stinkbug behind her back.

All kidding aside, it seems that someone wants her out of town and will go to great lengths to scare her away. When Mandy gets a bout of food poisoning, she shrugs it off. When a fire starts at her home, it could be an accident due to faulty wiring. She’s lucky she got out safely. When something happens to her car and it careens off of the road, it seems like one too many coincidences and Mandy finally calls in the local authorities.

Just as the puzzle pieces start fitting together, Mandy finds herself knocked out, and kidnapped. When she escapes and discovers who she thinks is the person operating an illegal still in the area, Mandy runs for her life, and realizes a little too late that she trusted the wrong person.
To purchase your own copy of this book, go to:

To get to know the author better, follow her on her author's blog:

Saturday, December 24, 2011


And the writers were nestled all snug in their beds while dreams of adventure and romance danced in their heads ...

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, that they sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.

Away to the window they flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

What to their wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver that looked like St. Nick, they rushed to their bedstands to write it down quick.

More rapid than eagles their pens heralded his fame. They whistled, and shouted, and called out his name.

They scooped up their manuscripts, took one last call, jumped to the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

To the editor! The publisher! Let's dash away all!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011


One of my fondest Christmas memories take me back to chilly nights with my father driving my brother and me around town to look at the lights. Our town had a yearly contest, and some of the houses were adorned with so many lights it took my breath away and lit up my eyes with wonder.

One year we had a snowy jaunt through the forest while searching for the perfect Christmas tree. It took a while because we each had a distinctly different idea on what the best tree should look like, but we finally agreed on one. The tree, so beautiful and just the right size in the forest, was too tall for our small home and needed far too much trimming. It never stood straight underneath our eight-foot ceiling after that, but leaned just a little to the left.

I remember decorating our tree each year with the same colored lights and our traditional ornaments, and hanging long strings of silver tinsel until it shone like a disco ball. When we were done, I’d sneak behind it and play with my Barbies—but I remember so few of the gifts that Santa brought on Christmas morning.

In our home, there was always hot chocolate to warm our insides, homemade cookies to satisfy our sweet tooth, and carols to bring the Christmas spirit. These are the things I remember with fondness. While it’s true that I don’t remember many of my gifts, I shamefully remember the childish yearning for gifts that I never obtained—things so important to a girl’s happiness for only a moment, and then forgotten.

Now that I’m a parent, I understand. Sometimes the object my child wants more than anything else isn’t something that will hold his interest. Even still, I can’t stand to see the longing in his eyes, and I give in to his pleading. Then true to my intuition, a month after Christmas morning the toy is stuffed to the back of the closet and seldom looked at again.

In our world of commercialism, the television often dictates what we, or our children want—the newest, the brightest, and the most technologically advanced. Wouldn’t it be great if the gifts we asked for at Christmastime were really the things we needed? Today I realize that the gifts I received as a child are not remembered because they weren’t needed. They were unimportant to the spirit of Christmas and unimportant to my life.

Each year, Santa is there wearing his red suit and drawing children to him with his bags of peppermint candy. He’s known around the world and instantly recognized by his full, white beard. Why, he’s the man who makes Christmas fun. Naughty or  nice, he brings children gifts, and his smiling, friendly eyes reassure them as they stand in long lines while waiting to sit on his lap—but he isn’t real.

However, there is someone else robed in red whose gifts we recognize at Christmas. He is also bearded with friendly eyes—and yes, he is real. His garments, crimson from the blood of the Atonement, brought us the gift of eternal life. Naughty or nice, he came bearing gifts for us all.

On the cold nights of my despair when all seems hopeless, the gift of prayer warms my troubled soul. His unconditional love takes my breath away and fills me with wonder.

When I am tempted to be petty and unforgiving, I need never lean to the left or right, but only to follow his example which helps me stand straight and walk the narrow path.

His holy word lights my mind and teaches me the way. It is through the scriptures that I am taught things that I wouldn’t otherwise know. A favorite hymn brings his spirit during times of hardship and reminds me that he is always near.

When my childish soul fills with yearning, the gifts that are the Savior’s to give are mine for the asking. I need not be wealthy or famous to enjoy, for his gospel is obtainable to even the lowliest of heart. His offering is momentous and remembered throughout all eternity.

“Come unto me.” The Savior pleads for us to follow. With his arms outstretched, he’s desirous that we partake of his bread and his water. He brings us his gospel, his spirit, his sacrifice. They are free to all who want them because he has already paid the price; and the Savior’s gifts, once accepted, bring a lifetime of happiness.

May we each remember the reason for the season as we celebrate it.
Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011


I hope this gets everyone in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy.

In Mesa AZ, there was a landmark Mexican Restaurant where my husband always loved the chiles rellenos. Most places (apparently) seve them with only cheese inside, and Matta's filled them with ground beef. This recipe, although much simpler, is reminscent of Matta's famous dish, and is appreciated especially in the cool winter months.


16 oz of canned whole chilies
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 C grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Tabsco or other hot sauce (use this to taste)
1 C yellow, or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13 X 9-inch glass dish.Remove seeds from chilies. Lay half of the chilies flat on the bottom of the dish. In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is well browned. Drain grease. Spoon meat mixture over chilies in casserole dish. Add Cheddar Cheese in an even layer. Place remaining Chilies evenly over cheese. Whisk together eggs, floiiur, milk, salt and Tabasco. Pour mixture over the second layer of chilies. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover, and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serves 8.

Friday, December 2, 2011

THE STAR PROPHECY, by Joan Sowards

Christmastime is upon us, and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by reading a fun book. The Star Prophecy was written by a friend of mine, Joan Sowards. It's a tale about a young Nephite’s quest to find the newborn Savior. However, it’s more than a Christmas story. This is a book that can be read, reread and enjoyed any time of the year. For those readers unfamiliar with the term, Nephite, don't worry, just know that it's a description of a group of people who lived on the American continent in ancient times.
Joan tells the account of Enoch and his friends as though intimately familiar with the era, and weaves her tale through both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament’s scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth in such a way that, as a reader, I was convinced it could have happened just as she told it.

Even though they have largely turned wicked, the Nephites have grown up with the prophecies regarding the Savior’s birth. Young Enoch has always dreamed of returning to Jerusalem to see the baby Jesus in person and he begins his preparations as a poor orphan boy of fifteen. The odds against his leaving the land of Zarahemla, paying for a ship large enough to cross the ocean, and actually making the trek alive, are overwhelming. Enoch has never even sailed a ship.

After four years, Enoch receives word that the ship he commissioned to be built is finished. The shipbuilder Omnihah was trained by Hagoth of old who, it’s recorded in the Book of Mormon, built large ships and took several expeditions across the sea.

Enoch knows that according to Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy, only one year remains before the Savior’s birth, and he prepares for his voyage. Enoch’s mission to find the Savior is not without sacrifice. He leaves the drunkard uncle who raised him, hoping the man will be safe while he’s gone. He leaves the woman he loves, hoping she’ll wait for him, and he sets sail with only a few friends and his faith that the Lord will guide them to Jerusalem and safely back.

Once he and his comrades set sail, Enoch’s little brother nearly drowns while trying to swim to the ship so that he can go with them. Then, they discover a young man accused of murder has stowed away in order to avoid prosecution.

The Star Prophecy is full of interesting details that bring this story to life, such as customs of the time, the foods they ate, and their experiences aboard the ship. As the travelers come to various islands and then to the land of Jerusalem, they and the people are described in such a way that I felt as though I was standing in the distance and watching the story unfold. Enoch’s quest became my quest and I felt his confusion and disappointment when they arrived in Jerusalem only to discover that no one there knew of Christ’s birth.

Through perseverance and talking to those who are lowly of heart, they discover that the Savior has indeed been born, and is in Bethlehem. They wonder, as does their shepherd-guide, why baby Jesus was allowed to be born in such humble circumstances and not a kingly palace, and they are filled with awe and reverence when Mary allows them to hold her Holy child.

As I read this story, I found many parallels between Enoch’s life and the lives we live today. It reaffirmed to me that people, no matter when they’re born, all have similar fears and feelings as we do—that living in a wicked world is perilous no matter the era, and that the opportunity for hazard when we trust the wrong people is an ageless dilemma.

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards is written as an adventure by a young man who just happens to have lived anciently. It isn’t preachy or doctrinal, yet I found that reading it was a profound experience. I highly recomend it as a gift for Christmas, birthdays, or for any occasion where you'd like to say, "I love you" with a good book.