Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why can't every weekend be a long weekend?

Or a long weekend plus two extra days?!  THANKSGIVING weekend was simply wonderful . . .  I love Thanksgiving, I love it because I absolutely refuse to do any shopping (except for the traditional grocery store visit before food preparations begin), I love it because our family spends quality time TOGETHER, I love it because I have some extra time to read, play piano, and just relax, and I love it because Thanksgiving is the perfect segway into the Christmas season: a few days when we truly remember how blessed we are and how content we are with the things that matter most in life.

Thanksgiving 2010 memories:
  • Spending our holiday with Grandma Janice, Grandpa Terry (my parents), Travis and Kristie (my brother and his girlfriend)
  • Preparing Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and dad
  • Reading the kids' "gratitude lists"
  • The smell of turkey cooking in the oven
  • Thanksgiving day NAPS
  • Playing games every night with grandma
  • Movies
  • Football
  • Brisk winter walks - before dinner with my mom, later that night under the stars with Chris
  • Skiing with my girls
  • Leftovers!
  • PIANO - playing from our latest book of Christmas arrangements and listening to the girls and Chris play Christmas songs as well.
  • Reading and relaxing by the fire (Caroline finished TWO books)
  • SNOW and watching the little girls play nonstop outside with their sleds and neighbor kids.
  • Hot chocolate, peppermint bark, cheeseball, and my mom's famous FUDGE.
  • The fireplace - seemed like the fire was going round the clock . . . aahhhhh.

Some pics . . .
Getting up at 6am with my dad to learn how to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. 

Our table (turned out pretty decent considering we don't have a formal dining table yet - pretty cool what you can to with those Costco tables ;-).

Sophie making rolls

Grandma Janice teaching Liza


Sophie concentrating on her gratitude list . . . she came up with 138 things she is grateful for :-).

The best part of the day.

Another Liza creation in anticipation of the big game.  The rest of my family was thrilled to have a recruit . . . if you can't decipher the spelling, it says: "Utah Rocks, I win, BYU stinks like you" - what the?  Just today Liza told us all that yesterday was the happiest day of her life because the Utes beat BYU.  RRRRRR!

Evening card games with grandma . . . bring it on!

Skiing at Solitude with the girls and their friends - Sophie and friend Emily in this picture.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Absolutely delightful. 
Perfect family film (in 3D - very nice) - you won't be disappointed, I promise.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let's get cooking . . .

~ Sarah Caldwell~

Yes, I am very grateful this evening for the amazing example my mother and mother-in-law have been year after year as our family traveled to "grandma's house" for Thanksgiving dinner.  I knew eventually I would need to grow up and take my turn . . . well, the time has come my friends, and I am finally entering the threshold of becoming a full fledged "adult" and hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our home.

I am also grateful that my parents came into town this afternoon and my dad and I will be getting up together early morning tomorrow to prepare the turkey (I would really be sweating it right now if my dad wasn't here to help me along).    But I guess on this Thanksgiving eve I am forever grateful for the fabulous recipes that our family has been making every year since I was a little girl.  Favorite recipes that have become such a part of our family tradition that Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same if my daughters and I didn't prepare my great-grandmother's amazing yams and apples, or my mother's homemade crescent rolls and took them with us wherever we were having our meal.

So, after letting Sophie help prepare the yams/apples dish, and Liza help make the dough for the rolls, with Caroline telling us that tomorrow SHE is in charge of making the rolls, I wanted to record these recipes on our blog and pass on a little Howick family goodness to the rest of you . . .

Grandma Webb's Yams & Apples
4 yams: peeled, boiled until tender, sliced
4-5 flavorful red apples: core and sliced about 1/4 in.
1 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
1/4 lb. butter
2 c. water
3 tbs. corn starch
Chopped pecans and cinnamon

In 9x13 dish, alternate yams and apples until dish is full.  In small saucepan, stir other ingredients (except corn starch, pecans and cinnamon) on medium heat until mixed well and hot, then add corn starch with about 1/2 c. mixture in separate dish, stir until blended, then add to saucepan, turn up heat until bubbly, stirring constantly.  Pour mixture over apple/yams, then sprinkle with pecans and cinnamon.

I usually prepare this the night before and refrigerate.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.

Mom's Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls
1 Tbs. yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
1/3 c. warm water
Scald 1 cup milk and cool
1/2 c. butter
3/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs (well beaten)
4-6 cups bread flour

Mix first three ingredients together in separate bowl and let stand for 10 min.  In mixer, combine everything but the flour and mix well, then add yeast mixture.  Add flour one cup at a time (using dough hook) and continue mixing until dough separates from the inside of the mixing bowl.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Punch dough down, and divide dough into 3 balls.  On floured surface roll out each ball to desired thickness (not too thin), spread melted butter with pastry brush, then cut with pizza cutter into 8 triangles.  Roll each into crescent shape and place on baking sheet, let rise.  Bake at 375 until golden brown on top, brush with butter while hot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kid History

Need a laugh today?  Here is an official Cantera favorite . . .

We also think this video is hysterical - my kids love it (thanks Rob, I just had to steal it from your blog) . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Liza, our nonconformist

Liza doesn't just march to the beat of a different drummer . . . she marches to the beat of an entirely different band.  I find her nonconformity charming and entertaining, unfortunately, her 1st grade teacher isn't quite sure how to handle our little day dreamer.  Really, Liza is in her own little world during school and it does take some effort to keep her focused, but it doesn't seem to phase her at all since her mind is conjuring up the next art project or make-believe game she and her little friends will play at recess.

I'll never forget last holiday season while in kindergarten, I was helping in the classroom and the teacher put these giant gingerbread men paper cutouts on each child's desk.  In the middle of the tables were markers, buttons, ric rac, etc. to decorate their cutouts.  As I was walking around helping the children, I noticed Liza's project was turning into something quite different from the others . . . it wasn't a gingerbread man or anything close to it.  When I looked closely, Liza had made hers into a rabbit (holding a carrot in one hand and an egg in the other).  I said, "Liza, you know we're all making gingerbread men, right?"  She didn't even look up at me and replied, "Oh, I know, I don't want to be like everyone else, so I'm making mine the Easter Bunny."  And yes, during the holidays our hallway was decorated with Liza's bunny :-).

Here are a few more Liza creations for your viewing pleasure:

The kids drew an outline of an acorn and they were to make it into a face . . . Liza decided to make hers into a frightened alien who dropped his books while running from a giant monster.

We're really happy she has so much self confidence . . . ahhhh, it must be the backward Z that is preventing her from "start student" status!

Expressing her elation that she's not in school . . . again, more aliens.

Hmmm, maybe a career as an illustrator?

Liza's latest attempt at nonconformity (sorry, I couldn't flip this pic) . . .
she has decided that since we are true blue BYU fans, she will wear RED and become a loyal Utah supporter, as you can see by her words, "I cheer for UTAH, it makes me happy not sad, BYU makes me sad." 


Friday, November 12, 2010

Inner peace

I just had to share what I thought were some incredible insights during a conversation with my yoga teacher this week.  I began studying Kundalini Yoga just over a month ago when a friend of mine opened a studio in her home.  The class I attend is taught by her lovely mother whom I just adore because of her positive and peaceful nature.  This is my first experience with Kundalini Yoga, whose main focus is meditation, breath, and mantras rather than the physical poses (like Hatha, Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga).  I've attended yoga classes on and off for almost 10 years now, but ever since my experience in India with a yogi, I haven't seemed to find a class or practice I can embrace . . . until now.

The way I feel both physically and mentally after an hour and a half of Kundalini is unbelievable, and I've started to practice on my own a few minutes every morning in an attempt keep that calming influence with me throughout the day.  Anyway, back to our conversation . . . she was explaining this inner peace that our souls yearn for and how this practice awakens the chakras and helps keep us centered and balanced.  We began discussing how to hold on to that calm and not let anything or anyone disturb that peace and cause imbalance.
The key is truly in the breath and realizing how much power is held in something so simple.  She went on to explain how some people with conflicting energy (usually negative) who don't or just haven't learned how to tap into this inner peace and calm within themselves unconsciously make one of two choices:  their souls seek solace so they are attracted to those who have positive energy and who embody an inner self confidence because it helps diffuse the opposite energy and restore balance, OR their negative energy completely rejects the opposing energy and instead of attraction, conflict arises and they unconsciously "fight or battle" with the other person, who by nature is peaceful and positive.  After hearing this, it was like a light went on, especially since I've been struggling with someone who carries so much negativity within and I felt my true nature suffering because of hurtful interactions.  My teacher concluded by repeating a mantra when you find yourself in opposition with one of these souls:  "I have compassion for you and the energy within, and my hope is that you will one day feel the peace that is within me."

Isn't that just beautiful?  I actually find that my yoga practice heightens my spirituality as well, so while dwelling on this conversation I thought of pride and it's definition as "enmity (or conflict) with another" and that when I judge, focus on being right, refuse to forgive, or let my ultra competitive side take over, I am essentially creating conflict, not embracing humility, and therefore not allowing my positive energy to thrive and create peace, which at its core is love.  We cannot love others as we should when there is conflict, it's just that simple.  I cannot extend love to my family, friends, or even strangers when I'm dwelling on an offense or regretting an impulsive reaction to something negative.  However, when I remember this inner stillness that I feel during yoga, or that I feel while listening to absolute truths when the spirit whispers peace to my soul, I am truly the person I am at my core, the real me, and it's a liberating feeling.

During my scripture study discussion this week, I highlighted Elder Neil L. Anderson's touching conference talk and found this excerpt profound: 

In our weakened moments, the adversary seeks to steal our spiritual promises.  If we are not watchful, our injured, childlike spirit will retreat back into the cold, dark crust of our former bloated ego, leaving behind the warm, healing light of the Savior.  When Parley P. Pratt, in 1835, was judged unfairly, bringing embarrassment and shame to him and his family, the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled:

"Parley . . . walk such things under your feet . . .
and God Almighty shall be with you."

What a beautiful reminder said so eloquently by a prophet of God, and I am determined to live each day striving for peace, inner stillness, and especially the light of the Savior as I "walk such things under my feet."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"I don't want to hear it!"

I can't speak for everyone out there, and I'm really not sure how much of the "he said/she said/he did/she did . . ." nonsense and tattling goes on in your families, but it's reaching new heights in the Cantera household.  So I'm back to making the kids WRITE their grievances so we can discuss them when the heat of battle is over.  I have to admit, this tactic is great way to diffuse the war zone because the opposing parties have to sit, breathe, and write out their thoughts.  And the best part is that I don't have to referee while listening to their continuous complaints about each other, but rather smile while reading their notes (see this post for some amusing complaints from Sophie a few years back).  It is mostly Liza and Sophie who are constantly bent out of shape over some percieved injustice inflicted by another sibling, so I just look at the bright side, which is the entertainment value these scraps of paper provide.

A few notes from this weekend . . .

TRANSLATION:  Sophie said Caroline said I was being annoying, and then Sophie said I was being annoying, but I wasn't, but I wanted to look at American Girl Doll books but they wouldn't . . . 
(I'm thinking "let me" might have come next if she had room).

On the back:
I had a bad morning.

From Sophie, a few days earlier:

Hopefully they'll see the humor in a few years :-).

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Halloween Memories

  • Carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds
  • Digging through the memory filled costume boxes with the kids to find that "perfect" costume for this year and trying to figure out how to fulfill Liza's wish to be the "Target Dog," until she decided she wanted to be a witch again . . . phew.
  • YW/YM activity - bowling in costume with the kids from the "hood."
  • Elementary school Halloween parade
  • Neighborhood costume party at the Farnsworth's (no kids :-).
  • Primary Halloween party with the Burmese primary children
  • Scarrots!!  Yes, my clever idea of a healthy Halloween treat for trick-or-treaters (found in the produce section - individual packages of baby carrots in cool Halloween wrapping) wasn't as well received by my family as orignally thought, but sure made for a good laugh and a lot of teasing!  In the end we figured our guests would rather have cookies.
  • HALLOWEEN NIGHT: trick-or-treating with the little girls, first dodging the rain in our little neighborhood, but then enjoying a most perfect evening watching the kids run through the leaves from house to house, chatting with friends and neighbors while sipping hot chocolate around a fire at the Lundbergs, and just LOVING the fresh canyon "after rain" scent permeating the cool night air . . . ahhhh my favorite, then coming home and dumping out candy, jumping into warm pjs and cuddling on the couch to watch "Harry Potter."  Such a fun, yet exhausting night . . . can't wait for next year!
Sophie and Liza before school on parade day

Ryan and ward friends at their party . . . and yes, that is our YM president as Superman - love it!

Maddie and Caroline at the party (sans the wigs)

With friend Jen at the neighborhood party . . . yes, that is part of Sophie's costume ;-).

Before trick-or-treating

All set to head out in the rain with our friends

The two pirates collecting their booty!

Spooky night . . .

Keeping warm at the Lundbergs - neighborhood pit-stop for doughnuts and hot chocolate

Liza and best friend Gracie

Traditional final stop before heading home . . . THE HOGGANS!