Friday, October 12, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Gifts for Jocelyn

Jocelyn is in the middle. This picture was taken at her mother's wedding. 

Because it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and because I love her, I would like to tell you about my best friend Jocelyn.

I met Jocelyn way back in the day, so long ago, we can't remember exactly when.  Sometime before 5th grade.  Her family had recently purchased a house in my neighborhood and we went to the same church - major score!  I don't remember much about the first year we met, we were young, probably just playing like typical children, and then she moved overseas with her family.  When she got back though, our friendship  blossomed.

To me, Jocelyn was the "smart" girl - street wise and intellectually.  Perhaps it was because of her older siblings, but she knew all about movies, the internet, music, and games.  She was interesting and opened up a whole new world of fun for me.

She was also the person who you could tell anything to without being judged or made to feel stupid.  You never had to put up a front with her, never had to pretend you were cooler than you actually were, never had to have the best new clothing or "it" item.  Jocelyn simply accepted you for who you were and boy was she an excellent listener.  So I made her my friend, my best friend, before she had any choice in the matter.

Our friendship continued from then on - through middle school, high school, college, and the post college/trying to find yourself stage of life (a phase I may still be in...).  We have spent countless hours talking, playing games, eating too much junk food, and watching cult films/camp classics.  She was the first person to show me a scary movie that was actually really scary (why did we insist on sleeping in the living room that backed up to the woods?) and she has impacted my music taste far more than anybody else I've encountered thus far.

We haven't always lived near each other and haven't always been in constant communication, but we have always been able to pick right up from where we last left off.  We have been a constant in each others life and I truly hope and pray that it can stay that way.

Sometime last year, when she was only 26,  Jocelyn broke the news to me that she had breast cancer.  Naturally, I was shocked and upset but I began to cling to the hope that she could beat it.  Problem is that Jocelyn has stage IV metastatic, triple negative breast cancer.  Genetic testing results show that she has the BRCA 1 gene mutation and that her type of breast cancer is genetic and uncommon - basically meaning her case is very hard to treat.  She has already had a double mastectomy but it didn't improve her case as much as we would have liked - the cancer had already spread throughout her body and was continuing to do so at a rapid pace.

Jocelyn's best chance now at beating the cancer, or at least extending her life, is personalized treatment geared toward her genes.  This type of treatment though is very costly and isn't fully covered by insurance.  Jocelyn, being fresh out of college when this started, has no funds left to cover the costs and her family has exhausted all of theirs.  She NEEDS this treatment.  It is her best chance.

If you can, please consider donating to Jocelyn.  There is a tax-deductable donation page set up at Setting Them Free for her.  After you click on Donate Now, type Jocelyn Rodearmel in the "This donation is in 'honor of'" field.  This will ensure that your donation benefits Jocelyn directly.  You can donate money at  There is also a Paypal account that has been set up for her -

The money that is donated will be used for two purposes.  First, it will help cover the cost of all treatment that her insurance does not cover.  Second, it will help cover the costs of any dreams she would like to fulfill, as right now her prognosis is, at most, two years.

Please also help spread the word.   Miracles do occur, but the Lord often uses us to make them happen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dinner Tonight

Sorry for the awful picture.  Quick cell phone pictures with shaky hands are no good.

I made pork terderloin for the first time tonight.   I learned quite a bit about beef, chicken, and steak growing up but I can't remember ever having pork at home.  I personally really like pork and when I ran into the chili lime pork loin recipe over at Budget Bytes I had to give it a try.

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly as written (marinated the meat for roughly 5 hours).  I didn't turn up my oven to 400 degrees though because I was following the instructions on the package but I wish I had because my pork loin took a lot longer to cook than hers.  I am not even sure mine ever reached the internal temperature of 160 degrees but it was close enough.  The less thick parts of the meat were not perfectly tender so I kind of wish I had taken it out a few minutes earlier but it was beyond good enough for my first try.

Verdict:  Great recipe if you don't mind spicy, which I do not.  It was pretty darn delicious and I plan on using this recipe often.

Side Dishes:  Crash hot potatoes from Ree at The Pioneer Woman - Mine didn't look as nice as hers (they fell apart when I mashed them)  but they were still delicious, especially with some sour cream.  I used green onion on top of mine in place of the herbs. Green beans with caramelized onions - A recipe I found on BigOven (a great app).  I didn't follow the recipe perfectly (not on purpose) but they were still really good.  Just don't ask the hubby about them, he isn't a fan of fresh green beans.

Overall, a great dinner to accompany the Presidential debate.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Love These Videos

I wanted to share two videos that I watched tonight that have touched me deeply.

The first is one of those "I'm A Mormon" videos.  To be honest, I haven't ventured into this realm of Youtube very much but when my cousin posted one with the title  "I'm a Mormon and Mother to 154 Orphaned Children," I was intrigued.  Please do watch it.

I hope that one day I can have a tenth of her beauty.  She is such an amazing example of service, sacrifice, love, patience, hope, etc.

The next video was one Jess from Girls with Curls shared.  I am always a bit behind on Youtube videos, so forgive me if this has already made the rounds, but I had to pass this Taylor Swift video along.  I may have watched it three times in a row and bawled each time.  CANCER JUST SUCKS!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunday Dinner

I made these Mexican stuffed shells for dinner Sunday night.  The only change I made to Maeghan's recipe was adding corn to the cheese and beef mixture in the pasta. 

I picked this recipe to make because I knew that if I succeeded in making them without making a major mistake (which seems to be all to common lately), Jon would probably love them, and love them he did.  He told me to add this dish to the normal rotation,whatever that is now.  

As for me, they were good, just too much beef for me.  Since the pasta shells are thick, to have them stuffed with beef was a bit much.  But still very tasty.  I would love to test out this recipe with other filling besides beef....maybe beans.  I would also like to test this recipe out with another type of pasta, maybe making it more like a chili mac.  Otherwise, I won't be able to add this to our "normal rotation."  You can't find whole wheat jumbo shells and I would like to cook almost solely with whole wheat pasta, which the hubby and I find both to be a healthy option as well as a tasty option. 

By the way, I am sitting here typing this post with coconut oil in my hair.  Go Pinterest!  I will let you know later if this hair tip is worth a try or not.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What We Have Been Up To As Of Late - Picture Post

Jon had to work quite a bit one weekend but we managed to squeeze in a session at the Oakland Temple. 

We may or may not eat this once a week.  At least we split it between the two of us. 

Trying to take pictures of city lights at night.  Next time I need to bring my camera.  Cell phones don't cut it.  This was right outside of The Slanted Door. 

Delicious food at the Kitchen Door at the Oxbow Market in Napa.  If you ever visit the Oxbow Market, go to Three Twins Ice Cream and get a scoop or two or three of the lemon cookie ice cream.  A little taste of heaven. 

Arranging flowers stresses me out (and I did not do a good job this time around) but it was still such a treat to buy these from the farmers market.  

Sunday dinner with the hubby.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Party at The Slanted Door

We went back to the Ferry Building Marketplace Saturday night for a birthday party at The Slanted Door.  The restaurant has mixed reviews online so I was a little unsure how good the food was going to be, despite the positive reviews from friends and family.  My final review of the restaurant is as follows:


  • Loved the cotton candy that was served for dessert part one. 
  • A non alcoholic cooler is another major score.  Virginia restaurants don't ever have good non alcoholic drinks which is so lame and no fun for those of us who don't drink. 
  • Never knew that vegetables could taste so amazing and I love my vegetables. 
  • The grilled peaches were out of this world.  I need! 
  • Family style was perfect for the party and allowed everyone to try each dish.  
  • Loved the location and view. 


  • I thought the meat could have been better.  Sometimes I have off nights with my taste buds and it's very possible that that was part of the problem.  Overall though, I was much more impressed with the vegetables and seafood. 
  • The price.  Be prepared to spend.
  • Our waiter could have been a little bit more energetic.  He was friendly, just a bit quiet. 

As for the was awesome!  The hubby and I aren't used to going out to a fancy restaurant all dressed up to socialize with a large group.  While it's not something I want to do every weekend, it was such a fun change of pace (even if it required being out way too late).  The group was filled with funny, energetic, beautiful people and the food just kept coming and coming.  You really can't ask for anything more.

San Fran at night is so beautiful.  I can't wait for the chance to spend an evening exploring the city.  City lights are always amazing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

You Learn Something New Everyday

Some may remember the Veggie Laksa that I measurably failed at making back in January.  Well I may have attempted to make it again.  And I may have made sure I bought the right ingredients.  And I may have failed anyways.

After trying the broth while it was simmering, I couldn't wait for Jon to get home.  But then when he told me he may have more than he can eat in his bowl, I knew he wasn't really psyched about it.  So I got him to tell me what was wrong.  He  proceeded to tell me that it was too sweet for him.  I accepted his complaint and moved on since others had said the same thing in the comments section of the original post containing the recipe.  I was enjoying it though....or I was until I was more than half way through the bowl and it started getting too sweet for me too.  We have been trying to eat better and this began to feel like it was going against all of our previous efforts.  So we threw the leftovers away and I decided the Veggie Laksa was being deleted off my pinterest wall, never to be tried again by me. 

Until I got curious and researched a little something that was bothering me.  The can of coconut cream I thought I bought was actually cream of coconut.  I caught the mistake before cooking but didn't want to run to the store again and figured it was close enough that the substitution wouldn't matter.  Before I permantently banned the recipe from my life, I decided to do a bit of research to see if my assumption was correct.  And of course it wasn't!  According to the information I have found on the subject, it is common to use coconut cream in soups and you can buy sweetened and unsweetened cream.  But cream of coconut tends to be used in drinks because it has added sugar making it really sweet. 

So apparently I don't know everything like I thought!

Maybe this soup is one of those 3rd time's the charm sort of things?  Not sure I want to attempt to see if that's the case. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Must Do Activity in the Bay Area

We try to see a Bay Area sight or two every weekend so we can take advantage of our time in California.  One of our favorite activities yet, and something we will never forget, was the Pebble Beach 17-Mile Drive  in Monterey.  It was seriously gorgeous. 

Tips for doing the 17-Mile Drive: 

Consider bringing a picnic.  The restaurants aren't cheap and the reasonably priced one we visited wasn't that good. 

Bring a jacket.  It was very windy the day we went so it was pretty chilly most of the time. 

Bring cash.  There is a 10 dollar fee that can only be paid in cash.  Oh and bring some quarters for the telescopes if you have any interest in seeing wildlife. 

Plan at least 2 hours for the drive.  It technically doesn't take that long to drive the 17 miles but you will want to stop often to take pictures and explore.  

Go to the bathroom before.  For a large portion of the drive the only buildings around are private (huge and gorgeous) homes. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back Into the Kitchen I Go

We lived the past few years with my husband's family and for various reasons I did not do much cooking during this time period.  It has been and will continue to be an interesting journey as I jump back into full time cooking. This means I might be focusing quite a few posts on my adventures in the kitchen and the recipes I find, try, and like from around the web.  

To get things started, I thought I would share with you the following two recipes: 

I ran into Kimberly's blog the other evening when I was trying to figure out what to make this week.  I decided to try my hand at the falafel sandwiches because we had extra tzatziki sauce left over from a previous meal.  I have only had falafel one other time so I don't have much to compare this meal to but the hubby and I did enjoy it.  I wish the falafel was a bit less crumbly but it wasn't that big of a deal.  It tasted delicious, was a decently healthy meal, and super easy to make.  This is a recipe I plan on using again.  

101 Cookbooks is a blog I recently discovered while searching for blogs that focused on whole foods.  The hubby and I love Italian food so I thought I would try out Heidi's recipe for stuffed shells.  Considering the sauce is made from scratch, I thought the ingredients list was pretty short which I liked.  The recipe was easy to follow and the ingredients were easy to find.  I also took Heidi's advise from the comments section and froze the extra shells.  I just stuffed them, put them on a plate and froze them a bit, before putting them in doubled zip lock bags.  

I think if I were to make this again I would either add more lemon to the recipe or add something to make it a bit more spicy.  The hubby and I have really weak taste buds from all the hot foods we eat.  Overall though, I enjoyed the meal and can see myself using this recipe again and again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

It seems impossible to me that 11 years have already gone by, that I was only in high school when our country was attacked and changed forever.  I was in science class and a student came by telling the teacher what had happened.  My teacher did not believe the student.  I remember being confused about the news and shocked the teacher would think the student was making it up.  My teacher eventually went and asked around to see if something really had happened.  By then the news was much worse.  Students began to be pulled out of school.  Parents spend the evening in front of their televisions.  Sorrow, pain, anger, and fear could be felt everywhere.  I can't and wont forget.  There were too many lives lost, too many families left broken, too much pain felt, and too much sacrifice to allow this event to just fade away.

With that, I wanted to pass along the following article:  Father's note changes family's 9/11 account.  It is a 9/11 story with a unique but heart breaking twist.  Have the tissues ready. 

"Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children." - President George W. Bush

California is....




lonely.  So very lonely.  I feel the distance from family and friends.  The husband's long work hours leaving me even more alone then ever.  The weekend coming up that I will have to spend with myself.

I just want this week over with.

I know I am still blessed.  I  have much to be thankful for.  A tiny blessing just yesterday being the extremely nice homeless guy relaxing outside of the library who talked to me for a long time.  Who made me realize that I don't go completely unnoticed in this world after all.

But I just hate feeling lonely.

P.S.  We moved into an apartment a few weeks ago and have been working on getting settled in and getting the internet, hence the long absence.  I really do promise to post more often.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Did It!

I have finally given in to Goodreads.   There were three main reasons I was avoiding it:

1.  Yet another website to waste time on.  I already read too many blogs, spend too much time on Pinterest and Facebook.  Did I really need to waste time on Goodreads?

2.  I was keeping track of what I read on a Facebook app that ended up shutting down.  I didn't find out soon enough to export my data.  I was a bit bitter about it and decided the best thing for me to do would be to keep track of my reading in a notebook.

3.  I hate to rate things.  I really like things, I like things, or I don't like things.  The whole 5 stars rating system is too much for me.

But I gave in after all because I would like to know what my friends are reading and it seems like a good place to find new reads.  I still hate to review books and rate them but will try.

Feel free to follow me if you would like.  If you have any questions about a specific book I have read and/or are trying to figure out if you should read it, please don't hesitate to shoot me a message.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Partner Prayer vs. Personal Prayer

One of the spiritual struggles of mine is prayer.  I can understand, believe in, and follow rules or commandments pretty easily.  I can easily understand and believe that I should pay tithing, that I shouldn't drink, that smoking isn't a good idea.  These are things I can easily, and with confidence, follow.  I can understand and believe in prayer but I have a hard time utilizing it because there is no step by step instructions for how prayer should work.  Prayer shouldn't be repetitive and its very personal and this is exactly why prayer sometimes throws  me for a loop.  It is something I have been working on and something I will always be working on.

Lately, I have been pondering personal prayer verse couples prayer.  This is probably something I should have been pondering long ago, but better late than never I suppose.  I do believe couples should pray together, and everyday if possible, but how do I balance personal prayer with couples prayer?  What is more appropriate to say in a couples prayer and whats more appropriate to pray about when I am alone with God?

I don't have anything profound to say on this subject.  This is a spiritual and mental journey that I have just recently started.  I would though like to share a blog post I recently read that speaks on this subject.  Over at Simple Marriage, Susanne wrote a post entitled Powerful Partner Prayer.  The post is simple, touches on just the surface of the topic, but is exactly what I needed to hear.  I wanted to share, just on the oft chance that I am not the only one that struggles with this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hi Blog!

Obviously, its been a while since the last time I blogged.  I got a job were I wrote and edited often, and to be quite honest, I didn't want to write once I got home.  Plus, I had kind of lost all motivation to blog.  My life consisted of work, sleep, food, church, the occasional book, and not much else.  But as I have been redirected onto a new path in life, I thought I would pick this hobby up again, even if just for myself (and my husband who is always begging me to write a new post). 

Just last month, I was working full time.  I had a normal job in the field I studied making decent enough money.  Despite many potential opportunities to move, I didn't see a change happening and thought I would be at this job for a while to come.  Then I somehow ended up in California.  It's temporary mind you, but it's a huge change from Virginia.  Not to mention the fact that I no longer work.  Eek!  I don't know where I will be in the next few months but I have a feeling that life is about to bring many new adventures and thus I think now is a good time for me to start blogging again.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Have you ever heard of an Earthship? I hadn't until my brother married a girl from New Zealand. Her family has spent the last 5 years building their earthship, a house built of tires and other recycled materials. Living in the bush, they are off the main power grid and are pretty self sufficient.  To find out more check out her families newly redesigned blog. 

My brother and his wife just got back from spending three months there. Every time they come back from visiting, I am jealous of the stories they have. My brother has experienced things there that I will never have the chance to experience unless I make it over to New Zealand someday. I am not saying I want to go through everything he has been through, some things I hope never to experience, but again there is something so exotic about the whole thing that I can't stop feeling like I am missing out on something great. 

In fact, have you seen "The Way?" If not, I recommend it. Thinking about the earthship reminded me of this movie; of the characters whose lives changed as they hiked the El Camino for months at a time. How, by the end of the movie, I yearned for a similar experience. 

I've also dreamed of biking through Germany along the Rhine River. One word comes to mind to describe this experience - breathtaking - a word that could be used to describe both how hard and how amazing it would be. 

There is something so grand in the idea of giving up the comforts of life to commune with mother nature. Something I yearn for despite how much I care for the comfort and ease of life. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thoughts on Independence in Marriage

When the hubby and I first got married, one of the biggest issues of our marriage that we had to work on was how much we could depend on the other person to fulfill our need(s) at any given time. For example, there were times that I would get upset because the hubby did not want to spend the evening with me watching a movie because he wanted to play video games with his brother. I was bored and I was expecting him to keep me from being bored. Eventually, I realized that I needed to learn to be less dependent on him and since then I have done just that. 

We've still had a few problems here and there but for the most part we have learned to balance each others needs in this area of our marriage. Now that the hubby is living in another state for work related reasons, I am so glad that I worked on this. I have had to be even more independent from him and though I don't always do it with a positive attitude, it's not overly emotional or anything. Also, despite the distance, our relationship is more fulfilling and we have drawn closer together. When we are back in the same state, I do believe that we will be more productive adults and we will be able to have our needs met without burdening each other, while at the same time, continuing to draw closer to each other. 

I bring this up because of a post I read on Simple Marriage entitled  "Is Your Marriage Too Close?" 
"When couples co-create a co-dependent relationship in which they strive to complete each other, they kill any chance of having any kind of evolving, passionate, fulfilling relationship.
A mature adult is someone who takes responsibility for getting their needs met." 
Reading that quote, some people might assume that the author, Dr. Corey Allan, is giving them permission to do whatever it takes for them to get their needs met. As in, if your sex needs aren't been met, feel free to have sex with some other person who pays more attention to you and makes you feel sexy. But I don't think that is it. I believe that he is telling us that there are areas and needs in our lives that can be worked on and fulfilled outside of our marriage. If we can learn to live independent lives from each other, those needs that should only be met in marriage will more easily be met and we will feel more fulfilled. 
 "Great marriages are the result of two mature, grown up people – both of whom have full, satisfying lives – cooperating with each other to get their needs met.
It is this kind of commitment to living a full life that helps maintain the growth in a relationship that is so important for attraction, passion, energy and great sex."
 I recommend reading the full post.

If you are not in a relationship or are not planning to get married anytime soon, it doesn't mean that marriage advice wouldn't be useful. I've known girls that can't seem to be happy unless they are in a relationship and each relationship ends up in disaster because the balancing act between needs never gets addressed and someone ends up the loser in the relationship. If these girls learned to separate their needs and self-esteem from their need to be in a relationship with a guy, things would be much easier for them. This problem can be worked on in marriage, as it has been worked on in my marriage, but it could also be addressed beforehand. Thus I believe that marriage advice is not just for married people, as weird as that may sound. 

Any thoughts?

P.S. Sorry if the font and spacing seem a bit off. I am having major trouble with Blogger tonight and have no patience left for it.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tonight I Am Enjoying....

Have you seen any videos by Lindsey Stirling? While I think classical violin music is very pretty, I love how Lindsey breaks from tradition and does everything from hip hop to country music. She has a lot of talent and is extremely creative. 

A Facebook friend posted this video the other day and I like it. I don't love Peter Pan but I love when people play on the theme as Lindsey does with this shadows video. 

P.S. I'm about 85% percent sure I worked near her at BYU. She (or whoever I am thinking about) worked for a different department than me but our computers were semi near each other. I remember her well because her unique style and sweet personality impressed me, as well as the fact that she dropped everything and went on a mission. And if it's not the same girl, well I am sure Lindsey Stirling is pretty hip as well. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Veggie Laksa - My Epic Fail

Doesn't that broth look SO GOOD?

My sister and I decided to use the recipe off this website to try veggie laksa, a recipe that has been floating around the web and looks super delicious. Well to make a long story short, thanks to some miscommunication and a forgetful mind, I bought the wrong ingredient and totally botched the recipe.

We started out on the right path and the soup looked delicious from the start, but as soon as I tasted it, I knew something wasn't right.  It was super spicy and the Thai chili paste completely overwhelmed the coconut cream. I thought maybe we just had the proportions wrong. Maybe I had put too much chili paste in. Maybe I was just going crazy ... But it was too late and we had to eat it or toss it. So we ate it ... and it was painful.

I was very confused about how the recipe went so wrong. I didn't quit know what to expect, but I knew that anything close to what we had made would not be getting the same good reviews the recipe was. So I went back to the original source and there my mistake was glaring right at me. The recipe called for Thai CURRY paste, not Thai CHILI paste. VERY BIG DIFFERENCE! 

Let's not even mention how everyone in the household was coughing like crazy when I was cooking the chili paste. Or how a piece of chili went down the wrong tube and I just about wanted to die. Or how I never want to see chili paste ever again.*

I do want to have a go at this recipe again. I see the potential in it and I still think it looks extremely delicious. Not to mention how easy it is to make. I will let you know how it goes next time.

*When I was looking for this in the international food store, I saw the shelves of gourmet fish sauce (paste?).  I think I may now have to avoid any and all recipes that call for fish sauce. Just imagine little glass bottles with big dead fish in them. Barf!  I know that normal fish sauce probably doesn't have the actual fish in it, but my mind has already been tainted.