Posts Tagged ‘Family’


My birthday was last week…and I was not expecting a good day.  Susan’s still missing and the only thing I want is to have her back.  It’s hard to care about anything trivial like a birthday.

But I was surprised that Sunday was actually quite a nice day after all.  Besides receiving sweet birthday cards from family, my 11-year-old daughter made me this, all on her own:


A crocheted neckwarmer (short buttoned scarf)


She also hand-wrote a fun “Birds of America” word search puzzle for me to do, which must’ve taken her a really long time.  And drew me a beautiful card with a lifelike picture of a chickadee inside.

John surprised me, too.  I’d told him a few days before that I just wanted a little cash to spend at the upcoming Renaissance Faire, so I wasn’t expecting anything.  But he gave me a digital camera!  Such a great present because our old camera was not only ancient and decrepit, but also sucks the life out of every battery after just a few minutes.  I’d really been wanting a new camera.

He also gave me a mixing bowl and big wooden spoon/ladle.  I’d just told him last week how much I needed a new mixing bowl.

As if that wasn’t enough, after church he and the kids made me a cake.  Yes, it was a mix, and yes, it was lemon cake—not my favorite—but since he’s never made me a cake before, it was such a sweet gesture.  It was good, too!  The kids ate it so fast it barely had a chance to cool down.



My sweet friend JoVonna also made me a treat and brought it over.  What a lovely friend she is.  Also, my online friends poured out the birthday wishes on my Facebook page so much that it nearly made me cry.  Friends from Wisconsin, Utah, church, homeschool, and many people I’ve never met in person but have become dear friends through this 5-month ordeal since Susan has been gone.  I am very blessed.


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I haven’t updated this blog very much lately because I’ve been busy with the other blog for Susan’s case, plus all the regular efforts to find her.  Also, I’ve found myself in a sad and strange situation. 

When Susan disappeared nearly 4 months ago, mine and my family’s life got put on hold.  Every thought, word, effort, and breath was all about Susan.  I spent all my time doing everything I could to keep her in the news, help the police in any way possible, and do all I could to find my friend.

My family suffered, of course, both my husband and kids and my extended family.  I kept them fed and clothed but everything else was a bare minimum. 

On Tuesday it will be exactly 4 months since Susan disappeared.  Nothing has changed for me—I still think of her with every thought and am still doing all I can to find her.  But I’ve had to return to “normal” life in some ways, for the sake of my children, who need me, and my husband and other family members. 

I’ve hesitated to post anything on my blog since Susan disappeared that wasn’t about her.  But the whole reason I started a blog was so our relatives and friends who live farther away and can’t be with our family as often as they’d like to could be a little more in touch with our lives.  So I guess now the blog will need to also struggle to find a balance between Susan-postings and bits from our lives, much as I am now struggling to do myself every day. 

It’s very hard to cook a nice dinner for my family and fold laundry when my mind and heart are so grief-stricken that my friend is still gone.  As much as I love my kids, it’s hard to give them undivided attention for hours when all I can think about is Susan.

But the last thing she would want is for my family or anyone else to suffer on her behalf, so we do what we can to continue our efforts to find her and still take care of our responsibilities and priorities. 

I update the Service for Susan blog regularly on the latest news and activities surrounding Susan’s case and disappearance, so check there often if you’re not on the Friends and Family of Susan Powell Facebook group

I hope everyone has enjoyed a sweet and peaceful Easter, surrounded by loved ones, and remembering the Savior…He who makes it possible for all of us to live again.

Art by the ultra-talented Simon Dewey; picture from Bev’s Country Cottage, a great charity website full of knitting and crochet patterns and other cool stuff.

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The past two days have been some of the hardest of my life.  My dear friend, neighbor, and fellow ward (church) member, Susan Powell, is missing.

I first learned of this Monday morning when her sister-in-law called, desperate to know when I’d last seen or talked to Susan (which was Sunday at noon, walking home from church together). 

You can read some details in these news stories:

Deseret News

Salt Lake Tribune



Susan is a wonderful person and loved by everyone who knows her.  She is funny, talented (does hair AND is a stockbroker), and a wonderful friend.  She loves to crochet, garden, be a “girly girl,” and play with her two little boys.

Our hearts are breaking with worry and fear.  Please, anyone who reads this, consider posting the information on your blog—Twitter—Facebook—or anywhere you can.  I can’t reach everyone but maybe someone will see something you posted online and remember seeing her. 

There is also a Facebook group called “Friends and Family of Susan Powell” that Facebook people can join to share news and information.

Here are pictures of Susan:

Pictures from Susan’s Facebook page…Amber Hardman Photography and Sweden Studios Photography

Thank you for your help. And above all, keep her in your prayers…she needs every single one.

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Last night I decided to make breadsticks and pasta for dinner.  I doubled my normal breadstick recipe and made the second tray into dessert breadsticks covered in cinnamon, sugar, and glaze.  MAN, were they good! 

I’ve said for years that one of my goals in life (at least with cooking) is to make something so good that my husband stops in his tracks and says something equivalent to “Wow, this is GOOD.  Please make it again!”  He had a major operation when he was 12 and ever since he hasn’t had much of an appetite.  Food doesn’t taste that good to him or sound that appetizing most of the time.

So, last night he said “I guess I’d better try one of these” (amid much protesting from the kids of “no FAIR, Daddy!  You didn’t eat your dinner yet!  Those are supposed to be DESSERT!”).  We all watched as he took a bite of warm breadstick, chewed, swallowed.  His eyes widened a bit.  Then he said, “Someone deserves smooches!”  (Translation of John-speak: “YUM!”)

I guess that is pretty close to my goal for him.  For now, anyway. 🙂

This recipe came from my sister, Kaatia Larsen.  I’m not sure where she got it but I’ve used it for years.  I will put the recipe below and then my notes and comments.  Sorry I don’t have a picture! 


Yield: one cookie sheet full of breadsticks

1.5 cups hot water (hot enough to make yeast work)

1 Tb. honey

1 Tb. yeast

1 tsp. salt

3-4 cups flour

1/2 stick soft butter

garlic powder


3/4-1 cup parmesan cheese

Add yeast to water; pour honey on top of yeast.  Let yeast work 5-10 minutes till top of water is covered.  Add 1 cup flour.  Pour salt on flour.  Mix.  Add flour 1/4 cup as a time as needed and knead till dough is almost not sticky. 

Grease cookie sheet.  Roll out dough evenly on sheet.  Spread butter across dough. 

With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut down the middle of the dough lenghwise and then into 1-inch strips across the tray horizontally.  Sprinkle salt/pepper sparingly, then cover in garlic powder and parmesan cheese. 

Put in oven and turn oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook 25-30 minutes until done (golden-brown on top and middle is done).


Now, I know it says to turn the oven on when you put them in, but last night I used rapid-rising yeast and let the dessert breadsticks rise for a few minutes before baking.  The oven was also on from cooking the regular breadsticks.  They were equally good and maybe even a little better.  So use your judgment or what you have time for!  They’ll work either way.

Variation for Dessert Breadsticks:

Follow the recipe to the point of spreading the butter on.  Once the dough is covered in butter, sprinkle all over with sugar and cinnamon.  Bake as directed.  While the breadsticks are still warm, you can mix up a glaze if you want of 2 or 3 tablespoons of soft butter, 3/4 cup or so of powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a bit of vanilla.  Mix till smooth and somewhat runny.  Taste and adjust if needed.  Pour over warm breadsticks. 


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Idaho Camping Recap: Day 1 and 2

It’s been a few weeks but I wanted to do a little summary of our camping trip over Labor Day weekend.  I waited until I finally put the pictures up online last night…sorry for the delay! (If you’re my friend on Facebook, there are lots more on my Facebook page.)

On Friday night we drove through City of Rocks to see if all the camping spots were, indeed, filled up.  It seemed they were, so John drove out toward a place called Bostetter that he had camped at many times as a kid. 

We took the wrong road by half a mile and ended up severely regretting it.  We drove for three hours or more on this tiny, one-lane, badly rutted dirt road that wound around in the middle of nowhere while we got hungrier and hungrier (foil dinners were in the ice chest, waiting to be cooked over a campfire) and more and more tired, sad, and frustrated.  Many tears were shed.  (The horrible “road” we were on was called Trapper Creek Road, apparently, and I told the kids I forbade them to ever mention that road again.  Too many bad memories!) Because the road was so bad we could only go 15 miles an hour or less, which made it take even longer.

Finally…at long last…we were winding our way up into mountains (which was a good sign) and I spotted a lone brown sign with an arrow pointing to…Bostetter!  Our cries of rejoicing filled the van. 

After another half hour or so we finally arrived.  It was after 10pm and very dark and we were afraid there wouldn’t be any spots but luckily for us, there was one spot left!  The kids and I gathered wood and built a fire while John set up lanterns around the area so we could put up the tent.

Once that was finished we cooked the foil dinners but the fire wasn’t hot enough yet and we ended up cooking them on the camp stove.  When they were done enough to eat we scarfed everything down, cleaned up a bit, and went to bed.

It was VERY cold and we didn’t have near enough blankets.  But we somehow made it through the night and were all awake before 6am the next morning, Saturday. 

Ciara, enthralled with a stick she’d just carved with her pocketknife

We made breakfast—eggs, bacon, and toast (I cooked the toast on a stick over the fire…so much fun!)—and set off to go hiking. 

It was quite an overcast morning.

We followed a wide track, then got bored with it after a half mile or so and crossed a stream on rocks to get to a more interesting area. 

Somebody was a chicken about stepping on these slippery rocks.  Can you guess who?

My only request was TREES!!  Give me TREES!  We headed up a steep, narrow trail among aspens and made it to the top of a high cliff/hill/mountain area covered in dirt, rocks, and very scratchy sagebrush (poor Bran!  He was wearing shorts and got his legs scratched up). 


Nia was like a little mountain goat.  She kept saying “Higher!  I want to see the top!” and ran ahead of us all morning. 

The view from the top was marvelous.  I wish my pictures weren’t so dark.  But hey, they’re pretty good for a camera phone!

And yes, I got to live among trees for a little while. 🙂

We headed back down and were so exhausted/legs so sore that we barely made it back to camp before collapsing.  John fell asleep sitting up in a camp chair and I crashed on the cot for a nap.  The kids had tons of fun running around in the bushes, finding sticks and playing.  I wish they had this kind of surroundings on a daily basis.  I miss my forests!!

After a lengthy discussion later on, we decided to pack up and head back to Burley (on the right road this time).  The rest of the afternoon/evening we spent visiting relatives and friends, and John’s aunt and uncle so kindly offered their home to us for Saturday night so we could take showers (heaven!!) and go to church on Sunday.

We also got to see the Twin Falls temple for the first time.  It was beautiful.

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Today I had one of those horrific experiences I wish I could forget ever happened. 

We’d had a mostly-good weekend; our supposed camping trip (loaded up the van, took off, went to every campground in the nearby mountains but all were full.  Wasted three hours and a quarter tank of gas) was rotten but we had a nice day Sunday with family.  Monday morning I went to another family thing and before I went, I unloaded all the camping stuff from the van…all over the kitchen, living room, and family room.  “I’ll put it away later,” I said.  We were late. 

When we got back late that afternoon we were all tired and sunburned.  Nia decided it was so fun to do a “family church” like we did on Sunday that she set up more chairs in the living room, filled them with stuffed animals, and covered the chairs, couch, and floor with papers of her scripture illustrations, little made-up talks, and church programs.  I had also washed a very large, very heavy quilt and it didn’t get all the way dry in the dryer so I draped it all over the chairs to dry. 

Last night I was all ready for bed by 9 by some miracle and went to check on the sleeping children, as usual, one last time before bed.  Bran was awake, and really scared about bad dreams and things, so I ended up letting him sleep in the family room and I slept on the couch, near him.  Even so, I couldn’t get him to sleep till nearly 12:30.  I didn’t sleep well.

I had planned to get up very early this morning to exercise, make a nice healthy breakfast, clean up, and be ready to head to our first ballet/clogging classes of the 2009-2010 season.  The girls had to be there at 9.  Instead, because of the late-night incidents, I woke up with a start at 8:20 and freaked out at how late it was.  We ran around getting ready and raced out the door, munching a bagel on the drive over, and made it to the studio only a couple of minutes late.

John called at 11:30 and said he was going out to lunch with a relative and a friend to discuss business plans, and he dropped Bran off to go home with us.

By the time we were home and done with lunch at 1 today I was so very tired.  I looked at the mess in the living room…chairs, big quilt, papers everywhere…the kitchen…plates on the table, grocery bags on the floor…and the family room…baskets of clean laundry and all Bran’s sleeping stuff.  I decided I would just lie down for a short nap before cleaning it all up.

The next thing I knew, the front door was opening.  In walked John and the two distinguished, important guys he was meeting with.  They could barely walk IN THE DOOR.  I wished the floor would open up and swallow me.

They went outside to continue their meeting because the back yard was cleaner than the house.  I dare any of you reading this to come up with a more humiliating experience. 

Once I stopped crying I immediately cleaned everything up and was the tiniest bit comforted thinking that NOW the house was clean, and once they walked back through they’d see it.  I ran to the store to get some nice things for dinner, thinking also that if I could provide some delicious food, it would also help.

When I got back, to my shock, they were gone.  John said he’d invited them to stay for dinner but they weren’t hungry and wanted to get home.  And what’s worse…they left through the gate and side yard.  They didn’t even see the now-clean house.

It’s going to take me a while to get over that one, let me tell you.  Maybe in a few years I will be able to laugh about it without crying. 🙂

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I just finished my bi-monthly post to the Utah Children’s Writers blog and it was on a subject I’ve been thinking about lately: food blogs, recipes, and cooking. 

I’ve known for years that I need to jazz up our boring, “same ten recipes” dinner menu.  But I always come up with excuses:

“Bran’s allergic to wheat; it’s so hard to make two of everything so one can be wheat-free.” 

“John and I are allergic to corn.  It’s so depressing that I don’t want to cook.”

“Whenever I be brave and try out a new recipe, everyone hates it.”

“I’m too tired to think of anything…”

And so it goes. 

Well, I’m going to try turning over a new leaf.  I will focus on two main goals:

1) Make a weekly menu

2) Find new recipes for said menu

My resolve is helped a little bit by the fact that we’re cutting out cold cereal from our lives.  We haven’t bought any for three weeks and it’s awesome.  No, seriously, it is.  (And hello, the money saved??  Cold cereal is expensive!)  At first I felt panicked, but now?  We eat healthy things like oatmeal pancakes, cooked cereal, fresh fruit and raw nuts, and eggs.  And since John’s now working from home three days a week, it frees me up to make breakfast a little later if I need to.  He can start work early, and take a break later on for breakfast.

Making a menu will also help force—ah, I mean, encourage—me to make a real dinner because I’ll have a plan in place.  No more staring desperately at kitchen cupboards and fridge at 5pm, frantically trying to figure something out.

I shall now tantalize you with some good-looking food (clicking the picture will take you to the recipe):





So if you have any recipes or good food blogs you follow or like, please share!  My kitchen and I will thank you. 🙂

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