Archive for December, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: New Years Resolutions

December 29, 2011

It’s that time of year again when we are reminded to take a look at our lives and think about something we would like to improve upon. I, like many, have really grand plans and great ideas, then lose my resolve a few weeks into the year. This year, I’m going to try to just pick one goal, write it down, and try to figure out a way that I can remember it through the year. The following is a link to an article in the Dec. 1990 Liahona that shares a few tips on how to keep those resolutions:

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions


Lori Trauntvein

Wednesday Words

December 28, 2011

This past summer was a particularly rough one for us because we chose to spend it apart. We all lived in Pennsylvania and Nate was finishing his dissertation and working extremely long hours so he could complete it in time to start his job at UNH. Since we weren’t seeing much of him anyway, and when we did he and I both felt guilty (me for taking him away from his work, and him for being gone so much), I decided to pack the kids up and take them out west and spend the summer with our families. I happened to get a job at a clinic in West Yellowstone so I could keep up my nursing hours. Both of us really felt it was the right decision because so many blessings would come out of it, but it was still a very difficult time. Towards the end of the summer, when we were both just so ready for it to be over, Nate sent me a link to this video and it really helped me to put things into perspective. It’s a great one to remember if you or someone you know is feeling discouraged. Enjoy!

Lori Trauntvein

Tuesday Tip: Organization

December 27, 2011

If you’ve been to my house since we moved here, you know that organization has been something I have been struggling with. It has never really been my strong suit, but I had a pretty good routine going in our last house, and I felt I was staying on top of things. However, relocating our family and several back-to-back renovation projects have left me with several piles of things here and there that just don’t have a home yet. I have realized that I will have to tackle this problem in small bites rather than expect myself to take care of everything in one day, especially since Abby has entered the terrible two’s with a vengeance (this happened simultaneously with moving!).

After researching a little on this subject, I have found a lot of helpful tips. Here are a couple from Peter Walsh, an organization expert, that have seemed to be helping things, although I am far from having what I would call an organized house.

The first is to take the “OHIO” approach, which stands for Only Handle It Once. It means, when I pick something up, I should put it where it goes right then, rather than stash it away into another pile or on a shelf to be dealt with later. While that may seem obvious, I am the queen of making piles and this has been really helpful to me to remember.

Another tip is to commit to take 10 minutes each day to organize some space or pile that is a problem area. This is helpful to me, because it’s long enough to make progress, but short enough for me to strategically place it in my schedule for when Abby is occupied and not just creating more chaos in another room.

I could go on and on, but instead I’m off to clear off the top of my microwave, which has somehow accumulated a whole bunch of recipes and other little odds and ends. And, if you haven’t been to my house, come on over, it will give me some extra motivation to keep on cleaning!

Lori Trauntvein

Monday Menus: a few recipes for leftovers

December 26, 2011

There are a few things that it seems like I always have leftovers of, especially this time of year. One of those things is cranberries. For some reason I always seem to end up with an extra bag of fresh cranberries. I think I buy them because they look so pretty, but I never end up making fresh cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. Probably because I subconsciously want it to sit in my fridge and remind me to make this treasure that we stumbled upon one year at a Christmas party.  I’ve seen it circulate around the blog circuit and pinterest lately, so you may have seen it, but it is definitely worth another mention.

Cranberry Salsa Dip with Cream Cheese


Rather than post the entire recipe, I think I will just post the link because the original recipe has a beautiful photo, and the instructions are really clear. Just make sure you refrigerate it at least 4 hours before eating it, because it tastes a little nasty right after you make it!

Another thing I often have leftovers of is bananas. Now you can always use them for banana bread, but my mother in law makes the best cake that she calls “Banana Bars” that you can use those leftovers for if you want something more like a sweet dessert. Here is the recipe.

Banana Bars

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c sour cream
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Buttercream or cream cheese frosting (or see instructions below)

Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, sour cream, bananas and vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients and stir in. Bake in 10×15 cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (but I don’t have one, so I bake it in a 9×13 pan.

Make frosting by combining 2 c powdered sugar, 1/2 c softened butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and 3 oz softened cream cheese (or make your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting). Frost cake when cool.

Lastly, here is a recipe I got from my cousin that you could either use holiday ham leftovers for, or the lunchmeat variety of ham.

Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad

16-20 oz. dry pasta (rotini or another bite size variety works best), cooked al dente
1 1/2 c sweet onion vinaigrette dressing
1-2 c ranch dressing (I use the home-prepared Hidden Valley variety)
12 oz sliced ham, cubed (approx.)
8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed in bite size pieces (I buy cheese sticks and cut them up)
1 med. tomato, diced very small
2-4 oz. chopped or sliced black olives
2 c small broccoli florets
Any combination of other vegetables chopped into bite size, such as zucchini, cauliflower, celery, cucumnber, red or green peppers, etc.

Set ranch dressing aside. Combine pasta in onion vinaigrette dressing and marinate while you make the rest of the salad. Combine all the rest of the ingredients with the pasta, and add ranch dressing to taste and desired consistency. Refrigerate 4 hours. Add more ranch dressing prior to serving if desired.

I hope you all enjoy the last week of 2011!

Lori Trauntvein

Friday Favorites—Transcendent

December 23, 2011

Transcendent is a teen paranormal anthology that some writer friends and I put together.  I have a short story in it called, Ryan’s Wish. It’s published by Robot Playground. The book will be coming out in paperback early 2012. (I think there is already a release date, but I’m not sure what it is.)

There are seven authors in this book, of them five are LDS.  I decided since it is “Friday Favorites” and it’s also Christmas-time I would have each of the LDS writers help with Christmas gift-giving ideas. So, each will give a plug for their favorite LDS author or book.

Melanie Marks:

I couldn’t really think of a favorite LDS book—except my own (ha!), The Dating Deal.  But alas, it was published years ago and is now out of print and only available in ebook form from places like Amazon and other on-line bookstores.

HOWEVER my very favorite LDS author is Jannett Rallson.  I love her books so much!  Her books are always fun and full of humor and usually for teens, though she has some novels that she wrote for grown-ups under the name Sierra St. James.  Her books always entertain. If you want a clean, fun read be sure to check her out!

Lani Woodland:

I don’t have any inspirational ones but I did really enjoy Kiss of Stranger by Sarah M. Eden. It is hard to find a clean romance and this one totally satisfied. I loved the characters, the regency setting and Sarah’s writing style. If you are looking for a clean romance then this one is for you.

Wendy Swore:

Among my favorite LDS authors (it’s so hard to choose!) I enjoy Jessica Day George’s books because they make me want to believe in dragons and the power to change things for the better. Sometimes her characters use something as simple as knitting to change the course of their lives and save the day, but it’s done really well.

I also love Shannon Hale’s books (The Goose Girl) because her characters find a special power inside themselves that they must accept and develop with courage to do what’s right in the face of terrible odds.

Anita Stansfield and Annette Lyon are my favorite adult reads in LDS fiction. There’s always a little romance, soul searching, and adventure in each book! I’ll stop now, but the field is rich with awesome LDS authors. Perusing those that belong to Storymakers might be a nice place to start.  {Note from editor (me, Melanie): StoryMakers is the organization we belong to for published LDS authors.}

Wendy’s favorite LDS books: Dragon Slippers, Princess of Glass, Towers of Brierley… There are so many good ones!

Evan Joseph:

Right now I’m reading the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. It’s a juvenile literature series (for ages 9-12, but I love them too) about a nature preserve for magical creatures. He manages to include spiritual truths in the decisions the young characters must face.

(Our other LDS author, Melonie Piper, may be chiming in with her favorites later as I only sent the request out late last night.)

So, Portsmouth ward: what are some of your favorite LDS books/authors?

Wednesday–Words from Molly Gorringe

December 21, 2011

Saturday me and my husband attended the temple for the first time together. It has been a while since we have both gone and since we have been married for only 8 months it was our first time together. It was the most amazing temple experience I had ever had. Nothing makes more of a difference in my life than having a worthy husband that has a love of the temple just like me. When I was in the celestial room waiting for him I began crying just thinking of how much Heavenly Father has blessed me, then he came in and we just stood there and hugged and cried together. We are going to be sealed in Utah in the summer and are so excited that we have the opportunity to attend the temple many times together before that. The temple is such an amazing place to receive revelation, to go and receive blessings for you and your family, and learn more about the Lord and our life here on earth, and to become closer to our father in heaven. It is such a blessing in our lives to have the opportunity to be sealed to our spouses, the people in our life that would do anything for us, that love us the most and that vow to always be by our side get to be by our side after this life. I am so happy to know that my husband wants that too.  I hope that by reading this, the women AND men of our ward will feel motivated to go to the temple and spend some time doing something that will help those who don’t have a chance to do it for themselves. It is such a good feeling to know you are in the service of your Lord and to know you will receive blessings and guidance for doing so. Nothing is more important in our lives.

Tuesday Tip–by Elayna

December 20, 2011

My Mom started a nice private little Mother Daughter tradition between us back when I was in school that I keep going today.and I wanted to share it with you.. She and   I would go to LL Bean together every fall to get things for school.. And she knew that Lanz flannel nightgowns were THE thing all the girls wore back at school. Since it was a women s college.. During exam times your outfit consisted of your Lanz flannel nightgown, topsiders and your long wool dress coat and scarf to go to the library to study.. where they had comfy off white couches you could claim for the whole exam period.. leave your books there and just leave to eat and sleep!

Consequently everybody went to the dining hall in that outfit too! We loved those days! My Mom belonged at a womens college herself with her independence and her leadership potential if you aak me!  Shed have made a good woman to run for office! A force to reckon with!

Mom would make sure when I was distracted at Beans…she picked out a warm fluffy new Lanz flannel nightgown for me and would spirit away until Christmas Eve..

She d leave a candle lit in my bathroom with a fragrant bubble bath… some paperwhites she d potted and grown just for me..a cool soft drink.. And a small plate of a snack like cheese and crackers…Mom loved cheese ;)…These would be in a pretty little arrangement on the sink countertop… in my bathroom at our house I grew up in..

With the sunken red jacuzzi bath ..snow white counters and floors that my Mom picked out when it was built in the 70s!

I would find  a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift left there for me..with a card from Mom.. Left quietly with love.. And she d slip away to the mad wrapping frenzy in her room for the was our private Mother Daughter moment.. And tradition.. And Id smile.. Light the candles by the bath.. And nibble on the goodies while soaking for a break in my nice hot bubble bath.. courtesy of Mom..

Then Id unwrap what I knew would be my nightgown from her..

But it didnt take away from the specialness of that moment and the love she put into it..every year.. Id snuggle into my new warm cozy nightgown.. And then slip into MY room for the mad wrapping frenzy that would go on in THERE all night.

Sometimes we d actually have to call each other on the phone to ask each other something! Tvs on and peeking in with our eyes covered if we HAD to ask something of the other in person or just to tease that we were peeking! Sometimes cuz we missed each other..

I could feel the love and my Moms hug with that tradition every year.. And so.. This year.. having just lost my fate would have it..about a week ago.. Just around the time when we d go to LL
Bean in the days before we all started ordering online.. I found myself in the store.. And when her favorite Christmas hymn came on.. O Holy Night.. there I was next to the Lanz fla nightgown display.

I felt Mom with me…
smiled…and her Spirit reached out and my hand touched the flannel nightgown I think she would have gotten for me. to keep Moms tradition going! She was hugging me then.. I just knew it!

I have my paperwhites..though they re in a ready made kit.. All set to go.. I have my candle and cheese and crackers in stock..some sparkling water.. and some bubble bath..!

Mom.. You ll be with me still.. on Christmas Eve this week!  Ill feel your hug.. and your love..with your tradition..we ll continue it together.. My Lanz flannel nightgown…from My Mom.  🙂

Thanks Mom.. XO Laynie…

Start your own tradition.. Whether with your Daughter.. Mother.. Sister.. Friend.. Those little moments are what we cherish and remember most..of all..

This was and continues to be.. my favorite at Christmas.. with my Mom..and I thought Id share it with you.. A tip from me to you..

Something you ll cherish too.. Your own Christmas Eve tradition.. When we are all so busy..find a way to give a special someone a hug from you to them.. In some way.. Just for a minute.. Stop time..start a tradition between you and them that can continue a lifetime! You ll never forget it..!    Me xo

Monday Menu

December 19, 2011

German Christmas Waffles

When I was in high school a friend and his twin sister had their birthday on Dec 22nd. Their mom always had a celebration for them in the form of a sleepover.

Their house was decorated beautifully with german style holiday decorations, but what I remember the most were the German style waffles in the morning!

Its simple and yummy! Enjoy!

Just take either a frozen waffle and heat, or a freshly made waffle, put a scoop of french vanilla ice cream on top and generously pour hot maple syrup over it. And repeat as desired ! Yum ! And simple !

Let me know if you end up making these..?. Ill be right over! 😉


(my Mom and Dad used to call me by this nickname. Its from the name in Greek…) Eleni

Friday Favorites: Katy Elliot

December 16, 2011

Yikes! Someone has not been very active in her blogging responsibilities!  Here’s a link to a neat blog to make up for it.

katy elliot is a blog kept by a woman in Marblehead, Mass. who is  in the (tedious) process of renovating a 260-year-old house.  She writes about history, style, architecture, food, books, and her adventures with the Marblehead Historical Society but most of all, she writes about New England.

I enjoy everything she posts especially when I’m far from home (and the ocean) but you don’t have to be a New Englander to gladly kill a half hour scrolling through the gorgeous photographs or reading through a new recipe. (And I LOVE her recipes.)

Kelsie Bee

Wednesday Words

December 14, 2011

While Jenkin Lloyd Jones was not LDS, he was a Unitarian minister and was occasionally rather quotable.

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just like people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is just like an old-time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

-Jenkin Lloyd Jones