Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jump Start.

Five days before Thanksgiving, the tree came out.
There was a little bit of grumbling from he who shall not be named (but I'm married to him ).
"BEFORE Thanksgiving?" he says...

Definitely yes.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Okay, here is another post that should be rich with pictures of food. 
It's not.
I don't know what's happening to me. Maybe my mind is expanding to things beyond food.
Highly unlikely.
But just know we had wonderfully, delicious food, especially pie.
It's my belief that the Thanksgiving menu should really be just pie--but I guess others don't agree with me. 
Beyond food, we had a wonderful get together. 
Julie asked us all to bring a list of things that we were grateful for this past year. 
It was sweet to hear. Some were simple and some were deep. Just perfect.
After all that food and gratitude, we hit the movies, splitting up between Moana, and Fantastic Beasts. 
I discovered that a full tummy and a dark movie theater with reclining seats don't make for an alert movie watching experience. So what I saw of Moana, I liked. The music was especially wonderful. 

Rare smiles from these two...

 The Kaneshiro, Cook, and Singer gals...

 Always good for a picture...

 Zachary sharing his gratitude :)

 Julie listening...

 Christine, dreaming about someone awesome apparently....

 Steve's gratitude list was a doozy. Kept us smiling for sure.

Cameron and Lynnea


 I can't remember what was on that paper...his thankful list?

 And just like that he was out.

 Michaela : Peace out.

Anyway, Thanksgiving has come and gone, it was wonderful, 
and its now the race to Christmas.
Good Luck :) 

Best New Christmas album discovery:

 Take a listen to this track featuring the Mo Tab :

Sunday, November 27, 2016

3 Things.

I cannot overstate how much I love my religion classes. 
They have been a soft place to land in my world that is a little chaotic right now.
My Tuesday night class is a Book of Mormon class. It is food for the soul.
My Wednesday night class is Foundations of the Restoration. It is my brain and spirit connection.
I love them both.
I have learned sooooo much.
I have been taught three things that have made a big, maybe even huge, difference in my discipleship.
Bro. Bartholomew teaches with the spirit in a huge way, and so me, trying to recount them here, might fall a little flat but here goes anyway:

1) The Sacrament: Every single week you need to feel the renewed remission of your sins. You should feel it, and know it. It 's not a passive process- before partaking, you make yourself right with God, and right with anyone else that you are not right with.  Is there anything in my relationship with God or any individual that needs to be repaired? Then do it. Is there something I should be doing to strengthen my relationship with God? He will tell you. Then ask Him to help you feel that remission of your sins as you participate in the Sacrament. It's powerful and it's possible. Really.

2) Prayer: The Lord's Prayer is a great pattern for prayer (3 Nephi 13:9-13).  Bro. Bartholomew invited us to follow this pattern and see if it could make a difference to us. 
First: Give honor and glory to the Father. Sincerely.
Second: Ask to know the Father's will. Instead of giving Him your list, try asking for a list from Him.
Third: Forgiveness- "Who do I need to forgive?" Ask Him to help you examine your heart. What do you need to empty it of? And then ask for forgiveness for yourself.
Fourth:  Prayer for power over the adversary- for ourselves, for our family. Constantly and specifically. We don't do that as much as we should.
Fifth: Give glory again to the Father. Glory to begin with, and glory to end with. 

Though it seems like other things are being left out, like the thankful part, it comes naturally as you follow this pattern. It's surprising and amazing. 

3) Focus on Jesus, always.  This might be the hardest to explain so I will share the email I shared with my sister in my attempt to explain it to her:

We have been studying the sermon on the mount in 3rd Nephi. We study it very painstakingly. Sometimes we only cover 2 verses in an hour and a half class. Last night, towards the end of class, the teacher says something like this: “Jesus is just trying to teach us to focus on heaven—to focus on HIM. Period. If I were Satan I would do my best to distract you with the earth. Temporal things. He went on to list some of the obvious temporal things: money, careers, etc. Then he said something like this: “ Sometimes we are distracted by things that aren't so obvious. Let me say something at the risk of maybe offending some of you—but this is not the Church of the family. We do not worship the family, we worship the Savior. However, sometimes family becomes one of our biggest distractions. We have children or siblings who are wayward and it becomes all we can think about. Our focus becomes fixed on them and we have taken the focus off of the Savior. When we become consumed with worry and sorrow we tell the Savior in effect, ' I don't believe in your promises. I don't believe in the covenants I made with you.' We choose to be fearful over faithful. If we keep our eye single to Him, (and keep our family second), then, our eye, being single to Him, fills our whole body with light. We are much more able to help our struggling family members when we are filled with light rather than worry.”

This was HUGE to me. As I prayed and thought about it to know if that really was true, I felt a great burden lifted. That's really all I can say about this. 

So there. Isn't the gospel wonderful? There are many ways to live it-- these just really resonated with me and make my life richer and my spirit more fulfilled. 

Life is good. 

Joy to the World :)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Oh Monday.

On Monday, I tried to make my new obsession, a Piecaken.
Piecaken is a pie, baked inside of a cake.
I know, right?????

Chocolate Raspberry Piecaken
Pie was coming in a big way on Thursday, I knew that.
But it was not Piecaken 
and I needed to know if it could really be that good.
So I tried.
I baked a Pumpkin Pie inside of a spice cake.

 And then I dropped it.

So I patched and frosted it,

and for the record- it was delicious.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Wrap-Up.

 I am ready to be done posting about Turkey--not because I don't love hanging around in the memories of that trip, but because there are other things worth posting about, and so-- I am wrapping it up. In no particular order, here are some final things that I loved about my trip to Istanbul.

I loved seeing Randy so involved in the culture of Turkey. He knows its history, he has learned the language, and is passionate about sharing both.

But Bahar was Randy on steroids so to speak...
She combined her historical knowledge with a great passion for its future-which right now means a huge concern and dislike for the current president of Turkey. Hmmm.
Lots of great conversations with her about politics, people, culture, food, etc.

I loved being away from home on election day.
The number one topic with everyone we met was the American presidential elections.
It was good not to be there for the mayhem that followed the election results.
Enough said.

I loved getting to know Bahar. It could seem that a few days might not be enough time to really get to know somebody, but Bahar was an open book. It was like she just opened up her arms and swooped us right in. She is warm and friendly- funny and smart--kind and caring--and most importantly, super devoted to my brother :) 
We all fell in love with her immediately.

I loved eating Mediterranean breakfasts. I know I am probably alone on this one
but they so reminded me of my days in Jerusalem. 
Cucumbers and tomatoes were our go-to breakfast meal. :)

Picture quality is super poor but it speaks volumes.
We found this magazine at a grocery store a couple of days before the election-
it says: "The Next President: Script of a Tragedy."

I LOVED traveling abroad again. Once upon a time I did that many times.
 I thought those days were over because as a mom, I'm a big chicken. But this was life changing. 
I loved being immersed in another culture, another way of life. 
I loved getting out of my bubble for a little while. 
It was good for the soul.

I LOVED the Baklava. Randy took us to his favorite place.
 It was so good it practically melted in your mouth.
This particular piece was Randy's. It was cut into a wedge, and then ice cream was sandwiched in the middle. Wow. Don't let the green fool you- those are pistachios, not vegetables :)

And finally, I loved hanging out with these people 24/7 for a week. We just don't get to do that much anymore. We have lots of new shared memories and you just can't put a price on those. (I sure would like to share some of our sisterly night time adventures, but those will just have to be passed around the dinner table).

So, the Turkish adventures end on the blog today, 
but really, for our family, they are just beginning.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


I thought it would be super cool to end my Turkey posts on Turkey Day.
Not going to happen.
I have got a couple more in me, so....

Probably the most cool thing ever was to hop on a ferry from one continent, and in about 20 minutes, set foot upon another. Really the best and weirdest thing.
Istanbul is partly in Europe, and partly in Asia.
The thriving, metropolis side is in Europe while most people just live on the Asian side and commute to work and back. The traffic across the bridge can take hours.
Therefore, a quick ferry ride is definitely the way to go and we did just that.
Once our feet were on solid ground, it became obvious that dividing into teams needed to happen again. I stuck with Team Randy because they were "walk for a few minutes, then rest for a few minutes" kind of people. Resting meant sometimes in indulging in Randy's favorite Turkish drink, Sahlep. It quickly became my favorite too. So, yes, Team Randy :)
The shops were less touristy and more "real" shopping...
We found a street of just antique shops that was lovely.
In one of those shops I found the ultimate antique: A Donny Osmond Album. Sweet!
After patiently waiting for Team Bahar to finish their marathon-like shopping spree,
Randy and Bahar took us to one of their favorite restaurants specializing in Turkish cuisine. 
It was heavenly and once again no pictures. Winner.
Seriously, the day was fabulous. 
I know I keep saying that about every day but it's true. Every. Single. Day.
Happiness every minute. 
Happy Turkey Day Ya'll.

 My feet on Asian soil (so to speak)
Yep, those puppies are size 11.

Typical street scene- never a dull moment.

Sahlep deliciousness....

 Always a good rule of thumb...

 Yep- proof he's an international phenom :)

Ferry ride with siblings...

 A very artsy street- pretty sure I was not cool enough to walk down it.

 My only picture from the restaurant--Thyme Tea at the end of the meal.

And just because you might need proof- cats still rule on the Asian side.

Best tour guide ever. 

Another great day. 
Here's to hoping I can wrap up it all up tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action.

While we were in Istanbul, we happened to venture by two film shoots. One involved a beautifully restored 1965 Mustang which happens to be my most favorite car in the whole world. Sixteen year-old Randy happened to total my (and Kathleen's) 1965 Mustang when we left it at home from college one year so it would be "safer." So much for that idea, but I digress. 
(You can tell I'm over it, right?)  
Anywho- the other film shoot was right across the street from our hotel. Bahar said that she saw two of Turkey's most famous actors in the crowd of cameras and mayhem. 
Ha! All that to say, Istanbul is kind of famous for it location shots, and we got to experience one up close and personal. 

If you have seen this movie

and this movie, 

you will probably revel right along with me-
because we spent a good chunk of time right where those scenes were shot:

The Grand Bazaar.
I have actually seen neither of those movies but still---

We thankfully were not riding motorcycles nor looking for lost children--just shopping. Lots and lots of shopping.

 It was a super fun experience if you can get used to the barrage of hopeful salesmen. It's kind of like shopping at RC Willey....those pesky sales floor guys just keep on you all the time, right?
But WAY more fun. We exhausted ourselves walking the endless maze of shops. We got smart and divided in to teams to lessen our chances of being taken (no pun intended!) by the crafty shop owners in their enthusiasm to sell to Americans.

Team Bahar: 

 Bahar's abilities included sincerity and kindness as she bargained with shop owners who were eager to make a few sales with the beautiful American women. She had compassion because she understood that the lack of tourism lately meant they were a little more desperate. One day I will do a whole post on Bahar...

Team Randy:

 Randy was also kind but very shrewd and always let them know he was on to their schmoozing ways...I love when he shocked them as this tall American man who was fluent in Turkish. That usually brought huge smiles and a flurry of questions.
My mom is super excited because she actually abandoned Team Bahar to be with the winners...

Big, big day of fun, fun, fun.

 Candied mushrooms btw...

 More minarets anyone?

And finally, just for your viewing pleasure...