Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Nie Story

To learn more about this family, you can read the post on Marci's Blog. She was telling me the story today about Stephanie and Christian Nielson. They were in a plane crash on August 16th.

I just spent countless minutes reading the story and Stephanie's sister's blog . It truly is moving to see the strength in prayers and how something so tragic can be so beautiful. It is inspiring to me to read about all of the love and generosity of wonderful people, not just family and friends but strangers offering encouragment, making donations and reaching out in whatever way they can. I know, I will forever have a prayer in my heart for the Nielson Family and want to help spread the word. Thanks for sharing this Marci.

Go to the website set up for the Nielsons by clicking the button.
Read the NieNie Dialogues.

My New Favorite Quote:

"Don't Put Off Your Happy Life"

Create your own "happy-life" list! ... click here

14 Timeless Ways to Live a Happy Life

by Alex Blackwell

Print This Post
How we achieve happiness can be different for each one of us. Our passions, expectations, life experiences, and even our personalities all contribute to the level of happiness we experience in our lives. Some find happiness in their careers while others prefer the bliss found in their marriages or other intimate relationship.
No matter how you define happiness for yourself, there are certain universal and time-proven strategies to bring, and sustain, more happiness into your life. The following 14 ways to live a happy life can be adapted and even customized to fit your needs. Over time, these strategies will become positive and life-changing habits that will begin to bring more happiness, joy and peace into your life.
1. Notice What’s Right
Some of us see the glass as being half-full, while others see the glass as half-empty. The next time you are caught in traffic, begin thinking how nice it is to have a few moments to reflect on the day, focus on a problem you have been trying to solve, or brainstorm on your next big idea. The next time you get in the slow line at the grocery store, take the opportunity to pick up a tabloid magazine and do some “guilty pleasure” reading. Take all that life throws out you and reframe it with what’s right about the situation. At the end of the day, you will more content, at peace and happy. Take the time to begin to notice what’s right and see the world change in front of your eyes.
2. Be Grateful
How many times do you say the words “thank you,” in a day? How many times do you hear these same words? If you are doing the first thing, saying the “thank yous,” the latter will naturally happen. Learn to be grateful and you will be open to receive an abundance of joy and happiness.
3. Remember the Kid You Were
Do you remember how to play? I’m not referring to playing a round of golf or a set of tennis. I’m talking about playing like you did when you were a child – a game of tag; leap frog, or street baseball when the bat is a broken broom handle and the bases are the parked cars. One way to find or maintain your happiness is to remember the kid you were and play!
4. Be Kind
There is no question that by merely watching acts of kindness creates a significant elevation in our moods and increases the desire for us to perform good deeds as well. Kindness is indeed contagious and when we make a commitment to be kind to ourselves and to others we can experience new heights of joy, happiness and enthusiasm for our lives.
5. Spend Time with Your Friends
Although an abundant social and romantic life does not itself guarantee joy, it does have a huge impact on our happiness. Learn to spend time with your friends and make the friendships a priority in your life.
6. Savor Every Moment
To be in the moment is to live in the moment. Too often we are thinking ahead or looking ahead to the next event or circumstance in our lives, not appreciating the “here and now.” When we savor every moment, we are savoring the happiness in our lives.
7. Rest
There are times when we need the time to unwind, decompress, or to put it simply, just “to chill.” Life comes at all of us hard and fast. Time, as do the days on the calendar, keeps going forward at its own natural pace, which is not always the pace we would choose. Fatigue, stress and exhaustion may begin to settle in on us faster than we may think, or notice. The best remedy for this is indeed rest.
8. Move!
The expression a “runner’s high” does not infer an addiction, but a feeling or a state of mind - a state of euphoria. There is no question exercise, or any physical exertion, elevates your mood and enhances a more positive attitude as well as fosters better personal self-esteem and confidence. Indeed, one way to increase your happiness is to move!
9. Put on a Happy Face
Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it. I’m not suggesting that we not be honest, real or authentic, but I’m suggesting, sometimes, we just need to put on a happy face and keep moving forward. Researchers claim that smiling and looking like we are happy will indeed make us happier. Studies further show that if we act like we are happy then we can experience greater joy and happiness in our lives.
10. Pursue Your Goals
The absence of goals in our lives, or more specifically avoiding to pursue our goals, makes us feel like we are stuck and ineffective. The pursuit of goals in our personal lives, in our relationships, or with our careers, is the difference between having a mediocre life or a life full of passion and enthusiasm. pursue your goals and watch your happiness soar.
11. Finding Your Calling
Some find meaning in religion or spirituality while others find purpose in their work or relationships. Finding your calling may be much more than accomplishing one simple strategy for increasing your happiness, but having a sense of purpose – of feeling like you are here for a reason – can perhaps bring the greatest joy of all
12. Get into the Flow
Flow is the form of joy, excitement and happiness that occurs when we are so absorbed in an activity we love that we can loose ourselves and time seems to stand still. What creates flow is unique to each one of us. To find and sustain true happiness in our lives, we must get off the sidelines and get into the flow.
13. Play to Your Strengths
One way to achieve flow is by understanding and identifying our strengths and core values, and then begin to use these every day. Once we aware of our strengths and we begin to play to your strengths we can better incorporate them in all aspects of our lives.
14. Don’t Overdo It
Know when to say when. What gives you joy and happiness the first time may not work the second time. Too much of a good thing may begin not to feel as good if the “thing” becomes more of a routine, or an expectation. Set healthy and reasonable boundaries for yourself and don’t overdo it.
The adorable graphic is designed by Linzie Hunter and is available here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Congratulations Commissioner Miner

Mack won the election!
More coming soon:)

Ben Rich and Mark Miner are competing in this Republican primary.
Since there is no Democratic opponent, it will be an open primary and the candidate with the most votes will win the office.
Mark P. Miner
AGE: 25
FAMILY: Parents - Mark and Kelley Miner. Three sisters and a brother.
OCCUPATION:-CSX Transportation, Manager of Military & Diversity Recruiting-Florida National Guard, Infantry Non-Commissioned Officer-Employers United for a Stronger America, Member Board of Directors
EDUCATION: Bartram Trail High School. Attended Flagler College and UNF. A.A. in Business.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE:-Founding Chairman, BTHS Teenage Republicans-Co-Founder, St. Johns County Young Republicans-Precinct Committeeman, Republican Party of St. Johns County-Volunteer Coordinator, Republican Party of St. Johns County-Corresponding Secretary, Republican Party of St. Johns County-Director of Programs & Projects, NW St. Johns County Republican Club-Courage Award, Florida Federation of Young Republicans
Public Safety: The most important role of government at all levels in public safety. We must ensure that our first responders have the tools and training they need to be successful and maintain a high quality of life in St. Johns County. I believe we are obligated to take care of those who sacrifice regularly on our behalf.
Job Creation and Business Development: Every day over 30,000 St. Johns County residents leave the county to go to work. We must work on bringing viable careers into St. Johns County.
Leadership: We must have an interactive relationship between government and the citizens based on courtesy and respect. Civility must be brought back to the commission. I would be proud to set a standard and an example.
HOW CAN YOU HELP VOTERS IN A WAY THE OTHERS RUNNING FOR THIS OFFICE CAN'T?I am offering fresh perspective as well as principled, professional and mature leadership to guide St. Johns County forward. St. Johns County needs leaders on the Board of County Commissioners who will treat citizens with civility and respect and exercise decision making in terms of the next generation, not the next election.
WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR AFTER LEAVING OFFICE?Preserving the history and culture of St. Augustine and St. Johns County without sacrificing innovation and our wonderful quality of life. I believe job creation and business development are going to be essential elements in a stable and healthy economy in St. Johns County.

After-School Snack

There's just something about walking into a house with cookies baking in the oven. Today I decided that would be nice for Scott and Hope after school. It is just too hot to be baking cookies all afternoon, so I decided to make my good friend, Kathleen's, recipe.
She calls them:
Chocolate Chip Brownies
Beat together until smooth-
2 Cups Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Sugar
4 Eggs

Add and mix well-
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Salt

Mix in 5 cups flour and one package chocolate chips. Grease and flour 15 X 20 pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. May need extra time, test with a tooth pick.
We haven't had them since she made them for us in Florida. They literally melt in your mouth!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I've Been Tagged

Marci tagged me ~ 3 Things:

3 Current Goals: 1) Organize our Family Pictures, this will be a huge project! 2) Learn to play the piano. 3) Read my scriptures EVERY day.
3 Current Obsessions: 1)Vacuuming 2) Eating the candy from the wedding 3)Pink and Green, hopefully I'll recover
3 Fears: 1)I'm clausterphobic 2) Offending someone I care about 3)Driving in downtown Houston
3 Random Facts: 1)I have to have my toenails painted 2) I put the stereo on full blast when I'm cleaning 3) I'm dying to go on a trip somewhere....anywhere!

I tag AnneMarie and Christina Bambina

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Balanced Life

A friend shared this with me. I don't know who the author is but I thought it was worth passing along. Even though we may all know the concept...I know I needed to be reminded!
7 Ways to Restore Balance in Life


Lighten Your Load

Before you can take care of anyone else, you need to be able to care for yourself. Many women are juggling and are really good at it, but it is not for you or yourself. My own personal truth is that I am a part of God and he does not want me to feel burdened. He also wants my load light enough to add a little as I shed what's been taken care of.

I do take time to treat myself to God's gifts of life, my animals, my grandchildren and a root beer float or some other form of reward for managing to survive another day. I know that women are caretakers by nature, so start nurturing the one who matters to the rest of us and that is you!

(2) Embrace Forgiveness

I embraced forgiveness and since then I have forgiven not only my ex, but also myself, as well as all the persons whom I considered to have caused me pain in one way or another. Forgiving means healing, I realized. Now, I am just trying to enjoy every single moment of my life.

I may still be a work in progress, but by God's grace I know I'll come out a much better person. When I'm having "sad" episodes, I just listen to my favorite music or read inspirational blogs from or self-help books. Or I get an early morning shower and head to a nearby park for a walk. Reading a newspaper while sipping freshly brewed cup of herbal tea is such therapy.


Be Grateful

A few years ago I came down with pneumonia for no apparent reason. It was a beautiful spring day and I had been in good health. I felt betrayed by my body. One day, after I recovered, I was complaining about my illness to a friend. "How can I ever trust my body again?" I protested. My friend gave me some very wise advice. "The pneumonia was a relatively benign warning that you had been under too much stress. You should be grateful to your body for alerting you to that. You may have avoided a heart attack." I think my friend was right, and it helps me care for myself in ways that I never would have considered. I try to never consider myself a victim anymore; only someone who has been warned and needs to change his behavior.

I do my own kind of gratitude meditation every night. I sit quietly and feel grateful for all the blessings I've received. Together, avoiding the negative energy of feeling a victim and generating the positive force of gratitude provide me with the strength to take care of myself and others for whom I have responsibility.


Care for Your Health

Tomorrow I'm going for my yearly mammogram. I've also "cut my portions," made sure I'm drinking more water, trying my best to get 8 hrs.+ sleep at night. I'm also taking "me time"--that's having my nails/hair done once a month.

I'm also making sure that things are in order in my house, bill wise. And I'm remembering to thank my maker each day for letting me live the life I'm living. My husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in February, we're healthy, happy and we love each other!


Take A Walk

Try to walk 3-4 times 45 minutes a week. I do it slowly and I pray. I notice when I walk I feel better mentally and physically. I admire God's trees, the flowers, the sky.

I realize I need to lose weight, but I don't want the negative self-talk. I want to hear the "I can do this" mentality. I also don't want my happiness to be contingent on a scale, but on what I did to make the world and myself better inside and out.


Eat Mindfully

I have found that the key component to adhering to a proper eating plan and getting in exercise is: planning. I know, not very exciting. But it works! If I have meals planned ahead, then I am less likely to mindlessly nosh. It also helps to have meals prepared ahead--to the extent possible.

Also, regular meals tends to reduce the temptation to stray from eating plan. This takes some time to do, but if you are wanting to improve your overall health, it's worth the time to do this.


Give Yourself a Break

I am used to rushing around, doing a million things for everybody. But recently I became exhausted, developed bronchitis, and literally could not get out of bed. I was forced to take time off from work, stop taking care of my elderly mother, and let my family fend for themselves.

As I remained in bed sleeping most of the time for 5 days, I found that other people filled in for the things I couldn't do. My mother started doing more for herself and didn't complain as much. My husband and son got their own meals and did the chores, while bringing me soup and tea. Slowly I recovered, but I am more conscious of not doing everything myself and asking for help when I need it. It feels right to slow down and be gentle with myself.

~Author Unknown

I always think of Autumn as kind of a "New Beginning". The kids go back to school. Everyone is ready to get on a routine (especially mom). We always set goals as a family and individually of what we want to accomplish for that school year. It's the perfect time to take a class, work on projects and get organized before the holidays. I love it! Now if the weather would just get on the band wagon ... that summer is over!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Life of A Princess

"Princess Ella"
August 13th Little Ella turned 4 years old. How could that possibly be! Time sure flies when you're having fun. Here are some pictures of the celebrations................

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thanks Marci!

Marci called this morning and wanted to know if we would like some lasagna she made last night. Without hesitation I replied "Yes... Thanks!"! I love crossing things of my 'to do' list. That was easy... Make Dinner/ DONE. Well, we loved it! Mark told me, "you'll have to get this recipe". I was about to call Marci and I thought, I bet she has this on her Recipe Blog ....
Yep, she did!

Here it is:
Fast Easy Lasagna


- 1 26 oz. jar pasta sauce (you may want more when serving)

- 1 30 oz. bag frozen large cheese ravioli, thawed- 1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

- 1 8 oz. bag shredded mozzarella cheese

- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

(optional: I add 1/2 lb. ground beef...brown meat in saucepan and stir in sauce)


- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9x13 dish with spray and spoon in 1/3 of sauce.

-Arrange 12 ravioli on top and scatter spinach over them.

- Top with 1/2 mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese.- Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes.

- Uncover and bake 5-10 more minutes, or until bubbly.

I'm definitely going to make this sometime. I think I'll use my oh, so favorite, Bertolli Sauce when I make it.

Mack's TV AD

Mack's Election is August 26th. Thanks for taking time from your campaign to come!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Kayley and Scott Miller

Well the big day came and is gone! I can't believe it is over. I have so much to share, I don't even know where to start. First off, I have to say we used that "Hollywood Fashion Tape" the whole day. We used it for the bridesmaids, flower girls, mother's of the bride and groom and of course, The Bride!
It worked perfectly to hold Kayley's sash in place. I love the way Leigh did her bridal bouquet. It was amazing. I can't wait to see the pictures Janna took.
These are some of the pictures Mike's mom, Diane, took at the reception.

The "Candy Bar" was a popular gathering area.

Kayley and Scott with the Bridal Party.

Mike took pictures at the Temple.
It was a beautiful day!

More to come!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A New Find!

Kayley and I found this "Hollywood Fashion Tape" at Jo-Ann Fabrics last week. We got it to hold the bows on the bridesmaid's sashes in place. Now I'm wondering how we ever lived without it!

I'm going to give Marci some strips for Ella and Addie's dresses.

See how the ribbon on Ella's dress slides up above the seam.
These will be perfect to hold the ribbbon in place!

Marci's Little Girlies

Little did we know when I made the white "fluffy" (as Ella says)dresses for Brittany's wedding we would get so much mileage out of them!

The girls are going to wear them for Kayley's wedding too. We're switching out the black satin ribbon sashes for Pink & Green of course!

I ordered this reversible ribbon for their sashes. Ella wants to wear her ribbon tied with the pink w/ green polka dots and Addie will wear hers with the green w/ pink polka dots.

Leigh and Cynthia are making fresh flower halos for the reception but for the temple Marci will use the bows or flower clips.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kirk's No-Bake Fudgies

My other wonderful brother Kirk, from Park City, will be coming for Kayley and Scott's wedding. He is bringing my youngest nephew, George. My sister-in-law, Mary and the 2 older boys Jack and Andy are on a ski trip in New Zealand. (I know, rough life!) We will truly miss them but they are officially excused since the trip was planned and paid for long before the engagement announcement.

Kirk is my "little" brother. He was the cutest baby in the world ...
blonde curly hair, blue eyes and dimples! I loved mothering
him when he was little and he managed to put up
with me, bless his heart.
Granny, Kirk and Me (aren't we stylish) - that sun sure was bright!

Today I'm making Kirk's favorite cookies for when he arrives. We have named them "No-Bake Fudgies". It's my Grandma Hansen's recipe. I believe she called them "Missouri Cookies". When Mack was little he renamed them "Cat Poop Cookies". They do resemble little poops when they are lined up on the wax paper! We decided to stick with the more appealing name that Kirk came up with:)

The raisin-less cookies for Mark.

Here's the Recipe- Note: Mark doesn't like raisins (silly guy!)so I always make a few for him before I add them.

No-Bake Fudgies

1 cube butter - melted
2 cups sugar
3 heaping T. cocoa
peanut butter
quick cooking oaks

Melt 1 cube butter, 2 cups sugar and 3 T. of cocoa. Add 1/2 cup
milk and mix.Cook to good rolling boil and remove immediately.
Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1 t. vanilla. Mix well,then add
3 cups quick cooking oats, 1 rounded cup raisins, 1 cup coconut.
Mix and drop spoonfuls on wax paper to set.

My Notes:
I always simmer the raisins in a little water to make
them little more plump. I also add a little extra
peanut butter. We keep our cookies in the refrigerator
in a Tupperware with wax paper between the layers.

Scott walked in the kitchen while I was on the phone and said,"Oh, Boy! You're making Uncle Kirk's No Bake Fudgies!". I went in the bedroom to get a phone number for someone from church and when I came back some were missing.... hmmmmmm. No problem, I doubled the recipe because Mack loves them too. I can't wait to see everybody!!!!

No Bake Fudgies on Foodista

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kayley's Candy Bar

Kayley had this cute idea for the reception to have a "Candy Bar" in her pink and green colors. 

We've had so much fun collecting pretty candies. I've got the jars lined up on our buffet in the dining room. There's a mirror above it, so I tried to get some pictures with out me in them!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Tribute to Mike

Today is my big brother, Mike's birthday. He would be 51 years old. There are certain days that he is on my mind more than others. Of course, today is one of them. It has been 7 years now since he passed away but I miss him and think of him always. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that he is in a better place and that I will see him again. What a blessing that is to me. There is just something about having a big brother. He always made me feel safe and I trusted him with all my worries and concerns especially through my teen years. I'd have to say he was the perfect big brother (teasing included).

In May of 1993, Mike was surfing off the coast of Southern California and somehow broke his neck. He was surfing a wave and the next thing he knew he was face down in the water. He laid there conscious watching his hands hanging down, floating in front of him, but was unable to move. He held his breath, hoping someone would see him and come to his rescue. It was around 7:30 a.m. and a lifeguard, who wasn't even supposed to be on duty until 8:00 had come in a little early that morning. He was standing at the Marine Avenue headquarters window shaving when he caught sight of Mike. By this time Mike's friend that had been surfing with him had come to his rescue and so did others that saw what was happening. His friend was screaming for help because he knew something was seriously wrong. The lifeguard radioed the paramedics and hurried to the water. Mike eventually passed out. He was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital and later life flighted to UCLA Medical Center. Despite the fact that he never impacted the sand, or was hit by his board, it was determined that his neck was broken and the spinal chord severed.

Mike lived 8 years as a C-6 Quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. He taught me a lot during our childhood but so much more after this accident. He had more courage and faith than anyone I have ever known. Although he definitely had his bad days, he was for the most part amazingly upbeat. He had an incredible sense of humor. There was a strap on his wheel chair that would keep him from falling forward. One day he had wheeled up to the table and was eating his breakfast cereal and the strap gave way. He fell forward face down in the bowl of cereal. He said he kept imagining the news headline reading something like... "Man dies face down in Cheerios". Mike was a great story teller and he had so many funny stories of adventures in that chair.

During his last year I visited with him every Tuesday, other days as well, but Tuesdays were my "Mike Days" . I always left his place feeling happier than when I arrived. I'm so glad I had my Tuesdays with him. He told me about his mission in France, stories from his travels around the world (he'd been just about everywhere), and he would share his testimony of the Savior. He was so brave to me. We would laugh and cry and with only partial use of his arms he managed to give the best hugs ever. The day before he passed away, he wanted to read scriptures together. He loved Alma and as we were reading, he pointed out his favorite verses and even asked me to write them down.
Alma 34: 40-41 "And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; ....... But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions." I love to read these verses and feel comforted knowing that Mike is free of his afflictions. I love you Mike, Happy Birthday.