Remember to savor your life's cupcakes!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet Indulgences

My baby boy turns 14 today. (He wants me to call him a man.) So I decided I would indulge myself with some sweet stories from when he was younger that make me smile.

My 5 year old Chad was playing with blocks. I told him that he was building a cool building. He quickly responded, It’s not a building-its an advanced weapons factory.”

When asked by the Primary President what Brigham Young did, young Chad said, "I know he made a team. Brigham Young Cougars."

One day I was asked, "Mom-if our church stops being true...can we play Nintendo on Sunday?" (always thinking)

Once, I was met with this query, “Why are our “eyes” Oh’s ? Our EYES (I's) Oh's (O's) He keeps me on my toes, this one.

Another day Chad pointed out to me that your legs, hands, and elbows are the only parts of your body you can dip. (Where does he come up with this?)

After he started school there was just no holding him back. He came home one day and announced that turtles and chickens can lay eggs so they are oviperous. Then said that mammals don’t lay eggs so they are vivperous. I’ve never checked the accuracy of these statements. Even if they are not true, those are some great made-up words for a 5 year old.

Chad also has a most tender heart, but he often doesn’t let people know that. When he was in Kindergarten, I was making his lunch. Chad said, “Mom, Timmy never has a drink in his lunch at school. Can you pack two today, so that I could give him one?” (Oh my heart!)

Chad still continues to amaze me with his intelligent and observant nature. Happy Birthday Chad! I love you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Here's a novel idea

There is virtually no occasion a cupcake won't provoke a smile...I made these cupcakes the other day...they are yummy. Thought I'd share the recipe...

Coconut Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all purpoe flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (found it on the Asian food aisle)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put cupcake papers in the muffin tin. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, sweetened coconut in a large bowl. Mix coconut milk and vanilla in a small bowl. (I used a liquid measuring cup) Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each to 2/3 full.

3. Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes. (Or until your tester comes out clean) Cool on racks.

I frosted (piled on) with a canned vanilla fluffy frosting and packed on additional coconut. mmmmm.

Now the recipe called for making a frosting, but I just didn't have time. But for those of you with time...

Seven-minute Frosting

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites

1. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the water, an corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook until mixture registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. With mixer on medium-low, pour sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream down the side of bowl. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff peaks form and mixture is cool, about 7 minutes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

more cupcakes

One of my first tender mercies came when I was 15 years old. I was getting my patriarchal blessing. Before I received my blessing, I had been earnestly praying to Heavenly Father. I wanted two things from my patriarchal blessing. Now mind you-these prayers were in secret. No one but Heavenly Father knew the desires of my heart. The two things I wanted…I wanted to know if I was going to be married and be a mother. You see, there is nothing I wanted more than that. But I was an ugly, unloved by boys girl who thought I would never be married. I was embarrassed that that was a desire of my heart. The other thing—I did not want my lineage to be from the house of Ephraim. I wanted to be different. The time came for me to receive my blessing. One of the first blessings I received was a promise from Heavenly Father that I would be a mother in Zion. (YES!) The next part of my blessing was counsel from Heavenly Father telling me how cool it was to be from the house of Ephraim. He made it become a desirable thing. Beyond the blessing itself, what I received from this experience is that Heavenly Father is real. He hears and answers our prayers. Even those of a 15 year old girl.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Red Hat

A few months ago I arrived at my bench in church only to find a stranger there. A woman I did not know. I wondered if she felt comfortable wearing jeans amidst all the dress-wearing women. I noticed she had placed a red hat next to her. I imagined the anticipation she must have felt as she picked out her hat for church. How disappointed or out of place she must have felt when she arrived seeing no one else wearing a hat. My heart went out to her. I slid down the bench and told her how pretty her hat was. She responded with a smile and told me I could have it. Of course I thanked her for her kind offer but told her no. I did tell her it would look super cute on me though and held it up over my head and asked where she bought it. She told me she picked it up yesterday at a store in Los Angeles. (A store, by the way, that I probably wouldn't be able to afford even the shopping bag) She told me that I really could have it and that she would just go get another one for her tomorrow. As I sat there I thought how kind she was and that she totally offered me, a stranger, her hat. I thought, I don't even have a stick of gum or a mint to offer her. I was racking my brain thinking what can I give her? what can I give her? When the still small voice told me that I had a gift to offer her even more precious and valuable than a red hat. I knew what I had to do. Being testimony meeting, I got up and my bore my testimony to this woman. As I returned to my row, this woman stood up and with tears in her eyes hugged me and thanked me for giving her the gospel. And she told me that now I HAD to keep the hat.

Footnote to story-I learned later that this woman had accidentally walked into our church. She was looking for the Catholic church which is further down the road. The missionaries taught her later that week and reported to me that my friend said hello and goodbye. She was moving to Los Angeles but promised to look up the church there.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Songs I Cannot Sing

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." D&C 25:12

My brother, Dave, in his blog mentioned how how he misses singing. (For those of you who don't know, he has been diagnosed with MS.) His story reminded me of one of my favorites I found in the Ensign a few years ago. (I edited it for space.)

I have never forgotten how, in one fleeting moment, the Spirit was powerfully manifest to me through two bright blue eyes.

The eyes belong to Heather, a nine-year-old girl with a keen mind, infectious giggle, and a determined spirit housed in a frame with great physical restrictions. Because of her handicaps, the simplest of life’s activities are major tasks for her.

Unable to verbalize, Heather sends messages with her eyes. She is quite efficient. A direct gaze means yes, and a blink means no. Through a series of questions, gazes, blinks, giggles, and facial expressions, Heather shares her vibrant spirit and brings joy to the lives of those who interact with her.

One Monday morning, Heather and I visited about the previous weekend. Heather indicated to me that she had attended Primary, so I began singing some Primary songs. A smile broke across her face whenever she recognized a song. I sang her my favorite, “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” Then I asked her if she had a favorite song. Immediately her eyes focused on mine and I was suddenly faced with the challenge of determining which song she loved above all others.

Through a series of questions I discovered that her favorite song was one she had heard in Primary. She wasn’t sure which songbook it was in, but knew it was about Jesus. I went through every possible song I could think of. To my dismay and Heather’s disappointment, none of them was the right one.

Heather came to school the next day more determined than ever to find her song. Tucked in her wheelchair was the new Church hymnbook. I positioned myself next to her and, page by page, we made our way through. I sang the first phrase of each song, and each time Heather’s eyes closed in a definite no. Halfway through the book, I began to sing: “There is sunshine in my soul today …”

As if someone had stuck her with a pin, Heather jumped and smiled. Her bright eyes looked directly at me. Together we laughed. “OK, now we can finally sing your favorite song,” I said. She smiled as I sang the first verse, and as I began the chorus she mustered all the effort she could and joined in with occasional sigh-like sounds. As I finished the chorus she looked at me steadily as if to say, “I liked that part.” I was so grateful I had found the song! I asked if she wanted to hear the rest of the verses and she responded with a firm yes. Again I began:

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus listening can hear
The songs I cannot sing …

Heather’s reaction to that line was so strong that I stopped. I looked at her as the reality and significance of the moment pressed on my mind. “Heather, is that what you like about the song?” I asked. “Is that what you want me to know? That Jesus is listening, and he can hear the songs you cannot sing?” She lifted her head and looked me straight in the eyes. The testimony had been borne.

The moment seemed too sacred for further words. I leaned forward and pressed her cheek against my own. Without words, but through the bright blue windows to her soul, the truth had been made known.

Yes, Heather, Jesus, listening, can hear.

Jean Ernstrom, “Jesus, Listening, Can Hear,” Ensign, June 1988, 46–47