Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving "Wilkes" Style!

My family usually doesn't do any holiday "traditionally."

We didn't have the Easter bunny growing up - we had the Easter pig (a javelina that made its way into our backyard one Easter and ate all the hidden eggs).

While I was a tweenager and a teenager, we fed Christmas dinner to the homeless on Christmas day - foregoing our morning of sleeping in and opening presents.

Thanksgiving is no exception! We don't cook turkies in the oven. We cook them in our PIT!

What is a PIT? It's a brick-lined hole in the ground that cooks the meat overnight. Here's the steps.

STEP 1: Mom starts the fire at noon on Wednesday. This is a TREACHEROUS job involving gasoline, an empty milk carton, matches, newspaper, and lots of wood.

STEP 2: Mix the spices. Each turkey/slab of meet is doused in spices. What's in the spices? Only my dad knows!

STEP3: Jared makes the beans (a combo of beans, raw bacon that cooks in the pit, and white onion).

STEP 4: Load up the turkeys/slabs of meat on the table, ready for the assembly line preparation.
The line goes like this:
a. unwrap the bird
b. spice the bird
c. replace the bird back in its aluminum pan
d. double bag the bird in muslin sacks
e. tie a wire around the neck of the bags
f. attach a metal tag with a number on it (how we keep track of who's turkey is who's)
g. place on pallet awaiting fire

STEP 5: Stack the "packages" on a pallet. This year, we put close to 40 "packages" of meat in the pit.

STEP 6: We don't put the sacks right on the fire (for obvious reasons). First, they're soaked in water. Next, a couple of metal plates are lowered on to a lip on the inside of the pit. This cuts out the oxygen and forces the fire to burn down to coals. In the following steps, you'll see how the heat is kept in to do the cooking. In this picture, you can see the huge hooks used to pick up the metal plates and lower them into the pit.

STEP 7: The "packages" are carefully lowered, by hand, on to the metal plates. They're kept flat because as they cook, they secrete yummy juices. You want to keep these juices in the pan...they make amazing gravy!

STEP 8: Put wood planks on top of the pit (no picture!).

STEP 9: Lay a tarp on top of the wood planks (you'll see why in a sec).

STEP 10: Cover the entire area with dirt (hence the need for the tarp - this keeps dirt from getting down in the pit, and into the meat). The dirt is then sprayed with water to make a "seal." No heat escapes!

STEP 11: Cook the meat overnight. Essentially, you have a giant crock pot that is cooking the meat via steaming. There's mequite wood in the bottom, so you have mesquite-smoked, home-spiced meat that falls right off the bone. It is AMAZING and we love doing it every year!

STEP 12: Watch helplessly as your 16 month old finds a giant puddle to play in. Once she found the puddle, she immediately dropped to her knees and started splashing. It was a lot cause.

We sure missed all our family that wasn't with us, and we commented several times about how it just wasn't complete with them all here.

I hope everyone else had as nice of a Thanksgiving! We sure are blessed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Can You Not?

A lot of you have been following Nie Nie.


Watching her sister's blog, C Jane, for updates on how Nie Nie and Mr. Nielsen are doing.




Today, Mr. Nielsen sends his heartfelt thanks.

Go HERE to watch it.

How can you not be touched?

How can you not cry?

How can you not be thankful for everything the Lord has given you?

How can you not donate to their recovery fund (millions of dollars)?

How can you not have a greater testimony of the divine healing power, of prayer, and of family?

It doesn't help that the song in the background is my favorite...

What touches me the most is the way their family has pulled together. Sisters lovingly and without hesitation took in Nie Nie's 4 children, love them, send them to school, and try to make life as normal for them as possible.

I know my family would do the same for Jared and I, and I would do it for them. Because that's what families do.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


What can I say about Twilight?


Was it cheesy? Of course.

Was the music a little strange? Yup.

Were the actors and actresses a little too pasty white? Uh huh.

But I still loved it.

My favorite character in the movie was Alice...maybe I just envied her short hair.

I even loved the character that played James - very creepy.

I ADORED Charlie. A cute, bumbling dad of a teenage daughter who's not really sure what to do. Simply adorable.

I didn't really like Bella, but maybe she'll grow on me.

Rosalie was hot (of course).

My favorite character in the series of books was Jacob. A very complex individual who is torn between so many things! We don't get much of him in the first book, and he didn't become my favorite until the 2nd book. However, I HATED his character in the movie - I'm even pretty sure he wasn't native american.

My favorite scene was when Bella and Jacob were up in the tree, overlooking the river and the forest. Breath Taking.

It was very enjoyable, and I easily sat through it. If you enjoyed the book, you need to see the movie. Yes, it's worth it to see in the theater!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Prankster

We have a prankster in our neighborhood! At least it's not a vandalizer.
Pumpkins are a fall decoration, I think...not just a Halloween decoration. We leave our uncarved pumpkins outside until Thanksgiving is over - yes, they do last that long.

One morning, I drove out of the garage. As I was leaving, I noticed our pumpkins weren't in their usual spots.

They were here...right in front of our garage door.

Thank goodness I didn't run over them!

Then, Saturday morning, we noticed that someone had sliced our pumpkins...

And GUTTED them!

Maybe our friendly pranksters will carve them for us next!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Daddy and His Girl

I love my spouse for many reasons.

The one I'm thinking of this evening is how he tends to our daughter.

Today, he came - exhausted...back thrown out the day before yesterday...


He took our precious wee one outside to play (by rolling rocks down the slide - her favorite)...

So I could cook us a home-cooked family dinner.

It was only cantaloupe, salad, and grilled cheese with avocado.

He was just grateful to have a warm meal cooked by his spouse (me).

Yet another reason why I adore my husband - he loves my cooking.

Latter Day Cottage

Latter Day Cottage is our local LDS Bookstore.

Unfortunately, they are having to close down.

The economy is hitting us all, and I'm afraid we'll see more local, loved businesses have to shut their doors.

Right now, the entire store is 30% off.

Naturally, they're wanting to sell as much as they can!

Need gifts? Pictures for the home? FHE manuals? They have it all!

I'm going tomorrow...I hope something is left!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Scripture Study with Toddlers?

Is that even possible?

Not only is it possible, it is very important.

Jared and I have been struggling to find a way to get into a regular scripture study habit with our not-a-still-muscle-in-her-body 16 month old.

However, we found something that works, so I thought I'd share. AND IT'S SIMPLE.

We have chosen after Sariah's bath. She's clean, calm, and willing to sit on your lap and snuggle for a few minutes.

We choose to read in the scriptures in order - but only read one verse. We pick out ONLY THE KEY VERSE in any chapter or story. Some chapters have several key verses. Those chapters, we'll spend a few nights on and read one verse a night.

For us, that's the key - one verse. We talk about it for 30 seconds, and then Sariah's off.

As my friend said, you have to change your patterns as your family grows and gets larger.

For now, this works for us. Jared and I still have our scripture study at night before we go to bed, and this is where we really get to discuss the scriptures between the two of us. I hope that we will always make time for our couple scripture study because it's a time of the day that I treasure with my spouse.

My sincere counsel to you today is to recommit yourselves to these two basic practices that have been the source of so many blessings for the Saints in Peru. Never let a day go by without holding family prayer and family scripture study. Put this, the Lord's program, to the test; and see if it does not bless your home with greater peace, hope, love, and faith. I promise you that daily family prayer and scripture study will build within the walls of your home a security and bonding that will enrich your lives and prepare your families to meet the challenges of today and the eternities to come.

Elder L. Tom Perry

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What's Black, White, and Red all over?

Not a newspaper.

Not a skunk with a diaper rash.

Not a blushing nun.

Not a panda with the measles.

It's Sariah!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Mother's Letter To Her Children

One of the things I admire about my mom is her ability to write.

She's eloquent.

She speaks her mind.

I love to read what she writes, and here's what she shared with her children yesterday (before Obama's declared victory):

Good Election Afternoon Everyone:

If you all will indulge me for a few minutes, I just want to share some of my thoughts with you. This is an historic day for many reasons and I feel very emotional at what is happening in our country.

I grew up in the 60's. I was in high school and college. I remember segregation. I remember lynchings. I remember sit ins. I remember the first black students who went to an all white high school in Alabama. I watched the news of the beatings and hate filled rhetoric. I listened to my father speak quietly about all people being entitled to an education, and to dignity.

I went to Tucson High School and rubbed shoulders with black classmates, Hispanic classmates, Asian (mostly Chinese) classmates. I remember the subtle forms of discrimination that occurred in my own high school, and I hated it.

Today, we are witnesses of an event that has and will change the course of American History. A black man is one of two candidates for President of the United States. This would have been absolutely unthinkable when I was a teenager. In 45 years, a short time as history goes, we have been able to overcome our disgraceful treatment of black citizens to the point where we might elect a black president. Regardless of whom you voted for or how you feel about the issues, this is an historic moment. You will tell your grandchildren about this day.

I know that I am in the minority in our family with regard to my politics. I am more moderate than the rest of you and in carefully weighing all the issues, and I did study them carefully, I chose to vote for Obama. I think it is important for us to be able to make choices that are different from one another and still know that our choices are part of our free agency. I don't want us to think we all have to be the same, think the same, vote the same, etc. I want there to always be a place in this family for each of us to search our own conscience and do what we think is best. That is what I did and I know that is what each of you did.

I also want us to be respectful of each other's choices. There are many right ways to be a good person, a good citizen, and a good member of the church. We can exercise our agency respectfully and differently and all be "right".

So, enjoy the election returns tonight, and remember that this is an historic night and one we all will remember for the rest of our lives. We live in a great country that is currently facing enormous challenges. Our new president will need our prayers and our support.

Love, Mom

Well said, mom. Well said.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Have you voted today?

I don't know about you, but this election has been particularly hard for me.

Both candidates have very strong parts to their platform.

Both candidates have very weak parts to their platform.


Economy/Job Security/Housing Market.


The War.


Marriage Defined.

Living in today's world is very difficult, and our political leaders are not honest. They are not moral. They are not thinking of America. They are thinking of themselves. I find this incredibly unsettling because they determine what will happen to my future, so to speak.

Because of that, I take voting very seriously.

I had to choose one candidate to vote for.

I didn't want to vote for either one, but I needed to exercise my right to vote.

I chose. No...WE chose. Jared and I chose together.

WE chose the candidate that WE feel is the "lesser of two evils."

WE researched. WE prayed. WE pondered. WE disagreed for a long time.


Will it be the right decision? Only time will tell.

Please vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cutest Bumble Bee EVER!

Sariah was an adorable bumble bee for Halloween. We went to our ward's Trunk-or-Treat for the evening, but only stayed an hour or so. We then came home, crashed on the couch, and handed out candy to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. We had a lot of fun, and can't wait to do it again next year!

Here's our girl, in her little outfit. This one's blurry - she won't sit still for even half of a second!

With mommy (who had a bee clip in my hair):

Our little wanderer - wasn't too interested in the whole asking for candy thing. She just wanted to roam!

She ended up in the trunk - she figured out that's where the good stuff was. She promptly found a Butterfinger and started eating it - wrapper and all.

That's pretty much it - very low key. What shall she be next year? Last year, she was a caterpillar. This year, a bee. Next year - another member of the insect family? We'll see!