Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Moab again

Our plan for Memorial day weekend was to camp and explore close to home. The Wasatch national forest is beautiful and has some great biking and scenery, but when it started raining while i was packing and the weather report said 60% chance of rain, we gladly changed our plan and headed south. We had been planning to make this trip with our friends the Judds for a while, and let them lead the way towards a camping spot. We ended up by the San Rafael Swell where there were supposed to be some slot canyons for exploration. By the time we got to the spot, it was pitch dark and the sandstorm blizzard in full gear. With the help of some flashlights, we barely managed to set up our humongous new tent
Miles was perfectly happy hanging out with Winter in her sleeping bag while I made his own bed.
On Saturday after breakfast we started driving to find the slot canyons. The wind was howling and everything was whited-out by the dust. We drove for hours, and never did find any hiking spots. Finally, we decided we had had enough of this place, and that Moab would be a better place to be.
Rolling into Moab, the storm was just dying down. By the time we found our camping spot (at an actual campground, since we'd had enough driving for the day) the weather was nice enough to have foil dinners on our fire. Mmmm! How I love a good foil dinner. Tiffani did a great job fancying it up with cream soup and yummy spices.
Tiffani's style of camping reminded me of the "Pampered Chef" she is. Their trailer has everything you have in a regular kitchen including a freezer. She has all the tools any person would long for in a regular kitchen, let alone a camping trailer.
The kids entertained themselves with reading
Playing with sticks and pokies
We enjoyed ourselves with the Judd's 4-wheelers. (No infants were harmed in taking this photo)
And of course we had some good times telling stories and roasting marshmallows around the campfire.
The next day we drove to the other side of the river off Potash road to Wall Street. These cliffs have many rock climbing routes, some harder than other. Winter was a bit comprehensive at first, since this wall looks quite different from the wall at the gym. Their practice at the gym has paid off though. The climbs were just right for them. We did 4 different routes, some harder than others. What was supposed to be a few hours of climbing, turned into an all day activity. And my arms got a good workout from belaying!
Monday morning we went for a quick swim in the Colorado river before going to Canyonlands National Park for a peek at Mesa arch. This arch isn't as impressive as delicate arch, but the landscape in the background is amazing. And the dropoff right behind the arch is dizzying.
This weekend was a great camping weekend, which is why we love living in Utah. We love everything associated with camping, including dust, campfire smell, dirty clothes, and dirty babies.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maple Canyon

On the way home from Fillmore, we followed uncle Joe and Adam to Maple Canyon for some rock climbing. Adam is somewhat of a pro, and I had been dying to see him in action. He truely is amazing! Hanging from 2 fingers, upside down. Lead climbing sections where if he falls, he'd hit the other side of the rocks and tumble halfway to the ground. 

Joe had a go at some climbs too. I sat this one out, still being sore from a weight lifting class I attended on Friday morning. Next time we'll have to make sure to get some harnesses for the kids, as they were very disappointed not to be able to climb.
 Miles was fussy, so I tried feeding him, rocking him, and bouncing, but in the end he was the happiest laying on the ground
 We had the chance to see the Lunar Eclipse. Our upstairs neighbor Brent came up with the brilliant idea to use a welding helmet to look at the sun without damaging our eyes. So I used this piece of dark glass to photograph the eclipse. Maybe it's time to invest in some dark filters...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Grandpa AC turns 91

Since moving to Utah, the kids get to see grandma and grandpa a lot. This weekend they came up for Great grandpa AC's 91st birthday, and of course we got to spend some quality time with grandma too. Friday afternoon she came to our house, when the kids enjoyed some one-on-one attention and story time.
 Grandma usually has quite the touch when it comes to babies, but for some reason Miles was not having it.
 This morning after cooking waffles and taking Winter on a shopping trip to the local quilt shop, mom drove down to Fillmore with me and the kids. Joe has been in Moab for the last few days mountain biking with Stephen Sidwell. I pretty much think he's in heaven. Driving his Jeep down to Moab, with his bike on the rack

 Since Joe refuses to write on his own blog, I guess I have to hijack his riding photos, and share what he's been up to. At the top of Porcepine rim
 Monkeying around. Reliving the glory days.
Down in Fillmore the kids had lots of fun with their cousins.

It makes me so happy to see Sterling having such a good friend in his cousin Levi, especially since he doesn't have a brother close in age.
Grandpa AC and his cute new wife Madge
 Grilling up some burgers and hot dogs with uncle Cleve.
 Miles prefers his bouncy seat
 It was fun to catch up with uncle Joe, Adam, and Rozy. I haven't seen Rozy since Joe and I were engaged 12 years ago. She changed from a 14 year old teenager to a mother of 2.5.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Miles' 2nd haircut

Miles has some amazing hair. He got his first cut when he was only 8 weeks old. 

Now only 6 weeks later his hair was completely out of control!
 His hair might be cute that long, but I prefer a more moderate "faux hawk"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cafe Rio Pulled Pork Burritos Recipe

If you know me, you know how much I love Cafe Rio's pulled pork burritos. This weekend I decided to find the recipe and make it myself, to treat myself for mother's day. I got the recipes from different websites, and in the end, my enchilada style burrito tastes exactly like the ones from Cafe Rio. Even the post-eating food-induced coma is coming on just as it should!
Pulled Pork
3-4 lb. Pork Butt or Shoulder Roast
2 small cans El Pato Tomato sauce (found in the mexican aisle, this is a key ingredient)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups brown sugar

Wrap pork completely with foil, place in crock pot and pour ½ cup water around roast. Cook for 8 hours on low. (YES, 8 hours! The longer you cook a pork roast, the easier it is to shred, the more tender it is, the more delicious it is. 8 hours is key!) Remove roast, drain juices, remove fat and shred. Dump the tomato sauces and brown sugar into the crockpot, stir together and add shredded pork back in. Cook two additional hours on low.

Cilantro Lime Rice
2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken broth
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ tsp. salt
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbs. butter

Combine rice, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and the juice from 1 lime in a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook according to package directions. When rice is cooked, juice the additional lime and add in butter. Stir to incorporate.

Green Enchilada Sauce 
2-3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 green peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and membranes removed if desired (and I desire. Always.)
1 1/2 lb. tomatillos, husked and quartered or halved
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
4 c. chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp. sugar (optional and to taste; the sauce Cafe Rio uses seems to be slightly sweet, so if I’m using this sauce for enchilada-style burritos, I generally add a little sugar, but for everything else, I leave it out.)
In a large saucepan or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until tender and fragrant.
While onions are sauteeing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro in your blender. Process until smooth; you may have to do it in batches and/or add some chicken broth to make things blendable. Add the onions and garlic to the blender.
Pour the blended mixture in the large stockpot and add chicken broth, salt, pepper, and cumin. Simmer 15 minutes-1 hour, depending on the consistency you want. I usually turn the heat to high and boil it uncovered until I reach the consistency I want; it makes things go a lot faster. The sauce can also be simmered in a slow cooker all day.

Additional ingredients
Tortillas, preferably homemade or uncooked tortillas for authentic flavor
Colby jack cheese
Romaine lettuce, shredded or finely chopped
Black beans, warmed

Roll up rice, beans, pork, enchilada sauce, and cheese in large tortilla to form the burrito. Slather with a big ladle full of the green enchilada sauce and additional Monterey Jack cheese on top. Place in the oven at 450-degrees until cheese is melted. Serve with lettuce and pico de gallo

Using these recipes, you can easily make 10 burritos, and costs somewhere around $25 for all the ingredients. That sure beats $8 a pop at Cafe Rio!


Priorities in our lives

Brothers and sisters, my name is Jessica Ashurst.  We moved into the ward a few months ago with our four children. As I am looking into the room, I will admit that in a room full of former bishops, lifelong members, among so many other impressive people, I feel anxious about saying just the right thing to all of you, especially on Mother’s day.

So, I am just going to be myself.  Normally when I give a talk, I spend hours researching quotes from tons of talks, and I substitute others words for my own. I often feel inadequate because I just never can say things as beautifully as all of those other people.

Let me share with you something I am passionate about.  I love taking pictures.  If I ever forget to bring my camera with me, I wish I did.  I find myself constantly wishing I had brought it to this random place or that.  Mostly I take pictures of my kids to document their lives as things naturally happen, sort of a photo journalism approach.  I photograph my children or our daily lives, catching the precise moment with the background out of focus, training my eye on the most interesting part of the frame.  

I Don’t take pictures of “not baking bread” of “not doing family home evening” or “not picking apples in orchard to make homemade applesauce” . Why don’t I take pictures of these things?  Because life isn’t about things that we don’t do.  Life is really just like my camera lens and the question is, what do I want to  focus on?   In those frames, sometimes when taking a picture of my child who is playing in a messy room, I adjust the shot to get the right angle to crop out the mess of daily life. When I take a shot of my family playing in the yard, I choose to snap the picture with the beautiful tree in the background rather than a neighbors rusty trailer.  The purpose of this is to celebrate the beautiful moments in our lives.  It does not mean that those trailers are missing in or that we don’t have messes ourselves, but rather we can choose to focus our attention on the good things in our lives. As we have learned in the Article of faith 13. “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things”

In April 2001, Richard G Scott gave a talk called “First things First” where he spoke about the eternal nature of families. I sat down and was talking to my cousin about this, and found I didn’t know the right thing to say about such a sensitive subject as everyone’s family and life experiences. Especially since everyone has such unique experiences.  

As we were talking about this subject, I felt inadequate because there are so many things that I’m not doing enough of. How can I talk about living and creating an eternal family when I don’t always read my scriptures every day. Often I don’t get up on time to curl my girls hair on Sundays because for me that extra 15 minutes of sleep is so worth it.

I was surprised at her response.  I found that I tend to focus on the mess in the background, the rusty trailers, the unread bedtime stories.  I did not realize how focused I was on these elements until she smiled and said, “Comparison is the thief of Joy.”   So where is my lens focused? Whatever we seek, we will find. If we look for beauty as we are commanded in article of faith 13, we will find it. And if we look to find our shortcomings, we will find that too. History books are written about things that people actually did. Not about what they thought about doing, or wish they had done but didn’t have time for or get around to.

In his talk Richard G Scott asks” what are my highest priorities to be accomplished while on earth?”  and continues “how do I spend my discretionary time?”  and “is some of that consistently applied to highest priorities?”

So what are my priorities? In my family, loving my kids, sharing with them our love of the outdoors, which is why we moved here to Midway, and doing small things to knit our family closer together is our family’s priority at this phase in life.  

In the frontier times, people spent all day with their families just to provide food, shelter, and the basic necessities of life.  Through these daily chores, it is easy to see how they were able to create close bonds with their families.  In modern times, how can we replicate such a feeling?  

We can get excited with our children. Doing the little things. They are not looking for major life changing moments every day. But for the everyday moments like making a skirt out of fabric scraps, reading a story, or tucking them into bed at night.  

My son gave me this mothers day card.
He loves me this much.

 In it he thanks me for the things that make me “the best mother HE has ever known” and I quote “you buys us clothes and shoes. You make us dinner, and lots of other things”  My son doesn’t love me because I do his laundry, or because he has clean socks in his drawer. Not for making a fancy new recipe, or for trying out some pinteresting home decorating scheme. He loves me for the small things I do for him each day. Because every day I do my best. And some days, my best looks very different than other days, but at the end of the day, my best is enough. That’s just what I have to learn to remember.

I got more than one card. My daughter wrote an acronym for my name Jessica Ashurst.
English, actually I’m dutch
I am common
Anxious, which after asked her about it, she actually thinks means easily exciteable
I am stressed out
I am run
I am strict
and I train.

What did I do when I saw this list? I’m sure many of you can imagine. I picked out all the less flattering traits. But I also realised that she thinks I have a great singing voice, I never realised she paid any attention to my singing. My 10 year old daughter also thinks I am interesting. She sees me sewing, and also started learning to sew. She has watched movies of my dancing in the past, and Friday night I got to see her beaming with pride while square dancing for the first time.  

These cards represent real life.  Everyone has moments they are proud of, and some things they would rather were not on the list.  Brothers and sisters, what are our highest priorities in life, where should we focus our lens?  We can beat ourselves up for every shortcoming in our lives, but just as the wayward prodigal son returned beat up and in despair over his choices, his father had his arms outstretched to receive him.  After all, when we are blessed to return to our father, the question is not if he will accept us, but whether or not we trust Him enough to come back after doing all that we can do, doing our very best, whatever that may be, and allowing Him to embrace us in all of our imperfections.  

In the name of Jesus Christ

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pinewood Derby

Sterling participated in his first pinewood derby. With the help of Joe for construction, and me for painting, he put together a great car. He calls it "The crayon box". Google is our friend when it comes to car designs!

I didn't realize how goofy he looked in this photo, or I would have snapped another one. But I guess it's good to keep things real. He is one goofy kid!

Winter and Ginger used the cars Joe and I made for a Varsity derby back in 2005, to test out the track. 
 Miles was happy as a clam. Some days he can be such a pill, but tonight he was an angel!
 Joe got very involved when it came to the wheels and extra lead weight. They spent up to the very last minute weighing it in to the perfect 5oz.
Ready, set, race. The crayon box won 2 out of 3 heats. Not too bad for a practically rectangular box!

 Sterling won the "Most creative" award. He sure loves doing projects with his dad, and also winning things. He was one happy bear tonight!

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