Sep 10

Delicious White Chicken Chili Soup

White chicken chili

I recently discovered one of my favorite soups ever! I’ve decided it needs to become a staple at our house. I got this recipe from my cousin, Heather Dixon. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

White Chicken Chili

First, you need:

1 lb chicken breast in pieces (can add more or less if desired)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 & 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

These you fry up together.

white chicken soup

fried chicken onion chili


Then, add the chicken mixture into a crock pot with:

2 cans of great northern beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can chicken broth
2 cans chopped green chilies (they come in little cans)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)

great northern beans recipeswhite bean soup

green chili chicken soup

Then, cook in crock pot on low for 4-6 hours (I’ve cooked for less time and it still turns out fine!)

Right before serving, whisk in:

1 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

Sour cream chicken chili

And that’s what I call heaven in a crock pot. Yummy! 

Let me know how you like it!

White chicken chili

Creamy chicken bean soup


Sep 06

Creative Alternative to Water Balloons!

I recently went to a family reunion where we played water games and I thought that this idea was genius.

Perfect for water fights! It’s kind of a mix between a hose and squirt gun and a water balloon – a long snake water balloon that is reusable and doesn’t pop!

What’s the secret?

Surgical Tubes! 

Just cut the surgical tube up into, I don’t know – say, 12 inch long strings. Then tie one of the ends in a knot, and then fill up like you would a water balloon – only don’t tie off the open end (because that’s what you’ll use to squirt people with).

Then hang the hose around you your neck (the material is strong enough that you can fill it up quite a bit – most of us had it so that each side almost touched the ground). Hold the open end closed with your fingers, and then get each other wet! We played capture the flag with these, where everyone had their own surgical tube “water weenie,” and it was lots of fun.

My sister Lisa and I were experimenting with them and we discovered a cool trick – if you hold the “water weenie” above your head facing up, it acts just like one of those crazy daisy water toys that spirals around like a sprinkler! So much fun 🙂

Apparently you can also get surgical tubes of all sizes, to make thicker hoses and switch it up to make it even more fun! I’m excited to experiment with that.

homemade crazy daisy sprinkler


Have you ever tried this? How did it go? Do you have any additional insights or ideas?

Aug 07

How to Make Giant Bubbles!

homemade giant bubbles

This is one of my favorite summer time activities! My mom introduced me to it, and we’ve done it at family reunions, parties, etc.! It’s so fun and simple that I have to share. The lovely lady in the pictures is my 92 year old grandma 🙂


How to Make the Bubble Solution:

What you’ll need:
  • 12 cups Purified Water
    (We don’t always use the purified water, so regular water is fine and cheaper. However, the purified water probably works a little better because it doesn’t have the extra minerals in it that might affect how well the bubbles work).
  • 5 cups Unscented and uncolored Dish washing Soap (such as Dawn)
  • 1/2 cup Corn Syrup
    (The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup glycerin, but corn syrup works just as well and it is much cheaper!)
Pour the water into a bucket or clean plastic container. Pour the dishwashing soap into the water. Then mix it gently with a wooden spoon. Pour the corn syrup in. Mix gently again. (You don’t want ANY bubbles). Also I understand that if you let the bubble solution sit overnight it will work even better.
I don’t have any pictures yet for how to make the wooden wands, but you can see step-by-step instructions for that here.

I’ll try to update this post to include all the instructions when I get the chance!

As you can see, these are so much fun for any age! 🙂


huge bubble tutorial


how to make gigantic bubbles


biggest bubble in the world


Jul 28

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad

This is my favorite go-to recipe when I’m looking for something easy, cheap, and yummy to bring to a potluck or just something quick to whip together for lunch. My mom’s recipe. I love this salad!

Chinese Chicken Noodle Salad

Place on cookie sheet, and broil the following in the oven until golden brown:

1 package (chicken) Ramen noodles, crushed up

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Sesame seeds (optional)

*Be sure not to broil too long so they don’t burn black!


In a large bowl, mix together the following ingredients:

1 package coleslaw (or the equivalent of chopped up green cabbage)

At least 1/2 lb. cooked chicken, cut in small pieces (I usually use canned chicken because it’s easier)

Your toasted Ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds


For the sauce, mix together:

3/8 cup oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons vinegar

1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar

3/4 Ramen seasoning package

Soy sauce to taste (optional – I usually add a 1/2 Tablespoon at least)

chicken raman salad recipe

Add the sauce to the salad just before serving and mix well.

(Sometimes I add a little red cabbage, shredded carrot, or cut up raw spinach to give it more color and make it healthier).

Hope you enjoy!


Mar 22

Easy Way to Keep Apples from Turning Brown

I found my new favorite way to keep apples from turning brown! My mom introduced me to this technique a few days ago. She uses it all the time when packing school lunches for my younger sisters, and they love it. It’s called “True Lemon” (crystallized lemon). She found it in the spice section of the grocery store–it’s pretty much lemon juice substitute in powder form. And it has all natural ingredients so I feel OK about using it. Ingredients: citric acid, lemon oil, lemon juice, vitamin C, and maltodextrin (maltodextrin is a natural sweetener derived from starch. I’m not too concerned about it). The bottle was about $4 but it’ll last a long time, so I think it’s worth it.

sack lunch ideas

Just sprinkle some on and it keeps it nice and white until you’re ready to eat! So much easier and less messy than trying to squeeze lemon juice all over them 🙂  The longer you wait to eat the apple, the more the flavor soaks into the actual apple. My sisters described as “lemonadey.”
How to keep apples from turning brown

Note: If you don’t like lemon juice on apples, this may not be something you’ll enjoy. I love it! But it does give it a bit of a zing 🙂

I’m excited to try crystallized lemon on other things – it says you can use it in baking, on seafood and meat, and as a lemon juice substitute. I want to try it in place of lemon pepper and see how it goes.

Mar 19

Object Lesson Idea: Teaching about the Atonement

I think that it can sometimes be difficult to clearly explain the law of justice and the law of mercy, and how the atonement fits into this. It’s kind of deeper doctrine that can seem a little abstract. Anyway, I found this object lesson to be quite clever- a great way to help visualize these concepts and make the principles more concrete.  This idea came to me while reading Alma 34:16 on my mission, and it just clicked, so I wanted to share.

Hopefully I’ll explain it in a way so it’s easily understood. If you have any questions or insights to add, please comment below!

balloon tape object lesson


What you’ll need:
A balloon
A pin
Masking tape

What each object represents:
Pin = Sin (Law of Justice)
Tape = Atonement of Jesus Christ  (Law of Mercy)
Balloon = Your eternal potential (Ability to become like & return to live with Heavenly Father)

*I’ll expand on this later in the post

Scriptures to prayerfully study:
Mosiah 15 & 16
Alma 34 (especially verses 8-17 & 30-34)
Alma 42

The Importance of the Atonement

I think whenever we teach about the atonement it’s important to emphasize the crucialness of the atonement, by somehow painting a picture of what things would be like without it. This is exactly what many prophets in the Book of Mormon did, such as King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, etc.

It’s important because, if we truly understand the needfulness of the atonement, it makes us more likely to exercise the faith and repentance necessary to make the atonement work in our lives. But if its importance doesn’t sink deeply enough into our hearts, we’re likely to take it for granted and not be as motivated to take the steps to apply the atonement to ourselves.

It is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.” (Alma 34:9)

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use the terms Atonement and Mercy synonymously here (since the atonement is what brings about the law of mercy).

Balloon & Tape Object Lesson

Important Principles to Understand:

1. The Law of Justice

lds object lesson atonement

What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:25)

God abides by the law of justice. This is His law.

The law of justice is like the law of gravity or any other law of physics. When you walk off a diving board, there’s a natural consequence. When you put a pin through a balloon, it pops. You can’t avoid the consequence- it’s inevitable. Likewise, if we sin, there is a punishment: separation from God’s presence, because “no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God.” (1 Nephi 10:21)

Let’s suppose for a minute that there were no atonement. If you made a mistake, even once, in your life, you would be banished from Heavenly Father’s presence forever. You blew it- no second chances. That’s how the law of justice works.

(To demonstrate this, you might even want to have two balloons, so that you can pop one and use the other later).

2. The Law of Mercy

Thankfully, there is an atonement. We all have sinned, but because of the atonement, there is a second chance. The law of mercy can balance out the law of justice.

Put a piece of masking tape on the balloon and ask someone to stick the pin through the balloon where the tape is. (The balloon should not pop).

Pin in balloon doesn't popballoon tape experiment

Explain that the tape represents the atonement and then discuss the following scriptures:

  • Alma 34:15-16

This being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.”

“And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety”

(I love this! It fits so perfectly into the balloon analogy!)

  • Mosiah 15:8-9

And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—
Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.”

Explain that the tape is what protects the balloon from being “exposed to the whole demands of the law of justice,” just as Jesus Christ, through his atonement, stands between us and justice, if we will take advantage of his atonement.

3. We Must Do Our Part

It’s important to emphasize that–even though Christ atoned for our sins– if we don’t repent and take the steps required to access God’s mercy, it’s as if there were no atonement made.

Suggested scriptures to read/discuss:

  • Mosiah 16:4-5

But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God”

  • Alma 34:16

And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.”

  • Alma 11:41

Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made”

Explain that not repenting of our sins is like having the masking tape right in front of us, but not applying it to our balloon. It is then exposed to the whole law of justice because there is no safety net. The atonement takes absolutely no effect in our lives if we neglect to do our part.

You could end by bearing testimony and expressing gratitude for the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Balloon tape object lesson

*                    *                        *                    *

One other thought I had to expand on this –

If you use a helium balloon it makes the analogy even more powerful. Because, if you let go the balloon will float heavenward, symbolic of our ability to return to God’s presence and reach our full potential! (Does that make sense?) You could even take this object lesson outside for more of a dramatic effect. Once the tape is applied, show that, despite our inevitable mistakes, the atonement makes it possible for us to still be able to return home.


Disclaimer: I’m not claiming that this is a perfect analogy. (I think any analogy can probably be extrapolated too far until it no longer makes sense). But I do think it does an excellent job of getting the message across of the basic concepts of the atonement, the laws of justice/mercy and how they work together for our good.

Have you ever used this object lesson before? How did it go? Any thoughts?

Mar 07

Review of Emmanuel’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Provo

Feeling like Mexican? I recommend trying out Emmanuel’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Provo. It’s become my favorite restaurant recently! I’m very impressed. The food is great and the price is right.

Note: I’m going to try to make this review as detailed as possible to hopefully be of help to any first-time goers who might want some recommendations before ordering. Ready? Let’s talk about food 🙂

Why I like Emmanuel’s:

1. Best chimichangas ever!!!

I’ve never gotten the regular chimichanga (pictured below), but the kids meal one was great.  I did pay a dollar more for meat (instead of just bean & cheese, which is the default for kid’s meal) but looking back I think bean & cheese would have been just fine too. It comes with one side – either beans or rice. I also got it smothered with chile verde sauce ($1.25 extra), which was very good and not too spicy.  I really liked it. Next time I might try smothering it in enchilada sauce. Or I might just try it plain. It comes with sour cream! No avocado with the kids meal, but that’s okay.

One note: So my mom got the regular sized bean & cheese chimichanga, which ended up being way too much for her- she couldn’t finish it. She liked it, but it was a little too much beans for her with also having beans on the side (she didn’t eat the ones on the side). Next time she would get the kid’s meal size and probably get chicken inside it.

One thing to be aware of is that the regular chimichanga apparently is not exactly as shown in the picture below. According to my mom, there’s only one slice of avocado, not as many tomatoes as shown, no olives, but it did come with more lettuce. (Got this image from their Facebook page). But nevertheless, their chimichangas are fabulous!

Mexican restaurant ratings provo

2. The portions are HUGE!

I got a kid’s meal chimichanga (only $5.50) and it was plenty. I bet the regular one could be split between two people, unless you’re like super duper hungry and can eat a lot. My husband got the special (one chicken burrito, and a few flautas) and he could hardly finish it. Alex and I like to split a meal when going out to eat to save money (that way we can go out to eat twice as often!). We didn’t this time because it was for my birthday, but we’ll definitely be doing that next time because it’s plenty of food for two!

3. Salsa bar

They have a help-yourself bar with salsa, peppers, onions, chopped cilantro, limes, etc. and a couple of sauces to choose from: some sort of tomatillo green sauce (kinda spicy, but very very good!) and an orange sauce (quite spicy and kind of different tasting- I wasn’t really a big fan of it). The salsa is quite spicy too, but good. I really like that they have limes and cilantro! Those are my favorite.

4. To-die-for Nachos.

mexican restaurant provo

OK so I’ve never personally gotten the nachos, but this will definitely be the next thing I try. I’ve seen them and they look absolutely wonderful. My dad ordered them and he loved them!  He said they were the best nachos he’d ever had. Apparently at Emmanuel’s they make their own chips (seasoned too!) and the nachos come with yummy steak bits (if you get carne asada), refried beans, cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. But these aren’t just your old regular throw-it-all-on-a-plate-and-call-it-nachos nachos. It’s more than a bunch of chips with toppings piled on top – the yumminess is all layered throughout the whole thing, making each bite a delicious mouthful! Yeah. That’s how I like to make my nachos at home. You can tell I’m writing this while I’m hungry. In fact, I’m sorely tempted to go over there right now and get these nachos! If only I had a car…

My sister Lisa also tried them. She said they were really good. She personally would have preferred if they had more fresh stuff on it (like lettuce and tomatoes) on top, which I can totally understand because I like having more fresh stuff on my Mexican food too. In fact, sometimes I even chop up my own extra lettuce and tomatoes and bring it with me when I go to Cafe Rio, so I can eat my enchiladas exactly how I like them! Actually, I’ve only done that once, haha 🙂

UPDATE: We went back and got the carne asada nachos. We asked for an extra plate and the cashier asked us if we were going to split, and they actually brought it out to us as 2 half-portions on separate plates! That was super nice. It wasn’t quite as layered as I thought it would be, but I think it’s because it was’t as needful since it wasn’t all on one plate. They didn’t layer the sour cream and guacamole throughout, which is what they did when my dad ordered it (but I actually prefer it on the side anyway). It was pretty good! We liked it. I really liked squeezing lots of lime juice on it 🙂 Next time I think we’re going to try it with shredded chicken, to see how we like that as well.

5. Wonderful Salads

I love their salads! I think they’re even better than Cafe Rio salads (just my personal opinion), and I love Cafe Rio salads. Why better? 1) It seems like they’re just as big (the tortilla may not be quite as huge and thick but I don’t mind). 2) They also seem more fresh/healthy, which I like (they include tomatoes and olives and don’t have all the chips on top – I think they might have more lettuce too). 3) They’re more nicely put together (not just thrown on a plate like at Cafe Rio). They still have the meat, rice, and beans, but I like it better because the beans at Emanuel’s are not all soupy like at Cafe Rio, so the salad turns out less soggy. Also, it seems like when I get a salad at Cafe Rio sometimes the rice, beans, and/or meat aren’t always super hot, but it seems like everything’s fresh off the grill at Emanuel’s. 4) Their green salad dressing is very good! It’s similar to Cafe Rio’s but with a little more of a zing of something.

Last time we went, Alex and I decided that our favorite thing to order now at Emanuel’s is a big salad to split and a kid’s chimichanga with chile verde sauce. It’s now our favorite thing to order when we go together. Great combo!

6. High-quality food

I really like how they offer high quality meat and other ingredients (and at a great price!) It’s not just ground beef – it’s shredded beef or bits of steak, or shredded chicken, and you can tell the sauces and other stuff are really good quality too. When you walk in, it seems like it’s going to be fast food quality, but it’s much better. I’ve been less than impressed at a couple of other Mexican restaurants I’ve tried where they have burritos stuffed with refried beans and smothered with cheese, but not much else. Yes, very filling and I’ll eat it, but it’s nothing I couldn’t easily just throw together at home.

7. Decent prices

Yummy food at a great price. Especially since the portions are so big. This is perhaps the biggest perk and why we keep going back! If I remember correctly, it ranges from about $5 to $10. The combos are usually $8-$10.

One word of caution –

So my husband probably wouldn’t get the chicken burrito again, just because it was way too much meat for him. It was stuffed entirely of meat (no beans or rice) and was humongous. He said jokingly, “I think there’s a whole chicken in my burrito!'” But they do offer other good burritos that have more variety of stuff inside, so I’d try one of those instead.* He liked the flautas that came with the burrito though – I tried them and they kind of remind me of giant taquitos, with a harder shell. I don’t know that I’d get them again, but they were good.

*I’ll tell you what you should try: the House Burrito. We tried it today and it is amazing! I almost want to add an 8th bullet point above just devoted to it. It’s filled with steak, shredded chicken, black beans, cabbage, cheese and BACON. It’s so flavorful and yummy! And the bacon isn’t just little bacon bits but nice big, thick pieces. I am going to recommend it to my dad. I think he would love it. 

*               *               *               *


We went back the other day and tried the enchiladas. We got the three meat enchilada platter., with 1 pulled pork enchilada and 2 shredded chicken. They were very good. I can’t think of much else to say about them. The enchilada platters aren’t quite as big/filling compared to some of the other meals we’ve ordered there (we split it but both could have eaten a little more). Oh and FYI, you’ll need to order sour cream separately as it doesn’t come with it. Now after having tried all three of the sauces they offer at Emmanuel’s (enchilada, chile verde, and tomatillo) I’ve decided that my favorite is the chile verde. I think we’re going to get the tacos next time! We saw them and they look super good!

Oh, I so love Mexican food. Now I’m craving it, bad. Time to eat!


Mar 06

Some Thoughts on Charity

I’ve been thinking a lot about charity, and discovered some really cool insights, which I want to share!

charity lds christ

Charity is Pure

Moroni 7:47 tells us that Charity is the pure love of Christ. A pure substance is one that is free from any kind of contamination. It is only that substance, not tainted with anything else.

Later on in verse 48 Moroni encourages us to “Pray to the Father …that ye may be FILLED with this love.” Well how can our hearts be filled with charity if they are already filled with other things, like anger or other unChristlike feelings? So we must pray first that our hearts may be EMPTIED, in order to make room to be filled.

But is it enough to just empty it partway?

No. Because even if there is a little itty bit of anger, jealousy, or malice left in your heart, when the PURE love of Christ is figuratively poured into it, it is no longer pure, which means it is no longer charity. Charity cannot co-exist with uncharitable feelings, or it becomes twisted and tainted, and we become self-deceived, thinking we have attained charity when in reality we are still far from it.

Possessing Charity Makes Us Pure!

Moroni 7:48 says how we should pray for charity “with all the energy of heart . . .that we may be purified even as He [Christ] is pure.” So this clearly is saying that charity can be a cleansing agent. Having charity not only purifies our hearts, but also  sanctifies our whole being.

Charity Never Faileth.

For me, this one of the most powerful statements ever made in scripture. Never is a strong word. You know those times when you feel you’re in a predicament that there is no solution to? Here Heavenly Father tells us that there is a panacea to help us succeed in ANY situation. Charity NEVER fails. Wouldn’t we all be willing to do anything to have access to a fix-anything tool at any given moment? We’d want to use it first thing, not as a last resort, because well, duh- it never fails! Of course, this doesn’t mean that having charity will magically dissolve all of life’s problems, but it will always improve the situation and help us succeed in the eternal perspective. Sounds like something worth working for.

Charity gives us 20-20 vision!

Charity helps us see clearly. We learn this in Moroni 7:48. If we have charity when the Savior comes, we are promised that “we shall see him as he is.” So in other words, if we don’t have charity, we won’t necessarily see things as they truly are. Our ability to discern truth will be skewed.

As we develop charity, it becomes a part of who we are. It purifies us, and our ability to see things as they really are becomes clearer and less tainted.

*                           *                       *                           *

I won’t go into details, but there was a time on my mission when I was going through a difficult time with my relationship with a particular companion. As I was praying in the midst of my stress and anguish, I felt prompted to pray for charity. Right as I did, a warm feeling came over me, as if Heavenly Father wanted me know I was praying for the right thing. Now I can honestly say that I love that companion more than ever. But looking back, as I strove to become more charitable, I learned that it doesn’t come easy. It’s a gradual process. And just when you think you have developed it, you will find that it will be tested over and over again. It’s easy to love someone from a distance. It’s easy to love someone who is always easy to love. But true charity requires genuine loving, even when it is hard to love – especially when it’s hard. And that kind of love requires a change of heart, which can only come when we yield our hearts to God.

Charity is a feeling of love, but it is also a decision to love. Charity is when you serve and are kind to someone who is not necessarily kind back to you. Charity is resisting the impulse to judge others, even when it feels justified. It is esteeming others highly, giving people the benefit of the doubt, and remembering that each person is a very precious child of Heavenly Father, just like you. It is being nice no matter what another person says or does.

I’m still working on developing charity. I still have a long way to go, but because of this and similar experiences, I feel like I’m a lot closer than I used to be. Hopefully I’ll make it by the end of this lifelong quest!

P.S. I love President Monson’s talk, “Charity Never Faileth.” If you haven’t read it yet, you should drop everything and read it now. It’s fantastic.

Mar 05

Inspirational Quotes about the Holy Ghost!

Here are some of my favorite quotes on the Holy Ghost! While on my mission, I gained a greater understanding of the roles and functions of the spirit, and I really came to see how crucial it is in our lives. The Gift of the Holy Ghost affects everything and obtaining/maintaining it should be absolutely central to everything we do.

This one is my absolute favorite:

The gift of the Holy Ghost . . . quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use.  It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature.  It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity.  It develops beauty of person, form and features.  It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling.  It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man.  It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves.  In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.” (Quoted by Elder L. Tom Perry)


Our natural gifts and abilities are limited, but when augmented by inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost, our potential increases many fold.” (Elder James E. Faust)


I believe the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of maximizing our happiness.” (Elder James. E. Faust)


You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost.” (Joseph Smith)


Time is a most precious asset. Would you consider investing more of your time in the things of eternity in order to merit the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and to benefit more fully from His influence?” (Keith K. Hilbig)


The gift of the Holy Ghost grows with worthiness. If you are baptized when you are eight years old, of course you are a child, and there is much you would not be expected to know. But the Holy Ghost comes to you as you grow and learn and make yourselves worthy. It comes a little at a time as you merit it. And as your life is in harmony, you gradually receive the Holy Ghost in a great measure.” (Spencer W. Kimball)


President Packer’s message was that we must live worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of our lives. This was not a message for us only; it is a message for every member of the Church. Can you imagine what would happen if every man, woman, youth, and child lived in such a way as to qualify?  We would startle the world.  Imagine 11 million members of the Church now, and then 20, 50, 80, and 100 million in the future having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.” (Quoted by Elder L. Tom Perry)


        No amount of time in front of the mirror will make you as attractive as having the Holy Ghost with you.” (Sheri Dew)

The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)

“Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening” (Elder Boyd K. Packer)


Many voices in the world compete for your attention, and they can easily drown out spiritual impressions if you are not careful.” (Preach My Gospel)


       Yielding to emotions such as anger or hurt or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost. Those emotions must be eliminated, or our chance for receiving revelation is slight.
Another principle is to be cautious with humor. Loud, inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit. A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. (Elder Richard G. Scott)


Tell the brethren to be humble and faithful and be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord, that it will lead them aright. Be careful and not turn away the still, small voice; it will teach them what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their heart open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits—it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts, and their whole desire will be to do good” (Joseph Smith)


I recognize we are fallen men and women living in a mortal world and that we might not have the presence of the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minute of every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghost can tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—and certainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us. As we become ever more immersed in the Spirit of the Lord, we should strive to recognize impressions when they come and the influences or events that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost. (Elder David A. Bednar)

holy ghost quote lds

Jan 02

How to Sprout Wheat (Without a Sprouting Jar)

I recently learned how to sprout wheat. It’s so easy! I’ve heard that sprouting a kernel of wheat increases its nutrition by 600%. Wow, that’s a lot! I don’t know if that’s really true, but I sure do feel healthy when I eat them. I’ve tried doing it with hard red wheat as well as hard white wheat, and I think I prefer the red wheat. It seems like the white wheat has more white starchy stuff inside the kernel that I’m not a huge fan of. But both work for sprouting. 

So here we go –

How to Sprout Wheat:

1. Put as many wheat kernels as you want to sprout into a large bowl. How much you do at a time depends on the size of the jar you have to sprout them in. I usually don’t do more than a cup at a time.

things to do with wheat kernels


2. Fill the bowl with water and rinse well. Then drain.wash wheat kernels for sprouting

3. Put rinsed and drained kernels into a glass jar.

sprouting wheat tutorial


4.  Cover jar with a cheese cloth or some kind of fabric that can let air in. I used a clean nylon with a rubber band and it worked great. They also sell sprouting jars that are specifically built for this purpose. But if you don’t have one of those, this is how you can make do.

use nylons instead of sprouting jar


5. Put jar somewhere dark, like in a cupboard. Lay it on its side (as shown above) on top of a small towel and then use something to prop it up 45 degrees, so that the side with the nylon is facing down. This allows the extra liquid to drain off.

6. Let sprout for 2-4 days, rinsing and draining the kernels twice a day. The picture below shows what extremely sprouted wheat kernels look like. You may want to harvest them before they get to this point –  when they just start to bud. I usually don’t let them get quite this long, but they are still good. The longer they sprout, the “greener” they taste.

Once they are as sprouted as you like, store them covered in the refrigerator and eat within a few days.

7. Use as a topping for salads or smoothies, sneak it into other dishes, or just eat by the handful 🙂

how to tell if sprouted wheat is ready

Jan 01

How to Make Pansit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles)

Pansit Bihon is one of my favorite Filipino dishes. And it’s pretty easy to make. There are different types of Pansit (or rice noodles) in the Philippines. Pansit Canton uses noodles that are much bigger, kind of like spaghetti noodles. My personal favorite is the kind that uses finer noodles, or bihon. 

best chinese noodles


1 (16 oz.) package of Bihon rice noodles (sold in Asian stores)

2 Tablespoons oil

1 medium-sized onion

2 cups pork or chicken meat (I’ve always used chicken)

6 Tablespoons shelled shrimp (optional – I’ve always left these out).

1 cup carrots, in small slices

2 cups shredded cabbage (I usually just use a package of coleslaw because it’s easy)

10 Tablespoons soy sauce

5 cups soup stock

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons oyster sauce (optional, but recommended!)

1 clove garlic

1 cup sweet peas or fresh green beans (I usually use the latter) — optional as well.



Make sure you use a tall enough pan so that the dry noodles can somewhat fit.

Saute onion and garlic in oil until golden brown.

Add meat, and then salt, pepper, oyster sauce and soy sauce.

how to make pansit

Add vegetables and soup stock and bring to a boil. cook for a few minutes until vegetables are just tender enough. Remove vegetables and meat with a strainer, leaving the liquid in the pan.

how to cook rice noodles

Add the noodles. Cook noodles in the sauce for 3-5 minutes.

Stir the cooked noodles from the pan so that they absorb most of the liquid and then add back the vegetables and meat and stir.

Arrange on platter/serving dish and eat with Calamansi (Philippine Lemon). Lemon or lime can also do the trick. (I like lemon best). Hope you like!

easy pansit bihon

Also, check out this Lumpia recipe (Filipino egg rolls)!

my favorite filipino recipe


Dec 03

Quotes about the Iron Rod (Lehi’s Dream)

I love the rich symbolism of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. I think it’s one of the best parables we could ever study because I believe that it nothing else is as applicable to life right now than it is. The more I study about it, the more layers of meaning I uncover and the more significant in becomes in my life. I feel like the iron rod is one of the most important symbols in this dream. Here are some of my favorite quotes about the iron rod that I think are worth sharing. So we all know that the iron rod represents the word of God (see 1 Nephi 8), but I think the following quotes provide some really cool, extra insights about what that actually means and why it’s so important. Click here to see a list of some of my favorite quotes about Lehi’s Dream in general. 

iron rod quotes

If there is any one thing most needed in this time of tumult and frustration, when men and women and youth and young adults are desperately seeking for answers to the problems which afflict mankind, it is an “iron rod” as a safe guide along the straight path on the way to eternal life, amidst the strange and devious roadways that would eventually lead to destruction and to the ruin of all that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report.”  (Ann M. Dibb)


Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked— And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3: 29-30)

Wouldn’t it be a great thing if all who are well schooled in secular learning could hold fast to the “iron rod,” or the word of God, which could lead them, through faith, to an understanding, rather than to have them stray away into strange paths of man-made theories and be plunged into the murky waters of disbelief and apostasy? (Harold B. Lee)


There are many who profess to be religious and speak of themselves as Christians, and, according to one such, “as accepting the scriptures only as sources of inspiration and moral truth,” and then ask in their smugness: “Do the revelations of God give us a handrail to the kingdom of God, as the Lord’s messenger told Lehi, or merely a compass?” (Harold B. Lee)


From Lehi’s vision we learn that we must take hold of this safety railing—this iron rod, found alongside our individual straight and narrow path—and hold tight until we reach our ultimate goal of eternal life with our Heavenly Father. Nephi promises that those who hold fast to the iron rod“would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24)(Ann M. Dibb)


I invite you to read again the full accounts of this inspired vision. Study them, ponder them, and apply them to your daily life. In modern terms we might say we are invited to “get a grip.” We must hold on tight to the iron rod and never let go. (Ann M. Dibb)


Holding to the iron rod is not always easy. We may let go because of peer pressure or pride, thinking we can find our own way back—later. When we do so, we are leaving our safety equipment behind. In Lehi’s vision he saw many who let go of the iron rod. Nephi says, “And many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads” (1 Nephi 8:32). In difficult times in our own lives, we may find we are also “wandering in strange roads.” Let me reassure you that it is always possible for us to find our way back. Through repentance, made possible by the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can regain and recommit to a strong grip on the iron rod and feel the loving guidance of our Heavenly Father once again. The Savior has extended an open invitation to us: repent, hold on, and don’t let go. (Ann M. Dibb)


 The first group started along the strait and narrow path, but they did not take hold of the iron rod that would keep them on the path, and they got lost in the mists of darkness (see 1 Nephi 8:21–23)(Mary N. Cook)


To navigate through these mists of darkness we need the iron rod, which represents the word of God (see 1 Nephi 15:23–24). We must study and understand the truths and commandments found in the scriptures. We must listen carefully to the words of our latter-day prophets, whose teachings will give us guidance, direction, and protection. And we must hold to the standards found in For the Strength of Youth.  (Mary N. Cook)


What will help you to press forward and continually hold fast to the iron rod? Center your life on the Savior and develop daily habits of righteous living. (Mary N. Cook)


We have no excuse to deviate from the paths of righteousness. If we hold fast to the iron rod, we cannot be deceived. (Wm. Grant Bangerter)


We begin to make the plan known to our children when we hold tight to the iron rod ourselves. (Rosemary M. Wixom)


When we are holding tight to the iron rod, we are in a position to place our hands over theirs and walk the strait and narrow path together. Our example is magnified in their eyes. They will follow our cadence when they feel secure in our actions. We do not need to be perfect—just honest and sincere. Children want to feel as one with us. When a parent says, “We can do it! We can read the scriptures daily as a family,” the children will follow! (Rosemary M. Wixom)


In his dream, Lehi saw an iron rod which led through the mists of darkness. He saw that if people would hold fast to that rod, they could avoid the rivers of filthiness, stay away from the forbidden paths, stop from wandering in the strange roads that lead to destruction. Later his son Nephi clearly explained the symbolism of the iron rod. When Laman and Lemuel asked, “What meaneth the rod of iron?” Nephi answered, “It was the word of God; and [note this promise] whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Ne. 15:23–24; italics added.) Not only will the word of God lead us to the fruit which is desirable above all others, but in the word of God and through it we can find the power to resist temptation, the power to thwart the work of Satan and his emissaries. (Ezra Taft Benson)


Nephi taught that by clinging to the word of God, as though it be a handrail, we would be able to avoid temptations and not lose our way in darkness. Thus, we would remain on the narrow path. (Joseph B. Wirthlin)


As we go through life, even through very rough waters, a father’s instinctive impulse to cling tightly to his wife or to his children may not be the best way to accomplish his objective. Instead, if he will lovingly cling to the Savior and the iron rod of the gospel, his family will want to cling to him and to the Savior. (Russell M. Nelson)


In time one who makes decisions based upon circumstance is virtually assured to commit serious transgressions. There is no iron rod of truth to keep that person in the right way. He or she will continually be faced with many subtle temptations to make deviations from the commandments. Those choices are justified by arguing that they are not that bad, that they are more socially acceptable and provide a broader base of friends. A clever individual without foundation principles can at times acquire, temporarily, impressive accomplishments. Yet that attainment is like a sand castle. When the test of character comes, it crumbles, often taking others with it. Despite how carefully a transgressor seeks to keep the violation of commandments hidden, in time they nearly always become publicly known. Satan himself sees to that. He and his minions are determined to cause the greatest possible harm to each of Father in Heaven’s children. One serious act of disobedience or violation of trust invariably raises questions of whether or not there are others. The faith and confidence of others in that individual’s character is undermined. (Richard G. Scott)


Real disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other (see Eph. 6:161 Ne. 15:24D&C 27:17). There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands! (Neal A. Maxwell)


As Latter-day Saints we must ever be vigilant. The way for each person and each family to guard against the slings and arrows of the Adversary and to prepare for the great day of the Lord is to hold fast to the iron rod, to exercise greater faith, to repent of our sins and shortcomings, and to be anxiously engaged in the work of His kingdom on earth, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Herein lies the only true happiness for all our Father’s children. (Spencer W. Kimball)


 Let us hold fast to the iron rod. The Savior urged us to put our hand to the plow without looking back. In that spirit we are being asked to have humility and a deep and abiding faith in the Lord and to move forward—trusting in him, refusing to be diverted from our course, either by the ways of the world or the praise of the world. (Spencer W. Kimball)


 We can hold to the iron rod even if others slip away and a few end up mocking us from “the great and spacious building. (Neal A. Maxwell)

Nov 23

Quotes about Lehi’s Dream (the Tree of Life)

Here are a few quotes I really like about the significance of Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life. Some of these quotes are ones that really sparked in me the desire to study about the vision of the Tree of Life in more depth, which led me develop a great love for this wonderful parable. I just love the symbolism of Lehi’s dream! I feel like it’s like a treasury that holds a wealth of helpful insights that can be a huge key to helping us to navigate life successfully. In the near future I hope to compile all my favorite quotes that shed light on different aspects of the dream, like the iron rod, mists of darkness, etc.
tree of life quotes
         You may think that Lehi’s dream or vision has no special meaning for you, but it does. You are in it; all of us are in it.” (Boyd K. Packer)
       Lehi’s dream has in it everything a Latter-day Saint needs to understand the test of life.” (Boyd K. Packer)
         Read the dream or vision carefully; then read it again. . .Read it, and make it a part of your life.” (Boyd K. Packer)
         I invite you to read again the full accounts of this inspired vision. Study them, ponder them, and apply them to your daily life.” (Ann M. Dibb)
       Lehi’s inspired dream symbolically represents our life in mortality. We can find ourselves represented in it and can see where our lives are headed if we remain on our present path.”  (Book of Mormon Student Study Guide)
       Lehi’s dream helps us understand important principles about life and our efforts to live the gospel. The images in the dream are symbolic, and they represent real challenges that we face every day.” (Book of Mormon Student Study Guide)
         The importance of reading, studying, searching, and pondering the scriptures in general and the Book of Mormon in particular is highlighted in several elements of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life.”  (David A. Bednar)
         The overarching theme of the Book of Mormon—inviting all to come unto Christ—is paramount in Lehi’s vision.”  (David A. Bednar)
         May we all have eyes to see and ears to hear additional lessons from Lehi’s vision that will help us to ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.’ ” (David A. Bednar)
       This dream has symbolic meaning for you and I.  Very interestingly, years later, Joseph Smith Sr. had a dream almost identical to this as he was waiting for the true Church to be  restored to the earth.”  (Susan at Mothers Who Know).
         I want to tell you of the Lord’s guiding hand in our meeting tonight. During the early days of January I worked to organize and outline what I would present to you. Knowing that Elder David A. Bednar was scheduled to speak to you in February, I asked him if he had finalized the subject he would address. I was taken aback when he responded that his talk was about holding fast to the iron rod. It was the exact title I had chosen for my talk. The choir was already practicing this beautiful number that they have just shared with us. As Elder Bednar and I discussed the messages we had prepared, it was evident that we had approached the subject differently. Elder Bednar thought for a moment and said: “The Lord loves the young adults of the Church. There is purpose in this. This is a message the Lord wants delivered.” I determined to proceed. Then, just a week later and before Elder Bednar’s talk, President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a BYU devotional address he entitled Lehi’s Dream and You.  He too included in his talk what it means to hold fast to the iron rod. My brothers and sisters, this is a subject the Lord wants you to think about.” (Neil A. Anderson)

Oct 11

My Favorite Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

best bread recipe ever

melt in your mouth bread

Pinterest tested! I’ve got to share this yummy (and healthy!) homemade whole wheat bread recipe. I tried it for the first time last week, and I’m hooked. We ate up a whole loaf within an hour after making it because it’s so good right hot out of the oven, especially with honey and butter (that was Grandma’s idea). I haven’t been one to make bread from scratch, but right after I made this, I pretty much vowed to make a batch at least once a week from now on. Things just feel so much more cozy and home-like with homemade bread, ya know? As my mom put it the other day, there’s nothing that says ‘I love you’ like some fresh homemade bread. Well, I hope I can stay motivated to keep making homemade bread regularly because this time it was so worth it.

Also, I really like this recipe because it stays soft several days after you bake it.  Just pop a slice in the microwave for 15 seconds, & bada-bing! Melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

I was happy when this recipe turned out to be a winner because it doesn’t call for eggs. (I’m thinking along the lines of food storage here, since eggs may not always be available).

So here’s the recipe! (originally from here)

Deliciously Nutritious Whole Wheat Bread


3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (I used red instead of white)
1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
4 teaspoons quick-rise yeast
2 1/2 cups very warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup oil (I used Canola)
1/3 cup honey
4 teaspoons lemon juice (you can also use vinegar)
2 – 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (I usually do 2 1/4)

Good-to-Know Tips:

  • Do you have to use lemons in whole wheat bread? No,  but it makes it better because lemons are a natural dough enhancer. But I’ve made it before without and it’s been fine.
  • Don’t omit the salt! It will not only change the taste, but it will also affect the whole chemistry of the recipe because the salt interacts with the yeast.
  • Not that it’s the end of the world, but did you know that oxidation decreases nutritional content? As soon as you grind wheat kernels into flour, the germ (healthiest part of the wheat) begins to oxidize. Putting it into bread dough decreases the rate of oxidation. So in other words, the less time wheat spends as flour, the better. That’s why it’s better to grind your own wheat rather than buying it already ground at the store. Cooking at too high of an oven temperature can also affect the nutritional content of wheat. 
  • If you’re not going to be able to use it right away, freezing your wheat flour will help it stay fresher for longer.
  • Freezing your yeast also is a good idea to increase the shelf-life. 
  • I used red wheat. But many people prefer the taste of white wheat. What’s the difference? Well, white wheat is a genetically modified version of red wheat. It has more gluten and a slightly less bitter taste–the color & taste is a lot more similar to that of white flour. Red wheat has slightly more protein, but I think they are both pretty similar in terms of nutritional content.[Update – So I recently tried out this recipe with white wheat and it turned out a lot lighter and fluffier. More like white bread, almost. Alex even labeled it “give-away-able” bread. Score! ]
  • Did you know that you can use applesauce in the place of oil to make it even healthier? I haven’t tried it with this specific recipe, but my grandma does it all the time when making whole wheat bread and it comes out great. [OK Update – I just tried it out. I added half the oil and half the honey, and then substituted in some applesauce. It turned out great! It was really moist- even more so than the regular recipe- and it stayed that way for days. One thing to keep in mind is that this makes it a little more dense and heavy (I ended up having to add in quite a bit more flour than usual). Alex loved it.
  • Using fresh lemon juice is better than buying lemon juice in the bottle because the latter have artificial preservatives added in.
  • DO NOT add more flour than needed. Doing so will make it very heavy rather than light and fluffy like you want. (Don’t worry if it is still a little sticky–just so long as you can handle it with oiled hands without it being unmanageably sticky. It should wipe the sides of the mixer clean -or somewhat clean- and should clump together in a ball).
  • If you’re not sure if it’s done, you can stick a meat thermometer in through the middle (up from the bottom). If it’s about 190 degrees, it’s done. 
Directions for How to Make Homemade Whole Wheat Bread:
1. Mix together first three ingredients (flour, gluten, yeast).
bosche whole wheat bread
 2. Add water and mix for 1 minute. Cover bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
honey oil wheat bread
is salt necessary in whole wheat bread
3. Add salt, oil, honey, and lemon juice. Beat for 1 minute.
4. Heat oven to 120 degrees. Grease 2 nonstick full size bread pans, or 3 smaller bread pans (I prefer the latter).
perfect whole wheat bread dough
5. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Knead in mixer for 7-10 to minutes or until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and feels smooth rather than sticky. 

how to make perfect loaveshow to roll bread dough

how to make beautiful bread dough


6. Rub a little oil on your hands and evenly divide into two loaves (or three smaller ones) and place into bread pans. Spank it down really hard to get out all the air bubbles before letting it rise.
best whole wheat bread
7. Place pans in warm oven and allow to rise for 20 to 40 minutes, (I always do the full 40) or until dough has about doubled in size and rise to the tops of the pans.
how long should bread dough rise
8. Without removing pans from the oven, turn on oven to 325°F and set timer for 30 minutes. (Of course, oven times may vary. In my oven, I’ve found that 32 minutes is perfect). Once baked, immediately remove hot bread from pans and cool on rack. Butter the tops of the loaves while hot. Enjoy!!
favorite whole wheat bread

P.S. I highly recommend using a Bosch bread mixer. They are wonderful. It’s such a nice thing to have–it seriously makes making bread a piece of cake! All you do is put in the ingredients and let it do all the mixing and kneading for you!

I also really like the WonderMill Wheat Grinder. It’s not as loud as loud as some other brands, and it’s very compact and easy to operate.

Some Tips when using a Bosch bread mixer:

  • Be sure to clean off the counter very well before making your bread because if there are any grains or flour on it, it makes it a lot easier for the bread mixer to slide around rather than staying put.
  • Stay with it while it’s mixing. Especially towards the end when the dough gets really thick, just in case it randomly decides to hop out of the bowl and onto the floor (it’s happened before!)
  • Put the lid on when you are just mixing dry ingredients, so as to not get dust flying everywhere.

healthy whole wheat bread



Sep 01

Purple Chinese Chicken Salad (Red Cabbage Recipe)

purple chicken raman salad

I was looking on Pinterest looking for red cabbage recipes, and couldn’t find much. We’ve been trying to eat way healthier lately, in an attempt to move towards a more ‘whole foods plant based’ type of diet. Mostly I’m just trying to cook with more veggies and less meat. Last week I got a head of red cabbage because it’s packed with way more nutrients than regular green cabbage. The only thing was, I didn’t know what to do with it. We’ve been eating it on top of green salad, but I could only handle a little bit at a time because it has a pretty distinct (bitter?) taste. I hadn’t ever really used red cabbage much before, so I didn’t really know how else to eat it other than on salad.

So what can else can you do with red cabbage?

As I was trying to think of things to do with red cabbage. I had the idea to try making my mom’s Chinese noodle salad with it. I was afraid it would have too much of a pungent flavor, but the dressing actually covered it up pretty well, and I liked it. I think it helps a lot to add soy sauce too 🙂

So anyways, I think this is a good way to use red cabbage in a way that makes the taste more bearable. 🙂 It’s also a great way to make original Chinese noodle salad recipe WAY more nutritious. Alex said he thinks it would also be good to try the salad as a filling for egg rolls, so we might give that a go one of these times.

Purple Chinese Chicken Salad – with Red Cabbage


1 VERY small head red cabbage

1 package Ramen noodles (with chicken seasoning packet)

1/3 can (15 oz.) chicken (or more if desired)

2 green onions, chopped

1/3 cup chopped almonds

Chopped spinach or other greens (1/3+ cup)


1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 Tablespoon vinegar

1/2 chicken seasoning packet (from Ramen)

Soy sauce to taste



shredded red cabbage


1. First, shred the cabbage salad

2. Combine cabbage, green onions, and spinach in a large bowl.

3. Spread out the sliced almonds and dry Ramen noodles (crushed/broken up in tiny pieces) on a cookie sheet and broil until golden brown. Set chicken seasoning packet aside to use with dressing.

best canned chicken for salads

4. Mix in the almonds, Ramen, and chicken.

red chinese noodle salad

5. Add dressing, mix well, and eat up!

I love how colorful it is!

Aug 30

Toasted Almond Chicken Salad

spinach almond chicken saladmy favorite recipe for chicken salad

Chicken Salad is one of my favorite things to make (and eat!) Here’s my recipe for it. I can’t remember where I learned to make it-from Pinterest or what. I’ve found that it lends itself very well to experimentation. I’ve added in hard-boiled eggs, carrots, broccoli, apples, cranberries, etc. and it always seems to come out yummy. The only thing I wouldn’t necessarily recommend adding is cucumbers. They kind of give it a different taste. But even then, it isn’t bad. You can use less chicken too. Lately, just to cut back on meat, I’ve gotten by with only using about 1/3 to 1/2 the can.


1 can Chicken Breast (about 15 ounces)

3-4 stalks celery

1 cup grapes

1/3 cup sliced almonds, (toasted-optional)

2 heaping spoonfuls or 1/4 cup mayo (greek yogurt is optional – you can substitute up to half the mayo if you want).

Optional Ingredients/Add-ins:

2-4 Hard-boiled eggs, mashed

1 carrot, shredded

A few broccoli florets, chopped

1 avocado, mashed or finely chopped

Cranberries and/or chopped apples (good substitute for grapes)

I’ve heard you can also use walnuts instead of almonds but I’ve never tried it.

Depending on how many extra stuff you add in you may want to add a little more mayo. Avocado may provide enough creaminess to do without as much mayo, if you’re trying to go for a more healthy chicken salad.

Directions for Making Toasted Almond Chicken Salad:

grapes for chicken salad

1. First, chop your grapes in half (or smaller if you want).how much celery does chicken salad call for

2. Slice the celery in small pieces to equal at least one cup (you can add more).


celery and grapes chicken salad


3. Combine celery and grapes in a big salad bowl.


toasted almonds for chicken salad

4. Now toast your almonds (if desired). To do this, spread out a handful of sliced almonds on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven on broil for just a minute or so until it is slightly brown).Toasted almond chicken salad

5. Combine chicken, grapes, celery, almonds, and mayo (as well as other optional ingredients, if desired). Mix well.

6. Enjoy!

What Goes Well with Chicken Salad?

Ways to Serve Chicken Salad:

Generally chicken salad is served on croissant rolls. You can also eat it as a sandwich on toast, with german pancake muffins, or as a dip with crackers (my favorite way to snack on it), or even as a salad topper on lettuce or spinach. Yummy! Any other ideas?

spinach almond chicken salad


Aug 20

3 General Conference Talks That Changed my Life

life-changing lds talks

1. The Nourishing Power of Hymns

elder jensen conference talk

If you haven’t read this talk by Elder Jay E. Jensen, you have to read it. It’s life-changing. At least it was for me.


conference talk on hymns

The Power of Hymns to Invite the Spirit

Probably the most significant way that this talk changed my life was by strengthening my testimony of the power of hymns to invite the spirit into our lives.

Hymns vs. Classical Music 

In the front of the LDS hymnbook, I once read that each of the hymns in our hymnbook were chosen to be included based on their ability to invite the spirit.  That gave me the desire to listen to more hymns as background music in my home, rather than just classical music or other music. I know they say that classical music is good for babies’ brain development–and I think it is–but this talk convinced me that sacred music/hymns are even better in that regard because they bring in the spirit so strongly. With the spirit, we learn quicker and grow better (I think there’s a quote somewhere about that); there’s just really nothing that can affect our development quite as positively as can the spirit. It’s a catalyst for every good thing and can accelerate our development in so many ways. It’s my firm belief that hymns that testify of Christ can bring the spirit into our homes 10 times faster than any other types of music.
So those are just my thoughts. Of course, I think there are also other inspired classical pieces written by famous composers, but perhaps a lot of it has to do with the kind of life they lived. As I was listening to this talk, it got me thinking about how “a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good fruit” (and vice versa). So it made me want to look into the lives of famous composers and try to listen more to those whose lives more closely reflected the teachings of the Savior, because I feel like their music is more likely to bring in the spirit than others who lived contrary to the commandments, however beautiful and praised-by-the-world their music may be. Just something I’ve been thinking about.

Singing Hymns as Lullabies

One of my favorite lines quoted in this talk was:

Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in family home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time. Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together. Sing hymns as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones.”

I love that. Singing hymns should be woven into our everyday activities! It should become part of who we are. When we use them often, they can build testimony and strengthen faith.
When I heard this talk, I decided that when I became a mother, I wanted to sing hymns as lullabies to my children. I remember that first week after bringing Nephi home from the hospital, I started trying to sing hymns to him often, while nursing him to sleep, holding him, etc. One thing that’s been neat — I’ve actually noticed that hymns have a calming affect on Nephi. Sometimes when he’s crying and inconsolable, nothing will work, but if I start singing a hymn to him he settles right down. It’s really sweet. Every time that happens, it strengthens my testimony of the power of hymns to invite the spirit.

Nighttime Rituals

Right along with that, this talk also sparked in me the desire to make nighttime rituals an important part of my family life. It gave me a desire to sing my children to sleep, or at least bring hymns in as a fundamental part of their bedtime routine. When I was a little girl, my mom would rock me on her lap and sing to me. I also remember my dad standing next to my top-bunk bed singing “Abide with me” at night before I went to sleep. I don’t remember how young I was or for how long that that routine lasted, but it definitely created a lasting memory. I remember when the twins (my two youngest sisters) were growing up, my sister Lisa would often volunteer to go in and sing them to sleep. Sometimes I would join in, but most of the time I’d just go to bed – busy with other things, school, etc. But now I kind of regret not doing that more often. The twins (now 14) remember those nightly rituals with fondness. Back then it really didn’t seem like a big deal. They were so little it didn’t seem like they’d even remember those bedtime rituals or that it would even make a difference if I opted out of participating. Anyways, it just made me want to not miss out on those kinds of opportunities with my own children. This talk reinforced my desire to make those bedtime rituals a priority.

Memorizing the Hymns

This talk also inspired me to memorize all the hymns. That may seem like a lofty goal, but I’ve already got a head start. When I was growing up, we sang the hymns in order (1 a day) as part of family scripture study. So I became familiar with a lot of the lesser known hymns and consequently already have a bunch of them pretty much memorized just from pure repetition. Of course, I’m not nearly there yet, but I feel a pretty strong urge to make that a lifetime pursuit. I guess it’s because I feel that, like scriptures, the lyrics of hymns can be a powerful force against evil and temptation. And if I have them memorized, I can call upon them at any time. And it would be SO cool to be able to have a hymn in my head that’s appropriate to meet any situation, no matter where I am.

On my Mission

Guess what! Elder Jensen (the person who gave this talk) actually came to my mission and spoke about this very same thing! It was really neat. He had us all sing all the verses to “Ye Elders of Israel” and then we talked about the message of the song and what we had all felt while singing it. It was pretty powerful. He asked how many of us sang a hymn with our investigators before teaching a lesson. Only a few of us raised our hands. Then he asked those of us who didn’t to “repent.” Needless to say, I tried to make sure to sing with our investigators from that time forward. My trainer had always made it a point to start off our lessons by singing a hymn, and I remember it really was powerful in bringing the spirit into our lessons.

Musical Callings

It was from this talk that I realized how important my calling was as a sacrament meeting pianist, and later, as Relief Society pianist. As a result, I took it more seriously. I chose the hymns I played for prelude more prayerfully, when otherwise I might have considered it an insignificant responsibility and not given much thought to it. This talk also gave me a greater love for the sacrament hymns and made me realize the importance of helping the congregation to focus on Christ’s atonement through prelude music in sacrament meeting. I grew a deeper love for the hymns through these callings.

A Way of Life

I’m grateful to have married someone who loves singing hymns. I remember when we were first getting to know each other, I thought it was neat how Alex would gather friends together to sing hymns. He also loved playing the hymns on the piano and he took his calling as a ward choir director very seriously. Alex loves to sing songs that invite the spirit. Because of the type of person he is, it’s felt pretty natural to incorporate the singing of hymns into our lifestyle and make it an frequent and fundamental part of family life. I’m grateful for that.

2. The Lord’s Way


Wow. I had a huge paradigm shift after hearing this talk, given by Elder Stanley G. Ellis in the April 2013 General Conference. I’ll include the excerpt from his talk that really changed the way I thought about things (emphasis added):

One thing we have often been taught is to bloom where we are planted. Yet sometimes we are tempted to migrate to some new area, thinking our children will have more friends and therefore better youth programs.

Brothers and sisters, do we really think the critical factor in the salvation of our children is the neighborhood where we live? The apostles and prophets have often taught that what happens inside the home is far more important than what our children encounter outside. How we raise our children is more important than where we raise them.

Certainly there are other factors involved in deciding where to live, and thankfully, the Lord will guide us if we seek His confirmation.

Another question is “Where are we needed?” For 16 years I served in the presidency of the Houston Texas North Stake. Many moved to our area during those years. We would often receive a phone call announcing someone moving in and asking which was the best ward. Only once in 16 years did I receive a call asking, “Which ward needs a good family? Where can we help?”

In the early years of the Church, President Brigham Young and others would call members to go to a certain place to build up the Church there. The irony is that even now we have faithful Church members everywhere who would go anywhere the prophet asked them to go. Do we really expect President Monson to individually tell more than 14 million of us where our family is needed? The Lord’s way is that we hearken to our leaders’ teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves.”


Thinking Back to the Castle Valley Pageant

I think a major reason why this talk had such a profound impact on me was because I had recently gone to see the Castle Valley pageant with some high school friends. It was my first time ever visiting Castle Valley, and as we drove out there, I have to admit, I didn’t really like it. Castle Valley just seemed like a desolate desert. I felt a little like Lehi in the wilderness. We drove and drove, and I remember coming to the outside amphitheater where the pageant was held. It was literally smack dab in the middle of nowhere – desert and sagebrush on all sides. And I remember thinking how Castle Valley is probably the last place I’d ever want to live.


(Photo by russavia)

Well, come to find out–the theme of the pageant actually touched on that very thing. It was a story of a family from Mount Pleasant, Utah (which happens to be my hometown, so this hit home even more for me!) who were called by the prophet to go settle and build up the church in Castle Valley. Some members of the family protested and didn’t want to go. They had just built their homes in Mount Pleasant. They were comfortable there. That’s where their extended family was (and back then I imagine it was probably a lot harder to keep connected with family if you lived far away). But the pageant told of their journey of faith and how they accepted their call from the prophet to go and settle in Castle Valley.

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

So, in light of that, this conference talk made me realize that the principle of going where He wants you to go is still a true principle (which perhaps nowadays we don’t consider as seriously as we should when deciding where to settle down with our families). I had always been one to want to live in a really good neighborhood with a really good ward. So this got me thinking. Maybe even if we do seek direction for where we should live, perhaps we limit the revelation we might receive because of our own preconceived conditions that we’ve already set in stone. (i.e. As long as it’s one of the options we’ve already chosen. As long as it’s where we can get a good job and where there will be “good opportunities.” Or, as long as it’s close to family, etc.) Of course, those are all important factors. But–setting all that aside–what if the Lord told me I was needed in Castle Valley? Would I be willing to go, without question, no matter the sacrifice? Or would I cling to my own preferences and opinions of what would be best for my future and my family? Honestly, I’ll admit that it would be reeeeeeally hard for me to drop everything I go somewhere like that, so I’m not saying I’d be the perfect example of this. It would definitely take a lot of faith.

Where should I live?

The Law of Sacrifice

Elder Ellis’ remarks made me think about how this is part of the law of sacrifice. He reminded us that just because President Monson isn’t going to individually tell each of us where to live, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still govern ourselves by that very same principle. The only difference is that we need to be the ones to actively seek out that revelation for ourselves, just like Lehi did for his family when he was inspired to leave Jerusalem and go journey into the wilderness, leaving behind all their gold and silver. Thinking about this has made me more willing to go wherever Heavenly Father wants us to go. Rather than basing where I end up on whether or not it’s a “good neighborhood,” I realized the great importance of seeking direct personal revelation to guide our moving decisions.

Building up the Kingdom

This talk also made me realize that my main goal in everything I do should be to build up the kingdom of God. I realized that it is selfish to think only of my own comfort and have the mindset of “what’s in it for me and family?” when deciding where to settle down. I should also be focused on how I can help the work to progress and where my influence might be needed the most.

Faith in the Lord

Also, one idea I had — Perhaps basing where I live solely on its visible “opportunities” shows a lack of faith. Heavenly Father can make more out of our lives than we can. Because, really, if Heavenly Father wanted me to live in a certain place, then certainly He would provide even better opportunities there for my family and children than I could ever find somewhere else on my own.  He’d put the right people in our lives, line up certain things just right, or bless us with unexpected tender mercies, etc. These trump any benefits we try to get by relying on our own knowledge to seek out “better youth programs” and “better neighborhoods.”

I once remember one of my uncles commenting on how, when his family was relocating to Salt Lake City, several people advised him to avoid certain “sketchy neighborhoods” in the area. But they ended up moving into one of those neighborhoods and met some of the most down-to-earth people there and had a really positive experience. I guess it’s not where we live. It’s how we live. It’s how we raise our family that matters. Blessings will flow when we’re willing to sacrifice to go where the Lord wants us to go. This was a humbling message for me.

3. Nothing Shall Offend Them

best bednar talk

This was a very empowering talk. I felt empowered when I first heard it, and every time I think back to it and try to apply it, I feel empowered. I like how Elder Bednar uses the phrase “triumph over offense.” From this talk I learned about the huge role of our own free agency in choosing to be offended. It also made me realize how free and peaceful life can be when we choose not to take offense.

And just because that excerpt of the talk is so good, I’m going to include it here:

When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else. . .Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense.”

praying for charity

triumph over offense


This talk changed my whole outlook on my mission, especially with regard to the way I approached reactivation on my mission. It helped me to gain a greater conviction that when you fall away from the church because of taking offense at something someone did or said, you are really only hurting yourself. You voluntarily deprive yourself of countless blessings that could be yours, simply because someone offended you. We don’t stop shopping at the grocery store if a fellow shopper happens to offend us while we are there. Why? Because we need food. Well, we need the nourishment of the gospel just as we need food from the grocery store. How silly to cut ourselves off from the source of nourishment because of being offended at someone else’s actions or inactions. Because of this talk, I approached reactivating inactive members as a rescuing effort. But I saw it as rescuing them from themselves. We were helping them see how they were only hurting themselves by staying away from church and that they needed to come back in order to access the atonement of Jesus Christ, which would enable them to “triumph over offense.”  I learned of the effectiveness of being bold in inviting others back to church. I actually carried around copies of this talk to share with members/fellow missionaries because I felt that the counsel and teachings in it were so valuable.

One of the Purposes of Attending Church

This talk also changed the way I think about church and how I approach situations involving social interaction at church. One of the things he said that I thought was interesting was that church is a “learning laboratory” where we learn by practicing on each other. It’s not meant to be a perfect place where everyone is flawless and where no offensive things ever happen. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons for attending church, so we can learn from our mistakes in our interactions with others. It can refine us into more charitable people and be better forgivers. That’s a comforting thought!

Not Making a Big Deal over Little Things

Because of this talk, I realized that most of the things that we get offended by are really rather trivial unless we allow our own pride to magnify them. I learned from the example of Pahoran. He was innocent of any wrongdoing, but was reprimanded harshly by Moroni, who didn’t see the whole picture. But instead of being offended at Moroni wrongly accusing him, Pahoran simply replied, “It mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.” How inspiring. He didn’t let it get to him. He chose to focus on Moroni’s good qualities rather than dwell on his shortcomings. He triumphed over offense. What a great way to live. I want to be more like that and be able to say “it mattereth not” when faced with the temptation to be offended.


So there you have it. Those the 3 general conference talks that changed my life. Wow, this ended up being a super long post! But I guess when you’re talking about something life-changing, it’s not really something you can skim over very easily. I hope that if nothing else, this gives someone the desire to go back and review these talks. They are wonderful.


I know that we have living prophets on the Earth today and that their counsel is inspired and can literally change our lives if we let it. I’m so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to be living in a time when the words of the living prophets are so easily accessible to almost anyone in the world. Life is wonderful!


(Photo credits: and Mormon Newsroom)


What are some general conference talks that have changed your life?
I’d love to hear about them.


Aug 07

Tagalog Christian Quotes (Inspirational)

Here are some uplifting LDS quotes in Tagalog for Filipinos who might chance upon it (I served my mission in the Philippines). Recently I felt impressed to create a Filipino Christian Quotes facebook page as a way to spread uplifting quotes and to be able to share the gospel with Filipinos around the world. Here are a few of the memes I’ve created for that, with quotes taken from the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, and the latter-day prophets. I’ll add to these when I create more.


If you like these, you should also check out my other post: 50+ Tagalog LDS Quotes & Memes for more!


Alam ko na totoo ang mga salita na susunod. Kung gusto mong malaman pa patungkol sa “Ang Simbahan ni JesuCristo ng mga Banal sa mga Huling Araw,” i-comment mo lang sa baba 🙂

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Jul 31

Best Chocolate Zucchini Bread EVER w/Orange Zest

orange chocolate zucchini bread

So, I think this is my all-time favorite zucchini bread recipe. Or sweet bread recipe, for that matter.

I had never thought of using orange zest in chocolate zucchini bread, but it was the perfect combination–the orange zest just made it really good. It kind of reminded me of chocolate oranges at Christmastime (and all the happy warm & fuzzy memories pertaining thereto!) These would make great Christmas morning muffins. I think I’d like to try out this recipe using lemon zest instead of orange zest – I bet that would be really good too!

So, the story behind my trying out this recipe: Macey’s had a great sale on zucchini the other day. Fill a bag for only $10! I fit about 3 dozen good-sized zucchini in that bag! So I’ve been shredding zucchini to freeze like a crazy lady for the past couple days. And we’ve been having zucchini in everything – zucchini lasagna, zucchini muffins, and tonight I made zucchini enchiladas.

I looked around for a zucchini bread recipe on Pinterest, and I decided to try a recipe from Our Best Bites. I left off the topping they suggested (I don’t think it needed it), and I substituted greek yogurt for sour cream. It turned out yummier than I expected!

OK here you go! Get ready for some melt-in-your-mouth yummy goodness.

Best Chocolate Zucchini Bread Ever


2 cups white flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream, or plain greek yogurt (tip: greek yogurt is cheaper at WinCo!)
3 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Zest from one orange (the original recipe labels this as optional, but I think it’s too good to leave out).


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside. The original recipe says it makes 2 loaves, but I was able to stretch it to make 3 – they just didn’t go all the way to the top. (According to them, dividing it into a 8-inch pan and a 9-inch would be perfect for that amount of batter).

cinnamon cocoa bread

1. Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and cocoa powder.

sour cream yogurt zucchini bread

decadent chocolate zucchini

2. Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream in a separate bowl.

best kind of chocolate chips for zucchini bread

how to keep chocolate chips from clumping together

3. Mix a little of the flour mixture with the chocolate chips (so that they won’t stick together as much when you add it to the batter).

shredded zucchini bread

4. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just moistened.

double chocolate orange bread

5. Fold in the zucchini, orange peel, and chocolate chips. (Don’t mix too much – just enough so it’s pretty much even throughout).

how high to fill loaf pans for zucchini bread

6. Bake at 350 for about 50-60 minutes. Different ovens vary, so just check it after 45 minutes and then watch closely. It’s done when toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

melt in your mouth zucchini bread

Double chocolate zucchini bread

pinterest review chocolate zucchini bread

7. Enjoy with a glass of milk! Careful, these are very addicting 😉 You may have to make another batch soon!

Jul 26

My Favorite Homemade Granola Recipe

love homemade granola. My mom makes this recipe a lot and it has become our favorite. I love that it has both walnuts and almonds in it. I haven’t experimented much with adding other ingredients yet, but I really want to try adding dates, dried cranberries, dried bananas, etc. sometime.

ideas for homemade granola

So here’s the recipe!

Ingredients for Yummy Homemade Granola

 ½ cup sliced almonds

 ½ cup chopped walnuts

 2 cups rolled quick oats

 ½ cup honey (I’ve tried the recipe with up to half the amount of honey/oil, and it still came out ok – much less sweet/tasty, but really healthy).

 1/3 cup canola oil (can use melted butter instead)

 1 teaspoon cinnamon (can use allspice or pumpkin pie spice instead)

 ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut


Optional Ingredients to Add

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup sunflower or sesame seeds 

½ cup dried fruit, dates, raisins, or berries (Place in a separate bowl; you will add those after baking)

(Can also add chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, or flax seeds if desired)

*I often add a 1/2 cup wheat germ as well. And sometimes I even add more quick oats to make it stretch further. But that’s getting experimental. If this is your first time making it, I’d stick with the basic original recipe for best results.

Directions for Making Yummy Homemade Granola

(Preheat oven to 325 degrees).

how much quick oats does granola call for

1. In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, and seeds.

how to mix oil and honey

 2. In a smaller bowl, combine the oil (or butter), honey, and vanilla.

step-by-step almond granola

 3. Pour the oil or butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well to blend.

baked granola on cookie sheet

 4. Lightly oil two baking sheets for this amount of mix. Transfer the granola to the baking sheets, spreading it evenly across the sheet.

how to spread walnut granola

5.  Bake the granola for approximately 15-17 minutes or until it is golden brown. (Mix it around half way through so the bottom doesn’t get too burned).

crunchy granola well doneP.S. It takes more time to cook if using a glass pan like the one in the picture below. If using one of these I’d bake it for maybe 20-30 minutes.

granola casserole


6. Remove from oven and loosen with a spatula while it is still warm (or it will stick to the baking sheet).

hot cinnamon granola

Add dried fruits or berries (if desired) into the mix, after it has cooled. Store in an airtight container.

best granola recipe ever

good container for granola


coconut strawberry granola


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