Monday, November 18, 2013

What's mixin' in the kitchen: Apple Danish

Fall reminds me of apple pie. I love the smell and the way a slice of fresh apple pie just feels like home. But pie isn't always the easiest to eat because you can't easily pack it in a lunch or put it on a napkin. However, apple danish tastes like apple pie and is easy to grab on the go. 

3 1/2 c. flour
2 egg yolks, beaten
3/4 c. milk
1 c. shortening
1 tsp. salt

6 c. apple slices, thin
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. butter

Mix flour and salt together and cut in shortening. Combine egg yolks and milk, then add to flour mixture. Roll out half the mixture on floured surface to fit 11 x 16 x 1/2 inch jelly roll pan. Place in pan. It can be difficult to roll out the dough into a perfect rectangle. After I placed the dough onto the pan, I cut around the edges and added dough to where there were any holes. 

I used granny smith apples because they are more tart and the recipe calls for quite a bit of sugar. I like to use a vegetable peeler for the apples. To slice the apple real thin, you could use a food processor or a manual slicer. It took 3 large apples to make 6 cups of slices. Arrange the 6 cups apple slices on the crust. 


Combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Dot with butter. When dotting with butter, cut up cold butter into small cubes. I used about 2 to 3 T. butter here.


Roll out the remaining pastry dough and place over top of apples. You can see that I had to cut and add dough to a few places. No worries because the frosting will hide it!

Brush pastry with slightly beaten egg whites.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. The original recipe said 45 minutes but my oven seems to cook things more quickly and this was after 40 minutes. This was my first time making this but you can see that the pastry shrinks just a little bit, so next time I will allow a larger margin on the dough.

Mix glaze until smooth and spoon over pastry while still warm. The original recipe didn't have butter in the glaze but butter makes everything taste better. I personally like my frosting to not be so sweet but there are other recipes that make the glaze with egg whites and powdered sugar or you can just omit the butter. 

Cut into squares or diamonds when cool.

This recipe is from a church cookbook. The actual recipe was given by my relative. If you like what you see, you can find more family recipes at our family recipe blog:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happenings lately

I'm not an amazing seamstress but I can sew simple patterns. I have been meaning to recover our throw pillows for our couch and finally got around to it. 


The final product

Some of you may remember that a few months ago Isaac brought home two cows, Harold and Gertrude. Both of them got sick and although Isaac gave them medicine Harold died about 3 weeks after he was born. However, the good news is that Gertrude is still going strong! She has finally started to eat hay and grain although she still takes a bottle. She still looks pretty small in these pictures but I can tell that she is getting taller and putting on a little weight.

And here are a few recent photos of my darling Wyatt. He is walking now and is so proud of himself. He also loves to climb! He is so sweet and loves to take turns feeding cereal to each other. He is growing up so fast but I'm enjoying every minute of it. He got his third haircut from the barber a couple weeks ago. I hope that when we have a girl she will have this much hair!


Friday, November 1, 2013

What you need to know about pornography

Pornography. What comes to mind when you hear that word? A few words come to my mind: naked ladies, men, Internet, degrading, objectification, addiction, money. Some of those words probably came into your mind as well. But there are few other words that come to my mind that might shock you. I also think: teen perpetrators, incest, sexual abuse of children, Sarah, and Michael. Many conservatives and religious persons have been fighting the proliferation of pornography for decades. Others have argued that pornography is not a big deal, it's just naked people. And, what is so bad about the beautiful human body after all? Well, I understand why proponents of pornography didn't see the big deal years ago. Think about your father. Your father's first experience with pornography was viewing a play boy or penthouse with a friend who had managed to steal it from someone's secret stash. Pornography used to be just that, naked pictures of women. But pornography isn't just pictures. It is videos, sometimes violent videos. Sometimes videos of rapes and killings. Pornography includes sexual acts with children and animals. There is all sorts of crazy stuff out there now. And all pornography on the web is connected. While a child or adult may only want to view a typical sex act, that web page will have pop-ups and links to other websites. What at first is repulsive becomes interesting. What is interesting becomes attractive, and before you know it, that child or adult isn't just looking at a naked body. That child or adult is doing something illegal. And it isn't a one time thing, because it becomes compulsive, even addictive.

There is still some debate as to whether sexual addiction is a real thing. Let me tell you something. Sex addiction is real. Pornography addiction is real. And you should be scared. If you knew your child had easy access to cocaine or meth at 10-years-old, you would get your butt in gear and do everything in your power to protect your child. But instead, parents are naively buying their children iPads and phones with the Internet, not knowing that their child is one click away from a devastating addiction. Parents naively trust their children or parents aren't tech savvy so they have no clue as to what their children are viewing. These parents aren't bad parents. But similar to the manager of an employee who does something illegal, it is the manager's job to oversee and know what his employees are up to. It is the manager's job to catch things that don't seem right. As parents, it is our job to know what are children are up to. And if things don't seem right, we need to dig.

So what are the consequences of pornography? There are two trending articles floating around that can tell you about some of the effects. This article talks about how children and teens are becoming sex offenders. This article talks about how teens have a very distorted and violent view of what sex is. Those articles are great and they will disturb you, but you need to be informed.

So, let me tell you about my own experiences. I am a marriage and family therapist. I have worked with adult sex addicts and with sexually abused children. I do not work with sexual perpetrators. In my work with adults who struggle with sex addiction, I have seen grown men in agony because of the negative impact the addiction has had on their interpersonal relationships. An addiction to sex and pornography is not fun. It is risky. Some addicts get involved in illegal acts such as prostitution. They are often viewing porn on work computers and devices risking their employment. And it is all to chase a high. Medical studies have been done where they study how the brain of a sex addict reacts to pornographic images. The reward center lights up just as it would in a drug addict's or alcoholic's brain. And the worst part is that we live in a sexually addicted society. So even when the addict wants to become sober, he or she is bombarded with sexual language and images on the TV and magazine stands. When an alcoholic becomes sober, he or she can choose to not go to bars or walk near the alcohol aisle at the store. But most sex addicts will see sexual images while doing everyday things. They can't simply get rid of all computers and media. At some point, it will be there staring them in the face. So, recovery and sobriety become much more difficult.

People often think of sex addicts as perverts but they aren't. They are typically good people who have chosen a poor way to cope with depression and anxiety. Sadly, the coping strategy creates a whole other set of problems that only contribute to shame, depression, and anxiety. Many times, the addict will lose a spouse or partner because of the addiction. Although a spouse may gain an understanding of the addiction, it can still be difficult to learn how to offer support without enabling the addict. Many times loved ones just distance themselves leaving the addict and families are torn apart.

I want to make it clear that those who struggle with a pornography addiction can get help and lead fulfilling lives. However, the shame of a sexual addiction is very powerful and keeps many addicts from reaching out for help. There are many 12-step groups for sexual addicts anonymous and many counselors that are willing to assist individuals and couples who are burdened by this addiction. If you or a loved one struggle with a pornography addiction, I encourage you to seek help early. Although relapse is common, those who learn healthy coping strategies will find more peace and strength to cultivate rewarding relationships.

Now, let's talk about the kids. In my work with sexually abused children, I worked with two particular cases where pornography was the primary motivator of the sexual abuse. I'm sure that pornography has played a role in other cases but I cannot confirm it's involvement in the other cases. I remember when Michael came in. He was only four or five years old. A nine-year-old girl had sexually abused him. Everyone was very concerned because typically when you have a perpetrator that young, it means that child has also been a victim of sexual abuse. After some digging, the families found out that the young girl had seen a pornographic film that I believe belonged to her parents. She had simply been repeating what she had seen on a video.

Sarah is actually a victim of incest. Sarah was sexually abused by her older brother for years. Her brother viewed a lot of pornography in his room. It seemed as though, when he didn't have a girlfriend, the pornography would create such a strong craving to act out sexually that he began to coerce Sarah into participating in sexual acts with him. Little can compare to the devastation parents experience when they discover that one of their children has sexually abused their other child. This family was just destroyed by the news. It will be a while before they pick up all the pieces and move forward.

Now, I don't want you to think that all sex or porn addicts are going to sexual abuse or rape others. But it is a risk. Looking at pornographic images on the Internet could lead to your child becoming a sexual perpetrator, a victim of sexual abuse, a registered sex-offender, or a sex addict that struggles everyday to stay sober in hopes that he or she can have a fulfilling romantic relationship.

So what can you do as a parent?
1. Get rid of your own porn. If you have magazines or videos throw them away, burn them, just get them out of the house where your child could access them. If you view porn online, stop. When I'm on my phone or computer I'll find that sometimes accidentally pushing buttons takes me back to pages I've previously viewed. If you are viewing pornography, your child will be more likely to accidentally stumble upon it.

2. Get a program for your computer that blocks pornographic websites. Now, this type of software cannot always detect all pornography but it will help block a lot of it. This is primarily advantageous for keeping images from children who have never viewed pornography. If someone already has an addiction, be aware that if they are relapsing, they will more likely be able find a way around the software. So don't be shocked if the software is not successful in that situation.

3. DO NOT let your child have a personal computer in his or her room. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. A computer should be located in a central location in the home where their is constant traffic flow or supervision. I personally wouldn't let my child take an iPad into his/her room alone.

4. Avoid giving your child a phone with Internet capabilities and if you do, become tech savvy and regularly check up on your child. Let your child know that with the privilege of a phone, you as the parent get to monitor the usage of the phone. Don't lie or go snooping around. Tell your child upfront what the rules are and ENFORCE them.

5. Talk to your children about what types of movies and images are okay to view. Teach them the sacredness of the human body and that we respect the body. My friends showed me pornography when I was 13-years-old. These were kids from good homes. Because my mom had taught me that I shouldn't be looking at those things, I left that room and told my friends I wanted to do something different. There was no big scene. There was no shaming my friends, I simply walked away. Teach your children how they can respond when such situations arise because they will.

6. Make your place a home where children want to come play. If your house becomes a place where children can be creative and have fun, children will prefer to come play at your house. You will have more control over what movies are seen and what activities are going on if it is in your home.

7. Know the parents of the children who play with your children. The more you know their parents, the better you will be able to assess your child's safety or address problems if the children do things they shouldn't. Also get to know your kids friends, especially when they are teenagers. If you want to know who your kid really is, get to know your kid's friends and you'll find out. Teens are experts at portraying one persona at school and another at home.

8. Pray. Some of you might not be religious but I think you will become religious when you are raising teens! You will need all the help you can get! But seriously, as a parent there are things that your children will successfully hide from you. So pray to God that after you do what you can that He will help your children to make good decisions. Pray that God will help warn you when something isn't right. Pray for the strength to learn the truth about your teen. And pray that when difficulties come, and they will, that God will help you and your teen to know what to do to make things right again.

Pornography has real devastating consequences. For years, studies have shown that when children experiment with drugs or alcohol at young ages, they are more prone to become addicts. I think this is true for pornography as well. Internet porn seen for the first time at age 23 will probably have a different effect than Internet porn viewed at age 10. Recognize that these are different times and that you have to make adjustments accordingly. Protect your children, protect yourself, protect your home.

Note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of former clients.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Here's to two years!

Today is our two year wedding anniversary. Isaac and I often laugh about how you see the same Facebook post again and again, "Two years ago I made the best decision ever," "Two years ago I married my best friend." Truthfully, I don't know that I can say that I married my best friend two years ago. The friendship aspect of our marriage has grown so much that I think it would be more accurate to say that I married my lover or romantic partner two years ago who has now become my very best friend. I could say something sappy like, "it has been the best two years of my life" and it probably has been but I guess I don't view it quite like that. Marriage is a fascinating relationship. It's like no other. In marriage, you actually choose to be in the relationship and you choose to bind it legally. You put all your eggs in the basket. You share property, money, time, your body, and really anything that you have to offer. As a marriage and family therapist I probably reflect more on my marriage than the typical person. So, I'd like to share some thoughts with you about my own experience with marriage.

Marriage is fun
Marriage can be super fun. You have this constant buddy and you find things that you love to do and then you do them together, like everyday! It's awesome. It's not like when you were little and had to bribe your siblings to do something with you. Your spouse is just as excited as you to do all these things together. You always have a friend with whom to eat, play, work, and sleep.

Marriage means fighting
Some couples may pride themselves on not fighting and that is fine. High five to you. Growing up I never really got into many fights with my siblings, parents, or friends but Isaac and I fight. Gasp! I know, I'm a therapist and I fight with my husband! I'm not ashamed of it. Sometimes we could be nicer when we fight. Sometimes the fights lead to tears (usually me cause I am a crier) and sometimes they lead to laughter (Isaac likes to use humor to dissipate an argument). Sometimes I will refer to a fight and Isaac will say something like, "What fight?" I guess we should fight about the definition of "fight" since we clearly disagree on that.

Some people think fighting is bad for a relationship and it can be because sometimes people say things that they can't take back. Sometimes fights can destroy trust but not all fighting is bad. In fact, I personally think that the absence of fighting can be a problem. You are two separate individuals, so there is no way that you will always agree on everything. Sometimes the absence of fighting or disagreeing can indicate that one person fears the other or that one person has lost their voice to what the other partner wants. I think disagreeing can be a sign of trust. For example, if I'm upset about something or if I don't agree and I voice that to my spouse, I am really saying, "I trust that if I tell you I am upset about something, you will want to address the problem with me. And if I don't agree with you, I can tell you because you will still love me and be with me even if I don't think or act like you."

Marriage is saying, "I'm sorry"
We all mess up. We all fall short. Recognizing your part of a problem is key to feeling connected to your spouse. I kind of chuckle sometimes because after a fight or a problem, Isaac and I will often come back to each other and it's like, "who will apologize first?" I'm grateful that I have a husband that values feeling connected to me enough to set aside his pride and look at himself to see how he contributed to a problem. It is easy to admit where you are at fault when you can trust that your spouse is doing this as well. It is much harder to set aside your pride if you can't be sure that your spouse will.

Marriage is toleration
So, one interesting thing about marriage is that often the same issues come up again and again. Usually this is because it may be linked to a personality trait. Like one person may run late and that will continually annoy the other person. One day I had the thought, "I don't want you to be sorry, I don't want it to happen in the first place!" But being married means that we put up with each other's shortcomings even if it takes years for our spouse to improve. I have my shortcomings and if I want Isaac to be patient as I work on my faults, then I need to be patient with his.

Marriage is security
I got married at age 27. I remember feeling lonely when I was single. Sometimes people think that when they find "the one," they will be happy. Let me tell you, I don't think that is true. Initially, you will be full of bliss because you are falling in love. But I don't feel like I interact with others more cheerfully now. I'm pretty much the same person, same personality as before. I don't feel that romantic loneliness but I have felt other kinds of loneliness. I have felt lonely because I don't have as many good friends nearby as I used to have. I have always been a social butterfly but since getting married, graduating from school, and becoming a mom my social life has changed and sometimes that means feeling a little lonely. However, I will say that having a spouse who I know loves me and is committed to me brings a sense of security that I'm not sure I had ever felt before. My parents divorced when I was six-years-old. Abandonment, despite the form it may take, often leads one to question whether anyone will want you or want to stay with you. Some people may still struggle with these feelings even after marrying. In my personal experience, my marriage has helped me overcome these types of thoughts and feelings.

Marriage is family
One of the best things about marriage is that you grow your family! I feel very lucky because I absolutely adore my in-laws. They are so caring and personable. It is nice to see their example of dedication to their marriage and family. Also, marriage often leads to children. I remember when Wyatt joined us. That moment was so special, and I can't describe how bonded I felt to Isaac. My love for Isaac only grew because together we had created this beautiful baby boy. It is so fun for us to play together as a family and just enjoy each other's personalities. Honestly, nothing beats that, nothing.

Marriage is creation
One exciting part of marriage and family is creating your own traditions or continuing traditions from your own families. It is also fun to decorate a home and create an environment where your family can grow. It is nice to be able to take the good things from your childhood and provide them for your family. And if there were negative things in your childhood, you also get to try to create a home and environment where there those things have no place.

Now, if you aren't married some of you might think this sounds good, and some may think it sounds not so good. Marriage isn't easy. Awhile back there was a lot of backlash for a comment that Ben Affleck made when receiving an award because he said that his marriage is a lot of work. He was being honest. Anyone who deeply cares about the success and longevity of their marriage will come to know at some point that marriage is work. It reminds me of serving a mission. When I went on a mission to Russia, I had the best time. I had tons of fun, learned a lot, but I also faced a lot of challenges. If you had looked at all the challenges I faced, you might think, "Why would anyone ever do that?" That's what lazy people say. That is what people say who are looking for someone else to make them happy. Truly happy people know that joy comes from the fruits of hard work and diligence. It is difficult to convey in words what it feels like to be truly loved so that another person could understand why all the sacrifice is worth it. But if you were to feel that love, you would be willing to do the work.

I feel very fortunate that things have worked out so well. In some ways Isaac and I are pretty different and I did have some worries that those differences might be problematic. But today I can assuredly say that I chose well when I married. When you marry, you are trusting someone with your future. That is huge! While two years isn't a long time, it has given me the time to see if Isaac really was as great as he presented himself to be when we were dating. It has been comforting to see that he is the very man that I married. I'm so grateful for Isaac's love, loyalty, and companionship. I hope we will be blessed to have many more years together.

Below are a few pictures to reminiscence.

If you want to see more pictures from the wedding, click on the following link:

If you want to hear the story of how we met, click on the following link:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cooking from the garden

Well, many of you might remember that this was our first year planting our own vegetable garden. There were a couple of bad hail storms in June and we had thought that we lost our garden. I decided to keep watering to see what would happen. Weeks and months later, we had a significant harvest of squash, jalapenos, cucumbers, poblano peppers, green peppers, cilantro, cantaloupes, tomatoes, and a little bit of corn. The red peppers and watermelon didn't make it but we were pretty proud that anything made it! 

Here are some of the plants while they were growing:



Our tomato plans grew all summer but we didn't see any fruit until the middle of August when things finally started to cool down. I decided to make some spaghetti sauce from scratch. So delicious!

I cut the tomatoes in half and placed them flat down in a baking dish that I had previously drizzled some olive oil over. I then sliced some garlic and added a pasta spice mix from Penzey's. (If you don't know about Penzey's, you need to! See . My mom introduced me to their spices and they definitely taste much better than the stuff you buy at the store and it doesn't cost much more than the name brand spices.) I cooked the tomatoes at 300 degrees for about two hours. I let the tomatoes cool a bit and then I squeezed the meat of the tomato out of the skin into a blender. Here is the result from one pan. (I used two pans of tomatoes for a full recipe of sauce)


In a large pan, I sauteed an onion and added some ground hamburger and browned the meat. I then added the blended tomatoes.


And since I had some green peppers from the garden, I cut up a green pepper and added that to the sauce. I like to add peppers later to soups and sauces so they still have a little crunch.

 And dinner!

This is a great snack or lunch item that my mom taught me to make. Peel a cucumber and place it in a solution of 1/3 c. vinegar, 1/3 c. water, and 1/3 c. sugar. You should try to refrigerate the cucumbers in vinegar for an hour or two so they soak up the flavor. Then butter a piece of bread and place the cucumbers on top. You can eat it as an open face or closed face sandwich. So yummy!

Well, this is just cantaloupe, which is always a delicious snack. Our cantaloupes were fabulous! Because we could wait to pick them until they were ripe, they were always the perfect texture and flavor!

So, here I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished product! Nevertheless, it is pretty easy to make even without the picture. If you like pinto beans, and you would like to spice them up, cut up a tomato, a jalapeno or two, 1/4-1/3 onion and saute them in a little bit of oil. Once the veggies soften, add canned or home cooked pinto beans with juices. Once the beans have heated up, add cilantro.

Here is the corn. It was so good but most of the crop didn't turn out. We are hoping that next year it will fertilize better.

This was the very first harvest, some cucumbers, zucchini, and squash. If you want to grow something, plant squash. It seriously grows like a weed. We ate a ton of squash! I made zucchini bread, sauteed squash, grilled squash, soup. You name it, we ate it. Next year I probably won't plant so much. It was a hassle just trying to find people to help eat it!

Here is one last recipe that I made with garden vegetables. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law's friend. You remove the seeds and cut up poblano peppers and saute them in 1/2 stick of butter until tender. In a blender, combine the peppers with 1 clove garlic, 1/2 medium onion, 4 slices cheddar cheese, 2 cans nestle crema (or 2 cups half-n-half), and 2 chicken bouillon cubes. Once blended, add salsa to 1/2 stick melted butter in sauce pan. Place cooked (al dente) spaghetti in a baking dish and poor sauce over spaghetti. Top with Panela cheese. Place in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This is a spicy, creamy pasta dish. Yum!


Well, having a garden was a lot of work but we definitely ate well! Looking back, sometimes I wonder if it was worth all the work. I will tell you that the cantaloupe, tomatoes, and corn are definitely a better quality. The peppers and squash taste about the same but I guess they don't have pesticides so that is a plus. I hope that we will get better at gardening and I think that will make the pay off a little better.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The oppression of women

Who made this? The first time I saw this shoe I wanted to vomit. I thought the point of tennis shoes was comfort. Now you want to take my comfortable shoes away and make them into heels?! Please tell me that a man invented these because if it was another woman, I think we all need to take her down.

Another fashion trend  that oppresses women is the romper or the one piece jumpsuit.


Who brought this back? There is a reason some things go out of style. How am I supposed to go to bathroom in this? Oh wait, that's right! Women don't go to the bathroom. We also never fart. What man would ever consent to wearing a one piece article of clothing. Men don't even have take off their pants, or even underwear, to go to the bathroom. Now women need to take off shirt, pants, and underwear? Nope, I'm not buying one of these things. And you know who wears one piece outfits like this all the time? My 1-year-old son. At least his outfits have snaps at the bottom for easy access.

Another fashion trend that may not seem oppressive, but bothers me nonetheless, is shorts that are so short that you can see the girl's butt cheeks. Now, if you have a nice butt this is a great way for you to showcase it and men will be excited. But you know who isn't excited? Anyone that has to sit on a seat wear you sat. We all sweat and unless you are lathering up your buttocks with deodorant, chances are your butt sweats. On a seat. A public seat. GROSS. This is actually worse for other girls who wear shorts as short as yours because basically your butts kiss on a restaurant booth seat. What did they call that on Modern Family, a lunar landing? I'm glad that my butt is safe because it is covered but I still don't want your sweaty bum germs on my jeans, skirt, or anything else I wear. Plus, doesn't your butt ever stick to the seat? Ew, gross. Does it really take that much effort for you to turn a guy's head? Maybe you need a new haircut or something, because I just don't feel like shorts that short could be comfortable or sanitary.

Well, I'm glad I got that off my chest. Hopefully, women everywhere will realize that we need to fight against this fashion oppression, not just for our comfort but also for our health.