Monday, December 5, 2011

An Announcement

one boy
one girl 

one perfect proposal
eleven diamonds
one very happy engaged couple

one very happy engaged couple
56 days of engagement
a temple in Newport Beach
one mother's dress
a $5,000 budget
a whole lotta love
one very happy married couple

Michael & I are sealing the deal and getting hitched on 
December 29th, 2011. 

Until then, I'm a bit preoccupied with cookin' up wedding plans to do too much recipe cookin'. 
I'll be back once I have MY OWN KITCHEN. 
Where I shall be cooking meals. For my husband. 
talk about bliss

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Halloween!

All of the 50% off sales on candy give me little reason to bake up any treats this week (although America's Test Kitchen has been beguiling me with this killer brownie recipe... it will be posted soon), but this was too sweet not to share with you all.

I know, I know. Kissing pictures. ew. And if we're facebook friends, you've already seen this. Sorry for the redundancy. But I was really proud of this Halloween inspiration, and when you only get to wear something once, you have to post pictures everywhere.

We're supposed to be these two, if you didn't recognize the iconic pose: 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

It's one of those fantastic autumn afternoons where the trees a bursts of color but the sunshine still feels like summer, there's just the slightest chill in the air. And I came home early from campus to add my beloved green apron to my outfit, which already would have fit in well on the set of Julie & Julia. My church ward is having a pumpkin carving activity next week, and since we have an excess of graham crackers from our last s'more activity, I've been called upon to concoct a recipe for a marshmallow-topped sweet potato pie with a graham cracker crust. I'm not sure that I've ever been so happy about a church assignment.

I've never even tasted sweet potato pie until today—much less attempted to make one before—but I'm happy to report that my Tasting Committee (roommmates and boyfriend) all approved of this latest incarnation of my favorite starchy superfood. The flavors were warm without being overwhelming, the consistency was decadent, but not overly rich, and the addition of the toasted marshmallows added a bit of whimsy. Yes, pies can be whimsical. Since I lacked any experience with this particular pie, I turned to Smitten Kitchen; the filling recipe belongs to her, with a few minor tweaks. For a sweet way to celebrate autumn's goodness, try this pie!

Sweet Potato Pie

Graham Cracker Crust
12 Graham Crackers
5 tblsp. butter, melted, plus some softened for buttering pie dish
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
(1/4 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put your graham crackers in a plastic bag (layer two bags if yours are a bit flimsy). Find a sturdy object (I used a rolling pin) & bash them to bits. This is great fun, but may startle your neighbors. In a large bowl, melt 5 tblsp. of the butter. Also coat the inside of your pie dish in butter (I used the remnants that stuck to the wrapper). Add brown sugar and vanilla to melted butter and stir until smooth. Add crushed graham crackers and mix until butter mixture is thoroughly blended throughout. Spread crumbly crust mixture into pan and press it down firmly, pushing crumbs up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until crust is golden and crisp, but not dark brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Sweet Potato Filling
This recipe is taken directly from Smitten Kitchen; my only additions were a dash of ground ginger and the marshmallows on top.

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and chopped into a 1/2-inch dice (I used two fairly large potatoes and had twice what I needed. One large sweetie would do the trick.)
4 tblsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter, 1/4 tsp. if using salted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tblsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup full- or lowfat buttermilk (or, you can make your own, see below)
About 20 large marshmallows, cut in half, or as many mini marshmallows as it takes to cover the pie

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pour 1 1/2 inches of water into a 3-quart stock part with a strainer basket suspended over it and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Place the steamed sweet potatoes in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Mash them into a smooth puree with a fork or potato masher. You should have 1 1/4 cups puree; discard any excess (by topping with a pat of butter, sprinkling with salt and cinnamon and making yourself a most-excellent snack). Add the butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until they’re a creamy lemon-yellow color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated and the filling is a consistent bright orange color. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Add the buttermilk and again stir until smooth and even.

3. With a cleaned whisk (or electric hand mixer), whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean, dry bowl. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the sweet potato-buttermilk mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake on the middle rack of the oven until the center is fairly firm, only jiggling ever-so-slightly if you give it a light shake, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and turn your oven to broil. Top with marshmallows and return the pie to the oven. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE MARSHMALLOWS! Leave your oven door open a crack or even try simply baking them (at about 400°F). They will go from white to charcoal super fast under a broiler; this step of the baking process shouldn't take more than three minutes.

4. I suggest allowing the pie to cool slightly before serving, but it's good both warm and cold. Happy Baking!

Monday, October 10, 2011


I wrote this little ditty during my first semester at BYU, now 4 years ago. I was still figuring out college life (still am, really), new to Facebook, and loved tying ribbons in my hair. I'd forgotten about this poem until my darling friend Carrie asked me about it a few days ago. She and I met each other in that writing class so long ago. After 2 years of living in the same room, planning her wedding, lots of late nights, crying on each others' shoulders as our Daddies battled the same cancer monster, and sharing life in general, I am still so grateful for that crazy beautiful blonde girl (who I later found out changed her hair color monthly) who shared a mutual stalker with me and a propensity to procrastinate on the housing hunt. Here's to you, Currface. luhju.

PS - Cerusa is a character from Greek drama —I was writing an essay about her & ran out of story so... like any good writer with a stagnant character, I killed her. I'm not really a morbid person.


Today I am a ribbon,
Just floating on the breeze.
Not quite sure where I’m going,
but just doing what I please.

I write a silly sonnet,
wait for a boy to call.
Decide to kill Cerusa,
leave a message on a wall.

I try to make decisions,
give my life a place to go,
but today I am a ribbon,
softly drifting, falling slow.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Coconut Curry Soup to Cure Your Ills

I've been holding on to this recipe until 1) I had time to write it, and 2) it felt like soup weather. There is snow covering the mountains yonder. It is time.

Besides being delicious, this warm, creamy curried concoction is an anti-sickness soup. It quite literally gave me superpowers of illness resistance. Last month, my boyfriend was stricken with a nasty case of strep throat. My typically strong go-getter of a guy was reduced to slumping on my couch and writing me messages on a whiteboard as he could hardly speak. After he dropped over five pounds in two days, I decided we needed a nutrient-packed, carb-packed, protein-packed soup that would be soothing to his throat and give both of our immune systems a bit of a turbo charge. And I, my friends, never did succumb to that virulent bout of sickness. And he didn't fade away into nothingness. Success!

We all know that nothing feels more healing than Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup... at least, nothing until I brewed this soup. It's warm, slightly creamy, and full of filling things with just enough spice and coconut flavor to keep it interesting (I used a fairly mild curry powder). I know I've lauded the awesomeness of sweet potatoes before, but those babies are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and all sorts of goodness.

So if you're feeling under the weather or feeling the need to celebrate the chill in the air, this should be on your menu this weekend.

Coconut Curry Soup with Sweet Potatoes & Chicken
Serves 8 to 10, but also stores well and can be frozen.
For a spicier soup, up the amount of curry to 5 tblsp. and add 1 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes and 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper.

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 tblsp. curry powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
3 tblsp. olive oil
1 potato, peeled & diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
2 cans chicken broth
1 can full of water
1 can coconut milk
3 tblsp. cornstarch
diced green onions for garnish
brown rice (optional)

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high. Add onion, garlic, curry, paprika, nutmeg, and other peppers (if using). Heat until onions become slightly transparent, then add chicken. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until nearly fully cooked. (Begin cooking rice if you'd like to serve the soup over rice.)

2. Add both cans of chicken broth and half a can full of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and add both types of potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. If you'd like your broth to be thicker, mix 3 tblsp. cornstarch with remaining water, and gently stir in. Simmer on high for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and slowly stir in coconut milk (and go for the good stuff, not the light version). Serve over rice if you like, topped with sliced green onions. Enjoy! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Finished cupcakes are a fairly flat, but you can pile on the icing if you like.
My mother's pumpkin bread is the definition of Fall. It's spicy, warm, and full of rich goodness. (Being a walking thesaurus, I would also add apple crisp, potato soup, and a few other dishes under the heading of "definition of Fall.")

However, it's July. So when one of my favorite little girls, who has a birthday coming up, told me that her favorite kind of cake was pumpkin, I thought I might be able to lighten up mom's classic pumpkin bread into a more summer-friendly cupcake. Cooking without a recipe is the norm for me, but this was one of my first attempts at changing key scientific players (flour, eggs, baking soda, baking powder, sugar) drastically in a recipe for baked goods. It was kind of exhilarating. And it worked!

So, behold, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

For Pumpkin Cupcakes
Yields about 32 cupcakes, or 24 cupcakes and one loaf

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (or fresh, optional)
 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk

2 1/2 cups + 4 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped dates (semi optional—it's definitely better with them, but still good without)
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 cupcake tins with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine shortening and sugars; whip until slightly fluffy. And pumpkin and blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically. Add vanilla, salt, and spices; blend. Beat eggs lightly and add to batter along with the milk. Scrape sides of bowl and blend thoroughly.

2. Add 2 cups of flour with baking soda and baking powder. I like to mix the baking soda and powder into the flour just a bit with the handle end of my spatula before completely incorporating with my wet ingredients. When the first batch of flour is mixed in well, add remaining flour. Mix thoroughly, but don't blend the heck out of it. Add dates and chocolate chips and mix until evenly dispersed.

3. If you have a handy old-fashioned ice cream/batter scoop with a spring-loaded handle, this is a perfect time to use it. If not, use two large spoons or a scoop spatula to fill cupcake papers until they're about two-thirds full. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Check your first batch of cupcakes at about 12 minutes, just because all ovens are different and I think mine is slightly dysfunctional at the moment, so my time might be a bit off. These cupcakes remain fairly flat on top, so don't worry if they don't get fluffy tops.

 4. Prepare frosting of your choice (mine is cream cheese! see below) while the cupcakes cool. Frost, serve, and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting
Okay, so here's the thing about frosting recipes: I think they're silly. Rather like Captain Barbosa, I see them more as... guidelines than actual rules. Every batch of frosting is a bit different. So here are the basic measurements for my starting point, then I add enough powdered sugar and milk to make as much frosting as I need at the consistency I want. Actually, that's not true; I always make far more frosting than I need. But when is too much frosting ever a bad thing?

6 oz. (3/4s of a block) cream cheese
3 Tblsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. allspice (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. In a medium bowl, whip together cream cheese, butter, salt, vanilla, and spices. (You'll want an electric mixer.) Blend until fluffy. Slowly incorporate about 1/4 cup of milk. Add about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Blend and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue adding milk and sugar slowly until you have as much frosting as you want with a thick but spreadable consistency. I think I used about 4 cups of powdered sugar and a little over a cup of milk.

Wing it. Be daring with your frosting. And enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Strawberry Short-Order Cake

Strawberry shortcake is one of those quintessential summer treats. Biscuity shortcakes, fresh strawberries, and plenty of whipped cream. Heavenly.

But...sometimes a bit fussy. So for those of us with a bit less patience who want their cake with their berries in it, too, I present this simple, one-bowl, no-eggs, seven-ingredient, no-fuss, mostly from-scratch, (overly adjectivized) summer cake. Not too sweet, not at all pretentious, with that old-fashioned biscuit flavor that shows off the berries at their best. Great for breakfast. . . if you can leave any leftovers.

Note: I believe this recipe would work equally well with raspberries (for Leah!), blueberries, blackberries, peaches, or any blend thereof. Try it and let me know.

Strawberry Short-Order Cake
As liberally adapted from my mother's neighbor's recipe for peach cobbler.
1 1/4 cups sugar + 3 tblsp. for strawberries and dusting
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 cup milk
1—1 1/2 cups strawberries (or other suggested fruit; see note)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice strawberries into a small bowl and add about a tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and stir until blended. Add milk and stir until the batter is relatively lump free. It should be a bit thicker than a typical cake batter. If it seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of milk. (or melted butter. You can choose. Culinary democracy.)

3. Pour 2/3 of the batter into a greased 8x8 baking dish. Add berries evenly. Spoon the rest of the batter over the berries, allowing a few berries to peek through. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake has a few crumbs clinging to it, but no gooey batter. The top of the cake should be golden brown.

Also... I need a more creative sign off than "Enjoy!" and Julie owns "Bon Appetit!" Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Butternut Squash Ravioli w/ Butter & Basil

Back in February of  2010, a dashing young gentleman treated me to a night at the symphony (Mahler's 5th—the finale is particularly wonderful) and dinner at one of Provo's swankiest eateries. I ordered a plate of butternut squash ravioli that was so subtle yet rich in depth and flavor that it led to a culinary epiphany. Since then, I've been trying to hone the art of subtle cooking that enhances a few key flavors. I had yet to try to replicate those influential raviolis, but when three butternut squash arrived in this weeks' Bountiful Basket, it seemed that the time was as ripe as the vegetables.
Have you threatened any vegetables lately?

This was my first experience with making pasta—from flour to finished product—myself. I have four main observations: 1) making ravioli is a labor of love; 2) fresh eggs (mine came from a neighbor's farm this morning) are crucial to the flavor and texture; 3) the water for boiling the pasta must be really salty; and 4) it's totally worth the extra effort.

Butternut squash was another ingredient I'd never handled before. I found that roasting the squash with some spices before pureeing it upped the flavor and softened the texture. Note: dismantling a butternut requires a very sharp knife.
Butternuts are beautiful.

Butternut Squash Ravioli
I started roasting the squash first, then made the pasta dough while the squash cooled. While the dough rested, I washed the bowl of the Cuisinart, then whipped the filling together. This gave the flavors of the filling some time to meld while I rolled out the dough by hand. My first attempt looked like an amoeba with vertigo. It's okay if it's not perfect.

For Filling
2 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into cubes
5-9 cloves of garlic (depending on preference), tops and bottoms trimmed but with the skin on
3 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. curry
further 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. onion powder
dash allspice
dash paprika
1/3 cup grated parmesan (not the powdery stuff. no.)

1. Set oven to 400°F. Wash and peel the squash (this is a bit tricky, but you can handle it). Cut off the top stem and a small portion of the bottom to make a steady base. Cut lengthwise once, then scoop out seeds. Dice into small cubes. Drizzle olive oil onto a baking sheet and scatter squash evenly; add whole garlic cloves. Sprinkle with nutmeg, curry, salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the squash is soft and shows some browning around the edges. Take the squash out of the oven to cool while you make the pasta.
Dough balls need to be kneaded.

For Pasta (from America's Test Kitchen's The New Best Recipe)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 fresh eggs

2. Add flour to the bowl of Cuisinart and pulse to evenly incorporate air. Add eggs and blend until a dough ball forms, rolling cleanly around the bowl. There will still be some small bits of dough not in the ball.  If the dough doesn't stick together, add water gradually by teaspoons. If the dough is sticky and clings to the bowl, add flour by tablespoons until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding a bit more flour until the dough feels soft, but not tacky. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside.

3. Clean Cuisinart and finish the  filling. Add roasted squash and garlic to the bowl, carefully removing the skins from the garlic first. Add 1/2 tsp additional nutmeg, 1 tsp onion powder, a dash of paprika, a dash of allspice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add grated parmesan. The squash will be sweet, but don't over-salt it. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically.
Squash filling and my second, more uniform strip of dough.

4. Divide pasta dough into three pieces. Cover your working surface with a light dusting of flour and roll the dough out until it is very thin, about the thickness of a tortilla. As you roll, flip the dough every so often, flouring the bottom and top as you work to prevent sticking. When the dough is thin and even, use a pizza cutter (or ravioli cutter, if you have one!) to cut it into 2 1/2 inch strips; loosen strips from countertop by gentle lifting them after they've been cut. Place squash filling by teaspoon-amount along one strip, about every 2 to 3 inches. Wet your finger with a small amount of water and trace along the edges of the ravioli strip and in between each bit of filling. Carefully place a second strip of dough on top of the first strip and filling, pressing the air out and sealing each bundle of joy filling. Divide the raviolis with a pizza cutter. Set made ravioli on a baking sheet lined with a dish towel while you repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat, etc.,  until you've used all of your dough.
Ready Ravioli—time to boil.

5. Fill a very large pot with hot water and bring it to a boil. Add at least one tablespoon of salt per quart of water; it should taste like seawater. Turn heat down to continue a rapid simmer, and carefully drop raviolis in to boil. Don't crowd the pot. Cook raviolis for about 4 minutes.

6. Serve topped with butter, finely shredded fresh basil, parmesan cheese, and pepper. I orignally served this pasta with a basil cream sauce, but the raviolis have more than enough flavor to stand alone.


Saturday, July 2, 2011


I could apologize for the lack of updates over the last month? two months? I've lost track. But no one has been pounding on my door, demanding new recipes or craving the random details of my life, so I figure the apology is not necessary. Besides, way too many people apologize for summer-induced blog neglect, brought about by too much sun and freedom. So I'm not going to do that.

However, if you are one of those scintillating, devastatingly attractive people called "followers," you might notice a change in scenery around Rush Slowly. I'm working on getting a new photograph for the header, and although this well-loved look was dear to me

I think it was time for a change. And I also think it's time for me to stop playing with colors and fonts and get back in the kitchen.

Remember when I raved about butternut squash ravioli over a year ago? There are three butternut squashes sitting on my kitchen table, just begging me to 1) draw faces on them and make them into a real family, then 2) oven-roast them and make them into ravioli with a basil cream sauce. Coming soon to a blog near you...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Is Home(s)

I've had many homes, sometimes on the other side of the world. But nearly a month ago, I left one home in Jerusalem to return to the US of A. The last few weeks have been a blur of joy and sorrow, reunions and goodbyes, and a few different homes. We traveled to Laguna to again celebrate the earthly life of our beautiful Briana Blackwelder, who deserves a post of her own and so much more.
Cooking up a feast with Bri at Thanksgiving 2010

As heartwrenching as those goodbyes have been, it was wonderful to be "home" and spend Mother's Day with my mama in the ward where she first became a  mother (to many others before I came along). There were rose gardens and ferns in mason jars, there were tears and smiles, there were familiar roads and lots of new buildings, there were days of surf and sunshine and sunburns, and most importantly, there were friends who have become family through years of love.

Ocean Way, being a poser, & Ian rippin' the waves at Emerald Bay.
I love my mama and she loves me (even when I'm silly).
But now we're really home at our little house in the country. It's pretty quiet around these parts, but besides beautiful scenery and my awesome parents, I have seven furry new reasons why you should come visit me.

My front yard and the little ruffians who have overtaken it.
These cute little mongrels are sure to be featured again soon. Until then, here's a preview of a few of the new recipes I've had a chance to work on. Rush Slowly is going back to the kitchen again!

Coming Attractions

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bittersweet Symmetry

I'm going to be doing this again soon.

But I'm not sure how to feel about it.

& this time I don't haven my Etch-a-Sketch.

some of this will be waiting for me once I fly over the big blue ocean:

but I'm really going to miss this:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time Machine

1700 BC
1550 BC
1468 BC
1270 BC
1269 BC
1230 BC
1224 BC
1000  BC
961 BC
950 BC
922 BC
918 BC
853  BC
732  BC
722 BC
701 BC
640  BC
609  BC
586 BC
537 BC
520 BC
444  BC
430  BC
332 BC
270  BC
198 BC
167  BC
164  BC
63 BC
38 BC
31 BC
 20 BC
 4 BC
 6 AD
10  AD
26  AD
66  AD
70  AD
73  AD
135 AD
180 AD
324 AD
500  AD
638 AD
1099  AD
1187 AD
I can tell you something significant that happened in the Holy Land in each & every single one of these years.  

(to be sung to the rhythm of "Saudis in Audis"
In the 12 &69, Rameses treats with the Hittites, 1270 was the Ex-O-dus, Israel led out by Mah-O-ses.
180 AD - The Jews changed their stance on writing the Oral Toral 180 degrees & wrote it down. This was called the Mishnah. 

1230 BC- Joshua crossed into Canaan--just in time for lunch.

586 BC- Nebudchadnezzar went after Jerusalem with sticks (big ones) & destroyed the First Temple, which, incidentally, was built by Solomon in...
950 BC.  BAM.
I'm like a timeline ninja! (taken at Galilee)
Go ahead. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hardcore Parkour

I post this as a tribute to our awesome boys that have taken up Parkour here in Jerusalem. I found this graffiti last week and had to pose & show off my wrapped up foot.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

happiness: noun

a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy
b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience 
It's a simple definition for a simple feeling of bliss and contentment--a feeling that I've become rather accustomed to here. There are so many things that I would add to the definition of happiness. Friends, can I tell you a bit more about what defines happiness in my mind?
Happiness is singing hymns on the Sabbath at the Garden Tomb.
Happiness is hiking through fields laden with wildflowers in Galilee.

Happiness is poking jellyfish while collecting seashells and sea glass along the Mediterranean waterside (despite the look of disgust on my face).
Don't worry--it was dead & I only touched the top anyway; I learned my lesson from Finding Nemo.
Happiness is looking out across this beautiful ocean.

Happiness is discovering that your suitcase's handles double as straps & that you must have been a Sherpa in a previous life. 
This was even more impressive when I was carrying my backpack in front of me & holding the bus doc bag.
Happiness is blue skies smiling down on fields of gold.

Happiness is climbing trees in Chorazin.
Look how color coordinated we are!

Happiness is hiking with the little ones.
Cam has such a way with children.

Happiness is poppies and pillars.

Happiness is castles in a storm & Catholic saints spangled with the light of stained glass windows.

Happiness is playing April Fools jokes on/with your best friends.
Sorry boys, Carrie & I couldn't resist. Neither could the dozen people that called both of you. :)

Happiness is wind blowing through your hair under an ancient Roman arch & not even caring because you're under an ancient Roman arch along the Mediterranean. 

But perhaps the key to the blissful feeling I have on this lovely Sunday morning in Jerusalem: Happiness is staying up until 1 a.m. to watch General Conference, streaming live from Salt Lake City. 

If you're looking for something uplifting to do this weekend, I suggest you tune in for some prophetic messages of hope, faith, and happiness. What could be better than listening to wise words about our Saviors love and the importance of the family?

Not much. 

Except for maybe wandering around here afterwords: