I will never embrace brokenness. I will not be weak. I will face challenges with a clear head and a powerful spirit. I will overcome obstacles and I will be stronger and better for it. I am powerful. I am strong. I am fearless and I, a daughter of the mighty God of the universe give you, a son or daughter of the same mighty God of the universe, permission to be the same.
I have invented the most amazing brownie recipe. Not to brag but I think these may be the best brownies I’ve ever had, and I’m a huge brownie fan.
I’ve been looking for a really good brownie recipe for a long time. Like I said, I’m a huge brownie fan. I had this awesome recipe that I got from my mom that I always use but a couple of weeks ago I lost it! So I’ve been searching online and trying a bunch of different recipes hoping to find a really yummy one. I haven’t been able to find anything I really liked. Then yesterday, out of the blue my husband found the recipe! I was delighted. I have to say though, all of this thinking about brownies made me think that maybe I could make my own brownie recipe. So I did. Well, to be perfectly honest, I took my mom’s recipe that I already love and I tweaked it to make it extra special, to make it my own. The result was spectacular. I just had to share the recipe. So here you go.
Ria’s amazing brownies of wonderful:
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
2 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
11.5 oz. bag of Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips
Well, I’ve finally finished a new painting! This one was a lot of fun just because of what it’s a painting of. As you can see from the photo it’s a fun fantasy piece of a kitty and a fairy. I wasn’t firm in my mind as I created the image, what was going on. I had a vague idea to draw what might happen if a kitty encountered a little warrior fairy in the wild but I ended up drawing the moment right before anything happens. The fairy is glancing up just as the kitty comes into view and the kitty is just at that same moment looking down to see her there. What will happen next? Will the kitty pounce the fairy as it would a bird? Will the fairy fly away to avoid confrontation? Will she have time to fly away? Maybe she won’t even want to fly, maybe she’ll immediately attack. Maybe the kitty will see the fairy as a tiny person and not attack at all. Who knows?
You know what would be kind of fun? You tell me what you think will happen next. What is the story here? Who is this little fairy anyway? Does she live here in this tree or is she merely a traveler pausing for a rest? Is this a tree in someone’s yard or is this in a forest somewhere? I’d love to hear you’re ideas.
Also, any thoughts on a title? I have some ideas of my own but I’d love to hear yours. Wouldn’t it be cool to be the one who named this fun piece?
Lately I’ve been experimenting and playing around with different mediums. I’ve done some things with acrylic paint and a few water color paintings. I enjoy these very much but I have to say, colored pencil is still my favorite! I can do SO much with colored pencils. I feel totally in control and totally free to be creative in whatever way suits the moment.
I love to mix colored pencils with turpenoid. Turpenoid basically turns the pencils into paint and I have so much fun working the colors around on the paper (I use bristol board). I can blend them and smear them, just do awesome stuff. I can fill in huge chunks of paper with color really fast, like in seconds. Areas that without turpenoid used to take me hours!
The thing I like best about colored pencils though is that I’ve been using them for so long that I feel like I can really express myself with them now. They feel so natural in my hand. When I haven’t drawn in awhile I just crave it, like chocolate or exercise. It really is fun for me. As soon as I get it photographed I’ll post my latest colored pencil painting. I had a lot of fun with it!
I love the Book of Mormon. I love the epic battles, the personal triumphs, the tragic stories of opportunities lost. There are moments of pure joy and peace, and there are confessions of weakness and human frailty. I am saddened by the choices of some and I am awed by the examples of mighty men who show us just how good and amazing we can be if we put our trust and our energy and our love into obeying our God.
I think of when Nephi, one of the strongest and most righteous men who has ever lived, poured his heart out, lamenting his own weakness. (2 Nephi 4:17-19)
I think of the amazing effort and energy that Moroni put into defending and fighting for his people and for what he knew was right. His letter to Pahoran, the governor of the land, is powerful and touching. (Alma 60) Because of the example of men like him I will never back down from what I know is right. I will never let wicked men and women intimidate me. I will not let their twisted versions of the truth stand in my presence.
One of the most beautiful, loving, and momentous events in human history is recorded in the Book of Mormon. The moment when Jesus Christ our Savior came to the Americas and visited the people here. That moment, that choice that He made to do that tells me that He truly loves and adores each one of us, His children. He knows us personally and He cares about what happens to us. He cares about what choices we make. His attention is on each person on Earth. He’s that great, that powerful, that loving.
He blessed and touched and cried with the people. He prayed for and with them. This tells me that He is still doing that now for each of us. He is intimately involved and invested in each of ours lives. He is still touching our lives, blessing us, crying with us, praying for and with us. His love for us is beyond our understanding!
Yes, I love the Book of Mormon.
I also love my children.
Oh how I want my children to understand the wonderful truths that have been so carefully recorded in the Book of Mormon! Each word that is written in that great book is for the benefit of each of us, for each of them.
Life can be so hard to figure out sometimes. There are so many different voices, so many versions of what is “true”. My children won’t always listen to Mom. I know that. They’re going to grow up and they’re going to have to make choices on their own. I want them to know that there is goodness, there is love, there is hope! The accounts and testimonies of some of the greatest men who ever walked this Earth are in the Book of Mormon and I want my children to have their examples to help carry them through the difficulties that they will inevitably face here on Earth. In this modern world of half truths, mocking attitudes, and truly wicked, heinous acts, I want my children to have the truth!
I figure the best way to give them this gift is to start now, while their young. This will give them something to hold on to when they’re older, something to remember when times get hard. When a tough decision comes up they will be able to think, “Wait a minute, this is like the choice Alma had to make!”and they will, I pray, make the right choice too.
So here’s why I’m telling you this. When I was a kid the Book of Mormon was boring to me. The language was a little different than what I was used to, the words were a little monotonous when people read it out loud to me, I just couldn’t get into it. Pretty much every other kid I knew felt the same way. I see that kids still feel that way. Of course they do! They’re kids! They want things to be vibrant, exciting, interesting! Heck, I’m an adult and I still feel that way. Look at all the bright colors I put in my art.
Well, here’s the point. My awesome brother Chas feels the same way about the Book of Mormon. He loves it with his whole heart and wants his kids to love it the way he does. He wants them to see how exciting, how wonderful, how valuable it really is. So, he’s creating an audio version of the Book of Mormon for kids. He is taking the time to read it in a way that kids will love! He uses different voices for different people, he’s adding background sounds and sound effects. I can’t explain it really, it’s just really good! It’s like listening to those old time radio shows they used to do before T.V. You know, the ones the whole family would gather around and listen to in the evenings? And it works! His kids (he has 4 ranging from ages 1 to 7) love it. My 2 year old daughter loves it. She actually sits and listens and gets interested in what’s happening. A 2 year old!
He’s completed a few chapters and they really are wonderful. The only trouble is it takes a lot of time. He doesn’t have a lot of time. He’s a full time writer and musician and he needs to spend his time providing for his family financially. So again, we come to the point. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Chas could provide for his family financially and make this wonderful audio recording of the Book of Mormon that could benefit not only his children but ALL children, mine, yours, everyone’s, at the same time?
This is where you come in. I am writing this blog entry to ask for your help. You see, there is this thing called crowd funding. It’s this awesome way for people who don’t have a lot of money to invest in something that they believe in. There is this website called kickstarter. They are all about making it possible for people to support projects that they believe in, projects like Chas’ audio version of the Book of Mormon for kids. I really believe that this project could make the world a better place. I do. If you’re interested in finding out more here’s a link to his project on kickstarter: Chas’s awesome Book of Mormon project!
Here is a link to the first six chapters he has done so far: Audio scriptures for kids 1 Nephi chapters 1-6
We recently revised our Company Mission Statement a bit. Since then, I have a new thing I do each morning as part of my daily task list. I like to make it one of the first things I do so I can stay on focus with what I am trying to accomplish. That thing is to read our Company Mission Statement. The statement is really very simple. For the most part it says:
“Our purpose at Willowrise is to find ways to enrich lives, spread positive messages, celebrate meaningful legacies, and reach out to those in need. We accomplish these purposes by sharing and providing clean, edifying arts and media and use our talents for good as we support our family.”
As simple as this sounds, you would not believe how this Mission Statement has changed my perspective on what we are doing each day. I no longer think sales first, I don’t even think sales last. I simply focus on saying and preferably doing something to make this world a little better. I truly love people and want them to find joy in this life as well. I believe that if people like what we are doing, they will support us in meaningful ways.
Anyway, my next task today was to browse through Ria’s growing Art Gallery and see what I could find today that made me feel something positive. Well, the painting that stopped me today is her wonderful painting “Portrait of the Savior”.
I am going to make my words short here because I do not have the ability to express words that can truly and completely portray my feelings of the Savior. If you were here with me right now, you would know that my heart and soul are so full of emotion I can hardly type, let alone even speak. Let me sum it up this way. I know with every fiber of my being that He exists. Tomorrow we celebrate the wonder of His resurrection so that we will all rise again. I am humbled by what he did for us in the garden of Gethsemane so that our Eternal Families will dwell together through Eternity. I glory in the overpowering love he has for each of us while I tremble in sadness when so many reject him. I testify with all the power I can muster that Jesus Christ is the Savior of Mankind and He is Risen!!!
I think life is such a joyful experience! Someone mocked me today for saying that I’m an expert on enjoying life. Hahaha! Well, mock if you like, I don’t care. I LOVE life. I love absolutely everything about it, even the hard stuff.
It’s really interesting because back when I was single I was happy. I woke up every day and enjoyed life. I laughed all the time and enjoyed the beautiful things I experienced daily. Then I met the love of my life and I got married. I was so happy, happier than I’d ever been. We enjoyed life together and loved every minute of it. Then my sweet little 1st born daughter came along. Oh we were so happy! Happier than ever before! The 3 of us had so much fun together! My husband and I took so much pleasure in making our baby laugh and giggle. We loved to play with her and teach her and just enjoy her. Then our sweet little second daughter was born. Oh the joy!!! How happy we are. Happier than we’ve ever been. It just keeps growing. We love our girls with all of our hearts and would do anything for their benefit. We love to play with and tickle them. We love to watch them interact with each other and begin a relationship that will last for eternity. Sisters are forever. Our family is forever. We are sealed for time and all eternity and that means nothing can hurt us. Not even death. Yes it would be horribly painful to lose a family member for a time but it would only be for a time. Because we’re sealed for eternity we will all be reunited on the other side. I know this is true and what joy it brings me!
Life is so beautiful. How I wish I could share that joy, that certainty, that beauty with everyone I encounter. I know that isn’t possible but you know what? I’m gonna try. I’m going to try to spend my life making the world more beautiful by sharing to best of my ability the beauty that I see and feel and live. What an exciting journey!
This painting, “Alone Again”by Ria, got to me today. More than just the beautiful textures and the photo like clarity that is so pleasing to the eye, it touched my soul. It reminds me that there are times when I question my worth. I make mistakes and then I just feel awful and I sometimes feel worthless. I can also get these depressed feelings when it seems like I am all alone, that no one really cares.
Even worse, I have, at times, found myself looking at others and making unfair judgments that, in my mind, puts them on a lower level than I. Maybe I see a homeless man begging for food, a person strung out on drugs, or a person who lives a lifestyle that I do not agree with. I have judged them unfairly, because I have deemed them to be of lesser value than I. That is just wrong.
The truth is, no person on this earth is greater than anyone else. The very fact that each and every one of us exist is a statement of greatness. We all have different talents, appearances, levels of intelligence, personalities, cultures and so forth. These differences do not make us better or worse than anyone else, they just make us different.
In my humble opinion, we need to learn to accept these differences and come into a level of existence that transcends anything that promotes negativity in our lives. Be it a negative thought about our self or about others, we must arise and set these destructive things aside.
The answer can be described in one word. Love. Love transcends all, it puts asunder our negative thoughts about ourselves and it allows us to help those in need. Even more, we look for opportunities to help others. No longer do we look down on ourselves nor do we see others as inferior beings. We begin to see the world with a true optimism that helps us change things in ways that will have amazing long term effects.
Today, this quote by Chas Hathaway (Ria’s brother), “Your Life has more meaning than you think it does”, and Ria’s painting “Alone Again”, reminded me of these things. Thanks Chas and Ria. Today is a good day.
As a member of Ria’s team here at RiaFineArt.com, I was looking through her online gallery and came upon her painting “Prairie Fire.”. Through this visual experience, the thought came to me that today starts the season of newness. Nothing says new like the onset of Spring. Nothing says Spring like the tender young blossoms on a tree in spring.
There is such hope in those blossoms. There is the hope that there will be enough nourishment and water to feed the oncoming fruit. There is the hope that it wont get too cold and freeze the sensitive petals. There is hope that that insects, birds or anything else will not kill the tree or destroy the fruit before it ripens. Finally, there is hope that some of the ripened fruit will make it into the ground so that the tree may continue on through its descendants.
How do I know that there is eternal hope in the tree? I know because every year that the tree lives, it will start the same process again in the spring.
Sometimes, as I experience life and watch as others experience life, I start to lose hope a bit. There have been earthquakes and accompanying Tsunamis that have killed hundreds of thousands in a few minutes. What about rampant incurable diseases that can threaten entire continents, perhaps even mankind. I am appalled that there are diverse wars that are killing tens of thousands every year. It saddens me that there are terrorists that can limit human rights because of the potential yet real threat that they represent. The ability now exists that could permit a despotic national leader to trigger a nuclear holocaust that could completely destroy the human race. Obviously I could go on and on.
So, why is it that I still think Hope Springs Eternal? Maybe it is partly because when I see a serene painting like this, I am reminded that if it is time to start again, I can do so. We all can do so. I believe that even in the face of adversity, we can make the world a better place. I have a neighbor whose wife has cancer and she recently fell and broke her hip as well. This neighbor also has a serious debilitating disease, yet they never complain. Currently, neighbors and family are gladly helping them through these troubled times.
My father is dying of cancer. He and my Mom have been married for 63 years and it is so hard on my Mom to see him going, yet she gladly and lovingly cares for his every need. Neighbors help with the yard work and bring them dinners on a regular basis. Family helps them get anyplace they need to go.
In the news I recently read where a Troop of Girl Scouts were in a store parking lot selling cookies and a couple approached them as if to buy cookies from them but instead stole the money the girls had collected. When the local community heard what had happened, they donated money to them to offset the loss.
My brother in law recently lost a portion of his leg to diabetes. He needed to have his home made wheelchair accessible. His children all got together and made that happen in less than two weeks. Today, the first day of spring, he gets to come home and enjoy that remodeled home.
Honestly, I do not know how to fix the big problems, but I do know that we all can help with the small ones. One little kindness at a time makes Hope Spring Eternal. Finding positive ways to deal with the worst that can happen to us makes Hope Spring Eternal.
Happy first day of spring 2013
by Doug Hathaway