Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Citrus Sweet Chicken Burritos by Brett Borup

Here is my husband's original recipe I talked about in a previous post. I had a few requests for it so here it is:

3 boneless chicken breasts
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
10 Tbsp. Lime Juice
6 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can black beans
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup shredded med. cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
8 flour tortillas, cooked

Boil chicken until cooked through (about 20 minutes). Save broth. Remove chicken from broth and shred with forks.

Combine in a pot with chicken:
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
6 Tbsp. Lime Juice
4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
4 Tbsp. Sugar
Pinch Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Bring to Boil. Simmer 1/2 hour

Combine in rice cooker with 1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
4 Tbsp. Lime Juice
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp. sugar
Cook as usual in rice cooker

Meanwhile, in a pan, saute onion with 1 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. sugar until golden brown. Heat the beans. Cook the corn. Combine onions, beans, and corn.

Place a scoop of rice, a scoop of bean mixture and chicken in a cooked flour tortilla. Top with cheese and sour cream. Fold into a burrito and enjoy!

I'm telling you...these are great. It usually becomes a family favorite with those who try them. Let me know what you think. We would love to hear.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You Did What? Number 1

So, here is the group...Michele my SIL, Leslie another SIL, Brett my husband, Lindsay Doug's girlfriend, Doug my nephew, and Dave my brother and partner in crime growing up. Next picture is of my husband and I. I look like a dork but what can I say?
The flowers were in bloom every where.

After walking about two miles, this is what we came to. To the left, not pictured, was the first crevasse we went though. I didn't get a picture. Darn! And this picture set me back on the diet wagon. Yikes, is that really me?

Amazing isn't it?

We had to lower the backpacks down. A back pack won't fit in the crack we walked through.

(Below) Here is the group at Jacob Hamblin Arch. We made it. I wish I would have taken a picture of the pit toilet they had not too far from here. It was just a toilet seat on a little could sit there and be the king of all you surveyed. Of course, every one could survey you too. It was gross and quite funny.

It really was fun to be together with some of my family, especially my brother Dave. We had many harrowing adventures together...just ask our mom. For example: when we were in high school, we took our little sailboat out on Folsom Lake in the middle of winter. The boat capsized and flipped over. It was all we could do to hang on to the boat in the fridged water in our coats and clothes. There were no other boats on the lake. The lake was closed. We walked down the hill from our house carrying our little boat. (It was made out of styrafoam so wasn't too heavy.) The wind blew us to a little island exposed in the middle of the lake. We carried the boat acrossed it and hoped we could sail to the opposite side of the lake without capsizing again. (It was a killer walking across the island because we had lost our shoes and were barefoot. There were lots of stickers and rocks.) The wind was blowing very hard so we thought our only option was to sail in the direction of the wind. We used my bandanna to tie the rudder on because we lost the rudder pin when the boat flipped over. It was dark by the time we made it across the lake. We thought that we would get in so much trouble. There was a house on the other side. We knocked on the door, soaking wet, barefoot, freezing, and asked if we could use their phone. We thought that we would be in so much trouble from our parents but they were just happy we were still alive. My mom had been watching on and off from the window and we had disappeared. She couldn't convince the State Park Rangers that we were on the lake and had disappeared so they should go look for us. My poor mom...I'm amazed we didn't scare 10 years off her life.
And...Oh yes, we have more stories and my brother was always the ring leader. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.!!!!) I love my brother!! I gave my brother a hard time because we now have another scarry adventure to add to the list.

You Did What?

Well this is half way through our back packing weekend but for some reason blogger won't let me download any more pictures. This is our little tent. We camped under Jacob Hablin arch. It was so beautiful. We went in and out of streams and hiked, and hiked, and hiked to get to this point. We were not allowed fires but cooked over our little back pack stoves. Our little dehydrated dinner tasted so good after hiking for most of the day.
Here is my brother Dave and husband next to the other tents.

This is looking in the other direction. It was incredible!

This is the arch in the morning light.

This is after we were packed up and ready to head out. Can you believe how heavy this pack was. This is the picture I took while rolling on the ground laughing. He just finished singing and dancing... "kick your knees up step in time, never any reason, never any rhyme, kick you knees up, step in time." You know...Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. Guess you had to be there. You try doing that with a 50 pound pack. Wait until you see what he had to climb up with that pack.

Yep, here it is. I've never been so scared in my life. I was shaking...literally and it wasn't muscle strain. I was climbing and holding on to that rope with one hand saved me from careening down this cliff. The guys were amazing. Doug the mountain climber would climb up, tie the rope around his hips, and then one of the guys would climb up and trade places. Then they would go up and down carrying our back packs up. I only carried mine on the last leg. All I can say is scarry, scarry, scarry.

This is the rope we were pulling on to get up that rock face. Feel better now? Scarry, scarry, scarry!

This is looking up when we were 2/3rds of the way up. Yikes!

Here's my nephew that went up and down that mountain a few times. See that brown water? That is where we started this climb.

More climbing.

That is Doug and his girlfriend, Lindsay. Can you get an idea about how huge this place is?

After we got to the top, there was lots of this. Try and find the took a compass. Next we were off to some slot canyons. This is the one called Peek-A-Boo. Again, we needed the guys to help us climb up in some of the places. It was much easier coming back down because you could slide down and then jump.
Here are Doug and Dave.
Yep, here I am walking through Peek-a-Boo.

Here we are. My sweet husband who took me on this adventure. I look lovely don't I. It's diet time. My pack weighed about as much as I want to lose. Now I know how much better I'll feel if I get some more weight off.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book Group Today

Our church has a little book group that I went to today. We met in one of my neighbor's homes. The book was The Alliance by Gerald Lund. (I know books are supposed to be underlined but I haven't figured out how to do that. And why we are at it, how do people cross out words on their posts? I don't see any way to do that either.)

Here is our little group. I'm not Stephanie, my master's in literature daughter, but here is a quick review. It is kind of a "Big Brother" is watching you 1984, I Am Legend. It seems to be more of a young adult book. It was simply written and OK for me. It is not a book I would have read without it being the assigned book.

If you want to read a good book, pick up Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (I think I spelled his name correctly) or The Last Lecture by Randy Paush. These are books that might make a difference in your life.
Speaking of things that might make a difference in your life...I hope you all take extra time to love and appreciate those around you. Helen, sitting down on the right, lost her son-in-law yesterday. He was instantly killed when an older man pulled out in front of him as he was riding his motorcycle on a main street. This took place in Texas. Bless her heart, she even hosted the book group today even though I offered my home after I heard about the tragedy. Life is fleeting...hug those babies.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quilt Contest

There is a quilt giveaway here It is a beautiful quilt that any one would want to have. Go check it out and enter. Don't forget to mention my name so that I can get an extra chance to win. Wonder if I can figure out how to lift the picture from her website. She designed the quilt herself and sells the patterns. True talent.

I worked all day so there is not much new. I hope you all are having a great week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I thought I'd Give You A Little Humor

This is a short video clip of what we see when we go out in our back yard. This dog is huge. He likes to see what we are doing when we go outside. Unfortunately, the our dog barks through the fence and the neighbor's dog barks back. In the near future, I think the fence will just fall over.
Warning: you might want to turn the sound off. I sound like Minnie Mouse. Kind of embarrassing. Honest...I don't usually sound like least I hope I don't.

Candice, I hope you show this to Cole. Cole, our grandson/age 4, loved to climb up on the fence post and watch the dog jump. We loved to hear Cole giggle. That dog would crack him up every time. Cole has the cutest laugh.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my brother Dave. I hope you had a great one!

Also, finished painting the bathroom today. I don't think I like it. The paint dried much darker than I'd like. It seems a little cave like in that small bathroom. I don't want to repaint so I'm going to try and think of something unique to add to it. In the meantime, I guess I'll just live with it for a while. Rats!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New Living Room Furniture

Nope...this isn't the new stuff, this is the stuff that I'm getting rid of. I know you are wondering what I was thinking when we bought that 13 years ago. I have no fit our budget? Yuck. Anyway, the rug is gone, the couch is gone, the matching love seat was already gone, (a young couple was in desperate need of furniture and I just had to help them out), the chair is in a corner of my bedroom. I couldn't part with it. It is an antique and my husband and I reupholstered it ourselves. It was a hard project. The little side table was a gift (antique) from my mother-in-law. Does anyone want to guess what it is? I'm not sure what to do with it.
A close up of the couch. It's still like new. is the new. What do you think? Honest...I want to hear from you.
I still have to find a rug and some material for draperies, a long enough rod, get rid of the antique church bench that is in there (not in the picture). I actually found a rug that I like a lot but it is way overpriced and was too small...only 5 x 7' 7". Unfortunately, I still have a big Oak upright piano. There isn't any other place in the house to put it and I don't want to be without a piano. The kids think I should repaint, and I was going to, but decided to start on other areas of the house instead. I think I'll live with the green paint a while longer. I need a paint partner before I tackle the living room and dining room. It takes about 3 gallons of paint to paint both rooms. Hmmm..Steph, you're moving here soon. Remember all that painting I did at your house. ;)

I'm not crazy about the pillows and may recover them if I find some fabric I like better.

Here are the chairs and end table to complete the sitting area. Not quite balanced with the couch being so big, but the couch is so comfortable. Maybe one of these days it will end up in the family room and I will get a smaller one for the living room.
Are you surprised by my choices? I was so ready for a new look and those chairs where just calling out for me to design a room around them. I was going to wait to show you the new when it was all complete but who knows how long it will take me to finish.

Not a great picture but you can get an idea of how big the couch is compared to the chairs. I really need a great area rug to anchor the sitting area. I'm a great fan of that decorating rule.
Next it was on to the bath room. This is the old. Good bye country. Did I say I like quotes? I've decided to paint another quote, I think, in the new decor. We'll see. Only 1 though not 10. It was all hand painted by me. Good thing I have a nice husband who lets me do whatever I want. He really doesn't seem to mind and always says he likes what I do. Isn't he a great guy.
I'm so over glazed walls. Most of the rooms in my house I glazed too. Now you see why I need paint partner.

Another view. It's a small bathroom. I have it all primed. Sorry...didn't take a picture. Not much to see anyway. Hopefully I'll be able to buy paint and get it painted tomorrow in between trying to get someone to fix the sump pump and reporting to the city the street light that is out on our block. No wonder someone could steal the car radio without anyone seeing.'ll see the after soon. It already has a nice new sink, mirror, light, and granite counter tops. Now I just need a nice tile floor. I might have to tackle that one myself but hopefully I'll be able to talk my husband into it. You want to don't you Mickie? Please, please, please.
Last but not least in this weekend's projects was an end table I spray painted black for the guest room. I took a "before" picture but forgot to take an "after" so will save it for another post. It was a table that my sister-in-law gave to my neice for her student apartment, who then gave it to her sister when she was through with it, who offered it to me when they were through with it. I actually like it. I hope to hear from you soon.
Can you believe it? I posted twice in one day. Don't miss the post under this one. I forgot to post all the pictures in the last post and it was easier to just start a new post.

Oh Man...Who did that to our car?

Quick post. My husband went to get in the car to go to a funeral and this is what we found Friday morning. Needless to say...I stayed home from the funeral and met with the police. They took the speakers out of the door, took the remote for the radio. We thought they must have gotten scared away because the stereo was still sort of there but alas, they ruined the stereo trying to get it out. The police thought it was just kids because "professionals" don't bother with speakers. So maddening and such a waste!!!!
It's a '95 Geo Prizm. You know, one of those beater cars. It is the car our son drives and he bought the stereo and speakers himself. Good thing his trunk doesn't just pop open or that huge base speaker would have been gone too. Thankfully, they left my car alone. It was parked in the driveway that night too because the old furniture from the living room was in the garage. Instead of trying to sell the old furniture, I took it to Deseret Industries just so I could park back in my garage and keep my car safe.
On another bad note. The sump pump for the basement quit this weekend too. When it rains it pours. My nephew broke both the bones in his arm getting pushed off the trampoline today and need an orthopedic surgeon. So, putting things in perspective, stereo and sump pump is a better "things that stink" choice. It is so hard to have something happen to your children.
Oh, and here is an addendum to my last post. All the dishes came out spotless. I'm going to quit rinsing them for sure. Yea for Kitchenaid...I should have tried that sooner. I'm just not used to nice appliances I guess. I've been rinsing and wasting water since last May when we sort of remodeled the kitchen. (Do new countertops and new appliances count as remodeling? The cabinets are still the original ones. My kids want me to paint them. We are going to reface the bar area though and add handcarved corbels. That should update things a bit too.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today's Update

I think I'm too lazy to take and post pictures. Did I say that? No, really I always forget the camera...I really was going to take pictures of the Wii challenge. I was in a huge hurry to get out the door and be on time though.

Today got up early and exercised with Kathee, may faithful exercising friend. Ran off to work and the Wii tournament. Lots of work but the residents had fun. One was 92 years old. June was the champion with a score of 194. Amazing. It was her first time playing and she was doing it while sitting in an arm chair. They had so much fun that they asked us if we could come back tomorrow. The last facility we went to ended up buying their own Wii they had so much fun.

Then I ran and picked up my new end table. Who knew I would have to put it together myself? I guess I should have let them deliver it tomorrow with the other funiture they are exchanging and then I think they would have put it together. Oh well, now I have "ownership" in the table.

I was able to make the house passable for the dinner party. My husband had his civil engineering student chapter officers and spouses/dates over. My husband, the gourmet cook, made his own original sweet chicken burritos, plus green salad, chips and mango salsa, and chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. We tested out the new dish washer to see if you really can just scrap the food off the plates and have them come out clean. I'll report on the results tomorrow. I know you can't wait to hear about this.

It is off to bed. What am I doing up so late anyway and where did the time go? The sheet monsters are calling me and I know they won't want to let go of me in the morning when I have to get up to go exercise. They are funny that way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Update on Life - Do I Have One?

I'm am not exciting these days. I made some jewelry over Conference weekend. I took before pictures of all the bead I bought at the bead show but haven't taken afters yet. I even came up with some original designs instead of just copying my mother-in-law's designs. What can I say...she does jewelry for a living and has great taste. Needless to say that is why I had to come up with something to hold all that stuff. I posted about my jewelry holder in one of my first posts.

I was brave enough to navigate through Craig's list and post my old living room things for sale. Yes, Steph I did it. OK...I did have to have help from dad to strink the file size. My jpg's were too big for Craig's list and I don't have the soft ware to do it. No takers yet on the furniture...I think it is off to D.I. for those things. I again took before pictures but not afters. If I showed you the befores I know you would think I have the worst taste in the world. We didn't do much shopping before we bought the living room couches. For years I've asked myself, "What were you thinking when you bought those. Were you temporially insane!"

I know, I know, you can't wait to see the new furniture butttttt I have to find all the rest of the decor. After shopping all afternoon and not finding a rug, fabric for curtains, new frames, etc. I'm frustrated. I did find an end table. I don't love it but it is the best thing I could find. I have looks a lot for the perfect one too. I didn't just look for it this afternoon. (I can return it if I find something I do really love in the next 14 days. I'm not sure when I'll find time to shop again.)

Nothing is ever easy. The couch was damaged so they are bringing a new one of Friday. I hope they do better on the second try. They were very nice about the whole thing though. It is really too big for my living room but I don't care. It is so comfortable I know I will find some time to curl up in it and read a good book. I know my kids are dying to see what I have. You'll just have to wait. (I'm snickering to myself...scarry.) So, not a very exciting post. I'm just too busy with life to catch up on the blog. Maybe Friday. Be patient with me. My husband is having his students over for dinner tomorrow night so I'm off to try and whip things into better shape before I go to work tomorrow. Now that is something I should take pictures of.

Have you ever played Wii in an assisted living center? Bowling is as advanced as we can get. We have four wands so everyone has their own. It is still a challenge. Some have dementia so badly that we have to teach them how to do it every time their turn comes around. Last time we did have a few who loved it and hope we will come around again to entertain them again. I'm sure we will have lots of fun.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Giving Back

I hope you liked the article I posted. Let me know if it made a difference in your life or your mindset. I've always given to my church and to the poor through my church plus other things here and there. I don't really think about it. Until recently, I paid it like I would pay any other bill...without much thought...but as an obligation.

Steph had a post where she talked about wishing she had $100 a month to do things for her friends. I guess that is what started me on the path of self examination and asking myself how I give.

My walking partner, Kathee, said that John Huntsman and his wife decided when they first got married that they would give an extra 10 % of their income to the poor. They have been extremely blessed financially and continue to bless the lives of others in many ways. So, this was a good example of how when you are generous with your resources, you are blessed with even more.

I found a few scriptures that stood out as I read them this year. I'm sure I will find more as I continue to read and study.
Jacob 2:18-19 talks about seeking riches for our fellowmen

2 Nephi 28:13 We rob the poor because of our expensive houses and fine clothing. (In my notes I wrote, "Am I guilty of this? Do I give enough to those in need?")

2 Nephi 2 should seek riches to help their fellowmen.

Mosiah 4:17-19 Talks about giving of our substance without judgement because God gave us everything so ..."are we not all beggars?"

And then I read a quote from John H. Groberg from an article in the Ensign Nov. 2004 called "The Power of God's Love." "When filled with God's love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us." (The bolded part is the part of the quote that really stood out to me.)

This theme, praying for riches and giving freely to those in need, along with the article I quoted in the last two posts, have really had an effect on me. My mindset has always been to stay out of debt, use our resources wisely, and live within our means. I think I have always worried about money. Anyway, I thought that I would "experiment upon the word" and try and listen to the spirit for opportunities to give and serve. I have found quite a few opportunities. Incredibly, I am happier and have not missed the money we have given to others at all. I don't know if this is making much sense to you. I hope some how I can touch you like I have been touched and that we will all be able to do things to help lift others' burdens. I appreciate the impact you have on my life. Thank you and may the Lord bless us all.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Privilege of Giving Part II

Part I is on the previous post...
The Psychology of Happiness

"I went to a psychologist friend of mine who studies charitable giving. He says there are two reasons for the success of people who donate: (1) giving changes givers and makes them more effective; and (2) giving changings the perception oither people have of givers, and that also makes them more successful. Psychologists have condected experiments showing why people get happier when they give.

Let's go back to Larry Stewart. He said, "I'm so happy, and I'm so happy because I'm a giver." He explained his prosperity in happiness terms. You know, this is really the common denominator of true prosperity in our lives. Let's look at the link that psychologists have explained between giving and happiness.

There's lots of data out there that shows that happier people give more and that people who give more are happier. People who give some amount of money every year are 43 percent more likely than nongivers to say they're very happy people. Volunteering one more time per week will raise your likelihood of saying you're very happy by 50 percent. Blood donors are 50 percent more likely to say they're very happy than people who don't donate blood.

Psychologists have figured this out with experiments. They'll bring in groups of people and ask them, "How happy are you?" They'll hook up electrodes to the participants' brans and see how much they smile. Then they'll have half of the people serve others while the other half does nothing. Afterward, they'll guage their happiness again. Guess who's happier? By a long shot, in every one of these experiments, you'll find that after you serve you get happier.

Giving changes your brain. In 1988 a neuropsychologist by the name of Alan Lukes published an academic paper in which he described a phenomenon he called the 'helper's high,' the level of endorphins in people's brains, the things that made them feel good. Incidentally, these are the same chemicals people experience a lot of when they use drugs and alcohol.

Psychologists have also found that stress hormones are reduced or depressed by charitable giving acts. There's a famous study from five years ago; it's an unusal study that had senior citizens in a clinical experiment massaging infants. Half the senior citizens massaged babies, and the other half didn't. They found that the baby massagers had about half the level of three stress hormones in their brain at the end of the study compared to the others. Those are the three hormones coursing through your brain when you're caught in traffic. There are a lot of studies out there that say that these stress hormones are implicated not just in unhappiness but also in poor health and early death. Giving more will actually reduce your stress hormones.

People who are less stressed-out are more focused on their tasks. They are more likely to have success in their endeavors. One of the things that we find is people get more effective when they do their work with less stress. So, if you consistently have less stress, you're going to be a more successful person for a simple neurological reason.

Secondly, we don't just change our brains when we give--we change the brains of other people when we give.

A year ago at England's University of Kent, economists and psychologists undertook what they call a cooperation game, where you gather a bunch of people and give each person cash. The subjects decide how much of the cash they'll put into a common fund in the middle of the room. Now the best thing for everybody to do is to put in all their money, because the researchers tell them that all the money collected in the common fund will be doubled and divided equally among all participants. But the dominant strategy for people who are selfish is to hold everything back and let the "suckers" put in their money, because then they'll keep all the money given to them and get a good share of the others' too.

In the second phase of this experiment the researchers had the subjects solve puzzles in teams, and they each had to elect a team leader. In 88 percent of the cases, the team leader who was selected was the biggest giver to the common fund.

The researchers realized that charitable giving is a leadership trait people observe in one another. Givers are perceived to be leaders. The bottom line is that giving is good for you, and it actually positions you to be perceived as a leader.

Who's Giving
Ninety-one percent of religious people--people who attend their house of worship every week--give charitable donations. Sixty-six percent of secular people--those who attend a house of worship less than once per year--give charitable donations. In 2000, 67 percent of religious people volunteered, versus 44 percent of secular people. Religious people give away almost four times more money than secular people do. Religious people are 10 percent more likely than secular people to give to nonreligious causes. They are 21 percent more likely to volunteer for totally secular causes.

If it were not for religious people in your community, your PTA and United Way would be out of business. If secular people gave blood like religious people do, the blood supply in America would jump by 30 percent.

Giving makes you healthy, happy, and rich. It makes you a stronger, more prosperous, happier individual. It makes you a better citizen. It makes communities stronger. It makes us a great nation. And that means all of us are needy. We all are in a state of need to give all the time.

Here are two big facts: (1) givers are the big beneficiaries of giving, and (2) religious people are America's big givers. To me, as a Christian, my giving to others is a gift to me from God, and that changes my notion of stewardship radically. Since I am blessed it is my responsibility to give to others and to do so faithfully. I've heard this verse my whole life; "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). You find this idea in every sacred text. Unto whom much has been granted, much is expected.

My research assistant shared this verse with me from Mosiah 4:21:
And now, if God, who has created, you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

We understand this, but I want to expand that. If you are blessed to be a giver, it is your responsibility to help other people give. The essence of effective philanthropy is bringing other people into the grace that you enjoy because you're givers. That means you're all amateur fund-raisers.

Giving Myths
Myth number one is that giving makes us poor, because we give money away. This was the misconception that I had because I was stuck being an economist. I had a mechanistic view of life, but life is not mechanistic. Life is more perfect than that. Giving doesn't make us poor; giving makes us richer.

Myth number two is that people are naturally selfish. I hear this all the time. Americans are selfish. Humans are selfish. No, we're not. When we are our best selves, our most natural selves, when we are really acting as if we were made in God's image, we're not selfish. We have evidence that this is our most natural selves because this is when our brains are in tune. This is when we are in equilibrium. This is when we're happiest and healthiest and most prosperous--when we're giving.

Myth number three is that giving is a luxury. It's not; it's a necessity, because we are in need to give. I already told you about the working poor in this country. The working poor have not been convinced that giving is a luxury, because if they thought it was, they wouldn't give. And they give a higher percentage of their income than any other income class.

Myth number four is that our nation can afford to not give. In 2000, presidential candidate Ralph Nader said, "A country that has less need is a country that needs less charity." He meant that if governments met our needs adequately, we wouldn't have to assist in the first place. And on its face, charity is evidence of failure. It's failure of our necessity of helping those who are in need. I'm here to tell you that's wrong, and if we crowd out charitable giving by paying for everything through the state, we're going to pay the price. My data will tell you that we're going to be unhappier, unhealthier, and poorer as a country unless we take responsibility.

Now is there a role for government? That's for all of you as citizens and scholars to decide. I would never say that the government shouldn't do things; that would be irresponsible. What I'm saying is that there will aways be a role for private citizens to take responsibility for providing things that are important. Not just to provide the services but rather to provide the happiness, health, and prosperity that we enjoy as a great country. This is a secret to our success.

My research has really changed my life. You know, one of the great things about being an academic--a tenured professor--is that you get to research things that you find interesting and transformative. When I did this research, it expanded my consciousness about what was going on in my life, and it changed the way I give. It also told me that one of the reasons I'm a happy, healthy, prosperous person is because I live in a nation of givers like yourselves. So, thank you."

I'll comment on this tomorrow after you get a chance to think about it for awhile.

The Privilege of Giving

I read an article a couple of months ago that I've really thought alot about. I liked it so much I thought I would share it will you. This is going to be a long post but it will be worth reading I promise. I hope the author doesn't mind my sharing it with you. It is written by Arthur C. Brooks who is a professor at Syracuse University. This article is adapted from the George W. Romney Distingushed Lecture given by Brooks 16 October 2007 and was printed in the Marriott School of Management Magazine Winter 2008. I was going to paraphrase it but I don't want to leave out anything so here it is in its entirety.

"On 23 December 1999 there was a poor man in Kansas City looking for some warm winter clothing in a Salvation Army thrift shop. He had seventy-five cents in his pocket. Suddenly someone approached him from behind and said, "Excuse me." He turned around, and a man pushed a hundred-dollar bill into his hand, said, "Merry Chtristmas," and walked away. That wasn't the first time something like this had happened. It had been going on for years, and no one knew the giver's identity. He was only known as Secret Santa. He would walk around during the Christmas season giving money to people who needed food, clothing, or shelter.

He came forward in 2006, because he had terminal cancer and was given one month to live. His doctor told him that if he wanted anybody to understand his mission than he should reveal his identity. Secret Santa's real name was Larry Stewart, and he was a very wealthy entrepreneur.

He'd given away $1.3 million in hundred-dollar bills, but he had also given away tens of millions of dollars more in traditional philanthropy-building youth centers, building a YMCA, and helping the community.

When the press asked him why he gave so much, he said, "I'm just doing what the Lord is directing me to do. I'm just a pair of hands and feet. He's using me. He's lighted my path. Part of my daily prayer was, 'Lord, let me be a better servant.' I had no idea this is what he had in mind, but I'm happy. I'm so thrilled he is able to use me in this way."

Larry Stewart, aka Secret Santa, honestly believed that the secret to his happiness was his giving. In my research I have found that part of the secret to his prosperity was also his giving.

Why Giving Matters

Americans give at an astounding rate. Last year Americans privately gave $295 billion to charity. That's more than the entire gross domestic product of all but about twenty-five nations in the world.

About three-quarters of that comes from private individuals writing checks to their favorite charities and churches. Only about a quarter comes from foundations, corporations, and bequests.

The average American gives three and a half times as much money to charity as the average French citizen, seven times as much as the average German, and fourteen times as much as the average Italian. That's not because of income differences or tax differences; that's because of values and culture.

The question, of course, is why does it matter? Go back to Larry Stewart, Secret Santa. He said, "I can't be happy unless I give." I'm an economist, and I also teach in an entrepreneurship department at Syracuse, so I work with successful entrepreneurs all the time. Most of them are exceptionally generous people, and they always tell me the same thing: part of my secret to success is how much I give away.

I didn't believe them for the longest time. When you study economics you learn that you have to have money before you give it away. But every entrepreneur I've ever talked to said you've got to give it away before you can have it. John D. Rockefeller was famously quoted as saying in 1905, "God gave me my money to use as I see fit for the benefit of my fellow man." He believed that if he did not do so, God would take the money back. In other words, he thought he was rich because he gave.

I decided to test this and prove the theory was incorrect, so the next time an entrepreneur told me that part of his or her success was due to their giving, I could say, "I actually tested that, and it's not correct." It turns out the joke was on me. I'm going to show you how wrong I was, why I think it matters, and how it changed my understanding of charitable giving.

Giving's Return on Investment

In 2000, Harvard and other universities and community foundations in forty-one United States communities sponsored a study of thirty thousand American families. Named the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, it asked families what they do with their time, where they donate, if they volunteer, how much money they make, and what their jobs are. It's an incredibly exhaustive survey.

I expected to find that when people got rich they gave more but that when they gave more they didn't necessarily get richer. What I learned from this great data source is that when people get ten percent richer in income, they give away seven percent more money to charity, and that when people give charitably they also get richer. Imagine you have two families that are exactly the same demographically. Same level of education, number of kids, region of residence, ages, religion-the only difference is that the first family give $100 more to charity than the second family. It turns out that first family will earn, on average, $374 more than the nongiving family, and that extra income is attributable to the charitable donation.

When I realized this, I thought that was completely wrong. As a matter of fact, I got new data and rewrote my analysis, because I thought I'd done something wrong. The analysis was suggesting that the return on investment to a dollar given to charity is $3.75. That's an incredible investment. So I got new data, and it kept coming up again and again.

What about when the whole country gives a little bit more away? Does the whole country get a little bit richer? The average household in the United States during a fifty-year period (the mid-1950s to 2004) increased its take-home income by about 150 percent in inflation-adjusted terms. This is American prosperity right here, but there's a better reason to celebrate. The bottom line is the average amount that the household gave away to charity in inflation-adjusted terms went up over the same period by 190 percent. That means we're getting richer fast, but we're giving a disproportionate amount of it to charity-further proof that Americans aren't stingy.

If we were to increase our charitable giving this year as a nation by just one percent at a private level, that would be about an extra $2 billion to charity. We could expect as a result of that, for the economy, an increase in our gross domestic product of about $39 billion. But think of the multiplier, $39 billion coming from a $2 billion investment? That tells us charitable giving is not just a great investment secret for individuals; it's a patriotic act. It's good for our country. It's part of the reason that we're so rich. We're in a virtuous cycle of giving and getting. This is part of our secret to success as individuals, as communities, and as a nation."

To be continued tomorrow. So come back and join me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bucket List

Marissa tagged me to do 10 things that I want to do before I die. ( Click on her name in the sidebar to see her list.) Then, she emailed me to remind me that I haven't posted a list. I've been pondering the idea and changing my list. How do you make a list that isn't just know...I want, I want, I want. OK, I know it is supposed to be just a fun thing, but hey, if I make a list, I'll probably do it. So, here is my initial write a quick 10 things down with dialog. (I always have conversations with myself running around in my head.) These are in the order that they popped into my head.

1. Go on a mission for our church with my husband. (I got engaged at 19 so didn't have a chance to go when I was younger. Something I always wanted to do.)

2. Lose 25 more pounds and keep it off. (It is really this year's goal. I'm on my way...I recently lost two of the 7 pounds I gained this year. Lol I hate this life long struggle with food. (I know mom, we aren't supposed to use that word is our house...but it fits!)

3. Travel with my husband. I love going on business trips with my husband but we haven't had any for quite a while. Next month it is off to Hawaii though. Yum...I'm picturing basking in the warmth of the sun. (We are still expecting snow here this week.) We have been to Germany and France but I would love to visit more of Europe.

4. Get a Master's Degree. Just haven't found the right time to jump in on that one but I think it might be time. I'm thinking Marriage and Family Therapy. (I've taught the Marriage and Family Relations class at church for the last year and a half. I love it!)

5. Stay involved in my children's and grandchildren's lives. (I'm hoping they will all move back to Utah so we can see them more.)

6. Learn photoshop. I think I'm the only one in my family that isn't an expert in that area.

7. Do a forearm stand without using the wall in yoga. I can do a mean headstand though. And, after I master the forearm stand, I will try and master the hand stand without the wall. I'm pretty chicken without a wall close by. :)

8. Help my husband fulfill his dream of being a professional photographer. He has sold many pieces but he would like to make a living as a photographer. (Click on Brett on my sidebar to see his website.)

9. Update my house and do a family room addition.

10. Continue to serve more Christlike. I shared this list with my husband and he thought this was more of a goal than a bucket list item. He didn't give me his list but just "dittoed" most of mine. Not fair! I was reading an article this morning and Elder Steven E. Snow told about talking to his mother, just before she passed away with cancer at the age of 60, and asked her if she had any regrets. He was surprised when she replied, "I wish I had served more." He was shocked because he knew that his mother had done much to serve others and he expressed that to her. She replied, "I could have done more." I know how much simple acts of service can impact others and I don't want to miss out on the joy that comes from serving. So, it is staying on my list and it should be at number one.

OK...that is 10 but some of the things on my list really just are my goals for this year. So, I will take off numbers 2, 6, 7, 9 and add four more. That is OK isn't it?

11. Finish all my sewing projects and use up all my fabrics. This is not just a goal because it will take my lifetime and then some to achieve this one.

12. Make some collages on canvas. OK...this might be on my goal list this year too but I want to get back to doing more art.

13. Learn Spanish (I took a year at BYU last year. It was the adult slow poke version. I took this year off because life was too hectic and now I can't remember hardly anything. This is a hard one for me.)

14. Live in a foreign country for at least 9 months. I'm hoping my husband will take a leave of absence and work in the water conservancy program in Paris. This is a life long dream of ours.

I hope you are happy Marissa. This challenge has kept me thinking about you. Now, all of you consider yourself tagged. Please let me know when you post your list. I don't want to miss it. It is good food for thought. I'm going to start on number 11 today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

General Conference Activities

If there are any members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who would like to have a copy of conference activites for children, I would be happy to forward on a copy of the file to you. Email me at if you would like a copy. Someone in CA made it up but it looks fun and might keeps your children more involved in conference. The girls at work thought they would enjoy coloring the speaker's ties while they watched.

I have been tagged by my daughter to give my bucket list. I will post it tomorrow if you are interested. I have been giving it some thought and am still thinking. What can I say? Life is never a dull moment around here but I have made several lists. It's a lot of pressure...I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up. (I'm hoping that you are not thinking that it is already too late for me to decide.)

Oh, and if you have the BYU Women's Conference program for 2008, my sister, her roommates from college, and yours truly are pictured inside. See if you can find us. What a crack up. Scroll down to page 31 if you want to see the picture.