Friday, November 22, 2013

Fundraiser for Gabriel and his family

To donate to help Gabriel and his family, you can send us a check:
Our Address: 59 E. 1300 North, Orem, UT 84057

As many people know, the political situation in Venezuela has been tenuous for years. Former President Hugo Chavez created a system that strongly entrenched his socialist party as the major political force in the country, and he, his successor, and many others involved in the party have worked to maintain that power. Venezuela, however, remains a democratic country, so there are opposition parties and candidates seeking to change the direction of the country.

My friend, Gabriel, with whom I served as a Mormon missionary in Venezuela in the early 2000s, is one of the people who has tried to politically stand up to the Chavez regime. Gabriel loves his native Venezuela and has done his part by running for office and assisting in political campaigns against the party of Chavez. As a result of his openly taking a stand against the politics of this party, he has been ridiculed, persecuted, and physically attacked. Not to go into too much detail, but he has had his home searched by the National Guard, his brother was kidnapped by men who mistook him for Gabriel, he was threatened by two men who - when they couldn’t  catch him – broke his four-year-old son’s arm while he watched, and he has been beaten and he and his family have been threatened at gunpoint.

Because of this persecution, he made the courageous decision to come to the United States and request political asylum. Gabriel has been in the U.S. since February 2013, and this whole time, his wife and four sons have been stuck in Venezuela waiting for the results of his asylum request. Gabriel has been living with us for the last four months. He has been blessed to find work, so he has been able to send money home for his family, and he has been able to find fantastic, affordable housing that will comfortably accommodate his family.

Gabriel is being patient as the asylum process takes time, but the stress and strain on his wife and sons has been tremendous. One of his sons was hospitalized recently with dengue fever, leaving his wife to scramble for what to do to help him heal and how to take care of the other three. This stress increased when Gabriel’s father-in-law died suddenly Nov. 18, 2013.

The separation has taken its toll on his family, and he and his wife have made the hard decision for her and the boys to come to Utah and begin making their life in the United States. We have received many wonderful donations of clothing, furniture and furnishings, such that Gabriel and his family have many of the things they need as they start their new life. They do not, however, have the funds necessary to purchase flights and pay for other things they need to get settled.

For this reason, Crystal and I have set up a fundraiser to help this wonderful family. I have put information at the top of this post for how to donate. If you have any questions or want more information, please contact Crystal or myself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mars Bar Brownies

My favorite candy bar ever is the Mars Bar. Sadly, for me, these are not sold in the US anymore and since I don't have many occasions to travel to Europe (many=none at all), I am left sitting back, thinking about those Mars bars, wishing I had one. And while Snickers with Almond are a close second, they are not the same thing. So I decided to give myself a little trip to Europe this Christmas! Or my taste buds, at least. I wanted to make my own Mars bar, but not a candy bar, a DESSERT bar! My go-to dessert always seems to be brownies, because, hey, who doesn't love a gooey, delicious, chocolatey brownie. Brownies make the base of my version of a Mars Bar. Next, I needed a good nougat, but really, who has time to make their own nougat? So I thought of the next best thing: Marshmallow fluff! Then I needed almonds, caramel sauce, and a little more chocolate to top it off and there you have it! Mars Bars!

Mars Bar Brownies

1 boxed brownie mix, prepared according to package directions (or make your own from scratch)
1-7 oz jar marshmallow fluff
1 cup almonds(I used slivered because that's what I found at the store, but use whatever you want)
1- 14oz bag wrapped caramels
1/4 cup cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips

After preparing your brownies, allow them to cool completely.

Spread marshmallow fluff over brownies.

Sprinkle with almonds.

 Unwrap caramels and melt in the microwave in 30 second increments, adding cream as needed to thin out, until caramels are all melted but the mixture is still fairly thick. Or if you are super cool like me and you don't have a microwave (I know, I must live under a rock or something), then melt them in a double boiler with the cream. 1/4 cup cream was the perfect amount to make the caramel candy bar consistency. I didn't use jarred caramel because it is too thin for what I wanted. Spread the caramel over the almonds.

Melt your chocolate chips either in the microwave or over a double boiler, just like the caramels and pour them over the top, smoothing it out as you go.

Pop it in the fridge for an hour, just to let the chocolate set, then dig in!
Don't they look great? Go make these! They are super easy, and while they aren't strictly Christmasy, they are quite indulgent, and sometimes that is all you need to get into the spirit! And since this makes a whole 9x13 pan, that means there will be PLENTY to share with the neighbors or any holiday guests that might stop by! Oh and by the way, I am entering these Mars Bar Brownies in the Creative Holiday Recipe Contest hosted by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Crystal and I did our first triathlon Nov. 10. The snow made them cancel the bike ride and add calisthenics and another half-mile run. We were both sad to not get to bike, but it was fun nonetheless. My sisters Kathryn and Christina raced, too, as well as a bunch of my cousins.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

We're still alive!

We are still alive, albeit not that great at blogging.
Here are some current pictures of us in and around our new home in Orem, Utah.
Lucas loves the dishwasher, Clara loves to wear her dress that was Crystal's when she was little, and Jordan and the boys got a picture in a recent mountain hike.
Now that I have a Blogger app on my phone, hopefully I'll update things more regularly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Playing with cousins

We had some fun with cousins in the last week. First, Crystal's sister, Heather, and her family came to visit us. My brother-in-law Scott and I drove to Canton and spent Saturday in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which was really cool. When we got back, Crystal and Heather (in true Sorensen girl form) had made tons of treats - mostly pastries like bearclaws and Danishes - so we got to enjoy those, as well.

Clara and Lucas loved playing with cousins Payton and Jenna. Here are some pictures of Payton holding Will and playing with other kids.

 Clara likes to make funny faces.

Lucas decided to put his hand in his pocket, and with his curly hair and untucked white shirt, he looks pretty debonair. He would look even a little grown up, too, if not for his lack of teeth and chubby wrist.

A couple days later, Harry and Wyatt came over for an hour or so, and it was such a nice day that Lucas took them in the back yard to play. Clara was taking a nap (shocker!), so it was an all-boy cousins party in the back yard. Check out the fun.

Stripey buddies.

Happy brothers.

There is a reason ATV manufacturers no longer make three-wheelers. They are dangerous. This is one of the times Lucas had not crashed his.

Wyatt and his hog.

So, here is Lucas after another three-wheeled vehicle caused him consternation.

And, I don't know why he did this, but Lucas went and knelt in the grass under a fruit tree and folded his fingers like he was praying. It is a little reminiscent of Joseph Smith. I hope he was praying for me to find a job, and that it is answered quickly.