Spring Cupcakes

Posted by: Andee / Category: , , , ,

The other day I shared some cupcake pops by Bakerella. They inspired me to make these Spring Chick Cupcakes!

Hope you like 'em!

Spooky approves of them...

I also made these candy bar cupcakes for a friend's birthday party:

The flavors were Heath, Butterfinger, and York Peppermint Patty. They were fantastic!!!


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The Translation Revisited

Posted by: Andee / Category: , , ,

Ummmm.... No. Not Quite. Joe didn't even have the plates in the room! No Urim and Thummin, either. Lies, lies, lies.

Yesterday I was thinking about the rollercoaster I have been on since taking the time to truly study LDS Church history. At times I have been angry, sad, happy and relieved... only to return to anger and sadness again.

I left the church and started this blog because of my ethics. I value honesty and integrity. I demand that an organization requiring honesty from me show that same honesty.

These are things that the average member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does NOT know, but SHOULD know. It is impossible for someone to make an educated decision about something as important as religion with only half the facts. Remember, it is healthy to seek out the opposite point of view.

A true religion should never have to lie, hide information, or omit things from textbooks and lesson plans.

Nope, didn't happen like this...

When I went to church as a little girl I clearly remember being shown images like the one at the top of the page. Joseph Smith, depicted as a hardworking young adult who was seeking the truth, had the duty of translating the golden plates. Not once did a church leader tell me the true story of how it really happened. I can't blame them, because they don't know either! The church officials, however, know exactly what they are doing.

Sandy colored seer stone apparently used by Joseph Smith. Joseph's widow Emma passed it on to relatives of her second husband, Lewis Bidamon. (Wilford Wood Museum)

When I saw the "All About Mormons" episode of South Park in which the cartoon version of Joseph Smith translated golden plates by putting a rock in a hat I thought the writers were out of their minds.

They were right, I was wrong.

Joseph Smith didn't use the urim and thummim to translate the plates (can I mention again that there is still no proof the plates truly existed at all?) he used a rock called a "seer stone" that he found in his neighbor's well as a young boy. He previously used this rock in a hat trick to try and find buried treasure on farmland in exchange for payment, and when he didn't pull through he was taken to court. Many church officials deny he was convicted of "glass looking" while others admit that the documents exist to prove it.

"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."-Emma Smith

It gets better...

The golden plates that Joseph Smith waited and waited to find and dig up were not even used in the translation. AT ALL. They were not even in the room! If Joseph Smith had a magical rock that enabled him to see glowing letters and words from God, why in the world were the plates necessary to begin with? Doesn't matter to me, because I don't believe they existed at all.

Regardless, the church is far from honest about the way they teach children and potential converts about the translation of the Book of Mormon.

It did NOT happen like this:

It happened like this:

If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't ashamed of how the translation supposedly occurred, why are they so dishonest about it? Why don't they mention the rock in the hat? Why don't they mention the digging for treasure?

Because it might cause you to leave the church... thats why. Learning that Joe used a stone to "translate" (he wasn't really translating) is a big fat "WHAT THE FUCK?" moment.

For more information on the translation and quotes from some of the witnesses, check out these links:

Mormon Think
20 Truths About Mormonism
Real Mormon History
Mormonism Research Ministry
The Institute for Religious Research

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LOL Cats

Posted by: Andee / Category: , ,

Just because we all need a laugh...

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I Am Sooooo Gonna Make These!

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

If you haven't been to the Bakerella website you are missing out on some amazing ideas. You are also missing out on the talent this woman has! b Holy crap! Her cakes and other desserts are out of this world! Don't miss the Valentines Day box of chocolates that is made completely out of cake. Yep, thats right... the box is cake, too! How cool is that? Check out her blog for other cake pops and directions on how to make these cute creatures yourself!

I just checked in with the website and I was immediately inspired. Check out these photos (not taken by me, and the food is certainly not mine) by Bakerella!

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What Is Wrong With People?!?!?!

Posted by: Andee / Category: , ,

I just flipped on my television and caught the beginning of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC. I have reviewed this show before on my blog, but this story hit me huge because of my love for animals... especially cats, since I now own three.

Two of my cats were rescued from situations that I don't even like to think about. Since living with us, they have felt comfortable in showing their personalities without being put to extreme punishment of some kind. Hell, Abbey Road was found nearly beaten to death when she was a tiny kitten! Who could do something like that? Someone without a soul, thats who.

Anyway, the family chosen for this weeks makeover run a non-profit rescue for all kinds of animals that SHOULD be found in the wild, but people tried to turn them into pets. Sometimes people bought the pet before realizing it was illegal, sometimes the animal was working and when the work stopped the owners didn't want to feed it anymore. Most of the animals they took in are large cats like tigers and panthers.

Some of these cats have been through unspeakable things that I personally consider torture. There was a close-up of one cat with its nails declawed (it's bad enough doing that to a household cat, what are people thinking doing that to a large cat? How could it protect itself and hunt food if it had to?) and a story of another cat who had the paws of his feet cut in strange places that required surgery to fix.

Imagine getting a phone call from someone who doesn't have the resources to take care of an animal anymore. They don't have the money for the vet, the money for the food, the time, or the space the animal needs. If you couldn't find the space for the animal, they would have to put it down. An otherwise healthy creature wasted because of unfortunate circumstances. It's not their fault, they deserve to live. If you can't do it, the animal dies.

The family that needed this home makeover deserved it. There is no question. They would spend money on the animals before putting the money into fixing their home. The vet that works closely with the family says that there are so many lives this family has saved. To know that the cats and other animals will be safe and enjoy life is a gift... one of the greatest gifts.

Jeff Corwin (most people know him from Animal Planet) volunteered to take care of the animals with the help of an extremely large crew while the family was away on vacation. Not only will this family get a new home, the animals will receive space and authentic living conditions, they will probably live in luxury.

They deserve to live in luxury after what they have been through.

I can't bring myself to understand how animals are treated in all corners of the world. I am not saying that everyone should stop eating meat (although that would be kind of nice) or that everyone should be forced to take in animals as members of their families... I just think animals deserve a lot more respect than they get in our society. Their lives don't matter to a lot of people, and it's a shame.

When I lived in Orlando there was a story on the local news about a group of horses that were abandoned by their owners when they moved. They were fenced, and once they ran out of food and water they became emaciated. Thanks to a concerned passerby they were saved. Who could leave an animal to die?

Every single animal I have known in my life has enriched my life.

How could someone purposefully harm a living creature in this way? How could they? WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???


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Posted by: Andee / Category: , , , , ,

Money. Nothing gets me worked up as much as much as thinking about the amount of money the church has spent on things like temples and business that could be put to much better use. Let's point out quickly that the late Gordon B. Hinkley made the decision to build a 2 BILLION DOLLAR MALL right before the financial crash we are now dealing with. Where was God when he was making that decision? The Lord didn't give him a heads up? Huh...

No one knows exactly how much money the church has, because they are not required to share the information. The average member has no idea how much money goes to charity compared to lining the pockets of the church and it's many businesses.

I am a huge fan of the idea that every religious institution that receives a tax exempt status should have to share it's financial records to the tax payers in their state and country. What are they afraid of? If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
Donating money to charity is one of the best things you can do with your money. I will be the last to argue with that. There are people out there who are losing their jobs left and right, their homes are being foreclosed on, and they are still required to give their 10 percent to the church in order to be a member in good standing. What sense does this make? Does God really demand you give money to the church before making sure your children have food in their bellies and clothes on their backs? Some bishops require people to pay a full tithe before they are allowed to ask for any kind of assistance from the church. This is just backwards to me. How about taking care of your family so you don't have to ask for assistance? It's pretty damned simple, right? Recently, a poster on PostMormon.org shared this little gem:

I learned in serving almost twenty years as bishop and stake president that an excellent insurance against divorce is the payment of tithing. Payment of tithing seems to facilitate keeping the spiritual battery charged in order to make it through the times when the spiritual generator has been idle or not working. (”The Enriching of Marriage,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 11.)

This could feed a young family or be put towards the building of a temple... God wants the temple.

Really? REALLY? Tithing keeps your marriage together? Pardon me if I am wrong, but the one thing couples fight over the most is money. Who has it, who makes it, who makes the decisions on where that money goes... I truly believe tithing is probably one of the biggest "fight starters" in an LDS couples' lives.

Why doesn't the church tell us where they put this tithing money? Most of the people I have talked to over the years claim it's because they don't want to brag. This makes me laugh. If you are doing good works for the good of your fellow man, shouldn't God want you to shout it from the mountaintops to get more people to join your church or assist with their funds?

As tithe payers, shouldn't you want to see the financial information?

Most believing Mormons don't even consider that the church is doing anything wrong. The men in charge are chosen by God, after all. Right?

Why is it that God wants things like the finest of marble in his temples when there are people in the world who are suffering. Does God truly care about the decor when his children are going hungry, dying of disease and losing their children for lack of immunizations? Sick children? Who cares! We want marble! Instead of spending your time volunteering to teach children to read or keep them out of trouble, God wants us to spend hours and hours chanting and going through temple ceremonies for people who are already dead?

Think of the good that could be done with this time and money. Really think about it!!!

Let me share this quote from MormonThink.com:

"In 1997, U.S. congregations of the similarly sized Evangelical Lutheran Church in America raised $11.8 million in cash donations for worldwide hunger. The same year it raised $3.64 million for domestic and international disaster response, for a one-year humanitarian cash total of $15.44 million, more than half the amount the LDS provided over fourteen years." P. 129, Mormon America , Richard Ostling

In Jan. 2006, from the Church PR department, (Deseret News Publishing Company): Edgley said, "that since 1984, the LDS Church has donated nearly $750 million in cash and goods to people in need in more than 150 countries." That averages to $37.5 mil per year or about $3-$4 per Mormon member went to the poor. The total of $750 million in 22 years spent in cash and goods to people in need is only a THIRD what the church is spending on a mall they're building in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church is spending less than 1% of its income to help the poor. Is the Mormon church really a charitable organization?

The best estimates are that the church's assets are around $100 billion and that tithing runs $4.5-6.5 billion per year. But no matter how you slice it, humanitarian work is a small, itty, bitty part of church expenditures.

Even many individuals and corporations spend more than 1% on charitable work:
Wal-Mart - 1.5%
Ford - 2.2%
JP Morgan 2.1%
MBNA - 1.4%
UPS - 1.1%
GM - 1.23%
Avon - 3.97%
MetLife - 1%
Prudential - 1.22%
Eli Lilly - 1.4%

According to the IRS, the average charitable contribution is 2.2%.

Why is it that several large corporations and the average gentile are more charitable than the one and only true church upon the face of the whole earth? Again we come back to the fact that the church spends very little of its wealth and income on helping the poor and unfortunate. It spends about 1% of tithing on helping the poor. If you include investment income, it's much less than 1%.

Why does there need to be a corporate side? Why does the church need to buy malls, hotels, restaurants, condos, ranches, farmland, Oahu land, resorts, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and insurance companies? How does owning these things contribute to the 3 missions of the church of perfecting the saints, redeeming the dead, and preaching the gospel?

The real point is that the church gets more money through tithing and investment income than it knows what to do with.

When I had the opportunity to go to the ExMormon Foundation Conference last October in Salt Lake City, I had a conversation with someone who was walking away from the church while her husband wanted to stay in the church. They had a dilemma... how would they come to an agreement on tithing? It was important to him, but not to her.
They eventually came to a decision to donate the money to a charity that shared it's finances with it's donors and helped people. They know where the money is going, and they know the good it's doing. There is no question that their money is going to the right place, and they both believe God would be okay with that. The man's bishop is a different story, however, and he is no longer a temple recommend holding member. It's ridiculous! God obviously wants the church to have the money more than a young kid who needs food.

Let me share another gem from MormonThink.com:

Growing up in the church many of us took pride in saying that our bishops and other local leaders are not paid like ministers of other religions. Although that's true, there are at least 100 or so leaders in the LDS Church that are paid, such as the 12 apostles, First Presidency, and the First Quorum of the Seventy. People naturally wonder how much they are paid. Most members are under the impression that the General Authorities receive some sort of living allowance or stipend. We don't have definite answers as that information is also kept private by the church. A few fair comments before discussing it further:

  • Many of the General Authorities were wealthy before entering GA status.
  • Some make additional money by writing books.
  • Many sit on the boards of corporations owned by the Corporation of the President and of course receive director pay as a member of the board.
  • Some own stock in companies controlled by the corporation of the president.
  • Some own companies that have contracts with the corporation of the president.
  • Some own real estate companies that buy property that the church then purchases.

All of the published salary levels for non-ecclesiastical positions are relatively low. In the church postings listed on church bulletin boards for accountants, engineers, etc. The salaries are less than what most people would earn in the private sector. Church Education System teachers are not over paid but do have good benefits. So the question is, do the General Authority salaries follow suit or are they significantly different? Perhaps one thing to consider is the housing provided to Mission Presidents. All of the Mission President homes we've ever seen have been luxury homes. Even mission presidents sent to developing nations live in luxurious quarters, their children attend expensive private schools for expatriates, and the church provides servants. It's quite a difference between where the younger missionaries and older couple missionaries live and where the Mission presidents live. If this is proportional the higher up the ladder in the church, then the GAs may receive significant compensation.

Regardless of the salary, being a General Authority has a lot of financial perks. Many are given a place to live, paid travel, chauffeurs, limos, paid expenses, etc. And of course the members are very helpful to the GAs. For example, the billionaire LDS member Brother Huntsman gave President Hinckley free use of his corporate jet all throughout his tenure as President

Something to think about, huh?

One thing that has annoyed me from the time I was a small child, is the thought that tithing is life insurance. As long as you pay, God will look out for you. If you don't pay your tithing, your blessings will diminish and your life won't be as fulfilling.

Let me tell everyone out there that I have never paid tithing. Never. Not one red cent. My life has been wonderful. Sure, bad things have happened to me, but the good has far outweighed the bad. I can also point out that tithing paying members have bad things happen to them, right? Where is this "insurance?"

While my father was fighting cancer, I drove to Southern Utah to stay with my Dad's sister for a couple nights while I checked out a school down there. Not one, but two of my aunts constantly made comments about how they were blessed because they paid their tithing. They didn't say these things in front of me, I accidentally overheard them. Were they implying that my father had cancer because he wasn't an active tithe payer? Probably not. They were certainly convinced they had the invisible insurance that others didn't.

"Listen, Sweetie... I would love to go to the temple so we had better start paying our tithing..."

My Mom has mentioned many times that she would love to have the money back that she once gave the church. She was taught from a young age that the only way to be with my father in heaven again was to go to the temple and get sealed as a family. Can you go to the temple without paying tithing? Nope. Sure can't.

That money sure would come in handy now that she is paying a mortgage and looking for work!

Done ranting now...


P.S. If a believing Mormon leaves a comment claiming that my Mom would find a job if she paid her tithing, I will post it for the world to see. That is classic cult thinking right there.

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Drive Carefully

Posted by: Andee / Category: , ,

Well, yesterday was a day full of tears, hugs and wishful thoughts.

Mom and I left Logan around 8 a.m. and headed for Tooele County for my cousin's funeral. When we reached our first major mountain, it began to snow. This is a photo I took when I was in the passenger seat:

Here is another shot taken on the way to Tooele County:

As you can see, driving was a little difficult. Especially when giant semi trucks pass you at 75 miles an hour. I was swearing like a sailor.

We stopped for a cup of coffee at a gas station, and when we went to start the truck back up, nothing happened. Nada. Zilch. Zero. I walked back into the service station and asked anyone if they knew anything about getting our truck to start. Fortunately for us, a guy was sitting at a table in a small restaurant area and he was able to get us moving again with his grandson's help. Thank Gawd.

When we reached the place where my cousin and two of his friends lost their lives, I asked my Mom to pull over so I could take some photos of the memorial placed in their honor:

When I was taking these photos at the side of the road, a van pulled over and a perfect stranger walked up to me and gave me a hug. She told me that she lost her sister to cancer, and that she was sorry for our loss. It was really sweet, and I gave her my condolences as well.

We drove by Grantsville High School (Taft graduated in 2007) and saw this sign:

They also lowered the flag in respect:

Taft's service was beautiful. At one point, all the cousins and friends were asked to walk up to the front and sing two songs. I was a crying mess but I went and stood with everyone else.

Many of Taft's friends paid tribute to him by sharing stories of his gigantic sense of humor and his love for the television show "Survivor." He would often gather his friends together and play Survivor. His friends mentioned that he was always one step ahead and planning on who to vote out next. Jokes were made about how he might be organizing games in Heaven and voting off our friends and relatives who died before us. This put a huge smile on my face.

Taft and his girlfriend made a bucket list of things to do before they died. On the top of the list was to ride in an airplane and see Hawaii. In February, Taft and his girlfriend flew to Hawaii and enjoyed a vacation.

Taft enjoyed putting smiles on people's faces. He was known to pull off pranks or goof off and make even the strictest of personalities laugh out loud. There were a few collages of pictures of Taft, and in every single shot, he was smiling. That says a lot, doesn't it?

There were so many people in attendance for his memorial, that a large stake center was used. Here are some photos of the flowers that were sent for Taft's service:

Mom and I eventually had to start making our way home.

The weather got worse and worse as we made our way back to Logan...

I decided to drive home, and at one point I completely lost control over the vehicle. We slid in the snow and went into oncoming traffic and into the opposite ditch. Luckily, there was no one in the way and no one was hurt. It was scary as hell, though. 90 seconds after getting the truck on the right side of the road again two huge snowplows turned the corner. Mom and I couldn't stop thinking about what would have happened if our accident occurred a little bit later, or if the plows were driving a little faster. It's one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me.



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