Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Recycle those Christmas cards

Hey, want to do something nice while you clean up after Christmas? St. Jude's Ranch for Children accepts used Christmas cards, from which the children make recycled cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. (The fronts can't have any writing on them, obviously.) They then sell the cards to help support the ranch. You can send cards to this address until February 28:

St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

Also, you can order cards from them for next year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Year's Resolutions Poll!

I used to make new year's resolutions faithfully every year. As a teen-ager, I would take a pad of paper and a pencil and sit on my bed, contemplating that blank slate that was the upcoming 12 months and ponder how to improve myself and my life. On my mission, we had to make goals every week, so I kind of got in the habit even more. When I returned to college, I would make goals in various areas of my life: physical (exercise daily), spiritual (read my scriptures, pray daily), social (invite X number of people over), educational (get an A in Victorian Lit.), etc.

But life got more hectic, and my main resolution has turned into: sustain life and endure to the end. ha! I'm thinking about making some resolutions again this year, though (exercise daily, read my scriptures, pray daily.....).

Will you be making any new year's resolutions this year? Please participate in my poll to the right there. You could even share them in a comment, if you wished.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dr. Seuss vs. Charles Schultz

I love watching the Christmas cartoons every year. They take me back to my childhood when I first saw them. Two of my favorites are "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas." But this year, I've realized that they show two different views about what makes Christmas special.

The Grinch did learn a valuable lesson: Christmas comes without ribbons, tags, packages, boxes, or bags. It doesn't come from a store. "As long as we have hands to clasp," runs the song in the video version. It implies that the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of family and community.

So is that what we are celebrating when we celebrate Christmas? Family? Friends? Communities? Peace? Love? Giving and generosity? All those are wonderful things. But, what if I had no family? or friends? What if my community were torn by strife and hatred? What if I had nothing to give? Where do these good things come from?

I think Charlie Brown learns a deeper message. Linus recites:

And there were in the same country shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them, and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."

(Luke 2:8-14)

Charles Schultz got it right. The Savior and His divine mission is what gives meaning to the holiday season. He is the "true vine," the source of all those good things we enjoy at Christmas. We celebrate Him and His divine mission.

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yes, We Have No Minced Garlic

Now, I have used dried minced garlic in my cooking for years. I am no Martha Stewart--I don't buy fresh garlic and mince my own. I don't care for the bottled fresh minced garlic. I like the convenience of the dried stuff. Easy to store. Lasts nearly forever. Way good.

BUT, within the last two months, suddenly, I can't find dried minced garlic at WinCo! It's not in the spice section. It's not in the bulk spice section. I can find garlic powder, garlic salt, dried sliced garlic, granulated garlic, minced onions--but not my beloved minced garlic. Why have the powers that be abandoned it?

Today I went to Fred Meyer and found the last two bottles of dried minced garlic on the shelf for an outrageous price. I bought them both.

So, if you can enlighten me on the sudden disappearance of dried minced garlic, I would greatly appreciate it!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Guest Post--Nelson's review of Twilight

First--I am going to get so much flack about this from the guys at church...

I liked it. It was romantic and suspenseful. I like to read things that my students find popular. I have several, including a few boys, who now are reading the series and a couple who went to the opening night theater show.

The author did a good job developing likable characters and a realistic plot--aside from the vampire thing. I was surprised that there were several vampire characters that were noble and enjoyable to read about. She ended it well too: I wasn't sure quite what was going to happen. It left unanswered questions, but still provided a satisfying resolution. I do wonder, however, if girls really think and dream as much about relationships as the book suggests...

I would recommend this book to my students and women I know, though not necessarily to some of my friends with season tickets to ball games.

(Many thanks to our guest poster, Nelson, for his insightful review and willingness to share on this blog.) :-D

Friday, December 19, 2008

Card Towers

In addition to Heather's other talents, she has learned to build towers of cards. Here she is with one she made the other night.

Then she decided to build on a larger scale:

Wanting to find out how much weight the tower would hold, she put a dish on top and began adding marbles, eventually getting to 125. So far, so good:

The 126th marble, though, proved to be just one too many:

If I were brilliant, I would come up with how this is an analogy with life or something. But I'm not. So I won't. It was just a fun project.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What was that question?

The other night at our house:

Nelson [looking thoughtfully at Heather]:

"I had a question for you, and now I can't remember what it was."

Heather [helpfully giving hints to jog his memory]:

"Was it, How much money do you want?"
"How many pieces of chocolate would you
"Do you want a car, or a pony?"


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Does this strike you as...different?

So the other night, Nelson and I were reading side-by-side (parallel play, he would call it). Here's the part that made me laugh:

Nelson was reading Twilight. I was reading The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We have had an enormous Douglas fir tree in our back yard. And while I love trees, this one was soooo very big. It shaded our yard and made gardening very difficult. It kept rain from getting to our landscape plants. It was a bit scary in a big wind. So last Saturday, we had a HUGE tree-cutting party in our back yard. We hired a friend to cut the tree and the priesthood brethren used it as a service opportunity to cut up firewood for folks in need of wood in our ward. It took most of the day. All the guys just worked and worked, with a small break for hot chocolate, pizza, and pop. Tracy was in the tree for a good five hours straight!

Meanwhile, moms and kids hung out and talked and played at our house. Here is a slide show of some of the highlights of the day:

For even MORE pictures and some video, see our good friend Rune's blog. He got some GREAT shots. (You may be some kind of tree-removal nut if you look at all of these.)

Thank you to everyone for all your help. And we gals had a great time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Someday ...

... I'm going to miss all this.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas music

Welcome to the Christmas season! I've added a music playlist on the side bar for your listening enjoyment.
(I'm so proud of me for figuring out how to add it!) (although there is something wonky with the margins.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

happy Thanksgiving to all!

Don't we all have soooo much to be thankful for? Let's remember Him from Whom all blessings come.

Have a great day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the results are in---food storage poll *revised*

(The link to the Book of Gomer Parable, below, now works!)

So, here are the results of my extremely scientific survey:

No one has a full year's supply of food. Oh, dear...
57% have 3 to 6 months of storage. Yay!
28.5% have a few cans in storage. Better than nothing.
14.5% said "Food storage? What's that?" Uh, oh.

Of course, only 7 people participated in the poll... Including me... So there was only respondent who said "Food storage? What's that?" So maybe that was some blog browser who just stumbled in. Or maybe it was one of the few who trot on over here from time to time. Certainly not YOU, eh? :-D

Lately I have felt an increasing urgency about getting food storage and emergency preparedness supplies. It seems overwhelming, but bit by bit we've started gathering food and supplies. We're nowhere near a year's supply, but I tell myself, "Something is better than nothing!"

I have found some places on the Internet that are great for working on this. Of course, there is the Church's Provident Living website. I also cruise on over to Safely Gathered In, a blog where they have storage reminders and recipes. The Seven Steps blog is great for a weekly list of just seven things to do that week, a systematic way to get prepared in all ways (food storage, 72-hour kits, emergency evacuation, etc.) over the course of a year. I know there are LOTS of other web sites and blogs and deal with this as well. Maybe you have a favorite?

Our leaders have repeatedly counseled us to get our food storage. President Benson said, “The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah” (“Prepare Ye,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 69).

Click here to read The Book of Gomer Parable about the importance of food storage.

Let's not be left out in the rain...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Red Kidney Bean Danger!

Did you know this? I didn't until I was surfing the net the other day.

Raw or undercooked red kidney beans can cause serious food poisoning, due to a natural toxin in the beans. As few as 4 or 5 beans can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, sometimes serious enough to require hospitalization. And undercooked beans (cooked to only 176 degrees F.) may be up to five times more toxic!

What to do? According to, you should soak the beans at least 5 hours, then discard the soaking water. In fresh water, boil rapidly at least 10 minutes (mine take 25 to cook soft).

Since many of us have children who are curious and will munch on most anything, this seems important to know!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Children's Sacrament Meeting Program under the belt

We did it! We successfully completed another Primary Sacrament Meeting Program! After months of practice, encouraging, teaching, leading, playing games, coaxing, and cajoling, we survived another of these adventures. Some weeks the children sang like the Tabernacle Choir. Some weeks they sang as if they'd never heard these songs in their little lives. But in the end, they came through.

There were children swallowing the microphone, and children speaking too quickly to understand. There were children with their parts memorized flawlessly and children who needed just a bit of help. There were children singing their hearts out and children singing out only the two or three words they knew really well. There were children standing up on cue and children standing once they realized everyone else was up.

There were smiles. There were tears. There was the sweet Spirit of the Lord in the meeting.


Now, on to next year's songs....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heather has a job!

So a while back, I asked for help in finding Heather a job. I need to report that she found one all on her own. She's working at the Kids' Klub at Court Sports. She works Saturdays from 8 to 1. It's a great job. And doesn't she look cute in her uniform?

Autumn Fun

Autumn is my favorite time of year. This year we...

Buried David in a pile of leaves

Visited Hentze Family Farm

where we also wound our way through the hay and corn mazes

Danced at the ward Fall Festival.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Be Kind to Your Bishop...

[Whispered voice]:
When you're a bishop, a school-teacher, a husband, a dad...
some days are just very long.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween

Welcome Verideon Koff, dark Jedi from a galaxy far, far away....

Verideon Koff in attack mode.

Verideon with his co-conspirators, before a night of loot-seeking.

Much loot was gathered by all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

David's Quilt--Finished!

I finally finished David's quilt! Here is the progress, from start to finish.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Come and Get Your Happiness

In the midst of all the angst and uproar of the times we live in,

A little happiness for your day:

Turn up your speakers and read along, if you wish:

Come And Get Your Happiness

Lyrics/Music Yellen/Pokrass

Why are grown up peoples faces
Wrinkled like a lot of prunes?
Money, money, that's what chases them
Around like crazy loons.
I think they make a big mistake;
Wealth and happiness that counts
Are free to all in large amounts.

There's millions worth of golden sunbeams
That everybody can possess.
All God's children got success.
Come and get your happiness!

There's billions worth of silver moonbeams,
Enough for everyone I guess.
What's a million more or less?
Come and get your happiness!

Among the wildwood of your happy childhood
Where you were Jills and Jacks
In raggy britches, there's a lot of riches
On which you don't pay any income tax.

So get under that blue heaven
Away from trouble and distress.
Just find Mother Nature's address,
And come and get your happiness!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Furious Wind Blowing Toward the Promised Land

The other day I was reading in the Book of Ether, specifically the 6th chapter. I was reading about how the Jaredites got into those barges, commended themselves unto God, and launched forth into the seas. Then God caused "a furious wind" to blow them to the promised land. As I read, I tried to put myself in their place. What would that have been like?

OK, you're in a large, dark barge. True, there are the lighted stones prepared by the brother of Jared and touched by the Lord. But there are only two, maybe with about the light power of a couple of 40-watt bulbs. I doubt they are like flood-lamps.

Then there is that "furious wind" and "great and terrible tempests." Mountain waves crash over the barge and you're "buried in the depths of the sea." Over and over. Are you seasick yet? This goes on for virtually a full year!

There are also "flocks and herds." How do the animals deal with all this? What does the place smell like?! When there is a brief period of calm (or at least not "mountain waves" crashing upon you), how glad you must be to go up top and open that hole in the roof!

Now here is the amazing part: This whole time, while all this scariness and mess is going on, all these furious winds and mountainous waves, you "thank and praise the Lord all the day long."

I wonder, did they ever start to doubt? Did they ever think: "Well, this wasn't such a hot idea after all! I'm going to pound that Mahonri! As soon as I quit throwing up." Or: "Has God forgotten us? This can't be the way a loving God would treat His children!"

I wondered what application this has for our lives. Do we ever find ourselves in dim places, with mountainous waves crashing over us, pushing us down and down? Do we think things stink sometimes and feel sick to our stomachs with worry and doubt? Do we see no end to the plight we are in? Do we feel that God has forsaken us and left us to the fury of the cold world?

Maybe He's just blowing us toward the Promised Land.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tagged--Four Things...

My good friend Lea Anne tagged me... My first tag! I'm so honored. :-D

So, here goes:

Four things I love about my husband:

  • He's funny--even when he doesn't mean to be.
  • He has a tender heart--even cries at movies.
  • He thinks I'm cute.
  • He is diligent and faithful in all he does.

Four movies I would watch more than once:

  • Star Wars: A New Hope (the real Star Wars movie)
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • Lilo and Stitch (I love the music--especially the Hawaiian songs)
  • Arsenic and Old Lace

Four TV shows I watch:

  • Gosh, at our house we mostly end up watching PBS kid shows!

Four places I've been:

  • Cologne, Germany
  • Hawaii
  • New York City
  • Niagra Falls

Four places I'd like to go:

  • Hawaii
  • England
  • Caribbean
  • New Zealand

Four people who email me regularly:

  • Lea Anne
  • Doffy
  • My Dad
  • My friend ArLynn

Four things I would like to eat:

  • Pizza
  • Fried chicken
  • Potato salad

Four things I look forward to next year:

  • having the elections over
  • trying again to have a (semi) decent garden/yard
  • a new calendar
  • summer vacation

Four people I tag:
  • Jamie B.
  • Lisa W.
  • Susan F.
  • Rachel H.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Chance to Win a Freebie

Hi! The people at Crock-Pot are giving away 5 free eLume Programmable Slow Cookers this weekend. To have a chance to win one, you have to go to A Year of CrockPotting and enter a comment with your email address. This sounds like a nifty crock-pot. Here is a review of it. After it becomes available to the public, it's supposed to be about $99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Here is a link to the company's web site. Do you like your crock-pot as much as I do mine? (In fact, I'm making taco soup in mine right now.) I'd love one with all these extra features!

Monday, October 6, 2008

"You Can Live a Happy Life..."

I listen to wa-a-y too much talk radio. And I am a worrier. A bad combination. The economy is going down the tubes. Our politicians can't be trusted. They've outlawed light bulbs. Terrorists want to blow us all up. Marriage and families are in crisis. Natural disasters are happening everywhere. And any time now The Big One could shake the Williamette Valley and leave us all grasping our 72-hour kits and wishing we had more food storage. My garden stunk this year, and everyone I know is having all kinds of problems. You get the picture. Worm-eating time. bleah

One day recently as I was driving, mulling all this over, a phrase from a song you know came drifting through my mind:
"You can live a happy life in this world of toil and strife..." (Hymn 228, specifically verse 4).


And I got to thinking: If I'm waiting for the world to be perfect and problem-free before I'm happy, I'm gonna be waiting a l-o-o-ng time. What if I'd been a pioneer, forced out of my home in mid-winter at the point of a gun? What if I'd lived during the Great Depression or the flu epidemic of 1918? What if I'd lived in Europe during WW1 or 2? Surely there were people then who coped and were happy? Good grief! I've got it soooo good!

Then the song rolled on in my mind to the "if." "If there's sunshine in y
our heart." And I realized (what I'm sure you know) that the sunshine, the sun is...the Son.

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the word: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)

As long as we have the Savior in our hearts, we can handle anything this old world can throw at us. We can "do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth us."

You've heard all the talks about looking for the good, enjoying the journey, noticing the little things that bring happiness. I just wish I could remember them more often!

Sometimes when I'm starting to panic, I have to stop and focus on the moment: the smell of baking bread, the sound of my son practicing the piano, the feel of my soft bathrobe, the fact that I'm safe right now. The Savior is aware of me and my family; He loves us. He is watching over us and will help us through whatever may come.

You probably know these things already, but I need to write it down, so that when I forget again in a couple of weeks, I can come back here and remember:

I can live a happy life in this world of toil and strife if there's sunshine in my heart...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The War on Women

A former bishop of ours recently wrote on his blog:

"Much of my time spent in counseling was with women, most of them unhappy in some way. Although they came to me with many different types of pain (marriage, children, callings, etc.), the common thread seemed at its basic level to be a lack of self-worth or a sense of personal value. Even with some of the strongest sisters, who served with tremendous capacity in a wide range of responsibilities, there was a near-constant struggle with feelings of inadequacy. After several months of this, it became clear to me that I was in fact witnessing a very subtle plot against women, designed by the Master Deceiver. The intent of it was obvious: If he could get women to forget who they really were, instead focusing on who the world told them they should be and what they must do in order to have value, then entire families, even generations, would be at risk. I remember once standing in front of our Relief Society sisters and telling them that they were being targeted and that if they weren't rock solid in their testimony and commitment, his lies would prevail in their lives."

I hope you got to attend the recent General Women's broadcast. If not here is the link to the audio archives and transcripts. I was so inspired and impressed by the forcefulness of the talks. We were so encouraged and admonished in love. I can't express how I felt sitting there with friends that night, drinking in the beautiful messages.

This former bishop also referred to a recent Women's Conference address by Sheri Dew, which further emphasized the theme of rising to be all that our Heavenly Father wants us to be. You can read it here.

Maybe you're like me--it's all to easy to feel small and insignificant. To slip into a rut and just coast along. These talks remind me who I am and what my Heavenly Father would like to have me do. The Master Deceiver is indeed hard at work. He knows our weaknesses and where to pick at us. I, too, know many women who struggle with feelings of inferiority, of not measuring up, of lacking skills or talents or worth. I know others who have bought into the world's messages, who reject the Church and its teachings, who think they know better.

I wonder what messages we send our daughters or the young s around us when we struggle with these issues.

I wish I could remember every day the thoughts and feelings these talks and conferences bring to me. Maybe that's why we need to have the talks and conferences come around on a regular basis. The Adversary is certainly working every day. How thankful I am for wise bishops, Women's Conference, Relief Society broadcasts, wise speakers and leaders! How thankful I am for the examples of good women all around me! Many of you are my examples and I am awed to be in your lives. Thank you!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What to Do with a Giant Zucchini

OK, so you're wondering what to do with that hummer of a zucchini that got away from you and now is the size of a small child. Here's what I do: make zucchini relish! We were introduced to this tasty treat several years ago by one of my visiting teachers, and now we won't eat any other kind. Even picky eaters like this relish! Here's the recipe:

Zucchini Relish

4 to 4-1/2 lb. Zucchini squash (peeled, seeded)

2 med. Onions

1 sweet red pepper

2 Tbsp. Canning Salt

2 C. sugar

1 C. cider vinegar

1/2 C. water

2 tsp. Celery seed

2 tsp. Ground turmeric

1 tsp. Ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. Pepper

Cut up vegetables; grind in food chopper, using coarse blade, being careful not to over process. (I pulse mine in the food processor.) Add salt. Cover; refrigerate overnight.

Rinse in cold water. Drain well in colander.

In 4- to 5-quart kettle combine vegetable mixture, sugar, vinegar, water, celery seed, turmeric, nutmeg, and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover; boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Ladle hot mixture into hot, clean pint jars; leave ½-inch headspace. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions. Remove air bubbles with a non-metallic spatula. Wipe jar rim. Adjust lid. Process jars in boiling water bath 15 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Makes 4-7 pints.

This is great on hot dogs, tuna sandwiches, anything!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Heather needs a job

So, Heather's summer job ended and her expenses haven't. Life seems so much more expensive now than it was when I was a kid. Especially with her driving... So, this is my attempt at networking.

She has applied to work at Court Sports Kids Klub and at the River Road Park, but we won't know if either of those pan out for some time. I don't know--is it just me? This whole looking for a job thing wigs me out!

She worked about 20 minutes this summer at KFC. (Well, maybe a few minutes more.) But between girls camp and volunteering at cub camp and family vacation and getting her wisdom teeth out, she really didn't work many hours. And she says she HATED it and will not work fast food again. (I keep telling her she's lucky not to have to work at the potato factory where I worked for three summers, standing in the cold, noisy, smelly factory cutting black spots off potatoes all NIGHT long. She says that sounds fun...)

I know this is rambling, but I am really wondering what to encourage her to do. Jobs for teens seem hard to find. Especially ones that won't insist on her working Sundays, which is strictly off-limits for us. If anyone has any ideas or leads, I'd be grateful. Or if you need a babysitter, she's really good with kids. Or you can just pray for us... :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We had a great time the first two weeks of August. First we drove to Nampa, Idaho, for a mini family reunion with aunts and uncles and cousins we haven't seen in a long time.
Then on to Aberdeen where I grew up. If you don't know where that is, you're not alone. It's not on the way to anywhere. (For inquiring minds, here's a map of southeastern Idaho.)

View Larger Map

We spent a couple of days with my Dad and step-mom, then on to Rexburg, where we toured BYU-Idaho for Heather's sake, since that is where she would like to go to college when she graduates high school.

Then my Dad and step-mom met us there and we spent the next two days in Yellowstone Park. The last time Nelson and I were there, the park was on fire. We enjoyed this trip much more. Here are some pics:

We saw bison--up close and a leeettle bit too personal. Long story short, Dad's car was threatened by a large male bison, showing off for his cow. Fortunately, Dad listened to that still, small voice that told him not to honk his horn to try to scare the bull. All ended well. Here are bison we drove past:

Dad explains to Russell just how BIG that bison's head was, as it eyed Dad's car and snorted at him.

On our last morning, we took the traditional walk around the farm. It's about a three-mile walk, out along the canal bank around my Dad's farm. Here's a slide show:

So, now we're back, getting into the ol' routine of things again. We had such a good time reconnecting with family. You realize what's important when you spend time with loved ones. I often wish we didn't live so far from everyone. Thank goodness for cars and cameras...