Friday, January 30, 2009

Life in My World—A Few for Friday


I used to read Amelia Bedilia books to my little sister, Rachel. (Did you read her, the housekeeper that literally dressed the bird for supper and dusted the furniture with talcum powder?) A few years ago when Rachel was visiting we were cooking together in the kitchen. I was not clear about something I asked her to do but she followed my instructions literally and implicitly. A few minutes later when I turned and saw the results I started laughing and called her Amelia Bedilia.

A week ago I was visiting with Cali on the phone and she said something about no reply bloggers’ e-mail addresses. I said, “What? You mean all those people who comment with a no-reply e-mail haven’t been getting my responses to them?”

She said, “No…….how can they?” Talking slower now as if she was Mr. Rogers and I was Amelia Bedilia, “They say N-O-R-E-P-L-Y—comment.” Argh. Somewhere in the no-reply box sits hundreds and hundreds of returned comments to things you have written to me. To you no-reply commenters please know your thoughts were important and I’ve felt badly ever since I realized you haven’t gotten them. The real Amelia Bedilia has now come forth.


I just bought polenta for the first time last week. Any suggestions or ideas on how to use it? Do you use plain polenta for breakfast and seasoned for dinner? Do you like polenta? What do you do with it? Please, do tell.

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Anita tagged me to open the sixth picture folder on my computer and post the sixth picture from that folder. This is a picture of Cali’s first college graduation with a few of her mainland friends. The lei made of ice pops was a gift from the friend on the right. I just read that leis should never be casually thrown away or tossed in the trash. Because a lei represents love, throwing it away represents throwing away the love of the giver. Leis should be returned to the place they were gathered, or at least returned to the earth via hanging in a tree, burying or burning. I'm glad I know this, it means we MUST return to Hawaii and give our leis back to the Hawaiian soil. It's only right.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Homemaking Tip—A Breath of Fresh Air


To make an inexpensive air freshener cut an orange in half, remove the pulp and fill the peel with salt. Fragrant, economical, simple, helps to tame house-i-tosis —it works for me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SPT—Things I Enjoy


Calvin tells me that sometimes I run good things into the ground. And he's right. If I find something that works once, well then, I’ll use it two or three dozen times. There is just reason Calvin groans when I serve strawberry-jello-pretzel salad.

Lelly’s challenge today is to take a self-portrait doing something I enjoy. I love Lelly’s ideas. I am glad that I now have pictures of me in the family photo collection thanks to SPT’s. We looked like a motherless clan for several years. But this week, well, I’ve just kind of run blog pictures of me into the ground, what with Alyson’s photography and all. I feel like I’d be serving you strawberry-jello-pretzel salad . . . again. I’ll just paint the picture with words of some things I’ve enjoyed doing today instead:

Interacting with kind, happy, vivacious people
Eating oatmeal, a cheap hamburger from McDonald’s and homemade kettle corn
Sucking on a strawberry cough drop
Reading a good book, enlightening articles and e-mails
Talking on the phone with a bothered friend
Wishing for a nap
Reading the scriptures and praying
Finalizing and anticipating a scrapbook night on Friday
Trying out new soap
Wearing a warm sweatshirt
Seeing a blue sky
Writing Ty
Finishing the ironing
Being with Calvin
Corresponding with the kids
Picking up a mail-order book from the library

It’s been an enjoyable day. How about you? What have you enjoyed today?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Memories--The Best Smell in the World is . . .

Today I went to Wal-Mart to get cleanser, bleach and soap. As the cashier rang up my items she picked up a can of Comet cleanser and said, “I love the smell of this.” I asked her if that was what her mom used when she was growing up and she said it was. Then she continued, “She was a clean freak and used lots of bleach, too. I like the smell of bleach as well.”

We used Ajax growing up, so Comet doesn’t trigger anything for me, but her comment made me think of childhood smells and the memories linked to them:

Pink gum erasers—my friend, Anita, had pink gummy erasers and I loved smelling them. Whenever I smell one, still, I think of Anita and our inseparable grade school and high school friendship.

Floor wax—the last thing we did when we cleaned house was to wax the floor. We had to stay off of it for 20-30 minutes until it dried, so floor wax says “the work is finally done.” Definitely a good smell. Or it reminds me of the first day of school after a long break when the janitor had waxed all the wood floors in the building

Novocaine—reminds me of the dentist. The dentist reminds me of cavities which reminds me of milkshakes. Pavlov’s theory—novocaine = food


Plastic—My doll, Judy

Green Palmolive dish soap—washing steers at the fair for 4-H. Before we discovered the cattle shampoo of Orvus, it was us, the steers and a bottle of dish soap.




White Shoulders perfume—Grandma Julia’s red bathroom that always had a fancy box of scented powder with a fluffy applicator



All these things conjure a memory for me. How about for you? What smells trigger memories for you? Did you know these interesting facts about smells?

1. Humans are able to distinguish over 10,000 scents.

2. Each person (except identical twins) has his or her individual smell.

3. One in 1,000 people are insensitive to the smell of skunks.

4. Smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than taste.

5. Ninety percent of what is perceived as taste is actually smell.

6. Ninety percent of the women who were tested identified their newborns by smell after being exposed to them for only 10 min-1 hour. All of the women recognized their babies' smell after they had been exposed longer than 1 hour.

7. By as early as 3 days a baby can discriminate between his own breast-feeding mother and another lactating mother.

8. Women, particularly women of reproductive age, have a more acute sense of smell than men.

9. Dogs, horses, and women can detect the "scent of fear." (Female subjects wore underarm pads while watching a scary movie or a neutral movie. The pads were presented to a panel of women who were able to discriminate between "fear" and "non-fear" sweat pads. )

10. We tend to prefer the smell of people who have different smells to our own and tend to be repelled by people whose smell is similar to our own.

11. A Chicago lab found that the women in their study rated human odor more pleasant than common household odors.

12. Around $24 billion is spent annually on scented products in the US.

13. People are very sensitive to the smell of green pepper. It can be detected when it is mixed with air at only 0.5 parts per trillion.

(This information was compiled by Tim Jacob jacob@cardiff.ac.uk)



I’d love to hear about a smell and memory of yours in the comments.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quotable Quote--Laughter



"I've always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying,

'Ain't that the truth.'" ~Quincy Jones


Ande wrote this post, "The Caprisun Complex", and I got the biggest laugh out of it . . . and the comments. Joke's on me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Life in My World—They’re Baaaaaack

Ray and Cali came today. That means . . .

The lone beta fish (left here from their reception) now has someone who will put his care as a priority. Fish in bowls nigh near draw me insane. Round and round with no place to go. It’s quite counterproductive. I feel so sorry for him. We haven’t had any fish food, either. Calvin and I drop a few toast crumbs in his cup and every now and then a bit of bacon or hamburger (Ande told me they’re a meat eater). Can you see this poor thing needs someone?

I get to post some pictures! Alyson Keeley, a good friend, was their photographer. I highly recommend her. She is talented and artistic. I love the way she captured their wedding. She caught the day


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Columbia River Temple

from the top


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Cali's shoes

to the bottom. She captured . . .


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the mood and . . .


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Follett siblings


the fun, the people . . .



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Abe, Cali and Ande



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Calvin, Cali and me
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Cali, Ray and 94-year-old Grandma Follett
who were there and she also photgraphed . . .
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the details. She found . . .
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the beauty again . . .
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and again . . .
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and again.
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From beginning to end. Thank you, Alyson. We appreciate you saving this memory so beautifully for us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teaching Idea—Where Do I Stand?

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This idea is not original* but I sure do love it and find it useful! It’s fun to use in classes, family home evening or any group activity. The first thing you need to do is to choose a subject matter and then choose five or six subtitles in the subject matter. Some examples include:
  • Woodland animals: Deer, Squirrel, Wolf, Moose, Bear
  • Continents: Asia, Africa, America, Antarctica, Oceania, Europe
  • Founding Fathers: Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, John Adams, Sam Adams
  • Vegetables: Broccoli, Potatoes, Corn, Lettuce, Green Beans, Peas
  • Transportation: Subway, Car, Bicycle, Airplane, Ferry
  • Scriptural Figures: Samson, Deborah, Jezebel, Gideon, Samuel
  • Tools: Hammer, Nail, Pliers, Saw, Duct tape
  • Character traits: Hard working, Kind, Stubborn, Selfish, Selfless
  • Zoo animals: Lion, Elephant, Monkey, Giraffe, Rhino

You get the idea. These could include anything you wish to focus on or are studying.

Write each word in large letters on a piece of paper and hang around the room.
Ask the participants to stand next to the word that best describes them when they are at home.
When everyone has chosen a word to stand next to, ask them to tell why they placed themselves where they did to those standing with them.
After everyone has had a few moments to discuss it, ask a spokesman from each group to share their findings with the entire group.
Continue the activity by repeating steps 2-4 with other situations:

What are you most like when you are with your friends?
What are you most like when you are with your family?
What are you most like when you are at work (school)?
What are you most like when you are by yourself?
What are you most like with people you don't know?
What are you most like when you are shopping?
What are you most like when working on a hobby?

Benefits of this learning strategy are it gets people thinking, moving and talking. It also allows them to apply the subject matter they have been studying to themselves. It also gives a safe environment for people to learn to stand alone.

I still remember watching some of our scrapbook ladies laughing and maneuvering about a packed little room when we played this at our very first retreat. The beginning of some friendships that still exist were born that day. How can you not feel camaraderie when you’re standing next to someone who feels the same as you in situations?

*adapted from TRIBES

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Eat It! It’s Good for You


At the seminar I taught on Monday, everyone introduced themselves with their favorite vegetable. Kohlrabi, spinach, brussel sprouts . . . they were all mentioned. I, of course, said potato (knowing that corn is only half-a-length behind). I still think about the article below concerning foods that I read several months ago. It works-for-me and it makes me wonder just exactly what the potato is good for . . . body mass?

“We’ve all heard we are what we eat, but did you know that studies show that every whole food we eat has a pattern that resembles a body organ or physiological function and gives us a heads up on what benefits that food might provide us? Here are a few examples:

“A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye...and science shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

“A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

“Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

“A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

“Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

“Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

“Eggplant, Avocadoes and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? ... It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

“Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

“Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.”

(Source attributed to David Bjerklie, of TIME Magazine)


What do you think?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

SPT—I Resolve to Take More Self-Portraits While Trying New Things

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Zip. You won’t hear a word from me.

Yesterday Calvin and I were in Montana while I presented a workshop of teaching strategies to a school district there. We had a quick and delightful trip, but I came home with a bad case of laryngitis. Too late to call a substitute, I taught speechless today. Definitely a new thing for me.


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Last week Calvin and I went to our local college basketball game. When Calvin taught at the College of Southern Idaho we went faithfully to the games, in fact going to those games went down in the annals of family good times. However, the tradition did not move with us and last week’s game was my first in the ten+ years we’ve lived here.

It was fun to watch college ball again and . . . we got our money’s worth. The boys had THREE overtimes. We lost, but by that time a loss had completely lost its sting.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Life in My World—Pictures & Bears & Pictures of Bears

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thanks to google for the image
This will be short. The rheumatoid arthritis is a bear, taking my left hand away for a couple of days, but I did want you to know that Amy Maher has posted a tutorial on uploading pictures in a larger format to blogger. posting larger photos 101. Thanks, Amy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Teaching Idea--Right?


This is a quick, fun and easy interactive group activity. All you need is a variety of small prizes or wrapped candy for each participant. Everyone sits in a circle and is given a prize or piece of candy. As you tell the story, the group passes the prize they are holding in the direction that is emphasized. When a color is read in the story then all those wearing that color swap seats. When the story is finished, everyone keeps the prize they have in their hands.

When we played this activity at our last retreat, Deb and I included good prizes as well as some not so desired prizes. I remember Heather and Cali both hoping they didn’t get stuck with yet another X-X-L 2005 Scrappin’ Retreats t-shirt. And they both did. They donated them back to the pot and they’ll be there for the next round!

*To make the activity a learning experience, simply substitute a story with a moral (or a true story) that you wish to teach.


The Real Princess, Edmund Dulac

Once a very long time ago there lived a prince with two left feet. He was the only one left in the kingdom. All his brothers had left for another kingdom. That’s right, they left without a word. This prince wanted a princess—not any old princess left from any kingdom. He wanted the right princess in a yellow dress with brown eyes.

The blue prince travelled right around the world looking right and left for a princess with a pretty pink smile. He was right, there were plenty of women, green with envy at hoping to be rightfully chosen as his wife, but whether they were real princesses he had a hard time rightfully deciding. There was only one thing left to do—go right home and think about it.

That very evening, after he’d left the supper table, he went right to bed. He didn’t even sit to write a note to remind himself to look for a princess the next day; he just left everything and went right to sleep.

That night there was a terrible storm; there was thunder and lightning, right and left. The rain poured down. In the middle of the storm somebody knocked at the town gate and the old King himself sent someone to open it right away.

It was a princess who was left standing—purple from the cold. The water streamed right out of her hair and right down her clothes. It ran right in at the top of her shoes and right out at the heels, but she said that she was a real princess. The servant invited her to the castle.

“Well, we shall soon see if she is a real princess,” thought the old Queen. She went right into the guest bedroom and took all the bed clothes that were left on the bed and put them on the floor. Then, she laid a pea on the bedstead. She took twenty mattresses and piled them right on top of the pea, and then left twenty feather beds on top of the mattresses. This was where the princess slept that night. In the morning they asked her how she slept.

“Oh terribly bad!” said the princess. “I have hardly closed my eyes the whole night! Heaven knows what was left in the bed. I seemed to be lying upon some hard thing and my whole body is black and yellow this morning. It was right terrible!”

They saw at once that she must be a real princess when she had felt the pea they left through twenty mattresses and twenty white feather beds. Nobody but a real princess could have such a delicate skin—so peach and fair.

So the prince took her to be his rightful wife, for now he was sure that he had found a real princess and the pea was put right into the Museum and left for others to see, where it may still be seen if no one has stolen it right out from underneath the curator’s nose.

This is a true story. Right?


What story have you used with this activity?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Homemaking Tip—Crock-Pot Liners


I mentioned cooking for a group is much easier with crock-pot liners. A few of you e-mailed asking about them so here’s the information: They’re found in the waxed paper, oven cooking bags, tin foil and plastic wrap aisle at the grocery store. They’re a bit pricey, but for sticky, messy crock-pot meals and group serving I think they’re well worth the money . . . and they work for me.

What’s your favorite thing to cook in a crock-pot? Would you mind sharing in the comments? I think these two breakfast recipes look good and am excited to try them.





(Coming up. Some of you asked how to upload pictures in a larger format. Amy was my tutor and she is preparing a tutorial. I'll share the link as soon as she gets it written.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Memories—Life, Where All Your Dreams Come True


Ray and Cali began their reception program by introducing themselves through memories. Cali showed this picture and it reminded me of . . .

Calvin trapped beaver, badgers and coyotes and tanned the hides. He made things like a little pair of moccasins for Cali lined with rabbit fur, and a mountain man hat from a coyote pelt that hung all the way down your back. From the time she was tiny, Cali liked to climb up on a stool and watch Calvin skin the hides. She would sit there for hours and as she grew older asked him questions on what things were and how they worked. Everything about the process fascinated her—the muscles, the skin, the bones, the tendons—but . . . though she was fascinated . . . the experiences scarred her. She has nightmares still about coyotes peering in her window trying to get in and eat her (it seems to be a little red riding hood-ish), and if we walk late in the evening she often mentions something about a mad, man-eating coyote that might be hiding behind the grass on the ditch bank.

The night of the reception Cali, Ande and I were getting ready in my bathroom. The girls were curling their hair and I had gone into our adjoining bedroom to change my clothes. Completely distracted and thinking only of things I needed to take and remember to do, I went into the bathroom to get something. I didn’t even notice the girls stare . . . until I reached down to get something in front of them. I realized I was topless. I crossed my heart and hoped to die and cried, “Oh nooooo, it’s like those dreams where you go somewhere and forget to put your clothes on, only this is truuuuuue.” They laughed, cross-chattered and I swear I heard Cali humming “Hang low sweet chariot.” There will be scars.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quotable Quote—Greatness

“Let us remember, too, that greatness is not always a matter of the scale of one's life, but of the quality of one's life. True greatness is not always tied to the scope of our tasks, but to the quality of how we carry out our tasks whatever they are. In that attitude, let us give our time, ourselves, and our talents to the things that really matter now, things which will still matter a thousand years from now.” —Spencer W. Kimball, "A Gift of Gratitude", Tambuli, Dec 1977

I’ve mentioned it before; I grew up in a family of ten siblings. Our mother was a very good homemaker and we essentially spring cleaned every Saturday. We pulled the furniture out, dusted the walls, mopped, waxed and buffed the floor, fixed a salad a dessert for Sunday . . . you get the picture. It was probably necessary with so many of us and the dust blowing in from the farm, but I got to where I hated Saturdays because everyone was cross; yet I loved Sunday mornings not only because of the extra rest but waking up to such a clean house.

I became my own homemaker and had the same tradition; however I cleaned just so that I could say I had cleaned. I didn’t look to see whether it needed it or not . . . it was Saturday and therefore things should be scrubbed. One day I realized I was in a traditional rut. I was scouring just so I could say I had cleaned. Things weren’t even dirty. I kept the cross part of the tradition, too. It was the first time I remember consciously making a decision of “will this matter a hundred years from now?” I knew cleanliness, order and work habits would be important, but would immaculate and did I want to be remembered as cross? It revolutionized the way I looked at homemaking . . . and mothering . . . and the passage of time.

There are just so many good choices in the world and I have noticed the older I get the more easily I get distracted. We used to have one TV channel, one telephone, the church magazines and occasionally a good new book (our library wasn’t free). Focusing was doable. Now we have hundreds of TV channels, movies mailed to our homes or downloaded instantly, individual cell phones, immediate internet and people access via phones and computers, magazines and books galore and new hobby opportunities everywhere. There are hundreds of things on which to focus and “stuff” far and wide entice my time and attention. Depending on how I use those things, they have helped me do great things and they have distracted me from achieving greatness. “. . . In that attitude, let me give my time, myself and my talent to the thing that will really matter a thousand years from now.” Unlike my I-get-it homemaking epiphany, I can see I’ll be learning this again and again and again . . . at least 'till I choose greatness every time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Six or Seven


One. Deb sent me this picture that she took of Cali and Ray as they came out of the temple right after being married and sealed for eternity. I love their faces. I still can't think back to that day without feeling peace and happy.

There had been tremendous storms for two weeks before they got married and we woke to a blizzard the day of the wedding. It was treacherous driving. In fact, Ray and Cali drove off the road just a half mile from the temple and feared they were going to roll as they were on an embankment. They said they sat there stunned for a minute and then a man pulled up to see if they needed help. Ray jumped out and threw the guy a tow rope and after he'd pulled them back on the road, Ray said, "Thanks Buddy, I'm on my way to get married!" The day was blessed from start to finish.


Two. Last night Calvin and I hosted a "Thank you" dinner for those who helped fix and serve the food at Ray and Cali's reception last week. Calvin fixed Soup of the Seven Seas for the appetizer. It had mussels, clams, shrimp, crab, octopus and two other things that float in the sea that I don't remember (I should have suggested he put the lone beta fish in it). It was a great conversation starter. How can someone not comment when there is an octupus strung out over the bottom of his bowl? We served the more traditional food of steaks, baked potatoes, spinach salad, green beans and hot rolls with it. We squeezed all of us around our extended table and had a good time eating, laughing and visiting about everthing from Vietnam to girls' camp.


Three. Calvin and I have a friend who has the most generous, perceptive and kind soul. Everyone loves him. Several years ago when he was in his mid-forties, he had heart trouble and died of an enlarged heart.

We also know someone who has difficulty loving others or seeing good in them. Life and people are burdensome to her. She is currently in the hospital. The doctor said she is suffering from a cold in her heart.

Irony. Sweet irony. * Please let me die of a soft, enlarged heart.

Four. I have dozens and dozens and dozens of dishes to do today. Costco had nice plastic dinnerware and silverware-looking plastic utensils available before the holidays so that is what we used to serve the meal at Ray and Cali's reception. However, seeing the little asterisk on the price sign, I knew it was a seasonal item and once they were gone wouldn't be restocked. What if we have another event before next Christmas? I had the servers scrape them and load them in a rubbermaid bin until the dishwasher and I had time to clean them. They've been refrigerated out in the garage until today. Today's the day.

Five. I love cloudy days. It instantly lowers the expectation of the day. It's like the sky says, "I think you should stay inside today. I'll close half an eye and let you do the things that you want/need to do today."


Six. I won a prize. I am not lucky by nature.

Once, right after we got married, I won tickets to a Chris LeDoux concert. Still fumbling over saying my married name smoothly I told the announcer what it was. He got on the air and teased, "Folks, you will never believe the name of the person who just won those tickets. Jane Payne. That's right She's a rhymer. I'm not making this up. How would you like that name for the rest of your life?" The concert was fun and free and that was what mattered.

Another time I won a $50 gift certificate to our little grocery store. It was rigged. I was the mother of four hungry-looking little kids. I bought $50 worth of flour.

Stacy at Big Picture Scrapbooking asked for a popcorn memory in her comments and the winner would receive registration to an on-line class. My memory got picked. Go popcorn!


Seven . . .


Okay . . . the sky is going to quit winking if I don't get those dishes switched . . . if I think of more random I'll add it throughout the day . . .

(*Edited. Someone was offended at my term "sweet irony" so I removed it. Apparently the anonymous commenter isn't familiar with the term or that it is often used when referring to any irony; rather it was interpreted as a personal attack and that I rejoiced in the hospitalized person's situation. Since it is not my intent to attack or offend and I don't rejoice in suffering, I removed it because it was not properly understood. However, I have learned that removing it caused offense also. I'm taking my lesson that people who wish to be offended will be offended no matter the word choice and putting it back in as originally posted.

This human behavior observation seemed to have struck a sensitive cord; interesting, given it was simply an observation of irony and no attack was implied or given. Discussion of "sweet irony" closed.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What a Wonderful Week

Ray called a week before the wedding and said, “I have a big favor to ask you. If you say you’ll do it, you’ll never have to give me another gift in my life . . . no birthdays, no Christmas, nothing.” I wondered what gift was big enough to preempt all gifts and he continued, “Will you please dance with me at our wedding?” Collective ahhh.

Before we started to dance, Ray took me by both arms, looked down and said, “Thank you. This has been such a very, very, very wonderful day. This is the happiest day of my life. I just don’t want it to end. I haven’t wanted any of it to end. I wanted to drive slow all the way home from the temple. Thank you.” Now mind you, this comes from a man that believes fast is the only way to travel, not only does he fly a plane he drives like he’s flying a plane, but on the day of his wedding he wished for a rewind button or at least slow motion.

And that is how this last week has been for me, too. It’s just been very, very, very wonderful, even the few glitches couldn’t cloud the time (all three interstate passes closed to avalanche danger and trapped Cali, Ray and several guests on the other side of the mountain). However, I knew once I sat down to post it would mean it was truly over and so I’ve waited and waited . . .

My sister, Rachel, Hydn and Ande at the airport ready to fly home

but now that everyone is long gone, and since I don’t have any wedding pictures to show yet, I’ll share some of the successful pre-wedding prep trivia:

1. Ray and Cali drafted an agenda on a spread sheet and sent it out to the families a week before the wedding. It included several days (from individual arrivals to departures) and told everyone where to be and when and what to expect each hour of the day. It even included menus and where and when the meals would be served.

2. We deposited money in Ray and Cali’s account for the wedding and then let them decide where and how they wanted to use it. It was a sanity saver for me, all I had to do was jump in and brainstorm, support and help rather than worry, or try to figure out a more economical way to do x y or z, or write checks. (I know myself. I knew I would constantly be trying to recreate the wheel.) It was fun to go with their ideas rather than trying to simplify, complicate or modify them. For example, they didn’t want to spend the money on a wedding cake and it wasn’t my worry to convince them they needed one or heaven help me, make one. (However, if Amy were around I think there would be a different ending to this story.)

I love cooking in the winter because all the world is a refrigerator—
the potatoes cooling for the potato salad.
3. I organized and prepared easy-to-serve meals for the 30 member wedding party in advance and it was well worth the effort because it gave us a lot of great time to comfortably visit and eat with Ray’s family. Thanks to crock-pot liners and one pot meals there was a minimum of dishes and meals went smoothly.

Wednesday night: Crock-pots (with liners) full of soup—clam chowder/chili—and hot cinnamon rolls for people as they arrived.

Thursday morning: Hashbrown casseroles in foil pans, French toast, milk and juice

Thursday afternoon meal: Since everyone (including the grandmothers) went to the church to decorate, we packed the lunch in a cooler and took it with us. When we got to the church I asked my niece, Emily, if she would take charge of the meal while everyone else set up. Because we’d made shredded barbecued beef earlier in the week and refrigerated it in a crock-pot liner, all Emily had to do was re-warm it. We also made potato salad, chips, vegetables and dip and Texas sheet cake in advance.

Friday morning: Ande packed a breakfast lunch bag for everyone containing juice, yogurt and a muffin. (I bought peanuts for the bags, too, but we forgot to put them in.) Because friends and family had generously offered their homes for out-of-town guests to stay in, and because everyone had to leave for the temple at different times, everybody took their breakfast bag home with them Thursday night.

Friday noon: A wedding brunch (pasta bar) was hosted by Ray’s family at a church after the wedding ceremony.

Friday evening: The reception dinner. We knew we could serve a meal as economically as or cheaper than we could serve cake and hor’dourves. We had good friends who also happen to be good cooks help with the meal. Each friend was assigned a menu item: one cooked 100 pounds of meat, another made 200 twice-baked potatoes and another prepared a spinach-mandarin orange salad. We added fresh green beans, rolls and desserts (cheesecake and double cream chocolate pie) from Costco. I had a good friend and co-worker (who was a former head school cook) oversee the kitchen. Each friend that was in charge of a menu item brought their food cooked and ready to serve and then helped in the kitchen until their food item was on the plate and then they joined the reception. The food was wonderful. I would do it again with only one small change: the twice-baked potatoes took up more room in the ovens and consequently our friends were nervous they couldn’t keep them warm enough (however, they did). Next time I would just serve the twice-baked potatoes out of their skins so that they could be kept warm in a roaster pan on the counter.

Saturday morning: Bacon waffles, hashbrown patties, milk and juice. (The bacon was cooked, crumbled and frozen ahead of time.)
Even the ironing board cover matched
4. Ray and Cali’s colors were a couple of shades of green, eggplant and cream. Calvin grew wheat grass at work under the plant lights in antiqued green metal containers. I sewed table center, fabric squares for the wheat grass to sit on. (They also had a few potted orchids and a few purple beta fish for centerpieces, too. One lone beta fish remains. I’m supposed to be babysitting him. Calvin feeds him bread crumbs and I feed him bacon bits. Discouragingly enough he lives on.) The centerpieces were colorful, pretty, fresh and relatively inexpensive. Now if the other three kids would just fall in love with the same colors.

5. I wondered what to do for luminaries to line the sidewalk. Susan suggested large glass vases with a candle in the bottom. I got ten vases at Goodwill for 49 cents each and a dollar’s worth of candles at the $tore. I never did get outside in time to see them lit, but I like to think they flickered as lovely in the snow as they do in my head.

6. Lights. Hundreds of them. Cali wanted a lower, false ceiling made from Christmas lights and it was the best investment. It made instant atmosphere and greatly diminished the need for other d├ęcor and flowers. One thing we discovered is that that they need to be plugged in from both ends otherwise the flow of the electricity weakens by the end strand. Count on two extension cords not one.

Hydn perched next to Calvin for a good half hour while Calvin fed him oranges
7. Thanks to Julie Phipp's suggestion that Clementine’s would make a darling, subtle contribution to a winter wedding, we had a large glass bowl of them sitting atop a platform in the middle of the dessert table. They were bright, colorful, edible and helped Calvin make a friend of Hydn the day after the wedding.
Cali and my sister, Chris

8. Everybody was willing to share their talent which made it so nice. My sister, Chris, arranged the flowers. One student played the piano while another ten students served the dinner. As I mentioned before, friends cooked. Ray’s family were workhorses, those lights didn’t go up by magic and neither did the clean-up. Other friends made the guest favors of a white chocolate lime truffle and a chocolate covered caramel for an affordable price. It was wonderful having everyone’s talents to make a nice celebration.

9. I was a little nervous about what to give Cali as a shower gift. What does the mother give the daughter at a shower? It needs to be big, but not too big. It needs to be nice, but you’ve already spent all your money on a wedding and Christmas, so how do you afford nice? The mother is in a mini-spotlight and spot-lights are hot and uncomfortable.
I wanted to give Cali containers like I have in our kitchen filled with groceries (mom did that for me and I loved it). However, Ande shook her head and said, “Too practical.” Cali would have gratefully accepted 400-thread count sheets as luxurious, but $75 for a little unexciting package didn't sound very motherly or fun. Suddenly, I remembered something Ande and I had seen at a Thanksgiving bazaar. It was an old window in a wooden frame that had the vinyl saying,

“Once in awhile in the middle of ordinary life, love comes along and gives us a fairytale.”

printed on it with a berry wreath surrounding the vinyl phrase. It was darling and I thought it fit Cali and Ray’s story perfectly. However, it was too expensive to buy at the bazaar. But, three weeks later and panicking about a shower gift I was certainly wishing I had bought it anyway. I told Calvin my dilemma about a shower gift. At the time he was under a lot of Christmas pressure making TWO PINK bows for Christmas, plus a fireplace mantel and bench, plus making Ray a gun for a Christmas/wedding present. So, when I told him my problem he looked like the gift tsunami was going to swallow him. I reminded him he didn’t need to fix my problem; I just wondered if he knew where I could find an old window so I could make the gift. I was really kicking myself at this point because when we drove through Amish country last month there was a box of old windows on one of the lawns that said FREE. I wanted to get them but Calvin reminded me there was no way to get them home. However, when you’re desperate for a window frame, you think the inconvenience of transporting them is minute. Calvin finally said, “I’ll bet I know where one is.” BINGO. The gold mine. There was not only one window there were ten. Calvin took one to town and sprayed it with a high-pressure hose, then sanded the window frame and I added the vinyl, wreath and bow. It turned out just like I hoped. But the greatest thing was it saved our bacon. We forgot to decorate the foyer of the church! We thought of the sidewalk, we thought of the cultural hall, we thought of ribbons for the door handle, but we forgot the foyer. However, the window frame was big enough we could put it on an easel and call it good.

10. I grew my fingernails out. I think the last time I grew them out was for my own wedding 26+ years ago. I kept a little glass nail file (courtesy of Ande) with me and I haven’t been tempted to bite them once. Glass nail files do not leave the snags that emery boards do which make you want to even them up with your teeth. Here is an SPT of my nails (trimmed for the fourth or fifth time) in front of a bouquet of flowers that Ray and Cali sent a few days after the wedding. The card so sweetly said: To a perfect organizer, a beautiful hostess and our mom. We love you! R and C

The last dance at Cali and Ray’s reception was “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. That’s the best way to close this post of pre-wedding trivia, what a wonderful week in a wonderful world.