Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gift-Giving Idea—Plum Pudding

I’ve mentioned before that I love reading the Saturday religion section in my hometown newspaper. It tells which congregation is holding a bazaar or pancake supper, who will be singing at the different Sunday services, which preachers are delivering the sermons and where, what the various women’s clubs have planned and other community miscellany. Every year about this time this add appears:

Ascension Episcopal Church is taking orders now for its annual sale of Christmas Plum or Carrot puddings for the holidays. The sale continues a tradition started in 1994 as a church fundraiser.

Each pudding serves six to eight people; cost per pudding is $7.50. The puddings are decorated and wrapped for giving as gifts or reheating for holiday dinners. Recipes for sauces to accompany the puddings are included. The puddings can be frozen.

Although called "pudding," the texture and appearance of the plum pudding is more like a dense cake. The fruit and breadcrumb mixture is steamed in a fluted mold for three hours, then turned out on a table to cool. The recipe was given to Ascension by the women's group at St. David's Episcopal Church, which has been making the puddings since 1951. It is a closely guarded recipe and was only given to Ascension Episcopal after much consideration and assurance that it would be kept secret.

The carrot pudding recipe was a family recipe from an Ascension parishioner. Carrot puddings are softer and are cooked and reheated in tin cans. The original recipe called for "nut cans," but because nuts so rarely come in cans anymore, the church has used one-pound coffee cans.

The number of carrot puddings which can be made and sold is dependent on the number of cans collected for the activity.

To order a pudding, call _ _ _ _ _ _ _ between 9:30 a.m. and noon weekdays before Nov. 10. Puddings will be available Nov. 17 and 18 and can be picked up at the church between 9:30 a.m. and noon.

This add makes me smile just thinking of a select group of women holding a secret recipe and collecting coffee cans since nuts don't come in cans anymore. It also reminds me of this picture:

. . . the heart and soul of America; God-fearing people doing their best.

Today's gift idea is if you’re good at something (making plum pudding or carrot pudding for example), then give it! Just because you've given it before doesn't mean it wouldn't be welcomed again. For example, I love to go to events where my friends, Brenda and Nesha, are hosting because there is a good chance they will serve their Legacy Chocolates. One day Brenda and I were co-hosting a party and she said she hesitated to offer chocolates at it because she was afraid people were tired of them. Um. Nope. Not going to happen. Just as I will never tire of a loaf of Betty’s wheat bread, or a bucket of Jerilyn’s raspberries, or Sonja's cards, or a pan of Ludeen’s rolls, or a bag of Killian Korn, or . . . or . . . or . . . If you've got a talent that people enjoy, don't be afraid to use it again and again and again.
What’s a gift that you’ve had success giving again and again?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Homemaking Tip--Noodles

It’s time to butcher our meat birds. Calvin and I caught them yesterday afternoon along with a few of our extra roosters and delivered them to the Hutterite colony who agreed to butcher them for us.

It was such a beautiful drive through the rolling dry-land fields. The fall planting is mostly done so all of the fields are freshly tilled. The sunset was brilliant.

When I was a little girl, we butchered our own chickens. My oldest brother chopped the heads off on the chopping block and then flung the birds aside. My job was to chase the headless chickens until they dropped. I made a game of it by timing them to see how long they could run without a head, or seeing which bird would travel farthest from the block. After they stopped running, I picked them up by the feet and delivered them to mom and my sisters who plucked them. After they were plucked, we froze them in one of two ways: in large plastic bags or in clean, empty milk cartons. If we were freezing them in milk cartons, the empty space was filled with water before we put them in the freezer (essentially we had chicken cubes). I only remember butchering chickens a couple of times before we started hauling them to town in wooden crates and having them professionally butchered. I’m glad I was young.

Now, I’m even more glad that the Hutterite colony was willing to butcher our chickens for us this year. Hutterites are a religious sect who live communally and self-reliantly. They milk their own cows, gather their own eggs, raise their own crops, sew their own clothes and butcher their own meat. They live a very simple, albeit complex life. Because they are butchering geese this week, they agreed to butcher our birds too. Here, two of the boys who helped us unload our chickens are playing in the straw they had just scattered for butchering day.

We grow our birds bigger than most because I like them mini-turkey size. I figure I might as well add as much meat as possible to the original investment of the bird and butchering. Homegrown birds are so moist and meaty, it'll be good to have some in the freezer again.

For today’s homemaking tip, I could share Calvin’s contraption he made to haul the chickens in, because it's pretty amazing what that man can do with a box, a knife and some tape. Or, I could just give you my noodle recipe for chicken noodle soup. I think I’ll do the latter since I forgot to take a picture of Calvin's ingenious crate and I like homemade noodles because they're as thick or thin as you want them to be, easy, good and . . . cheep :)


1/3 cup water
2 eggs, whisked
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp salt
2-3 cups flour

Mix wet ingredients together. Add salt and flour. Knead until well mixed. Let rest several minutes and then roll out to desired thickness on a well-floured countertop. Cut into desired length of noodle. Drop singly into boiling broth and cook 20 minutes or until no longer doughy.
Do you make noodles?
Can you answer Lelly's question of how long chickens can run?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

SPT--My 100 List

Oops, I stole #28's thunder by slurping it into last week's post. Hence . . .

#35. I marvel, on a regular basis, that I have so many blessings.

Due to that marveling, last January I started highlighting a different blessing each week. I compiled them here and they range from salt and hot showers to gifts and good deeds. Though I don't remember which blogger to give credit for the idea, I'm very grateful to you nonetheless for it has been a happy, happy experience.

This photo represents an additional ten blessings:

Candy season.
Good health.
People I love to talk to.
Paid bills.
Learning new things.
Family unity.
Freedom to go.
Sure foundations.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Memories—Collections

My sister, Lynn, had a perfume bottle collection and sometimes my grandma added to it when she came to visit. They went downstairs, through the long, beaded curtain doorway (after all, it was the 70's) to my sister’s bedroom in the back corner of the basement and sat on Lynn’s single bed and held the bottles and talked about them. Lynn kept her bottles in a special little cupboard. I determined collections were important.

Mr. Kinsfather, my fifth and sixth grade school teacher, was a coin collector. He played ball with us every recess except during after-school recess. Then he jogged-fast walked home and got in his gold car and drove to his shop where he collected and traded coins. He told us coin-collecting stories during school. I determined collectors were important.

Watching Lynn and Mr. Kinsfather, I wanted to be a collector. I wanted to be interesting and to have something exciting to be on the look-out for; but it’s not easy for a tosser to be a collector. My mind and my hands fought about what to toss and what to keep. I tried stamps. No good. I tried bottles. Took too much space. I tried ornaments. Couldn’t keep the tradition alive. I tried baskets. Too bulky and too attractive to spiders. I thought about thimbles, spoon rests or salt and pepper shakers. Too cluttery. I finally embraced my tossingness and collected nothing.

Saturday Calvin and I were working in the yard; he was mowing and I was dragging branches to the burn pile. He finished the front and side lawns and was headed to the back yard, orchard and garden (we have one of those mowers that will eat anything). I hurried ahead of him to collect marigold and zinnia seeds for next year’s garden. Happy day, as I gathered the seeds and dropped them in the baggies I realized I am a collector. Why, I also collect

and . . . dust.

Here I’ve been a collector my whole life and just didn’t know it because I didn’t keep things in a little store, on the wall, in a special box or inside a cupboard. But, I am a collector. Hear me roar.

How about you? What do you collect?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

52 Blessings—Wheat

Saturday I made a batch of wheat and a batch of white bread and as I anticipated opening the warm loaves I thought, “I’m so glad I’m not allergic to wheat.” I remember when Dessie, my older neighbor, discovered she could no longer eat wheat products. I was really young, but I was devastated for her—no white gravy, cinnamon rolls, toast, cookies or bread and milk for life? Argh. I would have roared back my head and cried out loud like Lucy on Charlie Brown if that were my lot. A life sentence of miserable meals and starving was my prognosis for Dessie.

Since Dessie’s diagnosis years ago, many of my friends and acquaintances have realized they are allergic to wheat products also. They’re not starving, they’re not unhappy, they’ve discovered substitutes and they eat well. But still, I am really grateful I can eat wheat.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Life in My World—Five for Friday

Five little things that made me smile this week:

1. A couple of days ago when I was driving home I saw a truck pulled over to the side of the road. Two men holding buckets were standing in a big wet spot in the center of the road. As I drew closer I could see the men stooping and quickly tossing things from the wet spot into their buckets. Seeing reflections, I assumed the men were picking up shards of glass and thought it responsible of them to protect our tires without even the help of orange cones or the police. I hoped it wasn’t a giant puddle of gas they were standing in (I’ve read the warnings on gas pumps and heard friction stories). When I drove by the men, I saw that the shiny little things they were picking up weren’t glass shards, but fish—hundreds of them flip-flopping on the pavement. They were frantically trying to toss them into buckets of water. Instinctively I started reciting, “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish."

2. I got three great deals today. First, I rented Anne of Avonlea to get me through the ironing pile. Cost? 53 cents. Next, I washed the car for $5 and vacuumed it for free (one of the car dealerships in town offers the wonderful public service of a free vacuum.) The final deal I got today was $2.59 a gallon gas.

3. I should always remember that when I ask someone how their day is I should be prepared to hear anything. Anything. Even things about sharp cheddar cheese.

4. Calvin got new taste buds this week. Every single thing I’ve cooked he’s said, “This is really, really good, Jane” two or three times. Even the pancakes. Calvin doesn’t like pancakes. I didn’t change or try one single new recipe either. (Ho. Maybe that’s the secret, not new taste buds.)

5. We’re headed to the temple tonight. I took a nap so I can make it down and back without falling asleep. nap + the temple + supper out + driving with Calvin= good time in my world.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I was quickly wilting about 9:00 pm, when there was a knock at the kitchen door. It was Susan, Lilly, Meg and Tessa Pyle with a cauldron of carameled grains (popcorn, cereal, pretzels). What a fun, fun surprise. Susan has the self portrait of the event, plus the story (whenever Calvin, the dark and a potential predator is involved, there is a story).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Think; Therefore I Am . . .

Once, Abe was reading my high school journals aloud to the family. It was quite entertaining to everyone except me. After a short while I was sick, sick, sick of hearing about myself. Finally, after hours of hearing some of my inner thoughts, Cali said, "Stop Abe. This is getting scary. No kid should know everything their mom thinks." Abe, however, disagreed and kept reading.

Hmmm. I think Cali had a point. I also think Abe had a point. Catching a glimpse of what your mother thinks has merits, but too much of even a good thing can give you a stomachache. Cali, Abe, Ty and Ande, I hope this meme is just the right amount of thinking out loud and I promise we won't read it next summer.

i am....5’9”

i’s important that people have someone who loves them

i know....more than I did a year ago

i want....for nothing

i have....been greatly blessed in my life

i dislike....elitists

i miss....frequent contact with my nieces and nephews

i fear....not living up to my potential

i feel...concern for our nation

i hear....more poorly than I used to

i Red Door

i crave....interesting conversation

i cry...when something is important

i usually…procrastinate the ironing

i search...for truth

i long halibut can stay in the fridge before it goes bad

i parents’ decisions


i worry....that I don't worry enough

i am not....ever mistaken for an elf

i remember....when Big Hunk’s were 5 cents

i prophets

i dance....when I have to go to the bathroom

i don't....doubt the divinity of Jesus Christ

i write....memories

i raffles or drawings

i lose....track of time

i to NY weren’t $1036 so we could go to Abe’s last home game and senior recognition night this weekend

i listen...for the birds

i don't understand....the media’s lack of concern of association in this election. Ask any parent who is steering their child through kid-dom and teen-dom and they will tell you it makes a big difference with whom their child associates. Parents know that humans adopt the habits, ideology and language of their friends, teachers and peers. I’ve yet to meet a parent who hasn’t been concerned about who her child’s associates are, because birds of a feather flock together isn’t just about birds. It’s about compatible people searching each other out. I have a variety of friends and I love their diversity and the many interests and ideas that generate from that diversity. But one thing is necessary; we are like-minded in our value cores. Though we have varying opinions about religion, child-rearing, politics, whether or not to frost brownies, the formation of the galaxy and how often to clean a sink (important topics mind you), our core values—the things that distinguish right from wrong—are similar. Association will eventually make that so if it wasn’t originally; it's a law of heaven: Matthew 6:24 (whoa. i feel strongly about what i don't understand, don't i? did i lecture like this when you were home? ;0)

i can usually be bed at 9:30 pm

i am scared...of not being prepared

i need to lose....the chocolate covered cashews in the kitchen

i train of thought

i am happy....ten times more often than I am sad

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday Memories and SPT—#21 of My 100 List

high school varsity letter

#21. When I graduated from high school I no longer had any desire to compete athletically.

When I wrote my 100 List (any other SPT’ers wishing they had taken a little more time to write a list of more substance?), this WAS a true statement. I had lots of opportunities to compete in high school, but the drive to do battle subsided when I graduated. I should have noticed it waning at one state volleyball tournament. We were in a final game and I was serving—my strong point. I quickly found the opponent’s weak link. She was in the back row, middle position. Again and again I kept serving to her, just above her chest but below her neck. Though they were strong serves, at this point of the competition she should have been able to return them, but she couldn’t. Points kept racking up. At first she was just frustrated but then she got flustered. Finally she started crying. I felt terrible. I felt awful. I wanted to pick on someone new and give her a break; however our coach was a strong presence. Finally, the other team’s coach mercifully called a time out and I trotted to our huddle. Our coach got in my face and wagged her finger and said, “So help me, if you quit serving to her, and I can see you’re going to because you feel badly for her, but so help me if you do, I’ll yank you and you won’t play again.”

We won the state tournament.

The will to compete athletically was gone until a few weeks ago when I was introduced to the Wii. Ignite the fire. There was still an ember in that little Wii tennis ball when it was my turn to serve. Calvin was my opponent. The more I served, the more frustrated he got. The more frustrated he got, the harder I laughed. There was no intimidating coach, there was no crying; it was just me and the Wii and Calvin cursing.

Does anyone know of a tennis Wii competition? ;0)
Are you still competitive?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

52 Blessings-Tomorrow

Photo courtesy of AK photography

Yesterday I taught a gift-giving class at Relief Society in our "old" ward (we're temporarily assigned to attend the young adult ward). It felt good to see so many friends. Afterwards, Calvin and Cali picked me up and we moved Cali and her things to Seattle. It was a beautiful drive, I don't believe I've ever seen the fall colors so vivid as we drove over the pass. As we drove to Cali's apartment, we passed thousands of University of Washington fans tail-gating and walking to the game or in yachts harbored next to the stadium. That flowing sea of purple made me wish I had a team to root for, games to attend. After unloading Cali's things, Calvin and I drove back over that same beautiful mountain pass and stopped for bbq ribs and chicken. It was a great day. Yesterdays have lots of good, good memories. Yesterdays are good.

Today I slept in (ha, the joke is on me, I slept 'till 5:00, but it did feel like a long time and I have already taken a nap and it's not yet noon, so that's double sleeping in). Calvin and I listened to an inspiring talk on integrity by Sheri Dew and one on patience by Robert C. Oaks. Then I peeled the potatoes for dinner, put the meat in the oven, left the rolls to rise and the jello to set. I'm looking forward to church, especially since I missed it last week while traveling home. Tonight after church and supper, I'll pop popcorn and Calvin and I will most likely sit and watch a movie together and call the kids. Today is satisfying. Today is comforting. Today is fulfilling. Today is renewing.

Tomorrow, as Miss Stacy says on Anne of Green Gables, ". . . is a fresh new day with no mistakes in it. Yet." I don't know what will happen tomorrow, I just know that tomorrow has nothing but opportunities for growth. Tomorrow is what gives today its weight. Tomorrow is what gives today its excitement. Tomorrow is a grand concept. "Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I love you tomorrow. Tomorrow is always a day away."

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow--I love them all. But today I'm grateful for all the things tomorrow represents.

For today, which is your strong suit--yesterday? today? tomorrow?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Life in My World—Weaning

First, a short rebus story:

Today Cali, Calvin and I went to lunch where Cali ate a


went to WalMart so Cali could buy

When we left WalMart, the nice lady gave us

then we came home and Cali

The end.

In child psychology Dr. Price said that weaning children slowly is like chopping a dog’s tail off an inch at a time. He said you should do it all at once, quick-like, and not prolong the agony. Having heard for many years out my bedroom window the calves and cows freshly weaned from each other bawling steadily for two days and then adjusting and moving on, I thought his advice made sense. So though I had no children, I carefully took notes and when it came time to wean the kids did as he suggested. I have no idea if I still agree with that theory as far as bottles go, but as you know we’re weaned from more than milk . . .

The last three years have been bonus years for Calvin and me as far as Cali is concerned. Cali has been semi-living with us for those years. She graduated in biology because the school she attended didn’t have a bachelor of nursing program. Then she returned to Washington and enrolled in a nursing program. After she graduated, she continued to work in the hospital where she had while going to school. The hospital was 70 miles from here, so she lived with my cousin’s family who lives in the same town as the hospital on the days she worked and here on her days off. After painfully weaning ourselves from constant interaction with her while she went to school in Hawaii, it has been really fun having her close again. Even when she calls me Roommate Jane when she thinks I’m being too bossy.

We’ve always enjoyed Cali’s point of view, even from the time she was little—she sees things very realistically. I learned early on that she usually prefaced her most blunt comments with a large sigh before she spoke them. I also learned to act quickly if I heard that sigh in public. One typical time we were at church. She was probably four years old and sitting a few spaces down the row from me. She had turned around in the bench to watch the teenagers behind us. It was the late eighties and the bangs that reached the ceiling were in style, consequently if you had acne problems they were as visible as your forehead. The meeting had not yet begun and Cali sat staring with her chin resting on her hands. She sat quietly listening to the girls giggle and talk. And then, I heard it. She sighed. A big sigh. I reached for her, but she was out of arm’s length. She said to one of the girls, “Ouch. It looks like your face hurts. I had the chicken pox once like you.” The girl was embarrassed and the others fidgeted. I quit reaching for her and temporarily pretended she wasn’t mine. Acne was the least of personal things that she found to comment on (telling my good friend she had crooked teeth and publicly commenting on the size of people’s backsides were uncomfortable moments as well). She has always been inquisitive and though human behavior fascinated her when she was little, her curiosity has only expanded as her brain has grown. On every walk, even today, she wants to stop and observe a bug or a plant or something floating in the air. She studies e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

Now, having recently paid her school loan, Cali has more mobility and is moving to a bigger hospital to work in their critical care unit. Actually that is only half the truth, the other half is that she has a wonderful friend that she is moving to be closer to. Calvin and I are happy, happy, happy for her and her opportunities, but we have really enjoyed having her home so often the last few years. I thought I was weaned when she went to college. It was painful, but recoverable. I've discovered that was only the first cut. Tomorrow comes cut number two. I'm glad I have a long tail, but my throat is still hot tonight thinking about it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Teaching Idea--Faster, Faster, Faster

Last week Ande and I (along with several extended family members) attended Comic Frenzy on her college campus. Oh ho. It was funny. The kids were quick, the ideas original and the humor very laughable. It wasn't stand-up comedy, but rather interactive comedy of eight or ten comedians (I have no idea if interactive comedy is the correct term, all I know is the program reminded me of Whose Line Is It Anyway? where everyone interacts).

One strategy the comedians used was to act out a skit in 45 seconds, then speed it up and act it out in 22 seconds, and then in 11 seconds and finally in 5. Predictably, it got funnier and funnier.

I thought the idea lent itself well to a learning activity for a family or in a classroom. Impromptu skits, rehearsed skits or actual stories may be used. The benefit of using actual stories is that since it is acted out repeatedly teaching is reinforced. Faster, faster, faster is a fun way to teach and learn a subject that involves everyone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Homemaking Tip--Ten Tidy Tips

I don’t think you want or need homemaking tips from me tonight. I still have a pile of groceries (dry-goods) sitting in my family room that I bought ONE WEEK AGO. Groceries do not put themselves away, but neither do they make noise and demands. So . . . until I get my own house back in order, I’ll send you to an article I wrote back when it was:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SPT--My 100 List

I know, I know, my nylons look utterly stupid, but my job
requires them, so please just focus on the cup and the book

#14. I am good at making do.

The timing for this could not have been more perfectly planned Lelly, thank you.

Early, early this morning I saw a mouse in the house and #56 on my list is: Mice make me angry. They take things that aren’t theirs. I looked for a broom, a stick, a bludgeon, a club, a pair of gloves, a big spoon, anything to whop him. Nothing. I was afraid I'd lose the mouse if I went to look for something so I grabbed a cup and trapped him instead. Then, just to be sure he wouldn't escape before Calvin could kill him, I put a heavy book on top.

Truth be told, he was slow, likely a case of mouse-poisoning overdose, but taking advantage of a situation is one of the best parts of making do. In fact, I think most of my talents stem from making do.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Memories--Ande

The only thing Ande loved more than play-dough was dressing up

Ande loved play-dough when she was a little girl. She had been begging to make some for several days, but each time I successfully distracted her. One morning in yet another attempt to avoid making play-dough, I said we’d make some right after her chores, knowing full-well we were low on salt, probably too low, which would successfully delay it another day. But, I wouldn’t tell her no, the absence of salt would tell her. Ande hurried and did her morning chores and then I sent her to the storage room in the basement to look for salt. She was gone a very, very long time. She slowly came back upstairs and into the kitchen and said, “No salt. I guess we can’t make it.”

While she was searching in the basement, I had a change of heart. I felt guilty I’d kept putting her off. I felt badly I’d sent her on a goose-chase to find the no-salt that was not in the basement. I thought if we emptied all the salt shakers in the house we could come up with enough salt for one batch and decided to tell her so when she finally came up from the basement.

After Ande came back into the kitchen and sadly said we wouldn’t be able to make play-dough because she couldn’t find salt, I suggested emptying the salt shakers. She sat up on the counter and quickly got to work. Pretty soon she said, “When I was downstairs looking for the salt I said a prayer that I could find some.” She paused, “I looked and looked and looked, but there wasn’t any so I told Him it was okay, I knew He was too busy answering other peoples prayers today.”

I very undeservingly received a hug and said, “But He did answer your prayers! He helped me think about the salt shakers so that you could empty them and we’d have enough. He did hear your prayers.”

This last weekend was Mother’s Week at the college Ande attends and I got to make more memories with her. We had a grand, grand time.

Cali and I drove down to see Ande with two friends, Kathy and Viki. Riding with Kathy is an abs workout. The woman laughs, sincerely, at everything. It’s no courtesy laugh; it is hard guffaws that bring tears to her eyes. She said she giggled her way through high school and I do not doubt her. Viki is well-read and a great conversationalist. She knows a lot about many things. After twenty-one hours together in a car, we had not exhausted our reservoir of topics.

Jim Stones, The Brain and Literacy presenter, and his wife, Judy

On Thursday evening and all-day Friday we attended a conference on how the brain works and its connection to literacy. It was outstanding. I forgot how reenergizing it is to be on a college campus learning new things. Not only was it stimulating, but it was wonderful to be in Ande’s world and see her maneuver it so capably. Seeing her at work and her latest art projects, watching her interact with peers and instructors, going to events with her or listening to her ideas--it was all rewarding and exciting.

Ande tending the art cupboards—a job that lends itself perfectly to homework

We stayed with my sister, Marcia. Several of my sisters have a real gift for being gracious hostesses and Marcia is one of them. Staying with her is like staying at a resort—her towels are thick and plush, her soap smells divine, her sheets don’t have fuzzies and there is always plenty of fun food available (it was the first time I’d tasted Great Harvest bread and now I understand the craze).

Ande, Levi, Rachel (my niece), Cali and me in front of Cold Stone

While I was with Ande this weekend we also went shopping (at the college bookstore, DownEast Clothing, and a great craft store); ate at Backyard Burgers where the inside walls are vinyl siding and the bathrooms are in the shed (they serve homemade french fries with fry sauce) and topped the meal off with Cold Stone ice cream; attended two very entertaining college performances: Comic Frenzy and The Best of Dance; and played a fun game of Life Stories.

One final thing that added to the greatness of the weekend was going to the temple. Forever memories, indeed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Be Back Soon . . .

I've come to attend Mother's Week with Ande and we're having a great time. I'll write more in a few days when I return home.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Homemaking Tips--Misjudging

You are all so very generous in your comments. Thank you. Maybe I ought to explain why I think I'm a poor judge of character.

I lived in an apartment like most everyone else when I went to college. A large men's apartment complex was next to our small women's one and we were nearer the college, so the men filed by all day long. The men's apartments were filled with early-to-mid-twenty-year-olds, except for one. He was 72. I felt sorry for him. He wore plaid pants and a derby when plaid pants and a derby weren't in style. I figured his roommate's BeeGee's, Abba and Chicago albums must have been terribly annoying to him. One day he asked me if I'd like to go and get something to eat with him. I assumed he was missing his family, especially his grandkids, and since I have always enjoyed the geriatric generation I agreed. He was pleasant . . . and odd enough. He scolded me a bit for the kind of salad I ate. He paid by the pound and said I shouldn't eat so much water-weighted lettuce and should eat the heavier proteins instead to get more for his money. I felt like I'd done a nice service when we were finished eating.

The next week, he asked me to go to lunch again. (Oh, how could I have forgotten to tell you his name? His name was Godfrey.) I agreed. This time, I tried to go heavier on the sunflower seeds and lighter on the lettuce. However, I drank water before my meal was finished and he told me the hazards of drinking fluids while eating solids. After I put my water aside, he told me about raising Rex rabbits. He was never at a loss for conversation. Towards the end of our meal he mentioned children. The longer he talked the more I realized he wasn't talking about his 50 year old children, but about future children. Horrors. Suddenly I realized Godfrey wasn't looking for a surrogate granddaughter, but for a wife. I left shuddering. He called and asked me to homecoming soon after that and I explained no, not now, not ever. In his strange accent he told me how disappointed he was in me and my immaturity and asked if he could talk to my roommate. Ha. He asked her. They kicked him out of the apartments shortly after that.

One misjudge shouldn't label me for life, but at that same time I met Calvin. My roommates were discussing him one night when I came into the apartment. I joined in the conversation and said, "Ohhhhh . . . I've heeaarrrrd about him. He's been married, divorced, got two kids and he's too much for us to handle," then I exited again. A couple of days later Calvin called and asked me out and well . . . four additional children later I'm so glad he was something I could handle.

After a few more miscalls and reading a quote by President Lincoln that said, "Even the Lord doesn't propose to judge a man 'till the end of his days," I thought, "You know. You're really not very good at this and it doesn't look like it's your job anyway."

Now, one thing I am good at judging is grocery prices. I'm down in Big Town today grocery shopping. I drove down with Cali and while she's at a work meeting, I'm at the community library waiting for her. I just finished my big haul, in fact the trunk dragged as I pulled out of the parking lot. Grocery prices have taken a dramatic jump and they're changing the rules. The big tub of peanut butter (in the brand we buy) has always been the most economical. Today I noticed the smallest tub available is cheaper per ounce, even though the large tub was on sale. Conversely, the largest can of shortening has always been more expensive, but today the small can cost more per ounce. My homemaking reminder today is to check the unit prices . . . again. The middleman has been busy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SPT--My 100 List

Lelly’s SPT challenge this month is to highlight things from our list of 100 Random Facts about Me . Fittingly, October 7th is to be a self-portrait of #7 . . . except that my #7 doesn’t lend itself to a flattering self-portrait.

#7—I am a terrible judge of character, so quit trying several years ago

Me lined up with a bunch of characters that I misjudged is too much to ask. I may be willing to do an SPT in a wedding dress that no longer zips. I may be willing to do an SPT of all ten of my chins. I may even be willing to do an SPT of me in my plaid dress, but I have to draw the line somewhere and #7 is the line; for though I know the difference between right and wrong, black and white, front and back, I still get confused on character.

But, Lelly is always so good to come up with challenges that give us cause for introspection, so rather than abort I decided to adapt. I chose a different number:
#13—I am not good at fashion or make-up

Cali and Ande secretly planned to enter me in What Not to Wear a year or two ago. I discovered it and promised to more readily take their advice and buy some new clothes rather than let Stacy and Clinton show my over-sized sack dresses, sagging blue cardigan, and fat-butt-tight-ankle Levis to the nation.

It doesn't bother me that I’m not fashion savvy; I just don’t want to dress in front of a national TLC audience. Yesterday I was given a big bag of hand-me-down clothes from someone who is fashion savvy. I am so grateful; I don’t have to pick out the clothes, I just have to fit in the clothes she picked out. This is shopping I can do. In this self-portrait, I’m sitting on the couch in front of the TV wearing a brown jacket from the bag of clothes. Lucky, lucky me. I’m one step further away from ever being nominated. Since I'm wearing my fashionable friend's clothes they'd take her before me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Memories--The Mailbox

We inherited our 3459 mailbox ten years ago. Then it still had one nail that held it to the post, which has since rusted so the mailbox now sits precariously free. When the kids have asked me what I want for Mother’s Day or Christmas I often say, “Someone to nail the mailbox back down again.” But no one thought it a gift worth giving, partly because it is handy to have a free roaming mailbox. If we don’t pull the car close enough to reach the letters in the back of the box, we just tip the box till they all slide out.

This weekend our kind neighbors bought, addressed, named and bolted two new mailboxes to a hand-crafted and painted metal frame. Just like that: one for them, one for us. It now appears that real people live at the end of the lane rather than homesteader corpses.

Here are a few memories of our old mailbox:

-The first letter. We had just moved here and dozens of friends from Idaho signed and sent a sunflower card saying we were missed

-All of Cali’s free samples that she signs up for: shampoo, diaper, prescription strength deodorant, Kashi bar, Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, laundry detergent

-The monthly J. Crew, Land’s End, Chadwick’s and Oriental Trading post catalogues

-A hundred or more graduation announcements from former students

-A couple hundred wedding announcements from friends, family and former students

-Abe’s letter calling him to serve in the Philippines’ Mission

-An anonymous letter with $200 saying we were being thought of (pretty hard to forget that one)

-Notes from the postmistress saying, “additional postage required” and letter-carrier envelopes with change and stamps

-Thank you cards

-Spiders. Hundreds of black fuzzy ones finding refuge

-Voting ballots

-The kids’ college acceptance letters: Cali: Brigham Young University—Provo, Brigham Young University—Hawaii, Washington State University—Nursing Program, Abe: United States Military Academy at West Point, Ty: United States Air Force Academy, Ande: Brigham Young University—Idaho

-Random good mail including labels and tags, stationery, button covers, bunny pattern, Halloween socks, recipes and good wishes

-Birthday gifts from my sisters. I am lucky to have the best. I got this funny card from one a few months ago

Seldom are the moments so fun and lighthearted as when the family gets together.

Who knows what our new mailbox will deliver.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Life in My World--Jane, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

Do you remember the children's book by Judith Viorst, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday? Alexander received a dollar from his grandparents, but slowly and surely it sifted through his fingers during the week. He had every intention of saving it, but things didn’t turn out like he’d planned—who knew his friend, Eddie, would suddenly call and let him rent his snake for an hour for twelve cents? Every time Alexander spent or lost money it was written, “Good-bye twelve cents” or “Good-bye nickel.”

That book kind of sums up Life in My World this week.

Last Sunday I had a whole week rich in alone time because Calvin would be gone hunting. I planned to get extra Christmas projects and scrapbooking done, but then I got a nasty, nasty cold. It started on one half of my face then moved to the other and finally settled in my lungs. Good-bye nose. Good-bye extra energy.

Last Monday I thought I’d watch some old movies and read a book, but then Violet, the grape lady, (isn’t her name fitting?) called to say the grapes were ready. Good-bye 60 empty quart bottles and several hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday I accidentally sprinkled bleach on my favorite sweater. Good-bye green sweater.

On Thursday I planned to get some projects done and then watch the vice-presidential debate, but miscalculated. I thought I could watch a high school football game and go out to supper with Cali before the debate started. I came home to see closing remarks. Good-bye opportunity to see the candidates square off without an editorial commentary.

On Friday I absolutely, positively was going to start my projects, but I ached and thought a nap would help me feel better and give me back some energy. Good-bye two hours and no more energy.

Now here it is almost Saturday and my week is gone and my projects not even started. I am no longer rich in alone time. Thank heavens. I can hardly wait to say, “Hello, Calvin.”

Do you have trouble with time, energy or money slipping through your fingers?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gift Idea--Conference Basket

Every six months (the first weekend in April and October) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a world-wide conference. This conference is broadcast the world over and can be seen from church buildings or on TV. Eight hours of instruction and encouragement are given by numerous speakers along with musical numbers. In addition, the men have a two hour meeting on Saturday evening. I love and eagerly wait for these conferences. However, ten hours of church can test the stoutest of children's attentions, so when our kids were little the legos were finally allowed in the living room on Conference weekend. It kept them busy and they quietly built castles and forts while we watched and listened. It's a fond memory for all of us, but I wish I'd have known about the following idea:

Last year a blogger posted an idea about keeping children engaged (not just occupied) during General Conference. She had a packet of papers with various coloring activities to help her children listen to the speakers and stay focused on the subjects being discussed. I thought the idea was wonderful and asked for a copy of the activities. Then, another blogger posted the idea of a basket filled with breakfast or snack items as well as note-taking supplies for adults. I thought her idea equally as wonderful. This afternoon Cali and I made copies of the activities and then went to the $tore to buy things for the baskets. Cali made a basket for a family that she has been staying with when she commutes to work. I made a basket for another family I thought might enjoy it. We filled our baskets with the following items:

conference packets with quiet activity pages
cheese and breadsticks
small candy bars
pipe cleaners (as well as the directions for a few simple things to form with them)
note pad (for the adults)

and then wrapped them in cellophane with a tule bow because cellophane and tule can make a gift out of anything!

These packets have several inter-faith pictures from the New Testament (Christ with the children, raising the daughter of Jairus, feeding the five thousand, healing the leper, the wise man and the foolish man, a little booklet of Christ's life, etc.) and would make a great gift for any family.

If you'd like a copy of the packet just leave me a comment requesting it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Homemaking Tip-Grasshopper and the Ants

One of my favorite records growing up had the story of the grasshopper and the ant on it. I think Burl Ives narrated it, but for certain I remember the scary sounds of the wind and cold that the instruments played as the grasshopper shivered and lay down to die, wishing he had been like the ants and prepared for the long winter.

I don’t know if it’s the dozens and dozens of times I heard the record, the fact that my mom always kept a good food storage, the certainty of the law of the harvest because we were farmers, or just because it is Autumn, but this time of year my thoughts always lead to storing food. The current weather and the grim economic news only validate the desire.

I love the security and freedom that a full pantry provides. Food storage has saved our bacon more than once. Because necessity has made me a from-scratch cook, I’ve learned it isn’t difficult to cook with foods that store well. If you’re like me and feel like a squirrel this time of year, here are some articles I’ve posted on the Neighbor Jane Payne website that might give you some ideas.

Bulk Buying

Canning and Freezing

Do It Big


Pantry Planning and Shopping Monthly


Raise It


These articles are just for encouragement, but for “official” storage suggestions, I’d go here!

What’s your favorite food storage tip?