Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homemaking Tip – Simon Says

chocolate peanut butter chip cookies with chips and mini-Reeses pieces.

Donna says it’s all about the packaging. Staci says sprinkles make things fun. Kristi says tie everything in ribbon. Michelle says initials, fonts, and types make a difference (and then proves it by stamping initials on metal rimmed tags).  All I have to do is read blogs and follow what they say. 

Follow fellow bloggers -- this is the best homemaking tip I’ve shared yet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday – Commas, They Save Lives

courtesty of

I finally took my management communications final tonight.  I wore black sweats – might as well be comfortable while doing the uncomfortable.  I, sure, hope, I, passed.   

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Memories—Voting

Calvin was in charge of family night last night.  We voted. 

I was in charge of treats, so stopped by Legacy Chocolate’s to get Calvin’s favorites –Betty Lou’s (cashew toffee covered in white chocolate and topped with toasted coconut).  I like to vote.  It was a great little family night. 

Our state adopted mail-in ballots a few years ago.  One good thing about them is you can read the pamphlet and discuss the issues while you’re voting – no cramming on the initiatives, running into the booth, and trying to remember if yes means “for” or “against” in this case.   

But one bad thing is there is no sense of community when you vote by mail.

My favorite community service thus far was serving as an election judge.  A handful of us community ladies met at the grange hall early in the morning, armed with a lunch and some hand-sewing, ready to man the sign-in table and voting booths.  Because some of our neighbors traveled more than fifty miles to cast their ballots, voting was often a destination not just a drop-by.  The farmers discussed cattle and crop prices over the hoods of their pickups while the women gathered in the kitchen and sipped coffee from green jadite coffee cups and talked of recipes and . . . neighbors.   There was never a rush on the booths; people trickled in throughout the day.  And all the while our handful of community ladies guarded the votes (and one year even kept close watch on G.K.  when our election official caught wind he planned to stand sentinel and intimidate other voters).

courtesy of Times-News

This was a picture printed in our hometown newspaper.  It’s of election officials in a neighboring precinct.  I’ll bet $5 that they each have a lunch and a bag of hand-sewing under that table.    

Sunday, October 24, 2010

52 Blessings – Full Moon

The full moon has been magical all week.

This week by the 'light of the silvery moon' I went to a high school girls’ soccer game. This week 'by the light of the silvery moon' I went to a high school band concert. This week by the 'light of the silvery moon' the dogs and I walked. Each thing was great in and of itself, but by the light of the silvery moon they were even better.

My favorite thing to do this week by the light of the silvery moon was to kneel and say my prayers while it shone through our windows. It makes a most comforting and reassuring nightlight, plugged in by God himself.

I just talked to Abe and Grace on the phone. They are in Hawaii while Abe is on R & R. Abe said, “Last night we were driving along the shore and the full moon was shining on the ocean. We had the top down on the car and there was a little breeze. It was really beautiful.” It’s that magic of the silvery moon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Life in My World – The Law of Diminishing Returns

Calvin always warns me about the law of diminishing returns. He first taught me about it when I made that jello-pretzel salad one too many times. He explained that more and more usually becomes less and less satisfying.

But I like a good thing. If I find something that’s good, then I just use it and use it and use it and find more just like it and find other ways to use it. And that explains why I have five Christopher & Banks dresses cut from the same pattern but different fabric hanging in my closet. The pattern fits and they were $20 each. A very good thing and my satisfaction is still very high.

I have a pair of burgundy/black Dansko shoes in my closet. I can tell right now that brown ones will join them down the road, and perhaps a blue pair and a solid black pair even further down the road.

Several years ago my friend and fellow scrapbooker Leslie told me about the collages that the Costco photo center prints. This week, while preparing for our upcoming scrapbook retreat, I ordered photos on-line. I ordered not one, not two, not ten, but nearly twenty collages.

Collages can fit thirty memories onto one page (albeit some of them will be itty, bitty memories), but oh how tidy and to-the-point this will make our family scrapbook album. When I excitedly told Deb (my friend and scrapbook business partner), Cali, and Ande on the phone about what I’d ordered, each laughed and said, “Of course you would!” I didn’t know I was so predictable. But while Deb just laughed, Cali and Ande cautioned me about ordering more – something about too much of a good thing.

Last week I found these little filled candy jar replicas at Wal-Mart for $3. I bought one and came home and googled vintage Halloween and Christmas postcard images. 

The vintage prints, the candy jars, rick-rack, and ribbon – the combination just made me want to make more and more. Monday I’ll go buy extras. These will make great little birthday/visiting teaching/place-setting/congratulation gifts throughout the next few months.

But sometimes Calvin is right, right, right. I spent today printing out journals and blog entries (and ordering collages). I got many, many months behind on printing out and filing my journal. I tend to put it off as it goes through lots of ink and paper, and I get very, very, very tired of me by the time I’m finished. While I’m very glad I keep a journal, today . . . well, today I wish I just weren’t such a wordy journal keeper. Today less would have certainly been more.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday: In a Word . . . or Two

Six of Seven Sisters
Janet, Lynn, Marcia, Jane, Chris, Lila (missing: Rachel)

Janet: Organizer. I imagine “Everything has a place and everything is in its place” was first whispered after someone walked through Janet’s home. It’s incredible. She has vaulted ceilings with hundreds of antiques and collectibles displayed. (My favorite is the little, wire, canary, birdcage once used in mines to test the air for the miners.) Nothing has dust. Everything is artfully arranged . . . even in her boys’ bedroom. Tidy. Organized. Clean. That’s Janet.

Lynn: Self-taught. When she wanted to learn photography, she bought a book. When she wanted to make cheese, she bought a book. When she wanted to be a transcriptionist, she bought the book. When she wanted to quilt, she bought a book. When she wanted to get published, she bought a book. And then…she wrote not one book, but three.

Marcia: Think-tank. If you want an idea, Marcia has one. If you want a suggestion, go to Marcia. She is constantly gathering information, whether it’s at a conference in Japan, a learning activity in the ocean off Florida, or a brain clinic in Boston. She doesn’t just sit on information either, she uses and dispenses it. She’s constantly giving people opportunities to learn more or offering problem-solving solutions. It’s of little wonder that students seek her out when they’re in a bind.

Chris: Versatile. It is not uncommon for her to wake up and fix a breakfast of eggs and bacon and cake or pie, and then head out to the corrals to doctor or brand cattle. Then it’s not uncommon for her to head up to the hills and move their cattle on horseback to another pasture or go to the livestock sale and weigh-in cattle. Before she goes to bed she may or may not bake a three-layer cake or arrange a wedding bouquet. Truly. All in one day. You can see why it kinked her rhythm last year when her horse rolled with her and broke her hip.

Lila: Beautifier. First she drew. Then she painted. Then she carved. And all the while she decorated. Her mantels, walls, floors – all are a work of art. On the wood-floor entryway to their home she painted a large tree. Each branch is labeled with a couple in her family; each leaf is a child, each bloom is a grandchild. She is constantly redoing and renewing her surroundings.

Rachel: Doer. Give her a trial and she’ll conquer it. Give her a job and she’ll do it. Give her a problem and she’ll solve it. Give her a child and she’ll teach it. Give her another child and she’ll love it. And then she’ll write and tell me about it in an e-mail and make me laugh.

I love my sisters.  Very much.   "We know one another's faults, virtues, catastrophes, mortifications, triumphs, rivalries, desires, and how long we can each hang by our hands to a bar.  We have been banded together under pack codes and tribal laws."  ~Rose Macaulay

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Memories -- And The Show Goes On

After my grandma’s funeral, her brother (our Great-Uncle Victor Ellingford) looked around at all of us kids and said in his slow, quiet, unassuming way (Uncle Victor could have been a stand-in for Matthew Cuthbert on Anne of Green Gables), “Why don’t we all go to a movie?” Not only did we go to one, most went to two.

At the next family funeral, everybody looked at Uncle Victor and, whether the nod was official or unofficial I'm not sure, headed to the movie theatre again.

It was only fitting we went to a movie when Uncle Victor died.

Last week when we got word that Uncle Bill had passed away one of my thoughts, albeit irreverent and poorly timed, was “Perfect timing. Secretariat is playing.”

{Hugh and Lila} [Jeff, Janet, Sydney and McKay] {Fred and Lynn}
[Calvin and Jane] {Marcia} [Chris and Bruce]

After proper respects had been paid and we were kindly served the traditional ham and scalloped potatoes dinner, we headed to the theatre to see Secretariat.

When I die I hope there is a good movie playing . . .

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homemaking Tip—Oats and Beans and Sausages

I love homemaking. I mean I really love it and have for as long as I can remember, maybe even before the forts and mud pie stage. At least I know I bottled pickles and applesauce to take to college and then baked bread and pies once I was there. Oh yes, I did get teased and even considered not baking bread anymore so that it wouldn’t smell up the apartment complex, but my knead won out. (Oh ho. Now that is a pun.) I don’t know why homemaking is such a target for poking fun, it’s not like we laugh at scuba divers or mermaids or storekeepers or loggers, but sometimes it seems homemakers wear targets along with aprons. So while I love homemaking, I'm not always good about telling you what I love about it.

Some days I make a better home than I do on others and today was one of the better days. Though homemaking is more than cooking, cooking is one way I make our home comfortable, so I put a pot of chili on for supper. I hardly save chili for fall, but beings last night was our first frost today felt like a chili day. This recipe is from Calvin’s mom and I love it because it is consistently good, economical, and freezes well. There is no need to soak the beans. In fact, I no longer soak beans for any recipe anymore. I love dried beans because they’re so economical and good for you.

Audrey’s Chili

Wash 3 cups dry beans (pinto, pink, red, or mixture) well and cover with 4 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and maintain boil. Turn heat to low/medium low and cook for 2-3 hours until tender. (Make sure to occasionally check the beans so they do not boil dry. If additional water needs to be added, add hot water.)

Brown 1 # hamburger, 1 medium onion (chopped), and salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 packet of chili seasoning mix (any brand will do), 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce, and 1 can (4 oz) diced green chilies to hamburger mixture. Add meat mixture to cooked beans. Salt and pepper to taste and add 1-2 Tbsp of butter. Add additional water if needed. Simmer on low for 1 hour to blend flavors.

I also made an oatmeal cake. I love this recipe because it’s good, moist, nutty, and you can use leftover mush in it. It comes from my friend, Jane. Jane and I had babies just a few days apart. Abe and Joey were both beefy little babies and when they were draped over our shoulders and we greeted each other with “Hi Jane,” “Hi Jane,” it was like looking into a talking mirror. This recipe is saved in my recipe box with Jane’s handwriting and written on that old two-toned green computer paper with the holes up the side of it. I’ll never copy it to a recipe card because I love seeing Jane’s handwriting and wondering how she is every time I bake it.  That's another part of homemaking I love: preserving memories and friendships.

Jane’s Oatmeal Cake

1 ¼ cups boiling water
1 cup oatmeal
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp soda
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour water over oatmeal and let stand 10 minutes. Add butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until well-blended. Add flour, soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well. Pour into greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Prepare frosting:


1 ½ cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
6 Tbsp milk
1 cup chopped nuts

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan, mixing well. Put on low heat while cake is baking. Simmer for 15 minutes. When cake is done, spread frosting over cake and put it under the broiler just until bubbly. Watch very carefully, it usually takes less than a minute and it burns easily. Serve warm or cold.

Haley and her cupcakes

This last weekend my niece, Haley, taught me a good cooking tip.  She put a package of link sausage in an 8” x 8” cake pan then covered it with foil and baked it for 45 minutes at 350ยบ, stirring once or twice.  Then she took off the foil and continued to cook the links for another 15 minutes until browned.  It was so slick.  The kitchen didn’t smell, there was no frying pan to clean, no oil splatters on the stove, and the sausage tasted so good.  Haley is a great homemaker.  She had decorated the windows and door with Halloween and fall decor, baked cupcakes, cooked breakfast and dinner, and played games with us to boot.  She seemed so excited to have us there.  It was fun to see all that she had learned from her mom in making people feel welcome.  And that's another thing I love about homemaking, making a safe place where others feel right at home.

I love homemaking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday--Tuesdays with Ande

This past Friday we went to BYU-Idaho to spend the weekend with Ande. Ande is in her last semester there and this summer she reminded us that we had never come to see her at college “just because.” She was right. We hadn’t. I’d gone to spend Mother’s Week with her, but not “just because.” We’d stopped to pick her up on our way to somewhere else, but never “just because.” In fact, her dad had never even seen the campus – he’d only seen a few restaurants where he’d taken her to dinner and her apartments when dropping her off or picking her up. So this weekend we corrected that oversight and went to see her just because . . .

When Ande was a baby she crawled with her head down on the ground. It was the funniest thing. She looked like a bulldozer with the bucket down. Her chubby arms and legs were in forward motion and her forehead was pressed against the floor. She crawled fast until she bumped into the couch, table, or chair and then would raise her head, pull herself up on the obstacle, and look around to see if she was where she meant to be. If she was where she intended, she walked along the couch until she reached what she’d come for. If she wasn’t, she dropped, put her head down again, and crawled somewhere new.

Ande is not so different now as when she was a crawling baby. When she decides she wants something, she puts her head down and goes and goes until she gets there. When she’s arrived, she climbs up, looks around to see if she’s where she really wants to be and then makes her move from there. It was fun to be with her this weekend and “walk along the couch” with her. She’s studied and succeeded, learned and lived, stretched and grown . . . and we’re very proud of her. It was great to see that she has almost reached what she went there for.

Ande recently won an award at the school for this essay (which premiered as a blog post.  Who said blogs can’t be considered art?).   I think you (or your kids) will identify with it.

The CapriSun® Complex

I unwillingly carried a brown sack lunch in my school bag for twelve consecutive years.

In elementary school we all sat in the same spot everyday at the lunch table. The boy who sat across from me, Corbin, ate Lunchables® every day. He didn’t eat the block of cheese and would nibble the chocolate off his Reeses®before getting to the peanut butter core. The boy sitting next to him, Alex, sucked pudding through a hole poked through the top of his Snack Pack®. Kelsy with a “y” got “hot lunch” and I envied her processed chicken nuggets and fake mashed potatoes. Kelsey with an “e” had a yellow insulated lunch box from Old Navy. Krista had CapriSuns®.

I had thick slices of dry homemade bread with Flavorite® peanut butter and homemade freezer-jam packed neatly in a baggie that didn’t even have a zipper. It folded.

I learned early on to let my sandwiches get smashed. This let the dry bread soak up the jam so I could get my sandwich down without a CapriSun.

In more prosperous years my lunches had powdered Tang (bought in bulk) at the bottom of my thermos, waiting to be turned to liquid gold at the drinking fountain. That year it was just the drinking fountain.

Other kids had Go-Gurts. We often had homemade applesauce or pudding in Tupperware. Instead of plastic spoons we were given a spoon from the silverware drawer and told to bring it back. Nothing like having a spoon in your back pocket during recess.

There were days when I just couldn’t stand to eat yet another dry homemade sandwich. On those days I took one of three options: One, trade my sandwich. Two, return home with my sandwich (and get sent out with the same one the next day…only dryer), or three, throw my sandwich and its folded plastic bag away.

That year I began throwing my sandwich, and sometimes other parts of my lunch, away regularly. Sometimes I would skip eating at lunchtime and save my lunch until the bus ride home. Sometimes I would just skip eating all together and wait until I got home, leaving the brown sacks to pile up in my backpack until the sandwiches molded and carrots turned white and cracked. I threw them away in secret at home, burying the brown bags beneath the other garbage. I was embarrassed and sick of my lunches.

One morning my mom packed lunches for us kids and then packed herself a lunch for the six hour bus-ride she would take, alone, to the Seattle Temple and back.

I can still remember exactly what she had in her lunch that day.

Graham crackers spread with peanut butter and a few baby carrots.

That was all she felt our family could afford for her lunch that day.

My lunch had all the usuals.

I was throwing away my lunches or letting them collect mold and scatter crumbs in my backpack while my mother gave me all she had.

I was under the impression mothers sacrificing their own food for their children only occurred in foreign countries or those pathetic Christmas stories meant to make you realize how selfish you were for wanting presents.

I’d like to say that was the day I decided to never throw my lunches away again. It wasn’t. A clear vision of my sixth grade locker with weeks worth of brown sack lunches stuffed at the bottom comes to mind.

But I can say that brown bag lunches have accompanied me through years of side ponytails, awkward maturing years, and into high school. And they accompany me now. Lecture halls, study sessions, and long hours at the library have all felt the company of my brown sack lunches, while I feel their bulk in my bag resting on my hip. Rarely can I pull out a smashed PB&J, the bread now bought in uniform loaves, without thinking of home, of sacrifice, of hard years survived, of love, and of my mom.

And that is why I now love brown sack lunches. Because the lessons they have to offer are far more valuable than a CapriSun® could ever give.*

{*Here are the family’s comments when it was a blog post.

Ande: I still love Caprisuns®. The last couple times I have been grocery shopping with my Mom I have asked for CapriSuns®. She still won’t get them. Neither will my kids. And thankfully the “CapriSun® Complex” will continue.

Mom: OHHHHHHHHH ANDE! This made me laugh and laugh . . . and then I got to the part where it flipped and you made me look like a saint and it is completely unfounded and well, sufficeth me to say, I loved this and the memories you captured for all of us. (Those were terrible lunches, weren't they? But did you know they only cost 28 cents and that included the napkin?) Oh ho. How funny. Which reminds me. Remember when you were home (yes, I'm sure you do) and we were in Wal-Mart® and you told me how much you loved CapriSuns® and I "uh-huhed" and kept on pushing our cart to the flour aisle and you said, "No, mom, I don't think you understand. I REALLY love CapriSuns®. Could we get some?" And I told you they were a terrible waste of money and kept us focused on the next aisle? I GET IT NOW. I had no idea. Thanks for the funny post. You are a gifted writer. Mom

Cali: Oh Ande, I cannot even tell you how hard this made me laugh. It made miss those lunches (how on earth could a person miss them?) It made me want to eat a smashed DRY sandwich (even worse on the days when there wasn't any jam... just PB). It made me miss you. I love you. Thanks for that belly laugh (with a small snort) and the realization that even a horrible sack lunch eventually becomes funny (not funny at the time, though). Did mom still make you carry those in high school? I hope not. I just want to paint for you the picture of what THAT looked like for me. You drive with all your friends to Taco Bell. They all get a meal. You sit with them at the Taco Bell table. while they all have trays with Taco Bell food, you pull out your brown bag. Even worse still you pull a dry sandwich out of that brown bag. You look at the Taco Bell condiments counter and see if there's ANYTHING that could go on your sandwich or lube your throat. Only hot sauce. Hopefully your friends know the Heimlich. Cali

Abe: ande, ha ha. i hated those sandwiches with a passion. i don't think i ever ate more than matter how hungry i was. i loved it when i was able to sucker somebody in to trading for mine. or the week when i got to help in the cafeteria at school so i could eat hot lunches. i always volunteered to help. the worst part was that i always got carrot sticks with them, and carrots aren't known to be super juicy. so after eating a dry sandwich, i would have to try and choke down carrots. i never ate more than half my carrots either. we always had pretty decent treats though. and we could always trade the fruit leather mom made for us. great blog post! i love you. abe}

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Memories—Promises, Promises, Promises

Calvin, Charlie, Grace, Haley, Ryan, Ande

I once promised God that I would never go through another spook alley again if He would just let me get out of the one I was in alive without miscarrying the baby inside of me.

I lied and I’m ashamed. I’ve broken that promise twice now.

This last time I broke that promise was last weekend.  It began at Sammy’s with old fashioned hamburgers, fries, (and fry sauce. Important to mention because Washington doesn’t seem to believe in fry sauce) and milkshakes. They were very, very good. Then we went to The Haunted Mill.

While I may not be good with spook-alleys, I’m even worse with Haunted Mills. We had to crawl through tight places in the dark, cross the river on a swinging bridge in the dark, walk through a cornfield in the dark, and climb three flights of wooden stairs in an old grain mill in the dark. I kept thinking as I screamed my way through, “I can’t believe health and welfare hasn’t shut this place down yet.” Worse than the suffocating tunnels, worse than the snakes and cobwebs, worse than the silent creatures whispering behind you, and worse than the swinging bridge, was a foot wide ledge they expected us to cross (in the dark). If you miss-stepped it was three floors down. And just as you got in the middle of the ledge, there was a leaning wall that pushed you off balance. That was where I refused to go further. It didn’t matter that there was a dark creature of a woman hiding in the shadows that kept hoarsely whispering, “Go.” It didn’t matter that reason said no one would open themselves up to a lawsuit like a fall from that ledge would bring about. It didn’t matter that Ande kept saying, “Go mom, go.” I wasn’t going. I was hanging on to my niece’s hand in front of me and Ande’s hand in back of me and if I fell, I’d take all three of us. I was certain of it. Finally Calvin came back to get me and said from the side of safety, “Hold my hand and I’ll help you across.”

I hollered, “But Calvin, it’s DANGEROUS!”

He assured me he wouldn’t let me fall.  I trust him.  When I reached him he whispered, “There’s plexi-glass across the hole. See?” and he tapped his foot against it. But I’m telling you it was scary, even when you know about plexi-glass it's scary.  It's especially scary when you don’t know about plexi-glass.

And then there was the time when we were crawling through one of the tunnels and I lost my niece’s hand in front of me and the tunnel squeezed in tight and dark. Very dark. I just decided I would wait until someone else wanted to go bad enough to go over or under me and be the leader. After a few moments I turned to tell Ande so and saw she’d been replaced by a black faceless thing that breathed heavy and nodded. I tell you it was scary.

I’d like to tell you more about how Calvin, Ande, Grace, my two nieces Haley and Charlie, and my nephew Ryan fared during the walk through The Haunted Mill. But I can’t. I went into selfish survival mode. All I could think about was myself and one time when a creature was coming towards us in the cornfield, I even threw Ande in front of me and cowered behind her back and used her as my shield. She kept hollering, “I can’t believe you’re throwing me to the wolves. I just can’t believe it.” But I didn’t budge. I knew she didn’t look scared and they’d leave her alone, but I was a magnet for fright.

Later, Ande started laughing and telling everyone how I threw her to the wolves (Literally. He wore a wolf man mask). I reminded her of the circle of life and that sometimes we have to take turns being brave and that I was already brave once when I needed to be. I told her about the other time I broke my spook alley promise and attended the ward Young Men and Young Women’s spook alley. The Young Men chased us down at the end with chainless chainsaws and they didn’t have the no-touching-the-people rule either. I said, “I was brave one time when it was very, very important. I huddled over you and protected you from those chainsaws.”

But now as I type this out, I remember something. It wasn’t Ande I saved, it was Ty. We left Ande home that night. I’m sorry Ande. I guess it wasn’t our circle of life. But thank you for saving me just the same. I guess I still owe you one.  I promise, if I ever break my promise and go to a spookfest again I'll take Ty.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Homemaking Tip—Caramel


Julie asked me for the caramel recipe for caramel apples. Here it is. (I think it’s her mom’s recipe!)


2 cups light cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter (no substitutions)
1 Tbsp. vanilla

In a large heavy saucepan, heat cream, sugar and corn syrup until boiling. Cook and stir over moderate heat for 5 minutes, then add butter and salt. Turn heat to low and boil gently, stirring often until the temperature on candy thermometer reads 228-232 degrees (depending upon your altitude and how firm you want the caramel). Remove from heat and when cooled slightly, stir in vanilla. Cool ‘till warm to the touch and dip apples.

A few caramel apple tips . . .

♥ I usually double, triple, or quadruple this recipe. I’ve even seven-times’ed it, but wouldn’t recommend it.

♥ Use apples that haven’t been waxed so that the caramel will adhere better.

♥ If your caramel starts to slip off the apple simply mold it back around the apple when it has cooled.

♥ Use 3/8” dowel rods for sturdy sticks.

♥ Nice, clean, branches make attractive and natural looking sticks, too.

♥ If you have leftover caramel, pour it over cornflakes mixed with coconut and then drop onto waxed paper as individual drop cookies or press into a buttered baking pan (my preference). They trump rice-krispie treats!

♥ I use this caramel for turtles, caramel squares -- any recipe requiring caramel.

♥  After dipping the apples in caramel, let them cool and then dip in melted chocolate.  Garnish, embellish, decorate with drizzled white chocolate, sprinkles, chopped nuts, candy, etc.  Then put in cellophane bag and add a bow. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Same Old, Same Old

Except same old, same old doesn’t mean boring or annoying to me. I like patterns. I like routine. I like the same old, same old. One of the things that I wished had stayed same old, same old was the old Martha Stewart show when she came on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on PBS. I liked her home, gardens, and chicken coop better than her tv studio where she cooks with $100 a pound truffles.

Saturday I asked Grace to French braid my hair so it would stay out of my eyes. She did.

Cali said I looked cute in them.

Grace cocked her head to the side several times during the day and said, “You just look so cute in them.”

When Ray saw me he said, “You look twenty years younger!”

When Calvin saw me he said, “Whoooooaaaa!” then commented several times how much he liked them and that he thought I should wear them more often.

That night as I was getting ready to go to bed Grace said, “Mom, I think your braids are really cute. (Pause.) Around the house cute. I don’t think they’re seminary cute though.”

The next morning I laughed at Grace’s comment. I wasn’t sure she’d said it or if I’d dreamed it. I said, “Grace did you tell me last night that my braids aren’t seminary cute?”


I started to laugh and said, “Did you think I might be tempted to wear them in public?”

She said, “Well……everyone kept telling you how cute they were so I was afraid you might think you could leave home in them.”

Oh ho. It makes me laugh just typing it out.

I said, “Oh Grace, I understand that these are things you only wear at home. Kind of like the black headband.”

I’ve worn a black headband a few times the last few weeks when jogging or working to keep my hair out of my face. When I first saw myself in the mirror I thought, “Whoa, this is u.g.l.y.” Calvin winces when he sees it, Cali says “Please mom, take it out,” and Grace laughs because it really is so hideous.

Grace cut my hair yesterday. I'm back to the same old, same old.  I can no longer wear braids

. . . but I can still wear the headband.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Memories—Thaine and Isabelle


Such a poor picture for such beautiful apples.  Sorry.  I had it on the wrong setting.

Cali, Grace, and I made fancy caramel apples this weekend and it reminded me of . . .

When we lived next to my sister, Lynn, and her family, Lynn and I took the kids trick-or-treating and left Calvin and Fred home to pass out the treats. We went to a dozen neighbors or so, but because there were miles and miles between our homes trick-or-treating still took a good couple of hours.

One home we visited was Thaine and Isabelle’s. They lived at the end of a gravel road about ten miles from us. Behind them were hills of sagebrush. For as long as I’ve known, and I’ve known them my whole life, Thaine and Isabelle were 65 years old. They never looked older or younger. They just always looked 65.

One Halloween our kids were all mobile and independent, so Lynn and I visited in the car while the kids ran up to the door by themselves. Thaine greeted them. He dumped lots of candy in their bags and then handed them two caramel apples and said, “These are for the drivers.”

Lynn and I were surprised at such a thoughtful gesture, especially something so labor intensive as caramel apples. Isabelle made wonderful caramel apples – smooth, silky, browned just right, and the caramel stayed stuck to the apple, too. Only Isabelle would think to give a treat to the drivers, we thought. We thought sweet things about her for several miles.

A few weeks later Thaine told us at church that he got a good chewing when Isabelle got home later that night. He’d misunderstood. Isabelle hadn’t made the apples for the drivers, but for someone else. Oh ho. Poor Thaine. He’d handed them all out.

Passing through hometown last year, I squealed when I saw Isabelle in the temple and gave her a great big hug. She still looks 65. I’ll bet she still makes good caramel apples. Only Thaine would think to give them all away.

As long as I’m thinking about Isabelle, I’ll tell you a joke. I’m terrible at jokes. I can never remember the punch line. Except this one. Isabelle told it to me one summer when we were camping when I was a little girl. I still remember it.

“On top of a hill, there is a school. In the school, there is a bell. What is the teacher’s name?”

“I give up” I told Isabelle.

She smiled and told me to think harder.

I told her I still gave up.

She said, “The school teacher’s name is Isabelle. Get it?”  And then with great emphasis, “In the school there is-a-bell. That is the teacher’s name.”

Isabelle, Thaine, caramel apples, punch-lines. Sweet memories indeed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

52 Blessings – Inspirational People

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this weekend was the bi-annual LDS General Conference. A couple of dozen speakers spoke to us – each talented and inspired in their own right. I like hearing them speak for they have walked the walk of which they speak. Yesterday Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke about simplifying our lives, slowing down, and focusing on the important things in life. He used the analogy of speed bumps to make a point. Going over a speed bump faster doesn’t necessarily make it smoother. He mentioned that some people even determine their self-worth by the length of their to-do list. Since I had written an e-mail to my sister earlier this week telling her how I’d been simplifying my life, I sanctimoniously nodded amen and proudly agreed to President Uchtdorf’s words. And therein lay my problem.

This morning the family settled in on the couch to watch more hours of the conference. During one of the first few speakers I thought of something I didn’t want to forget to do later: make blackberry jam and jalapeno pepper jelly. I quickly grabbed the little, striped notebook and wrote it down. Then another item came to mind so I wrote it down, too. Down, down the page went my list while the speaker talked on; we finished at the same time. I’m didn’t hear a word he said but I’m sure he gave quite a talk for I had quite a to-do list.

-blackberry jam
-pepper jelly
-clean garage
-wash windows
-paint toy drawers
-paint tv table
-print journals
-cut hair
-scrapbook retreat prep.
-make book for Bruce (my brother-in-law)
-get Christmas ready
-read Molakai
-find another book to read
-get Abraham Lincoln print framed
-buy rug
-finish circle journals
-pay bills

Satisfied and out of lines, I put the notebook away.

After watching four more hours of conference and eating dinner, we gathered on the couch with pie and ice cream to again watch President Uchtdorf’s message (not everyone had seen it the day before).

I was comfortable. I was full of myself. Don’t you know I’d been simplifying. And then he came to the part in his talk about the to-do list.

Curses. Foiled again. Pride gets me every time.

I’m grateful for inspirational people (I could make a list with dozens of them) who teach us how to walk the walk of which they preach.  Thanks to them, someday I shall humbly conquer simplifying . . .

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Here’s What I’m Thinking About Life in My World

There’s a man running for a local office in the upcoming election. He has used his name and his opponent’s in his ads. Summed up they say, “We’ve been BERND before, now it’s time to choose a BAKER.” I drive by one of the big signs everyday and it’s like a tag on my collar. It rubs. At first I thought it was a clever pun. A day later I thought it was a poor pun. For the next three weeks I couldn’t figure out why the one-liner bugged me. I finally figured it out: I don’t like it because it reminds me of grade school teasing. Pity the soul that had a last name that could be twisted or punned in grade school. I had Chadwick. Not as bad as some, worse than others. I hated, hated, hated hearing Jane Chatterbox or Chadwitch chanted on the playground. The man’s sign is hardly dirty politics and, though I know neither man, as far as I can tell one is as good as the other; therefore I’m choosing Bernd. Just for his name’s sake.  You just shouldn't mess with someone's name.

Remember the fall house cleaning Cali helped us start a few weeks ago? I had a goal to finish it by the time Cali and Ray came for General Conference weekend. One of my jobs this week was to purge the videos. The video I was saddest to see go was Pete’s Dragon. Remembering the Gogans call, “Petey, oh Petey” almost made me save it. For what I don’t know since we don’t even have a VCR machine anymore.

Yesterday was Grace’s due date. We were prepared for it. We woke up calling out, “Happy Due Date, Clara!” and repeated it several times during the day. We also went to lunch – Grace had a Chinese chicken salad, I had a vegetable sandwich, and we split a seven-layer bar for dessert. Calvin had to work in the lab and missed out. Then we took fresh flowers to the cemetery. The bouquet was an autumn bouquet with red sunflowers and filled in with orange, yellow, and deep green. It was very pretty. We forgot water so we dipped some from the nearby ditch. As we sat on her grave visiting I said, “I wonder if coming early was part of Clara’s personality. I can just see her saying, ‘I was fast! I went down, got my body, and came back before I was even supposed to be there!” Grace said she could just see Clara throwing her arms out wide declaring, “I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!” when she died. Happy day after your due date, Clara.

Cali and Ray came for the weekend. It’s always good to have them come home. Always. One of the things I most enjoy about Cali and Ray is seeing how much they enjoy us and each other. Grace had filled the cookie jar and had made up her bed for them. There was a new welcome mat at the kitchen door, the bathrooms sparkled, the autumn bowl was filled with orange peach rings, and Calvin had ribs on the grill when they came in the door. Cali squealed with each thing she discovered. She said, “I keep finding surprises. It just feels so good to come home.” Peach rings, supper, cookies, clean sheets, a welcome mat – it doesn’t take much to make Cali feel good. Cali, Grace, and I went jogging and walking early this morning while Ray and Calvin went calling coyotes. 

I’ve enjoyed conference immensely today. I always do, I enjoy each talk. I also enjoyed President Monson’s talk to the women of the Relief Society last week. He talked to us about criticizing each other – a universal fault of women. As he was reproving us I thought, “Amazing how a scolding can feel so good when it comes from a prophet of God.” I know the genders seem to have natural failings, criticizing others and ourselves being one of us females'. I’ve seen it in our chicken coop. Those hens will find one hen, single her out, and peck at her until she bleeds. Often, if we don’t step in and remove her for a day or two they’ll pick at her until she dies. When you think about it, it’s quite a burden lifted to know we don’t have to pick at each other’s faults and declare them to the world.  I never wanted to be a chicken in the first place.

Cali, Grace, and I are dipping caramel apples tonight while Calvin and Ray are attending Priesthood meeting. It’s time to start the caramel . . .