Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Memories – Telephone

I liked to play Heads-Up-Seven-Up in third grade, Pom-Pom-Pull-Away in fourth grade, and Dodge Ball in sixth grade.  I loved to play Telephone always – trying to get the whispered phrase correct as it passed from lips to ear.  Hearing, perceptions, and speaking could all potentially skew the outcome, but once in awhile the message would ring true the whole way through the line.

Alyson, Deb, Lex  (Kelsey in the background between Lex and Deb)

A few years ago I learned another way to play Telephone.  It’s done by lining up front to back and then drawing a simple image (like a pig, pitcher of lemonade, basket of apples) on the back of the person in front of you with your finger.  That person then draws the image he felt drawn on his back on the person in front of him.  The game continues down the line until it reaches the first person who then draws the picture he felt on his back on a chalkboard where it is compared to the original image.  No talking.  No repeats.  And if you’re playing in teams, no peeking at the team playing next to you.  It's a great family night game.

We played it a few weeks ago when we had friends over for soup and sundaes.  The losing team scooped the ice cream for the winning team.

Last week I mentioned Jon Huntsman’s story and told you how I had found his example helpful.  I wrote that something bad had happened because of our public blog.  Because I wasn’t specific, it misled you.  We’ve all played on the blogground and so some might have thought it was unkind or gossipy remarks.  No, no, no.  I’m sorry.  I did not whisper clearly enough.  Something bad came as a result of something good that was posted.  That was all.  Bad coming from good is always discouraging, but I found Jon Huntsman’s story personally helpful.  In the meantime, I do appreciate your I’m-on-your-side remarks.  Nothing like being a part of a great team.  Thank you.  Next time I'll whisper louder.

What playground games did you like to play in grade school?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life in My World – A Bit of This and That, But Nothing in Particular

One family night last December, Ty challenged us to prepare a profile at  The pretty pink box with the dandelion blowing away to the right is my link.  Which reminds me:  I feel badly that dandelions and crocs got such a bad rap.  Dandelions are yellow, green, edible, prolific.  With adjectives like that we really should embrace them.  But once someone calls something weedy, it’s pretty hard to think of it as a flower.  And crocs?  Never were there more comfortable shoes made.  How did Hushpuppies and Converses and jelly shoes make the popular grade, but crocs didn't.  (The Tipping Point, The Tipping Point, The Tipping Point.  But still . . .)  I wish someone would make crocs and dandelions wildly acceptable.

I made two dozen banana muffins and a loaf of banana bread today.  With nuts.  Ande isn’t home to be sad about it so in went the nuts.  Snickerdoodles and banana bread are not my favorite things to make.  4-H cooking.  The first year bakers enter cookies in the fair, the second year bakers enter breads.  We practiced and practiced and practiced on snickerdoodles and banana bread.  Times that two or three times (or how ever many of us sisters were in 4-H together that year) and you’d be tired of them, too.  I’m pleased to report the muffins tasted good today.

I’m wondering about Egypt.

I watched Amazing Grace for the first time.  I’ve attempted it several times, but haven’t made it through the opening scenes.  Now I ask myself how I could have slept through such a good movie.

We just finished a great semester yesterday.  Onward, ever onward.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Thinking – Ig’zæm pəl

            The problem with Thursday Thinking posts is they are so darn personal.  And while I don’t hesitate to tell you when my toenails are painted red, or what we’re having for supper, or even point out some of my faults in case you’re not a student of the obvious . . . to tell you what I’m thinking?  That’s personal.    

            I’ve been thinking about the example of Jon Huntsman, Sr.  Several years ago I read an article on him.  Mr. Huntsman was born and raised in Southern Idaho, which could have made him kith and kin.  As I remember the story, when he was in high school, his father returned to school for additional education to better support the family.  The Huntsman sons split the family finances so that their father could attend – one paid for household expenses, another took care of the car/repairs/gasoline, and the third provided for the family medical expenses and medicine. 
            Several years later after Jon had married, he and his wife determined that they would give 30% of their income to charity – thirty percent even as struggling college students.  They strongly believed that where much was given, much was required and they intended to use their talents and resources to bless mankind.
            Jon Huntsman went on to develop plastic egg cartons, the McDonald’s Big Mac container, plastic eating utensils . . . and a long list of similar products.  (However, when it was suggested that the containers might be harmful to the environment his company ceased manufacturing them.)  Jon Huntsman’s name grew through the years as his reputation of integrity and charitable giving spread.  In one business dealing, Mr. Huntsman found it necessary to sell 40% of his company to raise funds.  The new buyer and Mr. Huntsman shook hands on the $54 million deal.  It took the buyer’s lawyers several months, however, to draw up the contract and finalize negotiations.  When it was time to sign the papers, 40% of the company’s worth had swelled to well over two hundred million dollars.  The buyer told Mr. Huntsman that he would split the difference but Mr. Huntsman said, “I shook your hand at $54 million six months ago and that's exactly what you're going to pay.”  Mr. Huntsman never regretted the lost millions because he said it would have cost him so much more, his integrity, to break his word. 
            Ever since I read that article on Jon Huntsman I have paid particular attention to what he has to say.   Recently Glen Beck interviewed Mr. Huntsman on his show and the incident when one of Jon and Karen Huntsman’s teenage sons was kidnapped was told.  The kidnapping happened right after the Huntsmans had donated a large sum to charity.  Seeing the name on the roster of donors, thugs targeted the family sensing they could receive a large ransom.  The FBI was able to locate the boy and return him to the family a few days later ransom-less.  Glen Beck asked Jon Huntsman what they first did when their son was returned and he said, “Well . . . I hugged him and told him I loved him.” 
            Glen added that Jon Huntsman had shared with him at an earlier time that something else was also done.  The Huntsmans had immediately knelt in prayer to thank God for the boy’s safe return and then Jon asked our Father in Heaven that this frightening and terrible experience would not mar their family and make them fear being charitable.  Jon Huntsman did not want his family to quit doing good things simply because bad things could come to them as a result.
            Mr. Huntsman had shared that very personal prayer with Glen Beck a short time ago to encourage Glen to continue to do good even when people successfully used those efforts against him. 
            That story has stayed with me the last couple of weeks.  (A lot of Jon Huntsman stories stay with me, like him donating 30% of his income to charity even when he had his own mortgage.  How can you forget that?)
            A few days ago something bad came about because I post a blog.  If you're a public blogger, you know that can come with the territory, but you're willing to pay the price.  It wasn’t the first time something negative was the result of our blog, but it was the worst time.  In the big scheme of things it isn’t big.  In the middle scheme of things it’s measureable.  My first thought was, “I quit. I’m pulling the plug.  I’m not providing family fodder anymore.  It would be a relief to quit blogging.  I’m through.”
            And then I remembered Jon Huntsman’s story.  
            I’ll never be tempted whether or not $54 million is enough, I’ll never invent something really useful like foam egg cartons.  No, The Neighbor’s Blog will never be brilliantly written or widely read, but it can still do a bit of good by sharing a story or recipe or link or friendship on my dot on the web.  I will learn from Jon Huntsman to not let negativity define my charity.

            The problem with Thursday Thinking posts is that they are just so darn personal.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homemaking Tip – The Schoolmarm

Before Grace moved in with Calvin and me people asked her if she was going to get a job while she was here and work until the baby came.  She debated and wondered what to do.  She knew it would take a long time to build a hair clientele, and doubted people would be interested knowing she would soon leave it.  She considered looking for another type of job.  Finally she asked Whitney, our friend in Colorado, what she would do and Whitney said, “Unless you need the money, I’d ask The Neighbor to teach me and learn what I could from her for the next year.”  Whitney makes me laugh.  The Neighbor, while friendly enough, is not an expert at one single thing.  However, The Neighbor has loved playing teacher and being the student.  We’ve had a fun time in our lessons, Grace and I.    

Grace leaves for Colorado in a few more weeks, but rest assured, we have crossed butter-knife swirls on cookie dough brownies off the list of things to learn.

Yesterday we made a couple of meals to take to friends.  One couple had a new baby so we put a bath-temp duck and washcloths in with the barbecue sandwiches and chips.  One sheet of tissue paper made a nice difference in how the little white basket of food looked.  

Grace also made brownies to take visiting teaching.  She wanted more than plain brownies so I suggested Cookie Dough Brownies, an old staple.  After Grace spread the melted chocolate chips on top of the brownies I showed her Decorating with a Butter-knife 101 that my sister Lynn taught me.     

1.  Frost the brownies or cake.

2.  Make diagonal lines in one direction with the knife edge.

3.  Make diagonal lines across the original lines going in the other direction.

4.  Smile that something so simple looks so good.

I am not as quick a learner as Grace.  I have flunked a few of the classes she has taught me so we’ll be working on pedicures, eyebrows, and hair right until she goes . . . and hope and hope that Grace can correct my mistakes when she comes for Ande's wedding.   

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday – Normal

Today was a normal day.  I like normal.  In fact, I love normal.  I ate a bowl of normal Grape-Nuts® for breakfast.  (If you were just learning the English language what would you expect Grape-Nuts® to look like if you ordered them blindly from a menu?  I wouldn’t expect Grape-Nuts®.  That’s for sure.)

I went to work like normal.  I enjoyed it like normal.  We ate leftovers for lunch like normal.

We fed the chickens like normal.  Grace and I went jogging like normal.  The dogs chased a cotton-tail rabbit like normal. 

Calvin came home from work like normal, then he went out to the shop to finish working on a bow like he sometimes does while he waited for supper.

Grace and I fixed supper like normal.  We tried our new recipe for the week and it called for something we don’t normally use:  Greek yogurt.  Substitutions are normal in our kitchen.  However, we were trying to be true to the recipe and who knew?  $1.50 for 6 oz. of Greek yogurt just might be the secret ingredient.  The recipe was for healthier-than-normal chicken pot pies.  

Photograph by Kate Mathis

It was very, very good. Here’s the recipe if you’re interested:  Light Chicken Pot Pie. We didn’t follow it exactly.  We tried.  But it just didn’t make sense to bake the potatoes and then cool them when we could quickly boil them instead.  We also took a few other short-cuts, improvised on a few amounts, added green beans instead of peas so that Calvin would eat it, added poultry seasoning instead of fresh thyme, put them in individual ramekins so everybody got a fair share of crisp crust – you know, cooking substitutions that people normally do.  But remember, we did use Greek yogurt.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Memories – Calvin-g

When the ground freezes, then thaws, then freezes, then thaws, it reminds me of calving season.  When I see a lone coyote running across the freezing and thawing ground, it reminds me of calving season.  The ground is freezing and thawing.  I saw a lone coyote in the cornfield on the way to work.  I’m thinking of calving season.

When I was a teenager I had to take a few turns sleeping at the calving shed like everyone else.  Because of ballgames and early morning seminary I didn’t do it often, but I did it.  Every hour-and-a-half someone had to walk through the heifers in the corral to see which ones were ready to calve.  Their tails let you know.  If a heifer’s tail was slightly raised with a water bag and hooves showing underneath it, it was time to move her into the shed and get help. 

It wasn’t hard work checking the heifers.  It was just cold and inconvenient and a wee bit scary – you know, shadows, howls, glowing eyes.

Thank you Google images

Thank you Google images

After Calvin graduated from BYU we joined my family’s ranching/farming operation.  By then the calving shed had been replaced with a large and modern calving barn with several pens down one side of the barn (much like the rooms in a maternity ward), and one large pen (much like a hospital waiting room) in the center of the barn.  There was also an apartment at one end of the barn and large corrals just outside of the other end.   

Our first home at the ranch was the apartment in that calving barn.  We didn’t have a TV.  We couldn’t even get a signal to a radio station.  It smelled of cows.  But it was our home and from February to May Calvin calved three hundred heifers there.  Every hour-and-a-half or so he walked among the heifers and put those that were ready to calve into a pen.  If she was having any trouble at all, he'd put chains on the calf's feet and pull it into the world – rarely, but occasionally, he performed caesarean sections, while the heifers were standing no less.

I helped some, but not much.  I would take my turn and check the heifers, or hold a head tight against the manger with a rope, or sometimes put the chains on a calf, or get medicine, syringes, or water, or drive a mile down the road to make a phone call to the vet – that kind of help.  But since I was usually due to calve myself during those months (Cali was born in May, Abe in March, and Ty in June) my help was the safe kind.  I loved watching the newborn calves come to life.  I loved watching Calvin nurse them.  After a hard pull, he'd stimulate the sometimes-lifeless little calves by rubbing them with a handful of straw or a rag.  Then in an effort to get the calf breathing, he’d stick a straw up its nose and tickle it until he’d sneeze and breathe.  My very favorite part, however, was dressing the kids in their snowsuits and all of us piling into the cab of the pick-up.  We'd drive out to the pastures and tag the new calves of the cows that had calved on their own.  Again, my help was nominal – like holding tags or looking for new calves, but I like to think company counts for something. 

Thank you Google Images

My least favorite part of calving was the coyote stories.  Coyotes are a rancher’s enemy. They creep in among the cows, find the newborn calves that have not yet gotten their legs under them, and chew the soft tissue – the nose, the hind-quarter, the umbilical area.  The coyotes literally eat the calves alive.  One time when I was still in high school, one of our cows had secluded herself from the herd to calve.  She gave birth to twins, 30 yards apart.  A coyote moved in.  First he went to one calf and when the mother cow charged and chased him away, he circled to the other calf.  It was cold and snowy.  He kept the game up – back and forth, back and forth.  He knew the cow in her weakened condition would soon collapse and then he’d have three meals and enough for friends, too.  When Dad saw the situation, he tried to load the calves in the back of the pick-up so he could drive them to the safety of the herd or barn.  He expected the cow would trot along behind.  However, she was so frenzied in her fight that she didn’t see him as help.  He was as big a threat to her as the coyote and she charged him every time he got near.       

I don’t remember how the story ended (did the coyote get one calf?  both calves? the cow?), but a little detail of no ending hasn’t stopped me from using it as an object lesson . . .  that frantic-racing-back-and-forth-in-a-good-pursuit-but-not-recognizing-the-answer-when-it-comes-because-we’re-too-busy-racing-back-and-forth type of lesson. 

Oh ho.  Yes.  Calvin does wear outfits like this sometimes when he's home.
We were eating supper when he saw a coyote down in the apple trees.
He quietly got his gun, opened the door a crack and got him. 

Calvin doesn’t know how the story ended either, but he never misses the chance to get rid of a coyote.  He holds a grudge sometimes.

Calvin calving.  Good memories.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

52 Blessings – Cousins

Cousin One experience:  I bought this book on Thursday at the Friends of the Library sale for 50 cents.  It just seemed the thing to do. 

More than likely I’ll take it into the office supply store, have them cut the binding, replace the pages with new cardstock, then bind it with a spiral ring.  I’ll probably make a cousins’ journal out of it and include inspiring stories like that of Willard and Rebecca Bean.  What I do know for sure is that it isn’t every day you see your name outlined in gold for 50 cents.  Fifty cents won’t even buy a candy bar unless I'm at Grocery Outlet.    

Cousin Two experience:  A couple of weeks ago Leigh made a random comment on one of my blog posts that she had just finished reading A Lion and a Lamb, a book about Willard and Rebecca Bean.  I responded and told her they were cousins of mine and thanked her for telling me about it.  I ordered the book and read it within the week.  I’d heard the story through family lore, but the details were fuzzy to me.  I enjoyed reading the real story and found it inspiring just as Leigh had.

Willard Bean, "The Fighting Parson"

Willard had been a United States middle-weight champion boxer.  He and his wife Rebecca (who was 23 years his junior) were called to serve a mission to Palmyra, New York to reintroduce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the area.  It is near Palmyra where Joseph Smith received a vision and our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him.  Not all people welcomed Joseph’s testimony of what he saw and the Smith family was eventually forced to leave the area.  Nearly one hundred years later, Latter-day Saints still were not welcome in Palmyra.  In fact, soon after Willard and Rebecca arrived, neighbors hung a sign on the door to their home promising a $5000 reward to anyone who could get rid of them.  While Rebecca used her voice and disposition to try and win the hearts of the people, Willard used his boxing skills.

Willard put on a boxing exhibition and challenged anybody in the community to go the rounds with him in a temporary ring they constructed in an old opera house.  The night of the exhibition at least seven men came to challenge Willard.  The first opponent didn’t even make a hit and lasted less than fifteen seconds.  The second didn’t last either – nor the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth.  Not one made it through a round.  The eighth man changed his mind about boxing Willard and no one else took the challenge.  Not only did Willard easily win the matches, he did back flips and other gymnastic stunts while he waited for the new opponents to enter the ring.  This completely entertained the crowd.  He was 46+ years old at the time.  He was always friendly and helpful to each opponent and this free show helped him to win some respect, if not a few friends.

I started to re-read the book again on Friday.  This time aloud to a friend.

Cousin Three experience:  On Friday I received a cd in the mail from my cousins Arnold and Arlene Hill.  I’m one of the younger Chadwick cousins so it always surprises me when the older cousins remember who the younger cousins even are.  It's not like we lived in the same state or saw each other often.  

Grandpa George is on the right

            Arnold and Arlene acquired Grandpa George’s mission scrapbooks at a family reunion last summer.  They took the photos home and restored, digitized, and made cds for everyone.  The photos are nearly 100 years old and the project took somewhere between 500-1000 hours.  I wrote Arlene thanking her for their work and asked her to tell me one of her favorite memories of Grandpa. 
            She responded, “Grandpa always seemed to be rather a back-ground figure; which isn’t surprising considering Grandma was such an up-front person. Whenever we visited, Grandpa never had much to say. He was gentle and amiable and it seems he pretty much let Grandma have her way. On rare occasions when he put his foot down everyone paid attention and acquiesced to his wishes.  One vivid memory I have of Grandpa George was when we went to visit them in Payette. There was a radio on the refrigerator, not a real tall one, and in the evenings Grandpa would lay his head on his arms on the top of the refrigerator with his head up next to the radio and listen to ball games. He never sat down to listen.  (She wondered now if it wasn't because they had made so much noise he couldn't hear if he didn't.)  
            "The other memory I have of Grandpa George was when we rode with him - he loved his big fancy red Oldsmobile - 'Grandpa what is that beeping noise?' He liked to drive fast and would set something at a certain speed and when he reached or exceeded that speed, a beeper would go off. When the beeper beeped, Grandpa would boost it higher rather than slow down. After he died my brother Larry discovered that his speed beeper was set at 80 mph."
            My memories of Grandpa George are non-existent, so it was comforting to hear something personal about him from someone who remembers him and to see all of those mission pictures from New Zealand.  Arnold and Arlene surmise that he must have been the mission photographer as there were so many pictures of so many big events and people and Grandpa George wouldn't have had funds for the type of camera used.  (Grandpa not having enough money to even buy a stamp is one story I do remember.  I'll share it some other time.)

Cousin Four experience:  A friend and I were talking about books we'd been reading and I told her of A Lion and a Lamb.  When she heard the name Bean she said, "There used to be a very wealthy man that lived in Seattle by the name of Bean."  I asked, "Monte L. Bean?"  She said, "Yes."  I told her that he was a cousin too, and then related my memories of Grandma's description of his house.  Of all she told me after her visit to see him, somehow his bathroom faucets were what I retained best.  Imagine that.  I don't remember the rhino head mounts, the stuffed buffalo, or the hippo, but I do remember he had gold faucets.

Funny how all of these cousins collided this week.  I'm grateful for extended family.  It made my week even better. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Life in My World – Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Joe and Ande’s wedding has moved out of the planning stage and into the help!-it’s-almost-upon-us stage.  Ande and Cali came home on Tuesday so we could get things done.

Something Old

The car.  Abba.

We drove to Tri-Cities on Wednesday to go wedding shopping.  On the drive to and from we visited about books and bookclubs (Ande is getting ready to start a bookclub where she lives).  We listened to Abba in between.  

Something New

Cali, Ande, Grace

Ande found a dress she really liked on-line.  It was so pretty and she hoped and hoped it would fit her as well as it did the model.  She also hoped it would match her personality.  A boutique near here said they would order it for her, but that once she ordered it, it was hers – no returns.  Temporary fear.  It did indeed fit both her body and personality.  Not just a little bit either.  It fit like a cliché; IT FIT LIKE A GLOVE.  Truly.  She looks beautiful in it.  Even more importantly, she feels beautiful in it.  Having done this three times now I have found it is a relief once the wedding dress is found.  A big relief.  For though “The finest clothing made is a person’s skin . . . society (of course) demands something more than this.”  (Mark Twain)

Something Borrowed

Sustenance.  Borrowed sustenance.  Sweet sustenance.  

Ande and Grace
Cali and Ande with Nothing but Noodles lobster ravioli and bbq chicken salad.   Grace and I were on the other side of the booth eating steak kabobs and noodles and vegetables side-stroking in butter.  

I like the food part of shopping.  

Something Blue

Paper.  Piles and piles of blue paper and photographs.

ordering invitation photos (their pictures are great)
Ande feeling a wee bit overwhelmed
Ande and Cali cutting and measuring at "two spots past the seven"

We also made invitations this week.  (Uga, uga.  I think each invitation is handled thirteen times before it’s finished.) The girls kept teasing me that I was not much invitation-help, but do you see that pile of ribbon?  I cut all 420 strips, and creased and folded almost that entire stack of blue cardstock too.  And, I reminded them again and again that someone kept the food coming so that they had the strength to carry on.  Some day.  Some day.  That’s what I kept telling myself.  “Some day they’re going to have to help their daughters make hundreds of invitations and I can’t wait to see it.”  (Oh no.  As I type this it has just occurred to me they may get a daughter like me who would rather order invitations from Costco.  Oh.  I mustn’t think of that.  That is too discouraging.  They really need a daughter who makes her own invitations.)  Albeit I was clearly under-appreciated, it was fun and therapeutic to sit at the table and visit while cutting and gluing and folding.  Even Calvin joined us sometimes.  He'd hear us laugh and pull up a chair, but passed every single time we offered him a position in the assembly line.  He said he was too busy making jalapeño/cheese bread.  Which, by the way, is superb.

“Mawwage.  Mawwage is what (bwought) us together . . .” this week.  And what a fun week it was, too. 


Sunday, January 16, 2011

52 Blessings -- Internet

Our Internet has been down several days and will be for several more -- something to do with the weather and signals and haystacks and trees and interference.  Nothing like not having to make me grateful.  I knew I enjoyed Internet access, but what I didn't realize is how dependent I have become on it for the little things like definitions, stories, recipes, ideas, talk material, biographies, pictures . . . everything. 

I'm grateful for the blessing of the borrowed Internet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Life in My World – Food and Friends

Laurel, Sheila, Grace, me, Julie

1.  Steve and Julie Phipps were Ty’s first host parents when he went to the Air Force Academy.  When they went to Norway on assignment they asked the Greens to take care of him.  Julie reminds me of a Swiss pocket knife – she can do anything.  She’s fearless and talented.  And, to say she loves Polish pottery does not give you an accurate picture.  To say she drove to Poland and picked up 36 boxes of it does.  Julie and her friend, Laurel, flew to Seattle to pick up the Phipps’ car and came through on their way back home to Colorado Springs.  We met at the Bistro for lunch. 


2.  The new recipe Grace and I tried this week was Guy’s pretzels from The Food Network Magazine.  I’ve made worse pretzels.  These were not stellar; albeit they were fun to make.  Trevor said his tasted good so we’ll have to call him and find out what the difference is.


Chelsea, Laska, Jamie, Daisy

3. We invited friends over to make cards. Grace organized it and had everyone bring an idea and supplies to make a card. We spent the afternoon making hello, thinking of you, valentine, birthday, and thank you cards. They’re cute. Really cute, and it was fun spending time together.

4. A good, albeit temporarily camera-shy friend, stopped by to visit and for lunch on Friday. I made a chicken taco soup in the crockpot before I left for work and when we both got here it was warm and ready. I like crockpots. I like taco soup. I especially like it with a friend.

5.   A group of our scrapbooking friends met to scrapbook for the day today.  Though the idea of scrapbooking with these friends was very tempting, it was more alluring not to have to pack up shop and just keep scrapbooking here at home.  (Grace and I moved our scrapbooking projects out into the family room a few weeks ago.)  I stopped by to tell everyone hello and drop off these little bags of Scrapper Jacks.  Every retreat we give caramel popcorn with a doo-dad as a prize down in the bottom; it only seemed right they have some for today.     

Shelly, Dan, Carol, Marlo
 6.  With plenty of taco soup leftover from Friday's lunch and a fresh pot of clam chowder, we invited friends over for a soup, salad, and sundae supper.  We like soup.  We especially like it with friends.  We had a great time and even got Ken to play a homemade version of “What’s Yours Like?” (All but one person in the group is shown a word – like showerhead, or ego, or favorite magazine.  The person who did not see the word asks each member of the group, “What is yours like?”  And everyone gives a one word adjective describing what their showerhead, or ego, or favorite magazine is like.  The person who was not shown the word has to guess from the clues what it is.  The object is to guess the word in as few clues as possible.)  Dan won.  Hands down.  Elliott's ego gave it away. 

Tom and Gail, "Yours is like WHAT?!"

Calvin added dried cranberries and sunflower seeds to the bread

7.  Calvin made a loaf of bread for a friend who wanted some.  Calvin's made a lot of things to give friends through the years:  an African wambat bag, possibles bags, scrimshawed powder horns, hand-crafted knives, bows, and guns, but never something so domestic as a loaf of bread. 

Truly this was a great week of food and friends . . . and food friends:

“There are three types of friends:  those like food, without which you can’t live; those like medicine, which are occasionally good for you; and those like an illness, which are never good for you.”

And that is life in our world this week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Thinking - To Be or Not to Be Content

Whenever I get ready to write a post for Thursday Thinking I hear Gaston and LeFou of Beauty and the Beast singing:

Gaston:  “LeFou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking . . .”
LeFou:  “A dangerous pastime . . .”
Gaston:  “I know.”
 I feel the mockery, but dangerous or not . . . here goes:


            Lately, I’ve been thinking about this quote by Neal A. Maxwell:  “It is left to each of us to balance contentment regarding what God has allotted to us in life with some divine discontent resulting from what we are in comparison to what we have the power to become.”
            Last year about this time I felt guilty that I had so many opportunities with so little responsibilities.  I had fewer worries with more time for personal interests and projects like I hadn’t had in years.  Maybe never.  I wondered, and asked, and felt impressed to “enjoy this season . . . simply enjoy it.”  And so I did.  I settled into the chair of content, and am very glad for the reserves built during that time were so helpful later in the year. 
            And yet at other times I regret not having a bigger perspective – for allowing myself to settle and be content when I should expect, give, and do more.
            That’s what I’ve been thinking about.  Where to be content and where not to be content, where should I rest and where should I run.  It’s a quandary.  “I have found that the Lord gives more instructions than explanations” (Neal A. Maxwell) and so it takes pretty careful listening . . . and thinking . . . to get those instructions right.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Homemaking Tip – New

my nephew, Justin, and Rachel

I love the way my sister Rachel set goals for character development this year and thought it was a good tip to share.  She wrote:

“Did I tell you how I'm doing my goals this year?  A jar of 20 ideas.  I pull one out each day and only work on that particular thing.  Less overwhelming and easier than trying to improve in every area I wanted to all at once.  Today I get to “smile” more.  That's it.  That's what I'm focused on to help build my character.

Cali wrote Rachel back and asked for ideas.

Rachel replied, “Here are some of the things in my jar.  It's growing. (Mostly by other people slipping in suggestions.  It was not meant to be a suggestion box.)  
  • Smile
  • Act of kindness towards fellowmen
  • Act of kindness towards nature
  • Act of kindness towards pets/animals
  • Extra prayers throughout day as thoughts pop into my head for people in our ward
  • List the positive things I've done for the day
  • No sarcasm
  • Write a letter (besides to Jane or Justin)
  • Visit with a stranger (I'm actually looking forward to this one because I already have it planned out.  I get to go buy a candy bar from the gas station...)
  • Give compliments
  • Give more physical touch
  • Take more individual time with family member/s
  • Phone call (And Bert said this one COULD be to Jane or Cali... it could even be him if it got me to talk on the phone better)
  • An extra job I've procrastinated
  • Read more books to Hy
  • Take a walk
  • Lent (give up things that aren't good to eat on this day)
  • Don't procrastinate
  • FREE DAY (I might stick a couple of these in there, and crumble the edge...)
  • Donate (Just a word to live by for the day)

 I like Rachel’s idea and plan to incorporate it down the road.

One mini-goal I set for myself this year was to try one new recipe a week.  What with so many good cooks posting recipes on their blogs, and Trevor and Michelle giving me the Food Network Magazine there is no excuse for me not to improve.  I am pleasantly surprised at the Food Network Magazine.  Do you watch the Food Network?  Have you ever seen a copy of the magazine?  I don’t watch the Food Network so I didn’t know what I was missing.  From the recipes printed in the magazine, evidently I have been missing a lot. (I love that Paula Deen has unabashedly reintroduced cream and butter into cooking.  That woman knows her fats.)  

Here’s the recipe I tried last week from Your Homebased Mom  We really, really liked this cookie.  It was a refreshing change.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

1 C  butter, softened
2/3  C light brown sugar
1/2  C  sugar
1  large egg
1  Tbsp  grated orange rind
2  tsp  orange extract
2 1/4 C flour
3/4  tsp  baking soda
1/2  tsp  salt
2  C  white chocolate chips

Mix together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg, orange rind, and extract, mix well.
Add together the flour, baking soda, and salt; slowly add to sugar mixture, mix just until blended. Stir in white chocolate chips.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment covered sheet
Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheet and then move to a cooling rack.

(I one-and-a-halfed the recipe without increasing the chips, used butter flavor Crisco, and baked them for 8 minutes at 375° instead.  I did this not because I thought I could improve the recipe but because I needed 48 cookies instead of 36 and didn't have any more chips, feel safe using butter flavor Crisco because my cookies are always more uniform with it, and 8 minutes because that is how I bake all of our cookies and so habit took over.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11 on 11 of 1-11

Oh, this 11-11 project is going to be great fun.  The pictures started rolling in around 7:00 a.m.    

I couldn't get the collage to download correctly which means there was nothing to upload, which means you get the motherload.

It was Dallin's birthday today.  Imagine that, on 1-11-11.
Michelle and Ty

Another day in Iraq.

I was driving to the airport this morning and the odometer rolled 111.1. On the plane before we took off, they announced that it was minus 11 degrees in Salt Lake. The Lord loves Ray.

Oh boy.  Old fashioned hotdogs and sauerkraut for supper.

Basketball.  Tonight Dallin had a basketball game.  This is actually a typical place for you to see us lately.
Ty and Michelle

It’s final.  We have a house waiting for us in Colorado Springs.  Our first home.

sourdough start 1, 2, and 3

My day. Ande's car was dead. She got two tickets from a parking enforcement officer. It got towed, but gratefully not impounded!

Joe and I went to see Picasso and bought season tickets to the museum. Here is my finger pointing at Picasso’s signature on one of his paintings. It was really fun to go and feel like I was in Europe at a museum for a bit.

Ray just home from Utah and me just waking-up from sleeping on the couch while waiting for him to get home.  Both of us worn out from a LOOOOONG day of work.  Ray's plane had to circle above Seattle for an hour while they snow-plowed the runway.  He made it home just in time to toast to 1-11-11 at 11:11.  Orange juice in Sake cups.

Visiting teaching with my friend Barbra.  I love Barbra, Barbra loves me, and we are happy visiting teach-ees.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Memories – "don't rely on your memory . . . it's a net full of holes, many prizes slip through it"

One of my jobs in our family is record keeper.  I ran uncontested.  Record keeping is an intimidating job.  Daunting really.  (But then, so is raising a child.  Record keeping is also like cleaning the bathrooms, but just because no one wants to do it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be done.)    

I know keeping family records are important.  I know it.  Through the ages written histories seem to be the difference between thriving societies and struggling ones.  A written record keeps important values and experiences in front of the people which impact their outcomes.  So, if record keeping can define a civilization then it stands to reason it can have a powerful influence on all levels of society where it is practiced—including the basic unit . . . my family.  But, just because I know it is important doesn’t mean it hasn’t been overwhelming.  One day I read, “You only have to preserve the memories you want to keep.”  And then I got it.  It doesn't have to be overwhelming.  But, 

1.  if I want our family to remember something, I’m going to have to find a way to preserve that memory so that they can remember it


2.  not every thing is worth recording

Ever since I read that phrase, record keeping has been much less overwhelming to me.  Yea, even enjoyable.  All those year-after-year-replica pictures taken of birthdays, dance poses, holidays, sports line-ups, etc. don’t have to find a space unless they’re memories we want to remember.  No sir.  Not every picture needs a page, or even needs to be developed. 

But for those memories we do want to keep, I took an idea from Stacy Julian and adapted it for our family.  We have four family albums and each album has a theme:

  1. Traditions
  2. Triumphs, challenges, and mistakes
  3. Blessings
  4. (still working on this book’s theme.  Right now it’s miscellaneous, but a title will come . . . I assure you, a title will come)
 Whenever we make a memory that’s important to remember, or someone says “Remember when . . .,” or there’s a great picture that catches who we are, it’s easy to make a page and put it in one of the books.  (I chose to go with three-ring albums so adding is easy.)  There’s no need to put the pages in the albums sequentially, alphabetically, or even by family member, because it’s a family memory we’re trying to preserve and it goes in a family book of memories.  Another great thing about this record keeping system is the kids are writing a lot of the memories.  I ask them questions, they send responses, and I put them in the book.  And that makes me the record keeper.    

To give you an idea of what some of our topics are, here are a few of the page titles:

Why I Hate Kool-Aid
Pogs and Principles
Cow Tails
Family Night
Clay Pigeons
If Only We Had the Same Brain
Grandpa Payne
I Just Need to Cry

I’m really sold on this record keeping system for our family.  All you have to do is think of what type of memories you want to keep, get a book, and save the memories.  You move forward from today.  You don't worry about all the years you didn't keep a record, you just start with today and add memories as you think of them or make them.

One other record keeping project I’m doing this year is a spin off the Twelve for Twelve.  Because this is 2011, on the 11th of each month we’ll take 11 pictures.  I’ll ask everyone in the family to take a picture or two and e-mail them to me along with a caption of what they are doing.  I’ll organize the photos into a collage (of course!  I’m still on the collage kick) and by the end of the year we’ll have an overview of what a regular day in our regular lives looks like on a regular basis.  That’s it.  Oh, I might add a doo-dad or two, but it will be one fun, simple documentation.  (And if it’s not as grand as I envision, well . . . we won’t do a 12 for 12 in 2012.  But for now Eleven for Eleven it is.)

Record keeping . . . 

If you would not be forgotten,
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
Or do things worth the writing.
                                                                                                 – Ben Franklin

I want to make sure my family remembers the important things in life . . . like each other and what we believe in . . . therefore I keep the record.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

52 Blessings – Building Projects

Cali wrote a post about the different projects she’s been doing lately.  I can’t wait for her to finish one of her projects.  It will be a great blessing.  In her words . . .

Ray and Cali

“Most importantly of all . . . I've been growing a baby.* I’ve been doing this for 4 months and although he's only the size of an avocado, he's proving to be a powerfully needy being.  Well, either that or my body's trying to reject him.  I'm afraid I can't really prove it with a profile picture . . . isn't much to see.  However, ‘brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.’**”

We can’t wait.  Clara needs a cousin.  The baby is due on Ty’s birthday and he’s certain Tygress would make a lovely girls name.

*Actually I should say we've been growing a baby.  Ray claims half ownership.
**Emperor Hadrian of Rome

Friday, January 7, 2011

Life in My World –Cue Ball

We had a pool table, complete with an over head hanging light, growing up.  I never got any good at shooting pool, but that table made for one nice sturdy place on which to wrap Christmas presents.  I have vivid memories of that pool table – like how cold my feet got standing on the cement floor and what it felt like to explode the rack of balls. 

Today I felt like the cue ball that got to break open the rack of pool balls.  I didn’t have school and the opportunities were endless.  At first it was a normal morning – I woke up and prepared my lesson, showered and dressed, started breakfast, had prayers with everybody, and went outside to get in the car while Calvin finished cooking his breakfast.  And then, crack, the car was covered in a sheet of ice.  This was the one morning I hadn’t called the school with a remote hope of cancellation, everything had looked fine.  After slipping and sliding my way to the car I thought, “Sub-zero temps are no enemy to the school district, six inches of new snow are no enemy to the school district, but freezing rain?  Enemy.”  I called with a hope and heard the school’s recording: “The school district is closed today.” 

Enter the cue ball.  Suddenly a whole bunch of possibilities broke wide open for the day.

I started by writing a long e-mail to family and then made breakfast-in-bed of French toast and hot chocolate for Grace and Ande.  

the hot chocolate was rich . . . too rich . . . but nothing a heavy dose of real whipping cream couldn’t fix

Then . . . we talked wedding plans, scrapbooked, and watched TV (The Walton’s if you’re interested.  Grandpa had a heart attack.)  After a few hours of that, it was time to eat again.  We ate pigs-in-a-blanket.  Our good friend Brenda came by with a load of magazines.  She has shared her magazines with us for years (and she takes good ones like Real Simple).  We visited and visited and visited.  It was such an enjoyable afternoon.  After she left it was time to eat again, imagine that, and Grace made a pot of tortellini soup.  (I do love the concept of eating three different meals a day, don't you?)

And now . . . here it is evening and I had a wonderful play day.  Couldn’t have asked for a better.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday – Crust and Crumbs

I’ve been dethroned and couldn’t be gladder.   Calvin has learned to make bread.  Incredible, no-knead, Dutch oven, artisan bread that is chewy, soft, has a firm crust and makes the best toast.

Calvin’s Bread

½ tsp active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
corneal for dusting

            In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add the flour and salt until well blended.  The dough will be sticky.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rest several hours (8 or more).
            Lightly flour the cupboard and place the dough on it.  Sprinkle it was a little more flour and fold it over once or twice.  Cover with dishtowel and let rest 15 minutes.
            Using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and cupboard, shape the dough into a ball.  Generously coat a clean dishtowel with cornmeal.  Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with cornmeal on top.  Cover with another towel and let rise 1 to 2 hours.  Dough is ready when it will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
            At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees.  Line your 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (Dutch oven, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) with parchment paper, and put the pot in the oven as it heats.  When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid.  Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up.  The dough will lose its shape in the process, but that’s okay.
            Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack.

I’m lucky Calvin is such a great cook and we both love it when he does . . . as long as I’m in the kitchen with him doing damage control.  My role of chief bottle washer is forever safe.