Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homemaking Tip - The Point Is . . .

My professor said to write without worrying where the piece would go. Having a strong herding instinct and a tendency to moralize, it was a stretch to write without a plan. But I did it. I babbled like a brook. Unexpectedly the professor left last week and passed the grading pen to another. Professor Two graded my fluid and flooding essay. He said my sentence structure was sound, details were good, reminded me that “was” and “were” kill prose, and then implied I had no point. 

Correct, sir. You are absolutely correct. There is no point in that piece. I’ll throw in a few morals and slide a few paragraphs around and see if a point won't come up for air when I resubmit it.

In the meantime, I’ve got some prattling to do here on the blog as well. Those words I haven’t been writing for the last few weeks are all backed up.

1.  Remember that test I flunked? I passed it! I wrote the professor wondering if he didn’t think he could find another point or two from the essay portion to throw my way. He responded that not all the essays had been answered, but if they had it would be enough points to pass. Oh I answered them all right. I knew the true/false questions would eat me alive and banked on bloviating to carry me over the 60 percent line. Evidently the instructor didn’t receive all my answer sheets when they were faxed to him.  The go-between-lady quickly corrected the error and I passed.

The point of number one is that miracles, practical as well as not so practical, are alive and well. Bonus point: if you can’t discern true from false you might be able to wear them down with words.

2.  Cali, Ande, and I went with friends for a weekend of creating. We had such a good time. Cali pieced a quilt top. She sews beautifully and has great taste in fabric. Ande worked on three projects. She and Joe are making a darling A-B-C book for their children (Joe writes the words and Ande illustrates them). She is also making a fun Harry Potter quiet book for their baby, and finished a little photo album for him while we were there, too. Yes, that’s right. Joe and Ande are having a him!

Cali, me, Ande

The point of number two is to say it is worth all of the glue, glitter, fabric scraps, and construction paper kids use when they are little, because they grow up to be crafting buddies. Bonus point: I love being with our family.

3.  We had a great Thanksgiving. Besides Ray, Cali, and Levin, my niece Jesse came from BYU-Idaho and Melanie, Ray’s sister, came from Arizona, and friends from here joined us too. Jesse helped me with several projects, like drawing the tablecloth and fixing student gifts. She also made a wonderful berry pie.

thanks for the picture Maddie

Melanie made a lattice-topped cherry and a lemon meringue pie, two cheese balls, little bags of candy corn and honey roasted peanuts, a silver tray of olive penguins, and crocheted us all a dishcloth.


Every now and then you find a person who has an extraordinary amount of unordinary things happen to them. Ray is one of those people. I just learned over Thanksgiving that he has been caught in quicksand.  It gave me a panicked feeling just in the telling.

The point of number three is there is so much to learn in the world and so many good people who can teach it.  I am lucky to have both around me.  Bonus point: I love my family. Extra bonus point: a few homemaking ideas.

Slice a groove out of a long carrot then cut carrot in 1/4 inch slices.
Slice a groove out of a large olive and fill with softened cream cheese.
Make a beak for the penguin from the groove of carrot.
Put carrot sliver in the cross (at the bottom) of a small olive and assemble penguin using a toothpick.
These little penguins took Melanie time to make, but the kids loved them.

honey-roasted peanuts and candy corn = salted nut roll taste-alike
They are good.  Surprisingly good.

Thanks to Melanie and Jesse for making these tags, feel free to grab it and use it

student gifts
on the back is an appreciation for each student along with one thing that I love about them
(Twizzlers were less than 30 cents a piece after Halloween -
I grabbed a couple of boxes and was glad when the 'twizz the season' idea surfaced in pinland)

4.  Abe returns from Afghanistan soon. We’re going as a family to greet him. A few of us can’t be there because of school/work commitments, but the bulk of us will be there to salute the red, white, blue, and camouflage together.

Grace and Abe
thanks to friend Chelsea for the picture

We’re going prepared this time. Last time there were a few single soldiers who had no one to greet them, and hung around the periphery waiting until they could get a ride back to the barracks (soldiers can’t drive for 24 hours after returning). I didn’t notice them until the event center was clearing. Grace and I promised the next time we would be prepared for lone soldiers and have more to offer than a thank you and a hand-shake. We’re putting together a little bag with pop, pizza certificates, cookies, etc. I wish I could think of something else to put in the bags. Any ideas? Is there such a thing as a universal movie that everyone could like?

While we’re together the big Army-Navy football game will be televised and we’ll watch it. The last time Army won the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy was in 1996. A win would be nice. (At least in this academy game we will all be cheering for the same side.) Go Army. Beat Navy.

We’ll have our Christmas celebration while we’re together, too. Last year we started a new gift exchange tradition. Every family chooses three of their favorite things from the year and brings the other families those items. One of Cali and Ray’s gifts last year was a hummingbird feeder because their family loves to feed and watch the hummingbirds out the kitchen window. Abe and Grace gave everyone a Nalgene bottle with the note that they love to go hiking so each family was to go on a hike in the next year and use their Nalgene bottle. Ty and Michelle gave us all a funny one. (Remember they were newly married.) They gave each couple Christmas negligĂ©e, even the men, because one of their favorite things is to . . . well, wear negligee I guess. (I have a lovely Mrs. Claus robe with a white feather boa if anyone needs one.) Ande and Joe gave us a recipe journal and included two of their favorite recipes in it. This week each family is trying to finish up their three things so we can exchange. Believe it or not, this has simplified gift-giving immensely. No longer do I worry and wonder if I got the right thing, spent the right amount, or have the right taste. This way we get to include everyone by sharing what is important to us. Even Cali, who likes gifts least in our family, gets excited about this exchange.

The point of number 4 is I can’t wait for Abe to come home and our family to all be back on the same land mass. Bonus point: I love my family.

5.  The election knocked the wind out of me. It was a rough night seeing so many things that are important to me voted unimportant by others. I remember the first time I had the wind knocked out of me. I fell off the monkey bars and landed on my back. David, my neighbor friend, stood over me. I wasn’t sure if I was paralyzed or dying. He promised me neither.

The point of number five is to breathe deeper and carry on.

6.  I have rediscovered tights.

No point.  Just thought I'd share that my feet are warm again.

What point would you like to make today?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

52 Blessings - The Finer Things

1.  Several years ago I read an obituary in my hometown newspaper of a woman named Thora. While I didn’t know her, I felt like I did by the time I finished reading the tribute to her. It sounded like she loved and served her family and they loved and appreciated her in return. Why, the obituary even included Thora’s Bowknots, one of her recipes. Now that’s the way to keep a dish on living – posting it in your obituary. Pinterest be hanged.

I read Thora’s obituary back when I sent a weekly newsletter. I included her story and the recipe in one week’s mailing. Since then I have received more than a few e-mails from her grandchildren (scattered across the nation) who discover the recipe from my on-line post. It’s always fun to hear from them. One granddaughter wrote me this morning thanking me for the recipe, she had fond memories of making bowknots with her grandmother. She wrote, “They are supposed to be tied small enough so that they are the exact diameter of a glass, easy to submerge in milk. This is how Grandma Thora let us eat them when we were little.”

When I read Thora’s obituary and recipe, I saw it simply as a human interest story, but it is far more than that to her grandchildren and I’m glad I posted it for their sakes. As her granddaughter wrote, “Finding this recipe on your website might motivate me to finally make them this holiday season – see how choices impact others?”

2.  Last week Levin and Cali came to visit while Ray was traveling. Calvin was working out in the pasture and Levin was . . . wandering. For the most part he walked among the leaves and kicked them, but for a little while he sat on a pile of boards and watched Calvin work. Calvin gave him a couple of screws to hold and Levin was very careful with them. He held them tight for a little while and then put them on the board next to him. They promptly rolled off so he got down off the board, picked them up and put them on the board. When he sat next to them they rolled off again. Again and again and again the screw rolling went. Finally I took a screw and pounded the tip of it into a board and then gave Levin a little hammer to pound on it with.

After I took his picture it reminded me of this picture of Calvin. 

3.  Yesterday Calvin and I drove down to the temple. We went a little early so we could get some Thanksgiving groceries as well. Few things excite me like food prices. I may not remember your phone number, I definitely won’t remember your address without a landmark, but you can bet I’ll remember the cost per ounce of most products. I was so excited to see that not only was corn syrup and cream cheese back to last year’s prices, but Guittard chocolate chips were cheaper ($1.78 a bag), and brown and powdered sugar showed a respectable showing at $1.18 for a 2 pound bag. Let the holidays begin.
Oh, and lest I forget.  I saw something that has to do with groceries today that I have never seen before.  I saw a hen lay an egg.  Really.  Our new batch of hens are laying strong and when I went to gather eggs this morning I had to reach under the hens to pull a few out.  The old hens peck your hand when you reach in, and they definitely don't move over or get up.  But this new hen didn't know about squatter's rights and she jumped right up, and when she did the egg plopped right out the back of her.  I stood there and thought, "I'll be.  I've NEVER seen that before and I'll probably NEVER see it again."
I just thought you'd want to know.
And one more thing about eggs.  We've got so many extras right now I have to keep finding new friends to give them to.  (They're not quite as bad as zucchini, but they're pushing it.)   I took them to church and asked a family there if they needed eggs.  The boy (he's Hispanic) saw them and jumped up and down and said, "Yes!  Mexican eggs.  I've always wanted Mexican eggs."  I looked at the mom quizzically and she said, "They always ask me to buy brown eggs at the store, but they're too expensive."  I laughed and asked the boy, "What kind are these?" and pulled out a blue egg.  He's still thinking on it.  We invited them to Thanksgiving Dinner, I'll see if he has an answer by then.

While bowknots, hammers, and groceries are not diamonds, red carpets, or white truffles . . . they are a few of the things that make life so fine for me and I'm grateful for them.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

12 - 12 - 11 - Give or Take a Few Days

Abe - Eating dinner with some of our AUP counterparts.  The guy I mentor is on the right.
He was just released from the hospital yesterday after being shot in a fight with the Taliban.

Grace - Heater broke last night and woke up this morning to 59 degrees!

Afton - Can you spot the baby? (Ty and Michelle help a couple out by babysitting once a week for them. The couple came home from vacation to FLEAS. While Michelle babysat, Ty went to help the couple. Guess who got fleas a few days later? Ty called in despair saying, "THIRTY loads of laundry. We'll never get through it all. It will take us forever to get everything washed."

Michelle - flea bites (more than yesterday)

Ty - Ready for round two on the flea extermination.

Afton participated in a research study at UMD

Ande - visiting family in the Carolinas

Joe - sushi with family

Calvin - building a manger for the calves.
(I find his get-up funny . . .
knee-pads, apron, headlamp)

 They finally ate out of it.

Levin - Cali and Levin are here visiting and I took him on a walk in the wagon.
He liked looking down into the ditches and saying, "Ooooohhhhhhhhhh."   

Cali - We skyped Abe tonight and Levin tried to feed him m&m's