Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Curly's Bees

A couple of weeks ago when Ande was here we made lip balm from a pinterest recipe.  Ande changed the recipe just a bit (we didn't add honey because it makes the balm separate), but for the most part we followed the instructions as given.  Here is Ande with our finished product: 

I can't remember how many times we doubled the recipe.  I think we 15 x'd it in the end.

We had four or five different flavors.

After we poured them in the containers Ande wrapped them in washi tape.

The thing that made this project especially sweet was that Calvin still had some wax from his dad's bees out in the shop.  (Grandpa Payne died five years ago.) We used that beeswax to make the lip balm.  Ande wrote up a little card explaining:

Grandpa Payne – who was called Curly because of his bald head – kept honey bees for 30 years.  He hummed while he tended his bees and while he ate his toast with honey almost every morning.  He kept the wax for the next year’s frames for the bees to build their honeycomb . . . and because he never wasted anything.  We’ve put the wax to yet another use in making this lip balm just for you.

We added a picture of Grandpa Payne to the front and then Ande sent a little package to family members.  It was a satisfying project, especially because this is Grandpa Payne's birthday month.  

Monday Memories - Supper Sleuths

Calvin and I belong to an empty-nester's family home evening group; that means one Monday evening a month we get together and visit, learn/do something, and eat.  I've always thought a murder-mystery-dinner sounded like fun.  Last night when it was our turn to host, Calvin and I figured this was a good group to do it with.

Oh man.  It was great.  It was fun.  It was funny.

The setting of the mystery was the Hickleberry County Fair.

The head auctioneer was shot in the outhouse during the fireworks finale.  Here are the suspects to the murder:

Cali brought Levin to stay with us this week while she goes on a business trip with Ray, and they got here
just in time to be a part of the party.  Levin was the official greeter; he was not a suspect.

Cali was J.L Macabee, the son of a carnie, and a truckdriver just passing through Hickleberry.  Some say he used to be in jail.

(thanks for the picture Maxine)

Calvin was Ida Witherspoon, notorious town gossip and reigning berry pie champ.  She was fairly harmless (but scared the lights out of Levin).

(thanks for the picture Maxine)

Garf was Chester Finkowski, an Elvis impersonator.  (See that bag?  He even brought Elvis dvd's to sell.)  He would not let Elvis die and used his microphone all night long.  Chester may have lost touch with reality, but he never quit loving the dead auctioneer's wife.

Maxine was Madam Mono Soothini, a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.  You can't see the rhinestones she had on her face, nor can you hear her muttering fortunes (I wish you could), she mumbled them all night long.

(thanks for the picture Maxine)

Jeanne was Cindy Sue Sweetly, last year's "Berry-Beauty" queen who lost her tiara to the auctioneer's daughter this year.  She looks sweet, but she's manipulative and conniving and miffed (think Tonya Harding).

Doyle was William B. Lackhart, the mayor.  All he wanted was votes.  The auctioneer was competition.  He also lacks-heart.

(thanks for the picture Maxine)

Carol was Tiffany Ann Canterway, a snobish horsewoman and owner of the town stables.  She was in financial trouble and it was rumored the auctioneer had taken over her business and planned to build a car lot on the property.

Marlo was Travis Buckland, a good ol' boy looking for thrills.  Murder would qualify.  He was not to be trusted.

Brent (not shown) was Gus Lavoni, the janitor.  And he was a funny one.  I would imagine this kind of party was out of Brent's comfort zone, but his comments and the way he played his character were perfect . . . and funny.

Nesha (not shown) played Pat Barnheart, the stable hand to Tiffany Ann.  Her character's job was to keep people laughing.  She played it well.  Nesha is naturally witty, but she brought horse joke after horse joke to tell and the cornier they were the more we laughed.

(thanks for the picture Maxine)
Starting at the left of the table:  Brent, Jeanne, Nesha, Calvin, Garf, Doyle, Cali, Marlo, Carol, and Maxine

To play out all the parts we needed a four course meal so we had mini-corndogs, tater tots, and mozzarella cheese stick kabobs for appetizers, a green salad for the soup/salad course, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw and chips for the main course, and Ida's berry pie a la mode for dessert.   We also danced the hokey pokey and the patty cake polka.

What a great time we had.  I'm game for another one.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

52 Blessings - Popcorn

I popped popcorn tonight like I do most Sunday nights and then Calvin and I sat down to watch an episode of Andy Griffith.  After such big noon meals on Sunday, supper is often popcorn.  But it is more than supper, it's . . . . well . . .let me describe it:

Every town seems to have its own lost gold mine story.  It's like the village security blanket; it seems to bring confidence to know that there is gold somewhere in them thar hills. Where I was born, Squaw Joe and Indian Sarah’s story is still told. The tale has many versions, but here is how it was told to me by my old-timer friends:

Indian Sarah was a good woman who married bad. She was a talented marksman. She hunted deer, then tanned and cured the hides to make beautiful handcrafted leather gloves. These she sold to the local merchants to provide for herself and husband, Joe.

Squaw Joe was a squanderer. He was lazy, slovenly and abusive to Sarah.

When times were tough, Indian Sarah would disappear for a few days. She’d return with a little bag of gold flakes and rocks with golden streaks. Though Joe didn’t work and lived off Sarah’s labors, he constantly wanted more. He also demanded that Sarah show him where she was getting the gold. She refused; even when he became angry, she held her ground. Joe attempted to follow her on the mining journeys, but she seemed to vanish and he could not follow her tracks.

One day, Indian Sarah was found dead from a gunshot wound. Squaw Joe says she was cleaning her gun when it accidentally fired.  But nobody believed him.  Everyone said Squaw Joe shot her in a fit of rage.

She never told anyone the whereabouts of her mine and it’s still out there.  All that gold, buried somewhere in southern Idaho.  People are still looking for it.

I admit there have been times when I have searched high and low for my own gold mine. I looked at our checkbook balance hoping I had miscalculated. I pulled out couch cushions looking for change. I considered selling everything but the kids. But, no gold mine. At least I didn’t think so, until one night many years ago when I was popping popcorn.

Cali walked into the kitchen, saw the popcorn and said, “I don’t like popcorn.”

At first I wondered how she could not like popcorn since she'd been eating it since she was a baby, and besides, what is there not to like about popcorn.

But my answered surprised me.  I said, “You know, I don’t think I really like it either, but when popcorn is popping it means everything is okay, so that’s why I pop it.  Popcorn means it's Sunday night and we're getting ready to watch a movie or go on a drive, or it means it's Friday night and we're getting ready to go to a ballgame (we took our own).  When I'm popping popcorn it means everything is okay."

I finished buttering and salting the popcorn and we went into the living room to join the rest of the family. I sat down on the couch - that same couch where I'd searched for coins, but found only stale popcorn, puzzle pieces, and crayon bits.  Cali announced to the family, “Hey guys, did you know popcorn is mom’s security blanket?”

She was right.  I'd been sitting on my gold mine all those year.  It took some sifting for me to see that being with my family, not the absence of debt, was my gold mine, but since then I've come to realize that I have lots of gold mines:  good health, citizenship in a free country, faith in God, kind neighbors, a warm home with plenty of food - my goldmines are innumerable. It just took some thinking to see them.

When people flocked to California in the Gold Rush of '49 hoping to find their own mines, their chances of striking it rich were as good as mine are today of winning the lottery.  Tonight I'm grateful for popcorn and sitting on the couch with Calvin watching Andy Griffith.  There is gold and then there is fool's gold and popcorn helped me see the difference.    

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Life in Our World - Better Than I Expected

1.  A visit from Ande.

duck and rissoto

Calvin and Ande

The week before last Ande came to stay while Joe was away on business.  She had promised to fix Calvin duck and cooked it while she was here.  It was so very good.

I had had duck once or twice growing up (some my brothers had shot that Mom baked), but it was nothing like this.  This was delicate and tender.  The layer of fat on the top is like frosting - smooth and rich.  The risotto was also very good.  They were both so much better than I expected.

2.  A visit to Seattle.

Allison, Cali, and Courtney threw a baby shower for Ande 

Cali (5 months along) and Ande (7 1/2 months along)

Last weekend Calvin and I spent the day in Seattle so that I could go to a baby shower for Ande.  It was such a great day and it was fun to be with the girls as they interacted with their friends.  Everyone was so generous and thoughtful.  It was even better than I ever guessed it would be.

3.  A YW Activity

Friday and Saturday we had a YW activity at our YW president's home.  On Friday the girls played in their 11-man hot tub and then on Saturday we spent the day fixing a meal for and cleaning a woman's home that needed some help.  The girls worked hard and steady and were able to get their 10 hour Good Works value project completed by the end of the day.  It felt very good and beat all my expectations.

4.  A funny video. 

I have watched and re-watched this Afton is Indestructible video this week.  Her last hulk-flex is my favorite.  She's a funny and great one, but what else could I expect, she's got great and funny parents.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thirteen on the Thirteenth of February Two Thousand Thirteen

Ty and Michelle:  We introduced Afton to the Wednesday fried chicken, mashed potatoes
and gravy tradition.  (Jane speaking here.  One year I found chicken thighs and drumsticks
for 29 cents/lb.  I bought 100 + pounds and fixed it most every Wednesday night that year.
The kids loved that year.)

All Afton wanted of that supper was the blackberry smoothie.

Michelle doing clean up duty.

 Ty:  Me helping Afton walk off the fried chicken in our cool hats.
(She only needs one hand and I think she won't need any soon.)

Joe and Ande:  Sometimes when you go out to lunch (ground pork, pork skin, and peanuts.  Mmm.) . . . 

You get a flat tire . . . 

 . . . and you get a bonus snack!

Grace:  Doing laundry today and reminiscing of the beautiful days on Oahu riding around in a convertible.
(Jane speaking here.  They got home from Hawaii yesterday.)

Abe:   Finalizing moving arrangements, but remembering hiking the Kalalau Trail along the
Na Pali Coast of Kauai

Jane:  My valentines on the fridge.  The one on the right is from my nephew Hydn and the one on the left is from Ande.
(Hydn says, "Give yourself a hug from Hy."  Ande's says:
(Dear Mom and Dad,  I wanted you to know how much I love you.  I'm glad I gotcha as parents
and that you love me and hug me and kiss me.   If you visited www.loveingparents.com
they would talk about . . . guess who?!  You!  As far as heroes go, u r mine.
 I don't tell you often enough how awesome you both are.  Absolutely awesome.
You both make me smile.  Sometimes I say to myself, 'Ande, how r-u so lucky to
have such incredible parents?'  You rock my socks right off.   I hope this valentine
reminds you how much I love you.  I'm really grateful u-r mine.
Love me, your favorite youngest daughter)    

Jane:  My Valentine gift from Calvin.  He doesn't keep surprises very well, and it's really really rather sweet.
I got these the minute he got them.  He ordered my two favorite chocolates (as of this year):
the dark chocolate/salted caramel and caramel/almond/dark chocolate.  He didn't even ask that a
row of his favorites (white chocolate/coconut/toffee/cashew) be included.  What a husband.

Calvin:  Sometimes he puts up his fists and pumps them around and says "kitty-cum-butt-ay,"
kind of like a Tarzan chest-thump.  He thinks it means, "I'm tough," in Spanish,
but when our friends Daniel and Rosa heard him say it they started laughing.
He obviously doesn't say it right or use it in the right context, but it's one of his favorite sayings
so he uses it anyway.  What he's trying to tell you in this picture is that he had just played a
game of basketball in his work boots with the young men and
his team won.  Which was no small feat - most of the young men haven't played
basketball and there was a whole lot of cheating and wrestling going on.  Kitty-cum-butt-ay.

Ray, Cali, Levin:  (Jane speaking here:  Levin learned how to climb out of his
crib today, and it was no fluke.  He did it three times.
Cali secretly videoed it so that they could figure out how he was doing it.
He appears unstoppable.  It so distressed her that he no longer has a
cage that she forgot to send a picture. 

Wednesday - All In a Row

Several months ago a friend came over to borrow my fruit dryer.  I gave her tips and suggestions on how to make good fruit leather and then went to the cupboard to get her a piece to take home.  A couple of months later she wrote and said, "I don't want you to think I was snooping, but I noticed when you opened your cupboards how organized they are.  Where did you get your containers?"

The big ones came from the dollar store.  There are 25 of them holding beans, crackers, cocoa, brown sugar, powdered sugar, coconut, crackers, popcorn, old-fashioned oats, quick oats, steel cut oats, chocolate chips, white and peanut butter chips, spaghetti, macaroni, bran, cracked wheat, cornmeal, cream of wheat, granola, etc.  The little containers on the right were a bridal shower gift from my mom.  They're filled with cornstarch, almonds, pecans, craisins, barley, and pistachios.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - I was Soapin' and Cerealsly

I got both of these Valentine ideas from Pinterest.  Neither one came with cute tags so I typed the sayings into Word, highlighted the pun, printed them and cut them in a circle.  They are quick, cute, and easy.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Memories - The Banana Field

Abe and Grace have been vacationing in Hawaii.  It's been fun to get a daily-picture text from them.  

When I got this photo from them it reminded me of an experience I had 30+ years ago while I was a student at BYU-Hawaii.  My best friend Anita and I lived on the backside of Hale 6 - one of the dorms.  There were coconut trees out our window, geckos on our windows, and a field of banana trees twenty yards away.  Having grown up far from town, living among people all-day-every-day was a new and overwhelming experience.  That banana field was a very welcome solitary reprieve and I would often go there to be alone.    

One Sunday morning, feeling bewildered and overwhelmed, I took my patriarchal blessing (a personal blessing like the ones Jacob gave to his sons in Genesis) out to the field with me.  There is a sentence in my blessing that had always made me think that I would marry late in life.  However, that morning sitting under a banana tree, it was impressed upon me that the sentence could mean exactly the opposite:  I could marry very young.  

I sat there on the damp ground wondering about that new idea.  I strongly felt that I should change my schedule of upcoming classes and, instead of forging fast and furious in my major, should also include classes that would help me to be a good wife and mother.  I altered my thinking and in the next few semesters included children's literature, teaching special needs and gifted children, home nursing, child development, achieving successful marriage, and other similar classes in my schedule.

One year, to the month, after that experience, I went on my first date with Calvin.  We were married several months later; I was 19 years old and became not only a wife, but a stepmother.  Good thing I had that experience in the banana field.  I needed more than archaeology, animal science, and scuba diving for my next phase in life.

(**wait a minute.  After I posted and went to bed I realized I needed that animal science class.  That was how I met Calvin.)