Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday Thinking - Exaggerated Virtues

Boyd K. Packer said that virtues, when exaggerated, transform themselves into vices.

So true.  So true.

A couple of weeks ago when Joe and Ande were visiting, I babysat Zeph for a few hours.  I put him on the cupboard in a laundry basket while I worked in the kitchen.

I didn't need four arms, an automatic swing, or a nanny, I just made-do with a towel and laundry basket.  Because making-do, you see, is one of my virtues.  

I had just finished priding myself on how I so often make do when I looked out the living room window.

The living room window has been cracked for almost three years . . . and that blue, penguin, duct tape has been striped across it for four months. After looking out the cracked window, I looked down at the stained carpet.  

Oh gee.  Suddenly making-do wasn't so virtuous any more.  When making-do is exaggerated it swells into not-taking-care-of-business.

How about you?  What is one of your exaggerated virtues?  (Heaven knows I've got enough vices and exaggerated virtues to tend I won't be worrying about yours.)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homemaking Tip - Put a Crust on It

You are going to have to pretend with me.  You will need to pretend I can take appetizing pictures of food.  (But even if I were a good food photographer, there would still be that problem of Calvin being frustrated that the food was cold once the picture staging was finally over and the food hit the table.  [Sometimes our blessings on the food are said much too quickly just for the sake of keeping the food hot.  I tell Calvin it is sacrilegious, but he is convinced God is on his side in the matter.])

Now that we are successfully pretending these pictures make the food look appetizing, here they are:

blackberry pie a la mode

This summer I've made a lot of berry pies that look like this.  Calvin loves them and requests them often.  These are much easier to make than a 9 or 10 inch pie and they bake much faster.

The pie filling is made by mixing four cups of berries with 1 cup of sugar, a dash of salt, and 3-4 tablespoons of instant tapioca.  Pour the berry mixture into the ramekin and follow the directions for making a meat pie listed below.

They are great.

meat pie 

Sunday we had roast, potatoes, and carrots like we often do.  I put them in an aluminum dutch oven it bakes at 325 degrees for the 3.5 hours we're at church.  We come home to a hot and waiting dinner.  

There are always leftovers when we have roast, potatoes, and carrots.  Sometimes we reheat them and sometimes I put the leftovers in a stew.  Neither are our favorites.  This week I put the leftovers into the little berry pie ramekins and put a crust on them.  It was good.  Really good.  I think we'll look forward to the leftovers more than the Sunday dinner now.

Meat Pie

1.   Cut the potatoes, carrots, and roast into little cubes and place in ramekin
2.   Pour a couple tablespoons of gravy over the potatoes and roast
3.   Put a pat of butter on top of gravy, potatoes, carrots, and roast
4.   Make a pie crust

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
9-10 tablespoons ice water

Sift flour and salt together.  Cut in shortening with fork until the size of peas.  Add water.  Mix until incorporated and dough is easy to handle.  Roll out on floured board.  Yields 12 ramekin-sized single crusts

5.   Cut pie crust in circles (add vent holes)
6.   Put crust on top of meat pie
7.   Crimp edges
8.   Baste crust with egg wash (if making a berry crust, sprinkle egg wash with sugar)
9.   Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes
10. Reduce heat to 350 degrees for an additional 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Put-a-crust-on-it is going to be my future go-to solution when I don't know what to do with leftovers.

Thank you.  We can quite pretending the food in those pictures looked good and go back to reality now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

13ish Pictures for the 13th of August of 2013

Ande - Today was an "eat three pieces of cake and look at pictures
of a less stressful time on your phone so you don't lose it" kind of day.

Joe - Library
(Jane speaking here: Ben Franklin would feel good knowing that someone loves and uses
 his library idea like Joe does. I've never seen anyone fully utilize a library like Joe,
[except perhaps the homeless man in Twin Falls, Idaho that almost slept there].
Once Joe and Ande had 100 books out at a time [some were children's books]. They read them all.)

Zeph - My favorite part of the day.  I'm concentrating on splashing with my feet.

Abe - The meal Abe cooked for dinner tonight:
chicken cordon bleu, potatoes, and green beans. It was pretty darn good.

Grace - Listening in on Abe talk to a realtor and lender as we're looking into buying a house.
Fort Lewis, WA here we come- October 2013!

Peter Choong convincing Calvin of the virtue of a Kirby vacuum.
He's the 
most affable salesman we've ever met.

Jane - I had every intention of taking a picture of my fellow water zumba
friends and me doing our very best water zumba exercises.  Alas, they
weren't very flattering to any of us and there are some boundaries
you just don't cross with water friends.
Instead I bring you the towel, keys, card, and glasses.  

Afton - trying to talk to Papa on the phone

Ty - Afton is a big help

Michelle - S'mores. Michelle felt she had no reason to get out of bed
after her nap, until she remembered she bought s'mores stuff the day before.

Atlas - Not sure about those bunny ears.
Worried we are laughing at... not with.
Smiling a lot and occasionally giggling.
Cali - I spent the day amazed at what my hands can do...
I'm proud of myself for keeping two children alive. It's hard.

Levin - Nothing better than a second-hand toy with new batteries.
EXCEPT a second-hand toy with new batteries and a cup of raspberries. 

Ray - Finishing the movie they started while I was cutting their hair.
Close shave for Ray. High-n-tight for Levin.

Life in Our World - Alphabetically August

Atlas' Baby Blessing

"Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church,
who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name."

On August 4th Ray performed the ordinance of naming and blessing Atlas.  Calvin, Johnny Follett (Ray's brother), John Follett (Ray's dad), and Will (a friend of Ray's) assisted in the blessing.  And while none of us thought to get a picture of Atlas in his sweet, white, short-set nor anyone else while still in their Sunday clothes to document the sacredness of the event, it was nonetheless a sweet and sacred blessing.

Blue Grass Festival

We have free concerts in the park every summer and one reoccurring concert is the bluegrass festival.  The crowd was of the toe-tapping, knee clapping, own-a-lap-dog variety, but they let any of us come.  Calvin and I really enjoyed it this year.  I stretched out on the grass and read a book while Calvin rested in his lawn chair.

My favorite group was a family band.  Four of the kids played string instruments, the dad played the guitar and the mom was on the bass fiddle.  Two of the four kids also clogged occasionally.  I told Calvin, "Sometimes I wish we’d have pushed music more in our family.  Wouldn’t it have been fun to be a band?”

He accurately wondered who would have kept us on key.

Crab pot

clockwise from 12:00
Melanie Follett, Tracy Follett, Ray, Cali, Atlas, Levin, Calvin, Kathy Follett, John Follett, Rachel Roylance, Johnny Follett

Last weekend Ray's family came to visit (in anticipation of Atlas' blessing) and we had a crab pot: eight pounds of shrimp, five pounds of potatoes, five pounds of crab, 3 pounds of clams, and a whole bunch of corn.  

See that lump in Levin's cheek?  Johnny brought some hot, hot sausages to go in it too.  Levin wanted to eat them because he likes hot stuff and he also likes to do whatever men do and men eat hot sausages.  Levin would eat one then huff and puff and suck in air trying to put out the fire.  He even started licking Calvin’s shirt to make it quit.  It just kept burning.  Finally after he ate potatoes and milk the sting went away and he ate another one and started the process all over again. 


Remember we had internet problems for a couple of weeks?  This week Calvin dug a trench through the middle of the yard and up around the back of the garden for the wire and new connection.  

Stronger, faster, better.  

Calvin that is.


Laying eggs this time of year seems to not only be the hens' work but also their hobby.  We have a plethora of eggs.  So many so that I've made more than one angel food cake to use them up (the recipe calls for a dozen egg whites).

Follett family

John, Melanie, Tracy, Ray, Levin, Johnny

The Follett's are grand company.  They're very fun, funny, and relaxed.  Nothing riles them (unless you don't follow the domino rules and then Johnny reminds players we need to play by the same rules).  They're very supportive to each other and accepting to everyone.  They are like salve to a soul.

When they first arrived they asked what they could do.  We went to the garden and picked beans for supper and dug potatoes and onions.  

One night after supper we sat around the fire and roasted marshmallows and told stories for three hours. Funny how a three hour meeting seems looooong, but a three hour campfire goes so fast.  Calvin started the story telling off with Jim Bridger, Old Ephraim, and Lewis & Clark. Then the personal stories began. The Follett kids have some great family stories and they know how to tell them. We laughed and laughed and laughed. The sweetest story was when the four brothers shaved their heads in support of Melanie when she lost hers in chemotherapy and Tracy cross-stitched the rules that visitors should follow when they came to see Melanie (albeit it took Tracy many months and Melanie was almost better by the time she got it done, but it was her effort to SAVE MELANIE that was so touching). A couple of funny stories were when Ray and cousin Joe put the snake in Melanie’s bed, and when Ray and Johnny got unintentionally high off of paint fumes while painting their house in Alaska one winter.  Ray was worried he was permanently stupid when he went back to Harvard and couldn’t think of answers for three weeks.

I especially love hearing stories about Ray’s mother, Mary, and how she taught, disciplined, and nurtured her kids.  She was quite a woman. 


Zeph, Atlas, Levin, Cali

One of my summer goals is to be a good grandma.

It has been a wonderful summer having most of our grandchildren within three hours and I try to never take it for granted.  Due to Joe and Ray's travel schedules, Cali and Ande have been able to come over frequently the last few months -- once they even came together.  

I love observing the kids (Levin, Afton, Zeph, and Atlas) either by video or in real time.  I could sit and watch them for hours.  As a mother I was so busy caring for our children and teaching them how to do things that I didn't observe them like I can now.  It's simply fascinating to watch them discover and grow. 

Clara's birthday was last week and so for family home evening Calvin and I went to the cemetery and had a picnic and took care of her flowers.    

We've  been so glad that Afton has gotten to be close to grandparents this summer, too.  While Ty was in pilot training in Pueblo, Colorado, Michelle and Afton went to Colorado Springs.  Michelle is so good to face time us and send videos and pictures of Afton.

This is one of the funnest goals I've ever set.   


The air conditioning went out in our car this summer.  Come to think of it, maybe it went out last summer.  

On Wednesday I offered to drive a coworker to our training in a town 80 miles away.  The town is down in a canyon where it gets hot and the fruit orchards thrive.  I told Cindy, my co-worker, that our drive would be pleasant in the morning while it was still cool, but that it might get a bit warm by the time we came home.  I told her we'd get an ice cream cone and by the time we'd finished eating it we should be out of the canyon and up by the irrigated farmland where it was cooler.  By my calculations we'd get home without sweating too much.  

Cindy agreed, she's a good sport like that, and our day of training went just as planned.  Except it was much hotter than expected.  After the training, the inside of the car was 103 degrees.  I thought of all those little dogs that you read about that die in hot cars, but we were going to get ice cream and that would surely cool everything down.  Dogs don't get ice cream.    

We got our ice cream cones and started the drive through the canyon.  The car only cooled down to 101 degrees.  Our ice cream melted faster than we could lick it and the wind whipped Cindy's gray ponytail into her face and plastered mine to my head.  My dress wouldn't stay down in the wind either.  Even with all that wind whipping the temperature stayed close to 100 degrees inside.  The wind splashed a big blob of dripping ice cream onto Cindy's glasses and sprinkled vanilla blots all over her face.  She didn't even notice, I guess you don't notice little things like that when your car is 100 degrees inside.      

We laughed and talked loud over the wind and dripping cones -- all we needed was a scarf over our heads and people would have mistaken us for Thelma and Louise or Lucy and Ethel.

When we hit the irrigated fields the temperature in the car dropped down to the mid 90's and we coasted on home in comfort. 

Ice cream
Raspberry Ice Cream

I sent our little ice cream maker like this to Goodwill several years ago.  I regretted it after a few years, so when I found one at Goodwill for $6 quickly bought it.  For the last two or three summers we've used it a lot-- mostly making vanilla ice cream for summer berry pies.  Because it's so easy we churn little batches so it's always fresh.     


I've got generous friends who offer things to me before they take them to Goodwill.  Maxine is one of those friends.  She had an extra Bosch mixer and an industrial food processor that she gave me a year ago.  I found a good home for both of them.

One time she brought me a dozen new cookbooks that had never been used.  She often gives me CD's.  The other day she asked me if I'd like a juicer.

I remember Grandma Julia making carrot juice and beet juice from a juicer.  My cousin Casey and I plugged our noses to get it down.  Does anybody have any ideas for juice combinations?  I'd love some recipes that you don't have to use a nose plug to drink.

Kith and Kin

Ande, Zeph, Kelsey, Cozi

Calvin always calls her Kelsey Payne.  

Ande and Kelsey have been best friends for 15 years and spent a lot of time in each other's homes growing up.  They were both here at the same time and got together.  They curled up on the couch eating bread and jam just like old times, except they both had cooing babies on the floor and they talked about bottles instead of boys.


L-R   Tracy, Cali, Melanie

Melanie fell asleep on the blanket.  She would have looked so peaceful with her lips gently curved, hands neatly folded, and hair flowing like a halo, except she looked dead-ish.  

I looked at Tracy and whispered, "She looks like . . ." and we finished the sentence together, 

". . . the Lady of Shalott!" from Anne of Green Gables.

Tracy and Cali got down next to her and we snapped the picture before she woke up.  

Cali knows how lucky she is to have such good friends also be her sisters.  


Our microwave died several months ago.  Cali and Ande have had to warm up baby bottles the old way, in a pan on the stove, when they came to visit.  As a surprise, Follett's and Calvin installed a new one one night after I went to bed. 

What a fun surprise to wake up to.  Leftovers have never tasted so fine.


Brindy is 5'3" and Preston is 6'3"

Our neighbor Preston called and told Calvin he'd heard about his whizzbang chicken plucker and wondered if Calvin would be willing to help he and his wife Brindy butcher their 8 turkeys.  

Calvin said it would be a good service to do for family home evening, so Monday night they pulled into the yard with a pickup load of turkeys.  Preston and Brindy were very appreciative of the help and wanted to learn how to do everything.  Brindy had the worst job, too -- holding the turkey's neck on the chopping block.  

Brindy used to be my visiting teacher before we were transferred to the Spanish Branch.  I have missed her. Killing turkeys was a great time to catch up.  


Cali fixed us these cute lunches to eat after Atlas' baby blessing.

That's it.  No comment.  Just need to fill O and here's a great picture to use.


Johnny, Levin, Calvin

After church the week Atlas was blessed, we went to the boat locks for a picnic with the Folletts. The food, the company, the weather . . . it was a great day.


Cali sewed us a beautiful quilt and I've been hand-binding it.  I love hand-sewing and sat and watched the BBC Sense & Sensibility on Saturday while I stitched.  By the looks of it I have several more three hour movies in my future.  I am not complaining.  


This book has taken me half of the summer to read.  I've learned far more about world history by reading it than I have in formal education classes.  

Since only 4% of the world's population has ever known freedom, and I'm one of those few, it's a book that has humbled me and helped me learn.   


after listening to my woes, my friend Melanie sent me this

One of my on-line classes this summer is Statistics. 

When I graduated from high school we didn't have to take college math courses if our ACT scores were high enough.  But the rules changed and now they don't care how high our scores were or how long we have kept our check registers balanced, we have to take math.  

Algebra II was 35 years ago and my teacher sat in his chair and drank coffee and played old-fashioned solitaire with a deck of cards for the majority of the class period.  With that background, I seriously doubted I had enough math in me to pass Math 119.  The school counselor agreed and signed me up for Statistics instead.  

I study.  I think.  I take the pretest.  I fail the pretest.  I call the tutor.  I take and pass the real test.  Two hours later it is all fuzzy again and I can't remember any of it.  There are two tutors and I think they flip a coin to see who has to teach me.  That's okay.  Statistically speaking they will both have to help me equally.

My definition of success has changed drastically since I've become the student.    

I am finding the statistical notes in the margins of the text the best part of the course.  For example, statistically all women lie about their weight and say they weigh less than they do.  Men don't lie about their weight unless they are underweight and then they lie and say they weigh more than they do.  

Statistically more black men murder than white men, but more white men are given the death sentence than black men.

And while the statistical tidbits make the class more palatable, they don't make it any easier.


Saturday night we had a rainstorm with a little bit of lightening, thunder, and wind.  This tree managed to fall without killing one chicken or smashing one fence.  Sometimes nature is thoughtful like that.


That's it.  No comment.  Just lots of ultraviolet light the last few weeks.

Virtual bouquet

I sent a friend (who could use a bright spot in her day today) a virtual bouquet of zinnias from the garden since she lives too far away to hand-deliver them to her.   

And since the bouquet still looks as good as new, and I'm not against re-gifting, I'm sending you one, too.  I hope you're having a good day.  


Calvin was slicing onions in preparation for a scout camp-out and sliced off the tip of his thumb.  It is now a point instead of a curve.  I am his nurse.  He is not a good patient.


The sunflowers in our garden are over ten feet tall.  Their trunks/stems are six inches around.  They appear to be a cross between a redwood tree and a black-eyed Susan.   

Yakkity-yak, don't talk back

Levin is two and knows "no."  "No" can sound pretty rude, and almost always gets him in trouble, so I have been encouraging him to say "No, thank you" instead of "No."

Being polite has backfired a bit.  I'm having a hard time enforcing, "Levin, eat your beans," and "Levin, it's time to get in the tub," when he sweetly says, "No thank you, Gwamma."

Zuppa Tascana

Nesha, Rosa, me

A few friends and I went to the temple and to Olive Garden to eat afterwards.  Not a one of us ordered zuppa toscana soup.

And that's life in our world this week.  It's good to have the internet again.