Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Homemaking - Information Sheet

This has nothing to do with the post, but a couple weeks ago Grace and I made
candy-corn colored gumball jars to decorate our kitchen windowsills.
They only cost us $1 and they're downright cheery.

It seems we're often asked to fill out "Information Sheets." Several months ago I was given the one below.  The questions were quick-to-answer and fun to think about.  

Whether you use these questions for a journal entry of your own or for supper table conversations, they help a family connect. And that's what homemaking is really all about, making a place where family connects.

1.     What’s your dream job?
D-d-d-d-definitely being a homemaker. It has a steep learning curve and requires a little bit of everything – finance, culinary arts, organization skills, carpentry, family and marriage counseling, janitorial, healthcare, and veterinary science. It truly is a dream job. Be warned, the monetary pay is terrible, but the satisfaction is high.

2. What's the most exciting or memorable thing you did in the past year?
Had four grandchildren. At each child’s birth I went and stayed in the homes for at least a week to help the new parents launch their new little human. It’s pretty memorable work.

3. What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
Forgiveness. Mind you, forgiveness most benefits the forgiver, but there is no denying that the look of relief that spreads across the forgiven’s face after a terrible malfeasance attests that forgiveness is a sweet, and most welcome gift.

4. What's your favorite fast food joint?

Artic Circle because they have fry sauce and 50 cent ice cream cones.

5. If you were a dessert, what would you be?
Berry Pie. I’m not showy. A crust is a crust. But when you open me up, you’ll find there issubstance and a certain vibrancy. But perhaps most importantly, like pie, I’m best when I’m on a team. Pie without ice cream? The ice cream gives the pie depth, and thus it is with me.

6. If you could live anywhere you wished for a summer where would it be? What would you do?
I would really enjoy living on a university campus for a summer, taking classes, attending lectures, occasionally teaching, and eating in a cafeteria. If I could go to the BYU-Jerusalem campus that would be a bonus.

7. If you could have any art object in the world to display in your room solely for your own enjoyment, what would it be and why?
It would be a bronze sculpture, but of whom or what historical event I’m not sure.

8. Who would you most like to have lunch with? Where would you go? What would you eat?
My husband, Calvin, in a talkative mood. I would go to Texas Roadhouse and have the 6 oz sirloin special. Eating in public isn’t my favorite event, so I would choose someone and some place comfortable.

9. What talent would you most like to have and why?
For my own enjoyment, play the fiddle. For the enjoyment of others, a voice in the female range. It is quite distressing to sing in a tenor/bass range (slightly off key) in a Relief Society room of sopranos and altos.

10. What are two of your very favorite films?
Sound of Music. Much as I like many others, I always come back to Maria sewing dresses out of curtains so that children can play and the dance scene with Curt and then the Captain.

The BBC Pride & Prejudice.

(I didn’t realize I was a romantic.)

11. What are the last two CDs you purchased or received?
The Piano Guys. I love the cello, piano combination. 

At our last family reunion everyone submitted their favorite song of the year. We guessed each song’s contributor and everyone received a cd. Listening to that makes me happy. Each song reminds me of a person that I love.

12. What are the last two things you read just for fun?
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Whistling Season by Ivan Doing

13. If you were a Disney cartoon character, who would you be and why?
Pluto. He’s not cross like Donald Duck, he’s not mean like Pete, and he’s not an idiot like Goofy.

14. If you could choose your own death, how would you die?
Translated or in my sleep. In short, painlessly.

15. What’s your most irrational fear? What are its origins?
That my children will not like each other. My childhood.

16. What’s your best celebrity sighting?
I would have to recognize and know celebrities to sight them. Often people will mention a singer, sportsman, or actor’s name and I have no clue who they’re talking about.

17. What’s one of your pet peeves?

When I fall into victim-hood.

18. If your life were being made into a movie, what would the title be and which actor would play you?
A Life Just Like Yours. Sandra Bullock.

19. Note which of the following you would want to have with you if you were stranded on a tropical island. (Assume that you have the scriptures & necessary equipment with you already).
Animal: Our cur, Dan. He would let us know when the rescuers came.
Person: My husband, Calvin. He’s resourceful and would keep us alive.
Item of your choice: Fire or chapstick

20.  What question would you add to this survey? What would your answer be?

Q: "If you had the choice of speaking every thought that ever crossed your mind or never speaking another word, which would you choose?"

A: Painful as it would be, I’d have to choose mute. My thoughts need edited too much to go live.

I'd love to read any of your answers to the questions in the comment section . . . 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Memories - Junk Drawers

Calvin cleaned out the top drawer of his dresser today.  Trevor, who is 38 years old, responded to the news first, “Nooooooooo!  He should have waited for me to be there.”  Varied but similar responses trickled in from the rest of the kids.  Trent texted, “I can just imagine the treasures.”  Abe wondered how much money he found and Cali asked how many Reese’s Easter Eggs from 2010 were in it.

Ever since the kids were little, they have loved pawing through Calvin’s junk drawer.  His collection of bullets, old keys, record books, bow ties, coins, felt tip markers of various colors, sizes, and mark-ability, toothpicks, mints, receipts, garden seeds, drill bits, screwdrivers, knives, crumbs, and old candy are considered valuable.   But when Trevor saw a picture of the clean drawer he said, “Well it doesn’t look like it’d be fun to go through now . . . just like an empty treasure box.”

Junk drawers are funny things.  They’re one thing to a kid and another thing to an adult.  I’ve got one in the kitchen and I’m a wee bit embarrassed when someone stops by and I need to get something out of it in front of them.  I act as if no one else has ever seen or owned one.  Yet where would I be without my junk drawer?  Trying to fix a vacuum without a screwdriver, that’s where. The items in a junk drawer are in and of themselves unembarrassing and essential to the smooth-running of our household; but the combination makes me self-conscious, therefore I hide it.
Another funny thing we humans hide is our weight, as if no one else in the world owns any mass. How long has it been since you were honest when someone asked you how much you weigh?   I don’t think I have been since second grade when all our vitals were charted on the back wall in the classroom.  When I excitedly told a classmate my number was one of the highest, she told me I wasn’t supposed to be proud of it.        
Creams, potions, surgeries, clothing—they’re all designed to veil our age as if the years we’ve lived are something to be ashamed of.  Why aren’t we as a people proud of our wrinkles?  Winkles should mean we’ve stayed in the game a long time and should be happy to still be playing.   
I don’t know why we hide junk drawers, weight, and age.  It seems silly that intelligent beings that can figure complex math, read a written language, and see a fib a mile away try to hide the obvious.  So though I may not know why we hide these things, I just know most of us do—with the exception of kids.  They find treasures in junk drawers, pride in weight, and know that good things happen when you get a little older.  Let that be a lesson to me:  see things through a kid’s eyes more often, they seem to have things figured out.

Zeph and Joe

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homemaking Tip - Making the Most of Mundane

I forgot I had to report for jury duty this morning, I found a sub for the 3 classes I had to teach and then drove the 25+ miles as fast as I could to get to the courthouse.  I got there with 4 minutes to spare.  (If you're late you are given extra days to serve.)

Me and my 50 fellow prospective jurors filled out a questionnaire, watched a video on the justice system, listened to the judge deliver instructions, answered questions by the attorneys, and stared down every inch of the courtroom and each other for three hours.  I was potential juror #29, but the last juror chosen was juror #27 so, with my jury duty duration finished, I came home and peeled pears to dry.

Standing at the kitchen sink peeling and slicing pears takes a very long time.  It's one of the slowest kitchen tasks I know.  As you stand there, peeling and coring and slicing each pear, it's easy to think of all the things you could be doing if pear-peeling didn't take so long.  However, pear-peeling is thoroughly enjoyable, and you don't wish to do other things, if you have a good conversation.  Beings there was no one to talk to, I turned on The Mormon Channel ( It's like listening to a really good conversation that teaches you something.  I enjoy several of the programs on the channel.  One of my favorites is "Insights"  ( from the archived programs. I've listened to some that explain  (Understanding Islam, Understanding Mathematics, Understanding Money) and some that entertain (Abraham Lincoln).

A positive part of mundane chores, like pear-peeling, is it leaves the mind free to think and learn and make plans.   I'm looking forward to peeling pears again tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Memories - Coming Home

Abe, Grace, and Henry came over to spend the weekend with us.  One of the things I encourage the kids to do while they're home is to go out on a date while they have good, free babysitters. Calvin and I watched Henry the first night and then the next night Calvin, Grace, and Abe went to a movie and I watched him.  Both nights Henry woke up after they'd been gone for a couple of hours.  He sat contentedly on my lap as we rocked and watched The Piano Guys play "Bring Him Home" (second video below) over and over and over.  It's a soothing lullaby.  As we rocked, I thought of Abe's deployments and experiences from those deployments.  I was grateful that he had returned home safely twice - once from Iraq and once from Afghanistan, and thought of other mothers who had wished for the same.

When I saw this video from the BYU home game played on September 11 (first video below), I wondered how many more deployments our family has in the future, and (thinking of current world conditions) where those deployments will be.  (Ty is just finishing pilot training and it won't be long until we will wait for him to come home as well.)

Sweet.  Sad.  There are some of both in the memories.  While patriotism seems to wax and wane in our country, the military still goes away and comes home whether they're appreciated and celebrated or not. And no matter how many times I say it, it's still not enough, but thank you to everyone who serves and allows us to come home each night and make good memories in a safe place.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

14 or so Pictures for the 14th of September in 2014

Abe:  Relaxing with my fellow 49'ers fan.

Henry and 49'er family

Grace:  Dad, Abe, Henry, and me at church

Calvin:  Delivering one of two roasters full of chicken gravy for an
Institute dinner before the fireside tonight.

Jane:  Playing with Henry

Eliza:  I love slides.

Afton:  We got to play at a cool park this afternoon.

Ty:  Me and my assistant chef getting ready to make
Rice Krispy Treats

Michelle: The time of day we’ve ALL been looking forward to today.
When you’re the camera lady, you usually forget to get a picture of yourself.
Maybe next month.

Joe:  Ande asked Joe what the caption should be.
He said, "Uhhhhh.  Whatever you want."

Zeph carefully chose each piece of his outfit this afternoon.
Romper: somehow he found it in the box in his closet I had
been hiding it in... but he didn't want it buttoned up.
Flip flops: Zeph loves his shoes and would wear them all day long
if I would let him.
 Bucket: a usual accessory. 

Ande:  We have been looking at this book cover, at Zeph's insistence,
for at least a full minute. Why, you ask?
Because it has a ball and Zeph needs to point and shout, "A BAAALL!"

Atlas:  And his path of destruction.

Ray:  The mighty hunter and his sidekick watching Tarzan.

Cali:  Working on printed-out Instagram.

Thanks Family.  It's so fun to see the little details in your lives each month.  I love you.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Memories - The Second Half of Summer


Someone bought our dinner.  And not just mine and Calvin's dinner, but also Michelle's, Ande's, and Cali's.

One night while the girls were here, we got a babysitter for the kids and went out to a quiet meal so we could visit.  The check never came and it never came and it never came.  We went to the front and the cashier smiled and said someone had already paid the ticket.  He wouldn't say who it was he just smiled real big, threw his hands in the air, and in his accent said, "I promeeeesed I wouldn't tell."

Whoever it was, it was so appreciated.  We've talked of it several times.  You just don't forget generosity like that.

Bad Idea.

One day Levin and I were jumping on the trampoline.  He said, "Let's do tricks Grandma."  I moved to the side of the tramp while he jumped and twirled. Then it was my turn.  I thought, "I think I've got one last flip in me, but after this one, definitely no more.  I'm 52 and probably shouldn't try anymore."  I told Levin to move to the side so I wouldn't bounce him off and then started to jump . . . higher and higher and higher.  The last jump before I went into a flip the trampoline ripped from stem to stern. Providence?  I don't know.  Perhaps.  But what I do know is we're out a trampoline top and I think I'm through flipping.  What I wonder is how, oh how, do you be a grandma without a trampoline?


Ande canning peaches.  The timing stunk; the timing for canning usually does.
Ande, Michelle, Cali and their children were all here visiting when the peaches were ripe.
Good news is there was lots of help.  Bad news is there was lots of help.
But they're done.  Beautiful.  Delicious.

A friend called and offered Calvin all the apples we could use.  He brought home half a bin.
Enough to can 80 pints of sauce and feed the chickens all they wanted too.

The first grape juice I've ever canned from our own grapes.  I told Calvin, "I love canning free stuff."
He said, "What do you mean free?  I've worked for 30 years to get a successful grape crop.  These are hardly free."
He's right.  All that water.  All those posts.  All those plants.  All that fertilizer.  All that work.  They're hardly free.

Peaches.  Applesauce.  Pears.  White grape juice.  It's been a bountiful year and it feels good to get the food on the shelves.

Dead Deer.

A wee bit morbid, but what else are you going to do with a dead deer in 100 degree weather on the side of the road in a swanky neighborhood?  Adorn it, I guess.


One day while the grandkids were here playing, Levin stepped on a bee.  I pulled out the extractor that Ty and Michelle gave us as one of their favorite things for Christmas.  I have no idea if it pulled out the bee venom, but I do know that Levin hollered so hard at the suction that the bee sting no longer bothered him after I finished operating.

This is handy and I'm glad we've got it just in case.

Family Home Evening.

Ross, Ed, Wyatt

Cali and Levin

Ande, Zeph, Cali, Levin, Atlas, my niece Jesse, and I drove through Idaho to meet up with the family for my college graduation in Utah.  En route, we stopped to spend the evening with my niece Jenny and her family.

They showed us the improvements they've made to their home, talked about their plans for the future, filled us in on the things in their community, and fixed us supper.  It was Monday night and we had family home evening with them, too.  It was a sweet and special evening, as you can see by Cali crying in the picture above.  Eleven year old Wyatt gave the lesson on Samuel the Lamanite. I'm sure it was just a regular family home evening for Jenny's family, but we were grateful to be a part of it.

Good grief.

Just once I wanted to be poised.

My cap never budged once during the big commencement exercises.  Some tipped, some slid, some were pinned to the head, but my cap sat serene and still.  (Granted, I pulled it down tight over my ears so it couldn't move as I have some experience in this department.  When you rodeo in high school you learn quickly that if you don't pull your hat down tight or wear a stampede string you lose it in the arena and you feel stupid asking for it back.)  

But as we walked across the stage to receive our diplomas and shake hands with professors we'd never met, everyone's hat stood firm.  Except mine.  It tipped.  Nay.  It fell all the way off.  I was the last one across the stage and as my very kind cheering section yelled, "Way to go Grandma," and "Yay Neighbor Jane,"  I raised my hand to wave at them and I knocked that mortar board clean off exposing flat, sweaty hair.  I fumbled and tried to put it back on, but between shaking hands, focusing on not tripping, feeling conspicuous, and holding a diploma case it wasn't working.  I finally whispered to the dean, "I think I'd better just leave it off," and he whispered back, "I think you better too."

Next time.

Next time I'll be poised.

Except there won't be a next time.

Happy flowers.

I see these on my walk.  Daisies may be the friendliest flowers, but sunflowers have to be the happiest ones.


One Sunday Morning I saw Calvin sitting in front of youtube watching a segment of "How to Tie a Bow Tie for Dummies."

It worked.

Calvin would have loved to live during the time of the mountain man, but I keep reminding him he wouldn't have had youtube and that would have been a sincere handicap to mountain man living.

Jury Duty.

Again.  Calvin and I both. Neither one of our groups have been called in but we're doing our duty.


My niece Jesse has a knack for creative projects.  She drew this/cut it out and applied it to canvas and gave it to me for my birthday.  I just love it.  She has done a few projects like this for her mom.  I took a picture of them and developed the picture and hung them in our home, but Jesse decided I should have my own.  I'm so glad.


Can you imagine being calm with flies on your eyes?  Me neither.

They were disappointed I brought no slop.

I told her not to jump.

Our animals are not photogenic, but they are friendly producers.

This is the most gentle batch of calves we've had in a long time.  If they see me bringing corn husks they'll leave their perfectly sweet grass and come get it out of my hand.

The pigs will be ready to butcher next month.

Our chicken coop has a hole in it.  An old board fell down.  The good news is the new batch of hens are laying.  They're itty bitty eggs for now, but they are eggs.


Mulch - Compost.  Tomato - Tomata.  Whatever you call it, we have it.

Calvin has begun composting in earnest.  Heaven knows we have enough leaves, lawn clippings, garden vines, and matter to decompose into a mighty heap.  I love it when Calvin gets a bee in his bonnet on projects like this.

At the very top of the picture you see some fresh pinto beans.  That would be because today I was making chili.  I cooked the dry beans until they were plump, then picked green chilies, tomatoes, and onions from the garden to add to the beans.  As I blended them in the blender, it made a funny sound. Not easily discouraged with funny sounding appliances, I kept pushing the blend button hoping the sound would go away.  I did wonder where the little clear cap that fits inside the plastic lid went, but just covered the hole with my hand since I couldn't find it.  When everything was chopped nicely, I poured the vegetables into the pot and . . . .plop . . . out fell the mangled and splintered missing cap along with shards of plastic.  Argh.  Out went the pot.  Out went the beans.  Out went the chili with the chopped, fresh greens.

At least the compost pile keeps it from being completed wasted.

New straw stacks.

The second half of summer is filled with wheat harvest in the fields around us.  Sometimes I walk up to a new straw stack just to take a deep whiff.  Every time I smell new straw I think of kittens (when I was a kid our cat kept her new kittens in the straw stacks) or the county fair where we fluffed the straw to make beds for our steers.

I'm surprised no one has created a new straw stack candle yet.  I'd buy one and then buy more for all my sisters too.


I made chocolate truffle cupcakes and decorated them as owls to thank a friend for being a wise mentor.  The cupcakes looked stupid sitting on a white paper plate.  Owls don't sit on plates.  I put them on a 2x4 to deliver them and they looked just right.

Pinterest Recipe.

I promise.  This is a good one.  I've made it several times this summer.  I like to add chives to it.


Levin and Atlas had stayed with us a few days and one day as we were driving, I did the cardinal sin of messing with the temperature dial.  (Calvin says whoever is driving should control the temperature, but I say the co-pilot is more aware of passenger needs.  And since there was coldness in the air, I sneakily reached over to adjust the AC.  Calvin caught me doing it and began his sermon on messing with the temperature.  Levin piped up from his car seat in the back, "Calm down Gwampa. That thoundth rude."

Ha.  Grandpa snorted when he laughed and it was just enough of a diversion, he forgot to readjust the temperature.

Rotten Tomato.

This is what a movie theater looks like when everyone but you knows it is a terrible movie.  Oh it was bad.  Bad acting.  Bad dialogue.  Bad all the way around.  Don't go see 50 to 1 unless you want to hide from the world for 110 minutes.  

But, we did go to a very, very, very good movie this summer, too.  When the Game Stands Tall.

You win some you lose some.


I made some yellow, polka-dot curtains lined with muslin for the kitchen, dining room, and living room.  I've said it before, but a splash of yellow does something to a room.  They're cute.

The Book of Mormon.

Calvin wrote the kids a letter at the beginning of the year:

Dear Kids,                                                                                                                           
     Your mother and I have been talking about the challenges your families face today and what we can do to help you raise your families.  As we visited, President Marion G. Romney’s quote came to mind:
I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.  (Marion G. Romney, April 1980 conference)

     I know President Romney is right.  We’ve realized these blessings within our own family and again recently as your mom and I have been studying it together we have realized them again. 
     We know you all have scripture study in your families and we’re proud of you for that.  We’d like to offer the invitation for each family to read the Book of Mormon this year.  Your mom reminded me that when you were younger and we finished reading it as a family we went skiing or to Salt Lake to celebrate.  It’s not like we can do something like that now, but it would be good if we could still encourage each other to study it and pass on some of the things we learn from it. 
    If your families would like to read it, I’ll check in with you periodically to see how you’re doing.  I know it will look different how each family reads it, but we’d like you to join us.
    I love you and am proud of each of you and the contributions you make.  Keep up the good work in your homes and let us know how we can help you.


Calvin and I listen to it each night before we go to bed.  It's one of my favorite traditions.  In the summer it's especially nice because the frogs croak in the background and there is a light breeze that comes through the window.  Pretty wonderful.


Levin and Afton

Atlas and Zeph

Afton helping Grandpa drive home

Eliza looking through a very smeared door at Dan the dog and Levin and Afton eating otter pops.

Bar none, the very best part of our summer was spending time with family.  Whether it was in South Carolina with Joe and Ande, camping or weekends with the Folletts and Paynes, the weekend in Utah with the whole family, or when people came to visit here at the house . . . spending time with family is the very best part of life . . . and summer.

One of those family times was when Michelle and the girls, Ande and Zeph, and Cali and the boys all came here to spend a week.  It was beautiful chaos.  The only thing we were missing was Grace and Henry.

Zeph, Atlas, and Eliza are all just a few months apart.  Eliza kept Zeph and Atlas crying.  She'd see them, get excited, and run for them.  Then she'd tackle them, climb on top and start kissing them.  It didn't take long for Zeph to learn that Eliza meant discomfort.  When he saw her coming he'd screech and try to run away.  Atlas on the other hand didn't walk.  He just had to endure her enthusiasm.  By the end of the week Atlas and Eliza had a truce, but Zeph still wouldn't let her near him.


Me, Vianey, Calvin

One of our young women from the Spanish Branch left to serve a mission in Colorado.  The last missionary I remember leaving from the Spanish Branch was well over ten years ago.  I'm so proud of Vianey.

Waste not, want not. 

Vincent scaling the chicken's feet

Anna, our friend from Moldova, called and asked if we could bring the whizzbang chicken plucker to their house and help them butcher chickens.  Calvin, who really should be called Saint Calvin, and I loaded the plucker and went to their house to help them butcher 40 chickens.

Anna and her family (husband and four children) live in a fifth-wheel trailer with no hot running water. They heat water in a 55 gallon drum over a fire just outside the trailer.  They are building a home on their property, but they only build as fast as they can pay for the materials.  They want no debt.  Anna is very clean and tidy and makes do while she waits for her home.  

Underneath the trailer Anna has two-quart, home-bottled jars of pickled tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.  She also has gallon jars of pickled eggplant. She has planted flower beds around the trailer, and though their living conditions are very humble she has done her best to make it beautiful and comfortable.  

Their garden is quartered off like the walls of a home, the corn being the walls. There is a tomato room, a pepper room, a potato room, etc. Through the edge of the garden and next to the chicken coop is a line of twine hanging as a clothes line. The chicken coop is a hodge podge of wire, pallets, fencing, and metal.

When I pulled into the yard 9-year-old Lavinia came running up the hill, she grabbed me by the hand and led me back down the hill showing me the new improvements to their home and garden since we’d been there last.  We ended up at the chicken coop where the chickens were hanging upside down waiting for their turn in the whizz bang.  The chickens were a wee bit thin as Anna and Savalyn tried to keep the feed costs low and fed them whatever they could find.  

Calvin began butchering and everyone helped, whether it was carrying birds, dunking birds, turning on the whizz bang, descaling the feet, or bathing the plucked birds.  Anna saves the feet and heads to eat.  She makes a gelatin meat dish by boiling 10 chicken feet along with a male carcass, then she spreads the feet broth over a pan of meat pieces and chills it until it's firm.  The kids love to chew on the feet after they have been boiled.  Those chickens were utilized inside and out, nothing was wasted.  


At the beginning of the summer I had several goals to accomplish this summer.  I am relieved to say that I got to X everyone of them off.   Might not happen for another twenty years, but it happened.

Young Women.

When our young women have a birthday we have them come to the front of the room and stand in front of the chalkboard while everyone writes a word to describe her.  Then we take a picture and print it out for her.  

Zinnia zoo.

The garden has reached the jungle phase.  That's a tomatilla plant in the front, the feathery thing invading it is dill, the marigolds and zinnias are taking over behind them, and spurge is creeping underneath it all.  It's not pretty.

That wraps up our summer.  What's a day you wish you could repeat from your summer?