Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I looked out my window...

and what did I see? SNOW !! Welcome Winter!

(I think I'm finally ready for it)
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gifts, gifts and more gifts!

and I'm having fun, fun and more fun! I'm having a very successful year so far in the gift-giving ideas department. This is not how it usually goes. I'm usually just so flustered and frustrated and no one helps when you ask what they want. But this year is totally different. I just wish I could share with you what I've got going becuase I'm so excited. I've really out done myself and I think people are going to be surprised. But I'm afraid the worldwide web is the wrong place to confide the great gift ideas I've come up with. I'll take photos and will be posting after the big day.

First and foremost, I've been consumed with what to do for Heidi's family over there in China but I think I have it taken care of. I'm going to try to get everything mailed off by Nov. 30th! That should be plenty of time to get to them. It has been quite amusing to watch me mentally weigh everything and imagine how well it will fit into the proper size flat-rate boxes. I sent off a "get excited for the Christmas season" package to them yesterday and for 1 DVD and a package of Hershey's kisses it cost $11 to mail. Should be interesting to see what the rest will total. It's OK Swapps! You guys are worth it! I did get an email last week about an airline special from Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Miami or Washington, DC to Beijing for $275 round trip if you flew by Dec. 13th. I was so excited. I was already planning what to pack. Then I went online and discovered that tickets from Salt Lake to those eastern cities were around $450! Besides the cost I'd have to fly SLC to the east coast then back across the country to Beijing and back the same way on the return trip. It seemed overwhelming so I'll just use the $275 on postage and my packages can make that grueling flight. When we go over in May I'm just going to fly DIRECT! I do think there is a layover in LA but that is atleast in the same direction as my final destination.

Last summer I signed up to be included in a fun online gift exchange called "Pink Christmas". I think about 150 others signed up too so alot of people are involved. Along with the gift exchange portion everyone was asked to donate $10 to a bone morrow transplant for the niece of the woman that organized this online exchange. I think the transplant was done in October and I'm hoping and praying that all has gone well and that Claire is going to be feeling better by Christmas. I'm sure lots of people donated more than the suggested $10 amount. I hope these funds were helpful to their family as well.

Each person that signed up filled out a questionaire with some information about each of us and then we were all randomly assigned someone to give a homemade gift to. We were all supposed to have these gifts completed by Thanksgiving and mailed off by the first of December. I knew immediately what it was that I wanted to make to give to my partner but I knew I had LOTS of time before I had to make it. Finally a couple weeks ago I got started and it has turned out so perfectly! I'm way pleased with it and can hardly wait to give it to her! I hope she'll like it as much as I liked making it for her. Along with her information from her questionaire answers I got her blog address and so I have been reading it for several months now and it has been alot of fun to "get to know her" even though she has absolutely no idea who I am or that I'm following her life via her blog.

Given the success of the above mentioned handmade gift, I have made 3 more similar to the one I made for Pink Christmas. I'm giving those to 3 special friends (in my real life!). I really love to make things by hand. It probably means more to me than it does to the receiver but that is what gets me excited about giving these gifts and even the ones that I don't make.

I'm always blown away by people that say they have all their gifts and shopping done by Halloween. I usually get my best ideas at the last minute. Well, this year the ideas are coming lots earlier and I'm having a lot of fun! I just hope I don't run out of steam before the big day!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Turkey delight

What a truly delightful Turkey-day we had this year! It was so low key and just enjoyable. I had invited a couple other extended families to come and join us but as it turned out our dinner was very small and intimate -- just Cam & LaRane & kids and my parents. It was the "odd year" so Katie and Clark went to Idaho -- we missed you guys! Since the dinner was at my house, I figured it was easiest for me to do the turkey, dressing, potatos and gravy. LaRane brought the yams & apples casserole and the salad and the pumpkin pies. My mom got the year off.

Have you ever brined your turkey? I have been doing this for the last couple years and it is definately worth the extra step. I did buy a frozen turkey -- about a 16 pounder. I started thawing it on Sunday so it would be ready to brine for 24 hours before cooking. I got out my big orange insulated beverage cooler (the kind that are used at sporting events) and lined it with 2 plastic garbage bags. Then I put a couple gallons of water in with 2 cups of salt and 1 cup of sugar and various other ingredients like a whole bulb of garlic, lots of celery stocks, a bunch of parsley and then submerged the bird and twist tied the bags and actually sat the cooler outside in the shade of the house during the day and in the garage over night because the temperature was below 38 degrees and because it would never have fit in my fridge. When I was ready to roast it in the oven, I just rinsed off the brine and patted it dry and did my usual stuffing and roasting and it was perfect -- very moist and flavorful.

It is always fun to get out the "good" china, crystal and sterling silverware... you know, the wedding presents that only get used on special occassions. I liked the way my table came together. I was trying to take photos of it before we sat down to eat and I liked this "artistic view" that I came up with.

I loved watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade... I love watching it while I'm preparing the dinner. And I have to admit that after the parade was done I immediately turned on Christmas music. Mentally, I'm ready to take on Christmas which was evidenced by the fact that I got up Friday morning (after sleeping in! NO black-Friday shopping for me!) and pulled out all the boxes of Christmas decorations from underneath the stairs. So between yesterday and today I have gotten everything dressed up and decked out for the next season except for the Christmas tree which I can't actually face until it is actually December! We even received our first Christmas card in the mail (thanks, Kristy!) and went to a very enjoyable Christmas music concert Friday night. So despite my negativity a few posts ago, I can honestly say I'm in the Holiday mood.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Quilt of the week

I gave this quilt to my father for Christmas back in 2000. It actually served as 2 gifts in one. I found the fabrics and the pattern in a kit at a local quilt shop and thought it would be the perfect birthday gift for my dad. His birthday was in August so I just wrapped up the kit and after he opened it I took it back and got started sewing away and got the quilt finished in time to give it to him for Christmas that year.

My father grew up on a farm in Tooele, Utah and they always had chickens. I guess for that reason he has always had a fondness for them. When I was growing up we lived in the more rural area of Holladay, Utah and dad had chickens there for a while -- we mostly had horses but we did have chickens too. About 10 years ago my dad started collecting various pieces of chicken and rooster "art". He set up a whole set of shelves just specifically to display his flock. My mom didn't exactly share his same affection so if you were to give dad a chicken as a gift it made him really happy and made my mom really not too happy. But I couldn't help myself when it came to this quilt.

The quote around the border has special meaning as well. My dad would always tease the grandkids by pretending to call the chickens to "come and get them". If they were doing something annoying, he'd say "chickens come and get ________ (insert annoying grandchild's name), Cock a doodle do!" For some reason this would always freak out the grandchild and they would stop doing whatever it was they weren't supposed to be doing and run to their parents for safety. After a while, all the grandkids caught on and it just became a funny, teasing, joking threat and soon everyone began calling the chickens to come and get him!

The quilt is machine pieced, hand appliqued and hand quilted for the most part. I actually never finished quilting in the border. Everytime I see it I think I should take it home and finish quilting the border but it hasn't happened yet. This is the second quilt I have made for him. The first one is blocks of different cowboy boots and hangs up at the family cabin.
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Monday, November 19, 2007


or more literally... ZERO(maintenance)scape! Top photo ... before; lower photos... after! We live on a corner and this corner has been a perpetual challenge in the landscaping department. When we first moved here 14 years ago, I decided that I would plant only perrinal plants and flowers here since they come back every year unlike annuals. Well, for the first 4 or 5 years, this area was really beautiful. The flowers came back every year and they flourished and I loved it but............ then the more delicate flowers (columbines and lupines) started to disappear and the more hardly flowers (cosmos and asters) started to take over and it was looking less and less attractive. I even tried planting petunias and geraniums but nothing seemed to thrive there any more. I don't know if it was the tree roots were sapping all the nutrients and taking up all the soil or the heat intensity because this is a southeast corner. Not to mention that we live in a desert environment here. Anyway... I have been so frustruted for about the past 4 years and finally I'd had it!

Paul & I went to our local Parade of Homes this past summer and all the million $ homes had this gravel-kind of landscaping... TA DAH! The answer to my frustration! So for the past month or so we have been working on this little project and it finally got finished this past weekend and I LOVE IT! When I say "we've been working on it" I really mean some landscapers have been doing all the work... except we did have to pick out all the rocks. By the way, rocks are expensive! But we won't have to buy new ones every year! I think I'm going to like this new look. Maybe I'll look into fake grass next!
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm NOT ignoring you....


Usually when I go this long between posts on my blog it is because I'm out of town on some trip or exciting adventure but not this time.

Seriously, I think I'm living in warp-speed time (is that even a real adjective)... where are the hours, days, weeks going? Unfortunately, the minutes that I have been laying awake at night worrying about all that I need to accomplish in the next 40 or so days go amazingly slow so I have plenty of time to stew, fret and worry in the dark! But the daylight hours at not the same
-- be careful not to blink because it will be tomorrow.

I am not a shopper! I do not like to go to stores just to stroll aimlessly about and expect to run across whatever it is that I'm hoping to find. I never get inspired out shopping; I usually just get confused and frustrated. I much prefer to know exactly what it is I'm looking for and know where to go to most likely find it. Hence, Christmas shopping for present giving is not very enjoyable or at all excitedly anticipated. Why is it that I can only find things that I would like for MYSELF... am I really that self-centered? I think it is just because I know what I would like much better than I know what other people would like. So I spend alot of time before I go shopping coming up with what it is I want to buy for my gift giving. Then when I find what I'm looking for I am WAY excited to make a purchase and spend my money.

Did I mention that I hate to spend money too? Especially in the "cash" form. If I have $100 in cash, I will still use my debit or credit cards or better yet, hope Paul will pay if he is with me. There are certain places that I don't have any problem opening up my wallet and dumping out any form of payment and that is at a quilt shop. I have a hard and fast rule that I NEVER add up how much a quilt costs me to make -- it is my entitlement spending. And groceries, those are in the necessity category so I don't mind spending money there (I just wish someone else would come up with the grocery list).

In a round about way, I'm mostly sharing my anxiety with this upcoming Christmas season. So far I'm still refusing (where possible) to listen to Christmas music. Once again, this is totally unavoidable at the mall and has been since about the middle of October! I am a strict believer in celebrating one holiday at a time so until a week from today, after we have eaten Thanksgiving dinner, I will not be mentally prepared for Christmas. I know I should get an earlier start... I know I need to get an earlier start but it is almost more than I can handle.

The Post Office doesn't help either. The hours are ticking away towards when I need to send my presents off to the out of towners -- or more specifically, the out of countyers. Do you think it is crazy to buy toys made in China that have been shipped here and ship them back to my grandkids in China? That doesn't seem right... but gift cards, US dollars? I'm just not sure what to do with that situation.

Now that I have won you over to my sorry situation, I want you to know that there is good news in my story... and that is why I haven't written sooner this week... I have been having a great time making some really fun projects that have been on my gift giving list. Since Monday morning I have been spending all of my non-office working time making some unique, creative gifts and they are turning out great which is reassuring and confidence building. I am actually multi-holiday tasking by figuring out the Thanksgiving dinner menu while sewing, glueing and planning surprises. Too bad I can't post any photos. Those will have to wait until after the gift giving.

So despite all my sleeplessness, I am building up some enthusiasm for what lies ahead. I just need a clock from when I was a child and was waiting for Christmas... back then, the hours and days drug by so slowly, I thought Christmas would never come!! Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick.........

Friday, November 9, 2007

Happy Birthday boys!

Here is a little riddle: I was my mother's 2nd pregnancy but I am the 4th child in my family, how is that possible? You got it... I have triplet brothers and today is their birthday. They were born on November 9, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan. My dad was in the Army and World War II had just ended in August. Mom was pregnant and they were anxious to get out of the military and get on with their lives. At 6 months along Mom was X-rayed and told that she was carrying 3 babies! But they were also told not to plan too much on live births since the chances at that time were only fair. At 8 months Mom developed toxemia so her Dr. decided to induce the babies. She went into labor about 3 pm and the babies were born around 7 pm, all within 20 minutes of each other. The babies were small but healthy: Craig was 4 lbs 15 oz, Kent was 4 lbs 4 oz and Scott was 4 lbs 6 oz. Mom's Dr. was a white-haired older man who had delivered Charles Lindbergh's children and many of the Ford family babies and he said that these were the first triplets he had ever delivered so now he could retire! (George Romney -- Mitt Romney's father was their Branch President and my dad was the ward clerk -- just an interesting side piece).

Men were being discharged from the Army on a point system = 12 points were allowed for each child and overnight my Dad acquired 36 points which immediately made him eliglble for discharge. My mother's mom had come a week before the boys were born and stayed with them until they flew home 6 weeks later. I guess the flight was a nightmare with bad weather, delays, rerouting on a train, cargo planes and multiple plane changes along with 3 newborns! It took them almost 24 hours to get from Detroit, Michigan to Amalga, Utah. They didn't get there until 2 am and they had run out of formula at 10 pm and that was back in the days when you made your own formula! Mom said she would rather give birth to triplets again than take that journey!

I have always been so impressed and amazed with my parents! To start out with triplets and then keep going and ending up with a total of 8 children. I know I could never have done it! I was the next child born. I am 3 years and 8 months younger than the triplets. After 3 roudy boys my parents were pretty excited to get a little girl so I think I might have been somewhat spoiled. The next sibling after me was another boy so I had a lot of years of being the "little princess" and even to this day I'm referred to as "the child that can do no wrong"! It is totally not an accurate statement but I have enjoyed the connotation over the years.

What was it like having triplets for older brothers, you ask? I loved it! It was great! They were so much fun! There was ALWAYS something going on. They never sat still and I just tagged along. Kent & Scott are identical and Craig is fraternal and it has been evident as they grew up. Kent and Scott have always been the academic ones and Craig has been the creative, hands on one.

Craig graduated from college with a degree in engineering and has his own plastic rotation molding company. He can build anything and is an extreme perfectionist. Everything he takes on becomes a masterpiece. He is the father to 4 sons and 13 grandchildren. He has been a pilot, scuba diver, marathon runner, bicycling enthusiast and most recently took a 3 week safari to Africa.

Kent graduated from college with 5 degrees! (I told you he was academic!) He has a law degree and an accounting degree and a master's in tax. I can't remember the rest of them. He is a super talented and tremendously generous person, especially with his time. He loves to fix up and repair anything. He is always up for helping you out with broken sprinklers, plumbing or whatever comes along. He has been through lots of different phases of career choices but has ended up now with his own law practice and is enjoying alot of travel with his wife's job at a tour company. He has 5 children and 11 granddaughters!

Scott graduated from dental school and has been a dentist for all these years. He is an extreme perfectionist also. So if he gets into your mouth, all will be beautiful and perfect when he is done. He loves a good discussion and will argue with you over whatever just for the sake of arguing (in a good way). Don't ever expect to win. Atleast, I don't think I have ever convinced him my way! (he should have been the lawyer!) He is sweet and compassionate and very smart! He has 12 children (4 of them are step children) and 14 grandkids (if I counted correctly).

I just wanted to share my big brothers with you today on their special day of the year. I LOVE YOU GUYS! You mean the world to me. I have always been so proud of you and grateful to have you in my life. Hope you have an enjoyable day! Hope you can blow out all those candles -- go ahead and eat all the cake and ice cream you want! You deserve it!
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Daily photos 10, 11 & 12

Photo 10: Another thing I try to do daily is read the scriptures. I always had a hard time finding a good time to do this but finally about 2 years ago I found the perfect (for me) time to fit this in. I realized that each morning while I was eating breakfast I would read the newspaper and one morning it dawned on me, I should read my scriptures instead and it has turned out to be so delightful. It is such a great way to begin my day and it is definately lots better "news"!

Photo 11: Here I am hard at work at my desk! Or is that "hardly" working? Nevertheless, when I don't have anything else to do I pull out my quilting and take a few stitches. Usually if Paul notices me he will suddenly find something that needs to be done but some days I do get more quilting than accounting accomplished.

Photo 12: Here are the little cuties in my Primary class -- atleast 5 of the 7. They do look sweet and innocent in this photo and they are! I really enjoy this calling and they amaze me with their knowledge and entertain me with their comments.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Missing photos for previous post

#*$!*?##* (dang it, photos! where'd you go?)
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Daily photos 7,8 & 9

So here are the next 3 installments of my "daily photos" assignment:

7. I have kind of been a slacker when it has come to the art challenge portion of Heidi's online scrapbooking class but I pulled together all my creativity and actually finished this month's layout. It is called "remember forever". We were assigned to find a photo from some time ago and then journal about what we remember about how we felt at the time of the photo and how we felt about it now. My photo is of our little family on Christmas eve in 1983. This is a very precious photo since it is the last Christmas that Quinn was with us. I just love how excited all the kids are about Christmas... espeically Quinn. You can just see that no one is going to sleep that night! Back in those days, my little family was the center of my life and even today with everyone grown and with families of their own, my (growing) family is still the center of my life. It is good to remember this every now and again. Thanks for the challenge, Heidi.

8. Here is my cute hairdresser, Jean Kelly. She is the sweetest, nicest, funest, cutest hairdresser I know. And she just moved her scissors and hairdryer to a salon about 3 minutes from my office and home. Seriously, have you ever heard of having your favorite hairdresser actually move closer to you? Never... they always move farther and farther away and make it such a dilemma as to whether to keep going to them or not becuase it is such a hassle to get there but NOT FOR ME... (this time!) LaRane started getting her hair done by Jean about 2 1/3 or 3 years ago and I thought her hair always looked so great so I decided to give her stylist a try and have been so pleased ever since. I don't dare say too much more; I don't want to jinx myself! But she's a keeper!

9. Here is one of my most favorite meals ever and I have been eating it since I was a little girl -- grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup! When I was growing up, Monday was laundry day and Tuesday was ironing day for my mom. With eight kids there was always lots of clothes to wash, dry and iron. We could usually count on one of those nights having this very menu. So now when I come home from work and just can't think of anything to fix for dinner or I don't have the energy to get very ambitious, this is what I always fall back on and it never disappoints! It makes a yummy lunch also. There is one strict rule in my household though -- NO looking at the other side of the sandwich! Some people think I can't make a grilled cheese sandwich without burning one side but I say it is the pan's fault, not mine!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daily photos 4, 5 & 6

4. I totally love this picture that is now hanging on my refrigerator. Collin drew this to illustrate his part in the Primary Sacrament Meeting program a couple weeks ago. His little Sunbeam class was asked what they do on Sundays and Collin said that he visits his grandma so this is a picture of me and Collin. He did a super job! I've never looked so skinny!

5. I store most of my holiday decorations in the depths of the basement/furnace room at our office so I have to really talk myself into digging out the storage containers and bringing them home and making the effort to decorate. But since Collin and Aspen are getting older and more into the holidays, I decided to get out the Halloween stuff. Because these shelves are right at the grandkids eye level I always try to put only the things that I won't care if the kids play with or even happen to break. I was really surprised that after having the grandkids over several times neither one of them even touched anything (maybe there was too much ORANGE!). I guess they just thought these were to look at -- we'll see if it's the same with the Christmas decorations.

6. We hadn't seen Aspen for about week so Paul and I drove to her house one night and she was already for bed but she needed a bedtime snack and she knew just what she wanted -- Dora cereal. She has a whole fist full and is telling me the names of all Dora's friends on the cereal box -- seriously, she's only 19 months old!
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Friday, November 2, 2007

Red Rock country

Paul & I have taken a break from our stressful and chaotic life and have come down here to St. George. My family has had a condo here since 1983 and it is the ultimate weekend getaway! Over the years we have come down to play and relax and we have brought many toys from boats to motorcycles to bicycles but this was the first time we have ever brought ATVs. There is a new Utah State Park here called Sand Hollow and it is a combination reservoir and sand dunes. What a fabulous playland! The state park opened up a year or so after we sold our boat so we have never water skiied/wakeboarded there but it looks like a wonderful location. We can atest to the fact that the sand dunes are magnificent. They go on and on and on. At first I was afraid that we'd get lost and not be able to find our way back but after a short time I could tell that wouldn't really be a problem. Since this was a Friday afternoon on a non-holiday weekend it wasn't crowded at all and we went for miles without seeing another person! I think we only saw about 6 other riders the whole couple of hours we rode around.

A close friend of ours has taken a job down here at a brand new resort that is just coming out of the ground and it happens to be directly across the street from the entrance to the State Park. In fact, the name of the project is called "Sand Hollow Resort". So we stopped into his trailer office and he took us around the whole project in a bigger ATV golf cart. The second photo gives you an idea of what it is starting to look like. The first thing they have developed is an 18 hole golf course and it is just startlingly beautiful with the green greens against the red rocks. There is a huge outcropping of rocks in the center of the property and they have this massive waterpark designed that encircles the rocks. It will have waterfalls off the highest peaks and a lazy river going all around the perrimeter. There will be Villas and resort homes and private homes. It is a very ambitious project and seems to be generating a lot of interest and buyers. We'll be keeping a close eye on it as it developes. If you are down this way come by and check it out! Ask for Darrell.

Tonight we found a new BBQ restaurant that only opened 3 weeks ago and it is a WINNER! It is called The Rib Shop. We were going to go to a 6:45 movie so we were happy to find a restaurant without many cars parked outside. But then we were afraid that maybe it wasn't very good. We took a chance anyway and by the time we had ordered and sat down about 10 people had come in and the line was almost out the door. It is out on Sunset Blvd in case you want to check it out.

Then we went to see "Into the Wild". WOW! That was a great movie... what a story! It was a lot deeper than I thought it would be. I just thought it would be a story about this guy taking off into the Alaskan wilderness and how he survived but he was a lot more about his life and how he got to the point that he wanted to get away from society and live a more simple, natural life. I remember probably 10 years or so ago reading an article in Outside magazine about this guy and seeing the photo of him sitting outside the "magic bus". So I liked knowing more of the story.

Well I better get to bed now because we have more relaxing to do tomorrow! Hope you have a great weekend too!
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