Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just when you think your life is going well....

O.k. you know how you see yourself sometimes? Yeah. Well, if someone were to ask me to describe myself it would go something like this:

I'm 5'4", over weight, naturally coloured hair with a little bit of grey, great sense of humour, witty, fairly intelligent, creative and spontaneous. Very relaxed style with a perma ponytail and usually no shoes. No make up, no nylons, a Buddhist hippy at heart.

Well, the other night I was at a gathering and one of my favorite couples came into the room with their three (very well behaved and immaculately groomed) little ones. This guy is my vote for next Bishop, although I would never tell him that because it would make his very humble head explode. This is the man who just shows up with a big freakin' grin on his face and does your yard work. He's is the Elder's Quorum President, a calling he was born to fill. This is a guy who lives to help people move in.

His wife? Well, she's extremely intelligent without coming off as a smarty pants. She loves Seinfeld and can finish quotes from the series if you ask her to. She has a great sense of humour and is a terrific mom. She would be amazing in any calling. She is confident and willing to help out. Plus she always sports a killer smile.

I love love love this family. They are, frankly, the bomb.

So as they approached me at the party to chat I was more than willing to sit and share some time with them. I talked with the wife for about 20 minutes before her hubby walked over and began with the compliments.

"I LOVE you and Brother Thor! Seriously, you guys are the best!" I began to demurely blush "Oh. go. on!" I giggled humbly. "No really. You know how in every ward there is that really awesome couple everyone loves? That's you guys! That older couple that still gets it! Yeah, like you guys are so cool. Most couples your ages just aren't fun anymore. For old people you guys are so FUN!"

Now I must point out that up until this point, I thought we were about ten years older than these two. It is just occurring to me that -um- evidently not!

The conversation went on and on and on and eventually ended somewhere around "I just hope that when we're your age we can still be as cool as you guys!" Yeah, if only they live that long.

Then last night I decide that I will actually walk into the room with the large shiny boxes and throw some food on top of them and make dinner. If you have any idea of just how hot it is here (in the freaking Mojave Desert) then you will understand just how magnanimous this gesture was. I was sacrificing for the benefit of my loved ones.

Upon serving the meal I did the unthinkable. I asked opinions. Now in all fairness I am not one for vanities, I want to know if it is worth making again or tossing, so I beg for honest opinions. The query went something like this:

"Sooo, how is it?"

(in an upbeat tone) "It's edible." (1st blow)

"It's kind of like that store bought Alfredo sauce that tasted like crap. uhm, I mean it tastes like the jar stuff. O.k. I guess." (there were so many hits in that remark that I am not sure how many counts to give it.)

"We're still eatin' it." (merely a flesh wound)

"There is sauce left, should I make more noodles for left overs?"

In remarkable unison... "NO!" and then laughter.


That recipe goes into the trash.

I am feeling really good about my self today. Send chocolate!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Mormons Aren't Victims"

Rarely do I link to, or suggest anyone go to, another blog to read a post; especially when I have only read one other post on that blog and do not know the author at all. However I came across a post that I would like ya'all to read.

I must say that the name of the blog disturbs me, however the content of this particular post is similar to what I would say if given the opportunity. Please go, read to the end, and feel free to let me know your thoughts.

There are facts and information that much of the world is unaware of; and I feel he states them well.

That is all. Carry on.

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It' that's time again!

Alrighty Crafters! It's that time of year again when Costco puts their new line of French Wired Ribbons on the shelf.

This year it looks as if there is a trend towards the browns, golds and warm autumn colours! A few snowmen have made the cut along with a few blues and of course the ever present shades of red. I also found a beautiful tone on tone black stripe. On the third shelf in this photo, in the center is a tone on tone cream 2 1/2 in ch wide gorgeous stripe. I can imagine the elegant bow it would make.

Many of these ribbons have a gold or silver metallic woven edge that is really pretty. Are you the gal on the block who puts bows all over the Christmas tree? These ribbons are perfect for that. Plus, when it is time to take down the tree, you can carefully fold your bows and pack them away. Next year all you'll have to do is pull out the folded bow, finger fluff them back into shape and there you go, all done and pretty again.

This photo didn't capture all of the choices so you'll just have to grab someone's card and see all the goodies for yourself!

At $6.99 for 50 yards, this 1 inch -2 1/2 inch wide, wire edge ribbon is a steal. I have to admit I have a small addiction to this ribbon and fill my shelves with as much as I think I will use in the coming year for crafting projects and wrapping presents. I love that there are so many ribbons that could be used for masculine projects or packages. Just last week I attended a wedding party whose theme included, BROWN... hmm, seems I found this ribbon just in time.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Hide the Cat!

Believe it or not I am getting ready for Christmas. Every year the our Stake* holds a special Christmas Dinner and program for our Adult Singles. Last year our responsibility in this event was to decorate, prepare entertainment and a special take home favour. This year we are in charge of the dinner and favours. As part of the favour I suggested something I make every year for my Father- in- Law... Christmas Mice!
This is your ingredient plate: Hershey Kisses, unwrapped, slivered almonds or halved peanuts, Maraschino cherries with the stems- patted as dry as possible, semi-sweet chocolate chips, tiny white nonpareils. You will also need a glass microwave dish, spoon, toothpick, and parchment paper.
Gently squish the fruit so that the liquid is released and pat the cherry dry, set aside on a towel while you melt the chocolate chips. Put a small bag of chips in a glass bowl and microwave on medium for 25 second intervals, stirring in between to smooth, being careful to not burn or scorch the chocolate.
Grab the cherry stem and dip the fruit into the melted chocolate to cover. Make sure the entire fruit is covered and the tiniest bit of the stem at the base.
Set the dipped cherry on it's side on top of parchment paper, making sure the stem is as parallel to the table as possible. This is the mouse "tail", and the cherry the mouse body.

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While the chocolate is still wet, add the flat side of the kiss to the cherry and make a mouse "head".
Slip two slivered almonds into the wet chocolate between the kiss and the cherry making mouse "ears". You can also use a peanut half. If you choose to use peanuts, place the peanut with the flat side towards the front of the mouse, rounded part to the back.
Using a toothpick add two tiny drops of wet chocolate to the kiss where you want "eyes".
Add the white nonpareils to the wet chocolate drops and there you go! Isn't he cute? Allow them to set on the counter (during the late fall this is actually possible!) or slide them carefully into the fridge to set. Carefully peel them from the parchment paper and give them to the sweet people in your life!

*"Stake" In our church there are 9-12 or so congregations in a regional area, we call this region a "Stake" as in the "stake" that secured the temple tent to the ground in the Old Testament. Each congregation has approximately 600-900 people.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Home EC. 101

Welcome Students! Today we will learn all kinds of fun things! In the top photo we see S'mee's pantry. A somewhat organized closet of food stuffs.
See the all the clear containers? Yes, S'mee has an irrational fear of vermin! Vermin of any kind disturb her sleep and so she must make rules. First rule: If it comes home in a bottle, jar, or can it can be placed upon the shelf as is. However, if it comes home in a box, bag, or envelope it must be removed from it's packaging and placed in a clear air tight snap sealed container. Second rule: If packaging or food has been compromised it will go immediately to the trash bin! S'mee refuses to share her food with any non human.
Buying in bulk will result in a reduced price when it comes to most commodities. S'mee put this to the test the other day when a local market decided to place a popular brand cake mix on a terrific sale, almost 3 for 1. Snatching up a load full she headed home. S'mee loves cake!
If you look closely in S'mee's pantry you will see all those clear containers. Noodles, flour, sugar, even Kool-Aid and Jello are repackaged! Oh, but we need to remember that S'mee is also efficient at times, especially when it is mandatory. S'mee has a sister who could write the Home EC Manual, and she has learned a few things along the way. So before S'mee repackages her food into her containers, she weight measures them. This way when it comes time to make the product she knows exactly just how much of this or that goes into the bowl.
"Can't she just use a measuring cup?" you ask. Well, yes, but then S'mee would be taking a chance on how the dish would turn out. You see, the 'matter' of the food can vary from day to day depending on a bunch of different factors, like humidity, for instance. That and sometimes the way one places the product in a cup or spoon will pack the product differently and vary the result. So weighing your product is much more efficient and consistent.
Back to the repacking. Today, as S'mee was getting ready to repack the cake mixes, she recalled something Chronicler had told her a few years back, "The cake mix companies have repackaged their product, reducing the amount of product in each box slightly. Most people won't notice the difference,but their cakes will be a little more flat." S'mee has noticed. (remember, S'mee loves her cake!) So she decided to see if the cakes are still being decreased in weight.
As you can see the from the photos above S'mee got a surprise today. First she opened each of ten boxes of mix, all the same brand, all the same flavour, and labeled the bags. One by one they were placed on a digital scale and the weight recorded. (Only 5 photos are allowed to download per post, so you'll have to imagine the others.) As you can see from the photos, the least amount of cake mix was 4.25 ounces of mix, the heaviest - a full 6 ounces. So, not only are the cake mixes still being reduced in volume, they are inconsistent as far as volume weight.
So class, what have we learned today?
A. Someone down at the cake factory is asleep in quality control.
B. Someone down at the cake factory is asleep in weights and measures.
C. It's not our fault that our cakes are full and moist one week and flat and dry the next.
D. All of the above.
Class dismissed.
Bonus Question for extra credit: WHY? Why is it that Blogger is inconsistent when it comes to S'mee's posts? Why is the spacing correct just now and then? UGH!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

See the morning glories!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Images from Bodie

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We went out to Bodie, which is now a state park/Ghost Town. These are some of the photos from that day trip.

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Mt. Whitney in fabric

Last week Thor and I spent 3 days in Mammoth with our eldest son and his lovely wife. The two girls and two of their friends also joined us. We had a wonderful time hiking, fishing (no one caught a thing, but we still had fun trying!), and generally seeing all the beauty that is in the Eastern Sierras.

On our way home we stopped off at our favorite "rest stop" (read: nice bathrooms!), which also happens to be the museum for the highest point in the "lower 48" or continuous United States, Mount Whitney; and the turn off to Death Valley from the 395...yikes.

We enjoy walking though the museum each time we are in the area. It's fairly new, and each time we stop there is something new to learn, look at and explore. This time, in addition to the new info on the surrounding area there was a quilt display. Oh my heck! These quilts were fabulous and my photography of them does them little justice.

Charlotte Freeman did a fantastic job creating this piece of true artwork! Titled, "Mount Whitney - Guardian of the Range of Light" she has actually caught the details of the mountain range with her choices of fabric and colours. Check out the sky! Did you noticed the bark on the trees? There is dimension in her quilt as well. Those California poppies in the bottom actually pop out of the quilt. Their petals are only attached at the center of the flower. Gorgeous!

For those unclear of exactly how to determine which peak is Mt. Whitney this is an easy way to see it. From Charlotte's quilt on the top left you can see a small mound and moving right there is a slightly flat "M" shaped peak. That flat "M" is Thor Peak. (why do I know that?) Next to Thor Peak on the right is a sharp peak that has been cleft significantly, after that on the right is the slightly taller Mt. Whitney. I am still, even now looking at the quilt, amazed at Charlotte's choice of colours and how well she has captured the range and it's beauty.

Again, one of those really cool surprises that seem to just pop out at the least expected places. I love California!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the "Beginning" of something good...

O.k. folks, hold onto your desk, this is an actual post! Who knew?

Ya'all know one of my favorite places to view everyday is Miss Karen over at chookooloonks. A few days ago Karen had a fantastic idea: a "Post Card Swap!" Earlier this year she had a brilliant plan to create "The Kind Journal" project, which I excitedly joined in on; so when the postcard swap came along I hopped on board again.

So I signed up at the very last minute, whew!, and received my list of 11 other bloggers to send my cards to. I set to work thinking about what I would do. Remember last Christmas when I did the ornament swap? I thought, "hey, why not try something similar?"

With that ornament swap I began painting canvas again (after years of not painting at all), however because of circumstances I have not painted again. So what a great opportunity! Here's what I came up with. I would take a favorite photo and paint it on twelve canvases.

I took 5x7 inch board canvases, turned them over and used blue painter's tape to bind them together. I needed to support the canvas boards with a piece of foam core board so that they would not sag or flop on the easel. After that it was just a matter of painting.

I used acrylics and tried to paint in a more impressionist style than realist of one of my favorite spots on the North Shore of Oahu.
I'll divide the painting among the twelve in our group and woohoo! we will each have a small individual painting that was once one large one.

I hope for a good reaction from the receivers of the postcards. I also hope for new friendships. I am excited to have 11 new people share creativity with. I also hope that this swap is a new beginning, again, for a talent that has laid dormant for too many years.

I'm a little happy inside just thinking about it!
You wanna be happy too? Why not make a post card of your own and send it out to someone. Make their day! Everyone loves mail. Everyone enjoys art. It's a win win situation! Mail and you!
To view the photos from both the 2006 Ornament Swap and also the 2007 Post Card Swap. click away! Both Flickr! pages also have a good view of some of my favorite photos and other art work.

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I just got taken for a ride...

Again, details make all the difference. Here are some of my favorite views.

The controversial golden orbed spire that stands at the entrance to Tomorrow Land. There are camps on both sides that feel strongly about this structure.

For me, it's there. I see the points both camps make, but admittedly, I like the teal blue, azure blue, burnt orange, and that gold all put together.

I wish there was more animation, that the orbs spun more, that there was more to invite the guest further into the depth of the land rather than pretty much blocking the view. But as my Brother in law sat there, watching the lines wind there way around their way to the front, he began to notice the zodiac signs, the planet symbols, the gyroscopic design and enjoyed the wait.

It works. Not as well as Walt or Roy would have had it, but it works.

This hippo just makes me want to yawn.
A whole new world! I love the scenery around the Aladdin Oasis. Once, a very long time ago, a very special friend of mine treated 5 of her best girl friends to a day at Disneyland and also paid for us to see the dinner show here. It was a great show, the food was terrific, and the dessert back then was fabulous. A real sized Genie's lamp, made of chocolate, filled with mousse and whipped cream. It was so rich it came with it's own special box to take the lamp home in. They know you can't eat it all in one sitting!

It was very expensive, but in the long run, for the memory it it gave me - us, and for the show itself and the was worth it; and I hope someday I can treat five of my friends as well.
Grab a soda, a box of popcorn, and just sit back and listen to some New Orleans Jazz while you watch this fountain bubble. Really pretty, just sitting there in the patio area of the New Orleans train station.

Like I said, one of my favorite rides, the Jungle Cruise! This is the last view you'll get before they ask you to GET OFF THE BOAT!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Strictly Ornamental

This is where Disney stood out from all the other "amusement parks" of his day, and even into the current day; and what made him famous. Attention to detail. Nobody does it better.

Without these details, however, the fantasy aspect of the park would be the same level as any other park in Southern California.

I found some pieces of the "set" that are strictly used as exclamation points or to frame the main event; but not take away from the total effect or steal all the attention and become the star. Minor players that grab you in gently and begin to tell you the story of the attraction.

Sadly, literally thousands of guest each day walk on or past these details and miss their beauty. They are tucked into corners, paved into paths, crowning entryways, framing gates, and focusing your eyes continually into a new adventure.

However Disney does not have the only artisans around. Next time you are out and about in your town take time to see what the local craftsman have done to make the ordinary stand out. Whether it is the art deco colour scheme on the oldest department store in town or the new cement detailing on the underpass or bridge, catch the beauty in the overlooked. Notice how the feel of seeing these details adds to your enjoyment of the surroundings.

Ornamentation. It's a good thing.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

It's a pretty world after all!

Who knew Disneyland had a pretty little brook that tumbles down and down? I'm guessing less than 1% of the visitors to the resort even know where this little piece of beauty is. Any guesses??? It's probably not where you think.

I found this pretty pink daisy in a tiny little patch surrounded by a wrought iron fence just around the corner from the Matterhorn on an out of the way path. Gorgeous.

There are quite a few waterfalls in Disneyland, this is one of them...from the back side! Yes, this is the famous waterfall you get to see from both sides while on the Jungle Cruise. (one of my favorite rides ever!)

You want a fiddle head fern? They've got plenty! This giant was near the old entrance to "Country Bear Jamboree", now the "Whinnie the Poop"* ride.

And lastly this absolutely engaging succulent garden is in (of all places) the water gardens that surround the Mermaid Grotto. It makes me want to go home and plant nothing but cacti!

Oh, and that little brook? Um yeah; next time you get of Whinnie the Poop* take time to sneak over to the end of the path as you get off the ride (next to the store). Hang a sharp right as if you are going "back stage". It's been there for years, quietly making it's little corner peaceful and refreshing.

*other folks know him as Whinnie the Pooh, however all the toddlers I know call him by the above name.

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