Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween...

Meet Slim and Dim Witt my Dad's Halloween Pumpkin creations.
I hope everyone has a great day and gets lots of treats!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holly Claus Costume...

THIS eBay Store had great costumes/dress ups... if you need something for a little girl at Christmas be sure to check it out. I was very impressed with the price and quality of the dress. I made the crown of snowflakes myself so that c could be Holly Claus for Halloween... not her favorite holiday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

City of Ember...

This book was made into a film that was released to zero fanfare earlier this month. I think I will miss the film after reading the reviews.. it sounds far too much like Wall-E and you know how I loathed that movie. However, the book is an engaging read for the 8-14 crowd especially. I enjoyed it myself. c insisted that I read it after she did.

Where have you been all my life???

This is a wonderful product. It is a bit painful, unless you've experienced waxing and then it's really not. If you have dark hair like I do... this could be your new favorite thing.
Read the reviews here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


When I was in school studying Mary Shelley, I read somewhere or heard that Mary met Percy Shelley as he walked up a hill and saw her there performing a seance in order to communicate with the spirit of her mother who died at her birth. Shelley was a married man, but was immediately smitten with Mary although he did not remain faithful to her either. Whether or not the story of the seance is true, they did court behind her father's back at the grave site of her mother... a graveyard courtship.
Death was a devastating and all to frequent an occurrence to the Victorian who had really almost no hope of raising most of their children to adulthood. Infant mortality was high and real medicine a new and often brutal science.
Subsequently, a generational desire to conquer death through science and the debate over how far science should go were topics of the day. It almost sounds like the Victorian era never ended doesn't it?
Of course the book has other interesting themes. The idea of beauty being linked with a persons treatment, something that has been studied and well documented in our culture. Looking from a modern point of view, I would also say that more evolved emotional intelligence and better communication could have solved the troubles in this book.
However, the most interesting theme was brought up to me by my sister the English teacher who said that Frankenstein's creature was yearning and searching for a divine creator. He wanted an omnipotent, compassionate, loving and perfect creator to set him on course and help him to make a life for himself with purpose and direction, things that he could not do for himself. A mere mortal scientist fell far short and disappointed at every turn. Likewise, our mortal parents, creators of our clay forms can hurt or reject us and we can and do fail our own offspring in large or small ways, while a perfect God and creator does not disappoint, fail or lead us astray.
With few exceptions, I am not really a science fiction/ fantasy fan, but I found this book a very interesting read.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Coconut Dilema...

Why does packaged coconut always have a nasty after taste. What variety should I buy to avoid that? I made these cookies and they were great except for that.


1 1/4 c. oatmeal
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. flake coconut
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. melted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together in bowl. Then add oil, egg, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from pan.

Ballet Shoes...

I wish they had spent as much time with the script as they did with the sets and costumes... however, it was worth watching for the sets and costumes. I loved the classic book by Noel Streatfield and so I had very high expectations... but see it anyway.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

John McCain An American Odyssey...

Robert Timberg originally wrote a highly acclaimed book called The Nightingales Song about 5 high profile men including John McCain, who were graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and also served in Vietnam. This book John McCain: An American Odyssey is has been excerpted and expanded to be mostly about the life of John McCain. There is no sentimental fluff here. Robert Timberg does not write from the point of view of a fan or conservative supporter; he is not, which is sort of why I wanted to read this book. He must have included every mistake both minor and major that McCain has ever made.
Still, the book is a page turner although a very rough read in some places. I heard an interview with McCain's daughter Meagan where she said that it was very difficult for her to hear about her father's time as a POW and she tried to avoid it. I can understand that after reading this book.
After reading this book and watching the recent debates I have a few questions about one or two of McCain's policies. I have never met any type of socialized medicine that I have liked. However, I am convinced more than ever before that this is the man who should be the Commander in Chief during these troubled times.
John McCain was sent into a war where our own government spent years tying it's own hands behind its back. John McCain only wants to fight where we can win and to commit troupes where we will stay committed. His comments about the Bosnian/Serbian crisis were prescient at the time and ring more true now as we have learned more about that terrible time.
Some of the points he made were these:"We must take action," citing "an uninterrupted pattern of atrocities since 1992."
"The world's lone superpower, having committed itself militarily, cannot afford to be humbled by an army of forty thousand in a country no larger than Connecticut."
In a graduation speech delivered in June of 1994 to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia he said, "I have memories of a place so far removed from the comforts of this blessed country that I have learned to forget some of the anguish it once brought me. But my happiness these last twenty years has not let me forget the friends who did not return with me to the country we loved so dearly. The memory of them, of what they bore for honor and country, causes me to look in every prospective conflict for the shadow of Vietnam.
I do not let that shadow hold me in fear from my duty as I have been given light to see that duty. Yet it no longer falls to me to bear arms in my country's defense. It falls to you. I pray that if the time comes for you to answer the call to arms, the battle will be necessary and the field well chosen. But that is not your responsibility. Your honor is in your answer, not your summons."
This book made me want to do more to honor those who serve and their families who serve a long side them and to learn more about our country's history. It inspired me to do my best to educate the next generation in the values and principles that made this land a place that redefined liberty for the world.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peace Dove Box...

There are 5 of these listed in the shop on the same line... just in case someone needs multiples. They are almost exactly the same... almost. :)
See them HERE...

Today I Am an American...

Among the treasured experiences I've had in my life, I count the opportunities that I've had twice to attend a naturalization ceremony as very precious. Today was even more wonderful because I was able to take little c with me. Pictured above are new American citizens originating from 52 nations. They are swearing that they will defend and protect and serve their new country.
Standing are 63 new American citizens originating from Mexico.
Judge Sam of the Federal District Court of the State of Utah
President Bush welcoming new citizens to our great land...
This is a patriotic and emotional experience for me. I have a difficult time controlling intense feeling of gratitude. My ancestors were immigrants too after all.
Judge Sam told the story of his own parents. His father left his mother, who was expecting their first child, after one year of marriage. And, with some money sewn into his clothes, he walked across Europe from Romania to find a way to get to the United States. When Judge Sam was old enough to understand this terrible risk and sacrifice, he asked his father how he could have done this knowing that it was possible that he would never see his wife again. His father said, "That was the easy part of the decision. There are some things more important than life, liberty is one of those things."
I am always moved to tears by what these new immigrants say about where they have come from and how they feel about the blessing of citizenship. They always express a deep sense of awe and gratitude. They are thankful for freedom. As I sit there and look at all these people, many of whom look and dress differently from myself, I am so impressed by all that we have in common... a deep desire for justice and an abiding love of liberty.
Subsequently, I will never forget the words of a tall black man from Africa. He said that when he fled his native land, he had been offered the opportunity to settle in several different nations. He mentioned that he could have gone to England, Ireland or Poland, but he was desperate to come to America instead. He said that if he had become a citizen of one of those other countries, he could live there all his life, but he would still be an alien. "Today," he said, "as I have taken this oath, I am an American."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Man Godfrey...

This 1936 film starring the very talented William Powell is a favorite of mine. The writing is still witty and the theme is one that very much resonates today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Humanitarian Aid Dolls...

Our neighborhood is making a bunch of these dolls that will go to LDS Humanitarian Aid, an organization that will send these dolls all over the world. You can make them for any culture since they go everywhere. You can find the pattern for this doll and other toys that can bless the lives of needy children HERE.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Think! by Michael LeGault...

Think by Michael LeGault is one of the more interesting books I've read in a while.

The premise of this book reminded me of a story I read about a world famous heart surgeon whose good friend had a terrible heart condition for which there was no known treatment or surgery. The friend asked the surgeon if he would pray about it and perform surgery anyway. The friend was convinced that the surgeon would see a way to save his heart and subsequently his life. That is just what happened. When the heart surgeon opened his friends chest and looked at the damaged heart he saw a diagram in his mind of how to repair his friend's heart, which he successfully did. His friend lived to regain health and the pioneering surgery saved the lives of many others.
However, had most of us opened up a chest with a damaged heart, I don't believe that we would have been so inspired because, we do not have the many years of training and education that this world famous heart surgeon had. Inspiration follows preparation, therefore we must think. We must develop the critical thinking skills that will prepare us to be inspired.
Our culture has in many ways lost it's ability to think critically. We tell ourselves that we don't have the time. It takes less time to be gullible and so we believe selectively based on our gut, the things we read, hear or see on TV. There are too few reporters like John Stossel out there debunking the bunk.
For instance just before graduating university, I worked in the counseling office of a local high school. The school district had constructed a policy prohibiting all school clubs and the students were upset maintaining that they needed those extracurricular activities on college applications. The students along with some teachers staged a peaceful protest. A few hundred students walked peacefully across the street with some faculty and a few poster board signs and stood there for about 35 minutes. I watched it all from the window. During the time of the protest, I received a call in my office from a local television reporter who asked me for a statement. I was not an authorized spokesperson for the school or the district and so I declined. A few moments later the phone lines at the school went berserk and I learned that this journalist was reporting a "riot" at the school. I have since decided to be skeptical about what is reported by the media.
LeGault writes about the differences between healthy skepticism (I will believe when something is proven) and cynicism (I will believe nothing). He talks about the dangers of "reckless generalizations" often the basis of racial prejudice and junk science including scientific fear mongering. He also discusses the important topic of "conceding the act of governing" which is something that concerns me very much. When we get the idea, so different from our founders definition of liberty, that our government needs to take care of us in every way and we give away our liberties and truly our ability for great achievement in order to "have done for us" we are at risk as a nation.
I didn't think LeGault was right on the money on every page of this book. He will have to prove some of his thesis to me. However, I do believe that there are things that are really and truly true. There are facts that can be depended on and we need to prepare our minds to find those facts and as a generation of Americans to expand on and improve the body of knowledge that exists in our world. I also believe that the ability to think and to learn, and the desire for knowledge are a spiritual quest. Like a healthy body that must be fed nutritious foods, a mind must be fed real substance to thrive. If we feed our bodies on Mars Bars and Snowballs, we are soon weak and sick, likewise our minds must be fed not junk, but from the best books we can find. A quest to be more thoughtful, wise, graceful and a search for what is honest and true are, I believe, one of the qualities that can make a man most like God.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Truth and Lies in The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Maybe because of what I posted below, I just couldn't face this book to the end. It is a visual book... maybe sensual is the right word because it is so well written that I felt I could almost feel and smell the dust, destruction, decomposition and all the horrors of the apocalyptic society that McCarthy describes.
The book made me think. I was glad to get some input from Elisa that helped to direct my thinking. This book reminded me of Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies which were required reading when I was in school. I hated those books and have always felt that they were lies. People aren't that ugly, selfish or horrid... not all of them.
Think of 9/11 when NYC firefighters climbed flights of stairs they would never descend to save strangers they had never met. I see selfless acts of kindness in my neighborhood everyday. Simple kindness makes scenarios described in all of these books an impossibility... a lie.
But, maybe these books should be read as a cautionary tale. For if all kindness and selflessness is gone... the bleak scenes in all these books would surely become reality.
Thanks Elisa for a brave choice that made me think about not just this book, but many others.

At Home in Mitford...

If you haven't had the chance to listen to these books on tape... do. They are lovely; really sweet to listen to. John McDonough does such a fantastic job reading these books so fantastic in fact that you get the sense of the characters so much you feel like they really are your neighbors.. people you see everyday.

Every once in a while, a book like this is a must. Full of faith and optomism, they are the perfect foil to the rantings of TV journalists who spew forth doom and destruction at every turn. Sometimes the spirit just needs a break.

I personally have been exhausted by the gloom of the past weeks. I hope the congress can get their act together and we can get this financial mess sorted or atleast begin sorting it. I couldn't even make myself watch the VP debates last night... This election, while extremely important has lasted an eternity.

If you are feeling like me, a mini vacation to Mitford is just the thing. These books are perfect with a basket full of ironing and a cold drink.