Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Unveiling... 2009 Christmas Box..

This is a medium size box. Inside it reads,

"Christmas is love..."

Multiples are available upon request. Find them HERE.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Snow Drop Crabapple Tree...

I love flowering spring trees. This Snowdrop buds in bright pink and flowers in a brilliant white. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Best Face Forward...

Isn't it interesting how people are... especially women.. I know I do this anyway. We go around comparing our worst selves to everyone else's Sunday best. I heard Marie Osmond say something to this affect the other day on Good Morning Utah. It's so true I think. We compare our messy house to our neighbor's gorgeous garden and our slobby sweatsuit to our friends perfectly pressed ensemble.
We all want to be better. Well, there are a few jerks around who think they are perfect and wish everyone else would just be like them.. but, I think most people are in the other category. I look around at my neighbors and friends and think. I wish my house was as clean as Laurie's and I was as fit and lovely as Alecia. I wish I had Kim's musical talents and Laura's organizing skills. I wish I could befriend people like Lisa and be as gifted a mother as Kate. These are real folks, the ones I watch and see everyday... amazing people.
I don't know how to stop judging oneself completely.. but I have been thinking that maybe we should stop thinking of ourselves as individuals in that way, but think more of the one or two gifts that we add to the group. Maybe we aren't meant to be perfect one at a time... maybe we only achieve perfection in this life when you add us all up together.

Eucerin with SPF 30...

I like this stuff. But, I defer to Janice on face creams with SPF.. What do you like Janice. :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cutest Baby Booties in the World!

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day...

Pretty cute.

Plans Change in a Poof!

If I haven't been around for awhile.. this is why. Little c is supposed to be wearing this beautiful costume in her up coming dance recital...... we shall see. There is a slight chance that she can do it. Unfortunately, this is a photo of her and her friend S... both dancers and both sidelined until breaks heal. (Little c, going screamin' fast.. tried to jump a speed bump on her scooter. Her cute friend S fell down the stairs.) Poor little dancers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grace... My little brother J..

Today little c reminded me of one of my favorite life stories today and I thought I would write it down even though I know that I will never forget it.
I have a handicapped brother and he is a big guy to say the least. He suffered oxygen deficiency at birth and subsequently his world is very limited. He does not speak. Once I think a doctor said that he had the abilities of an eighteen month old child. However, he is huge.. over six feet tall and strong as an ox.
In my family he has been gently and patiently cared for primarily by my father. It has been a task of gargantuan effort and great love.
When you have a family member who is handicapped, you gain a sensitivity to certain words and to the insensitivity of those who imitate and poke fun at those whose courage just to live from day to day is valour beyond measure.
It takes a special person though to look not just at a person's ability or disability, but into their hearts to see the dignity and courage and love that are almost always there.
One day my sister and I decided to take him on an outing to the mall. Insane. J, my dear brother, had a habit of taking things in restaurants and other places, food stuffs mostly. He might walk past the chocolate milk in the market... only stop.. open and chug-a-lug rather than say placing the milk in the cart for purchase. If we were being escorted to a table by a waitress, J might pass by another patron who might happen to have a lovely buttered roll just sitting at his plate.. not being eaten. J does not understand any hesitancy in eating ones buttered roll and to show this lazy patron how things are done, he might just kife the thing and gingerly stuff it in his mouth before anyone was the wiser. It's kind of a slight of hand.. so fast you almost didn't see it.
People take things differently. Some people are kind and some are not. Some are really not. How would you feel if your buttered roll just disappeared into some big guy's mouth? J's manners are out of our control and it could be more than a little embarrassing taking him places sometimes because of these little social misunderstandings.
This particular day at the mall as we carefully went our way down the walk passing shop after shop as we went.. brother J spotted a kind face with a very large soda and in his impressive way, he had cup in hand and straw in mouth happily slurping away before we blinked and noticed.
When we did notice, of course we were horrified, although not surprised by J's thievery. We then awaited the scene that often followed.. the one where we apologize and explain and apologize and apologize... However, instead of acting annoyed or offended, this gracious lady (victim) smiled in the most genuine and friendly way and said, "Don't even worry, he is welcome to it."
I don't know this woman at all, but when I meet her in heaven, I will throw my arms around her and tell her that I love her.
Mother Theresa once said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." But, done with great love, a small thing can become a grand gesture.
It has been more than 10 years since this little happening, but I think of it often and it is one of the events in my life that confirms to me that people are essentially good and that even with all the bad news one so often hears.. still.. we are likely, every so often, to run into an angel right here on earth.

Today I Joined Facebook.. I mean yesterday..

... and felt pretty silly taking photos of myself.
Hello Friends..
It has been fun to wander around that site though and find old friends from school. I do like the old blog though with all the pretty colors.
PS... Blake.. I love how you wrote, "Welcome on to this thing. Now your emails will double." The way you said that reminded me of Grandpa's phraseology so much and had me chuckling to myself for an hour. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

True Colors...

I loved this page from this months MSL Magazine.
I love true colors and if you ignore the muddy, puttys in the lower left..
the rest are rainbow brights. There are several Benjamin Moore paint choices. Benjamin Moore is my favorite paint because you can't beat them for clear, pure color with no browns or grays dulling the mix. If you want a wall the color of daffodils, raspberries or hyacinths.. you can find it.
Benjamin Moore True Blue (lower right) is the color of my bedroom and I love it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle... I dreamed a dream...

A neighbor told a reporter that life has not been particularly kind to Susan Boyle. She lives alone after having cared for her dying mother. She is unemployed. But when she stepped out on the stage and after opening her mouth immediately turned an unkind audience into one that leaped to its feet cheering for her, she made the world a brighter and more hopeful place. If you haven't seen the video of her full performance... don't miss THIS
Thank you Susan! Your courage to achieve your dreams and the beauty of your amazing gift have inspired the world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Provident Living...

Provident Living...
The subject of provident living comes up a lot in our church, especially lately in the down economy. (If you happen to be unfamiliar with the term provident living, you can find out about it here and here). In fact, a friend of mine said that Mormons walk around all day with the idea of food storage in the back of their heads... Yep.
Before he passed away, President Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet of our church warned that we should get out of debt, put away some for a rainy day and gather a storage of food for at least 3 months and preferably a year. I know some people who followed his counsel and have lived to be very grateful for it. As jobs disappear and incomes shrink, these folks have a peace of mind others do not. They know their children will have a roof over their heads, food to eat and clothes to wear. I believe in the doctrine of provident living with all my heart.
Even when C and I had no children and lived in a 1 bedroom condo with no space, we tried to follow the prophet’s advice and we had a few things put by and in a disaster, we could have made it a week or two. (Think of the difference just a few things put by would have meant to the victims of Katrina). Now that we have children, the counsel to gather and maintain a food storage has become a more urgent concern and since we have moved into a home with a bit more storage space, we have been trying to gather all the needful things.
However, in our Sunday School lesson three weeks ago (this is still bugging me), I made a comment that was kind of dumb. I told a short story about a family my Dad converted to the church in Hong Kong who went without a great deal including shampoo to be able to come to SLC and have their family sealed in the temple. Meeting this family made a great impression on me when I was young and they are wonderful people.
But, I don’t think the prophet’s counsel means that we should go without shampoo or anything really and so my comment made a wrong impression and it made me sound like one of those Mormons who takes the prophet’s counsel to an extreme and then goes wrong with it. I’m not going to point fingers, but if your family is prepared for a nuclear event, you have a 10 year supply of food and a bunker in your basement.. I might be talking about you.
After a person is out of debt and has set by a reasonable savings and a supply of food, I don’t believe that they should go about denying themselves of every convenience. Of course money is a gift and a tool that should be used responsibly, but what does that mean?
Several years ago I got into a discussion with a friend about a Hollywood type who threw this lavish party... over-the-top. I’m sure that it cost several hundred thousand dollars. My friend maintained that the kind of spending it took to throw this party was gross and wrong. I wasn’t sure..
First of all, the person could afford it. Debt was not incurred to throw this party. Secondly, this person has money and investments set by and they will be fine in a disaster. Thirdly, this person is very generous and supports many good causes. Forth, it’s not my money.. so...
But, the main reason that I’m not sure it was wrong is that there were party planners, caterers, rental companies, florists, bakers, designers, lighting people, wait staff and on and on that made money that day for putting in a hard days work. If no one throws a party.. all of those people are out of work, the businesses goes under and there are that many more folks who need a handout because they don’t have job.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give our money away to those who are sick, elderly or handicapped and can’t for any reason earn a living for themselves because we should, but I would hate for people to decide in a tough economy that we just cannot spend. Earning a living for oneself and family is, in my opinion a spiritual principle that offers a person self worth and dignity. In other words, I think it’s great when a person can be hired to do a real job rather than receive a handout.
So, I think that what I said was wrong. Don’t be the person to go without shampoo. If you can afford it, buy the shampoo, the new car or redecorate the living room if that’s what you want. In America, our quality of life comes from the efforts and labors of our neighbors who are nurses, firefighters, podiatrists, car dealers and even party planners. This is capitalism and while imperfect, it works better than anything else. So, I think it’s provident living to give your neighbor a real job rather than a handout and hope they give you a job as well. Our wealth as a nation, as Benjamin Franklin put it, is not our gold or natural resources of any kind, but our collective efforts in all the different things that we do. (sorry.. someday I will find the exact quote.. I lost it but it’s found in Benjamin Franklin An American Life by Walter Isaacson).
People really get into this discussion. I went to a party recently where the birthday girl was needled, a bit strongly I thought, for going through a drive through every day to buy a soda. "It’s a waste of money!" they said. Maybe so, but my soda drinking friend is in great shape and she isn’t spending money she doesn’t have on soda so ... My point is that it doesn’t have to be a luxury mansion that causes disagreement about money.. it can be just a soda.
What do you think? Does it bother you if your neighbor buys an expensive car or spends a fortune to remodel their bathroom. Is it "grinding the faces of the poor" to enjoy a vacation to Paris? Does it bug you if your friend drives though and buys a soda.. she is, after all, supporting a business and a family.. or should she be donating her $1.50 to the poor or buying more wheat?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Horatio Hornblower...

Who knew that Horatio Hornblower had new adventures?!? I didn't until this week. Hooray!!!
Everyone in the family... OK %75 of the family loves Horatio Hornblower and %25 of the family think the guns and canon are too loud.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Brave Cowboy...

Last night little c was reading baby l this cute book. I love Joan Walsh Anglund and have always been inspired by her artwork. This cute little story about the power and magic of having a fun pretend friend has always been a favorite and captures the vivid imagination of a 4 year old boy very well.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Out of the Mud into High Heels...

Growing up, you weren't supposed to crawl under the fence past the "No Trespassing!" sign to get to the ponds by our house. But, my brother and I never paid that sign any mind at all. Those ponds and the hollows all around our house were the most magical place and they belonged to us. That's what we thought. Spring, summer and autumn days melted away as we played a million games and were young naturalists finding bird nests and eggs, playing with sticks in the creeks and floating things down the streams and our favorite, collecting pollywogs.
We brought the little pollywogs home and put them in the upstairs bathroom, in the toilet bowl and then begged our poor mother never to flush them away, which she always did as soon as we weren't looking. It was OK though because we didn't have long attention spans and were off to the next adventure. How did she ever keep that house clean?
I think that I went through a bit of a tomboy stage because I spent so much time with my brother and he wasn't about to play dolls. When I was almost 12 things started to change I felt caught between an imaginary world and reality like Wendy in Peter Pan, knowing that it was time to put away childish things.
One last day, I went to the ponds with my brother. Crawling under the fence alone was enough to get a body pretty dirty and dusty. I think we were after the pollywogs and got right into the water. Oooops! The reason for the "No Trespassing!" sign was that there was this mud. It could get you! And, like quick sand, the more you struggled to get out, the more you were stuck. So, pretty soon, there I was, stuck up to my hips in mud which in the effort to get free had gotten in my hair and all over my arms. I was a little scared for a minute, but my brother (who would later find himself stuck in the mud and have to be rescued! .. but that's another story.) pulled me to safety.
I think we decided to leave a different way than we came. We crawled under a different fence and into a mostly unused park where there was a drinking fountain and I could maybe at least wash my arms and face before going home to the hose in the back yard... (Again, my POOR mother!)
When I came up from crawling under the fence, to my horror I found in a crisp, white oxford shirt one of the most handsome boys in town. There he was licking strawberry ice cream from a sugar cone with a his beautiful blond sweetheart as I, the swamp thing, emerged from the mud!
With not a shred of dignity left, I had to walk right past their dismayed faces. I vowed to myself that this was the last time I would trespass.
Little c has a million times more sense than I had at her age and so I doubt her journey into young adulthood will have as many embarrassing moments as mine did. But, it's happening.
When she was little, she was my little princess going as Cinderella 3 Halloweens in a row. She loved lipstick & jewelry and always wore a matching hat. Then, The Incredibles happened... don't tell me the media doesn't influence kids! Little c became a Super Hero for years until just recently.
Now, she sometimes forgets to sleep with Pancake, her favorite stuffed dog. She's learning to do hair and makeup and the other day she became quite enamoured with a lovely blue dress. When she put it on and twirled around I almost cried... there's my little princess again, but she's all grown up.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

My First REAL Stir Fry... HELP!

2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine, apple juice or water
1 pound boneless beef round steak, cut into thin strips
3 cups broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounce) package frozen pea pods, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, undrained
hot cooked rice

In a bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce and wine, apple juice or water until smooth. Add beef and toss to coat; set aside.
In a large skillet, stir-fry broccoli, carrots, pea pods and onion in 1 tablespoon oil for 1 minute. Stir in water chestnuts. Cover and simmer for 4 minutes; remove and keep warm.
In the same skillet, stir-fry beef in remaining oil until meat reaches desired doneness. Return vegetables to pan; toss. Serve over rice.

*** To say that I am a novice cook is an understatement and this was the first time that I made this recipe and even a real stir fry meaning I didn't just make it up. I really hated it actually, but it could be really good, I think. I over steamed the veggies so they were kinda soggy. I made twice the amount of gravy which I think was good, but the gravy was pretty flavorless. I think that I would also double the amount of onion next time as well as add some garlic and a bit of ginger.. I used the apple juice option, but a question to those of you who cook more... would rice wine vinegar be good next time? Also, I would like it to have a little heat to it... is there a good Asian hot sauce that anyone can recommend? Any other suggestions??

Friday, April 03, 2009

All Passion Spent... Art or Family???

This film is an adaptation of Vita Sackville-West's 1931 novel. It is interesting if you go in for slow parlor dramas as I do. The gist of the story is that Lady Slane married for position and to please her family. She lives her life as a public servant's wife and does her duty beautifully, but only one man understands her and that man is someone who meets her once in India and looks into her eyes and knows that she has "sinned against the light" by becoming a wife and mother rather than an artist. Yep. Don't you get this all the time!?!?
Maybe back in the day, before disposable diapers you had to choose, but then there are the examples of Minerva Teichert and Madame Curie (who wasn't an artist I know, but still...)
Do we have time to pursue our passions and still be wife and mother? It is true that being an artist of any kind requires time which is difficult to find as a mother as you diligently do the things everyday that will bring your children success and happiness.
Hopefully a lifetime is time enough. Hopefully we have the time to raise a family and pursue our dreams. I find that being a mother adds a dimension to my pursuits in art, a happiness, that would not otherwise be there. Making art, whether it be canvases or sculpture a long side a beloved child is a joy I would not trade for a Manhattan exhibition.
In her book Things Good Mothers Know, Alexandra Stoddard writes, "As much as I respect the enlightenment of the Buddha, he left his wife and child in the middle of the night to pursue his inner search. But mothers can't leave. Mothers must pursue wisdom at home, in their daily lives, at the kitchen table." I know many women who do just that.. they pursue their dreams and goals at the kitchen table by carving out just a few minutes a day to better their art whatever it may be.
My own mother is a lover of art and all things beautiful. When I was young she pursed interests in art, French Hand Sewing, piece quilting, gardening, dress making, literature/reading, cooking, decorating and floral arrangement. She is the one of the most accomplished women I have ever met. She has unfailing taste, a true aesthete. She did all of that with 7 children.
In the end, I don't love this movie, because it doesn't ring true. You might have to give up some minor things... you might have to be less social than some would have you be.. you might have to say no sometimes, but there is time somewhere to paint and write... to study and learn. Small achievements every day add up to a large body of work over a lifetime. There is time for our dreams.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Jazzed Broccoli Casserole...

This is a jazzed up version of the old Broccoli Casserole recipe most Utah folks have had a million times. I really liked it, however next time I think I will saute my onions with the chicken to flavor the chicken and mellow out the onion. It was a big hit however and it's quite pretty on the table. I also served green grapes and red apple slices just because we are still trying to get those 5 a day in.


1 package chicken breasts
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 pound broccoli florets
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use the olive oil base kind)
1 cup (or so of) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 package dry stuffing mix (I just used Stove Top original)
1 T seasoning (I like Cholula Garlic, but any Italian seasoning would be fine)
3/4 C milk
A bit of chopped onion (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Cut chicken into medallion size pieces and saute in olive oil with salt and pepper until just done.
Meanwhile, steam broccoli until crisp but tender.
In a small bowl mix together the soup, mayonnaise, milk, seasoning, onion and cheese, then mix in cooked chicken and broccoli. Set aside. In a 9x13 inch greased baking dish, spread the rice and then add the chicken broccoli mixture on top. Prepare stuffing mix according to package direction and sprinkle over the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.