Thursday, January 28, 2010

We've Made a Decision

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Eric and I have been spending our evenings this week watching online episodes of The Amazing Race.

It's been fun, and relaxing, and an all-around enjoyable experience.


We both agree that none of you will ever ever ever ever ever see us on The Amazing Race.

We both feel that we have a pretty good marriage, with pretty good communication, and pretty complimentary senses of humor.

But, are we willing to let television cameras follow us around the world allowing the nation to analyze us as we endure one stressful situation after another?

Not even for a million dollars.

(Just in case you were wondering.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


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This post might get moved to the private Heather blog if I decide that it's really more appropriate over there.

Also--it's very possible that this is an experience that you had to be there in order to really appreciate.

Now you've been warned--read on if you so desire.


Shauna, Nicole, and I have been friends for many years. Shauna has the honor (?) of being my first ever voice student, and she is the only voice student to survive my "I'm having a baby so I'm not teaching voice lessons anymore" decision. That's because neither Shauna nor Nicole (Nicole is Shauna's accompanist, if you're wondering) get bent out of shape if I have to take a minute to hold/comfort/change Heather, or if Heather happens to roam over to the piano to plunk out a tune in the middle of our lesson, or if I e-mail them an hour before they are supposed to come over and tell them that I don't feel well or Heather doesn't feel well, or I've accidentally scheduled the piano tuner to come in the middle of our lesson, and would it be okay if we cancelled this week?

In short, Shauna and Nicole are easy easy easy to work with. Plus, they are good friends, and I really enjoy seeing them every week and doing a little bit of catching up, along with our singing.


So, last night, our friends Shauna and Nicole came over for our weekly voice lesson. We've been working on an arrangement of "O My Father", using a different melody than what is common (It's beautiful, and you can get a taste of it and even purchase it here, if you're interested).

Towards the end of the lesson, Heather decided she had endured enough of receiving only sporadic flashes of attention from her mother, and she marched over to me, whining and demanding (although not in so many words) that I pick her up. Not wanting to have a big battle at that particular moment, I gathered her into my arms, hoisted her on my hip, and we continued the lesson.

We got to a point in the song where the rhythm is a little bit syncopated, and Shauna was struggling with it, just a bit. So, I did what every amazing voice teacher would do, and we took a moment to drill the phrase in question.

Holding Heather in one arm, I made a makeshift metronome by snapping the fingers of my other hand, all while I said/sang;

"Okay, it's like this: Aaand I felt that aahie had WAN-dered . . . "

(Fingers snapping ONE two three, ONE two three, ONE two THREE one two three)

(I guess you really did have to be there.)

We practiced it a few times, focusing particularly on the area that was causing us the most trouble, which happened to be the word "wandered". We alternated between singing it together and me singing it alone so Shauna could hear it, always with the snapping fingers.

When I felt confident that we had done enough drilling, I asked Nicole to go back to the beginning of the phrase so that we could work into the more difficult area. As Nicole was turning the pages of the music, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Heather (still in my arms) shaking one of her hands in rhythm towards Shauna's direction. As she was shaking that little hand, she was looking right at Shana and singing, "waa-daa-daa-daa".

Now, I know right about now, you're thinking "big deal", and you're right. Any little monkey can imitate, and this probably isn't nearly as amazing as my first-time-mother brain and heart is wanting to make it. But before you completely write me off as an absolutely hopeless case, get this:

Heather's hand was shaking in exactly the same syncopated rhythm that we'd been singing,

and . . .

she was perfectly on pitch.

I think the next time I'm feeling less than par on a Tuesday night I won't bother to cancel the lesson.

Apparently Heather can sub for me now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

unexpected benefits

A few weeks ago, my mom told me that every time she sees a pair of stone lions, she thinks of me.

(It's been almost three years since I wrote about stone lions.)


Blogging . . . the gift that keeps on giving.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

maybe I should change "quirky-ness" to "random-ness"

So, last night Eric chanced to look at my blog. The first thing he said was, "Wow, that's a very interesting picture of you."

Yup. I agree. (Last night my pride wouldn't let me agree, but that's another story that I won't share here).

Should I have combed through years and years of photos to find one of me with yarn that was more flattering?

Perhaps, but I think I would have had to gone back to my pre-digital camera shots, which would have meant digging and scanning and remembering how to use software that I almost never use. Frankly, I wasn't up for it.

In other news . . .

I'm trying to lose weight. It's been a half-hearted attempt for awhile, but I'm getting more serious about it. Serious enough that I'm reading Thin For Life again, and I've decided to reward myself a little bit with every pound that I lose, and then bigger rewards at 5 and 10 pounds. If I get to my goal weight (which is nearly twenty pounds away and is a weight I haven't seen in about 5 years, so I'm not holding my breath for that one), I'll get a great big giant reward. So giant I haven't even decided what it is yet. Don't you fret though, I'll come up with something amazing.

Anyway, along this line, I could use your help, if you were so kind as to offer it. Specifically, I could use your opinions as to what are your top five (or two or seventeen) peppy tunes.

See, the little one-pound reward is a new song downloaded to my i-pod shuffle. I only use the shuffle for cleaning and exercising, and a song runs between $1 and $1.50, so I figure that's a pretty good reward. Something I love, something that's cheap and doesn't involve chocolate, something that will keep me motivated, on a few different levels.

I've lost two pounds since I enacted the reward system. Wanna know my reward picks so far? "Sway" by Michael Bouble, and "Say" by John Mayer. (Your reccomendations don't have to start with "S" or rhyme though--Never fear!)

I'm running out of songs on my wish list, and I'd love to get your suggestions. If you're too shy to comment with your real name, you can comment anonymously. If you're too shy to do that, you can e-mail me at the address on the sidebar.

So, how about it? Please?

And last of all . . .

I've been going through my 2009 pictures lately and picking out the 702 mega bytes that are the very best so that I can make one "Best of 2009" picture CD, in addition to the twelve picture CDs that hold each month's photos. I'm toying with the idea of posting one from each month for the next little while. I guess we'll see how long I keep with it, but for now at least, here's one of my favorites from January of 2009.

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Don't even get me started on how fast that year flew by.

Monday, January 18, 2010

(shave and a haircut) Two Bits

A bit of business:

If you happen to click on this link right here, you will be taken to "Trapped Between a Scream and a Hug", a blog put together and maintained by Rachel Sue. She writes about all kinds of things, from gardening, to her four kids and the funny things they say and do, to being sick, to books, to buying Frosty Floats and eating them in the car so you don't get caught and have to share.

But, TODAY she is writing about yours truly.
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(This picture was taken back in the days when I used to let Heather play with my yarn. Let's just say that experience is a brutal teacher and those days are long long gone.)

Well, okay, if you must know, she's mainly writing about crocheted hats made by yours truly.

In addition to writing about my little hat-and-other-crocheted-things venture, she's hosting a giveaway. And it's not just any giveaway either. Basically, if you win, you can get any one item in my shop priced $40 or less for absolutely free. To give you an idea of what that means, basically right now I have 49 things in my shop. Only three of them cost more than $40. So, it's a pretty good deal, don't you think?

It's also my first time being "plugged" by an outside source. So, I'm more than a little curious to see what happens.

Ya know?


A bit of fun:

I had a glorious Saturday. Heather, Eric and I all slept in until 8:30. Life was good. I didn't get out of my pajamas until 10:30. After that I did a little cleaning (with peppy tunes of course), did a little organizing, and did a lot of playing (with my Heather).

When I finally did get dressed, I chose to wear my favorite turtleneck that I bought at a thrift store at least ten years ago. It's olive green, ribbed, Eddie Bauer, and (unfortunately) has an un-removable stain right in the front. I covered the stain up with the black obnoxious Hawaiian shirt that I bought (again at a thrift store) for Eric to wear to our friends Hawaii 5-0 birthday party last fall. (Eric wore it that night and refused to wear it again. It's mine now.) A pair of gray jeans belonging to Eric completed the outfit. Keep in mind that I am an inch or two taller than Eric.

I was looking gooood.

I went through my day, catching up on this, puttering around that. I made Christmas tamales (since I didn't get around to that at Christmastime this year). I even went to the grocery store in my Saturday finery, picking up salsa, tortillas, Diet Pepsi (caffeinated for Eric, caffeine-free for me) and a six-month supply of white flour.

When Heather woke up from her nap, I had just gotten all the tamales in the steaming pot, and was cleaning up the mess in the kitchen. She was crabby, as is sometimes the case after a nice long nap. So, I let the dishes sit in the sink for awhile, and I picked her up, and we danced around the kitchen, into the living room, and back to the kitchen over and over and over again, all the while listening and singing along to "Beyond the Sea" by Kevin Spacey pretending to be Bobby Darin*.

Eric laughed at us, and we laughed at him, and it was one of those moments that I want to keep in my heart forever.

The best moment of a really exceptionally good day.

*Eric downloaded the whole soundtrack to "Beyond the Sea" for me for Christmas. I love it. Really. I love love love it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


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"We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan."

-(The Proclamation on the Family, 5th paragraph)

It's been awhile since I've done a post on the Proclamation on the Family, and if you've joined us since then, you can go here for a little bit of explanation. Then you can go here and see what I've already written about the first, second, third, and fourth paragraphs.

Done all that? Okay! Back to the post!

There are several different statements I could make or thoughts I could share about this statement. For one, I like knowing that the process of procreation was appointed by God. Rather than going into that though, I want to say a few words about my favorite phrase in this sentence.

"the sanctity of life".

I love thinking about that--the sanctity of life.

I love thinking about babies, born an unborn, and how their lives are sacred.

I love thinking about my life, and the lives of everyone else in the world--and how those lives are sacred.

Knowing that gives me an added incentive to try to do a little better.

And then, knowing that life in general, and my life in specific is important in God's eternal plan?

Well, it gives me hope and makes me feel loved, and cared for, and cared about.

After all, if you had a plan, a really important plan, a plan that you cared a lot about, what would you do with the components of that plan that were critical to the success of that plan?

Would you abandon them? Would you leave them to their own devices and just hope that all would function as it needed to?

I wouldn't.

I would care for them. I would watch over them constantly. I would do all that I could do to ensure that they were supported and loved and had all the help that they needed.

Wouldn't you?

(For more of my writings along this line, click on the label "Family Proclamation" on the sidebar. I've written about the Proclamation on the Family a few times before, and I'm planning to write about it from time to time for the next little while.)

[image found here at wikimedia commons]

Friday, January 15, 2010

'cause really, there's just NOTHING as exciting as a good quilt

Sometimes I wonder if I was adopted.

Not really though. I mean, I worry like my father, sing like my mother, rotate my clothes like my grandfather, and sometimes am mistaken for my sister.

So much for that theory.

When I most wonder though, is when I'm in my mother's sewing room.

When I was little, my mom had a sewing closet, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. It was like one of those closets with the folding doors that you see in bedrooms that don't have a walk-in closet. She had a table that went the width of the closet, and then on either side she had shelves, full of material.

Then a few years went by . . .

At some point, one of the upstairs bedrooms was converted into her sewing room, and what was the sewing closet became the computer closet.

A few more years went by . . .

After my mom and dad had successfully gotten rid of a few of us kids, they took a wall out upstairs and what had once been the sewing room and the baby room became one big sewing room, complete with walls and walls of cabinets and shelves for fabric, a television and VCR/DVD player, an in-the-wall ironing board, and two sewing machines, always ready to be pressed into service.

Honestly though, if anyone deserves or can make good use out of a well-stocked sewing room, it's my mom. She's sewed everything for me from my baby clothes to my prom dresses to curtains for my first house to my bridal veil to baby clothes for my daughter. When they were first married, she made my dad a suit. Halloween costumes? Don't even get me started.

Lately (as in, over the past five or so years), she's really been into quilting. She makes I Spy quilts and Christmas quilts, and quilts for the LDS Humanitarian projects, and quilts for babies, and quilts for anyone and anything.

Which brings us to the point of this whole post . . .

My mother gave birth to two daughters. Her first daughter (me) tried to learn to sew for several years, and (as has been chronicled a bit in this blog) has given up.

Her second daughter has been more intrepid and more successful in this area, and has quite a few Halloween costumes, and I believe even a few quilts to her credit.

However, when my second oldest brother married his wife, my mother got the sewing daughter that she hadn't been able to receive genetically. Melissa is a sewer, and even more, Melissa is a quilter. Is she ever!

And now, for the first time ever, you can share in Melissa's talent. For, following my stellar example, Melissa has opened up an etsy shop, and stocked it with her own I Spy quilt kits! Just think! You won't need to spend hours and hours poring over fabric looking for just the right squares. You won't need to spend hours and hours cutting little six inch squares to make your quilt. You will need to spend a few hours putting it all together, but really, that just makes it worth all the more to you, right?


Are you wondering where you can see these little kits of to-be-quilted goodness? I know you are!

Well, wait no further!

Click here:

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and quilt away!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

intrigue and adventure (and a few tangents)

So, yesterday morning I looked at my handy-dandy menu schedule that I keep on the refrigerator. I schedule meals for two weeks at at time. However, because of this and that, we don't follow it religiously, and so I only actually make the two-week schedule every 4 weeks or so.

Anyway . . .

The first thing on the schedule that we hadn't already eaten (that was on the menu for January 7th incidentally,) was Sweet & Sour Chicken--using a new recipe in my "30 low-fat meals in 30 minutes" cookbook.

However . . .

As I was pawing my way through our freezer, looking for frozen chicken breasts, I came across an un-labeled Ziploc bag, containing meat of uncertain properties.

By which I mean that I couldn't tell by looking at it exactly what kind of meat it was.

I knew it wasn't ground beef, and I knew it wasn't chicken. It looked kind of like pork, but not exactly.

Knowing how things can get lost in the freezer, and imagining myself cleaning up in five years or so only to find this bag of meat, the one that I had told myself that we would eat "someday", I (uncharacteristically) changed my menu plans. Pulling the mystery meat out of the freezer, I determined to let it thaw and then work our dinner plans around whatever this happened to be.

It was high adventure time in the Cantwell home, believe you me!

Five hours later, I had my answer.


Specifically, ham that we took home with us from our glorious Christmas Eve Celebration at Eric's brother's home.

Good delicious ham that I had put in the freezer because we were going out of town and I didn't want it to spoil before we could eat it. Only I forgot to label it, because I was certain that I'd be able to remember what it was and how we got it.

I thumbed through my cookbooks, and found a slow-cooker chowder recipe that I thought would be just the thing.

I was right. It was delicious, easy, and made the house smell great. What could you want more than that?

And so, I give you the recipe. I imagine it would even be good if you were to actually plan to make it in advance.

Just a note--I halved the ingredients. That's because Eric and I are trying to be better about not taking seconds, and Heather doesn't eat vegetables, with the exception of tomatoes and cream of broccoli soup. She also doesn't like ham, which is something that I learned yesterday.

(One day Heather and I will have words and probably even a battle of wills over her eating habits, but I wasn't up to it yesterday.)

Happy Wednesday to you.

Farmhouse Ham and Vegetable Chowder

2 cans cream of celery soup (c of chicken soup works fine here)

2 cups diced cooked ham (or one medium sized Ziploc bag full of leftover ham)
1 pkg frozen corn, thawed (or a can of corn is fine-just make sure you drain it first)

1 large potato, cut into ½ inch pieces

½ tsp dried thyme

2 cups small broccoli florets (or a thawed package of frozen mixed vegetables including broccoli, carrots, red peppers, and I don't remember what else)

½ cup milk

Combine soup, ham, corn, potato, and thyme in slow cooker; mix well. Cover, cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours.

Stir in broccoli/vegetables & milk. Cover; cook on high 15 minutes or until heated through and broccoli is crisp-tender.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Things may be a little sporadic around here for awhile.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, a little overstressed, a little like I need to sit down and have a chat with myself about what are the things I have to do, what are the things I like to do, and what are the things that don't exactly fit in either of those two buckets.

(But just a little. I'm learning that life is better for all of us when I try to nip these things in the bud. So, it's just a little.)

Blogging is one of those things that isn't an easy fit either place.

It's definitely a like-to, but sometimes it feels a little bit like a have-to, and you remember my rule about that, right?

So, I'm not going on blogging vacation or anything like that, but I AM giving myself permission to go a week or more without posting anything. I'm also giving myself permission to post things that are boring, not funny, funny only to me, short, long, or whatever.

(I know--now you're thinking, "Well, with the exception of going for a week without posting, What exactly is going to be different from what you do now?")

Nothing. Nothing at all.

And now that I've gone through the trouble of posting this, I'll probably be once again seized with the blogging bug, and you'll see post after post here of witty tales of quirky-ness starting tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.

Or maybe not.

I guess we'll just have to see.

Friday, January 08, 2010

why I still use a baby monitor for my almost 16-month old

Today's entry from the gratitude journal:

"It's 7:32 (a.m.). I'm sitting in my rocking chair. The light therapy light is on, I've just spent 15 minutes* working out, and I'm listening to Heather babble to herself on the baby monitor.

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Life is good. "

*I try to get a 30-minute walk or yoga session in before Heather wakes up in the morning. However, quite frequently weather, illness, teeth (as in Heather's coming in), and/or malfunctioning alarm clocks thwart my plans. I used to completely give up whenever that would happen, but lately I've been trying the "fifteen (or ten or twenty) minutes is better than zero minutes" approach. So far, so good.

**The picture doesn't exactly relate to the post, but aren't those two cute? (Say yes, please.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


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me and my grandma--obviously in the 1970s

I made bread today. As I was cutting the heel off the loaf off and spreading a (thinner-than-used-to-be-the-case) layer of butter over it I was reminded, as usual, of my grandmother.

Specifically, I was reminded of a time, during what turned out to be the last year of her life, when I was visiting her home. She was a widow then, and it was just her and me there at the home that night. It was evening time, probably around 8:00 or so. I had just gotten into town and made my way to her home, where I was going to be spending the night.

Grandma had just made bread, and after I had settled my things in the north room* and come downstairs to the kitchen, she offered me the heel of a freshly made loaf, implying that she had saved it for me because it was the best part.

For me, the heel wasn't the best part of the loaf, and I demurred, telling her that I couldn't deprive her of the luxury. As I poured us each a glass of milk, grandma cut two slices of bread, and again offered me the heel, with an inviting smile, and the words, "Really, I'd like you to have it this time."

Not wanting to be ungrateful, I took the heel, thanked her, and we ate our bread together.

It was delicious.

These days?

The heel is my favorite as well.

*It actually might have been the east room. I only know my directions in Cache Valley and Cedar City, and so I was always confused when my grandparents would refer to their (Salt Lake City) upstairs bedrooms by using the signs of the compass. Usually I would just nod, and then later ask my mother which room they were talking about--the old girls bedroom, the old boys bedroom, or the bedroom with the refrigerator in it.

Friday, January 01, 2010

I don't want to start putting Christmas away yet, so I'm blogging instead

Happy New Year!

I'm sitting at the computer, alternating between coughing into my sleeve and blowing my nose into the super-soft-lotion-infused tissues that I was inspired to purchase shortly before Christmas (a small Christmas miracle, that).

Eric is at Borders, presumably spending the gift card that he received from my brother and his wife. Heather is gleefully destroying the living room.

Seriously. I just took a quick glance her way, and she's found her way into the box that had our Christmas presents and some of the wrapping paper. The living room is now strewn with gift bags, tissues, toys, books, and pajamas. Now she has found her way to the shoe basket near the door, and has begun the arduous process of distributing footwear to the four corners of our downstairs.

Sometimes, it's just really hard to care, you know?

So, since we're practicing procrastination and avoidance today, I thought I'd post some pictures of fifteen of my favorite minutes that transpired in my parents home on December 26.

(If you'd like a little background, you might look back to this post. Or, if you're feeling lazy, I'll just remind you that my family is quite competitive, and we are able to make a contest out of pretty much anything. And with that, I think you can figure it all out from here.)

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I saved my favorite for last. I call this one:


(Get it? Remember Frosty the Snowman? "With a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal?"
I'm killin' me here!)

And I think that pretty much proves that it's naptime for both Heather and me.

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