Wednesday, September 28, 2011

made over

A few years ago, the Pauni family in our community was on the receiving end of an Extreme Home Makeover.  I wasn't directly involved, so my memory is kind of hazy, but I do remember it being a very big deal, one which involved a whole lot of monetary donations and donations of time and materials by people in Cache Valley.  I remember it being a big unifying event in our community.  Although the actual home that was made-over isn't exactly on any of my regular routes, almost every time I am in the general area where it all took place, I think back to that time.

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Probably because of those memories, I've read with interest (and sadness) the accounts of other recipients--stories that aren't so happy.  I've heard rumors of severely increased property taxes, second mortgages being taken out, even one possible foreclosure.  I've read opinions of those who cast blame at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (EMHE), hinting, or coming right out and saying, that if the homes weren't so over the top, they would serve the recipients better, and would avoid these kinds of problems.

To be perfectly frank, that view seems a little "gift horse-y" to me.  In every episode of EMHE I've seen, I've witnessed a family in dire need of a better living situation get exactly that.  I've seen local people come together and do the lion's share of the work to make that living situation a reality.  I've seen wonder and awe and intense gratitude on the part of those who have given and those who have received.  And, chances are extremely slim that any of it would have happened without the catalyst that is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  

Sure, the homes are extravagant, and have bells and whistles that are so extreme that it's almost silly.  But, that's why it's called EXTREME Makeover.  That's also a big part of why millions of hobby home decorators tune in every week--to see the story unfold, but also to see what crazy decor and installations the designers will dream up and implement.  Does a seven year old boy really need a sculptured waterfall in his bedroom or a concession stand complete with flavored oxygen in his basement?  Probably not.  But, people tune in to see that kind of stuff, and because they tune in, the show continues to run, and families and communities continue to reap big benefits because of it.  


That's the main thing that I took from watching Episode 902/The Gomez Family.  As I mentioned on the earlier post, the Gomez's live in the Salt Lake Valley, and are Mormons, so there was much in the episode that was very familiar to me.  (The Gomez's even keep gratitude journals, which, while not necessarily a Mormon thing or a Utah thing,  is definitely  a Charlotte thing.)  I loved seeing my mountains in nearly every outdoor shot.  I was totally intrigued when the designers went out to Kennecott Mine, which happens to be the largest open pit copper mine in the world, and an employer that helped my dad earn his way through school, (with the help of my mom, and without any help from infant me).  I was impressed that the decision was made to give the Gomez family an income property as well, to help with medical bills and living expenses (and increased property taxes?).  I cried to the point of needing tissues at a certain spot which involved a certain soccer game, which I would love to tell you about, but I don't want to spoil the glorious surprise.  They even managed to work in a plug for good old ancestry.com along the way, which I found both slightly humorous and totally brilliant.

Yes, there were moments that were a little (or a lot) cheesy.  Yes, the show abounds with product placement at nearly every turn.  But Jonah and Ellie Gomez aren't living in their grandma's basement anymore, and as of yesterday afternoon, I'm on my way to becoming a part of the Bone Marrow Match Registry.

Pretty good results, if you ask me.




 


Episode 902 of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will be aired on CBS on Sunday, October 2.

(pauni week image courtesy of equea.com)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

update from the backyard

Remember back when I put some homemade washable paint on my monthly roundup and said that I wanted to try it sometime?

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We did.

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It was awesome.


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The end.



(p.s.  I should make it clear that those rocks were not painted with the homemade washable paint.  They were actually painted on a previous painting activity, with those acrylic paints that you squeeze out of those little bottles.  The homemade washable paint is more along the lines of sidewalk chalk in both texture, color, and durability.  Just don't want anyone to be disappointed you know.)


Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm kind of a big deal (in case you haven't noticed)

(What?  You haven't noticed?)

* * *

So, a few weeks back, this guy from Extreme Home Makeover contacted me to see if I wanted to preview an upcoming episode.  Turns out, this Sunday they're doing an episode where they highlight a Mormon family in the Salt Lake Valley, and more specifically a little boy, who has a super-rare (as in, he's the only kid who has been found to have it) blood disorder.

Naturally, I was flattered, and intrigued.  So, we exchanged a few e-mails, and yesterday he sent me the rough version of the episode for me to view.  (I'd share the link with y'all, but it's password-protected, and I'm forbidden to share it anyway, which I guess makes sense.  Besides, anyone who wants to will be able to watch it on Sunday anyway.)  I've watched about five minutes of it, and so far I'm really liking it, which is always a good sign.

So anyway, I'm hoping to get the rest of the episode watched either today or tomorrow, and then I'll post some of my thoughts shortly after that.  They're not compensating me in any way to watch it or write about it, so you know, I don't really have a conflict of interest about it or anything like that.

Anyway, if you'll indulge me, I'd appreciate it.  I mean, it's pretty cool, right?  One day you're positing pictures of lions and hosting random musical competitions, and the next, you're previewing secret episodes of televisions shows on a major network.  Can half-tees and basa body products be far behind?  I think not!  Watch out CJane, there's a new Mormon blogger in town!

(Anyone in Cache Valley wanna help me put on a Rooftop Concert Series?)


(Don't answer that--I am soooo kidding there.  Me, put on a concert series?  I think I'd rather stick a fork in my eye.)





 

Friday, September 23, 2011

It all boils down to love.

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Heather lives it up with Grandpa Deon and Grandma Helen

Many years ago, when I had been working at the festival (which is what my employer wants us to start calling the opera company now--since our official name is Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, and calling it "the opera company" is intimidating to some people and they think they can't come see our shows because they don't like opera, which is silly because opera is kind of fun, and musicals, which we do every year are exceptionally fun) for only a few years, I met Deon and Helen.

At that time, I had no idea what a blessing that would turn out to be.  


They both started working at the opera festival at the same time, Deon as a handy-man and Helen as a gardener, with both of them sharing janitorial tasks.  I honestly don't remember the first time I met them, which seems a little odd to me now, but I guess that's how it goes sometimes.

Anyway, to make a long story full of details that are now hazy in my mind short, Deon and Helen and I became fast friends, and I started relying on them like a kind of local set of parents.  They would both check in with me when we were in the office, and I would call them when I needed advice about plumbers, garbage disposals, and dentists.  I still remember on that fateful September 11, my mom and I had driven to Denver to visit family, and when everything fell apart, Deon was very concerned that we were stranded somewhere (thinking that we had flown rather than driven).  He asked around the office and eventually called me on my cell phone to make sure we were all right.  That meant the world to me.

Those kinds of actions were pretty typical.  I have been able to count on Deon and Helen since almost the first day I met them.  It was Deon that I took with me to check out the townhome that we live in now (Eric and I weren't even dating yet back then).  I still remember what he told me.  "For the money, I don't know that you're going to find something that is a 'dolled up' as this one is."  ('dolled up' referring to crown molding, laminate/tile floors, and nicer-than-average light fixtures.)  It was Helen that I had on my most exclusive babysitting list.  Perhaps that needs a bit of explanation.

Right after Heather was born, I started a list.  Anytime anyone said, "If you ever need someone to watch that girl, you can call me", I put them on the list.  It gave me a nice secure feeling to look at that list as I felt my old familiar pre-planned and perfectly within my control life slipping away.  (Except, who am I kidding?  Slipped away?  That life was yanked away as soon as that little girl was born.  (and I wouldn't have it any other way.)) Helen was/still is on that list.

However, there was another list.  It was the "if I can't get any sleep and I'm panicking because I know I can't face another day feeling this tired and this out of control and I'm right at the edge of my sanity, then I know I can call these people and they will pretty much drop anything to help me out and take Heather so that I can get a nap."  That list was naturally much shorter, because you really don't want everyone in the world to see you at your absolute scraping the bottom of the barrel of sanity low.  It was very very short actually.  But, Helen was on it.

These are just a few of the blessings have come into my life from this friendship.  I could go on and on about conversations, and babysitting, and phone calls, and visits, and the moose on their wall and how Heather calls their house "the moose house" because of it, and more and more and more.  But really, it all boils down to love.  A whole lot of love that came my way at a time when I wasn't at all expecting it.  A whole lot of love that I've had since then.  A whole lot of love that I treasure more than I can say.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

dreamin'

I've thought of something else to add to my list of things that I would do if I had more money than I could possibly spend.



quirky 9-11

I'd buy 365 brand new sweatshirts and wear one every day.  
(Even if I only wore it for the last 30 minutes of the day.)


There is just nothing like the feel of a brand new sweatshirt.  


The End.


image courtesy of rikmd

Sunday, September 18, 2011

on grace and piano lessons, and having Someone to pull with

Awhile back, in response to this post, Harmony referred me to this talk (which can be read by clicking on the link back there, or viewed by clicking on the link here.)

The title of the talk is "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox, and as I read it, I found several points which were interesting and helpful to me.  I've put a few of them below.

 * * *

"Grace is not about filling gaps.  [as in, the gaps between what our behavior is and what our behavior should be.]  It is about filling us."

"Christ's arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child.  Mom pays the piano teacher . . . Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something.  What is it?  Practice!  Does the child's practice pay the piano teacher?  No.  Does the child's practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher?  No.  Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom's incredible gift.  It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level.  Mom's joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used--seeing her child improve.  And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice."

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Me-around age 8 or so.  

"Some [Christians] are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next.  They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place.  Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saves us from but also what He has saved us for."

"The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment.  Its purpose is change." (Dallin H Oaks, emphasis in original)


"A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ's life."  (Brett Sanders)


"While many Christians view Christ's suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, Latter-day Saints also recognize it as a huge investment He made in us."  (Omar Canals)


"[In cases of falling short of perfect obedience to the commandments of God] there should never be just two options:  perfection or giving up.  When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting?  No.  Growth and development take time.  Learning takes time.  When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives.  When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ's Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness.  When we understand grace, we can . . . continue in patience until we are perfected."

"Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done 'all we can do'. (2 Nephi 25:23)    He is with us every step of the way."

"Grace is not a booster engine that kicks in once our fuel supply is exhausted.  Rather, it is our constant energy source.  It is not the light at the end of the tunnel but the light that moves us through the tunnel.  Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road.  It is received right here and right now.  it is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher's touch (see Hebrews 12:2). "

"Seek Christ, and, as you do . . .you will feel the enabling power we call His amazing grace. . . . I'm pulling for you, and I'm not the only one.  parents are pulling for you, leaders are pulling for you, and prophets are pulling for you.  And Jesus is pulling with you."  (emphasis in original)

* * *

There's so much there that I really love, but I think my favorite is right there in the end.  For nearly twenty years now, I've had a mental image that I go to at times when I feel overwhelmed or afraid.  It's a scene of a sailboat in a storm.  The storm is dark and dangerous and scary, and I'm the only one in the boat.  Since I don't know how to sail, it's a pretty grim situation.    But then, I look up to the front (bow?  stern?) of the boat, and see that I'm not the only one in the boat, because Christ is there, with his masterful sailing talent and perfect love to boot.  Then I know I'm going to be just fine, that I'm safer in that boat in the crazy storm than I would ever be on dry land.

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Image from Wikimedia Commons

When I read that last sentence, the image changes to one of two of us, Christ and me, pulling on the ropes (rigging?) of the boat, steering out of danger and getting us to where we want to be.






Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adventures in the Kitchen

In case you haven't noticed, I've been trying to be more healthy in our foods around here.

To the point that I make my own yogurt weekly.

To the point that I use wheat flour in most of my baking.

To the point that (gasp) we don't keep Diet Pepsi in the house anymore, and instead use the slightly less-caffeinated and significantly less sodiumed Crystal Light Energy powder.

But, I reached my zenith as well as the bottom of my barrel a bit ago, when (following a recipe touted by my cousin Mary Ann),  I made eggplant burgers.

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The following two pictures pretty much sum up our experience with that.  



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Let's just say that it will be a long long long long long long long long long time before another eggplant burger graces a table in our home.

In fairness to Mary Ann, she often posts recipes that I find utterly delicious, which is why I had high hopes for the eggplant burgers.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Roasted Green Cabbage Wedges
Malted Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hummus
Guacamole Hummus




Saturday, September 10, 2011

random musings of "a theatre person" at the end of a gloriously fabulous day

We just returned home from a little jaunt to Salt Lake City where we saw the touring production of Mary Poppins, accompanied by my parents and brother and sister-in-law.





I loved it.  

Several of us were worried when we saw one of those dreaded slips in our programs--the slip that told us that our actress that was playing Mary Poppins wasn't the regular actress.  We needn't have feared though.  She was marvelous.

There was a little girl, (not much older than Heather) sitting in front of us, and while she seemed to enjoy the show, I kind of marveled at the thought that someone would shell out Broadway Musical bucks for a girl to see a show that would probably have about the same impact on her as would a community theatre production, or even a movie.  (To each their own though.)

As Eric and I were leaving the theatre, he remarked that it was "a little over the top" for him, and "a theatre person's dream".  He hastened to say he enjoyed it though, (once I gave him a quizzical look).

I don't really think of myself as "a theatre person", but I suppose according to Eric's definition, I am.  I absolutely loved it.  There's even tap dancing!  How often do you get to see tap dancing anymore?

Heck, there was upside down tap dancing!


I could gush a little more, and give all the details of what everyone else said, and elaborate on how the man that played Mr. Banks reminded me of a guy I used to work with, and how after the show Eric lugged a box full of nine bottles of pears for three blocks because my mom brought them for us (at my request) but we weren't parked in the same place, and how disappointed I am that my favorite Capitol Theatre parking lot is now only available in the afternoons, because in the evening it is used for valet parking for Ruth's Chris Steakhouse . . .

But really, I think I've said enough for today.


(Thanks Becca, for the excellent recommendation)








 

Merry Christmas to Me!

Oh yeah! Another lion picture (complete with fountain) 

 here



 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Round-up--September edition, maybe the last one?

It's that time again!  
My random collection of web wonders and magazine marvels awaits you below!  



This time-out mat cracks me up.  Right now we make Heather sit on the stairs when she does something worthy of time out, but I could see this mat being an alternative.  If nothing else, it would probably help lighten my mood during an otherwise frustrating episode.  




We have a couple of glass pans with our names etched in them (thanks to awesome sisters and sisters-in-law), so I don't know that I'm going to be making another anytime soon.  However, I laughed at the story that accompanies the tutorial for this pan.  I found it so funny, (in a prankster semi-irreverent kind of way) that I just had to put a link here.  




Did you know that you can make glow lanterns like this just by cracking up glow-sticks and pouring the liquid in a glass bottle?  Neither did I.  
(There's also a link to a really delicious chocolate cake here, but the ingredients for the cake include hot coffee (I could try subbing Postum I guess) and the frosting/mousse includes whiskey.  So, it might be awhile before you find the cake in our kitchen.  Still--how important would that whiskey be?  Would it's omission ruin the cake?  I think not.)





This post links to about ten other posts where there are descriptions and tutorials on how to give yourself a floor/table/counter makeover, using pennies.  I love the look of this.  I'm tempted to try it on one of our tables just to see if it's as cool as I think it is, but we'll see.  






This recipe looks delish.  
(Another fast Sunday treat in the making perhaps?)






This woman tried this recipe for homemade Oxy Clean, and said that it took stains out better than anything she had ever purchased before.  It's probably worth a try. 




Having said that, here's a cheap and easy tip from my good friend Jeri that I know to be effective from my own personal experience.  


These look impressive, but the directions make me think that even I could manage something along these lines.  Hey, anything is possible.  

From my weekly Relief Society Newsletter:  To keep weeds out of flower beds, wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go, cover with mulch and forget about weeds.  Weeds will get through some gardening plastic but they will not get through wet newspapers.  (I'm thinking about transferring some of the strawberry patch from the patio planter buckets to actual dirt.  I might try this method if I do.)


I love this.  Can't you just see "Heather" there on the wall, surrounded by embroidery hoops filled with fun fabric?  I've got a free fabric supplier (although I have to go down to Cedar City to make good on that contact), I'm thinking that maybe it's time for an update on Heather's room.



Food lush has a great tip for keeping berries fresh longer.  I'm always stressed about berries, especially raspberries.  It seems like as soon as I get them, I either have to freeze them, jam, them or eat them immediately or they start to get soft and furry.  However, if you make a mixture of one part white or apple cider vinegar and 10 parts water, you can dump the berries in there, swirl them around, and apparently they'll last a week or more.  Supposedly you can't taste the vinegar either, because the solution is so diluted.  I'll definitely be trying this little trick in the future.

UPDATE:  I tried it.  Works like a charm!


I love bringing a little bit of the outdoors into our home, particularly on our breakfast nook table.   In spring it was flowers, but pretty soon, we'll have autumn leaves to choose.  Problem is, all my vases are glass, (read:  fragile, dangerous, and easily tipped over) and probably not the best choice to have around curious little fingers.  However, if I made one (or more) of these up, I could bring the outdoors inside without worrying about that kind of calamity.  This is one craft I might actually get around to doing.




This bubble recipe looks easy and fun.


We travel Interstate 15 a lot, Heather and I (and sometimes Eric).  I like these ideas for nutritious but not quite as messy as they could be road trip snacks.  Heather and I are headed on a 6-hour road trip next month.  It might be the perfect time to try these ideas out.



This looks fun, and with Heather's recent facination with painted rocks, it might be a good way to learn and practice the complexities of lower-case letter.  





Of course I had to post this one.  Even if I don't sew, A Charlotte doll?  Of course!  




This is fun.  That's all.



I love this super-easy idea for coloring in the car on long (one-adult) road trips.  No more having to pull over to rescue dropped crayons!

UPDATE:  I just tried this for our little mini-road trip to Springville last weekend.  On the trip down, it worked great!  Unfortunately, I left them in the (hot hot) car while we were actually in Springville, so they were essentially destroyed by the time we were ready to go home.  Next road trip though?  I'm all over it again, and now I know my lesson about hot cars.  




And now, after all this goodness, I have news for you all.  These round-ups may be coming to an end.  See, I've discovered Pinterest, a website where you can basically make virtual corkboards full of pictures that provide links to stuff you like.  So, basically it's a whole site dedicated to the kinds of things that I put on these round-ups, except that it is WAY LESS WORK to get them there than it is to get them here.  So, I'm doing more "rounding up" over there these days, and less "rounding up" over here.  

I'm kind of new to Pinterest, but apparently, it gives you the option of "following" someone over there, much like you can check blogs over here.  So, you're welcome to follow me there, if you want to, and if you're more Pinterest-abled than I am, and can figure out how. 

And now for the magazines:

From Readers Digest:

Experts say that younger children are starved for hands-on, focused playtime.  So, set a quiet timer for 15 minutes, and drop the cell phone and play like you used to.  Take a trip to the backyard to look for bugs, make a couch fort, or just tell a story (advises Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, PhD, author of Einstein Never Used Flash Cards.  Even short bursts of interactive and imaginative play provide big developmental payoffs for kids from two to ten.  My mother-in-law is great at this, especially the backyard bug field trips.  I think it's time I took a page from her book.  

Something to think about:  "Our children look to us with the same unanswered question we had.  'Is this it, Daddy?  Am I doing good?'  It's why every child growing up says, 'Watch me.'  Our kids don't hold back because they are afraid to fail.  They are only afraid of failing us.  They do not worry about being disappointed.  Their fear --as mine was until [I received a letter my father wrote me]--is of being a disappointment.  Give your child permission to succeed.  If you don't have children, then write a letter to someone who looks up to you.  You know who they are.  They are waiting for you to believe in them.  I always knew my parents loved me.  But trust me:  That belief will be more complete, that love will be more real and their belief in themselves will be greater is you write the words on their hearts:  'Don't worry; you will do something great.'  Not having that blessing from someone they love may be the only thing holding them back."
(This is a great article, and can be read in its entirety here.)

From Better Homes & Gardens:

When things go on sale:
Appliances on Holiday weekends, Cameras & Camcorders in February and March, Carpet & Flooring in January, China & Flatware in March and September, Computers in August and December, Cookware in May, June, and December, Dining Furniture in October and November, Electronics in spring and early summer, also Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Furniture in January, July, and holiday weekends, Holiday Decor, the day after the holiday (duh), Linens in January, Mattresses from May through August, Paint in the summer, Patio Furniture after Labor Day, Plants, Trees, and Shrubs in the Fall, Small Appliances in December, Snowblowers in April, Televisions in early spring, also six to 12 months after a particular model is launched, and Vacuum Cleaners in April & May.  

So, put another way:
January--Furniture, Linens
February--Cameras & Camcorders
March--Cameras & Camcorders, China & Flatware, Electronics, Televisions
April--Electronics, Snowblowers, Vacuum Cleaners
May--Cookware, Electronics, Mattresses, Vacuum Cleaners
June--Cookware, Electronics, Mattresses, Paint
July--Furniture, Mattresses, Paint
August--Computers, Mattresses, Paint
September--China & Flatware, Patio Furniture, Plants, Trees, & Shrubs
October--Dining Furniture, Plants, Trees, & Shrubs
November--Dining Furniture, Electronics (Black Friday and Cyber Monday only), Plants, Trees, & Shrubs
December--Computers, Cookware, Small Appliances

Shopgoodwill.com is like ebay meets thrift store--a huge collection of finds for not a huge amount of money.

Flit.com is a shopping aggregator that samples prices at several different e-commerce sites and leads you to the best buy.  

To keep rewards program cards from clogging your wallet, store them in a gift card tin in your car or purse.

A good idea for grocery shopping:  Keep a 'nitty gritty list' in your purse for shopping.  Write down 20 items you typically buy and their average prices.  When a sale comes along, you can tell exactly how much you're saving, or not.  It you don't know what a good price is, it's easy to get suckered.    

You can keep pieces of fresh ginger in the freezer (tightly covered in plastic wrap) for up to three months.  When a recipe calls for ginger, remove a piece and grade away, no need to thaw.  

Some ideas for using pesto:  
-Brush each side of a strip steak with about a tablespoon of pesto.  Grill over direct medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until desired doneness, turning once halfway through.
-Whisk together a half a dozen eggs, 1/3 cup milk, and a couple tablespoons of pesto.  Cook in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is cooked through but eggs are still glossy and moist.  
-Mash 3 avacados with a spoonful of pesto and juice from half a lemon.  Serve with carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and/or tortilla chips.

A fast way to prep ears of corn for cooking is to use a damp paper towel to remove the silks.  Just run it down the cob, toward the base.  The silks will adhere to the paper towel, leaving you with clean, ready-to-cook cobs.




Friday, September 02, 2011

Playdough (or as Heather says, "Pludo")

Awhile back, I decided that it was time Heather and I ventured into the wonderful world of play dough.

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So we did.



The Recipe We Use
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups salt
3 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 Tbs oil
1 1/2 cups water

Stir in saucepan over medium heat until a ball forms.  Knead 1-2 minutes, separate into balls and add food coloring, kneading to spread through.





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"D" for Dad (or Donna), "M" for Mom (or Marian), and "H" for Heather (or Hannah)

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She loved it.  

I don't know why I didn't make playdough months ago.  Talk about an attention span lengthener!  A few days ago, Eric and I went to the temple, and Heather played with playdough for over two hours, happy to her hearts content.  (and, as anyone knows, in preschooler time, two hours is like a day and a half!)  Shauna (who was kind enough to babysit) told me that Heather wanted her (Shauna) to sit with her (Heather), but was perfectly content to have Shauna do her own thing while Heather made cats and dogs and hamburgers and what-have-you, with a little request for a specialized figure from time to time.

Actually, maybe it's a good thing that we didn't do playdough before now.  I mean, now that fall is around the corner putting winter around the bend, maybe it's good that we still may have hours and hours of molding entertainment ahead, rather than frittering it away when there were fun outside activities to be had.

It's like the ant and the grasshopper, you know?  Except instead of storing up food, we're storing up options for fun.

Just call us a little ant family.

(Which is just as well, because since I recently pesticided five grasshoppers into oblivion (the pesky buggers thought they could take up residence in our tomato garden!  The nerve), I doubt we'd be all that welcome in the grasshopper family.)

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