Monday, December 31, 2012

Ending the Year Right






Ending it with LIONS!!  What could be better?




My friend Tonia recently took time out of a fabulous 20th anniversary getaway to Hawaii to photograph these lions for me.  That's what I call true friendship.
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Speaking of friendship, here are some more lions from our Chinese correspondent Cherie:


Shanghai, China:
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Shanghai.  You'll notice flat Stanley there in front.  Once of Cherie's nieces needed that for a school project.
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Hong Kong.  Cherie says, "Notice the smooth part on the head. That is from years of Chinese rubbing the head for good luck."
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YuYuan Gardens, China  (check out the jack-o-lanterns in the background--kind of cool)
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Guilin, China:
quirky 12-12

Word on the street is that Lyn has some Spanish Lions for us soon, and my brother Doug just sent me a photo that tickles me so much that it really deserves its own post.  So, look forward to those, will you?  Oh, who I am I kidding?  Of course you will.  How can you even help it?



Friday, December 28, 2012

Random Photo Friday--sentimental edition

While I was up at the cabin last month, exploring through some of the odds and ends of what my parents are storing up there, I came across a few gems:


This book is obviously a wedding present.  Kind of fun to read the inscription 40+ years later.
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Here's the cover of that book.
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1189 Roosevelt is the address that my parents had when I was just a toddler and my father was attending medical school.  Again, kind of fun.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Did Santa Claus Come to Your Town?

Merry Christmas!  For your viewing enjoyment (since we all know you have nothing better to do on this fine Christmas day than watch Cantwell home movies), may I present a pajama-clad little highness in her first ever choreographed dance, complete with a little bit of "kitty love" right there at the end.


Santa Claus is Comin' to Town from Charlotte on Vimeo.


And if you haven't had enough yet, here is another video of the same dance (you remember in the prior video Heather said, "Let's do it again", right?  Well we did.)  If I were you, I'd skip through this one until the last 15 seconds or so.  The dance is exactly the same, except I'm a little too close throughout, so it's not quite as cute.  However, at the end of this video, the "kitty love" is traded out for a Christmas wish from Heather to you all, as well as a beaming smile that is sure to melt any grandmother or grandfather's heart.

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town--Take Two from Charlotte on Vimeo.


And with that, I think we'll end this little post and let you get back to your lives, shall we?

(Thanks for checking in here from time to time.  You have no idea how I appreciate you indulging me in my sillinesses.)


Monday, December 24, 2012

nostalgia

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In a few hours, over half of my siblings and their children will be headed up Cedar Mountain, ready for a day of sledding and fun and family at our family cabin.  I love that tradition, but I can honestly say that I don't feel a whole lot of angst over not being there today.  Why should I?  I have a great home here, I'm with the people I love best, and as far as I know, the cabin isn't going anywhere.  It's all good.

However, in light of the fact that they are all there, I thought today would be a good day to post a bunch of pictures that I took when I accompanied my dad on a rare dad-daughter afternoon when I ditched Heather with Eric, and went up to the cabin to help my dad take care of a few maintenance items up there.

(To be clear--I was there mainly for company.  Maintenance isn't really my specialty.  Holding things in a certain place while someone else does maintenance?  Totally my specialty.)

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We killed this rattlesnake with the head of a shovel during the first year after the cabin was built.  I've actually only seen one other snake there, in the nearly 30 years since.  So, not a bad record, right?
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Maintenance.  

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Back when I was six or seven, my dad made this rug out of scraps from the the original carpet from our home.  To me it personifies the old saying, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without".  Without exception, none of this carpet is still in my parent's house, but this rug remains.  

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My father brought this back from the LDS mission he served in Chile.

The walls of the cabin are decorated with photographs of state championship teams, individual state champions, and state record breakers that my dad has coached through the years.  All of these came after my time (the closest we ever got to a state championship while I was in high school was a distant third place finish my sophomore year), but it is fun now for me to look at the pictures and think about where those girls are now.  Two of them later became mothers to my nieces and nephews, so that's extra fun.

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My dad's "Do before you leave" list.  It gives me comfort to know that if I have terrible handwriting (like I do) and OCD tendencies (as I have), at least I came by them honestly.
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These crack me up.  I mean, when was the last time you were in the wilds, communing with nature, and thought, "Gee, I'd give my eye-teeth for a book on Gross Anatomy right now?" or, maybe you desperately find yourself needing to look through an old textbook of Pediatrics or study up on The Human Nervous System?  You never know when you might need something along those lines right?  Best to be prepared.
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All kidding aside though, the cabin is a treasure of a place for me, and I'm so grateful that my parents had the foresight to purchase the land and get it built all those years ago.  I remember within the first year or two of us having the cabin, I was probably 13 years old or so, and we were having a meal there with the family of one of my father's childhood friends.  As they were looking through the cabin, the friends wife mentioned, looking directly at me with a smile, "Oh, I can see lots of sleepovers and fun parties up here in the future."  She was right of course.  The cabin has seen sleepovers and parties and dates and family time and love and more love and even more love.

I'm not saying that every family needs a cabin--it's very likely that Eric and I will never build or own a cabin, and I have every confidence that we will have love and more love and even more love, and more happy memories than our minds can reasonably be expected to hold.

But, the fact is, many of my childhood memories center around a cabin, and that is something for which I am very grateful.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Now THAT'S what I call a Secret Santa!

So, awhile back, I was sitting in ward council, and we were discussing our upcoming ward Christmas party.  The main topic was the fact that while we always have a "special visitor" there, on the particular day that we had scheduled the party, he was otherwise engaged.  So, we were casting around for someone who could help out in that way, and after several suggestions were made, someone mentioned the (obvious) fact that our Eric is quite a kid-friendly kind of guy, and if one were to put him in a red suit, he'd make a pretty good Santa's helper.

After we knocked that around a bit, it occurred to me that if everyone was willing to settle for a man who had never done anything like this before, and (more importantly) would probably be identified by one or more of the kids in our ward, then perhaps I could offer an alternative.

Enter Grandpa Wayne:
(a/k/a Eric's dad)
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Though we figured we'd be in the clear with the other kids, Eric and I were both a little concerned that Heather might recognize the lap that she sits on every week, and the voice that's nearly as familiar to her as Eric's or my own.

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Blurry, but fun all the same.


Luckily, we underestimated the power of a red suit, a long white beard, and a grandpa that (unbeknownst to any of us) was made to be Santa.
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Watching Heather interact with her Grandpa Santa, not realizing for a minute that he was her Grandpa Santa?  Possibly the highlight of my Christmas season so far.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rocky Mountain Wildlife

These were too good not to share.  They do tend to paint me in a light that would indicate that I am more simple-minded than I am, but I trust that by now you all know that I am actually a GENIUS, and much much smarter than the likes of that Eric guy.  So, I can post these words here, confident that we all know that they were isolated experiences, and certainly not indicative of the level of my great wisdom and knowledge.

TUESDAY NIGHT

SCENE:  The living/dining room.  Charlotte and Eric are working away on their respective computers, Charlotte blogging, Eric designing some robot or something.

Charlotte:  Hey, what mountains do we live in?  What are they called?

Eric stares, dumbfounded.

Charlotte:  I mean, is it the Rocky Mountains or the Wasatch Mountains or something else?

Eric Rolling his eyes (lovingly, not cruelly):  Uh, it's both.

Charlotte:  So, we do live in the Rocky Mountains, right?  They aren't just in Colorado?

Eric (smiling patiently and a little incredulously):  Uh, yes.  We live in the Rocky Mountains.

Charlotte:  So, if I write "I live in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains", that's the truth right?  I mean, I just keep thinking about John Denver and that song of his, "Rocky Mountain High", and you know, he was all about Colorado.  I just don't want to look stupid or something, writing that I live in mountains where I don't really live, you know?

Eric:  No, you're okay to write that.  We live in the Rocky Mountains.  It's a huge mountain range and it's in Colorado and here too.

Charlotte:  Okay then.

*Good thing I didn't do anything to make myself look stupid, right?  I mean, how silly would that be if I let the whole world know that I'm not sure what mountains are mine.  Whew!  That was a near miss!  (To be fair, geography has never been my strong suit.)

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* * *

YESTERDAY MORNING

SCENE:  The kitchen.  Charlotte, Eric and Heather are eating a grab-n-go breakfast of toast (me and Heather) and cereal (Eric) before rushing out the door to start the day.

Charlotte:  Hey, you should check out the blog today.  I've got a post up about the shortbread cookies.

Eric:  Oh yeah?

Charlotte:  Yeah, and I've titled it "Eric says these are as good as Katie's" 'cuz remember that time when I made cookies before and you went on and on about how good Katie's were and how they were better than mine, and it bugged me?

Eric frantically searches his memory for a way to change the subject.

Eric:  You know what picture is my favorite from what you've got posted there now?

Charlotte (so so so easily distracted, and pleased that Eric has actually looked at the blog so recently):  You mean the Thanksgiving pictures?

Eric:  Yeah--it's the one of Bob.  He looks like a wild animal that's been trapped and domesticated.  It totally cracks me up.

quirky 12-12


Awesome.




rocky mountain sheep image courtesy of NDomer73

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Eric says these taste like Katie's (Hooray!)

So, remember two years ago when I made Christmas shortbread that I thought was to die for, but Eric was non-plussed and totally forgot what he was supposed to say, and instead completely offended me by insinuating that my neighbor made better shortbread cookies than I did?

Hmmmm????

Well, to make a long story short, this year I tried it again, and by pure happenstance, I made an adjustment or two that netted a batch of shortbread cookies that met with Eric's approval, nay --Eric's effusive praise.

Success!!!

Want the long story long?  Okay (you glutton). Generally we give spiced nuts for our Christmas neighbor gifts.  However this year I was in the mood for a change, and Heather wanted to help (and I wanted the company), and there just isn't a whole lot for a four-year old to do when you're roasting nuts, you know?  So, I decided to try the shortbread route again.

We followed our usual recipe from our friends at Clover Lane, doubling the recipe as Sarah suggests.  However, as I was adding the flour, Eric's mom called, and once we were finished with our conversation, I couldn't remember for certain the number of cups of flour I had added.  Horrors!  So, I guessed, and as it turned out (and as I realized two days later when we made yet another batch of these cookies) I ended up increasing the flour by somewhere between 1/2 a cup an a full cup.  I'm guessing that it's maybe a altitude difference?  I mean, Clover Lane is practically at sea level, and here I am, up in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains.  Anyway, whether it's an altitude thing or a personal taste thing, the bottom line is, we made a few adjustments, and we like these cookies better this way.

So, here are a few photos, followed by the recipe.

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Pre-Baked


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After 10 minutes of baking

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These bags are a little on the busy side.  Next year, if we go this route again, I'll probably go with clear bags.  However, I had these on hand, having purchased them at the after Christmas sales two years ago, and so by crackie, we were going to use them!


And, finally, after wading through ALL of THAT, here is the recipe:

Holiday Shortbread

(Original inspiration found here)
I always double the original recipe--so my recipe is doubled from the one at Clover Lane.  I say this more for myself than for all of you, because when I pull up this post next year, I don't want to accidentally double it again, thinking that the recipe I've posted here is the original proportions.

2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups flour (or you can start with 4 1/2, if you like--I think that's what I'm going to do next year)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
red and green sprinkles

Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla.
Add in flour, baking powder and salt.
Mix together and divide into 4 equal portions.

Roll each of those portions into about an 12” roll.

Refrigerate for about an hour, OR, if you want one-stop baking (like I always do), you can put them in the freezer while you tidy up the kitchen.  Then, about 10-15 minutes later, take out one roll, and continue below.  Leave the other three rolls in the freezer until/unless you start to get worried that they are getting actually frozen, then you can transfer them to the fridge.

After cool, slice each roll into 22-30 slices.

Take each sliced, unbaked and press into sprinkles.
On lightly greased cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.  (Get them out before they start to brown…they will look undone, but don't let that worry you.)  

This recipe makes about 80 cookies, depending on how thick you slice them, and how long your rolls are.  



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Thanksgiving Break in pictures but (almost) no words

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photo by Rachel (age 2)

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Dallen.  Photobomber extraordinaire.

I think these next three pictures are my favorites of them all:
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If I'm not mistaken, they are watching X-Men on Netflix.

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Rachel proves that the picking of a bowling ball is definitely something that merits a little "tongue" concentration.  



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Here's how we felt about going home:
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