Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's Easter Eve

I love Easter weekend.

Today I'll be practicing a song I'm singing tomorrow, while Eric hides Easter eggs around our living room for Heather to find when the practicing is done.

Today we'll meet up with Cantwells to celebrate the coming of spring, the joy and funny-ness that is family, and the indescribable blessing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Today I may get around to whipping up some freezer jam, or getting the first bits of my garden planted, but if I don't make it today, I'm not going to stress it.

Today, I hope to take some time in the few quiet in-between moments to think about Jesus, what He did for me, what He did for all of us, what He is for me and does for me now.

And then, I'll top it all of with Tomorrow.  Yet another new and glorious morn.

10:42 a.m. SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE:  I wrote this post on Thursday, in happy anticipation of a rosy, happy, spiritual stress-free day, in which Eric, Heather, and I would live a life that was so ideal that LDS Public Relations camera people could drop in at any time and take photos and videos of our interactions that would be worthy of any number of PR pieces.

Not unlike other years, that's not exactly what happened.

Heather was up quite a bit in the night with a croupy cough, which means that I was up quite a bit in the night taking care of a girl with a croupy cough.  When it was time to get up for the day, I was all right for about 30 minutes, and then the lack of sleep set in, and I quickly transitioned from tender, care giving, how-can-I-help-you wife and mother to put-upon, overwhelmed, naggy, why-am-I-the-only-one-who-does-anything-around-here wife and mother.  Not pretty.  After enduring my ordering and complaining for a bit, Eric and Heather retreated upstairs to as to be out of my sight and (hopefully) out of my wrath.

At which point, the guilt and realization of my foolishness set in.  I mixed up a glass of Crystal Light Focus (the kind that's caffeinated), drank a few sips, and had a little chat with Heavenly Father, telling him that it was too much for me, that I can't be in charge of everyone's welfare around here, and keep everyone fed, and take care of Easter candy AND the true Spirit of Easter, and be the helpful daughter-in-law/aunt, and prepare songs for Sacrament Meeting, and arrange for sitters so that Eric and I can go to the temple, and keep the house clean enough so that I don't go crazy, and keep track of every dollar that passes through the opera company, and care for the well-being of every child and every Primary teacher in my ward.

And then, Heavenly Father told me that it was okay, that my best is good enough, and I can let as much of that slide as I need to for now, and His Son will pick up the slack.

So, I'm letting things slide today. I still think it's going to be a great day.  Probably not picture-perfect, but that's why I need a Savior.  Thank heaven I've got one.

Friday, March 29, 2013

a different twist

Get it?  Twist???  I'm killin' me here!

Awhile back, I shared my go-to cinnamon roll recipe.  Well, every once in awhile, I feel like changing these babies up.  The dough is actually quite flexible, I've used it for parmesan breadsticks and dinner rolls, in addition to the default cinnamon roll recipe that I shared last time around.

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So, anyway, this time we did lemon rolls. Wanna know the details? Well if not, don't read on. I'm going to post the details, because every time I make these I have to reach back in the recesses of my memory to try to recall what is the best combination of ingredients.  The last time I made them, they turned out exceptionally well, so I'm writing the secret code here, thus saving myself from future memory difficulty.


Start out by making cinnamon rolls exactly as the recipe directs.

When it comes time to roll the dough out and spread the cinnamon/brown sugar on the dough, spread this filling on the dough instead:

4 tbs butter
1 cup white sugar
zest from one lemon
1 tsp lemon extract (optional-but whatever you do, don't substitute the juice from the lemon that you zested---you'll need that for your icing.)

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Fold, cut, form, and bake as directed in original recipe.

When you want to frost the rolls (when still warm), use the following icing:

juice from that lemon you zested
one super extra tiny tiny drop yellow food coloring
enough hot water and powdered sugar to get it to the consistency and amount you need/want.  (I like it glaze-like, as in pourable, but thicker than milk for sure, others like it more along the lines of an ice cream shake. I usually start with a cup or two of powdered sugar and a teaspoon or so of water and adjust from there.)

And there you have it.  Dress it up on a plate with ribbon (or sewing notions), include a handmade tag with a heart-felt message (such as "HEAT  HER  LUV", translated as "Love Heather"), and you've got a plate of deliciousness for the lucky friend (or in our case, dance teacher) of your choosing.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eric indulges me once again--but at least he got an awesome new pair of glasses out of the deal

So, about a month ago, I received an e-mail from a company called "Firmoo".  I'm going to quote some of the e-mail below, just because I get a kick out of it.

Thanks for reading this email. I am Antonio from Firmoo, the worldwide popular eyeglasses store which has 560,000 fans on Facebook.We are inviting some of the influential bloggers in USA to try out our products. I was wondering if there is any possibility of cooperating with you.

DID YOU READ THAT ROBERT, JACOB, MARK, AND DOUG????  I, your big sister, the one that you like to kick around and mock and tease, I am an INFLUENTIAL BLOGGER IN USA!!!  Let's have a little respect from here on out!!!

Now, to get back to our story . . .

The deal was, I was to go online, choose a pair of glasses (they have prescription and non-prescription available), they would send them to me, and after a few days, I would write a objective review to tell my readers how I feel about the product and service.

Now, I'm not a big glasses person. I used to be. I used to be a big "I can't see the clock or anything else without glasses or contacts in, and I put new contacts in every morning, and I keep a spare pair of glasses that I only wear for about thirty minutes a day because my eyes are so bad that I can't trust myself to find my way to the bathroom to put in my contacts in the morning nor can I trust myself to find my way to my bed after I've taken my contacts out in the evening" kind of person.  (This was in the days before contacts that you could safely sleep in.  I'm no spring chicken, you know!)

But, then, in the glorious year of the new millenium, and due to the glorious generosity of my similarly myopic mother, I received one of the top five best gifts of my lifetime, and I got lasik surgery.  My life would never be the same again.

So, for thirteen years now, I've been glasses and contact free, with the exception of a pair of sunglasses that I keep in the car for sunny driving days.

However . . . 

Eric is a big glasses person.  He wears them every day.  Also, of the two of us, it is Eric who is more particular about style, comfort, and fashion than I am.  So, rather than telling Firmoo to jump in a lake because glasses were so far in my rear view window that I never wanted to think about them again, I asked if we could get a pair for Eric instead, and write a review on those.

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My Firmoo friend Antonio said that would be fine.

On the evening of March 10th, I clicked over to, and swiveled my laptop over so Eric could browse frames so he could pick out a favorite.  He chose the "Men's semi-rimless mixed material eyeglasses" in black (versus gunmetal).  The site was kind of fun, they had a virtual try-on system, where there were different faces that you could use to see how the glasses would look on.  You can even upload a photo of yourself to use for that purpose, but we weren't going to get all that technical, at least not this time around.  Neither of us had ever ordered glasses online before, and we got a little bit confused when it was time to enter his prescription into the system, but I sent an e-mail to Antonio, and by the next morning, he had written back with specific instructions on what goes where.  By the afternoon of March 11, we'd placed an order, and the glasses were on their way! Hooray!

I should mention that from the way the English is worded on the website, as well as some of the grammar that I read from Antonio, I get the impression that this is not an American country, and that English is not the native language of those who create the website.  There are times when something like this would concern me (like when I'm in a phone conversation with tech support for a complex problem and I run into a huge communication gap that makes me want to simultaneously pull my hair out and collapse on the floor sobbing), but I didn't find it a problem in the least in our dealings with Firmoo.

Within six days, we had the glasses in our home, and Eric was trying them on.  After about 30 minutes, I asked him for his thoughts.  Here's what he said:

"These glasses are very comfortable, and some glasses are not that comfortable.  These are.  I should probably wear them for longer than a few hours, but so far, I like them."

There you have it folks.

A few days ago, after Eric had been wearing them for another week or so, I asked him for another review.  Here's what he said that time:

"I love em.  They fit well, they are very comfortable, high quality lenses, I think they are great.  They're lightweight and unobtrusive--you know, many glasses are obtrusive, the scratch resistant lenses are great. They're way better than the glasses I used to use." 

And so, the Eric and Charlotte opinion of Firmoo is a resounding A+.  Good price (even if you don't get them free for writing a blog review), convenient ordering, good product.  We're fans. Honestly, we'll probably be back when we need more glasses.

Now, if this amazingly creative and glowing review has convinced you to try out Firmoo (And really, how could it not? It's coming from an influential blogger in the USA, remember?) they have a "first pair free" program, where you can order a pair of glasses for the cost of shipping only, no strings attached.

And now, here are some gratuitous photos from the photoshoot to which I subjected Eric in order to get some shots for this post:

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General Head Shot

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"All right honey, Give me a 'Hey there,  baby' look!"

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Close-up on the glasses/Eric's attempt at crazy eyes.

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Side View/Eric Attempts an "I'm so cool, I'm just looking off into the distance" look.

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"Okay, now show me 'Mr. Cool'" 

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Charlotte?!?!?  Are you about done???

And the answer is yes.  I am now 100% done.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Not long ago, Eric was de-cluttering some of his books and he found a comic book that is essentially The Avengers for pets.  Thinking Heather might like it, and not wanting it anymore, he offered it to her.  She loves it.  They read from it probably three times a week.

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The other night, we were getting ready to say family prayers (generally kind of a tricky thing because I'm tired and ready for Heather to be in bed, and Heather is wired and trying to stall the imminent bedtime, and Eric is trying to figure out how he can be all things to both of his women without getting either of them upset), and Heather plopped down on her knees by me, declaring, "I want to sit by someone pretty for prayers tonight!"  I had just taken a shower, and was in my frumpy clothes with stringy hair and blotchy skin.  Obviously Heather and I have different ideas of what constitutes "pretty".  (It was a nice little lift for me though, I'm not gonna lie.)

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Heather's taken to wrapping things up present-style.  Sometimes she'll create her own custom wrapping paper, and sometimes (as above) she'll use a blanket, towel, spare shirt or what have you to hide her gifts. Not the most original thing to do, as I'm told that most kids go through this phase.  All the same, it's pretty darn fun if you ask me.

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The following conversation occurred at 7:00 a.m. a few days ago.
Me  (having just returned home from exercising and being all pumped up):  Hey Eric, are you a true aggie?
Eric (in bed, zonked to the world, barely awake):  What????  Ummmmm, no.
Me:  Neither am I.  So, I have an idea.  How about when we're sixty or seventy, we go up to the A on Homecoming night and become true aggies?  We'll be that cute little old couple that all the kids think is so quirky and adorable.
Eric (sleepily and dismissively): Okay.

So glad to have that settled.

* * *

In case you didn't notice (and it was quite subtle ha-ha, so I wouldn't blame you if you didn't), I had a birthday recently. It was a great day, the highlight of which just might have been waking up to Heather's ecstatic face pressed against my own as she exclaimed, "Mom!!!!!  SPRING  is on the way!!!  I just heard a goose calling in the sky!!"

We'd been on "goose watch" for a little over a week, and as you might remember, I have a real thing for spring geese, so the whole combination of waking up to the girl who is more precious to me than any other, laying by the man that is more precious to me than any other, listening to proof of the imminent return of the season that is more anticipated by me than any other was just an exceptionally nice way to start my forty-third year.

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Perhaps that's more cheese than you were looking for today, but it's true all the same.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Random Photo Friday--Remembering Edition

So, my Heidi recently started tackling the mammoth job of going through Phil's boxes.  (For those of you who haven't been reading all that long, Phil was a dear friend of ours (and Heidi's husband) who died of cancer just over three years ago.)

In her sifting, wonder of wonders, joy of joys, she found these two pictures, and almost immediately shared them with me.  Thanks Heidi!

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I think this particular set of pictures is pretty fitting, because to my recollection, this is the first "repeat" lion we've had here.  If you have a stellar memory, you might recall that our Kristi sent this to us a couple of years back, and in my opinion, if any lion is worth a repeat, this is the one. (For more of the history of the lion, read the cheekily titled "Appendix A" below.)

(To be clear--I'll repeat pretty much any lion if it's sent to me--so, if you happen to see a lion and want to send it to me, don't stress or anything as to whether or not we've already got it here.  I'm a beggar, not a chooser.)

Anyway, I like how this came together this time around.  Kind of like a couple of fond memories all swirling together to make something a little more heartwarming than average you know?  Really, what's not to like about that?

APPENDIX A:  Here is what Carol (one of our resident history experts) had to say about this lion, back in 2010:

I love the last lion in this photo essay. As you know, it is located in Lucerne. When I first saw a photo of this lion and heard the story, I was just drawn to it. This lion is a monument to the Swiss soldiers who died protecting the French Royalty during the French Revolution in 1792. Nearly 1/2 of the Swiss soldiers who were protecting the French Royalty died. The other heartbreak is that this monument was erected by a soldier who was on leave at home in Lucerne when his fellow soldiers were killed. 

There is just something about this story that warms my heart and makes me want to go see that lion in person! I am jealous that Kristi got to go!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fiscal Responsibility- or, there's a reason that my job title at the opera is "Controller"


SCENE:  The living room.  Eric is puttering, Charlotte is puttering, Heather is in bed upstairs.

It is important to note that in November of 2011 our kitchen faucet broke, and Eric the master fix-it man replaced it, which was awesome.  However, in fixing it, we inadvertently bought a faucet set that didn't have that pull-out sprayer that tends to be so handy when trying to spray out the sink, fill a five-gallon water storage jug, power wash the garbage can, you get the idea.  For awhile, the thrill of having a faucet that you could turn on and off without using needle-nose pliers was all that I could ever want.  However, within about six months, I tired of that and started a semi-random campaign with Mr. Fix-it to get a sprayer installed in the now-empty sprayer slot.   

Eric:  So, remind me how much I can spend on your birthday presents?

Me:  Um, we usually spend around twenty-five dollars or so.

Eric (disappointed):  Really? Just twenty-five dollars?  That's not enough.

Me:  Well, I suppose you could go up to fifty, but that's probably as far as we'd better go.

Eric:  Well, that's no fun.  You really can't get anything cool for less than fifty dollars.

Me (craftily):  Well, what I'd really like is for you to put the sprayer in the kitchen faucet.  That wouldn't cost more than $50, would it? It would be suuuuuuuper coooooool to get that for my birthday.

Eric (with a twinkly eye):  Well, you know, that's just not in our budget.  A present like that would be worth at least two hundred dollars in labor.

Me (trying not to laugh):  Oh, would it now?

Eric:  Yup, all that lying under the sink and having dirty gross water pour all over you?  Definitely worth more than we can spend.

Me: Well, in that case, let's just go ahead and raise that budget.  If it's labor we're talking about, I think we can easily go all the way to three or four hundred dollars, no problem!


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In case you are wondering, I did get some fun presents for my birthday.  They did not include an installed sprayer for the kitchen, but they did include a spiral bound book of Heather's art, ten little notepads for making lists (because as both Heather and Eric know, no one makes more lists than mom does) a vat a genuine Cafe Rio tomatillo ranch salad dressing, a package of Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs, and X-Men First Class on DVD.  As I roughly calculate all the credit card receipts that came in, I estimate that Eric spent around $27.00.  Love that man.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I'm writing this down now so I have proof when she's thirteen.

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SCENE:  Our dining room.  Heather is working on her "church collage", which is the same as a regular collage, but the pictures that are cut out come from old Friend Magazines.  Heather asks for help as to how she might be able to cut some pictures out while they are still in the magazine, and I, in a stroke of mom brilliance carefully remove the pages from the (centerfold) of the magazine, presenting her with a perfect page from which to cut.  Heather is absolutely thrilled with my mad skillz.

Me:  Aren't you glad you have such a cool mom?

Heather:  Yes!  You are cool.  And (in surprise), you're kind of a crafty mom!

Oh yeah baby, I'm cool and crafty.  Does it get any better in mom-land?

* * *

As long as I'm sharing funny Heather conversations, here's another one from yesterday afternoon:

Me:  Heather, would you like some taco soup?
Heather:  No. No. No. No. No.
Me (irritated):  I heard you the first time, you don't need to keep saying it.
Heather:  Oh, I only said it once to you. The other times I was practicing my Spanish. Did you know that saying "No" is Spanish???

(Por Favor!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Random Photo Friday- you've got to be kidding me edition

We received this ad in the mail not too long ago.  Now we all know that I'm no fitness guru or anything like that, but this drives me crazy.

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Seriously?  Wasting time at the gym????  Por Favor!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cake Boss or Purple Pie (wo)Man?

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(Anyone remember the Purple Pie Man?)

For Valentines Day this year, I decided to repeat the fabulously delicious chocolate cake that I made so successfully last year.

However, that cake made as written packs a wallop of EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN CALORIES PER SLICE.  I think we can all agree that eight hundred calories is too much for one piece of cake, right?

So, this time around I used fat-free buttermilk, egg whites instead of eggs, and also decreased the oil somewhat.

Remember when I said that my cooking instincts are essentially nil?

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Turns out, this particular recipe needs all (or probably at least most) of that fat.  The cakes fell in the oven, spilling burning cake batter all over the oven floor (mom, you'll be happy to know that this time around, I actually got it all cleaned off within a week.) Bummer, that.  So, we had chocolate-dipped strawberries for Valentines instead.   I was able to salvage and freeze much of the cake, which we later broke up into little pieces and made into a yummy chocolate/whipped topping trifle, so that was nice.

But, there's another problem.  Last year we ended up freezing half of the Valentines Day Cake, because it was so rich and so delicious and so bad for you, and we thawed it on my birthday, and had it again.  This year, not so much.

So, I made a French Silk Pie instead, complete with all the fat that the recipe allows and requires.

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After all, it's not like birthdays come around all the time, you know?

* * *

In other news (which, this isn't really anything new, but oh well), Heather's dramatics crack me up.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Midwinter Musical Madness THREE PEAT!!!!

And Melissa wins it all!

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Here are the top five, just in case you are wondering:

  • Melissa-77 points
  • Mom C-66 points
  • Jeri-44 points
  • Carol-26 points
  • Harmony-22 points

Thanks for playing all!  It was a great time!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Well a woman who'll kiss on the very first date Is usually a hussy. And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out Is anything but fussy.

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

Thanks for playing! 

Comments will be open for whimming until 10:00 p.m.  
I'll post a winner tomorrow.  

I know it sounds sordid But you'll be rewarded When at last I am given my dues!

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

Like a 10 cent soda doesn't cost a dime... I don't want you near me, only all the time.

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

Sure as bananas need the sun We are the criminal guilty ones

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

Someone you have to let in, someone whose feelings you spare,

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

You're safe: No-one will find you your fears are far behind you

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

We goes where we wishes We's as free as fishes Sure beats washing dishes

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

The people were lyin' all over the room a'lookin' as if they were dead, Then mother uncovered the minister quick, an' she told 'im: Go ahead.

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

His name as I ought to have told you before is really Asparagus,

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

Only drink by day or night or somewheres in between

Lightning Round!

2 points for the name of the song
2 more points for the name of the musical

(other points awarded by whim, as always)

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm cool, brave and daring to see a lion glaring when I'm out with my Remington

Every once in awhile, Cherie sends me a few more lions from China-way.

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Female in Nanjing, China
That's because Cherie is a gem.  

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Zhujiajiao Water Town

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YuYuan Garden in Shanghai

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Forbidden City

Thanks Cherie!

5  points for the name of the song
2 points for the name of the musical

2 points for the name of the character who sings these words in the musical
10 points if you happened to sing this song at a ward talent show a few (or more than a few) years backother points awarded by whim
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