Friday, December 19, 2014

random photo friday--His and Hers

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These two. Oh, how I love them.

Random Photo Friday - Christmases past edition

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This is my dad.

My uncle (his older brother, mentor, buddy, you name it) gave us a copy of this picture for Christmas last year. It was taken many years ago, on a Christmas Eve when my father was just a young young boy. During the Christmas Eve activities he apparently got too tired and fell asleep. My grandparents wanted a picture, and not having flash bulbs on hand (since they hadn't been invented yet), they leaned a lamp over so that he was directly in the light, and took this picture.

I love it.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Temples by Tourists

Long ago, a friend of mine suggested that whenever I see a temple, I take a picture of it (or more than one picture of it), so that if I wanted, I could have a temple gallery wall in my home with pictures that I'd taken.

As it turns out, I do have a small gallery of about five temple pictures that I hang at the top of our staircase. The temples rotate in and out a little bit, though there are some that are always there, either because I just think they are really pretty (The Salt Lake Temple) or because they hold extra special meaning to our family (The Logan Temple).

So, although not all the temple pictures that I take get a spot in my home, I'm in the habit of taking temple pictures whenever I see a temple. And, lucky for me, in the past two months, I've chanced to see three new (to me) temples. What a treat.

Here are a few of the photos that I've taken in my recent travels:

Rexburg Idaho Temple
(taken during our Yellowstone Adventure)

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Idaho Falls Temple
(Taken on our way home from our Yellowstone Adventure)

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Newport Beach Temple
(Taken in connection with a trip we took to Disneyland last month)

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Friday, November 28, 2014

salt dough--a couple of stories, a couple of links, and a how-to

Note: I wrote this post earlier in the year, like in January. But, I've been saving it for now, because it's a little more timely at this point in the year.

The older I get, the more impressed I am with my mom. One of my aunts once said that Barbara (my mom) has always had four great loves: children, reading, music, and singing, and that her life reflected those great loves in a very positive way.  I absolutely agree.

My mom has always taken mothering (and now takes grandmothering) very seriously. Not that she was a serious, no-fun mother, but that (as I now see it), she made her mothering responsibilities a priority, and dedicated the lion's share of her time and energy towards those responsibilities.

One way that this was manifested was that every Christmas for as long as I was interested, she would let me have a little "Christmas Craft Party". What that meant was that sometime in December, I could invite two or three friends to come over to my house and do something Christmasy. We did it many times, and I remember doing salt dough ornaments, ornaments made out of alphabet blocks and pom poms (kind of like these), peanut butter bars, and homemade suckers. I also remember letting each of my friends take a candy cane off our Christmas tree to go home.

It's a fond Christmas memory for me, so last year I decided to offer Heather the opportunity to do the same. I gave her a few options for activities, and she chose the old favorite of salt dough ornaments.

Wanting things to be streamlined as much as possible, I made up a half-batch of dough before the big day, cut out some ornaments, and baked them up. My thought was that when the girls came over, we could have some dough for them to roll out, shape, and create, and then while their shapes where baking, they could have some ready-made shapes to paint and decorate.

I used a recipe that I found at, and modified to my liking:


  • 3 cups flour, plus a little for dusting rolling surface
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 TBSP cream o’ tarter
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil 
  • 2 cups boiling water
Mix dry ingredients.  Add oil to water, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix to incorporate.  Work the dough with your hands. 
Roll your dough out quite thin, and cut out your ornaments, being sure to make a hole in the top for ornament hanging. We used a drinking straw, cut into three or four pieces for added usability. 

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If you want to use that same drinking straw to make eyes for your snowman or whatnot, go right ahead.

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If you want to experiment with pressing random beads into your ornaments, then go ahead.  (We got the idea here.)

A word to the wise, a large number of our beads fell out once they were all baked (though none of them melted). The smallest beads (like the small green seed beads in the pictures below) fared the best. None of them ended up falling out while baking.

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Bake at 170 degrees for several hours, until they are set. I think it took us overnight.
(Technically, you can bake them faster at a higher temperature, say 200 or 250, but you run more of a risk of them bubbling or changing shapes, and we weren't in a hurry, so we took the slow-but-safer route)

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Once they're ready, go ahead and paint them. We like using acrylic paints--the colors are brighter and more permanent than the washable paints that we generally use for our craftiness.

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As it turned out, Heather was diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease the day before the big party, and so the "friend" Christmas Craft Party turned into a "mother-daughter" Christmas Craft Party. Not as fun, but better than nothing.  A whole lot better than nothing, actually.

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Because it was just the two of us, Heather and I had a hard time making it through the salt dough that I had made for four little girls. So we saved some and two months later, we made Valentine necklaces.

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Equally satisfying.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

lions- out of China and back to little 'ole me

From China to Cache Valley--here's a pair of lions I took in a gated community near my own home.

This first picture is a bit blurry because while I don't mind marching up to within inches of lions when they belong to people I don't know, I'm a little more circumspect when I'm in my own neighborhood among people who I may or may not know in real life. So, I had to use the zoom feature for these guys.

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Here they are un-zoomed.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Man of the Day

Today is Eric's birthday. Geesh, I love that guy.

Not in a "He's so hot I get weak in the knees whenever I think of him" way (at least, not anymore).

Not that he's not a handsome man--I mean, have you seen his mischievously glinting eyes? Have you seen the way he confidently walks from place to place--having an air about him that doesn't go all the way to "swagger" but definitely carries a hint of  "I'm okay, and so are you" about it? 

Okay, so maybe I do go a little weak in the knees when I think of that. 


Not in a "I don't know how I ever lived without him" way.

More in a "I've gotten so used to having his loyalty, his understanding, and his friendship that I've almost forgotten what it was like before he was around and so I definitely take him for granted much more than I have any right" way.

And in a "I love to add to his happiness, and I love how he takes pleasure and pride in my happiness" way.

And in a "There is no one with whom I relish sharing joys and sorrows, discoveries and confusions, successes and trials more than this man" way.

Geesh, I love that guy.

Eric cheers Heather on at a soccer game in the rain a month or so ago.
Don't even get me started on what a stellar father this guy is. You'd be reading all day.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Star-Studded Farewell to our Chinese Lion Correspondent

So, after several years abroad,  Cherie is now back in the USA, living in her beautiful home nestled in a gorgeous valley with views of some of my favorite mountains.


However, what that means dear friends, is that we will no longer be treated to monthly or bi-monthly installments of Chinese lions.


Fortunately, in anticipation of this coming event, Cherie went all out and gave us a Chinese lion extravaganza for today. So, let's sit back, start scrolling, and enjoy this little treat. It will probably be our last.

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Baohua National Forest Park

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Lions in front of a hotel in Old Town, Lijiang, China - Yunnan Province

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Old Town, Lijiang, China - Yunnan Province

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At Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan Province, China

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Red Lion in Lijiang, China

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Maqun in Nanjing, China

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At the entrance to the Black Dragon Pool Park in Lijiang, China
(Recognize anyone, Kami?)

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Old Town

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Lijiang City, Yunnan, China

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Lion at the entrance to the Naxi Family Restaurant in Lijiang, China

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In Old Town, Yunnan Province, China

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Lion at Mao Shan Mountain, China

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Lion at Painters Street in Shanghai, China
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Lions guarding the entry way to the Mu Mansion in Lijiang, China

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