Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lions near and far, a dream and a few awkward memories




So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe we have a new seeker of stone lions!

Keith (father of Harmony and father-in-law of Jeff) put me on to these photos last last year, and I'm just now posting them. Apparently his niece has been in Budapest lately and found this gem of a bridge.

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Let's get a close-up of one of those lions, shall we?


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Impressive. Honestly, this is one of my favorites. I kinda want to go to Hungary just to see it in person. Oh, who am I kidding? I'd kinda like to go to Hungary with our without the awesomest lion bridge I've ever seen. But now? Ooooh, even more motivation.



Closer to home, here is a driveway lion (probably my favorite "genre" of stone lions) that resides in the same Cedar City neighborhood as one of my brothers. My mom got this one for us, 'cuz Mark isn't exactly an avid reader of the blog--that slacker.

You'll notice that part of the ear on this guy is missing. I like that. Makes me remember the many mailboxes (like four) I've taken out in my time. Makes me remember the night I ran the car into the garage door and had to get my dad out of bed to come look at it (he wasn't pleased). Makes me remember the time I got Eric's car high-centered in his parents driveway when I had only been a member of the family for six weeks. Makes me feel better about my own driving. At least I've never hit a lion, right?


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Healthy Snack

Technically this is called Peanut Butter Play Dough, but we generally use these for little snack bites when we are hungry, need a pick-me-up, and are trying to stay away from sugar. They work like a charm.

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Peanut Butter Play Dough

1 1/2 cups instant dry powdered milk
(MAKE SURE IT'S THE INSTANT KIND!)
1 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp. honey


Mix all the ingredients together well and knead until smooth.  Store the dough in the refrigerator.

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Of course, sometimes we do a little playing as well. Food isn't everything you know.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Random Photo Friday- whipped edition

One morning I came upstairs after Eric had left for work to find that Eric had made the bed (as usual--that gem of a man).  This time however, Marilee had apparently been on the bed as he was straightening the covers, and being the softie that he is, he had taken the time and care to make the bed around her.

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Good thing no one around here gets spoiled or anything!

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"What are you looking at?"

Monday, January 13, 2014

Family Home Evening Chart: a how-to for the Mormon Mom who is not craftily inclined (all twelve of us)

Awhile back, I decided that our current system of "me trying to remember what everyone had done for family home evening the week before so that we could all do something different in the following week" wasn't working all that well. It generally netted a frantic pull-together of a lesson by either me or Eric for one thing, and tended to make Mondays (already the most stressful day of the week) even more trying.

So, I decided that we should make a chart. Maybe something along the lines of one of these:

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And then I came back to reality, and decided that we should go a route that was a little more simple so that we would actually get it done before Heather was off to college. Additionally, I kind of wanted Heather to be able to help as well.

Here's what we came up with:

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It's a piece of butcher paper, which Heather and I painted green and blue (with our homemade watercolors). I found three suitable flower coloring pages on line, which we then colored together. I wrote out labels  for "song" "lesson" and "treat", and once the paint on the butcher paper was dry, we taped them to our "landscape", along with the flowers. Then I covered the whole thing in contact paper.

All of that was done on a Sunday afternoon. Then, the next day for family home evening we had a lesson on why family home evening is important, and why we do it.  (This article is a short compilation of some writings of President Gordon B. Hinckley on the subject, and explains it all pretty well, in my opinion.) Then we broke out the coffee filters, markers, and pipe cleaners, and each of us made our own coffee filter butterfly.

Once the butterflies were done, I cut three pieces of paper to roughly the same size of each butterfly and laminated them with contact paper. Then we taped our butterflies to the paper. Finally, I placed one velcro dot on each flower, and a corresponding dot on the back of each butterfly, and voila! A Home Evening Chart fit for Martha Mormon Stewart herself!

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"Umm, nice try Charlotte, but not even close."


Oh, I also taped two loops of an unused shoelace to the back of the chart to make for easy hanging and portability. Since it's such a fine piece of art, we don't want it hanging in our living room or anything like that, because --thieves and robbers obviously. But, when it comes time for FHE, we like to have it and hold it and play with the butterflies and use them so that we don't have to pay attention to the lesson or obey mom and dad. So, we have to be able to hang it somewhere easily hidden (in the toy closet/craft closet) and be able to take it off the wall with ease.

All told, it was a fun low-stress activity that netted a colorful functional chart for our family, and our home evenings are now a little less chaotic and a little more enjoyable. I'll take it.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Pretzels

So, back in the fall, when the sun was shining and it wasn't so cold, and we hadn't experienced the magic of Christmas, or even the delight of Halloween yet, a friend of mine posted this recipe on her blog:

Auntie Anne's copycat pretzel recipe

1 1/2 C warm water
1 packet active yeast
2 TB brown sugar
Combine in a bowl for 10 minutes or until foamy, then add:
1 1/8 tsp salt
3-4 C flour (knead in last cup, continue to knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth, pliable and only slightly sticky)

Let it rise in a warm place for an hour
Combine 2 TB baking soda + 2 C water in an 8x8 pan

Divide dough into twelve pieces
Roll each piece into a three foot snake (good luck getting it that thin, mine were about two feet long)
dunk in baking soda mixture, shape into a pretzel on parchment lined baking sheet
Let rise another 15-20 minutes
Bake at 425 F for about 9 minutes
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt



(I'd link to the blog, but it's private, so I don't want to rub it in your face that I have access and you don't, you know?)


Having never met a bread that I didn't like, we decided to give it a try one day.
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Fabulousness. Pure fabulousness.



Sunday, January 05, 2014

a much-needed reminder

Sometimes I get a little down and out about this world, about the garbage and shenanigans and stupidity and subtle evils and not-so subtle evils that often seem to abound at nearly every turn.

My dad and I were talking about this a bit before Christmas, sharing our discouragement as it were, and trying to cheer each other up a bit. Honestly though, we didn't have a whole lot of success in the "cheering up" department. 

The next day we went to church, and sang I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day as part of the service. I was enjoying/wrangling nieces and a daughter at the time, and didn't pay too much attention to the song. After church however, my father brought it up, remarking how helpful the song had been to him and his attitude, particularly the third and fourth verses. As I reflected on those verses, I too felt lifted and more hopeful.

We had a lovely holiday in Cedar City, full of the old traditions of my childhood, and the newer traditions of my adulthood. We traveled back to Cache Valley on the 26th, and I felt lighter, recharged, at peace.  

Unfortunately, as is (sadly) often the case, It didn't take all that long for that glow of recharge to fade a bit, and although I still kept the fortification that I had gained while at the old homestead, I could feel my hope and peace slipping, weakening, faltering a little. 

Thankfully, Sunday came around again. We went to church in our beloved familiar ward. I saw beloved familiar faces, checked in with people dear to my heart, wondered (with some trepidation) how Primary would go that day (Sundays after holidays always make me a bit nervous. You never know how the changes are going to effect the kids. This calling has given me mad respect for school teachers, let me tell you!)

We sang the opening hymn. It was I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. I was able and more motivated to pay attention to the words as I sang them this time around, and as I did so, I was filled with hope and love and confidence and faith and assurance and peace--oh, so so much peace.  

Funny thing--that was the only Christmas Carol we sang in church that day. All the other hymns that were chosen were songs that we sing all year long, songs that focus on our ability to do good in the world, to serve. So, the pairing of that Christmas song with those other songs might have seemed odd to some people. For me though, that pairing was an answer to prayer, albeit a prayer that I hadn't actually spoken. That pairing lifted me, strengthened me, and reminded me (and continues to remind me now) that right will prevail. There is no need for despair. There is need for hope, and we have every reason to have buckets full of hope

Here's the Hymn: 
(emphasis my own)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men."


Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!



(This video is seven and a half minutes long, and I hope you will trust me when I say that it is worth every second.)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Our out-and-about listening lately

So, just for randomness . . .

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A while back I picked up these two books at the library. I was looking for something for Heather and I to listen to while we were riding around town, and something for me to listen to when I was alone in the car, or with Eric.

I'll let you guess which one satisfied which situation..

I highly recommend Stelleluna. Adorable story, well read, a few extra bat stories thrown in for good measure. We listened to it again and again.

As for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it absolutely cracked me up at first, and I found it interesting and entertaining. But, about the time when Mr Darcy writes Elizabeth the letter explaining the reasons for his treatment of Mr. Wickam, I kind of started to lose interest for some reason. Maybe all the Zombie talk grew old at that point? I'm not sure. So, I recommend it for a good laugh, particularly if you can borrow it or something, but I don't necessarily recommend it for a purchase. Also, if you tend to be on the squeamish side (mom) and don't care to hear the intricate details on how any random zombie wants nothing more than to devour brains, brains, brains?  Well, this might be one you want to skip.



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