Saturday, April 30, 2011

Will Someone Please Tell the WeatherMan That It Is Spring?

Weather is a great metaphor for life — sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and there's nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella. –Terri Guillemets

InsideOut — In the Sun They Melted (Snowmen II)

{Bleeding Hearts, April 29, 2011}
{Apple Blossom Tulips, April 29, 2011}

{View from my front door, April 30, 2011}

{Congo Lilacs, April 30, 2011}

{View from my back door, April 30, 2011}

{Sad, sad tulips covered in snow, April 30, 2011}

Friday, April 29, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: Utah

Utah — a pretty, great state.

I've lived in Utah for most of my life. And I think it is a pretty, great place to live. There are lots of places I'd like to visit, but I don't think I'd want to live anywhere else. We have four beautiful seasons {although I admit that after the first snowfall of the season, I'm ready for winter to be over}. We have the most beautiful landscape; right out my front door are some of the best mountains around. There are lots of things to see and do, lots of history, lots of heritage here in Utah.

I want to share a couple things about Utah. Our state bird is the seagull. You might wonder why we'd choose such a common bird, a scavenger really, as our state bird. Well you see, way back a hundred-and-fifty-odd years or so ago, there was this huge infestation of crickets. The crickets were eating the crops to the ground leaving no food for the people living here at the time. Being a people of faith, those early settlers prayed, asking God for help. In answer to their prayers, great flocks of seagulls came and gorged themselves on the crickets. They would eat until they couldn't eat any more and then they'd regurgitate everything they'd eaten and then gorge themselves again on the crickets, repeating the process over and over. The infestation of crickets was stopped by the seagulls and that noble bird was named as the state bird.

But the story doesn't end there. Because of the damage the crickets had done to their food, the people were forced to scavenge the land for an alternate food source. They discovered that the sego lily roots were good to eat, and the draught-hardy plant grew in abundance. Because it sustained them during a lean time, the sego lily found its place as the state flower. Ironically, you don't find the sego lily in flower beds around Utah because the amount of water required by the other plants is too much for the sego lily.

Our state song is Utah, This Is the Place. It was written for our centennial celebration in 1996 and named the official state song in 2003. {The former state song, Utah, We Love Theewas designated as the State Hymn.} The words to the state song seem a little . . . interesting. But the music is really written well and the words just fit.

Utah, This Is the Place!

Lyrics: Sam Francis & Gary Francis
Music: Gary Francis

Utah! People working together
Utah! What a great place to be.
Blessed from Heaven above.
It's the land that we love.
This is the place!

Utah! With its mountains and valleys.
Utah! With its canyons and streams.
You can go anywhere.
But there's none that compare.
This is the place!

It was Brigham Young who led the pioneers across the plains.
They suffered with the trials they had to face.
With faith they kept on going till they reached the Great Salt Lake
Here they heard the words..."THIS IS THE PLACE!"

Utah! With its focus on family,
Utah! Helps each child to succeed.
People care how they live.
Each has so much to give.
This is the place!

Utah! Getting bigger and better.
Utah! Always leading the way.
New technology's here...
Growing faster each year.
This is the place!

There is beauty in the snow-capped mountains, in the lakes and streams.
There are valleys filled with farms and orchards too.
The spirit of its people shows in everything they do.
Utah is the place where dreams come true.

Utah! With its pioneer spirit.
Utah! What a great legacy!
Blessed from Heaven above.
It's the land that we love.
This is the place

Utah! Utah! Utah! Utah! Utah! Utah!

I'm pretty partial to the state I live in. As I mentioned, 1996 was our centennial celebration. Mr. Bug and I were married in 1996, and instead of choosing a wedding-themed postage stamp for the invitations, I used the Utah postage stamp that was issued in conjunction with the centennial.

To wrap up, I've included a few bits of trivia about our pretty, great state.

Date of Statehood: January 4, 1896
State Tree: Blue Spruce
State Flower: Sego Lily
State Bird: Seagull
State Symbol: Beehive
State Motto: Industry
State Animal: Rocky Mountain Elk
State Fish: Rainbow Trout
  • The name Utah comes from the Native American Ute tribe and means people of the mountains.
  • Utah covers 84,900 square miles of land and is ranked 11th largest state in the United States.
  • Utah has 11,000 miles of fishing streams and 147,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs.
  • Utah has five national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef.
  • Utah has seven national monuments: Cedar Breaks, Natural Bridges, Dinosaur, Rainbow Bridge, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanogos Cave and Hovenweep.
  • Rainbow Bridge, carved by erosion out of solid sandstone, is the world's largest natural rock span. It stands 278 feet wide and 309 feet high.
  • Utah has two national recreation areas: Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon.
  • Utah has six national forests: Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-LaSal, Uinta, and Wasatch-Cache.
  • Salt Lake City hosted the Olympic Winter Games on February 8-24, 2002.
  • Completion of the world's first transcontinental railroad was celebrated at Promontory, Utah where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met on May 10, 1869. It is now known as Golden Spike National Historic Site.
  • Utah is the site of the nation's first department store. Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution was established in the late 1800's. It is still in operation today as ZCMI.
  • The LDS Temple in Salt Lake City took 40 years to complete.
  • The Great Salt Lake, which is about 75 miles long and 35 miles wide, covers 2,100 square miles {more than a million acres}. The average depth is 13 feet and the deepest point is 34 feet.
  • Because of the state's inland location Utah's snow is unusually dry, earning the reputation of the greatest snow on earth.
  • Utah mountain peaks, on average, are the tallest in the country. The average elevation of the tallest peaks in each of Utah's counties is 11,222 ft., higher than the same average in any other state.
  • The Heber Valley Railroad's magnificent steam engine and ten passenger railroad cars have been filmed in over 31 motion pictures over the past 20 years.
  • The 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base became the U.S. Air Force's first operational Tactical Fighter Squadron in March 1980.
  • The city of Levan is so named because it is in the middle of Utah and Levan is "navel" spelled backwards.
  • Kanab is known as Utah's Little Hollywood because of the large number of motion pictures that are filmed in the area.
  • Beaver, Utah is the birthplace of two very famous individuals of the past, Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television and Butch Cassidy, the notorious western outlaw.
  • Utah is the only state whose capital's name is made of three words. All three words in Salt Lake City have four letters each.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Right or Left? {part 2}

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way. –Franklin P. Adams

Thanks to everyone who participated in the poll and commented on last week's post about hand preference. It has been really fun for me and I hope you'll all continue to play along. Here are the results from last week's poll:

The question about hand preference led to lots of really interesting comments, which got me to thinking about other preferences for left and right. I know that my left ear is my dominant ear; I hold the phone to that ear and if someone wants to talk to me while I've got my headphones on, I uncover the left ear to hear them. I'm not sure about which eye is dominant. I always put in and take out my left contact lens first and I most definitely use my left eye for reading. But if I were to look into a telescope or through the viewfinder of a camera, I'd use my right eye. Cross-dominant?

I'm not sure about my feet either. When I ride a scooter, I put my right foot on the scooter and push with my left, which makes me goofy-footed {right foot dominant}, I think. But if I get tired of pushing with my left foot, then I can just as easily push with my right. I went snowboarding once; the person who was helping me had a really hard time trying to figure out which way to put me on the board because the push test {someone stands behind you and gives you a sharp push to see which foot you put out in front of you to steady yourself} didn't give conclusive results. Another way to check for foot preference is to stand on both feet in front of a stair case and which ever foot you put on the first step is your dominant foot. Really, I could go with either foot. Same for kicking a ball. Does that mean my feet are ambidextrous?

So the question I must ask today is: Which is dominant? Right or left ear? Right or left eye? Right or left foot? There is only one poll for all three questions {located in the sidebar to the right}, so make sure to check one for each category. You don't need to leave a comment to participate in the poll, but I'd love it if you do {and vice-versa}. I'm excited to see your responses. And I'll have one more right and left question next week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There's Only One . . . Lagoon {part 1}

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. –Aristotle

The spring after I turned 16, I got my first job working as a ride attendant at a local amusement park called Lagoon. It was awesome. I got my first taste of freedom and independence, a really great tan {although now I wish I would have been a little more liberal with the sunblock} and made a lot of really great friends.

It was a 15-minute drive on the freeway to get there. So my mom came along with me for interviews. I remember it feeling like such a fun adventure and was glad to have a friend along to calm the jitters and share the excitement with me. We talked about where I should work and decided it might be fun to work in the bakery in Pioneer Village. Because it was still cold outside, interviews were held at a junior high school a mile or so from the amusement park. You filled out an application in the lobby and then went through a screening interview to see if, first of all, you were an acceptable candidate for the job and secondly, so they could direct you to your choice of department to work in. I discovered that it wasn't as simple as saying, I want to work in the bakery. The bakery was part of the foods department, so I went to stand in the long, long line for the foods department. As we waited for the next interview, the supervisors from the rides department called out trying to recruit applicants, because there was no one in their line. My mom conferred and I jumped ship on foods and was hired on the spot for rides. In hindsight, it was an excellent move. I was given a choice of ride groupings to work in, handed a manual of policies and procedures, several 'open-book, take-home' tests about the policies and procedures, instruction manuals for the rides I had chosen, a schedule of orientations and trainings and a list of documents to bring with me to these meetings. I was so excited I went straight home and ready my policies and procedures manual front to back.

Orientations and trainings began a few weeks later, in early spring. We weren't paid for our time and we didn't complain about it because we didn't know any different. It was just fun for us. At the orientations, we were issued an employee number {which I still remember} and ID card, instructed on check-in and check-out, shown where the employee 'kitchen' was located and where to buy meal tickets to use in the kitchen, given uniforms and generally introduced to our new working world. At ride trainings, we were given a run-down of all the safety checks and operational procedures for each ride in our group and then we got to practice running the rides. Then we had a test on everything we learned. If we passed the test, then we were authorized to work on that ride. The only thing to do after that was wait for the weather to turn warm and the park to open for weekends.

During my first summer, I trained in two different ride groups, learning the operation of a total of 10 different rides. They ranged from old-fashioned, manual-control rides, like a ferris wheel {which wouldn't run if you didn't balance out the weight of the riders properly}, rides with a more automated key-and-push start system, and rides with fancy computer controls. I swept ride enclosures, cleaned seats, did safety checks, took tickets, cleaned up puke {beginning with my first shift and periodically thereafter; kitty litter, dust-pan, broom and training on how to use them were standard at every ride} and had a really good time running rides, making friends and earning a paycheck all summer long.

This grand amusement park where I worked is little more than a stationary carnival. It is a very large stationary carnival, with beautifully manicured grounds and well-trained employees, but most of the rides are really just carnival caliber. But they did have three big coasters which were referred to as "crew" rides. To be invited to work "on crew" was a step up from your basic ride operation, and so I was really excited to be asked to work on crew my second summer. They split the crew rides into two groups and I was in the group that learned to operate the old-fashioned wooden roller coaster {which is now about 80 years old and still in operation}. At the time, it had a manual braking system and you had to throw a series of levers in succession at exactly the right time, or the train full of passengers coming in to the station would be slammed to a bone-jarring stop. Operators worked in teams and there was extensive training for each station on the ride. Needless to say, training for crew rides was a little more intensive and comprehensive. I loved working the Roller Coaster, with the clickety-clack of the chain as it pulled the train up to the top of the first hill, followed by the whoosh of air as it went down the other side. The wheels would hum, a sort of ringing, high-pitched hum as it ran its course, and then it would be back in the station to take another group of passengers.

In addition to the Roller Coaster, my crew included operation of a train which ran around the 'lagoon' in the center of the park. On the far side of the pond, the train passed through a little zoo. The neat thing about this train is that it was a steam engine; the fire was propane fueled {instead of coal}, but it ran on steam. And I got to learn how to operate it! I wore striped overalls and everything. It took about two hours to fire up every morning. First duties were to light the fire and get enough pressure built up in the boiler. While the pressure was building, you had to grease the wheels and add oil to the reservoirs with a little oil can. Then you'd polish the brass and clean out the seats in the cars the train pulled. By then, the train was ready to go so you'd call for your supervisor, who'd call a maintenance man and the three of you would drive the train around to the far side of the lake where the maintenance man would refuel the propane tank and 'blow down' the boiler, which basically means he would open a pressure valve and hot water from the boiler would come rushing out, flushing out any hard water mineral deposits. Then we'd pull into the station and begin operation for the day. At regular intervals throughout the day you'd have to grease and oil, and you had to make sure there was enough water in the tender so you'd have steam to go. It was a pretty awesome, albeit, somewhat hot and dirty gig. In addition to my two crew rides, I trained on eight other rides for that summer.

I have so many great memories of working at this amusement park. I worked there for five summers {and two winters}. I've only covered the highlights of the first two summers and I can't possibly fit everything else I want to say into this one post, so I'm going to break this up and post a little more next week and the following. If you've read this through to the end, thanks for taking a little trip way back when with me today, and I hope to see you next week.

Read more:
Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Porcupine Meatballs

Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat? That’s bad for you!
–Tommy Smothers

Today's recipe is one of my childhood favorites. It is simple, but filling and tasty. This was the first time I've made it for the Little Bugs, and as usual they were pretty picky about it :rolleyes:. Grasshopper was trying to use The Force on me to let him eat pizza every night for dinner. The following conversation ensued:

Grasshopper: You will let me eat pizza for dinner every night.
Me: Your Jedi mind tricks don't work on me.
Grasshopper: You will let me eat pizza for dinner every night.
Me: Mr. Bug, did you hear something?
Mr. Bug: Nope.
Grasshopper: You will let me eat pizza for dinner every night.
Mr. Bug: I sense a great disturbance in The Force. I hear the voices of a thousand parents crying out in disbelief.
Me: :lol:
Mr. Bug has a great sense of humor. :vader: And in the end, the Little Bugs did eat their meatballs. I love dinner time at our house.

Porcupine Meatballs
1 lb. lean ground beef
½ cup uncooked rice
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 egg
¼ cup crushed potato chips
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
½ tablespoon olive oil
2 cans {14.5 oz. each} petite diced Italian stewed tomatoes
½ cup water

• In a medium mixing bowl, thoroughly combine beef, rice, onions, garlic, egg, potato chip crumbs, salt and pepper. Form into balls a little bit smaller than a ping-pong ball. A #60 scoop works well for this.
• Heat the olive oil a 10" skillet on medium-high heat and add the meatballs; brown on two sides.
• When you have finished browning the meatballs {they will not be cooked all the way through}, add the tomatoes with their juices and the water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
• Remove the cover from the skillet and simmer over medium heat for 10—15 minutes, to allow the sauce to thicken. Serve over Savory Rice.

Makes about 40 meatballs

• These are called porcupine meatballs because as the rice cooks, it puffs up and and when the meatballs come out, the rice is sticking out in all directions kind of like the spines on a porcupine. I love this dinner simply for the awesome name.
• My favorite pototao chip crumbs are Veggie Straw. One-1 oz. {about 38 straws} serving makes ½ cup. I put them in a sandwich zippered bag and smash them to dust using a meat tenerizer. They make meatballs {and meatloaf} come out incredibly tender.
• My mom used to make these in the pressure cooker. The skillet method above makes more dense meatballs. If you have a pressure cooker {and know how to use it :wink:}, your meatballs will cook faster and come out more tender. Instructions below:
• For a traditional stove-top pressure cooker, once the meatballs are browned, remove them from the skillet and place them in the pressure cooker along with the tomatoes and their juices. Omit the water. Bring to high pressure and cook for 8 minutes on high heat at high pressure. Allow the steam to release naturally; about 12 minutes.
• For an electric pressure cooker, if there is a setting to brown, place the raw meatballs in the electric pressure cooker and use that feature. If not, brown the meatballs in a skillet as above, then add them to the pressure cooker along with the tomatoes and their juices and cook for 10 minutes on high. Allow the pressure to release naturally; about 10 minutes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rainy Monday: Music Spot

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. –Langston Hughes

It is raining buckets here today.
I love rain.
I love the sound of it on the roof.
It makes my flower gardens happy.

I wonder if the Cullens will come out and play today?

Because it is such a lovely, rainy Monday :raincloud: , I thought I'd share my favorite song about rainy Mondays. Check out the bass player. How awesome is she!?!

I hope you enjoy your Monday, how ever it comes to you. I know I'll be enjoying mine. I have the perfect umbrella for it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Sermons: His Sacred Name — An Easter Declaration

In our hour of deepest sorrow, we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: “He is not here: for he is risen.” –Thomas S. Monson

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Right or Left?

Curiosity is only vanity. Most frequently we wish not to know, but to talk. We would not take a sea voyage for the sole pleasure of seeing without hope of ever telling. –Blaise Pascal, Pensées

I like to know about the people around me. I like to contrast and compare and celebrate differences and build on similarities. So I've decided to post a poll asking a different question every week because I'm curious like that. I Must Ask . . . is my new Thursday feature. Stop by every week for a new poll in the sidebar {make sure to vote even if you don't leave a comment!} and post about that question. The question I must ask today is: Are you left-handed, right-handed, cross-dominant or ambidextrous?

So, which is it? Righty? Lefty? Both? I'm right-handed. About 90% of the world is right-handed. Scientists have determined that genes influence which is your dominant hand. In my family, my dad's mom was a lefty. It was interesting to watch how she curved her hand around to write, almost like she was writing upside down. My brother is left-handed, and his three year old kind of favors her left hand too.

With so many righties in the world, how do all you lefties get along? In the old days, teachers used to force lefties to learn to write with their right hands because being left-handed was wrong. Though we know that's not true, there is still a tendency to make lefties fit into a right-handed world. Scissors. Spiral notebooks. Computer mice. Credit card machines. Can openers. Cameras. They're all geared for righties. When my brother wanted to buy a left-handed bass guitar, he had to special order it because none of the music shops carried them and the sales clerks told him he'd be just fine using a regular guitar.

Southpaws do have the advantage on the playing field. Basketball players who dribble with their left and come in for a basket on the left, opposite of most of the other players, have the element of surprise on their side. Baseball players who bat left-handed are a few steps closer to first base. And because they are on the other side of the plate, they force the pitcher to throw differently than he normally would. Baseball great, Babe Ruth was a lefty. In tennis, being left handed comes in handy {pun totally intended}, as John McEnroe proved during his impressive career, with 1 French Open, 3 Wimbledon and 4 US Open wins and the World No. 1 professional tennis player title under his belt. And being left-handed didn't seem to hinder Albert Einstein or Bill Gates, either. Bart Simpson, however, does not make a great case for the lefties of the world :lol:.

Living in the world we do, lefties have had to learn to also use their right hands. So does that make them ambidextrous? Not really. People who favor one hand for certain tasks like writing and personal care, but use the other for most other tasks are called cross-dominant. Baseball player, Pete Rose, who had more hits than anyone else in Major League Baseball, was a switch-hitter, choosing to bat from whichever side was most advantageous to him at the time. NBA player Kobe Bryant is cross-dominant. Historical figures, Benjamin Franklin and Ludwig Van Beethoven and actors Mark Hamill, Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey and personal favorite Hugh Jackman are cross-dominant.

A truly ambidextrous person, someone who has an indifferent preference for either hand and is able to perform a task equally well with either hand, is rare. Only 1 out of 100 people is ambidextrous. Actors James Woods and Topher Grace are said to be ambidextrous, as is tennis player Maria Sharapova. It is rumored that US President James Garfield used to impress people by writing in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other . . . at the same time.

You must be wondering if I really want to know which hand you use? Yes I do {so make sure to vote in the poll in the sidebar}! I've always found it interesting, I suppose, because of the people in my family who are left-handed. And if I know which hand you use, when I have you over for dinner I'll make sure to save a seat for you at the left corner of the table so you're not bumping elbows with your neighbor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I ♥ Tulips

Why don't you take a picture? It will last longer. –Pee-Wee Herman, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Today's post is all about tulips. Here's a little music to set the mood.

I think that of all the flowers in the garden, tulips are my favorite. There are many reasons why I love tulips. We had them in our garden when I was a child. You plant them once and they keep coming back year after year. They are the sign that the long, cold winter months are finally over. They come in such rich colors. The petals are amazingly soft and beautifully intricate. But I think the reason I love them so much is that they make a brief appearance, lasting two weeks at most once they bloom, and then they're gone for another 50 weeks. They really know how to work the less-is-more angle.

It seems just a little bit silly to take a picture of flowers in a vase, and even flowers in a garden. But these tulips are just too pretty not to share. I took these to work to share with the people there and I wanted to share with you too.

It is hard to capture a whole garden in a picture. It just isn't the same as seeing it in person. So, I've focused in on a couple of groups of flowers. These are my favorite orange tulips. They are called Donald Duck and were cultivated in honor of his 50th birthday {or maybe it was his 75th birthday :confused:}.

And I absolutely love these pink Toronto Tulips. The color is so amazing and they have a gorgeous shape when they are open.

The tulips haven't opened as early this year as they did last year, so I'm sure I'll have more tulip pictures soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol. 4

We’re caught up in the crossfire
Of heaven and hell
And we’re searchin’ for shelter

Tell the devil that he can go back from where he came
His fiery arrows drew their beat in vain
And when the hardest part is over we’ll be here
And our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear
The boundaries of our fear
–Brandon Flowers, Crossfire

Friday Night Sew-In: Sudoku Quilt
I got a late start to Friday Night Sew-In this time around and didn't get a super lot done. As a matter of fact, I signed up on Friday night right before I sat down to do a little sewing, so I didn't even post about it beforehand. Even though I didn't get much done, as Angie pointed out, a little sewing is better than a lot of cleaning! :rofl:

A little over a month ago, P. made a Sudoku quilt for a friend of hers. I fell in love with it and got the pattern from Sarah. I rooted through my stash and came up with the perfect combination of fabrics for my own Sudoku quilt. In the meantime, P.'s already finished a second Sudoku quilt top. She's awesome like that. So, I decided that I'd work on my Sudoku quilt for FNSI. Technically, I'm not supposed to be starting any new projects, but does it really count as a new project if I didn't buy any of the fabrics {except for the outer borders, back and binding :mischief:}? Anyway, I got all my fabrics pressed and then I got four of the nine cut into 4½" squares. I think that's a good start on the quilt, and not too bad for the small amount of time I worked on it Friday night.

Tweet Tweet
Friday was the first day last week I did any actual sewing. It was a topsy-turvy week. The Little Bugs were home for Spring Break and Mr. Bug and I had to juggle our work schedules with only one car. Also, I was just plain stuck on this little Tweet Tweet quilt. After I got my rows of coins together last weekend and decided it was pretty scary, I asked for opinions on several layouts and then incorporated them into several more layouts. This quilt didn't come out how I'd visualized it and I just did not like it when it came together. The solid pink coins just threw the whole thing off, so following Amy's suggestion, I made a pass with the unpicker and pulled out only the fabrics I really loved and put the rest in a discard pile. I laid the coins out again and still didn't love it. I made another pass through the discards with the unpicker, pulled out some more coins and rearranged the layout. I still didn't like how they looked together. So then I pulled some more coins out of the discards and incorporated those into the layout. By Friday evening, I was still debating about how to do the sashing and not loving how it looked. I was thinking that I would just put this project away for a little while, but Saturday morning I woke up with this quilt in my head.

I decided to go with my original plans for the sashing fabric, with Vicki's added suggestion of adding a narrow strip of solid on either side of the sashing. It is interesting in this layout how much the greens stand out. I think I like it. And I've got an idea or two for quilting, so I think this quilt might come out after all.

I Tulips
Spring is officially here. The tulips have started blooming in my {north-facing} front yard.

I've had tulips along the border on the south side of my house for a couple of weeks, but tulips in the front means spring is here. I went out to the back yard and cut some tulips in a little area I planted specifically for cutting. It is on the west end of the house and it is blocked from view in the front by a fence and if you want to see it from the back of the house, you have to walk over there. I have a really hard time cutting my flowers to bring into the house. It puts the balance off on the 'arrangement' outside. And once you cut them they start to die, which is sad. But no one is enjoying the beauty of these flowers at all, and that is even sadder, so I brought this little vase-full in. The three hyacinths make my kitchen and living room smell heavenly. I think I'm going to cut a bunch to put on my desk at work.

Monday Music Spot: Crossfire
This morning, I heard this song on the radio and just loved it {while Charlize Theron totally rocks, the video is a little weird so you might just want to listen to it. Brandon has a truly lovely voice}. It just seemed to kind of fit me, to fit my life right now.

Today's post brought to you by:

Handmade by Heidi

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sabbath Songs: In Humility, Our Savior

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.2 Nephi 2:7

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Everyone Should Know How To Fix Their Own Car or Do You Want Some Cheese With That Whine?

The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back. –Unknown

In the last few years, I've considered going back to school to study something fun like graphic design or horticulture. But today I'm seriously considering auto mechanics.

Up to this point our cars, although they are old, have been fairly reliable. We keep them around because it is really nice not to have a car payment. There are a few dings and dents on the exteriors, but they get us where we need to go. And the interiors are still nice.

In January, our ‘good’ car {a 1996 Honda Accord} started to leak some oil. At 186,000 miles, that is to be expected, or so I'm told. When Mr. Bug started his new job, it was obvious that this would be the car he would drive on his 110-mile round-trip commute. But after one week of this {on April Fool's Day no less; it's the joke that keeps on giving} the car started gushing oil. Fortunately for us, the gush didn't start until Mr. Bug was close to home, so there was no damage to the engine. But it was a really inconvenient time for us to be down one car. Mr. Bug was due to fly out the following Monday for training after his shift at work and I was up against a deadline myself at work which made for a very complicated situation. So Mr. Bug scrambled and found someone to fix the car on Saturday. That part was great. The bill was twice what we expected. That part was not so great.

On Monday morning, Mr. Bug took the other car {the gas guzzling 1995 Isuzu Trooper} to work, and from work he drove himself to the airport. I worked from home for the next two days because LadyBug was sick. And although I only had a short distance to drive those two days, taking Grasshopper to school and then picking up the equipment I'd need for telecommuting on the way home, I was a little worried about the fresh oil drips in the driveway. Also, there was this new, squealing noise when I started the car. I checked the oil a couple of times and the levels were good. And I took it to the car wash and sprayed out the engine to get rid of the oil that was all over the place from the huge leak and might be dripping onto the ground. Our supposition was that the drip that continued was a different leak, the first leak, and the gushing of oil had been a second leak which had disguised it, preventing the mechanic from finding it. I think we were being too kind. The car continued to drip oil. Mr. Bug checked the levels when he got home on Thursday and we were still good.

The next Monday morning the Little Bugs and I headed for my Grandpa's funeral in the Honda, which was 170-miles round-trip. We arrived at the mortuary a little early so that we could change into our dress clothes. As we walked back across the parking lot to put our casual clothes back in the car, I noticed a couple of fresh spots of oil on the ground. I had this sinking feeling as I realized that these spots were part of a trail that circled around the lot in exactly the path I had taken to park my car. I was slightly nauseated by the very large puddle of oil I found waiting for me under my car. There was oil everywhere under the hood, a sure sign that it was not safe to even start the car let alone drive it anywhere. We had the mechanic who ‘fixed’ our car drive the 85 miles to tow it from the mortuary parking lot back to his shop near our home, and my parents drove the Little Bugs and me to our house.

We've been on pins and needles this week, waiting to hear how much the repair would cost. In the meantime, Mr. Bug has been driving the gas guzzling demon to work in the mornings, and then when he gets home, I go to work in the evenings. Mr. Bug has called the shop every afternoon this week to check on the progress, and finally they told him yesterday that the car was done. The valve cover was cracked and they were trying to find a used part to save us some money. That was nice of them {but why didn't they notice it the first time we had them tow it in?}. We went to pick it up about 4:30 yesterday afternoon, but when we started it up, there was that awful squealing. When my dad looked under the hood in the mortuary parking lot, he told me that they'd put the serpentine belt {I know :cool:. Lots of big mechanical terms. I'm a natural! I'll be head of the class at auto mechanics school.} back on wrong when they fixed it the first time, and it was all chewed up. And so Mr. Bug pointed it out to one of the mechanics, who most obligingly offered to fix it for free. I was most annoyed. They are, after all, an auto mechanic shop, and you think they would notice when a car they were working on squealed like a banshee every time they started it up.

We came home and I swept up all the kitty litter in the driveway that was soaking up the oil drips in anticipation of a drip free car. When we went to pick the car up for the second time yesterday, I noticed some fresh oil on the ground where our car had been parked the first time we went to pick it up. I pointed it out to Mr. Bug, who suggested that it could have come from anywhere. I took the Trooper to work.

Last night on my way home from work there was an ad on the radio for a 2-year $99/month lease on those cute little Mazda 3's. I stopped for gas {for the second time this week} and there was a little Mazda 3 Sport in the parking lot of the convenience store. I loved the color. And the style. A plan started forming in my head. What if we traded in the Trooper for a Mazda so Mr. Bug could have a good, reliable car to commute with? They get 33 mpg on the highway. $99 a month is do-able. This plan was sounding better and better. When I got home, I checked out the fine print on the web-site of the dealership offering the leases. The lease offer is based on a $2000 trade-in value. The Trooper is worth less than half of that. So much for that great plan.

After Mr. Bug left for work this morning in our thrice repaired car, I went outside in my robe and slippers to see if the driveway was clear of any new oil drips. I was disappointed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shirt Tales

The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. –Erma Bombeck

One year, I had this really great idea for Christmas gifts for my family. I decided that I was going to make everyone a shirt, get them a new pair of jeans and that we were all going to have our pictures taken wearing our new outfits. Aren't we a cute bunch?
Back, l to r: Elizabeth, Mark, Julie
Front, l to r: Robin, Andrew, Jill
December 1993
There is a 20x24 of our entire family {I made shirts and got jeans for my mom and dad too} hanging on my parent's living room wall, but that was impossible to scan. This picture of my brothers and sisters and me was the only print from our photo session that was small enough to scan {right click on it for a closer look}.

I started working on this little project in the summer of 1993. I had all the jeans bought and tucked away by September. I'm not sure how long it took me to finish the shirts, but I know for certain that I was not up until 2:00 am on Christmas Eve finishing them up. Those were the days when I was on top of things.

In a large family, it is hard to do something of this magnitude and be sneaky about it. My sewing table was set up in the far end of our downstairs family room — the room where the TV and all of the toys were. I think my mom was in on the secret, but I wanted everyone else to be surprised. So if there were people around when I wanted to work on the shirts, I would work on one that was definitely the wrong size for whoever was in the room to throw them off the track. And it worked reasonably well, as everybody was pretty surprised on Christmas morning.

I still have my shirt, although I haven't worn it in years. I pulled it out of the closet to have a look at it. Because the shirts were identical, I put the first initial of each person on a little label and then sewed the label into the neck of the shirt that belonged to them. That way, there'd be no confusion about who's shirt it was. This is my shirt because it has a little "E" on the label.

I smiled when I opened it up to have a look at the seams. I'd forgotten that for a while after I got my serger, I still pressed the seams open and serged down both sides of the seam allowance. Open seams just looked nicer to me, plus they are easier to line up in places where you would press your flat seams both the same direction.

And here are some of the details. I probably should have pressed this shirt before the big photo shoot, but it's just going to go back into the closet, so I skipped it. I used the same adult men's pattern for everyone 15 and over and then the three smallest shirts were a child's pattern which was similar to the adult pattern.

My sister, Jill, and I were talking about this picture and she said, I still have my shirt. Then she laughed and said, no, I think I have Mark's shirt. Mine would be too small. But not by too much. Grasshopper, who is 11, is almost as tall as she is now. And I'm pretty sure that Grasshopper wore the little shirt that Andrew has on when he was little too.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Memories of Grandpa

Grandfathers are for loving and fixing things. –Unknown

I've collected some of the memories I have of my Grandpa and compiled them because I'm speaking at his funeral today. Most of this you've already seen, but I wanted it all in one place. Today we say goodbye to our father, grandfather, brother, friend.

At Grandma’s funeral, they put me as the last speaker and by the time the other two speakers had finished, I was a wreck. So, I asked them not to put me last this time. I'm not sure I like middle speaker much better.

It is for a sad occasion that we meet. I think that it is only sad for us. In the Book of Mormon, Alma teaches about death.

Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
–Alma 40:11–12

It is a happy thing to know that Grandpa has been released from all the health problems that have plagued him for so many years. And I'm sure he's in a better place. We know that before we came to earth, we lived as a family with a loving Father in Heaven. I believe that when we die, we are greeted by that same loving Father. There may be accounts to settle, but I think those are set aside for a time when we are called back home because, because no matter what we've done in this life, that doesn't lessen the love that He feels for us and I'm sure He is happy to see us. I think that the celebration wouldn't be complete without family and friends; perhaps Grandpa's father came to meet him, and I hope his mother and Grandma, were also there to greet him. Through covenants made in Holy Temples, we know that families can be together forever if we are obedient to the commandments of God.

While I'm sure there was a joyful reunion in Heaven, those of us who are left behind mourn the loss of someone special. He will be missed. Grandpa led a long, full life. He faced his share of difficulties and trials. He began to lose his eyesight at the age of 18. He suffered with gout as an adult. As the years passed, he relied more and more on my Grandma to take care of his needs. He's done passably well taking care of himself since she passed away 7 years ago, but his health had really declined in the last few years. It is sad to see someone you love go from completely independent {regardless of his poor eyesight} to completely dependent.

I've been thinking a lot about Grandpa the last few days. Here are some fun things I remember about him. He was never afraid to speak his mind. He worked hard; he was frugal with his earnings, but enjoyed using them carefully to make life more comfortable. He kept everything in good repair around his home. He learned to work around his poor eyesight and the only thing he ever gave up because of it was his driver's license. I am the oldest grandchild, and when I got old enough to drive, they would have me drive them around sometimes. Grandma, who was the regular chauffeur, would ride in the back and Grandpa would sit in the passenger seat. If he thought I was driving a little too fast, he'd say, you pay your own tickets. If they went on a trip, which they often did, they would have me drive them to the airport and let me keep their car while they were gone. That is a lot of trust to put in a 16-year old.

You can't talk about Grandpa without thinking of Grandma too. She was the heart and Grandpa was the soul. He'd have an idea and they'd plan it together and she'd put into it {whatever it may have been} the love that they both had for life and each other and their family. They shared what they had with their family. They loved to travel and took their children and grandchildren on many trips with them. When I was in 5th grade, they took me and and aunt and we drove down to San Diego and went to the Zoo and Sea World. What I didn't know was that they'd planned a day in Disneyland, too and surprised me with it as we passed the sign on the freeway. It was a really wonderful trip. We went back to Disneyland in 1996, this time with all of my brothers and sisters and my parents and Linda and some cousins. It was pretty spectacular.

Grandpa worked at Weber State as the manager of the cashier’s office. I remember when I was very little, and happened to be hanging out with Grandma, that he would sometimes come home for lunch and Grandma would have a Swanson’s chicken pot pie ready for him. He retired from “the college” when I was 11, but he still bled purple. They went to football games for quite a few years after he retired. My first semester at college, it was really intimidating to me to go up on campus to take care of everything and since Grandpa knew his way around, he came with me to help me get registered. After I got my classes, we went over to the cashier’s office so I could pay. It was different than when he was running the place and he told me how things worked when he was in charge. He was always very organized and precise in all he did and this was no exception. He told me about how he ran things, and the thing I remember most was that he used school letterhead paper in all the printers for the receipts they gave to students. It was that little touches like that that made everything he did special.

Over the years they did renovations, big and small, to keep their house up to day. I remember that Grandpa took down all those orange-ish wood veneer doors, sanded them down and painted them glossy white. And he did a really nice job too. Even though he could hardly see, he always did everything very well. After the doors were hung, he put fancy new handles on all the doors.

My brother, Andrew, who is serving a mission in St. Louis, Missouri, sent a few thoughts of his about Grandpa. He said: I tried not to make it too long, if anyone complains just tell them it is because I was his favorite.

What can I say about Grandpa?

There are a million things on my mind, but I am having trouble trying to put them to words. I hope you all know that all I have to say is out of love and appreciation for him. Most of my fondest memories from my childhood are with Grandma and Grandpa J. My Mom and Dad both had work so Grandma and Grandpa watched me. Some of these memories include: taking me to any construction sites around town so I could see the “diggers” (the backhoes). Going to the Dinosaur park and all of us jumping when they first added sound to the dinosaurs. Eating spaghetti-o's with hot dogs in them. Whenever we would drive anywhere I would always say, “seat belt Grandpa.” Having sleepovers on the weekends and watching way too much cable TV. And of course the “Andy Candy” dish full of Skittles for me.

It’s funny how these memories made a big difference in my life. I don't think I knew a “digger” was called a backhoe until I was a teenager. I am always excited to go to the dinosaur park and I can remember exactly which dinosaur scared us all. I am always excited to see spaghetti-o's with hot dogs in them at the store and eat quite a bit of them as a missionary. And I still eat way too many Skittles.

Grandpa loved to travel and loved to take people with him. I have seen many vacation pictures and it seems like he had a hat to go with every one. My own personal experience of this was when he took my mom and me to Disney World in Orlando Florida in 2009. At the age of 82 he rode: Tower of Terror, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Space Mountain with us. After every ride he made sure that the ride attendants knew he was 82.

He is now in a better place. He once again is with his wife, siblings and parents. He no longer needs a cane and he has a full head of red hair again. The pains and afflictions of life are over and now he is in a state of rest. He leaves behind a large family that will miss him greatly.

All good grandparents spoil their grandchildren; I guess that makes him one of the best.

I really enjoyed Andrew’s memories. I have one more sweet memory I want to share. I really wanted to make a lap quilt for Grandpa for Christmas, but things just didn’t work out that way. After the New Year, I was able to start working on it. As I worked, I pondered names for this quilt. I had a half-dozen or so ideas, but nothing seemed to fit. As the quilt came together, I'd resigned to calling it something that was less-than-spectacular. As I was putting the finishing pieces on it, I realized that the browns in the fabric reminded me of chocolate and caramel. As I thought about that, I remembered that Grandpa had a candy dish. And in his candy dish, he nearly always had Werther's Originals. I'd had a Werther's from his candy dish the last time I visited him.

I remembered other candies in Grandpa's candy dish; gummy bears {the good ones from Germany}, Skittles {also known as Andy Candy}, M&M's, mini candy bars. You see, Grandpa has a sweet spot for the grandkids. So if he knew you were coming, there was always something yummy in his candy dish. The design in the quilt reminded me of those wrapped Werther's candies and so I decided that Grandpa's Candy Dish would be the name for his quilt. I finished it in the middle of February and I was so excited to send it to him so that he'd know that I have a sweet spot for him too.

Andrew mentioned that he was “the favorite.” Grandma and Grandpa were good at making everyone feel like they were the favorite. I think that every one of their grandkids might argue that they are the favorite. But we all know that I’m really the favorite. I remember him with fondness and am grateful to have had him in my life.

Ph.D Challenge Update: One Down, Three to Go

Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. –Josh Billings

I'm kind of all over the map with my Ph.D quilts. So what have I been doing instead of finishing Ph.D's? I've made three quilts start to finish {Grandpa's Candy Dish, Gracie's Pinwheels and Cozy Posies}, which were on my master list of things to do between January 1 and June 30, but not on my Ph.D list because they weren't started yet.

And I've done a bit of rearranging to my Ph.D list. I planned to count the finish of my Woman's Work appliqué quilt top, but quilt tops don't count as finishes, which I didn't realize when I put this down as one of my Ph.D's. I'm going to have this quilt professionally quilted and even if I were to finish it tomorrow {which is entirely impossible since I'm only half-way finished}, I'm positive I wouldn't have it back from the quilter in time to bind and label before the end of June. So, while I still plan to have the top finished and get it to the quilter by June 30th, I'm going to take it off my Ph.D list and substitute another quilt in it's place. I think that is fair. I rearranged my list before I finished the substitute quilt, so I think it should be OK to count for the challenge.

My substitute quilt is Magic, which I posted about a few weeks ago.

I'm only listed for three Ph.D's in the sidebar at the Ph.D Blog, but in my first post there, I changed my number to four. I've got one finished now {hooray!} and I've got the top finished on Mr. Bug's t-shirt quilt. I hope to get the quilting done on that in the next couple of weeks. I still plan on getting the Pinwheel Sampler and the Snowball Quilt finished, as well as a couple of other quilts that aren't started yet. It is going to be a busy few months, but in the words of that Little Red Engine, I think I can, I think I can!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sabbath Songs: Did You Think To Pray?

Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness. Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.Alma 34:19-27

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Re-Tweet Tweet: How Do You Like My Stacked Coins Now?

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. –Newt Gingrich

Thank you to everyone who offered a suggestion when I asked what I should do with this quilt. There were some really good ideas, so instead of doing the grocery shopping or anything else productive today, I've been fiddling with the layout. Amy is right about the solid pink coins standing out too much. I covered those up with the extra coins I had cut and I like that side of the quilt better. And there was an overwhelming approval of Vicki's idea for a triple row of strips in between the coins, so I tried that, only with a really light yellow solid instead of the chocolate.

While I was staring at that picture, trying to decide if I like this crazy quilt or not, I realized that if I go with the little birds on the front, I'm going to HAVE {:crazy:} to go get another 1½ yards to go on the back. This was supposed to be an inexpensive project. But I'm having a hard time picturing the rain drops or leaves or whatever they are on the back. They just don't go.

Trying to work with what I've got, I laid the rain drops print out on top of the yellow, but didn't even bother to take a picture of that because it wasn't any good. I gave it a try with the Chocolate solid and didn't love that much either. The print competes too much with the busy coins and even with some pink coins showing, the pink still stands out too much.

Just for kicks, I tried alternating the sashing strips. Not sure I love it either.

The fabrics are cute. Stacked coins are awesome. So why isn't it coming together? At this point, I'm a little sick of looking at it. But I've started and I really want to finish. As Shevvy pointed out, it's not over 'til the binding is on.