:: good-bye party ::

WE had a fun going-away party for my Aunt Norma and Uncle Skeeter who will be leaving next week for an LDS mission in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was great having their daughter Jami here - she lives in California and doesn't get to enjoy these family get-togethers. Also from their family was Curtis and Wendy and their kids (and even some of Alex's friends) and their granddaughter Allison and her husband Greg. The rest of the party group was my parents and family.
We played a round of "I HAVE NEVER" and it turned out to be very informative, fun and good exercise.
No, Val isn't chasing Jami in this picture - they're racing for the same chair.

Aunt Norma ended up in the middle quite often, so she had to spend some time thinking of things she has never done.

There were only three little kids at our party - our families have just grown up. Now we rely on the kids of our kids to bring the fun to the party. Little Evie decided that we needed to have a game that she could play. Her first choice was freeze TAG - but no one could muster the energy to play tag with her. So she settled on a fast-paced game of DUCK DUCK GOOSE which a few of us joined. The --flash-- in the yellow shirt is Merilee running to get ahead of the kid she tagged.

After the games, Evan and Curtis payed tribute to Aunt Norma and Uncle Skeeter and the legacy of service they pass on to us as they leave for their third mission. They also served in Rochester, New York and Cebu, Phillipines. and Curtis, Nikki, Kimberly and Doug listen to the stories.

Jamie and my mom Jean listening to Evan's talk.

Curtis, Nikki (hiding her head because she is due to have little baby Avrie any day now), Kimberly and Doug laughing.

As the party, ended we were treated to a beautiful Cache Valley sunset photographed by Scott.
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my reCipE for bAked ZiTi

Here is my recipe for a delicious (considering it's a convenience food) and nutritious (well, sorta) dinner...

Baked Ziti & Meatballs

1. Go to Sam's Club. (Maybe available at Target too.)
2. Find the frozen entrees section and look for the two pack of Michael Angelo's Baked Ziti and Meatballs.
3. Bake it in the oven if you have 50 minutes...in the microwave if you only have 15. I personally like the oven better - the yummy smell fills the house.
4. Serve with salad, veggies and a loaf of good french bread - with unsalted butter.
5. Cheer when you realize that you ate dinner at home, and it only took ten minutes to get it ready.

p.s. I mostly don't like the meat in frozen foods, so I didn't eat the meatballs in this dish, just the pasta. So I hope the meatballs taste OK. I'd buy it again and still not eat the meatballs!

Note: In seaching the internet for a photo of this product, I found a little blog called "The Freezer Dude - Frozen Food Reviews." Click here to access this guy's reviews of entrees, pizza, etc. Yeah, I admit, he's a guy who is used to eating frozen food, but I actually found his reviews to be pretty close to my opinions. One thing I hate is buying a food item that turns out to be really nasty. What a waste of money that is. Maybe his reviews can help steer me in the right direction.


'' ' window washing irony ' '' '

I've waited all summer for the perfect week to have our windows washed. This is not a do-it-yourself project, because we have high windows and lots of them. In June, when I thought all possibility of spring rains had passed, I called our usual window-washing crew. They never returned my call.

Last week, the doorbell rang and it was a college kid asking if we need our windows washed. I said, "As a matter of fact..." So we set up the day and time, and then I realized that I would be out of town tending my cute grandkiddies on the big day. But, WHY NOT just let Scott take over and help with the window washing project. He was willing enough, so we planned on it.

I called him several times yesterday, and he said the guys were doing a great job and the windows had never looked better. Inside and out! I was so excited about my shiny windows.

Well, when I woke up at my son's house this morning, it was raining. I called Scott and he said, yes, it was pouring in Logan, but he reassured me: "I don't think the rain is really hitting the windows much." Yeah, right. It rained all day - you can see from the pictures that it rained hard.

My windows looked good for a half a day - at least that's what they tell me. When I arrived home this evening, it was dark and still raining. Scott maintains that it was a 'clean rain.'

Now if you are a person who watches the weather, you might ask why I didn't just check the forecast. I just don't do that. I hardly watch TV. If I need to know the weather, I ask one of those people I know who can rattle off the forecast for the next six weeks. This time, it didn't occur to me.

If you live in Logan, the window washer calls himself "Seasonal View." Leave a comment if you want his number.


{ virtual shopping at anthropologie }

I like to shop as you may or may not know. LIKE TO SHOP! I consider it one of my core-competencies. To me, shopping is NOT just going and buying things, but going and...hunting for things. And stumbling onto things that are PERFECT - or good deals. Shopping is identifying things you want then searching and finding them. (Bonus: identifying something you want that's expensive, then finding the cheap version.) Shopping is fun when done with friends or family, but REAL shopping is usually accomplished when alone. I love to shop alone.

Usually I like to shop in the real stores in real time better than on the internet. BUT there's one exception for me. I love Anthropologie online. Their website is visually charming. Their selection, while good and big, isn't too big. It's not like shopping at, say, Zappos.com, which is just plain TOO MUCH. Anthropologie has figured out a way to capture the feel of the real store experience and translate it to my little computer screen.

Now if you really want to enjoy Anthropologie online, you HAVE to light the candle called Volcano and set it by your computer while you surf. Do that, and you'll think you're right in the store! Mmmmmm......


[ a sad farewell ]

Leon Badger

Yesterday was the funeral of our good friend, Lee Badger. It's heartbreaking to even write the words. None of us can believe it. One short year ago we were gasping in shock when Shari told us about his ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) diagnosis.

The obituaries and tributes have been well-done and such an honor. But they don't even begin to tell about the Lee we knew and have known since 1982, when they moved to our neighborhood. Lee was always a lot of fun to talk to and be around. He cared about people - and their kids and families. He often asked us about our dog and we asked about his. Lee liked to laugh and tell great stories - and yet he never sought to be the center of attention. We knew him to be generous and tolerant - even of certain teenage boys who were in his Scout troop and probably drove him crazy, but he never mentioned that. Lee knew what was important.

Lee was passionate about his business and career.
He was honest and straightforward. He built his three grocery stores with hard work and smart moves - he invested in improvements and expansions when they needed to be done. He (and Shari) kept clean and attractive stores. Lee worked as hard as anyone there, and he never asked any employee to do something he wasn't willing to do himself. Sometimes Lee was the 'people greeter' at the store. In fact, that might have been his favorite job.

When I think of Lee, I think of Shari by his side. Those two were a team. You almost never saw one without the other. Shari was his right-hand man at the store (or maybe he was her right-hand man). They made good decisions together - I'm pretty sure they got multiple requests every day at the office to support some cause, fund-raiser or person in need. They said yes over and over. They were generous and didn't complain. They provided food for who-knows-what-all! They supported every athletic team- especially the Aggies. Most impressive: they did their kind deeds quietly.

Lee and Shari had lots of fun together. They got to go on fun trips and share cool experiences. They worked together and played together. One thing they loved to do was go to other grocery stores - all over the country - and "walk the store." They went four-wheeling and snowmobiling (remember the minus-forty-degree ride into Yellowstone?). Lee and Shari were a classy pair, and everyone wanted to be with them. We were the lucky ones, but didn't appreciate it at the time - took the togetherness for granted. Oh how I wish we could sit at the restaurant table again, laughing at Craig's stories and bragging about our grandkids.

When I attend a funeral I always think of the saying, "Going to the funeral of a good person makes you want to be a better person." I felt that yesterday as I left Lee's funeral. His example will help me, and many others, live a better life.


Adornit BLoG HoP - scroll to 7-31-09

Hi! If you're here on the Adornit Blog Hop, I'm sorry the link didn't take you directly to my Blog Hop post. You'll have to scroll down, down, down to the post that is dated 7-31-09 - the title says Adornit BLoG HoP! Be sure to read the last paragraph - it has the link to the next blog! Thanks for stopping by!

~ a perspective of goodness ~

I got up early to weed my flower garden - it was the one thing I was going to accomplish while Scott is away hiking in the Wind River Mountains with the Scouts. I was going to accomplish a lot of things while he is gone, but weeding was the NOT OPTIONAL one.

I was a little scared, this morning, to go into my backyard - it's been two days since my traumatic encounter with a wasp. I still have mini-daytime-nightmares about that wasp flying into my hair and me frantically trying to brush it away, only to have it sting me on the back of the head. This experience gave me new compassion for wasp and bee stings, and if I have ever acted nonchalantly about your bee sting (Brookie included here on the Fourth of July) I sincerely apologize. It has also opened up a new topic of conversation with everyone I talk to - I have heard some horrendous sting stories in the past few days, including Dr. Wood's story of a bee flying into his ear. The internet is crammed with funny but terrifying stories about bees and wasps.

Well, it started to rain, which is a good thing since it will be easier to pull weeds later if the ground is wet. I retreated to my computer, and found one of my favorite emails in my inbox - SARK's inspirational eLetter.

I love her idea of being a detective of goodness and passing on a perspective of goodness. I just had to share...if you can't read this, click here.

I get automatic emails (she calls them eLetters) from Susan Kennedy aka SARK that change my outlook in a matter of two minutes. She teaches positivity, creativity and 'juicy journaling.' You may remember her books from the nineties, books like Inspiration Sandwich and Living Juicy.

If you need an attitude adjustment or just some creative motivation and journaling inspiration, go visit with SARK.

"Remember to delight yourself first,
then others can be truly delighted."


{ night sky miscellany }

We're having a classic summer storm tonight. Right now I can smell the storm as much as hear or see the storm. Who doesn't love the smell of summer rain. And the way the cool breeze freshens the air when the rain is falling.

It's thundering and lightning quite regularly now, and I can't get my mind off my dear friend. The rumbling sound just seems to magnify my heavy heart. I'll mention more later.

I missed the Perseid meteor showers. Did anyone watch the sky on Wednesday night, and was it spectacular? I think it wasn't because I haven't heard anyone talking about it.

I'm going to go watch the lightning now. Last week in Salt Lake City, on the same night that we flew in from San Diego, there were 7,900 flashes of lightning. I asked Scott, "Who sits and counts all the lightning strikes?" It was an honest question. There are measuring devices, I learned, that measure lightning.

One thing I know for sure. Max, our dog, does not like thunder.


haPpy bIrThday TeResA LeWis

I want to send an ONLINE haPpy bIrThday to my net-savvy, online and offline {good} friend Teresa Lewis.

Teresa does more to CONNECT people than anyone I know. She sends love to her friends and to friends of her friends (and, of course to her relatives) via her blog, Facebook, and the online communities she brightens.

So here is an old-fashioned image that says it all--

The words say: "Be worthy. Love they Neighbor." "Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the seeds, kind words are blossoms, the fruits are kind deeds." (Credit to Kindred Spirits Quilt Shop for image.)

These words actually look like what Teresa would stitch on the darling pillows that she makes and sells. She finds the best quotes and embroiders the words along with flowers or other cute images. And then she adorns the pillows with buttons and then more buttons! Teresa is also a very good writer with a natural and readable voice. And she's a hoot. A conversation with Teresa leaves you smiling. Happy Birthday dear Teresa!


:: perfect bridal or baby shower cookie ::

Tonight I'd like to publicly thank my "cookies-in-the-oven guardian angel." Really, she protects me sometimes from cookie disasters, and this morning she was especially vigilant. Not once, but twice, she nudged me to the oven to get the cookies out. Now you'd think that if it were an important occasion with a tight time schedule, I'd be sitting next to the oven making sure I didn't burn the cookies. But this morning I was extra-distracted and in a bit of a hurry. The cookies were baking, and I was wrapping a gift. And then it hit me...OHHH the cookies. I ran to the oven and, whew, they were just fine.

Why, you ask, don't you just put on the timer? I DO set the timer, in fact I set two timers. But, my oven timer makes one little blip which I never hear over the radio or if I'm in another room. And the second timer has this unnoticeable start button which I alwa
ys forget to push. So, hats off to the cookie angel.

Below is the recipe for Meltaways - the perfect shower cook
ie! You can also click here for the Almond Cookie recipe which I also made for the shower and colored pink - so very baby girly.

Oh, and I need to mention that the baby shower was wonderful. It was for my sister's daughter-in-law Nikki who is due to have a little baby girl at the end of this month. My sister put together wonderful refreshments - all pink food! It was so cute - watermelon, red grapes, strawberries. Pink cookies - my almond cookies and the meltaways. Mer made trifle with lots of fat (dark pink) raspberries on top and pink jello cake. There was pink fruity slush and pink animal cookies. Oh, and don't forget the pink ice cream sandwiches and pink creamie popsicles.
(Thanks to jjbd_photo on photobucket for her cookie photo - I didn't even think to take one.)

from Scott's sister, Mary Savage
2 cubes butter
3/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour or a bit more if needed
1/8 tsp. salt
Put it all in the mixer and beat together until well blended, but not too long. (If the dough seems dry and crumbly, the cookies will crumble, so you need to add a bit of warm water. If it's too creamy-thin you need to add a bit of flour. It needs to be a consistency that you can scoop it up with a tablespoon and roll it around on the palms of your hands into a small ball.

Make balls - they look better if small, about the size of walnuts. Press each ball gently with two fingers.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (Set the timer.)

Cool and frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting - or if you're in a huge hurry and are sick to death of cookies, then use Betty Crocker Soft Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. This recipe will make about 35 cookies depending on size.

family gathering in san diego

Way way way fun time in San Diego with the whole family. Here are some of my favorite group shots - It's going to take some time to pick, edit, and post individual photos from over 500 photos taken with two cameras by two photo maniacs.

This is the group that decided to sit in the splash zone - center section, row 2 - at Sea World. Mike and Winston got soaked, Scott and the girls bought ponchos that kept them sort of protected. As it turned out, the rest of us (including ME THAT HATES TO BE WET) got splashed too. Lots of splash. We were sitting at the back of the splash zone, on the far right side on about row 15. I didn't dream I would get wet.
This is at the beginning of the day at the ZOO. Pitt had a goal to see every animal on the list in the guidebook. Becky, Scott, Suzie, Winston and Mike hung in there with him, though it was very hot and humid. The rest of us saw MOST of the animals, but enjoyed a little less strenuous day. Through the whole trip Brookelyn and Bailee were so delightful to be with, well behaved and patient. And baby Carter, at 16 months, was wonder baby. He was so good - I don't think I heard him cry more than twice in five days.

Our day at Mission Beach was perfect summer beach weather - HOT - but with a little breeze to cool us off. This photo is funny because Pitt's head is exactly behind Aaron's. You can see his arms but not his head. Scott bought a little umbrella at the grocery store and he and I crowded under it so we could maintain our prize-winning white legs.
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- AdoRn It BLog ParTy thrills and chills -

The Adornit Summer Blog Party continues. First you have to know that Georgana (my boss) and I (and the rest of our team, Tammy, Alison, guest bloggers) have put our hearts and souls into this Blog Party. I got a headache I tried so hard to write paragraphs that sounded friendly, fun, and party-ish on our Blog Party posts.

I was so excited for the Blog Hop - it happened yesterday, on Day 3 of the week-long Blog Party. (You can still do it if you click on Blog Hop.) We ended up with 80 scrappers who made the Blog Hop happen - they actually created projects using the theme Summer Favorites, posted them on their blogs, and linked to the next scrapper's blog. Georgana spent hours organizing everything. After a few initial snags, (at one point Georgana had to tell me, "Calm down!"), it ended up really great. I couldn't believe the quality and creativity of the projects that our friends showed. Many, many used Adornit product, which just thrilled me. And lots of kind, sweet people left comments at the all different blogs.

It tickled me that my sister, Merilee - who was here visiting (we went to a performance of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and had yummy Chili's Two for Twenty meal before the show and Coldstone ice cream after) - joined the blog hop and got through it in a little over an hour. She's so neat and worth a post of her own, which I'll do soon!

So for today's Blog Party activity, we have lots of ideas for scrapping the outdoor adventures that people have this summer. Oh and you have to see the clever first aid kit, which I very appropriately named, "The Cutest Little First Aid Kit Ever." Now I'm going to type that fast and you'll see the problem I have with capital I's. THe Cuters LIttle FIrst AId KIt Ever. I always have to go back and uncapitalize I's when they are second in a word. And can you believe that that title has I's second in four of the seven words. I'm rambling on and on because I have a ton of things to do that I'm trying to avoid.

Well, here is the layout I made for today's Blog Party. It's a picture of me hiking at Jenny Lake in Jackson Hole, Wyoming - a great memory and worthy of some journaling which I didn't put on my layout. Well, gotta go tackle those phone calls.