HaLLowEen TrEatS

The doorbell rang and there on our front porch were the cutest trick or treaters ever!!

Having my own grandkids standing on my doorstep took me back to many years of Halloween nights when we took our kids to my parents' house to surprise them at their front door. Happily. we live in the same town - a mile apart - so it was an easy surprise to pull off.

Having Aaron and Aimee and kids was extra special for us because they live a couple of hours away and we haven't enjoyed them on Halloween for a long time.

Carter is the cutest little Spiderman. He loves his costume - he's been wearing it night and day for a couple of weeks now - even the mask.

We decided to go trick or treating around our neighborhood - it had rained earlier, but the rain had stopped and the temperature was pleasant. Carter skipped from house to house.

It was fun to see our neighbors

Mike was on his way to a murder-mystery party - he was assigned to come dressed as a lawyer. He's actually wearing the clothes Scott wore when we were dating. (Though he didn't wear the plaid pants and plaid vest together - he wants me to be sure everyone knows.) I thought those pants were so sharp. It was the 70's you have to understand.


I'm crazy about this...

I'm excited about the new design of our Cut the Crazy Out of Christmas blog here. The header was designed and installed by Kathy at The Modern Polka Dot graphic design. You can see her blog here with lots of samples of her work, including our Christmas logo on Wed. Oct. 20. She also designed our sidebar titles which are so cute with the little bird or snowflake on each one.

I'd like to thank Suzie for having the smarts and taking the time to install the sidebar titles. I looked at some instructions on how to do it and that HTML stuff is too much like math for me. So I called Suzie and she had it done the next day. I'm sure my other helpers Aimee or Becky could have done it too! Smart girls...I love them. Suzie and Becky have also posted on the blog for the past two posts - just reading their ideas will give you some Christmas spirit! And a little push to do something to prepare for Christmas.

Over at Big Picture Classes, we're having a lot of fun putting together our planners and working on lists, lists, lists. Those girls will be happy campers come mid December!


USU Homecoming Tradition

It's Homecoming week for Utah State University - and one thing we never miss is the Homecoming Parade. We're lucky to have Brookelyn, Bailee and Carter with us today (it's their parents' anniversary - happy 12th Aaron and Aimee). They were excited about the candy at the parade - they even decorated big paper bags this morning to hold their candy.

My niece Jennifer was working on a USU class project to take photos and video of the parade to put on the USU television channel. Jennifer's majoring in journalism and she's a reporter for the TV broadcasts. Her story 'angle' was that our family has been meeting at this same corner for 57 years to watch the Homecoming Parade. We know it's 57, says my dad, because I was a five-month-old baby when they watched their first parade. Dad was working as manager of the Firestone store that was located on this corner.

Four generations of Stevensons have stood in this spot through sunshine and snow, marching bands and small-town floats (with princesses wearing Aggie sweatshirts), political campaigners and lots and lots of BIG trucks...a staple of parades in Cache Valley.

As we watched Michael and Carter scrambling to get tootsie rolls and dum-dum suckers, we remembered Aaron as a two year old and baby Suzie in a stroller and marveled that so much has changed, yet so much has stayed the same.


- Epsom, near London -

One of the things Pat was most excited about during our visit to England was returning to the city of Epsom where the Raymond family had lived for 2 1/2 years when Pat was in 6th grade and Scott a senior in high school. Their father was supervisor of church building construction for all of Britain - and it was a real adventure and sacrifice for their whole family. We traveled by train from London to Epsom, Surrey.

It was a beautiful sunshiny day and the Epsom street market was filled with tables of bright flowers. Seeing the summer flowers was a little strange for us considering it was October, but the climate is milder and there were flowers everywhere - one of the delights of the trip for me.

Another delight - T K Maxx. Pat and I hustled in there looking for a few little things we had forgotten and wanted for the rest of the trip...me, some sunglasses and a dressy sweater and Patty, a small bag.

While we shopped, Scott tried to figure out how we'd get to 24 Mosby Crescent - the address of the home they lived in over 46 years ago. A man directed him to the clock tower where he found, in a funny little office right under the clock tower, a cab company that would drive us to the places we wanted to go.

Epsom is famous for its racetrack - Epsom Downs where once a year the queen visits.

Our taxi driver found the home where the family had lived. We took photos and talked to some neighbors about why we were visiting their street.

The street was charming with tidy yards and very green grass. Of course, everything seemed much smaller to Patty and Scott than they remembered it. But otherwise, the same.

Next we found our way, thanks to GPS, to the second home they lived in - the house with a wonderful address: 3 the Ridings. Scott only lived here for a month - since he graduated from high school there in England, he returned home to Logan to attend college.

This is the school that Patty attended - St. Christophers. She was so excited to see it and that it looked the very same. We knocked on the door and were allowed to take a tour of the school. Patty remembered the staircase, classrooms and play yard in the back.

The children were darling with their lilting British accents and gray wool uniforms - jumpers for the girls and shirts and ties for the boys. Of course we couldn't take photos of them, but this photo of their hats and coats shows how sweet everything was.


:: cardiff, wales ::

Cardiff is a beautiful city with an incredible mix of old and new. The castle tower dates from the 1500's. I took a genealogy sheet with me that my mom gave me with information about her great-great-great grandparents who lived in Pembrokshire, Wales - not far from Cardiff. The dates on the sheet are in the mid-1600's. I imagined that perhaps they saw this castle.
This street reminded me of a scene from the little German town we lived in 34 years ago.

Scott and his sister Patty on the wide walkway that winds through the main part of town.

I love the flower baskets and planter boxes that hung above the store windows.

The Welsh language is still spoken - though in the larger cities there is always English too. This bench welcomes visitors to the Ryder Cup.

The mall was a welcome respite from the rain - we retreated there after our drenching day.

Me, Mark and Pat after a breakfast of wonderful hot cocoa, lemon poppyseed muffins, and
a chocolate brownie triangle called a tiffin. Yumm.

I was so surprised at the flowers - everywhere! They were in full bloom and beautiful.

This was called an arcade - it was actually an old-fashioned shopping street with lots of tiny shops selling everything imaginable. We saw several of these arcades and they all had glass roof enclosures over the top. So shopping is possible in spite of the rain and wind.

One of my favorite paper stores Paperchase was in the mall with amazing displays.

More Paperchase delights...and a huge Christmas section with cards, books and calendars.

This shows the mall interior - and I have to add that later in the day the mall was packed with shoppers. It was in this mall that I discovered a Clarks shoe store and bought the pair of shoes that saved my feet...and ego. (I had good running shoes to wear, but they looked so "unclassy" and, believe me, in Europe the people are very well dressed.)


wet and wonderful Ryder Cup

We spent two days at the Ryder Cup course at beautiful Celtic Manor Resort near Cardiff, Wales. We weren't allowed to take cell phones or cameras into the tournament, so these photos are some I found on the internet.

The first day was a day of drenching rain and only an hour of play; the second day was beautiful - with a light wind, a few clouds, and even a bit of sunshine. However, the rain had turned the grounds to huge puddles and muddy trails - it was quite a sight to see everyone wading through ankle deep mud - running through the mud actually, because that's what we had to do to keep up with the player we were cheering for.

The Celtic Manor Resort hotel is beautiful and a destination for golfers from around Europe.

We watched Tiger Woods play - not so well, actually, until the last day. I'm so glad I found this photo because it shows the crowds that we were part of and the weird lavander sweaters that the USA team wore on the 2nd day. The team had wardrobe problems - especially with the rain gear that was specially made for them in Montana and leaked so badly that the team helpers had to rush to the souvenir tent and spend $5,000 on new rain jackets and pants that were really waterproof. It was the talk (and laugh) of the British newspapers the next day.

It was interesting that the wives (and girlfriends) of the two teams had a lot of publicity. This is Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy (who has ties to Utah). The wives wore matching outfits for the opening ceremony and also during the tournament. There was a lot of talk about Tiger walking alone.

The 12 wives from each team wore matching outfits - white for the Europeans and red for USA - for the opening ceremony and also during the tournament. There was a lot of talk about Tiger walking alone.

We watched the opening ceremony from a restaurant in Cardiff rather than being there - because our tickets, which were on hold at the front desk of the hotel where the team stayed, were misplaced by the hotel staff.

We really got a better view on the big screen TV as it turned out - above is the photo I took of Rickie Fowler (our guy) and the USA team captain Corey Pavin. And watching from inside was much warmer which made me very glad.

And here is the headline and story telling the final results of the tournament:

Team USA rallies valiantly, but Europe holds on to win thrilling Ryder Cup

Europe reclaimed the Ryder Cup on a picture-perfect Monday, but its victory wasn't secure until the 17th hole of the event's final match thanks to an inspiring American rally that fell just short.

NEWPORT, Wales (AP) -- Europe reclaimed the Ryder Cup, winning a thriller that went down to the final singles match Monday.

The Americans rallied from a three-point deficit to tie the score, bringing the title down to the 12th match. But U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell made a clutch birdie putt at the 16th and was conceded his par putt at No. 17. Hunter Mahan flubbed a chip shot, then missed a last-gasp putt from off the green to save par.

The Europeans won 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 to reclaim the cup won by the Americans at Valhalla two years ago. This was the closest Ryder Cup since 1999, when the Americans rallied from a 10-6 deficit at Brookline for a one-point win.

The youngest American, 21-year-old Rickie Fowler, gave the USA team hope of pulling off an improbable comeback when he won the final three holes to halve his match with Eduardo Molinari. Fowler rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th to extend the match, then made an 18-footer at the final hole to stun the Italian.

A few minutes later, Zach Johnson finished off a 3-and-2 win over Padraig Harrington, evening the score at 13.

That brought it down to McDowell vs. Mahan.

The Northern Irishman was 3 up with seven holes left. But he made a bogey at No. 12, and an errant tee shot at the 15th, a short par-4, handed Mahan another hole.

With Fowler's half-point, Mahan had to halve his match for a 14-14 tie that would've kept the trophy in American hands.

But McDowell rolled in a slick, downhill putt from 15 feet at No. 16 for a brilliant birdie at one of the toughest holes on the course. When Mahan struggled at the 17th, the winner didn't even have to bother with his final putt. Final score: Europe by 1.


lost at the Ryder Cup

Well, the Ryder Cup experience was fabulous in some ways and frustrating in others. Sadly, for most fans including us, the main story on day one was the weather. I have no photos to show because no cameras or cell phones were allowed into the golf tournament. On the first day, we rode the VIP bus with Jeannie and Taka, Rickie Fowler's grandparents, to the gorgeous Celtic Manor course. As we walked in, the wind began to pick up and the sky to darken. As we quickly walked around the area looking at the beautiful greens, impressive clubhouse, and all the "tournament buildings" like huge food tents, the PGA welcome tent, and big screen TV viewing areas (all reminiscent of an Olympic venue), the rain began to fall. Soon it was a heavy downpour, and we, along with at least 20,000 other people headed for the huge mechandise tent. At least we could shop for a few souvenirs until the rain let up, we thought.

We then heard the announcement that play had been suspended and an announcement would be made at noon about when it would resume. We happily shopped through the football field-sized tent that had every brand of golf clothing and accessories plus Ryder Cup souvenir stuff - so much to look at and a good place to be waiting for the rain to let up - far better than the beer hall down the path which was sheltering another - oh, 5,000 people. People were packed into every nook and cranny that had a roof on it. The rain was absolutely pouring down. I know this because of what happened to me.

So, Scott and I were together in the check out line and then I sent him on ahead because I didn't want to wait in the line. (He had a shopping basket with the stuff I was buying PLUS all of my things, hat, purse, umbrella everything. No cell phones allowed so not my phone - it was back at the car.) I thought I'd just meet him at the end of the check-out section. I made my way there and waited. And waited. There were people packed in everywhere and I was soon pushed outside the souvenir tent. I kept waiting thinking I would surely see Scott or someone from our group of 6. Then I got worried that they had somehow gone out before me, so I walked out into the downpour. No hat, no umbrella - luckily I had my raincoat on.

At this point I realized that I was in a bad situation. There was a huge line of people waiting to get IN to the souvenir tent. There were people everywhere in this large area which was half the size of the quad at USU. It seemed like everyone had a black umbrella - extra large - and a black raincoat. It was raining so had you couldn't really see well. I started walking up and down the sidewalk looking for someone from our group. I went to the front of the store where we had originally planned to meet - but that after shopping, by a painted sportscar, but the meeting time had long passed. The water on the grassy areas was in huge puddles and splashed around my legs as I was forced to walk across the grass because the sidewalks were crowded with umbrellas. I saw a booth a ways off that said "Lost Property," and I went there and stood under the canopy with dozens of other people who were trying to escape the rain (to find anything). I was soaked - looked like I was drowning - but I stood there hoping that maybe Scott would look over there and see me under the sign that said lost.

Then I decided to go back to the painted car and look one more time. It was embarrassing to stand in one place. I walked over but saw no one - then thought to stand in the middle of the grassy area in view of everyone, hoping Scott would see me all alone out there. I was dripping and probably looked a little frantic. At that point, I noticed two older gentlemen with huge umbrellas coming toward me smiling. One said, "Do you need help?" The other told me to get under his "brellie" while we talked. I told them about my situation, and they said they would help me figure out a way to locate someone in my group. They were so kind - with the most delightful British accents - and they showed up when I was about to start bawling. (Mainly because of the rain - if you know me, you know that I HATE to be wet - I wear rubber gloves on my hands even if I am wiping off my kitchen counter, I never walk in wet grass with sandals on, etc.)

My new friends, Graham and Noel, took me back to the "Lost Property" tent while they went to event headquarters to find out if there was some kind of message board or announcement system. While I was at the lost booth I began to chat with some other kind people and then Graham and Noel came to get me. I told the people at the lost booth that if they saw a man with a gray coat and red umbrella looking for someone to please tell him that his wife went to the event headquarters.

It was still pouring - even harder - more rain than I've almost ever seen. I was so upset with my self and the situation and kept thinking about little kids being lost. It's such a helpless hopeless feeling to be lost. I was thinking that now I know how kids feel - both scared to be lost and scared to be in trouble that they are lost. I knew that Scott was probably so frustrated that I was gone and he probably thought that I had gone back in to shop more without telling him, which was NOT the case.

As I walked along with Graham, I was scanning the crowd. Suddenly I saw Taka and Jeannie. (They hardly know me, but I was so glad to see them that I acted like they were my best friends.) They had left the others earlier, and they didn't know I was lost....but they knew where Pat and Mark were - so I said good-bye to Graham and Noel and thanked them sincerly and profusely. Taka and Jeannie kindly took me back to the check-out area of the souvenir tent - where I happily joined Pat and Mark. It had been over an hour now and I looked awful.

Scott was off looking for me. My biggest worry was that he had gone to the Lost booth and talked to the people who than sent them to event headquarters - but I had never made it there. Sure enough, those nice people saw a man walking across the grass and ran out and asked him if his wife was lost - then told him I had gone to event headquarters. Well, Scott went there and they had not seen me, but they posted a notice that went out across the area system with my name as a lost person.

Meantime Mark set out looking for Scott and Patty and I waited. We knew that eventually Soctt would return to where Pat and Mark were waiting and find me there, which is what happened. I was so relieved to get all of that over. Scott was glad to find me and be done with the search.

It was still pouring so we made our way back to the bus to get a ride back to our hotel. There is a nice shopping mall in the middle of Cardiff, and we stopped there because that really was all there was to do in the still-pouring rain. We ate a nice dinner - something we all needed- and watched the local weather forecast and Ryder Cup news, grateful that no rain was predicted for the next day and tournament play would resume. What a day.