we loved Christmas

It was fun and sweet and filled with joy. And jammies.


hexie quilt heaven

I love Susan Branch and her blog and her website and her books and and her style and her writing. This Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt is an antique quilt she collected and posted on her blog in September of 2011...the link is here. I just stumbled onto the blog post and was scrolling through her beautiful photos of quilts in her bedroom, living room, and even hanging from the clothesline in her yard. When I saw this quilt, I kind of melted.

I've made a few hexie flowers and looked at a lot of patterns for flower garden quilts. I like having ongoing handwork to work on (yes, like the cross stitch sampler I've had in my bottom drawer since 1996, lol). But I've never really been motivated to start a hand-stitched quilt project until now. It's no surprise that I love the quilt - it is blue and white and pretty as can be. The charm of the quilt is in the faded fabrics, the hand quilting, the washed crinkliness, and the old-fashioned flower prints. Wouldn't it be fun to meet the woman who made it and say thanks. 


quick dinner

I made this and it was yummy! (I used ham from the deli rather than proscuitto.)

Fettuccine Pasta with Prosciutto, Peas, and a Cream Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Total Time: 40 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 25 min

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 pound fettuccine pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup frozen sweet peas
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Set a large pot of water with a pasta insert over high heat and bring to a boil. Place the pasta in the water and return to a boil, being sure to stir the pasta until the water boils again.

While the pasta cooks, set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium high heat, and add the olive oil and the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onions to the pan and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Place the prosciutto in the pan and saute for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with wine and cook until it is nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add the cream, peas, salt and pepper to the pan and let the cream reduce by half, 4 to 5 minutes. If the pasta is not yet cooked, turn the fire off the sauce while the pasta continues to cook.

Strain the pasta from the water once it is cooked, and place in a large heat resistant bowl. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the cheese and the parsley. Use tongs are two large forks to stir the sauce into the pasta and serve while hot.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/fettuccine-pasta-with-prosciutto-peas-and-a-cream-sauce-recipe.html?oc=linkback


Giving ThAnks

Today, Thanksgiving morning, as I set my table for dinner guests, I knew I had to pause for an hour and write a blog post.

We've had many life events since my last post. I got "blogged" down because I wanted to write about all of them. But it was all too overwhelming. I finally told myself that I can't go back. I just need to start where I am.

So this sweet story brought me back to blogging....

When we were one-year married, Scott had to serve for two years in the Army. He worked hard to get assigned to Europe - specifically Germany. He had finished medical school and his internship, so he went as a physician and was lucky enough to get a job as a "flight surgeon" (a doctor who took care of pilots) on an army base near Frankfurt. We arrived in Germany in September - a beautiful time of year. I remember seeing apple orchards and abundant gardens as we drove, enchanted, through the quaint towns and pretty countryside that would be our home.

What I most remember, what I JUST LOVED, was the shopping (not surprising). And what I loved about the shops was the housewares. This was the mid seventies. I had just set up my whole kitchen with harvest gold pyrex and brown/green/gold stoneware dishes. And now I walked into these German stores and see these colors I loved times a thousand choices. The patterns, variety, colors were wonderful, I could spend hours wandering through small shops and large department stores.

And then I found Villeroy & Boch china. It was exquisite German porcelain - the most beautiful china I had ever seen. I loved china, but when I got married, the popular style for china dishes was white with a silver rim. Very plain but elegant. Now I was seeing china in colors and designs that changed me for the rest of my life. The Summer Day pattern was my favorite. It blended the pretty flowers and design I loved with the harvest colors that were popular. I decided that I would begin to collect that china - starting with eight plates for myself for Christmas. Through the next two years I added eight salad plates, eight soup bowls, and a platter. I came home from Europe with a treasure.

Fast forward nearly 40 years to my birthday in June. My friend, Bonnie, called to wish me a happy day and said she had a gift that she'd bring soon. When she came, I had the shock of my life. There, in several boxes, wrapped in tissue and bubble wrap were many, many pieces of my Summer Day china. WHAT??? You don't even see these dishes anymore. The pattern is discontinued and forgotten. And the pieces. A gorgeous tea pot with tea cups. A delicate cream and sugar set. Salad plates and a pretty bowl. Salt shaker and tiny serving cup. Where did these come from? How did she remember that this was my china?

My favorite - a little cream pitcher that goes straight to my heart!

The story goes like this. Bonnie has a cousin, a guy, who bought an older home. One summer evening, Bonnie and family went to visit the cousin at the new/old house. He told them about how the house had been filled with junk - lots of stuff to get rid of. He was cleaning out some of the cupboards in the garage and found these old dishes on a shelf. He asked Bonnie if she'd like the old dishes and other old things, knowing that she loves and collects antiques. If not, they were on the way to the dump. Bonnie looked at the boxes saw that the china was very special, and said, casually that, of course, that she'd be happy to take them off his hands. 

Fast forward a few months to our Sew and Sews (sewing club) tea party. Bonnie was in charge and did it up in style. She brought her massive collection of tea pots and tea cups to decorate and use for refreshments. It was an amazing scene - vintage tea pots and linens and vases of flowers everywhere. One of her teapots was surprising to me because it was my Summer Day pattern. I told her excitedly that I had the same dishes. She tucked that information in her mind for later in the summer...then the birthday surprise for me. 

Bonnie could have kept the china or given it to her daughters. She could have sold it on e-bay for a tidy sum. She should have done one of those things. I'm overwhelmed that she gave the many pieces to me...and they complete my set. Except for the salad plates, they are pieces that I don't have. And they are pieces that I absolutely love! They're beautiful. I'm grateful. My china cabinet looks amazing! 

As we sit to eat our Thanksgiving dinner today and use my and Bonnie's lovely china, I express gratitude to my special friend. This gift is just a symbol of her character and generosity. As I make my "thankful list," she'll be at the top. Thanks, Bonnie!


...and it's blue

This and many beautiful paintings are in a new exhibit at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. We went with my sister and were thrilled with the paintings and theme:
"Practicing Charity: Everyday Daughters of God."

Matthew 5:6...Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

 Galatians 5:13...by love serve one another.

Three artists are featured. The women artists (Kathleen Peterson and Lee Udall Bennion) are amazing, and I'll show my photos of their work soon. 
But this painting by Brian Kershisnik. 
This painting...lifted my spirit, and moved me deeply. 

Here's another version - also beautiful. 

We enjoyed our museum time so much. Merilee works in the church media department, so she knows what's going on everywhere and keeps us informed. Other paintings were also wonderful and I also LOVED the perfect, pretty garland painted on the walls of the exhibit space. 


good book - Crow Lake

Yesterday was book club, and it was my turn to do the book review. The book was Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. Our books come from our local library's book club club, so the librarians select the books and send a dozen copies home with our 'representative' to distribute among the book club members. We have book buddies that we share our book with. It's a great program because no one gets blamed if the book is unliked. (Speaking of not liking a book, I selected a book once and reviewed it with great enthusiasm. But I think I was the only person who cared for it, and that was embarrassing. I still remember - it was Letters to an American Lady by C. S. Lewis.

So, back to Crow Lake. I read, studied, googled, and prepared to review this mostly lovely, kind of complicated, nicely-written-but-full-of-literary-devices, heartwarming, frustrating book. 

It is Lawson's first novel and won several awards. It is set in northern Ontario and Toronto, Canada. Her descriptions of the land and countryside are beautifully written. The story is about family and tragedy and traditions and guilt and love. The story is filled with characters we can all identify with. It is at times very sad but also hopeful. I liked the book, but I can tell you that most of our Book Club LOVED the book. So that's a good recommendation. 

p.s. I own the book, so if you'd like to borrow it, just let me know. 

Also: Lawson has a new book called Road Ends that will be out this summer. 


HaPpy St. PaTrick'S Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day - mostly from Scott. Have I ever mentioned on this blog how much Scott loves SpongeBob SquarePants? He could sit for hours and watch SpongeBob cartoons, and he would be laughing the whole time. You would hear him from other parts of the house. He has most of them memorized. He owns a dozen SpongeBob DVDs.

Sometimes SpongeBob can be annoying and even unacceptable. Then I turn it off. But generally, (especially the early episodes), watching Patrick, Mr. Squidward, Sandy, and the rest is a bit of fun - a lot of fun for Scott.

Here's a Wikipedia paragraph on the creator of SpongeBob:  Stephen Hillenburg majored in marine biology and minored in art. After graduating in 1984, he joined the Ocean Institute, an organization that educated the public about marine science. While he was there, he had the idea that would lead to the creation of SpongeBob SquarePants: a comic book titled "The Intertidal Zone," which was used to teach visiting students about the animal life of tide pools.The comic starred various sea lifeforms, many of which would evolve into SpongeBob SquarePants characters. The comic's main character was "Bob the Sponge" who, unlike SpongeBob, resembled an actual sea sponge, rather than a kitchen sponge. 
In 1987, Hillenburg left the institute to pursue his dream of becoming an animator. Although he drew several rough sketches of the concept, it would be close to a decade before his idea would become a reality. He tells about pitching his idea to Nickelodean in 1997. "The execs from Nickelodeon flew out to Burbank, and we pitched it to them from the storyboards. We had squeezy toys, wore Hawaiian shirts and used a boom box to play music. We really went all out in that pitch because we knew the pilot lived or died by if the execs laughed. When it was over, they walked out of the room to discuss it. We figured they would fly back to New York and we'd hear in a few weeks. We were surprised when they came back in what seemed like minutes and said they wanted to make it".


USU award celebration

Utah State University celebrates Founder's Day each year in March and selects several award recipients for Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service awards.This year my dad received the Alumni award! It was a wonderful night for our family and a great honor for both my parents. 

The link to the Herald Journal article describing the entire event is here. There were numerous notable awardees whose accomplishments were inspiring...including the Nobel Prize winner and USU graduate Lars Hansen. The music by USU professors and students was amazing, the flowers and event decor by (cousin) Andi Watts Saxton were gorgeous, and the food by former neighbor Amy Rasmussen and USU chefs was beautiful.

Evan and President Stan Albrecht listening as the emcee reads the biography. The picture on the screen is from his twelve years as the director of the Student Union Building in the fifties and sixties. 
Dad's response was so good! It went with the theme of honoring USU perfectly. He talked about how much he loved the university - the students, faculty, classified employees, campus. Among several good quotes, he quoted Thomas Edison, "I never worked a day in my life. It was all fun." 

The stage set was beautiful. The huge backdrop of mountains and Old Main were created by Dennis Hassan, professor of scene design at USU. When the room was dark, the A and the windows were lit up.  

The link to the Herald Journal article describing the entire event is here. There were numerous awardees including the Nobel Prize winner and USU graduate Lars Hansen.


the last few days of February

It has been beautiful here lately with spectacular sunsets and mild weather. A bit of rain (thankfully) last week and one huge rainstorm that made my drive home from Salt Lake City on Thursday harrowing, to say the least. When I watch the news and see the terrible snow and ice storms in the east YET AGAIN, I feel so sad for those poor people and so grateful for lucky us (although I KNOW we need the snow and rain to avoid drought this summer).
I love Scott's shots of the sunset and incredible sky above the Wellsville mountains.
Today I went outside and checked out the yard. There are tiny shoots of green everywhere. It feels wrong somehow.
Our resident pheasant is back. He makes a distinctive call and when I hear it, I run to the window to say hello.
And the deer continue to hang out. This is a shot from our deck with the canopy supports framing the buck.
The weekend loafers. They spent the day basking in the sun and enjoying our crab apples and soft grass.