Sunday, January 29, 2017

Catching Up - Fourth of July Weekend 2016

One of my goals this year is to try to do better at recording our memory-making days here on the blog for posterity's sake. I probably ought to add at least one before January is over! This one was in the draft section, so I might as well start with it, and that will help with my never-ending quest to finish things.
I had a great birthday weekend in 2016, which started with a Saturday walk around Glades Pioneer Park, followed by a picnic. Our timing was perfect, and the afternoon thunder showers didn't start until we were ready to leave.
Son #4 (our Lego fanatic) and his lovely wife came to spend some time with us. They couldn't keep their secret any longer and insisted on having me open my present that night (before my birthday). In case you can't tell, it was an announcement that they were expecting a baby - our 10th grandchild. Exciting news, and we were so happy for them. (The baby has since arrived, which means that someday there will be a post on that - hopefully, sooner rather than later!)
A lot of our celebrations center around food, and birthdays and holidays are no exception. We stopped for ice cream on the way home from our picnic, and my birthday breakfast was patriotic waffles. Wayne shared his Father's Day gift of Omaha Steak burgers for our Independence Day barbecue, and we whipped up our favorite chocolate snack cake for dessert.
All in all, it was a beautiful weekend filled with activities that are now great memories.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Great See's Project


Every year my dad sends me a box of See's assorted chocolates for Christmas. Every year I have to remember which piece is which flavor, so this year I decided to check the internet for a good resource to help me remember. I was surprised that there wasn't a code/map/description to be found. I did find the "build a box" portion of the See's website, but it wasn't terribly helpful. However, it provided a starting place for me to make my own list, and I'm posting this so I don't have to do it again next year. If I help someone else in the process, that's a nice bonus.

Starting with the photo on their website, I looked at the individual flavors and tried to decide which was which in my box. I discovered that the chocolates in my box weren't exactly the same (you'll notice that my #3 was oval and #4 round while the sample showed both as rectangles), but they were close. However, it's hard to tell the difference between two round chocolates with different fillings, so my original predictions were only about 33% correct. That's pretty sad. Fortunately, testing my hypothesis wasn't a challenge at all!
Oops, forgot a number! Bottom right corner is #24.

The results:
  1. MILK MOLASSES CHIP: Sugar wafer flavored with molasses and covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  2. MOCHA: Creamy center flavored with coffee and cream covered in smooth milk chocolate and decorated with chocolate rice.
  3. MILK COCOANUT: Creamy soft center with angel flake coconut covered in smooth milk chocolate. (However, in my box, this piece was more oval and turned out to be DIVINITY: Fluffy white chocolate center with English walnuts covered in smooth milk chocolate.)
  4. DARK BUTTERCHEW: Buttery brown sugar caramel with vanilla covered in rich dark chocolate. (My box had a repeat of #8.)
  5. WALNUT SQUARE: English walnuts held together with buttery caramel and dipped half way in rich, dark chocolate to show off the delicious center.
  6. DARK CALIFORNIA BRITTLE: Buttery brittle with California almonds enrobed in rich dark chocolate.
  7. BUTTERSCOTCH SQUARE: A soft center of grained brown sugar and cream with a touch of vanilla covered in milk chocolate.
  8. DARK CHOCOLATE BUTTER: Creamy soft center with chocolate liquor and butter covered in rich dark chocolate.
  9. MAYFAIR: Creamy soft center with walnuts, cherries and vanilla covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  10. NORMANDIE: Creamy vanilla brown sugar soft center with English walnuts and almonds, coated in rich dark chocolate.
  11. MILK CHOCOLATE BUTTER: Creamy soft center with chocolate liquor and butter covered in rich milk chocolate.
  12. RUM NOUGAT: Chewy nougat center with glace cherries, plump California raisins, and English walnuts with a touch of rum flavoring covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  13. DARK ALMOND: Roasted California almonds smothered in rich dark chocolate.
  14. SCOTCHMALLOW: A layer of caramel with a layer of honey marshmallow covered in rich, dark chocolate..
  15. MILK ALMOND: Roasted California almonds smothered in smooth milk chocolate.
  16. VANILLA NUT CREAM: Creamy soft center with vanilla and English walnuts covered in smooth milk chocolate.
  17. DARK NOUGAT: Chewy nougat with honey, roasted California almonds, angel flake coconut and vanilla covered in rich dark chocolate.
  18. MILK ALMOND: Roasted California almonds smothered in smooth milk chocolate. (A repeat in my box.)
  19. NORMANDIE: Creamy vanilla brown sugar soft center with English walnuts and almonds, coated in rich dark chocolate. (Another repeat in my box.)
  20. WALNUT SQUARE: English walnuts held together with buttery caramel and dipped half way in rich, dark chocolate to show off the delicious center.
  21. MARZIPAN: Almond paste with honey and powdered sugar covered in rich dark chocolate.
  22. CARAMEL: Buttery brown sugar caramel with a touch of maple sugar and California almonds enrobed in smooth milk chocolate.
  23. MILK BORDEAUX: Creamy brown sugar soft center covered in milk chocolate and decorated with chocolate rice.
  24. DARK PATTIE: Rich chocolate caramel with a touch of vanilla and covered in rich dark chocolate.
Note that if you go to the website, you can see pictures of the insides of the individual candies.

Silly me! I thought both layers would be identical, but they weren't. So, I guess coming up with this list wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped it would be. Here was the second layer:



Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween 2016


Our ward's assigned theme for this year's stake youth costume dance was "neon and glow sticks." What kind of a theme is that??? A quick search on Google showed a bunch of costumes using black sweats with glow stick outlines:

                                                                  
With only a couple of days before the activity, I didn't think I could order or prepare something like that, and wasn't sure I wanted to anyway. Halfway down the page, though, there was a picture for a jellyfish costume. 
Glow in the Dark costume
Jelly fish glow, and come in neon colors, so we decided that would be a good costume choice, and something  we could create in a day or two. Bright and early the next morning I checked our supplies, went off to the store (multiple ones!) and got to work.


The first stop was Joann, looking for a couple of neon t-shirts. They had orange and green in the proper sizes, so that took care of the color choice, (although my grandson was disappointed our jellyfish weren't pink). I also picked up some ribbon, tulle and iridescent fabric. The dollar store had plenty of glow sticks, along with a few other things like foam board and shower poufs*. Unfortunately, they didn't have hats, so the next stop was Party City, where I found inexpensive plastic fedoras that did the job. Still no battery-powered light strands, so on to Home Depot. It's a good thing the Christmas decorations are already on the shelves!


*One thing I learned this week was that you can clip the string on the pouf and the ball turns into a long strand, perfect for the large jellyfish tentacles.


With the supplies on hand, it was time to start creating. The first step was to cut an 18-inch circle out of the foam board. Then cut an opening for the hat in the center and tape the two together. The instructions I found said to use hot glue, but that didn't work for me.

The next step was to tape the battery pack for the lights under the rim in the back. I tried the "hat" on at this point and it fell off the back of my head, so I made two adjustments that weren't mentioned in the various instructions I found online. One was to add a chin strap (made by poking two holes for a 6-foot by 6-inch piece of tulle) and to tape some spare batteries to the front to help balance the contraption. That did the job.

Then it was time to add all the tentacles. The shower pouf made three large tentacles, which I placed on the back and sides of the hat. Then I cut various pieces of ribbon and taped them all around until it looked right.

Most of the instructions then said to hot glue bubble wrap to form the mound. I did that for the green costume, but tried pillow batting for the orange one. Either one would work, but once again the hot glue didn't. I just kind of placed it in position, then covered the mound with a square of bubble wrap which I then taped to the brim in between the different ribbons. Hopefully this all makes sense, but  if you ever try this, feel free to make it up as you go along, that's part of the fun of the creating process.


At this point, I wound the light strand around the top and taped it into position. Then I tried covering it all with the tulle (4 layers worth). I discovered that pins worked the best for attaching this, and was grateful I remembered that little trick. I was getting a bit frustrated until I did, because neither tape nor glue was sticking to the tulle.


The final pre-party step was to overlay some shiny, translucent fabric over the top, again attaching it a few times with pins stuck into the foam. I wanted to be able to see clearly, so mine (the green one) has a short little "veil". Wayne wanted more of the jelly-fish like body, so his (the orange one) has a longer one. It would have been ideal to make this a giant circle, about 30 inches in diameter, but I got all the fabrac the store had left on the bolt, and there wasn't enough to do so.


Just before walking into the party, we added glow sticks to the hat by taping them to the shower-pouf tentacles. We also added a few more glow sticks around our neck and arms, turned on the lights, and were quite pleased with the results.


I love seeing the creativity that comes out for Halloween fun. We were really glad we didn't go with the stick-figure idea when we saw that another ward had! It was a fun evening. I wonder what we'll come up with next year, but I'm ready to wait a year to find out.


Happy Halloween!


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Beckham's Blessing

We were so grateful for the opportunity to share Beckham's blessing day with him and his family. It was a quick trip, but we packed a lot in and had a great time.

We were also grateful to realize that we'd been given a tender mercy when booking the plane tickets a few months ago. Originally we were going to go the week after general conference, but for some reason we checked flights for the next weekend, and they were noticeably cheaper and more convenient, so we went with that. Later we realized that would have been stake conference for the Provo ward, and in addition we were busy preparing for Hurricane Matthew that week. I just had to record that amazing little miracle. Now, on to the pictures!

We went straight from the airport to meet David at the model home for the house they're building.
And then we walked over for a quick tour of the construction site. They're making good progress and hope to be able to move in over the Christmas break from school.

For dinner we enjoyed our family tradition of pizza at Brick Oven. It was a bit crowded due to Homecoming, so we were in two adjacent booths, but it worked out, and we even saw a couple of people from Florida. You know it's a great restaurant when the picky eater devours his entire dinner! And the non-picky eater was able to take home leftovers for a week of lunches. (You can read how/why the tradition started here.)
The purpose of the trip was to spend time with David's family, but since we have other children living in Provo, we were able to visit Michelle's new apartment and catch up a bit with the newlyweds as well.
Another little bonus surprise was finally being able to hear Nicala play her violin. Their apartment is in the same ward as David's, and she was asked to play a musical number in sacrament meeting. I wonder if the bishop planned that on purpose or not? We love visiting Wymount Terrace wards because it brings back fond memories of our experiences there many years ago.

While waiting for pictures after the block of meetings, Dallin found a stick. Little boys and big boys know that sticks are meant to be used as swords! Good thing Great-Grandpa always has one handy. 
We love our growing family!
Next on the agenda was a delicious picnic lunch, followed by lots and lots of visiting and relaxing.
After all the other visitors left, we walked over to the Provo Temple to enjoy the peace and beauty of the temple grounds. Other people had the same idea, and one of Dallin's friends joined the picture-taking session. 
Fall has arrived in Utah! 
Families can be together forever. We're so grateful for that knowledge and for all the beautiful temples that now dot the earth. We're even more grateful for our awesome grandchildren and their parents!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rudolph Day - Family Circle

Only two months until Christmas! Sometimes you can find motivation and words of wisdom even in the comic section of the newspaper. Here are two of my favorites, which I clipped to keep in my Christmas Binder, mainly because they remind me that the message of Christmas isn't something to be relegated to just one day a year. We can feel the spirit of Christ all year round. That's one reason why I like these Rudolph Day reminders.



You can find more online at Family Circle. That's a great resource, especially since now we no longer get the paper subscription.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Special Days

As alluded to here, our 9th grandchild was born this summer, and we're looking forward to celebrating his special day this weekend. In preparation for that, I decided to look up some old pictures. You don't want to be scrolling down the page forever, so I made a collage.
I tried to arrange it by birth order, but that didn't work. It's kind of by families, but not really, so here's another one that makes it more obvious. Do you see our pattern of boy-girl-girl-boy-boy-girl-girl-boy?
This summer baby was another boy, so we're keeping the pattern going. And, even better, we get to continue the pattern and add a little girl to the family in January!
It's just fun to watch these cute babies grow up to become parents themselves. What great memories!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

I didn't make a copy of the above chart at the time, but this is what it looked like outside the morning of Thursday, October 6th.
And this is what it looked like on the computer models.
So we put up our shutters. Someone was supposed to come the day before, so we were getting a bit antsy, especially when everytime I checked the wind forecast the windspeeds were increasing. Fortunately, the workers did come. We helped them with the lower windows, but let them do the upper ones.
Just for future reference (which we hope we never need), it's easiest to take all the shutters from their garage storage space and place them by the appropriate windows. That way you know for sure which go where before installation. We also learned that if a window is only 2 1/2 shutters wide, you can overlap them instead of having them hang over the edge.

This shows you the difference between unshuttered and shuttered from inside the house.


With the shutters up, it was time to hunker down for a day or two.

It was nice to feel prepared for the forecast 77 MPH winds.


It was even nicer that they never came. We did get some rain, but the hurricane itself stayed far enough off the coast so that it didn't really affect us.  

We feel badly for those further north who did get hit by the storm but were grateful our adventure turned out to be a non-adventure.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rudolph Day - Christmas Cards

One of the tasks for the House and Holiday Plan for the month of September (week 3 to be exact) is to make the Christmas Card List. I like the one they suggest because it has check boxes for both sending and receiving, and it can be used for several years.
If you don't like that one, though, there are a plethora of other options. Just check Google.
I actually use something even more different. I created our address list on an Excel spreadsheet many years ago. Each year I copy that to a new file, editing it for address changes and new friends, then I print it out. After using it to address the cards we want to send, I keep it in my planner to help keep track of the cards we receive. Finally, it gets filed in the Christmas Binder as a resource for the next year. (It has also come in very handy at wedding invitation time!)

So, that's what works for us. What works for you?

I love the tradition of sending Christmas cards, even if it might seem to be a bit old-fashioned, so I plan on keeping it around as part of our Christmas celebrating. I think letting friends and family members know you're thinking of them is the perfect way to share the love and joy of the Christmas season!