Thursday, December 22, 2011

"You need to post something on your blog."

"We haven't done anything blog-worthy this week."
"That's okay.  Just find a funny old picture to share."
"Will these do?"

Actually, I don't think they're funny; I think they're cute.

Just so you know these were taken about ten years ago on the way to the Stake Christmas Music Fireside.  The younger kids were singing in the Primary chorus and the older boys were in the adult choir.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Taking Advantage

of #1) this beautiful piece of paradise we call home,
#2) a good deal,**
and #3) the opportunity to let someone else do the cooking for 24 hours!
I love waking up to the sound of waves crashing, and a windy day just makes them more noticeable. We had a wonderful little weekend getaway, and now we're excited to finish preparing for Christmas!
** Wayne's company's holiday dinner was at the Ritz-Carlton and they made arrangements to have a group discount for any employee who wanted to book a room that night. Since that hotel is on our list of "places to stay in Palm Beach County" we decided to take advantage of the offer. It was still expensive, but at least less expensive than if we had decided to wait for it to come up in order. I'm still impressed that my wonderfully systematical husband decided to skip down to it and still let it count. Maybe I am rubbing off on him just a bit.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Patience and Hope

It took a couple of days but Michelle gets her countdown chocolate - and so do I!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December has Arrived!

We're excited, although I don't feel ready. That's normal. Last year I tried focusing on "Joy and Peace" (see here), and this year I'm going to try to remember these quotes:

"As I think about our time constraints, I conclude that God has not intended that we should be able to do everything we would like to do. If there were not more to do than we are individually capable of doing, we wouldn't have to make choices, and we would never realize what we value most." (You'll notice it's been over there on the sidebar all year long, but I really need to remember it this month!)

"A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do." (Julie B. Beck) My heart does yearn to do more than I can physically accomplish, and I need to accept that.

The key, and my goal for this month, (as it has been for a while) is to follow this counsel from President Uchtdorf: "Don't let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the Spirit." That will bring me closer to my Savior, and that's the best way to celebrate Christmas.

So, Michelle came downstairs this morning and asked where her little Twix bar was. Last year it would have been in drawer #1.
Unfortunately, poor Santa didn't make the cut when we were trying to pare down this summer.
A couple of weeks ago I tried finding our old advent calendar (the one I had put away to "fix" because the ornaments kept falling off). I figured we could use that this year to hold her little candies. I couldn't find it, so I'm assuming it didn't make the cut either. I may never know if the tip I found (to use sandpaper on the back of the felt) would have worked.

So, I had to come up with another plan. And a simple one! This puzzle/activity countdown came from the December 2000 Friend. I had grand plans to make a stocking garland to put the little pieces in, and I still may, but right now it's just sitting on the counter. And that will have to do. It's already brought joy and happiness to us this morning which is the whole point, right?

So, enjoy the first day of December, whether it includes Twix bars or not.

Michelle did say that Ghiradelli squares - which she noticed are on sale at Costco now - would be an acceptable substitute. We'll see!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Trip

Last year, we had to take a break from our traditional trip to Virginia for Thanksgiving because we needed the vacation days to lay tile and get our house ready to sell. We were grateful to restore the tradition this year.
The temperature dropped a bit as we headed north, but that just made it seem more "autumn-y." Despite the seemingly dreariness and starkness, the scenery was still breathtakingly beautiful. Don't we live in a beautiful world?

Wayne doesn't like to be idle, even on vacation, so he asked Dad if there was a project he could do. The answer was yes. As soon as we arrived, he got busy!
The new door is a vast improvement over the old door. (Note to builders: Don't use an interior day on a shed where it rains and snows; it results in warping and other damage.)
Grandpa decided he could use a couple of shelves in the laundry room, and these shoe shelves were the perfect solution, because he wanted to be able to move them around. Isn't it nice that Michelle's already an expert at putting them together? Holly has perfected the role of supervisor!
Holly also demonstrated her "amusement park ride" contraption. Wouldn't you like to get a swinging ride every time you went to bed? (Actually, I'm very grateful that I can crawl into bed all by myself, but I marvel at the technology that is available to help those who can't.)
On this trip, 1) Michelle helped Grandma update her Facebook "friends" list, 2) we played a few different games, 3) Michelle drove on the freeway with Dad as a passenger for the very first time, 4) Holly did some cooking, and 5) the men moved the freezer to make the ice cream more easily accessible.
Because my parents have never tried deep-fried turkey, we decided to haul the turkey fryer north and share that delicacy. It was delicious. Once again, Holly did a great job of supervising!
Our "Black Friday" tradition doesn't include shopping, it involves hiking. So, Dad dropped us off at Foster Falls and picked us up at Buck Dam, and we enjoyed 10.7 miles of the beautiful New River Trail. The weather cooperated and we didn't have to bundle up in hats and coats and scarves as in previous years.
This trail follows an abandoned railroad, and along the way we saw a few interesting things, including a tunnel, some abandoned mines, an old "shot tower" (where the made musket balls or something), and a poor mannequin that rode his bike into a bale of hay. We even passed 55 people (not quite the crowds of the malls, but still quite a few people), a deer, a rabbit, a squirrel, a few dogs and horses, and a flock of wild turkeys.
There's one of them flying off into the sky.
We had a beautiful trip, and hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. We are so blessed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Last Minute Thanksgiving Decorations

We're off visiting family for the holiday, but I wanted to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

And just in case you're looking for a VERY simple decoration, I have an idea for you. I'm sure I got inspired from looking at pictures on the internet, but this is my variation. Take a votive glass (or really any glass dish or bowl) and fill it with raw popcorn kernels (or dried beans). Tuck in a candle and there you go! If I had had a ribbon that matched, I would have tied one on, but I didn't. Quick and easy!This one takes just a bit of time, but not too much, and then it lasts year after year. Cut two turkey heads out of brown felt and sew them together. Attach the eyes and wattle and slip over a pineapple. Then, when Thanksgiving is over, you can eat the pineapple and imagine your son enjoying his Thanksgiving pie at the beach in Hawaii!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WFMW - Food Chain

Works for Me Wednesday
Food Chain

I wrote about this idea a while ago (see here), but we had another round of "recycling mistakes" and my husband came up with a much nicer name. So, I figured it was time to share again. He called it "Food Chain" because I took something from one meal and it evolved into something entirely different for the next. He wondered if it was possible to keep it going for 365 days! I don't think so, but now maybe I'll keep track.

Last time it was under-cooked toffee that went into cookies that in turn became part of a pie crust. This week it was stuffing (which really wasn't a mistake at all) that became part of a stuffing casserole (see here).
This is actually a pretty regular occurrence. The next night was a 3-stage food chain:
  1. Peach sauce over whole chicken breasts with rice on the side
  2. Some pre-cooked chicken from the freezer mixed with the leftover peach sauce, again served over rice
  3. The rice and sauce combined with some stir-fry vegetables for quick and easy Fried Rice
Not wasting food Works for Me!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Productive Saturday

The very first thing I noticed about this house, while waiting for our realtor to unlock the door, was the broken/missing brick at the front door threshold. So, it's been bugging me for almost a year. However, once we actually owned the house, there were other things that needed attention and the broken brick wasn't a top priority. When it finally made it to the top of the list, I figured it would be a fairly easy repair - take out the old one and put in a new one. That's actually all it really needed. However, FINDING a replacement one was a hard work. Apparently thin brick pavers aren't a highly sought-after commodity. We couldn't even find an internet source.

The problem was finally solved when we attended a home show at the fairgrounds and a landscape architect there mentioned a supplier in Pompano Beach. So, after a few phone calls, a drive of an hour each way, and $30, we had our two replacement bricks. (Well, actually, we had 30 replacement bricks, because the minimum order was $30 and they only cost a dollar each.) Since we had to choose from their "loose" piles, the colors weren't perfect, but that's okay. It looks 100% better, don't you think?

During:After:Since the brick project didn't take all day, there was time for a picnic at the park -
as well as time to go shopping for our bedroom ceiling fan. We even got someone else to install it. (Amazing! but it was included in the price). We probably won't be using it too much until next summer, but now at least we're prepared for the hot weather to return.
So, we got several things checked off the to-do list on Saturday, and that's always a great feeling.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fun Group Games - Relief Society Sisterhood in Action

This post is a few months old (you can tell it had a holiday theme), but I'm going to share it on  Cocoa's Relief Society stories link and thought I should add a quick explanation.  One of the neat things I love about Relief Society is that it really is worldwide.  We moved into a new ward last summer, yet I was able to feel right at home, in spite of really not knowing anyone.  That's why I appreciated this particular Relief Society activity so much; it gave me a chance to get to know so many new sisters.  

In addition, this picture doesn't have anything to do with our "Gifts of the Savior" evening, but it has a lot to do with Relief Society.  This was another time when I attended a new Relief Society (we were on vacation - see more about that meeting here) and was welcomed with great love and friendliness, and they just so happened to be taking a group picture that Sunday.  I receive great comfort from knowing that no matter where I go, I will find sisters who care about me.  I only hope I'm doing my part to help others feel the same.

I really enjoyed our Relief Society activity last night. It was the perfect mix of giving and receiving, with a nice balance between fun activities and spiritual feasting.

Anyway, I thought I'd share what we did just in case you're looking for some good ideas. The theme was "Gifts of the Savior" and the evening started with our Relief Society president sharing some thoughts on the subject. Then we played "Choose Your Side" which I thought was the perfect way to get to know new friends. Many of you are probably familiar with it, but I'd never heard of it before. Basically you're to choose one of two options; option one is on one side of the room and option two is on the other. You just stand as a group and share why you picked that option. After a couple of minutes, a new category is given. Here were some of our choices:
  • Do you prefer your Christmas (A) cold and snowy or (B) hot and sunny?
  • Do you have (A) turkey/ham or (B) something else for your big Christmas dinner?
  • Would you rather have just (A) the main meal or (B) the dessert?
  • Can you keep the gifts you're giving a secret? (A) yes or (B) no
There were a few more but that's all I can remember now. The next activity involved dividing into two equal groups. The first group formed a circle facing outward and the second group formed a circle around them facing inward. (Basically, we paired up in a circle.) We took a couple of minutes to share a family tradition that brings Christ into Christmas. Then the outer circle moved to the next person, and we repeated that a few times.

I was just thinking that these would be great seminary activities to help wake teenagers up in the morning. The choice of questions and ideas to share is endless!! Also, feel free to comment on what you'd answer, or what you think my answers would have been. I'll be sure to let you know if you're correct!

The next activity was to pair up with the person you knew the least and exchange gifts. (We had been asked to bring a nice, White Elephant type gift with us.) That was a brilliant way to pair up because we all got to make a new friend.  And it didn't take nearly as long as the typical group gift exchange games do.  [This really worked!  I had no idea who Fay was before this particular evening, now she's one of my favorite people!] 

We ended by having a few sisters speak on specific gifts of the Savior (peace, example, guidance, and love) and visiting once again while nibbling on fresh fruit and nut bread. It was a great evening. The only thing that would have made it better is if YOU had been there!

Monday, November 7, 2011

November = Thanksgiving

Last year in November I did a daily post of something for which I was grateful. Since this year I wanted to do something different, yet I'm still grateful for the same things, I figured I'd just post a link to those here: 2010 "Attitude of Gratitude" posts.
This year I'm doing the daily posting over on my other blog - Whisperings of the Spirit. I was prompted to compile 30 verses from the Book of Mormon that deal with giving thanks, so each day I'm expanding just a little on one of them. Here are the first seven:

This has really been an enjoyable little scripture study activity. I love the way that gratitude and worship are intertwined. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Magical World of PBC

Homecoming Spirit Week at Palm Beach CentralMonday - Inner Child Day
Tuesday - Tacky Tourist Day
Wednesday - Class Theme Day (Peter Pan)
Thursday - Disney Character Day
Friday - Bronco Spirit Day

Can you believe the only thing we had to buy was a new black shirt (on sale at JoAnn for less than $3) and the helium balloons? Actually we have balloons, just no helium tank. There are some advantages to being the youngest with 25 years of "collecting" at your disposal!

And, just in case it's been a while since you've seen the pictures, here are the posts from previous years: Spirit Week 2010 2008. It's kind of fun when "Halloween" lasts more than just one day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

How things turned out -

Spanish Corn Chowder - enough to last for a week! (and the perfect Halloween supper)
The garage is finished! There's room for a workbench, lawn mower, garden tools, hurricane panels, freezer, food storage boxes AND two cars, but, admittedly, not a lot of room for walking between everything.
"My room feels like 'me' now!"
Fun as "Boo" at the stake Halloween dance.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shopping is Exhausting!

But it is a lot more enjoyable with someone along to keep you company!
Candy for the trick-or-treaters - check!
Pumpkins for the porch - check!
Supplies for a costume - check!
Won't she be adorable? I think I'm beginning to get a little excited about Halloween after all. Have a wonderful week preparing!

Oh, and we even got a couple of Christmas presents - BONUS!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Time for a Quick Update

he past week has been nice and uneventful, my favorite type of week. The view out the back window is still breathtaking, and we're just fine with the snow staying in Utah.We took a picnic lunch to the neighborhood park in between conference sessions last Saturday. The only table was inside the dog-park fence - a little out of my comfort zone - but everything was fine and we had a great little break.For the first time ever (if I'm recalling correctly), all the boys got to go to the Priesthood session of conference together. They knew I'd want a picture of this historic event. Thanks Cody!We're still trying new recipes. Wayne made Collard Green Soup and we tried some bread from the book Elizabeth told us about. It would have helped if I'd read the "Day 2" instructions earlier in the day (let's just say the rising times were off) but it was still delicious. And there was plenty of extra dough to make a yummy pizza later.And, finally, all of the items on the garage workbench are hanging on the wall. There are even some empty peg hooks! Now it's time to open the next box and figure out what to do with it.
Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Never-Ending To-Do List

As I started writing this title, a similar one popped up. I guess that just goes to show that having a never-ending to-do list is nothing new. It's comforting to know that items do eventually get crossed off. And maybe someday they'll get crossed off faster than new ones get added! (I'm not holding my breath for that magic day!!) To help keep me accountable, I figured I would post that infamous list. I can always delete it, right?
  • Make this list
  • Clear off the kitchen desk
  • Fix tab on Michelle's valance
  • Complete baby afghan
  • Hang the pedigree chart
  • Hang pictures in kids' bathroom
  • Hang "Finishers Wanted" plaque
  • Replace the broken brick
  • Use up the rest of the "reject" toffee
  • Attach gate transponder to car window
  • Attach gate transponder to van window
  • Find "Sirius" list and put in car
  • Get my hair cut
  • Complete 50th anniversary book
  • Frame completed cross-stitch projects (lots and lots)
  • Finish Personal Progress
  • Compile list of unfinished craft projects (then work on them)
  • Clean up email folders
  • Clean up "My Pictures" folder
  • Test/check sprinkler system
  • Send care packages to boys
  • Get rid of duplicate hex drivers
  • Get a new can of rice out of the food storage pile
  • Buy replacement strike plates for the doors (count them first)
  • Replace sliding mechanism on double door
  • Repair sink drain plug
  • Re-grout master shower
  • Find unusual hinges for front door replacement
  • Purchase and hang ceiling fan for master bedroom
  • Do something with all the boys' trophies
  • Update the emergency binder
  • Clean the blinds
  • Plan Christmas
  • Find a piano tuner
  • Find a trustworthy auto mechanic
  • Find a new dentist
  • Follow through on ordering key for laundry room cabinet
  • Follow through on new high school receiving Michelle's official transcript (before she needs them for her college application)
  • Trip to Goodwill
  • Figure out what to do with "extra" workbench shelves
  • Empty two boxes of music (means re-organizing the music cupboard)
  • Etc. (not even going to think about the boxes in the boys' rooms yet, or new living room furniture, or replacing the vertical blinds, or planting a garden, or . . . .)
If your list isn't as long, you can feel lucky. If yours is just as long, you can know you have company. If yours is longer, you have my sympathy!

One Wednesday I paused before the elegant show window of a prestigious furniture store. My eyes rested on a small sign that had been placed at the bottom right-hand corner of the window. Its message was brief: “FINISHERS WANTED.” The store had need of those persons who possessed the talent and the skill to make ready for final sale the expensive furniture the firm manufactured and sold. “Finishers Wanted.” The words remained with me as I returned to the pressing activities of the day. In life, as in business, there has always been a need for those persons who could be called finishers. Their ranks are few, their opportunities many, their contributions great. From the very beginning to the present time, a fundamental question remains to be answered by each who runs the race of life. Shall I falter, or shall I finish? On the answer await the blessings of joy and happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. --Thomas S. Monson