Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween in Wonderland

Unseasonably warm...
I was insisting on sweaters...but I was a bit overdressed for the temperature!
We haven't been big "trick o' treaters" in the recent years past...
and I loved it!

The girls had the day off of school so we took it easy at home...
getting things like music practice and reading done...with extra time.
It was so nice.
The girls played...first in the playroom and then in the backyard.
The day really was beautiful.
I changed sheets, washed and folded laundry, organized the playroom, read with Ellie, played guitar...

We headed over to a friend's home for dinner and to gather our kids for the evening's adventures.
Her white bean chili was AMAZING!!!!!
The kids were dressed up...excited and LOVED knocking at each door!
Sophie tripped (that long hoop skirt made it tough to keep up with big sisters) after the 6th door and she was DONE!  She wanted nothing more to do with the candy adventure.  I went home with her.  After a bath we snuggled on the couch and read this and this, with an occassional interruption at the door.  She loved handing out candy.

Ellie and Kate continued with our friends through a spooky lane, a few more doors for trick or treating and then a neighborhood spook ally.  Our friend JR was trying to encourage part of the group who were afraid to go through the first time.  He offered a dollar if they would do it.  Kate and Ellie quickly responded, "WE WILL!"  So off they went!  With buckets full of candy and a dollar bill each---"Alice" and the "Madhatter" came home with huge smiles on their faces.  What a wonderful day!

I wish I could have stayed out later with my camera.  There is something magical about a Lensbaby and nighttime light.  It added and eeriness to the pictures that I love.  I wish it would have given me a little less blur on their faces when I took their costume pictures.  At one of the houses...they had a blue light and everything white glowed a radiant blue.  The crescent moon was eerie over the housetops too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

that's what makes me smile

Ellie brought home a stack of graded school work that her teacher returned to her.  As I leafed my way through it I found this gem...

What Makes Me Smile
by Ellie Davis

The sound of the piano when I hit the key, the feeling of a book when I turn the page- that's what makes me smile.  

The sound of a pencil scrapping against paper, the sound of water splash when you dive in- that's what makes me smile.  

Grass in my feet, wind in my face, that's what makes me smile.

When I hear the sound of the bell ring I am excited for school to start, when I walk outside and see my friends, I'm excited to play with them- that's what makes me smile.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Masquerade

If it wasn't for the Passey's halloween party...
I would never dress up.
(Danny and I both loved thickening our tresses with wigs!)
I have never been a Halloween fan but these friends of mine are beginning to convert me.
I love not knowing what anyone is going to be wearing...and walk in on a room of surprises.
They are seriously some of the most creative people I know!

The only rule~
We had to wear masks for the masquerade...
Danny and I counted our eye patches but we should have done more :)
Some of the masks were my favorite part!

Heather and Kelly...thank you for a wonderful evening~
food, friends, and your beautiful home at Halloween is my F A V O R I T E!
(I want to wrap up your fireplaces and bring them home with me!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grandma's kitchen

It has been a long week for all of us but especially Danny...and it was only Wednesday!  As I thought about what to feed everyone I knew a sure-fire pick me up for my people.  I gathered a few essentials: sourdough bread from the freezer, golden potatoes, an onion and I knew we would enjoy a nice meal together.  Danny's grandma (Grandma in Las Vegas) ran a busy catering business until very recently.  She is an excellent cook.  One of our favorite meals is her potato soup.  It is sure to make Danny a happy man!

1 cube of butter
3/4 to 1 c. of flour
7 c. water
7 chicken boullion cubes
7 potatoes
diced onion
shredded carrots
half and half (I use cream 9 times out of 10)

melt butter...stir in flour...add water slowly...add b.cubes, potatoes, onion, carrots.  When potatoes are soft add half and half.  Serve hot with sourdough bread and butter :)

Well, it worked.  Danny was in heaven.  The girls ate every bite and our week seemed to slowdown---even if it was just for that one meal.  Grandma has been sick for the past few months with colon cancer.  Sophie talked to her last Sunday.  She has prayed for "Grandma in Las Vegas" every single night.  Grandma thanked her Sunday.  It was sweet.  We love you Grandma! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

a note for the tooth fairy~

It was her first loose tooth!!!!
(lost naturally anyway...there was that one the dentist pulled...oops)
On Thursday night Sharon was here and I showed her Kate's loose tooth.
Danny is the "tooth puller" for all of our nieces and nephews...but not his girls.
They wont let him near the wiggly pearly whites.
 I pointed out that her new tooth was growing behind the tooth that was finally loose.

Sharon decided that it was time.
She grabbed a long tootsie roll from her purse.
She handed it to Kate under the condition that she bite and chew every bite on her loose tooth.

Sure enough, once the tootsie roll was finished it was REALLY loose.
Sophie, Ellie and I tried to distract her...Danny stood close by with a clean dry hankie...
and Sharon grabbed a hold of it------

She lost her first wiggly tooth!!!!!!!!!
Thank you Aunt Sharon!!!!!!!!!!
When it was time for bed we placed the tooth in a little "doll tooth fairy" that holds the tooth in a little pouch.  She carried it to her room so carefully.  She has been waiting for the tooth fairy FOR YEARS now.  She was NOT going to mess this up.  Before she placed it under her pillow she wanted to take one last final peek at her lost tooth.  It was gone.  She noticed a small hole at the bottom of the pouch.  She was DEVASTATED!

We looked and looked.  We retraced her steps.  No tooth.  To console her I suggested she write a note and leave it in the pouch.  I was sure the tooth fairy would understand.

She found the tiniest paper I have ever seen and wrote a note:

"I dropped my tooth down the stairs. Can you look for it?"
The tooth fairy understood and left two dollars.

clam chowder

I knew it was serious when he bought my clam chowder.  Danny and I had been hanging out for a few months.  He and his roommate Stu were often at our apartment...or my roommates and I at theirs.  Stu and Heidi (one my roommates) were dating.  Danny and I enjoyed each other's company...and I was entertained by his flirting...but we were just friends.  Spring break was approaching and we decided to go on a road hometown (Petaluma, CA).  Danny, Stu, Heidi and I loaded in Danny's car and we made our way to California.

On our first day in Petaluma we decided to make the short drive to the city...San Fransisco.  We walked...visited Alcatraz and headed to Pier 39 around lunch time.  We chose Boudin Bakery for clam chowder in a bread bowl.  To my surprise, Danny bought my lunch.  Danny takes going out to eat and spending $ seriously.  So seriously that buying my lunch was like a flashing neon sign...DANNY LIKES ME.  I wasn't sure what to do or think. 

After lunch we found the car and began driving around.  Danny decided to pull over at a park just after we visited Lombard street.  Stu and Heidi jumped right out...and I tried to stay as close (like glue!) to Heidi as I could.  :)  A romantic walk in the park...I wasn't ready.  I was scared.  Did I like him????  Did I want to marry him...after all---he did by my lunch ;) 

Later that night Danny and I were talking on the couch in my parent's living room.  "You don't want to talk about this..." he observed.  I was awkward and Danny was relaxed.  "Do you like me?" he asked.  I did like him.  He made me laugh.  He treated everyone he knew with kindness.  He was always happy.  He was (and still is) handsome.  He was ambitious, strong, smart...What wasn't to like?  So I told him my rule.  It was a rule to protect my heart... "I am not kissing anyone who is kissing anyone else."

Danny understood...but he wasn't sure how committed he was.  He had just taken a young lady out the week before, after all.  He was planning on taking her out again.  :) So we said "goodnight" with out a kiss.

The next morning the four of us headed out with my family to the ocean and then to church.  By the end of our road trip back to school---he had forgotten all about "what's her name" and it was official.  We were together~  and he has been buying me lunch ever since...

The fall weather inspires soup in our kitchen.  I combined a few different recipes and created my own version of clam chowder...

Clam Chowder
1 cube of butter
3/4 c. flour

Make a rue and add...
16 oz. of clam juice
8 c. of water
4 chicken or vegetable boullion cubes
1 large onion finely chopped
7-8 med. to lg. red potatoes diced
4-6 individual celery stalks chopped
garlic salt (a few heavy dashes)  real garlic with sea salt would be even better
paprika (a few heavy dashes)

Let this cook until potatoes are soft-
then add the following:
2-3 6.5 oz cans of clams with clam juice I did two for my kids but would do three if it was just for Danny and I
cream (half and half for a lighter version) to taste.  I really just pour it in until I like the color, consistency and taste.
2 T. cider vinegar
extra salt and pepper to taste

Cook until warm and then serve with flat leaf parsley (not the Italian curly I have pictured) and lemon wedges.  Have black pepper, red pepper flakes & Tabasco sauce on the table for those who want a kick to their soup.  Have plenty of sourdough bread on hand for dipping...bread bowls get soggy...but some people love them.

Monday, October 3, 2011

a neglected squarefoot garden

General Conference weekends are two of my favorite weekends of the year.  I have been thinking about it with anticipation for a few weeks.  My prayers were focused these past few weeks in preparation...hoping that I would be open to listening spiritually what I need most in my life.  Saturday morning as soon as I woke up I put on some gardening clothes and headed outside.  My earphones were ready to carry the message to me as I worked.  My flower and garden beds need some preparation for the winter that is coming.

Before the conference talks began I took a large leaf bag to our square foot garden.  Our garden has been a bit disappointing this year.  I felt like the production was weak and we really didn't look after it much.  There were greens planted that I never once harvested.  I started with the swiss chard.  I cut it down and realized it was still in great shape---so I quite happily put it into the colander instead of the leaf bag.  Next to the chard were some other greens.  I thought it was the same...but a red variety.  I observed the weakness of the leaves and determined it wasn't worth saving.  Instead of cutting I pulled it up...root and all and I discovered that they were beets!  (Do you know how much I LOVE beets!)  I was thrilled and didn't have the slightest memory of planting those seeds.  As I pulled each root up and placed it in the colander I realized how negligent I have been.  There were volunteer tomato plants (the tomato plants I had actually planted did much better) all over the garden beds.  They never produced much but they crowded out what I had intended to grow (zucchini, jalapenos, squash, etc...).  After I finished harvesting the beets I pulled out all of the volunteer tomato plants, that without cages were spreading wide and covering too much of the soil.  It felt good to take the time to care for this little plot of ground. 

As I worked through the morning with words of the prophets and apostles in my ears, I realized that this is what I love about conference.  There are so many good things I have in my life to focus time and attention on...yet are the goods things (volunteer tomato plants), that are not the better things (beets) I intend to harvest in my life, taking over?  Having too many good things without caring for what I really need and intend to have grow, can create a busy yet unproductive life.  Yep, my life has been a lot like my garden.  General conference helps me to evaluate where I am (my heart, thoughts and time) and where I really want to be.  I receive quiet whispering to my soul as I listen.  This conference I tried to write down the quiet whisperings of what I should change or do. These are a few:

Elder David Bednar- help the girls make their own family history books, making sure to give them room to learn and put it together themselves with out too much help.  I also need to edit and organize images for my own family histories (starting with the family reunion we enjoyed this summer).

Elder Neal L. Anderson- contemplate the blessings of being a mother.  Study the definition of "replenish."  We are commanded (from the time of Adam and Eve) to "multiply and replenish the earth."  The "multiply" part is complete for us now...yet what does it mean for my life to "replenish?"  

Elder Robert D. Hales- read and study Jesus The Christ by James E. Talmage.  I had the same impression as I listened to Sister Barbara Thompson in the General Relief Society Meeting.

Elder Ian S. Ardern- write down my goals...prioritize and strive toward reaching them.  Manage my time as a precious commodity, because it is oh so precious.  Remember that being busy does not mean that I am productive. 

Elder Carl B. Cook- Print this scripture and display it in our home:  "Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend."  Book of Mormon; Mosiah 4:9

Elder Richard G. Scott- Seek study and learning of the words of God through scripture.  Although I am currently reading from the New Testament, add the Book of Mormon to my reading everyday.  I have read it many times...but it is life changing when read every single day without fail. 

I know these are different for everybody because we are all different and unique.  And really, what I took from the talks may not have had anything to do with what they actually said.  Saturday morning after I finished with the vegetable garden beds I went to the front to give some attention to the lavender that borders a walkway to my front door.  It has grown and grown.  Danny and I decided to give it a 12" trim.  We cut the branches down (to almost nothing) in hopes of pruning it for the better and prettier border next spring.  That's what I hope to do with what I have learned at conference---prune back the unnecessary and focus on the very best...down to the roots of what is right for me and my little family.   Overall the feeling that was most overwhelming in each talk I heard---was that our Father in Heaven loves me and He loves everyone of His children that lives, ever has lived and ever will live.  What he wants most is that we love Him in return by seeking him and loving all of His children.

photos from 09.07.10 (left) and 07.29.11 (right)