Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Skinny Girl Finds a Voice

Somewhere deep inside of me resides a Skinny Girl.  She's not often heard.  Fat Girl has bullied her for so long that she hardly dares to utter a word.  But last night Skinny Girl mustered up all her courage and spoke.  It was almost a tentative and frightened whisper... It kind of surprised me, too!

I discovered that Old Mission 96% Fat-Free Whole Wheat Tortillas are... actually really good.  Seriously!  I can hardly believe I'm admitting this, but I think they taste even better than the fully larded white flour ones.  And they have a pleasant, almost indulgent feeling texture when I chew them.

That's saying a whole lot for a tortilla!

It made me wonder about other ways I might nurture Skinny Girl and coax out her ideas.  I think she might have a lot of good things to say if I will just make her feel like she's being heard.

But then again...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Put on the Big Girl Panties

Why is it that most often it's men that make me want to say this?

I had an agreement with a guy to keep his restored Hudson and a motorcycle in my extra garage for the next year in exchange for the labor to put up a very simple new roof on my patio.  He agreed a couple of weeks ago and since he's never showed up, never called to find out anything more, and can't be reached by phone as no one answers and the voicemail is full I finally sent an email to his mother asking what was going on.  He still wasn't man enough to face up to it himself and tell me that he couldn't keep our agreement.  He hid behind mommy and let her worry that his failure would poison our friendship.  And it doesn't.  She's dear and sweet and wonderful.  But I did tell her that I'm disappointed... in her son.

So I'll deal with the roof problem another way.  It's such a basic structure, basically just a grid of 2X4s to be covered with plywood and shingled, I could ALMOST do it myself.

After all, I am a big girl and I'm not afraid to wear my big girl panties!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Move Toward Simplicity

Awhile back, thinking I was getting a steal on laundry detergent, I bought a giant bottle of liquid fabric softener.   I have never used liquid fabric softener in my entire life and I don't have even the first clue what to do with it.  But, perhaps, it was providence giving me a nudge.

Yesterday I happened on a "cheapskate" tip.  The website said to take a small piece of fabric... a tea towel or washcloth for example, and soak it thoroughly in liquid fabric softener then wring it out and allow to air dry completely.  Then just throw it in the dryer like a dryer sheet.  Only re-usable instead of disposable.  Supposedly one cloth is good to soften 40 loads of laundry.

Heck, I've got the stuff.  I'm game.  I gave it a try.  If I guess-timated well on how much softener the cloth soaked up and my mind didn't boggle on the math, I figured I could dry more than 2,500 loads of laundry from that one $7 bottle of fabric softener.  Not enough to break the bank by any means but that's a tiny fraction of what dryer sheets would cost.  Even buying an off brand.

And I'm happy to tell you the first load came out great.  Soft, smells nice, no static problems.  Will my washcloth-turned-dryer sheet stand up to 40 loads?  I have no idea.  And it will take a long time for me to have 40 loads of laundry to find out!  If it works, it's a pretty easy little step toward greener and cheaper living.

And speaking of small steps, here's something else to think about...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shelley Idaho Memories

An old neighbor and high school classmate recently shared a digital library of photos and information about Shelley, Idaho... the community where I grew up.  This is an image from that library that brings back memories.  It's the old Shelley First Ward Chapel.  I remember going with my mom to Relief Society quilting bees and laying on my back under the quilt watching the needles create their designs.  And I remember being so sad, almost violated, and crying when the building was torn down and replaced with a newer model of chapel.

Other classmates shared more pictures of old Shelley:

An aerial shot of the Shelley City Park circa 1960.  The roadway along the right edge of the picture is the highway that went into Idaho Falls northward and Blackfoot going south.  For the few blocks of downtown Shelley, it was also Main Street.

From the northwest corner of the park, just off center in the photo at the end of that long line of Cottonwood trees, you can see my old house on Oak Street.  The white one on the corner belonged to Edith Hanks.  We lived in the next one, also white, until I was 8.

And the old library in the log cabin at the park... one of my favorite places in the whole world!  There were tables and chairs just the right size for kids painted a green somewhere between lime and mint in my memory.  Books were checked out by noting the titles on a steno pad and during summer break from school there was a reading contest.

The merry-go-round in the foreground was another source of fun times.  You could get on when it was at a dead standstill and "pump" by leaning in and out to get it going.  Pretty soon it was creaking like crazy and going so fast that gravity nearly pulled you off!  I also remember trying to stand in the center while it whirled round and round.  All of the playground equipment was in a line along this edge of the park and it was all metal equipment set right into the grass.  Next was a slide where, in the heat of a summer's sun, many of us kids left burned off skin from the backs of our legs.  Then a swing set where we'd dare each other to swing the highest and jump from the swing at the peak of the arc.  I also remember the monkey bars and a big fire pit.  Sadly, I understand that all of this is gone now.

Before the house on Oak Street, I lived in this one.  It was a school house (first one maybe in Shelley) converted into 2 living quarters.  We lived downstairs and my grandma Clarke lived upstairs.  I remember helping her make Potato Chip Casserole and Peanut Butter Cookies in that little kitchen.

Shelley has a history of schools burning.  The old Junior High burned during the last week of school the year before I started there.  Conveniently, the school board was in the process of deciding what to do with it as the new building was nearing completion in the field behind.  Years later, after the schools had been shuffled and the building where I attended High School was being used as a Junior High, it also burned at the same time the school board was meeting to decide what to do with it because a new building had been erected.  Surely an odd coincidence of timing for that happen twice in such similar circumstances.

And while this last photo was taken a bit before my time, that is very much the way I remember Main Street.

They say you can never go home.  In some ways that's true.  Shelley has changed very much from the nostalgic, almost Saturday Evening Post illustration worthy, place of my childhood.  But finding this treasure of old photos and remembering makes me feel like I've gone home.

Photo credits:  First Ward Chapel, Old Frame School and Spud Day in the 1950s from the North Bingham County District Library collection as presented on the digital collections from the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah.  Aerial view of Shelley City Park from private collection of Dana Mallard.  Log Cabin Library from private collection of Val Carson Darrington.  Junior High Fire scanned clipping from The Shelley Pioneer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dirty little secrets

I discovered that it takes exactly one week for my kitchen to go from pretty nice to "a herd of filthy pigs live here?" when I dug in and started cleaning up this morning.  Yeah... makes me a little sick, too.  And I have no excuse for not unloading the diswasher and putting newly dirtied plates and silverware back in there as I went along.  I was just plain lazy.

Well, the dishwasher is going now.  And the sink has been scrubbed, counters wiped off, fridge cleaned out, floor swept and two big bags of garbage have made it to the trash can.  Order is restored out of the chaos.

But I'm almost certain it will happen again.  Maybe not in the kitchen but somewhere in life I will be lazy and let things slide then scramble to restore what once was.  It makes me think about the dirty little secrets we all carry with us.  Not the big stuff like personal betrayal or criminal activity - that's a whole different kind of dirty secret - but the little everyday things we carry around.  The things we try to cover up so others won't think we are as imperfect as we really are. 

Generally, I'd say I'm a pretty good person.  There are details, however, that might point to a different conclusion.  Actions I'm seeing as details might include racing down a different isle at the grocery store to avoid the chatty neighbor who will stand there and talk an hour because she's desperately lonely or choosing not to answer a phone call when I see who it is or telling a telemarketer to stick it where the sun doesn't shine or Febreezing the heck out of those pants that have been in the laundry basket for a week.

Philosophers say God is in the details.  So is the devil.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cricut or Silhouette?

I have several projects already in mind...

Price-wise they are within about $50 of each other for the base machine.  From the descriptions and reviews it seems like the Silhouette offers more flexibility and a smaller investment to get the cuts you want.  Silhouette is computer tied, much like a printer, or works off an SD card for travel.  And you can download just the designs you want.  The reviews say some are free and others can be purchased for as little as 99 cents.  Cricut requires investing in cartridges where you need to purchase the entire cartridge even if you only want one design on it.  Estimates I've seen say the cartridge library can run another $500-$1000.

I'm leaning toward the Silhouette but I've never actually used either machine.  Have you?  Which would you choose?  Why?

Cricut Expression(R) Machine

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I swear

I swear... really I do.  I try not to.  But sometimes "bad word, bad word, bad word" just isn't as satisfying as spitting out what I really want to say!

This morning I learned my first Swedish swear word... skitsnack.  Now I can call something what it is in 4 languages.  Ironically it's what prompted my very first English swear word.

I was 11, or maybe 12, at the time and was camping with my Aunt Lillie and Uncle Mel in Spencer.  Moose Creek was a favorite campsite there, where we did actually see a moose eating some kind of vegetation in the creek on another trip, so there's a good chance that's where the day's adventures began.  After breakfast and clean up and some puttering around the campsite each day, Lillie and Mel would take me and go explore the surrounding area.  Different times we went out to the opal mine, fished in a little reservoir where the only thing the fish would bite on was dragonflies, climbed a forest service tower where they'd watch for fires later in the summer or find a patch of wild berries that turned into dessert for that evening.  I loved camping with them!

On this particular day, we were out in search of our adventure.  Mel was driving his pickup down a dirt road. There would be stretches of pine forest interspersed with grassy clearings.  Going past one of these clearings, I saw a giant boulder move.  It was just out of the corner of my eye, but I knew I saw it move.  Lillie and Mel  kind of laughed it off and told me rocks don't move but I insisted.  Finally, Mel stopped the truck and backed up to prove that it was all in my imagination.  And then he thought he saw a movement.  He stepped out of the truck to get a better look.  And then it really moved!

It wasn't a boulder at all.  It was a buffalo that had wandered over from nearby Yellowstone National Park.  And it charged!!

I don't think I have ever, before or since, seen Uncle Mel move quite so fast as he did to get back in the truck and drive off.  Lillie and I were both kind of screaming.  A buffalo moves surprisingly fast!  And for a minute or so it was an awfully tense situation.  She was flustered and just a little bit angry with him and started to cuss him out... she got as far as saying "this is bullshit!" when in all the innocence of childhood I interrupted  and said "cows shit, too."

They both laughed until tears were streaming down their faces... Needless to say, I didn't get in trouble for saying "shit" that time.

Zeke and Zelda

Not everyone has met Zeke and Zelda... the naked people who cavort with carefree and shameless abandon through whatever is blooming in the yard.

So here I  present you with Zeke, the handsome fella to the right, and Zelda, the total babe on the left!

Yes, that bare earth you see at the bottom is from one of the sections of flowerbed I have managed to clean up!  Next spring Zeke will be dashing through a stand of purple iris in search of his Zelda.  She, I'm thinking, might be hiding in a mixed grouping of daisy, purple cone flower and brown-eyed Susan.

Here a few more pictures of the disaster that has become my backyard over the past couple of neglectful summers.  Keep me accountable to get it cleaned up!

Another sort of cleaned out flowerbed section.  Also a major pruning project on that poor rose bush.
But at least the crappy yard beyond the fence is the neighbor's problem!

Along the side of the house.  Flowerbed along the fence and just cut down and clear out the balloon flower vines along the foundation and remove the pavers you can't even see under them.

Behind the northern most garage.  It just needs a little weed control and the apricot tree needs a good pruning.
Part of the garden that didn't happen again this year.  The cucumber vine you can see is in over production mode.  Picked 7 this morning... I like cucumbers, but there is a limit.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A treasured piece of earth

"The time we spend on our treasured little piece of earth enriches our affection for the planet as a whole."  Bryan Welch, publisher of Mother Earth News

When we focus our daily attention on our land, be it a farm many acres in size or backyard garden in the city, we reinforce the conviction that we want to make the entire planet healthier and more beautiful.  That's the kind of project that should ignite passion in the human soul.  And once mind and body are engaged, incremental change begins.

My little piece of earth doesn't look very treasured right now...  Necessity left it neglected for the last couple of summers and the realist in me knows that it will take time and a lot of effort to make it beautiful.  And in the heat of summer sometimes I struggle with the will to make that effort even though the vision of what it can become certainly does fuel a passion.  I am making a daily attempt to do something and even if it is a small something my goal of a fruitful yard and garden will eventually be accomplished.

I'm working on a flowerbed that will wrap around the entire backyard.  I have two sections of about 10 feet each cleared and both have a handful of rescued plants in place.  The future plan is to fill it with flowers, herbs and strawberries.  Can't you just picture Zeke and Zelda, who have already taken up residence here, romping through flowers swaying the summer breeze?  When I close my eyes and let my mind imagine, I see an abundance of  multi-colored iris, roses, day lilies, brown-eyed Susans, daisies, and cone flowers mingling with  herbs like chives,  sage, thyme, walking onion, oregano and mint (somehow contained so the whole yard doesn't turn into a mint patch!).  Strawberry plants, garden art, large interesting rocks and potted annuals  fill any open spots.

But... for now, just clearing the space is my goal.  Then maybe I'll fix and paint the fence before I get too plant happy.

Over all, here's a scheme of the garden I'd like to grow next year.  I've been saying that for two years now, so hopefully 2012 will finally be the Year of the Yard at my house.  The drawing on the left is the west side of my backyard and the other, the east side, shows the flower bed I am currently working on.

The west side garden plot has more space extending left off the page.  It was an old and very large sand box by the side of another garage.  With all the sand in there I think it will be a perfect spot for a melon patch.  And on the east, I've just included an Italian Prune for a plum tree, but I really think I can fit both the prune and a Santa Rosa plum in there.  The apricot tree and part of the raspberry row are already there but the rest of the plants will have to be added.

Okay, my friends, keep me accountable to do this!  Help me make my own little piece of earth a real treasure...

Friday, August 12, 2011

It just took peanut butter and spray paint

You know those round, orange, 5-gallon Coleman drink coolers?  I don't have one, but I want one... and I have every intention of buying one to provide beverages at the backyard barbecues I envision for summers to come.  These drink coolers only have one problem.  They drip.  And seriously, if you go to the trouble of a pedicure and cute little strappy sandals do you really want red punch dripping on your toenails?

Problem solved.  Just hang this drip catcher over the spigot and no more stinky sticky feet.  At least not from something dripping out of the drink cooler...

A week or so ago, on Pinterest, I saw this picture of a drip catcher made from a 2-liter soda bottle, but since I didn't have one I looked for alternatives and I think I found a pretty good one.  Mine is made out of a 64 oz. juice bottle.  Great Value Pink Grapefruit Juice Cocktail to be exact.  But if you don't care for grapefruit juice, have no worries.  Walmart packages lots of their juices in this same bottle.  I have one half full of apple juice in the fridge now.

After removing the label and using just a tiny touch of peanut butter to get rid of the sticky goo, I cut along the ridges in the bottle with my brand new utility knife then barely sanded the edges and gave it a few light coats of Krylon White Gloss spray paint.  Obviously I made it to the hardware store the other night... and dang!  Tools are expensive!!  But that's a whole different post...

I was a skeptic, but the peanut butter cuts right through the goo left from labels.  And it only takes a tiny bit.  I would guess I used about 1/4 teaspoon, maybe even a little less, to get it all off this particular bottle.

My photoshoot isn't nearly as pretty as the one from Pinterest, but I think my drip catcher will serve it's purpose well enough.  Don't you?

And I got through the whole project without cutting a finger.  That's a real accomplishment considering my safety record!

The green thing...

Those of you who know my bent toward a simpler, more earth friendly way of life won't be surprised by this rehash of an email I received recently...

It was simply titled "The green thing."

In a line at the grocery store, the cashier told an elderly woman she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags aren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and said simply "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

Then the clerk responded, "That's our problem today.  Your generation didn't care enough to save our environment."

Well, let's see...

Back then, we returned milk, soda and beer bottles to the store.  The store sent them back to the plant to be washed, sterilized and refilled.  The same bottles were used over and over.  So really they were recycled.

We walked up and down stairs because there wasn't an elevator and/or escalator in every store and office building.  And we walked to the grocery store rather than climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

Baby's diapers were washed because the throw away kind didn't exist yet.  We dried clothes on the line, not in a 220-volt energy gobbling machine.  Gee, wind and solar power really did dry the laundry...  And kids got hand-me-down clothes from older brothers and sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

There was one tv, or radio, in the house... not a television in every room.  And the tv had a screen the size of a handkerchief not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do it for us.

And when we packaged up a fragile item to send in the mail, it was cushioned by wadded up newspaper not plastic bubbles and styrofoam peanuts.

We didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.  We used a push mower than ran on human power.  We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club and run on treadmills powered by electricity.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle for every sip of water.  We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying new pens.  And we replaced razor blades in our razors rather than throwing it away and buying a new one when the blade got dull.

We rode streetcars or the bus to work and kids rode bikes or walked to school instead of turning mom into a 24-hour taxi service.  We had one electrical outlet per room not a bank of outlets to power a dozen different small kitchen appliances.  And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But... back then we didn't have the green thing.

It's sad to lament how wasteful, selfish and unenlightened prior generations were/are just because they didn't have "the green thing."  Maybe instead of just assigning blame, it's time to learn from the people who went before us.  If they made a mistake it was in providing the newest conveniences as we grew up because they wanted things to be better and easier for us than they had.

I'm old enough to remember most of the things that email mentioned... along with riding in the back of a pick up, swimming in the canal, being reprimanded by a friend's parents if I misbehaved at their house.  I had my butt swatted at school, rode my bike without a helmet, drank from the hose, fell out of the neighbor's apple tree, didn't get picked for a team, and I ate white bread, real butter and koolade made with sugar.  And stunningly, not only did I survive... but no one got sued!

We all just need a whole lot less "green things" and a whole lot more common sense.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hand tools

After lunch I had this great idea to make something.  So I went to my tool box looking for a utility knife.  There used to be a couple of them floating around in there.  I would swear my very life on it!  Today, however, there is a package of extra blades but no knives.  Guess my little project will have to wait until after a trip to the hardware store...

[Imagine a series of very bad words streaming here!]

Over the years, as I've had to have help with projects around the house, some of the handyman fellas that have been here have had occasion to borrow a tool.  And not return it.  Sometimes even after repeated requests they deny having it.  My poor little tool box, which was never all that robust to begin with, is now down to 1 electric screwdriver (and most, but not all, of the bits), 3 hand screwdrivers (all philips), 2 wire cutters, 2 putty knives, 2 paint scrapers, a wire brush, a measuring tape, a small hacksaw and a funky little utility hammer with a bottle opener where the claws should be.

I know I want a real hammer, some pliers, a wrench, a couple of flat screwdrivers and a utility knife.  What else belongs in a tool box?

Please save me from being the pathetic helpless chic everyone laughs at when I go to the hardware store!!  I need to get it stocked up again so I can take care of some minor stuff myself.

And when the next handyman asks to borrow a tool, the answer is not just no.   It's HELL NO!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Ride Thru Space

The more I see of our beautiful planet, the more I stand in awe and amazement!

Watch A Ride Thru Space...

(Yes, you can see the pictures, but PLEASE click Download from the top of the next screen and watch the slide show with the music he selected.)

Food storage follow up

Alright... I was little "Miss Responsible" this morning and drug myself down to the storage room to take an inventory.  No, I'm not going to to spill my guts and tell you exactly what all I actually have.  For once I'm going to heed my Mom's advice:  "Don't tell anybody what you have down there.  If things get bad they'll just come steal it!"  But I will tell you a few things about the experience.

When I came upstairs, plugged it all into my Food Storage Calculator and saw how very much I need to buy, I cried.  But for how little is there I was surprised that it still took just more than 4 notebook pages to list.  I need to put a significant effort (and chunk of money) toward re-stocking the essentials.  Essential food items like Grains, Sugar, Fats, Legumes and Dairy are the things you need just to sustain life.  They also form the backbone of a good food storage plan.

But sliced olives, mushrooms, diced green chiles and artichoke hearts are essentials.  No?  Ok... but they do help the essentials taste good!  That's important if I'm going to have to eat it.  So are things like enchilada sauce, Nutella, teriyaki and BBQ sauce good for making those life sustaining essentials edible. And they are all going to be part of MY storage plan!

Now that the room is organized and all the shelves are straightened up I am even more motivated to make a working storage plan.  I think I will even take it a step further and type up my inventory, slip it into a vinyl sheet protector and tape to the door with an dry erase marker to keep track of what's added or taken out as I go.

First on my priority list is going to be water storage.  I only want one of these units. There's a place where I think it will fit perfectly by the side of a freezer that I also have yet to obtain.  I have the 2 big blue storage drums... but they are not in the basement yet or filled.  What materials and tools do I need to make the unit to hold them?  Who can I con into spending a couple of evenings helping me build it?  If they are tipped on the side like this will I still need a pump to get the water out?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How's the food storage coming?

I had thought today I would write out my Mom's life history... but just like that memory book, I'm struggling with pulling my thoughts together out of the chaos inside my head so I'm going to set it aside for awhile longer and just talk about one of her passions:  food storage.

"How's the food storage coming?" she would ask me.  It was a near daily question for the past several years.  Honestly sometimes it made me just a little bit crazy!  And even more honestly, the past six months off work to be home and take care of her was hard on the food storage I did have scraped together.  I knew it kind of in the back of my mind but realized it even more vividly yesterday looking for spaghetti.  And not finding any.

Every time my mom would think to ask about the money in her bank account she'd always try to coax me into doing one of two things:  spend some on the house or get something for food storage.  Being bull-headedly self-sufficient, or maybe it's just bull-headed, I usually pushed the suggestion aside saying something like "let's get a plan together first rather than just blindly storing stuff."  We both made good points in that discussion.  She had a sense of urgency and I wanted to go about it in an organized manner rather than buying things that wouldn't get eaten in normal times.

I was kind of haphazard about it, but I did do some research to learn what to store to sustain life for a year and how much  was needed for each person.  I even put it into a handy-dandy spreadsheet that does the math for you.  And then I started adding other things that we would want to have if it ever came down to having to live off food storage for any period of time. If you are interested you can download a copy for your own use.

Food Storage Calculator (EXCEL DOCUMENT - click Download from the top of the next screen and then open the workbook in MS Excel)

It's also on the Crafts and Other Downloadables page.

As I'm filling out the forms for life insurance claims this evening, I've been thinking that spending part of that money to fill up my food storage would be a fitting way to honor my Mom.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Crafting Again

After a long (long, long, long) dry spell, I am making a little bit of crafty stuff again. The need for an inexpensive little gift for a friend's daughter prompted these newborn-sized booties. And, hooray! Mom reports that they actually stay on the new baby's feet.

I like them because not only are they cute and practical, they are fast, easy and use just scraps of baby yarn. With a basement storage room chock-full of bits and pieces of stuff... anything that uses up scraps left over from other projects is a good thing!

Downloads of my designs are available FREE here on my blog and while I do not want someone to reproduce my patterns for sale I am granting permission to freely make copies for home and use by church groups or other clubs. Look on the side bar for the section titled And more stuff... then find Crafts and Other Downloadables. It's in there. (Yes, I am trying to make you explore the rest of my blog!) Over the coming months, I plan on adding several more items. Check back often to see the growing collection and hopefully find something you'd like to make.

I look forward to crafting with you!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Payson Salmon Supper

Let me just start by saying I am in love with Payson! Small, quaint, farm town with friendly, charming people who come together to put on a lot of community events. Today was their annual Salmon Supper.

The Salmon Supper started who knows how many years ago as a fundraising event by one of the local LDS Wards. When the Church stopped fundraising events, the Payson Fire Department took over and it's grown every year. This year, one of them said they flew in 44,000 pounds of fresh Alaskan salmon.

In the fall, the community gathers fruit wood trimmed from the local orchards. It's stored over the winter and allowed to completely dry out. This is the wood they use for grilling the salmon. The night before the Salmon Supper, they spread a load of sand along the roadway and set up the grilling stations.

The fish is then cooked on both sides on huge wire mesh trays and finally turned out onto a solid tray and taken to another area to be cut and served. The meal is rounded out by corn on the cob, a baked potato, coleslaw, dinner roll, cookie and a bottle of ice cold water.

I just can't get over how friendly the people were and how safe I felt there. I even left my purse at the table watched over by a couple of older ladies from the community while I got food!

It was a huge meal! And it only cost $15. And included local entertainment all afternoon and evening.

Waiting in the food line, one of the girls from the local high school who was helping serve told us about the history of the town and some of the other community events they have during the year. She said the area was settled by immigrants from Scotland and the town honors that heritage by holding Scottish Days. You already know I want to go... I am a sucker for a kilt and bagpipe!

Another event, The Golden Onion Festival, happens over Labor Day weekend. The young lady explaining all this to us said this event is because they grow a lot of onions in the area. She was so cute as she got kind of flustered and then continued that her family had already harvested several big onions from their garden and that they must have just the right soil for it. At the Onion Festival they have a variety of local food, art and craft vendors and Utah Valley University sponsors a huge corn maze set up in the city park. It just sounds like good wholesome fun, doesn't it?

Why do I blog?

Writing helps bring my stress level down. That's one reason I blog. I write whatever is on my mind and in my heart at that particular moment in time. There is something very freeing about putting the thought out there. Sometimes things that seem like very scary deep dark secrets aren't all that terrifying when you can pull them out into the light of day. So I guess my main reason is that it's therapy. And a whole lot cheaper than a psychiatrist!

Secondly, I enjoy the connection it gives me to others. In a way, it's social. Some people have suggested that maybe I'm too open laying my life out there that way. That I'm letting people intrude too far. (If they only knew the stuff I edit out before I publish a post!) Others have said that it helps them feel not so alone with their experiences. The part of me that likes to be the center of attention LOVES that other people read my blog and can identify but in the end I'm really doing it for me. I do it as a way of reaching out my hand and hoping that someone else will feel the same way and reach back for me.

Another reason I blog is for a creative outlet. I love words.... I love to play with words. I like how they feel sliding over my tongue and out of my mouth. I like how they feel skittering around in my brain and when I sit down to type them out I am often surprised at just what I have to say. Sometimes it's one of those "Oh dear... did I just put that in writing?" kind of things but other times I can fall in love with the story my words tell.

So maybe it's a way to show off, too. To present my ideas or interpretation of someone else's ideas in hopes that they will be accepted. Perhaps, even my accomplishments will be praised. As much as we all want to think we are humble beings, somewhere inside we all crave the acceptance and praise of other people because it makes us feel loved. This is very much why I want, and keep asking, you to comment here.

Finally, I blog to create a record that I was here and that my life has meaning. One thing I've learned about myself is that I need to feel relevant. I need to matter. We live in a world that tells us we are special and unique... just like everybody else. I don't fool myself that I can or need to change the world; I just need to make my little corner of it a better place.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Procrastinate = Understatement

What I do while I'm putting off doing what I need to do is blog. When I'm writing here or reading someone else's blog I can get lost for hours in words and ideas. That and Facebook and my newest obsession... Pinterest.

Pinterest is an online idea board. You pin whatever inspires you, be it sayings like this one or the newest fashions or pictures of rooms you'd like to duplicate in your house or food you might want to try, to your board. I have 5 boards and I'm finding lots of interesting stuff to pin. And I'm excited over the ideas it's generating in my head. Pop on over to Pinterest and check it out. If you'd like an invite, let me know and I'll send you one.

But back to my procrastinating ways... how can I make blogging pay?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who am I?

Some things I've learned about myself...

I am kind. I procrastinate. I am creative. I can do hard things. I am a really good cook. I can kill a lot of time surfing the web. I prefer simple things. I have really cool friends. I am forgiving. I am generous with my time and means. I am curious. I am intelligent. I like to laugh. I can cry over a sappy commercial. I like summer rain. I love everything about Christmas. I am a morning person. I like milk chocolate more than dark. I like to pull out the crayons and color in a coloring book. I've never found a cheese I didn't like. I like fresh fruit, especially raspberries and peaches. I struggle with paper clutter. I hate shoe shopping! I need help sometimes because my ideas are bigger than my abilities. I wish I was closer to my extended family. I enjoy exploring new places. I am independent. I am self-sufficient. I have a solid testimony that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I hate to ask for help. I often prefer antique over modern. I always do my own tax filings. I enjoy designing my own craft patterns. I like to throw dinner parties. I catch and release garden spiders that wander into the house. I trust people... sometimes too much. I like to bake bread and I like to share it my friends and neighbors even more. I need to feel relevant. I dislike really hot weather. I vote. I still have some of my childhood toys. I really enjoy long hot showers. I want to learn to fly fish. I enjoy intelligent conversation. I love hugs! I crave adventure. I am allergic to only 3 things: mesquite wood, band-aid glue and apricots. I enjoy all kinds of music. I can exactly match colors from a thousand miles away. I read everything. I like pizza with white sauce better than with marinara. I draw. I write. I'd love to be a published author but don't see it as absolutely needful for my happiness. I challenge the status quo. I garden. I enjoy the companionship of a pet even though I don't have one right now. I make lots of mistakes. I shop garage sales and second hand stores. I take calculated risks. I'm proud to be an American. I sing way off-key. I crochet. I can knit really basic things. I like quilting and fabric crafts. I want to build a greenhouse. I have no debt besides my mortgage. I want to be physically fit but not muscle-bound. I enjoy a good joke. I'm okay with spending time by myself now and then. I see guilt as a useless emotion. I plan to adopt some kids. I hate going to the doctor even more than going to the dentist. I like spending time in nature. I have goals. I am tickled when my gift makes someone really happy. I say Thank You! I complain when things aren't right. I like to be romanced. I need to finish those last few classes for my bachelor's degree. I like to speak in Church. I'm sometimes surprised by what I have to say. I admit it... I shop at Wal-mart. I prefer my hair long. I've always wanted a horse. I'm a list maker.

I did it! I wrote a whole post about me. I challenge you to do this same exercise and see just what you discover about who you are...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Loved, loving and lovable

‎"Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained." C.S. Lewis

Somehow in my meanderings and contemplation of who and what I want to be, yesterday I started reading an article about The Law of Attraction and it's connection to love relationships which got side-tracked slightly into self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love. I say side-tracked slightly because they are really part of the same idea. When you love yourself, you have confidence which attracts good things and good people into your life. The concept is even expressed in the Bible with verses saying "let your light so shine" and that speak of being a light or "beacon upon the hill."

My reading material suggested some affirmations to start the day. Among them:
  • I am a radiant being, full of vitality, enjoying life to the fullest.
  • I love life and life loves me.
  • I look upon God, and the Divine within, to be the source of my happiness.
  • I love myself unconditionally for all my perfections and imperfections.
  • I am beautiful both on the inside and outside.
  • I see the world through eyes of acceptance and love. All is well in my world.
  • I am a creature unlike any other - truly unique and blessed.
  • I move through life knowing I am Divinely guided and protected.
  • I am a woman of substance.
  • I choose to be at peace with myself.
  • I see myself achieving... (list your goals).
  • I attract miracles into my life now.
I like affirmations and visualizations when setting and working to achieve goals but I guess I've never made myself a goal before. Some of these affirmations kind of make me wiggle in discomfort. They are things I'm not accustomed to saying to myself. Maybe it's time I start telling myself I am worthy to partake fully of life's abundance!

But what, exactly, does that mean? What is life's abundance? I think it is love. Being and knowing you are loved, loving and lovable.

Further into my reading, I found the following. The author, Gina Hardy, is speaking of romantic love, but I think the point she makes is applicable to all relationships... my relationship with myself and with others. She says:

"We are here to create union in love with another, it’s our Divine calling. Masculine and Feminine are opposite polarities that make a true whole and yet so much struggle and pain occurs in the world of love, ultimately I believe through lack of self awareness and education, truth, responsibility and authenticity. So many people have created their lives to try and get love and approval from others and have given up all rights to being who they really are in the process. The results can be hugely painful and difficult relationship patterns repeat over and again.

When we fall in love, the feelings generated are among the strongest we will ever experience. The greatest elixir of life is love, without question. It’s a feeling from the heart that’s almost inexplicable to the mind. You have probably said more than once “I feel like I have known this person all my life”. Then some months or years down the line when the power struggle starts, many of us end the relationship, believing that our once so perfect partner is now not meant for us at all.

But what if these conflicts were essential for your healing and growth ? What if this person who appears to have grown horns over night, is in fact your perfect match ? What if you just needed to become aware of exactly what is going on in you and in your partner? Most of the time conflict is about projection of things that are not healed within you. Judgement is one of the most painful and damaging “miasms” of the human mind, but when we judge we judge ourselves first."
When we judge, we judge ourselves first... and conflict is a projection of things that are not healed within myself. Wow! There's a flash of insight that's going to require more soul searching and work.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Being responsible stinks

Today I dug into those difficult tasks I've been putting off for a couple of weeks...

  • Called the bank about my Mom's account.
  • Started the claims process for life insurance. Yay for 6-page forms coming in the mail!
  • Notified Social Security (which was already done by the funeral home on the 20th).
  • Notified her health insurance company.
  • Found ANOTHER stash of old pictures looking for insurance documents (pretty sure there's still more somewhere).
  • Ate a pint of Rocky Road ice cream out of stress.
  • Filled out the customer service survey and mailed back to funeral home.

Not bad for 2 hours!

As hard as the last month has been emotionally, I have learned a tremendous amount intellectually. I am amazed at all the things we did correctly and even more at all the ideas for how it could have still been done better.