Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Wasn't There

I wasn’t there to see the star
That brightly led the way,
But I can have the Savior’s light
To guide me every day.

I didn’t feel the gentle peace
That fell on earth that night,
But I can feel His Spirit
When I’m doing what is right.

I didn’t watch while Mary held
Her precious little one,
But I don’t have to see to know
He is God’s Chosen Son.

I wasn’t with the shepherds
When they learned of Jesus’ birth,
But I can learn and share His word
With others here on earth.

I didn’t know the Wise Men,
With their treasures rare to give,
But I can give a priceless gift
Just in the way I live.

I didn’t hear the angels sing
Hosannas sweet and clear,
But I can praise and honor Him
Each day throughout the year.

-By Wendy Ellison

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jest 'Fore Christmas

Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl- ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things that's worn by
Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake-
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for belly-ache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no
flies on me.
But jest 'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Got a yeller dog named Sport, sick him on the cat;
First thing she knows she doesn't know where she is at!
Got a clipper sled, an' when us kids goes out to slide,
'Long comes the grocery cart, an' we all hook a ride!
But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an' cross,
He reaches at us with his whip, an' larrups up his hoss,
An' then I laff an' holler, "Oh, ye never teched me!"
But just 'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Gran'ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,
I'll be a missionary like her oldest brother, Dan,
As was et up by the cannibals that live in Ceylon's Isle,
Where every prospeck pleases, an' only man is vile!
But gran'ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,
Nor read the life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she'd know
That Buff'lo Bill an' cowboys is good enough for me!
Excep' jest 'fore Christmas, when I'm as good as I kin be!

And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemn-like an' still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin': "What's the matter, little Bill?"
The old cat sneaks down off her perch an' wonders what's
Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!
But I am so perlite an' tend so earnestly to biz,
That mother says to father: "How improved our Willie is!"
But father, havin' been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When, jest 'fore Christmas, I'm as good as I kin be!

For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes an'
Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty
So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's and q's,
And don't bust out yer pantaloons, and don't wear out yer
Say "Yessum" to the ladies, and "Yessur" to the men,
An' when they's company, don't pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin' of the things yer'd like to see upon that tree,
Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!

- Eugene Field

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fast as Fast Can Be...

The other day I was making gingerbread man, and realized I only had 2/3 of the molasses I needed. After perusing the internet for substitution ideas, I landed on Martha Stewart's site. Seeing as how the recipe I was using came from her book, I decided to take her advice. She had some other cookie tips that I found interesting too, so I thought I'd share my find.

Speaking of gingerbread men, aren't these cookie cutters awesome?!

ABC (Already Been Chewed)! If you took a plate of these to a party, I wonder if anybody would eat them?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Design Friday: The Night Before Christmas

I wanted to highlight something seasonal today, so I bring to you "The Night Before Christmas", illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.

Last year I was perusing through a bookstore's Christmas sale rack for books to add to our Christmas library, when I came across this book. The poem is a classic (and a must have for any library), and I was immediately drawn to the illustrations. The book was published in 2007 but the illustrations all have a very vintage and whimsical charm to them, reminiscent of Christmas cards from the 1940' and 1950's (I especially love the forest scene inside the front and back covers- her reindeer and trees are so delicate and graceful). The quality of illustrations mean a lot to me, and these have such an integrity to them, that it instantly feels like a family classic. (I was excited to learn that Gyo Fujikawa is actually a pretty well known illustrator, with many works to explore).

So, give it a look.... of course, you don't have to take my word for it!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All Business

A few days after Thanksgiving, my son was insistent that we write a letter to Santa. Because he was hopeful for the letter to arrive quickly, I told him we could send the list via email. My son dictated his list, and after he approved what I read back to him, we sent the message.
About a week later, our church held a Christmas party where Santa himself made a grand appearance at the end. My son excitedly ran to stand in line to speak with him. This would be their first face to face meeting since last year, so when his turn came, I was surprised by how brief his conversation and interest was with Santa. As he walked back to me, digging through the treat bag that Mrs. Claus gave him (Which included a rotten apple. Who says Santa doesn't have a sense of humor?), I asked him what he told Santa when asked what he wanted for Christmas. Not one to waste time with unnecessary meetings, the only thing my son told him was, "The list is in your email."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quiz Time

"... a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others."

Do you agree/disagree with this quote? Extra credit if you know who said it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are We Too Busy and Crowded?

"Each of us in an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus."

-Neal A. Maxwell

(This is a quote that I first saw framed in my Grandma's house several years ago. I found it to be very profound, as I had never thought past the literal meaning of the Christmas story).

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas Present I Don't Want

As you know, healthcare legislation is currently being discussed in the Senate, with Obama hopeful to have things wrapped up by Christmas.
Currently, Democratic Senators are now proposing to expand Medicare coverage to the 55-64 age group (this plan would not include a public option). Considered the government's largest public option by some, Medicare is a broken system and is one of the biggest problems with our current health care system. Everyone seems to know this (even Obama) so I am baffled that expanding it would even be considered a good idea.

Peter Amadio, M.D. (an orthopedic surgeon) summed up some of the problems and expenses of Medicare for all parties involved:

Expensive for Patients
  • Annual maximums, no dental benefits, no drug coverage (unless you buy it extra).
Expensive for Government
  • Pays each beneficiary $450/month for hospitalization (from tax revenue) as opposed to $350-$400/month for federal employees (under the Federal Employee Benefit Plan).
Expensive for Doctors
  • Medicare pays about 2/3 the cost (not including profit) of medical care
  • Strict price controls for the last 15 years = doctors/hospitals loose money on medicare patients= costs pushed onto non-medicare insurance companies to make up difference.
  • Doctors are increasingly refusing care for medicare patients to stay in business

(As a side note, he feels the the existing FEBP would be a realistic model to build off as a means to insure everybody: nationwide plan, does not exclude preexisting conditions, covers dental, covers drugs, costs less than medicare, provides better benefits, costs less to beneficiary and government, and compensates doctors better).

In response to the proposal, Senator Lieberman (Independent, Conn.) stated, "
It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit. It's unnecessary," Senator Nelson (Democrat, Neb.) is concerned this proposal would be, "the forerunner of single-payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option." and Senator McCaskill (Democrat, Miss.) stated she would vote against the proposal if it increased the cost of healthcare and the national defecit. Senator Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire) predicted, "It's not going to bend the health care price down. It's going to push more people out of private insurance and into whatever public plan ends up being the vehicle."

What can we do? Make some noise. Email your Senators and let them know if you are unhappy with their current proposal to expand Medicare.

I'm all for finding a solution, but I feel expanding government- and a bankrupt system at that- is not the way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Design Friday: Barcelona Chair

Today I am highlighting one of my favorite chairs, the Barcelona Chair.

This beautiful, sleek, modern chair was designed in 1929 by famous Bauhaus architect, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. It was designed for the German pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona. An inaugural ceremony took place for the German exhibits in which the king of Spain presided, and the chairs were custom made for the king and queen to sit in. Mies felt, "The chair had to be . . . monumental. In those circumstances, you just couldn't use a kitchen chair." This chair's lines and proportions quickly gained it recognition as epitomizing modern design.

I think this chair is another example of the versatility of modern design. It is as comfortable in a modern setting, as it would be in a room with neoclassical (a revival of classic, aka: Greek) elements. I love the simplicity of its lines but that it is simultaneously luxurious, as well as its use of negative space.

(Pictures from

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Seasonal Addiction

If you live close to a Trader Joe's, you must indulge in these this holiday season.

Do it for me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins

We currently have a special visitor in our house- one of Santa's elves! My mom introduced me to this program a few years ago, and it has been something that my son has looked forward to each year. The elf can do as much or as little as you ask him to, so that's nice too. ;)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Don't Like Scrapbooking, and That's Okay.

"I am very appreciative of the added awareness that the women’s movement has given to a gospel principle we have had since Mother Eve and before—that of agency, the right to choose.

"But one of the most unfortunate side effects we have faced in this matter of agency is that, because of the increasing diversity of life-styles for women of today, we seem even more uncertain and less secure with each other. We are not getting closer, but further away from that sense of community and sisterhood that has sustained us and given us strength for generations. There seems to be an increase in our competitiveness and a decrease in our generosity with one another.

"Those who have the time and energy to can their fruit and vegetables develop a skill that will serve them well in time of need—and in our uncertain economy, that could be almost any time. But they shouldn’t look down their noses at those who buy their peaches or who don’t like zucchini in any of the thirty-five ways there are to disguise it, or who have simply made a conscious choice to use their time and energy in some other purposeful way.

"And where am I in all of this? For three-fourths of my life I felt threatened to the core because I hated to sew. Now, I can sew; if it is absolutely necessary, I will sew—but I hate it. Can you imagine my burden over the last twenty-five or thirty years, “faking it” in Relief Society sessions and trying to smile when six little girls walk into church all pinafored and laced and ribboned and petticoated—in identical, hand-sewn dresses, all trooping ahead of their mother, who has a similar outfit? I don’t necessarily consider my attitude virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, but I’m honest in my antipathy toward sewing.

"I have grown up a little since those days in at least two ways: I now genuinely admire a mother who can do that for her children, and I have ceased feeling guilty that sewing is not particularly rewarding to me. The point is, we simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another—or ourselves—so harshly. No mason jar of bing cherries is worth a confrontation that robs us of our compassion and our sisterhood."

- Patricia T. Holland

Monday, December 7, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Swine Computer

I really like this quote about journal keeping by Spencer W. Kimball (there were actually a lot of good ones, but I decided this one summed them up):

"If you have not already commenced this important duty in your lives, get a good notebook, a good book that will last through time and into eternity for the angels to look upon. Begin today and write in it your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives."

And then one day, after 6 years- and 65 pages later- of keeping a journal on the computer (because while it's much less romantic than handwriting, it's faster to type and therefore more likely to get done), Satan will enter your hard drive and your computer will lose your journal file. Luckily, you will have thought to print it out a year ago, but still, the last year is completely gone. So much for lasting into eternity.

I'm not so sure I wanted the angels reading my journal anyway....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Design Friday: Aalto Bowl

I was browsing through a Crate & Barrel catalog, and came upon a candleholder entitled "Aalto". From its form and name I immediately knew what it was paying tribute to, and therefore decided to enlighten all about the original... the Aalto Bowl.

The Aalto bowl is named after its designer, Alvar Aalto (more on him in the future). Alvar is one of the masters of modern architecture and Scandinavian design. Typical of Scandinavian design, his work was inspired by the lines and forms found in nature. As he felt that good design should be a part of everyday life, he created these bowls for use in everyday life. These bowls come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are produced through iittala.
How might this be used in everyday life? I think sometimes we get used to doing things the way we always do them, and when we see an object in an unfamiliar form, we are unsure what to do with it. This doesn't look like a traditional bowl, so it might take adjusting to treat it as such. Depending on the size, it could be used to serve fruit, or collect seashells, or to hold crayons, or fall leaves, or gourds, or fill with sand and place a tealight, flowers, etc. Its unusual shape will instantly transform what you are presenting from ordinary to interesting and modern.
I actually have the mini bowl, due to my parents visiting Finland many years ago. They didn't realize at the time exactly how significant an Alvar Aalto creation would be to me, they were just told at the time that the Aalto bowls and vases are something every Finn owns. I think it's so very cool, and currently I use it to collect change. I have to say, it is fun to use it as an everyday object rather than put it on display.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don't Judge a Book by the Questions Its Toddler Asks It in a Public Bathroom

When I envisioned becoming a mother, I anticipated hard work. I anticipated yucky situations. I did not anticipate, however, that while fulfilling my noble and divine calling, my very dignity would be in almost constant danger.
When my son was a toddler, if he wasn't pulling my skirt up for all to see, or pulling my shirt collar down to my pants, he was occasionally making false statements that pulled my character into question. Perhaps the latter infraction is most dangerous because many people live with the false assumption that only pure, whole, undeniable truth is ever uttered from the lips of children.

During this tender age, our family took a road trip to visit family. During the trip, we stopped at a gas station. I needed to use the restroom, so while my husband refueled the car I took our newly potty trained son with me. I brought my son into the stall with me, and as I went about my business this is the conversation that ensued:

My Son: Mommy, are you a man?
Me: No.
My son: Mommy, are you turning into a man?
Me: No.

All I could do was smile, put my head in my hands... and wait for the person in the neighboring stall to wash their hands and exit the restroom before I came out of the stall.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Hole in My Heart

Why am I grieving over the departure of a 6 year old Target entertainment center that has been sitting in our garage for months (intiating near curses from my husband and myself because of its inconvenience), that I posted on craigslist, and prayed for someone to buy? I almost ran after the truck in the rain crying, but my husband told me I could buy a new shirt.

Dejunking is a hard process for me. Anyone have any good coping methods?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Pig's Christmas

(This is a favorite poem from my childhood. It is also responsible for my not being able to buy myself anything between Halloween and Christmas, even if I'm in desperate need of it.)

A pig went to market,
His heart full of glee,
To buy his friends presents.
"Not ONE thing for me!"
Said he, said he, said the pig.

He saw some red mittens
With green Christmas trees.
"What size?" asked the clerk.
"MY size, if you please!"
Said he, said he, said the pig.

"I'll buy me this sweater,
These boxing gloves, too,
This sled which just suits me!
Some taffy to chew---------"
Said he, said he, said the pig.

"A book and some apples
Come next on my list,
And I think I should have
A real watch for my wrist,"
Said he, said he, said the pig.

They're fine!" said his friends.
"You've bought SO much for you
That we'll get you no presents.
What else can we do?
Said they, said they, said his friends.

And on Christmas Eve
All under his tree
Were the presents he'd bought.
"Merry Christmas to me!"
Said he, said he, said the pig.

But it wasn't much fun
Giving things to himself.
So he took down his pig bank
That stood on the shelf.
"Let's see, let's see," said the pig.

I'll go shopping right now,
And I'll spend every dime
To buy my friends presents.
I'm glad there's still time!
With glee, said he, said that pig.

- Kathryn Jackson, "The Animals' Merry Christmas"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Darn Cat.

We have declared war on our neighbor's cat- and are currently losing. For quite some time, we have noticed a gross smell around our front shrubs as you approach our front door. We are about 90% sure this smell is a result of our neighbor's cat using our front shrubs as a litter box. This smell is intensified on particularly sunny or wet days, and as my brother observed, it is the first and last impression our guests get when visiting- which is exactly how we want folks remembering their time with us.
We've tried "shake away" (a powder form of coyote urine) to deter the cat, but it doesn't seem to be working. My husband refuses to mark the territory himself, but IS keen on the idea of putting spikes and land mines around our shrubs. I've researched other methods- citrus rinds, laying chicken wire on the ground, ammonia, super soakers, cayenne powder- and was wondering if any of you have experience in this area and if any of these actually work. Please help me!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Pilgrims Came

The Pilgrims came across the sea,
And never thought of you and me;

And yet it's very strange the way

We think of them Thanksgiving Day.

We tell their story old and true

Of how they sailed across the blue,

And found a new land to be free

And built their homes quite near the sea.

Every child knows well the tale
of how they bravely turned the sail,
and journeyed many a day and night,
To worship God as they thought right.

The people think that they were sad,

And grave; I'm sure that they were glad -

They made Thanksgiving Day - that's fun -

We thank the Pilgrims every one!

- Annette Wynne

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Has Gone Too Far.

Someone please put a stop to this!

(I love how the box is marketing directly to the dog:
"Keeps You Warm and Your Paws Free!")

This dog's looking for someone's jugular...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Design Friday: Plan Toys

Lately, I have been perusing the internet for Christmas toys. I rediscovered a long lost website whose toys I absolutely love to look at: Plan Toys. All of these toys have a real simple, "designerly", Scandinavian quality to them, and are all made from wood. Unfortunately, as with all good design, a lot of these toys are pricey, and I'm pretty sure if I did buy one, my son would not appreciate them as I would hope (most of the ones I love are kind of young for him anyway). So for now, they are eye candy. And don't underestimate the importance of good toys. Frank Lloyd Wright attributes his architectural success to a set of Froebel blocks his mother bought for him when he was nine. He feels they helped him to master geometry through play.
Here are a few of my favorites:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

They Came. They Ate. They Died.


Tomorrow, when you get home from preschool, I have a craft for us to do. Do you know what these are?” [show my son a craft pack of felt pieces that create a pilgrim.]

My Son:



Yeah… they're are called ‘Pilgrims’. They were the first people to come over to America, and had the first Thanksgiving.

My Son:

And then they died?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Power of a Mother's Love

I know there may be some who have a difficult time imagining what [the Lord's] love feels like. Think of a mother with her newborn baby. The warmth, safety, cherishing, and peace of a mother’s embrace can help us understand what it feels like to be encircled in the arms of His love. A young adult Relief Society sister wrote, 'Only in the love of my mother do I come close to understanding the magnitude and power of the love of the Savior.'”

-Bonnie D. Parkin, "
Eternally Encircled in His Love", Ensign, November 2006

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

20/20 Report on Health Care

Here is a 20/20 story that Jon Stossel did on the health care system found in Canada and Great Britain... and what we can expect from government run health care. At the time he worked for ABC. He recently switched over to FOX because he felt that at ABC, "Too many stories I thought were important . . . were not aired."

**I included another group's coverage of health care in Canada in a previous post.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Farewell to Garbage

As a mother, I find that I often have to make hard decisions and stick to them... sometimes with only seconds to think through said decision.
Last week, I had two confrontations with my son that have made me second guess my parenting standards: 1.) I did not allow him to retrieve an elastic string leftover from a candy bracelet from the depths of the kitchen garbage can, and 2.) While helping clean his room, I made him throw away a leftover stick from a sucker. In both cases, my son grieved great sorrow, wept great tears, and in the former case exclaimed in despair, "I can't stop thinking about the string!"

I didn't think I was being unreasonable at the time, but now I'm wondering... could I be a a heartless mom for making my son throw away garbage?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Effect of Procrastination on Housework

Why do I have to do housework?

If I ignore housework, it will go away.

Ignore laundry for a week.

Laundry increased in numbers until members of the household had nothing to wear, resulting in alternating between two outfits or wearing items that were outgrown. When laundry was finally cleaned, it created a huge task.

Ignoring housework does not make it go away.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Design Friday: Arco Floor Lamp

I've highlighted famous buildings, chairs, and paintings. How about a lamp this week. The Arco Floor Lamp, to be specific.

This lamp was designed by Italian brothers, Achille Castiglioni and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962, for Flos (an Italian lighting manufacturer). Their motto "design demands observation" caused them to see everyday objects in new ways. This particular lamp was inspired by the design of a streelight, and is designed to give overhead lighting without being suspended from the ceiling. It is balanced by a heavy marble base, which allows the lamp to extend 8 feet away- far enough to be centered over a dining table.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

"God's Hand in the Founding of America"

I came across a copy of this article, "God's Hand in the Founding of America" amongst my old college papers. It is an address delivered to BYU by Elder L. Tom Perry in February of 1976, celebrating America's bicentennial, that was later printed in the July 1976 New Era. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Why is it so important to know and understand America's past? We know that history provides important lessons and warnings for today- lessons about God and his interest in the affairs of men; and warnings in the form of destructions that come to early American civilizations when they lost their reverence for family, morality, or God."

"We know a land of liberty and religious freedom was a necessary ingredient in the plan of God. Thus, Columbus and others, particularly those seeking religious freedom, were led to the shores of America."

"The success of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War came about through men who were raised up by God for this special purpose. You must read the Declaration of Independence to feel its inspiration. You merely need to study history to recognize that a group of fledgling colonies defeating the world's most powerful nation stemmed from a force greater than man."

"Today we are fortunate to live in a choice and promised land. It will remain free and blessed as long as its people remember the God who gave them life and this free land. We must remember that the family is the basic unit of a strong society. We are all a part of God's family; and as our Father, he expects us to build strong family units. It is in the family that the basic morality and righteousness should be taught that will keep America free. Each member of every family plays an important role in America. For several thousand years throughout this land the great fathers and mothers, noble sons, the patriot sons, the choice daughters have forged America into what we have today.
It is America's conscience that has preserved her. America is beautiful only when she is good, when children are laughing in her streets, and love abounds in her families. Without this conscience, civilization crumbles, as it has before on this continent. We are all part of America's future. Our job is to remember the lessons of the past, to patch up the mistakes and the sins of everything that has gone before. The place to start is within our own families..."

"The adversary knows all too well that a weak America will literally stop this building process and thwart the work of God."

"This is the time for you to be bold enough to stand up for what you believe, to let the world know that God still blesses this great land of America- if we will live righteously, according to that which he has commanded."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cleaning Product

If you are having trouble removing mildew from your bathroom, let me recommend a product to you, that was recommended to me by my Grandma.

It really does work wonders. The only problem is finding it. I searched high and low for this product in the last city I lived in (where I REALLY needed it), with no success. If you find it, it's definitely worth buying.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There's Still Hope

While the House (Congress) recently passed their health care bill on Saturday, it doesn't mean anything is written in stone yet. Now, it's up to the Senate to pass the bill, which apparently looks like it will be a harder job to accomplish. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. explained, "Anyone can offer any amendment on any subject in the Senate whereas in the House, amendments are limited greatly, so therefore if you thought it was hard in the House its going to be harder in the Senate." Adding to this difficulty is the fact that there are several Democrats and an Independent (Lieberman) who are opposed to the bill. Obama has his work cut out for him.

If you are opposed to the health care bill, now more than ever, is the time to contact your Senators and let them know how you feel... and keep reminding them.

You can find your Senator at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Style Tip I Learned From America's Next Top Model

I must clarify, that I am not a regular viewer of America's Next Top Model. I must admit though, that I have watched pieces of a few episodes while channel surfing. Ever searching for ways to improve my wardrobe, here is some style advice I learned during an elimination scene (these scenes seem to be a prime opportunity for Tyra and her fellow judges to critique the clothes the contestants are wearing).

I learned that wearing a belt over a sweater dress is NOT good fashion. It's all about vertical lines, girl! If you dare commit this fashion faux pas, Tyra will demand that you remove the belt from your being immediately.

Wearing a hairnet and ridiculously puffy sleeves, on the other hand, IS good fashion (see the judge on far left).

You can thank me for enlightening you on this matter later.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Design Friday: Maynard Dixon

Today I decided to highlight an artist whose work I find inspiring: Maynard Dixon.
Maynard Dixon was born on a ranch near Fresno, CA in 1875. Early in his painting career, his mentor encouraged him to leave California and "travel East to see the real West". Dixon took this advice and spent time in Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona studying the landscape and people of these areas. There is a Maynard Dixon Museum in Tucson, containing some of his rarest works, though Brigham Young University's Museum of Art has the largest collection of his works.
In college, I took a painting class in which the instructor forced us to explain why we like or dislike works of art. We couldn't just say we liked something, we had to explain what it was in the work that created those reactions. It is so hard to do that, if you are not in the habit of pinpointing the things that move you. It's a good practice to undertake. Here's my attempt to explain why I like his works. I like his his ability to capture the feeling of the West before it was settled- there is a true romance to his works in this way. Perhaps this is because of his subject matter, but also I think he achieves this through his use of bold, pure colors. I also like the simplification of the lines and subjects in his work, without extreme abstraction. I think this simplification lends itself well to the raw, untouched beauty of the west. That's all I've got.

The Plains

Lazy Autumn


Flathead Tepees

Remembrance of Tusayan


Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Moms and Men Often Go Awry

Two weeks ago, I decided to make pizza for dinner (Boboli pizza crusts were buy one get one at the local market). I realize a Boboli crust hardly qualifies as "making" pizza, but I did make my own pizza sauce. My sauce recipe made enough for two pizzas, so rather than halve the recipe, I decided to be my own friend and freeze half of the sauce with the extra Boboli crust. They would come in handy on a busy day.
Last week, I was grateful for my foresight. Wednesday proved to be a busy day, and my frozen pizza and sauce served me well. The only thing, is that while I had defrosted the sauce, it didn't completely warm up while baking, so it wasn't as hot a pizza as we prefer. No biggie. I put it back in the oven to keep it warm so second helpings would be just right. I patted myself on the back for looking out for myself and making my life a little bit easier (which I rarely do).
Monday, as I was making dinner you can imagine my surprise when I opened the oven door to insert my dish, and found my pan of pizza sitting on the rack all heated up and ready to go! It seems I had completely forgotten our pizza "warming" in the oven
, and there it had sat for 5 days. After pondering over exactly how sick it would make me if I ate it, I reluctantly threw the four slices of pizza away.
I was bummed that the results of my rare foresight were thrown in the garbage, but I still think I get an "A" for effort.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You Know You Are an Adult When...

... while at the church Halloween party, a group of youth at an activity center are using harsh language in front of your child (who is intently listening), and you hear yourself sternly saying, "You guys need to remember where you are," which is followed by a hard stare for each offending child.

Who am I? I am transforming before my very eyes!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Mummified by Me!

** Update: These babies won me "Spookiest Dessert" at our church party. I now am the proud owner of a jack-0-lantern hot pad.**

Friday, October 30, 2009

Design Friday: Color

Today, I decided to take a break from the usual approach to "Design Friday", and discuss an element of design. Color. This is the most personal of all elements, as it has such a profound and unique effect on each of us.
You may have heard people attribute different emotional characteristics to color before, so I thought I'd give a brief list of those connections. Realize that these are not hard and fast rules to be followed as law. It's not that cut and dry. Depending on the hue or shade of each color, the response can be different than listed. Also, some colors would be appropriate as accents, while overbearing as a main color. Our individual life experiences also have an effect on our reaction to color. But, it gives you a general idea, and perhaps something for you to pay attention to.
We want our homes to be a haven, so we should definitely be mindful of the colors we are surrounding ourselves with, and that they contribue to that feeling. It is also important to think about how color might effect a room's function. For example, if you want a room to be a lively, conversation area, colors will effect this outcome. This data is from, "Color, Environment, and Human Response" by Frank H. Mahnke.

Ceiling: intruding, disturbing, heavy
Walls: aggressive, advancing
Floor: conscious, alert, perhaps pompous

Ceiling: delicate, comforting
Walls: aggression-inhibiting, intimate, too sweet if not grayed down
Floor: perhaps too delicate, unfamiliar in this location

Ceiling: stimulating, attention-seeking
Walls: warm, luminous
Floor: activating, motion-oriented

Ceiling: oppressive and heavy (if dark)
Walls: secure and assuring if wood; much less if paint
Floor: steady, stable

Ceiling: light (if toward lemon), luminous, stimulating
Walls: warm (if toward orange), exciting to irritating (if highly saturated)
Floor: elevating, diverting

Ceiling: protective (reflection on skin can be unattractive)
Walls: cool, secure, calm, reliable, passive if glaring (electric green), muddy if toward olive
Floor: natural (up to a certain saturation point), soft, relaxing, cold (if toward blue-green)

Ceiling: celestial, cool, less tangibly advancing (if light), heavy and oppressive (if dark)
Walls: cool and distant (if light), encouraging and space-deepening (if dark)
Floor: inspiring feeling of effortless movement (if light), substantial (if dark)

Seldom used in interior spaces except for accents or special moods. Psychologically, it may appear disconcerting and subduing

Ceiling: shadowy
Walls: neutral to boring
Floor: neutral

Ceiling: empty, no design objections- helps to diffuse light sources and reduce shadows
Walls: neutral to empty, sterile, without energy
Floor: touch-inhibiting (not to be walked upon)

Ceiling: hollow to oppressive
Walls: ominous, dungeonlike
Floor: odd, abstract

Thursday, October 29, 2009

He's Making a List...

Yesterday, my son decided it was time to write his Christmas list for Santa. As he sat at the table writing his list, he excitedly proclaimed, "Santa will get me everything on my list!" Wiping the sweat from my brow, I tried to lower his expectations a tad and explained, "Well, sometimes Santa gives you everything, and sometimes he gives you a few things from your list, and sometimes he gives you surprises too!" To which my son replied, "So... should I write 'Surprises X' at the bottom?" Again, trying to softly steer his expectations, I advised, "Oh, no. You don't want to do that. Surprises are what Santa does best." Without batting an eye, my son happily stated, "I don't want surprises. I want what I want. And that's all!" Which, is made pretty clear at the bottom of his list:

I've decided to let reality be his teacher, rather than be a dream killer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Should This Worry Us?

Do you know who Mao Tse Tung is?

In a nutshell, he was a Chinese revolutionary leader who established communism in China in 1949. He executed people who opposed or were suspected to be disloyal to his beliefs, an estimated 50-70 million. Citizens of the People's Republic of China were required to own, carry, and read a book of his writings and essays. Students were required to study it, and all writing (including scientific essays) were required to quote the book. Strict loyalty to his regime was demanded.

So, should it bother us that the White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn, regards him as one of her "favorite political philosophers"? This she admitted in a speech at a high school graduation on June 5th (by the way, her other favorite political philosopher is Mother Teresa... whom I didn't realize was considered a political philosopher). She then states that these are "
... the two people that I turn to most."

After receiving criticism for this comment, she dismissed the statement as irony that "fell flat", even though she goes on to describe his ability to defeat the odds and overthrow the nationalist party as an example that we can use as inspiration for our lives: "
You don't have to accept the definition of how to do things, and you don't have to follow other people's choices and paths, OK? It is about your choices and your path. You fight your own war. You lay out your own path. You figure out what's right for you."

Mao may have defeated the odds, but if that's the point she wanted to make, why would she choose this example in history? Why not the Revolutionary War, or any other example in history that is not linked to a communist leader? She would have been strung up if she had cited Hitler. To me, Mao is no different.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Know It's Time To Go To Bed When....

... You're working on a sewing project, and sticking pins in your eyes seems more appealing and less painful then fixing a big mistake you've just made.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Defending Religious Freedom

In an address to students at BYU-Idaho, Elder Dallin H. Oaks (a retired lawyer) spoke about religious freedom in our country being under attack, and our responsibility to defend it. Below are some of my favorite points:

Section I: He discusses the divine origin of our written constitution, and the blessing it is to the world. "...[Today] almost every nation in the world has adopted a written constitution, and the United States Constitution profoundly influenced all of them." Others still fall short on religious freedom.

Section III: One of the great fundamentals of our constitution is the belief of 'popular sovereignty' which is that, "people are the source of government power". This power also implies, "... popular responsibility. Instead of blaming their troubles on a king or tyrant, all citizens are responsible to share the burdens of governing..." (Our freedom gives us accountability).

Section IV: "The prohibition against 'an establishment of religion' was intended to separate churches and government, to prevent a national church of the kind still found in Europe."

"The free 'exercise' of religion obviously involves both the right to choose religious beliefs and affiliations and the right to 'exercise' or practice those beliefs. But in a nation with citizens of many different religious beliefs, the right of some to act upon their religious principles must be qualified by the government’s responsibility to protect the health and safety of all."

"But unless the guarantee of free exercise of religion gives a religious actor greater protection against government prohibitions than are already guaranteed to all actors by other provisions of the constitution (like freedom of speech), what is the special value of religious freedom?"

Section V: "The greatest infringements of religious freedom occur when the exercise of religion collides with other powerful forces in society. Among the most threatening collisions in the United States today are (1) the rising strength of those who seek to silence religious voices in public debates, and (2) perceived conflicts between religious freedom and the popular appeal of newly alleged civil rights." And then he said, "...I invite your careful attention to what I say on these subjects, because I am describing conditions you will face and challenges you must confront."

Atheism is a growing religion. "John A. Howard of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society [noted] these voices '....have developed great skills in demonizing those who disagree with them, turning their opponents into objects of fear, hatred and scorn.'”

In a democracy that is free and robust, an opinion is no more disqualified for being ‘religious’ than for being atheistic, or psychoanalytic, or Marxist, or just plain dumb.” -Richard John Neuhaus

Referenced “Yogyakarta Principles,” published by an international human rights group. "This apparently proposes that governments require church practices and their doctrines to ignore gender differences. Any such effort to have governments invade religion to override religious doctrines or practices should be resisted by all believers."

Section VI: He gave five points of counsel for us in defending the freedom of religion:
  • Speak with love and show patience, understanding and compassion to those with differing viewpoints.
  • Do not be deterred or coerced into silence by intimidation from opponents, insisting that churches and their members be able to speak out on issues without retaliation.("As such, these incidents of “violence and intimidation” are not so much anti-religious as anti-democratic. In their effect they are like the well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation.
  • Insist on the freedom to preach the doctrines of their faith.
  • Be wise in political participation, remaining respectful of those who do not share their religious beliefs and contributing to reasonable discussion.
  • Be careful to never support or act on the idea that a person must subscribe to a specific set of religious beliefs in order to qualify for public office
Conclusion: "Religious values and political realities are so interlinked in the origin and perpetuation of this nation that we cannot lose the influence of Christianity in the public square without seriously jeopardizing our freedoms. I maintain that this is a political fact, well qualified for argument in the public square by religious people whose freedom to believe and act must always be protected by what is properly called our 'First Freedom,' the free exercise of religion."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Design Friday: The Bertoia Diamond Lounge Chair

Today I am highlighting the Bertoia Diamond Lounge Chair.

picture from

This chair was designed in 1952 by Italian-born sculptor and designer, Harry Bertoia (pronounced: Ber-toy-uh). Bertoia's early career was that of a metal worker, and designed this chair while working for Florence Knoll Bassett and Hans Knoll.
With this work, he introduced a new material to furniture design: industrial wire mesh. This chair is an extension of his art, and he approached it as such. He stated, "If you look at the chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes through them." While the chair appears to be quite delicate, it is in fact very strong (much like myself). Apparently, it is also unexpectedly comfortable. This work is one of his most well known, and proved to become an instant modern classic and a design icon.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Apologies

Some time ago, my husband and I saw "Julie & Julia" in the theater. It is excellent and very enjoyable. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it interweaves the true stories of Julia Child with the life of a young woman who dedicates a year of her life cooking Julia's recipes and blogging about it. What I found inspirational, is that Julia became what she is, not necessarily because she aspired to be famous, but because she took advantage of great opportunities.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a scene where she is giving cooking lessons to some young women. As she puts the finishing touches on the dish she says something to the effect of, "There you go, perfect. And if it's not perfect, don't apologize. No excuses no explanations." This confidence combined with her "what happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen" attitude is refreshing.

So... no more apologizing when things aren't perfect.
Julia gives us permission!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In The Name of Global Warming! What More in the Name of Global Warming?!

To begin, I don't deny that global warming is an issue of concern for us. I don't deny that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. That said, I wonder how far we should go in the name of global warming. Is there a 'too far' in this matter, if it means keeping the poles from melting and causing utter destruction? Can man even pretend to have a definite role in its reversal? We can't even completely predict the weather. How far should Congress go to prevent climate change?

Congress has passed an energy law that phases out the incandescent light bulb (Edison's baby) starting in the year 2012. Why? To reduce electricity and greenhouse gases. Earlier this year, the controversial cap and trade bill was passed. Why? For "environmental accountability". I guess we'll see what those do for us.

Andrew C. Revkin, a contributor to the New York Times, is now suggesting that it would be useful to consider population control as a possible solution for saving the earth. Why? Because, "
More children equal more carbon dioxide emissions." He even wonders if we'll be seeing carbon credits given to couples who choose not to have children. (As a side note, in 1968 a best selling book, "The Population Boom" was published predicting that mass starvation would occur in the 1970's and 1980's due to over population. Interesting...). Luckily, this is just one man's opinion and we haven't heard the idea entertained politically. Hopefully, it won't.

But, with our global warming concerns, I feel like there is a growing belief that man is a plague to this earth. The description of Revkin's blog states,
"By 2050 or so, the world population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life." Doesn't that make our existence here sound like an inconvenience?

Isn't it interesting that in the commandment for us to "multiply and replenish the earth", that 'multiply' is followed by the word 'replenish'?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wuv.... Tru Wuv...

"... true love 'beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things' (1 Corinthians 13:7). Once again, that is ultimately a description of Christ's love- He is the great example of one who bore and believed and hoped and endured. We are invited to do the same in our courtship and in our marriage to the best of our ability. Bear up and be strong. Be hopeful and believing. Some things in life we have little or no control over. These have to be endured. Some disappointments have to be lived with in love and in marriage. These are not things anyone wants in life, but sometimes they come. And when they come, we have to bear them; we have to believe; we have to hope for an end to such sorrows and difficulty; we have to endure until things come right in the end."

- Jeffrey R. Holland, "How Do I Love Thee?", BYU 1999-2000 Speeches

Monday, October 19, 2009

Magic in the Air

A few days ago, a cold front came through bringing crisp, chilly air with it. Some magic must have blown in with it too, because I found myself actually wanting to clean (which is different then having to clean). I actually wanted to clean, and straighten, and do things I had been procrastinating. And not only did I want to, but get this, I found contentment in doing it!

When I was a young girl, I took horseback riding lessons (this was the compromise my parents and I found, when it became clear that they would not buy me a horse, no matter how many classified ads I cut out for them advertising "affordable" horses).
As I was replacing the shower curtain in my bathroom, I found myself thinking back on my riding days, and how frisky the horses would get when the weather changed. Instead of lazily grazing or standing in the shade, they would race each other around their paddocks. I would have to be extra alert during lessons to keep my horse in line (like children, they test their limits and can sense fear), and they would canter without a fight. I realized that, like the horses, this new air had put a spring in my step too.


What is it about fall weather that is so invigorating? Is it an instinct we carry to prepare for the winter? Whatever it is, I have to take advantage of this while I can. I know once winter gets here, my hibernating instinct will kick in full gear. And then my energy will be spent resisting eating baked goods... or eating them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Design Friday: Wassily Chair

I can't believe it's Friday already. Today, I am highlighting the Wassily Chair.

The Wassily Chair was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1927 while an apprentice at the Bauhaus. It is named after the artist Wassily Kandinsky (fellow Bauhaus instructor). The tubular steel frame was groundbreaking at the time for use with furniture, and was inspired by the handlebars on Breuer's bicycle, which he found to be strong, lightweight, and conducive for mass production. He states, "Mass production... made me interested in polished metal, in shiny and impeccable lines in space, as new components of our interiors. I considered such polished and curved lines not only symbolic of our modern technology but actually to be technology."

The chair is modeled after the traditional club chair, only simplified to its outline. While sitting, your body does not come in contact with the steel framing. Nonetheless, Breuer felt this chair was "my most extreme work . . . the least artistic, the most logical, the least 'cozy' and the most mechanical."