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"