Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Computer Expiration Date

Youngest daughter asked today if the desktop computer was past its expiration date.  I believe it just might be. 

As I mentioned yesterday, the mouse was unresponsive.  I got a new mouse, and the installation of Rosetta Stone was going along smoothly this morning until I hit the "enter activation code" page.  When I tried to enter the code, I couldn't type a zero.  Hmmm, so apparently the keyboard was on the fritz.  Back to Staples for a keyboard.  Uh oh.  Still no zero.  No one either.  Wait a minute.  I thought computers ran on ones and zeroes.  I find it a little ironic that the computer will accept everything I type in the keyboard except ones and zeroes. 

If any of you techie types have any idea how to elicit cooperation, I'd appreciate it.  My tried-and-true method of removing privileges and assigning chores doesn't seem to work on the computer as well as it does with kids.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

High Hopes for Homeschool

I homeschool my youngest daughter, and unlike past years, this year we are really easing into our fall schedule.  This is partially because she will be taking some classes online this year, and the classes haven't started yet.  But part of the delay is my own procrastination.  I didn't set up the desktop computer ahead of time.  I foolishly thought that I could just insert the Rosetta Stone disk, and voila! it would be ready to go. Yesterday, the update took forever.  In fact, I'm not 100% convinced it actually finished.  This morning, I decided to try again, but forgo the update.  My mouse did not respond, even after cleaning, checking the cords, etc.  Needless to say, Spanish learning did not happen today.  Instead, we took a trip to Staples for a new mouse. 

However, I rather like this easing into our routine.  After our first day of math, I heard my daughter say that math was fun!  I had to do a double-take to make sure someone else wasn't in the room.  Later, she noticed a book that I purchased for her science class.  She spent hours pouring through it.  Oh, and then there was her comment of,  "I've decided I like school."  Can you see me doing my happy dance?


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Scripture--Charity

One of the speakers at church today spoke about charity, which is one of my favorite topics.  When I think of charity, I don't think of the narrow definition of "an act of service" or donating money to some cause, but rather the idea of charity as a character trait.  One of my favorite scriptures is in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 7:47-48:

"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen."

When I'm feeling the happiest, the most joyful, I feel love towards everyone around me.  I have patience with my shortcomings, and with the shortcomings of others.  I don't feel the need to judge others.  Of course, I'm not always "filled" with charity.  Sometimes I'm a little low on it.  I get frustrated, irritated, and impatient.  I have been known to question what in the world other drivers are thinking, for example.

I appreciate talks like the one today that help me remember to try to keep my charity tank on full. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Project Finished (In Less Than Two Years!)


I'm been knitting this throw off and on (mostly off) for over a year now, and tonight I finally finished it.  I hate to say this, but it is so embarrassingly late for its initially intended recipient that I am just going to hold onto it until another gift-giving opportunity presents itself.  (Don't worry; I did give the intended recipient another gift when I realized there was no way I was going to finish before the event.) 

Anyway, I love the pattern of the throw:

Now if I can only complete the other unfinished projects (like the knitted creche I started years ago)! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Heat, Humidity, Harvest, and Back-to-School


I mentioned recently that I needed to pick and can the tomatoes.  As you can see, one part of that task is complete, but somehow triple-digit temperatures and humidity--can you believe it?--dissuade me from attempting the canning.  I'm sticking the tomatoes in the fridge and hoping that it will be a bit more comfortable on Monday.  I really don't have reason to complain, though--the current humidity level is hardly stifling, but it is downright tropical compared to our normal, "but it's a dry heat!" climate.

Instead of canning, I'm going to take youngest daughter out to lunch somewhere with a good air conditioner, and we're going to discuss our homeschooling schedule for the fall.  Although the public schools started here a few weeks ago, we're easing into our fall routine.  She missed the first week of early-morning seminary due to BYU Education Week.  This week she did start seminary, but that's about it.  Now that the college kids have left for their apartments, it's time to start in on the academics.  Youngest daughter is signed up for a few online classes this year, but they don't start until September.  I'm hoping to use today's lunchtime to communicate expectations, plan for fun learning experiences, and generally encourage enthusiasm for the opportunity to learn new things.  I might even schedule these lunch meetings periodically, to allow us a chance to review the past months and set new goals for the upcoming ones. (I love the optimism that a new school year affords!)

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An August Garden Walk



Wow, what happened to the neat, tidy garden?  In short, the tomatoes and watermelons took over! Picking and canning the tomatoes is on my in-the-near-future to-do list, but let's look at what else is growing.

My father-in-law provided us the seeds for the "squashkins":


They are much bigger than the pumpkins I planted:



Remember the little watermelon from last month?  It is much bigger, and has been joined by a half-dozen or so others.  If they all ripen at once, we might be in trouble. 



The grapes are changing color, but we're finding it hard to wait for them to fully ripen.  They are so sweet, even when green!


I'm enjoying not only the fruits and vegetables, but also the flowers.  Isn't this Aloha rose lovely?


Tonight, when it is cooler, I should get outside and deadhead the roses.  This is the first year I've been fairly consistent with deadheading and fertilizing, and the roses just keep blooming. 

Thanks for joining me on this month's garden walk.  I'm curious to see what next month will bring.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Empty-Nest Anticipation and Other Musings of the Middle-Aged

Not too many years ago, our family seemed large: teenagers everywhere, someone always coming or going, and a menagerie of animals that needed attention. 

Later this week, three kids are headed back to college, and we'll have only one child left at home.  I knew this would be a change, but it's going to be quieter than I expected.  This has not been a good summer for our pets.  In June, Oreos, our cat, died suddenly one night in her sleep.  Earlier this month, as I have already posted, our basset hound Lucy got sick and didn't make it.  And just this morning, I am sad to report that even Superman, the guinea pig, succumbed. He lived a good long guinea pig life--6 years or so, I think. 

I'm beginning to realize how much noise comes with having a houseful of people and animals.  I'm reminded of the children's book, Too Much Noise.  Except I find myself expecting the doggie door to flap open, and Lucy to come running, whenever I am in the backyard.  I expect to hear the soft patter of Crystal's feet, as she walks across the carpet.  I expect to hear the cute chirps and giggles of Superman when I walk into the room.  Fortunately, I still hear the happy, contented sounds of the hens, and though Reepicheep the rat is quiet, he makes his presence known as a permanent fixture on the shoulder of youngest daughter.  (As a side note, I'm so impressed with what a great pet a rat makes!)

I've always envisioned myself handling an empty nest fairly well.  I love my children and I delight in watching them mature into responsible adults. That joy for their successes exceeds the selfish desire to keep them as children.  I think the last time I was bored I was about 7 years old.  I don't anticipate running out of things to do.  I'm not generally energized by crowds of people, but rather enjoy quiet times.  And yet, I'm thinking this fall might seem a bit too quiet.  If this fall is quiet, just how quiet will the future be, when even the youngest is out on her own? 

Like Peter in  Too Much Noise, I suppose I could get a donkey, etc., but that would just mask the real question:  What am I going to be, when my children are all grown up?  :-)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Last Day of Education Week

It's hard to believe that Friday is here already.  I'm sorry I haven't posted daily.  Youngest daughter has wanted to stay until the last class of the day is over at 9:30.  Add in the construction on I-15, and we haven't been getting to John's parents' home until 11:30 or so.  Those that know me well know that is way past my bedtime.  But oh so worth it! 

I love Education Week.  I love the beautiful campus, with the mountains towering above.  I love the friendliness of the people, who have come from all over the world to attend.  I love the variety of classes and the quality of the instructors.  I love the evening performances.  Yep, I pretty much just love everything about Education Week. 

If you'd like a little taste of Education Week, follow this link to view some videos from classes from past years:

http://byutv.org/show/24466efb-e83a-45e6-9aab-0bddab0ba084

Well, I'm off to prepare for another great day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Magical Concert

Last night, my mom and I watched a violin concert by Jenny Oaks Baker. (www.jennyoaksbaker.com) Wow!  She performed in the puffy princess dress--minus the gloves, of course.  Beautiful arrangements of Disney songs comprised the entire concert.  Her three young daughters even played one piece, an arrangement of "It's a Small World" for piano, violin, and cello. 

The evening truly was magical.  Though the concert hall held hundreds of audience members, the setting felt intimate.  Jenny's personality came through with some off-hand remarks.  After the concert, as she was signing CDs, she asked if her remarks had spoiled the princess magic.  I assured her that they had not. 

Personally, I love being reminded that those we admire or look up to are real people.  I don't mean in the gossip tabloid sort of way, but rather in the hopes, dreams, and humor sort of way.  Jenny was relieved after her girls performed well.  She asked for our prayers before performing a particularly demanding piece.  By allowing us a glimpse into her personality, she reminded me that not only is she an incredibly talented musician, she is a real person.

Not only that, I am a real person, too.  One of the overriding themes I am getting from Education Week is that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, we shouldn't be afraid to just be ourselves, we all make mistakes (so don't be judgemental!), and the Atonement is in place for each one of us.  Somehow, the concert last night reminded me further of those truths. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Education Week Day 1

The first day of Education Week, and it's been fairly typical.  I attended exactly two classes (out of 5) that I had planned on taking.  The other 3 were ones I decided today to take.  As always, I'm happy with the choices I made (though I'm sure I would have been happy with my original selections also). 

The two I took that I planned on taking were both taught by Connie Sokol. She talked about developing a life plan and using time wisely to meet your personal goals.  Right now, I'm in a conversation with my mom about her educational goals.  Dad, I know you're reading this.  Mom needs just a bit of encouragement to finish her degree.  She thinks we're plotting.  She's right.  (She always is!)


Of course, it is much easier for me to make a life plan for my mom than to come up with my own.  That's my next project!  Thanks to Education Week, though, I'm motivated. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Up in Utah!


While I came to Utah for BYU Education Week, I've had a highlight of my trip already, without stepping foot on campus yet. 

John's parents suggested that we drive to see a house today.  Carl's and Ellie's house (from the movie "Up"):


We were delighted to actually be invited inside!  The builders kept the house as true to the movie as possible.




Look at all these details!






The nursery and master bedroom are upstairs:





The house had other rooms that weren't in the movie, but that were wonderful additions:








The house was quite popular, so I was unable to get a photo of the exterior without getting other people in the photo, but to see photos, visit http://bangerterhomes.com/up/.

What a fun afternoon!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Knew???? Canning "Pineapple" from Zucchini


Even with serving curried squash for dinner last night, we are falling woefully behind in our zucchini consumption.  These beauties brutes are obviously not the cute, gourmet size, but more along the baseball bat variety.  I haven't looked in the garden today.  I'm a little bit afraid to. 

Anyway, I can either let them sit in the fridge until they go limp (ewww!) and I feel guilty, or I can find something to do with them.  A million loaves of zucchini bread is out of the question, and my freezer gave up the ghost, so freezing is not an option either.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation came to my rescue with this recipe:

Zucchini-Pineapple


  • 4 qts cubed or shredded zucchini
  • 46 oz canned unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1½ cups bottled lemon juice
  • 3 cups sugar

Yield: About 8 to 9 pints


Procedure: Peel zucchini and either cut into ½-inch cubes or shred. Mix zucchini with other ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Fill jars with hot mixture and cooking liquid, leaving ½-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process. See Table 1 for recommended process time for using a boiling-water canner.

Table 1. Recommended process time for Zucchini-Pineapple in a boiling-water canner.
Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints or Pints 15 min 20 25


Sounds easy enough.  I'm going to use reconstituted frozen concentrate instead of the canned pineapple juice, as it was about half the price.  Hopefully it is good.  I've seen positive reviews on other sites, so I'm optimistic. 

Anybody else have ideas on how to preserve zucchini?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If I Have an Inner Julia Child, Now's the Time to Show It

I don't usually watch cooking shows, but I have seen a few snippets here and there of Julia Child.  I love her sense of humor.  She made cooking look easy, even if things didn't go exactly as planned. 

I'm hoping that I have a bit of Julia Child in me.  The stake Relief Society president (head of the church women's organization for several congregations), asked me on Sunday if tomorrow I would give a 45-minute demonstration on how to can tomatoes.  In theory, I'm OK with that.  I'm fairly comfortable teaching, and I do know how to can.  In practice, I'm a little worried. Forget the fact that I haven't actually canned tomatoes. The processing time for pints is 40 minutes, so obviously this demonstration will need to utilize the magic of cooking shows.  You know, you put the food in the oven, turn around, and voila....it is done!

The problem is, I'm not a magician.  I'm afraid I'll go to pull the finished product out, it won't be done, and the wittiness of Julia Child will elude me.   Oh, the pressure.....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Birdcage Light


My oldest daughter wanted to make a hanging light from an old birdcage.  I don't know how she came up with the idea, but I like it.  We found an old birdcage at an antique store.  She covered the sides with broadcloth, then picked up the chain, socket, etc. from the home improvement store.  I should have thought to take photos throughout the process, but basically what she did was attach the light socket with wire to the birdcage.  She used a CFL bulb, which stays very cool, so it shouldn't be a fire hazard.

Voila!  She definitely has a one-of-a-kind light for her apartment this fall. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

We Went to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo.....

Thanks to a great groupon deal on zoo memberships, we decided to go to the zoo today:


I'll share some animal photos later, but first, I wanted to show you some funny signs I saw.  It's nice to see that the zoo welcomes Spanish speaking visitors (as long as they know English, too!):


In the zoo's defense, this sign was an isolated incident.  The other bilingual signs were truly bilingual.

Zoos work hard to protect animal species, except flies:


Seems like overkill to me, but I guess it's OK, as long as the traps are far away from this:


Funny signs make me laugh, but I love watching the animals (especially the primates!):




After a long day, we were all tuckered out, just like this koala:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Education Week is Coming!

Well, it's that time of year again...the time of year when I plan what classes I want to take at Education Week at BYU. I pour over the catalog, agonizing over the selections, wanting to take more classes than humanly possible. I come up with a schedule, talk it over with my mom (who, along with my youngest daughter, comes with me), and then we make changes. Again and again and again. Fortunately, we don't have to commit to a schedule ahead of time. We do like to have a plan. We just never stick to the plan. The only thing that is set in stone is we have tickets to a performance by Jenny Oaks Baker on one of the evenings. She will be performing Disney tunes on her violin. How perfect is that?! Oooh, I just got a thought--maybe the sheet music is available, and maybe an extra extra easy version of sheet music is available. I might be inspired to take my violin out of its case and practice!
If you have been to Education Week, who are your favorite speakers? Favorite classes/topics?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Don't Worry; I'm Almost Half-Way There!

Just checking in at 11 p.m. on Saturday to let you know that half of the apples are now applesauce.  I'm just waiting for the pot to boil, so I can put the sauce in jars and get it processed.  The other 20 pounds of apples can wait until next week.

I would have gotten the canning done earlier (I think), but John and I went to the local minor league ball game tonight.  We have decided we are definitely good luck for the team.  Every game we've gone to, the home team has won!

I have been fairly domestic today, not only in making applesauce but also in making an apron:


Each August, my basset-loving buddies and I have a "secret pawtner" gift exchange.  Shhh, don't tell, but this apron will be on its way to Missouri next week, along with other basset-themed items. 

Well, the watched pot is boiling now, so I'd better post this and get the applesauce in jars!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Project in Progress


Thursday, while John and some of the kids were out trying their hands at deep sea fishing, I stopped by a farm and bought Gravenstein apples--my favorite for applesauce.  The apples are still sitting on my counter, looking pretty and smelling great.  Tomorrow I really need to make applesauce.  Or at least by Wednesday, when the canned foods entries are due at the fair. 

I knew at the time I signed up for the fair that I hadn't made applesauce yet.  I knew that by signing up, I would make myself get on the ball and make applesauce.   And yet, here it is Friday night and still no applesauce.  I don't know why I have to psych myself up so much before canning;  I'm always surprised at how easy and relatively quick the process actually is. 

So I'm blogging to the world (or at least to Mom and a few other followers!) to expect photos of the finished project tomorrow.  Thanks for joining my little online pep rally.  Go team!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thankful for Friends and Family

Wow.  I am so overwhelmed by just how many people have gone out of their way to contact me via e-mail, facebook, phone calls, etc. when they heard about Lucy.  Even my friends who are not dog people (I try not to judge!) have offered their condolences.  When I posted about service earlier this week, I didn't anticipate being on the receiving end, but that is exactly what has happened.  Thanks to you all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Might Be Crying Now, but the Memories Make Me Smile

Well, the vet called this morning with the news that Lucy passed away in the middle of the night.  In her memory, I thought I'd share a few photos.

A photo from the breeder, taken before we even met Lucy:


The black face and ears changed to brown.  She loved her hedgehog:



She would always listen to me:


Then politely ignore my dumb request to get off the furniture:


I'm still not quite sure why her stubborn naughtiness made me laugh, but it did.  Someone else, who shall remain nameless, endearingly dubbed her "Lucance the Nuisance"--but I know he didn't really mean it.

She was always game for a bellyrub:


She loved to eat, and was delighted whenever she found food just ready for the picking:


She loved to play in all kinds of weather:



Her face lightened through the years, but she was still beautiful:


We had over six wonderful years together.  Good dog, Lucy, good dog!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Time to Fling Some Drool, Please!


It has been a rough summer for the 4-leggers in this house.  In June, youngest daughter's cat died  of old age.  During that same week, Lucy the basset hound got sick.  How do we know when Lucy is sick?  When she refuses to eat. 

This is the dog that has gone through (or more literally, has had gone through her) numerous socks, dish towels, etc.  In her mind--and yes, I think she has one--the definition of edible is "anything that fits in one's mouth."  Years ago, oldest daughter ignored Lucy for weeks after Lucy applied the "edible" label to said daughter's new digital camera. 

Anyway, if Lucy refuses food of any kind, something is wrong.  When Lucy got sick in June, she perked back up after a course of antibiotics and medication for a newly-diagnosed hypothyroid. 

Well, Lucy refused to eat again on Sunday, and yesterday I called the vet.  Currently, Lucy is in the animal hospital on IV fluids and antibiotics.  Her lab results are worse than in June, and the vet is mentioning that her results are consistent with kidney failure.  Tomorrow's blood work should let us know whether the damage is reversible or not.

Sigh.  When I brought Lucy home as a puppy, I joined an e-mail list made up of fellow basset-hound owners.  Whenever a dog is sick, a request is made for drool to be flung.  (There has to be some positive quality to dog drool, right?  Otherwise we are just crazy owners with slobbery dogs.)  If you have a slobbery dog, Lucy could use some drool.  If you don't, good thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, positive vibes, etc. are all appreciated, too.