Friday, March 30, 2012

Guess What I'll Be Doing This Weekend?



To read the graphic better, right click on the picture, and select "Go to copied address." When that page loads, click again on the picture to enlarge it.  (I know that is a lot of steps, but I thought the information was interesting.)


Thankful thought:  Thanks for conference weekends!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Join Me for My Garden Walk!

I love spring.  I love to see the new plant growth.  The emerging greenery from the bulbs shout out, "Surprise!  Did you remember I'm here?"  The buds on the bushes and trees promise future flowers and fruit.  My nose awaits the lilacs and roses, and I'm practically drooling thinking of the artichokes-to-be.

The artichoke overwintered just fine.


The chard and lettuce are ready to harvest.


So are the peas.


The grape vines are preparing to bloom.


A view through the grape vines, which will be impossible by summer.


The butterfly bush is leafing out, and I've noticed some buds on the irises.

I love the fullness of this daffodil.



What is growing in your garden?

Thankful thought:  Thanks (again) for spring!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Home "Improvement": I Gave Up Control When I Sold the House

I jetted off to the beautiful Pacific Northwest last week to visit with family, and I've thoroughly enjoyed my spring break.  One of the days, I had the chance to drive past a house that John, the kids, and I formerly called home. 

We didn't live there very long, but we put a lot of work into making it ours.  We painted, planted, plumbed, and installed porch rails.  We lived a simple life in that tiny town, but we made big memories. 

I walked down memory lane as we came into city limits.  The grocery store sign wished Paul happy birthday.  We approached the intersection with the blinking yellow light--the only traffic light in town--then crossed over the train tracks.  I mentally wished Paul happy birthday, too, as I saw him outside his towing/repair shop.  (He towed us home several times in the past, and he never had to ask where we lived.  Gotta love small towns!)

A few more turns, and our house came into view.  Except, it wasn't the house I remember.  The new owners had turned it into their home.  I had no say in the changes they made.  Not only did they make changes, they removed some of the changes we had made.  Gone is my garden, gone is my cute porch rail, and gone are my fruit trees--including the ancient cherry tree that produced huge amounts of the most delicious cherries!  Now the house is nearly hidden behind fir trees and chain-linked fencing.  The paint color isn't what I would have chosen. 

After moaning a bit, I gave myself a talking-to.  First of all, it's not my house!  I loved living there in the past, but now someone else gets to love it and make it their own.  Secondly, how great that I got to make the changes I wanted to while I lived there.  Everything we did to the place brought me joy.  Would it have been better if I had driven by and wished we had thought to make the changes the new owners made?  No.  Finally, I'm certainly not an expert in style, so I shouldn't judge their choices. 

How about you?  What is your reaction when you see your former homes? 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for homes, and thanks for freedom to change!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

April Visiting Teaching Handouts

I couldn't decide whether to make a snowy-backgrounded handout, to tie in with the story about the handcart company, or a cheery spring-themed handout, to go with the season.  So, I made both. 

As always, just right-click to save/print. 





The visiting teaching message for April can be found here.

Thankful thought:  Thanks for visiting teachers!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

1940 Census: Not Here Yet, But You Can Practice (and Maybe Win!)

I've mentioned Family Search Indexing before, and just how cool it is to connect with history by helping to preserve the records which give us a glimpse of the lives of individuals. 


Maybe you've considered getting involved, but are still a little unsure.  I was, at first.  I worried that I would somehow mess something up.  I worried that I wouldn't be able to decipher the handwriting.  I worried that I would transpose numbers.  I worried that I would single-handedly start the zombie apocalypse.  (OK, I made that part up.  Just wanted to make sure I had the attention of the male young adult crowd.)


Anyway, my worries were in vain.  Not to say I haven't messed up,  been unsure of the handwriting, or transposed numbers.  But I did not single-handedly start a zombie apocalypse, nor did my mistakes have dire consequences.  You see, when you index a batch of records, you are not the only one to index that particular batch.  If the transcription you type differs from the transcription another person does, that batch goes to an arbitrator.  The arbitrators then sort everything out.  Also, if you have a particular batch that you really can't figure out, or you don't have time to do, or you just change your mind, you can return that batch for someone else to complete.  Easy peasy. 




As many mothers have said, “Many hands make light work.”  The more people who volunteer to index, the sooner the project will be complete.  And, to help encourage those of you who might still be hesitant to sign up, the 1940 Census Project is holding a contest.  Click here to read about the contest, and here to sign up to index.  All you need to do after you sign up is to download the indexing program and transcribe a practice batch.  So, even if you still are worried about transcribing, you see what it will be like when the census is actually released.  And who knows, you might win a Visa gift card!






[And, to meet legal disclosure requirements, you must know that as part of the1940census.com ambassador program this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire.]






Thankful thought:  Thanks for technology, which helps so much in family history research!





Wordless Wednesday: A Spring Break Study in Weather Contrasts



Thankful thought:  Thanks for sunshine and snow, Disneyland and my parents' house!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Happy birthday to my oldest daughter!


You've loved "The Happiest Place on Earth" since you were a baby.


You have a soft spot in your heart for kittens and your mommy.


I'm so glad to be your mom.  You make me proud!

Thankful thought:  Thanks for my oldest daughter! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

College Finals Survival Kit Idea: If I'm Your Mom or Mother-in-Law-to-Be, Don't Read This Post!

Each semester my kids have been in college, I've sent them survival kits for finals week.  Most of the time, I have just ordered the packages from the university, which advertises to the parents of the students.  This year, I learned that not all colleges offer those boxes of goodies.  What to do?  Design my own, of course!

Today I assembled "Finals Survival Kits," and in a moment of corny creativity, came up with a (hopefully cute) note to accompany the packages.

Update: I should have put tissue paper underneath the items to make the box look nicer.  I probably didn't need to tell you that, though. 


Here's what the note said:


When you’ve been wearing your GLASSES so much that you are at the end of your YO-YO rope, and feel like a BOUNCY-BALL bouncing off the walls, put down your PENCIL and POST-ITS, and take a SNACKS break!

 Good luck on your finals!  I’m sure you’ll do fine.  I’m so proud of you!

Love,

Mom

I found the glasses, (light-up!) yo-yo, and bouncy ball in Target's party favors aisle.  They came in packages of 4.  The mechanical pencils and post-its I already had on hand, and the candy, fruit bar, and granola bar were also from Target.  Everything fits in a small priority flat-rate shipping box. 

It's not much, but hopefully will bring smiles to my students' faces!

For another college survival kit idea, click this link.

Thankful thought:  Thanks for hard-working students everywhere!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Survived "Pie" Day

My son, who is home for spring break this week, reminded me yesterday that we needed to celebrate pi day.  March 14.  3-14.  3.14.  Get it?  I couldn't give him a reason why we should discriminate against geeky holidays, so we had pizza for dinner, followed by pie for dessert . . . . followed by Weight Watchers this morning.  I survived!  I'm down another 1.2 pounds. 

Now, unfortunately, I don't think this actually means eating pie results in weight loss, so I won't be making my fortune writing articles that would scream from the check-out line:  "LOSE WEIGHT with our AMAZING PIE diet!" However, I will happily just keep plugging along on my shrinking journey. 

I think I'm going to just stick with it this time, even after I get back to goal weight.  I don't begrudge the fact that I live by a monetary budget, nor do I mope that I will always follow a budget, so why should I approach food any differently?  Why mess with success?  Weight Watchers is a tool that works for me, if I use it. 

Reno accompanies me to Weight Watchers, but strictly as an observer.  Today, he is 6 months old, and 60 pounds!  (He didn't weigh in at the meeting, by the way, though I have been tempted.)

Thankful thought:  Thanks for holidays, geeky or otherwise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Say, "Cheese!": The 1940s Brought Us the Polaroid

A picture's worth a thousand words, and in family history research, few discoveries bring more excitement than finding an ancestor's photograph.


Early tin prints usually featured solemn-faced, formally dressed individuals.  As required exposure times decreased and cameras became more accessible, photos increasingly showed smiling subjects and captured scenes from everyday life.




The 1940s brought at least two photographic milestones: the introduction and subsequent mass-production of the Polaroid Land Camera Model 95, and presumably the coining of the phrase, "Say cheese."

The Polaroid eliminated the waiting game that defined photography in the pre-digital era.  No longer did one have to send film out to be developed and returned as prints; the camera magically produced a print in less than a minute. 

The Model 95, introduced in 1947, became commercially available in 1948.   I don't know what year my grandparents bought their first Polaroid, but I have great memories of Grandma snapping photo after photo, replacing film and burned-out flash bulbs, and waiting impatiently to see the results.  Grandma could find nothing too trivial to snap.





The phrase, "Say cheese" pre-dated the Polaroid by a few years at least.  No one seems to know precisely when the phrase originated, but the answer might be January 20, 1943.  On that date, an article titled, "Need to Put on a Smile? Here's How: Say 'Cheese'," appeared on page 2 of the Big Spring Daily Herald, a Texas newspaper.  The article described how to obtain an "automatic smile" by following this step:  "Just say 'Cheese.' "

The tip must have spread like a Texas wildfire, because generations of Polaroid owners have captured smiles by having their subjects say, "Cheese!"

Thankful thought:  Thanks for photos, from tin types to Polaroids and beyond!

Disclosure:  As part of the 1940 Census Ambassador program, this blog post enters me into a drawing for an Amazon.com gift card.  Please consider helping with the census indexing project by visiting the1940census.com.  You could also help spread the word by writing your own blog post!

The 1940s: My Link to the Past

You might remember this post about Family Search indexing.  Well, in 19 short days, on April 2, the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be released to the public.  I know I will be helping with indexing that census.  Who wants to join me?  It would make a great project for anyone who shares a love of service and history. 



I consider the 1940s my real link to the past.  Though I wasn't born yet, my parents were born during that decade.  My grandparents were young newlyweds, starting their families, filled with the hope of youth.  The events of the 1940s helped shape my grandparents (and parents) into the people they became.  Reading the 1940 census will allow me to see my grandparents not as the older adults they have been my entire life, but as young adults.  The 1940 census will allow me to figuratively read the beginning of a book--a book with fleshed-out, familiar and beloved ending chapters, but not-as-familiar earlier chapters.  I look forward to noticing the themes and foreshadowing. 


Thankful thought:  Thanks for photos, censuses, and other documents that help us more deeply understand and appreciate our ancestors.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Puppy Breaks Barriers

I remember reading an article about a blind man who received his first guide dog.  He found that having the dog made him less invisible to other people.  Before, people would notice his cane, but now, people saw a man with a dog. 

I know that every time I go anywhere with Reno, strangers come up and talk to me.  Not everyone, of course, but always someone.  And even those who initially said nothing, become friendly with repeated exposure to Reno.

Case in point: Every weekday morning, Reno and I pass by a public bus stop, where waits a teenage boy.  The first time we passed him, he barely glanced up from his electronic device.  Each subsequent day, however, he has made more eye contact.  Yesterday he even smiled.  Today, in response to my, "Good morning," he said, "Bonjour."  OK, that surprised me.  In my humble, never-studied-French-before opinion, his accent sounded pretty authentic.  I imagine it's only a matter of time before he asks me a question about Reno.  (We'll see if the accent remains!) 

Mighty Reno, able to crack the toughest of teenage exteriors!

Thankful thought:  Thanks for beautiful sunrises.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Menu Recap: Week of March 5th

I tried out more recipes from Chef Tess this week, and after getting the "thumbs-up" from my family, I've assembled some of those meals in jars.  My goal is to have at least a three-month supply of ready-to-cook meals. 

I used to think, "I've got my food storage; I can whip together a meal."  That's true, but in times of sickness, stress, or tight schedules, having meals already assembled is a great help.  The meals tend toward mass-marketed convenience foods (which I generally avoid), but when I put them together, I know exactly how to pronounce the ingredients.  They are mild enough to be easy on sick tummies, too.  And honestly, it's embarrassing to remember how many times I have run to the store to buy mac and cheese, chicken noodle soup, and applesauce when someone in the family caught a bug.  Not that I plan on 3 months of sickness, but at least I'll be prepared. 

(I even canned 18 pints of applesauce on Saturday, and I have more to can this week.  I've been fortunate to find very inexpensive apples.  Canning in March is so much more enjoyable than canning in the heat of the summer!)

Without further ado, here's the recap:

Monday: Turkey Noodle Skillet Meal (scroll down for the recipe)



Tuesday:  Soft Tacos

Wednesday:  Chicken Noodle Soup and Spinach, Carrot, and "Pineapple" Zucchini Salad  (Remember this post about canning zucchini?  I had a burst of inspiration to use a pint of canned zucchini in the salad--no dressing required!)


Thursday:  I ate dinner at the celebration of Relief Society's 170th birthday. 

Friday:  Our second attempt at Broccoli, Cheese, and Rice Casserole was met with better results. (Again, scroll down--many of Chef Tess' recipes are on that link.) 


The key to its success was, indeed, a new can of freeze-dried broccoli.  If your broccoli looks like this:


Do your family a favor, and buy a new can!


Saturday:  Salmon burgers and rutabaga oven-baked fries.  Tasty enough, but rutabaga has too much water content to make crisp fries.  Probably won't attempt that again.

Sunday:  Baked chicken breasts, baked potatoes, and artichokes.  The artichokes were 100% an impulse purchase at the store, but I don't regret it one bit!

Thankful thought:  Thanks for the peace that comes from a well-stocked pantry!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not a Break-In

Last night, a little after 10 p.m., John heard noises at the front door.  The door knob rattled, right along with our nerves, and John peaked out the window.  Were the thieves back and more brazen?  No!  Youngest son surprised us by coming home for his spring break.


Happy day week!

Thankful thought:  Thanks for pleasant surprises, and good kids!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Losses, Both Good and Bad

We always lock our doors-- both car doors and house doors.  Except when we forget.  Like last night.  (We locked the house doors, but forgot the van door.)  When John went out this morning to head to work, he opened the van door to find the glove box and all other storage areas opened and cleaned out.  Well, the thieves did leave us one quarter--ha!  They also didn't touch the bocce ball set in the back, nor the CD of hymns.  What they did take was a pair of dollar-store sunglasses, the owner's manuals to the van, and the registration.  The police officer who responded to our call scratched his head, and told us the thieves couldn't really do anything evil with our registration.  But still . . . I feel angry, inconvenienced, and a little less secure.

That was the bad loss.  On the bright side, Weight Watchers continues to work its magic, and I'm now down over 5 pounds since I started! 

Thankful me:  Thanks that things weren't worse.  Petty theft isn't that bad, in the grand picture.  No real harm done.  Also thanks for a beautiful day and blooming flowers in my yard!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Watch Reno Grow





Thankful thought:  Thanks for Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Formula, which seems to be working!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Elizabeth M. R., You Are Not Ugly!

Ever have one of those days when you just feel like browsing at the local antique store?  Well, today was that day for me.  I took my time perusing the old photos, secretly hoping, of course, to stumble upon another relative.

As far as I know, I am not related to Elizabeth M. R., but I couldn't resist buying her photo postcard. 



Though she is fetching in her stylish outfit, what sealed the deal for me was the personable note she had written on the back.


"Sat. Nov 21, '08. age 18 1/2 yrs. old.

Isn't this the worst ever?  I do declare I'm getting uglier every day.  I think it a shame.  Ha!  Don't you dare show this fright to any one.  I hope you won't go into a spasm while looking at it. Your coz, Elizabeth."

I hope Elizabeth doesn't roll over in her grave now that I've posted her photo on the internet.  I just thought it was interesting that the sentiment of a young woman written over 100 years ago matches that of many young women today. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for records we have that give us a glimpse into the past. 

 And thanks to you!
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Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Menu Recap: Week of Feb. 27th

Last week's main dish dinners:

Monday--vegetable curry and tempura shrimp
Tuesday--Chef Tess Broccoli, Cheese, and Rice Casserole
Wednesday--Leek/Potato Soup
Thursday--a recipe-less hamburger/onion/tomato concoction
Friday--Subway sandwiches (date night)
Saturday--Golden Potato, Cheese, and Sausage Casserole

Monday's and Saturday's meals will definitely stay in the rotation.  Thursday's would, except it was one of those "a little of this and a little of that" one-of-a-kind numbers.  I want to try Tuesday's meal again, after I purchase some more-recently freeze-dried broccoli.  What I used had been sitting unopened in my cupboard for a while.  Still edible, but not at its peak of color/flavor.  Soups are generally out of favor at the moment with she-who-must-not-be-named, but the grown-ups liked it.

I received unsolicited praise for the Golden Potato, Cheese, and Sausage Casserole from both John and youngest daughter, so I plan on making up several jars worth of that meal today.  I did find, however, that it was still a little soupy after microwaving, so I ended up simmering it on the stove top until the consistency was right. 

This week I'll see if I can remember to take some photos, so that next Monday's post won't be so devoid of images.

What did you cook last week? 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for a wonderful church meeting yesterday.  A (non-LDS) man who has been attending LDS services for 22 years got up and shared how he knows now "that 1+1=2".  He acknowledged his new belief in God, and spoke with conviction, gratitude, and humility. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Deadline to Perfection

OK.  We've got BIG NEWS here.  Last night my oldest son sent me a picture text with a photo of Captain Picard (from Star Trek) with the word "ENGAGED" under it.  Yes, my first-born is officially engaged!  His bride-to-be just happens to be my oldest daughter's roommate.  Perhaps we should nickname our oldest daughter, Yente.  (As in, "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.")  In any case, we're smiling up a storm here.

Then, the significance and magnitude of this step hits me.  My son will be all grown up.  Never mind that he has lived away at college for several years.  Never mind that he managed to serve a mission in Japan for two years without me.  Somehow, in my unreasonable mind, I now have a deadline by which I need to have transferred all my wisdom, knowledge, and motherly advice.  I recognize the ridiculousness of that thinking, but that doesn't prevent the thoughts from coming anyway.  (Not that I can think of anything profound to tell him, just that I need to make sure I've told him whatever it is prior to his wedding.)

Also, I find myself wondering, what should I give as a wedding gift?  I love the idea of just whipping up a traditional double ring wedding quilt--handpieced, of course--or compiling a cookbook of treasured family recipes (complete with photos) which have been handed down from generation to generation.  Then I remember that my last attempt at making a pieced quilt started about 20 years ago, when JoAnn's introduced their "Quilt Block of the Month", and ended about 10 years ago, when I decided to get rid of my guilt by donating the unsewn pieces to Goodwill. 

Fortunately, this morning I attended a wonderful women's conference at the church, which basically let me know to just chill out.  One of the speakers mentioned that when she was a young bride and her parents would come visit, she would spend hours cleaning before their arrival--so much so that her back would ache by the time they arrived, and she couldn't enjoy their visit.  I could relate.  I remember one time when the kids got all excited when they saw me mopping the kitchen floor:  "Is Grandma coming?" (No, but obviously I need to mop more often!)

Seriously, though, I often find myself cleaning/organizing the most unlikely spots when I'm expecting guests.  One time I battled the master bedroom closet.  What was I thinking? First of all, no one would ever see it anyway, and secondly, so what if they did?  Would my parents disown me or my in-laws shun me if they discovered closet clutter?  NO!  They are all wonderful, non-judgemental people who love me. 

I've learned to relax a bit over the years, though I am embarrassed to say the closet incident happened relatively recently.  So, I'm obviously not exactly where I want to be yet on the calm, cool, and collected scale.   I'm also relatively certain I cannot become an accomplished quilter prior to the wedding.  So, if any of you readers have a fantastic idea for a meaningful yet practical wedding gift that I can make, I would love to hear it! 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for marriage.  I'm so excited (if you can't tell) for my son and his bride-to-be!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Loss, Reno's Gain

Week one of Weight Watchers went well for me.  Down almost 3 pounds, so no complaints.  I love the new points program, because I can eat most fruits and vegetables without dipping into my daily points.  That definitely encourages healthy food choices.  Now to just keep plodding along to goal weight.

Reno, on the other hand, continues to grow.  He must be part moose.  Today, at only 5 months old, he tipped the scales at 53 pounds.  No, I didn't weigh him at the WW meeting--though I was tempted!  I had John weigh him this morning so I would know whether he needed the "under 50 pounds" or "over 50 pounds" preventative heartworm medication.  "Over 50 pounds" won. 

At our latest local guide dog meeting, Reno appeared to be twice as big as the next youngest dog, who is only one month and one week younger than Reno. 

Thankful thought:  Constant thanks for Reno's mild-mannered temperment, which makes him a gentle giant!