Monday, February 28, 2011

a good day

I liked this day. Lots of goodness. A very nice way to start the week.

Gary finally found a car worth buying. He's so relieved that the search is over. It was the car he had his eye on Saturday. He took it to Tunex and it passed with a clean bill of health. Cute '99 Honda Accord. Gary paid for his first set of wheels with his own money. Isaac and I went to the dealership with him so he could pick it up. (He's had my van since yesterday.) I watched as he got in and started it up and pulled away. Perma-grin all the way. It was so cute. A little tug at my heartstrings, if you know what I mean.

You'd never guess that Isaac was sick over the weekend. He's doing great and it's a relief that no one else is sick. (Keeping my fingers crossed.) I decided that instead of doing school, it might be a good idea to let him take it easy today. He spent the day reading, drawing, and playing with his blocks.

It was a full blown baking day for me. I loved it.

Portuguese Broa bread. Hearty wheat/cornmeal peasant type loaf. It will go very well tonight's dinner of Tuscan beans with sausages and spinach.

A dozen whole grain tortillas made yummy with a little added flax, garlic, and chili powder. These will be nice to have stocked in the freezer.

Pita bread is always fun to make. See how cool it is when it inflates?
(Don't look at my messy oven, okay?)

These pita are so soft. I can't seem to buy the cardboard store kind after making these homemade ones.
Now, I'm off to pick up Keith from work, and hopefully, I'll get a run in tonight while the kids are doing the dishes.
Happy Monday, friend!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daybook for February 27, 2011

Outside my window:

One minute it is snowing. (We've been waking up to lots of snow on the ground these last few days.)Then the sun comes out, like it is now, and it seems like spring is truly on its way. The daffodils are poking their heads up out of the ground and this always makes my heart happy.

I am thinking:

About this cute, little boy of mine. He started complaining of a headache yesterday afternoon. It evolved into a high fever and sore throat. I had him sleep near me on a little bed I made on the floor. I ended up putting him in bed with us because of the terrible dreams he was having. He does this once and awhile, especially when he's sick. It's like he's awake with eyes opened, but he's not making sense and is horribly frightened and upset. There have been times in the past where he gets up and runs around the room. It's so hard for Keith and I to see him like this. All I can do is turn on the light, reassure him and hold him and whisper in his ear. Needless to say, I was up most of the night. This morning, I was certain he had strep throat. A visit to the doctor confirmed it. Today he's still in my bed, away from everyone, with the fever having left him. Eliza complained of a headache and we all decided it was best for everyone to stay home from church today.
I am thankful for: Gary was asked to be one of the speakers in the church service in his ward. (In our church, we call each congregation "wards". Gary attends a local ward of young single adults.) The meeting's focus is on partaking of the sacrament-- the bread and water in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The remainder of the time is given to a few people in the congregation who are asked before hand to share their feelings and understanding about a religious doctrine or topic. We also sing and pray in our "Sacrament Meeting".

Keith and I wanted to attend the meeting this afternoon to support and listen to Gary's talk (or speech). Isaac settled down to watch a movie here at home with the other children nearby to attend to him. That meeting had a very special spirit about it. My eyes filled with tears, my heart was overflowing with love, especially for this sweet son of mine. He was so sincere and earnest, and his words touched many hearts. Especially mine. I'm so thankful to have a son like him.
In the kitchen: Sam's busy now in the kitchen making a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Can't wait for that! I'm going to get busy and make some taco soup and some chapati bread to go with.
I am creating: These weren't created by me, but by Eliza. With this nice and slow home-day, she's been holed up in her bedroom doing all kinds of creative things. She made these beautiful silk roses just this morning. She puts a clip on them to put in her hair. Since our friend Phyllis taught us how to make them last summer, Eliza has perfected this creative pursuit.

I am going: to love my new vacuum that I bought yesterday. So nice to have one that actually works and doesn't break down all the time.
I am hearing: "Mom, do you know where the peanut butter is?" :)
I am hoping: That no one else gets sick. Hoping that Gary can find a car. He's been looking for so long to find one around $5,000 and in good condition. (If you have any leads, please speak up!!) He's taken about 4 hopefuls to be checked out at repair shops ($), and they've all ended up being duds. He has another one he's going to do the same with tomorrow and we're all keeping our fingers crossed that this will be the one.
Around the house:

Eliza has two closets in her new room. She decided to change things around a bit and move her desk into one of the closets. I love what she's done with the space, don't you? Now, it frees up space for her fairy house project that she's been working on since the summer. (I'll have to show you pictures one of these days. It's unbelievable.) It sure beats having to work on it out in the cold garage.

Wish I would have brought my camera to Jane's final group violin recital yesterday afternoon. (The last of these almost 13 years she's been playing.) She performed beautifully, and I'm realizing with this last one that she's growing up and will be leaving us soon. Keith and I, Jane's beloved teacher Diane, and Jane got so emotional, as you can imagine. In early April, she will be having her own solo senior recital so I guess we will deal with more of those feelings when that day comes.

Also, realized that my camera batteries were dead when Jane left to go on her Sweethearts ball. I wish you could've seen how pretty she looked in her new dress.
I am reading: Lots of study and delving into plant-based diet books. Reading The Horse and His Boy (a Narnia book) with Isaac. Can't decide what novel to read. Can't decide whether to read something new or go back to one I've already loved and read before.
One of my favorite things: Went to a open house/yoga class last night in my friend's (and neighbor's) new home studio. I'm so happy for Melanie and for Tyran, her partner, and their new found space for their practice and teaching.
A few plans for the rest of the week: a few parent teacher conferences to attend. Also, looking forward to Gary's big 20th birthday he'll celebrate on Saturday. I'm sure we'll all go out to dinner.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dear Guitar of Mine (gathering dust in the corner):

Hello, old friend.

I know this might come as a surprise, but I've been thinking about you lately. Especially yesterday as I was driving in my car and heard the beautiful acoustics in Stevie Nick's Landslide song that was playing on the radio. I thought, "what a beautiful sound the guitar makes". (I thought of you then.)

Then a few minutes later (is it a coincidence?) as I walked into the Best in Music shop to buy some violin strings for Jane, I saw all those guitars lined up on the walls. I remembered that this is where you were bought those 6 years ago.

Yes, something was speaking to me.

I know there have been so many excuses as to why we don't get together more often. "Maybe when Isaac isn't a baby, maybe then I'll have more time for you. Maybe when Relief Society president duties end, then my life will slow down". Well, my friend, it looks like there truly might be time and space for a deeper relationship between us both.

I've always wanted to get to know you better. Remember when I was five years old and played my imaginary " 'lectric guitar", constantly, whether it was singing my heart out with Glen Cambell to Rhinestone Cowboy or with Helen Reddy to Delta Dawn, What's That Flower You've Got On.?

Don't you see that it's my destiny to learn how to play with you? A real you and not just a pretend, imaginary you? We could make such beautiful music and memories together. I would just love to sit down with you and make that happen. To sing with the kids, whether it's around a campfire, or at Family Home Evening, or to accompany when Isaac and I sing together every morning, or those times when I'm alone, needing to express beauty and love and joy and melancholy. Maybe if I become a teacher one day, wouldn't that be fun to sit on the floor in a circle with children and have you there to bring joy to us all?

These are all the things that I'm thinking about. Things that might motivate me to spend regular time with you. I know my fingers might hurt a little. I know it takes commitment. I know that if I choose to spend time with you, other things might slide. I know it takes time. I know it would be a tragedy to let our relationship die.

Let's get together, shall we? I miss you. I want to get to know you better. I would love you to play a part in my life. You would bring me so much happiness. I want to be a better friend. I'm sorry that you've been neglected. Be patient with me, okay?



Friday, February 25, 2011

Gratitude Friday

~getting the long- anticipated email letter yesterday, stating that Jane has been accepted to the university of her choice. We are all so happy (and relieved) about this news. We went out to dinner last night to celebrate.

~for Isaac being able to join in on the children's chess club at the library yesterday. He was in heaven.

~for Sam giving me a random tight hug.

~for Gary being able to join a group of 8 other young men who cook for each other every night. It's so nice for Gary to make connection this way, to eat a decent meal with a "family" of sorts. Gary's turn was last night. He called for last minute advise on his sweet and sour chicken meal he was in charge of.

~to see a little self written schedule on Eliza's desk that had reminders of the things she needed to do during the day. It melted my heart to see these words she had included: "Be a Light".

~for the sweet notes, cards, comments, and phone calls I've been getting lately.

~for Keith getting the laundry under control.

~for the massage I got Wednesday afternoon. It sure is making a difference in my running.

~for the 9 hours of (almost) uninterrupted sleep I got last night.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Caldo Verde

I made the best soup on Tuesday. The smell alone in my house that afternoon and evening was enough to knock your socks off. Nothing beats a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter day or night. I thought you might like to try your hand at making this soup. Here's the description and recipe I wrote a couple of years ago.

Last week when I was sick, I found a neat cooking website that had a recipe and video demonstration for a Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup, the national soup of Portugal. I remember eating this when I lived there, but it wasn't my favorite thing. I copied the recipe down and thought I would try it again, as it did look good to me now.

The Portuguese are experts at soup making. Lunch is always soup and many dinners start out with a variation on a standard recipe. Soup makes a very economical, satisfying meal. Eating a hot bowl of soup on these cold winter days is indeed a pleasurable experience.

Now, I think it's really interesting how on Saturday when I went to my Portuguese friend Mane's home, she just so happened to have a little "package" of ingredients for this soup, Caldo Verde, as it's called, waiting in her fridge to give to me. Hurray! She got some Churrizo sausage at Sam's Club and had finely shredded some kale. So Sunday evening I was all ready to make this special soup. It turned out beautifully, was very easy, and I was surprised at how much we all liked it. (I think it was even better today when I had it for lunch. That's often the case with soups.)

The kale I used must be a different kind than what is used in Portugal. I think it was a little milder. I'm sure you could also substitute spinach as well if that's what you have and if you want a more delicate, less pronounced flavor. (Listen, don't be afraid of the "greens" in your soup. It's good~trust me!)

All Portuguese soups are based on these ingredients: good olive oil, garlic, onions, potatoes, and sometimes carrots. The soup's thick consistency comes from the pureed vegetables, so it is a very healthy way to have a "creamed" soup without the added milk or cream. The churrizo sausage is very garlicky and is available at most stores. (If you can't find it, try something else like I did on Tuesday that's garlicky. It will still be good.) It is somewhat spicy and a little goes a long way for great flavor. I think this soup would also be nice if you added some white beans to it. Very hearty indeed.

Here's the recipe. Soup making is not an exact science. It's okay to add a little more or less of the ingredients, or add something that you think will be nice. If you think it needs more liquid, go ahead and do what you think. Have confidence and experiment. Enjoy!

1 1/2 c. chorrizo sausage (crumbled or diced, cooked and drained.)
3 russet potatoes (I used reds and added a few more. I left the skins on, too.)
5 c. kale, finely shredded and chopped
1 quart chicken stock (or beef stock)
3 c. water
kosher salt, pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

Saute garlic and onions in olive oil until soft. Add the potatoes and saute as well. Add the broth in now. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until potatoes are very soft. Mash potatoes until your soup is still chunky. (I used an immersion blender). Add 3 cups of water, cooked sausage, and kale. Season to taste. Cook for 15 more minutes. Drizzle a little more olive oil in your pot. Serve hot and with a good, crusty loaf of bread. This is critical! This will taste even better the next day for lunch.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Should I Be Alarmed?

Yeah. It's after 3:00 am and I'm sitting here wide-eyed.
I wish I could be off in dreamland.

Speaking of dreams, I had a weird dream the other night. Funny, but a little alarming.
Michael Scott, (Steve Carrell) from the Office, was the star of my dream.
He was my clergyman.
There were some romantic elements in my dream.
Enough said.

Now, I have no idea where that came from. I never watch TV. I did go through an Office stage /obsession last summer when Jane broke her back, I was bored and depressed, and we couldn't go anywhere. I enjoyed watching the first two or three seasons on DVD. I haven't thought about Michael in a long time. (Is it weird that I find him attractive? Now, that's really alarming!)

Here's more of my thoughts from my old blog about dreaming.

"Bad Dreams and Sweet Dreams"

I dream at night. Vividly. Most nights there is more than one dream. I
kind of look forward to what the night will bring. You never know, sometimes.
Most of the time, the dreams are pretty random, maybe relating to something from the day or what's been going through my mind. Sometimes the dreams are pretty
weird and unexplainable. But sometimes I've had dreams that I know were meant to tell me something. Like when I kept dreaming of a little baby boy (Isaac needing to come to our family) or when I've dreamed about each of my grandparents. How young they seemed, how I could feel my grandmother wrapping her arms around me.

These are the types of dreams that wake me up, heart pounding.
Do you have certain dreams that you have over and over? I do. I think the most common one is that my teeth are falling out. Just popping out left and right and I'm panicking. Another one is that I'm back at high school and I'm in the halls by myself and I can't find the class I need to be in or I can't remember my locker combination or that I'm extremely behind with all my assignments and I haven't been to the class in weeks or months. One I haven't had for a while, but used to have all the time is where I'm running around the school ground in Portugal (we used to have to do that for P.E.) and my legs won't move and it's like I'm running through heavy tar or something. Lately, I've been dreaming that I'm back inside our house in L____ and the people that live there are gone, and I've snuck in and am snooping around, seeing how everything looks now. Then I start to worry that they'll be coming home and see this strange woman inside their house.

Last night's was kind of funny. Governor Huntsman and Mary Kay were
asking my dad to be the chief of staff for the ambassadorship to China. (He was
the former governor of our state and now serves as U.S. ambassador to
China.) I was a teenager and was trying to emphasize how Dad had all the
qualifications, like being a mission president and everything. I was so
excited to go to China and attend the American International School there like I
did in Portugal.

I guess dreaming for me is sometimes entertainment, sometimes
unsettling, sometimes a way to inform me of something I need to know, sometimes leaving me feeling like I hated to wake up and know that it was just a

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When You're Six...and a Half.

You get to go to a nice school.

You get to carry your own school bag (even with your name on it) to put important papers in.
You get to spend time with your best friend, Ike.

You get to choose your works.

You get to paint. If you want.

You get to learn what 1000 means when you work on the floor with the bead chains and number arrows.

You get to sit Indian style on a rug and sing songs.
You get to be the "Star of the Week".

You get to celebrate your 1/2 birthday and walk with a globe around the candle six times. It's like the sun because you've gone around the sun that many times so far.

You get to have your mom come and talk about your favorite things and show pictures of you when you were little.

You get to have a snack.

You get to bring the snack when you are the "Star of the Week". Little kids like me still think pretzels and carrot sticks are cool.

You get to play outside with all the other kids. Swinging on the swings and running down the hill are fun things to do.

School makes you happy when you are six (and a half).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fiction Favorites

I think you know by now how much I love to read. Reading is one of my life's treasures. I can't live without books. They've given me gifts of understanding, solace, knowledge, appreciation, joy, quiet, and humor.

The other day, I took over one of my all- time favorite books, Ava's Man by Rick Bragg, to my dad to read. He loves to read and I thought he'd enjoy this one, especially. My dad grew up in Louisiana and this book is as "southern" as you can get. It's the story of the author's grandfather that he never knew. It takes place in rural Georgia.

Both me and my dad made such a connection with this book. He called me just the other day, out of the blue, just to tell me how much he was enjoying it. Last night when we went over to visit, there he was sitting in his recliner, book in hand, calling my name when he heard I was there, "Emily, this has got to be the best book I've ever read! This is the story of my people, our family." He says how he needs to have his own copy. That he needs to tell is siblings about it. That he wants to find the other books by the Pulitzer prize winning writer. (I suggested Bragg's All Over But the Shoutin'- the story of his own childhood. Another good one.)

I can't tell you how happy this makes me.

Thinking about this made me think about you. Maybe there's some books I love that you might like and enjoy, too. I made a list of some of the books that have touched my heart, that are unforgettable. I know that there might be some I'm leaving out and not listing here, but this is what I came up with. Maybe you can share with me some that you've loved. I'm always on the lookout for good reads.


~Anthem "is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, first published in 1937 in England. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age as a result of the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word "I" has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the "socialist/communal" values of equality and brotherhood and the "productive/capitalist" values of achievement and individuality." I couldn't put this book down. Very powerful, thought provoking, and simple all at the same time.

~The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book written in letter form. It has it all. I fell in love with each of these enduring characters and hated coming to the end and not having that "relationship" with them any more. A can't miss, for sure!)

~The Number One Ladies Detective Agency (Every one in this series set in Botswana is a delight. You'll absolutely fall in love with these wonderful characters, especially it's star- Precious Ramotswe.)

~Jane Eyre (after reading this in high school, I vowed to name one of my daughters Jane. I love, love, love this story. The BBC production starring Timothy Dalton made it come alive for me.)

~The Professor (Another Charlotte Bronte novel)

~Villette (Somewhat autobiographical novel written by Charlotte. My second favorite novel by her.)

~Wuthering Heights (Haunting novel by Emily Bronte set on the Yorkshire moors of England.)

~Agnes Grey ("Concerned for her family's financial welfare and eager to expand her own horizons, Agnes Grey takes up the position of governess, the only respectable employment for an unmarried woman in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, Agnes cannot anticipate the hardship, humiliation, and loneliness that await her...")

~The Tenent of Wildfell Hall (another Anne Bronte novel)

~Pride and Prejudice (a must)

~Persuasion (my favorite Austin novel)

~Cranford (So glad I found this last fall. Wonderful tale of a small community of women in pre-Industrial England. Love the BBC production.)

~Return of the Native (The following three novels by Thomas Hardy are beautifully written, but hauntingly depressing. Just so you know.)

~Tess of the d'Urbervilles

~Jude the Obscure

~The Good Earth (novel of family life in rural China prior to the revolution. Powerful and simply written, all at the same time. Won the Pulitzer Prize.)

~Little Women (Story of the March family. Their loving home life, their escapades, the unity and devotion during the trying times of the American Civil War.)

~Little House in the Big Woods (My favorite in the series. Always love reading this in the fall. Very cozy and homey.)

~All of a Kind Family (series. Story of Jewish family in New York City in the early 1900's. The kids and I have loved these books.)

~Anne of Green Gables (Who can't fall in love with Anne? --with an "e". A classic. Love the two part film adaptation, just as much as the book.)

~Daddy-Long-Legs (told in journal form, this is one you can't put down. Funny, sweet, mysterious, delightful, romance. Love this to pieces.)

~The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (Lots of good memories reading and re-reading these two Frances Hodgson Burnett books to my children.)

~Where the Red Fern Grows (Every child should read this.)

~Summer of the Monkeys (My mom read this to me in the hospital in Portugal when I had my appendix out. So funny I had to tell her to stop because it hurt so much with all the laughing we did.)

~Little Britches (laugh out loud funny. Have a box of Kleenex nearby for the ending. An absolute must.)

~These Is My Words (First in a series. Told in journal entries, it chronicles "one courageous woman's life and struggles in the Arizona Territories in the late nineteenth century. Loved these.)

~Sarah's Key (fictionalized story of the 1942 roundup and deportation of thousands of Paris Jews. Heart wrenching story told through the eyes of a ten year old girl. This book leaves a powerful impact.)

~Crossing to Safety (Wallace Stegner's story of an enduring friendship between two couples.)

~All the Little Live Things (Another Stegner. "Retirees Joseph and Ruth Allston find their placid, rural California life disrupted by a hippie who builds a treehouse on their property and by a young married couple tragically affected by pregnancy and cancer.")

~The Ladies Auxiliary ("When free-spirited Batsheva moves into the close-knit Orthodox Jewish community of Memphis, Tennessee, the already precarious relationship between the Ladies Auxiliary and their teenage daughters is shaken to the core." Very funny and powerful writing.)

~Letters of a Woman Homesteader (wonderful narrative told in one woman's letters. Makes me want to write and receive letters like these.)

~Peace Like a River (couldn't put this one down. Has everything I love in a story. Beautiful characterization, a little mystery, a little romance, great story.)

~The Remains of the Day (story of an English butler and his devotion to his employer. Themes of dignity, bantering, loyalty, politics, social constraints, love and relationships. I absolutely love the movie adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.)

~Ethan Frome (haunting and beautiful. I have a love-hate relationship with this book. A favorite. When I first read this book in AP English, I wanted to throw it across the room after finishing it. Be prepared for a not so happy ending.)

~David Copperfield (remember reading this in bed 10 years ago over Christmas break when I was ill with strep throat.)

~A Christmas Carol (try to read this favorite every Christmas)

~The Scarlet Letter (read this first in 10th grade. Like it still.)

~Christy ("When Christy Huddleston leaves a life of privilege and ease to teach in the impoverished Smokey Mountains, her faith is severely tested by her pupils, the love of two men, and the curious customs of the mountain people in her community. Yet she grows to love these people and the simple, fulfilling lifestyle to be found in the heart of God's country.")

~At Home in Midford (first in a series. Gentle story of small town life through the eyes of Father Tim, the local rector.)

~Mama's Bank Account (Norwegian immigrant mother's devotion and resourcefulness in early 1900's San Francisco)

~The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio (one mother's heroic and inspirational story how she kept her family fed by entering jingle writing contests)

~Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (relationship between a Chinese boy and his sweet friendship with a Japanese girl in Seattle during the Japanese internment.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

what's up

Watched this movie for the millionth time yesterday afternoon and then later last night. One of my most favorites. I think I have a crush on Anthony Hopkins. (As C.S. Lewis. Hannibal Lecter, no.)

Woke up around 3:00 am and couldn't get back to sleep. This has been my pattern this week. Not sure why. Did doze off again around 6ish for another hour or so.

This is my comfy reading nook where I've been hanging out in the wee morning hours. I finished reading The Good Earth today.

Started the day with a nice run. Glad I beat the rain.

Spent most of the day out and about shopping. Went with Keith down to the University bookstore to pick out a frame for the print he gave me for Christmas. We're excited to hang this in our bedroom. Lunch together highlighted with a donut for him and ice cream for moi. Dang. I just couldn't resist.

Came home and took Jane to find a semi-formal dress to wear to next week's Sweethearts dance. Glad we found something nice. Antique rose, pale pink, empire waist, knee length with chocolate brown sash. Also, a new pair of flats.

Listened to the Beatles. Turned up "Hey Jude" real loud.

Came home and got dinner started. Taco dinner and this sweet and spicy spinach-chickpea (cumin, cayenne, and coriander) dish for those with adventurous tastes. I've been craving this ever since I made it last.

Now, a Miss Marple mystery movie beckons. Along with my bed and those freshly washed sheets.
Talk to you later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Cleaners

Why bother making cleaning products, you may ask? For one thing, it’s a very inexpensive idea of using common items you probably already have in your pantry. These recipes are easy to assemble and make cleaning more pleasurable by not having to deal with harsh fumes and nasty chemicals. I just can't tolerate those old cleaners anymore.

It’s amazing how really well they work. They are especially nice when you have little children who want to help Mommy clean and you can feel good knowing that they can squirt and scrub to their hearts content. The wonderful aromas from the essential oils are so nice and smell “natural” compared to the store kinds. Since I've discovered essential oils, chemically, artificial fragrances almost make me sick! It makes cleaning feel like having a “spa moment”! Buying the essential oils might seem a little costly at first, but a little goes a long way and they can be used in so many other ways in your home, as in treating illness and stress.

“Soft Scrub” (this one is my all time favorite. My work horse; works great on my cruddy stove top, as well as cleaning the grime and soap scum in the tub and bathroom sink. Smells good enough to eat!)

1 2/3 c. baking soda
½ c. liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
½ c. water
2 T. white vinegar
Essential oil (optional) ~I like peppermint
Stir soap into baking soda. Add water and stir until smooth. Add vinegar and essential oil and pour into squeeze bottle. Great for tub and bathroom sink.

Whitening Scouring Powder

1 c. baking soda
2 t. cream of tartar
1/8 c. borax
¼ c. grated lemon, orange, or grapefruit peel.
15-20 drops citrus essential oil
Pour into shaker top. Use for deodorizing and cleaning cutting boards, sink, stainless steel, smelly sinks and disposals, picnic coolers, and lunch boxes.

Lemon Blast Appliance Cleaner

1 t. liquid soap
1/8 c. white vinegar
4 drops lemon, lime, or orange essential oil
¼ c. lemon juice
2 c. water
1 t. borax
Combine in a spray bottle

All Purpose Household Cleaner (another fave)

In 16 oz. spray bottle, mix 2 T. white vinegar with 1 t. borax and then fill rest of bottle with very hot water. Shake until borax dissolves and add ¼ c. liquid soap and add 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil.

Furniture Polish (General Dusting)

Combine in a 16 oz. spray bottle:
2 T. light olive oil
20 drops or more of lemon essential oil
¼ c. white vinegar
Enough distilled water to fill rest of bottle. Shake. Spray a bit onto dust rag.

Glass Cleaner

club soda or ½ spray bottle with water and ½ full with vinegar. Add 8 drops essential oil.

Carpet Freshener

To make a carpet freshener, add 16-20 drops of essential oils to a cup of baking soda. Mix well and place in a covered container overnight so that the oil can be absorbed. Sprinkle over your carpet the next day and then vacuum the powder up.
1 cup baking soda
16-20 drops essential oils

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

now what

Gary took this picture a few years ago. I like it. It makes me happy.

Feeling a jumbled up mix of feelings. My church work as the president of the Relief Society was a big burden for me to carry. Both emotional and in the time department. Now, there's change.

I've been thinking and trying to be mindful of my feelings. It helps me find clarity to vocalize them to you, Blog.

~Feeling that there's room now to just be. Content and at peace. Finally.

~Feeling space in my mind that used to be constantly filled with mind chatter, whether it was a meeting to go to, someone I needed to call or visit, things I needed to do, but couldn't get to. Pressures. Just a huge feeling of responsibility.

~Feeling a little lost with that part of my identity gone.

~Still wondering if I did enough. If I mattered to people or made a difference.

~Wondering if the friendships and associations I've built through this service will continue. Most likely, things will never truly be the same. That understanding makes me sad.

~Wondering what's down the horizon, as far as my church service goes.

~Loving the feeling of freedom that is coming with all this. (Basketball season being over is adding to this feeling.)

~Feeling like a lady of leisure. (Kind of.)

~Loving, these past few days, the feeling of freedom and enjoyment in doing the things I've always loved and wanted to do. The simple things, really. To just stay at home be fully present, whether it's folding the clean laundry Keith lovingly provides for us, making the four weekly loaves of bread I've always done until the last year or so, (I made some Spelt loaves, peanut butter cookies, and bread sticks yesterday and it felt so good to get back on the bandwagon.) loading and unloading the dishwasher, cutting the beautiful, colorful vegetables for the soup, cozying up in my chair to read my books, going on a run in the afternoon, taking my time to look and browse through the Oriental market this morning. These are joys to me.

~Thinking of all the possibilities for creativity. Maybe I'll sew some pillows for the couch. Maybe I'll make soap this weekend. Maybe I'll finally clean and organize my closet. Maybe I'll make some skirts and tunics for the warmer months ahead. Maybe I'll start a quilt for Jane when she leaves for college. Maybe do more paper cutting. Excited to think about this year's garden.

~Thinking about all the possibilities for change. Maybe I'll move more and more toward a plant based (or 10% animal product) diet. When Isaac goes to school full time next year, that will bring even more time to my days. Maybe I'll continue and further my education formally, or informally more than I've ever done. Maybe take some kind of online course that is on my time line. (I'm not about to give in to more pressure just when I've been given more freedom.)

I'm finding out that change is good.
That's exciting.
That's happy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love Day 2011

Hope your Valentine's Day was fun and memorable. Here's a recap of mine.

~Weekend hot date with my lover. Dinner to Tuscany (we sat two tables away from Jerry Sloan. Poor guy) and saw True Grit (a little too violent for my tastes, but all in all, a good film.)

~major tension headache and bittersweet emotional feelings all the result from my release on Sunday. Another 6 mile run yesterday morning sure was helpful.

~Keith made a apple upside down cake to take over to Mama's and Papa's Sunday night. Valentine remembrances were shared all the way around.

~white roses, heart ivy topiary, tiny "E" notebook, new set of Sharpies, box of Dots, Cary Grant DVD, and a promise of framing an art print I got for Christmas. Oh, and he decided to work from home as to help catch up on laundry, treat us (including Isaac and a sick Sam) to a lunch of Subway sandwiches. Keith is the best.

~visits and treats from Bonnie S., Phyllis, and Bonny H., and Mane. More tears and hugs.

~special dinner at home with all the kids. Even Gary. Two days in a row, even. He spent the afternoon looking for a car (still no luck) and we were glad he could be in on the celebration. Crepes with bananas and cut up strawberries, topped with homemade chocolate and strawberry sauces, plus a squirt of whipped cream. Oh, baby.

~candlelight, smiles, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, heart felt cards, hugs, new DVD's to look forward to, a new book called LOVE Is...

~piled onto our bed and watched part of Secretariat. I zonked out. As usual.


Monday, February 14, 2011


"What it Means"

I was called to be a minister.
Two and a half years of unpaid service
All because of love
For them and
For Him.
The growing season,
doing things I didn't want to do
or thought I couldn't do
With all the strength
and heart
I had.
Charity Never Faileth.
It meant
visiting you
when you had a birthday
when you were lying sick in a hospital bed
or your own bed
when you needed to talk about your husband, your child, your fears, your joys.
I'll take you ice cream, and flowers, and soup, and bread, and cookies, and bags of groceries, and stuff from my garden, and dinner
and a smile.
I'll hug you tight
and kiss your cheek.
I'll pray for you
I'll call you on the phone
to check on you.
I'll talk about your needs in the countless
meetings held in your behalf.
I'll be there there when you need me
at the weddings,
the births
those moments of agony and
when you lost your beloved to that awful monster
Death or
those times when he was taken to jail.
You trusted me.
I'll tend your
children when you need me
And cry for you
and worry about you
I'll show you love so you can feel
Now, it's all over.
Or is it?
Did I do anything
Did I do what I was called to
The peace comes in knowing that
The relationships we've formed
really are eternal.
This sweetest time of ministering service
the sacrifice
(was it really a sacrifice?)
A blessing and a
more than you or I will ever

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Cutout For Keith

I love to create with my hands. I get such satisfaction this way. Hopefully I'll have my own little studio (in the upstairs bedroom that's now being occupied) someday for all things creative. It's an important facet for a well lived life.
I wanted to give something to Keith that was from my heart for Valentine's Day. One of my favorite things to do is paper cutting. I've dabbled in it over the years. It's a very relaxing, inexpensive, and fulfilling craft for me. All you need is a pattern, (It's fun to make up your own design, especially when cutting intricate snowflakes.) tiny sharp scissors, an exacto knife, and a self healing mat.
This design from Martha Stewart took me about an hour and a half. I did it while Keith was at the basketball game. Earlier in the day, I found the perfect frame at Hobby Lobby for half price.

When he got home, we were talking in our bedroom. Talking about something that's been a very emotional, growing time for me. Talking about how much support he's given me.
I couldn't resist giving this to him a day early.
He looked at it for the longest time. He says these are the types of gifts that he loves the most.
These and oatmeal raisin cookies.

Friday, February 11, 2011

smiles and sobs


Same old beloved 6 mile route. No stopping (or walking). First time in 8 months. YEAH. BABY.

too cold

For several days now, Isaac has been asking when we could go to the pool. (You have to know that our community recreation center's pool is covered with a "bubble" from fall until late spring.) We decided we would head over there after we dropped off Eliza to school early this morning. Isaac was sure excited. He hasn't gone swimming since summer time. I thought it would be a good thing to start out the day. To give him a chance to practice his floating. To let him have an opportunity to move his body during these days where we're cooped up inside.

As I put on my gloves and knitted hat, packed our swimming stuff in my bag, and walked up to the pool, it just didn't seem natural. For crying out loud- it's freezing cold outside.

We were the only ones in the shallow end. Senior citizen water aerobics was going on. I forced myself to get in the water. To make it fun for Isaac. To help him with his floats. Isaac couldn't stop his teeth from chattering.

We stayed for about 45 minutes.

Hot chocolate back at home warmed us to the bone. I made mine with coconut milk and agave. Oh my.

It seems like I'm always cold. My hands are like ice. Constantly . I do okay running in the winter, but I think it's because I'm moving. I know I need to drink more water, especially because I sweat so much, but even a normal, cool glass of water chills me too much.

When I lost weight and started running, something weird happened. I can't handle ice in my drinks, or even cool water for that matter. It's just too jarring to my system. When we're eating out, I always have to remember to tell the server to "hold the ice". They look at me weird with a double take. Call me nuts, but I'd rather have it luke- warm. (Does anyone else have this need, or am I only person like this?)

Maybe I'm Portuguese. (Europeans have a hard time with the ice issue. Like you'll get sick. I think maybe they're on to something after all.)

Maybe I'm just listening to what my body wants. Maybe I'm just following the natural rhythms of the seasons. I think that's healthy.

When it's cold, it's cold. Respect the body's need for warmth.

Come on. It's a no- brainer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Daybook for February 9, 2011

Outside my window: All the snow that fell early yesterday morning has melted away. The sun is shining, but it's still really cold out. It's nice to see the sun coming up a little earlier and going down a little later. Come on spring!

I am thinking: about what a wonderful "Girl's Night Out" I enjoyed last night with my sweet Relief Society (our church women's organization I'm the president of) counselors and secretaries. It was so good to go out to dinner together and talk and laugh and have such a fun time together. I can't tell you what these women mean to me and how much I love and appreciate each of them.

I love you: Dawn, Amy, Bonnie, and Vicki

I am thankful for: sweet, compassionate, caring friends, opportunities for growth, what service and loving mean. A husband that got out of his bed at 11:30 last night (even though he had an early 6:00 a.m. conference call this morning) to pick up Sam at his school after an away game. I had told him I would, and had stayed up reading, then fell asleep in the chair.

In the kitchen: For breakfast this morning, I made some coconut-oatmeal muffins (I made my own mix) and made them a little more special with a surprise strawberry jam- filled center. Very fun for a change. Also, a green smoothie for everyone. Tonight's dinner will be Asian Orange salmon with quinoa.

I am creating: Tonight Isaac and I will make these cute Valentine lolly-pop mice to give out in his class tomorrow.

I'm also thinking about making a batch of soap sometime soon. It's been a while since I've made some and I don't know why I just can't get around to it. Especially when I see myself spending lots of $ for my favorite Rosemary-Mint bars I get at the health food store. I got motivated by a book I found and bought at the library used book shelf. Hoping also to make some baked chips from the sprouted tortillas I bought the other day. Also want to make some more homemade household cleaners. Looks like I'll have a lot to share with you guys.

I am going: to have to call my mechanic neighbor (bless his heart) to see what's up with the check engine light that's on in my van. I don't have a very good feeling about it.

I am hearing: lovely bird song from outside.

I am hoping: We can help Gary find a car.

Around the house: Stuff that needs to be put away. Laundry up the wazoo.

I am reading: I'm on a China kick. Seems like whenever we study stuff in homeschool, I take off with it in my own studies. I love that. I love and crave study time. I'm reading a jr. non-fiction book (longish, but simple to understand) called In the Year of the Tiger, reading Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. I can't put it down. It's so beautifully written and really poweful. Also watched with the kids a wonderfully sweet, tear jerker Chinese foreign film we watched two years ago. (I want to own this film. LOVE it.) called The Road Home.

Also this week I finished a 500 page book/study guide called Super Simple Wellness. Loved and learned, and couldn't get enought from that one, too.

One of my favorite things: When I was just about to hop in the shower a little while ago, I was surprised to hear Keith coming into the house. He had taken the big kids to school, which is right next to his work. I couldn't believe he came all the way home (15 minutes away) just because he forgot to take the garbage bins to the curb. What a caring thing to do.

I am wearing: butter-yellow turtleneck sweater, brown pants, slippers.

A few plans for the rest of the week: going to my mom's this afternoon for Isaac's piano lesson. A meeting with a neighbor tomorrow night. Valentine's hot date with Keith on Friday night. (We'll celebrate on Monday with the kids at home.) A full day Saturday. Phyllis (my 65 year old friend) called and wants to go to lunch with me. Keith and some of the kids to the BYU basketball game (go Jimmer!) later that afternoon, and then off to the theater with the four tickets that night that our friend Carrine so kindly gave us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gary's New Digs

Well, Gary (who'll turn 20 next month) officially moved out yesterday. He took the day off from work and borrowed my van to haul all his stuff to his new apartment. It was bittersweet for me. After he got everything loaded up and was ready to leave, I stopped him and said that we needed to talk. We looked into each other's tear- filled eyes. We smiled. I told him that this was his home and always would be. We would only be a phone call away, day or night. I told him to remember all that we taught him. That he now would have to be in charge of himself. That he needed to take good care of himself. There was a long hug. A holding hug. Tender kisses. Tenderness and sweetness.

I do feel a loss. I will miss his daily presence. I will miss picking up after him. I truly will. I will miss hearing his cheery whistling. I will miss hearing his music playing. I will miss not seeing his place set on the table, but still looking forward to Sunday dinner when he'll come.

I'm glad he can have his independence and space. I'm glad for the chance he has to learn and grow.

We all decided to go down and check out his new digs. There were some things he forgot, and I wanted to bring him some more food. We thought it would be fun to go out for ice cream afterwards.

As we approached his apartment building, I knew right then which one was his. 3rd floor with the lights on, the blinds up, and the huge portrait of King Abdullah of Jordan on the wall over his desk. It made us all laugh out loud.

We didn't meet his roommates, but we met some of the guys who like to come and hang out in the apartment. Huge flat screen TV is a big draw.

It was a fun time. We were happy for him. We drove over to the Creamery/market. I bought him some more groceries and the ice cream hit the spot. My first real treat since Christmas. "Graham Canyon". Yum.

Love you, Gare. Be good.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Can Do Anything (My Marathon Experience)

May 17, 2010
Ogden Marathon 2010

My big marathon moment was finally here. Keith and I went up to Ogden the afternoon before to pick up my race bib and packet, along with my friend Jim and his daughter Emily's packets. We made arrangements to stay in the Comfort Inn in Layton, as most of the hotels in Ogden were filled. Gary would bring up the kids the morning of the race and meet Keith at Grandpa's house, then they'd all go to the finish line together. We enjoyed a carb loaded meal together that night at the Cracker Barrel. Jim and Emily were staying with his parents who also live in Layton. They stopped by the hotel that night and then they met us again early at 4:00 am when Keith took us all back to Ogden to make the shuttle that would drive us up canyon to the starting point above Huntsville.

Let me tell you a little bit about Jim. I first "met" him when I first started running and he would always wave to me while on his way to work. He's just a friendly guy to everyone he meets. He attends a different ward (church congregation) that meets in our building and he and I formally introduced ourselves after a while. I already thought of him as a good friend. Then, a few times we'd see each other out on the road while running. He's run 26 marathons, many of them with his 4 children. He encouraged me to run the Ogden marathon with him and his 23 year old daughter.

Jim is a big hearted and insightful man. I was impressed with his thoughtfulness in bringing extra hats and gloves for those of us that weren't quite as prepared for the cold wait at the starting field. He also taught me some other important lessons that day. Sensitive that I might be feeling a little apprehension when we were waiting on the bus to take us to the starting line, he said that I would be experiencing a lifetime in one day. Here's what he meant:

While driving through the darkness and waiting anxiously for the race to begin, I'd get a feeling of being in the pre-existence, feeling nervous and excited to begin my journey on this earth. Then, as we all lined up and took off, that would be our birth. We'd experience childhood; happy and giddy, and full of excitement as we were finally on our way. Adolescence and then adulthood hit toward the middle. It would get a little harder to keep going. Some of the people that we started out with on our journey would now became separated from us. We each would have to go on our own and find the inner strength to continue on alone. At about mile 20, we'd hit old age. Enduring to the end would really hit home. As we would see the finish line approaching, with all the encouraging cheers from loved ones and others who were waiting and so excited for our success, we would feel such joy and know that we made it. This mortal experience would finally be over. Crossing the finish line and receiving that medal would be like the Lord telling us, "Well done, Thou good and faithful servant." We would experience such deep satisfaction and relief that we accomplished what was required of us. Yes, this was a really good analogy that Jim shared with me, and was something that I thought about the whole time I was running.

My sister Felicia and friend Nathan also ran with us. We started out like gangbusters. Pretty soon, we started to separate. Emily, the young philly, was on fire and went on ahead. Felicia said she needed to go slow, as she was dealing with a pulled muscle. Jim stopped to "take a leak"off the side of the road, said that he'd catch up, and then a little later, I realized I couldn't go on without a potty stop. I hated that I had to do that. No time and too big of a line before the race began. When I came out of the port-a-potty, there was Jim waiting for me. Surprised, I told him that he didn't need to do that for me, but he very kindly reminded me that it's just a journey we needed to enjoy. He wasn't just focused on himself or his own performance.

We ran together for a while and I felt bad for him, as he was feeling pain in his rear end. We would walk and run for a while and finally, he said that I just needed to go on. I felt bad about leaving him. The same thing happened with Felicia, who caught up with me later. She also was having a hard time and needed to stretch. I knew how much I would appreciate running with them and feeling their support, but I realized that I now needed to pull the strength I had within myself and go on alone. I couldn't depend on anyone but me. Well, I turned on my music, took off like wildfire, and didn't stop until I reached the end.

I couldn't believe how much energy and power I felt. I was passing most people. I couldn't believe it. I felt like something was just pulling me along. I truly felt the thoughts and prayers that were going on right then on my behalf. I remembered what another runner friend wrote on my Facebook the day before: stay within yourself and have fun. That helped me. I wanted to enjoy the experience, my body, and the gorgeous surroundings. You couldn't have asked for a more beautiful, perfect day. It was such a relief, as we'd had rain the night before.

As I got closer to the end, I worried about hitting the notorious "Wall". The feeling that you just can't keep going. Do you know what? I never really experienced that. I think because I kept drinking and using my GU, it made all the difference. I can't tell you how uplifting it was for me to see all the people cheering and encouraging us from the sidelines. When I hit the mouth of the canyon, I really felt close to all my grandparents who lived their lives in this very town. I knew that they were carrying me along. Most of all, the love of the Lord, His grace and strengthening influence that I felt even through such exhaustion and excursion gave me an inner peace to keep on going in such a miraculous, astounding way.

As I got closer to the finish line, I saw Nathan, and decided that I was going to turn on my jets and beat him. I smiled as I passed him by. That was sweet. Pretty soon, I looked behind and saw that he was pulling in close to my tail. Then, I heard the wonderful, familiar shout of "Mom!!" from my family and I called out that I loved them. Tears were starting to flow. Sprinting with all the strength I had, Nathan and I crossed the finish line together, after 4 hours and 16 minutes of running. We had done it.

There, as they all gathered around me, I said that I felt like I can do anything. I really can. If I could complete this great goal, something that I thought was unimaginable and unattainable, it helps me realize that there really is nothing in this world that is not out of my reach. It takes constant, daily effort and work. It takes determination and courage. It takes sacrifice and pain. Most of all, nothing of worth comes without faith and trust and hope in the love of our Heavenly Father and knowing that it is only through His mercy and will, that good things can be brought to pass in our lives. I've learned that and so much more about what I'm truly capable of and the strength I have inside. I wish everyone could experience a marathon and feel these things for themselves.

After pictures, and some delicious fruit and a much needed trip to the bathroom (I was in such a La-La land state of mind that I didn't lock the door and someone walked in on me with my pants down. I didn't even care at that point.) we headed over to Grandpa's where I took a long, hot shower. I just sat down on the floor and stayed there, relishing the warm water flowing all over my beyond- exhausted body.

Collapsing on the couch, I found myself even too tired to sleep. I was in a Zen state, for sure.
I knew that the kids were hungry, so I gathered myself up and we all headed over to the Chuck-a-Rama in Bountiful for a celebratory meal. I'm telling you, food never tasted so good.

Today, my legs are still a little sore and it takes me a little while to get down the stairs. I'm just so happy and satisfied.

I haven't left cloud nine.