Friday, April 28, 2006

It's good to be King!

birthday crown
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

You've had a birthday, shout hooray! We want to see to you today! One year older and wiser too! Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday Little Man! He's three! The actual date was a few days ago, but the party postponed until today so his Missionary Uncle could be home to celebrate with him.

Gramma made him a birthday crown cupcake. This is the first and very quick (five minute) attempt. Hopefully another day will come and I will give more time to this idea and come up with a prettier version with more details and such.

add to sk*rt

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Faery Tales

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Tonight is Enrichment Night. The night when all the gals from church get together and learn something new. This evening we have a guest speaker who's topic is "How do I make my faery take come true? (in spite of...)" In spite of illness, failed marriage, no education, whatever! So many sisters in our area have had situations that seem pretty bleak, this night should help and give them some tools to help them succeed, in spite of all the trials.

A while back I purchased this very cool sand castle bundt cake pan at Williams Sonoma (and have seen it elsewhere); so we thought it would be the perfect dessert. I just used a regular cake mix; although I altered it a tad. For the one in the back I used some sour cream, the chocolate got some pudding and the spice mix got a little extra punch with some apple sauce. I covered the entire cake with a simple syrup and sprinkled raw sugar all over the surface. I did this for a couple of reasons. Number one, I won't be there tonight and the cakes had to be done early. The syrup will seal the cake, keeping it moist and fresh. The sugar on the outside give the cake a crunchy crisp exterior that is tasty and glittery like sand. The vanilla cake really looked like sand, very cute. I added some French ribbon flags on the two front turrets and a tiny paper flag over the front gate that describes the flavours. For the diabetics in our group I made fat free sugar free parfaits.

Originally uploaded by S'mee.

I also made the cover for the program and also made matching notebooks that are spiral bound so the sisters can take notes during the lecture and then again during the audience participation part of the program. I have heard the speaker is awesome, but again, I will not hear him, so I hope they take good notes!

add to sk*rt

Monday, April 17, 2006

I gotta be s'mee!

Susan has a"weird" meme for us today. It goes like this, list 6 things about yourself that make you WEIRD! (my sis, Chronicler has also taken on Susan's meme... if you read 1-a., 2, 3, and 4 you get a peek at some of the weird things we share as sisters.)

I, like my sis, kind of enjoy the weird-ness out there. Compared to the rest of the (U.S.) world, I am conservative and "normal", but in my little sphere of associates, I tend to dance on the edges of here goes.

Originally uploaded by Ric Hard.
1. I am anti birth control. (don't get me started, I get nutso. Don't get me started on birth control and pregnancy control and how most LDS adults do not know the difference. Pregnancy control I have no issues with at all.)

2. I am a true 50/50 split personality. Any of the personality or actual psychological, ego-id, clinical tests show me as one of the 2% of the world's population that can be exactly 50-50, both happy and sad, both logical and creative, both literal and vague at the exact same time, in equal intensity. This group of people are the highest group of successful suicides and also the highest group of "successful lifestyle" people, because we are in a constant state of personal conflict. We are the ones who will plan and create our in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary party to the inth degree and at the last minute call it all off because we are afraid it will be a failure. Every right decision we make we doubt it's correctness. We challenge every thought we have, and secretly find fault with ourselves and praise our excellence. Go figure, we're weird.

3. I am a closet (and at times, a not so closeted) hippy chick.

4. I really really really enjoy public speaking; But my voice trembles when I speak of sacred things or things of a very serious nature. It sounds like I am nervous, but I am not, it just trembles and my body shakes.

5. I like sitting in the front row. Unless I am at the ballet or the theatre, then it's center-center, or at a classical concert and then it's center balcony.

6. I don't need a lot of money, although I enjoy very nice things and can appreciate when someone has them. I am not impressed with wealth or the things it can purchase, but am more impressed with what can be done with little or no money, I absolutely delight in supreme bargains. I don't care much for diamonds. Why pay for the sparkle when I can get the same bling from a good CZ? (that said, Thor just gave me a ring for my birthday that has a large beautiful pearl surrounded by 10 diamond baguettes and 6 rounds, and I LOVE it. I admit to feeling guilty about it though. BUT I LOVE IT!!!)

If there were a 7th item it would be that I love change. LOVE it. And diversity. (I guess that's #8...oops I don't know when to stop.) SO Class, here's your assignment: Tell me why you're weird! Or just tell us to go to your blog and we'll read it there.

Big shout out to Susan! Thanks! This was fun!

Thanks to Rick for the photo.

add to sk*rt


Thor and I went to see his parents on an impromptu visit Saturday. As usual, Thor went off with the guys and I sat and chatted with his mom. She is getting to that place in life where you hear the same story repeated three or four times during your visit, but she is so sweet you don't mind. Then every once in a while she'll hit you with a new story.

"Dad and I were in the shower the other day (TMI!!!) and he just stopped and looked at me. I felt a little self conscience, but then I looked at him! HAH! We're pretty wrinkly now! Hahaha! Dad said perhaps we need to remodel us instead of the house! hahah! I looked in the mirror and looked at all the wrinkles on my face. You know my sisters all got the pretty skin and I have always had this ugly pock marked skin, all thick in the cheeks. UGH! Dad knew what I was thinking. He said maybe I just needed more paint. I said, "Forget the paint! I need to be sanded and lacquered! HAHAHAH! Oh don't you wish you could be lacquered? hahah! I'd look like MaryJo! haha!"

My mother in law kills me.

This old house once knew its children This old house once knew its wife
This old house was home and comfort As they fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter This old house heard many shouts
Now it trembles in the darkness When the lightning walks about

Ain't gonna need this house no longer Ain't gonna need this house no more
Ain't got time to fix the shingles Ain't got time to fix the floor
Ain't got time to oil the hinges Nor to mend the window pain
Ain't gonna need this house no longer He's getting ready to meet the saints

This old house is gettin' shaky This old house is gettin' old
This old house has seen the rain This old house has seen the cold
Oh his knees are gettin' chilly But he feels no fear or pain
'Cause he sees an angel peepin' Through a broken window pane

Ain't gonna need this house no longer Ain't gonna need this house no more
Ain't got time to fix the shingles Ain't got time to fix the floor
Ain't got time to oil the hinges Nor to mend the window pain
Ain't gonna need this house no longer He's getting ready to meet the saints

This ole house dog lies a-sleepin' He don't know I'm gonna leave
Else he'd wake up by the fireplace And he'd sit there and howl and grieve
But my huntin' days are over Ain't gonna hunt the coon no more
Gabriel done brought in my chariot When the wind blew down the door

Ain't gonna need this house no longer Ain't gonna need this house no more
Ain't got time to fix the shingles Ain't got time to fix the floor
Ain't got time to oil the hinges Nor mend the window pain
Ain't gonna need this house no longer He's getting ready to meet the saints.

add to sk*rt

Saturday, April 15, 2006

over heard...

man: "...well he and his brother own the place over on Waterman. I"ve never eaten there, but we have them bring in food from time to time at the meetings; and well, no matter how hard you try, you just can't mess up Italian food."
woman: " um yeah. You got that right."

add to sk*rt

...there was this kitten, in a tree...

Back in the late 80's, or maybe it was the early 90's (who cares?) I was busily trying to be a mom and also help out at church. One particular evening I had taught a class for what was then called "Homemaking Night". I don't remember the class, or even what I taught, what I do remember is a television commercial.

Our church building was fairly new, still very fresh and pretty, and the parking lot was still smooth and with brightly painted white lines between the spaces. We had parking lot lamps to illuminate the area during the dark, but they had been installed incorrectly somehow and didn't work. We also had large convenient spaces with a ramp for the handicapped near the door to the kitchen. The ramp was located between the spaces that had been marked with the familiar blue lines and the wheel chair icon at the base. Two signs were installed at the curbside indicating the special spaces. The ramp, however, remained the same deep fresh black of the asphalt parking lot. The long slope from the curb to the lot also had both its' side edges sloping sharply down, also unpainted and remaining black.

I was the last of the women that night to leave. I had assure the other women that I had only to finish packing up my boxes and bags and I would also be gone. I made several trips back and forth from the building unloading my things at the curbside. I locked the building and went to my car which was parked on the far side of the building. I drove it around to the handicap space and carefully backed it to the curb. I popped the trunk door up and began to pack in the boxes.

By then the hour was late, the night was dark, everyone had gone and I was pooped. I was glad to shut the latch on the trunk. I took my keys out of my pocket and began to walk to the front seat and go home. WOAH! I stepped on a rock and began to lose my balance. I felt the pain of the twisting and tearing of the tendons as I rolled my right foot on the rock. I quickly put all my weight on my left foot to try to not fall when, again I stepped on a rock of some kind, snapped the innards of my left foot and with the pain fell completely to the ground.

It only occurred to me as I laid there crying and laughing at the same time that I hadn't stepped on rocks at all. I had stepped onto the side of the unpainted handicap ramp; and with the angle being so sharp and, with my carelessness and tired thinking, I had not only broke my right foot with the angled pressure, but did the same thing to my left foot immediately afterward.

"I'VE FALLEN, AND I CAN'T GET UP!!!" I started to laugh to myself. I bet this looked hilarious. I am a visual person, I could see myself going down inside my head. This is hysterical! I have turned into that crazed old lady in the commercial! There weren't cell phones back then I was STUCK! I was truly wondering, "what the heck?" and "how am I going to get home?" I did a commando crawl to the front of the car. I rolled over onto my ample backside and reached to unlock and open the door. There in the dark I found the steering wheel and pulled myself up into the floorboard and eventually into the seat. (I have to tell you, if this happened today...well they would find my bleached bones laying there until someone came to my rescue. I was fat back then also, but I was in much better shape! 5 kids will do that to you!) By this time my legs, ankles and feet began to swell and throb. I could feel my feet tighten within my shoes and my pant legs beginning to shrink around the base of my calves.

I took a few minutes to breathe (and go to my happy place) and tried to start the car. The pain of stepping on the gas was incredible. Normally, the drive home would have been about three minutes. Because the pain was so intense I was only able to tap the breaks and gas pedal. I didn't want to go to fast because the thought of stopping made me cringe. It took me fourty five minutes to get home and I just rolled slowly through the lights, red, green or yellow; I didn't care if I got hit by a semi truck...the pain would at least go away during my coma.

Thor was waiting for me as I drove up. I honked on the horn until he came out of the house. I burst into tears as I tried to move my legs. (Why is it we do that? We can handle things until someone we trust can help is there and then we just fall apart and say "FEEL SORRY FOR ME!") Thor literally drug me out of the car and half carried me in to the house. I was so swollen he had to cut my pants off. Needless to say I am glad the kids were asleep by now! I decided nothing was broken and it was not worth waking up the kids and driving the hour + to the doctors, I could wait until morning.

I crawled around the house on my hands and knees and had to have Thor pick me up to use the potty and to help get me back down on my knees. Going to bed was another story, the sheet on my ankles was too much pressure, it hurt like the dickens, and I knew I was in trouble. I didn't get too much sleep that night.

The next morning Thor packed up all the kids and then I began the crawl out to the car. I got about half way down the front walk to the driveway when the neighbor drove by, slowed down for a good look, waved and drove on. (yes it's me, I am on the ground and crawling. It's a new thing in our house.) That same neighbor is our current Bishop's wife, and yes she brings this story up on occasion, ah good times!

The doctors and nurses couldn't believe that I had actually done this to myself and that it had been via a handicap ramp! The x-rays showed that I had torn all the ligaments and tendons in both ankles. The doctor asked me which leg hurt worse, "my left", "ok., we'll cast that one up. The other one will get a walking cast boot." So there I was with a hard cast on one foot and a gigantic boot thing-y on the other; plus crutches. Very attractive. I looked like the walking wounded. All I need was my head wrapped in gauze, a drummer on one side and a flag waver on the other. I could have been the piper in the middle. E-freaking-gads.

Sunday came and I was at church. The questions began, and for six weeks, everyone I met took one look at me and asked "WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?" After about week one, I began to make up stories. "I fell out of a plane and my 'shute didn't open." "I was trying to save a baby in a burning building. The only way was to jump out of the third story window." "Skiing the five black diamond coarse." "My repelling rope broke half way through my decent." It got to be fun, and I actually had some people going. Other people, the ones who know me, figured it was probably something like trying to commit harikari on a handicap ramp... that's something I would do.

By the way, just last year about this time, they finally got around to painting the blue stripes on the edges of the ramp and outlining the top surface. Oh, and the lamps are finally working also.

add to sk*rt

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

woohoo moon!

awesome moon 4-06
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Wow! Is this cool or what? Just now, about 8:15 or so I went outside and looked out over towards our high school and check out the moon! It has this enormous rainbow circling about it! So pretty! I wish you could see it in the photo the way we are viewing it now. My little camera has very low tech-y skills, but trust me, it's pretty!

awesome moon 4-06
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
Here it is "up close", wow!

add to sk*rt

Friday, April 07, 2006

Mount Vernon

DC 4-06
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The last day of our stay we set out for Mount Vernon. Located about 16 miles south of D.C., not only was it a nice drive, but pretty as well. Upon arriving you make your way to a small cottage like ticket booth, gain entrance and make the short hike up to the residence around out buildings which include a gift shop (of course), the slave quarters, and a historical restoration room where you can read all about how the estate was brought back to it's original status. It seems that the original house was George's great grandfather's home and made it down to him after his own father's demise. He built on to the original house, adding not only upper levels, but the surrounding buildings and landscaped gardens, farms, etc. For his time, he was considered quite innovative and clever.

Difficult to see in the photos unless you click to view them larger, is the side of the home. Made from pine, the era dictated that wealth and status would glean a more expensive building material such as stone block. George, although quite wealthy, (consider that the dining room he added on was larger than most homes during that time) decided a better way to achieve the look without the investment of dollars, would be to engage craftsmen. The craftsmen would carve the planks of pine so that they resembled carved stone with grout lines. After the house was assembled the pine was covered with three coats of fresh white paint mixed with sand to give the appearance of stone. This was a technique that many used for the front facades of their homes, George had the entire building and it's pillars, etc. covered this way to carry the illusion even further than the neighbors.

DC 4-06
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

Like I said, it's difficult to see in the photos, but it was a pretty good trick. Inside the home George eventually did the same faux techniques to fool his visitors. Pine paneling was installed throughout the home. What wasn't painted with the latest colour of paint was faux finished to resemble rich walnut. Tricky guy.

All in all the grounds were lovely and the view of the river -amazing. George prided himself in his being a farmer and the grounds reflect his passion. Nothing was left to chance. In later years, after his death, the land and it's buildings fell to his nephew and later to other relatives and in 1858 (i think) the Ladies in town said "enough!" Years of visitors and curiosity seekers had done a lot of damage and the entire estate was in disrepair. They gathered their purses and purchased the estate for $200,000.00 and began restoration.

Today it continues. 80% of the original wood is still part of the buildings, etc. Every year more and more of the original furnishings are purchased, leased, or on loan from the owners and placed according to their first intended use in the home. Currently the Ladies of Mount Vernon are busy little bees adding an upscale hotel, museum and other attractions such as restaurants, etc. There are at least three gift shops with everything from nickel and dime souvenirs to high dollar replicated china and silks. These ladies mean business in all it's dementions. They actually have a food court loosely based on the design of George's six sided barn; and the last entry hall you will see as you begin to "leave" has a marble inlay map of the entire estate.

My only suggestion to the ladies would be to visit either DC or SLC Temple Square and study the tour guides. Although it ran smoothly, the guides had a tendency to talk over one another and often you would hear the same information in two different stops, missing pertinent information in others. Still a really nice day.

Please click on the "Mount Vernon" at the top of the post. It will lead you to the official page where you can take a virtual tour of the grounds and especially the interior of the house (where, byw, you are not allowed to photograph). Click out the pop up buttons to get more info and check out the VIVID colours that were the popular rage! Woohoo!

add to sk*rt

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

a view from our nation's capital...

DC 4-06
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

(cue "Hail to the Chief") We were told that, indeed, the very day we arrived was almost the peak of the blossoms. So when I woke up the first morning I went for a walk on what was described on virtually every form of media, "THE DAY". Yup, lots o' cherry blossoms on lots o' trees. I took the liberty (snicker) of snatching up all kinds of purty pictures of them. And, for all the MAJOR hype they give these truly exquisite trees, it is unfortunate that the bulk of them surround the part of the inlet that is encircled by monuments.

"But why?" you ask, "would that be a problem? Most of the tourists and residents would find that to be a central location and convenient for viewing!" Well, dear tourist, for those very reasons. You see for every blossom on a tree there are an equal and thensome person count; resulting in the perfect opportunity to take out pretty much 68% of the junior high school spring break tour kids along with their 1-15 ratio of chaperones; plus the other spring break tourists; and the folks such as Thor and I who were booked to experience this autobotanical treat whilst learning more about the bin-niss. This mathematical equation results in a gazillion people all trying to view the same trees in the same spot. Yikes-ola!

I kind of wish these trees were everywhere. There are a few scattered here and there, however, they tend to be a tad more spectacular along the "lake" crowded against each other and reflected in the waters thereon and framing said monumental attractions. I was fortunate enough to be staying in a hotel where the capital was a block from us. There were enough trees there to get the sensation of the "holiday", however, I must admit, even being in a tourist trolley (yup, actually did that) and riding rather quickly by the trees while viewing them from street distance...still very pretty.

One thing you learn about DC is that it is a walking town. Everyone walks and they walk everywhere. That being said, the traffic is horrendous! It is in a constant state of "jam" just about 24-7 during this particular week. If you are in a car, understand that you will be in that car and make about as much ground length distance/time as if you were walking. The smart people in this town ride bikes, scooters, or BIKES. Or the subway; which rocks. The deal is this: There are so many things to see that every hotel lists itself as being located "within walking distance of the mall, complete with it's museums and government buildings!" They never tell you that the mall is 87 miles long and the government buildings and museums aren't all lining its' edges, but in fact can be a block or two, or five, this direction or that; and walking can mean walking all day and then finishing up your day with a $65.00 cab ride back to your hotel which is now not within walking distance. It's like tourist crack. You go to one building and then you just keep going and going and thinking to yourself it is fine. Your legs don't register just how far you have gone. Your brain takes over. Your camera is overwhelmed and under loaded. Just about the time you think you are getting to the good stuff, you find more, walk more, need more batteries. I took 239 photos in one afternoon. I mean, really people, crack.

Then there are the other -"further from the hotel"- must sees. Arlington, Old Alexandria, Dupont Circle, Falls Church, Foggy Bottom, Chevy Chase (seems to be a theme these days), Mount Vernon and well you can actually make a day trip out of going up to Baltimore, Down to Virginia, or even out to Altlantic City like our friends did. Personally I do like to take the car out and drive. I love to walk around the National Cathedrial (where all are welcome...even the LDS missionaries I saw there!). If you ever get the opportunity I suggest an hour or two there...very cool. Dupont Circle (area) is also awesome. Most of the Embassies are there, along with gorgeous homes, shops and restaraunts. The Temple is near Chevy Chase, also a beautiful neighborhood. And, although I did not get an opportunity to "go in", I finally found Gallaudet, while Thor found every other major University in the tri-state area. Go somebody! I think one of them had a turtle as a mascot, and then there was George Mason(? - you cannot believe how many "george" things are here...nuts, Georgetown- named for the king, not the president...go figure.) who was in a final four thing.... I am in unfamiliar territory here so I am going to stop; but it was HUGE for all the people we met who lived there.

It is obvious from reading the above, history is not my thing. I enjoy it, I am fascinated by it while I am in it's presence. But it's not my thing and no, I don't remember dates, or names. Events? Yes, those I remember, the why, just not who shot whom and when they shot.

Been three times now and could still go back and enjoy myself more. DC. Darn Cool, for s'mee.

add to sk*rt


o.k. So I am home and can review the DC adventure.

First off, I (we) missed conference and I can't tell you how bummed I am about that, so keep writing folks, I have to wait until Thursday before I can read the talks in full. I view it as punishment, (thank you Jewish heritage.)

Alrighty then. I have been to DC now, three times. Every time I go there is something I pick up on that I didn't know before. This time the big epiphany was trees.

DC 4-06
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

The east has trees, lot of 'em! I knew this the privious times I visited, but I just couldn't put my finger on why I was so caught up in the whole tree thing there.

I grew up in California. We have trees also. We have what some folks call the giants. You know, things like the sequoias or maybe the redwoods- big trees you can drive through. Heck we even name big trees here in CA after presidents, government offices and yes, General Sherman; which happens to be our biggest tree. So when I land and begin to see literally gazillions of trees lining the highway and these wooded areas between the houses and all over the place I was, to say the least, fascinated.

They kind of give me the creeps. These are the trees that you here about on the news. "A body was found near the trees along the bike path at Wildwood Park in Maryland today..." Or the kind of trees in those "Real Ghost Stories" t.v. shows. The kind with shadowy figures just out of your view that somehow are always out of focus. This is where Little Red Riding Hood disobeyed and got caught up in danger.

Another thing about these trees is they are all probably very old, but a teenaged boy couldn't hide behind one of them! These trees are seriously thin, like the size of your thigh if your lucky. I now understand what all the fuss over the redwoods is all about. I am used to seeing trees, average trees up in "my" mountains, that Thor could hide behind and never be seen or heard from again. We get reports of "lost families" or "lost troops of boy scouts" because some ranger forgot to look behind EVERY tree to see if someone was asleep as he walked by. It's possible. The trees out here, and I live in a desert, are huge compared to those on the east coast. Amazing. I am an idiot. I just now got this.

add to sk*rt