Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rage Against the Machine

I have found the secret to large blog hits...
Creative blog titles! Yup, go against your natural instincts and label your next post something that borders on anything illegal or perhaps tongue in cheek references for sub cultures of any kind and your hits go way up!
So kids, let your mind go, spin a few words and you'll never know who shows, just don't expect the hits to be from mommy bloggers or those artsy friends of yours.
My thanks to my six regular readers and to all you new readers who came looking for your old friend Mary J, welcome!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

it's official!

After several years of hope, prayers, tears, and much anticipation, their little one finally arrived.
Two of my dear friends have waited all their married life for a baby to love. Being birth parents was not in the cards so they applied and waited for adoption.
Many many heartbreaks and then a commitment from two loving parents who promised a child in October.
October came last Sunday (SURPRISE!) in the sweet, little, (and pink I might add) 8 pound 8 ounce bundle.
Yesterday it was official. I couldn't be more happy for them all.
Congratulations mommy and daddy. And much love and blessings to two people who's broken hearts loved their child more than themselves.

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For Ms. Flakes, some Crackers

I have been meaning to post on these yummy crackers for a time now. The Hygienist found them in the local market and fell in love.

I admit to being hesitant at first (I have actually tried ALL BRAN cereal and frankly, it turns to goo in 1.8 thanks!) These are not only really tasty, but CRuNCHy! Our favorite way to eat then totally removes all traces of healthful goodness; scooped into a nice bowl of cream cheese and homemade chili sauce! However, even Thor has been seen sneaking into the pantry and downing a couple of crackers as he walks through the kitchen.

Diet Pepsi and a bowl full of All-Bran crackers... it's the best snack in our house lately. Oh and by the way, they come in Ranch Flavor also...YUM!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Springtime in Paris

I found this article on sk*rt!

I wish everyone to read it. At last someone who has a spin on the whole celebrity lifestyle which is finding its way trickling down even to us plain folks.

Trust me, it's a good read and good advice for all of us.

Jamie Lee Curtis

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Every Picture Tells a Story...

don't it?

There are volumes in the interpretation thereof. With that in mind, we present the following link to a new blog launching today:

Every Picture Tells A Story

A photo blog. A family blog. It will be interesting to see how closely related folks define a daily topic. No words (except yours through the comments...which we live for, thank you very much!), just images.

Go take a peek, leave a comment, suggest a topic!

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Oh what do you do in the summertime?

Ahh the joys of summer! The little ones (and maybe even a few big ones) are home for THREE LONG MONTHS! For me, this was my personal Nirvana, I totally dug it that the offspring were home and we could finally go play. Why? Because I live in sunny California, home of fantastic places to see and wondrous things to do!

So here we go, a list of S'mee's favorite haunts for summertime fun with little and medium, and well heck, large sized offspring and neighborhood foundlings of all sizes. (Most, granted are in SoCAL, however this list of links can inspire you to find places within your own state that are fun, free, and worth the drive to explore.)

May I suggest a cultural Summer Safari? It seems that a few museums have gotten together and offer up a plethora of fun activities tied to together so that you can drag the group from one place to another over a few weeks time. Collect stamps in a passport, see all kinds of grown up museum type things, a bunch of animal and insect type things, and if you make it through the entire safari earn a prize! Seriously, this sounds like fun to me.

One of my all time favorite places to visit is also FREE! The Getty! Parking is $8.00 Now let me tell ya, if you have never been there the $8 is chump change for the experience. You must go if you are in the area, and plan to stay ALL day. There is plenty to see and places to eat. It does work out better for older kids, but if your kids have any attention span they could enjoy this too.
For a GREAT listing/resource for SOCAL Museums and art galleries try the The ART Scene. You can find over a hundred different galleries, museums, and all the info you'll need to get there; map, fees, links to the website, everything. There are TOO many of my favorites to post about, go and scan through to see what looks good to you!

California Freebies is a good source for FREE things to do. Full of coupons, discounts and um, free things to do, this list is worth the click. (go to ASK or Google and see what's free in your area)

The La Brea Tar Pits is totally fun for pretty much every one. Adult admission is $7.00 Seniors 62 and older and Students with I.D. get in for $4.50. 13-17 years old: $4.50 and children 5-12 years old: $2.00. Members and Children under 5: Free. Parking is $6.00 with validation from the museum in the museum parking lot.

The California Science Center used to fascinate my kids to no end, or "know" end if you look at it right. It was pretty much fun for me too! Right next door to Exhibition Park (home of the L.A Olympics) the permanent exhibits are FREE! and there is an IMAX movie theatre on site to watch cool movies on. If you have never seen a movie at an IMAX, make this the summer to it. Very cool, and the kids will dig it.

The Parent Zone has links and a search engine for many locations across the U.S. that help a frustrated mom find just the right activity for little ones. There are also discussions, blogs, and articles from moms all over with ideas that have been home tested on their own kids! Check it out. Fabulous!

Is your family into the Civil War or early American history? How would kids like to meet Ben Franklin? Then a trip to Riley's Farm in beautiful Oak Glen in the Inland Empire has activities your family will remember for years to come. Check out their calender for summer long fun in the cool apple groves of this quaint mountain community. There are plenty of apple farms in the area that provide opportunities to learn about farming and the apple industry as well. Stroll through the free "zoo" and community museum, then have some pie and cider.

Historic Julian is another gorgeous tiny town, this one nestled in San Diego County, where history lives on a daily basis. Fishing, wandering through stores, waiting for skits, gazing at brights stars in the night and seeing reenactments daily...all in a days visit. While you're there don't forget to visit the Indian Museum, Mission, gold digging, wolf center, horse back riding, bird watching, boat, it just doesn't end!

Want to just stay home a few days? Child Parenting (and also here) has a list of links that goes on and on with ideas for k-6 craft ideas from many different sources, Martha Stewart to moms just like you.

Nutriwize and the American Council on Exercise has a couple of ideas that will get the kiddies off the couch and up and moving. They also have recipes, a health calculator, fit facts and links that may interest the entire family.

If you are in the southern most part of the state this link will give you 50 Free things to do in San Diego!

Rocky Mountain high? Check out the free things to do in Vail Colorado!

Mommy Savers has more lists f fun summer activities that range from "rice craft, silly slime, tye dye, and no sew projects; the list is pretty cool and labeled "FRUGAL". Wahoo!

Stretcher as in Dollar has a list of 200!!! free tings to keep kids from using the "B" word this summer. Check. It. Out.

California Observatories offer great opportunities during the day and after dark for summer fun that can open new horizons up to your children.

Total Escape offers hundres of links for places to explore California from camping to hiking and off roading and even shopping experiences.

3rd Street Promanade has street performers and shops, restaraunts, and the beach within walking distance. All of my kids enjoy this famous pedestrian mall still! Great for all ages.

Summertime is the perfect time to take the kids out to your local Framer's Markets. After a visit here take the kids to the back yard and help them plant a small Farmer's Market of their own. Plant now for pumpkins in the fall!

Something really fun is to plant watermelons and pumpkins now and in a few weeks when the actual fruit has begun to arrive tuck the tiny little melon through a hole in a LARGE plastic jug or water bottle to finish growing inside. When the fruit has filled up the inside of the jug, they can cut the stem and show their friends their "bottled fruit".

One of my favorite childhood memories is of the 4th of July. Partially because for a few years our family would ride the train from Oceanside south to Del Mar for the day. Why not find a way to ride the train this summer with your family? California Trains gives you many options from historic trains and museums to destination trips. You can also give your kids just that one day trip into town via the Amtrack.

Ghost Towns! can be a way to teach history and have a fun day in the desert. This list has many to choose from.

Looking for festivals or fairs? June, July, and August!

Sometime you just need to DRIVE! to a Small Town. has great links for Recycling Crafts.

Olvera Street! bueno!

A few more tips from S'mee: Do you need a half hour to yourself? Grab a bucket, fill it with water and give your kids a paint brush or roller and have them "paint" the porch. The water will change the colour of the stucco and cement on the walk and keep them occupied so you can go to the bathroom alone. You can also make an assignment and tell them you want them to paint you a picture, write the alphabet, or draw certain animals on the driveway.

Do your kids argue? Put one on each side of a window and have them wash the windows until they become friends again. After a few minutes they will either kill each other or laugh at each other.

Use rubbing alcohol and food colouring to dye dry noodles for stringing. Just put noodles in a ziplock bag, add a few drops of food colouring and a few drops of the alcohol, zip, and shake to dye. Empty the bag onto a paper towel and dry in the sun or on the counter. It only takes about ten minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and they can begin stringing necklaces and friendship bracelets. Use kite string. Cut a length and dip the end in melted wax, twist the end and allow it to dry into a nice "needle".

You can use the same method to dye dry rice for "sand" painting.

Grab some free or nearly free plain ceramic tiles from your local tile store and have the kids paint them with glass paints that can be heat set in your home oven. These can be set aside as hot plates to give Gramma at Christmas. Paint little hands and feet and place on the tiles for mementos of how small they are this summer.

Get thee to a lake or pond and grab a few tadpole and polliwogs. Put them in a container and watch them turn into frogs and toads!

Watch some National Geographic videos with the kids. See if you can replicate the same experience in your yard or neighborhood. (star gazing, beaver ponds, etc.)

Teach your kids how to crochet and help them make tote bags (thanks Kevin) out of plastic bags from the local stores. Or teach older kids how to fuse plastic into a wallet and sew their own shopping totes. Addition tutorial thanks to Eclipse...Fused Totes

Grab some heavy sand paper and old crayons. Have the kids colour geometric shapes on the sand paper. Make sure to emphasis that the crayon should be thick on the sand paper and cover the entire surface. Once they have finished colouring their shapes, have them put the sand paper outside for the afternoon. The heat of the day should melt the crayon into the grit of the paper and make a beautiful piece of art work. If the day is too cool, you can bake the art in your oven at 200 degrees for a few minutes until the crayon melts. Let the paper cool and then allow the kids to show off their work!

Speaking of old crayons you can use candy molds to remake your old crayons. Let the kids choose which designs they want. Mom or dad will need to slowly melt the crayons and pout it into the mold. Place it in the freezer for a few minutes and the crayons pop right out ready to use.

Give your kids little boxes and containers and tell them you need them to make a house or furniture for their dolls. Give them plenty of scrap fabric, paper and glues, glitter and beads, and whatever else you can find around the house.

Grab a stack of card stock or even blank 5x7 index cards, some rubber stamps, ink, pens, and other art supplies. Have your kids make pretty cards to give to the local Convalescent home for their dinner trays. They can make holiday cards to share as well.

Help your kids get a taste for volunteering by finding a local charity and asking what you can donate or gather for the needs of the facility. Have your kids make posters or flyers asking the neighborhood to join in and see how quickly they can help out.

Well this ends the worlds longest post. Have a great summer y'all.

UPDATE!!! Found one more spot that has great ideas: Crayola! Lots of fun things to create.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Carlton's log, Death Valley

Thor and I have been on this trip before, years ago, however back then, as we drove along this section of the road we were surprised...

Seems that this canyon, which is much deeper than it appears in the photo, is used by the military as training for aircraft. Imagine a full sized jet zooming through this canyon at super speed. The jet, at times I am told, must fly on its' side to avoid crashing into the sides of the canyon walls. Yikes.

Anywho, we were driving along on our way to Death Valley and when we got to this point in the road a jet flew directly in front of us about 100 yards and about 100 feet off the ground, swoosh! right across the highway and down into the canyon! I was scared to death it was so fast and such a surprise! But after the initial shock we could see it fly far from us now and down and away. Soon afterwards and as we had made the corner up the road a way we pulled into a spot to look over and into the canyon and swoosh! again! Here came another jet! It was so cool! I don't think timing gets too much better than that. This time, not such good luck.

Another look down the road that leads into Death Valley from the Owens River side.

It's said that Pup Fish are ancient and the only place they survive is in Death Valley in these shallow "riverlets". Thor took a stroll down the board walk to see what all the fuss was about and actually saw some of the inch long ageless wonders. He was very impressed and lectured me about how cool they were and how I missed seeing them. I was HOT and refused to walk the half mile to see an inch long old fish. Sorry.

And finally the Death Valley addition to "Lost Soles".

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Carlton's log, June Lake Loop, Silver Lake Resort

Peeking out of the window from the Silver Lake Resortgives the diner a spectacular view of the mountains, a brook that runs by the the window, under a road and into the lake, and beautiful tress, birds and serene campers.

A view of the lake with it's pristine glass like surface. Other diners were over heard conversing about the lack of good fishing this early in the season, however the scenery can't be beat...and lousy cell coverage makes for the perfect getaway.

Spires from the trees invite your eyes heavenward and into the clouds.

A mirror on the water, a row of boats and happy fishermen abound.

The mountains above the timber line.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Carlton's log - Cottonwood Canyon

Cottonwood Canyon was pretty, and cool, and over grown. We drove through the hills, ascending steeply on a dirt road and landed at a dead end of a road.

Sheer cliffs on both side of the road made the drive interesting. Interesting because on one side, the mountain cliff was filled with stones -solid huge massive boulders on top of boulders- and all I could think of was: "yup, base of the 'Rockies'!". The other side was scrub and desert looking. The further up the canyon the narrower and rockier the road.

You can see the river poking out around the curves and pass the "pump house" where the river is caught and drained of most of its' water for the aforementioned aqueduct.

We made our way to the U.S. Forestry sign labeling the canyon and giving us all the details. At this point there was a small plot of land that was a "parking lot" although you couldn't park more than four cars there if you tried. Getting out required a three point turn in pretty much any vehicle. The wild growth surrounding the lot meant no off roading, strictly for hikers only from now on; even that would mean hikers would need to be nimble enough to crawl under low hanging branches and manipulate branches and bushes to get through the lack of trails and into the water.

Just beyond the lot was a small trail that led to a little 'meadow' for lack of a better word. Small meaning maybe a quarter acre of land, but just beautiful. I thought it would be a great spot for a picnic or for little ones to play after the long ride to get there. There was a small trail that led further up into the canyon, but to get into the water would be tricky. The river was protected by large over grown trees and bushes so thick I wanted a machete to hack my way around.

Absolutely no bank on the small river, once you're there, you have the option of standing on the hanging 'ledge' or just get in the river itself. There are places where small waterfalls roll over boulders and the thought of crossing the river is fool hearty. Not very deep any place I could see, but rocky and tough to navigate at best.

The kids, many years ago, played there all day long while Thor was working about ten miles away. They had such a blast finding ways to get and stay wet, climbing the sides of the cliffs and walking through the small rabbit trails. If your family is anywhere near Bishop and needs a small out of the way place to explore; I recommend this tiny piece of California.

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Carlton's log, California Aqueduct

The California Aqueduct along the 215 near the little city of Lone Pine. Thor had a business (loop) trip that took us passed Lee Vining and down through Death Valley. Yeah, that was fun.

The first day we stopped where this photo was taken. We have stoppped by the aqueduct several times, and actually live (albeit a more southern region) very close to it... however I have never seen it so empty. Normally the water is at the top of the bank, as you can see by the water mark. This was very low. However, the cliff swallows seemed to find the mud to their liking and were making nests all under the bridge.

After this, we headed for (one of the many named) Cottonwood Canyon, this one (obviously) near Bishop. More on this adventure next post.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

New Blog!

Hey all... I was cruisin' over at
Design Mom and saw that she is promoting a great new blog/magazine for women! ==> sk*rt

I checked it out and love the format. Essentially you read short (very short) descriptions of websites, vote on which ones you like and they decide via popular vote which articles will go into the magazine. There are links to everything from fabric to insurance and jewelry to name it. Great idea! Plus a launching contest to win you fabulous gifts and prizes! Go there now!

sk*rt, the blog

I am working on getting a button link up...techno problems....ugh!

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Carlton's log, Humanitarian Services Center, SLC

The Salt Lake City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Tulips at Thanksgiving Point.

Sister Udo, a volunteer full time missionary from Nigeria, at the Humanitarian Center of the LDS Church. She stands in front of a map showing the countries (in orange) that were given free aid and volunteers last year. (She also bore personal testimony of how the LDS HS has brought aide to her country.)

If you would like more information on the Humanitarian Services click on the link. I was AMAZED at all they can accomplish.

One such accomplishment is a product called ATMIT. Atmit is a nutritional porridge that is given to persons who are in the impossible condition of extreme famine. Once the body gets to a certain point it can no longer digest normal food. ATMIT is full of nutrients and proteins that can be easily digested by persons suffering from severe malnutrition and starvation. The Red Cross had a formula for a nutritional supplement, but it was in liquid form and would spoil if not used by a certain date. Just transporting the porridge would diminish the nutrient value and if it sat at all on docks or in "processing" it would be completely invalid/spoiled by the time it was finally delivered. The Red Cross went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to find the solution. The church went to BYU and asked them to come up with a dry product that had shelf life. This was accomplished through LDS Humanitarian Services who paid for the research and development and got the final product to the needed within a short amount of time.

Now the formula for ATMIT is used freely and the product is made and given in times of need to anyone on the planet who needs it. It can go from Salt Lake City to any country in the world in a matter of five days. I again refer you to the map above where the dark orange is, many of these countries receive ATMIT on a regular basis, free of charge through the LDS HS.

Obviously they need donations. LDS people donate regularly through their "fast offerings" wherein people in the church fast for two meals each month and give the money they would have spent on those meals to the church, to use to care for the poor and needy.

PLEASE click on the links below to get more's very interesting and you may find a way that you can help. There are more ways to help than just money, although money helps too!

ADMIT in church magazine reports The Church reports to the church.

ADMIT in the news The world reporting on the Humanitarian Services.

Humanitarian Fact Sheet Just that, facts on what was sent, done and yada yada yada, interesting.

Current Projects Around the World What's being don right now? Find out here.

Quarterly (Magazine) Report online A magazine form (PDF) that you can see maps and figures etc. for the last quarter.

Current Needs...Ways you can help You'd be surprised at what you can do today! Don't have money to donate, no worries, there are plenty of other ways to help, and this site can direct you to all the info you'll need to get started (and finished!)

The BIG link page - Humanitarian Services This is the page that has it all; link after link to all kinds of information.

FAQ -get your answers here! A quick place to get answers to your questions.

post post: um, evidently I have no control over the order of the photos during posting and also where the text lands. Sorry folks, but I guess you'll figure it all out. ugh.

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