Monday, December 31, 2007

a year of monthly photos

In lieu of a list of resolutions: a year in review; as it were. Some of my favourite photos, one from each month, save March when I evidently bonked it. If you must know a resolution let it be this: "two". Don't ask, I won't tell, however I will let you know if I can't keep it.

Thanks to everyone who reads daily or otherwise, I appreciate it. Thanks to those of you who comment, I really appreciate that! May you reach your goals for the new year and make a few good memories as well. May we all become closer to those we love, more forgiving, more compassionate, and find humour in life in general.

Happy New Year everyone.










Unfortunately no photo for March. What happened?



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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

blessings journal

In his talk, O Remember, Remember President Eyring encouraged us to write down the blessings in our lives on a daily basis. An excerpt from that talk:

"When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.

He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.

I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.

The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, “Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when . . . ” and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day.

My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. You remember that song we sometimes sing: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

By clicking on the link you can take the time to read the entire talk, which is well worth the extra few minutes. President Eyring is an amazing man with a keen mind and great insights. He's one of my favorites!

I am going to take his advice. I already have a journal picked out and I am going to try and make this a daily habit. How about you? Why not go out, find a great new journal that will inspire you to write down those good, positive things in your life? Wouldn't it be wonderful, to read back on this next year and see just how many good things came your way each day? It would be such a great way to live, seeing the good. Many of the blogs out there participate in daily gratitudes, that's awesome!

So we have a few days to go out and get ourselves ready. Or if you already have a blank journal lying around, how about tonight? Surely good things happened over the Christmas Holiday that insured many blessings on your family. Why not write them down?

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas at S'mee's

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Satan is in the front yard, and he's on fire.

I have been really busy the past few days; anyone else??? Yeah, well I have slacked on my everyday writing bloggity goodness. (o.k. usually just a daily update on my mundane life) Anywho, I got to thinking, What would be a good post about Christmas? Mulling over Christmas memories I came back to this one...enjoy.

A few years ago, well more like 20, we had a group of "Sister" Missionaries. It was so fun to have 6 ladies in our area who were serving the Lord. They all lived in this tiny apartment on a busy street, a duplex actually, shared with an elderly couple who owned the property.

We had become close to the Sisters, invited them to dinner, went out on "splits" with them and generally tried to be helpful. When Christmas came around we naturally felt they deserved some special considerations. Thor and I bought them a little Christmas tree and then I dug through my treasures and came up with a rather large box of Christmas ornaments.

Not just any ornaments, the ones from my childhood. Who else would treat them so nicely? Who else would appreciate the sentimentality of such a box? All the ornaments I made as a little kid and as a young woman, and a few that my own kids had made...all hand made and all the ones that you treasure. Sister Missionaries deserved my best, so I wrapped them up and took them over to the apartment.

They were so appreciative. They could hardly believe that we gave them the tree and means to decorate it. They had such a great time that night, took photos, and showed it off to the next door neighbors. For about two weeks they looked forward to coming home after a long day and seeing the pretty lights and glittered goodies. All until one night.

We were awakened by a call at 3 something o'clock in the morning by a local police officer. He wanted to inform us that our tree and ornaments had been in a fire and destroyed. We were so panicked! We envisioned the tiny duplex in flames and all the occupants fleeing into the freezing night air. Not so. The officer explained that all the tenants were safe and that except for the tree and a bit of the front yard all was well and we could in get the details in the morning.

We drove over first thing to see if everyone was fine and found the Sisters in a tizzy. It seemed that one of the Sisters had been having visions for quite sometime, visions she had kept to herself until that night. Jesus had come to her and informed her that Satan lived in the Christmas tree and needed to be destroyed. So she made a plan. She would wake up in the middle of the night when all others were asleep, take the entire tree to the front yard and set it on fire without hesitation. And so it was.

By the time the fire department arrived the tree was cremated and the yard beginning to take on the flames. All was put out and the sisters asked to file a report. (o.k. now, in my head, I am trying to see what it would have looked like for anyone on that busy street, even at 2:00 a.m., to drive by and see that tree in flames! What a sight! Holy Cow!)

In the end the poor visionary sister was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and sent home for treatment. The other sisters were assigned a new companion, and they went on to serve great missions. But I am sure they, as we, will remember the year that Satan lived in a Christmas tree!

Now, lest anyone feel that I am mocking or making fun of a mental illness, no. Please don't go there. We actually have family members who suffer (and I mean that in the most serious tone possible- suffer) with this illness. It is not fun, it's tragic. That said, the situation was kind of funny. Frankly, it was devastating at the time to lose all of our most precious ornaments, ones that were irreplaceable, but when you think about it, what a way to go and I can and do laugh about it now!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days

Not your average 12 days, give it a try. After the first three days this turns, in a very good and fun way. Enjoy!

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Christmas Tradition Swap!

Look what I got in the mail today! The lovely Stephanie (sorry, no blog) sent me this package of goodies. We are supposed to send a favorite holiday tradition with a tutorial "how to", a music c.d. , one hand made ornament, a recipe, and any other items we think would make a great gift.

Stephanie sent me an advent calendar -with instructions, a c.d with all kinds of different artists, and a little handmade origami fish! In addition to those was a package of fondue cheese (she's from Wisconsin!), a chocolate advent calendar, a set of DIY knitting needles, a favoured book from her childhood full of Christmas stories, and a stack of interesting papers, cards, and stickers!

I sent Stephanie the little handmade house (from the previous post), some sheet music (she plays piano and guitar), a couple of different chocolate goodies, a favourite recipe for cookies, 3 of my world famous Christmas c.d.s (lol), a spool of French ribbon and a favourite Christmas story, and a package for under the tree that go along with another tradition. (I think that's it... I sent it before I photographed it, ugh!)

It's been a great time getting to know Stephanie and I hope she enjoys the package I sent her too!

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Curious George!

For the last two days I have been in the jungle! And at the lake. And building New York. My son and his wife are getting ready for baby number one, a boy, and they wanted his room to be decorated as a Curious George book. Each wall will be a different adventure. This top photo shows the almost complete (still need to add finishing touches to the tops of those palm trees) corner that takes George from the lake to the jungle. (if you look closely enough you can see the chalk outlines for fish in the lake)
Paint cans abound! However this shows how cute the jungle is going to be when we finish the tree tops! Oh and we're going to add some flowers in there too. Mommy loves her orchids, so we're going to have some growing in the jungle.
The jungle corner wraps around into Central Park and down into New York City! Lots and lots of high rise buildings! The Brooklyn Bridge, The Chrysler Building or is it Met Life?, Empire State Building, and of course a toy store, book store, and others!
Miss Liberty is out there in the harbour, George will be flying with the Man with the Yellow Hat in a helicopter, and the city wraps around to the third wall. On that wall (no photo yet) will be more tall buildings and a Fire House with "real" fake brick! George will be balancing on his blue and red ball as he goes down the street.

The 4th wall is where poor George falls into the lake, fascinated by the fish in the water. A small yellow pier and a few dragon flies will complete the total cartoon look. We took the cartoon drawings from the many stories and tried to put them on the wall as closely as possible, telling a few of his more famous adventures.

Tomorrow we head out to the OC to move the RDH back home for two weeks - I'm excited to have her home again for a bit- (she's in between apartments over the holidays), and then tamale night we have a schmancy business dinner. Always busy, but always fun!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Vintage Paper Houses

Remember when you were a little girl and your Gramma would let you help her decorate her tree? I remember going to my Gramma's and seeing all the great hand blown Santa's, the mercury glass globes, and of course the paper houses with cellophane windows. I loved those tiny little houses! Pastel colours and glittery and perfect for sitting atop a twinkle light.
I decided that I would try my hand at making on myself. I Made a pattern from graph paper first, then transfered my design onto cardboard. I used hot glue to affix each piece and then white glue to GLITTER! it up. (I waited all day to get to the glitter.)
I outlined each opening with more glitter, it got a bit gooey, I'll have to reign myself in a bit more next time!
I put all the pieces in a 200 degree oven for about five minutes to help it cure, then glued that baby together and gave her a test run on the tree.
I love it! I need to tweak the pattern just a bit, but as soon as I do I'll have one up on the tutorials page. I want a whole housing track!

Today was the last day to get our Traditions exchange in the mail. So I added my little house, some sheet music, chocolates, a story, a recipe, some Christmas decorations, and a spool of French Wire ribbon with a tutorial; and a note explaining the whole lot. I hope Stephanie enjoys the goodies!

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mixed baby greens with Gorgonzola, candied walnuts, craisins, and raspberry balsamic dressing.
So these are the only two photos I can post and still keep fairly anonymous, but you'll get the idea. All in all the food was great, very tasty, well appreciated; and the evening enjoyed by those who came. Unfortunately it was considered a flop.

We sent (as in snail mail) out 400 (yes- four hundred) invitations, one to every adult single in the area. We expected about 110 to come based on last year's attendance. Then we got a bad weather forecast and it came true: Wind, COLD, and rain on and off all day long. We ended up with around 40 guests. Unfortunately out of those 40 we only had 12 (TWELVE!) single adults actually attend. All others were in leadership or entertainers. UGH! The weather is a definite factor, however, we have had worse in the past and still had better turn out.

This is so disappointing. We think much of the problem has to do with communication and offering rides to the event. Too many of these adults are elderly who do not like going out by themselves at night, driving after dark or being in the uncomfortable weather. All of these things have been addressed in the past, however this year the unit leadership dropped the ball and left the singles feeling without options. In the past, leadership made assignments that insured the singles had a driver, had someone to visit and eat with, and someone to who would badger them into going and having a good time or else! Not so this year and it showed.

I am so disappointed. I know of several ladies who I missed there tonight. No one likes being alone, and tonight they stayed home because someone didn't insist they come. Grrrr.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

I woke up yesterday morning at 4:23. With the flu. THE FLU! Holy E-gads people! Thor got this flu and has had it for a few days now, and then I woke up and thought my stomach was being forcibly removed via my mouth. I have never had such violence!

I went back to bed and got up again at 5:48....P.M.! I stayed in bed ALL day long only getting up to violently recycle whatever body fluids were left in my stomach and then to just wrench my poor tummy inside out. My tummy still hurts just from the exorcism! Let me tell you, however, I got off easy. Poor Thor is still suffering from this evil.

I am back today. In jammies and slippers and sipping water every now and then. I am two days behind with a zillion naked trees and absolutely no shopping done, but hey, the tummy demons have subsided! Whooo!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

naked trees

A few lights in the plants and one sad litle tree on the desk top waiting for some sort of theme.
On either side of the a moire there are two trees, one with coloured lights, the other with white.
A small forest to frame one of the Nativities. ...still pondering exactly what ornaments would compliment this scene.
Another Nativity, this time flanked on both sides with one small multi-coloured tree and another 7 foot tree, which has dead lights...grrr. So first assignment is fixing those lights! Then deciding what to put on both those trees!

There are a few more trees surrounding the train and one on the buffet sideboard; that one, a white feather tree, is already finished with pastel gold, creme, and olive balls. Thank goodness one is done! Hah! Two down, 12 to go!

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

O.k. I get it. Christmas is really a pagan holiday transformed into a Christian celebration as a way to soothed those who converted and missed the good ol' winter solstice festivities. Add Santa to the mix a zillion years later and bah humbug, you got yourself a commercialized birthday party for corporate American and otherwise.

Today, again, I heard the dismal complaints of "We just got over Thanksgiving!" (as if giving thanks is something one should get over) and "When I was a kid we put up the tree on Christmas Eve!" And to that I say "Bah! Humbug!" I am a reformed Scrooge, the guy who says to Christmas, "Bring it on!"

I love Christmas. I do. I do! What is the matter with celebrating? Why can't I have a tree (or 24) up to sparkle and shine? "All the trees distort the true meaning of Christmas!" What's wrong with making lists and stuffing stockings, and sugar cookies, and sneaking around trying to make someone happier than they were the day before?

"Santa is Satan spelled by a dyslexic!" "When you lie to your children once they will never believe you again!" C'mon, really? So you never read faery tales or hide quarters under a toothless child? You've never 'fudged' or out and out lied to your kid? How 'bout that time they made you three scorched dry eggs, a stack of pancakes, watery juice and five pieces of warm bread for Mother's Day breakfast?

In our house we pray in the name of Jesus Christ at least 5 times a day. There are 3 hours of church every Sunday that teach the life and words of Christ. We have illustrations from artists' who have devoted their lives trying to capture what a Saviour would look like, in every room of our home, save the bathroom. We set goals for our lives so that someday we can stand in His presence. Jesus is more than just a once a year holiday.

Jesus Christ was born during the spring actually, during the time of taxes. But does that mean we can't celebrate His birth in December? How about celebrating His life daily? Because He is such a part of our life daily, our children and now our grandchildren, know He is real. We talk about Santa and elves for a few weeks... and the kids eventually figure it all out. Who is real, who is not. What they can feel, and what is just excitement.

In my book I think making a huge hoopla about Christmas is to be embraced, encouraged! I love that we get all excited. Yeah gifts are cool, and looking at the lights is a beautiful experience. All the gingerbread boys in the world will never diminish the real reason the truth about the Saviour's birth if we live for Him daily, they add to it.

So for me, the house will look absolutely ridiculous for about three to five weeks, we will sing carols and hymns loudly, we will eat ourselves silly and drink as much peppermint chocolate as humanly possible, and read and re-read the Christmas story, um make that the historical account of our Lord's birth, and relish in the time of year set aside for peace on Earth and pure joy.

Raise a glass of warm cider, say a prayer of thanks in your heart, and praise the Lord for His gifts to each of us. And don't be ashamed to have a good celebration.

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Raymond Crowe - A Wonderful World

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

I have been trying to post everyday for about three months now, however if there was a day that was incredibly busy or most weekends, I didn't worry. Then came NaBloPoMo and I committed!

Well today is December 1st and that means no more pressure! I made it through, grabbed a badge and took a deep cleansing breath!

The Dublin City Girl, has committed to doing some guerrilla art all month long. December is a tad busy for me to commit to that, but I like the idea, so perhaps in January?

BooMama is gearing up and inviting all to her bloggy Christmas Tour of Homes 2007 which I always enjoy walking through. I always think I am going to participate and then something happens and I don't....maybe, maybe.

What I am participating in is the Holiday Traditions Exchange made possible by the lovely folks at Montessori by Hand. So there will be a few posts on that soon. Everything needs to be in the mail by the 10th. I am very excited!!!

So that's it for today. I am off to scale tree tops and offer up all the glitterati I can today!

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