Friday, February 29, 2008

We had a GRAND time!

We had SO MUCH FUN! It was really really a great idea. I am so glad I went through with it. I am famous for my lousy parties, but hey, this one came off pretty well! A while back sis and I went to scope out good locations for a lunch. The music from street speakers, the tourists, and the time constraints in the restaurants led us to find a "secret" location. We checked out an idea I had, got a bit of an "o.k." from the people we needed to and decided to keep it a secret because, well, it would be more fun that way. (Pirate's like intrigue. It allows us to do more pirate-y things, like pillaging and running amok on deck. Plus it scares the beejeebees outta your guests!)

Chronicler and I met in Riverside, I parked the gramma SUV at Barnes and Noble and off we drove to DownTown Disney. We hauled our overloaded tote bags over our shoulders like pack mules and made our way in. Chronicler set up her table with pretty dishes and flatware, and her fabulous (seriously delicious) lunch while I went out the meeting point to greet the victims, um, guests.

I asked everyone to meet at Sephora, a black and white striped perfumery/make up store at the corner near LibbyLu, a neon pink death by faery princess and glitter heaven store for girls. My down fall up to this point was saying that the meeting point was also across from Build a Bear, which was totally wrong, it was across from a giant ice cream cone, but I digress.

I stood there under the scaffolding and construction (WTHeck????) in all my glory holding a ridiculous little airport sign "SoCAL Bloggers - DownTown Disney Meet and Greet 2008! BLOGGERS!" . Yea. "Hi! I'm S'mee! I'll be your personal dork today!" I was nothing less than a spectacle. Passersby would squint to read the sign and then have a curious look on their faces as if I were some sort of passive protester. I actually caught one gal taking my photo! When she saw me seeing her she quickly directed her camera towards another object and took another shot. One cute little 20something guy asked us if we were all meeting for the first time, he was all excited for us. I kind of wish he blogged; he could have joined us to, but he didn't so too bad for him! After about 20 minutes a security guard came by and told me he "had to read your sign ma'am". After he read it he said "Oh. O.k that's cool." "Yup, I'm meeting folks I don't's your sign!" Evidently I looked like the uni-bomber, only in sandals.

A few minutes later and Chronicler called me to inform me that, she too, in the "secret location" had been approached by security. All's well that ends well, after their conversation, we got 10 points for having a "great idea!" and well wishes for a great get together.

Susan was the first to arrive, then Huckleberry and his family and Hollywood and her girls came in; completing our small but happy group.

At this point I was planning on kidnapping and stealing away all these folks, but hey, I look just like my avatar and frankly, they all put up quite a fight, won and there you go. pfffft! No ransom notes, no plundering, no pirate's life for S'mee!

We headed out for the the "secret" location: the 5th floor outdoor patio of the Grand Californian Hotel, overlooking the pool and parts of California Adventure. It just made more sense to meet there in the quiet redwood patio than down in a restaurant where our time would be monitored, the children uncomfortable, and the visiting become a shouting match above the hubbub and noise of the shoppers. (and if anyone got out of line I could just throw them over board!)

We had a great salad:spinach with bleu cheese, chicken, apples, pecans, bacon and a yummy dressing. Crusty sour dough rolls with Irish butter, a new pomegranate drink that is both healthy and refreshing; and then a fresh (from scratch!) white cake with macerated maraschino cherries, rolled in to golf ball sized bonbons and dunked in the most delicious Sharffenberger's dark chocolate! Holy. Moley. Check out her site for the

We have great conversations and a ton of laughs. The only sad part of the day was when Pixie dropped her prized baby blanket (or what was left of it!) over the balcony and onto a third story roof. If she had dropped it just one foot to the left it would have gone directly onto a hotel guest's balcony and perhaps recovered, but alas, it is no more. Maybe it will comfort on of the other fantasy creatures that seem to hang out and about the grounds there. She was quickly soothed and went on to have a fun time stamping and playing with her magic wand.

We had bags of pirate booty with a red and black theme. A small pre-made accordion fold photo album to collect the day's photos in, a couple of fridge magnet photo frames, a jar of fresh Sugar Cookie Body Scrub, a pack of floral or heart themed note/greeting cards and a few chocolates. Chronicler gave each guest a vinyl "SoCAL Blogger" to place on our cars with a personality specific icon to boot! She also made a glass daisy pendant for Pixie! Susan gave each guest a c.d. compilation of hand picked songs with a blogger theme! I LOVE home made compilations, so this made my day!

The kids in the group got a small tote bag full of girly goodies to help entertain them while Mommy chatted and was otherwise occupado.

Everyone went home happy, full and laughed out! So there you have it! Keep an eye on the horizon, we just may have to do this again!

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's only been four years, but it seems longer!

Happy Anniversary to my favourite Leap Couple!

You guys have lasted all these "four" years, seems longer, but hey! Leave the kids alone and go have some deserve it!

(While they're out having a fun date I'll be meetin' and greetin'! See ya'all soon!)

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SoCAL Blogger Meet and Eat: FRIDAY!

If you've been keeping up lately, you know I have planned a (now rather small) "Meet and Eat" for SoCAL Bloggers.

I am excited to meet the few who are coming! I've planned a special lunch, being prepared by none other than my sis, the Food Chronicler! I spent a day (or two) preparing a few goodies to take home and even bought fake nails to try and impress the new folks I meet. Yes, I'm that shallow and my real nails look pretty bad right now.

Now all I need to do is lose that last 80 or so pounds before Friday!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm no Super Man

O.k. This has been a busy few days, but in the mean time another post asking you to fill in the blanks.

If you could have any "power" (think superhero stuff, mind reader, predicting the future, etc.) what would you choose and why? What would you do with it?

Me? I would choose the ability to disintegrate calories with a single snap! I would be everyone's best friend and heck! I'd look great!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Time Travel

Well, I took a little trip down to the new grand baby. He's having his baby blessing this weekend and I wanted a jump start on the party! So talk among your selves, I'll give you a subject to discuss:

If you could go back five years and change one thing, what would it be?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunset at the Oasis

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Spikes N 'Shrooms

Various cacti and lastly two random mushrooms that found a spot in the recently made marsh of the Joshua Tree Visitors' Center walkabout. There are plenty of downed palms and other trees and plants, either from nature or planned by the grounds keepers. With the recent storms, wind and rain have made the perfect home, well if you're a fun-gi!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Kelso, Roy's, & Joshua

So, because it feels like it has been forever since I picked up my camera, Thor indulged me as we drove home from Lost Wages last week.

He had to drive the long way home- and off the beaten path as it were, so lucky me, I got to take some new views in and saw things from what looked like another place and time. They were actually.

Amboy CA. and Roy's. A once working motel and gas station it has become just a speck on a map and a place for travelers to stop, buy expensive gas and soda from a machine, and take in the brightness that is almost too hard to look at in the midday sun. It's advertised as a "movie set" currently and there is a "security guard" who will talk to you if you ask. There is also the Amboy School tucked behind the blinding white rooms of the hotel, some history there, but you'll need to dig for it. (chronologically this was stop #2)

The old Spanish style church is in 29 Palms, just across the street from the entrance and visitors center into Joshua Tree . To me, it looked like I was in a scene from a Mexican movie. I really couldn't stop taking photos of it. The church is open; and Catholic, and sadly that is all the information I have on it. (stop #3)

Kelso (stop #1) has a rich past as a depot stop halfway between nowhere and been there in the Mojave Desert. Literally the only building for hours. It has been restored -or kept in tact, nicely.

As we walked through, the staff busied themselves while asking politely if you required anything, then left you to explore on your own. If asked, they pointed directions, offered antidotes, and always smiled. They also joked with each other in the basement (which is being made into an art museum) as they hung photographs, old and quite modern, of the surrounding area.

There are three floors, many of which are left as they were used in the past. A small gift shop, and plenty of free handouts with pertinent information readily available. The famed "lunch room" is closed for business. You can stroll all around the marble counter and sit in the lacquered swivel chairs all you want, but no tuna sandwiches, no cherry phosphates will be forthcoming from the kitchen.

I took liberties with the photos. Changed them just a bit with the computer. They just didn't seem as nice in true colour. What do you think?

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Weird Science!

Calcium Chloride is used for all kinds of things. Literally hundreds of uses from controlling dust to an ingredient in Cadbury Chocolates! But who knew it looked so pretty in the afternoon sun?

Bristol Dry Lake is near Amboy, CA in the Mojave Desert. As Thor and I drove past the enormous beds I was impressed with the extremely bright sparkle of the pre-processed mineral. It shown like glittery new fallen snow. The photos truly do not show the view we had.

The basic process is this: Find or create a flat level surface on the land. Flood said parcel with a good dose of plain ol' water and wait. After a bit of time the calcium chloride will rise to the top, crystallize and then it's scraped off and taken to the plant for processing and diversification. There are specific plains that have been squared off and made more efficient for the processing equipment. The day we drove through they were recognizable, but dwarfed in beauty by what Nature did all by herself.

Seriously, this landscape was absolutely gorgeous! It went on for miles and miles! It was especially grand because we caught the whole lake bed directly after the latest storm and the whole of it was soaked! Crystals covered the bed for as far as the eye could see, and shimmered in the sun with a bright white against the ice blue of the water and the deep blue sky.

The fragile crust flaked and chipped, and also had veins here and there. Along the edges of the lake,near the mountains and roadsides, where the land rises just enough, the gravel and grit keep the water and crystals from working their magic.

However, Nature finds a way to keep beautifying herself and even in the pebbles of an arid desert road grow sweet delicate flowers!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Just in time for Fashion Week

There are those who live for Fashion Week. The week when all the top designers show off what's new and what trends will be set. As we traveled back into California, we could see the fresh new colours on the horizon for spring!

It seems that purple is the new brown! Anything sporting beige or gray is so last season! The rain has come in and nature is showing off!

Yellow is the perfect contrast to the shades of lavender we saw, and the perfect way to show off your "stems"!

Everyone knows that accessories make the outfit complete, and these flouncy bell shaped numbers really grab the attention of any passerby!

Last but not least, remember that every girl loves her jewelery and these little coral coloured pearls hit the mark. So there you have it! If you're in town or out in the country be sure to take time to smell the flowers! And think Spring!

All photos taken between Kelso and 29 Palms in the Mojave Desert National Preserve. Feb. 15, 2008

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The wind beneath my wings is blowing at about 70mph!

I don't know about Monday morning, however the winds we are feeling currently are very strong and loud! They are blowing through the window and out the door into the hallway making a lovely high pitched siren type noise. The clouds gathered this afternoon and brought wind with them. It got colder and colder (55h-37l) as the evening wore on and the winds seem to just be gaining momentum! I think we are in for an interesting night. We are on the tenth floor and it just feels like the window is open! lol The following is a report from Monday:

"The National Weather Service reported that wind gusts between 65 and 72 mph were recorded at Mt. Charleston and Red Rock Canyon early Monday morning. The areas most likely to see potentially damaging winds are the east slopes of mountain ranges, such as the western side of the Las Vegas Valley."

There is that Emergency Broadcast System scrolling banner at the bottom of the tv screen telling us we are experiencing an High Wind Alert. No Duh! lol

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When smoke gets in your eyes

We made the trip into Vegas yesterday. What a day. I'll save that for another post... any who, it always hits me when I arrive at any hotel in this town that I am definitely a California girl.

As we head into the hotel the smell of smoke just permeates the air. While we were in line at check in on of Thor's business associates (From Oakland, CA) arrives. First thing out of his mouth after the initial greeting is, "Wow! I still can't get over all the smoke! My dry cleaning bills are always sky high when I come home from Vegas!" At dinner, another associate (Riverside, CA) brings up the fact that there is really no "smoking/non-smoking" section in restaurants, it's all the same after ten minutes.

Vermont is for Lovers. Nevada is for smokers. California is for whiners.

I went to bed with a small migraine and woke up with a sore throat. I'm a wuss. As a kid both parents smoked plenty. After they quit I guess I developed an allergy of sorts. So I'm in the shower and then heading out to fresher air.

Any ideas out there on how to avoid the smoke in a public place without causing a scene or making others feel as lousy as I do?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Celebrity Sighting!

Hey! Lookie over there! I see a celebrity! Me! I'm a guest poster (or is the poser???) at Mormon Mommy Wars today! Check me out!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Me and Dory

I remember being a (very) young bride; and life, it seemed, would never get around to happening for me. I felt then, and still do at times, that I had lived through a tumultuous childhood fraught with many trials that not one of my peers had. I was a bottom feeder, and I felt as though I would never see the top of the tank. Still, there was sibling love, remembrances of giggles and good times, and hope.

I was 18 and my new husband was a very old and wise 19. We moved into a small apartment in a bad neighborhood and thrived on the extra $12.00 a week we had after we paid all our bills. We kind of threw ourselves into the deep end and learned to swim with the currents. Tuna was 52cents a can then. I would measure the economy by that can of tuna for years. Anyone wanting to know our fiduciary skills could monitor it easily by checking out the counter in the kitchen. It would be 20+ years before we would splurge on paper towels.

Prior to our marriage Thor and I had long discussions on children, how many, how soon, how to rear, where to rear them, what kinds of discipline, even if they would share rooms or get a car at 16 if we had money enough. We made goals for home, education, work, and missions before we ever "walked down the aisle." One of those goals was to retire by age 40. We did the math and decided that we could do it.

Well, time goes by and the storms came and went. But you know, even with several years of absolutely no work (hello 80's recession) we were still 'vested' and eligible for retirement at age 42. Wisdom somehow comes with age (at least one hopes), and with that we changed gears and decided that in this new economy, tuna @ $3.49, we probably should continue working and bank more hours into the pension fund. "...just keep swimming!"

In a way it has proven to be a greater blessing than I had anticipated. In these later years Thor's job remained in the same field, but his duties and responsibilities changed. He was now working behind a desk, and often behind the wheel or in the air. He has been sent all over the US and Canada to learn and provide a better way of life for those in his company. He has had opportunities and experiences we never dreamed of. I have also.

As a little girl I could never have hoped for the blessings I have been given. For the trips with Thor to Alaska or Hawaii, to Washington and Washington D.C., to Las Vegas (which I am never really fond of, but I do enjoy being with Thor) and Monterey. Heck, up until 8 or so years ago I had never even considered getting on a plane!

I have met all different people and seen many different cities. I head for the 'sights' while Thor is stuck in a basement. At night we drive to see what the non-tourists do and where they live. I am always able to find interesting places and new things, even if I have been there before.

Tomorrow we head out again to Las Vegas. I will visit with some family and do a lot of room staying! I can catch up on some much needed reading and do a bit of photo shooting. I'll be sure to post the days finds.

I'm not really sure what this post is about other than the idea of sometimes life throws you into the deep end, you get chased by sharks, you ride the swells and surf the waves. As a child I learned so much more because of the 'breakers'. As an adult the 'waves' have also taught me, but they have also been terrific fun.

I have made it to the top of the tank many times during my life. For the most part I live among the kelp, in the middle, a little above and a little below. I just keep swimming.

In the end, looking back, my curvy little knot in the string, my swim in life's ocean, has been very blessed. I am pretty blessed.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The really odd meme:

What kind of soap do you have in your bathtub/shower right now?
One bar of French milled soap, Thor's. One each of the following: SoftSoap Pink Grapefruit, Oil of Olay Body Ribbons, Oil of Olay Complete Body Wash, Neutrogena Sesame Body Oil, Homemade Body Sugar Slough, Dove Shampoo, Pantene Shampoo, Pantene Conditioner, Head and Shoulders Shampoo, Biolage Shampoo, Biolage Conditioner. yeah, there's a lot of stuff in there right now. (and I didn't even get into the pumice stones, loofas, or shaving stuff.)

What color or design is on your shower curtain?

Master bath has glass doors and a (needs to be thrown out, faded) creme coloured Brussels Lace valance. Guest/kids bath has a bright white chenille curtain and valance with a clear liner.

What would you change about your living room?
If I had carte blanche I would tear the walls out and reconfigure the whole of it to make it more 'large-family-visiting' friendly. However, that isn't an option, so what I would and probably by the end of the year will do is exchange the living room for the family room. Repaint, declutter, and actually polish the floors!

How many plants are in your home?
Sweet Marie. Too many to count. Seriously. I wanted a 'tropical' look so I have plants literally everywhere! That, and I love fresh flowers, so I usually have an arrangement in the family room and also on the table. This week I have 2 very large arrangements due to a special occasion. My house is crazy with plants right now.

Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty?

Clean. I tend to turn it on late evening if I have a full load.

Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
Glass. I can not stand plastic! Wanna terrify me? Force me to drink out of tupperware!

Do you have iced tea, made in a pitcher, right now?
No, I never would. I am not a huge fan of grass (or flower or spice or whatever) flavoured water. e-gads! blech!

Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?
No, but it kind of sounds good even though I am freezing!

So, what is in your fridge?

Milk, cream, water, and a bottle of Naked Juice and Vitamin Water. A bowl of home made chicken stock (waiting for dinner!), Diet Dr. Pepper and diet Pepsi -both caffeine free-for Thor. Organic Omega3 eggs. Fresh Euro greens. CELERY!!! (lately I am really eating this stuff). Carrots, mixed peppers. Oranges. Goat cheese, sharp cheddar, and snack cheese wedges. Tortillas. Many condiments both sweet and savory. and, unfortunately leftovers.

What's on top of your refrigerator?

Ugh! I just this last week made a promise to myself to rid the top of the fridge of caught me! A 'lazy Susan', a large jar of cookie cutters, a floral bowl, and those little glass 'stones' to use in floral arrangements.

White or wheat bread?
Currently a really good multigrain with nuts and whole seeds....really good!

Comet or Soft Scrub?

Neither. Bon Ami for light clean up. Ajax with bleach for the sinks that can handle it, CLR for fiberglass on the fiberglass when it needs it. (which btw, I despise! Bring on the tile or rock or stone or cement...anything but fiberglass!)

Is your bed made now?

yikes, no. Can I use laundry day as an excuse??? I'm not doing laundry, but can I use it as an excuse?

Is your closet organized?
For the most part. We have extremely small closets and very little storage, so the closets get really filled. That said, everything has its' place. I organize by colour, sleeve length, season, and use. I use shoe racks. I have tap lights inside the sliding doors so I can see what's in there in the dark! There are baskets for towels. Specific shelf space for storage items, luggage, shelves for purses, you get the idea.

Can you describe your flashlight?
Our (block's) power goes out pretty much any time we have a storm or strong wind. So we have shake lights in the night stands, a rechargeable in the kitchen, another shaker at the entry. A huge 6volt and camp lantern type flash lights in the hall closet. Every car has a shaker. We have a lot of flash lights. (if they go bad we also have candles and kerosene lanterns!)

If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
Holy Holy. Right now it is full of things for a garage sale. (FEB. 22/23 BE THERE! BE THERE! BE THERE!) Hopefully after that, the garage will be amazing!

I would like to tag: the Middle Hip Sis, the Older Hip Sis, Mustang Sally and Susan! hey, I just wanna see what's in your fridge.

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Do me a favour, 'k?

Alright, it's the weekend and you probably have tons of other stuff to do. But, if you have an extra 20 minutes (I promise it's really only 20 minutes), take a gander at the link to the right. The one that says "The Story of Stuff, with Annie Leonard".

It's easy to understand, has basic information we all need to know, and doesn't really preach at the end, just lets you decide what to do with the information she has given you. That's easy.

Please, please, please, if you do choose to follow the link, give yourself the 20 minutes and actually watch the entire presentation. She makes some very good points, most of us already know, but, for most of us, we need reminding of. Now shoo, go on now, watch and relearn.


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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wakey, Wakey

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fire up the bus SoCAL Bloggers!

SoCAL Bloggers-

Meet and Eat!
Friday, February 29, 11:00

I'm thinking of a number of different places for lunch*, and I will need to give them a "head's up!" So PLEASE RSVP via S'mee mail, just to the right in the sidebar. I will email you all back with the details as I get them.

Feel free to invite your spouse, kids, or any other SoCAL Bloggers you know, the more the merrier. Essentially it's just a fun day to put a name to a face, and have a good laugh...hmm that sounded better in my head, but you get the idea!

This is a "No Host Lunch", so bring your cash.

*Lunch locations/options will be posted in an e-mail. Price ranges = $10-$30 per person. If you have a preference for a price range or restaurant let me know in your e-mail.

Now write me an e-mail and let's get this bus on the road!

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008


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Monday, February 04, 2008

The Hinckley Challenge

To honour the life of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who asked us to read the Book of Mormon, and make it a part of our lives, a web site has been set up to do just that. The challenge is to read the book from cover to cover in 97 days. This is going to be great!

If you'd like to join me just click the green lettering to the right of the screen.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Lessons in Art

"Mother, child, and Daddy...unfinished work"

A while back I posted the water colour painting I was working on. I have never had any 'formal' art training outside of high school, so when it comes to this medium I am well challenged. Because the lack of experience, I am now working on painting number 3. Yes 3.
"Detail of child"

If I make a mistake with acrylics or oils, I can scrape most of the paint off, wait for it to dry and begin again right over the mistake. The mistake is still there, just well hidden and only I know it's there. Not so with water colours. Or maybe, but I have no clue as how to fix a blooper, so I begin again. Each painting has taught me something new and I continue to learn with each stroke. Not too much here, lighter hand there, layer, layer, layer.
"Detail of scales on the mermaid child"

Yesterday I made a rather "duh" mistake. In my enthusiasm for something that I thought was going well, I rushed it. I forgot about the layers; and this morning when I woke up, again, it hit me. "How am I going to get around fixing this without having to redraw, repaint yet another painting?" I did a little research and headed out to the art supplier here in The Boonies, and spent some time pondering in the aisle. I came home and experimented with the former painting and tried to teach myself a new technique. It worked well enough to keep me from having to start from scratch.
"Detail of illuminated metallic scales on mermaid child. oops, blurry."

So here I am this evening assessing the day's work. My back and shoulders are sore from standing too long in one place and focusing without taking good breaks. What I have I learned?

It's called water colour for a reason, water is very important. Paper is also important. Don't go cheap. Get the best you can, pay the higher price. The better the paper the less it will bubble and curl, the better it accepts your paint.

The water colour paper wants to be prepared before you start in on it. Give it a little water before the paint and it will reward you. Keep adding water as you paint, it keeps the lines from dragging and smudging.

Think ahead and visualize what objects are in the foreground and which will be in the back. In other words, make a plan.

Use a 'masking agent' if you need to block washes from specific spaces on the paper.

No matter how well I try to hide my mistakes, I'll know they're there.

It's like life I guess. Christ was often referred to as Living Water, an Artist, and we, His canvas. We need to accept the Water and we need to be the best we can, to live up to our cost. As in the painting, we need to constantly keep Water in our painting, Christ in our life. We need to have a plan, to keep focused on those things which are just background, and those things which need our attention most.

God has given me commandments to use as a protection for those parts of my canvas I need to keep clean. It's like the masking agent for my life.

Most importantly we have been given the opportunity to repair mistakes. Yesterday I forgot the plan, I rushed into a part of my painting that should have waited. It could have ruined the entire painting, but I was able to use tools, and with patience and work, paint over the mistake. The painting is fine, just as it would have been had I not rushed. It's like repentance. Christ's atonement has given me a way to repair my personal canvas and make it as new. The thing is, even though I make mistakes, I know they are there, but He takes them completely away. I am clean again.

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