Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When your husband insists on taking you to a Hole in the Wall...

It was Thor's birthday so he got to choose where we went for the day:

Hole in the Wall.

A great road trip out through the Eastern Mojave National Preserve. I've been to a few of the places we drove to/through that day, but never out to Hole in the Wall. It's a favourite of the kids, but somehow, each time Thor and the kids went out I had to work or was otherwise occupied. The drive was fabulous, the day was warm (YES!) and we headed out through 29 Palms, Kelso Junction, Old Route 66, and on to Hole in the Wall.

Hole in the Wall is beautiful and interesting HUGE rock formations made from volcanic activity. The colours are amazing!
According to the USGS Geology Parks Guide:

"Hidden Violence!

Visitors to Mojave National Preserve are fascinated by the brightly colored, fantastically sculpted rocks at Hole in the Wall. Little do they know that these intricate forms hold the key to a devastating and violent episode in Mojave's geological past.

About 18.5 million years ago, a powerful volcanic eruption blasted outward from the nearby Woods Mountains. Propelled by the force of rapidly rising and expanding gasses, a ground-hugging cloud of ash and rock fragments spread out at near super-sonic speeds across the countryside. Some of the rocks thrown out by the blast are 14-20 meters (60 feet) across - the largest ever documented!

Hot, suffocating ash buried every living thing in the path of the blast. An area of over 600 km2 was covered with ash and rock fragments so hot that they welded together after they reached the ground. The toasted and fossilized remains of birds, mammals, and plants lie entombed beneath the volcanic tuff that forms the colorful cliffs of Hole in the Wall.

Records of many more catastrophic volcanic blasts can be seen as you drive through the Preserve."

So the moral of the story here is: If your hubby decides to take you out on his birthday and suggest you go to a Hole in the Wall, GO!

More photos to follow tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


If you have 15 minutes, you willnot regret watching this little piece of greatness. And by the way, you look fabulous in the light of the keyboard. No really. You're awesome!

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Red Envelope Project

(If I keep stealing other people's posts, blogging is gonna get really easy!) This entire post is copied from Real Mom....

OK – I don’t really have a sponsor, but this is a political thing. So any who are not of the conservative persuasion might want to check back on another post.

I got an email from a friend the other day asking to participate in something to protest, peacefully, the presidents stand on abortion. Or Voluntary Population Planning, as he puts it.

I believe we should respect the office of president and support him in his difficult job. But I don’t think that means we should sit idly by while things happen we don’t approve of.

So someone had a great idea of the RED ENVELOPE PROJECT. I hadn’t ever heard of it before, but I really like the idea. A simple, peaceful way to send a message.

Here is the email I received:

Get red envelopes or postcards and mail them on March 31st to the White House
When: March 31st, 2009
Get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinkos, or at party supply stores.

On the front, address it to
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington , D.C. 20500

On the back, write the following message:

“This envelope represents one child who died because of an abortion.It is empty because the life that was taken is now unable to be a part of our world.”

We will mail the envelopes out March 31st, 2009. Put it in the mail, and send it. Then forward this event to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died [in the U.S.] before having a chance to live. It may seem that those who believe abortion is wrong are in a minority. It may seem like we have no voice and it's shameful to even bring it up. Let us show our President and the world that the voices of those of us who do not believe abortion is acceptable are not silent and must be heard. Together we can change the heart of The President and save the lives of millions of children.

So I want to call on my blogging buddies, friends and family to join this protest. Whether or not it works, I will feel better for trying.

If you need an envelope, email me. I will send you one or two.

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Do One Thing! -Project Noah 22-24

O.k. kids, due to my lack of attention we are a few weeks behind, so this week I am posting to catch us all up.

Week 22: 48 oz., canned orange or tomato juice for 72 hour kit.

Hint: Post emergency numbers at all phones in the house.

Week 23: 1 lb. Peanut butter for 72 hour kit.

Hint: Try to cook for 3 days from your food storage.

S'mee's suggestion: One way to insure you rotate you supply and keep it fresh is to make (at least) one day's meals each week from your storage.

Week 24: 1 gallon of water for 72 hour kit.

Hint: Learn "Water Safety". (I 'm guessing this could mean swimming, boating, and even how to treat tainted water to make it safe for drinking!)

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Basic Groveling, but very Important!

The following is a complete re-post from my friend Willis , who has explained this much better than I could have:

Guilt Upon Accusation: Would You Lose Your Connection?

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!In popular culture, New Zealand is known as the place where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed or the home of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords.

Anyone who knows anything about rugby knows the best rugby in the world is played by the New Zealand national team, the All Blacks. (So named because their uniforms are all black.)

In fact, all black with a silver fern is the symbol known world wide perhaps better than the NZ flag (often confused with the more quady Australian flag.)

But on Monday, all black will be associated with a protest going on in New Zealand. The protest has to do with an idea that could have a chilling effect on internet users everywhere.

A New Zealand law, called the Guilt Upon Accusation or S92a, is set to go into effect this week. This part of a new copyright law would require internet service providers to disconnect any one accused of copyright violation.


Anyone accused of file sharing, sampling or misuse of copyrighted images will be disconnected from the internet. No investigation. No trial. No conviction. ISPs will be required to reveal user identity of the accused. No warrant or checking on the validity of the claim.

The Creative Freedom Foundation has organized petition drives and a march on Parliament. So websites and blogs are going dark all over New Zealand on Monday as part of the protest. Others around the world are changing avatars and profile pics to a black square.

This law is a ham handed attempt by media companies to scare internet users. The population of New Zealand is easily dwarfed by many an individual city in many parts of the world. It’s not about the number of people involved. It’s about the rights being taken without due process. New Zealand is a stable democracy. We should be concerned with what happens there.

This blog will not go off line on Monday. (I couldn’t get it back the last time I did that.) But I will be changing profile pics. Perhaps you’ll join me.

I am joining Willis. Tomorrow my site will not be "down", I'm not sure exactly what I can do, but I won't be "here", things will be different, and hopefully, someone will take notice. Thanks, and if you can join, that would be great too.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gramma's Oatmeal

Many times I have tried to explain the difference between my Gramma's way of making oatmeal and what the world usually makes as oatmeal. For me, they couldn't be further apart!

Last week when I was with my Father in law he asked me to make them some "Coaches Oats". He explained to me how I would take one bite and be hooked because the texture of Coaches Oats was amazing. I have to agree, compared to most people's cooked oatmeal the Coaches Oats had a much better texture, a good bite, and a great oatmeal taste, however they still couldn't beat what I grew up on.

Gramma's way of cooking the regular Quaker Oats makes a great -firm but tender- (al dente) oatmeal that has absolutely no "oatmeal goo", which, sadly, the Coaches Oats still had a bit of.

I wish I could teach you her method on line, but it is a matter of feel rather than anything else. The feel of the amount of raw oats opposed to the water you cook them in, how and when to stir to avoid the goo, how long to let it cook. In three to five minutes you'll be amazed at the difference in taste, texture, and how much people want to eat it!

When the kids were little I would add chopped nuts, craisins, raisins, cinnamon, and we'd call it "Puppy Chow". Now my Grand-kids love to eat "Puppy Chow" when they are here for breakfast. Thor likes it with brown sugar and "oatmeal cookie" spices. For me, I could eat this as in the photo, as "Puppy Chow", or with a bit of white sugar and cold milk. Amazing taste and texture no matter how you choose "dress" it. Oh, and a piece of burnt toast for me! (Not sure why I love burnt toast with my oatmeal, but it's great!) One bowl and you can go well into lunch full of energy! Don't forget how good oatmeal is for your cholesterol!

So, if you are ever in the Mojave Desert on a cold rainy day, craving a steamy hot delicious bowl of oatmeal, with a tiny puddle of real butter and a spoonful or so of golden brown sugar, call me; I'll teach you how to make it the way Gramma did. You'll never cook it any other way!

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Do One Thing! -Project Noah 21

Week 21: 1 lb. Dried fruit & beef jerky (apples, pineapple, apricots, bananas etc.) for 72 hour kit.

Hint: Try drying the fruit yourself, and making jerky by slicing thin and placing-on low heated oven overnight. Not sure exactly how, check out food websites and see what recipes float your boat!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

liquid-gel laundry soap tutorial

There are several DIY Laundry Soap recipes out there, I chose this one because my friend uses it on a daily basis and swears by it. She has four small children and a busy hubby. I figure if it is good enough for her, then it is good enough for me!

At 320 full loads per batch (TEN GALLONS!) this is well worth the cost (about $5.00!) and the hassle. The worst part is grating the bar of soap, which is just a tad more difficult than grating cheese. (just a tad, really, because it's soap and you can't nibble while you work.) You can always do what I did and enlist the help of someone big and burly. Tally up the time involved and it will be about an hour - tops.

Also, I need to warn you that this soap starts out as a liquid, then turns into a gel as it sits. Like Jello, seriously. You will need to stir it, shake it, or whatever you want to get it to liquefy again. Once it is a liquid again it is Sliiiiiii-mey! Like dinosaur goo, kind of creepy. Then again, I never went elbow deep into any of my other laundry soaps, so maybe they were slimy also? Oh well, you only have to do the elbow deep thing once, if you want, or you can find a long study stirring stick and avoid the slime altogether, I just went in! I digress. When it sits, it gels, so each time you use it, give the bottle a good shake. Easy enough.

NO DYES. NO PERFUMES. (unless you want to add 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil) Safe for septic systems. Safe to use in front load and high efficiency washers. I think it works great. The clothes come out of the dryer with out a scent per sey, but smelling fresh, and feeling good to the touch. To me, I think this soap rinses out more efficiently than my other brands of soap did, hence the good feel to the fabric. This is basic stuff here folks, not quite Little House on the Prairie, but basic good soap.

The way I look at it is, if you have to save money, if you have to cut back and scrimp, wouldn't laundry soap be the place to start? I mean, better than say, eliminating those cute shoes you saw last week? Yeah, I thought so too.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Healing, Helping, Heat, and Hand Made Give Away!

I am headed down to help my mother in law for the day (or two?). In my absence I am sending everyone some warmth and encouragement for springtime weather! C'mon Mother Nature, bring it on! We need some heat!

Now the Give Away!
There is a great idea floating about lately and here's the drill:

I promise to send the first 3 persons who comment in this post something hand made before the end of this year. (Thank you to whoever came up with that rule!) Yup, something fabulous from little 'ol S'mee! Maybe photo cards, maybe a painting, maybe something hand sewn, or who knows? But definitely hand made! And received before the end of this year. Oh the mystery! What will it be? (if only the neighbors dogs could be considered "home made"'d receive your gift, like, on Monday! But alas, no. so you'll need to wait and be surprised!)

Here's the rub: If you sign up to receive a hand made gift you need to "pay it forward" on your own blog. That is, you'll make a post similar to this and then promise and hand make a gift for three other bloggers by the end of the year! C'mon, an-y-thing home made by you by the end of the year! You can do this! How fun!

So o.k. my peeps! Comment away!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

As long as we're getting close to Valentine's Day...

My friend Boy Mom is a good read most any day of the week. As the mother of SEVEN boys she has a lot to write about! Any who, yesterday she put up a post she borrowed from one of her favourite reads - a post about ten things she LOVES that all begin with (her assigned letter) "A". Then she decided to let her youngest (7 years old) pick out a letter for the folks in the comments section. I got "O". Oh how lovely this will be!

10 Things I love That Start with "O"

1. Oranges. I am glad that I live in California where they are abundant year round. How do people who live in, say, Ontario Canada or Oslo Norway live without their sweet juicy sun filled goodness? Orange Julius, Orange Sherbet, Manderine Oranges...yup, I like oranges.

2. Opals. Although it is not my birthstone, I adore those shimmery pearly and colourful stones. Kind of like a peacock and a pearl had a genetic connection and this was the result.

3. October. The beginning of the holiday season, filled with all kinds of fun and memory making good times! The air is beginning to crisp, everyone gives you free candy, and there's a few birthday parties to attend. Yup, This is a good month.

4. Once upon a Time... I love children's books, I have a ton of them and frankly, when I find a good one I just have to buy it. I loved reading them to my own kids and now to their children. Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after. Yeah, that's a pretty amazing thing right there.

5. The Ocean. I have driven up and down the California coast several times. It's a drive that takes a few days if you do it right. No matter, I can't take my eyes off the ocean, my Big Blue. He lifts my Spirit, no matter the day, no matter the weather. I cannot think of one time I have felt sad while at the ocean.

6. Orchids. I love pretty much all flowers, but orchids are up there. I like their variety and exotic petals...gorgeous!

7. The Oboe. The scholar plays the oboe. It's amazingly difficult and beautiful and I cannot wait to hear her play again!

8. The Olympics. I really enjoy the olympics when they come around. Sure there are a few odd sports, but hey, if I can get into Curling, I can get into anything, and I like watching Curling!

9. Oatmeal. Oatmeal the way my gramma taught me to make it. Not that gag inducing sloppy stuff, but almost steamed, each tiny little oval flake, still firm but tender - al dente! Snuggling next to the other flakes in the bowl, but not gooey, snuggling. Warm, steaming, a small puddle of real butter ready to be swirled up with a lump or two of brown sugar. Or perhaps with white sugar and a splash of cold milk! Yummy goodness that always reminds me of Gramma, burnt toast, and a cup of hot chocolate made with real milk. (I'm kind of hungry now!)

10. well, (and you knew I'd have to go there) the big "O" ...organizing! My oh my how I do enjoy a great organized _________! Doesn't matter to me, I love organized stuff. I was ever so impressed with a gal I work with who found a piece of sheet music from a play she saw over twenty years ago. She just went over to her shelf, plucked out a binder, flip to the edges and saw the proper tab and there you go. My heart sang.

So here's the deal. If you wanna play just leave me a comment and I'll randomize up a letter for you to love!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

flower among the thorns

Thanks to everyone who has written well wishes and inquiries about my mother in law. She went in for surgery this afternoon. Oy what a mess! So glad she had a blessing the other day!

When the doc got in there he found both bones broken, one crushed like we thought. They repaired both, one with a piece of metal to wrap or lay aside the bone, bone grafts, and some screws that will be taken out after a bit of healing. That's the short of it. The long of it is she is getting better, albeit feeling extremely beat up at the moment.

Thanks to everyone for your sweet concerns.

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blustery day

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Monday, February 09, 2009

nifty fun!

Friday was my birthday! Yup, I'm "nifty fun!" now. Thor, The Hygienist, and I went to lunch, and then for a long drive. We had other plans, but this worked out much better! I had such a great day in the rain! The photo opportunities were abundant and the company could not have been better.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

bad news good news

It's been a while since I've had anything substantial enough to write about. Life got a bit busy with mundane things and trying to finish those new year's goals. A bedroom is completely bare and ready for new carpet, etc. Anywho, yesterday brought all kinds of excitement in to our home.

My mother in law fell while trying to grab the newspaper from the sidewalk. She ended up with a crushed (the radius bone directly above her wrist is broken and in several pieces), bit through her tongue so severely that she need stitches across the width, and 'road rash' on her very swollen chin, nose and forehead. There were a few other injuries and she is being well taken care of. I anticipate some surgery, but we're still waiting to hear what. Last night they sent her home with a temporary splint/cast, meds and instructions to meet with an orthopedist today. It was somewhat of a family reunion as, as many of us as could physically be there, we went to see her at the hospital and then at their home. Phone calls were made to check on her all night long and before we left, a couple of sweet moments. It was tender to see my mother in law surrounded by her two sons, hands laid on her head and pronounce a Priesthood Blessing of health and healing, comfort and some Divine guidance. Then we sat and prayed as we listened to those same to sons give a Priesthood Blessing to their father. My father-in-law made note that this was the first time his sons blessed him, and there were a few tears shed. The room fell silent for a moment or two.

Earlier in the day, while we were still in the ER, we got a call from The Scholar. She (along with the other kids) had inquired about gramma and was hoping for good news. "Nothing yet, but we'll let you know." Then about 45 minutes later she called again, this time with news of her own.

The Scholar is our youngest. When she was in 4th grade she learned about universities and she decided she wanted to go. From that point on she worked like a tornado to earn her way into greater and greater challenges academically. She (since kindergarten) never received anything other than an "A" and graduated high school with a 5.0. (Back in my day 4.0 was tops, but with weighted classes I guess you can earn more.) She earned a scholarship to the UC Irvine and "BY-U". She went to the BY-U and for the last few years has continuously worked at least two jobs, held church callings, kept physically fit, had some fun, all the while keeping her studies up.

She went in as a Sophomore and was going to graduate a year early when her mentors encouraged her to take and extra year and add more classes to her resume. She followed their advise and has continued to work 2 jobs, plus teach high school, keep up on her church calling, run a couple of marathons, fly around the country to present her papers, study, and maintain her sanity. She had come to the point where grad school was looming on the horizon, tests were taken, papers have been written, applications sent. The waiting has been difficult for her. But yesterday the waiting began to end. She called us with the news that her first application reply has come in.

She was accepted to and received a full ride scholarship to Duke University!

She informs us that this was not her first choice and that she is still hoping for acceptance and equal offers from a few other schools, but "This is a good back up plan." which is classic thinking for this dynamo of a kid who loves learning. A text was sent out to all of the siblings and each one in turn sent back love and exuberant congratulations, so happy and pleased with their little sister who has truly worked for all she has earned.

Today I am grateful for family who gather in good times and in bad, cushioning the falls and celebrating the triumphs that come to us all.

College Applications Update: As of today she has also been accepted and given a full scholarship to The Claremont Colleges, although she informs us the deal from Duke was substantially better, her specific program, full health care, yearly stipend, etc.. Please keep fingers crossed for her #1 choice! Thanks

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Get Back Up

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