Monday, August 25, 2008

Bathing Beauty

I saw this bathroom over at The Inspired Room and it is exactly my type of room. Check out the blog for more beautiful bathing spaces.

Reasons I love this space:
  • Yellow--can't get enough of this color in my life
  • Thick, gorgeous, white moldings around every door, window and ceiling. I'm obsessed with white, detailed woodwork
  • Who can resist a free-standing, clawfoot tub? Lovely.
  • The chandelier. Just enough decadence to make me smile.
  • The leaded glass window. Perfect.

Just a punch of beauty that made me smile today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Symphonic Sound

I heard the symphony play the other night at our local outdoor theater. I'd had a busy day, a busy week, and I was overtired. It was my first free evening in days and all I wanted to do was go home, put on my nubbiest cotton pjs and climb in bed for a blissful 12 hours. But very little will keep me away from the symphony and the magical, blissful sounds that emanate from their instruments.

When it comes to the five senses, hearing seems to be my most acute sense. Touch is right up there with hearing, then sight, then taste, then smell. No, I don't have the most powerful nose on the planet, but I do have a friend with such frightful ability to sniff out funky smells that I'm afraid to approach her if I have chanced to eat some garlic or even perspire in the last twenty-four hours. And I can't smell breakfast on people like one not-to-be-mentioned brother can. (Does everyone in the world have this ability besides me?)

But when it comes to hearing and sound, the gods have blessed me with copious auditory abilities. At least that is what I hear. :)

For instance, in high school and junior high, I watched siblings and friends get ready for school listening to the local radio station. I thought that was so cool. I tried it many, many times thinking if I could just listen to the same radio station that I would somehow be invested with a "coolness" factor that I felt was missing in my life. Yet, no matter how many times I tried to listen to the radio, I only ended up with a headache. The static on the radio annoyed me. I didn't like the band playing. The words of the song were nonsensical. The music made me depressed. It could have been one or all of these things, but listening to the radio for most of my life has been an exercise in frustration.

In high school, my bedroom was right next to the family room--or TV central. I don't know if it was a house with ten people, or others' poor hearing, or just simply a preference, but whenever the TV was on it seemed to be punched up to volume SUPER LOUD. And that bugged me to pieces. I couldn't sleep, concentrate, study, or even think if I could hear the TV blaring in the background. I was constantly asking people to turn down the TV. (On a sidenote, that is one of my brother-in-law Spencer's many virtues: he can watch TV with the sound almost muted. I love that about him.)

After my freshman year in college, I lived with my grandparents for the summer. Living there was a revelation to me. For the first time in my life, I lived in a house with less than six occupants. The diminished noise level was a new-found nirvana to me. I had no idea how anxious and stressed lots of noise made me previous to this summer. I couldn't believe how calm I felt. How much I learned about myself that summer. How many decisions I made for my future. And it all seemed connected to the peace and quiet that had overtaken my life. After that summer, I really started to cherish my ears and what they had been telling me my whole life: pay attention to the noise around you and cut out the bad while welcoming the good.

And some of that good sound came on my 21st birthday. My parents' took me to the symphony for that birthday. I must have requested it because I don't believe either of them had ever been. We sat clear up on the third balcony above the crowd and waited. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew that I needed to hear the symphony. And what took place for me was nearly two hours of sheer serenity. It was an orgy for my ears. I felt thrilled and devastated all at once. I never knew what such beautiful, beautiful music could do for me and I'd spent my entire life up to that point not knowing.

I vowed a vow that day to never miss such an opportunity again. (Okay, so really, the vow was more that I would make my very best effort to get to the symphony as much as possible.)

So, I prodded myself out the door on Monday night and went to listen to the symphony under the stars. I'm so happy I did. My ears sent me paroxsyms of delight.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Buggy Ride

I was visiting Amy the other night at her parents' home near the lake. 

Around 9:00PM we decided to go for a ride in the Polaris around the lake to watch the sun set. This is what the Polaris looks like. See, no windows. (Pssst! This is a key to the story). 

The first part of the ride was lovely. The lake was calm and placid. We could hear the crickets chirping and the evening was cooling off.  

We drove to the south side of the lake by an apple orchard where the breeze was mild and gentle and the air seemed really sweet and fresh. 

These were our views. 

This is the road we were on. You can see the beginning of the orchard up on the left. I think we passed all of three or four cars on our drive. The stillness and quiet were intoxicating. 

Amy was the driver of our little escapade. We were driving straight into the sunset so she borrowed my shades so she could see better.

We stopped just past the apple orchard and sat watching the lake. And then an amazing, gorgeous, soul-wrenchingly beautiful sunset to help us bid goodbye to our day together. 

We watched a flock of birds lift off from the marshlands surrounding the lake. 

The peace and calm of the setting seemed to sink into my spirit. 

As we bid adieu to the sun. 

As the darkness settled in and the lake turned even more still, we realized it was time to head back. Amy had kids to put to bed and I needed to drive home. It had been a perfect kind of evening. 

That is until that point. 

The hot, dry July air had cooled with the setting sun and a stronger breeze was now blowing off the lake as we took off in the Polaris and drove past the orchard. It was once we passed the orchard that things started heading down hill. 

See there really are marshlands or wetlands or boggy, mucky places all around the lake. Which are host to breeding grounds and infestations of, you guessed it, mosquitos. Or as we learned later, their more innocuous cousins: the lake bug. The lake bug looks like a mosquito and acts like a mosquito but does not bite like a mosquito. Small comfort. 

As we passed the orchard we seemed to drive head on into a cloud of these little critters. And I mean head on because if you remember the Polaris has no windows. So we were the windshield. And driving any open vehicle at a speed of 20 miles an hour or more really does make you a windshield as those tiny, little buggy bodies began to die quick deaths by smashing against our faces, in our hair, and across our chests. 

Amy and I freaked a little but we were soon through the cloud. I pulled my face out of my shirt and Amy did the same and we looked at each other and laughed. Well, at least we would have a good story to tell when we got back about the killer cloud of lake bugs that we drove through. 

We were congratulating ourselves on our little adventure when suddenly we hit another cloud. Yikes! Only this cloud of lake bugs was longer and deeper than the last one. I kept my mouth shut but that didn't prevent little bugs from suicide bombing against my lips and teeth as we passed by them. 

After escaping the second cloud, Amy and I stopped to reconsider our options. We were still about two miles from her parents' house. The sun had gone down, we were on a dark, deserted road in the middle of nowhere in an open buggy. We could see more clouds of lake bugs ahead of us, but decided our best option was to pull our shirts over our faces, keep our mouths closed and be the death march to some more of those over-friendly lake bugs. With the darkness settling in, Amy put sunglasses back on because as the driver, she needed to be able to see where I had the luxury of closing my eyes as we drove through each cloud. And it is much easier to see if lake bugs are splatting against your sunglasses rather than your cornea. 

Plus, we were on the southwestern side of the lake. In one more mile we made a crucial turn straight south that would take us away from the heavy wetland area of the lake and likely the infestation of lake bugs. 

So, Amy put on the sunglasses and I closed my eyes and we gunned it.  

It was sweet misery as we approached the crucial corner. We sped through cloud after cloud of lake bugs with barely a moment to recover between each episode. I was shrieking with silent laughter (remember, do not open your mouth or you will swallow a gallon of lake bugs) while Amy was simply shrieking, high-pitched in the back of her throat, but shrieking nonetheless. It was like a mimed panic. Do not open your mouth (or your nasal passages or your eyes, if you can help it) for within nanoseconds you would feel the wriggling little corpses of numerous lake bugs as they gave up their last gasp of lake bug life. 

It was a misery the lasted but minutes, but seemed a near eternity until we made that last fateful turn to the stretch of road taking us home. Here the air was dryer, the lake was further away, and we could stop and shake the still-writhing hordes of dead lake bugs out of our hair and eyes and mouths. 

That is until we turned the corner. Whatever vain hope had accompanied us previously that the corner would bring relief was soon dashed to smithereens as we turned into what can only be called The Great and Continuous, Mile-Long Cloud of Millions of Buzzing Lake Bugs. A cloud that stretched the entire length of road we had to traverse to get home. 

I think it must have been worse for Amy driving. She could see the lake bugs dying against her sunglasses. And as the more sensitive and intuitive of our duo she seemed to feel each one of the thousands of little bodies as they collided with her hair and her face and her body. 

And that high-pitched shriek, she'd been shrieking in the back of her throat? Well, it turned in to a full-blown panic attack when we hit the Great Cloud. Still keeping her mouth shut and her sunglasses on, and still managing to keep the Polaris on the road, Amy began a frantic tango of survival, the likes of which I have never been privy to witness in this life and hope to never see in the next. 

It was a combination of one crazy arm swinging wildly brushing over her body while she drove with her other elbow as her hands shook desperately through her hair trying to dislodge the thousands of dead bodies now residing on her scalp. And the shriek only grew more frantic with each centimeter that we traveled along that long, heinous ride through bug oblivion. 

It was a shriek that only further incited my now gasping, chortling, unable-to-breath self. Between the bugs dying a thousand deaths upon me and Amy's crazy, life-or-death tango drive, I was a goner. Such a goner, that as I doubled over and gasped for air, I committed the unpardonable sin and opened my mouth. 

Only to swallow a vat of lake bugs. 

Too yummy. 

Somehow we made it home. Somehow Amy conjured up enough willpower to keep us on the road and in relative safety until we reached the barn next to her parents' house. Then she jumped screaming, full-throated now, out of  the Polaris and into the dark night. 

And I would not see her again until every bug and been picked clean from her own writhing body. 

What a ride. 

Sunshine Moment

I'm sooooo good at racking up, listing, and detailing whatever minute troubles I experience in my life that I want to acknowledge when things go really right too.

I work on a university campus and a small bonus of that work is that I can check out books from the library online and they will deliver them to my door. (Yes, I know I don't need any other excuses to be lazy, but it is sooooo gratifying to have a little pleasure like this. And you know how I love me some good books.)

Anyway, a couple of months ago I misplaced a book that was due and forgot to renew it and soon late fees were racking up. It felt tragic to me. I had prided myself in the past on being a great lender at the library or the video store because I always returned things on time and hated to have any kind of late fees. And here I had a late book and fees piling up and I couldn't find the it!

Well, when we returned from our trip to Denmark, I found the book. By this time the late fees on this book and three others had notched up to over $30. Shock and horror! I was beside myself. To have to pay that much money on late books made me sick to my stomach. I figured though that I would never do it again, it was such a pricey mistake.

Then this morning, I called the library to see if I could pay the fine with my credit card or if I had to pay with a check. The woman looked up my account and said something like "Oh, don't worry about it. We'll just forgive the fees."

Ummmmm. Say that again?

I guess because I work here they looked a little more kindly on my mistake and forgave it. I'd like to believe it is because I've been such an excellent patron in the past that they are giving me time off for good behavior. Whatever the reason, I got a bit giggly as I got off the phone because it was such an unexpected surprise. I love those kinds of moments.

And all seemed right in the world. (For the next few hours at least.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prejudiced Play

I've watched three bad movies in the last few days, eaten more popcorn than should be allowed by law, and went to our town's version of In-N-Out Burger and got two orders of wild fries (loaded with fried onions and mustard sauce).

It's been a tough week.

Jenny's big scene on stage. My camera did not take great shots and this was the least fuzzy one I could find. Jenny is the woman in the middle.

The only highlight so far has been seeing my gorgeous little nieces, their easily-embarrassed teenage brother, and my beautiful sister-in-law Jenny all star in the local stage presentation of Pride and Prejudice. Jenny's brother has posted some photos of the stars of the show as well as several sets of rehearsal photos if you want to see everyone in action.

Abby, Paige and Maxwell right after the close of the show.

We had a great time watching the show and we cheered extra loud whenever any of our relatives or (relatives of relatives) were on stage. My only wish was that we could have seen more of them. I'm just prejudiced enough to believe that they are some of the best talent on stage. (Some people just oooooze with it.)

Maxwell cracking a smile just for me

All of the cast worked extra hard and put in loads of time (this is an all-volunteer production) and they should be applauded for that effort alone.

Abby and her cousin Zoe

One of my favorite moments of the play occurred when Mr. Bingley finally proposes to Jane Bennet at the end. Immediately afterwards, the music swelled and Jane and Bingley broke into song. It threw us into fits of laughter because the moment was so over-the-top romantic.

Paige with Jenny who is out of costume but still in hair and makeup.

Jenny had an funny song and played Mrs. Hurst with flair and her brother played a dashing Wickham (They are some of those talent-oozing people). I can't wait to see more of both of them in future shows.

And of course, some of my favorite people to watch were the nieces and nephews whenever they were on stage. Paige is so full of energy that she bursts on to stage and bubbles over with excitement the whole time. Abby seems utterly enamored with the entire playmaking process and might just have a future on the stage. And Maxwell, in true teen fashion, is thrilled to be there but does his best to appear nonchalant and unaffected.

It was a great evening under the stars.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Can Breathe Here

On Sunday I went out to Amy's parents' house to spend the evening with her. It's a lovely thirty-minute drive that takes me from the east side of our valley to the west side to a mountain peak appropriately dubbed "West Mountain."

The last half of the drive is deep in farm country. There's a particular point where I make a turn and leave the busy, clogged freeway behind and turn on to a country road with a pasture on one side and a cultivated field on the other side. That is when I take a very big breath. It's like something relaxes deep down inside my chest and a constrictions clears and I can turn myself towards peace and tranquility.

From that point on I pass lots of barns, some chicken farms and orchards.

And these views.

Then I reach my friend's parents' home and walk out on their balcony to see these views.

Can you name that peak? One of my favorite in the world.

I sat on the porch on this late Sunday afternoon and soaked in these views and felt refreshed and uplifted. There is some serious yin and yang in my soul when it comes to city or country living. I love the convenience, centrality, and comfort of city living, but whenever I hit the country I breathe more freely, I pause and listen more intently and I feel renewed by nature. I just want both of those gifts in ONE location.

In the meantime, I have to makes room for wide-open spaces in my life. And views like this. Otherwise, I go a little crazy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Who Moved My Couch?

Remember how I have some hard-working and very strong brothers? Well, here they are in action at my house last Saturday moving a couch for me that has been overtaking my storage room for the last year.

It was here when I moved in last year and I didn't want it but there was no other place for it to go but my storage room. Thanks to their ingenuity, they turned it on it end and stuffed it into a corner of the storage room. It's been sitting there all this time, just eating up very valuable space in my very tiny space. I'm so happy that we could now unstuff it and move it to the apartment next door.

What am I talking about we? I did none of the heavy lifting of the couch, but I sure appreciate every muscle that was on exhibit as they did it for me.

And finally, it is out of my house and out of my hair and I have more room! Lots more room. Room that makes me giddy with delight.

Now, if I can just find the time to finish reorganizing the space. Hopefully, that will happen this week.

But I would not be in this lucky, lucky position of reorganizing if I didn't have so much excellent help. Thank you to my big, strong, amazing, selfless brothers (Spencer, you are one of them) for all of the hard work. You moved my couch and you made my Saturday morning so much brighter.

Here are the men (with some of their adorable munchkins in tow). And let me acknowledge too that my two other fabulous brothers, Ric and Brock, would have been there too if they could have been. Let's just say I feel well-loved surrounded by all this testosterone.

Rus giving little Natie some love. This kid has got to be one of the smiliest, happiest little guys I've been around. He's got this ear-splitting grin that he just beams at you and you can't help grinning back.

Adam and Matt taking a break after doing the heavy lifting.

Rus (who can NEVER look serious for a photo) and Spencer giving me a smile.

Little Miss Elle who joined her daddy on this expedition. As long as she is not far from him, she is okay. But when Daddy had to move the couch she was not happy that I picked her up. She and her daddy have a special bond.

Dallin who talked more than the rest of the males combined. We love this sweet boy because he articulates whatever thought pops into his three-year-old brain. He kept us laughing.

Adorable, chubby-cheeked, delicious Natie. He has such an easy-going presence.

Natie and Elle decided to test out the jumping capabilities of the couch. Nate was showing Elle the ropes here.

While Dallin climbed in the firewood box. He decided it was his own special cubby.

And he even posed for a photo. Several times.

When Elle tried to jump on the couch, it was a bit bouncier than she expected and threw her into the air. This frightened her a bit and was not according to plan.

So, she ended up back in Daddy's arms for a bit of reassurance. (We all need some of that most days.)

I thought as they all left that no matter what is happening--moving a couch, fixing a light, helping me move locations--whenever my brothers are around, it seems like a party is happening.

Thanks, guys, for making my day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Feeling Inspired

I saw this house from House Beautiful at the other day and I fell in love, just like the blog author, Melissa Michaels. I especially love the dining room which is image #5 in the the post. Something about a round table and cozy arm chairs pulled up to the table made this room a hit for me.

Melissa Michaels has a beautiful site with lots of other photos that offer inspiration for your own house. Don't miss Melissa's before/after of her house, as well as the family beach house that they are remodeling. Looking at great pictures like this is akin to eating chocolate to me, so get ready for a rich delight.

I also found the house that Ms. Michaels blogged about on the House Beautiful website. My favorite dining room is image #4 in this set. I want to throw a dinner party today in this beautiful space.

I've always felt a bit guilty about my attraction to gorgeous spaces. Like I should be thinking about more important things or doing more important things. But no more. To me, a beautiful room is like a great painting, an exquisite bunch of flowers, or even the sunset over the mountains after a rainy day. And beauty like this needs no explanation.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hot Potato

I made something the other night that turned out so well, that eight-year-old Sam, my blueberry muffin skeptic and later convert, asked me for the recipe. Do you get asked often for recipes by an 8-year-old? Neither do I, so it immediately put this recipe high on my favorites list.

They are called Crash Hot Potatoes and they looked so good from the photos that I couldn't wait to try them. When I made them the other night for the eight-and-under crowd I got a thumbs up all around.

I've got Ree at Pioneer Woman to thank for this recipe. Ree has an excellent website that centers on her life as a rancher's wife in the Midwest. She plays constantly to the fish-out-of-water aspect of this life as she was city-born and -bred and never expected to live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. She's got some great recipes, four kids that she homeschools, excellent photography skills, and a rather hysterical love story called Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. She has a no-holds-barred style of writing and the stories to back it up, so peruse her site and enjoy. 

I boiled enough potatoes to make two large pans of this recipe because I wanted to try my own variation on it. I've had one particular hankering for the last, oh, six months. This hankering seems to come upon me late at night when nothing else will satisfy me. It is the one thing I seem to want ate least once a week and some weeks once a day: oven fries.

On the second batch of potatoes, instead of mashing them with a potato masher, I cut the potatoes in slices, like french fries. Then I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper just as the recipe states. And I baked them at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes. They turned out just as I imagined: hot, crispy and satisfying. And way better than these oven fries that got me started on this hankering several months ago. 

Now, if you really, really want to make this variation of oven fries low-calorie and low-fat, you can make a little homemade fry sauce to dip them in. The cast of characters includes ketchup, mayonnaise, and a little mustard. You mix a 2Tbsps. of the ketchup and 2Tbsps. of mayonnaise together with 1 tsp. of the mustard and you will get this magical mixture that goes perfectly with oven fries. And if you are really gutsy, make the fry sauce with the exact brand of ingredients that I listed for the best results. 

If you aren't up to my variation of the recipe though, I can guarantee you that Ree's recipe is perfection in and of itself without my additions. It has been rather hot here lately so I haven't been in the mood for potatoes for several weeks, but the night I made this recipe the temperature outside did not affect my enjoyment of these delicious little creations.  You might just find that to be the case at your own house.

RECIPE: Crash Hot Potatoes
from The Pioneer Woman

12 whole new potatoes (or other small, round potatoes)
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste
rosemary (or other herbs of choice) to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available).

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I Miss About Having Company

Regular meals 
There is just something about having children around that pops me into a mode of regularity. They must eat on time. Otherwise you and they will start out the day snarling at each other. And end the day that same way. Routine feeding times seem to make everyone much, much happier.  

Little Adam and a friend

Daily trips to the grocery store
I know this will sound insane to most of you, but I actually liked going to the grocery store each day. Now, if I was really well prepared, I wouldn't have to go to the grocery store every day, but my mode of cooking usually involves forgetting one absolutely essential ingredient for each recipe. That forgotten ingredient is always something that is not stocked in my cupboards at the moment so in order to make the recipe correctly, I either have to borrow or buy the item. And what I've found is every recipe tastes a whole lot better if you use all the essential ingredients rather than just some of them. When I'm cooking for just myself, I'm willing to leave out an essential ingredient and see what I come up with. This has made for some interesting meals and some rather scary-looking science experiments. When you have all the ingredients, a recipe or meal actually tastes good. 

Julia loving this sweet baby

Thinking about entire meals for three meals a day
I went to bed thinking about what was for breakfast, what we would do for lunch and how we were going to manage dinner. I found that without a doubt, it took at least an hour to make and consume breakfast and lunch. Then we had to clean up! Dinner was worse. It took me at least an hour to an hour and a half to put together dinner. Then another hour to eat and clean up the mess made. Then it was right into the bedtime routine. It didn't seem like things calmed down until everyone was actually asleep and you and I both know that this could take a long, long time when it comes to little kids. 

But it stretched new muscles in my brain to be thinking, planning and preparing several meals a day. What vegetables go well with this chicken? What kind of fruit should we add to this meal? Do we have potatoes or rice today? It gets so boring just worrying about yourself all the time and it was fun to try out a bunch of recipes to tantalize the crowd. And while there were successes and failures, I can't wait to do it again. 

Amy with our great friend, Shannon

A cooking partner
Of course, it is always more fun to cook with someone. And when that someone makes yummy, yummy meals herself, it makes the cooking process so much more fun. We found too that we complemented each other rather well. I'm great at the overall planning of the meal and Amy was excellent at the details. She knew just what we needed to give the a better texture to the spinach salad, what seasoning to add to the rice to give it a fuller flavor, and what kind of fruit would top the meal perfectly. It was great fun to do it all together. 

My clean house
 I admit to being my mother's daughter when it comes to hosting visitors. I want everything just so. My house is never so clean as when I'm hosting people. Sure it has something to do with wanting the guests to enjoy themselves, but it also has to do with functionality--at least in my little space. If the kitchen is going to be ready for the next meal, it is necessary to clean it up now. If the kids are going to have a room to play in, then we have to fold up their futons and put them away. If everyone is going to get ready, the bathroom has to have fresh towels and more soap. I loved the shining usefulness of my space when it was crammed to the rafters with people. 

Sam and his friend, Drew

Little sleep but more energy
Couldn't everyone use this? The energy came from having so much fun with my friends. The lack of sleep was for the same reason. 

Long, long discussions and excellent questions
And of course, the talking. The discussions that ranged over five days. The particular question that my friend asked me about an old, old problem and I didn't have an answer, which made me see the issue in an entirely new light. The airing of opinions and refining of tastes that occurred as we shared and explored an array of topics. The great long conversation of our friendship that has stretched across many years, many states, and many emotions. 

That's what I miss. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hmmmmmm, Good.

Guess who ate every last one of my blueberry muffins

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How I Know My Cooking Needs Some Work

I’ve been baking lately with my company around. Most of that baking has involved experimenting with gluten-free flours to make pancakes, muffins, and cookies. My eight-year-old visitor, Sam, had some commentary on these experiments. I had made pancakes one morning and in typical fashion I didn't test the recipe before I made it for my visitors. The pancakes were only a borderline success. They were approved by the adult-only crowd but the kid-only crowd had some serious reservations. The next morning I made blueberry muffins with a different kind of gluten-free flour. This was the conversation that ensued.

SAM: What’s for breakfast?

ME: Blueberry muffins

SAM: Yes! I love blueberry muffins.

ME: Good, I hope you’ll like these.

(Pause. Sam approaches the bowl I’m mixing the recipe in and looks in it, then back at me. Worried look on his face.)

SAM: Umm, are you using the stuff that normal people use to make real blueberry muffins?

ME: No, I’m using a different kind of flour.

SAM: Hmmm.


SAM: Well, you know, maybe I don’t like blueberry muffins anymore.

Yes. I have now contributed to the delinquency of a minor by giving him the urge to go and steal breakfast from the nearby grocery store rather than consume my blueberry muffins. Ouch.

This Yawn Is for You

Too many nights in a row with only four hours of sleep. Far too many hormones colliding in my brain today. The "black dog" is hovering on my shoulder as well. And I see a headache on the horizon. 

I haven't even seen the sun yet this morning. Looks like it is going to be quite a day. Quite. A. Day. 

Can somebody get me some Advil? Stat?

Monday, August 4, 2008

That's What Friends Are For

I'm still deep in the land of visiting friends and post-wedding hype. Here is a photo of two of the best people I know: Katy and Amy. Can you believe I am friends with sisters? I'm lucky enough to have a relationship with both of these girls and a connection between all three of us. I think it speaks to the great hearts they both have and the warmth and affection they exude that they have both opened their arms to me. They are, of course, very different and indiviual women but they have similarities in thought or action that are striking at times.

I want this time/celebration/vacation to continue for a long, long time. Why can't I live permanently on little sleep, disrupted routine and excellent long chats? Kate's wedding was over a week ago now, but she and I finally went to lunch and reconnected after the hectic few weeks approaching the wedding. We broke down the entire experience and if it is what she imagined and wanted and came away with a resounding "yes!" Kate is happy with her beautiful day and her new husband and I'm thrilled for her.

And Amy and I have been chatting through several days of feeding children, cleaning up after children and entertaining children. We just couldn't take it any longer and stayed up most of last night to make sure we hit every major and important topic of discussion that had so far not been covered. I only wish it could have gone on longer.

I guess I'm just feeling rich and full and happy. I've seen one friend step into a brand-new life and I've spent some serious quality time reconnecting with the other who is in the midst of a very busy life. They have both enriched my life so much and I've spent a lot of time the last several days realizing how grateful I am for their influence, love, warmth and candor.

I'm just going to enjoy every moment I have while this little party continues.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

If You Start Them Young

This was my house Friday evening. Three kids, one mother and me. They had just read the scriptures for a bit, they were about to have prayer and the kids were going to be tucked in their beds. But the kids were a bit restless and not quite ready to go to sleep. So, what did the mommy do? 


Yes, at 9:00 pm my little place was looking a bit like a yoga studio with everyone (except me--had to take pictures, you know) doing "up dog" and "down dog."  I wondered where else the world a mother was leading her crew in such an activity. 

But lucky me, I got to witness it. My dear, sweet friend Amy is here visiting for a few weeks and I'm thrilled to get to host her and her three munchkins at my house for part of that time. Amy and her husband live in Massachusetts and it has been far too long since she and I have been sharing the same physical space. 

It just makes me smile.

We've been friends for over ten years. We met when we were young, idealistic and full of dreams. Now were both a bit bruised from life's challenges and far less dreamy. But we still like to sit and really chew into our lives and thoughts and come up with "world peace." It is just so much more fun to do face to face than over the phone. 

So, to three-hour chat fests, cooking excellent food together, and Friday-night yoga. Friends are such a gift. 


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