Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thoughts on Blogging

The other day Mark asked me why I write a blog. Why not just write in a diary, he asked. Why indeed? Here at the end of NaBloPoMo, it seems like a good time to reflect...

I blog because I like the idea that someone out there is reading what I have to say. And I like the format of blogs, which allow for longer, more thoughtful posts than the quick updates I've seen people do on Facebook. (Not that I know much of anything much about Facebook. I don't have an account. More on Facebook in a minute. Maybe.)

Another thing about blogs: it's nice to have an audience. On the other hand, sometimes having an audience can be a pain. My diary is private--I do keep a diary, sporadically, too--until I die and somebody finds it, but by then I'll be dead anyway, so it's no big deal if they don't like what I wrote. But with a blog, I do have an audience, and I have sadly learned that I sometimes offend others. I am not the kind of person who intentionally tries to offend others. You would think that by middle age I would have figured this out how to be tactful, but no; I am still working on it. This becomes painfully obvious sometimes when I write blog posts that I intend to be honest or funny or clever, but instead they hurt or offend someone. I don't have to think about that with my diary.

But still, when I weigh out the pros and cons, I think having readers is a plus. I LOVE YOU, BLOG-READING PEOPLE! I know that all caps is like shouting, and yes, I did want to shout out that I love you. I really do. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for commenting. I really really really love comments. (That was a shameless hint.)

Here's another thing about blogs versus diaries. This part is really intriguing to me. Diaries read chronologically. The oldest thing comes first, and then you keep reading and reading and the story unfolds. Like a book. You read about what someone says or does or thinks, and you make predictions about what might happen next, or wonder what's coming down the road. You get the cause first, and the reaction later.

Blog writing is backwards from diary writing. You get today. You can go backwards, but you can't go forwards. You get the current situation, and you can read back to look for causes, but you can't read ahead to what happens next. Maybe it's just me, but I think that blogging is setting up a whole new genre for narrative writing, a backwards-looking genre as opposed to the traditional forward-looking genres we have always known until now.

Of course, you have to love that it's so easy to include images with blogs. You can put in things like this:
or this...
or this...

I'm naughty about grabbing images from google and throwing them onto my blog. Do you do this, too? What blog etiquette do you think is important to follow when it comes to images? I really love including images with my writing. I hope I'm not too despicable about it.

More about Facebook and being naughty. I recognize that Facebook and other social media are quick and convenient and they facilitate a lot of nice things. But there are some things that worry me about Facebook, too. I think that the means of communication--social media, texting--is outstripping our social tools to handle the communication. The rules we learned about how to be play nice and get along are not adequate for the speed, transparency, and ability-to-proliferate-communication (is that a phrase?) available at our finger tips, especially with social media. WikiLeaks, anyone? Nothing online is private any more. And none of it goes away. Something to think about.

Why do I blog? It's my way to send my little voice out into the world. A way to say, "here I am, and I have something to say." Since I get a rash around Facebook, it's a way for me to participate in the 21st Century. 

I had an email the other day from a woman in Australia. She asked what my terms would be to allow her to use my fabric ball pattern in a business venture. I wrote back to her that I don't have terms. I gave the pattern as a gift to the world, as it was freely given to me at a Relief Society meeting nearly 30 years ago. Since posting that pattern, my blog has had nearly 10,000 hits from all over the world, and I am certain that well over half of the hits have come from that one posted pattern. How can you put "terms" on something like that? 

It's been fun blogging (almost) every day this month for NaBloPoMo. We bloggers send out our opinions, our recipes, our craft ideas, our stories, our worries, our fears, our dreams. Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cute Critters

My first mother-in-law had a "generous" build. After she passed away, her extra-large pink chenille bathrobe made its way to my oldest daughter, who used it during a pregnancy with twins, but since then it has been sitting on a shelf.

No more!

Grandma Eva June's old pink bathrobe is now reincarnated into these cute little critters! I've been able to coax enough fabric from the robe to make 4 or 5 of them...I wonder who will find one of these under their Christmas tree?

I hope that the little stuffed animals will be a tender reminder of a very loving grandmother, who cared deeply about both her family and her beliefs. It's been fun to make the little animals, and to reminisce about Eva June as I refashioned her cozy robe into toys for the family members she always loved best, the little ones.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blizzard in Oregon City!

Our house is buried under snowflakes this evening...

Your family could be snowed in, too!

For instructions on how to make these great, easy snowflakes, go here.

Hope your fingers don't get frost bite!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not Quite Decorating for Christmas...

A friend of mine calls it the "Christmas machine"--those high-energy rituals that officially begin the day after Thanksgiving and wrap up right after New Years. Whew! It's a busy time, for sure.

With last Tuesday turning out to be a snow day, I will have had 6 days off by the time I go back to work Monday morning. You can bet that the Christmas machine was revving up even before Thanksgiving here at this house!

I worked on lots of sewing projects, and did some shopping yesterday morning and again today. (I'll show you one of my favorite projects soon...)

This afternoon Mark and I put up Christmas lights outside the house, but that's the extent of the decorating we've done.

(Hooray for a afternoon without rain to be working out in the yard!)
So far, the only Christmas effects inside the house are the mess of projects! Feels so good to have the floor vacuumed again...

So this evening we tidied up, turned the family room into "Santa's Workshop" complete with "Keep Out" signs for the visiting grandchildren.

We'll get to the tree and the other indoor decorations soon enough, but  the Christmas cactus bloomed today, and that's all the seasonal decorations I need for now.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Turkeys

We had double the Thanksgiving yumminess this year...oh, my!

On Wednesday we cooked a turkey and had all the fixings with Julia, Josh, Sarah, Kat, and friends Diane and Reuel. We were joined at the last minute by David, Holly, Arora, and Ender, so it was a lively party! However, David and Holly and kids had to leave before dessert, as the meal was stretching into little ones' bedtimes. Too bad, because Diane had brought homemade angel food cake to serve with strawberries and whipped cream, along with the pumpkin pie we had on hand.

So on Thursday we had a repeat performance--freshly cooked turkey, more gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, and all the other goodies. Holly brought her amazing apple pie, pumpkin cake, and molasses cookies with pumpkin dip, and this time we were able to relax and enjoy the full meal, including dessert, together.

For both Thanksgiving celebrations, we enjoyed a game together afterwards. On Wednesday we played the kids' favorite, "Hit the Deck" card game, and on Thursday we played "Cranium" with David and Holly.

David and Holly with Arora and Ender.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving (random) Thanks 2010

In no particular order of importance...

...family in our home for Thanksgiving * living in the Northwest * the restored gospel of Jesus Christ * the spirit of peace in my home * clean water * the gift of a turkey * Holly's apple pie * two turkeys this year * good vision all my life, although I am farsighted now * toes that help me balance and hike * fingers that can sew and type and hug a child * my husband's kind patience * singing alto * living in the same home for 30+ years * working with teenagers * the Pacific Crest Trail * the car is paid for * U.S. citizenship * abundant food * the furnace in the basement * going back to college when I was 35 * Julia * Polly * Kendra * David * Katie * Angela * Joshua * Nathan * Maleena * five healthy pregnancies * nursing all my babies * the Snugli * a garage * room to park the car in the garage * good neighbors * the blueberry bushes * cherry trees * scouting volunteer for 30 years * assistant scoutmaster for 5 years * teaching the Gospel Doctrine class now * my hearing is still pretty good * orthotics so my feet don't get worse * yoga class * losing 21 pounds this year * my friendship with my mother * my father's "can-do" attitude * my grandfather's "quality folk" values * my grandmother's sewing machine * Effie May Crawford * climbing Mt. Saint Helens with my husband * hiking 50 miles by myself * love of reading * my current trials * the big yellow sink in my kitchen * the maple tree out back * digital cameras * laptop computers * getting to work with my husband * the Atonement * repentance * quiet hours in the night * telephones * dandelions in my lawn * blackberries along the fence * mowing the lawn * produce from the garden * Dorothy * Sheila * Annemarie * Jill * Mark Kelley * adopted grandchildren * Christina * Andie * Joshua P * Sarah * Kat * Katie C * Audrey * Sam * Abbi * Seth * Charlie * Arora * Caitlyn * Rebecca * Maddy * Blake * Ethan * Olivia * JJ * Kenadi * Ender * Lilly on the way * Baby Burns on the way * a second chance at marriage * a strong heart * remodeling the house with Mark * plumber Dave * growing up in Morro Bay * Rainbow Girls * Camp Natoma * girls camp * goofy camp songs * camp fires * views of Mount Hood * the Clackamas River * walks in the pioneer cemetery * favorite books on my bookshelf * taking classes at PSU * Craigslist * email * fir trees on the horizon * Jack Lundeen * Roxanne Scott * Thermarests * my good mummy bag * backpacking with grandchildren * marching band in high school * pet cats over the years * Goat Mountain Gallop * good roads * city water supply * cheap electricity * automatic deliveries of heating oil * the family's blogs * Skype * my cousins * Mike K * Eric * Chris * Holly * Bryan * Tim * Hillary * Ashley * Max * good in-laws and their extended families for my children * working on my thesis * being a visiting teacher * our home teachers * my visiting teachers * the bishop * the stake president * a prophet on the earth today * the temple * the temple so nearby * spell checker * fleece * recycling * forgiveness * a l-o-n-g weekend * summer vacations * learning Spanish in Central America * books made by Kendra * Polly's quilts * The Skinny with Katie * my bicycle * my backpack * my running shoes * lakes and waterfalls and forests * hymns * singing in the church choir * Joshua's corny jokes * a good lawnmower * Mark's sense of humor * Julia's courage and tender heart * Polly's persistence in all things * Kendra's compassion and yen for travel * David's nonjudgmental attitude * Katie's quick wit, delightful poems, tender heart * Angela's acceptance * Joshua's support of Hillary * Hillary's patience in suffering * Nathan's love for his children * Maleena's yearning for family * good hiking boots * thick hiking socks * snow shoes * snow tires * online shopping * elevators * lunchtime conversations at work * sharing ideas with colleagues * flexibility in my job * democracy * elections * my dad's heart fixed in surgery * my mom putting up with my dad's recuperation * all of my children happily married * health insurance * retirement account * tithing * fast offerings * missionaries * prayer * free agency * sunshine * clouds * rain * the water cycle * photosynthesis * gravity * salmon returning up the river * no self-serve gas in Oregon * time to think and write * men and women who serve in the military * my brother * Aunt Mary Anne * Uncle David * living on a dead-end street * Grandma Jane * tow trucks * double-paned windows * insulation * tenure * faith * hope * charity * holding hands with Mark * Mark's warm feet at night * board games with the children * vacuum cleaners * dishwashers * washing machines and dryers * satellites * talking with Mark in the middle of the night * sleep * hot showers * mapquest * the internet * the Eagle Creek trail * refrigerators * grocery stores * debit cards * a good credit rating * freedom to choose * the foreign exchange students who lived with us * Ms. J * middle age * my great-grandmother's coral pin * getting up every morning and trying again * the assurance that, even when I am alone or afraid, Heavenly Father knows me, loves me, cares for me...

...you are a blessing in my life.

As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Perfect Pan Gravy

Here is my no-fail gravy recipe. I'm bringing it to you from my 1973 Betty Crocker Cookbook, along with some comments on technique from me.

This is Pan Gravy, made from the natural drippings left in the roasting pan by roasts, turkey, etc.

For each cup gravy:
2 tablespoons drippings (fat and juices)
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup liquid (meat juices, broth, water)
(The recipe says that you can also use vegetable cooking water, consomme, tomato or vegetable juice. I have never tried using any of those things. If I don't have enough meat juice or broth, I just stretch it with water.)

Tip: The first thing you have to do is separate the drippings (fat) from the meat juice. I like to pour all the drippings/liquid into my clear Pyrex 4-cup measuring cup and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes. That lets the fat float to the top. Then I skim off the fat, using a small ladle. I spoon it into my 1-cup clear Pyrex measuring cup.

Tip: Now figure out how much gravy you're going to make. Take a look at how much of the drippings (fat) you have and how much of the liquid you have. Do a little math in your head and decide if you're only going to make 1 cup of gravy, or if you're going to go for the gusto and make 2, 3, or even 4 cups!

Tip: If you need a little more fat to make your proportions come out right, you can substitute melted butter. Too little fat makes the gravy lumpy.

Return the measured drippings to your pan. Blend in flour. (Measure accurately so gravy is not greasy.) Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly. (I like to use a whisk for this step.) Remove from heat. Stir in liquid. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. If desired, add few drops bottled brown bouquet sauce. (That's what it says in the recipe. I've never used it.)

Season with salt and pepper. Yummy, yummy!!

Monday, November 22, 2010


I have sewn many, many patches on Scout uniforms over the years.

My son's uniform, my husband's uniform, my grandson's uniform, my own uniform...

Not too long ago I served (again) as a cub scout den leader for 3 years, and I occasionally even sewed patches on the uniforms of some of my cub scouts, whose moms don't sew.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from one of those moms. Her son had moved onto a different scout group over a year ago, but she had saved my email address, along with a LOT of patches. Would I please, she asked, help her sew the patches on her son's uniform...and her younger son's uniform...and her daughter's uniform for girl scouts...

I agreed to sew patches for her at the rate of 50 cents / patch. She brought the patches and the uniforms over this aftrnoon. By the time she walked out of my house, she had to write a check for $53.00.  That's right, I am not kidding, I have almost finished sewing 103 patches onto 6 different uniforms this evening: 2 cub scout, 1 boy scout, 1 sweatshirt for all not non-official boy scout patches, and 2 girls scout uniforms.

In case you ever need to sew patches on a Scout uniform, here is my secret: use the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. I used to try to sew them on by hand, and believe, me, the zigzag is much faster, better-looking, and more durable. Do not try those glue things. When they say they work, they lie.

It doesn't matter what color bobbin thread you use. No one ever looks inside the shirt. Change the top thread as needed to match the edge of your different patches. The top thread, when zigzagged, will blend into the border thread of the patch.

Also, sacrifice the pockets. Cub scouts and boy scouts have their rank patches sewn onto the left shirt pocket. If the boy wants his left shirt pocket that badly, he can learn to sew the patch on himself. Do not worry about trying to make it so he can stick something into that particular pocket ever again in the future; just sew right through all the layers and get that patch in place.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


30 degrees this morning, with a thick skim of frost on the windshield.

Heading down to below freezing again tonight, with the possibility of snow on the way.

I'm doing the Snow Day dance!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Today I handled several passports. I was part of a temporary work group, and all of us had to have our ID documents copied to go with our tax documents. The supervisor knows me well, so she made me the copy machine monitor.

I was curious about the passports. Where had they been? What stories could their owners tell? But I knew I shouldn't be nosy, so I just made the copies and handed them back.

There is so much about my U.S. citizenship that I take for granted. Handling those passports today got me to thinking about what it would be like to travel to another country and not be from the U.S. I just assume that I can go somewhere else and still come back here. I know that I can go anywhere within the U.S. without anyone else's permission, can live or work or play where I choose.

Last week I read an article about immigration with one of the reading classes at my school. There are so many people who were born somewhere else, and would like to come here. I have rights as an American citizen, but maybe it would be more accurate to say that I have privileges. When I think of them that way, I am less inclined to take them for granted.

Lately I've been enjoying a blog written by Bridget, an American woman living in the United Arab Emirates. I love Bridget's stories about life in another place. She is so international, but she is so American in her international setting.

Where we are from is ingrained in our identities. When we meet someone new, we ask their name, and we ask where they are from. I have a Canadian friend who has lived and worked in the United States for 15+ years. She and her husband own a home, they pay taxes, and they are raising their daughter with feet firmly planted on U.S. soil. My friend is fascinated by U.S. politics, and would love to be able to participate by voting, but she's not a U.S. citizen. She tells me that when she talks with her husband about pursuing U.S. citizenship, he is reluctant to relinquish the citizenship of his birthplace. They live here, they love being here, but they are from someplace else.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Yu-Gi-Oh! Salad

Three of my grandchildren (10-year-old boy, 8-year-old twin girls) were coming over for dinner tonight. I was in the mood for a green salad with lots of yummy things added, but I knew they would turn their noses up at green salad.

On the spur of the moment, I came up with a recipe for Yu-Gi-Oh! Salad.

(Yu-Gi-Oh! is a Japanese manga and cartoon, with lots of cards to buy and trade. These three grandchildren, especially my grandson, are enamored with Yu-Gi-Oh!)

As I explain the recipe below, you might be tempted to think I was just trying to trick my grandchildren into eating green salad.
(Who, me???) Whatever.

All motivations aside, everyone at the table, young and old, liked the salad. Here's the recipe.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Salad

Ingredients: Fairly flexible. Include lots of good salad things, like lettuce, spinach, some fruits, a little chicken, a little cheese. See below for lists and proportions. DO go for lots of color. Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are bright and colorful, and so is this salad.

1/4 greens / vegies

1/4 protein

1/2 fruit / sweet healthy things
mandarin oranges

Prepare the ingredients
All ingredients must be chopped, diced, or torn into small pieces. This is critical for Yu-Gi-Oh! Salad because 8 and 10-year-olds can be quite particular about salad ingredients, and if the pieces are too big they will pick them out.

Assemble the salads:
Use a separate plate for each serving. Layer the different ingredients. Vary the layers between a vegie base like salad greens (remember to tear them into pieces no larger than 1/2" diameter), then some fruit, then some protein, then some more fruit, back to the vegies, etc.

...is everything. We used ranch dressing, and I told the kids that a critical part of the ingredients was the special spiral with the salad dressing. My grandson assured me that yes, there is a spiral card in Yu-Gi-Oh! (Who knew?) I spiraled the salad dressing around the top of the salad before they started eating. Also let the kids add a good shake of parmesan cheese.

Ask the Yu-Gi-Oh! enthusiasts at your table to help you identify what the different ingredients represent. Here is the list our kids came up with:
lettuce = plant monsters
raisins = bug monsters
tomatoes = Imitato
cheese = pyromonster
chicken bits = beastly monsters
spinach = food for Crazy Bunny
blueberries = Blue-Eyed White Dragon with his blue tongue

You get the idea.

Now for the testimonials:

Grandson Josh: This is a delicious wonder of food, and so much excitement and flavor. Definitely a recipe worth repeating.

(Wow - Josh is almost finished with his Yu-Gi-Oh! salad.)

The twins: It's very good! It's just like the Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters and dual monsters. We would like to have it again!

(Sarah has an almond stuck in one of the holes in between her missing teeth, and Kat is showing her blue tongue--like the dragon mentioned above--from the frozen blueberries.)

Letia, adult guest: This is delicious. I would definitely make it again and again.

Julia, the children's mom: It's a great salad, and if calling it a "Yu-Gi-Oh! Salad" makes the kids eat it, it's even better.

Mark, my husband: As a parent who has seen children not eat their vegetables, it was a stroke of genius to call this salad...whatever you called it. To watch the little critters graze on their salads was a sight to behold.

More salad recipes coming soon:
Princess Salad, Jungle Salad, Pokemon Salad...
Oh, wait, these are all the same recipe! You can call it whatever you want! Just say it with conviction ("Guess what kids, I found the most amazing recipe online today...") and have them help you identify the elements of the salad that align with the elements of their favorite craze...as they munch away...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Poem

We have a tradition of Thanksgiving Poems in our family. It started years ago, when I told the family that everyone was expected to read an original poem between turkey dinner and pie dessert. Bless their hearts, they've gone along with it ever since. They range from silly to serious, from turkeys to thanks, but they always bring the Thanksgiving spirit to the table.

Of course I can't post this year's poem yet. That would ruin the surprise! Plus I haven't written it yet. Haha!

But here's a poem from a couple of years ago, to get you inspired:


Sheets washed for company
Check the pantry for pecans
Final grades due by Monday
And make a new seating chart
Black olives, basmati rice, whole milk, cranberries, nutmeg, maple syrup.

Meanwhile, great clouds sail overhead—

The world is so wide.

Ten thousand miles or more away
Women cook their meals
Beneath the Southern Cross,
Knowing strange stars, strange names for
Father, mother, feast, friend.

I pat the pie crust into shape,
Hand movements echoed across so many hearths,
Pie crust, tortilla, flat bread,
Feasts for our families
Come, child, grandfather, uncle, cousin,

Come to the table
Hands stretched out in welcome
Come to our home, this place
Of feasting
Of family.

(Thanksgiving 2008)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Scout is Friendly

Many years ago I was the assistant scoutmaster over the 11-year-old patrol that was part of my church's scout troop. I herded 11-year-olds for five years. They were some of the best five years of my life.

Every week I helped the boys memorize the Scout Law:

A scout is...
clean and

During my scouting era, I enrolled in college, in the fall of 1990. I had been a full-time mom for 15 years, and I felt intimidated about my abilities to be a college student. Here's a little excerpt from the thesis writing project I started last summer, about how the Scout Law helped me when I started back to college:

"The only class I remember taking that term was an Introduction to Literature course. Mike Keppler was the teacher, but I hadn’t yet become comfortable with the college-level practice of calling professors by their first name; I called him “Mr. Keppler” all term. I was shocked by some of the stories; I had never been exposed to realistic fiction before, nor to women’s studies, nor to African American literature.
            I was nervous in that class for the first four or five weeks, constantly anxious to know if I had completed the homework correctly, had understood the story properly. The younger students, accustomed to the routine of school, seemed so much more competent than I felt. I was shy to sit near other students, shy to make eye contact in the class, shy to raise my hand and answer questions.
            It is interesting to me now, to look back and remember how intimidated I felt when I entered the classroom. I had earned nearly straight As in high school (one B in chemistry), and had earned top honors in the science department. My one year of college after high school had been spent studying Biochemistry at a university in California, where I had again earned top honors. Why did I feel so unprepared for course work 16 years later?
            I could rattle off the Scout Law without even thinking about it. My 11-year-olds had to memorize it to advance in rank, and we practiced at every meeting. That fall, I walked across the campus at Clackamas Community College, forcing myself to smile at other people, muttering under my breath, “A scout is friendly, a scout is friendly, a scout is friendly…”
            About half way through the term I began to relax. Not about the school work—I was always programmed to be a “good” student—but about my capacity to understand and do what was required. Once I relaxed, I began to have fun. I stopped staring only at the book in front of me during class, and looked around and took stock of my classmates. Based on their responses to Mr. Keppler’s questions on the readings, I figured out that they were no smarter than I, and in some cases, they were either really struggling or lazy. Critically reading the texts began to be as thrilling as the chemistry and math classes had been to me in high school, and wrestling with a thesis paper was a worthy task."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tutorial: Reusable snack bag

Besides a sandwich I also like to carry some carrot sticks or almonds to munch on. Here's a simple drawstring bag that eliminates those throw-away baggies! I like this design because it stores flat, without any little corners to catch food nasties.

Reusable Snack Bag
This one is filled with carrot stick goodness!

Two pieces of fabric, at least 9" or 10" square.
Two pieces of ribbon, about 30" long (each)

Cut out two circles of fabric. I traced around a bowl that is 8" in diameter.
Sew a small buttonhole, about 1/2" long next to the edge of one piece of fabric. It should be about 1/4" away from the edge. 

Fold the circle in half at the buttonhole, to mark the point on the circle directly across from the first buttonhole, and sew a second buttonhole on the other side of the circle.

Right sides together, sew the two circles together with a 1/4" seam allowance. The seam goes around the OUTSIDE edge of the two buttonholes. Leave a small opening to turn the circles right side out.

Turn the circles right side out, and press flat. 

Press the edges of the small opening in.
Top-stitch, close to the edge, around the entire circle. Sew around the circle a second time, this time INSIDE the edge of the buttonholes. You have just sewn the opening shut AND made a casing for the drawstrings (the ribbons).
Using a small safety pin attached to one end of one of the ribbon pieces, pull the ribbon through the entire circle. You will begin at one of the buttonholes, and come back out at the SAME buttonhole.
Tie the ribbon ends together with an overhand knot. Repeat on the other buttonhole. You want to have two ribbon drawstrings. Each one will go around the entire circle, and come out at the same place where it started.

Now you are ready to load some carrot sticks, crackers, almonds, or other snacky yumminess into your reusable snack bag, and pull on the two strings:

And there you go - a healthy snack for you, and a healthy, reusable snack bag for the planet!
The snack bag will reverse itself...you can still pull the drawstrings shut, even if the bag is "inside out."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tutorial: Reusable sandwich wrap

I love taking lunch from home--healthy and cheap--but I don't like all the packaging waste. I go through 2 or 3 ziplock baggies every day, so last weekend I made some reusable, washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. I'll show you how to make the sandwich wraps today, and tomorrow we'll take a look at the snack bags.

Quick and easy! They were also free, as I was able to use up some fabric scraps that were just taking up space. Here's how I did it:

Reusable Sandwich Wrap
This is the size for a 1/2-half sandwich.

two squares of fabric, 9" x 9"
two pieces of narrow ribbon, 6" each

Sew the two fabric squares, right sides together, almost all the way around all 4 sides. Leave a small opening for turning right side out.
Turn right side out, press.

Insert one of the ribbons into the opening, extending out diagonally from the corner. Sew the ribbon into place, and continue edge-stitching around the entire square.

This top-stitching eliminates the need to slip-stitch the opening closed, and it will also keep the square in nice shape when it is washed.
Here's a photo the square with the first ribbon sticking out from the left, and the top-stitching finished. Now measure in 3 1/2" from the opposite corner, heading in diagonally from the corner. Attach the second ribbon at that spot.

At the base of the second ribbon, sew a very small button hole. Should look like this.
The button hole will double your use of the sandwich wrap, by making it reversible. Now, if one side gets a little funky, you can pull the ribbon through the button hole and use the other side for a time or two (depending on how goopy your sandwiches are...) before throwing the wrap into the wash. Here's a photo of the ribbon pulled through to the reverse side.
Now here's how the wrap works. (These photos are using the reverse side--the blue side--of the wrap. The photo at the top of the post shows a sandwich wrapped up with the green side out.)

Place the sandwich inside the wrap, next to the button hole. (Sorry, my "sandwich" is in plastic wrap for the photos, because it's just a piece of bread cut in half with paper in between pretending to be fake meat. It would have fallen apart without something around it. But a real sandwich, held together with some mayo and mustard, did fine when I made my lunch this morning.)
Fold the sides over, and then flip the whole thing toward the remaining point of the wrap.
Tie a tidy bow, and voila! No more baggies needed for the sandwich.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Singapore Marathon

Last weekend all the stakes in Oregon had Stake Conference. The Sunday sessions were broadcast to us from Salt Lake City.

One of the Sunday speakers was Elaine Dalton, the General Young Women President. She told an inspiring story about a faithful member from Singapore and the Singapore marathon.

The story began with Sister Dalton telling that she had mentioned training for a marathon in a talk she gave. Her intent in mentioning this was to inspire people to prepare themselves for challenges in the gospel, but she had an unintended result, too: many people emailed her to learn more about her training schedule, so they, too, could train to run a marathon.

One man emailed her from Singapore. He explained that he would very much like to run a marathon, but the only one in his country would be held on a Sunday. He was a poor man, without the means to travel to another place with a marathon on a Saturday. Would it be all right, he asked her, if he were to run the Singapore Marathon on a Sunday, just that one time, so he could accomplish his great goal?

She replied to his email, saying that she could not make such a decision for him, suggesting that he study it out in the scriptures and go to the Lord in prayer. She never heard anything back from him to indicate what his decision had been.

Some time later, as part of her church assignment, she traveled to Singapore. To her joy, one of the church members that met her was the man who had emailed her about the Singapore Marathon. When she had a quiet moment, she asked him what he had decided about running the marathon. Did he do it?

"Oh, yes," he said. Although her heart sank within her, she congratulated him on his accomplishment. Then he continued, "But I did not do very well. You see, I ran it all alone on a Saturday, and there was so much traffic."

Sister Dalton went on to share other events from this man's life. A few years after she met him in Singapore, he had an opportunity to travel to Salt Lake City on business. The timing of his business trip allowed him to attend General Conference the weekend before his business began, and to travel to St. George, Utah, on the weekend after his business, where he ran in the St. George Marathon--on a Saturday-- with Sister Dalton and her family.

I am grateful for this good brother's example to keep the Sabbath holy, and to focus on the Lord on Sundays. I know that when we do so, we will be blessed in ways we do not even anticipate or expect.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hospital Escape!

My dad sent this email to his brother, describing the desperate steps he had to take to get out of the hospital. Haha! He gave me permission to share it here on my blog with you, dear readers. He claims that every word of this is true, except for the part about the hatchet (which was part of a pain-pill-induced dream). His hospital roommate was a Native American man, so there really was an Indian in the room.

Dear Dave.
You would think a nation that could put a man on the moon, and then, 30 years later design little wheels on their suitcases would design a decent hospital bed that didn't let its bottom sheet slide down to your feet while your sweaty bottom sat on a plastic mattress cover.

All I could do was hit the call button and request "2 sheet sliders" to come rescue me.  With the chest opening, everybody did not seem to want me to move myself yet. It was an easy call for me. I'd rather spend the night on the streets than in a hospital bed. The street people are smart and have a lot of empathy.

I never did get to sleep very well under the sedative. I was still with vision when they told the little Native American fellow it was his turn. He threw his little hatchet from across the room while two big orderlies held me up with my back to the heavy oak door. Split my chest dead center!

I did sleep pretty good then for a while. Nobody told me that two people would try to retrieve the air tube from my throat. I really thought I was choking to death and it was up to me, alone, to kill the two folks trying to choke me and that I had to escape on my own. Nancy was present for that one and she said I put on a pretty good show while they vacuumed out my throat. My mouth is still full of bruises.

Had a different nurse for every day and every shift except for "ding bat Judy" an RN about 55 years old. Had her for two night shifts, night 2 and night 3. I only could take it for 4 nights all together.

The first night Judy showed up I really needed a pain pill. At 9PM she came in and I told her I had to sit up to swallow because of my beat up throat. She helped me halfway through the sit up exercise, the one where she pulls your torso up to a sitting position while you swing your legs down towards the floor. I had never stopped half way before so I wasn't used to the view from there. Judy let go of me and said, "I'll be right back. In case you have forgotten to keep track of the time, it is about 9:00 pm. There I am, My torso sticking up a 45 degrees and my legs are crushing my catheter tube and all the little things attached to it.

By 10 PM I notice the cat tube is full of blood, I can't reach the call button, my upper body is in one big cramp so I started slithering myself back up on the bed and lay on my back trying to not pass out. At 10:30 Ding Bat (her name now) shows up and asked me if I needed anything. I told her about all of her shortcomings and the origination of her parents. First thing she did was empty the catheter bag to hide the evidence, and then she said, "just a minute, I'll go get your pain pill. I really can't remember if I ever got one from her or not. She went off shift at midnight.

So, you see Dave, It is not bravery at all. Strictly self defence.

By the third morning always be up before your doctor makes rounds. Leave your bed in its usual mess. Walk down to the big waiting room with the north view of the big city and pretty soon one of the office administrators will come up to you, "Are you Kendall Jenkins?" Your doctor is waiting for you. " Then, always walk as fast as you can towards your room. As you pass the hall intersection and see your doctor out of the corner of your eye, ignore him and try to walk even faster. Pretty soon you'll hear, "You must really want to go home, I can't even keep up with you!"

Walking fast is never more that a pain level of 3, while keep reminding yourself that being in that hospital bed is about a pain level 6!

So, That is how I always get out as soon a I do!

Next, remind me to tell you about the "no go female toilets."

Love, Ken

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quick Tip

Have you ever tried using conditioner--you know, the stuff that you put on your hair after the shampoo--as a substitute for shaving cream or shaving gel?

I read about a while ago (I think it was on Lauren's blog).

When my shaving gel ran out a couple of weeks ago, I tried using conditioner instead.

Lauren's right. You really should try it. My skin is smoother and feels moisturized after shaving. Shaving gel (contains alcohol) always left my skin kind of dry.

Plus the conditioner is less expensive (if you buy the cheap kind), and it's better for the environment because you're not throwing away all those cans. The only drawback is that it's not as fun and foamy as the shaving gel, but I'm adjusting.

(If I actually read this on your blog, and you're not Lauren, please let me know. I want to give credit where it's due. Thanks!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Cub Scouts practicing an outdoor flag ceremony, Spring 2008

Yesterday we had the annual Veterans Day assembly at our high school. It always impresses me when 2,000+ teenagers sit respectfully for an hour. Over 100 veterans from our community were in attendance, and the kids were great about honoring them.

The choir sang a beautiful arrangement of the national anthem, the band played marching music when the vets entered the gym, a bagpipe guy played "Amazing Grace," the JROTC kids demonstrated the thing where they twirl and slap the rifles, and the local Patriot Guard Riders revved their motorcycles whenever the kids gave a standing ovation.

At one point, a slide show was projected on the wall, showing U.S. military images with patriotic music playing in the background. Some of the images were the kind that make my stomach lurch: war machines like bombers and destroyers, huge and deadly. Other images were tender: soldiers in combat gear, surrounded by children in foreign lands. Without a doubt, the men and women in the U.S. military are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.

It rankles me when I hear people say that our troops in Iraq are "keeping us free." It always seems to me that the campaigns in the Middle East have as much to do with maintaining our way of life--access to stable oil--as they do with "freedom." And I worry that operations like the current one in Afghanistan have the potential to do more ultimate harm than good, if the people there are left feeling that the U.S. troops are there to dominate and control, instead of to help and serve.

I don't know enough to know for sure if I'm right, but at the same time, I can't be sure that I'm wrong.

And I do understand that there are a number of foreign operations continually underway that work to eliminate threats from terrorism and other forces that truly do threaten our freedom.

Our service men and women and their families are signed up for duty that is undoubtedly necessary, even if I sometimes disagree with programs or policies. They have chosen a career that is challenging and often difficult, and I gratefully respect their hard work and sacrifice. When I was a Cub Scout leader, I taught my boys to respect flag and country, and to always be willing to serve. Was I preparing them to enter into military service when they become adults? Do I wish that for them? Do I not wish that for them. I don't know.

Several of the men and women I admire most are military veterans, or currently serving.

My dad was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, in 1953. I was born in a military hospital in the U.S. in 1954; Dad was good enough at training new recruits that he was retained stateside, and did not have to see combat in Korea. He left the Army when his tour ended in 1956.

My brother served in the Coast Guard from the time he turned 18 in 1973, until he retired from his Coast Guard career in 1998. During that time his family lived in Alaska, California, and in several locations on the East Coast. His wife and four children followed him without complaint from one home to another; he was often out at sea for weeks at a time during his career.

My niece Becky serves in the Air Force, currently stationed in Italy with her husband. She administers security for the base where she is assigned.

My son-in-law Mike enlisted in the Air Force as a diesel mechanic in 1983. During his time in the military he was trained on computers---when they were still new--which became his career choice after his discharge.

My daughter's brother-in-law Chris enlisted in the Army just a few weeks ago. He is almost finished with basic training, and will then embark on officer training. His wife and two young daughters miss their dad and husband while he is in training; they have already been uprooted once, and will no doubt be uprooted multiple times in the future as Chris pursues his new career.

My friend from church, Leo, served in World War II. In his 80s, Leo is a dear and a gentle flirt.  He tells amazing stories of being a young infantryman during the Battle of the Bulge, surviving a freezing winter out in the elements and trusting to luck and God. Now his battle is with leukemia, and I don't know how much longer he'll greet me on Sundays with a kiss on my cheek and a wink at my husband.

Happy Veterans Day to these wonderful vets, and to all the others who have served in the past, and who continue to serve today. I love you and appreciate you. I hope my life of service in my community and profession is worthy of your service to our country.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One-sentence poem

I wrote this poem in the springtime years ago, and I've revised it several times since. This is its current form. I like it because it's all one sentence, which is also a word play because it's also about a "sentence" we all live under - our mistakes. It's in the form of a cross, suggesting something about that sentence we live under, and, finally, it has dandelions in it, and I always like poems with dandelions in them...


on this early
April morning
the dew gathers itself
to dandelion leaves
that do not tremble
with the weight,

and as I look
across the lawn,
which is largely the dandelions, undesirables,
they raise their yellow heads, shining like an anthem
out of weediness

and all because
the dew,
to the dandelion
now pulls this
early April
across the lawn,
until the silver
is altered,

and is fractured,
into a million promises

in April, early April
that I, even I
may be

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A good recuperation

My dad's recuperation from his heart surgery is going quite well so far. He was doing so well this morning that the surgeon discharged him from the hospital, and he and my mother are thrilled to be back in their own home this evening. 

He cracks me up. He was avoiding his pain medicine yesterday to trick the nurses into thinking he was getting better faster. What a sneaky guy... (they were on to him). Then today he was walking around a bunch to convince the doctor that he was well on the way to health and strength, and apparently it worked.

What are they thinking, letting an old man out of the hospital only 4 days after they were cutting into his heart??!! I'm kind of joking, kind of serious. Modern medicine sure is amazing, no?

On Saturday he told my mom that his heart had stopped once during the night. His blood pressure got too low, all the alarms and buzzers went off, the nurses yelled at him to wake up, and his heart started beating again. How does the heart know?? Such a miracle. I am sitting here shaking my head.

I am so grateful that he is mending well, and that the surgery was even possible. In the last month or so I have read blogs about two beautiful young mothers succumbing to cancer, way too young in life, with dear little children and husbands left behind. Their stories are haunting, heart-wrenching, and they have stayed with me. How does it work that their families are grieving, while I am able to celebrate that my dad is home, heart beating strong, healing and hoping for a good many more years...

I am so, so grateful.

And who is taking care of my dad? My mom, of course. She is so patient with my dad. He will be a major pain to live with for the next few weeks, and she will endure him kindly most of the time, and tell him to knock it off every once in a while. There is NO WAY he would be getting better without her. He acts all big and strong and tough, but he's really a baby inside, and he needs my mother so much when he's sick. She will have her hands full with her impatient patient!

PS - My brother and sister-in-law have been helping out ever since Dad went into the hospital, too. They will stay in town with my folks through Sunday to make sure everything is settled and in order. Family is the best, for sure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Not my favorite chore

Grocery shopping is generally one of my least-favorite chores. On Saturday, the weather was alternating sun breaks and rain showers...autumn in Oregon!

I decided to take a chance and head to the grocery store on my bicycle to do the weekly grocery shopping. The store I like to shop at (Fred Meyers) is 1.2 miles from home.

How to carry a week's worth of groceries on a bicycle?

Check out this very cool basket Kendra made a couple of years ago:

I've used it several times on hikes - it's perfect for carrying the lunch for a family group.

But I haven't used it with the bicycle before.

It worked really well. Here's the basket loaded with 34 pounds of groceries! It took about 15 minutes to ride the bike home from the grocery store.

I carried another 5 pounds of potatoes in the front bike basket. As I was leaving the grocery store with the loaded basket, a woman stopped me to ask where I got the basket. She was really disappointed when I told her my daughter made it. She was hoping to buy one for herself. Too bad...

I had fun riding my bike to the grocery store - made my least-favorite chore a lot more fun, and I hope to shop this way again...although it may be a while, with rainy autumn/winter weather on the way...