Sep 10, 2014

Birthday Beauty

Miss Bitty, aka Fiona, is 1-year old! Wow, it's been a fast year. She had the wonderful family birthday party in her lovely backyard (with perfect weather). She is such a dynamic little person! Her sweet personality just radiates.

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She totally enjoyed her cake. Especially the frosting! Eventually she grabbed a handful of cupcake after she'd eaten most of the frosting and was so frustrated that she had cake crumbs all over her frosting-y fingers. Grammie to the rescue! I wiped off her hand and she was good to go for another round.

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This little girl brings so much joy to all around her.

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And if you needed more proof... just look at this!

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Seriously... does it get any better than this? We are so blessed to be near to so many of our grandchildren!

Aug 24, 2014

Christian's Big Day

Today, Christian's 12th birthday, was a special day. His Dad conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained him to office of a Deacon. We are so pleased that he is a worthy (and handsome) young man.

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Since it was their Ward Conference today we all gathered at Doug and Jessica's home (which was quite nice and packed to the gills) for this happy occasion.

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Grampy Gordon, Papa Dell, Papa Warner, Christian, Doug, Uncle Stuart, Uncle Kevin (Camille's kind of Kevin), Uncle Kevin (Suzi's kind of Kevin), Uncle Beau and Uncle Matt.

We are so blessed to be here to participate in these wonderful milestones.

OK... Funny story-

Years ago I was sitting in Primary with the older boys when Josh says to me-

"Sister Lewis, when do I get to be a duncan?"

"A DUNCAN, Josh?"

Yeah, a duncan. You know, those boys who pass the sacrament!"

"Ahh! A DEACON?"

"Yeah, yeah... a deacon!"

Today our Christian is a Duncan!

Ashton's Debut Recital

This last month has been a busy one for Ashton. She's been preparing for her debut recital. You would think that one recital would be enough, but no, this was the 3rd one in 15 days!

Since we've been to each of her recitals I don't think I comprehended what a *debut recital* entailed. It was over an hour of her playing; mostly without music! When I looked at the sheet music for the last concerto (it was a duet and only her teacher had the music) it was mind boggling! I asked her how she could memorize all of that. Her answer, "I have a photographic memory."

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Ashton has a lovely touch and a gift for music. My personal favorite was an arrangement of If You Could Hie to Kolob (the music is taken from an Irish melody). It literally brought me to tears.

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Ashton and her piano teacher, Kristi
 
And here is the funny part about our Ashton... she is obsessed with these funny bracelets. At her first recital I asked if she needed to take them off. I took her quite a few minutes to get all 28 of them off.

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(But perhaps funnier still, that Grammie had to sort them.)

Aug 21, 2014

The Goodness of Light

On Tuesday last, Elder David A Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints challenged us to flood the internet with a wave of good, uplifting and positive. I love that challenge. I've seen many others accept that challenge as they post uplifting quotes, experiences and photos.

This week we've been blessed with our August monsoonal flow of moisture. We've badly needed every drop we have received. I love the quality of the light after thunderstorms. Each evening Harley and I take a little doggie-walk. As I was walking last evening, with a soft, cool breeze ruffling my hair, I was struck by how a walk on a pleasant rain-washed evening just feeds my soul. It fills me up.

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It takes me back to my carefree days of childhood when I lived in the ultimate safe haven of Indian Valley California. I was free (and safe) to roam the pastures, mountains, creeks and forests of that beautiful area. Perhaps because I am the baby-of-the-family by quite a gap, I learned early on to be happy with my own company even though I am basically a social person.

I marvel at the goodness of our Heavenly Father, who created such a beautiful world. And the wonderful godly light that shines through the clouds testifies to my spirit of his love for me, his daughter.

I'm grateful to know that God *is no respecter of persons*. He loves all of His children!

Aug 9, 2014

Alpine Loop- The Last Hurrah?

Last fall when DeLoris and I normally take our annual Alpine Loop trip she was not feeling well enough to go. Ever since then I've felt overwhelmed that we didn't get to do it and I MIGHT NOT EVER GET TO MAKE THAT TRIP AGAIN with my DeLoris!

Only a few weeks ago I got a call from Shari, DeLoris' daughter, telling me I'd want to go see *Mother* because they didn't expect her to last the week! I couldn't get down to Payson to see her until the next morning and when I came into her room there she was sitting up in bed drinking a carton of chocolate milk and looking very frail!

I've been down several times since then and she has always looking tired and in pain. Imagine my surprise when I went yesterday and this is the woman I saw!! I told her she was beautiful (and the Ever-ready bunny)! This is just a pix taken with my iPhone and edited in instagram! My wonderful, beautiful, glorious DeLor-EE-ous! She just turned 93!

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Welp, I wasn't going to let the opportunity slip by again. I made a date to come back this morning and we would get in our 9th Annual Alpine Loop Trip (only 10 months late!) And I realize that this truly may be our last hurrah trip. My DeLoris has shrunk so much that she joked she needs a booster seat to see out the window!

When we arrived at the park entrance I asked the girls working there if I could buy my America the Beautiful Senior Pass a week early. They kindly sold it to me with a promise that I won't use it until next Saturday! I am so excited to have this happy little pass. It allows me free entrance to all National Parks for the rest of my life! Yay little-Joanie!

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I made several stops for photo ops. We both commented that we've driven this route so often that we have favorite views and sights along the way. I always love how the aspen look. I almost feel like this should be a *find the hidden objects* puzzle.

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We always make our stop at the rest rooms on the American Fork Canyon side of the trip. I have a selfie from this exact place in 2008. Today's selfie doesn't merit publishing (especially since we both have a very cute photo included in this post!)

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And it wouldn't be a photo outing without a flower. I got this one with my olloclip macro lens on my iPhone.I love my MPC!

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After lunch at In 'n Out as we were motoring back to Payson DeLoris said she might live another 5 years. Oh, how I hope that is true if (big IF) she can remain healthy and without much pain. What a wonderful dear friend she is to me. I'm a lucky girl!

Aug 3, 2014

33 Years

Today's anniversary of Tony and Amanda's death coincided with Fast Sunday. I knew that I needed to share my testimony of my Saviour. I must testify that Jesus is my strength, my comfort, my rock. He has never left me alone in my grief. Has it been hard? Absolutely!

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TONY, AMANDA, REBEKAH EASTER SUNDAY 1981 (4-10)

But...
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 
Phillipians 4:13

And as in years past, an anonymous angel has sent me flowers. Chad Wright delivered these at 8:15 this morning.

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And they always bear this same message.

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The thought just occurred to me. I've been sad that I couldn't decorate my kid's grave each year since they are buried in Livermore, CA. But some earthly angel decorates my house instead. What a wonderful blessing.

Truly they have followed the Saviour's counsel to "... succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." (D&C 81:5) and "... are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light: and are willing to mourn with those that mourn: and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-9)

But I learned a new fact today; I am not the only one to whom this marvelous Christ-like person ministers. There are others in my neighborhood who received like remembrances on their difficult day.

I also had a visit and sweet treat and lovely note from my Whitley. I taught Whitley's Sunday school class last year. She is an angel.

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I am so very blessed to live in an area where there are so many people who listen to the promptings of the Spirit and "comfort those which stand in need of comfort."

Jul 27, 2014

Fire!

We live in a small area called Spring Cove tucked right into this, erm... little cove up against the mountain.

MY mountain.

I love looking out of my office or sewing room windows to watch the changing beauty of this long ridge. So you can imagine my distress when I got up to close the windows and saw this!

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I'd smelled smoke in the night but wrote it off as lingering from Friday afternoon's lightening fire up on the mountain just north of Maple Mountain (that is behind our house) that was put out very quickly with water dropping helicopters.

Apparently teenagers playing with fireworks, in an unauthorized area, started this blaze just one street west from us at about 2 am. Fortunately, they were smart enough to call 911 when they realized what they'd done! (Poor stupid kids! I'd ask them what they were thinking, but obviously... THEY WEREN'T!) Folks who live up on the mountain-proper got a wake up knock at about 4 am telling them to be ready to evacuate.

I can't say enough about all of the many people who sped into action to save the many homes that are located on the foot of this mountain! There was a perfectly choreographed team of workers who got this fire under control.

This big orange dragonfly-looking helicopter was my favorite!

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They set up a staging area just down at the high school for all of the responding agencies. They had a portable pool, about the same size as an above-ground pool, where the helicopters would hover and refill their water tanks.

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When this fellow opened his *bombardier doors* a huge waterfall would plummet to the ground, dousing the fire. It frequently looked like water shot out of a cannon.

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Then there was this dashing little fellow! He was much more methodical. He would circle around and hover over the hot spot then let go. I observed that he had the ability to release all or part of the load.

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As soon as the water was dropped he was right back into high gear and speeding away for another fill-up. I didn't realize until I looked at the photos on my computer that he had this cool paint job on his 'copter! I love how he flies so fast that his paint is dripping!

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Many of the neighbors brought out their lawn chairs to a shady spot to watch the show. One group even had a pizza party! Finally this little guy joined the fray.

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He had the same kind of upside-down-badminton-birdie shaped bucket.

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This pano from my sitting spot belies the size and scope of MY mountain and the fire. Each of the peaks has a small ridge with a canyon on the other side. The fire burned up the draw to the left of the middle peak and around the back of the mountain. You can see the red line of fire retardant that was dropped while I was driving (hence, no photos!) It was so interesting. I watched the duo of tiny spotter plane and huge tanker making repeated drops. The spotter plane would fly first and drop a marker (of water?) that the tanker would use as his drop area.

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I just heard on the local news that the fire has burned to 145 acres and is 15% contained. This call was a little too close for comfort.

Thank you again to all of the people, in the air and on the ground, who responded to this fire.

Jul 6, 2014

Somebody's Got a Screw Loose!

OMSH! I think that is me!!

Yesterday I wanted another ceiling fan, this time in the master bedroom. I just like how they move the air around on hot days. Somehow it makes 78* a little more tolerable.

Since I had previous experience last year, I knew that I could easily install this one. But is seems that I'm a little challenged when it comes to the screw part! (Sheesh!) Last year a posted this-
Okay true story… I was installing a ceiling fan today when I lost one of the mounting screws. I looked everywhere for it. Finally I had to go down to Sunroc and buy two screws that would work. I just took off my bra...tink, tink, tink... guess what I found? (7.29.13)

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Because of that experience I wanted to be oh-so-careful, but somehow my Grammie-hands just can't handle the job like they used to. I needed to move the bed out of the center of the room so I could install the fan, of course that exposes all of that wonderful, long pile, brand-new, never-been-walked-on carpet that we installed several years ago.

I was very methodical, but, yup, still dropped a few screws, but they were all big and easy to find. Finally I get the screws that hold the cover over the lighting fixture and dropped not one, but two of the three screws! Great coogily-moogily! I glanced around hoping for an easy find, but these weren't normal sized screws they were teeny- not even a 1/4" long! (Are you kidding me?)

So I-
  • Got out my high-powered flashlight. Ha! I found one!
  • Used the strong magnet on the flashlight... no luck.
  • Remembered reading that a way to find small things is to put a nylon stocking over the end of the vacuum hose. Yeah, not so much... I loosened my grip slightly on the stocking and the vacuum ate the stocking!
  • Laid down on the carpet to get the horizontal view- erm, no.
  • Tried each of the above several times. All to no avail.
  • FINALLY, I started vacuuming very slowly and as soon as I heard a click on the beater bar, stopped and found the teeny screw.
I suppose that *All's well that ends well* but sometimes I like to have just a little less drama with my DIY projects.

Blueberry Cheesecake

I think Camille's friend, Jamie, says it best about this luscious dessert!

"Oh my stars 'n stripes... that looks amazing!"

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I found this a year or so ago on Pinterest and it is a definite Pinterest WIN! I've made it for the last two 4th of July celebrations here at mine house!

I've had several requests for the recipe, so I will share it here. Mind, this isn't my recipe- I got it from a Polish blog! I've added some notations in the recipe if you don't cook metric or don't have a scale.

Blueberry Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust:
100g (1cup) crushed whole wheat cookies (store bought or home-made) (I used graham cracker crumbs)
1 / 2 cup oatmeal
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
pinch of salt*
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (*I just use salted butter and omit the salt)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
40g powdered gelatin - 3 pkgs (I found this is the best amount even though it isn't 40g)
1/4 cup water
400g cream cheese, softened (the better part of 2- 8 oz pkgs. About 14 oz)
250ml heavy cream 30% (a generous cup)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups blueberries, washed and drained

For the topping:
250ml heavy cream 30% (a generous cup)
3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (I used 2 tbs of super fine sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup blueberries, washed and drained

Crust:
1. Place oatmeal and crushed cookies (or graham cracker crumbs) together in a food processor. Pulse to grind up the oatmeal. Add melted butter and vanilla. Press into the base of a 20cm
round x 9cm (8”x 3”) spring form pan and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely at room temperature. (Or be like me and stick it in the freezer!)

Filling:
2. In a small saucepan soak the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water (for about 10 minutes), and then put on a
    heat and warm up stirring until dissolved. (Do this in saucepan, not microwave! yikes what a mess!)
3. Mix together cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl with beaters. Slowly add heavy cream, and
    mix well. Add vanilla and lemon juice.
4. Purée blueberries in a food processor and mix with cream cheese mixture.
5. With mixer on low slowly add the warm gelatin, after ingredients are combined let it stand for a
    few minutes until it start thickens.
6. Pour evenly into the chilled base, smooth the surface and refrigerate for about 4-5 hours,
    but best to leave overnight. (or do the freezer thing again)
7. Before you unlock the spring form pan, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen.

Topping:
8. Whip the heavy cream with vanilla sugar. Cover top of the blueberry cheesecake with whipped
    cream and blueberries.

Enjoy:)


http://www.malacukierenka.pl
(this recipe comes from this Polish blog!)

Jul 1, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh...


Today I went to Desi's house to get a perm. (For those of you who may not know, Desi and Camille have been best friends since kindergarten and she is like a second daughter). Her little kids were going to go right across the street and ride their bikes in the parking lot at the school (which they call the park).

It brought to mind a story about my Tony. When he was just about the same age as Emmalie we lived just kitty-corner to the park and he used to love to ride his new bike there. I told them that I was watching out the window when I saw Tony crash his bike into one of the logs that were at the park's perimeter. I saw him get up and he started jumping up and down and crying (but I could'nt hear him, I could only see him). When I met him halfway he was bleeding badly from a cut on his head. (Poor little guy! You know how head wounds bleed)

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TONY WITH HIS BIRTHDAY BIKE APRIL 1979

Emmalie was sitting at the counter eating a donut I'd brought and chimed in, "Did he die?"

I thought about it for about 2 seconds and answered, "Yes, but not from that!" And then laughed. Desi catching the sick joke, joined in. Finally Emmalie wanted to know what was so funny. So explained to her that he'd died from a drowning accident 2 years later.

There may be those who will judge me harshly on this one. I'm just grateful that, for once, the *dead* question didn't feel like such a punch in the gut. (But I cried as I wrote all of this!)