Friday, April 30, 2010

Oh Those Rolls

According to the back of the mix box: "if you mention the Lion House rolls to those who know, the first words out of their mouths will likely be, 'Oh, those rolls!'"

Yesterday I drove all the way to Portland for one errand.  I went to the Deseret Book store, then turned around and drove right back home.  Ordinarily I would probably have made a stop at the Temple, or Bridgeport Mall, or perhaps the Woodburn Outlets.  No time.  I had  to pick up some Marvin Goldstein books for Sunday,  then hurry home to fix dinner for the missionaries along with some guests they were bringing. 

As I was standing in line at the book store, my eye was drawn to a display of boxes amidst the books.  They were mixes for the famous Lion House dinner rolls.  Well, first it startled me to see food in the store, then it piqued my curiosity.  I thought to myself, "Why not?" and picked up a few to take home.

I decided to try them out on my dinner guests that evening.  So I ignored the directions and threw the whole thing into my breadmaker and put it on the dough setting.  Worked great, and no sticky fingers nor mess on my counter.
After the dough had raised, I then followed their directions for forming the classic rolls.  Pretty easy, too.  I could see this had promise.  So far, nothing too difficult.  But the true test would be how they baked and how they tasted.  Would I truly be able to get away with serving what only looked like I had been baking all day?

One of my biggest weaknesses is for fresh, homebaked goodies, and these were delicious.  They certainly passed the test; very easy to make with the appearance, aroma and taste of homemade.

  In hindsight, I would have baked them a little longer.  I thought their golden brown looked fine and pulled them out at the fifteen minute mark.  They are exactly like Jackie would have liked; still a little too soft for me.
Fortunately, I bought their 3 for $10 deal, so I get to try them again.  And even if no one else makes that promised declaration, I believe I might be heard to say, "Oh, those rolls!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mormon Moms who Blog

Here is the link to Mormon Moms who Blog.  This is a list I am submitting my blog to be included on.  I am a Mormon.  I am a Mom.  And I Blog.  I think it fits.  It looks like it may be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  I think I am not alone...

Castles in the Air

One of my favorite quotes from Henry David Thoreau talks about castles in the air.  I love it.  I can identify with it.  It seems to describe my life.  Part of it is as follows:
     "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them."

I have spent my life as a dreamer.  As a child I always imagined what I could do; as a youth I spent more time within the safety of my imagination than in the starkness of reality.  As an adult, I think I woke up to the demands of real life; well, kind of.  I have taken my responsibilities seriously and tried to accomplish the things that were asked of me.  But I have always held onto dreams.  I have always imagined what could be.  I fear, though, it has often been without setting the goals necessary to achieve them.

I used to envision myself in cap and gown, surrounded by my family overflowing with pride in their mother.  I never graduated from college.  I chose to work full time to enable my husband to complete his degree.  I don't regret that decision.  It gave us full health insurance benefits to start a family, and the security of beginning our lives without student loans.

Several years back I decided to chase this castle in the air and I went back to school.  I loved it.  I have always loved learning.  That is the real joy of school for me.  I took several classes for a couple of semesters.  When it came time to register for the upcoming semester, I somehow didn't feel like it was the right choice.  I didn't know why.  I just didn't. I received my answer a short time later.  I received a phone call from the Stake President.  He asked what I had going on in my life.  I explained that my days were mostly free as my children were all in school then.  What was I thinking?!  He then extended a request for me to teach full time seminary at one of the local high schools.

It took me years to return to the goal of a college degree.  When I did, I found that my credits were too "old" to account for anything, and that I would have to start from scratch.  Somehow that didn't appeal to me.  So I decided to become as self-educated as I could.  I love to travel, so I have accompanied travel with learning as much as I can about the places I wish to go.  I have begun watching lectures by college professors on DVD.  I have not been afraid to try my hand at new skills.  All of these things are putting the foundation underneath the dream of being well-educated.  The dream may have received a little tweaking, but it is becoming a reality.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Welcome Guest

I adore my son.  He is one of my all-time favorite people in the world.  I love our visits on the phone every week.  But nothing is better than when he is actually able to come home.  We had such a lovely time when he was here last week. 
It is gratifying to see the man he has become, happily taking on the responsbility of being a husband and a father and a student and a provider.  He takes these roles very seriously. 

One of my favorite things about having Robert come to visit is the music he brings.  My piano, too, must long for his visits because that is when that instrument comes to life again.  He has the capacity to bring out its sweetest sounds.  Whereas I am limited to playing the music I see written on a page, he is filled with boundless music that seems to flow from his fingertips, not relying on anything as mundane or prosaic as sheet music. 

And as much as the piano seems to welcome its old friend, I think Robert values that relationship too.  He was an important part of selecting that particular piano.  We took him to the showroom and had him play all the pianos in the store.  He has a gifted ear that hears nuances I can only imagine.  There seemed to be an instant connection between the two of them.  This was the one.

I remember another similar reunion of Robert and the piano.  The day he came home from his mission was filled with so many emotions and touching memories.  One of the most poignant was seeing him reconnect with his long lost friend.
Music had been one of his sustaining forces as he undertook the challenges of a mission.  In a sacred gathering of our family, Robert shared with us, at the piano, the important songs he wrote as he served in Philadelphia; songs that were filled with testimony, that were filled with hope, that were filled with the peace that comes after the long struggle of faith.

I know my son comes home to see me and his father.  I'm so glad.  But I am also glad that waiting for him here is another dear friend.  It stands faithfully, patiently in front of the window, anticipating the return of the man with the magic hands.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paid in Meatballs

Well, not really.  But "Paid in Cookies" is more accurate.

I must admit one of my guilty pleasure movies is "The Wedding Singer".  I love Adam Sandler's character.  He is so real; so humble; so lovable in his pathetic situation.  One of my favorite parts is when he teaches music lessons in return for homemade meatballs.  And he reminds us, in one of the funniest parts of the movie, that although he gets paid in meatballs, he "likes money and hopes to have a lot of it someday."  It makes us doubt him though, because he certainly doesn't seem to be too caught up in worldly things, nor does he ever place wealth above human relations.

Why write about this?  Well, I am married to someone that reminds me of this type of person.  Brian was telling me this morning that he got paid in cookies today.  There is a sweet little lady that often comes to his factory for spare fabric, which she then sews into hats for chemotherapy patients.  Because Brian refuses to accept payment for this act of kindness, she delights in bringing in big trays of cookies.

My husband is the most generous, kind soul I have ever met.  While I am thankful that he doesn't receive all his remuneration in the form of baked goods, I am delighted whenever I hear about his quiet acts of generosity, most of which I'm certain I never hear about.  And that is as it should be.  I love you, dear.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Can Do Hard Things

When my friend, Derek, was home for Spring break, he enlisted my help with a project he was working on.  He wanted to make some inspirational plaques with a saying that was important to him.  He asked if I could make a stencil for him.  Impressed with his determination, I agreed to help.  Without too much trouble I cut a stencil for him and with the remaining letters, I made my own inspirational project.  It holds a great reminder for anyone; I have particularly appreciated its wisdom recently.
Life is fraught with hard things that we can choose to confront, or to avoid, to ignore, to hide from, to deny.  From my experience, usually if one tries to ignore difficulties they almost certainly escalate to even greater challenges.  How reassuring it is to discover the ability in oneself to be able to "do hard things."  And we do!  We go through life accomplishing great tasks that should arm us for the next one that comes along.  Why then, does our confidence often wax cold?  Why do we begin doubting ourselves when our history shows that we can rise to formidable occasions?

Perhaps I am the only one that faces life this way, but I think I really am in good company. I hope it is a universal tendency and that I am not the only one that lives doubting my own abilities and fearing the challenges waiting down the road.

With this reminder that 'I can do hard things' firmly in my mind, I am determined to move forward, to conquer the challenges that lie before me, and most importantly, those that lie within me.

I am thankful for a circle of supporters, my loving family and my caring friends.  A dear friend from my youth recently reminded me that it is within difficulties that opportunities arise.  I am going to be looking for those opportunities.  I am going to find the strength within myself that I know is there; it has been proven by the past, and it will not let me down now.  Often the true test lies in the leap of faith.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thought you would enjoy

tiptoeing through the tulips with me today.  Here are a few of the photos I took recently at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival outside of Woodburn, Oregon.  What an uplift to walk through the colorful fields.
I wish we could have made it to see them while all my kids were here.  It is much more fun to take pictures of my beautiful children amidst the beautiful flowers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Hate Quotations.

Well, I don't really, but apparently Ralph Waldo Emerson did.   To quote him:  "I hate quotations.  Tell me what you know."

I hope you were able to see the irony in that.  It certainly has gotten me thinking.  (Gosh, I like when that happens...)  I, for one, am guilty of falling back on using a good quotation when I can't think of anything original to say.  Why do we think we can appear wise simply by the use of someone else's thoughts?  It really is a cop out, isn't it? 

That is why I love the second part of Emerson's quote:  Tell me what you know!  That's better, isn't it?  I love to hear what is really on people's minds.  Granted our humble, pedestrian thoughts are usually not very grand, but in them lies reality.  In them is our effort to make sense of life, whether it be at its most delicious or its most bitter.  That is what makes it real.

Although I do love a good quote, particularly one that stimulates thought and pondering, I am going to try to use them in moderation.  If I blog about a quotation, it will be one that enables me to lead into "what I really know".  Or think.  Or wonder about.  Or worry about.   Perhaps the use of quotations is most valuable when it lends itself to sharing more about oneself.  That will be my yardstick.  I suppose I could fill up my blog everyday with poignant, pithy, and philosophical quotes from the greatest minds of all time. 

But then how would you get to know me?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Had a Dream...

Yesterday evening I went out into my backyard to take some pictures of Spring.  It has come in a big way and it is breathtaking.  I was just in awe of the beauty that surrounded me.  But as I paused to reflect on my beautiful yard, something took my mind back 15 years ago to when it only existed as a dream in my head.  So I pulled out an old scrapbook that told the story of its transformation, scanned some pictures, and because of the reminder of how it used to look, now I have a deeper appreciation of the Eden I call my backyard.  Maybe you will too.

Come visit me sometime and I'll show you my yard.  And we'll have lemonade.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


When is it time to say "When"?  When has a person hit their limit?  When are too many hobbies simply too many?  Can a person have too many hobbies?  I wonder.

I have spent my life dabbling in a wide variety of pastimes.  Few are active, physically demanding ones.  Most are creative, cerebral or require the use of my hands.  Throughout the years, I have jumped from one to the next quite frequently.  Sometimes my habit of moving on without staying and seeing it through to mastery has been a bit of a frustration.  But then I reconcile it by thinking I would rather know how to do many things than just to have mastery of a few.  In hindsight, I think I made the right choice for me.  I love to try new things. But I can't say I am master of much.

Recently, I began to second guess myself on taking on even more new hobbies, especially with the proverb about old dogs and new tricks looming in my mind.  Is enough enough?  I was counseled that  "YES! some additional hobbies are just what you want."  And I was encouraged to " Have fun on the adventure and path to self actualization and understanding."

I'm still not sure.  Maybe my old age is the time to master many of the tried and true hobbies of my past, not to take on more new exploits.

Hmmmmmm....I wonder what Grandma Moses would tell me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Expectations Met!

Sometimes I wonder if I set my expectations too high.  Often I do.  But our recent Springbreak holiday, one in which I had placed tremendous expectations, far surpassed and exceeded any of my preconceived hopes.  Simply put, we had a wonderful time.

We decided to perpetuate a tradition of family pictures at the ocean in matching Nike shirts. The first took place at Thanksgiving of 2008.  We all know from where our bread gets buttered; and it is kind of fun to give a nod as we recognize we are part of the Nike family.
But I digress...  Springbreak of 2010 was a rousing success with just the right balance of structured and unstructured activity.  Never did I feel that we were "on top of each other," nor beginning to get on each other's nerves.  There was plenty for everyone to do, including plenty of nothing when that was our preference.

The boys were able to play golf twice; first at Salishan at Glen Eden Beach, and also our home course at Creekside Golf Club in Salem. 

I helped the girls make seashore memory boxes with matching accordion photo albums while we were at the beach.  When we were back in Salem, I took them to Brian's sewing factory and taught them to make aprons on the commerical sewing machines. 

We played games, flew kites, played with bubbles, cooked and shared great meals, played hours of ping pong, walked along the beach, made carmel popcorn and rootbeer floats. Well, you get the idea. It was delightful in every way. And the best part? We are already planning to do it all again. The best memories are ones that inspire you to create traditions.

I already see this as the beginning of a tradition.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My new best friend

She isn't a great conversationalist.  She is a little self-centered, focussing often on her own comfort-level.  But, she fills the room with sunshine.  She has a smile for everyone.  She loves to laugh and clap her hands.  And I love her.

I have spent the past week getting to know my granddaughter, Evelyn.  I have learned what makes her happy, what can distract her when she feels abandoned by her parents, what she likes to eat, what she doesn't like to eat.  I have learned that she likes flowers.  And music.  And dancing to music.  She likes all of her aunties.  I have learned that she doesn't like bedtime. 

She is fascinated with people.  She is very observational, always noting who is speaking and who is in the room.
It was a wonderful week, filled with love and laughter and discovery.  I am looking forward to many more outings with Evelyn and hope she is joined by lots of cousins during the coming years.  Our family circle holds lots of love and has the capacity to expand to great proportions.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just trying to keep up!

What a whirlwind day we have had!  If I have learned anything, it is that my stamina is beginning to wane a little. Perhaps I'm not really as young as I think I am. Today has been set aside as a mother-daughter celebration, and I finally had to drop out of the final activities.  Just couldn't keep up with those girls of mine!

The day began with cake baking.  And I mean, lots of cake baking.  We are having a little post-birthday observance for Jackie's big 25, which I missed last month, and part of that is trying our hands at decorating with fondant.  But for a wow cake, it requires many layers of cake.  So we baked many layers of cake.  I'm not sure who is going to eat all that cake.

While the cakes were cooling, my girls and I went shopping, you know a little something we like to do...  Very fun, and very successful.  We are very good shoppers.

Then came time for cake decorating.  In hind sight, I wish I would have taken pictures of my kitchen when we were all finished.  That may have been the biggest mess ever to have covered the counters and the table and the floor and the bakers.  Powdered sugar was everywhere!  And we had a blast!  Here is our masterpiece.  Obviously we are beginners.  Obviously we have a lot to learn.  Obviously it is our first attempt at using fondant.  But we are pretty proud of it, nonetheless.

When the kitchen was finally cleaned up, we caught our breath, changed our clothes, and went to DaVinci's for Jackie's favorite gnocchi.  She claims she has been dreaming about it.  And it probably is dream-worthy.  I had fresh spinach fettucini with chicken, pancetta, and roasted tomatoes.  Absolutely delicious.  Not sure I will be dreaming about it, but very good.

As I stumbled into the house on our return, exhausted from the day's adventures, my girls all headed to change into their swimsuits for a hot tub party.  Sadly, I had to pass on that one.  And then afterwards, they changed and went out to Applebee's for dessert.  I passed on that one too.  See what I mean?  I must be getting old...

Friday, April 9, 2010

I did it!

I never dreamed I would, but I actually did it!  At the beginning of the week, I made a huge list of things I wanted to accomplish before my kids came home for Spring Break.  It was a little intimidating.  I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to do it all.

There remains one thing left to do.  I need to load up the van with all the fun stuff I have prepared.  But it is all ready to go.  Then, Brian will come home in a couple of hours and we will head to the airport in Portland to pick up our first arrivals, Erica and Miranda.  Jackie will follow on Sunday afternoon.  Then, Robert and his beautiful little family will get here on Tuesday.

Although I am not excited about driving to the airport that many times, I am happy that each group will get to be fussed over individually.  Hopefully they will all feel how much they are loved, and how special we think they are.  It has been driven home to me  that my family is the center of my life, my thoughts, my efforts, my concerns.  As it should be.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the great blessings I have been given.

I plan on taking lots of pictures this coming week.  I'm pretty sure I will be in seventh heaven.