Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scripture Advent

I've had my eye on a little advent calendar for several weeks but couldn't wait for it to go on sale because it was the only one and I was afraid it would get grabbed so I grabbed it first. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it - put a scripture reference in each little drawer - one to read each day of the month. I found this list on an LDS website, but you can choose your own favorites as well.

Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 9:6
Micah 5:2
Matthew 1:23
Matthew 2:1-6
Matthew 2:7-12
Luke 1:27 & 28
Luke 1:30 & 31
1 Nephi 10:4
1 Nephi 19:8
1 Nephi 11:13 - 20
2 Nephi 17:14
2 Nephi 19:6
2 Nephi 25:19
2 Nephi 26:3
Alma 7:10
Helaman 14:4
3 Nephi 1:12 - 15
3 Nephi 1:16 - 21
Luke 2:1 - 5
Luke 2:6 - 7
Luke 2:8 - 12
Luke 2: 13 - 16
Luke 2: 17 - 20

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Writing vs Cooking

Cooking will win out every time! I am supposed to be writing a talk to give in the Dutch Harbor branch tomorrow on The Sacrament, but I had this butternut squash that was just screaming to be made into a wonderful soup. Actually it's more of a bisque. Anyway, I have tried at least half a dozen recipes and this is my all time favorite. It's from the Vitamix cookbook but I think you could adapt it to a regular blender if it's a decent one. Enjoy!
Apple Butternut Squash Soup
3 cups cooked squash
1 large apple, microwaved until tender
1/4 of a small onion + 1/2 clove garlic, sauteed in 1 t. butter or margarine til tender
In the Vitamix:
Put 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 t. thyme, 1/8 t. salt, and 12 oz. boiling chicken broth, mix for 3 mins. until thick and add squash, apple, onion and garlic and mix for an additional 30 seconds until smooth. If it's too thick you can add a bit of water, milk or cream. I used cream.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Morning Snow Update

This is day three of the snow. It's interesting that is it a light snow, but it's persistent. We have over a foot of fresh white and still coming down. I ordered this especial for Mike and Aubrey so they could truly have a white Alaska Christmas.

My New Jewelry Friend

Last week at our ward Relief Society Christmas social a friend brought another friend who makes really pretty vintage style brass jewelry. Here are a few samples of her earrings, which I lovingly support. These are glowing a bit due to the flash, but they are a nice smooth while stone of unknown origin. Pretty brass filigree.
And the last two are colored pearls. She sell them for $10. I hope my ears don't react adversely.
If all goes well, this pair may make it to "The Wedding" event, or one of the events, due to the nice blueish color.
She also makes necklaces as well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas is Next Week!

Oh My Gosh! Holidays are so funny. You wait forever and then there they are and then you wait forever again! We were just blest with about 6-8 inches of new snow in the last 36 hours or so. The drive to Anchorage and back was very scarey, and the way home was one accident after the next. But the snow is beautiful and we are looking forward to a very fun ward Christmas party on Saturday. Then a week of bliss before the arrival of the lovely Aubrey and the dashing Michael. So much little time. Have a great week.

Congrats to Cortney for his recent success!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blessings in the Face of Adversity...

Some of the things I was looking forward to this year by spending Christmas in Alaska were participating more in my ward and giving service to my friends and neighbors and actually socializing, which is something we never have time to do. So that would include the annual temple party, the annual Bush District Christmas party, the ward Christmas party, singing in the choir, taking treats to neighbors and all the things I usually don't have time to do because I am frantically getting ready to go out of town.
So here's the update so far...
1. Didn't attend temple workers Christmas devotional and dinner because I was coming down with a bad cold.
2. Couldn't attend Bush District Christmas party for the second year in a row because I was working in the temple.
3. Couldn't sing the choir because of same bad cold, and I'm also speaking in the Bush District the same morning as the sacrament meeting choir presentation.
4. Going to weight watchers so baking treats for neighbors hasn't happened yet.
5. Having to work more hours this month because I didn't work enough hours this year and must use them all. It appears I was doing some hibernating during January and February. Hence, less time for fun things.

But here are the good things...
1. I haven't been a sick as a lot of other people, although most of these people are men who don't care/want to do the above list.
2. Had the best luck with all shopping and post office ventures, which is no small miracle.
3. Finished the wedding quilt. A serious major miracle.
4. Hosted Relief Society social which motivated me to get the house in order.
5. I am done with all shopping and mailings.
6. My children helped with some shopping and wrapping chores which saved me time and money!
7. I finally got to put up a new tree with new ornaments.
8. I am not stressed and freaking out.
9. Hubby did the Christmas letter and addressed cards this year. Major help!
10. And there are other things as well....

So overall the holiday is joyfully happening, and I am learning that all these things work together for our good, and to appreciate it.
And I am feeling the Christmas spirit, which is the best of all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Dickie!!!

He's a keeper!

Wishing you a happy birthday and many more to come. The celebration will have to wait until tomorrow due to work, temple assignments, picking up his "new truck" and other realities. But all of our love and best wishes to you on your special day!


It was a "Relief Society" Meeting

This little cutey was our gift from the Relief Society meeting last night. It's a sweet little wooden refrigerator magnet made from painted wood and vinyl letters. It's about the size of your hand.

Our quarterly Relief Society meeting where everyone gets together and has a large scale noisy event was hosted by none other than myself last night in none other than my self's home. My daughter the English language specialist can let me know how many grammatical errors I just made. But anyway, for some reason the person hosting had to cancel and I was the back up. It was great, gave me an excuse (panic attack style) to finally finish cleaning and decorating for the holidays. Actually, I have some garland upstairs that is in the floor waiting to be replaced but I don't think anyone could see it from downstairs. The lights died shortly after assembly. We had a dinner, lots of loud talking, desserts that sent our fat and sugar levels through the roof (and my house is a double decker) and the putting together of gift baskets for "Sisters who need some extra love". I felt really blessed to have all these sisters in my home for the following reasons:

1. They were very complimentary on the house, which causes me to feel so blessed that I have a nice clean warm and safe home.
2. They loved the family photos on my family room walls, and especially the ones of the McCulloch's kissing in the field while the kids played/munched on apples.
3. I got a chance to see a lot of the younger sisters who are serving in primary or work whom I rarely see.
4. People know that I am not really less active.
5. I met a super nice girl who came with a friend and she makes beautiful jewelry so I am headed over this morning to check out her goods!
6. I am mostly lucky to not be on the list of "Sisters who need some extra love", although one day I might be.

I feel so loved by my wonderful husband, my family and my friends, and of course, my Heavenly Father.

Have a wonderful Friday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to Have a More Worshipful Christmas

This was copied from the Church's Facebook post this morning. I really liked it and I can see that there are some things I am doing right and a couple I need to work on.

Here's some practical advice to help you find your ideal Christmas. Simplify the season and you may find that for every minute you spend here, you'll get 10 minutes back to enjoy this holiday more fully.

Replace some holiday decorations in your home with reminders of Christ.
Politely decline requests that will take you away from family.
Play more Christmas music.
Donate gently used items to a thrift store.
Go Christmas caroling.
Avoid “mad rush” shopping times.
Say thank you as often as possible.
Schedule a night to help another person or family.
Call someone you normally wouldn't to wish him or her a Merry Christmas.
Delegate some holiday preparations to children or other family members.
Trim the gift list.
Simplify a traditional activity.
Find quiet time to pray.
Write down great memories as they happen.
Set and stick to a holiday budget.
Forgive a grudge.

There is a younger sister in our ward who just had a baby (#5) and I am going to call and see what I can do to help her. I usually just assume these new moms have plenty of friends and don't need any additional help, but I've decided it doesn't matter. You can never have too many friends or too much love. The best days are the days we make a difference in someone else's life!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Story of the Christmas Guest by Helen Steiner Rice

It happened one day at December's end
Some neighbors called on an old-time friend.
And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green.
And old Conrad was sitting with face ashine.
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched the twine.
And he said "My friends at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,
The Lord appeared in a dream to me.
And He said, 'I'm coming your guest to be
"So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shined,
And over the rafters the holly is twined.
And now I'll wait for my Lord to appear;
And listen closely so I will hear,
His steps as he nears my humble place.
And I'll open the door and I'll look on his face.
"Then his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known.F
or long since his family had passed away.
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest,
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start,A
nd looked for the Lord to be at his door.
Like the vision that he had had a few hours before.
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn.
And all his clothes were ragged and worn.
But old Conrad was touched and he went to the door
And he said, "Your feet must be cold and sore.
I have some shoes in my shop for you.
And I have a coat to keep you warmer, too.
"So with grateful heart the man went away.
But Conrad notice the time of day
And he wondered what made the dear Lord so late,
And how much longer he'd have to wait.
Then he heard another knock, and he ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more.
A bent old lady with a shawl of black,
And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
But she asked only for a place to rest,
a place that was reserved, for Conrad's great guest.
But her voice seemed to plead,
"Don't send me away,
Let me rest for awhile this Christmas Day.
"So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.
After she had left, he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
The Lord had not come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
When out of the stillness he heard a cry.
"Please help, me and tell me - Where am I?
"So again he opened his friendly door.
And stood disappointed as twice before.
It was a child who had wandered away,
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.
Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he could make this little girl glad.
So he called her in and he wiped her tears,
And he quieted all her childish fears.
Then he led her back to her home once more.
Then as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today,
For the hours of Christmas, had all passed away.
So he went to his room, and he knelt down to pray.
He said, "Lord, why did you delay?
What kept You from coming to call on me?
I wanted so much Your face to see.
"Then softly, in the silence, a voice he heard.
"Lift up your head - I have kept My word.
Three times my shadow crossed your floor.
Three times I came to your lowly door.
I was the beggar with bruised cold feet;
I was the woman you gave something to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best.
I was honored to be your Christmas guest.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thank You!!!

A very sweet and creative friend gave me this beautiful little "chick-pin cushion" for Christmas. Isn't she the cutest thing you have ever seen? (Well except for my grandchildren.) She saw it in a shop and came home and copied it. And I think hers is cuter and "blingyier". I had to share. I love the beads and the adorable little chicky toes! Close up.
The back is just a cute as the front! Maybe I will experiement after the holidays.
The best gifts really are from the heart.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving with the Harrells!

Okay, so my pictures are a little backward, I am getting used to blogging again! It has taken a back seat to Facebook, but here goes.

For Thanksgiving we flew out to Tennessee to see Dave and Valli and (especially!!!) baby Madeline. I can't resist this picture of her at her baby blessing in Dave and Valli's ward. She was so precious. And so sweet and quiet and everything. And Valli dressed her in the prettiest little dress (minus the sequins!). As Valli said, "It's a blessing, not a prom!" Agree.The grandparents can't resist getting their mug shots with the baby.
And the proud parents. And the beautiful Madeline.
Hiking along the creek that runs behind Dave's house. It's a lovely area that was previously used for milling. The old buildings are still there and the land on the other side has very large old houses on the property.
Dave's goose is cooked! And it was delicious. We had mashed potatoes, gravy, cooked apples and pears, carrots, rolls, leftover pink stuff, and some wonderful pies. Go Chef Dave.
The bird!
Thanksgiving dinner was shared with friends of Dave and Valli and here is Chef James deep frying the bird. It was my first fried turkey and it was good. It also cooks faster than baking. I would definately put it back on the menu anytime. It was a wonderful weekend.

Megan and Valli during out lunch at Logan's, David's favorite steakhouse. We couldn't quite talk grandpa into shushi.
We hope your holidays were just as fun and memorable as ours were. It's all about family and friends! And winning the games!

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Case I Forget to Tell You ....Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Every year the Maplewood LDS chapel serves as one of the pick up points for the community free turkey dinner giveaway for those who qualify for it. So for days leading up to it I am bombarded with phone calls surrounding the event because my office is listed in the phone book and the chapel does not. And we share a parking lot. Which becomes chaos. Which some how means that I am supposed to know everything about this, which I know nothing because it's not even a church sponsored event.

So today a woman calls and wants directions to Maplewood Street from downtown and as I attempt to give her directions, she informs me that I don't know what I am talking about and she wants to speak to some who does. Excuse me?

Her: I live downtown on (some street) and don't know how to get to Maplewood.
Me: (Gives same directions I have given to a dozen other people with no complaints.)
Her: NO, that's not right, that's not the right street, it's this other street.
Me: Well, I don't live downtown so these are the best directions I know of for this area.
Her: Are you sure there isn't someone else there that I can talk to who knows what they are talking about because I don't know what you are talking about. What you are saying just doesn't make any sense.
Me: (You want another answer? Call another number.)
Me: I'm sorry but I can assure you this is the correct street and the correct intersection.
Her: More of the same.
Me: (I'm thinking about the fact that people who are getting a free meal shouldn't be so rude and that I don't think she even deserves a turkey at this point and how much more of this crap am I going to listen to before I hang up on her.)
Her: Well. I guess I'll just have to drive around and see if I can find it.
Me: Happy Thanksgiving, click.

Some people. I hope the turkey turns out or Butterball is going to be sorry!

Maybe we should call it Thanks-getting!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I saw an easy recipe for paella in the October issue of Everyday Food. I was a little skeptical because Dick has eaten paella in "the" best restaurants in Madrid, and is a bit of a food snob, but I figured, what the heck. So I cooked it up this morning for lunch and it was judged as being "wonderful". Even fit for company! By the time I decided it might make a good blog post we had already dug in, so it's not a pretty dish at this point, but I'm sure a team of photographers could do something with it. The mussels are missing because the grocery store was out. Next time. We could also Alaskanize it by adding a little smoked salmon or some halibut. Maybe a bit of crab. The saffron blends so well with everything. If I can find the link to the recipe I will come back and post it, otherwise it should be on Martha's website.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Conference Weekend

Breaking with tradition, I didn't quilt anything this conference weekend, although I have several projects I should be working on. I decided that I should do some baking and decorate the house (a loose term) instead. So Dick got homemade cinnamon rolls and cocoa for breakfast on Sunday for the first time since last conference, I think. On Saturday we rode over to the local pumpkin patch (that would be the Eagle River Wal-mart) and selected these cute little ones for baking pies. I had never done this before, but we cut them in half, scooped out the seeds and baked them face down for an hour. The skins literally fell off the fleshy part and now we have lots of fresh pumpkin for pies and bread.
I took all of about 30 minutes to decorate the tree and add some trim to the mantle. Mission accomplished. Fall is officially here. It was a cool, foggy, wet day, but still beautiful.
My newest ornament - a black cat walking toward you means good luck, walking across your path is bad. Now we just need to watch the Halloween scene in "Meet Me in St. Louis" for the full autumnal effect.
Happy October! It is the best month!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Christmas in September

Here is an advent calendar we made on Super Saturday. It's all made of paper and is glued to a brown paper grocery sack. Inside are little red tags with christmas activities glued to them. But you could use any paper and any theme and tuck just about anything inside the little pockets. They would be so cute for Halloween countdown, birthdays, or Valentines Day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Official! It's Fall!

I took this picture this morning after looking out my window to check the weather. It's quite beautiful here in Eagle River this fall. And I think we've been blessed with an extra month of nice weather. Actually, I understand it's quite nice in most parts of AK right now. However, our mountain is more welcoming of the winter than we are.
Our back yard, covered with leaves, again. Dick has raked twice already. Kenai lake in Cooper Landing. I went there last week for two days to quilt with some friends. She has a beautiful place on the lake. I want to live there. This is her front yard beach. A perfect kayaking spot. Or bonfire spot. Or kissing spot. Whatever.
Believe it or not, this tiny little space, about the size of my bedroom, has some wonderful fabric finds. Right in Cooper Landing. Who knew? The six of us sure made her day! And we met some of the locals, come to find out, you have to be a certified card carrying tree hugger to live there. I'm okay with that. Where do I sign up?
I will be visiting the area again soon, I hope. It was a great way to celebrate fall. The drive back home to Anchorage was breathtaking. Now if I can just get out on my neighborhood trails and get some of these ripe red currants that are just begging to be picked, my fall with be complete. One more bike ride would be great too! And maybe a hike? Am I asking too much?

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Last of the Pretty Flowers

We were at the temple last week with a couple from our ward. The flowers were so pretty we couldn't resist a photo.Gabby under the porch last week.
I cannot remember the name of these plants, but they are dahlia's and they grew so good this summer. We have to dig them up because they are tubers and keep them in the crawl space until next year. We shall see how that goes.
These are the largest blooms I've ever seen.

All the leaves are changing colors so we need to get some photos before it gets too windy and wet. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The 2009 Alaska State Fair

If you weren't there, you missed out. This years winning cabbage broke the world record. It weighed in excess of 125 pounds. That's a lot of cole slaw! It was also actually very pretty. A new event this year was the snake tent. I kept thinking about David and Ethan. These snakes were huge, venemous, and amazing. There was also a show, but it was crowded and we couldn't see anything.
Grandma with the prize cabbage and the prize pumpkin, I think the pumpkin weighed about 82 pounds. The rutabegga was also a record breaker put the thing was so ugly I didn't take a picture. It's just to the left of the cabbage.
The pumpkin.

This pig was amazing, she's 17 months old, weighs 950 lbs. and is pregnant (overdue) with 8-12 little ones. She didn't want to move around much and it was so crowded that I couldn't get a decent picture. But she was a hoss!

It was a gorgeous day, and we ate more than we should've, but I'd saved my points all day for this this and it was worth it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thank You Summer!

This is a transition time of year. In days of old it was my favorite time of year. As a younger person, late August/early September ushered in milder temperatures, new school clothes, reunions with friends, and getting back to a routine. I loved it and I can still close my eyes and imagine green leaves blowing the breezes on cool mornings. But then it would warm up and be sunny and warm and perfect by lunchtime. We'd take our school lunches outside and eat by the flag pole. We referred to it as sweater weather, but you would always ditch the sweater during the day. Perfect weather for football games, pep rallies, homecoming, hanging out with friends. Skipping school and having lunch at McDonald's. Plaid skirts and matching sweaters. Knee socks. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on the AM radio. It was the 70's. It was wonderful. And I always remember it being sunny! Although it couldn't have been always sunny.

Fast forward. In Alaska, it's always a bit of a surprise. This week has been cool and overcast with some scattered showers, but not without the sun's attempts at finding spaces to shine through. But surprise warm, sunny days aren't out of the question. Yet. But there is a feeling that fall is here and snow isn't far behind. Berries are abundant on all the trails and the fireweed is mostly gone. I am beginning to want warm foods like vegetable soup and chicken and dumplings. Today I am smoking last years leftover salmon. I wore a dark skirt and Danskos to work this week, had to turn on the heater in my car and those pesky yellow leaves are showing up in the yard more frequently. School and seminary have started so I am working more. Halloween candy is in the grocery stores. So I think "fall denial" is officially out of the question.

So, with that public admission, bring on the cocoa, turning on the fireplace, quilting projects, decorating the front porch for fall, trimming back the flowerbeds, more reading, paying attention to church callings and projects that have been neglected due to warmer weather priorities. I have to schedule a trip to Dutch Harbor this month and Kotzebue in October to do my duties there. We are spending Halloween week with David and Valli and new baby so that will be a treat! I am looking forward to all that the new season brings, but I will miss the summer so much. I hope it comes back next year.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Children Are Coming to Dinner

A friend from church is moving so we are having her and her three children over for dinner on Sunday. Dinner is going to be BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, coleslaw, yummy bread and probably something for the kids to snack on while the big people finish up dinner preparations. But dessert is cupcakes, the number one favorite in America. Or at least in our family. So, here they are. I taste tested and they passed. Not bad for totally from a box.

Monday, August 17, 2009

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things

Kissing at the pool. Playing in the creek ( or nearby).
Hide and seek at the park.
Riding bikes.

Splashing in the fountain at Gateway Mall. Next time we are dressing for the water!
You can't beat summer weather!