Monday, November 30, 2009

A Week of Learning

For someone like me who loves to learn new things, this past week was a treasure trove! It seemed that every day there was some new bit of information making itself available to me. Since I like to think my blog can be a way to share my newfound knowledge, I'm going to share some of the things I learned along with the source from which I gained the information.

1. Potato chips burn well, but still not as well as tortilla chips. However, the funnest flammable snack food we've found so far is Bugles (the chips, not the instruments). If you light the pointed end, they burn, and the smoke comes out in little trails from the big open end. We learned these things by further experimentation in a couple of kitchens this week. We're either fun parents or seriously in need of new hobbies.

2. The Catholic church uses a Bible that includes more books in the Old Testament than the Bible used by other Christian denominations. I found this fact while studying some Biblical references online. I can't believe I reached my 40's without knowing that. It was interesting to read about the books and the variety of Bibles that are considered as official for use by the Vatican and also for use by members.

3. The rule for when to use a hard 'g' vs. a soft 'g' (sounds like a 'j') is that it is a soft sound when g is followed by an e or an i. I learned this from the Electric Company while Cheyenne watched it in the hotel in Vernal. I've always just read the words without realizing that there was a rule telling me which way to pronounce it. You must realize, of course, that there are exceptions like girl, give, etc. But it also explains why there is a 'u' in words like 'guess' so the word has a hard g sound even though there is an 'e' after it. That was way too much information, wasn't it?

4. I learned how to make an olive tree! Not one that grows olives, mind you, just a decorative tree to serve olives at a nice dinner. My niece really added to the beauty of our holiday dinner last week by laboriously making a beautiful fruit bouquet. She also made a fancy vegetable tray, and she taught me to make an olive tree. It was somewhat ironic in that olives are one of approximately three foods I just don't eat. Nonetheless, it was fun to start from scratch and make it look pretty. We used a cone made of floral foam, covered it with kale and lettuce, then placed decorative clumps of olives on it for the masses to take off and eat. Once again, my creativity only seems to come out when food is involved. What does that mean?

5. I like nice people. It's been sad for me to watch lots of different situations this last week in which people have been way less than nice. In extreme situations, people have taken other people's lives. In less extreme situations, sports have gotten out of hand, hateful comments have been lobbed at others who have different beliefs or views, and even family members have said mean and hurtful things to each other. I'm sure I make my share of mistakes on a regular basis, but I at least try to be nice. I've known for a long time that I like it when people are nice, but I re-learned that this week.

6. Cryotherapy is a crazy way to treat muscular ailments! While watching my guilty pleasure of The Amazing Race, I was introduced to cryotherapy as the contestants had to participate in a session in Prague, Czech Republic. The concept is that extremely cold temperatures are used to treat and heal athletes as well as others with different kinds of arthritis and other ailments. People dressed in not much more than underwear, hats, gloves, socks, and masks for their noses, go in a small room for 1-3 minutes with temperatures dropping as low as 180 degrees below zero on the Celsius scale!! For those who don't want to find a calculator, that is about -290 degrees Fahrenheit!!! I didn't believe it was even possible till I read some more about it online. And if it's on network TV and online, how can you argue? Don't expect me to be signing up any time too soon. If you want to see for yourself, go here.

7. I heard a great story that made me think. A mother was trying to get her son to take a bath, something he fought every day. Finally, he said, "Why do I have to take a bath when you never have to?" The mother realized that she always showered early in the morning before he got up. he'd never seen her bathe so he assumed she didn't do it. The point being made was that sometimes our kids don't know what is important to us because they may not see us read out scriptures while they are at school or write a check to a charity when we're paying bills or any number of other things we do out of their sight. It's made me really think about the things I want my kids to know about me and the things I find important.

Truth is, I learned a lot more than that this week, but I've shared the most exciting things. Isn't it great that there is so much to be learned? It's one more reason that I want to get up tomorrow. Who knows what juicy tidbit awaits me! I hope you all learn something new today as well. If you want to share a little tidbit in my comments, I also learned last week that you can subscribe to comments and I'll be emailed when you leave one. Isn't that just one more cool thing? I can't wait to learn from you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Helpful Camping/Survival Tip

How many of you knew that chips are flammable? It makes sense that an organic item with tons of oil would be flammable, but I hadn't really pictured a torch. Over dinner we sample torches made of Mission tortilla chips and Sun Chips. They both burned just like a candle. A crunchy Cheeto burned just like a little torch. We suppose a potato chip would be awesome, but we didn't have any of those to try.

So, perhaps we should all store a few more tortilla chips in case we ever need them for kindling.

And when the excitement of the chips wore off, we discovered that you can take a piece of orange peel, squeeze it toward a flame, and little bursts of flames shoot out. I've since read that the main ingredient in the peel, limonene, is highly flammable. Therefore, you can dry the peels, and save them to use as -- you guessed it -- kindling!

This is what I have learned as the mother of a pyromaniac son. It just seemed right that I would share the information.

My new favorite art sculpture

This is my new favorite piece of art. I'm not sure she even has a name. I guess that's how art goes - it's left up to your own interpretation. My interpretation is just that I love it! I love her sense of style. I love her smile. And I love her hair! In my dreams I wish I could be bold enough to wear purple hair. You go, girl!
Cheyenne worked hard in a before-school art class to make this treasure, and it will remain a treasure to me for years to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Won the Lottery!!!

Okay, so it was the Wicked Lottery, but I won! Actually, we won. My good friend Heather Willoughby recently treated me to a great weekend getaway in San Francisco. She was going to be in the US (she lives in Korea) for a few days, so she invited me to join her to party for a couple of days in San Fran. We had a most perfect day with perfect weather, good food, and tickets to Wicked.

Neither of us had seen it, so we decided to enter the lottery. Fortunately, there were only about 25-30 people who tried that night, so our odds were good. I took this picture outside the theater before the drawing so I could blog that I either saw the Wicked theater or that I saw Wicked. We spent $25 a piece for tickets and ended up with great seats. It was a great show.

So, with the tickets, we got buttons that said "I won the Wicked lottery!" I put mine on to take the picture below, but then I forgot it was on. I managed to parade around some questionable areas of town for an hour or so while wearing my groovy button! It's a wonder we weren't mugged multiple times!
And as an extra bonus prize, we walked into the theater and ran into our good friends Buff and Dean from Salt Lake. We had no idea they were planning to be in the city or at the play. What are the chances we'd meet up in a city that size?? The lottery win for us in that scenario is that Buff had a rental car, and Dean was in meetings all day the next day. She ended up driving us all around town as the rain came pouring down. Another great prize! Among the sites we enjoyed was the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park. Even in the pouring rain it was as beautiful and peaceful as I remember it from years ago. Thanks to all those who care for and groom such an awesome place.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my little break from reality. Heather, thanks for a great time! Buff, thanks for the ride! San Francisco, thanks for the great weather and yummy cupcake treats! And Glinda and Elphaba, thanks for an entertaining, thought-provoking romp!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween dress up

One of the things I love about Halloween is how it brings out people's interests and personalities. This year made some statements, but I'll leave it to the reader to determine what those statements were! It will come as no surprise that Cheyenne really wanted to be a dog. We went with the beagle breed 'cause those are cute and the costume required fewer spots to be sewn on than a dalmation might have! She chose her own name for her tag (Cheydo - rhymes with Fido) and she made Dale lead her on a leash when she went trick or treating. She was a happy dog.

Daniel chose to be Frodo the hobbit from The Lord of the Rings. As you may know, a main characteristic of hobbits is large, very hairy feet. He naturally had the large feet - we just helped with the hairy! It was worth doing 'cause every time I looked at him, I laughed. I felt a little badly dropping him off at school with flip flops on while it was snowing outside, but he didn't care.

(Oh, and I simply must thank McDonalds for creating a Happy Meal toy of the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz. It had the perfect hair that when yanked out could be glued to a teenager's feet!)

Dale and I didn't choose our own outfits, but they were chosen for us. My sweet niece Heather and her husband took on a large project in planning a full blown Hogwarts party for their own kids and the rest of the kids in the neighborhood! We were recruited to be Professor Trelawney (the Divinations teacher) and Professor Snape (the Potions teacher). They tell me I was a natural choice for Professor Trelawney. I think it's simply because I didn't have to buy a wig. I already had the hair. In case you're wondering, Dale needed a wig!

I'm including pics of us in our costumes along with a few others to give you a feel for the whole event. It included Diagon Alley, a ride in the Hogwarts Express (a ride from the backyard to the driveway in the back of a pickup), Sorting (a two way radio under a stool can fool a lot of the children a lot of the time!), Care of Magical Creatures (chasing chickens outside), etc., etc. It was great fun!
Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall (aka Heather and Dave)
Mad Eye Moody and Professor Dumbledore (Heather's neighbor and Dave)

Mr. Ollivander (the wand salesman) and a random Hogwarts student (My sister Cathy and her husband Clark)
Professor Sprout (aka my sister Colleen)

And in the midst of our preparations, I think we found the perfect costume for next year as well. I think Dale will be Cher and I will be Sonny!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wow! That alien planet was powerful, but food brought me back!

I have no excuse for not blogging, but I'm trying to come back. You all know me well enough to know that creative food would be one thing that could bring me back from the edge. October always gives me a chance to do creative food with Cheyenne's birthday and Halloween within a week and a half of each other. So, let me share.

"This is the night, such a beautiful night, a lovely bella notte!" In case your memory is failing you right now, that's the song that was played as Lady and the Tramp ate spaghetti at Tony's in the alleyway. Cheyenne really wanted to have a Lady and the Tramp birthday party where she could "eat spaghetti with my mouth" like the dogs did. So, we did! I had 9 cute little girls around a table with their faces in their plates eating spaghetti with meatballs and sauce, and breadsticks. They did really well. After a few games related to the Siamese cats and the rat, they came back to the "restaurant" for spaghetti and meatballs cake. It was a lovely bella notte! And my baby is now 10! Wow.

(In case you are wondering what you're looking at, that picture really is all cake and frosting. Makes you want to twirl some around a fork, though, doesn't it?)

Her birthday is always followed by the Halloween rush. That always means a night of fun food. This year we had a witch theme. We had the witches, the corns from their feet (appearing as candy corn pizza), the witch's cat, and some witch's brew. Thanks to Family Fun for the good ideas. I don't have pictures, but another day we enjoyed french fries in the shape of skeleton and a foamy root beer float in a skeleton cup which makes a great "brain freeze!"

Now we'll just have to see what creative foods make an appearance in November! Stay tuned!!