Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Book Review

Are you ready for another book review already? I hope so, because I just cannot wait to write my review. Don't be alarmed, but it will be full of gushy praise.

I've had The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows on my wish list since I read the early reviews a few years ago. It sounded wonderful. The other day in my fit of passion, I ordered a copy. It arrived and then had to sit on my to-read shelf directly in my line of view while I sat on my bed reading a few lackluster novels. I was antsy. I had a hard time concentrating on the other books when I knew that it was just sitting there, waiting for me. (Yes, I'm obsessed. I admit it.)

On Friday I finally finished Enna Burning for my book club and I allowed myself to ignore the five other books that are waiting to be read and reviewed and begin The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (aren't you immediately intrigued by the long title?). Fortunately, Utah Dad is currently smack dab in the middle of a fabulous book (Volume 2 of The Children of Promise Series by Dean Hughes) and didn't bother me with suggestions to watch a movie instead of reading this weekend. Both of us debated staying up all night to read (our fatigue ultimately won out) and jokingly wondered if it could possibly be appropriate to take our books to nursery this morning. Fortunately, we chose to leave our books at home and didn't neglect the nursery babies. I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society just a bit ago. Utah Dad is still on the couch reading with just a few more pages to go.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a uniquely written novel. It is written as a series of letters to and from Juliet Ashton, the witty writer of a published collection of anecdotes of her experiences in London during World War II. The war is recently over and Juliet is trying to rebuild her life and looking for a new subject to write about. She receives a letter from Dawsey, a pig farmer on the island of Guernsey. He has obtained a book that once belonged to her and is curious about obtaining more books by the same author. The island state of Guernsey was occupied by the Germans for the length of the war. The people of Guernsey have been cut off from news, nearly starved to death and in a spontaneous moment formed the literary society as a ruse to allow themselves to gather regularly without trouble from the Germans. What began as a ruse becomes a real love of literature for many of the members. In her correspondence with the members of the society, Juliet makes new friends and discovers a deeply moving story about mankind's desire to not only survive but to thrive even in perilous times.

I was amazed that through letters the story could be told so thoroughly emotionally and that the characters could be so deeply developed. In the late 1940's, letter writing was really the only way to communicate with people at great distances (phones being not nearly so reliable and convenient--especially right after war). Juliet's wit, thoughtfulness and her insecurities come out in her letters to her friends. This style was really rather ingenious and I ended up liking it a great deal. It was much more personal. It was as if I had just discovered a packet of letters carefully saved and wrapped in a ribbon in my grandmother's trunk.

The story reads so smoothly. There is not a single flaw in the writing or the story. I now want to move to Guernsey and live in a little cottage by the ocean and let my kids run bare foot across the fields and milk cows and feed little piglets (Lilly would love that). I wonder if they have good Internet on the island. Anyone want to buy my house?

P.S. Utah Dad just finished his book. At least he has Volume Three. What in the world should I read now?

Enna Burning - Book Review

Two years ago, a dear friend and I decided to form a book club in our neighborhood. We both loved reading books and we loved talking about books. We knew there were at least a few other women who also loved books (other than Twilight) and so we invited them to meet at my house on the first Wednesday of November 2008. We talked about the book, our children, our husbands, and everything else. We ate delicious treats and realized that we had been sitting around my kitchen table for hours. It was already eleven pm.

Before long the book club expanded to include many more members (basically anyone who wants to come is welcome and you really don't have to read the book although it is encouraged), we began to meet regularly at my friend's home and our visits stretched later and later into the wee hours of the morning (much to Utah Dad's chagrin). We've read great books, mediocre books and some that we loathed. We've read books that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen for myself but have been ultimately grateful for the introduction. Sometimes we actually talk about the books. Mostly we talk about the things that really matter to us and I love that I've had this chance to make close friendships with some very amazing and unique women. 

This past month we've been reading Enna Burning by Shannon Hale. We read Goose Girl as our second book two years ago and most of us enjoyed it. I did. I thought it was a fun representation of the original Goose Girl fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Hale creates an imaginative world of Bayern where Isi, the heroine, has the gift/ability to speak with the wind and the birds. As it is written and intended for a young audience, I also appreciated that it was free of offensive material.

Enna Burning is equally as clean and is a creative and inventive story of Isi's friend Enna who learns how to speak to fire. The land of Bayern is now at war and Enna believes that her new skills can help save her homeland. Enna has a mighty adventure as she learns how to control the fire and not let it control her. The writing is simple but that is appropriate for the audience and I believe that my Amberly will enjoy this series in a few years.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Easy Halloween Costumes - Again

While I admire those who go all out and create fabulous costumes for their children, you know I prefer to keep it simple. I'm not a real lover of the holiday and with Christmas looming, I cringe to spend too much money for Halloween. Bah Hum Bug, I know.

Anyway, here's a quick review of my kids and their costumes this year.

Neal the Skeleton

We cheated on his costume and bought the entire thing at Target. It was on sale but I still spent more than I wanted. Neal was insisting on being something "scary" and he finally decided what to wear earlier this week. The skeleton was a compromise. It was just scary enough to be cool in the fifth grade but not too scary to bother his mom.

Amberly the Corpse Bride

Amberly has been planning her costume since last year. She adores dressing up for Halloween and we have a thing for Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride. She had a bit of a melt down in Target when I refused to buy the pre-made wedding dress costume. First, it was too expensive and secondly it was immodest. As if I'm going to let my daughter wear an immodest wedding dress--even for Halloween. I don't think so. I think the costume I threw together this week made it up to her though. The tutu and veil were easy. And I sewed lace around the neck and sleeves of an old shirt from Old Navy. It's pretty simple but I'm still impressed by myself since my sewing machine rarely every comes out.

She's pretty spooky though. Since they couldn't wear face paint to school yesterday, she went as an alive bride. Apparently she croaked sometime last night.

Thomas the Ghost

Thomas had definite ideas about what he wanted to be for Halloween. He's been telling us for months that he wanted to be a ghost. Here's our conversation:

Thomas: I'll just put a sheet over my head.
Me: How will you tell where you're going?
Thomas: I'll just feel my way.
Me: You'll get hit by a car.
Thomas: No, I stop and I'll listen for cars and then I'll feel the wind of the car as it goes by. Then I'll cross the street.
Me: I don't think we'll put a sheet over your head.

My friend loaned me a toga-like costume but Thomas refused to wear that, so I just bought him a white shirt. We painted his face and sprayed his hear white. Voila. A spooky ghost.

And Thomas is a pretty picky candy eater. He only likes the chocolate. I tried teaching him the polite thing to say: "no thankyou" but his versions turned out more like: "Ewww. I hate suckers. Why does everyone give out suckers?" I apologize for his rudeness.

Lilly the Care Bear

Earlier this month I was at my sister-in-law's house and she pulled out this Care Bear costume that her daughter wore a few years ago. She asked if Lilly would like it and I knew immediately that she would. First, it's purple and Lilly loves purple. Second, it's a Care Bear and Lilly loves Care Bears. When I brought it home Lilly was so excited to try it on.

She looks less than thrilled in the picture but that's more that she was overwhelmed by the crowds at our house. She suddenly gets shy and quiet around crowds. Lilly loved trick-r-treating tonight and even though it was raining like crazy, she was nice and warm as she ran from house to house. She's so cute. I could just eat her up.

Molly the Tiger

Poor Molly got to be the tiger this year because she's too little to complain and because I already had the costume in storage (both Neal and Thomas were tigers and they both looked as miserable).

Molly perked up while we were trick-r-treating when she figured out that people were giving her candy. She had no intentions of putting the good stuff in the bag and wanted to keep it all in her chubby little hands. She is a bonafide chocoholic and she did the funniest "happy dance" when we got home and pulled out the KitKats. She ate way too much candy and was so hyper.

I don't dress up. You know this. I did spray glitter in my hair. One of my sister-in-law's took this picture today and of course I doctored it up in Photoshop (just a little honesty, there).

This afternoon, before the rain, a lot of my family gathered for a little party at my house. My parents drove out for the weekend and 15 of the 20 grand kids were here in their costumes. We attempted to take a picture of all the kids with my parents. It was pretty dang funny.

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I have now added "Plumber" to my resume.
Lesson learned: just like potato peels, butternut squash peels should not be put down the disposal.

Yesterday, we were drowning in dirty laundry and wet towels thanks to my plumbing experience.
This morning, all the clothes and towels are washed, folded, and put away. I might make my kids wear their jammies all day. Heck, I might stay in my jammies all day. Again.

Last week, I was WAY more social than usual. I sent Utah Dad out fishing on Friday so that I could keep justifying all my "Girls' Nights/Days Out". I had a great time visiting with new and old friends and I even dressed up for Halloween (in my very casual way).

People never stop by AFTER I do the dishes.

I had my first period in 28 months. I know you wanted to know that.

Neal is excited for the ski season to begin. I drank a warm, yummy chocolate coconut steamer to celebrate the snow and am looking forward to many more.
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

I only have one more Halloween costume to make. Somehow, I need to turn Amberly into the Corpse Bride by Friday. I probably should get dressed and head to the store for tulle. 

I've had lots of fun photo shoots with lots of fun families and I'm looking forward to some more.

Last night, I spontaneously, with the urging of my mom, planned a family Halloween party at my house. Bring on the costumed toddlers. I'll be ready.

Molly just woke up wet. Looks like I'll be washing some sheets today. So much for being caught up on the laundry.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Christmas Cards - Check

I know that we haven't even gotten to Halloween yet and it might seem a little early to bring up Christmas. Last year, I let the season slip away and I didn't get Christmas cards sent out to my dear far-away friends and family and I didn't even take gifts to my dear neighbors. I'm determined to fix that this year, so I've got to get busy and start checking things off my Christmas to do list--NOW. (Don't remind me that three of my children don't have their Halloween costumes yet. Can we just skip Halloween this year?)

This year, I'm planning to create and order my Christmas cards from Shutterfly--early. I just spent some time this morning perusing their designs and I am so impressed. They are beautiful and stylish. I love cards that include family pictures--especially from my friends that live far away. I don't get to see their children on a regular basis and I'm always amazed how much they grow up and change each year.

Shutterfly has so many picture card options for the season--from religious Christmas cards to story cards. Personally, I don't send out newsletters. I figure if you read my blog, you're already tired of hearing about us/me. But I do enjoy getting newsletters from my non-blogging friends. That said, I have to admit a fondness for Shutterfly's story cards. They're really cute. You can easily fill in a few of your exciting yearly events without writing an autobiography.

I also really like that some of the card designs allow for multiple pictures. I hope **HOPE** to get a family picture taken this season, but I can't guarantee that it will actually happen. If I don't, I like that there are card designs that I could easily put an individual picture of each of my children.

I've printed my snapshots at Shutterfly before and I've been happy with the quality. The colors are highly saturated and the paper is good. I always get my prints delivered so quickly too.

It really isn't too early to think about Christmas cards. Right now, Shutterfly is offering 20% off all holiday cards. Don't miss out on that deal.

**For posting my honest opinion about Shutterfly Holiday cards, I will get 50 free cards from Shutterfly. Look for one in the mail from me this Christmas season. No other compensation was given.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Mistress of Abha - Book Review

I have a stack of books that I've won from FirstReads on that I need to get reading so I decided that I'd start with the one that has been sitting there the longest.

The Mistress of Abha is written by William Newton, who died earlier this year. Newton spent his professional career as a doctor and started writing novels in his retirement. The Mistress of Abha is his second published novel.

This novel is set in 1930's Arabia. Ivor Willoughby has decided to search for his long lost father. He knows that his father left his mother shortly after his birth to serve with the British in Arabia. He returned for one brief visit when Ivor was a teenager and then disappeared again. Ivor is now an adult and ready to solve the mystery of his father.

The book begins slowly as it builds momentum for Ivor's adventure in Arabia but it does hold the promise of eventual thrills. I read an article by a reader who explained that she always gave a boring book fifty pages before deciding to put it down, and it seemed that in this case right at page fifty the book suddenly got interesting and exciting.

While in Arabia, Ivor meets with great danger, hears stories of tribal battles, the slave trade, love and intrigue amidst the harems, and eventually uncovers the mystery surrounding the tales of his father--Ullobi. Arabia is definitely not a dull place. Newton writes historical detail and plot well. However, what the book lacks is passion. Overall, I enjoyed The Mistress of Abha and stayed up late to finish it last night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Support Childhelp

Several years ago when I was just a brand new mother, I met a fascinating woman in my ward. At the time she was the mother of eight handsome sons. She was amazing and I was in awe of her. She always looked fabulous. Her boys were well behaved and talented. For Halloween she made them all themed costumes. One year they came as various characters from The Lord of the Rings. She helped at the elementary school--teaching Spanish in the classes. She's also brilliant and a great public speaker. I'm not naive enough to think that things were always perfect, but I was and am pretty impressed. Since then, she and her husband have also been blessed with two little girls and we both moved away from that neighborhood.

Utah Dad and I ran into her at Costco last week and she invited us to the Childhelp Wasatch Front Utah Chapter's Kick-off Fundraiser dinner at Noah's Ark. She serves on the committee, helped sponsor the event, spoke about the joys and challenges of being a mother and created the amazing cake. Needless to say, I am still in awe of her.

I had never heard of the Childhelp organization before. I did a little research before the event and I was especially impressed by the amazing women who founded the organization years ago and spoke briefly last night. Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson were actresses entertaining the troops with the USO in the late 1950's when they came upon a group of small children who were living on the streets of Tokyo. They learned that they were Amerasian children and were unwelcome at the local orphanages. Together these women organized orphanages and homes for these unwanted children and eventually the mixed children born during the Vietnam War. The foundation was then called International Orphans, Inc. but became Childhelp when they began to focus on helping the young victims of child abuse here in the United States.

The theme for the new Wasatch Front Utah Chapter is "Rescue the Future" and they plan to help abused children by creating and donating "Art in a Bag" which will help children heal and gain self-confidence by developing their individual creativity. They believe that "together we can turn impossible situations into endless possibilities".

The event was organized with art in mind and several local artists set up a gallery. Utah Dad and I enjoyed the incredible art and local talent. We especially loved the paintings of trees by Douglas Aagard. We also enjoyed the music and were delighted to see and hear our favorite violinist who was once just a little girl in our ward's primary.

Besides my friend Deborah Fletcher, the founders of Childhelp, Ruth Van Buren-Stevens and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff spoke during dinner. They were inspiring and reminded us again of the value of our children and the importance to protect them and keep them safe.

You can help Childhelp help the abused and neglected children by becoming a member of Childhelp or donating directly to the foundation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bling - Lia Sophia Style

The invitation said "Casual Elegant Attire". What the heck does that mean? Doesn't that seem like an oxymoron? I can do casual. I live casual. Elegance not so much. I googled it. I got pictures of Michelle Obama in sweater sets, skirts and pearls. She looked great. The information on explained that a little black dress would be perfect for a casual elegant event in the evening. Floor length gowns would not be necessary. Whew.

It's so easy for a man. They shave. They put on a suit. A blue shirt. A tie. A little gray in the hair. Or a lot of gray. Distinguished. Handsome.

What in the world would I wear? I could pull out my trusty black skirt and wipe off the spit up stain (I thought it was clean, apparently not) and my new blouse from DownEast (I told you I love them). But I have no jewelry. None. Nada. I was going to need some jewelry and I currently have no budget for jewelry. None. Nada.

My friends joked that I should call our friend Marie who recently because a consultant for Lia Sophia. We all love Marie (she has SO SO SO much style and is positively hilarious) and we all love the jewelry and so there has been a Lia Sophia party in my neighborhood every week this month.

It seemed like a crazy idea to call Marie. At first. And then as the time got closer to the dinner/fund raiser/dance it seemed to make a little more sense. I finally got brave and sent off an email message. Marie, who is seriously so awesome, told me to come on over so that she could bling me out (Utah Dad had NO idea what that meant -- he gets it a little better now).

I made Utah Dad take pictures before we left. He is so not a photographer (this picture required major cropping and of course I did A LOT of photoshop) and he didn't capture the amazing bracelet and the huge ring that at first I was freaked out by but loved by the end of the evening (which I will tell you about tomorrow). I am so glad I wore jewelry. Something else I need to save up for. **Sigh.**

So, come back to read about this casual elegant event and while you're at it check out my friend Marie "The Jewelry Lady" (become her friend on Facebook) and the always beautiful Lia Sophia jewelry. Oh, and you'll all have to come to the party that I promised Marie I would throw (sometime in January).

And by the way, Marie is sponsoring a Lia Sophia give-away on a blog I love : Random Thoughts From the Zoo. You don't want to miss that.

DownEast Basics - DownEast Home

If you ask Utah Dad he will tell you that I've had more than a few opportunities to hang out with the girls lately. He's been very patient and good to watch the kids so that I can go shopping with my mom and sisters all day Saturday or stay at book club chatting and snacking with my neighborhood friends until the wee hours of the morning. Last night I hired a baby sitter so that I could go out with friends and Utah Dad could go to Cub Scout Pack Meeting with Neal. Since I get Pack Meeting anxiety I thought this was a pretty good deal. He didn't even complain when I got home late. I think he knows that when "Mom. Mommy. Mommeeeeee!!!" starts sounding like a swear word, I need to get out of the house. Fast.

Utah Dad is pretty great lately, but that's not the real reason for this post.

You already know I love the clothes from DownEast Basics. Don't we all? It seems like every time I see something I like in the catalog, the next Sunday someone else is wearing it to church and looking fabulous. Even so, I can't help shopping there. I never go out shopping with my sister without ending up at DownEast Basics. It's just a given. A rule. For one thing, I can't live without the camis and T-shirts. Can't. Live. The clothes are reasonably priced, mostly modest and just so darn cute. So, I was thrilled to get invited to a blogger event hosted by DownEast Home.

A couple of my mommy blogger friends went with me (check out their blogs: The Mom Nerd and Munchkins and Manuscripts) and we had a great time discussing all the disgusting topics moms of little kids manage to discuss (before becoming a mom did you ever think that you would talk about potty training and all the business associated with that?) during the drive to the DownEast store in Sandy.

The event at DownEast was fun. We wandered the store checking out the classy furniture and the beautiful fall decor items but of course we ended up in the clothes again. I think I mentioned this in an earlier post, but DownEast Basics is currently having a pink sale. All pink camis and T-shirts are on sale for $5 each during the month of October. 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the fight against breast cancer. It's a pretty great deal, it makes you feel good and who doesn't need a lovely pink T-shirt?

I found a $5 purse to replace my current $5 purse. :)

After we wandered the beautiful store, we feasted on the delicious treats catered by the corner bakery cafe. The sandwiches were so tasty and I had a few too many of the red velvet and chocolate chip cookie dough chocolate balls. Have you ever thought to dip cookie dough? Mmmm. Goodness. We coveted the beautiful family-sized table where we sat to eat (I'm too klutzy to wear high heels and stand up to eat at the same time) and traded blogger secrets with Tasha from Catch the Drift with Mama Snow. She's just too cute.

I bought some adorable animal puzzles for stocking stuffers for Lilly and Molly. They'll be on sale to the public after Thanksgiving. And I really want the little table and chairs for kids. The set is so cute. Do you think it classifies as a NEED? Maybe.

All in all, I had a fabulous time. And I came home with a gift bag full of fun swag. (Utah Dad will laugh that I use that word because we've actually had an argument about it's meaning before. He was right, by the way.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Of One Heart - Book Review

I didn't buy a single book for over two months and I wasn't going to buy one either because of our "deal". Then, Utah Dad took Neal and Amberly out one Friday night for ice cream shakes and came home with the Messiah Series by Bruce R. McConkie. It was on sale but still . . . I was planning to get them for him for Christmas. He was worried the sale wouldn't last. Anyway, in a weak moment, I hopped on that night and ordered the book for this month's book club. The deal was over.

Utah Dad maintains that the deal was never about money. After all, I buy my books used. I really don't spend that much. He says the deal was because I never read anything that he picks and he hoped that I would read something that interested him so that we can have a good discussion (we do read and discuss the Book of Mormon together--doesn't that count?). Well, I argued that he picked the text book on American slavery as a punishment not as a segway into a meaningful discussion. After all, it has been YEARS since he read it for a class. Couldn't he pick something a little more interesting--more likely to lead to this conversation he desires?

We reevaluated his choice of book and ignoring the suggestions that I made while looking at his shelves, he finally chose Neal A. Maxwell's two-part novel (yes, he wrote a novel--sort of) Of One Heart : The Glory of the City of Enoch and Look Back at Sodom : A timely account from imaginary Sodom Scrolls:. They are short and I read them yesterday.

In Of One Heart, Mahijah is a man finding peace and happiness through the teachings of Jesus Christ. As he follows the prophet Enoch and eventually moves to the city of Zion, he writes letters to his close friend Omner. In the style of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (we all know Lewis and Maxwell are buddies), Mahijah's letters to his friend detail his journey from skeptic to believer. The letters especially focus on the truth that as men come closer to God they treat their fellow men with more kindness and love. The book is filled with priceless Maxwellian thoughts. Here are just two of my favorites:

Without first seeking and acknowledging his Fatherhood, there can be no everlasting brotherhood of man (p 42).

When the inner man is changed, we have less and less need for outer controls (p 38).
The second part, published as a companion with Of One Heart is A Look Back at Sodom. This is a contrast and comparion to the City of Enoch. Sodom and it's neighboring cities were the most wicked places on earth and were eventually punished by being completely wiped from the face of the earth. The imaginary author of the Sodom Scrolls is a secretary to Abraham who is often sent on business to Lot who dwells in the land of Sodom.  Eliezer, the steward, writes of his observations of the wickedness. While this city is in sharp contrast to the beautiful and peaceful City of Enoch, the frightening thing is the images of our own day depicted in the words. 

I must quote a few of Maxwell's gems:

Adversity does not always produce appreciation, but affluence rarely does (p18).
Cleverness was more valued than goodness, and the truth of what a man said came to matter less than his manner of speech (p 19).

While I love Lewis and believe he was inspired, Maxwell has the benefit of the full truth and is equally gifted with words. I thoroughly enjoyed them and found the wisdom of Elder Maxwell inspiring. The books were originally published in 1975 and were reprinted in The Collected Works of Neal A. Maxwell.

P.S. Utah Dad and I did go to the Salt Lake City Library book sale this weekend. I limited myself to the $6 cash I had in my wallet. I walked away with eight books--three from my wish list, two that looked interesting and three for the kids. The book sale continues today. Hardback books are 50 cents and paperback books are 25 cents.


Friday, October 15, 2010

The Winner of the Allie Kelly Frame

The winner of the 5x7 custom-made frame from Allie Kelly Frame Co. is  . . .


Send me an email so that we can be in touch with Allison from Allie Kelly Frame Co. and get your perfect frame. Congratulations!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For Whom the Bell Tolls - Book Review

I fell hard for Ernest Hemingway in high school.

I read A Farewell to Arms my sophomore year and fell in love with Hemingway and great literature. I read it over ever few years just because I can't get enough of the love story and Hemingway's gift for writing. Oh, he had a gift. I've also read The Sun Also Rises multiple times--sometimes because it was assigned and sometimes for fun. I've long heard that For Whom the Bell Tolls is supposed to be Hemingway's masterpiece and it's been on my to-read list for some time. (I have to admit that I have little to no desire to read about an old man in the sea. Sorry.)

In For Whom the Bell Tolls, Robert Jordan is an American supporting the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Jordan has been given the assignment to work with a small band of guerrillas to blow up a bridge at the moment of the Republic offensive. Over the three days he spends with the guerrillas the reader gets into his head and experiences the physical and psychological experience of being in war.

I sat in my car waiting for a family photo session this morning and finished this fabulous novel. It is powerful and emotional and just confirmed my belief that Hemingway is one of the greatest writers. I'm gushing, I know. He's not for everyone. I've pushed Utah Dad to read both A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises and he's not a fan. Utah Dad thinks Hemingway is just an angry drunk. He might be right but I'm going to encourage him to give Hemingway another chance and read For Whom the Bell Tolls. I think Utah Dad will be glad he did.

**No one gave me a free copy of this book or asked me to read and review it. I read it just because I wanted to.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Allie Kelly Frame Co Give-away

A few weeks ago one of my friends hosted a party for Allie Kelly Frame Co. I was unable to attend that night, but inspired by the beautiful invitation, I checked out the website and fell in love. Allie Kelly Frame Co. produces gorgeous, custom-made frames. They are whimsical or classical, whichever you desire for your wall. Since then, I've seen and hefted a frame that my friend bought and I can tell you, not only is the frame lovely, it was also built with care and quality craftsmanship.

I've done portrait walls in my home and the measuring and hammering of nails to get the pictures to hang perfectly on the wall is enough to drive me crazy. Allie Kelly Frame Co. has created an ingenious way to design a portrait wall and hang it quickly. I think these frames would look fabulous on my currently blah family room.

Allie Kelly Frame Co. sells their frames to the public through in-home parties. To find out more about hosting a party check out the website.

I was especially delighted to find out that the creators of Allie Kelly Frame Co. live in my neighborhood. I contacted the owner and voila! she has agreed to offer a giveaway on my blog. So, go check out Allie Kelly Frame Co. website. Peruse it a little. Dream of the perfect picture wall. Pick out your favorite custom-made frame and then come back here and tell me about it.

One follower of Utah Mom's Life Blog (yes, you have to be a follower), chosen randomly, will win a 5x7 frame from Allie Kelly Frame Co. of their choice.

To enter, leave a comment on this post about the style frame you would like.

Spread the word about Allie Kelly Frame Co. on Facebook, Twitter or your own blog for an extra chance to win. (Leave an additional comment.)

The contest will be open for entries until Thursday, Oct. 14th at 11:59 MST. The winner will be announced on the morning of Friday, Oct. 15th. It is open to US Residents only.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's All Peachy

When we were children at the end of the summer, my brothers and I helped our mom bottle peaches and pears, cherries and apricots. We snapped beans and shelled peas. We shucked corn and made apple sauce and all kinds of jams and jellies. We stood at the kitchen sink dreaming of outdoor adventures and every year we had the same conversation. One day, my brother declared, he would invent a machine that would do the work for us.

I grew up and bought all of my food from the grocery store. After all, someone had invented a machine. The food was processed and canned and shipped right to the store.

Utah Dad and I grow a small garden and we occasionally freeze the extra zucchini and pumpkin but we haven't put up anything from it yet. (It's a cruel irony that our tomatoes froze right after Labor Day and then we had a month of unseasonably warm weather. The tomatoes turned red but tasted horrible.)

I am in no way a domestic goddess. I don't even pretend to be. But I ordered a box of peaches from Bountiful Baskets anyway. Yesterday, Utah Dad and I spent some time in the afternoon, putting up peaches.  It's kind of fun to store up food for yourselves. I felt like an ant or a squirrel or my mom.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliverance is nigh.

Picture by Brian Tibbets

We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Lightning Thief - Percy Jackson and the Olympians - Book Review

I'm not an expert on contemporary children's fantasy. I haven't read Fablehaven or more than the first volume of Harry Potter *gasp*. Neal wanted to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief and I'd heard good things from other moms that I trust so I ordered the set from the Scholastic book order last month (I can still buy books for the kids).
Neal was loving it and he was begging me to read it too so while he was away for a night at camp, I decided to read it. And I really enjoyed it.

Other than the fact that the Greek gods were and apparently continue to be very immoral, thus producing the demigods that make up the story, the book is good and fun. My children and I have had to have a few discussions about the mythology. First, the gods aren't real. They get that. And second, they do bad things all the time. Their example should not be followed. I really really hope they get that.

Struggling with dyslexia and ADHD, Percy Jackson finds that these are actually attributes and strengths for heroes. Perhaps this will inspire real children to realize they have amazing potential to do great things in spite of their struggles with learning disabilities. Not only that, Percy discovers that he is the son of Poseidon and is sent on a quest to find Zeus's missing/stolen lightning bolt and thus prevent World War III. He has help from a couple of good friends and meets a lot of interesting monsters and gods along the way.

My son and I have enjoyed learning more about Greek mythology and we're both glad that I also purchased a guide to help us. I seriously need to brush up on it. Even though I enjoyed the book, I doubt I'll personally read the next four volumes. However, Neal had his light on extra late tonight and I predict he breezes through the rest in the next few weeks. He is a true fan.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Favorite Weekend

My spiritual batteries are recharged.

I love General Conference. I love hearing the words of the prophet and apostles. I love being reminded to be grateful for my many blessings. I love listening to the beautiful hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the other choirs.

I love visiting with Utah Dad's family. I love the Reuben sandwiches we always have for dinner after the Saturday afternoon session and the ice cream sundaes when the guys get home from the Priesthood session.

I love that there are so many extra eyes looking out for my children. I love that my in-laws watched my kids so Utah Dad and I could run to DownEast Basics for a mini shopping spree between the Saturday sessions. (By the way, don't miss their pink sale. I picked up several pink T-shirts for just $5 each.) I love the back massage I got from my nephew's girlfriend. I love the pleasant weather even though it is completely crazy that the maple tree in my in-law's yard (up the canyon) is still green and I'm glad that it's raining now.

I always try to think of a theme for each conference and a verse from our family's scripture study tonight seemed to sum up this conference best for me:

For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
-Alma 5:40

I hope you all had a fabulous conference weekend too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Missing Utah Dad

Utah Dad accompanied Neal as a chaperon to the fifth grade camp this week. Utah Dad didn't really want to go. With my own memories of fifth grade and the worries about bullies, I made him. He did have a good time but he didn't get a lot of sleep in a cabin full of fifth grade boys and the thought of possible spiders and he didn't really get full on fifth-grade cafeteria portions. Neal loved everything about camp and one of his cabin mates turned out to be a third cousin.

That left me home with the other children. I put them to bed just slightly earlier than their regularly scheduled bedtimes (not so much that they would notice). Except for Molly, who took a rather long afternoon nap and positively refused to sleep. She and I watched the first two episodes of a television show my friend had mentioned. I'm completely TV-illiterate, as you know, so I had never heard of Pushing Daisies before. I watched it on the Netflix streaming Wii thingy (which is definitely on my top ten favorite things--I L-O-V-E Netflix). Pushing Daisies was quirky and funny and a little twisted. I like that type of thing.

I don't usually sleep well without Utah Dad so I planned to just read most of the night. Neal just started reading the Percy Jackson series, has become a fan and is begging me to read it too. I figured I would just read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief all night. But as much as I enjoy reading and as much as I was enjoying Percy Jackson, I was comatose before midnight.

I missed Utah Dad. He was only gone just over twenty four hours, which wasn't really that long, but I'm used to him being around all the time. Even though while he's working, he's holed up in his office/our master bedroom, I can tell him things during his breaks. Nothing is real until I tell him. Nothing is as funny unless he is laughing with me. By the time he got home yesterday afternoon, I was bursting with things to tell him (even though our time had been rather uneventful and we hadn't even left the neighborhood).

Man, I'm glad he's home.