Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I love the smell of gasoline!

It's true. I do love the smell of gasoline... especially when it's only $1.35 per gallon and falling! AND when I can FILL UP for just $15! That's about half what it was last year at this time. How's that for a Christmas gift?!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hodie Made My Day.

"When we take part in music, or listen to an absorbing performance, we are temporarily protected from the input of other external stimuli. We enter a special, secluded world in which order prevails and from which the incongruous is excluded. This in itself is beneficial. It is not a regressive manoeuvre, but reculer pour mieux sauter; a temporary retreat which promotes a re-ordering process within the mind, and thus aids our adaptation to the external world rather than providing an escape from it." ~ Anthony Storr, author of Music and the Mind

This last Saturday night was our December (Christmas) concert at Libby Gardner Concert Hall. May I just say that Dr. Brady Allred is amazing?! He is a wonderfully talented conductor, who masterfully brings out the best in every group of singers he leads. We (The Salt Lake Choral Artists) performed Hodie, which means "This Day" in Latin, by Ralph Vaughan Williams. (It's pronounced "hoe-dee-ay." Not "hoe-dee" like M says nor "hood-ee" like Katie says.) Hodie is a cantata, which tells the Christmas story mainly through poetry and biblical texts from the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John. With challenging choral movements, it has grown on me during our rehearsals for the last two months. I really love it and am excited that I ordered the CD, so I can listen to it again and again. Being able to share this piece with so many of my friends and family was great!
"If music and the other arts were more closely interwoven with our daily activities, we might not need this temporary retreat so much." ~ Anthony Storr

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grandmas and Grandpas.

"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children." ~Alex Haley

"What is it about grandparents that is so lovely? I'd like to say that grandparents are God's gifts to children. And if they can but see, hear and feel what these people have to give, they can mature at a fast rate." ~Bill Cosby

My maternal grandparents:

My paternal grandparents:

Aren't they lovely?!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mirror tricks.

Do you ever look in the mirror, and are forced to take a double take, saying to yourself, "Whoa. Is that me?" Yeah, that usually happens to me on a Saturday morning, having woken up after a late night, with old makeup and hair bent in weird directions. But the other day I glanced in the mirror as I was passing, and I was speechless because I saw my Grandmother.

My Grandmother died when I was fourteen years old. We have very similar personalities and apparently didn't get always get along. I don't really remember that part, although everyone reminds me. I remember the hugs, the stories, the trips, the shopping, and the last visit before she died. We crocheted afghans, told stories, and laughed. Yeah, we laughed a lot.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

M showed me this the other day, to get me in the holiday mood as we wrapped presents. My mind started hurting a bit, since I had to concentrate and sometimes re-read. :) But it was rather funny at parts. I've put the original poem, written by Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863) in RED, so that you can make the comparison yourself. Enjoy! Happy holidays!




'TWAS THE NOCTURNAL SEGMENT OF THE DIURNAL PERIOD
'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual yuletide celebration. And throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as mus musculus. Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood-burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an eminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.
The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness.
When upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof. Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself; thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer.
Piloted by a minuscule aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power traveling at what may have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respected cognomen; Now Dasher, now Dancer, et al. Guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structured could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.
As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved, with utmost celerity in animal pelts soiled by the ebony residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls of the smoke passage. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his molar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was smoking piece whose gray fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was as short,neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visible frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the aforementioned hosiery with various of the aforementioned articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of his task, he executed an abrupt about face, placed a singular manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility:

"Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Darn!

verb. 1. to mend, as torn clothing, with rows of stitches, sometimes by crossing and interweaving rows to span a gap.
interjection. 1. A colloquial euphemism for Damn. An interjection used to express dissatisfaction or annoyance.

So do you know where the expression "darn" came from? I was once told that it is somehow connected to the infrequently used word meaning to mend. You know, like darning a pair of socks. Inevitably, someone would prick her finger with the darning needle... ouch... and attempting to avoid using profanity, she allowed the minced oath, "darn", to slip out :)

I'm a darner, according, of course, to the first definition. I haven't always been, but that's what happens when you're a missionary and you wear the same four or five pairs of winter weight tights (sometimes all at once) all winter (and winters are a good six or seven months long). Your toes poke through; it happens. Those tights are expensive! Besides, they were perfectly good tights; they just had toe holes. So, darn away, I did.

I'm still in the habit. Although, I generally don't get to it as quickly as I forced myself to on my mission. Having your toes stick through holes for too many days in a row gets to be rather annoying, not to mention cause for little Lithuanian močiutės (grandmas) and Russian bobs (you know them if you've seen them) lecture you about your toes freezing off.

So, two weeks ago when Katie J (the other one) came to visit, I was getting dressed while she sat on my bed, chatting it up with me. When I pulled on a white tank top out of my closet and began putting it on, she suddenly stopped conversation and said, "You're NOT wearing that." "Yes, I am." "Emery!" "No one is going to see the holes." "That thing is a mess. You need a new one." "No I don't. 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.' I just need to... ahem... darn it."

And darn I did. :)

Before:




And after:




Is that better Katie J? ;)





Monday, December 08, 2008

The Lord's Peace Brings Comfort.

"Life often feels like a great pile of obligations, frustrations, and disappointments. But the Lord is there, always the same, His arms still outstretched. When we feel overwhelmed, we have to remember the peace He has spoken to us on previous occasions. His peace brings comfort and strength; the world cannot give that to us."

~Kathleen H. Hughes

Friday, December 05, 2008

Free Books!

Thought I'd pass this along to anyone interested.
Pay just $15 for shipping and receive 25 "free" paperback
copies of Richard L. Evans's bestseller The Christmas Box.
I think the offer expires tomorrow, 6 December.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Let us have music for Christmas...

Ethereal - Hopeful - Transcendent

Under the direction of Dr. Brady R. Allred the Salt Lake Choral Artists, the Salt Lake Symphony, children from the Madeleine Cathedral Choir School and guest soloists Carol Ann Allred, Todd Miller and Darrell Babidge present Ralph Vaughan Williams' exquisite Christmas Cantata “Hodie” (This Day) and his English folk tune compilation "Fantasia on Christmas Carols" Saturday, December 20, 2008 7:30 pm at Libby Gardner Concert Hall in the David P. Gardner School of Music on the University of Utah Campus. In conjunction with the concert, a pre-concert lecture by Dr. Sue Neimoyer, Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Utah will be held at 6:45 pm in room 270 at the School of Music, as well as a reception immediately following the concert in the Edgar Thompson Chamber Hall.

For ticket information please visit http://www.saltlakechoralartists.org/ or call the Kingsbury Hall Box Office at 801.581.7100. If you'd like to come, it's quite possible I'd be friendly enough to get you discounted tickets. So let me know ASAP!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jumping for joy is good exercise.

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
~Abraham Lincoln
About ten years ago, I found myself swimming in what I can only describe as the blues. I decided to conquer my depression by starting a Happy journal and search for the little things in life that made me happy and for which I was thankful. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I feel I want to share some of those things that brighten my life:

1. Word games
2. The Internet
3. The guarantee of a 60-second massage every Tuesday at Salt Lake Choral Artists rehearsal
4. Clouds
5. Rodgers & Hammerstein
6. Josh Groban's ability to bring me sweet memories of winter in Lithuania
7. The ability to use chopsticks with ease
8. Receiving genuine compliments
9. Prayer
10. Friends who are on my side
11. Touch - playful, soothing, and healing (both giving and receiving)
12. Lotion (didn't know I would be so thankful for lotion until I moved to Utah)
13. Having a car that runs and doesn't have a monthly payment
14. Getting paid
15. Having a unique first name
16. Falling leaves
17. Being debt-free
18. Drive-thru ATMs
19. Torrential downpours
20. Cake with frosting
21. Flowers
22. Calculators
23. Spider Solitaire
24. Being a native San Franciscan
25. Dancing
26. The scriptures
27. Lithuania
28. Alias
29. Veronica Mars
30. Having faith and then having the courage to truly exercise it
31. Green stoplights all the way to my destination
32. Using coupons
33. Writing
34. Earrings
35. Pictures to provide good memories
36. Measuring tapes
37. Thermometers
38. The moon
39. Lone trees
40. Knowing what time it is
41. Laughter
42. A great pair of jeans
43. Holding hands
44. Snow-capped mountains
45. Cool maps
46. Google
47. Quiet time just spent remembering past experiences
48. Food storage
49. Kisses on the cheek
50. Any opportunity to share, listen, and be with people I care about

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wanderlust has taken hold and will never let go.

Wanderlust has taken hold of me and will never let go... So I like to travel. Doesn't everybody? My perfect day would involve a passport, a book, a hammock, a view of the ocean, and some sort of dairy product. I got that perfect day in January 2008 in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. That was, by far, the most relaxing trip I've been on. (Thanks Dad and Nancy!) I hope to have many more repeat perfect days all over the world for the rest of my life!

Lately, I've been lamenting my lack of travel the past six months or so. I realized the other day that I haven't been on an airplane in seven or eight months. That may sound funny to some, but it's very unusual for me. And as my plans are right now, I will not be traveling anywhere for the next couple of months. The beginning of 2008 went like this:

January - Los Angeles and on to Nicaragua
February - Orange County, California
March - Michigan
April - nowhere? (I don't believe that.)
May - nowhere? (I can't believe it.) I was going to go to Virginia and Pennsylvania, then had to cancel.
June - two trips: Las Vegas and Orange County, California (flew in and out of Long Beach)
July to November - nowhere. Not even any further north than Ogden, and no further south than Springville.

As you likely know, I'm a list person. So this post is more for me than for any of you and is not meant to be a bragging list or anything. I just like to keep track of my life on lists. So there you have it.

States I've been to (at least two feet on the ground):
1. California
2. Nevada
3. Utah
4. Arizona
5. Idaho
6. Washington
7. Montana
8. Colorado
9. Kansas
10. Texas (one night at a hotel in Dallas after a delayed flight)
11. Missouri
12. Iowa (drove through Keokuk with Grandpa, got out and did a little tap dance, so I could say I'd been there)
13. Illinois
14. Wisconsin
15. Michigan
16. Indiana (Indianapolis airport only, I believe)
17. Ohio
18. Pennsylvania
19. Virginia
20. Maryland
21. Delaware
22. New Jersey
23. New York
24. Massachusetts
25. Connecticut
26. Georgia (Atlanta airport only)

So you may notice that this West Coast native hasn't included Oregon on her list. Nor does she have Wyoming, a state with which she currently shares a border. Yeah, who knows how I skipped Oregon altogether. I'll get there. Hopefully on a trip up the coast. And Wyoming, well that's just a matter of planning a trip to AnnMarie's. :)

Countries I've been to:
1. United States
2. Mexico (Tijuana only, so I'm not really sure if that counts)
3. England (including British territory Gibraltar)
4. Lithuania
5. Latvia
6. Spain
7. Czech Republic
8. Poland
9. Sweden (Stockholm airport only, so no passport stamp)
10. El Salvador (San Salvador airport only, so no passport stamp)
11. Nicaragua

No, I haven't been to Canada. Surprisingly, Estonia isn't on there either. I just never made the long bus trip up there. And sadly, I haven't been to Russia or Morocco, though I've seen both. Just didn't cross the border. Someday...

Friday, November 07, 2008

That our children might fly.

I read this today:

"Rosa Parks sat in 1955. Martin Luther King walked in 1963. Barack Obama ran in 2008. That our children might fly."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lessons from the Great Depression.

Since, I've gone back to school, most of you know that I'm only working part-time now. (Read: I've been earning half my salary since September.) This means, I've been extra money-concious and am always trying to find ways to cut expenses and save money. Why spend, when I could save, right? So I found this article listing the top ten lessons we can learn from the Great Depression and I thought I'd reprint it here.

10 Money Lessons From the Great Depression
By Jeffrey Strain

The U.S. may not technically be in a recession. After all, the U.S. Commerce Department says the economy grew at a 0.6% pace in the first quarter.

But most people look at things more like legendary investor Warren Buffett, who defined a recession as when "people are doing less well than they were three months, six months or eight months earlier."

For most economists it is no longer whether there is going to be a recession, but what type of recession it is going to be: short recessions like the one from 1990 to 1991 and the one from March to November 2001, or something like the Great Depression.

No matter which it ends up being, one of the best places to look for sound advice is from those people who have survived the worst of economic times - namely your grandparents.

Here are 10 ideas you may want to take from them:


1. Frugality Is Not a Bad Word
There was a time when a person who was frugal was looked upon with esteem rather than someone without the means to buy more. Many people seem to equate frugality with "cheapness," but that couldn't be further from the truth. Being frugal is simply getting the most out of what you have and purchase, and not purchasing things that you really don't need. While your grandparents learned frugality during the hard times, many of them continued to practice it even when times got better, which helped them build wealth. Learning to be frugal could help a lot of people who haven't learned to live within their means.

2. Use What You Have
In a consumer society, whatever problem you may have can always be solved by buying something else. If something breaks, go out and buy a new one. If something isn't exactly right, go buy something that is. In your grandparents' time, when something broke, they first took a look to see if it could be fixed. If it couldn't be fixed, before it ended up in the trash can, they would consider whether it could still be useful for something else. There is no reason to go out and spend money on something new if you can get the same thing accomplished with the things that you already have.

3. Doing It Yourself Is the Way to Go
When it comes to fixing things, the first people that your grandparents looked at were themselves. Instead of calling someone to fix something that broke, they fixed it on their own most of the time. In a society where we now hire people to do most basic repair and maintenance, it's important to remember that most repairs aren't nearly as difficult as they may appear and that you can do much of it on your own with a how-to book and patience.

4. Things Have More Than One Use
People tend to buy stuff with a specific purpose in mind and use it exclusively for that intended purpose. What your grandparents knew is that most things can have multiple uses throughout their useful life. That T-shirt can become a night shirt when the collar gets worn and can't be worn outside, and then a painting shirt when it starts to get holes and eventually rags when the holes get too big.

5. Debt Is to Be Avoided
In the age of credit cards, where spending what you don't have now is encouraged left and right, it's hard to believe there was a time when people actually believed that debt was to be avoided, but those are the words that your grandparents lived by. If they didn't have the money, then they would simply need to figure out a different plan on how to get what they needed. It might be borrowing it from a friend, saving up money or finding something that could be used instead. Going into debt to get it accomplished was not an option.

6. Save for Rainy Days
As many people are finding out, rainy days eventually come. Your grandparents were well aware of this and specifically put aside money for these rainy days. It's now what is commonly referred to as an emergency fund and something that comes in quite handy when your financial plans don't go exactly as you imagined they would.

7. Used Can Be Just as Good as New
This concept isn't completely foreign even to today's generation. The notion that buying a quality two- to three-year-old car has become basic mainstream financial advice when it comes to car ownership. Your grandparents knew that just because something happened to be pre-owned doesn't make it something to be dismissed as unworthy. They also know that this concept doesn't stop with cars and can be expanded to almost any other area where a second-hand market is available.

8. Functional Trumps Fashion:
When it comes to making purchases, your grandparents knew that it wasn't what the device looked like, but what it could do that mattered. It was much more important to buy something that did what needed to be done regardless of what it actually looked like. That Rolex may look great, but it doesn't tell time any better than a standard watch bought at the local discount store. Learning to buy for function rather than looks is a great way to save money.

9. Bargains Are to Be Sought-After
When it was time to purchase something, your grandparents didn't just go out an get it that day. They took the time to look for a bargain. That meant doing research and waiting until the price was right rather than pulling out a credit card and buying it even when they didn't have the money. Bargains take planning and time to find, but when they are found, you know you have gotten a great deal.

10. Homemade Cookies Are Delicious
In a society where everything is pre-made and sold for convenience, it may be hard to remember the last time you had a meal made from scratch. What your grandparents knew was that not only is it less expensive to cook this way, the resulting meal is also a lot more delicious. Think of it this way; would you ever consider trading in a plate of your grandmother's homemade cookies for any store bought brand?

While the way that your grandparents handled money may seem unsophisticated with all the financial tools that are available today, the basics of living below their means, saving for a rainy day, getting an education and investing in their future are values that a lot of people could financially benefit from today.


What ideas are you implementing in your homes?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

My Halloween celebration started last Saturday night when we went to at This is the Place Heritage Park for Kristine's birthday. The first scream of the night, of course, came from M in the parking lot before even entering through the gates. :) Somehow this didn't surprise me.

On Monday evening, M and I went to our ward Halloween Blowout. Having it on Monday, in conjuction with the Ward Family Home Evening activity was a nice start to the Halloween week. It definitely got me more in the mood and reminded me that every holiday (birthdays included) should be celebrated for longer than just the one day, so you can really enjoy it!


M went as Monk as a safety patrol officer. If you aren't familiar with the television series Monk (you should be), Adrian Monk is an obsessive-compulsive detective in San Francisco who believes strongly in things such as hand sanitizer and color coordinated jelly beans. True to his character, M carried his wipes around everywhere. Oh and his orange safety cones. Yes, his cones were definitely germ-free as was just about everything in his path that night. Very funny. He stayed in character practically the entire night; it was great. In this picture, Monk was saving a seat for me. How kind. :) The look on his face just makes me laugh!


As part of the Halloween festivities, there was a pie-throwing event all in the name of the Friends of Scouting Fundraiser and the Ward Mission Fund. I was volunteered, thanks to Brian, to be one of the recipients of these whipped cream face plants. :) As you follow the series of pictures you can see me go from being happy, to slightly anxious because I was the last one to get a pie in my face, to face planted with whipped cream, to completely drenched in whipped cream.





I was the last one without pie in my face... but not for long. Oh no, if you could see the look on Sherry's face. (She's the one in the pirate costume.)







How do you do?













Oh Jason, you didn't. He did.









Then on Wednesday night, in keeping with the Halloween spirit, M and I carved pumpkins.
Every time I have ever carved a pumpkin, I have had these grand ideas of how elaborate my design is going to be, but I have always ended up free-handing the design and it looks like every other typical jack-o-lantern. Boring. So this time, I decided that I really wanted it to be more of a work of art.
M chose a witch on a broom which, I think, turned out splendidly. And my first atempt at ever using a stencil resulted in the bat motif on the right. This also was the first time I have ever shaved the pumpkin without actually cutting all the way through, which I have always wanted to try. Although, I learned that you have to shave the pumpkin very very thin to get the glowing effect I was looking for, I like the way it turned out.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mental Flexibility Test Answers.

So have you all been waiting on the edge of your seats for the answers to this? :) Several of you did mention how much you liked things like this, so I hope you had some fun with it, and were able to figure at least some of them out on your own. :) Well, here you go.

  1. 26 = L of the A 26 Letters of the Alphabet
  2. 7 = D of the W 7 Days of the Week
  3. 1001 = A N 1001 Arabian Nights
  4. 12 = S of the Z 12 Signs of the Zodiac
  5. 54 = C in a D (with J) 54 Cards in a Deck (with Jokers)
  6. 9 = P in the S S 9 Planets in the Solar System (I know this isn't the case anymore... I did say this was old)
  7. 88 = P K 88 Piano Keys
  8. 13 = S on the A F 13 Stripes on the American Flag
  9. 32 = D F at which W F 32 Degrees Fahrenheit at which Water Freezes
  10. 18 = H on a G C 18 Holes on a Golf Course
  11. 90 = D in a R A 90 Degrees in a Right Angle
  12. 200 = D for P G in M 200 Dollars for Passing GO in Monopoly
  13. 8 = S on a S S 8 Sides on a Stop Sign
  14. 3 = B M (S H T R) 3 Blind Mice (See How They Run)
  15. 4 = Q in a G 4 Quarts in a Gallon
  16. 24 = H in a D 24 Hours in a Day
  17. 1 = W in a U 1 Wheel in a Unicycle
  18. 5 = D in a Z C 5 Digits in a Zip Code
  19. 57 = H V 57 Heinz Variety
  20. 11 = P on a F T 11 Players on a Football Team
  21. 1000 = W that a P is W 1000 Words that a Picture is Worth
  22. 29 = D in F in a L Y 29 Days in February in a Leap Year
  23. 64 = S on a C B 64 Spaces on a Chess Board
  24. 40 = D and N of the G F 40 Days and Nights of the Great Fast
  25. 76 = T in the B P 76 Trombones in the Big Parade
  26. 50 = W to L Y L 50 Ways to Lose Your Lover
  27. 99 = B of B on the W 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall
  28. 60 = S in a M 60 Seconds in a Minute
  29. 1 = H on a U 1 Horn on a Unicorn
  30. 9 = J on the S C 9 Judges on the Supreme Court
  31. 7 = B for S B 7 Brides for Seven Brothers
  32. 21 = D on a D 21 Dots on a Die
  33. 7 = W of the A W 7 Wonders of the Ancient World
  34. 15 M on a D M C 15 Men on a Dead Man's Chest

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Birthdays, Half Birthdays, Bed Bath and Beyond, Guessing Games, and the Best Boyfriend Ever.

My little sister's birthday was this last Sunday. She's 22, and yes, she's still my "little sister". I remember being SO excited that I was going to have a little sister! When she was born, I was eight and a half (halves were important back then, don't deny it). I loved holding her, feeding her, and taking care of her. As she grew older, I loved playing with her (read: bossing her around. Remember: we used to put together synchronized swimming routines). Now that we are even older, we are even better friends. Funny how age has that effect on siblings. Happy birthday Marina Bella!

So, as I was telling M about Marina's birthday, I also explained to him how she and I celebrate our half-birthdays with each other since they are within a day of the other's birthday. Now, by "celebrate", I mean we usually just mention it and wish each other happy half-birthday. But it's been something we've done for a long time. Like I said, when you're a kid those halves mean a lot! :)

So two weeks ago, M randomly asked me where the closest Bed Bath and Beyond is. I didn't think anything of it, until he brought it up again last Saturday, mentioning that he needed to pick something up there. So I asked him, "What do you need to get?" Innocent question, right? He replied, "Oh, something," and continued flipping through the BB&B advertisment. Something, eh. Now, for those of you who don't know, M is rather open about just about everything, so the fact that he wasn't telling me what he needed to pick up at BB&B was a little strange to me. So I prodded one more time. I know, I know, I should just shut up sometimes... but I said, "So are you getting something for yourself or someone else?" Characteristically, he replied, "Yes." Ugh. Does he know how much that drives me crazy?!? The answer is yes. Yes, he does. Hmph. So at this point, I figure... whatever. If he doesn't want to tell me, that's okay. So why do you keep prodding, eclaires?!

Fast forward to that night. We had just arrived back at my house after the SLCA concert, which by the way, was fabulous! We sat on the couch talking, waiting for Katie to arrive home from her road trip to Seattle.

M: So do you want your half-birthday present now or on your half birthday?
eclaires: My half-birthday present?
M: Yeah. Do you want it now or do you want to wait until your half-birthday?
eclaires: (unable to ever actually answer a question without asking another question first) Well, do I want it? (What kind of question is that, dork?!?!)
M: Yes, I think so.
eclaires: Well, what do you think? Do I want it now or do I want it on Monday?
M: Well if you get it tonight, you'll be able to use it immediately. If you get it on Monday, you'll be able to use it on Monday.
eclaires: Okay, then I want it tonight. But can I guess what it is first?
M: (probably laughing at me) Sure.
eclaires: Can I hold it in my hands?
M: Yes.
eclaires: (realizing that he's likely answered that question literally, so I repose...) Can it fit in my hands like this (cupping my hands) or would it be too unwieldy?
M: You can hold it in your hands, but it would be rather unwieldy.
eclaires: How do you know I want it? Have we talked about it?
M: Well, we haven't talked about it directly. But we've talked about the problem associated with it.
Then there were some questions about what that really meant and whether or not it plugged in.
eclaires: Did you get the idea for this gift from my blog?
M: I got the idea from a conversation we had, but it has to do something you posted about afterward.
eclaires: Did you get it at Bed Bath & Beyond? (knowing at this point that the answer is yes, I'm feeling really stupid for pushing M about the reason for his BB&B excursion)
M: Yes.
eclaires: Is it a mattress foam pad or something like that?
M: Yes.
eclaires: (arm raised high then thrust down, bending at the elbow) YES!!

So, I have now been sleeping much more comfortably with my Isotonic® Ventilated 3" Visco Elastic Mattress Pad for the last week. It's far more comfortable than I imagined. But seriously, how cool is M? I still can't believe he got me such a thoughtful gift. :) Yeah, I kinda like him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mental Flexibility Test.

I received this test a loooong time ago from a friend. It kept me busy for a bit, so I thought I'd pass it along. It's is a test to gauge your mental flexibility and creativity. In the years since it was developed, it has been said that few people could solve more than half in the first day. Many reported getting answers long after the test had been set aside, at unexpected moments when their minds were relaxed.

Example: 16 = O in a P
Answer: 16 Ounces in a Pound

  1. 26 = L of the A
  2. 7 = D of the W
  3. 1001 = A N
  4. 12 = S of the Z
  5. 54 = C in a D (with J)
  6. 9 = P in the S S
  7. 88 = PK
  8. 13 = S on the A F
  9. 32 = D F at which W F
  10. 18 = H on a G C
  11. 90 = D in a R A
  12. 200 = D for P G in M
  13. 8 = S on a SS
  14. 3 = B M (S H T R)
  15. 4 = Q in a G
  16. 24 = H in a D
  17. 1 = W in a U
  18. 5 = D in a Z C
  19. 57 = HV
  20. 11 = P on a F T
  21. 1000 = W that a P is W
  22. 29 = D in F in a L Y
  23. 64 = S on a C B
  24. 40 = D and N of the G F
  25. 76 = T in the B P
  26. 50 = W to L Y L
  27. 99 = B of B on the W
  28. 60 = S in a M
  29. 1 = H on a U
  30. 9 = J on the S C
  31. 7 = B for S B
  32. 21 = D on a D
  33. 7 = W of the A W
  34. 15 = M on a D M C

Tell me how you do! I'll put the answers up in a few days.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Um, guys... Chad fell down.

My mother has three big fears in life. 1) She fears being too cold or loved ones being too cold. You know, like going out of the house without a jacket. One time my brother went to school wearing only a t-shirt and by the time my mom got to work it was raining. She felt sick all day long knowing that he was cold. 2) Running out of toilet paper. Now this IS a valid fear. Haven't you all found yourself without enough to do the job well? My mom has loads of toilet paper on hand at all times. I have inherited this from her... not the fear, the coping method. 3) She fears falling down or loved ones falling down. Interestingly, I have a similar fear. Nearly every time I run down the stairs, I imagine myself missing one and tumbling down and breaking both legs. I know, weird. I think really my fear isn't falling, but breaking my leg bones in half so they pierce the skin. Gross.

Now, most of you know who know me well, know that I frequently laugh at inappropriate times. It runs in my family... on the female side, at least. Often I can be found laughing during prayers (or at least with my eyes wide open). I laughed so hard that I hurt my mom's feelings that one time when a homeless man walked by us as we were waiting for the bus and stopped in front of my mom and whacked her on the forehead with the palm of his hand before he walked away as if nothing had happened. Now that was funny. So awful, I know. But above all, I especially can't help laughing when people fall down. I know, it's awful that I find it so entertaining. After all it's one of my mom's top three fears in life. Now, if they truly get hurt, my compassionate gene (yes, I have one of them) kicks in. But if they're fine... my sadistic laughing gene takes over.

So if you share this trait, even slightly, take a look at these three videos. I hope they make you laugh out loud!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you Wordle?

Last Sunday, during Sacrament Meeting, M and I were passing notes back and forth. I know, I know, ... very sixth grade. But before you go too far with that thought, let me tell you part of what we were "talking" about:

eclaires:
Do you think that someone has invented some sort of device that can track the number of times one speaks certain words and can keep a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly tally of how many times one has said, for example: "good" or "church" or "but" or "fantastic" or "conference" or whatever? If someone hasn't ... I wish they would. :)

M:
No, I don't think anyone has invented such a thing. But I'll see what I can do, for your sake.

eclaires:
Thanks, I'd like that...
Maybe even just an embedded micro-chip sized recorder than can download or transmit to a computer and then some software program that can sort it all.

M:
We should ask Veronica's friend about what she can do for us. (Editor's note: We have been watching Season 2 of Veronica Mars together.)

eclaires:
:)

Well, instead of asking Mac (Veronica's friend), I stumbled upon this website called wordle. Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. I linked my blog and this is what I came up with. It not only puts it in "cloud" form, but you can get a list of all the words (minus some extremely common ones) and the number of times they were used in the block of text or on the website. :) Very fun.


I know you can't see it very well, but click on the picture and you'll see a larger version.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ballet and Growing up in Earthquake Country.

As a child, I took ballet from Natalia Borisova (affectionately dubbed Natasha), at Ballet Russe on Clement Street every Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm-5pm. With Natasha, I had performing experience a child could only dream of. Not only did we have our regular recitals, but we performed with world-renowned Russian dancers in very upscale recitals. We also performed on television once. Our costumes were exquisite, as Natasha is the owner of over 2,000 authentic Russian costumes dating from the 14th century, the largest collection in North America. Dancing with her was truly an experience.

Natalia Borisova, my childhood ballet teacher:

So, nineteen years ago today was a Tuesday. Courtney, my childhood friend and ballet buddy, and I had just finished pirouetting across the floor at Ballet Russe, and were walking into the dressing room to change when suddenly at 5:04pm, the floor started shaking, jolting really. An earthquake. "Oh goody," I thought, as I quite liked the rush that little earthquakes provided. Generally, I'd sit and enjoy the thrill of being shaken for two or three seconds, until the earthquake stopped. But I soon realized that this was no small earthquake and it wasn't stopping. In a studio with wall to wall mirrors and the only real shelter, a large piano, finding somewhere to "duck and cover", as is ingrained in every child who grows up in earthquake country, proved to be difficult.

The jolting lasted for nearly a full minute and was stronger than anything I'd ever experienced. Surprisingly, no mirrors shattered; only plaster fell from the ceiling. Courtney's mom arrived to pick us up within a minute or two. My mom, who had left her office at 5:00pm on the dot, on the last elevator in her building that descended before the earthquake struck, and on the last bus that took its normal root out of downtown, picked me up at Courtney's house two and a half hours later.

At the time, our family was without a television, which didn't matter much since we didn't have electricity either. Our friend Marcia spent the night, since she wasn't allowed to return to her home in the Marina District due to the fire and extensive damage. It felt kind of like a slumber party until we really started seeing footage like this:

The collapsed deck on the Bay Bridge:

An apartment building in the Marina:

The collapsed Cypress Freeway in Oakland:

Another collapsed apartment building in the Marina:

So a couple of days off from school and a whole lot of damage later, I still enjoy the rush that shaking of the earth provides, but I also am far more aware of the importance of being prepared. I like being prepared. More on that later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The St. Clair Affair.

Kim and Jared were sealed in the Bountiful LDS Temple on Thursday afternoon. I was so happy to be able to be a part of their day. My camera was having major issues that day; I was lucky to get a couple of pictures. Kim looked beautiful, and Jared, quite dashing himself. Congratulations, you two!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Calling all blog stalkers!

So this is a post to all of you blog stalkers out there, who don't really know me, but read anyway. Oh come on, we've all done it... navigated to a blog that we found interesting and bookmarked it and then return again and again to keep up with the... Joneses? :) Have you not? Blog stalking is common; it's not a crime. So go ahead and admit it. I know there are at least a couple of you because you've commented, which by the way, I love... so thanks! There's just something thrilling about knowing that someone out there finds you and your life interesting enough to follow on a fairly regular basis.

About four or five months ago, I put up a poll on the right side of my blog which asked you (my faithful readers) to tell me how you know me. I did this because, though much to my despair, many of you read but never comment. As a joke, to the question "How do you know me?", I added an option to answer: "I don't." Interestingly enough, I had a few votes. However, as I've added more and more gadgets to the right side of my blog, the poll has found its way to the very bottom... I don't think people see it much anymore. Either that or I've capped out on my audience. Hmph...

SO, this is what I'm doing. I've put up a new poll (thank you blogger) and we're starting over. Even if you are a frequent reader/commentator and not a blog stalker, please take a second to vote in the poll and view the results. I'm going to conduct this little experiment until the end of October, although I may still keep the poll up after that... but make sure you vote before the end of the month.

And my dear blog stalkers, I'm not scolding you... I'm just asking you to come out of the woodwork, just slightly. :) Just vote. Do it for me. Please? Then you can go back to stalking. Oh, but if you're feeling brave, do something wild and ... comment. :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Twenty years is a long time.

So lately, I've realized that I generally wake up in slight discomfort. My neck and back feel stiff and sore. I'm a back and side sleeper, so I've tried more pillows, less pillows, even new pillows, which of course help, but don't solve the problem. It's just my bed. I sleep on a twin bed, which isn't the problem, but I'm sleeping on the twin bed that I got for my birthday twenty years ago. Yes, you read that correctly. Twenty years ago, my mom bought one of only four or five pieces of furniture she's ever purchased new in her life. (She's amazing at finding great pieces of furniture at garage and estate sales, not to mention has an eye for spotting perfectly good pieces sitting on the sidewalk for the taking.) It's a trundle bed, so it has two mattresses. I've switched around the mattresses so many times, that neither one is better than the other anymore. I'm just sad because I don't want the cause of my stiff back problems to be my bed because unfortunately, I have no plans to remedy the situation by buying a new bed anytime soon. My twin bed fits perfectly in my room and the next time I buy a bed, it will be a King size bed... :) and that won't fit in my room. So I'll survive. But twenty years is a long time!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Random Photo: 1968 Flashback.

I used to love looking at my mom's old yearbooks and imagining myself with all the hairdos of the 60's. Thanks to http://www.yearbookyourself.com/, I don't have to imagine anymore. :) (Okay, so I still have to imagine somewhat because look at the difference in skin tone between that neck and my face! Funny.)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Rubik's Master.

M has taken to fiddling with the Rubik's Cube nearly every time he comes over. And by fiddling, I mean solving it in less than two and a half minutes! Yes, that's what I said: less than two and a half minutes. His record, evidently, is much faster; he says he's out of practice... :)

I'm not sure why I was surprised. Well, truthfully, I wasn't really surprised; it's just that no one has solved a Rubik's Cube in my presence that quickly. Apparently, he's working on solving the 4x4x4 and the 5x5x5 cubes. Yeah, so brainy is attractive. Wouldn't you be going out with him, too?! :)

And yes, to those of you who have asked... M IS the reason I haven't blogged for awhile..., but as AnnMarie told me yesterday, "I'll just keep checking your blog and if you haven't updated, I'll just know you're with M. Plus, it sounds like M is worth it." Yeah, I kinda like him. :)

P.S. The flowers in the last post are STILL alive. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So, I'm thinking I could get used to this...

Apparently, they change color and type when you least expect it. I'm told flowers do that.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things you may not know (or want to know) about me.

1. I fiddle with my thumb ring when I'm nervous.
2. I'm morbid. It's true. I speak freely of death. I even save messages from loved ones in case that's the last time I hear their voice. Also, I think it would be safe to say that I've spent hours thinking about what it would be like to be one of the people who was in the World Trade Center when the planes hit. Would I jump out of the building and face certain death or stay and be burned alive?
3. I hold water in my mouth for a few seconds before I actually swallow. If I don't, I tend to choke. I also frequently attempt to drink too much water from my glass causing it to dribble down my chin.
4. I make my bed every day and have since January 2003.
5. I'm known for turning nouns into verbs. For example: "We bonused at 10%!" or "We're sporting today." or "Let's calendar tonight." or "He friended me on Facebook!"
6. I frequently count light fixtures in a chapel or other large assembly hall.
7. I'm annoyed by drivers who do not signal when changing lanes.
8. I'm annoyed by drivers who do not know how to use the diamond (HOV) lane appropriately. They are a hazard on the road.
9. I can't say I'm never at fault, but the misuse of apostrophes causes me to lose hope in the world!
10. I absolutely love my birthday. I usually start celebrating weeks before and continue for a month afterward!
11. My favorite ice cream is Häagen-Dazs Vanilla.
12. I put regular old vaseline on my lips every night before bed.
13. I love word games.
14. My alarm clock is 25 minutes ahead all the time. When I try to switch it back, I get confused.
15. I have a freckle on the inside edge of my left middle finger.
16. I love lone trees.
17. I frequently cannot remember what month it is. And when I guess, I'm not just one month off... I'm usually in a totally different season!
18. I passionately dislike the word "crap".
19. I frequently cannot picture someone's face in my mind after I first meet them, even if I've spent hours talking to them.
20. I was burned when I was five when I ran into a lady carrying a tray full of freshly brewed coffee pots. Miraculously, I'm not blind and have no scars.
21. I get jealous. Mostly when someone is eating something that I'm not eating or someone has one more bite of something that I just finished. Also, I mimic people a lot, I think because I get jealous when they say something that sounded cool, so I have to try it too.
22. I have a group of freckles that form the letter "E" on my leg.
23. I have worn a toe ring for ten years.
24. I once rang in the New Year at 40,000 feet.
25. I collected business cards when I was younger.
26. I've spent four out of the last six 4ths of July out of the country.
27. I drive a stick-shift.
28. I've sung at the top of my lungs on a hotel balcony wearing only my bra and underwear.
29. I can sing the Shabbat prayer in Hebrew.
30. I have never watched The Princess Bride in its entirety.
31. My first freeway driving experience was on the 2 in Glendale, California.
32. I once made the trip from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City in four hours. (Mapquest's estimated trip time and distance: 6 hours 16 minutes; 428.98 miles.) I'll never make a trip like that again.
33. I've tap danced in Iowa.
34. I have held monkeys on the Rock of Gibraltar.
35. I like fresh mint tea.
36. I've been kissed by Mandy Patinkin aka Inigo Montoya. (And no, I still haven't watched The Princess Bride.)
37. I alphabetize everything.
38. I'm a list writer. When I don't have paper and a pen to write a list, I frequently commit the first letter of each item on the list to memory, so that I can recall the entire list.
39. I've met Marian and Vivian Brown, the San Francisco twins.
40. I smell everything.
41. I love clouds.
42. I don't shop at Wal-Mart because every single time I've been to Wal-Mart, I have witnessed a disturbing form of child abuse or neglect.
43. I love cheese.
44. Avocados cause my mouth to break out in welts, but I love them and eat them anyway.
45. I never had a cavity until I was 25. I was mortified when my cavity-free record was shattered; I cried.
46. I once left my month-long disposable contact lenses in for more than a year.
47. I've been swimming in the Vltava River, the Bay of Biscay, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean.
48. I have sprained both ankles more times than I can count on both hands.
49. I never wear sandals or open-toed shoes of any kind unless my toenails are painted.
50. I used to coerce my little sister into being my synchronized swimming partner. We really should have made it to the Olympics with our talent! ;)

Friday, September 05, 2008

I always knew I should be treated like royalty.

You Are Belle!

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Intelligent and kind. Your beauty goes much further than your apperance. Also, you make judgments of people based on their personality and not their looks. Attaining all the knowledge that you can is one of your major goals in life, but you are also a person who can make things happen.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Tell me you don't love the aquarium!


M invited me to the aquarium on Saturday night, and I must admit that I love looking at fish. Okay, so I only love looking at the beautiful fish. The prettier the better. Does this make me shallow? Probably, but at least I'm admitting it. The more vibrant the colors, the more I was mesmerized. Also, the sea nettles (the jellyfish above) were quite amazing to watch. I decided that someday I want to have an aquarium full of brightly colored fish in my home; I think I could be easily entertained for hours. However, I really don't want any of the maintenance... gosh, I'm shallow and spoiled. Hmph.