Monday, December 21, 2009

The One Where She Gives You a Little Present

Yes, she has been pretty grumpy for awhile. Sorry about that. I thought maybe you would like a little present to get you through the week. I know you want me to make you food. I can’t. I honestly don’t even know where you all live. I’m not even sure who reads me at all! If I could cook for you I would, but this is the next best thing. It is all of my recipes. I am only going to leave the link active for a week, so download whatever you wish. I print these out in color and put them in sheet protectors. No, it is not all of my favorite recipes, but it is probably about 50 of them... and most of them include a photograph I have taken. Some are already on the blog, some are not... but these have the advantage of all being in one place. Enjoy! Also, if you would like a gift of a different sort (but no less heartfelt), wander on over to the Christmas blog. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The One Where She {Almost} Drowned in Eggnog

Alright, I am just going to come right out and admit it. I have committed myself to do too many things, for too many people, right before Christmas! There is probably a 12-step program for this, where I could get up and say, “Hello, my name is Victoria, and I am a… (I don’t even know what you call it) girl who can’t say no?” In my defense, it is difficult to pass up opportunities to earn extra money, especially this time of year. Some of these gigs pay.

But I would like to bake a few goodies, maybe put up a Christmas tree, buy a couple of presents, send out the Christmas cards and make the house look nice for my family. I haven’t had time for those things, and I really have no one to blame but myself, so I will not even begin to bore you by listing the things I have done this week or still have to do… in fact, if I get a full night’s sleep tonight, tomorrow I might feel entirely different about this. I can do without a meal now and then, but sleep deprivation makes me, well… full of self-pity. At the moment I feel like I am drowning. Maybe in a tub full of egg nog, with a strand of garland wrapped around my neck a few times, just to be festive about it.

So an hour ago, I started this post and wrote that all down, and then my visiting teachers came over. If you are not conversant with my Mormon talk, there are a couple of women who stop by once a month to check and make sure I haven’t drowned in eggnog or been strangled by tinsel or whatever, and while they are here they give me a short inspirational message. So Teri told me the message was about compassion. She started to cry, and told me that every time she has had a bad time, I seem to just know, and I see her and tell her exactly what she needs to hear, and I don’t try to fix her problems, which usually can’t be fixed anyway, but I just hug her and tell her that things will work out… and apparently other profound things. She told me that I was her personal example of compassion.

That stabbed me in the heart a little bit. I have been drowning in the aforementioned eggnog/pity, as well as ignoring thirty calls a day from someone who we will call Christine the Crazy Lady, a semi-homeless, entirely carless (that’s car-less, not careless) “born-again” Filipino woman who is unusually preoccupied with The Rapture, to whom I have given a few rides. I have not been as compassionate as I should, and that is probably why I feel like I am drowning. It was a message I really needed to hear. I am going to go take a nap, and then get back to work.

Happily ☺. I promise.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The One Where Casey Came Home

Casey is home. We waited at the escalator for the arriving passengers. Skippy and Dillon stood right at the bottom, gazing upward for the first glance of a dark suit and missionary nametag. I knew Skippy would start dancing with excitement when he spotted his brother, but it was not Skip, but 16-year-old Dillon, who turned to me with an almost giddy expression, and said, “He’s here!” Ten seconds later, down he came into our arms… too tall, too skinny, already needing a shave at noon, and carrying a handcrafted sombrero, the gift of a hispanic woman he baptized in Dallas.

Our first stop was Casey’s release. Because he was an ordained minister for our church, and had been called as such, and his service as a full-time missionary was over, he had to be formally released. We all sat in a conference room, where after a short private interview with Casey, the member of our stake presidency told Elder McDaniel that he was officially released from being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At which point, he began to cry like a baby. We all cried. He removed the nametag that had marked him as a missionary, and put it in his pocket. President Carter asked him what he had learned in two years, and he said through his tears that he couldn’t say, because he couldn’t remember what he knew before.

I know exactly what he means. I’m not sure what I knew before, either. Today is the first day in five years that I haven’t had a missionary. No missionaries out, no missionaries living in my home. It is a happy day, and it is so sad that I can’t stop crying right now. From each missionary, I have learned so much that I am not sure what I really knew before. Please forgive me as I am about to do each of my missionaries a disservice by telling one or two things I learned from them, when in reality I learned enough things from each that it would require a whole post to tell.

From Elder Josh McDaniel, I learned how to send a missionary out. What a great way to start, with a missionary that had spent his whole life preparing to go, and his whole life since holding onto the best of his mission, while adding new graces every single day. Josh is the most consistently cheerful and upbeat person I know, and I learned from him that every single day could be my “best day.”

Elder Breyman taught me hospitality. As I opened my home to missionaries not my own, I found that they were my own after all, and that I could truly love them that much. From Elder Breyman I also learned that everything is not just bigger, but also better in Texas, and that you can make almost anything from duct tape.

From Elder Krenkel, I learned that it was okay to fall down. Blood and bruises are a badge of honor, that show you haven’t been sitting around all day. Elder Krenkel also showed me how much a person can grow and change in a short period of time, and he never failed to amaze me with his humble love of the gospel and beautiful teaching style.

Elder Danielson showed me obedience and how to follow leadership. Coming from a tiny town in North Dakota, he was dropped into the middle of the Real Housewives of Orange County. For days, he simply followed Elder Breyman. By following a good example, the time came when he was a leader in his own right.

Elder Tyler McDaniel taught me that missionary work is about saving souls. Sometimes the soul you have to save is not a stranger’s, but your companion’s. His enemies were anger, frustration and discouragement, and he conquered them so that he could be free to do the work that Heavenly Father had laid out for him. He showed brotherly love to his companions, and kept a very little brother Skippy waiting by the mailbox for the amazing illustrated letters he sent so that Skippy would remember a brother over two long years. It worked.

Elder Gould taught me that life is not a popularity contest. His kind spirit and desire to do the right thing inspired other missionaries, members of the church and all the people that he met on his mission. He taught me the importance of confidence, and that when you are doing the right thing, you can and should be confident. Elder Hopkins taught me to express love for people that are not my immediate family. I had never really considered doing that, and he made me realize how important it really is, and that by extending that love, my family circle just becomes that much larger. From Elder Hopkins I also learned that stalkers aren’t just on TV.

From Elder Pfile I learned courage. He took his weaknesses, like a fear of street contacting, and turned them into strengths by conquering fear. He showed me how important it is to have passion for what you are doing, and never took a sick day in two years. He set the best example I have ever known of what it means to be truly repentant. From him I learned that the only true apology is a humble one. At the same time, he taught me about having fun even when things are difficult. He also taught me about loyalty, as he was fiercely loyal to me and my family.

From Elder Waller I learned that a tough and stern exterior may just be guarding a tender heart. He showed that when you know someone loves you, it makes all the difference. I learned from Elder Waller the power music has to unite people, and he also showed me the importance of gratitude for small acts of kindness, and the importance of doing small acts of kindness every day.

From Elder Hobley I learned compassion, as he showed that compassion to me in difficult times, and as he showed it to others. He helped me realize what a comfort a sense of humor can be, and that it is okay to be big, goofy and childlike because it makes everyone else happy when you are happy. What a great trait to have! He taught me to think before speaking or acting, but not to let people push you around. I also learned from Elder Hobley that one can hunt spiders with swords. Who knew?

Elder Crane taught me about discipline. All my missionaries were hardworking, but Elder Crane was one of the best examples of how to give your best effort at all times. He had the determination to reach goals that others would find too daunting to even attempt. He showed me triumph over adversity, and love for his companions. I learned from Elder Crane how a positive attitude and modesty (combined with the ability to blush) would attract people and make them want to learn from him.

From Elder Murray I learned about possibilities. Elder Murray was excited to try anything. His desire to excel was inspiring, and made me want to learn new things as well. Elder Murray was an example of patience and kindness under all circumstances, and in half a year I never even saw him give in to frustration, much less anger. That is remarkable. Another thing that Elder Murray showed me was how to build up the people around me by showing them their own best traits. I think his own best trait was childlike faith... another thing he taught me.

Elder Felkner was the example of gentleness and kindness. His McDaniel-like sense of humor was tempered by an awareness of others’ feelings at all times. While all of our missionaries have been unfailingly polite and considerate, Elder Felkner was the best example I have seen of being gentleman-like and moderate in his speech and actions. I learned by watching his loving behavior, particularly toward a certain pesky five-year-old boy, that there is no need to call attention to yourself… when you have a kind and gentle, yet confident attitude, people are naturally drawn to you.

And from Elder Casey McDaniel, I have learned that life is short, so you had better be about Heavenly Father’s business. He is an example of seeing to the heart of what is the most important, and pursuing that, without being distracted by unimportant things. I have seen how people are drawn to him and want to be around him and be like him, because of his clean spirit, positive attitude and his refusal to judge others. He has also shown me the joy that comes from being independent. I didn’t always appreciate that independence, but now it is priceless.

My missionary board is covered with probably 80 cards from missionaries we have known and loved (okay, probably 30 of those cards are Elder Hobley’s... but still) and welcomed into our home. Even if they didn’t live here, each and every one still set an amazing example.

Five years, and what have I learned? I remember I didn’t even like to have the missionaries to dinner five years ago… it seemed so awkward. What could we even talk about? I guess I didn’t know much at all back then.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The One About the Friends

This has been one of those days where I don’t know quite what to think, or quite what to do. What do you do the day before your son comes home from a two-year mission? Clean and go crazy? Well… first I worked to mail out a bunch more CDs. Then I tried to organize some new guest blog posts and managed to have a misunderstanding with a friend. Good times. Then I went to a Christmas dinner and instead of sitting with the ladies, I sat with the young people who were the entertainment. And they were very entertaining. They counted how many times people came up to me and asked when Casey is coming home (Wednesday at noon, in case you wanted to ask) and how many then followed up with the million dollar question: Are you excited? Haha! I think they stopped counting after about 30. Then my daughter-in-law showed up with Jif, which is always the best. We went home, with Jessi riding in the back seat next to Jif atop a layer of wheat (no, seriously… don’t even ask…) and made pizzookies. More friends came over and we ate the pizzookies and played a humiliating couple rounds of a dice game called Chicken until after midnight. All in all, the day was about friends. A little sour, a little sweet. Maybe every day is really about friends.

Over the past while, friends have done a lot of things for me. One friend brought flowers and planted my front yard so that it would be beautiful when Casey comes home. One brings Skippy home from school for me several days a week. A couple of my friends bring me frozen yogurt on their way home from work, and sit to talk for awhile. One friend encouraged me all year long on my CD project, even when I told her to shut up because I wasn’t doing it anymore (several times). One listened to the master CD about five times straight the last week of the project (when friends seemed in short supply and no one else seemed to have time for me!) to try to help me find things to fix. One friend talks me down when I get too stressed, and reminds me not to listen to people when they are making me crazy (which happens more often than I care to admit). My sons and daughter-in-law, who are the best friends anyone could ask for, all pitched in to get me ready for my CD party, and it was like having a housekeeper, a decorator and a chef all show up at my door just at the right time. One amazing friend even catered that party for me!

I am definitely not worth so much trouble. What are the best things that friends do for you?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The One Where Santa Doesn’t Even Have to Consult the Map

Well, the last few years I have had to send Christmas packages to my boys. Not this year. They are all going to be home. No one in Argentina. No one in Texas. No one in Virginia. No one in Utah. All home.

Yesterday I was sitting in my office at about 5:45 a.m., having just dropped Dillon off at his early morning scripture class. Skippy stumbled in, half asleep. He complained that he was thirsty, and so I opened a small water bottle that was on my desk and handed it to him. He took a swig, and then reached into his mouth, and placed a small white object on my desk. “What is that?” I asked him, thinking it was a little paper, maybe from the water bottle label. “It’s my tooth,” he replied, and then he quietly went back up to bed.

I asked him today what he hopes Santa will bring him for Christmas. “I don’t know,” he said. “But maybe the Tooth Fairy could put my tooth back.” Since it is the first tooth he has lost, he doesn’t quite have the hang of the Tooth Fairy gig yet. He will learn.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The One Where We Exchanged Phone Numbers

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have never been much of a hugger. Hugging is a personal thing to me. Really, physical contact of any kind is pretty personal. I maintain my personal space most of the time. Hugging is generally reserved for people for whom I feel genuine love and affection. But over the past few years, I have had to adapt to hugging culture, and decide that I have some degree of love and affection for more people than I had previously thought. Therefore, more hugs. Although, in all fairness, I have noticed that hugs are not “one size fits all.” There are many different kinds of hugs. Where am I going with this? Well, twice in two days I have gotten hugs from perfect strangers. Because of my new CD. So, good story:

I spent the evening stuffing padded envelopes and boxes with CDs for mailing, and then sticking labels on. I loaded all the CD orders in a huge box, and at 9:00 a.m. I drove down to the little post office in the canyon. I knew that my fifty parcels were going to take awhile to process, so as a little thank you I took along one of the CDs. It took about thirty minutes to post them all, and about halfway through the postal employee was admiring the artwork on the mailing labels, which is the same as the CD cover. I told her thank you, and that I had brought her a CD.

She was so excited that she opened it up and actually kissed my picture on the inside of the label:). She insisted that she would be playing my CD and showing it to everyone who came in. She called it her “marketing program.” She took me into the back room (I have never been in the back room of a post office before), showed me a bunch of options for free packaging and loaded me up with samples. She instructed me that on my next batch of mailing, I was to call her and make an appointment for a “secret meeting” a half hour before the post office opens. We exchanged phone numbers, and then a hug. I can say with perfect certainty that it was the most warm and friendly postal experience I have ever had. And the hug thing… second time in two days. I think this is going to be an interesting week.

By the way... the photo was taken near the Trabuco Canyon post office in 1969. And it still looks just like that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The One Where My Boys Strike Back

Well, my last post was pretty hard on boys… at least one in particular. The fact is, I feel a little sorry for Cowboy. He used an unfortunate analogy and almost certainly regrets it. Don’t get me wrong… he should regret it. But I have to play devil’s advocate here and write one for the boys. As it happens, I usually take the boys’ side in everything. Maybe that is just an occupational hazard for a mother of six sons… not to mention the fact that I have so many other friends who happen to be boys/men… like all the missionaries who have lived in our home... and I think of them all as my boys. In fact, when I was called to be the teacher for the 16-18 year-old girls in my church for three years, I was a little shocked, and more than a little worried. I wasn’t sure I would be able to like them all that much. I had never had much use for girls. On the whole, they seemed much louder, meaner and more sophisticated (in a bad way) than boys.

To my happy surprise, I loved the girls. They were beautiful, unselfish and fun, and they have become some of my best friends. That was a nice thing to discover, especially as my own boys were reaching the age where they have begun to marry. My oldest son picked one of the best ones I have ever met, and married her. That is certainly an encouraging start, right? So, back to my boys… all of them, whether my sons or not. If the girls deserve a boy who is willing to climb to the top of the tree, what do my boys deserve? More than they are getting, in a lot of cases, I’m afraid. When they call to tell me their dating experiences, I am constantly dismayed by what girls put them through. It is bad enough that girls play mind games with each other, but as boys usually are more straightforward in their interactions, it is most unfair to play mind games with them. Many of them are not equipped for that sport, and the good ones don’t want to play.

Here is what my boys deserve:

1. A girl who is beautiful. But beautiful in the right way… a girl who is unfailingly modest in dress, speech and actions. One of the standards of my church is to dress modestly… something that most of the world thinks is rather strange. But my boys deserve nothing less. Whether you see her at the beach, at church, shopping, or just on Facebook, she should be modest. Let me be clear here… this is not because I don’t want the boys to think bad thoughts. My boys can master their thoughts. It is something much more important… it marks a commitment to covenants they have made. And no double standards either... my boys are modest themselves. When my daughter Cambria was about two, she was pointing out swimsuits that she thought were “pretty.” I told her they weren’t very modest, and I asked her if she knew what modest meant. She very smugly told me, “Yes. It means ugly.” We laughed about that for days, but I am here to tell you that it does not mean ugly. I am a big fan of beautiful, stylish modesty. It is really easy to say that most of the girls wear their skirts too short and their swimsuits too tiny, so you can’t judge a girl by that standard. But I know girls who are unfailingly modest. They stand out like a bright light from the girls who are not… and my boys deserve nothing less than that.

2. A girl who is honest. No ex-boyfriends that aren’t really ex. No saying things she doesn’t mean. No pretending to feel more or less than she really does. No treating my boys like a plaything. Honest.

3. A girl who is unselfish. She needs to care more about others than herself, because that is how my boys are. I have worried, in the affluent area where I live, that DK and I have spent the last twenty years raising sons who can support a family, while my neighbors have spent the same years raising daughters that my boys can never possibly afford to marry. My boys are not just finding a girl to marry; they are finding a mother for their children, and that is about a hundred times more important.

4. A girl who is kind. She must be kind to her friends, kind to her family, kind to children, and… kind to my boys.

5. A girl who is better than my boys. Or at least they think she is. She needs to be so amazing, that they behave better around her. They try harder, and reach bigger goals, because she makes them want to be better men. She safeguards their virtue along with her own. She reminds them of how great they are, encourages them, sets a good example, and yet still follows wise counsel. Every one of my boys deserves a girl who is better than they are.

So come on, girls. It’s time to step it up a little. Be more to get more. I told you the apple analogy. You can never be that rotten apple sitting on the ground waiting for any lazy boy to scoop you up and take a bite. You are better than that. My boys are better than that. You might wonder how you can compete in a world of girls who use tricks and sexy clothes to get their way. Don’t think for a single minute that my boys can’t tell the difference. Yes, there are boys that are looking for those girls. But I will tell you right now… not my boys.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The One With Lindsay and the Cowboy

So I met this cute girl named Lindsay. Friend of a friend. Being the immature person that I am, I find that many of my friends are younger, and in the dating years. Lindsay told me about her conversation with a boy today. He is 20, and will be leaving on a two-year church mission in a few months, and they had the following conversation (to the best of my recollection):

Lindsay: I am happy to go out on dates with you, but I have a feeling you are more into it than I am. (translation: I think of you as a friend)

Cowboy: Well, Lindsay, this is how it is for me: I am leaving on a mission soon (where there will be no more dating of girls), and basically I am just out to get what I can. I am trying to “fill up my canteen,” so to speak.

Wait a sec...did you really just say fill up your canteen???
I am still trying to wrap my brain around his choice of analogy... not to mention the intention behind it. There are a lot of canteens in the world, Lindsay. Fortunately you are smart and good enough to know that you don’t need to provide a watering hole for every random ridiculous cowboy out there.

This is one of my favorite quotes: “Girls are like apples...the best ones are at the top of the trees. The boys don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples that are on the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think there is something wrong with them, when, in reality, they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree...”

Lindsay is definitely at the top of the tree. When one of those boys cares enough to climb up, then he is worth looking at. All the better if he leaves his canteen on the ground so that he can climb better.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The One Where She Killed the Car Battery

So I don't have a decent CD player. Most of the time I don’t care. I have perfectly awesome M-Audio monitor speakers connected to my computer, and so listening to music in here is great. But I finally mastered a finished CD today. Yes, I met my deadline that I set myself a couple of months ago, and DK and I spent much of the day finishing up the artwork that will grace the CD itself, as well as the jewel case insert, etc.

And I was all proud of my CD... particularly because I made something of a breakthrough in the quality of the mastered CD and was pretty much dying to listen to it. Sort of like when you get new clothes that you love, and you keep wanting to try them on? Well, no CD player in the house. BUT my Suburban has a really nice Bose sound system. Hmm. It also has a battery that has seen better days. So tonight I sneaked out to the car, and listened to the CD in there. I turned on the engine every ten minutes or so to recharge the battery so that I could get through all the songs. At one point DK came out and asked, “Aren’t you afraid you will run the battery down?” and I smugly answered, “No.” Well, not five minutes later I went to turn on the engine and... CLICK. I tried again. CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK. Dang it. Don’t tell DK but I ran the battery down in the car.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The One Where Her Bloggiversary Came... and Went

I have clearly been in need of a makeover... and I’m not just talking about the blog, here. I have let a few things slide. This is the least amount of sleep I have gotten since I had newborn babies... I guess my CD is aptly named. My deadline to finish all the music for the CD is Friday. I have every intention of making that, even if it means I let everything else go. I have been a pretty lame wife, mother, friend, primary teacher, housekeeper, laundress... and the list goes on. So four more days aren’t going to matter.

And I realized that my one-year mark for this blog... it came and went a couple of days ago. Ah, well... I will write something profound another day. I’ve got nothing. Not this week. This week I am wavering between tears (Oh! go listen to the song I just put up on the other blog, right here. Look at the painting, and read the words. I couldn’t even get through it without getting teary-eyed, and I wrote it!) and... anyway, wavering between tears and, well, a little bit of naughtiness... I keep thinking of interesting prank ideas. Today is DK’s birthday, and he is not a fan of pranks. So I will refrain. For today. But if, tomorrow, you find your shoes glued to the floor, or your Facebook hacked with a picture of a gigantic fat guy as your profile pic, or 5,000 plastic forks stuck in your front lawn... you will know it is just me, blowing off a little steam.

P.S. As for the blog, I know it really does need a makeover... the mp3 player doesn’t currently work, and next week when I have a little time, I will make it so you can listen to music on this blog again. For now, enjoy a little navidad over at “All About the Baby.” xo

Monday, October 26, 2009

The One With Jif in the Skeleton Costume

Okay, seriously, now... how cute is my grandson? (and my daughter-in-law the pirate is pretty cute, too). Well, Saturday morning my son Skippy (who is six) came and woke me up. He had tears in his eyes, and he told me how disappointed he was that we didn’t put up our Halloween decorations. The main problem is that we have this really adorable Halloween advent calendar from Pottery Barn Kids from a couple years back, where last year I left treats, cars, little mini skateboards, notes and such... and here we are at the 25th of October, and we haven’t even hung it on the wall. So guess what... yup. I got out the Halloween decorations. And my house is pretty much a disaster. But Skippy... he is happy. So it was worth it, right? Say right. Now I need to come up with something to put in the remaining advent pockets. And quickly.

One last thing... the shameless plug. Please please please go over and check out the Christmas blog. I just added a new song, and I will add another tomorrow. If you haven’t purchased your CDs, hurry hurry! They will be shipping out in just over two weeks to everyone who pre-orders. And when you go over, leave some comment love! I start to think I am the Lone Ranger.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The One Where She Can’t Figure it Out

Okay, so... fellow bloggers help me out here... I can’t fix my Christmas blog. Despite everything I have tried, it keeps putting all the items that belong in the sidebar (gadgets, profile, followers, etc...) at the bottom of the blog! I tried removing my third-party background. That didn’t help. I changed the template, and changed it back. Nothing. I am using the same template (Minima Lefty) that I use for this blog, and this one is not having any problems. Does anyone have a fix for me? It has been like this for about three days, and it is seriously driving me nuts.

Here is the link to go look:

Oh, and while you are there, listen to the sneak peeks of music for the new CD I have on there. And for goodness sakes, leave me a comment or two! Let me know if you can figure out my problem... (and I am talking about the blog problem... I’m just saying...)

Okay... I give up. As soon as I posted this, the problem FIXED itself. I don’t understand... but I’ll take it. If you know why I am having this issue, you can still let me know! And go enjoy the new song I just put up.... there are three now!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The One Where She Found Poison in the Pantry

Guest poster - ah ha! Shouldn't have told you I was an im-poster. (Pun intended) Actually, I come from a land far far away. So don't even try to come chase me down if you don't like this one :)

(Wow this is really hard messing with someone else's blog - I'm sure there are a gazillion mistakes here somewhere . . . )

Today I received the following email in my box -

Check the expiration dates on your mixes with yeast! Read on...

Cake Mixes & Toxins- **PLEASE READ **Poison

This is confirmed on Snopes

A student at HBHS (high school) had pancakes this week and it almost became fatal. His Mom (registered nurse) made him pancakes, dropped him off at school and headed to play tennis. She never takes her cell phone on the court but did this time and her son called to say he was having trouble breathing. She told him to go to the nurse immediately and proceeded to call school and alert the nurse. The nurse called the paramedics and they were there in 3 minutes and worked on the boy all the way to the hospital. He came so close to dying. Evidently this is more common then I ever knew. Check the expiration dates on packages like pancakes and cake mixes that have yeast which over time develop spores. Apparently, the mold that forms in old mixes can be toxic! Throw away ALL OUTDATED pancake mix, brownie mixes, Bisquick, cake & cookie mixes, etc., you have in your home.

P.S. Tell this to your children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces and anyone else who keeps these types of mixes in the cupboard.

Well, me, ever the sceptic and keeper of almost any pantry item as long as I'm still using it (if you can extend that concept of 'use' to like - yes, I'm pretty sure I did use that at least once this last year, hmmmm. . . better keep it).

I was sceptical, after all I also am an RN, and I've never heard of such a thing. I made my way over to, the ultimate documentary and researcher of all things such as
urban legends, common fallacies, misinformation, old wives' tales, strange news stories, rumors, celebrity gossip, and similar items. I just wanted to see with my own eyes what Snoopy at Snopes had to say about it . . .

Apparently it is not a totally unfounded claim . . . .

Snopes article "Flapjack Flap" originated back in 2006 with a letter written to "Dear Abby" that contains a story similar to the one shared above. Dear Abby's response that became widely circulated was

"Thank you for the warning, I certainly was not aware that pancake mix could turn moldy and cause an allergic reaction in someone with an allergy to mold - but it's logical. I wonder if the same holds true for cake mix, brownie mix and cookie mix. If so, then a warning should be placed on the box for people like me. We hear so often about discarding prescriptions and over-the-counter medications after their expiration dates, but I don't recall warnings about packaged items in the pantry. Heads up folks!"

After investigation, Snoopy at Snopes decided that while there is truth in this tale; the inherent warning is overblown.

It is possible for someone who chows down on pancake mix that has sat around for too long to suffer a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction to the molds that have grown therein, and a resultant death has been documented. It is also true that there is nothing inherently toxic about pancake mix that has past it's freshness date. It's not like Cinderella, transforming immediately from good to poison as the clock strikes midnight. Nor does the growth of mold in a package fell all who consume it, only those who have allergies to mold are at risk, and again, the package must actually contain mold spores, not just be "over the hill".

Also keep in mind, for mold to gain access to a food product, the foodstuff has to actually be exposed to its spores. Mixes sealed in wax paper, foil, or plastic within its outer packaging would not have this contact and still should be safe no matter the age of the product. However, a mix sold in cardboard boxes, or paper sacks would be at risk due to the lack of a moisture barrier surrounding the mix, and mold thrives in a damp environment.

So what exactly IS the bottom line to all this: If you don't have allergies to mold, you're quite safe! You needn't fear the pancake, cake or brownie mix. If you do have allergies to mold, you shouldn't keep your flapjack makings around for a couple years after opening the box or pouch it came in. It's not worth dying over 50 cents worth of pancake mix. So when in doubt - throw it out!

Oh dear, even though we have no allergies to mold in our household, it sure wouldn't hurt to go through my pantry. Now might be a pretty good time to be like Old Mother Hubbard with nothing in the cupboard!

aka - Kristin, "One Day at a Time - Alpine Klein Bunch"

Get some sleep Victoria!

The One Where She Hasn’t Been Sleeping Enough

... which is, I am sure, the reason I had this horrible awful idea. What if you just kept updating the time and date stamp on your blog post, so that it would keep appearing at the top on everyone’s chronological blog lists? I know... right? And that, my friends, is why I am not blogging here this week. So, who’s up next? Can’t wait to see.

Friday, October 16, 2009

{The One Where She Learned To Be A Better Friend}

Hello - Cherie from Bakow Babble guest posting here today. Victoria and I are bloggy friends - but amazingly enough we both have sons at BYU and they have met - Go figure! I love this woman - she is talented, spiritual, beautiful, an amazing mom/missionary mom, cook and if you didn't know, keep scrolling down because, she has incredible musical talent as well! AND you have the opportunity to get her new CD - You are one of the first to know because you are here!!

My topic today has nothing to do with that though, it is about becoming a better friend through food, or rather the lack of it!

This has been troubling me for some time.

There's nothing worse than looking in the mirror three quarters of the way through your day and seeing some huge shredded piece of green nastiness lodged between your two front teeth. You think, "For the love of all that is holy, how long has THAT been there?!"

You begin recounting the events of your day - all the people you've had face-to-face conversations with.
Why did they stay silent? Surely they saw it. You think, "Good grief, if I'd sat any closer to them they could have taken a bite of it!"
How could they let me just keep on about my day without telling me that there's an entire crop of romaine lettuce protruding from my face?
Friends don't let friends walk around with food in their teeth.
So the next time you seem some poor, clueless person walking around with a vegetable garden sprouting from their two front teeth, do the right thing and tell them about it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The One With The Bread Of Life....

....never 'tasted' so good!

We were finishing up dinner dishes and getting ready for Family Night. The phone rings:

Officer Davidson: Is this the Duffy's?
Me: Yes.
Officer D: I have a Kevin Mc. here at the gate.
Me: (surprised because we weren't expecting anyone). Oh. Okay.

Doorbell dings a few minutes later. It is Kevin and Liam with 2 loaves of hot bread right out of the oven! Victoria is a master with homemade bread. She doesn't buy bread anymore. How did she know? That bread was family night treats with butter and honey and jam. With all my extra family here on Wrightwood fire evacuation it hit the spot and gave lots of comfort.

Loving service is the example of He who is the true Bread of Life!
(p.s.Love You!)

The One With the $22 Bread

In my opinion, nothing is going to top DK’s post from yesterday... I am pretty excited about pre-selling my CDs. And make no mistake: I have been hard at work. It is 1:07 a.m. and yes, I am still at it. I had four different singers over today to record, and now I am trying to make it all work together. With varying degrees of success. If you haven’t ordered your CDs yet, go down a post and click the link. It is super fun! And don’t forget to check out my “All About the Baby” blog. I am going to put up another song tomorrow (okay, well... today, I guess it is), so there are some sneak peeks.

But tonight I am stopping for a moment to ponder where my bread is. I am going to guess somewhere in the air over the midwest. I did not have time to make a package today, but one of my boys was in need of bread. It happened to be Ethan, in Virginia. He pointed out that I have never (not once) sent him a package, and that furthermore the chow hall at the Naval Base does not even try to approximate home cooking. That is sad, but true. What he really wanted was homemade bread. Homemade bread is less delectable after three or four (or six) days. So I made the bread... all white, as per request. Sliced it, bagged it, and headed over to Fedex with two very soft, fresh loaves. There the Fedex employee who saw me cramming the loaves into one of those three-inch high Fedex boxes was very offended. She yelled across the room: Stop! You’re squishing that bread! She insisted on finding me an larger box and padding the bread so that it would arrive fluffy instead of a compressed ball of dough.

The package... it wasn’t my best work. A quickly typed letter from Mom, a Nightmare Before Christmas CD, the bread, and a well bubble-wrapped jar of homemade jam. But it was the best I could do today. Or this week. Or this month. And I couldn’t help but think: Two loaves of homemade white bread: 50 cents. Fedex standard overnight shipping: $22. A package from home: Priceless.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The one where the CD store opens

DK here as a guest blogger. I’ve got big news! The day has come. Victoria now has a storefront for pre-order of her first, published CD. She has been working long hours to get the ducks in a row. You can check it out (literally) at

Guest artists have travelled great distances (some, thousands of miles)--thanks Ric and Garry and others. Tandy and Stephanie were in the studio this morning; Ric, until late last night. Cupcake is laying down tracks like crazy. It’s all very exciting. BTW, the CD will have 4 traditional numbers and 10 of Victoria’s new compositions.

So check out the other blog VixChristmasMusic for the ongoing story of the CD and the production of the music.

Several people have expressed a desire to order several CDs for special Christmas gifts e for friends, family, even work associates. The music has a special quality that is just filled with the Spirit. Here’s the thing: the production run will be limited. Once they are gone, they are gone. The first run will be available in plenty of time for holiday gift-giving.

I hope that friends from all over find this to be a delightful addition to their holidays. Check back to this blog to hear occasional postings of new songs as they are completed. Follow the story at VixChristmasMusic. For those who want the actual CDs, order early. They will be shipping just as soon as they are published.

You can’t believe the work it takes to prepare music for publication. But I think you’ll agree with me, it is worth it. And when you’re ready, give the new storefront a try. VixMusic

DK-out. )

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The one titled 'Non-perishable.'

The puddle on my kitchen floor kept growing and growing.

The kids thought Christmas came early to the back of our freezer. “Snow. It’s snow.” Jax said.

Five bath towels and two days later the glacier in my freezer is gone.

I’m hoping for a week of worry-free cooling bliss. A week where I don’t have to use frozen pureed tomatoes to keep my goat’s milk cold. A week where I don’t have to take the temperature of my food like it was a sick child, hoping it’s internal temperature is just right.
The repairman will be coming in a week for his 4th visit. We’re getting quite well acquainted at this point.

A month ago I noticed my normally icy cold milk was a bit tepid. Mmmm? I opened the freezer. Bags of hamburger were squishy and crunchy with melting shards of ice.
Hold on. (I’m baking sweet potato oatmeal chocolate chip cookies; the secret is not the potato but the duck eggs. refrigeration required. Good for emergency fridge breakdowns. We’re having cookies for dinner. Don’t judge me.)

Ok back to the great thaw.

I called Sears.  I was sweet as honey on the phone. Honey is the best way to get what you want if you are a woman and you live in the south. I’m not being sexist, just a practical housewife with a fridge on the fritz. They said the repairman only came ‘up my way’ once a week. Thursday.

Fine. Fine.

He comes. “You need a new thermostat.” He says.

“Ok, I say. How much?”

“$258.98” He says.

Gulp. “Ok.” My hand shook a little as I was writing out the check.

“I don’t have the part with me. I’ll be back next Thursday.” He said.


I can survive until Thursday. Cinnamon rolls and candy caramels. All nonperishable. I will survive.

The part was installed. The milk was still tepid. There’s nothing less appetizing than tepid milk. Even sweet goat’s milk, not so tasty at room temperature. We had fries for dinner. The kids thought they’d won the lottery.

I called. “He’ll be back out on Thursday, ma’m. I’m sorry ma’m.” Sears said.


“It’ll be $123 to fix the automatic defrost. The other technician should have noticed this glacier here. If you defrost it, it may work for a few days.”

“I have to pay again even though the first guy didn’t fix it?”

“I don’t know you’ll have to call.”

15 calls, 3 hours, and 5 days later.  (I repeated my name address and phone number over and over and over again. Each time I got put on hold, or transferred, or told I would be called. I wasn’t called. I had to call and call and call.)

“Oh, that’s right you don’t have to pay since it’s been less than 90 days since the first repair.”

“Why didn’t they tell me that the first time I called!!!!” I asked. (I ran out of honey after the 11th call.)

“… “

Sigh. “So I guess the technician will come out an fix it.” I said.

“The technician will be there next Thursday.” Sears said.


I think homemade cinnamon raisin bagels are on the menu for tomorrow night. Don’t judge me. They’re non-perishable.

(Wyatt with chocolate on his lip from tonight's cookies. The photo is blurry, but it will last forever. It's non-perishable.)

Visit Fruit of the Carolyn for more tales of goats, children, duck eggs, cookies, autism, a pesky raven, my love affair with my husband, and the magic of every day. I promise to make a mistake in every post and I promise that poo will be mentioned frequently.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The one where her account was hacked by a friend....

Not really, but I thought this would be a funny lead in.

Its great to be here at The Welcome Mat! I have known Victoria since she swipped the highly coveted slingshot monkeys from me over on Della's blog. I fell in love with her right away and soon after we found out we have about 8 young, handsome men in common. NOoooo - not what you are thinking we both seem to be the mission moms in our respectable wards and since we are in the same district we share alot of the same Elders. I love The Welcome Mat and have since the moment I have happened upon it. Sometimes, I have to admit, I have come JUST to hear the music! SO to make a long story short - it's great to be on this side of the mat!Thanks for the invite Victoria!

For my first post, I will actually repost one of my favorite posts for your reading enjoyment!

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Okay so this here is my theory. Just mine. You might think differently and that is really okay. Remember theories are meant to be proven or disproven with time and application. Now where was I?

I think bumper stickers can tell alot about a person.
Yes, not just the usual they belong to the national rifle association or do they have AAA , whom they are voting for but soooo much more.

If you have.....

0 bumper stickers - You are boring. Now don't go taking offense here. I am boring also.Remember this is just my theory.

1 bumper stickers - You stand for something. You either believe in a candidates stand on something, want to save a rainforest or have an opinion.

2 bumper stickers - This is where the gray area slowly begins to seep in. You have many opinions ( and sometimes weird ideas on life) and want to share them with everyone on the road.

3 bumper stickers - You , my friend are walking the line of being freaky. A little scary almost. If you added one more you could be considered a suburban redneck. Cmon, really why is it necessary to know that you "flick you boogers" ?

4 bumper stickers- Oh dear. Maybe professional counseling might be a good step in the right direction. Again this is my theory. Please, comment and help me to prove or disprove it. I just think that when you start having 4 or more stickers you might have a lug nut not fastened properly.

When ya got more stickers than bumper - Okay, first, don't go getting all obnoxious when you walk into the school parking lot and find someone using her cell phone to zoom in on your bumper( while her toddler runs around her SUV). And further....when she nicely tries to dance round the question of why she is taking pictures you really shouldn't start haulin off pushing at her. Seriously, you might really have a few things you need to work out and maybe the purely innocent bloggers of the world are not the place to begin.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The One Where She is Not Too Proud to Beg

This last week has been a little overwhelming. I am not used to trying to be organized and disciplined. I don’t wear a watch. I don’t use a calendar. Just to be clear… I am also pretty good at following through on commitments and being on-time. I just like to maintain the illusion for myself that I am not overscheduled. But I had a catering job, company, piano lessons and music recording commitments this week, so I had to try to schedule myself more carefully than usual. I didn’t get everything done.

I realized a couple of things. The first thing is, that I may not get much sleep in October. This is do or die. The other thing I realized is, I need help. Truly, and desperately. I am working on getting help with my CD project, because I know I can’t finish it in time if I have another week like this one. I am also trying to scale back my participation in other activities for the month of October. I also need some help over here in blogville. I feel like I have been settling, by just posting recipes every now and again. While that is fun sometimes, it is not how I think of my blog. So I am wondering if some of my blog friends would like to be guest posters on my blog during the next couple of weeks. I am going to ask some family members to participate... but I thought it would be also be interesting to hear from some others, so...

I am calling you out… Fruit of the Carolyn, Bakow Babble, Cranberry Fries, Duffy Doings, Kristin @ Alpine Klein Bunch, Matt and Corinne Bos, Pike’s Pickles, My Amusements, Obsessions and Things, It’s Miller Time, Italian Signorina, Sad But True… I am begging for your help. The posts don’t have to be long. Will you do a guest post on my blog? These are just a few of the folks I read all the time… I know I’m forgetting people... Jamie... Jan... Linda... Life is Beauty-ful? so if I didn’t mention you and you would like to be my guest, even if you don’t have a blog... just give a holler (or, this being the Halloween season, a screech). So friends, what say you?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The One Where She is Not Pregnant

Nope. Not pregnant. Didn’t even think I was. Not so much as a little “scare,” even. But I just created a post called “Why I’ve been eating peppermint ice cream...” and, well... it just looked questionable. So I thought I would rule that out right off the bat. And tell you that I have started a new blog. It will explain itself. And a lot of other things, too. And it will explain why I am going to be too busy to post much in October. I will still try, but if it is sketchy, you will understand. So go see my new blog. Bloggy friends, PLEASE: Follow my new blog. BE the follower. Invite your friends to be followers. (Hurry! You could be the first!) I need your help, here, friends...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The One Where She Was a Monster

Yesterday I found myself giving unsolicited advice to a friend. For like… forty-five minutes! I’ve never liked that quality in others, and have always admired my parents for being so good at refraining from doing so. It’s pretty bad when you can’t just have a friendly conversation, right? A listening ear? I don’t always have to have my say.

I need to watch my monster mouth, and ask myself, before I speak:

Is it timely?
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?

Maybe I should carry around a stack of post-it notes with those questions printed on them, with check boxes alongside. Maybe with a little reminder at the bottom that says, You. Are. Not. Everyone’s. Mom. Or maybe just some duct tape. For my mouth. Am I really the advice monster?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The One Where it Was Too Hot For Soup

I am dreaming... of fall.

I know it is supposed to already be fall and everything. In fact, I have heard wild rumors of snow in Utah county. But I will tell you that Southern California is not cooperating. We had a little cool weather last week, that lured my liquidambar tree in the front yard.. the only indication of changing seasons for miles around... into beginning its autumn metamorphosis. And just as quickly, some Santa Ana winds showed up, along with a nasty dry heatwave, and now the leaves are baking on the tree instead of turning red and orange. I don’t really appreciate that sort of behavior in October.

And today I had a request for this recipe. Taco Soup. It is a great one for the cool weather. Which, as previously stated, I am not having.

But I did make crepes this morning...

Crêpes. They are good food for watching LDS General Conference on TV. They are good for summer. Spring. Fall. Winter. I have tried, but I just can’t think of a down-side for crepes. Make them.

P.S. This new blog background... totally ME, or WHAT???

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The One With the Lance Corporal and the Half Birthday

So tomorrow is Ethan’s half birthday. What did you do on the day you were 18 and a half? Well, Ethan is being promoted to Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps. Wish I had a better photo, but, well… he is in Virginia and I am in Cali. So this will have to do.

Ethan is stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He attends the Navy School of Music, also referred to as the Armed Services School of Music. I wish Ethan could tell you about what he does there, because I am sure to get it wrong. But I am going to try, since his life is definitely more interesting than anything going on around my house.

His music education there consists of three parts: ear training, theory and mastery of his instrument, which is the French horn. He is a McDaniel, and therefore rocks everyone at the ear training part. The theory he has also flown through, since it is an academic venture that he tackles at the computer, and although he has never had theory, it mostly consists of principles he already grasps, but didn’t know the names for. The sticky part is the mastery of the French horn. He trains side-by-side with musicians with greatly varying experience, including many who are college graduates in music. Ethan has never even had private lessons, and although he is extremely musical, just being musical does not give him the technique he needs. He has to practice a minimum of ten hours a week, and sometimes much more in order to improve as rapidly as he wants.

It is Ethan’s plan to graduate from the music school in January. At that time he will be assigned to a Marine Band. There are twelve Marine Bands. I believe that one is in Japan, one in Hawaii, and the rest are in the continental U.S. Ethan will have the opportunity to submit his top three choices of location. In the meantime, he fills his days with P.T., marching practice, and hours and hours of French horn practice.

If anyone would like to drop him a note, he would love it, and so would I. He may be a Lance Corporal, but he is still an 18 and a half-year-old clear across the country from home. Here is his address:

School of Music, Marine Detachment
LCpl Ethan McDaniel
1420 Gator Blvd.
Norfolk, VA 23521