"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind... We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith." -- Margaret D. Nadauld

Friday, December 31, 2010

It's a Peanut Butter Sandwich... Cookie!

I think I should end 2010's blog postings with a cookie recipe, don't you? After all, tomorrow -- January 1, 2011 -- is the day we eschew all things sugary and decadent, throwing away all the left over treats and candies left over from the holidays. January 1st is the day that we look at our personal food pyramid and realize that the bottom, most important level, isn't fruits and vegetables the way the government says it's supposed to be. Unfortunately it has been changed to chocolate, caramel and cookies. This is the day we resolve to change it back to leafy greens, apples and crunchy carrots, washed down with big glasses of ice cold water on our way to the gym.

Before all that happens I'd like to share this sugary, decadent recipe with you! My sister, Red, made these cookies for us when we stayed at her house last month. They were SO GOOD!!! And they are absolutely PERFECT because they mix my two favorite flavors. (I seriously hope I can meet H.B. Reese in Heaven so I can personally thank him for realizing that peanut butter and chocolate CAN be mixed together!)

Red found this recipe here, on the Pioneer Woman's website.

It's another fast, easy recipe that uses a chocolate cake mix. Seriously, I had the cookie part mixed up in 3 minutes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
•2 whole Large Eggs
•½ cups Vegetable Oil
•¼ cups All-purpose Flour
•1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix, 18.25 Oz

•4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, softened
•¾ cups Smooth Peanut Butter
•1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
•2-½ cups Powdered Sugar
•3 Tablespoons Milk

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly whisk eggs and oil in a medium bowl. Mix in flour and cake mix until well blended. Roll into 1 inch balls and bake for 8-10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

In a medium bowl cream together cream cheese, peanut butter and vanilla. Add in powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add in milk a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.

Spread about 2 Tablespoons of frosting onto the bottom of one cookie and then place another cookie on top, bottom sides facing in. Repeat with remaining cookies and frosting.

Note: Don't be stingy with the frosting! There is plenty!! I feel like I put tons between each cookie and I still have a lot left over. If you don't like "Double Stuff" Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, then feel free to make 1/2 the frosting recipe.

If you don't make these cookies right away, I understand. The recipe will be here, with the link on the side bar, waiting for you.... maybe by the middle of February when your food pyramid starts shifting again!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Changes Are A-Foot

I have been dreading the end of 2010. The beginning of 2011 is looming closer and closer and I wish it would just STAY AWAY!!!

Do you remember.... way back in September... when I wrote this post about faith and knowing what's coming up around the corner? Well, I can be less vague about that now.

Max has made a job change. We knew it was coming. For his employment, he owns a business that does consulting in health care, focusing on hospitals. He either

a) goes into a hospital that is in financial crisis and in need of leadership and helps them through the rough time, offering leadership and the ability to make difficult choices.
b) offers his accounting services as CFO for small rural hospitals. He does this off-site and personally visits the facility once a month.

It's not an easy job. It has involved a lot of traveling, being away from home and family. But he has done well and while we didn't get rich, we've survived and been able to meet our financial obligations.

The contract with Max's current client has come to an end -we knew it was going to end -and we had to make a decision: does he hit the road and try to find more clients (which are few and far between) or do we search for more permanent employment... meaning we close our business and probably move from Florin?

After much prayer, personal reflection and a serious look at our financial position, we decided on the latter. We are very lucky --no, BLESSED -- that hospitals all over the country are looking for qualified CFO's. There were dozens of jobs to apply for.

Sadly, even with the plethora of jobs nationwide, no hospitals in our area are hiring for this position, so Max focused his job search in our geographical region... which would keep us closer to family and friends; to the mountains we love; and our National Park. There were 4 hospitals in neighboring states that offered interviews. We chose to interview at 3.

One hospital, which is run by a corporate office, finally made an offer. The position was ACFO (Assistant CFO) and was temporary. He would be in training for 3 months...6 months... or a year and they would ship him out to another facility... anywhere from Texas to Alaska... where he would be CFO. That position wasn't ideal. We would like to be more in control of our destination. And we have heard that this company can be difficult to work for. Burn-out rates are high.

Finally, another offer came in. This is at a small, rural hospital in Max's home state. It's a county owned hospital that doesn't answer to a corporate office. Again, after much prayer, pondering, visiting the town and looking at our options, we decided to accept this offer.

He begins his new job on January 3, 2011.

The hardest part about this new job is that we have decided that Inigo and I will remain behind in Florin for a while. Buttercup has just finished her first quarter of Cosmetology School and will finish the program later in 2011. We are not prepared to sell the house... we don't even know if we will try. Buttercup needs to live here while she's working on her certificate and after looking at different options, we decided it would be better if we sent Max off on his own while I stayed here to help her through.

So it looks like we're back to the "weekend dad" thing. We've done it before. We know we can do it. But we don't like it.

Max has updated his pilot's license and has found a reasonably priced airplane to rent for those weekends he doesn't have time to drive home. We will also visit him at his new home. And when Buttercup is finished, Inigo and I (and possibly Buttercup) will pack up and join him.

Ultimately, it's our desire and our goal to return to Florin (HOME) to work on a different aspect of his health care business as well as start our retail business. I hate to put a time line on when this will all happen. I know when I HOPE it will happen, but HOPE and REALITY may not mesh.

So, you can see why I'm dreading the start of 2011. In my mind, this is the LAST WEEK that our family will live together -- the 4 of us -- the way we have always lived together. We are going to miss Max so very much, and that's bad enough, but when Inigo and I join him in a few months, Buttercup probably won't be coming with us. And I hate that.

I just wish time would stand still. I'm enjoying this last week we have together!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Put You In The Mood (Christmas Mood, That Is)

The schools in Florin have an amazing art/music program. We are very blessed that in these days of school funding cuts that our programs haven't been hit too hard. But, we are also blessed in the fact that our community fully backs each program.

Sure, they love a good ball game. The same people that that are screaming in a stadium to destroy the opposing team, are the same people who put on nice clothes and will sit quietly in an auditorium to hear the school choirs sing or listen to the various bands and orchestras. Arts/photographs/poetry are frequently published in the local newspaper.

I also have to mention the instruction each program has. Our orchestra teacher may be a bit grumpy (some would say) but the music he coaxes out of each student as they play violins, violas, cellos and basses is on a professional level. And the high school choir program cannot be beat. They compete in state competitions and win. They auditioned to have the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall and was one of five choirs chosen out of the country to perform there. It is NOT a burden to go to an orchestra or choir concert. For a community as small as ours, it certainly qualifies as a cultural event.

Enter my neighbor and friend, Jillwanna. She is AMAZING!! She has the volunteer spirit and is an educator. She is currently serving as the President of our Education Foundation. She is kind and generous and won't let anyone tell her how great she is, even though we all know it and love her for it! She knew that our wonderful music programs needed a wonderful new piano for our new high school, so with her determination, she decided to get it done.

She spearheaded a gazillion fund raising concerts, barbecues, hot dog and soda sales as well as stood at doors with a tin can begging for money. All in the name of education. All for the betterment of our community.

Her determination (with the help of her board and foundation) paid off. In one year's time, our community raised $65,000 to purchase a brand new (and beautiful) recording studio quality grand piano and electronic marquee. Yes, this happened in this economy. Yes, times are tough -- even here. And yes, people pinched and saved and made these purchases possible!

Jillwanna and the foundation were very touched by our community's outpouring of support and they wanted to say thank you. What better way than to call her brother, who is a prominent musician from Utah, and asked him to come perform a concert for us? She called some community sponsors, who paid his fees, and offered to give the town of Florin a free concert. Yes, I said FREE!!! This is a very busy time of year for him... Christmas is his busiest season... and he graciously accepted the offer.

Last night was the concert. It was fabulous. We got there a bit early and scored some front row seats. Inigo, whom you know is a budding pianist, was excited to see a professional play. (I was anxious for some incentive to keep him practicing.) Buttercup loves the arts. She was lucky enough participate in both the orchestra program (middle school and Jr. High) and choir programs.

We weren't disappointed! Brother is a wonderful, engaging performer and has a musical gift that is obvious. (Yes, I'm totally jealous!) He showed great joy in every song he played! We could have sat there all night listening to him.

Thanks Jillwanna and Brother!! Thanks for a wonderful evening!!

(This is bumpy because Inigo was getting comfortable in his seat and kept bumping me. Sorry.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Santa Has Time To Read Blogs!?!?!

Well, this is a first!!

Apparently, Santa reads my blog!

Imagine our surprise when tonight at about 7:30 we heard a thump thump thump on the door. Usually we don't get night time visitors, but it's the Christmas season, when neighbors bring treats or college students come carolling, so I didn't worry about opening the door. Also, we were chit-chatting with Max on the phone, so if anything untoward was on the other side of the door, he could alert authorities.

So who or what was on the other side of the door?!?

Well it was a little Christmas miracle!! Santa, himself, left the North Pole and came to visit Inigo. He was feeling concerned that Inigo hadn't been to visit him at the mall, or a Ward Christmas party, or school function, or anywhere... and he wanted to have an opportunity to talk to him. So, naturally, we invited him in. (My normally docile and un-watchdog like dog decided to turn killer at the first "Ho!" I have never seen her go so crazy at a visitor at the door!)

Wouldn't you know it? The minute Santa crossed the threshold, with the dog barking loud enough to wake the dead, Inigo turned mute. With eyes as big as saucers he just stood there staring, mouth hanging open. Santa, jolly as ever, sat down on the couch, invited him over and tried to engage him in conversation.

I will admit I got a little teary eyed. It was such a kind thing for Santa to do!
And I will be forever grateful that Santa put the kibosh on Inigo's desire to have a real penguin named Carson... And his own country. (That little item was on a wish list that he brought home from school. And listed underneath "country" was "Palace". Do you think my boy is displaying a desire to be a great leader? Because he also wished for his own school...)

Santa does know everything, because in his bag he had an orange for my boy! And he actually had an orange on his wish list (the new list from school). Oh, happy day!!

Thanks, Santa, for making Inigo's Christmas bright!!!

(The dog barked FRANTICALLY for 1/2 hour after he left. I was ready to feed her to the reindeer!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

His Tastes Are Simple... He Only Likes The Best

Christmas is almost upon us and Inigo still hasn't had an opportunity to sit on Santa's lap. (Yes, in our family we still Believe.) Last night I suggested to him that he hurry and write a letter so we can get it sent to the big jolly elf. Personally, I was hoping for a long sappy letter filled with good cheer and charity... I envisioned things like "I wish that Daddy could find a job closer to home so he wouldn't be gone so much." -or- "Please bring my best friend Bullseye the perfect gift he wanted." -or- even better, "I wish that all the orphan children will find a family that will love them forever this year." Maybe this, "Santa, I have everything I ever wanted and needed, so please take my gifts to the poor and help them have a Merry Christmas."

Can you tell I just watched It's a Wonderful Life for the second time ever (the first time was in college I think)? Apparently, I have a skewed perception of reality.

Inigo's letter didn't even come close to my imagination:

Dear Santa Claus

This Christmas I want a Bey Blade Stadium * Phone * Palace * Real penguin
named Carson * Flame Libra Bey Blade * Car * T.V. * and that's all I want.
Thank you for coming.


What the.....?

A palace? As if our 4 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom split level built in 1973 isn't enough? A phone? And just who, exactly, are you planning on calling? The car.... now that is just silly. Dude, you're growing like a weed, but I'm pretty sure you can't reach the pedals and see over the dashboard at the same time.

But the item that made me laugh the most: A real penguin named Carson.

I can't even explain that one away....

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Messenger

It's December and there are always certain things that happen in December...
  • Christmas (DUH!)

  • Baking

  • Snow Fall

  • Craziness

  • Parties

  • Stake Conference

It's Stake Conference that I want to focus on today.

First of all... I wish we could sing Christmas hymns at Stake Conference. Is there a mandate out there that says you can't?

Just wondering.

Second of all... we were blessed to be able to have an apostle come to our Stake Conference today. Russell M. Nelson came, along with an area authority, the president of our local mission and the president of our temple.

It's not every day an apostle comes to Stake Conference, you know.

I was excited for Inigo because 2 years ago, Elder Nelson came with President Monson and Elder Bednar to the dedication of our Temple. He was there when Inigo got to help President Monson put the mortar on the cornerstone. He was there when President Monson talked directly to Inigo and told him stories about red headed missionaries. (Elder Nelson helped Inigo's friend put the mortar on the cornerstone.)

I am always looking for ways to remind Inigo of this special day in his life, so when Elder Nelson stood up to speak, I quietly reminded him of this.

Before he came, each child in our stake wrote him a letter and the ward primary leaders took a group picture of their kids to give to him. He graciously thanked them, then asked each primary child to stand up on his/her seat and sing I Am a Child of God.

Then he mentioned President Monson and spoke of how he loves children. He said that President Monson is always on the look-out for "red-headed children" and reminded us that at our Temple dedication there happened to be a red-headed boy that got to help out with the Cornerstone Ceremony.

We were excited about that because that meant that Elder Nelson remembered Inigo!

After the meeting ended I determined to see if I could get Inigo up close, to shake Elder Nelson's hand and to reintroduce the two of them. So I hustled my boy out the door and into the foyer where a small crowd had gathered. We waited anxiously for about 10-15 minutes. There were a lot of people lingering in the chapel waiting to shake hands...

Finally, the time came. Elder Nelson approached. He extended his hand and I said, "I'd like to introduce you to my son, who just happens to be the red-headed boy from the Temple Dedication."

Elder Nelson's eyes lit up and that great man bent down to Inigo's eye level and shook his hand. He asked him his name and said, "Do you have a message for me to give to President Monson? I am going to see him this week and I would love to pass it on for you!"

Of course, Inigo stood there with his eyes wide and his mouth wider. "Um, um, um...."

Elder Nelson said, "Should I tell him you said hello?"

Inigo just nodded his head.

I jumped in at that point and said, "Do you want to tell him that you just got baptized?"

Inigo just nodded his head.

Then I said, "Will you tell President Monson that Inigo is already planning to serve his mission in Nepal?" (My boy is still consumed with everything that has to do with Mt. Everest.)

Elder Nelson laughed and looked down at Inigo and said, "I know we'll need good missionaries there!"

Our time with him was short because the crowds were large and he had to move on, but what a great moment we had!! Inigo came home renewed and ready to work hard on being the "pace setter" that President Monson asked him to be.

I will forever be grateful for the continued blessings that have come to my son because of the wonderful experience he had that wintry day in 2008... That day when a small boy cried because he wasn't old enough to go to the Dedication and prayed with a pure heart to be able to see the prophet.

Those prayers were answered in so many wonderful ways!!

**All photos were taken by our good friends who took Inigo to the Temple that day. I was not physically present at the Cornerstone Ceremony. I was watching it back at the Stake Center.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fa La La Festive

Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time to laugh and time for cheer.

Also, it's time to bake.

And bake.

And bake...

Oh, I love to bake!

I have certain traditional yummies that I make each and every December. If you're a family member, my neighbor, live in my ward, or live west of the Mississippi, you have probably tasted one of my treats. I love to share!!

The first -- and easiest -- cookie that I always bake is called Festive Christmas Cookie. Gah! I love them! This is another old family recipe that has been handed down from one of my Grandma's. (Was it Grandma Millie....?)

A lot of you have seen cookies that are similar to this particular cookie. I think they are called Russian Tea Cookies. They are close in texture and taste, but there are subtle differences between the two cookies. I have never made the Russian cookies, so I haven't been able to compare the recipes. I think they have chopped nuts in them though....I love nuts... I married one... live in a family of them...

The Festive Cookie also holds a special place in my heart for getting me through a tough time. I know... who knew a cookie could get someone through a tough time? Well, this one did!

I won't go into the long details of it, but back when Buttercup was a newborn and we had just moved to Portland, we were dirt poor. Buying all the ingredients needed to bake a batch of cookies seemed like a frivolous indulgence, but I still needed to bake. Baking is a cheap form of therapy for me and necessary for my mental well-being.

Enter Festive Christmas cookies. There are only 5 ingredients in them. No eggs. I used margarine instead of butter. They were affordable and I made them A LOT!! (I wonder if Max remembers this?)

Eventually we were able to afford eggs and chocolate chips and I could expand my repertoire of cookie treats. But each and every time I make these, I hearken back to those days and I'm glad that I had this recipe.

Festive Christmas Cookies
3/4 c shortening
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 c flour

Blend shortening, butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour. Mix well.
Chill before rolling into balls. Place on cookie sheet and Bake 325* for 25 minutes.
Cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar. Store in air tight container until Santa comes to eat them!!

(Not the best photo... sorry!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mo Tab

It's the Christmas season which -- for revellers that live within driving distance to Salt Lake City -- means it's time to make the annual pilgrimage to Temple Square to see the wonderful display of Christmas lights. Most of my readers... all two of you... know what I'm talking about.

It's been a tradition of ours for the past several years. We freeze, but we love it!

This year, our usual excuse for going -- to listen to Buttercup's choir sing in the Assembly Hall and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building -- wasn't there. Darn it. The girl thought she had to graduate from high school, which means we couldn't listen to her sing in the choir... blah blah blah. Sheesh. Personally, I think it's selfish of her. After all, we enjoyed going and listening to her choir. Shouldn't be all about us and what we want to do... ? SHOULDN'T IT?!?!

Just kidding.

Kind of.


Buttercup's graduation aside, this year we found an excuse to go. We are looking into starting a business in Florin or Guilder and we needed to do some research on comparable businesses. (I'm not quite ready to disclose what the business is... sorry.) This was the best weekend to go.

We spent an enjoyable two evenings with Red who, incidentally, offers THE BEST lodgings this side of the Snake River. Seriously. I haven't had chocolates put on my pillow in a hotel in YEARS, but Red always delivers. And... can we talk about the absolutely delectable cookies she baked for us? No. I won't talk about them. You'll just feel jealous. And I don't want anyone to feel bad when they read my blog.

Thanks, Red, for putting up with us!

This year, however, we didn't stand in the cold looking at twinkling lights. And that's okay. It's okay to change things up every now and again. Right? This year we did something BETTER! Early Sunday morning we got up early (I was out of the house before 8 a.m.!!!) and headed to Salt Lake and the Conference Center (we call it the Supernacle). We decided to take Inigo to his first live performance of Music And The Spoken Word, which was also his first live performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Let me tell you about Inigo and Mo Tab. He might be getting too old to admit it, but he has always loved listening to them. When he was a baby, while our family watched General Conference, he would crawl all around the room, getting into EVERYTHING. But when the Choir would start singing, he would stop what he was doing, sit up and watch and listen intently until the song was finished, then he would go back to the mess he was making. He loved the choir!!

So this year, we decided that instead of looking at the lights, we'd let him listen to the second best choir in the world sing Christmas songs! It was a great decision! He LOVED it!!! We loved it too! Yeah, sure, we would have preferred to have Buttercup with us (she had school so couldn't come along) and we would have preferred to listen to HER sing, but Mo Tab is a close second and did a fantastic job!

As always, the music was stirring and inspiring. I found my eyes welling with tears several times throughout the program... as usual. And what's even better, Inigo's heart was touched too. The minute the program finished, when I asked him what he thought, he said, "Mom, that was AMAZING!! Can we come back? I don't think I can ever listen to them on TV anymore. It's so much better IN PERSON!" He actually made the request to go back next weekend so we can listen to them again!

Or new family tradition now is: the first weekend in December we will travel to Salt Lake so we can attend a taping of Music And The Spoken Word.

Yeah, we'll probably look at the Twinkling lights too!

God Be With You Til We Meet Again from Witch Valerie on Vimeo.

What the...?!? Me?!?!

My stress level just jumped about 250%. No, make that 2500%!!

About 5 minutes ago I got off the phone with Buttercup's oldest and bestest friend, Leo, who is getting married on January 8, 2011 in Arizona. She is the daughter of one of my oldest and bestest friends, Lavender, who recently got married as well.

Apparently I forgot to blog about that event: it was a surprise wedding. Yes, a SURPRISE WEDDING. Lavender's fiance, Mack, planned everything, invited everyone but didn't tell Lavender what he was doing. (He notified me on Facebook three days before the wedding.) Mack told Lavender he was taking her to a ward party so she wasn't suspicious. When they got to his sister's house, where all the wedding guests were waiting, he dropped to one knee and proposed. When she said yes, he said, "How about right now?"

Thank heavens Lavender is a spontaneous kind of gal. She was thrilled. So she said yes to that as well. She knew they would be getting married at some point in the future, so she already had the outfit. He took care of the rest.

Admittedly, a surprise wedding isn't for everyone, but for my fun loving friend, it was PERFECT! It was so much fun for us to be a part of it.

But I'm digressing. As I said before, Lavender's daughter, Leo is getting married in January. AND SHE WANTS ME TO TAKE HER WEDDING PICTURES!!!

Oh my Hellen Keller. I tried to say no. I told her the truth -- that I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER and that I don't even resemble one. I told her I would help out and be in charge of fun snapshots, but as for actual PORTRAITS of the wedding she needed and deserved to have nice beautiful PROFESSIONAL Photos.

She wouldn't take no for an answer.


Leo is like my daughter. I would do anything for her. But I almost wish she would have asked me to make her wedding cake.... or her wedding dress...

Anything but this....

(If anyone has any hints, tips, cute poses, etc., I'm all ears!)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let The Holidays Begin

In honor of the official start of the Christmas holiday season, Inigo presents his version of
We Wish You A Merry Christmas

(He didn't know I was videoing. Otherwise I doubt you would have seen the little shoulder dance in the middle of the song.)

We Wish You A Merry Christmas from Witch Valerie on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Tomato Aspic For Me!

I love Thanksgiving! I love that we get to eat lots of the tastiest food. I love that we get to spend nothing but TIME with family. I love that we laugh and burp and sleep and burp and play games and EAT!!! (Not necessarily in that order.)

Apparently Inigo enjoyed Thanksgiving too. I will share the essay he wrote the day he went back to school:

(I am thoroughly enjoying the essays he is writing now. His 2nd grade teacher has done such an excellent job getting him to write! His brain moves much faster than his hands do, so in the past his writing has been sketchy and frustrating. The ideas flow but it took too long to write them out. This year, his teacher has really worked with him and taught him how to get the thoughts on paper. Yay! I'm so grateful!)

"Dear Me,
On Thursday I saw the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!
It wasn't very exciting because mostly just singers for the whole parade. I also went to (Guilder) for dinner. There was this salad that had green olives. I didn't dare try it. Also there was regular green olives and regular olives! It was like paradise. It was amazing.
The end"

I laughed when I read the part about the salad with green olives. It's called Tomato Aspic. Have you ever heard of it? My parents LOVE it and their children DON'T!!! They're okay with that though, because then they don't have to share it. And we are more than HAPPY to let them have ALL of it! :)

I lifted this picture from my sister's Facebook album (hope that's okay Red!) so you can see how my niece, SaJo, and nephew JackO felt about the salad...

The rest of the post will just be pictures of our fun weekend:

As you know, I am a treat maker/baker. My assignment usually is baking pies. I sometimes throw in some extra yummies, like these Oreo Turkeys and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup pilgrim hats. They were somewhat time consuming, so I loaded my iPad up with Netflix and watched my favorite TV program while I made everything... can you see what I watched?

I made 4 different kind of pies

I also made a couple loaves of lemon poppyseed bread. I promise to share the recipe with you some time! It's so YUMMY and easy to bake!!! (Thanks Mama Chef!)

Buttercup puts on her best, "I HATE crafts!" face (this is a posed picture). She did a beautiful job, in spite of her hatred of decoupage, wood and scrapbook paper.

My mom and I were dishing up olives. Sadly, I am surrounded by people who LOVE pimento filled green olives. I HATE them!! Right when this picture was snapped, I had just gotten a wiff of the olives.


When you go to college a thousand miles away from home, this is the next best way to keep in touch with family!


Ready to eat!

One of our new traditions is letting my cosmetologist wannabe daughter give everyone facials. I think everyone LOVED the experience!

Inigo loved the facials so much that he is begging me to make an appointment for him at the school so he can have another one!

I loved this picture of SaJo. We wore her out playing spoons and BS

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pure Joy

"Mom, this has been the best snow day EVER!!!"
I hope so, son, because I don't think we've EVER had a snow day BEFORE Thanksgiving before!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I've had a serious lack of motivation to blog lately... call it writer's block. I mean, do I write about what's going on every day? About how we get up, get the kids to school, go to the gym, wash a dish or two.... blah blah blah. YUCK!! How boring is that? Yet, that's what my life is.

However, as boring as it is, there never seems to be any free time! I'm sorry, but whoever said being a Cub Scout leader was easier than Young Woman presidency was full of stuff and nonsense! I'm tellin' ya... I think Camp Director was easier! (Which I still haven't been released from. I'm starting to get nervous!)

Now, I have a whole two paragraphs completed on this post and I'm sitting here thinking... what do I write? Do I write about the MAJOR snowstorm we got today? About how we got 4+ inches of new snow? And now there is a gale force wind blowing the snow into drifts and I'm hoping... really hoping... that there will be a snow day tomorrow.

A snow day in November? Wouldn't that be AWESOME!!!

And what would be even better is that I would be relieved of my Monday morning kindergarten music commitment and will have all the time in the world to start baking my Thanksgiving yummies, which are many.

Don't get me wrong... I love going to Kindergarten every Monday morning to help Max's cousin with music time! The kids are dang cute! But that's another lesson that I get to prepare each and every week. Trying to find age appropriate music to teach them can be draining. The songs have to be simple and the music prompts that I make have to be simple too. The kids are just starting to read and so I have to draw a lot of pictures. And believe me when I say, I'M NO ARTIST!!!

Which reminds me... I'm now the "Art Mom" in Inigo's 2nd grade class room. That's ANOTHER lesson I get to prepare every other week. Believe me when I say, I'M NO ARTIST!!! But I'm going to learn how to be one, dad-gum-it, if it kills me...

But I digress... I love going to kindergarten! So I would be sad if I can't go tomorrow. We're going to teach them Over the River And Through the Woods and who doesn't love singing that song?!?! But listening to the wind howl past my window, tomorrow's school day could be iffy.

I'm still wondering what I should write about?

Would it be divulging too much info if I write about the medical procedure Buttercup has to go through this week? She has a mole on her thigh that we biopsied a couple weeks ago. It's okay now, but the cells in it have the potential to turn cancerous sometime in the future (tomorrow? next month? when she's 80? No one knows!) The dermatologist has declared it must come out so we scheduled it for Wednesday.

My poor baby is stressed to the max about it. She doesn't do blood. She doesn't do doctors. (However, she will walk up to a HUGE spider sitting on the wall and scoop it up with a paper towel --without flinching-- then turn around and call me a wimp when I scream.) The doctor called a prescription of Valium in and she'll take that before she goes, so hopefully she'll be completely and fully relaxed. She took Valium once before, when she had a dental procedure, and SHE WAS LOOPY!!! I won't confess my plans to take my camera to record this for posterity's sake. heh heh heh (evil laugh!)

Anyway, it's a fairly simple procedure. We'll be in and out of the dr.'s office in no time at all. She'll have a couple little stitches and a LONG weekend to recover. Even though I don't think she'll need much time. After all, we have a huge group of family members who are coming up for Thanksgiving who all want facials!

I've been called heartless before.

Still wondering about how to fill my post... and I'm drawing a blank.

I took this picture of Inigo and our dog, Lola, the other night. It cracked me up. Inigo always wants Lola to sleep with him and believe me, I WANT HER TO TOO!! Actually, I would be happier if she just found a spot in front of the fire and didn't sleep on the beds at all, but she's pretty stubborn.

She's also a bed hog. You can nudge her and push her and even kick her (through the covers of course) and she won't move from her spot. Winter time is worse. She's cold and she thinks she needs to share body heat. Thus, she crawled right up to Inigo and snuggled up under his covers.

I usually wake up with her sleeping under my arm pit. And she takes up 1/3 of my queen size bed. It's awkward and uncomfortable.

Oh, I'm still having fun with my cloud blog. I haven't emptied my file of cloud pictures yet and I have a lot of friends and family members that send me pictures! It has been a lot of fun looking up into the sky and it's also been fun as I hear from people as they say that they are working harder at taking the time to notice how beautiful clouds can be.

Well, I guess I'll just give up. There's just nothing to write about at all. I hope that the next week will give me some inspiration so I can get out of this writing funk!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

UPDATE: Snickers Cupcakes

Back in August I posted this recipe. These Snickers Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction were TO DIE FOR!!

I have wanted to make this recipe using miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for quite some time and was looking for the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Enter Buttercup's friend C.B. She is enrolled as a freshman at the University and -- lucky for me -- had a birthday last week. She is a darling girl, living away from home for the first time and I just knew that she needed some home baked LOVE for her 19th birthday.

So I got busy. Kind of.

I bought a bag of Reese's mini's and promptly put them in the freezer. Then I ran out of time. Then I needed a chocolate fix and seriously.... there's nothing better than a frozen Reese's mini. (AM I RIGHT!?!?)

A couple days passed and the supply of Reese's slowly diminished. It was diminished enough that I seriously doubted that I would have enough for a full batch of cupcakes. So I went back to the store and bought more and threw them into the freezer. And before I could even think about opening that package, I made the cupcakes.


I thought the Snickers cupcakes were TDF (To Die For) but these sent me into spasms of such delight and ecstacy that I was removed to another realm for a while.

Okay, so you all know that I worship at the church of peanut butter and chocolate. That's obvious. And you all know that H.B. Reese, the GENIUS that put PB and chocolate together, will have a special place in Heaven reserved just for him. Well, ol' HB is going to have a big platter of these cupcakes sitting on his footstool... I just know it!

Thank you, My Baking Addiction for giving me this recipe!

Here's what I did:
Make the cupcake recipe. Instead of putting a mini Snickers bar in the batter, put a frozen Reese's mini. Bake as directed in the recipe.


For the frosting I don't have an exact recipe. Sadly, I don't usually make frosting with recipes. But I can tell you what I did: I made my basic chocolate buttercream frosting (butter, dutch cocoa powder, dash of salt, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla). THEN I added about 3 TBS creamy peanut butter. I would have like to add more, but Max doesn't like peanut butter and I didn't want to overwhelm him with the taste. (I love him anyway...)

Frost and top with chopped pieces of the candy. Voila! That's it!

I took them to church today to give to my class of 8 year olds. Yes, they'll eat a rock if I dress it up and tell them it's good, but the lip smacking and exclamations of delight were overwhelming! You should have heard them. One sweet girl even said, "PLEASE!!! Give my mom this recipe." And 5 minutes after the meetings were over, her mom walked up to me and said, "I hear I'm supposed to ask you for a cupcake recipe!"

That should be testament enough. If this recipe has 8 year old approval, then you know it's a winner!!

I'm anxious to hear if you try them! Let me know what you think!

That'll Teach Ya!

I'm not sure if I've posted this story before, but since I relive it once a year -- every fall to be exact -- I feel that I need to make sure that the story is out there!

Let me set the scene for you:
I was young. I'm not sure of my exact age, but I was under 10 years old... probably about 6. I was old enough to know better but young enough to think that I could get away with anything.

It was the Primary Program in my ward and as was/is the custom, I was sitting on the stand, surrounded by my peers with a Primary teacher sitting behind me.

What happened:
Details are vague... but here's what I remember: It was PARTY TIME on that stand! I was thrilled that I didn't have to sit by my parents who were incredibly strict and didn't let me goof off during Sacrament Meeting. Heck, they never let me leave the chapel to go to the bathroom or get a drink -- all my friends could go... but NO!!! my parents said I had to do it BEFORE the meeting started! I had to sit on the bench and be quiet!?!? Sheesh! What's up with that?

So there I was sitting on the stand and HAVING A GRAND TIME!!! I remember bouncing in the seat. (We had choir chairs that folded up and down. No benches at that time.)

Up and down.

Up and down.

I remember laughing.

I remember talking.


I remember the teacher behind me putting her finger to her lips and gently telling me to "Shhhhh."

I remember mocking that teacher by sticking my finger up my nose and in an incredibly sarcastic way, shushing her back.

I remember laughing at my funny joke.

I remember seeing the shocked faces of my peers who didn't think my humor was funny at all.

I remember looking down into the congregation and seeing my dad stand up.

I remember watching him walk up to the stand.

I remember him walking up to the row where I was sitting.

I remember my dad as he took my hand and walked me off that stand.

I remember the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, thinking NOW I was going to GET IT!! and was fully prepared to leave the chapel to get spanked.

I remember my shock and then my shame as he took me to the bench where they were sitting and made me sit down to watch the program, unable to particpate anymore.

I remember sensing my parent's disappointment in me and wishing that they would have just spanked me. It would have been a lot easier to bear.

That lesson has stuck with me for 30+ years. Every year during the Primary Sacrament Meeting Program I look at those kids and remember the amazing lessons my father taught me.

He taught me a lesson about respect.

He taught me a lesson about reverence.

He taught me a lesson about expectations.

He taught me a lesson about being an example.

He taught me a lesson about patience.

He taught me a lesson about LOVE!

I remember these lessons every time I have the opportunity to sit on the stand during Sacrament Meeting. If anyone leans over to speak to me, I try to be polite, but I'd really rather not answer. My father taught me that as I am sitting in front of the ward, I need to set an example of reverence. My example helps set the tone for the meeting.

These days, I am proud to be a "mean mom" to my own kids. I expect them to be reverent during the meeting, no "goofing off" and only participating in quiet activities (I will admit that sometimes we get a little silly). And while I will allow an occasional trip to the bathroom, it is the exception -- not the rule.

Thanks Dad (and Mom!) for teaching me this valuable lesson!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Secret Teller

"What if I was in a restaurant and I announce our secrets to everyone...like, MY MOM'S A BOY!!"

--Inigo, Age 8

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

That's SIR Edmund Hillary!!

Halloween is over. Whew? I guess that means we're this much closer to Christmas.... ugh.

Instead of writing -- in rather boring detail -- about all the events of the day and about Inigo's costume, I thought I'd post an essay he wrote in school:

Hello! My name is (Inigo) if you're wondering. This Halloween I am going to be Edmund Hillary. I have a real ice ax. It is very sharp. It has little blades. But it can still kill you. If you whak someone very hard. Nobody will know who I am but my parents. And the people who we rent skis from. I want to get lots of candy and my friend comes with us. I will love this Halloween. Next Halloween I'm going to be the Avatar (Air Bender). I will love it next year. I don't know
who I will be the year after that.

The End

(We rented most of the equipment for Inigo's costume from the Outdoor Rec. Dept. of the local University. They LOVED talking to Inigo about Mt. Everest)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh What a World It Would Be!!

This morning I mentioned to Inigo that I had a nightmare last night and it scared me enough that I woke myself up with a sharp intake of breath. (Are you surprised that the nightmare involved a big black wolf?)

Without missing a beat, without being overly concerned or dramatic and in a very matter-of-fact voice (hand gestures included) Inigo offered me some sound advice:

"Mom, when I wake up like that from a nightmare, I just think of a world made out of chocolate and candy and I can go right back to sleep."

Ummmm......whose child is he?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Zombies and Wolves... OH MY!!!

What a crazy weekend!! There was no school on Friday so Shackie, Little Miss Do-Little, Steck, Inigo and I did the only logical thing we could think of .... go to National Park. That was a complete no-brainer.

It was mostly non-eventful. We wanted to show Steck some of the places she hadn't been before... which is basically the whole park. I love that place so much, I'd move into a bear cave or wolf den if I could. I think we're teaching Steck to love it and enjoy all there is to do there! Before long she'll be as fanatical as we are... I know it!! :)

There was a serious lack of animal sightings. Usually when the hoards of tourists leave and the weather turns colder, we see more animals. We only saw a few bison and elk. It seems rutting season is over, so the elk have calmed down and dispersed into the trees to prepare for winter snow. And to be honest, I was glad the rut was over because on one of the trails, we walked right past this guy... he was only about 20 feet away and could have cared less that we were there. Whew!

The highlight and absolutely SCARIEST part of the day was while we were eating lunch. There is a spot we like to go because there are a lot of "camp robbers" there. (FYI: A camp robber is a bird that likes to fly around your table and steal food. They are very brave and will even take food out of your hand -- or off your head -- if you offer it to them.) We were happily feeding our faces and playing with the birds when Shackie said, "Is that a wolf?!?!?" We looked and about 1/4 mile away into the meadow was the BIGGEST black wolf I've ever seen!!

My DSLR camera was in the car, so I ran at top speed to grab it out and snapped this ONE picture before we realized the wolf was headed STRAIGHT FOR US!!! It didn't ever look at us and acknowledge that it had seen us, so we were unsure where it was going. With great haste and some panic (mostly on my part) we literally THREW our food into the basket and scurried back to the vehicle to wait for either a very scary encounter or possibly a really cool photo moment.

There is a small ditch that the wolf went down into and that is where we lost sight of him. (It's that dark line in front of him.) We were nervous losing sight of him because we weren't sure where he was going to come out of the ditch and the trees. (Yes, we were hoping that a tall, muscular, bronze skinned young man named Jacob would come out of the trees....) This was seriously, the BIGGEST wolf I have ever seen -- in captivity or the wild.

(Cropped photo)

He moved FAST. Within about 3 or 4 minutes a car drove by and the excited driver asked us if we had seen the big black wolf. So, this wolf must have travelled up the ditch and across the road south of us.

What can top that experience? Beautiful scenery of course!! We had an enjoyable rest of the day. The weather was perfect, the autumn colors beautiful and peaceful moments abounded.

We've got one more trip planned before the Park closes for the winter. I can't wait to go!!

Yellowstone Lake Panorama
This weekend Max participated in his first 5K race. It was called the "Zombie Chase." He registered as a "survivor." The survivors got a one minute head start before the Zombie's were let loose to chase them... (The Zombie's were instructed to NOT eat any of the survivor's.)

Max did a great job. His running usually takes place on a tread mill in the gym, so he didn't feel completely comfortable, but he pushed forward and finished with a respectable time.

Before the race... the wind had come up and it was pretty cold!

And he's off! We forgot to bring a pair of gloves for him to wear, so he's wearing a pair of socks on his hand.

The Zombies are chasing the survivors now!
Finishing the race!! Go Max!!!

Buttercup's Busy-ness

I have wanted to write about Buttercup for some time, but I didn't have any pictures to go along with the post. Finally, I was able to take some, but they're not the best quality because she was mortified that I was taking them, so I had to snap them quickly and immediately hide the camera in my purse.

About 6 weeks ago, Buttercup finally started cosmetology school. She was so excited!! She is attending a local school so she can live at home while she's working toward her licence. Well... she SLEEPS at home, occasionally eats, and throws us a "how-do-you-do" every once in a while.

My girl is BUSY!! This girl -- who spent the entire summer sitting in our basement catching up on all her chick flicks/romantic comedies and doing basically nothing because there were no jobs in our town for non-college students -- has had her life turned upside down. I'm so proud of her for keeping a smile on her face, for getting herself out of bed every day and for plugging ahead even though it's hard.

Not only is she going to school full time, but she's also working. She will put in a 13 hour day without complaint. She has work or school 6 out of 7 days a week. The only day she has all to herself is Sunday.

An example of her schedule is: She leaves for school at 7:45 a.m. Sometime between 12 and 2:00 she'll come home for an hour for lunch. School ends at 5:00 -- most days it's later. She's supposed to be at work by 5:45. Spends time at work until 8:45, but usually she doesn't get home until after 9:00. I force her to eat when she gets home. She's so tired she just wants to go to bed. Bed is usually 9:30.

Get up the next morning and repeat.

The two days that are different are Monday and Thursday. There is no school on Monday, so she works 8 hours at her job. Thursday is her regular day off work, so she just goes to school. Monday is a good day for her to go to FHE with the Single's Branch in our stake and Thursday is the day she can hang out with friends.

I'm exhausted just writing about it.

Recently, Buttercup was assigned a "station" at school. She has her own chair, mirror and supplies for "doing hair." She is now able to accept clients and begin the hands-on training that is so essential for becoming a good beautician.

This is a picture of her station. They had to decorate it for Halloween. You can see her mannequin head that she practices on.

Inigo was her first BOY haircut. Interesting fact: I had to teach Buttercup how to run the clippers! WHAT!?!? They haven't covered that in her classes yet. That was somehow disturbing. However, once the awkwardness of learning how to hold the clippers and trying to figure out how to do a boy's haircut wore off, she did a GREAT job! She did a really good job! Inigo looks very handsome! (I didn't get a picture of them AFTER the cut!)

I have already had her give me a manicure and this week she'll do a pedicure. I'm also invited to have a scalp treatment and a facial. There are some seriously delicious perks that go along with having your daughter in a program like this! Oh, I can't forget that I promised her she could color my hair... so if you see me with a streak of some wild color peeking out of the bottom of my hair, you know she practiced her coloring skills on me!!

The program should only take a year. We tell her that if she can survive this year, she can survive anything. We're so proud of her for stepping up to the plate and for taking on this crazy schedule!

Way to go Buttercup!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

That Was A Great Dunking!

If you are 8 years old, have a baptism recommend signed by your bishop and a font full of warm water, then by all means you should get baptized!!

And that's what Inigo did! Last Saturday, October 9, he decided that his recommend had been sitting around long enough and he was determined to use it!!

It was a wonderful day. Inigo had both sets of grandparents - travelling from Wyoming and Montana - there to support him. He had friends and cousins from Arizona drive to Florin to offer their support. He had local friends take time out of their busy lives to come and help him celebrate this special day.

We felt so loved!!!

The funniest part of the day was when Inigo was baptized. I reminded Max that the baptism prayer was printed on a laminated sheet and visible from the font, so he didn't look up the prayer in his scriptures. But when they got into the water, he couldn't find it. He said the prayer from memory (it sounded good to all of us) and submerged Inigo deep into the water. Both witnesses gave their approval -- no elbows or knees or toes came out -- and we thought that it was a done deal.

But NO!!! The high councilman and another stake leader came bounding out of the shadows and clarified that the word "OF" was omitted from the prayer: "In the name of the Father and OF the Son and OF the Holy Ghost."


Inigo was almost to the dressing room by then, and they had to holler and bring him back. Thank heavens the water was toasty warm and not an ice bath (like it was when I was baptized).

Max performed the ordinance again and this time it was flawless. Such a beautiful moment for my little boy (and my big boy)! Inigo was so happy that he was now baptized! It seems that he waited forever for this moment!

He had a beautiful blessing and confirmation and now my boy has the Gift of the Holy Ghost AND is officially a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is so thrilled!!

It's been wonderful seeing the transfomation in my son. After the luncheon and after we said goodbye to everyone, we went to Guilder to a shoe store so Max could buy a new pair of running shoes. Inigo LOVES Sketchers and thinks it's fun to read the comics that are included in each box. He went to the kid's section, grabbed a comic from a box of shoes and started walking around the store reading it.

He was standing next to me and suddenly he said, "Mom, I just heard a voice."

"Oh really?" I said.

"Yes. It said to me that I shouldn't keep this comic and that I need to put it back in the box."

We discussed what the voice was and what he should do and I let him make the final decision.

Of course, you know what that decision was. He walked back to the kid's section and put that comic away. When he came back, his face was shining and he was clearly estactic that on the day he was baptized he had actually heard the voice of the Holy Ghost. It gave him such a boost to feel like he had passed his first test on being faithful.


Fast forward to Sunday evening. Family Home Evening time. (Mondays are bad for us so we have it on Sunday.) We stole an idea from our neighbors: before the FHE lesson starts we have a Hymn sing-a-long. Every person in the room gets to pick a Hymn or Primary song and we all sing it... EVERY verse. Buttercup had some friends over and one of the girls picked Joseph Smith's First Prayer. (We love that song!!) We sang it with enthusiasm and gusto and when it was over, Inigo was kind of quiet. Then he said, "I don't know what it is, but I feel kind of like crying. There's water in my eyes and I can't stop it."


It's so wonderful that he is ready to feel the Spirit.

I'm really not surprised. This is the kid that has enough faith to move mountains! Remember... he prayed to be able to see the prophet when our temple was dedicated and not only did he get to see the prophet, but he had one-on-one interaction and stood with the prophet in the Cornerstone Ceremony!!

Pres. Monson speaks to my boy and tells a story about red-headed missionaries

We are proud of you Inigo! We hope you will remember this day and these experiences and that you will draw on them to strengthen you when times are hard!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nevada/Utah/October/Gold Mines

So what do you do when it's the first of October and the temperatures are still in the upper 80's, it's Conference Weekend and school is out for Spud Harvest?

That's a no-brainer! You get in the car and drive 5+ hours to no man's land in Western Utah near the Nevada border... where you can't even find a grazing cow let alone one bar for cell service ... and look for your great-great grandfather's old gold mine on top of a non-descript mountain in a sea of non-descript mountains. I mean... really!!!... what sane, fun loving person wouldn't come up with an idea like that?

My Uncle K2 (who is a twin to Uncle K1) is FANATICAL about family history. I mean, seriously, he has the gift and the drive to research and find out all sorts of family stories -- good and bad. We rely on him for everything. Don't know what line this great-granmother came from? Call Uncle K2! What were the particulars of this ancestor's journey across the ocean or across the plains? Call Uncle K2!! What year did so-and-so die? Uncle K2 knows the answer!! And, as an added bonus, he knows it all in his HEAD!!! He doesn't need the charts sitting out on a table in front of him to trace the lines... this ancestor comes from here and that ancestor comes from there. I (and most everyone else I know) have to write it down and trace the lines with my finger to understand.

Like I said, Uncle K2 has a gift!!!

About 5 years ago, he made this trek alone to find my great-grandfather's mine. It was no easy feat, but he couldn't be swayed out of his decision to see where this amazing man lived and made his fortune... for my great-grandfather did become very wealthy mining the mountain. (Sadly, he got very sick from the chemicals he used to clean the gold and subsequently used his entire fortune trying to find a cure. He died poor.)

Uncle found the mine and we have been intrigued with it since. This weekend seemed like the perfect time to meet in Wendover and find it ourselves. Along for the ride was his twin, Uncle K1 and his daughter her husband and baby boy. My Gorgeous Aunt. A second or third cousin I don't know named Martha and Max, Inigo and I.

Have you ever heard of Ibapah, Utah? Neither had we. But that's where we were headed for. Some history buffs have probably heard of the Lincoln Highway, so that might give you a clue as to where we were. (A side note for my family members: I guess Grandpa Pat travelled across the Lincoln Highway when he ran away from home as a youth and travelled to Sacramento.)

We first stopped at an old cemetery, because when you're on a family history tour, that's what you do, right? It was immediately awkward... believe it or not, in the middle of this old, desert cemetery where the average person was born in 1850, there was a funeral!!! (And yes, I was intrusive enough to take a picture!)

It was so dry and so hot. It hasn't rained down there in ages. Every step we took sent clouds of fine dust flying mixing with the sweat running down our backs. We had to watch every step we took to avoid stepping on over-dry foliage or scratching our legs on cactus. Our early morning shower was wasted!!

After leaving the cemetery, down a dirt road we went... we were in the last car. We have a saying, "Unless you're the lead elephant, the view never changes." All we could see for miles and miles was clouds of dust kicked up by the two cars in front of us. We had to put about 1/2 mile or more between us so we wouldn't choke to death.

When Uncle stopped the car and pointed to the hillside, I knew my day was going to get very difficult. I found the 4wd button, pushed it and got ready for my first off-roading experience. See, even though I write with great bravado about all the fun adventures we go on, ultimately I'm the biggest wimp there is. I'm terrified to do so many things... afraid of death and dying... sure that every time we go somewhere it's going to be my last adventure. I knew -- for sure -- that I was going to roll the Tahoe (yes, I was driving) and that even though there are air bags and seat belts we were going to be smashed to death.

(The pictures I'm posting aren't of our car. As far as I know, no one took a picture of me being brave.)

Proudly, I made it (with very little profanity) and stopped near the place where the old cabin and the old mill were located. The mine was further up, but there was NO WAY I was going to drive further up that mountain.

I put the car in park and followed my boys up to the mine. (Of course, Inigo ran the whole way.)

This certainly isn't what you'd expect an old gold mine to look like, is it? It collapsed many years ago so I don't know what it looked like when it was active and working.

We had a gorgeous view from where we were!!

I can't imagine how hard it was for my great-grandfather to live there. His wife and children stayed behind in Nephi while he was living in this desolate desert area. We didn't see a water source anywhere... no rivers, streams or canals. How did he get water up there? The terrain is difficult. Yes, we made it in our 4wd vehicles, but the grade was steep, dry and rocky. I couldn't imagine driving a team of horses and a wagon up that hill. We walked from our car to the mine and about died in the autumn heat. How hot was it in JULY when he was dredging valuable minerals down that hill?

(Our car is the furthest away. You can see the old cabin in the middle with family members climbing up the ravine. They turned back when a rattle snack challenged their trek!)

It was hard living for sure!! And again I'm reminded how grateful I am to be alive today. I'm too big of a wimp to have survived as a pioneer.

We spent a lot of time prowling around the hillside, trying to imagine life here. Trying to make it real. But eventually we had to come down. (Down is always easier!) We briefly stopped at an old Pony Express Station and headed back to Wendover.

Red was gracious enough to let us hang out at her house in Happy Valley for the rest of the weekend. We were actually able to watch Sunday's Conference and enjoyed spending time with her.

A horrible drive home up the I-15 corridor with all the Conference attendees reminded us why we DON'T travel south the first weekend of October and April and we made a vow never to do it again. Unless it's to visit cool family history places! Then it would be worth it!!