"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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Little Christmas Cheer

In honor of Christmas landing on a Sunday this year, I thought I’d post
our family Christmas picture from 2005, the last time Christmas was
on Sunday.


Isn’t that hilarious?

This is one of our FAVORITE Christmas pictures of all time.

Buttercup was 13….
Need I say more?
You don’t need Captain Obvious to point out how excited she was to take a family picture that morning.

We went to church (we had the 1:00 time slot I believe)
and afterward we came home and got this shot.


Sure, it’s a prettier picture
but Buttercup and I love the first picture more
and we laugh about it every time we think about it or look at it.


We laugh at how silly it is.
How such a simple thing like taking a family picture can blow up into something huge.
And how we still loved each other even though we were mad and frustrated.

It’s a reminder of family bonds.
Of  compromise.
Of  forgiveness.
Of remembering that families are forever, even though they’re not always perfect.
(I’ve never met a perfect family, have you?)

And most importantly,
It’s a reminder that we love each other.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boom Juice!

Inigo and his best friend Bullseye were playing Wii Sports today and yelled something that sounded (to me) like, “BOOM JUICE!”

I said, “Boom juice? What’s that?”

Inigo said, “I didn’t say ‘Boom Juice’, but Bullseye, that sounds delicious! Do you want to go make some?”

The two boys are extremely creative, to say the least. Do you remember this:


The boys got together and made themselves tool belts out of copy paper, paper cups and a few staples. (circa July 2009)

The idea was 100% theirs and they had a blast with it. They filled their cups tool pockets with sticks and pine cones and rocks and anything else that can be imagined into weapons or… come to think of it … light sabers because Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were their heroes at the time.


These boys are two-peas-in-a-pod. Everyone needs a best friend like this. They rarely fight. They encourage each other to be their best.
They both have their individual strengths and weaknesses and where one boy is lacking in something, the other picks up the slack and either carries his friend or boosts his friend up to do better in that certain area.

I was curious what kind of concoction they would come up with.
What their vision of
would be…

I stayed away from the kitchen while they ‘cooked’. I listened from afar and was extremely curious when they asked me for a lemon zester and/or juicer. They wanted milk, but settled for some old Diet Coke that has been sitting in the pantry for a year.

I was offered many sips as they stirred and combined and created.
I politely declined each offer.
The whoops and hollers as they thought of a new ingredient to throw in was slightly contagious.
I started to get excited for them.

I will admit, I felt pretty cool when Bullseye said,
”You’re mom is pretty cool to let us do this! My mom would never let us do something like this!”
Of course I love Bullseye’s mom. She’s my morning walking partner and I know that she probably would let them create in the kitchen.

But it was a nice compliment anyway.

Finally, they talked me into having a sip.
It was incredibly sweet, with a touch of zing.
But the sweetness….
Oh, the sweetness!!
I felt my insulin levels rise considerably and knew a diabetic coma was only minutes away.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t too terribly awful.

When Bullseye’s dad came to pick him up, he had to have a taste too.
Only, he didn’t know what was in the cup when he put it up to his mouth.
His eyes opened wide.
His mouth puckered.
He said, “Oh, I wish I would have known….!”
He was a good sport! And laughed after a small gag….

Finally, I asked Inigo what was in their magic drink.
He told me what the exact recipe is.
Now, dear readers, don’t go taking their recipe so you can market it!
We’ll let them make their own money off their creations.

I give you
by Inigo and Bullseye

  1. A drinking cup filled 2/3 full of water
  2. Half a scoop of sugar
  3. The juice of a whole lemon, minus the seeds
  4. A peppermint candy, swirled through the water until all the red lines are gone
  5. Add 1/4 of cinnamon
    (Valerie: I don’t know whether it’s 1/4 cup, 1/4 tsp or 1/4 TBSP)
  6. Add about 2 TBSP of Diet Coke. Milk is another option if your mom lets you.
  7. Stir after each addition.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merry…. Uh…

It seems that there is always something going on in our house… some sort of drama, both good and bad:

   * Last summer it was bona fide drama as Inigo and I practiced our singing and dance moves so we could be in our first musical.
   * Preparing for Buttercup’s wedding and reception.
   * Trying to find an affordable place to live in New Florin, while Max travels the long road between both places.

That’s just some of the drama that has happened in the last 6 months.

Last Tuesday the worst horrible drama hit our house:

Max was asked to resign from his job.

Even though we’re trying to remain positive about the situation, I will admit I get sick to my stomach when I think about it and think about the circumstances leading up to it.

You see, Max ended up being the pawn in a political game. Or, you could call him a SCAPEGOAT. Either way, he got the short end of the stick and was unfairly and horribly treated. He is taking the fall for a very BAD MAN - the former CEO of the hospital where he worked- who did some very BAD THINGS.

I’m not sure how much detail I can go into here on this blog. I’d love to tell the whole story… names, places, the whole kit-n-kaboodle, but I’m not sure if this is the appropriate time. Believe me, I’m not going into more detail to protect Max’s former employer. They don’t deserve the consideration. But I do it to preserve Max’s integrity. Also, I don’t want to hurt his former co-workers who are NOT the bad guys in this situation. They felt terrible that Max took the fall for the incompetent Management Company and Bad Man. (Oh, I wish I could name the management company!)

You know, forgiveness is HARD – very hard – when someone has walked up to a person you love and kicked them in the teeth and knocked their feet out from underneath them. This is something that I am going to struggle with for a very long time. I try not to call this company bad names, but every now and again the sailor in me comes out and I find myself calling them “Dirty {Fatherless-Sons-of Mothers}”. I’m so far from being a good person that sometimes I find I can’t control my anger and my resentment toward these people.

Max is a GOOD person. He is 110% HONEST in everything he does. He is so SMART! He is NICE. He trusts people. He doesn’t play political games and tells you exactly how things are. If you poll his employees, you’ll find that 99% of them respect him, like him and trust him. The remaining 1% are the people that are never happy and never like their job or their employers. Sure, he’s been known to make people mad. He’s the accountant that sometimes has to say no. But you’ll find that these people don’t stay mad for long. Ultimately, he’s able to make them see why he had to say no, or why he had to do what he did is in the best interest of the organization. They may not like the answer, but they understand it.

I’ve always wondered what kind of company or corporation fires their employees at Christmas time. Now I know. It’s the most heartless and cruel kind of company. I’ve always felt terrible for the people who have found themselves without a job in the “merriest” time of the year. Now I will forever feel the utmost empathy for them. And I pledge, that if we are blessed enough to have employment next year at this time, that we will do something to help out another family who has found themselves in our situation.

Don’t get me wrong. We are not destitute. We will have a Christmas. It will just be scaled down. Actually, it’s a good thing that I can’t Christmas shop anymore. We can focus more on the life of Jesus Christ. We can focus more on family and spending time together. We are getting away from the commercial aspects of the season and thinking more about the spiritual aspects. I look forward to Christmas Day and spending it playing games and spending quality time with my family instead of  being bogged down in wrapping paper and ribbon.

My family has been super supportive through all of this. I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to have our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at our house. I’ll be honest, I can’t afford to buy all that food now. But they have offered to step in and bring the food. We may not be able to eat our traditional Prime Rib dinner, but a ham dinner will be just as good. And the entertainment – singing Christmas carols around the piano – is FREE! We’ll have the BEST NIGHT EVER!

I don’t tell this story to inspire pity or to make you feel bad for us. I tell it because I need to. Because I need  you to know that we’re okay. And we’ll continue to be okay. Because we have each other.

I joke around that everyone who was so busy praying that Max would come home and that we wouldn’t have to move to New Florin prayed him right out of a job. Now they need to get busy praying that we’ll find new employment! SO GET BUSY, EVERYONE! Please?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Mouth Full of Chocolate (and mint!)

I am posting this today for Mrs. Maddle Faddle Newlywed who is going crazy baking and cooking delicious things for her cute new husband. I have been impressed with her endeavors and her dedication to her culinary education. They are living in the basement apartment of an elderly couple in our ward and she has not been blessed with the best cooking equipment… the oven doesn’t hold a constant temperature and can be off by about 50°.  But she’s hanging in there and I predict that by this time next year, she’ll be an expert!

She has been requesting the recipe for the Brownie Bites that we served at Buttercup’s wedding reception. And I promised to post the recipes for the treats we served… so without further ado, here it is!

Mint Brownie Bites

As I mentioned in a previous Brownie recipe, I am a brownie snob. I have only found THIS ONE brownie recipe that I like. It’s the right level of chocolate and it’s not too dense. Ugh! I HATE dense brownies! The recipe comes from a Taste of Home: Quick Cooking magazine that I got in the mail several years ago.

2 C sugar
1 3/4 C flour
1/2 C baking cocoa
1 tsp salt
5 eggs
1 C vegetable Oil
1 tsp vanilla

In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients; beat until smooth. (I just use a wooden spoon. I don’t think you need a hand or stand mixer to make this recipe.) 

Liberally grease a mini-muffin pan. (I used Olive Oil Pam spray at first, and the brownies did NOT come out! So I switched to regular Pam spray and had no problems after that.) Use a cookie scoop to fill each cup to about 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake at 350° for about 12 minutes. But -- and here I’m sorry it’s not more precise -- make sure you start checking them after about 9 minutes. My oven took 12 minutes, but my friend who made these last weekend, only needed to bake them for 9. Ovens can be as unique and different as individual people are!

When they have finished baking, and you have removed them from oven, take a thin spatula that you use for frosting cakes and run it around the outside of each brownie to loosen it up.

Using this spatula, after the brownies have cooled for about 5 minutes, you can then gently pry them out of the pan and onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Bake the rest of your Brownie mixture. I made sure to spray the pan EACH TIME I filled it. I didn’t want to run the risk of having these babies sticking and getting ruined as I pulled them out of the pan. I needed them to look BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL for the reception!

After you’ve finished baking the brownies, you could seriously walk away and be done. They are delicious right now. That’s how good this recipe is!

But why would you just walk away? Especially when you can take them to the NEXT LEVEL?


Mint Frosting for Brownies
2 C powdered sugar
1 Tbsp water or milk
Food coloring (make whatever color you’d like)
1/2 C butter – softened
1/2 tsp. mint extract

Mix together until creamy. Eezy Peezy, I know!

I put the frosing into a decorating bag and used a Wilton #12 decorating tip to swirl the icing on top of the cooled brownie. Of course, that’s optional.

Again, I could have stopped there. The brownie was beautiful with just that little swirl of color on top! But, I couldn’t walk away, just yet! There is ONE MORE LEVEL!

Chocolate Topping
1 C semi sweet chips
6 Tbsp butter.

Carefully melt in the microwave. I start off by putting it in for 1 minute and then 30 second intervals after that. Stir after each time, making sure you don’t scorch and burn it.

When it’s completely mixed together you take a little spoon and carefully spread it on top of the frosting. Make sure you leave a little edge of the frosting showing! I think it looks prettier that way!

And there you have it! It sounds like it might be a little labor intensive, but it really isn’t. You can knock a batch of these out in just a couple hours and it makes a TON, so you can share it with your friends/neighbors/family/co-workers and still have plenty left at home for you to indulge in. And seriously, they are probably the tastiest thing this side of bacon.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ballerina to Grappler

For ten years, Buttercup was an only child. She was a princess. She was girlie to the core…

She wore dresses every day. If I suggested pants, she would put up a fight and refuse to get dressed.
She wore her princess dress-up clothes EVERYWHERE: to the grocery store; to her friends’ houses; to the mall. She also wore her plastic dress-up shoes. You know, the plastic open toed heels that look princess-y and come in a package with a plastic jeweled necklace and tiara?

As such, she didn’t play sports.

Well, we signed her up for soccer one year. She went to a couple practices and when she played in her first game… it was a disaster. Someone kicked the ball to her, and she ran away as fast as she could in the opposite direction. I don’t remember if she was screaming in terror or not, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she was.

It was so terrible for her, that we broke our house rule that you finish everything you sign up for and we let her quit.

One thing she loved to do was DANCE. The pretty costumes, the beautiful hair and make-up. That was her style. So we happily signed her up, year after year, for dance class.

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And Max, year after year, sat through hour after hour of dance recitals. He is a cultured guy. He is always willing to go to plays and “high brow” concerts with me. He doesn’t mind a professional ballet on a rare occasion, but to sit through 4 hours of loud, blaring music, watching preteens stumble around on stage is not his idea of a good night.

But he did it, every spring, because he loves his daughter.

When Buttercup was 10, Inigo was born. When he was 3 we signed him up for a “dance class” (it was just a creative movement class) and then we had two kids to watch at dance recital.




Both kids quit dancing the same year. Inigo was about 6 and Buttercup was in high school. Buttercup started being involved in theater and Inigo? Well, there were a few sports he dabbled in, but he didn’t excel at any of them.

Until now. Inigo has finally found a sport that he LOVES. I mean…. LOVES!


A sport that is the total opposite of dancing. In fact, I’d call it the anti-dancing.

And I know as much about wrestling as Max knows about dancing.


I always though wresting was an insane waste of time. A bunch of guys rolling around on gross mats, trying to pin each other into obscene positions?

And, can we talk about the outfits? Those unattractive and completely UNFLATTERING singlets?

So, when Inigo came home with the sign up sheet for wrestling, I tried to ignore it. But he persisted and I finally relented. We have been trying hard to find that one sport that he can excel in. One sport that will teach him discipline and good sportsmanship. One sport that will challenge him mentally and physically.

He loves it! He loves going to practice and comes home talking about Half Nelson’s and Double Leg Take-Downs. Don’t ask me what they mean, but he’s learning and figuring it out.

Wrestling was also Max’s sport and he loved it.

But Max is in New Florin, and only able to help Inigo on the weekends when he comes home. That left me to take Inigo to his first tournament last week in Guilder.

I walked in to the school where the tournament was being held and had no idea what was going on. What’s this weigh-in? I really DON’T feed my kid before he weighs in? Weight class? I don’t know what that means.

The chaos and confusion and NOISE that was everywhere drove me BONKERS!

Poor little pre-school aged wrestlers were on the mats, wrestling their little hearts out and when the official raised the arm of their opponent as champion of the match, I watched them burst into inconsolable tears. Sometimes, even the champion would burst into tears, over sheer emotional exhaustion.
My heart was breaking.
Tears were everywhere.

I texted Max and said, “What am I doing here? I don’t want to be here!” and he texted back,

“This is payback for all those dance recitals I had to sit through.”



So, I am now taking Inigo to wrestling tournaments and when Max is home, he happily takes him and helps coach him along.

Inigo hasn’t won a single match. He has had a few injuries: an elbow to his eye, a bruised collar bone and sometimes, a battered self-esteem.

He has been pinned by some of the best wrestlers from other programs, but he has also been able to avoid being pinned and timed out the match.

He’s wrestling his little heart out.

The coaches have told us multiple times they are impressed with the drive and fight he’s got in him. They say the only thing that is holding him back is his lack of experience.

And yes, he’s cried.


I’ve seen older, more experienced wrestlers cry just as hard.

Who knew that wrestling was such an emotional sport?










And now that Inigo is an “only child” (at home) we are looking at spending the next several years hanging out at wrestling tournaments.

We’ve switched from princess and ballet
wrestling and grappling about on a mat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Enough Already!

I have dragged this wedding business out long enough, don’t you think?

Today I’ll post a few shots that the photographer took at the reception. I don’t have photos from the wedding day at the Temple yet. But our photographer for that event has health issues and is confined to bed this week after receiving her monthly plasma transfusion. (I used two different photog’s) We’ll get those when she’s back on her feet…

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The FABULOUS kitchen help. family20111111_0044family20111111_0050family20111111_0056family20111111_0068Biff’s dad was in a car accident several years ago that left him paralyzed from the armpits down. We weren’t sure he was going to be able to come to the reception, so we were thrilled when he showed up!


Below are some snapshots that friends and relatives took at the Temple.



The Temple, thankfully, had this beautiful white cloak to loan to the brides. Isn’t it gorgeous?


As we were leaving the temple to go to the luncheon, Buttercup ran into an old friend from when she was just a little, little girl… aged 3 – 6. We knew this girl and her family when we lived on the Oregon Coast. (She and Buttercup have the same name even!)

Buttercup II was recently married and was going to a session at the Temple with her new husband. It was a total coincidence that we ran into them! What a treat for both of them!




How handsome is this guy?
(He insisted that he have a bow tie and pocket square.)



Papa is NOT usually allowed to do this. He usually gives Inigo a funky/weird hairdo.



The cute little girls who kept the tables cleaned of dirty dishes. My sweet neighbor made
the darling zebra print aprons for them to wear!


And finally…
this snapshot sums up our whole weekend.
Buttercup was giddy and happy and just a little silly.
I was overcome with emotion and by the time she and Biff left, I was a bucket of tears and bawling.
And there’s Max.
His life motto is “I’m just happy to be here.”
You can see by the look on his face, that he is.


And if you have made it through these long, drawn out posts, I commend you and I thank you. Your dedication to my ramblings is admirable.
I seriously hope to be finished posting pictures and stories.

Although, I haven’t mentioned the story about how I got pulled over by a police officer on our way to the luncheon….

So…. How’d It Go?


Piece of Cake.

Like a breeeeze.


Having the wedding and reception on a different day worked perfectly for us!

(Too bad you can’t hear my singsong voice as I say each different line. It might make this post a little more interesting.)

Setting up for the reception was so easy. No pressure.

I supervised and hung around a little. Our sweet little decorator was so patient with me, but I knew that deep down she was wanting me OUTTA THERE!

And I was happy to leave it all in her EXTREMELY capable hands: I had family at home that needed feeding. I had to get dressed and get my boys dressed. I needed to get my daughter all fancied and gussied up. There was still plenty to do.

But you know me, Miss Control Freak. I needed to see with my own eyes that everything would be done in time.

And it was!! And it was GORGEOUS!! (There’s that sing-y voice again!)

Sadly, I do not have a photo that shows the whole cultural hall all decorated.

I know! I know! Me? Not have a picture? WHAT!?!?

That’s what happens. I was busy making sure everything and everyone was where they needed to be. I handed my cameras off, but – wouldn’t you know it? – both camera batteries died.

I know! I know! Me? Not be prepared with extra batteries? I plead guilty of having a distracted mind. (Many of the following photos were taken with my cameras before they became inoperable.)

Here are a few of the pictures that I do have:



<< The beautiful cake made by Buttercup’s grandma, who is also Max’s mom. Isn’t it gorgeous?









^^^ The pictures above are the centerpieces I was in charge of. (I should explain that the decorator was in charge of all the backdrops, table coverings, chairs, etc. I had to be in charge of everything that went on top of the tables. It was daunting for me… a very non-creative person.) These centerpieces were wine glasses turned upside down with a flower under the cup and candle on the stem/base. I also put heart jewels around the candle, on the base, but you can’t tell in the picture. My mom hemmed the zebra fabric. The decorator, who is simply amazing, then took these glasses and made them pop and look fancier than the vision I saw in my head of how everything was supposed to look.
Also, on the tables were little books I printed up. The cover said, “Words of advice and helpful hints for the bride and groom.” When you open it up it said, “Dear Buttercup and Biff,” with a few lines for guests to write down helpful hints or advice for them. Then there was a place at the bottom for the advice writer to sign.








^^^ These are the centerpieces that were on 4 of the tables. The cute box belonged to the decorator and I just had to fill them.

HA! ME?!?

I don’t do flowers. So I called in reinforcements. You know, a floral “arteest” that has the designer eye: My seester, Red. She did a GORGEOUS job! She rocked the gerbera daisy look that I wanted.







^^^ These are some of the display tables. The top picture is the “display table.” IMHO, it’s the silliest table at the reception. It’s just crammed full of things/pictures/memories of the bride and groom. There was a lots of pressure for me to create a decent display on this table. All of Biff’s photos of his childhood are in a storage unit somewhere, along with all of his childhood memorabilia, so I had to use pictures I lifted off his Facebook page and printed up. Buttercup, of course, has more pictures than anyone has a right to have, so the challenge was NOT picking a photo from every age in her life. I printed most of the pictures as 8 x 10’s but there are a few 5 x 7’s on there too. I then mounted the photo on a piece of artist’s canvas, coated them in a generous covering of Decoupage and planted them on an easel…

The bottom left picture is the “Eats and Treats” table. This photo was taken early in the evening before the reception started, so there isn’t much food on it. Seriously, every time my kitchen help put food out, everyone would run up and start eating, so they had to wait or there would be nothing left for the reception.

The bottom right is the Sign In table. I found the cutest little lamp with fuchsia fringe on it to use at this table, but it was broken and wouldn’t turn on. Bummer. I like the lamp the decorator brought though.








Some details from the tables.




^^^ This shows some detail of the tables. They were triple covered with black and fuchsia cloths and made to look “swaggish” by pulling up the pink cloths and pinning them with a beautiful broach. You can see one of the broaches on the empty table in the background.

Aren’t the chairs cool? Not your ordinary LDS church/ cultural hall chair! I tried to talk the decorator out of using them, but now I’m so glad she insisted (nicely of course).

And that about sums up the reception side of our weekend.

I’m sorry this post is excruciatingly boring.

Oh well. I do it for posterity, right?

One more photo. Sorry it’s blurry. There was bad light and no time to fix the situation. This is Buttercup’s reaction when she saw the decorated room. I kept her out of it until everything was finished, then walked her in with her eyes closed…


Yep! Tears of joy! She was so happy with how it all turned out! And I’m so grateful for everyone that came and helped! There is NO WAY Buttercup could have had such a nice night without all the help that my friends and family gave. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people.


(Coming tomorrow… professional photos @ the reception. I know you can’t wait!) Winking smile