Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grande Concert

Tonight was the "Grande Concert" at PGJHS. This is different than the regular choir concerts in that the advanced bands and orchestras participated, and they charged admission as a fundraiser. They had the jazz band, orchestra, percussion band, symphonic band, and both choirs present a few numbers each. They did an EXCELLENT job, not just by junior high standards, but a really excellent job. The money I paid for admission was well worth the evening's entertainment.

That's Taylor (with the Chamber choir) on the back row with the super shiny necklace on.

Again, the Chamber choir. Taylor is on the back row, right hand side, scratching her nose. It amazes me that they got so many boys to participate in a junior high choir. But, I must add, I think the choir instructor is amazing. He looks like he's about 15 himself. The kids all love him and they always perform a "fun" song along with their show numbers.
For the finale, they had all the bands and orchestra and choir perform a number. It was beautiful and gave me goosebumps. What a tribute to the amazing music instructors at PGJHS! I hope the ones at the high school are as great!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Of dead cats and other things

And so today we'll visit the backyard . . .

My parents planted quite a few rosebushes around the yard. There is even one that they tell me is over 100 years old that they rescued and transplanted a long time ago when some building in town was being torn down . . . or something like that. This one I can see through the kitchen window when I'm sitting at the table, and it always lifts my spirits. However, it is painful to prune because it has GINORMOUS thorns. I have had a tear in my flesh more than once from this beast, but we still keep it around.

Our raspberries are thriving. We got enough off the plants last year (their first year) to mix in with strawberry jam. I'm hoping for enough this year to make some raspberry jam, or at least mix in with the blackberries. We have 3 plants, one died shortly after planing last year. We should get one or two more, but we may have waited too long. We'll see if there are any left when we go to get the vegetable starts in a few weeks.

The apple tree is really starting to leaf out. This should be the "off" year for apples, which is fine because I've still got tons of applesauce from last year. There are no blossoms at this point, so if we don't have blossoms, we won't have apples, so I should know relatively soon what sort of apple crop we'll have, or not have.
Today I walked to work. I do this on occassion. It's easy to do in the spring before it gets too hot. It's almost exactly 2 miles one way. Walking to work is easy, downhill all the way, and still early enough in the day that it isn't hot and awful, even in the summer. It's quite pleasant to walk down. Everything is still pretty quiet, and I have time to think and reminisce. I go past the high school, which was a happy time. There used to be some lilac bushes at the house just west of the high school on Battle Creek (no longer there, it's a parking lot) that smelled so sweet! I go past that place where Locust meets Battle Creek, where I somehow still remember passing when walking to the pool with my friends (don't know why - that's the LONG way), and there was a dead cat kinda behind a bush. The bush is gone, but for some reason, I still remember that. Then there's the Old Grove Ward building, which was torn down a few years ago to make way for the New Grove Ward building. The old one was very old and had lots of stairs and strange little rooms. The new one looks just like every other church. Anyway, there are some shade trees there, and people start saving spaces for the Strawberry Days Parade (on a Saturday) on the Sunday prior. That gets on my nerves. There are some really old houses on my walk down Battle Creek that have surely been here since the town was settled. My dad always refers to them by who used to live there back in the 40s or 50s. I always nod my head and pretend to know exactly who he's talking about. Then there is the until-recently Community Center, previously Pleasant Grove Junior High (the current one was built in the late 70s or early 80s), and it was the High School before that. The main building was torn down and the building that remains is the school gym. I remember going to the old school when it was the junior high with my mom to do newspaper stuff. I was either not in school at all or in kindergarten and that's why I had to tag along. I don't remember much about the school, but it was a 2-story school, and it seems like there was a big, wide staircase that led to the upper level just inside the front doors. Next to this is the former Recreation Center, where my mom forced me to take all manner of classes during the summer time. I specifically remember taking a dance class that was followed by a recital and one of our dances was to the "Baby Elephant Walk" and we wore lavender culottes and flowered shirts. We also had to take writing classes, ceramic classes, drawing classes, and always swimming lessons. So as I think about the Good Ole Days and other happy things, my walk to work is a pleasant time. It takes me about 35 minutes to walk it.
Walking home is not so much fun. I don't dwell on happy thoughts walking home. Mostly it is thoughts of why was I so stupid as to walk down in the first place? What am I making for dinner? What else do I have to do when I get home? Should walking uphill be this hard? Why don't we live in a flatter town? Why am I still thinking about that dead cat?
It also takes me about 35 minutes to walk home, which surprised me at first until I realized that sheer anger at having made such a stupid decision to walk to work is driving me to just get it over with as quickly as possible. Then the next day I have shin splints and I don't walk again for about 2 weeks when the shin splints are healed, and I wake up thinking "What a nice day to walk to work!"

Monday, April 26, 2010


I sauntered around the yard today, taking in the sun and looking over what is going on with my plants. I was pleased to see that everything has survived the winter, and seems to be thriving this spring.

This is our little sapling peach tree in the front yard. It has some pretty blossoms on it. I don't recall what sort of peach tree it is, but must be an early something-or-other, because the peach trees in the back yard (Hale, I think??) don't have any blossoms at all yet.

The strawberries are springing to life again. Not a ton of blossoms yet . . . we'll take what we can get. We need to move the plants to another spot in the yard where they will do better. Not sure yet where that spot is, so they will stay here in the front yard until we find a good place. Maybe the neighbor kids will stay out of them for a change, but probably not.

This is one of my favorite herbs - oregano. I think it has a really pretty leaf and smells OH. SO. DELICIOUS. It is really starting to spread out.

Chives. I planted these last spring and kept forgetting they were there and the kids weeded them up more than once. I'm really glad to see they are still there! Past experience tells me these will really spread out and take over if I'm not careful. But they have a really pretty purple flower if I let them flower. You can see a bud on the ground that I cut off today. I generally don't allow them to flower. If they are flowering, you can be assured it's because I've gotten lazy.

English thyme in the foreground (it's really huge and needs to be divided. If you need/want some thyme, PLEASE come get some of mine), then the rosemary, then the oregano. The chives are behind the oregano, but don't show up well. I really believe that my yard should work for me, not the other way around, and that's why I grow herbs in the front yard where more normal people would plant flowers. What do flowers have to offer me? I can't mix them into bread, pizza sauce or a marinade now can I?
In another part of the front yard, where I think I have finally killed the parsley, there is a little plant growing. It's probably a weed, but doesn't really look weed-ish. I haven't dug it up yet because I wanted to wait to see if it turns into something. I expect it will just turn into a bigger weed, but just in case, we'll leave it there for the time being.
We had hoagies for ddinner tonight. It was just the right thing on a nice warm day like today. I made the hoagie rolls, and mixed in, of course, garlic and fresh chives. They turned out really good, but needed more garlic. I think I would baste them with a garlic/butter mix while baking rather than add more garlic to the dough. I'll report back when I have tried that out.
In other boring news, I served as a delegate at the Utah County Republican Convention on Saturday. I had really studied up on the candidates in all the races, and went to the convention on Saturday with my mind made up in all the races except 2. I was able to find both of the candidates in one of my "open" races, and spoke to both of them about a few things, but still hadn't made up my mind until they gave their speeches. My other "open" race I just couldn't decide, both candidates were so evenly matched. I finally chose one, but felt confident that the other one would do an excellent job as well. Well, 2 of the races, 2 of the races I felt were the most important, didn't go my way. In each, one of the candidates earned enough delegate votes to not have to have a primary race and left the candidate I thought was the best out in the cold. I felt badly for them, because they had campaigned well and, in my opinion, were well suited for the job.
I have never served as a delegate before, and this was quite an interesting experience. I would do it again in a minute, and also encourage others to do it. I learned a lot and made some new friends along the way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's gotta be the shoes

I have been somewhat down in the dumps lately. There have just been a lot of things not go my way, leading to a series of disappointments. Apparently, although I have tried very hard to get the word out that IT'S ALL ABOUT ME, there are some people who still are unaware. So I took a few days to mope around and feel sorry for myself and pout. OK. Maybe more than a few days. But I am feeling better and getting over myself a little bit. I attibute this upswing to a few things:

1) A kind and understanding husband. After all these years he knows when to back off and let me go through whatever I'm going through. And when I dump all my angst on him, he is kind enough to just let me vent and not try to fix it or tell me what I should do. I know what I should do, but sometimes I just want to unload.

2) A sunshiny day. Yes, we started the day with snow on the ground, but it warmed up so nicely and I took a 30 minute walk in the sun while Taylor was at piano. I walked almost down to the Walmart in Cedar Hills from the piano teachers house. It is about 1.5 miles round trip. The beauty of walking in Cedar Hills, or Pleasant Grove for that matter, is that no where is level. You have to exert some effort at least one way. It's tough to wallow in self-pity when hoofing it up a hill. And there is great sense of accomplishment when you reach the top of the hill and look back at how far you came. Walking alone outside is also very good for clearing my mind, and probably the best medicine for being stuck in a funk.

3) Red toenails. I had a friend once tell me to always keep my toenails painted "hooker red" (her term) because it will always cheer you up. You know what? She's right. It is indeed a very happy thing to look down and see that "screaming red" (my term). I can't help but smile.

4) Really great shoes. I don't know what it is that makes shoe shopping so therapeutic. After walking outside today, I decided to top off my happy feeling with new shoes. I went out to Kohls knowing exactly what I wanted. Bright red pumps. (I love all things red.) There was a pair of such red pumps at Kohls, and for only $18. Size 9. I can occassionally pull of an 8.5, if I'm lucky, but not a 9. I tried them on hoping they were a small 9, but alas, they were far to big. So the only logical thing to do when I couldn't have the shoes I loved was to get 2 pairs of shoes I liked. 2 pairs of espedrilles, and Lari is a happy gal again.

5) An evening of playing with kids. Sure, it was Mario Kart, but it was fun and we all laughed and had a good time. I even won a race or two. Okay, one. But it was by a good margin.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

18 years . . . Almost

Next week is our wedding anniversary. Since schedules prevent us from getting away next weekend, we skipped town this weekend. Well, not for the whole weekend, but for Friday night anyway. It was heavenly to get away. We had the best time and returned home rejuvenated. 18 years . . . where has the time gone?

Since I came home so rejuvenated, I decided to get some cleaning done. I got myself a Swiffer sweeper. I have a tendency to avoid commercialy-trendy things such as Swiffers, but now with so much "wood" flooring I thought it might be handy. I had read on the internet about the Swiffer Vac, and found that although everyone loves them, the battery life is short. I knew, since I am so darn cheap, that that would not do. So I went for the Swiffer Sweeper - low tech. I set my expectations at "LOW," since I didn't think it would do any better than my trusty broom, but it so did! I was really surprised. It didn't pick up every little thing, but it picked up most, and the rest I just pushed into the dust pan. I was very pleasantly surprised. However, I am still cheap, so I looked up on the internet what I can use instead of buying the disposable cloths, and found that the most favored thing (at least on the site I was looking at) was flannel, cut to the right size, and zigzagged to prevent fraying. Heaven knows I have enough flannely lying around, so I'll give that a try. The Swiffer kit also came with 1 wet pad for mopping. It did a great job on the family room floor, which wasn't very dirty, but couldn't handle my kitchen floor, which was truly awful. So I tossed out the Swiffer pad, and replaced it with one of our clean dusting cloths (essentially, an extra large wash-cloth). I decided to mix up a new concoction for mopping my floor, and I liked it better, which is saying something because I really like the other one. I sprayed the floor as I went along, and it turned out perfectly. I don't think the kitchen floor has looked that clean and shiny since it was put in. So thumbs up to the Swiffer Sweeper! And yes, if you were wondering, I do mix most of my own cleaners. I will list my recipes below if anyone cares.

I also managed to get most of the laundry done, the kitchen cleaned (I even pulled out the stove and cleaned behind it!), the bathrooms cleaned, including a long-overdue shower scrubbing. I hate grout.

Pergo/Laminate Cleaner #1 (works great - I've used this mixture for YEARS)
1 part water
1 part vinegar
1 part rubbing alcohol
few drops of dishwashing soap (like Dawn)
Combine in a spray bottle and use as a "spray as you go" floor cleaner

Pergo/Laminate Cleaner #2 (also designed for real wood floors)
My spray bottle is 28 oz, so this is portioned for that size bottle
1 Tablespoon Murphy's Oil Soap (the real oil soap, not the ready-mop stuff)
28 oz water
Combine in a spray bottle and use as a "spray as you go" floor cleaner

Although #1 doesn't streak much, #2 left no streaks at all, and doesn't leave a "vinegar" smell in the air. While I don't mind the smell of vinegar, other people seem to. Go figure.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


A perfect world is one free of carpeting. I don't like the way it feels on my bare feet. A medium shag (which is what I have/had) makes me think of all the sweaty feet that have walked across that 20+ year old piece of carpet. Yes, I said 20+ years. I'm sorry, but carpet just should not last that long. Despite what my parents would have you believe, that beige sculptured shag was put in in November 1988, just before I came home for Thanksgiving break from my freshman year at Snow College. Ick. And in the 6 years we have been here, we have lived with the intention of replacing it at our earliest opportunity and have made little to no effort to keep it clean. Double Ick. Don't even get me started on the carpet and linoleum that are original to the house, constructed in 1971. I'm working on it, OK? And we are down to just 2 bedrooms and the laundry room that are in that category.

I finally got the money saved up and set aside for the new flooring, (after having to spend the saved money on a new freezer, save it again only to have to spend it on new tires, and save it again) and we got it laid this week. A former co-worker of mine told me that Sam's Club was the cheapest place to get it, and she and her husband had laid it themselves and it wasn't that hard. If they could do it, why couldn't we?

Famous last words. First of all, we (Lane, my dad, and I) were all rookies at this job. The first problem we discovered was that we didn't have the proper tool for cutting out the bottoms of the door jams for the flooring to slide under. Off to Home Depot Lane went to buy the necessary tool (not really a bad thing, since there are few things Lane enjoys more than a new power tool). Naturally, once he got it home and went to cut the first door jam, he dropped the tool (a Dremel) on the floor, breaking the blade. Back to Home Depot Lane went to buy a new blade.

So my dad set to work cutting all the door jams, Lane cut the floor pieces and I snapped them into place. Even with all 3 of us working, the whole project took a lot longer than we had anticipated. I expected that all the pieces would just have to be snapped into place with the tongue and groove on the one side, not realizing that there was tongue and groove on 2 sides so after it was snapped in place, it still had to be banged into the groove on the other edge.

We worked all Wednesday and got the room about 2/3 done. Our knees hurt. We ran out of flooring, so we went back to Sams on Thursday to get 2 more boxes. We worked all Thursday and got the rest of the flooring done. Our knees were red and swollen and it brought tears to our eyes every time we had to kneel, even with a towel or pillow underneath. Friday we had to do the baseboard, trim and T-mouldings in the doorways. We got the whole thing finished up on Friday night at about 7:00. Our knees, I'm convinced, were bloody stumps begging for relief.

As the 5 of us stood around admiring the beautiful new floor, we all commented how it looked like all the walls had moved out about a foot. The whole room seemed bigger, but we figured once we got all the furniture back in place it would look more normal. Nope. The room still seems bigger. Substantiall bigger. And somehow my giant couch got smaller.

This is the hallway between the family room and the kitchen. The laundry room will be the next room to be done. Unless the other car needs new tires, or the fridge goes out, or any of the other things that will prevent me from saving up the money.
Things we have learned:
1) When starting a new project such as this, start with a small, square-ish room. DON'T pick the largest area of the house, especially if it includes lots of obtstacles such as 4 doorways and a fireplace.
2) Don't rely on the math you learned at Pleasant Grove High School to calculate the square footage. If that's the only math you know, add at least 2 boxes to make up for your mathmatical deficiencies.
3) Buy knee pads. I know you think you are still somewhat young and tough. YOU AREN'T. You are old and broken-down, and $10 for knee pads is a small price to pay.
4) Anticipate that if you need 8 lengths of Monterrey Maple quarter round, Home Depot will only have 7. And if you think that the other Home Depot in American Fork will have more, you will be wrong.
5) If your husband shouts that he hates the floor and wants a divorce, he really doesn't. He just needs more power tools.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Panda Express Today

So after spending a whole lot of meal prep time trying to be Cafe Rio, today I decided to be Panda Express. This all happened because I had some extra ham around that needed to be used up, and of course the only logical thing to do with leftover ham is ham fried rice. As much as I love ham fried rice, it just isn't a meal (at least not with Jack living here) so I decided to do Sweet and Sour pork to serve with the ham fried rice. Naturally that meant that I had no pork in the freezer. So we had sweet and sour chicken instead.

Here is all the good stuff ready and waiting to go into the rice. I've always been told that ham fried rice is something you make from leftover rice, but that begs the question: Who ever has leftover rice? NEVER around here. So while I cooked up the rice, I got my onions, ham, eggs, mushrooms (not shown) and peas (also not shown) ready to go. It sure looks pretty all piled up.

Rather than using my bottled sweet and sour sauce, of which I only have one quart left, I went ahead and made new. I found a recipe on the Taste of Home website that sounded just like what I wanted for the chicken breading, etc. Since I was using twice as much chicken as in the recipe, I decided I better make twice as much sauce. Whoa! It made ALOT of sauce. I bet we didn't even use all that was in the original recipe. That's ok. It's in the freezer for next time since this is a recipe I will definitely make again.

Mmmm . . . I AM Panda Express. Except it's chicken, not pork. The breading turned out perfectly crunchy, the chicken was tender (4 minutes per side in the oil, not 3 like the recipe said) and it was just heavenly. I have never battered and fried anything in my life, so I'm really delighted (and surprised) that it turned out so well on the first try. So much for healthy eating, but in my defense, I did use canola oil for frying.
I went to get my hair cut and colored today, and told Katie that last time she colored it it was a little more orange-y than I liked. So she fixed me up red, Red, RED! You'll see me coming from a mile away. You know that commercial where the ultra boring lady says, "I've been told that beige and predictable suits my lifestyle"? I am totally beige and predictable about just about everything EXCEPT my hair. Bring on the color - the bolder the better!