Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Learning to Slow Down

I have an eating disorder. No, not one of the biggies like binging and purging or anorexia. In fact, it may be more like an eating eccentricity. My food fetish is this: I pretty much consider eating a waste of time, and will only eat if I can combine it with another activity.

On days that Computer Geek and Weston are off doing their own things, sometimes I don't even eat. Why?  Because the pain of making and cleaning up after food costs more than the pleasure derived from eating it.
When I eat, I usually have a book or computer screen in front of me. At night, we eat dinner while watching Jeopardy. I think I feel that the only way I can justify taking time to eat is if I am doing something productive at the same time.

There's an inherent problem in eating this way. I am not conscious that I am eating. Then to justify that I am sitting down and doing something pleasurable, i.e. reading and resting, I keep eating. When I stop eating, then I can no longer justify relaxing.  I know, it's a twisted game I play.

Today for lunch I made corn on the cob. I looked around for a book to read so I could be "productive" while eating. Unfortunately, God didn't make book-reading and corn-eating things that you could do simultaneously, not unless you have one hand to hold the book and two hands to hold the corn cob. Aha! I would go get caught up on my emails!

That didn't work either. My plate didn't fit on my desk, unless I wanted to remove my keyboard or have corn juice splashing on my screen.  I was kind of frantic, trying to figure out something I could do while eating, when suddenly it was as if I heard a voice in my head...

Just sit down and eat and enjoy your corn.

Like without a book?

Yes. Just enjoy the corn.

Wow, it was a novel concept, but I thought I could give it a try. I buttered and salted and peppered my corn and sat down at the table to eat it. Without a book. Without Alex Trebeck. Without having a conversation with family or Facebook. Just me and the corn.

It was good. And when I was finished, I stopped. I didn't go get more food so that I could justify reading a little bit more. It was kind of nice. I may have to enjoy my food more often instead of mindlessly eating while engrossed in other things.

I may have to just stop and enjoy the little things.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Have Eggselent Friends

I have a few friends who are telepaths.  Some mornings I get up, ready to make breakfast, look in my egg carton and say to myself, "Uh-oh. We only have two eggs left."

My telepathic friends hear that. In less than 48 hours one of them shows up at my door and hands me a gift from the gals back at the coop. It's amazing how that works.

Some days, more than one telepathic friend shows up bearing eggs. No problem. I just go into baked-good overdrive and everyone is happy.

This morning while preparing breakfast burritos, I had to stop and take a picture of the eggs before I cracked some open. When you think about it, eggs are simply lovely.

Stop and enjoy the little things.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Tour of Utah Bike Race Brush with Greatness

I live in a small town. Small as in I can hop in my car and be anywhere in town within five minutes. Small as in the newspaper comes out once a week. Small as in there are only two drive-through food establishments in town. And no stop lights.

So when I heard that the world-famous Tour of Utah bike racers would be coming through town last Thursday, I headed to Main Street for the event. People were lined on both sides of the street, waiting for the bikers to cycle through. We knew they were coming because of the long line of police vehicles, media personnel,  and roadies that came through first.

I had my camera at the ready. I waited. And waited. And kept stepping out into the street to see if they were coming. Finally someone yelled "Here they come!"

I raised camera to eye only to discover that in all that waiting the camera had powered down. By the time I got it powered on, they had whizzed past me at a speed that no car had ever attempted. Seriously, doesn't the speed limit apply to bicycles too?  Why do they get to whiz down Main Street at 60 m.p.h.? In a school zone no less? Granted, school hadn't started yet, but I'm trying to make a point since I have to find some sort of excuse as to why I MISSED THE TOUR OF UTAH WHILE I WAS TRYING TO POWER UP MY CAMERA!

So yeah. The event I waited for sped by me in less than seven seconds. But I did get a parting shot.

Yeah, they look like they are pedaling leisurely by, but I assure you that if they were cars they would have gotten a big fat dorktown Utah speeding ticket, the fines of which would probably make it so our town could afford a policeman. (Did I mention our town is so small that we have no police force?)

By the way, this race is supposedly one of the most difficult stage races in America because of the desert heat and the ascension through the mountains.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge EAT and SMELLS DELICIOUS

Doubling up here to get caught up....


During the summer a plate of tomatoes from the garden can be my breakfast, lunch, supper, elevensies, four o'clock tea, my 1:00 A.M. snack, or all of the above. When offered, I have never said, "No thank you--we have enough tomatoes."  If I can't eat them fast enough I freeze them and later make spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and soup base out of them. In my dream world, tomatoes grow even in the winter.


I assume this category was meant more for food, but when I thought about which food smells the most delicious to me, well, then we are back at tomatoes again. My front entryway is graced by hot pink, blush, peach, crimson, white, and yellow roses. The accompanying scent is indeed delicious.

Even Chunk thinks so.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge STARTS WITH "T"

This is the track where I go walking almost every night with daughter Em and a few others. Well, actually, the others run and I walk. Em circles the track twice for every one of my laps.

As you can see, even though the city has us civilians on water restrictions (3x per week, only between the hours of 6 PM-10AM because "even though your grass is brown, it is not dead, only dormant" ) the grass at the high school track is a vivid green. The sprinkler on the far end waters only the track, not the grass. I guess since there is nothing going on at the track during summer vacation, they are keeping that grass green solely for the benefit of those who go for walks there.

T is also for a nostalgic look at boys and their toys in
Madonna Dries Christensen's anthology, Toys Remembered

This is a fun look at toys throughout past decades from the vantage point of actual users--boys! Reading this took me back to my childhood and caused me to reflect on toys that I had forgotten all about. From Thomas the Tank Engine to a Spyder bike to classic marbles, the authors of the stories bring these treasured toys to life, inspiring the reader to perhaps document the stories of their own toys before they are forgotten forever.

Mandatory Government Disclaimer: You read my blog.You see a link.The link takes you to a page where you can buy something if you want.You buy something.
I might get a commission.
There you have it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge SHARE

Hoo boy, am I ever behind on the July Photo-a-Day Challenge. Totally not my fault, unless I somehow managed to intentionally cause mass chaos in the workings of my computer. And why would I do that when I HATE COMPUTER PROBLEMS SO MUCH?

After many days of working on my computer, trying to figure out why it suddenly decided that going into a constant reboot cycle was ever so entertaining, my precious Computer Geek decided to cannibalize a spare computer we had and rebuild a new computer for me. Just so you know, computer geeks always have spare computers hanging around.That is why my kitchen table frequently looks like this:

I need to decide, would I rather have a place to eat my dinner or would I rather have a functioning computer? I think you know the answer.

In the interim, I had to use Computer Geek's and Weston's computers. If you've ever had to use someone else's system, you know this was not a happy time for the Queen of Quang. Even though "all keyboards are the same" blah blah blah, I'll have you know that each keyboard is like an extension of its owner's fingers. It is part of you. When you have to use someone else's keyboard, it's like slipping into someone else's shoe and then going for a walk. Yeah, it's a shoe and it serves its purpose, but the whole time that shoe is uncomfortable and the world feels a little off-kilter. Plus, I have my computer set up the way I like it. My Excel spreadsheets are formatted so that when I enter a URL into a cell, then later click on that cell, it takes me immediately to proper website. Not so with Computer Geek's. His cells were formatted to do absolutely squat when I click on them. So then it's the tedium of copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste, ad nauseum.

But finally! I have a working new-ish computer that rocks! It's way faster than the old one, and now I can watch video on my computer! Score!  Plus there's that added benefit of having a computer that no longer spontaneously reboots--over and over and over. Once I had the new-ish computer though, I realized that uh-oh, I now had to reinstall all my software. Do you think for one minute I could find the software for downloading photos from camera to computer? No siree. At long last I found it, in the precise place where I last put it. Who knew? 

So, without further ado (don't you love it when someone writes "Without further adue/adieu..."?  Yeah, me neither) here is the photo challenge from...oh, someday last week. Share.

Grandson Avatar was told he could invite someone over to share his pizza. He chose Uncle Weston, without even knowing that I had a "share" assignment to fulfill. I love when my universe is in harmony.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge SOMETIMES I...and EMOTION

I'm combining two themes today because:
1. I'm behind and need to get caught up.
2. The pictures I want to use for both themes are from the same event.

Sometimes I...
...get a little freaked out when people that I knew as small children are now at the age when they get married. How did that happen?  
When did they go from little girls to beautiful young women?
One day they are patiently plodding through Silas Marner in my class.
Then they are falling in love and finding young men to marry.
How do they grow up before my eyes when I haven't aged a day?

Joy and encouragement, on the face of the young bride.
Trepidation on the groom's face as he attempts dancing in front of a crowd.
Boredom on the face of the young man in the background. It's a wedding.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge TOY

Yesterday's theme was TOY.  Yes, I am a slacker blogger, thank you. The theme fit in perfectly with activities at our house yesterday.

May I introduce Mr. iPad Mini. He is the favorite toy of a certain fourteen year old who is very close to me, but who shall remain nameless, even though he goes by an alias anyway. Mr. iPad Mini allows Nameless Teenager to play his favorite game, shown above. (Nameless Teenager has Irish roots.)

The game allows NT to ignore his mother when she says, "Time for dinner."
"Just a minute," he says.

His mother says, "I need your help in the garden."
"As soon as I help the Druid attain the next level," he says.

His mother says, "Your laundry is done. Put it away now."
"I just need thirteen minutes for my elixir to finish," he says.

Yesterday, Mr. iPad Mini went on a vacation that didn't include Nameless Teenager.
In fact, all electronic devices in our home went on hiatus. 
Poor Nameless Teenager.
What was he to do?

Pick up a book?
The horror.

No, without his BFF, NT resorted to digging out a long-lost childhood friend.

Mr. Moon Sand

I cracked open NT's bedroom door to see if he had somehow found a way to subvert the lesson he was supposed to be learning. Instead, he was lying on the floor navigating Mr. Tonka Mini through the sand, and making vehicular noises.

While it's not quite a book, moon sand was an acceptable alternative to whining, "How many hours until I can have my iPad back?"
And he said, "Today is the most boring day of my life" only nineteen times.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge UP

On a normal day when I go outside and look up, the sky is laced with an intricate grid of chem trails.
Unfortunately, today must have been a day when our valley was relatively chemical-free so I had to find another subject for the word du jour.

 There shall be apples this year!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge ON MY SCREEN

The theme presented today was a real challenge for me. Throughout the day, I thought of taking photos of the things I was looking at on my computer screen. Yet each time I hesitated because the images on my computer screen were not photos taken by me. I didn't want to run into any copyright issues.

Then I thought I would take pictures of what was on my TV screen instead, but that presented the same problem.

So instead of seeing what I came across on my computer screen today-- images of a lost child, of a procession of nineteen white hearses, of a Monterey Chicken recipe I want to try, of a gift idea that I'm going to use on some lucky recipient, or of a cool trick using rubbing alcohol, a cotton swab and colored pencils, you're going to see this:

A dear friend died last night. She was an art teacher to my son and many other students at a home-school co-op. Many children under her tutelage went from proclaiming, "I can't draw," to creating beautiful pieces that left me in awe at end-of-year school art shows. I don't recall ever seeing her without a smile beaming from her face. She uplifted, encouraged, and inspired adults as well as children.

Two weeks ago, we got some of her former students together to create a poster board card that they could all sign with their names and special thoughts or memories. I asked one student to handle the cover of the card. The result was simple yet beautiful. Thinking of You.

I took the card to her house. She was lying in bed, being assisted in drinking cold water through a straw. I waited, then presented the card to her. Her smile cut through any misgivings I was having about bothering her. She immediately said of her students, "I need to do something for them."  In agony, she still thought of them. She held on to the card, touched at the sweet messages of love it contained. We spoke briefly, then I could see she was exhausted so I kissed her on the forehead and said goodbye. That was the last time I saw her.

At 8:45 last night Utahna's smile left this earth. She showed us how to create true beauty, not only through paintings or sculpture, but in treating people as Godly works of art.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge CLOSE-UP

Pumpkin on Windowsill

Backstory: I have a black thumb. I laugh when people say, "Make sure you contain mint when you plant it or it will take over your entire garden."  I have yet to keep any type of mint alive long enough for it to take over anything. I planted several pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons, and cantaloupe from starts that a friend gave us. They died. 

I was watering the garden a couple of weeks ago and heard the next door neighbor said to his wife, "Honey, these watermelons are twice the size that they were the last time I was out here. Same with the pumpkins."  I was tempted to accidentally water the neighbor, but then I remembered that he's a really nice guy. Let him have his melons. I will start new ones.

So say "hello" to my cute little pumpkin. It will act as a houseplant until it is too big for its container. I will then gradually introduce it to the elements and when I think it is strong enough to plant in the garden, I will lovingly place it in its new home.
And it will die.

I am a herbicide.

July Photo-a-Day Challenge SWEET

I'll let you decide whether it's the ice cream bar or the boy that's sweet
Helpful hint: the boy is 14 and the ice cream bar is chocolate

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July Photo-a-Day Challenge RED

My apron, hanging on the clothesline

(The brown you see in the background is crunchy Utah grass. The green you see in the background is drought-resistant Utah weed, that cares not that we are under lawn-watering restrictions.)

Tomorrow's theme: celebration
If you would like to participate in the photo-a-day challenge please head to The Idea Room

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July Photo a Day Challenge REFLECTION

Pixie, brushing her hair

If you want to participate in The Idea Room's July photo challenge, check out the list of suggested prompts.
Tomorrow's theme is "red."

Monday, July 1, 2013

July Photo a Day Challenge OUT MY WINDOW

This month I am playing along with a challenge issued by Amy at The Idea Room. She encourages her readers to take a photo based on a theme that she selected, one for each day in July. Since I'm a notorious slacker-blogger, I thought a daily prompt would be the kick in the tushie inspiration I need. If you want to participate you can see her July list HERE.

When I look out my window, my brain sweetly overlooks the fact that I am peering through a screen or a dirty (shocker!) glass. The camera is not so merciful.  I toyed with the idea of stepping outside to take these shots but dang it! I AM A BLOGGER WITH INTEGRITY!  Even though it means my photos may look blurred or un-focused, I want to show you what I see when I look out my window, not what I see when I go outside and stand in front of my window. And although the challenge is to take a photo a day, you can bet your sweet bippy [name that TV show!] I will run on endlessly with commentary every day. That's how I roll.

The rose bush I see from my living room window. I can smell it from there too.

The red roses I can see from my bedroom window.

The view out my back door window; my little oasis of serenity under the plum tree.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's challenge: Reflection

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Six Degrees of Chocolate Bacon

A few weeks ago, Computer Geek, Weston, and I traveled out of town to eat at Denny's. It's about thirty minutes away so we make the trip only once every year or two.

After our typical lunch of sandwiches and fries, I set my eye upon the dessert menu. Was I hungry? Is hunger ever a prerequisite for dessert?

My typical dessert choices fall in the ice cream/fudge/cheesecake realm. This day, for some crazy reason, I was ready for something new. Something like ice cream. And fudge. And caramel.


What? Bacon is now a dessert item? I fell for it like a bungee jumper at the Victoria Falls Bridge.

Yes, that is BACON gracing the top of that ice cream. Caramel-drizzled bacon.
I'm getting weak just looking at it

If you've never tried bacon as a dessert item, I encourage you to be brave. The bite of salty bacon combined with the smooth sweetness of fudge brownie and ice cream is sure to make you scoff at Abercrombie and Fitch employees. Who needs to shop at the Mecca for the physically elite when you can partake of this divine creation? Think Peanut Buster Parfait. Think Mr. Goodbar. Think Salted Nut Roll.

I'm thinking. Thinking it just may be worth another thirty minute drive.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Entertainment Value of Tape

The grandkids were over recently and I was running out of things for them to do. They preferred to play Mario Kart on the Wii (Avatar) and Dora on nickjr.com (Chunk,) but I know their mother and she would not be happy if I sent her boys back home as zombie mush heads.

Being the proud Pinterest addict that I am, surely I could come up with something to keep these young men detached from electronic devices. I thought of putting them to work but then they would never want to come over again. I could feed them yet another snack, since almost 47 minutes had elapsed since their last one. Finally, something I had re-pinned on Pinterest pinged in my brain. Tape!

We all know from our experiences with kids and birthday presents that the box holds just as much fascination as the gift. Well, I 'm here to tell ya that tape works just as well as a box.

I had Weston pull out his old Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars while I got busy with a roll of tape. The little guys kept asking, "Grandma, what are you doing?"

"You'll see," I said, sporting a crooked grin and a slanty eyebrow.

As I worked across the floor, they soon caught my vision.

My living room became a city and strips of tape became a parking lot.
Weston, AKA The Flash, realized I had my camera and didn't want anyone knowing he was playing with his cars. Ha ha ha!  Too late! I hope all your teen-age friends see this!

You could mark off rooms for Barbies if you're not into Hot Wheels, or you could make a giant tic-tac-toe, using humans as markers. Em once used some tape to make a hopscotch grid on her living room floor.

You know what was even more fun for the boys than playing with tape-outlined roads? Ripping it all up!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day, May Day!

May 1, 196x, Iowa.  I was a young girl, less than ten years old. After school I found a small parcel hanging on our front door knob with my name on it. Inside a folded-paper basket was some popcorn, a few pieces of penny candy, and a hand-picked violet.  My mother explained the concept of May Day to me and asked me if I knew who left it. I had no idea.

Good thing. She explained that if I had seen the person, I would be expected to run after him and kiss him. Yuk! I’m sure I wondered for days who could have left that May basket for me. Now, I’m sure it was probably my own mother.

When Em and Kay were small, they received their own May baskets. Frequently, we would arrive home from work and the babysitter’s to find small baskets made from paper cups and stuffed with popcorn and candy. Of course we never knew who left them; the act had been done hours before. We would drop my work bag and their back packs on the dining room table and get busy arranging our own May baskets and making clandestine deliveries.

April 30, 1998, Utah. I mentioned to someone that I needed to go buy some paper cups and candy so I could make May Day baskets. “What’s May Day?” I was incredulous that someone did not know about the holiday and was certain that his lack of knowledge was based on poor upbringing. I went to the store, expecting to see a section devoted to scores of different bulk Brach’s candy—the stuff of which all good May Day baskets were filled. Just like in Iowa.

Nope. “Do you have May Day candy?” I asked the clerk.

[It was an eerie repeat of six weeks before when I had gone to three different local florists inquiring about their green carnations for St. Patrick’s Day. “You need WHAT?” they all said. Yeah, no one in Utah celebrated the wearing of the green either. Apparently Utahns were all Scandinavian and English. So yeah, no Irish stuff.]

May 1, 2013, Utah.  I long ago learned that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” I haven’t really ever stopped making May baskets, or having hope that I would find something on my door.  Today, it’s Weston and Computer Geek who are my accomplices. I’ll leave the recipients unnamed, in case they read this blog and are forewarned for next year.

Spiffy spring-themed cup. Check.
Caramel popcorn. Check.
Tootsie Roll Midgets. Oh yeah!
Cinnamon Bears. Naturally.
M&M's. Drool.
And something I never had as a child--flavored straws!

All the baskets ready for take-off.

Weston in stealth mode.

Retreat! Someone's on the porch!

Later today, there was a knock at our door!

The May Fairy left us warm pumpkin bread. It was divine.

Happy May Day to you and may it signal the end of snow!
(I won't hold my breath.)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Even My Adult Children Can Make Me Laugh

Each day that I’m alive, I am more convinced that it’s really those little moments that make life memorable. I’m also more convinced each day that children are sent to us to remind us to laugh.

Normally it’s the antics of one of my grandchildren that keep me smiling throughout the day, like this gem that my daughter Em posted on Facebook:

Chunk: Mom I want to go swimming!
Me: It is too cold to go swimming.
Chunk: I will just wear a jacket!

 This afternoon it was Em herself who kept Computer Geek and me in stitches. We would start laughing anew every time we thought about it.

Em came over this afternoon with a pair of baby shoes that she bought yesterday at Wal-Mart. She bought a size 2 but found she really needed a size 3 for Miss Baby Elephant. Apparently there was only one size 3 left when she was there yesterday. She wondered if we were going to Wal-Mart, and if so, would we mind exchanging them for the bigger size.

It so happened that Computer Geek was planning on going to Wal-Mart this evening. I asked him if he would mind exchanging the size 2 shoes for size 3 shoes for Em. He took the shoes and headed for Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, the one remaining size 3 was gone, though he looked all over the baby section.

I called Em to give her the bad news. Our conversation went something like this:

Me:      Sorry, Computer Geek took those shoes back, but the size 3 shoes were gone.
            They said they would refund your card.
Em:      Oh, they were gone? I had both size 2 and size 3 in my cart and decided the 2
            would probably work better so I hid the size 3 in the chocolate section over by the

When I sent Computer Geek to the store for baby shoes I totally forgot to tell him to check the chocolate section over by the meats! Being a geek though, he should have thought of it right?

Moral of the story: Never send a man to do a woman’s work.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 21, 2013, World Down Syndrome Awareness Day

 A guest post by author Madonna Dries Christensen

Through The Eyes Of The Differently-Abled  

On a visit to Virginia, I accompanied my daughter and two of her children to a creative arts class for those with special needs. Eight-year-old Sarah has Down syndrome and six-year-old William has autism.
      The program was founded by a high school student, Samantha Hall. While working as a counselor at a soccer camp for youth with disabilities, she met a girl who didn’t enjoy playing sports. She loved the arts, but this camp offered only soccer. Samantha recognized that this child’s need for expression probably affected others. After obtaining funding through a grant from the Arlington Youth Philanthropy Initiative of the Arlington Community Foundation, Samantha founded Doing Art Together (DARTT). Her simple request in the grant was for a safe place to hold classes, art materials, and volunteers. She got all three.
      The free program, held in a school cafeteria, was initially for children, but now includes adults from group homes. Participants are each assigned a volunteer to guide them through the session. Parents must stay on the premises, but are asked to not help unless assistance is needed.
      The young woman assigned to Sarah told me that as a member of the National Honor Society she gets credit for community service, but quickly added, “That’s not why I volunteer here. I love these kids.” Indeed, all the volunteers seemed to be enjoying the session.
      The main activity this particular morning was painting on t-shirts. Sarah chose a shirt color and then sat at a table and decorated the shirt with various designs and one color, purple, her favorite. Her face lit up when she saw Connor, her best friend since pre-school. They worked side by side, moving from painting shirts to drawing and coloring.  
      At another table, William used an array of vivid colors to draw on paper. He is attracted to the color red. Creating art is especially helpful for children who are nonverbal, allowing them to communicate feelings and emotions.
      If you frequent the Internet, you’ve probably seen the work of Stephen Wiltshire, an autistic young man with the ability to study a scene for 15 or 20 minutes and then, from memory, recreate the panoramic view in pen and ink on mural size paper. His renditions are astounding and are shown and sold at galleries and museums around the world, along with small gift items on which the scenes are duplicated. See his site at: http://www.stephenwiltshire.co.uk
      Amanda LaMunyon is also a presence on the Internet and around the world. She began painting at age seven, shortly before being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Her childhood paintings were impressions of the songs she loved. Now a teenager, she expresses herself and her faith through singing, painting, and public speaking. She encourages those with challenges of any kind to not give up on big or small dreams. She shares her talents with organizations that raise money for children’s health.
      Amanda says on her Website: “It is important that we as Americans must take the lead to find the cause, cure and prevention of autism. We have the privilege and freedom in our great country to raise money and speak about our concerns. It has been my privilege to work with Children’s Miracle Network, Autism Speaks, The Lili Claire Foundation, Dr. Rosa Martinez with Strokes of Genius, and other organizations. I hope to continue to share my art and my story of overcoming challenges.”
      Her work has been included in several books and she has received awards, including The President’s Daily Points of Light and The President’s Volunteer Service Award. She felt honored to present her painting of “Our Flag Was Still There” to President George W. Bush, and her portrait of President Ronald Reagan to former First Lady Nancy Reagan.
      See Amanda’s site at http://amandalamunyon.com.
      My grandkids delight me with their creations. Those from 10-year-old Grace, a typical child, are detailed and artistic. Sarah’s stick figures have a distinctive style; we all have wheels for feet and hands (sometimes that would be helpful). Grace says that William’s drawings are abstract. I didn’t know that term at her age, let alone how it applies to art, but look for yourself.

William, age 6 

 Sarah, age 8

 Grace, age 10

Learn more about Madonna Dries Christensen on her website On Worlud Pond.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jade, Kelly, Pine, Grass, Emerald....

I tend to favor all shades of purple. Lilac. Lavender. Plum. Grape. Violet. Framboise. (Yes, it's really a color. I looked it up.) On one day of the year though, my heart bleeds shamrock green.

My mother is to blame. Every year on March 17, little green antennae sprang from her head and bouncy four-leaf clovers dangled from her ears. A vivid green t-shirt proclaimed her heritage. She wasn't above sporting a springy green wig. Now for the shocker--she went to work like that.

Her daughters and granddaughters carry on the tradition. (The males play along, but only so far as food is concerned.) Em and I sent Kay a pair of St. Patrick's Day socks (which she'd better be wearing today!) I am wearing a Celtic green skirt. Em wore a lovely minty green top today and her daughter Miss Baby Elephant had on a white shirt splashed with tiny shamrocks and a green bow in her hair.

My camera batteries died today in the middle of the festivities, so you won't get to see the green french toast, the corned beef and red potatoes, our homemade shamrock shakes, or a shot of me in my skirt. However, here's a shot of the skirt from the Holy Clothing website. It probably looks better on the model anyway.

Basket of green goodies for the grandkids

Clover rolls and cookies made by Em's clan


If you would like to make your own pie for next year, or for tomorrow, the recipe is as easy as, well, pie.

1/2 package of Mint Oreos, crushed, then mixed with a little melted butter.
Form into pie pan.
Stick in freezer.

2 small packages of pistachio pudding
1/2 the amount of milk it calls for on the package, then prepare as directed on package
Pour into chilled pie shell and return to freezer.

We serve ours frozen, like an ice cream pie, but we let it thaw just a tad lest we break off a tooth and look "shanty Irish" as my great-grandmother would say.

If my mom still lived I would buy her the most incredible St. Patrick's Day t-shirt I have ever seen. It says, "Kiss me, I'm Iowish."  And I would, because she is.

Mandatory disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way by Holy Clothing, Oreos, or St. Patrick for mentioning them.

Thanks to Auntie M. for the info about my great-grandmother.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Indoctrinating the Next Generation of Jeopardy! Addicts

Grandson Avatar asked his mom, “Why do Grandma and Grandpa make me be quiet whenever Jeopardy! is on?”

She gave him some lame answer about us being old or something. I predict there will soon come a day when young Avatar will also shush people when he watches Jeopardy!

A few years ago, when he was even younger than his current nine years of age, he had some friends and cousins over to play. Avatar thought the other kids would be equally as thrilled as he was to watch a documentary on the prophecies of Nostradamus. When his mom, my daughter Em, noticed the increasing discomfort of her young guests, she suggested that Avatar choose something else, like a cartoon. One child looked at Em in gratitude and uttered a dramatic, “Thank you!”

Last Friday Avatar requested a sleep-over at our house. He arrived during Double Jeopardy, knowing from past experience that silence was the order unless he wanted to venture a response. He tried to answer a few.  When it was over, Grandpa Computer Geek told Avatar he could watch whatever he wanted on Netflix.

Did he choose The Avengers? Or Transformers? Something that other nine-year-olds might find of interest?


He asked if he could watch Discovery Atlas: Uncovering Earth. Apparently there was a segment on Africa’s Great Rift Valley that he didn’t want to miss.

Gosh, I love that kid.

When his show was over, he wanted to chat with me.

“Grandma, do you know who the first people in America were?”  

Knowing how smart this kid is, I thought he was hoping that I would say something like “Columbus” or “The Pilgrims,” to which he would respond with the name of an indigenous people. I simply said, “No. Who?”

“It was Adam and Eve. That’s because the Garden of Eden was actually in Minnesota.”

I have a few relatives who are Minnesotans and I think they would be thrilled to know that.

Then, “Grandma? Do you know why the ocean is so salty? It’s because when Noah had the ark and all those people drowned, the salt from all those bodies stayed in the ocean. If you lick your arm you will see that we’re made of salt.”

That boy. He’s a thinker.

So yeah, I have no doubt that soon he will be sitting with Grandma and Grandpa, Monday through Friday at 5:30 and 6:30, shushing other people and refusing to answer the phone. He’s kind of a nerd like that.

Weston, Avatar, and Chunk, engrossed in Wii Lego Lord of the Rings

Monday, January 21, 2013

Shabby Apple $50 Giveaway! (USA only)

Recently I was contacted by the wonderful staff at ShabbyApple, asking me if I wanted to offer a $50 giveaway for my readers. Since I have been admiring Shabby Apple clothing for quite some time, I jumped on the opportunity!

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time finding trendy modest clothing. How many times have you tried on a skirt, only to find it riding so high on your thigh that you were embarrassed to even look at yourself in the mirror? Or how about trying on a blouse, only to find a two-inch gap between the bottom of your shirt and the top of your jeans or skirt? Or finding the neckline far too low?  Or the material so sheer that you felt totally exposed?

Luckily, there’s a clothing company that offers a solution. A quick look at Shabby Apple’s website tells me that I don’t have to succumb to immodest fashion trends.

            “At Shabby Apple, we believe in both femininity and feminism.
As feminine women, we create clothing that is artful in design and
crafted with a vintage-style flare. Each piece is carefully constructed to
 both flatter a women’s figure and maintain her mystery. As feminists, we
created a company that is women-owned and operated and that donates to help other women start their own businesses. With our old-fashioned style and
modern ideals, we believe the best is yet to come!”

The best IS yet to come because Shabby Apple has generously offered a $50 gift code for one of my lucky readers! Take a look at some of these amazing figure-flattering fashions!

Two of my favorites, because I LOVE ruffles!
Right: Corridor dress

 Oh, and some more of my favorites!
Left: Black Oak

They have modest maternity styles and styles you can grow into as baby grows!
Left: Oh Baby
Right: El Dorado

They even have styles for fashionable little girls!
Left: Emma
Right: Boho

The well-dressed woman can't forget shoes and jewelry!
Left: Faboo

*Contest is open to USA residents only, age 18 and older.
*You must “like” Shabby Apple on Facebook, then indicate so on the form.
*You must visit the Shabby Apple website and leave a comment on my blog telling
  me which Shabby Apple item is your favorite, then indicate so on the form.
(For a non-mandatory entry you may follow Foreign Quang via Google Friend Connect on my right sidebar, then indicate so on the form.)

Easy right? The contest ends January 29 at midnight, MST. What if you don’t win or are too eager to wait? Shabby Apple is offering a 10% discount code to all my readers. When ordering, enter foreignquang10off between now and February 20, 2013.

Good luck, and may the Rafflecopter randomness be ever in your favor!

Disclaimer: I received no monetary or product compensation for running this giveaway. All opinions are my own.

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