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Since I never seem to get around to sending out Christmas cards or letters, I decided to blog a bit to keep my fans updated. :-)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Humor for today

I found this in my email inbox this morning, and just had to share. :-)

1. The roundest knight at king Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.
2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.
3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.
4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.
5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
6. Now matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.
8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.
9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.
12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
13. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, 'You stay here, I'll go on a head.'
14. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
15. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'
16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'
17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
18. It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.
19. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
20. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
21. A backward poet writes inverse.
22. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.
23. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home again!

I've just returned from a lovely visit with most of my family (we were missing the Texas branch). As mentioned in my previous post, I played games with the nieces and nephews, and even one brother and one sister-in-law.

The favorite games this year were Pictureka and Lego Creator (which I think is now out of print, but Amazon has some used ones). My brother got a Monty Python version of Fluxx for Christmas, which we tried out at a Saturday game night. It was VERY entertaining! Fluxx is a card game where the rules and the requirements for winning are constantly changing (i.e. in flux). One of the rules was that you could play an extra card if you spoke with an outrageous accent during your turn. My brother and his wife embraced this rule with gusto, as did their 12-year old. I love it that we can all cut loose and be silly together.

Tonight I introduced some neighbors to Pictureka, and it was well-received. If you live in my area and want to try it out with your family, invite me for a game night! :-) The age range is 6 and up, and it can easily be played as teams or individuals. We had 7 people playing as individuals tonight and it did not seem to take too long to complete. It gets faster as the players become more familiar with the tiles that form the game board, yet remains challenging.

My 7-year old nephew will now be referred to as "Gameboy" in future posts! (I haven't settled on a name for his older brother quite yet.) Gameboy and I tackled several games while I was home, starting with Pictureka and Lego Creator. The others were Racko , Battleship, Stone Soup , Blockus, SkipBo, and a Mario game on his new Nintendo DS. (He and I played the same game on the DS and traded the unit back and forth each time one of us lost a life.)

Good times!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Eve

Ok, so it isn't Christmas Eve quite yet, but my family gathered tonight for our Christmas Eve dinner since my nephews will spend tomorrow with their mom. In past years, the meal has been an extravagant affair that nearly matched Thanksgiving, but this year we kept it quite simple. My brother, GrillMeister, made chicken divan and rice, his wife made spinach salad, my brother Yevi brought ice cream, and his wife made pineapple pudding (which I LOVE!). I made rolls and brownies, and mom prepared a veggie tray and crackers and dip as appetizers. I also put together a large plate of homemade candy, which seemed to go over quite well. Oh, and Yevi's MIL brought meatballs. Yum!

My favorite part of the evening was playing games with the nieces and nephews and my brother Yevi (The only other adult who would play tonight). The hit game of the night was Pictureka which a friend gave me for my birthday. The kids couldn't seem to get enough of it, especially my 7-year old nephew. He is an amazing game-player and learns new games quickly. After a rough losing spell last March, he announced to his mother, "Aunt Holly does not 'let' me win".

You bet I don't. He is smart enough to win fair-and-square!

I'm hoping for a game night at Yevi's house later this week. They are a fun crowd to play with too. I've been experiencing board-game withdrawal in recent weeks due to a very busy schedule, so it is nice to kick back and play games. Ahhh.... I love holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A new Christmas Tradition

This year, I had a bad case of the "bah humbugs". I wasn't excited about wrapping presents, or making cookies, or anything Christmas-y. And then I attended the Carol Service at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Wow! The music and text were beautiful and I walked out of there with my heart full of love for Christmas and the remembrance of the birth of our Savior. Interestingly, I was also excited to wrap presents, make Christmas goodies, and spread Christmas cheer. Don't be looking for a Christmas card from me anytime soon, because that is always the last entry on my to-do list and I never seem to get that far!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas memory

When I was in High School, my dad always put up Christmas lights that I could see at night through my bedroom window. Last night, as I prepared to sleep at Mr and Mrs Mordecai's house, I noticed Christmas lights shining through the window above my bed. What a lovely remembrance of years gone by!

For a moment, it made me think, "Maybe I SHOULD put up lights on my house", but that was quickly followed by, "I'd have to put them on the back of the house in order to see them from my room."

Maybe I should just put them around my bedroom window and call it good. :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Greetings from the North (but not the North Pole)

Greetings from the home of Mr and Mrs Mordecai! She is kindly hosting her family and me while we are in town for her brother's wedding tomorrow. Her son, Red Chief, is in fine form at the moment and is keeping us all entertained.

My kitchen has been a busy place since last Saturday. In that time I have:
--Baked and decorated two layer cakes
--Made three batches of marshmallows and dipped them in chocolate
--Dipped a batch of caramels in chocolate (I traded a co-worker a batch of marshmallows for a batch of her caramels!)
--Made a double batch of fondant, destined to become cherry mashes in the near future
--Baked three loaves of lemon bread for the wedding reception of "bird-in-furnace-remover" (also known as Mrs Mordecai's brother, or DB)

As a result, my kitchen currently is a messy disaster and I just LEFT it that way this morning! Why do today what I can procrastinate until tomorrow? Ha! Actually, the real problem was that I didn't hear my alarm for the first 20 minutes it was going off this morning, so I ran out of time before I got to the cleanup part -- but I did do the MOST important thing --I got the caramels dipped. I was supposed to be at Mrs Mordecai's parent's house at 8 for breakfast before we departed. Umm... I started packing at 7:40, jumped in the shower at 7:45, and was several minutes late. Luckily we weren't on a strict schedule or trying to catch a flight!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

THE holly-day!

It was my birthday last week while I was away, and I spent it at Disneyland with my neighbors! (But not Silly Girl. She was with us earlier in the week). It was so much fun to play with MA and her family.

If you go to Disneyland on your birthday, stop by City Hall and tell them it is your birthday. You get a big button to pin to your shirt and all day long nearly every Disney worker wishes you "Happy Birthday" -- even street sweepers!

While the 12-year old and I were in the line for Space Mountain, we chatted briefly with a man and woman behind us -- it was the woman's birthday too. The man inquired whether we had been asked any Disney trivia that day, but we had not. He reminded me that it was also Walt Disney's birthday and that he would have been 107 that day.

So...a little while later while we were in the line for It's a Small World, one of the line monitors noticed my button and wished me a "happy birthday", and then said "Did you know that today is Walt Disney's birthday too?" "Yes I did!" was my quick reply. He then asked "Do you know how old he would be today?" "107" says I. Guess what I won? A tinker bell pin. I know you are all jealous!

Silly Girl

It's been quite awhile since I last posted an entry! I've been away playing in California where I visited my dear friend MEJ and her family, which gained a new member while I was there! My favorite 4-year old (Silly Girl) now has a baby sister (no nickname yet). I spent quite a bit of time with Silly Girl while I was there, and thought you might enjoy these soundbites:

Silly Girl's most common statement...
"Oh Holly....you're funny"
Me: I get that a lot

At church on Sunday...
Me: Listen to the organ -- they're playing Christmas music!
SG: Where's "Jingle Bells"? It's my favorite!

SG's 2nd most common statement...
SG: I'm hungry
Me: What do you want?
SG: I dunno
Me: When you figure that out, let me know.

7:45 on Monday morning. I was up, showered, and ready to load the car. SG was still asleep. I walked into her room and quietly asked:
"Who wants to go to Disneyland?"
SG: I DO! -- I was just taking a little rest.

As we left exited the freeway for Harbor Blvd near Disney, I decided to beat SG to the punch...
Me: Are we there yet?
SG: Do you see the Mickey & Friends parking garage?
Me: No
SG: Then we are NOT there yet.

We rode the Matterhorn after the sun went down...
Me Wow! that's scarier in the dark!

Here are some pics from Disneyland. We met up with my neighbors there, and Silly Girl was instantly enamored of their 12-year old.

Waiting in the Haunted Mansion line:

Post Splash Mountain (note the water line on SG's skirt)

All three girls posing with the Mouse:

New sister

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My Christmas tree is up and my stocking has been hung on the banister with care. Yes, I know it is early (even by my standards), but I'm heading to California for Thanksgiving and know that life will be too busy when I get back to have time to decorate. It was either put it up now or be a humbug and not put it up at all. And, since I like snuggling up with a blanket in my favorite chair next to the tree and reading by the glow of the tree lights, I decided I'd better put it up. Thanks to W who hauled it up from the basement and assembled it! BTW, W, I did find the brass ornaments.

It's time for my theme song...all together now..."Deck the hall with boughs of Holly"!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

High School Musical

I spent a lovely evening at Timpanogos High School watching and listening to their production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" tonight. I thought it was quite well done! The leads had lovely voices, particularly Millie, Mrs. Meers, and Muzzy. All of the kids seemed to be having a great time, and with such an upbeat show, I imagine it's easy to have fun. The pit orchestra did quite a nice job too -- I loved the musical jokes that appeared here and there.

Honestly, I was tired and cranky when I got home from work, but somewhere between the show and the fun of sharing it with a great companion, the tired and cranky me disappeared and left a happier me in its place. I LOVE that about live theater!

If you want to see it, there are only 2 nights left. Tickets are $6.00 for Adults, $5.00 for students. It starts at 7:30 PM Friday and Saturday. I'd suggest arriving early, because it will likely be a sellout crowd this weekend.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Giggle for a Monday

Here is a conversion between my favorite 4-year old (Silly Girl) and her mother:

Silly Girl: Mom.... Mom! I'm hungry!
Mom: What would you like to eat?
Silly Girl: I dunno...do you know mommy?
Mom: No, I don't know.
Silly Girl: Yes you do... you're a mommy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It's another snowy morning, but somehow, I don't mind as much as last time. At least most of the leaves are off the trees and it is November!

A funny thing happened on my way to work. I pulled out of my garage and hit the button to close the garage. The door went down about a foot, then rolled back up, which means the sensors are unhappy. I had just pulled the garbage can in, so I got out and made sure it was not blocking the sensor.

Tried again. No dice. Got back out of the car, checked the sensors. They were kinda spider-webby, and the snow was blowing just right so that it stuck to the webs. I got out a tissue and cleared the sensors, and was finally able to get the door closed.

In 8 years, that's never happened. Must take just the right combination of wind, snow, and webs.

For a cool halloween candy dispenser, check out this posting by Mrs Mordecai!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dinner Party

A friend, Mrs Mordecai, was touting quinoa on her blog this week, and it intrigued me enough that I decided to try it tonight. I found an interesting-sounding recipe for "Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew" and knew that tonight's dinner guests would be ideal taste-testers because they are quite adventurous cooks themselves.

I'm happy to report that I was very pleased with the results! The stew had quite a bit of kick to it. It didn't clear out my sinuses, but it certainly made my tongue tingle. The quinoa bed for the stew was nice too. Overall, I'd say it's a keeper, but is not something I will make for picky eaters (in fact, we made grilled cheese sandwiches for my friends' children and didn't even try to sell them on the stew).

I also made Mrs Mordecai's crusty and chewy bread to go with it:

No-Knead Bread
(Be sure to start this the day before you want to bake it)

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Note: I ended up with a horrible mess when I tried this with towels, so now I put the dough between 2 flour-dusted silicon baking sheets.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Note: I’ve tried this with whole wheat flour, and it was yummy, but different. If you want to play with WW, start with 50% and move up or down from there after you sample the results. (But see Mrs. Mordecai's comment -- she does not recommend white whole wheat) With 100 % All-purpose flour, it has a lovely hard crust on the outside and is riddled with small air pockets on the inside. It is very chewy (and fat-free unless you butter it before you eat it!)

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

More Sleep!

It's time to change the clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep tonight. While I dislike the time change because it will now get dark so darn early, I am still looking forward to that extra hour of sleep.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Halloween is ALMOST over (23 minutes left in MY time zone). I spent the evening at BYU watching the old Lon Chaney "Phantom of the Opera" silent movie with a WONDERFUL theater organist providing the soundtrack. The new BYU gamelan ensemble also performed, which was cool since I had just listened to the Thinking Aloud program about the gamelan during my recent road trip.

When I got home, I found this link in an email, and I just had to share.

If you haven't heard my story about why I'm going to H-E-Double-hockey-sticks, you are missing half of the joke, but, it's still a funny e-card.

(If you want to hear the story, I might think about emailing it you separately, upon request.)

Family fun

Since my last post I made a very quick trip to see my family and attend my niece's baptism. All told, I was gone just under 37 hours, so that works out to about half of the time on the road and half of the time at my destination. Short, but sweet. I visited my nephews, both of whom have grown quite a bit taller since I last saw them! The elder, RH, comes up to my shoulder now. He's only 9 years old! I guess I shouldn't be too surprised -- I've had cub scouts that are that tall. I was sorry I couldn't spend more time with the boys, but promised I would stay for a week at Christmas and bring several games with me. (I'm extremely lucky because ALL of my nieces and nephews like to play games)

A funny thing happened during the baptism. Apparently, just before the service started, my brother, Yevi, talked his daughter through the expected procedure. It went something like this: There will be a short prayer, then you will plug your nose with one hand and hold onto me with the other hand and just sit down in the water.

However, after the prayer, my niece let go of her dad's arm and started to turn away, and her dad quickly whispered that they weren't done yet. My niece got a little flustered, remembered most of what she was supposed to do, and promptly sat down in the water... essentially baptizing herself! My brother snorted (VERY un-baptism like behavior), and pushed her head down to make sure all of her hair went under, ensuring complete immersion. He then looked up at the witnesses, who nodded approval, and it was a done deed. We had a good laugh about it later. My brother said it as definitely a "first" for him to have a child baptize herself.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday night entertainment

Tonight I went to BYU with friends see Mozart's Don Giovanni. I thought it was quite well done. It started 30 minutes earlier than most BYU productions, so I was worried we'd be there until 10:30, but, it wrapped up at 9:57. I love that they did NOT put microphones on the singers. The last musical I went to at BYU (Oklahoma) was not very enjoyable for me because everyone had microphones and it was way too loud for me during the singing. (Though in fairness, I suspect my ears are a bit too sensitive -- I almost always wear earplugs when I go to movies)

The woman sitting behind me tonight was quite fidgety -- constantly rubbing her stockings-clad leg that was right behind my head. The sound of the friction against the fabric drove me to distraction and I REALLY wanted to turn around and ask her to please sit still. Instead of embarrassing myself and my companions, I resorted to leaning forward to put some distance between my right ear and those stockings. Somewhere during the first act she then started playing with beads of some kind, and I nearly exploded with indignation. This time, I did turn around to "shhhh" her. That was the last of the beads, but not the end of the scritch scritch scritch on the stockings, so I spent long moments of the second act hunched forward.

This is the first time I've seen this particular opera, and I understand it was shortened some. I like operas with a bit (or a lot) of humor, and this one fit the bill. I personally thought it was funny that we had an "Opera death" in the first 10 minutes of the show -- you know the kind I mean -- one of those deaths were it takes 'em awhile to die, and yet they manage to sing while going through their death throes. I found I had more patience for it when it happens early. When it happens near the end of the show, I am usually thinking something along the lines of "Less singing, more dying"!

I think I have a ways to go before I become a true Opera aficionado...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy 8th Birthday to my niece, JBH! I look forward to being home for your baptism!

Great performances

For those of you in my area, the Utah Baroque Ensemble will be performing in the Cathedral of the Madeleine (331 E. South Temple, SLC) on Saturday at 8PM. Almost all of the program is music from our tour to Italy in June. We rehearsed there last night, and I was quite pleased with how it sounded. It is nice to feel VERY prepared for a change! Usually there are one or two pieces still giving me trouble, but I've made my peace with the tour music and as long as my attention doesn't wander, life is good.

I like singing in the Cathedral because much of our repertoire was written for that kind of space. I especially love the ringing sound after the end of a piece that seems to hang on for several seconds.

So, if you've nothing better to do on Saturday night (25th), come to the Cathedral!

Oh, and just as a "heads up", the cathedral likes to collect donations from concert-goers, and I think the suggested amount for this one is $10.00

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy 12th birthday to my niece, KHH! I look forward to hearing your solo at the baptism on Sunday!

Ten! Ten Apples Up On Top!

Ok, not ten. Try a few hundred! That's approximately how many apples my friend BS and I processed into applesauce this weekend.

One of my favorite BYU students, W, comes up to do her laundry on weekends and while here, does yard work and other kindnesses. She had picked several buckets of apples a week ago, and probably did not pick quite half of what was on the tree (it was a bumper crop this year). Considering that I did not get around to spraying this year, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the quality of the apples. Oh, and I scored a box of golden delicious applies from a neighbor, and some fabulous red delicious apples from BS's parents (my adoptive parents). (I pretty much lived on red delicious apples all last week)

So, last Saturday I loaded up my car with apples, jars, rings, and lids and headed 20 miles south to spend a pleasant afternoon and evening chatting with BS, while we quartered, cooked, and strained apples into a yummy sauce. Once again, I was surprised by how many apples it takes to get a canner-load of applesauce. But as my neighbor JB put it, "I figure a half-cup serving size must contain all the goodness of at least two apples"(not a direct quote, but that was the gist of it). Here is the secret to making canning fun -- make it a social event! Not only do you get more done, but you get to visit, boss around your friend's children (I am QUITE gifted in that activity), eat waffles and peaches for dinner, laugh, and before you know it, the job is DONE!

I think my favorite 5-year old twin boys (K&C) must have eaten 3-4 raw apples apiece by the end of the day. Every little while they would sidle up to the kitchen counter and request more apple. I was informed that I was NOT cutting them right -- and that I should cut them like mom does (I was giving them eighths instead of quarters -- oh the horrors!) I think older brother G would have been right up there with them had he been around, but he got to be outside enjoying the wonderful weather with his friends. (The snow and cold of the previous weekend gave way to warmer weather by this weekend)

Both BS and I were bushed by the time we finished our bushels. (And, yes, she said it was OK if I referred to her as "BS". I did ask.) When we were cleaning up, we struck a deal. I did the dishes and she loaded my car. DONE and DONE.

Here's something new we discovered about each other on Saturday -- we both like to put warm applesauce on top of vanilla ice cream! Her husband thinks it is weird, but he doesn't like anything with warm fruit. I think it is like apple pie and ice cream without all the fuss.

In closing, a big THANK YOU to the neighbor who came and took away the rest of the apples. BLESS YOU! I hate it when they go to waste, and I am ready to be done with canning for 2008. It's time to move into holiday candy-making mode! For the record, I did make a batch of marshmallows this weekend AND dipped them in chocolate. The are for my SIL who was the winner of the "name my blog" contest. I look forward to delivering them personally on Sunday when I travel home for my youngest niece's baptism.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

FALL we hardly knew ye!

Yep, for those of you who read my blog but don't live in my neck of the woods, it is S*N*O*W*I*N*G here this morning. This is the view from my front door about 5 minutes ago. (Eat your heart out Yevi!) Luckily, I know it won't last, and proper Fall weather will return soon!

Happy Birthday to my favorite 4-year old, Eloise! And, Happy Birthday to the "Ettes"! It's finally your birthday on the calendar and not just on the clock!

LATER (12:18PM) It has stopped snowing, but did snow enough to cover all the grass! This is one of my favorite kinds of snow--it makes houses and lawns and mountains look lovely, but it doesn't yet stick to the sidewalk or driveway.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


My apple supply runneth over -- time to make applesauce! I had quite a busy day today, so I decided to try them in the crockpot. I filled up the crockpot with washed, cored & sliced apples (left the peels on), added the juice of a big lemon, and the rind (I used a vegetable peeler to peel of strips of the rind, and that worked quite well for getting just that top layer of zest and none of the nasty white pithy stuff.) I threw in a half-cup of water, and turned the crockpot on "high" for an hour, then turned it down to "low" or 6 hours or so. By then, the apples were nice and mushy.

I put it all through my food mill (similar to this one) which left me with a large bowl of applesauce and a sludge-y layer of skins in my food mill (very little elbow grease required).

I took some to a friend's house tonight as a contribution for dinner, and everyone seemed to like it. I think I had a bit too much lemon, because I could definitely taste it, but no one else seemed to mind. I did not add any sugar, but you could certainly add it to taste after separating the pulp from the skins. YUM!

Meltaways cookie recipe

The friend that shared this recipe provided the name "Utah State Meltaways", so I'm sticking with that.

Utah State Meltaways

2 lbs Butter (yes, 4 cups or 8 sticks)
1 1/3 cups Powdered Sugar
3 cups Cornstarch
4 cups Flour
12 ounces Cream Cheese
4 cups Powdered Sugar
4 Tbsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all together and roll into 1-inch balls (Keep these on the smallish side. Wrap a damp towel around the bottom of a glass and use this to flatten the cookies. (Do not chill dough). Bake 10 minutes. Frost when cool.

This is a cookie that is great by itself, but also could be quite versatile with a bit of playing. While I liked the cream cheese frosting, I kept imagining how they would taste with a frosting or glaze for orange rolls. Or, they would probably be quite good with one side dipped in chocolate. They would probably be good with crushed peppermint pressed into the tops before baking.

These cookies do not spread (or if they do, it is not very far), so you can put quite a few on one cookie sheet. I let mine cool on the sheet for a few minutes before I tried to move them.

They are quite fragile, so be careful handling them. I was glad I stayed up to frost them before going to bed, because the frosting needed awhile to set up or dry so that I could stack them. I would have been in trouble if I had waiting until morning to apply the frosting. I left them out on the counter all night, uncovered, and that did not seem to dry them out.

I made a half-recipe and got about at least 5 dozen, but probably not 6.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Official end of (my) summer

I know, I know -- according to the calendar, Autumn began last month. Nevertheless, it begins tonight for me, because I no longer have tomatoes growing in the back yard. We are expecting weather this weekend that will be detrimental to tomatoes, so my neighbor and I picked everything tonight, a Christmas-y haul of red and green balls of goodness. And when they are gone, it's back to the grocery store less-than-satisfactory tomatoes. Sigh. Happily, I did can some tomatoes this year, so at least I can look forward to infusing summer into soups and stews this winter. That will make those afternoons in a hot, humid kitchen all worthwhile!

I'm trying a new cookie recipe tonight -- Meltaways. The dough is made from butter, powdered sugar, cornstarch, flour, and a touch of salt. No eggs, no vanilla. However, they will be topped with a cream cheese frosting. It's a recipe I got a long time ago from a friend in Smithfield, Utah. If they are decent, some will be my offering at the radio station tomorrow and some will go to work to celebrate a co-worker's birthday. If they are not presentable, I will have to get up really early to make something else. The scent invading my little computer room is quite lovely, so I'm guessing we have a winner!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Baking and fund raising

This week is Classical 89's Fall fund raiser -- if you are a fan of KBYU-FM, now would be a great time to let them know by participating in this pledge drive. For my fan club, I thought I would mention that I will be "on the air" to help with the drive on Friday 12 noon- 2PM (Mountain). If you are not in this area and wish to listen in, go to www.classical89.org and click "Tune in now".

What does baking have to do with fund raising? I think this is the real reason they ask me to come and help with the pledge drive -- I usually arrive bearing treats! Today it was Ranger Cookies, a recipe I got many years ago from a college roommate, Karen (Sutton) Adams. I haven't made them in forever, and now I'm wondering why! They are light and crispy, yet soft and chewy. I know that doesn't sound possible, but I think the secret ingredient of Rice Krispies makes the difference. Here's the recipe if you would like to try them out and judge for yourself:

Ranger Cookies
1 cup Butter or Margarine
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Quick Oats
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup Coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then add to the butter mixture. Stir in oats, cereal, and coconut. Bake for 10 minutes. Also good with mini chocolate chips. (I added 1 cup of them)

If you think you'd like me to post recipes now and then, please let me know!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Red letter day

Or, perhaps this is better expressed as "Red jacket day"! Today is the first day I've worn a jacket to work. Fall is really here. We had lots of rain over the weekend, and when the clouds lifted, beautiful snow-capped peaks appeared. Too bad I can't stay home today and make candy, or bake, or wrap presents for upcoming birthdays and Christmas. (79 days until Christmas!)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Birth order

Dear siblings,
I've decided to relinquish my position as eldest child to the one who just turned 40. Clearly, he MUST be older than I am. Hmm...I probably should check in with the brother in-between to see if HE wants to be the eldest. He will be 42 soon, and that is definitely older than I want to be right now. So, I would appreciate it if one of you would step up to the plate and trade places with me. Or, maybe I should get in line behind Beth. She turned 36 this year. I like the sound of that!

Love from your younger sister!

Monday, September 29, 2008

One of those phone calls you hate to get

"Hi Holly, this is Mom..."
(so far, so good)
"Has B" (my brother)"called you today?"
(Oh no. What happened to B?) "No, he hasn't called me today"

"I was in an accident today and totaled my car"
(Wave of panic)
"I'm not hurt"

I calmed down and realized that her voice sounded ok. Have you noticed that about voices? They often broadcast more than words. I was quickly reassured that she is indeed OK, but her car is not. Her seatbelt and airbags protected her, though she will be sore for awhile.

Poor mom. The woman who rarely evens turns on her cell phone happened to have it turned on today and looked at it for one tiny moment to see why it had beeped. That's all it took for the guy in front of her to stop for a light. One moment. Thank goodness it was a city street where they were not traveling at high speeds.

That could easily have been me. I admit, I often talk on the phone while driving. I'm one of those who likes to think "it won't happen to me". But if it could happen to my mother, who only turns on her phone once in a blue moon, it could happen to me, who only turns hers off at night. And since I engage in this activity often, my chances must be much higher.

Note to self (maybe I should write this on the back of my hand each day): Ignore the phone while driving!

Before cell phones, I never worried about who might be calling me while I was in the car, so why should I care now? Instead of turning it off at night, perhaps I should turn it off when I get into my car.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I LOVE the internet! In the past month, I have reconnected with two friends from High School via Facebook , one friend from 5th grade via Goodreads (she found me!), and I just had an IM session with a college roommate who is as poor a correspondent as I am. (Which means we have not communicated in an embarrassingly long time). As she lives in Germany, she was up early on a Saturday morning, and asked why I was up so late on my Friday night! It was fun to discover that she too works with the cub scouts.

My family is so much better connected than the previous generation. Between IM, email, and cell phones, I stay in touch with parents, siblings, and the nieces and nephews. (I always know when there’s a “snow day” in Colorado Springs, because that’s when my niece K likes to email.) (And M, thanks for reading my blog – I did see your comment!)

And then there is my favorite almost-4-year-old. What a grand time we have IM-ing! Believe it or not, she often initiates our video conferences, which works quite well since her typing is yet largely undecipherable. I love that she knows me and recognizes me even though she lives in California.

Now there is blogging which allows me to bend your ear (eyes?) on a regular basis. Can it get better than this?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Holly's happenings

For those who have noticed a lack of Christmas letters from me in recent years (I think I've missed 3 years now), here's what I would have mentioned in a 2008 letter--

This year started off with a parting of ways...between me and my gall bladder. Parting was not sweet sorrow in this case, because I was to the point of feeling ill nearly all the time by the end of the holidays. My parents came out to tend to me and it was very nice to have them here for a few days while I recuperated. Before heading home, Mom extracted a promise that I would not go into the office for the rest of the week, and Dad made me promise not to drive a car until Saturday. Naturally, I was a very good girl and obeyed my parents -- the closest I got to the office was sitting in a comfy chair in the living room with a laptop perched between my knees. (sorry...no photo to show for that. Actually, it's probably better that way)

The next big event was on March 15th – I traveled home that weekend for my Dad’s baptism. (Note: Mom was baptized in July 2007). It was great to visit with the 5 nieces and nephews who live there, and I’m glad I was able to spend some quality time with them because I haven’t been back since. (which is unusual for me) At the time, I was gearing up to teach the cub scouts some magic tricks and tried them out on the nieces and nephews. 8-year-old R was convinced I could read his mind!

In June I went with my choir (Utah Baroque Ensemble, hereafter referred to as UBE) on tour to Italy! I had never been to Italy, and nearly didn’t go this time…but when else would I get a chance to sing in the Vatican? Our small choir provided the music for a mass service in St. Peter’s Basilica – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. Just in case you go to Italy sometime – my favorite thing was public fountains. If you look closely as you visit them, somewhere nearby fresh drinking water is being dispensed. I only bought 1 bottle of water during the trip and just kept refilling it. And my brother B was right – Rome is ALL about walking.

Since then, mom came out in July for our annual pilgrimage to Utah Festival Opera, which marked the beginning of the high season at “Hotel Harvey”. August is always my busiest month for house guests between Education Week and the start of BYU’s fall semester. I love visiting and reminiscing with friends as they drop their children off at BYU! As an added bonus, I often get to play “aunt” for their kids, so my list of pseudo nieces and nephews continues to grow.

As for the rest of 2008, it will be full of singing! In addition to my new assignment to lead the choir in my congregation, the UBE is preparing to present 4 concerts this fall, and this Sunday rehearsals commence for the Christmas Chorus – a treble choir that practices every weekend from now through November and presents 2 concerts the first weekend in December. We always sing Britten’s “Ceremony of carols”, plus a lovely selection of international carols. I love Christmas music best, so I dearly love being in the treble choir!

I'm sure there is more I could share, but I fear I have rambled on too long already, so I will call that good for now. Thanks for reading to the end!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kindergarten carpool

This month I have been helping a friend by taking her turn with the kindergarten carpool, which consists of picking up 3 children from the preschool/daycare they attend and transporting them to their elementary school. I must say, they make me laugh EVERY time!

At the end of the first trip, as they were exiting my vehicle, I cheerily told them "Have fun at school today!" One of the girls stopped and turned around and corrected me with "You mean Kindergarten". "Oh, right!" was the only thing I could utter before swiveling my head away from her so that I could laugh. DUH Holly! It's Kindergarten, not School!

Today, my friend's son was commenting on how AWESOME Halloween will be this year, because they will get both Preschool candy AND Kindergarten candy. I commented that this is called "double-dipping". They each had to try saying "double-dipping" aloud, and from the sounds of contentment and wonder I heard coming from the back seat, I think a little chunk of their worlds has just fallen into place and now makes sense.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Taking the plunge!

I'm taking the plunge into the world of blogging! If you've found my blog, you know that the winning entry in the "name that blog" contest is "Gathering Holly", which was submitted by my sister-in-law LH. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of submissions that came in this last week -- my family and friends are definitely more creative than I! Many heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who sent in your entries. The remaining entries are too good to discard, so watch for them to come up as titles for individual postings.

Here is today's bit of news -- I am the new choir director for my congregation. This should be really interesting because I have NO experience in choral conducting (other than observing it while singing with my community choir for the last several years!). I do lead the congregational singing, but that really is just waving one arm in time to the music. Now I have to actually be coordinated and make sure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing -- even when they must operate independently.

I'm already reviewing possible selections for Christmas and twisting the arms of friends and neighbors to get attendance commitments from them. I think some will come just for the fun of laughing with me as I make a fool of myself. Maybe some others will come if I promise treats. Some will come for no other reason than they are my friends and wish to support me (and be glad that THEY are not the conducting) Whatever the reason, I hope lots of people come out to sing. It will be much more fun and less nerve-wracking for me. (And, yes...it's ALL about me. That's why I now have a blog. ha ha)