Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ya Gotta Love the Endorsements!

Endorsements are always great, especially if they come unsolicited! This is what one customer wrote about Itty Bitty Soaps on her blog.
"If you are looking for something awesome to give a friend or family member look no further! Caroline has created some beautiful, healthy, handmade soaps that sound good enough to eat. I am sure their scent is divine and cannot wait until my package arrives. Seriously, I went through her list and had to stop when I had already purchased 5 bars and wasn't to the end yet. She has some wonderful Christmas scents that cannot be resisted! They would make fabulous stocking stuffers too! I can just see a big apothecary jar full of these beautiful soaps in my "coming soon" new bathroom!
I have posted this link as a permanent fixture on my blog so I can go back anytime I want and order more. Their appeal will be all year long for me! While she is working on a button, it will be at the bottom of my blog. You'll see her Itty Bitty Soap Company logo, you can't miss it...don't you just love the name of her company? Her lovely creations will be coming to you from Utah! Place an order soon and please tell her I sent you! Enjoy and pamper yourself and others with Caroline's all-natural soaps today. I highly recommend them!"

Then when she received the order this is the email she sent me.

Dear Caroline,
I got the soaps and LOVE them.  Even Jim is going nuts! . . . You have a winner here!  And thank you so much for the extra ones!  . . .  I put your link on Facebook...did I tell you? . . . Fabulous idea and so perfect for your life style too. Love everything about it!  What a great adventure for you!  The packaging is adorable!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's Finally Here!

After much work, agonizing and sweating the small stuff, I have finally launched my new soap company. Itty Bitty Soap Company went on-line officially on Black Friday. Why did I do it? Well, I love making soap and couldn't possibly use it as fast as I was making it, and couldn't afford to keep giving it away to friends and family, so I decided to see if I could sell it. I hope it is a success as I have tons of new ideas all the time and because I am committed to making natural soaps as easy to purchase as commercial soaps. After learning about all the chemicals and artificial ingredients in commercially produced soaps, I just couldn't buy them for my family and feel good about what we were using on our skin. Then there is the havoc these chemicals wreak on our environment - these chemicals are truly poisoning our water supply. I am no environmentalist by any means, but I've seen so much documentation about how these petrochemicals stay in our water systems I just can't keep supporting companies that willingly do this in the name of profits. Check out my soaps at www.ittybittysoapcompany.blogspot.com. You will love them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So long, so sad:(

After his performance at the AMA I can no longer be a fan of Adam Lambert. I loved him on American Idol, really loved when he sang his Mick Jagger song (loved Mick's songs, not Mick so much). But  just can't have an idol that is gross - and his performance was truly gross (not to mention disgusting and perverted). This post is a little silly, but I had to do it to publicly recuse myself from being a fan, just so you know! I guess that means his posters in my scrapbook room are coming down. It was a fun ride while it lasted;).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Sweet Mom

So this is a picture of my mom and dad, taken last August up in Idaho. I received a phone call from my brother this last Friday and found out my mom is in the hospital. She hadn't been feeling well and went for some tests. I got another couple of phone calls on Saturday and found out she has cancer in her colon. The dr.'s are doing a surgery today (Sunday) to remove the cancerous section. She and dad seem so positive about this. She has had many prayers offered in her behalf and her name has been added to the prayer rolls in a couple of Temples. The doctor performing the surgery has to ordain his son to the Priesthood today, so we have to feel confident that he will be praying for his own success, I sure hope so.

This picture was taken Thanksgiving 2008. My mom is standing between my dad and Nicki. Dad is sporting a nasty bruise on his face from getting rear-ended by a semi when he was in Idaho Falls just a week before this picture was taken.

Update: Mom's surgery went well. She is now home from the hospital and doing so much better. We are now in the wait-and-see mode. Lots of questions, fears and hopes. We will keep her and dad in our prayers. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Today Was A Good Day

I know, you don't hear from me for a few days, and then two posts in one day. When it rains it pours. But I wanted to share this experience with my friends and family. Today in Relief Society our lesson was about being daughters of God. Our teacher put up a little poster that said, "My name is _________. I know I am a daughter of God because ____________. Then after a fairly short lesson, she had each of us go around the room, read the poster and fill in the blanks with our names and then say why we know we are daughters of God.

At first I was a bit put off by the idea, even panicked, stuff like that has a tendency to backfire and put people on the spot, at the very least. But this dear sister did such a good job of setting it up that nobody felt awkward. I wish I had been one of the first sisters to stand up and go through this process. As it was, I was towards the end and listening to each of the sisters, all of whom I consider good friends, was so touching. I loved hearing their brief testimonies of this simple statement with the profound impact and truth that it carries. By the time it was my turn, I could barely say my name, but managed to get through it with a very short statement to the effect of knowing this because of so many blessings in my life. There was no way I could even begin to enumerate them, or focus on just one blessing. In that setting, even mentioning one blessing had me in a very emotional state. This will go down for me as one of the best Relief Society lessons I have ever sat through and one I don't think I will soon forget. It was amazing to sit in that meeting and listen to 40-50 women comment on being daughters of God, all of the comments were comments of deep gratitude.

One sister mentioned she had had a very difficult week. She didn't go into any details, but said she knew this truth because she was able just to get through the week and show up at church on Sunday. When I thought of why I know this statement is true, really all I could think of was because of the many blessings I have in my life. One sister mentioned that she knew this was true because she had many difficulties that have blessed her life. She suffers almost daily with a painful disease. She is younger than I am and I thought it was peculiar that she would consider her disease a blessing. I don't know if I could have done that. One sister mentioned that she knew she was a daughter of God because He had forgiven her of all her dumb mistakes. One mentioned that she knew she was a daughter of God because she felt His love, even when she didn't particularly love herself. One said she knew she was a daughter of God because the Holy Ghost had born witness to her that it was true. All of these, I could relate to and knew how they felt and why. I, too, have had these same experiences. I am just so thankful for the knowledge we have that we are all God's children, that He cares for us and loves us despite our most despicable behavior. I look at this beautiful world we were given to prove ourselves worthy of His greatest blessing and feel gratitude in my heart. Many sisters spoke of knowing this truth because of their loving husbands, children, parents, sibling, friends and I too, feel this. But the one that really touched my heart and I knew it as pure truth was the sister who said that she knew she was a daughter of God because He gave us His son to show us the way and sacrificed himself for us in order that we may return to Him.

Really, the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us so many profound truths and  what gratitude I have for this knowledge. It is a comfort to know that we don't have to be lost, we don't have to wonder what God would have us do, and no matter what is going on in the world around us, God is over all. When evil is rampant and seems to go unchecked, that is a comforting thought. It was the best 30 minutes I have experienced in a long time. It was good to sit and think about all the reasons why I know I am a daughter of God. It is good that this truth governs, or should govern, our behavior at all times and in all places. I don't know if the sister that planned the lesson thought this would have such a profound effect on all of us, but I know it did. I think she just thought it would be nice to think about why we know we are daughters of God. I love her for her humility and for following the prompting of the Spirit. I hope you all have a good week, and take some time to consider "My name is ________. I know I am a daughter of God because _________.

Halloween Frolics

So, here is our little scarecrow. We couldn't decide what to do for a costume, and I didn't want to spend tons of money for Halloween, so we decided a "scarey" scarecrow would be fun. A quick trip to D.I., a few stitches here and there, a bit of face paint and voila - a perfectly haunting scarecrow.
Trevor loved his costume, especially since several people at the school carnival didn't even recognize him and lots of people told him he had the best costume. Of course, that made him very happy.
I love this twisty locust tree by our front door. This year Kent and the neighbors thought I was crazy when I stripped the leaves off for Halloween. They fall off anyway and It thought I looked spooky with its crippled branches. I hung a few homemade lanterns on it for the little trick-or-treaters that came by, but they only lasted a few minutes. I always have visions of how I want things to turn out, but then seldom does it go as planned. The few that didn't go out and burned until it got dark were so very cute!
This was our crazy weather pattern on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday was overcast and very cold, but no snow. Friday it had started to melt and was gone by Saturday. Today it was a beautiful, warm fall day (mid 60's). I always love the first snow, even if it comes early and particularly when it melts early. I am still loving fall and nowhere near ready for winter. 
We made caramel apples a couple of weeks ago. This is something that we need to practice. The caramel cooked too long and was pretty tough to bite through. But we managed to saw through a few and enjoyed some version of caramel apples.  Hope  you all had a frightful Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Halloween!


Click on the http and take a minute for a laugh. Nicki sent this to us and I thought I would share it. We thought it was pretty funny. Thanks for the laugh, Nicki!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Encouraging Words

Since we were on vacation and missed Saturday's opening sessions of conference, I have been listening to them throughout the week. I loved Elder Bednar's talk about being consistent in our family prayers, family home evenings, and reading the scriptures. A few months ago, Kent and I were asked to speak during a 5th sunday combined RS/Priesthood meeting about the importance of and ideas for family home evening. Two other couples were invited to present too, a couple with young children, a couple with teenagers (us) and an empty-nester couple. In an effort to prepare for this assignment, I asked the kids which family home evenings they remembered. As I recall, they laughed and said they didn't remember any of them. Of course, I was slightly stunned, as we have had a few here and there that were memorable, or at least I thought. I really felt like I had nothing to offer at the meeting, (especially since the couple with young children brought a laundry basket full of cute cutouts, object lessons and various other items) except for the fact that we had mostly been consistent in these three things and that somehow, that consistency had a cumulative effect on our family.  Your can imagine my relief when Elder Bednar expressed the same concerns. He compared each individual and daily effort to a painting of a wheat field.  When standing very close to the picture all you see are individual paint strokes of gold, yellow and brown, that by themselves are unimpressive and even maybe dull. But as you back away from the painting, you see the whole picture and that each brush stroke, combined with all the other brush strokes work together to form a masterpiece. (He used a better picture, but I couldn't find it). I loved this analogy. If you wish to read the entire text of his talk, you may visit www.lds.org, click on General Conference, Saturday morning session. Very inspirational and comforting to all parents who have ever wondered if their efforts are paying off. I loved it. It was one of my favorite talks from conference. Please take the time to read or reread his talk. He was much more eloquent and he was funny at times, but his message was as timely as it is serious. We need to do all we can to protect and prepare our families.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

We've been profiled!

The 13 Articles of Mormon Culture

1. We believe SUVs and minivans to be our form of transportation, and in knee length shorts -- which are always nice and, of course, in multilevel marking.

2. We believe that church ball players should be punished for their own fouls, and not for unsportsmanlike aggression. 

3. We believe that through bread crumbs, cheese, creamy soups, and rice all casseroles can be saved through obedience to ward cookbooks and creativity in the mixing bowl.

4. We believe that the first layers and ingredients of the Dip are: first, beans; second, cheese; third, chopped tomatoes; fourth, the gift of sour cream; fifth, olives; sixth, salsa; seventh, guacamole, that is, if you have it. 

5. We believe that a Mormon should have a distinguished or a cute name, that it's appropriate to name a child after a church leader or a historical figure including an ancestor, that alternative spellings and French prefixes only add to a name, and that when referring to the names of General Authorities, middle initials should be a part thereof. 

6. We believe in the same wall decor that exists in many Mormon homes, namely, framed family proclamations, vinyl lettering, inspirational word signs, family photos, pictures of temples and Jesus, and so forth. 

7. We believe in the gift of re-gifting, church books, crafts, family photos, baked goods, emergency supply kits, and so forth. 

8. We believe in sparkling grape juice -- so long as it is nonalcoholic; we also believe in bringing root beer and sprite to ward and all other parties. 

9. We believe in all that we have scrapbooked, all that we will now scrapbook, and we believe that we will yet scrapbook many great and important things pertaining to our family, friends, pets, and vacations. 

10. We believe in the literal mixing of ketchup and mayo and in the generous application of ranch dressing; that CBAs (church-based acronyms) will be used to describe YM/YW, PEC, the Y, NCMO, and CTR; that Mitt Romney will get Mormons to vote for him any time he runs; and, that the Mormons will enjoy reading Twilight and The Work and the Glory. 

11. We claim the privilege of trying to identify common acquaintances with any visitor at church, and allow all other people at church the same privilege; we also believe in name dropping the names of famous people and general authorities how, where, or what we may. 

12. We believe in being subject to scoutmasters, pampered chef hostesses, and the writers of the U.S. News and World Report Rankings for professional schools, and in obeying, honoring, and sustaining Glenn Beck. 

13. We believe in being above average, good at crafts, optimistic, and being fifteen minutes late everywhere we go. Indeed, we may say that we follow BYU football. We believe rumors about famous people joining the church, we hope to meet the three Nephites, we have endured many pyramid schemes, and hope to be able to endure all pyramid schemes. If there is anything cheap, free, sold in bulk, or given away when somebody is moving, we seek after these things.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ya gotta love fall!

I just love fall, especially when I get to pick pumpkins from my own garden. I've never grown my own and this year we planted only one plant and look at what we got! Trevor, who loves gardening with me, has already claimed the big one.
I also tried my hand at growing squash. I planted one plant of spaghetti squash, one of butter cup squash and one of butternut squash and only three plants yielded this much squash. Apparently this is something that is pretty easy to grow! I never knew that. As you can see by the picture, the onions didn't do as well! Oh well, there's always next year. Now all I have to do is convince my family that squash is good.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What to do in Utah over UEA

Our annual early fall pounding of snow/rain.

Every year schools in Utah close down for a few days for UEA. This is one union holiday that I totally support, for the simple fact that it gives us a few days off school after Labor Day Weekend. Every year I want to go and do something, but usually we just end up staying home for a few days. But this year I wasn't going to do that. I made plans to go to Yellowstone and and Jackson Hole, but after seeing the forecast for temps in the 40's and 50's, and after getting hit with a snow/rain storm here in Cache Valley, we had to scramble for options. We decided to go south, visit Scenic Byway 12, and enjoy the last warm days of summer in Canyonlands.
We stayed home on Wednesday and waited for the storm to pass. Then on Thursday we spent a good portion of the day driving and by mid afternoon reached Capital Reef National Park. We loved the amazing rock formations here in the park.

Friday morning we took what was supposed to be a quick 4-mile hike, but it ended up being a bit longer as Kenna didn't pack proper foot wear and ended up doing most of the hike bare foot. Not as bad as it sounds as her feet are pretty tough from gymnastics. She did better bare foot than she did with her shoes on.
We totally loved and were awed by the striations and the sandstone.

Trevor took this picture from the floor of the canyon. He is looking straight up and got the shot of both cliff sides. Kind of a confusing picture. As you can see, we had perfect weather - not too hot and not too cold and, no rain!

Okay, I know, the cheesy "holding-up-the-mountain" shot, but the kids loved it.

Wish I were a better photographer. With views like this, it's hard to get a bad shot, but it looks like I managed - that glare is awful.
When we checked out of the lodge Friday morning, the desk clerk suggested we go to Lower Calf Creek Falls. We debated about this a lot, considering that Kenna still didn't have proper foot wear and was getting blisters. But around 5:30 we got to the trail head and decided to go. It was mostly a sandy trail and no problem. She wore flip-flops and we are so glad we did this hike. We booked through the 6 mile hike and did the entire round trip in 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was getting dark and some of the trail was over stumps and rocks that I didn't want to trip on coming back. It was totally worth the effort. We only spent about 10-15 minutes at the falls, but so much fun and so beautiful.
This falls is 120 feet high and drops into this amazing pool. Again, I wish I were a better photographer as the pics don't do this place justice. If you ever get near this place, GO! It's an easy hike (more like a walk). It was our favorite place we visited.
The pool at the bottom is a beautiful blue/green color.
Utah's version of "The Hanging Gardens of Babylon"
These plants were growing on these cliff sides out of the rock. It was so cool. We got off the trail just as it was getting dark and drove through Escalante and Red Canyon in the dark, missing the second half of Scenic Byway 12. We had reservations at a cabin at Panguich Lake and so couldn't stop. Since we had no phone service, we couldn't just call and cancel. So on Saturday morning, we drove back to Red Canyon to see the Hoodoos. They were so much fun.
My little family of rule-breakers. They totally ignored all understood rules about staying on designated trails and had to climb almost every single hoodoo we came to that was close enough to climb. I stayed on the trail and took bad pictures!!!

I way got into the hoodoos. I thought they were the most fascinating, plus it was just fun to say "Hoodoo" and then Kenna would say "YouDo". We're pretty easily entertained.
Kent and Tervor "bouldering" on the hoodoos again.

Just can't resist one more little climb.

Here's the man. Thanks, Kent, for a wonderfully fun few days in Southern Utah. We need to make this a yearly tradition, as we didn't even scratch the surface of things to see in Southern Utah.

Regan, I took this picture especially for you. This tree has a serious "nubbin" problem.

Monday, September 28, 2009

On Sunday, Trevor celebrated his 11th birthday. He informed us that Google was also celebrating their 11th birthday on the exact same day. Two great reasons to celebrate! He made it so easy this year. When I asked him what kind of cake he wanted he couldn't think of one and finally decided what he really wanted was banana splits instead of cake. He also requested chipotle chicken, a Rachael Ray recipe that is hot, spicy and sweet and his personal favorite. No problemo!

We celebrated his birthday all week long. Regan wanted to have a birthday/good-bye dinner on Wednesday night before she left and she gave him her gift that night. Then we had his friends birthday party on Friday afternoon - we took his friends goofy-golfing and they had fun.

On Thursday night (I know, these are a little mixed up), he had his very last Pack Meeting. He crossed the bridge into 11-year-old Scouts. Yay - no more pack meetings! Once they cross the bridge they get to sign it. There are some signatures from 20 years ago. Pretty cool.

Brother Parkinson welcoming Trevor to 11-year-old Scouts. Oh, this was the day Regan left for Pennsylvania and I was having quite the separation anxiety and had spent a good portion of the day crying. I knew I had to go to this special Pack meeting for Trevor, however, I wasn't planning on standing up in front of everyone with my lovely puffy eyes, swollen lips and nose (I'm just not one of those women who cry beautifully). Could have done without that public humiliation!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This past Sunday, I thought it would be fun to make some old-fashioned honey taffy. I don't think my kids have ever had that experience and it has been a long time since I did it myself! It took a lot of work to get it to look like this, and Regan and Kenna gave up pretty quickly, but Trevor and I decided to keep pulling our taffy just to see what would happened. We had very sore hands and arms, and eventually gave it up ourselves. The taffy tasted really good and it was a fun activity. Kent missed all of it because he was taking his Sunday nap!!!
Today was Regan's big move day - a very sad day for me. I helped her pack up her room yesterday and had a few tears over it, but nothing like this morning. I completely lost it. 
I was trying so hard to keep it together so I wouldn't make her sad or nervous about moving out, but just couldn't manage. I really lost it during our family prayer. She wanted to have a picture with me, but I was a horrible mess after sobbing all morning.
Kenna and Trevor stayed home from school to say good-bye to her. We will all miss her so much, but I am so happy for her to be having this opportunity. I know she will be a great nanny out in Pennsylvania. I just wish it wasn't so far away or for so long!
She promised me Christmas would be here before I knew it and she would be back home, along with Nicki, but I don't know if I can wait that long. Might have to do a New York/Pennsylvania trip between now and then. I think I am really having a hard time seeing my little birdies fly from the nest!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apparently, I'm terrible about keeping my blog current. Way back in the middle of July, Kent and Trevor went to Virginia to visit Kent's brother and his family. While they were there, they saw tons of historical sites and did tons of fishing. Trevor thought the bait was fun to play with.

Once he finally got the bait on the hook, he fished and  . . . 
caught a shark. They took it home and ate it - and loved it!!!
This is not the shark. Aunt Susanna talked Trevor into trying oysters - he was brave, but did not like it. He said he had to swallow a few times to make it stay down. I say, if you have to fight it that much, you shouldn't be eating it!
While they were gone having fun with cousins and fishing and site-seeing, I was home watching my little garden grow. We had tons of stuff, including some favorite herbs. This pic does not include the potatoes, pumpkins or the three different kinds of squash - or our tiny little cantaloupe.
On September 9th, Kenna turned a whopping 15 years old. The lovely undecorated cake is Angel Food, which she requested with whipped cream and strawberry/raspberry sauce - Yummy.
Here the gusty girl is blowing out the candles, and laughing at the same time. It makes for difficult candle extinguishing!
Uncle Ivan, Jack and Evie came out to visit Gma. & Gpa. McAffee and while they were here, we went boating at the Mackay Dam. It was tons of fun. By tons, I mean my sister, Lanell, and I actually got on this thing Trevor is sitting on and Carl pulled us around the damn dam. I was exhausted when we were done, I cussed enough to downgrade my hard earned kingdom and Lanell and Carl both had a good laugh at my expense. I hate getting old. 
It was fun to hang out with Gma. & Gpa. McAffee. They were good sports. We even talked mom into going for a trip around the dam (in the boat, not on the tube)!
Then on Labor Day Weekend, Trevor and Kent hiked to the top of the Wellsville mountains. That is the Salt Lake in the background. It was a tough hike.
According to Kent, Trevor went up the mountain (which was pretty steep) like a gazelle, while he (Kent) barely made it. He told me that when they got to the top Trevor asked him if he thought he would be able to hike for many more years (he was serious to, not just messing with Kent). Kent hates getting old.
Trevor on top of the mountain. He said it was pretty windy up there. Good thing the wind wasn't much stronger or it would have blown this skinny kid right off the mountain. 

I'll try to do better at keeping this blog updated. And I'll learn to put the text where I really want it, not where the computer wants it because it can't figure out where I want it.