How to Get a New Jenn-Air Double Wall Oven for Free

We bought our house as a foreclosure. It wasn't finished so we got to choose carpet and fixtures. We also got to design the kitchen. It was an empty space and the layout in the plans didn't really suit our family so with the help of our 17-year-old son who wants to be an architect, we completely re-designed it.

One thing I wanted was a double oven. I've wanted one of those since the beginning of my wedding cake days fifteen years ago. I no longer make wedding cakes, but now I have my double oven.

Now I'm going to tell you how to get one for free.

Step 1:  Go to the Sears Outlet and find the only Jenn-Air double oven there. It's okay that there's a small dent on the side. That will be inside the wall anyway. Pay for the oven and schedule delivery.

Step 2: Be there alone when the guys come to deliver the oven. Notice that what they're delivering is not the Jenn-Air oven you purchased, but another double oven. Also notice that it has a glass front that is missing. Don't be intimidated when they ask you to sign for the delivery. Point out to them that this isn't the oven you purchased and step to the back of the truck where the oven is still sitting. Watch the two delivery guys try to hide all the broken glass from the front of the oven that they're trying to get you to sign for. Refuse to sign even though they're doing their best to convince you that you should sign for the broken wall oven and then call the store to have them repair the oven and/or replace it with the right one. Call the store, with the guys standing there glaring at you. Once the store realizes that the wrong oven has been delivered, send the bully delivery men on their way. Then say a prayer that they don't return and hurt you for getting them in trouble.

Step 3: Have two different delivery men return nine days later with another oven. This time, don't be at home and have a contractor working on the house sign for the delivery. When you get home, discover that the oven that's been delivered isn't a double oven at all. It's an oven with a microwave on top. Call the store and let them know that this isn't the oven you purchased. Be referred to about four different people. Have all of them admit that this isn't what you ordered. Then have them explain to you that the oven you purchased AND PAID FOR has been sold to someone else and is no longer available.

Step 4: Throw a fit. When they transfer you to yet another person, throw another fit. Point out to them that the kitchen cupboards have been built to the specs of the oven you purchased. Finally reach a sane person and have them agree to send you the oven you originally purchased, except that this one isn't from the Outlet store (because they no longer have one), but is a brand new one without a dent on the side. Have them apologize for the inconvenience to you.

Step 5: Have another set of delivery men deliver the right oven. When they arrive, sign for the oven and show them the wrong oven that they need to take back. Have them tell you they can't do that--their job is just to deliver, not pick up. Call the store while they're there and have the manager explain to you that they'll have to arrange another truck to come pick up the wrong oven. These delivery men aren't authorized to pick up the wrong oven.

Step 6: Have the wrong oven sit in the garage while you finish the house. Call the store and ask them to come pick it up. Have the oven sit in the garage after you finally move into the house. Continue calling the store every few days to have them come pick up their oven. Live in the house for three months, continually calling the store to have them come pick it up. Finally, ask them if you can borrow a pick-up and bring the oven back to them. Have the manager say, "It's no longer in our system. We can't pick it up and if you bring it to us we won't know what to do with it."

Say "WHAT?"

Ask the manager what you're supposed to do with the wrong oven that has been sitting shrink-wrapped in your garage for more than five months. Have the manager answer, "I think you should just sell it." Argue with her for awhile, until she finally says, "I can't take it back. Sell it or throw it away."

Step 7: Place an ad on KSL.com and start taking phone calls. Sell the oven for what you originally paid and enjoy your free double wall oven.

The Culture War in America (as seen on American Idol)

Wednesday evening I watched the American Idol finale. I was here by myself and at first I was a little disappointed. I prefer watching things with my family. After awhile though, I was relieved. And I was glad I have a DVR.

There was a time when the 7:00 hour was family programming. And if I'm not mistaken, I think American Idol is considered a family show. So why was the two hours so littered with things that are completely inappropriate?

Am I the only one who found some of this offensive? Maybe I'm an old fuddy-duddy. Maybe I'm not "with it." I remember uproars in the past. Madonna was a lightning rod when it came to controversy. Britney (along with Madonna) took it up a notch. But I don't remember those things being flung at families during the prime time hour. The Madonna/Britney nonsense was late in the broadcast of The Grammys. I don't remember anyone ever pushing the Grammy's on us as a family show.

Wednesday night, we saw sexual dancing, skimpy costumes, freak-show Lady Gaga singing about what I can only assume by the lyrics and the presentation, had everything to do with sex. Then Beyonce sang a song that repeated the line "make love to me" over and over. Marc Anthony sang a song while his wife danced seductively around him and then Ryan joked "we know what they do when they're alone."

WHAT?

Is this okay with everyone? The two finalists were high school students. There were comments all season about the young girls that were voting for Scotty. Is this what we want our young girls to think is normal? Or our young men? We wonder why there are men in the world with so little respect for women. Are these women showing any respect for themselves?

Where are we headed if this is deemed appropriate family programming? When are we going to take a stand?

I don't count for much. I'm sure they won't even notice I'm gone, but I won't be watching American Idol again. Every so often, a show pushes me too far and I have to scratch it from my television schedule. And it makes me sad because it makes me realize that we just keep sliding down the slippery slope. If we keep tolerating things that should be intolerable, we'll eventually be buried by an avalanche that is too much for us to dig ourselves out of.

Maybe it's too late now. I hope not.

As I've thought about the parts of the show that disturbed me most, a quote keeps coming to my mind.

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." 
 Margaret D. Nadauld

Need to Prepare for Life? Ride a Stickhorse

Horse herpes outbreak forces rodeo queens to ride stick ponies - ksl.com

This is one of those things that has to be shared. I'd feel sorry for these girls and the embarrassing situation they were put in, except that they took it so seriously.

Two of my favorite lines: "With a stick horse it's a lot different because you have to do all the work and I think it's going to be a lot more tiring than with a real horse."

and

"It will give you experience for if you happen to have a problem like this later in life. You already have the experience of riding a stick horse!"

I'm going to have to visit with my parents about this. I don't remember ever riding a stick horse when I was growing up. You'd think that if they loved me, they'd have given me a stickhorse so I'd be prepared for problems like this later in life.

(Be sure to watch the news story if you want a good laugh.)

Hello, My Name is Killjoy

My sister called me. She was frustrated. She'd just spent a good amount of time selling her Les Mis tickets for a sizable profit. The entire time she was wheeling and dealing, she was making family vacation plans in her mind. It kept her motivated as she brokered the deal with two different buyers and by the time the deals were finalized, she was pretty proud of herself.

She called her husband to excitedly inform him of the summer trip she'd just facilitated, only to be cut off at the knees with a list of practical reasons why the money should be used elsewhere and why the trip wasn't possible.

She called me wondering why he always has to rain on her parade.

And it made me think. Because in my family, I'm usually always the rainer on my husband's parades.

"What are we going to do this weekend?" he'll ask.
"Stay home."
"But it's a 3-day weekend. We should go somewhere."
"We can't really afford it."
"Well at least we can _________________" (insert something that costs money). "I've got the day off. We should do something fun."
"Why don't we do something productive, like clean the garage?"
"I want to do something relaxing. I need a distraction."

A variation of this conversation has taken place at least a hundred times in our marriage. Usually he figures out something to do that is affordable, so he's somewhat satisfied. But usually I come through looking like the boring wet blanket.

I'm okay with that role most of the time. Every marriage needs a parade rainer, killjoy or wet blanket. Marriages that don't have one of those often end in debt, divorce, murder or misery. Maybe the best marriages have both extremes to keep things a little balanced out. Maybe not.

All I know is that every once in awhile, I'd like to be the fun one. The one that gets to throw outlandish ideas out there, the one that gets to look like a party animal. I'd even be okay if I threw out some elaborate and expensive plan and someone rained on my parade.

At least I'd have had the fun of being the parade planner for those brief, exhilarating  moments.

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Searches That Brought You to Me

It's fun to watch my blog traffic tracker and see all the places around the world where people are looking at my blog. My little blog created by me, here in a little town in Utah. It always surprises me to see the foreign flags and the names of cities all over the United States. I sometimes know who's looking (Missy, I think you come up as Pana, Illinois and Kristi, you're usually Medford, Oregon. Mindy, you're Vernal, and Mary is Fish Haven, Idaho) but who is coming from Hanford, California, Richmond, Texas, Stockholm, Sweden and Grad Zagreb, Zagreb?

My feed shows the Google searches that brought people to my blog. Maybe this is only interesting to me, but just in case you might also find it interesting, I'm going to share the Google searches from this past week.

"People dance like whores at prom," "disturbing prom trends," and "Daughter doesn't have date for prom" took people here. (If they saw the first two searches and read the article, maybe the last person is glad their daughter doesn't have a date.)

"The thing in front of the passenger seat" and "glovebox" took people here.

"gagging eye rolling" took someone here.

"Pantyhose" (2) took people here.

"Reviews of the Book of Mormon Musical in Utah," "what mormons think of Book of Mormon musical," "Foul language in book of mormon musical," "lds thoughts on book of mormon play" and "is the book of mormon play sacrilegious" took people here. (Hope they all knew I was only speaking for myself and not for all Mormons.)

"Fun ways to unload the dishwasher" and "get kids to help unload dishwasher" brought people here.

"wrong to miss church traveling" took someone here.

"Most romantic movie scenes," "Most romantic outside scene for party," and "matthew mcfadyen april 2011" brought people here. (Is it wrong to hope that Matthew McFadyen himself finds my blog when he googles his name? and maybe he could find me so witty and charming and dare I say, attractive that he'd want to walk across the golf course in a trench coat to meet me.)

"my best friend flirts with my wife," "can the opposite sexes really be just friends," "my boyfriend's best friend is a girl," "flirting when married," and "clues my spouse is cheating" led people here. (Over the last 9 months, this has been the posting that gets more visitors from google searches than any other. I think that's interesting.)

"mating rituals african spurred tortoise" brought someone here. (I'm sure this isn't what they were needing for a school report.)

"My banner will be clear" (2) led people here. (This is another pretty popular search. A really strange thing happened awhile back. I had about twenty people who searched "My banner will be clear" over the course of two or three days. I'd have thought maybe someone had given it in a talk or something, but the visitors were from all over the world. How would you explain that?)

"Wallsburg politics" brought someone here.

"ace bandage girdle" brought someone here. (I certainly hope this story steered anyone who was thinking about using an ace bandage for a girdle away from the idea. It's only a good idea if you want to die.)

"Donuts for weddings" brought someone here.

"My mom has always been my defender" led someone here.

"The day I learnt how to cook" led someone here.

"miscellaneous memos" and "How to make a miscellaneous memos" brought someone here. (I don't even understand this search.)

"BYU basketball danny ainge team" and "basketball games my feeling" brought people here.

"Karey White" (4) brought you to my blog.

If you made it through all those, what do you think? I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Thanks for stopping by! I'm wondering if I should do this every two or three months or so. Would that be interesting to any of you, or is this just fun for me? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

How-To Tuesday -- Tips for Dealing with Curly Hair

I had wanted to use a picture of my hair all brushed out and enormous, but unfortunately, my computer crash of last week took that picture with it and so far I haven't had any luck getting my pictures (or the 55 pages of my next manuscript) recovered. The big, frizzy picture would have made your Tuesday a little better, either because of how comical it looked or because of the relief you felt that you don't have to deal hair like this. Either way, it would have made you feel good, and that, in turn, would have made me feel good. A classic win/win!

After many, many years of dealing with this hair, I've learned a few things. One thing I've learned is that I'm immensely grateful for hair product. We didn't have good hair products for curly hair when I was a teenager, so unfortunately, I was often called Frizzhead and was told that my hair doesn't get longer, it gets bigger.

But enough of reliving my childhood trauma. Let's talk curly hair.

Remember that one size doesn't fit all. Some of this might work for you, some of it might not. Take what works and discard the rest.

Tip 1: Use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Curly hair tends to be dry hair, especially on the ends.

Tip 2: Don't overwork the hair. I comb my hair once every two days and that's in the shower, while I have conditioner in the hair. I use a wide-tooth comb that I keep in the shower. I comb my hair there, then towel dry it, put in product and don't comb it again for about 48 hours.

Tip 3: Make your own hair cocktail. Mousse and gel make my hair too stiff. Creams leave it too soft and with frizzy fly-aways. I mix the two together in my hands, apply to hair, finger comb and let it air dry.

Tip 4: Air dry whenever possible. If I'm in a hurry, I'll use a diffuser to partly dry my hair, but it goes much better if it air dries. Air drying makes the curls more defined and helps eliminate damage. I like to let it air dry and then use my fingers to separate the curls. Then I hardly touch it again for two days.

Tip 5: If the hair looks a little unruly on the second day, I spray it with water and a little spray gel, then a little arranging with my fingers and then leave it alone. The more you touch it and mess with it, the bigger it gets.

I hope these help. I didn't include any products, because I change products constantly.

Good luck with your curls and if you have any pointers I could learn from, please feel free to share with me.

What Do You Even Say?

I lived in southwest Missouri for all of my high school years and a year after. I have relatives that lived and still live in Joplin. My first date was with a boy from Joplin. I sang in the choir of "Saturday's Warrior" in Joplin and attended stake dances and Super Saturdays there.

Today, Joplin was nearly demolished by tornadoes. My uncle's house and my grandparent's house were completely destroyed.

Facebook was loaded tonight with family and friends trying to find their loved ones as well as heartbreaking images of the devastation. The news shared words like "search and rescue crews" and "mobile mortuary units" that horribly illustrated just how life-changing today is for so many people. A TV crew looked out over the town and the crushing devastation was shocking.

Thankfully, my family is all safe and accounted for and for that I'm so grateful. But tonight when I go to bed and sleep peacefully through the night, others will be out looking for their missing loved ones and trying to salvage what little bit of their lives they can.

I'm so sorry. My heart, my thoughts and my prayers go out to all of those suffering.

A Day Without Rain!


It hasn't rained today. Who knew that would be such a big deal?

I love the rain. I loved the wet, drizzly days when I lived in Seattle. Occasionally it was heavy enough to need an umbrella, but most of the time, it was a slow soak, the kind that curls and then frizzes your hair and falls coolly on your skin, leaving little cold pinpricks. I liked the gradual chill of soaking clothes--first damp, then wet, then drenched.

I loved the impressive lightning and thunder-filled rainstorms of Missouri. Some of those lightning storms were sensational. We were told a field visible through our large living room window had all kinds of mineral deposits in it and that it attracted the lightning. I don't know if that's true, but I do know there was something other-worldly out there. I liked to sit by the big window and watch. Rain would be coming down in sheets. The air was gray and thick. Thunder would shake the house and great flashes of light would appear to touch the ground just twenty or thirty yards away. I should have been scared, but instead I was excited. There were no marks left on the earth, so it probably wasn't actually touching down, but it looked like it. It was our own laser show right through our living room window.

I love driving in the rain--both the sprinkles that come down slow and make the wipers screech across the windshield if they're moving too quickly and the downpours that windshield wipers can't keep up with no matter how fast they move. The car becomes a cocoon, isolated from the rest of the world.

I've always loved the sound of rain on the roof. It's as good as a lullaby when you're going to sleep.

And the smell! Is there anything better than the clean smell of the world right after it's rained? I think not. And it doesn't really matter where you are. Whether it's wet concrete or wet earth, it makes you want to stay there and breathe deeply.

Because I love the rain, I was surprised to find that this last few weeks I've got completely weary of it. I wanted the rain to stop coming into my kitchen and I wanted to feel warm. The wet cold chilled me to the bone and for two or three days straight, I couldn't get warm. I needed some sunshine.

Well today the sunshine came. I felt warm. The puddles began to dry up and no unwelcome water came into the house.

The kids have some friends over and they're out making s'mores at the firepit and I can hear them laughing through the open windows.

Unfortunately, the beautiful day hurt the turnout for Authorpalooza. I can't blame anyone. It was the first nice day in ages and I can understand wanting to be outside and not in a bookstore. The manager made the rounds several times apologizing for the poor turnout. It picked up a little at the end, but wasn't as busy as they usually are for these events.

But that's okay because we saw the sun. For one whole day. Hopefully we all soaked in enough to last awhile. It's supposed to rain again tomorrow.

Did Jane Austen Know Me?

Because I was sick and Veronica had finally finished a stressful round of tests, we rewarded ourselves with the BBC version of Sense and Sensibility. It was excellent and I loved the casting. In the motion picture version of 1995, I loved Hugh Grant as Edward, but I always felt Emma Thompson was too old to play the oldest Dashwood sister, Elinor. I liked the casting of the sisters in the BBC version much better.

As we watched, I was moved by the emotions of Elinor. I felt her sense of responsibility, of decency, and loyalty. I understood her reserved nature and more than once I actually cried as I watched her deal with her disappointments, heartaches and sense of propriety. She had a level head and common sense. Those are good things but they sometimes robbed her of the spontaneity and headstrong-ness of other Jane Austen characters. But I really understood her.

Now I know why. Today I saw a link to a Jane Austen quiz called "Which Jane Austen Character Are You?" I took the quiz and wasn't at all surprised to find that I'm overwhelmingly Elinor Dashwood. I like Elinor enough that I took it as a compliment.

As I read the description of Elinor Dashwood, I was amazed to find the similarities in Elinor and myself, especially when I was closer to the age she is in the movie. Some of those similarities were both good and not necessarily so good. Elinor is responsible and proper. She puts the needs of others above herself. She's a caretaker. She's extremely loyal. Those are all good things, right?

But that wasn't all. She's reserved and doesn't easily share her feelings, often holding them inside. She allows her sense of duty, loyalty and propriety to stand in the way of her own happiness. Are those things good? Maybe in some cases. Maybe not in others. I can think of times in my life when I've kept my thoughts and feelings to myself and then later regretted it. (Of course, I can also think of a few times when I've shared my thoughts and feelings and then wished I'd kept my mouth shut.)

But in most cases, would I have been better off being more open, like Elizabeth for instance? I'm not sure, but I'd be curious to see what it would be like to go through life with almost bull-headed confidence and openness.

I do know that as I get older, I'm trying to be more open and up-front about how I feel and what I think.

Maybe being like Elinor is so deeply ingrained that I'll never really be any different. That's much better than being a Lydia Bennet or a Lady Catherine.

Books I've Read

This is a rather strange assortment of books, but I've read them all in the last couple of months. I'm not sure if this shows how diverse and well-read I am or if it shows a little bit of instability. But whatever it shows, here are some of my thoughts on them.Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Occasionally I find I'm in the mood for a little science fiction-type book. It turns out I've read two of these recently. This one was a pleasant, easy read. There was nothing objectionable in it unless evil people murdering paranormal creatures is objectionable to you. The romantic storyline was cute. The book reminded me a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It kept me interested enough to keep reading, but it wasn't a book that kept me up late at night. My teenage daughter enjoyed it and while some YA books translate pretty easily to adults, this one seemed better suited to a teenager.
Mormon Scientist by Henry J. Eyring

I liked this book a lot. I enjoyed learning about the life of this amazing scientist and I was interested in how he reconciled science and religion. I loved his attitude, his approach, and his folksy way of explaining things. I think I might have understood science and math better if I'd had a teacher like him. The author repeated himself pretty often and there were a few times when I had to stop and check to see if I was re-reading. I wasn't, it was just the same thing told in a slightly different way and that was a little redundant and off-putting, but overall, I enjoyed the book a lot and thought it was well worth the time spent to read it.
I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

I'd heard so much about this series of books and I was intrigued. This is book one of three. I like some crime fiction and I like some crime dramas, so I thought I might enjoy this and I was fascinated by most of it. The main character is both likable and deplorable. I found I mostly liked him. He's a diagnosed sociopath who lives by a set of rules to be sure he doesn't become a serial killer, which tells me he's got some good qualities. I was really interested in the story and then it took a detour I didn't expect and it was hard for me to feel the same investment in the main character than I had before that. The killer became a paranormal demon. That should have made it easier to take what was happening, but I guess I wanted it to feel more real because the main character seemed so real. That I was disappointed makes me sound like I might be a sociopath.

I liked the writing a lot and I felt like John and his family were really believable. I was almost cheering for John to like the girl while at the same time being creeped out and hoping no one like him is ever interested in my daughters.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This book was the most disappointing book I've read in the last little while. I'd read some reviews by other bloggers that made me excited to get this book for both my teenage daughters and myself to read. One of my daughters started it and didn't finish it. Sorry to say, I did. The author had a writing style that I enjoyed and I wanted to read, so I did. But let me just say, I was disappointed that this is geared to our teenagers and it had things in there that made me glad my daughters didn't read it. There was a lot of talk about sex with it being completely understood that the object of Anna's affection was sleeping with his girlfriend (the one before Anna) for most of the book. This was understood and accepted as normal. There was some drinking and bad language as well. There were a couple of things in the book that are pet peeves of mine, so I'll go ahead and mention them now.

Multiple characters had bad relationships with their fathers. The fathers were portrayed in the worst possible light and there was little or no good said about them. The things that were complained about, especially by Anna, weren't worthy of her contempt. Anna was spoiled and bratty and during some parts of the book I found her as irritating as Bella from Twilight.

Which brings me to my second pet peeve. Anna talks about how beautiful and good-looking St. Claire is over and over and over again. The last time I read something that displayed such a shallow obsession with looks was... Bella. Sure, Edward is not going to age, so he'll keep his beauty forever, but for St. Claire and the rest of the real world, looks change and often fade and that kind of obsession is a bad idea.
Matched by Ally Condie

This was the other science-fiction book I read recently. It's also a YA book, but unlike Paranormalcy, I found this one better suited to all ages. In fact, even though the main characters are teenagers, there is such a strong family and community bond that I was really interested in all of them. I liked the romance, the confusion, and the suspense of it all. I'm really looking forward to the other books in the series. The author did such a good job of drawing me into this stark, emotionless world that when the characters dared to display their emotions and feelings, it felt very meaningful. I really, really liked this story.

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HOW TO - Pop Start a Car

(This VW van is for sale at samba.com, if you're in the market.)

If you don't know how to drive a stick-shift car, otherwise known as "standard," this How-To won't help you much, but may I recommend that you have someone teach you. You never know when you'll be on The Amazing Race, and almost every season, there's some team that has a hard time because they don't know how to drive a stick-shift car.

This How-To is for those of you who know how to drive a stick-shift, but it won't start, either because the battery is dead or the starter isn't working.

I learned how to do this because I had to. We owned a Volkswagen van much like the one pictured above. At the time we owned it, it didn't have the cool status it would have now. It was just a family car with a faulty starter and we couldn't afford to have the starter replaced.

The solution: pop start it.

How do you do this? First, you turn the key to the "on" position.

Second, you push in the clutch and put the car in gear--preferably 1st gear.

Third, you get the car moving. This can be done by either having someone push the car or letting it start rolling down an incline.

Once the car is moving at a decent speed, swiftly let out the clutch and the car should "pop start." Don't be surprised at the little jolt you'll experience. This is normal.

There you have it. The more skilled you are, the slower the car can be moving when you pop start it.

Anyway, an embarrassing little story about my pop starting of our VW van. I was eighteen and worked in the office at Tyson Foods in Missouri. There was no hill to park the van on, so I couldn't let it roll to pop start it, so a nice guy who drove the forklift offered to push the car to start it. For months, I'd call over to the dock when I was ready to go home for the day, he'd drive the forklift over, position it behind the van with the two front prongs carefully under the car, and he'd push the car while I pop started it.

It was embarrassing, but I was good at the pop start, so it never took too long.

One day, he came and pushed the car and it didn't start. We tried again. And again. Usually I could do it in a pretty small space in the parking lot, but that day it wasn't working and I tried over and over. He pushed me until there was nowhere to go but onto the street. It still didn't start, so he pushed me onto the street. I tried again to no avail. He pulled the forklift onto the street and we tried again. It still didn't start. We made it almost all the way around the block, trying time and time again, before I looked down and realized that

THE KEY WASN'T ON.

Horrified, embarrassed, and glad he couldn't see what I was doing, I turned the key to the "on" position and on the very next attempt, I successfully pop started the car. Then I smiled and waved and he gave me a thumbs up.

I never told him it was my fault, but I was very careful to be sure the car was turned to the on position from that point on.


I Can't Fit You in My Box

While I'm not the world's greatest housekeeper, I do like it when things are neat and tidy. I like it when I find a box or storage container that fits my needs--a perfect plastic box with compartments to hold my many antique buttons, a crate just the right size for all my scrapbook paper, or a shelf just the right size for all of our sleeping bags. Then things can be neatly in their place, I can easily deal with them and my life feels under control.

Unfortunately, I've discovered that people are messy and hard to fit into a box. It would be so easy if I could just organize them neatly into categories so I know exactly how to deal with them in my life.

I'd have a box of extra good people--those that do everything right, who are perfectly reliable, modest, appropriate, and gentle. They never swear, they almost never miss church and say their prayers, and they're never selfish or mean. They're outspoken about what's right and they try to learn all they can. They have good manners and always say please and thank you.

I'd have a box of people who are medium good--those that occasionally swear or are inappropriate, those that sometimes don't say their prayers or their prayers are thoughtless, they skip church when they travel, they sometimes get angry or mean. Sometimes they have good manners, but sometimes they forget.

I'd have a box of bad people--those with potty mouths who dress in provocative clothes, maybe they don't pray at all and they rarely, if ever go to church. They're completely unaware of the needs of others and don't think of other's feelings at all. They never say thank you and act like the world owes them something.

Wouldn't life be easy if we could sort people into these three boxes?

But we can't. Because if we do, we'll be wrong about everyone. I haven't met anyone who does everything right.

I know someone who dresses provocatively, but she's incredibly loving and loyal to her family. She's generous and thoughtful.

I know someone who goes to church and fulfills her callings, who smiles and includes everyone, who fires off a curse word or an off-color joke.

I know someone who is generous and helpful, but rarely prays and has trouble with faith.

I know someone who is prayerful and spiritual, but is easily overwhelmed.

I know someone who would never swear or go to an R-rated movie, but they never say please and thank you.

We don't fit into boxes. The only way we can is if we pull each other apart, piece by piece and distribute the different parts in the appropriate place. And once we've done that, we've destroyed each other. And quite honestly, I'd like to keep all my parts together.

The only box we all fit in is more like the Lost and Found box. It's got a little of everything in there--the glove, the coat, the earring, the book, the keys, the friendship bracelet and the chapstick.

Hopefully what we find in that box is friends, patience, acceptance and even love.

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Do We Really Know What We Look Like?

I love estate sales. A few years ago, estate sales were a weekly part of my life. My sister and I would attend them looking for great items to sell on ebay or to find vintage linens to use in our sewing. We found wonderful treasures and loved witnessing the history there on display.

Estate sales can be so different. Some are a family selling most of their loved one's worldly possessions. This often meant great deals as the family tried to clean house. At other sales, a professional company was hired to come in and the whole thing was organized. Good deals are harder to find at these sales because the professionals know the value of the things they're selling.

I was at one of the professional and organized estate sales. The large dining room/living room combination had been cleared of all furniture and was filled with rows of long tables full of someone's earthly treasures. I was rummaging through a table filled with embroidered pillowcases when an older woman walked by the table.

"Excuse me," she said. There was no one around, so I thought she must be talking to me. I looked up to see her stepping aside to walk past a woman coming toward her. The woman coming toward her moved the same direction as she did. She side-stepped the other way at the exact same time as the woman facing her.

"I said excuse me." She sounded annoyed as she again tried to step to around the woman. The other woman stepped with her. It was an awkward dance. Finally, the woman got angry.

"Oh my h---, just let me past you," she said and stepped to the side and then forward with purpose, only to find herself...

walking right into herself.

The entire wall was covered by a mirror. She was trying to walk through the wall and around herself!

When she hit the wall, she stopped and looked into her own eyes.

"Oh, it's you," she said and turned abruptly and left.

It was a long time before I was able to stop laughing.

Miscellaneous Memos

TO: LDStorymakers
SUBJECT: LDStorymakers Conference 2011

Thanks for a great conference. This was the first writer's conference I've ever attended and I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was great. I learned a lot, enjoyed meeting lots of great people and look forward to next year.

TO: Sheraton Food Staff
SUBJECT: Lunch on Friday

Either serve everyone good sandwiches on croissants or serve everyone the lousy sandwiches on tasteless balloon bread. Whatever you choose to do, make it fair so that those of us with blah sandwiches aren't sitting there drooling over the delicious-looking sandwiches across the table from us.

TO: Marion Jensen
SUBJECT: Twitter and Hashtags

I learned a lot in your class. Thanks for the crash course on Twitter.

TO: Gary and Mallory on The Amazing Race
SUBJECT: How Not to Lose

When you get a terrible cab driver, you should change cabs before you've wasted so much time that you have no chance of winning. After this many seasons, you should know that a bad cabdriver can cost you a million dollars. You probably won't get a third try. You should have switched cabs.

TO: Bruce
SUBJECT: Phone cards

So sad we got cut off so abruptly on Sunday and we didn't get to tell you how much we love you and miss you. Hopefully you know. Holy cow! It was so good to talk to you. I can't stop thinking about it.

TO: My Family
SUBJECT: Mother's Day

Thanks for breakfast in bed, a delicious dinner, flowers & chocolates, a story & pen, and 100 things you love about me. I didn't know I was so awesome. You're the best! and I love you so much!

TO: My Nasty Cold
SUBJECT: Go away!

I'm tired of you and my back and ribs are killing me from coughing. I don't like you and I want you to leave and stay away. And stay away from my family too. I mean it!

TO: The sunshine
SUBJECT: Stick up for yourself

For crying out loud. You showed your face for a couple of days and then you let the clouds and the cold intimidate you again. Have a backbone and stop being pushed around so easily.

TO: The school year
SUBJECT: End already

We're tired of you. We're ready for summer. We're tired of tests and studying. We want to watch the BBC Sense & Sensibility and you're not giving us a chance.

TO: The Deer
SUBJECT: Your greedy appetites

That wasn't very nice of you to eat all those tulips we planted. You didn't even let us enjoy them for one day. Selfish, selfish deer!

TO: Law and Order: Criminal Intent
SUBJECT: Goren and Eames

You finally figured out that you don't have a show without Goren and Eames, the best pair of detectives ever on television. Thanks for coming to your senses and giving us one more season. I hope my DVR holds the shows for 19 months so I can watch them with Bruce.

TO: For What It's Worth (the manuscript I'm working on)
SUBJECT: Watch out!

I'm inspired! I'm excited! And I'm ready to get you finished.

TO: The Staff at the Cheesecake Factory
SUBJECT: Same time, Same booth

How you keep doing it is amazing to me. For the third year in a row, Veronica has chosen The Cheesecake Factory for her birthday dinner and for the third year in a row, you've given us exactly the same booth. How did you know? We'll see you next year.

Slow Down! (Happy Birthday, Veronica)

Time is a cruel and tricky fellow and he doesn't play fair. When something is boring or miserable, Time drags his feet and laughs while you trudge through it. If something is wonderful and pleasant, he skips along far too quickly and laughs again.

Time must know that when it comes to my kids, he's killing me. Veronica is 17 years old today and I'm not sure what Time did with all those years, but he took them away from me much too quickly. My little girl is nearly an adult. To celebrate her 17th birthday, here are 17 things I love about Veronica.

1. She's obedient.
2. She's not just book smart, she has great common sense
3. She always does her best.
4. She makes delicious parmesan chicken (her own recipe that she created while working with Kelsey Nixon.)
5. She's got her own style and she's comfortable with it. (She's doing her part to bring back overalls.)
6. She's a great friend. (You won't find someone more loyal or thoughtful.)
7. She approaches everything with prayer. (She trusts her Heavenly Father completely.)
8. She doesn't avoid hard things.
9.When she feels prompted to do something, she does it, no matter how much she doesn't want to.
10. She cares about people's feelings and has incredible empathy.
11. She's always willing to help.
12. She loves children and makes them feel important.
13. She's beautiful but doesn't try too hard or obsess about her appearance.
14. She's always willing to watch a good chick flick with me.
16. She loves to read.
17. She loves 80s music.

Last Thursday night the two of us were sitting in the family room together. She was studying for one of many tests and was feeling a little overwhelmed. At one point, she got emotional and cried. I told her a stupid joke and made her laugh. A little while later, I started worrying about going to my writer's conference alone and not feeling well. She told me a stupid joke and I laughed. Then we sat down together and pulled up a few Thompson Twins and Howard Jones songs. We finished up with "Things Can Only Get Better" and we were fine.

I don't know what I'd do without Veronica. She's a girl any mother would be lucky to have. I love her and even though I miss the little girl she used to be, I love the young lady she's become.

Happy birthday, Veronica

Lessons from My Mom

**Re-posted from my family blog.**

I’ve always known I have an amazing mom, but as the years have passed, I shake my head in wonder at the life my mom has lived. Mom’s life hasn’t always been easy. It’s been filled with sacrifices, challenges and trials, but not being afraid of hard things is just one of the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) from Mom. Disclaimer: I do not claim to have mastered the many lessons mom has taught, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t teach them. In fact, while I was lucky enough to have a mom who read to us, taught family night lessons and homemaking skills, most of what she taught was from her example. Here are a few of the lessons Mom taught.


To write letters – Never have I known anyone who was better at corresponding that Mom is. Probably her biggest obsession and personal indulgence is paper products. Mom is a sucker for pretty cards. Then she uses those cards to say thank you, hope you’re feeling better, I miss you, I’m proud of you, and more. Personal, hand-written correspondence is almost a lost art, but Mom has done her part to keep it alive. Even with us living just an hour away, she and Veronica exchange almost weekly letters.

To love babies -- She had eleven of her own and would willingly have had more. But even that many babies doesn’t stop mom from loving every grandchild, every niece and nephew and really about any baby she sees.

That we are our children’s defender – Mom taught me that Mom’s MUST defend their children—from injustice, from bullying, from mean teachers, from the world. I’ll never forget her following a bully (who was bigger than her) home from the school bus because he'd been picking on her children. She was fearless.
That we are our children’s cheerleader – With eleven kids, I can’t even imagine how exhausting it must have been to listen to every story from school, attend every concert, sporting event, art night, dance program, and more. But she did and made us feel like she loved it. Even now, with dozens of grandchildren, she and Grandpa still try to attend at least one game of each grandchild during each sports season. They also attend the grandchildren's spelling bees, concerts and plays.

To fulfill church assignments – Mom is more than willing to be in the background. She doesn’t like a lot of attention and she’s not an exhibitionist. Her favorite callings have been behind the scenes—a small primary class or compassionate service leader. But when asked, she has nervously, but willingly, taken the role of leader. She’s always done what she’s asked.

To do it ourselves (make the things you can’t afford) – Mom never wanted us to do without, so when graphic tees came into style, she used fabric paints and made graphic tees. When western shirts with snaps came into style, mom learned how to use a snap tool and made the boys snap-up western shirts. When everyone was getting cabbage patch dolls, Mom made us cabbage patch dolls. She was always good at seeing something that we couldn’t afford and making a version of it for us.

Creativity -- Mom taught me to be creative. She sewed most of our clothes. She made dolls. She quilted. She cross-stitched. She fabric painted. She decorated our home with the things she made. If we needed curtains, she made curtains. When I was asked to prom, she made a prom dress.


To accept the Lord’s will – Mom had two miscarriages and lost a son to death in a car accident. Even though there were really hard things, Mom taught by example that we need to accept the Lord’s will. When I was eighteen, she had her last miscarriage. Dad was out of town so she called me at work and asked if I could come home and take her to the doctor. On the way home, brokenhearted, she said, “It must have been the Lord’s will.” No bitterness. Just acceptance. I’ll never forget that.

To work hard – Mom fed a huge family on a budget by baking her own bread, making butter and cheese from our own cows (this included straining milk and washing huge pieces of equipment), and more. She moved bedrooms around more than anyone I’ve ever seen, even though it was an enormous job. She canned and gardened and did laundry. The work never ended and she did it willingly and I don’t remember her complaining.
Patience – We kids fought. We complained about helping. Some of us (me especially) were not great students. Through it all, Mom was patient. When I think about how long it would take me to do a sink full of dishes, I don’t know how mom stood it.

To love good books – Mom loved to read and introduced me to Jane Austen and Bess Streeter Aldrich, two of my favorite authors to this day. In spite of how busy she was, she read Where the Red Fern Grows and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to us at night before we’d go to bed.

That it’s okay to stay home from school once in awhile – I never wanted to go to school. Most days she made me go. I was rarely allowed to stay home unless I could demonstrate a fever (which I learned to do by putting a thermometer under hot water or on a light bulb). I now know she wasn’t really fooled. Surely, when she saw a fever of over 105 and didn’t instantly run me to the emergency room, she had to know I was just needing a day off—a day to stay home and help or watch gameshows. Because of that, I occasionally let my kids have a day off. It’s good for all of us!

It is impossible for me to ever thank Mom enough for the lessons she taught me, the incredible example she has been and is, and the wonderful friend that she is. I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!

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Bye, Bye Birdie

We love to drive through neighborhoods and look at the homes. Even the kids enjoy it. I think it's one of the reasons Bruce loves architecture. We do it everywhere--around home, in neighboring towns and always on trips. Hopefully the price of gas won't rob of us this family activity.

We were in Seattle with a couple of hours to kill before boarding our boat. We'd already been to Pike's Market where we'd admired the flowers, sampled red-pepper honey on crackers and purchased a marzipan cinnamon roll that was so delicious, I experience occasional cravings even now, a year later. With time on our hands, we did the only logical thing to do. We drove around looking for a neighborhood with interesting homes.

Seattle is beautiful, one of my favorite cities. In fact, it's the setting for the novel I'm currently finishing. We hadn't even made it to an actual neighborhood when we were startled by a man in a car behind us laying on his horn--loud and long. We hadn't done anything wrong--no bewildered out-of-state-driver lane changes, we weren't driving too fast or too slow. We'd done nothing that should prompt this manic horn-honking.

The kids in the back seat turned around and looked at him to see what the problem was and he flipped them off, several times.

A strange thing happens when someone flips me off. I experience a combination of amusement at the obvious lack of communication skills and irritation that I can't respond with anything that will tell them what I think of them. My usual response is to smile and wave, so that's what we did. All six of us.

The man roared past us on the right side of the car, even though there was no lane there and he narrowly missed a parked car before swerving back into the lane in front of us. At the next light, we were right behind him, so we did what any family itching for a fight would do. We honked and waved again, all of us smiling.

Immediately, without turning around to look at us (although I'm pretty sure he was looking in the rear-view mirror), his right arm began pumping up and down, middle finger extended. Over and over and over and over. We should have been appalled, but we couldn't stop laughing. The arm kept pumping until the light changed and he pulled out. Now he was creeping down the road at about ten miles an hour. We weren't in a hurry so I don't think it had the desired effect. We just kept laughing.

Another light, another wave and smile from us and another minute or two of furious birdie flipping. He looked like a machine. We had to be hitting a record. Do you think anyone else has been flipped off a hundred times in about four minutes? It was impressive. We followed him for a few more lights, driving him to insanity with our friendly waves and smiles.

And then one of the kids made an astute observation. "I think he's really crazy. Maybe we should just get away from him." It seemed the wise thing to do, so we turned off at the next opportunity and never saw him again, but not before the man in the old, red Honda entered our family vacation hall of fame.

How to Cut Down Prep Time for Your Chicken Recipes


I'm a pretty good cook. My family (except my oldest daughter) usually likes whatever I make. Guests usually enjoy my cooking and take seconds. I know my way around the kitchen.

In the past, when I made chicken noodle soup, I boiled a chicken, let it cool down, de-boned it and made my soup. For Layered Chicken Nachos or Poppyseed Chicken, I'd boil a few chicken breasts, let them cool and cut them up. For BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, I'd cook boneless chicken thighs in the crock pot and then shred the meat. So many chicken recipes require cooked chicken.

One day, as I walked through Costco and saw the $4.99 rotisserie chickens, I made a startling realization. Those chickens were just like the chickens I often bought for $5 to $7 and then took home and cooked myself for use in my recipes. Purchasing these already cooked rotisserie chickens would save me time AND money, and since time IS money, this was a financially sound shortcut.

I'd never thought of this before and that day marked a change in the way I prepare most chicken dishes.

Now when I go to Costco with my two-week menu in hand (sometimes it's just my evening menu, but I really try to plan ahead), I buy three or four rotisserie chickens. At home, I de-bone them and divide them into freezer bags. I can usually get six meals out of four chickens. Then when I'm making one of our chicken recipes, I just pull a bag of chicken out of the freezer and I'm ready to go.

This how-to has actually changed my life. If you're smarter than me and you've been doing this forever, give yourself a little shout-out from me.

(Image from restaurantwidow.com)

Weddings and Donuts

(Image from www.100layercake.com)

Perhaps it was the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate. After all, the dress and the kiss were enough to trigger romantic thoughts in almost any female. Whatever the cause, my 13-year-old daughter wanted to plan her wedding. My 16-year-old wanted to join her, but a boatload of homework forced her to postpone her internet browsing until another time.

But the 13-year-old and her friend spent a few hours with me yesterday, planning weddings that are probably about a decade away. I think there's a better than average chance that everything they picked yesterday will change by the time the big day arrives, but it was still a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Dresses, flowers, decorations and food were all sorted out, right down to the boutonnieres the men will wear. I'm happy to report that the girls had impeccable taste. The whole exercise almost made me wish I could go back and do it all again, even though I still like most of what we did back in 1989.

As we were beginning to look, my Savannah said, "Would it be weird to serve donuts?" That's because Savannah loves donuts more than almost anything in the world. If you asked her if she wants a dozen donuts or a dozen $100 bills, she'd be torn. And if she were hungry, she'd probably choose the donuts. And she's almost always hungry.

"I don't know. I've never seen donuts served. It might be kinda strange."

And then a wonderful thing happened. About an hour in and on one of the most beautiful wedding websites I've ever seen, there were donuts--beautiful, interesting, rustic donuts.

Happily, we saved that picture into her wedding file. I think she might have been more thrilled about the donuts than she was about the dress she chose.