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Showing posts from 2013

December 2013 - Whew!

December 2013 is almost on it's way out.  And what with all the Holiday Festivities and other end of year items, what a whirlwind it has been. Here are some highlights: December 5th - Tracie has new windows installed (in 19-degree weather!) December 7th - The CBAP Exam (which I have already covered in detail) December 8th - Tracie is interviewed by Family Search missionaries (all about Indexing) December 12th - End of Year HOA Board Meeting (where we are verbally abused by one of the owners) December 13th - Department Luncheon, followed by Tracie ducking out of work to go Christmas Shopping. December 14th - Ward Christmas Party December 15th - Music and the Spoken Word and MoTab Christmas mini-concert (Thanks Annalyn!) December 17th - Annual Mammogram (Tracie gets manhandled by a mammographer with severe halitosis). December 18th and 19th - Major Ice and Snow Storm, and hour long commute (uphill both ways!) December 20th - Christmas Dinner and

She's a CBAP

Back in August, I told you about applying to sit for the Professional Certification exam.  Well, since then, I have spending a large portion of my time in studying for the exam.  I was given a year before I had to take it, but I felt inspired to get it over as soon as I could.  With Christmas coming up, I wanted to have it done in time that I could actually focus on the Holiday.  So I registered with the testing center for date, and yesterday was D-Day. To give you an idea of all my preparations, I set aside one hour every weekday in my work calendar where I would just sit at my desk and study.  If I had a day off during the week, or worked from home, I spent that hour studying at home.  I have to say that it was very difficult material. As often as I have participated in study groups and reviewed the Business Analysis manual, it was still very difficult material to try and retain. It was also just a lot of material.  I spent time browsing online study resources, downloaded a study g

New Windows

This week I had new windows installed in half the house.  All the windows on the north side, and the picture window in the dining room.  You know your windows are bad when you can feel the air coming in around them and there's condensation on the inside.  So - it was more than time. I spent a very cold afternoon on Thursday with some fine gentlemen who did the install - cold because it was 20 degrees out, and of course they have to take the old windows out first out, including all the frames and hardware. They did all that before they put any new ones in, so it got mighty chilly in here for awhile.  But it was a small price to pay considering the final result.   The windows are beautiful, insulated and sealed correctly, and double-paned. No more drafts and no more condensation.  Hoo-rah! There's still two more windows to go, plus the sliding glass door, all of which will require a little more effort than these. But they are all on the radar for next year.  There

Curried Pumpkin Soup

It's soup season!  I was reading online today, and noticed an article with a recipe for an easy Pumpkin soup. All it called for was some grated onion, pumpkin, chicken broth and cream.  Of course, since I love all things pumpkin, I was totally intrigued by this.  I had plenty of everything the recipe called for, minus the cream.  That's when my brain started thinking, and I came up with this rather tricked out recipe I'm calling "Curried Pumpkin Soup".  And guess what - it was delicious!  Here goes: 2 T. dehydrated onion (I was too lazy to grate one myself) 1 large can of pumpkin (29 oz.) 2 cans chicken broth 1 c. Lite Coconut Milk (I buy the canned variety) 1 t. black pepper 1 t. cinnamon 1/2 t. nutmeg 2 T. yellow curry powder Pour 2 tablespoons Olive Oil in a large sauce pan, and turn the heat to medium low. Add the dehydrated onion, black pepper, and curry powder.  Cook for a minute or so, until the onion is toasted.  Empty the entire can of pumpki

LA Trip - The Main Event

As I mentioned before, the purpose of our trip to LA was for the main event - that being our pal Pink's wedding to Keith Coogan.  Keith is the grandson of legendary child star Jackie Coogan, and an actor in his own right (you can catch him in "Adventures in Babysitting" and "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead", as prime examples). We were thrilled to be included in the festivities. The wedding was on Zuma Beach, in Malibu. My first beach wedding and my first trip to Malibu, all in the same weekend!  It was a vision of pink. Remember Julia Roberts's character in "Steel Magnolias"? Compared to Pinky, Julia was an amateur.  Guests were encouraged to wear pink (which explains my pink blouse in earlier photos). Everyone arrived in some form of pink or red (Keith's favorite color), and gathered on the beach.  The wedding party arrived wearing touches of pink, Keith arrived wearing a pink tie, and the Pinkster herself walked down the aisle

Halloween 2013

Much as I adore Halloween, for some reason my costume always comes together at the last minute. This year was no exception.  First I thought I wanted to be Helen Mirren in "Red 2" - but I couldn't find a white fur coat. Waah.  Then I thought I could be a CHP officer, after all the ones I saw last weekend.  But I couldn't find a patrol helmet. And after several trips to thrift stores, nothing was really working. I decided to keep after it, and by Wednesday evening, I was at the local party supply store, which also happened to be costume central this year.  I walked around and around the store, perusing and pondering, and my creative juices were at a low.  I decided to just leave the store, and use one of my costumes from former years. But then - serendipity happened.  As I was walking down the party decoration aisle, I saw all sorts of decorations for Hollywood and Oscar Parties.  Being the old movie buff that I am, this definitely piqued my interest. My eyes fell

Weekend in Los Angeles - The Temple

Inge and Betsy and Rick and I all decided to carpool for the wedding.  Since we were in L.A., I didn't want to miss an opportunity to see the Los Angeles Temple. Though it was a bit out of our way, the others graciously agreed to leave the hotel early so we could make a quick visit. The reason I really wanted to see the L.A. temple in particular (and Brian reminded me that I should say "The Temple", so as to distinguish properly from all the Jewish temples in H'wood), is that I was sealed to my parents there when I was about 17 months old.  You might say that it's where our eternal family all began.  So it was very emotional for me to see it.   Temples are meant to be a refuge from the world, and I think of all the temples I've visited, this is most evident in Los Angeles.  The Temple is right off Santa Monica Boulevard, and it sits on a hill high above the busy road. It's totally breathtaking. After several photo ops and a walk around the t

Weekend in Los Angeles - The Food Tour

Last weekend Inge and I and our friends Brian and Heidi, their kids (McFamily, as they are known to followers of the Pinkster), and our other friends Betsy and Rick all tooled down to the City of Angels for the wedding of our dear friend Pinky to Mr. Keith Coogan.  While Pink was taken up with all the wedding finishing touches, the rest of us had a lot of time to ourselves.  So - we decided to spend it all together.   We stayed at the same hotel (Thank you to the Holiday Inn Express Woodland Hills!), and being as we all consider ourselves to be foodies, we went on what you could call a "Food Crawl".  That's the idiomatic way of saying that we hit some classic food joints and stuffed ourselves. First up - Pink's Hot Dog Stand, right in the heart of Hollywood. Pink's has been around since the 1930's, and anyone who's anyone has all eaten there. It's full of pictures of all the famous folks, and if so inclined, you can order your favorite celebrity

The Dodgers Lose the Pennant

After losing game 6 of the National League Championship series last night, the baseball season is now officially over for the Boys in Blue.  And although logically I realize what a terrific season it's been, I'm still completely devastated.  Because you see - I just knew deep down in my heart of hearts that we were meant to win this year's National League pennant.  Like it was foreordained and this was "THE" year.  So for some reason that makes it even more difficult.   For the last several days I've had going through my head a quote from "The Natural", where Wilford Brimley, as manager of the New York Knights, tells Richard Farnsworth - "Red, I wanted to win that pennant more than I wanted any g--d---ed thing in my life, and you'd think just this once I could've got it. I didn't care nothin' about the Series. Win or lose, I'd have been satisfied."  Of course, right then the injured Roy Hobbs walks in, and you KNOW tha

Next Time Wear Gloves

Note to self: Next time you decide to gut the seeds from some hot peppers, make sure you wear plastic gloves. A little background - This summer I planted and managed to grow some ancho peppers in my containers.  I thought it would be fun to make some homemade chile relleno this fall.  The peppers took the entire summer to grow, and finally got large enough that I could harvest the last of them before the frost. But I decided I wanted to let them ripen a little bit, so I left them out on the counter for the last couple of weeks. This was my first mistake. Segue to last night.  Being slightly bored, and knowing that I needed to do something about those ripening peppers, I got the bright idea to gut them so I could put them in the freezer for later.  I figured I'd done this before with jalapenos, and haven't had any issues, so it should work the same for the anchos.  The anchos weren't that large anyway.  It didn't even occur to me that I might want to use some plastic

Skinny Jeans

So my little sister and I did some clothes shopping when she was in town last week, and it seems I've now officially entered mid-life crisis territory.  This was brought about by buying my first pair of what are called "Skinny Jeans".  Alas, this doesn't mean that I've lost a few pounds and gone down a size. No, it means that the jeans taper down and hug your lower leg.  And forget boot cut - skinny jeans are now all the rage. "In my day" this look was achieved by what we called "pegging" - folding over one side of the pant leg and then rolling it up a couple of times. And we wore them with penny loafers.  But these days why mess with pegging jeans when you can just make them narrow enough that a foot can barely fit through. Anyhoo - I was not necessarily in the market for a pair of skinny jeans, but I was with my "much younger" sister, and I figured "when in Rome" (aka Old Navy), so I bought a pair. One of my other si

Application for Commissioner of Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced today his intention to retire at the end of next season.  Which means, that there's going to be a job opening, and I'm thinking of applying.  I mean, can you think of anyone else more qualified? Of all the people you know, is there a more die-hard baseball fan?  So I thought I'd submit an open letter to MLB, listing my qualifications, and my platform: To Whom It May Concern: I am a lifelong baseball fan and former player. I know my balls from my strikes, and I can argue a close call with the best of them - respectfully of course. I've attended a couple of major league baseball games in my time, I think Dodger Stadium is the only real place to have a hot dog, and I can get down with a bag of peanuts. As my first act as Commissioner, I intend to ban Darth A-Rod for life.  Any player found to be taking PED's will receive a half-year suspension for a first offense, a full-year suspension for a second offense,

Greek Festival 2013

Last weekend was the annual Greek Festival downtown.  I'm there just about every year, and other than maybe Thanksgiving, it's the one meal every year where I let myself go a little crazy. I love the lemon rice, dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), keftethes (meatballs), fasolakia (green beans), spanikopita (spinach pie), and pretty much everything else.  Kind of like St. Patrick's Day, it's the one weekend of the year when everyone in Salt Lake is Greek, and walks around saying "Opa! to each other.   Inge and I met up with our pals Mike and Jerry, and finally found a table where we were all able to sit together.  The last few years, it seems that we always end up meeting nice folks who are visiting from out of state, and this year was no exception. We ended up sitting at the same table as some folks who had come all the way from Texas for the big football game with BYU.  We had a fabulous time talking with them, and Jerry introduced them to loukoumades - fried doug

Holmes Makes It Right!

My 2nd-favorite Canadian is FINALLY back with another show, and thankfully I found it this week on DIY Network.  There has been a dearth of Mike Holmes shows lately, but now he's back and cuter in overalls than ever.  Mike, Damon, Mike Jr., and the gang continue to make it right in the 51st state, and all is now right in my home improvement viewing world. HooRah!

Blue Moon Festival

Friday evening I met up with my friend Stephanie and her girls Courtney and Bailee for Holladay's annual "Blue Moon Festival".  It's usually held the same weekend as a blue moon, and it's a way to celebrate the end of summer, and what feels like the entire community comes out for it.  Since Steph works for the city, and her girls go to school close by, I have friends to tag along with. There's always booths from local crafters - usually way overpriced, but fun to look at; food trucks; and a band or two playing on the town square.   This year was a Reggae band (Reggae has never really been my thing), and a local Neil Diamond cover band. I was much more interested in the Neil Diamond band. After looking through all the booths, we also like to make a stop at the local Frozen Yogurt joint. It's one of those places where you load up a cup with your favorite yogurt flavor, then top it with yummy goodness (e.g. fruit, candy, nuts, etc.), and pay

Radical Revolution

Last evening I met up with some friends for a free Concert in Davis County at the Farmington Station.  The concert guest was a group from Portland called Radical Revolution, an 80's cover band.  And OMG - to use the 80's vernacular, they were "totally awesome"!  It was a "total blast"!   The band sang for 2 hours, doing most of the 80's classics you would want to hear. I came of age in the 80's, so I consider that the music of my generation, and it wasn't long before I was out of my seat dancing and fist pumping and partying like it was 1999. I enjoyed myself immensely, and looking back on it, perhaps a little too much. I'm tempted to search for "Crazy Dancing Lady" on youtube this morning, just to make sure there's no clandestine cellphone videos that are going to go viral.  Word to the wise: If the 80's cover band starts playing Van Halen's "Jump", any females over 40 might want to think about it

Temple Saturday

I'm still doing well on my goal of getting to the temple once a week.  This morning I left the house a little after 7:00 to get to the Salt Lake Temple and do some initiatory.  I've learned that I need to get there as early as I can - before 8:00 at least, if I don't want to be there waiting in line for a long time.  It was a lovely morning, and the temple felt especially peaceful today, considering it's summer and high wedding season.  The ordinance workers who helped me during the ordinance just happened to be girls from my Ward, and it was a very neat feeling to be there among friends of mine and to spend a few minutes performing the work.  I honestly had a difficult time leaving the grounds, just because it felt so pleasant there.  I snapped a quick picture, but it doesn't really do it justice. If you aren't one to do initiatory regularly, may I suggest that next time you go, that you make some time for it. It is a beautiful ordinance with many wonderf

Studying for my CBAP

In the category of good, but intimidating news, this week I received notice that I have been accepted to sit for the CBAP Exam.  This is the exam which, if I were to pass, would grant me a professional certification in Business Analysis from the IIBA, and allow me to put those 4 letters after my name.   I never necessarily aspired to be a Business Analyst or Software professional. Ask any member of my family, and they'll tell you that I was the one who was always reluctant to have anything to do with computers or technology.  Yet somehow I fell into this career, and I have tried to make the most of it.  And now that I've gotten involved with the IIBA, and especially in my role as Chapter VP over Professional Development, it seemed that I should try to set an example of continuing to advance in the profession. The application process is quite daunting.  You need to prove that you've spent over 7,500 hours in the last 10 years working at being a BA, and you need to show y

R&H and Inspiration

Most of you know that I'm just about the world's biggest "Sound of Music" fan. It's my feeling that for most of life's questions, the answers can usually be found in "The Sound of Music".  I say this only half-way facetiously.  Think about it - if you're nervous or scared, remember to count your blessings and sing about "My Favorite Things".  If you're uncertain of your talents and abilities, sing about having "Confidence in Me".  If you're not sure the direction of your life, go and "Climb Every Mountain". R&H wrote a lot of shows, but for me "The Sound of Music" is perhaps their most inspiring.  It was the last show they wrote together - Hammerstein passed away before it was officially staged.  I like to think that he knew he was going to die soon, and that he was a little closer to inspiration right then. But come to think of it, I may need to tweak my theory a bit.  I'm listening to


Friday evening some friends and I met up to go see "Annie Get Your Gun" on stage at Sundance.  I used to visit there quite a bit when I was living in Provo and going to the Y, but it's been many years since I've been up there.  But I have to say that it was fabulous and breathtaking, and I was rather sorry it had been so long.  The show itself was terrific (although when you're used to Howard Keel in the part of Frank Butler, casting a tenor in the part just doesn't quite work), especially the lead actress. So fun, and I could barely contain my vocal enthusiasm - a sing-a-long it was not, and I had rather a hard time remembering that. It is a bit of an effort to get up there.  About halfway up Provo Canyon, and then once you find a parking space you have to take shuttles back and forth to the outdoor theater. But it was well worth the trek.  THe air was clear and crisp, and the stars were out in abundance.  It was a beautiful evening.


So as part of it's Family History program, the Church has a volunteer activity you can do called "Indexing". The basic idea being that you download a batch of microfilmed picture files - of things such as census records, marriage records, military muster rolls, and the like, and then you enter the names on the images in to the Indexing program.  People go online later to view the indexed records, and they don't have to go through the challenge of reading the old handwriting. You've already done it for them. Anyhoo - I haven't been involved in any Family History work for quite a long time (and frankly, I DO NOT like using the New FamilySearch website).  But I figured I should try to get back involved in it a bit, and Indexing seemed like a way I could do that.  So - the last 3 or 4 weeks in a row, I've been indexing. Since my church schedule starts in the mid-afternoon, I log in on Sunday mornings (I have plenty of time) and index for 30 minutes to an hou

Breaking Up

Dear JC Penney, For most of my adult life, I have been a loyal JCP customer.  I carried a JCP credit card - it was only my second credit card, and I carried it proudly.  There were plenty of JCP stores around, and I spent many a happy Saturday afternoon amongst the clothing racks.  JCP had great sales - My favorite was the one where they gave away a candy bar at the store entrance, and inside the wrapper was the amount of discount you got on your purchases that day. It was also the store where I discovered what can happen to a woman when she sees a clearance sign.  Sigh...  JCP was my store.   There was a day when you could go into a JCP store and the selection alone would take your breath away. There was something comforting about having a store where I could buy great clothes from a great selection, and get the occasional housewares item as well.  The last few years though have taken a toll on our relationship.  While I've still tried to give JCP the first opportunity for my

Once a Week

I was reading a book recently, where the author talked about how for most of her adult life, her goal had been to get to the temple once a month, and how difficult sometimes it was even to attend that much.  She then talked about how a Sunday School teacher had told their class the difference that had come into his life by attending the temple once a week.  So she decided to do make that a goal for her own life, and testified that "I can't tell you how, but attending the temple once a week makes everything in life better." For most of my adult life, I've been just like this woman - struggling to get to the temple once a month, and then when I finally do get there, being not quite as worshipful as I'd like to be - being overcome with exhaustion or worry or impatience instead.  This despite living in close proximity to no less than six temples. So in an effort to make more of my temple experience, and put the author's promise to the test, I decided to try to g


Today, I made Gazpacho (cold tomato soup for the uninitiated). The recipe was courtesy of my "How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian" Cookbook, by Mark Bittman.  It's super easy to make, and really hits the spot on a hot summer day.  YUM!

Samoan Cultural Celebration

Earlier this week, Inge and I and her friend Ilia trekked out to Riverton to attend the Samoan Cultural Celebration.  Since part of my family is Samoan, and my sister tells me I'm an honorary Polynesian, it was fun to go out and spend some time celebrating with the local Samoan Community.  I even wore my Lava Lava for the occasion. As with any typical Samoan event, there were plenty of food stands, and we indulged ourselves with some Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Teriyaki Chicken, Chop Suey, Rice, Panikeke, and Mango Otai. Delicious! Dinner was followed by some special dance performances. Members of the Polynesian Cultural Center played and did some traditional dances, topped off by my personal favorites, the Slap Dance and the Fire Dance. It was a wonderful afternoon and evening. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to have my Samoan family members all with me. Talofa!

How Does My Garden Grow?

Here's a few photos of the fruits of my gardening labors.  My tomatoes are starting to ripen - I have had some of the Chadwick Cherries and the Yellow Cherries so far, and they've been very tasty. The strawberries are blooming again and I may end up with a few more before the summer's over.  My paprika pepper looks to be doing very well, and despite my best efforts to kill my zucchini plant, I may end up with a zucchini after all!

Happy Birthday Oscar Hammerstein!

According to the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, today would have been Oscar's 118th birthday. And in his honor, they posted this totally fun Word Search on FB, dedicated to all the shows he ever wrote for. Loved it!  And I only needed help with 3 or 4 of the clues, which I consider to be not bad at all. Because really, unless you're an uber-R&H Geek, who's ever heard of "Allegro" or "Pipe Dream" anyway?

Long Weekend

Since Independence Day fell on Thursday this year, I thought it would be fun to take an extra day off and have a long weekend and a little relaxing fun.  Although I didn't do much of anything on the big day, I did fill it with plenty of Major League Baseball, and I started and finished the latest Sue Grafton Book. Oh - and I cooked myself some bratwurst, because Independence Day should always include bratwurst. Friday Fun Friday morning I had an interior designer come in to talk about taking down the vertical blinds that hang over the sliding glass door.  Although I did have fun dreaming and choosing cool draperies, the estimate was a ridiculously large amount.  Needless to say, I won't be using that company. After a quick lunch, I got myself down to the Jordan River Temple for an endowment session.  Although I was glad to get there, let's just say that I was not the sharpest tool in the shed.  I forgot some things, did some things out of order that I normally wouldn&#


A friend of mine posted a great recipe on Facebook, and tonight I made it, with some minor adjustments, and I just have to say - it was KILLER!  It's a recipe for homemade Orange Creamsicles.  I just so happen to be a connoisseur of Orange Creamsicles, so of course, this one peaked my interest.  Plus it was super-easy, and only called for 5 ingredients.   Word to the wise: This is a vegan version, meaning non-dairy.  So although it's not quite as creamy as regular ice cream, you can give it a creamier texture using the coconut milk. Homemade Orange Creamsicles 1 c. Orange Juice 1 c. Coconut Milk (canned works fine, but you can also use the kind in the carton) 3 T. Honey 1/4 t. Orange Extract 1/2 t. Vanilla Note that this recipe was for creamsicles.  However, since I don't have any popsicle molds, or sticks on hand, I adjusted and just did it in one whole batch, which I then froze in a large plastic container.

More Outdoor Concerts

After our fabulous dinner at Sage's Cafe, a few of us went down to the Brigham Young Park for a free open-air concert.  I love outdoor concerts in the summer, and despite the ridiculously high temperatures, the sun was kind to us and went behind a cloud, so we could enjoy a pleasant evening and music.  The artist was  a locally popular singer-songwriter named Nancy Hanson, and she sang mostly folk-style.  It was really nice. Then last night, Angel and I, and my friend Cyndee went to Murray Park for a concert performed by the Murray Symphony at the Park Amphitheater.  They're a community group, all amateur musicians, all unpaid, but they played their hearts out.  And this despite the aforementioned ridiculously high temperatures.  The program was a selection of music from the movies, some older (music from "The Sea Hawk", an old Errol Flynn movie), some more recent (music from Forrest Gump), and some from Broadway (Les Miz, and a suite from Richard Rodgers).  It