11.26.2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

It's more than a little sad that so few of us live near our families any more.  My own little ones would have to fly over the ocean and through the desert to spend Thanksgiving at Grandmother's house here in the mountains of Utah.  But still, I like to imagine them all racing around my house--the air filled with the delicious aromas of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and homemade rolls.  Occasionally, one of them will dash into the kitchen to hug my aproned knees, or to slip into the pantry to hide, silently signaling me with their eyes wide and a tiny finger to shushed lips.  Then, as long as I'm imagining, I'll add some squealing cousins to the mix and the men's deep voices rising in a sudden shout, followed by their easy laughter rolling in over the sounds of the football game from the TV.  There'll be my daughters and a daughter-in-law bustling around the kitchen with me, recalling kitchen secrets from grandmas long gone, sharing a dish towel and our love for each other and our hopes and concerns for those we will soon feed.   
Tomorrow, while Greg and I enjoy our quiet Thanksgiving together, I plan to imagine scenes like this stretching out across the continent.  I'll see smiling families and friends coming together with huge hugs, gathering to celebrate their love and gratitude for each other and their lives. How dear it is that for one warm and golden afternoon, we can all forget our worries of economies, environments and wars (in all their varieties) and instead think only of gratitude, God and family.  The gatherings may be smaller, but the joyous memories of Thanksgivings past--or dreams of Thanksgivings longed for--will be large and warm and comforting.  May tomorrow's Thanksgiving be all you hope for it to be.

11.25.2008

Get me outta here!

This is pretty much how I've been feeling for a while.  Can't quite seem to lift myself up and out of the drink.  I guess this is the one time that it's good to see the glass as half empty?  Acutally, I'm afraid that my glass is much closer to full than this one.  Don't you sometimes wish that someone would come along and drop you a ladder--or at least lend a hand?  I used to love the story of the Shoemaker and the Elves.  I'd get so excited when the elves snuck in to fix everything up for the poor little cobbler.  Young as I was, I would always just sigh with relief when he came in the next morning to all those beautifully made shoes.  Well, fairy tales and wishes don't seem to be getting me anywhere.  I guess I'd better start rocking and rolling.  Maybe I can get this glass to tip over and I can crawl out. It's ridiculous keep waiting for elves or ladders or for the water to evaporate. 
Photo credit:  
eva ♥ on flicker

11.24.2008

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts . . .

Ah yes.  But, just how lovely are they . . . really?  Not long ago, I posted a recipe here on SkinnyLink for Raw Organic Chocolate Macaroons.  After having heard about all the health benefits of raw cacao (antioxidants galore) and the surprising benefits of coconut oil (it promotes weight loss, it's filled with potent antimicrobial agents), I really wondered if maybe I'd found the recipe for Manna. 

How I wish things would just stay clear and simple.  But, not in this world.  If you look beyond all the articles posted on sites trying to sell you coconut oil you'll find that there is some controversy over just how healthy coconut oil really is.  The controversy seems to be swirling around the molecular structure of fatty acids. In coconut oil, these fatty acids are "medium-chain" --which, supposedly, makes them good for your body. And that may be true.  But here's the rub: no matter how long or short those chains may be, the fatty acids in this oil are still saturated fatty acids.  And that's bad.
  
So. Though people (as in some Hollywood and naturopathic types) swear by this yummy oil's weight loss and anti-microbial attributes, there are also some pretty credible medical folks (i.e. Dr Oz--it's amazing to me that he's been able to overcome the silliness of that name.  Just shows ta go ya how far a pretty face and a nimble brain will take you. . . but, I digress.  Where was I?  Oh yes, medical types) who are stepping up to remind the public that all saturated fats have legitimately earned their bad rap.  And this is the part that I find scary.  Since I've already mentioned (and digressed with) Dr. Oz, I'll use a blurb from his site to tell you the rest of the story (this is  l-o-n-g  so I'll hi-light the parts you speed readers don't want to miss):

[Coconut oil] has more saturated fat than pretty much any food out there. How much? A mind-boggling 87%. Compare that to 63% in butter or 38% in a burger and you get the picture.

Okay, yes, there’s still some scientific debate about whether the type of saturated fat in coconut oil raises cholesterol as much as that found in animal foods. But even if it doesn’t, there’s plenty of proof that sat fat is a major health hazard in lots of other ways. For one thing,
all sat fat speeds up aging. It does this by turning on a potentially harmful family of genes that we docs call RAS genes. They tell your body to churn out inflammatory proteins that cause heart disease, stroke, wrinkles, impotence, and immune system slipups.

Feeling older yet? Well, we’re just getting started.
Sat fat doesn’t do pretty things for your memory, either. It decreases a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor that’s responsible for recall and learning. It also increases inflammation in the brain. When researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina fed rats a diet enriched with either coconut oil or soybean oil, the rats who scarfed down the chow laced with coconut oil not only developed more inflammation in their gray matter but also made more mistakes on memory tests. . . 

No surprise, as
many studies reveal the ugly secret that if you feast on foods rich in saturated fat, you are much more likely to develop dementia. Period, exclamation point.

So there's the Skinny.  Pick your poison.  Me, I'd rather be fat (the UNsaturated version) and still able to remember my name, thankyouverymuch.   Sorry for getting you all excited about the cookies.  Lovely bunch of coconuts indeed.

11.22.2008

Enough already!


I don't know about you, but I am so sick of getting credit card offers in the mail.  I'm always uncomfortable just throwing them away.  I imagine some low-life scrounging through the dump and finding my credit card offers and gleefully mailing them in so that they can get a credit card in MY name and ruin my credit buying whatever it is scummy low-lifes like to blow their money on.  So, I decided that I should tear them up.  But what if low-life guy is really diligent and finds the pieces and tapes them back together and sends them in?  OK, I guess the card company may suspect something there . . . but maybe scum man finds my name and address and then uses that information to apply for credit somewhere or to do some other nefarious scummy low-life stuff with it?  Maybe I'm paranoid here, but you know what I mean: virtually daily we get all these stupid, unsolicited card offers in the mail--they junk up our mail boxes, stress out our paranoid sides, and tempt us to go into debt!  I know, I know.  I can just shred them. But frankly, I don't want to be forced to go to all of this work with mail I never asked for in the first place!! Well, I've found a solution.  (Strains of harp music rise.) Click here and you will be magically transported to a site specifically dedicated to helping you STOP the harassment, clean out your mail box, and save a tree or two while you're at it.  Ahhh, sweet serenity.

11.18.2008

The magic of PhotoShop


The Eyes of Aaron from Aaron Nace on Vimeo.
Actually, I think the title of this post is a misnomer, because while PhotoShop is a very cool tool--like any tool, it can only be as magic as the person who is wielding it. In this case, the master is Aaron Nace, whose work I discovered through his girlfriend Rosie Hardy (whose work you have already seen here and here). I recommend checking out their site.  They're young and still in love with possibility; their work is hip, creative and avant guard. And their blog is fun.  You'll be glad you clicked.

11.16.2008

Watch very, very closely.


(Be sure to watch the video before reading the text here.  Oh, and sorry about the ads.)

I am always so fascinated by things like this.  How can our attention be diverted so absolutely??  No wonder magicians are able to fool us with simple sleight of hand.  I wonder if the brain could be trained to watch for both tasks--to get an accurate count PLUS  watch for every other detail--all at the same time?  It's no wonder even a valid eye witness account can still be considered suspect. 
 
Did any of your school teachers ever give you that test that started out:
1.) Read through all directions before beginning this test.  
Then the next 18 directions told you to do all kinds of tasks, from going to sharpen your pencil to writing your name on the back of the page to, I don't know, singing Yankee Doodle Dandy out loud, or some other very embarrassing task for a 3rd grader to have to perform.  Then, when you were so glad to finally be done, came the final direction:
20.) Ignore all other instructions but #1 and #20.
At that point, I HATED my teacher--and all the other smug kids (who had probably seen this test before) and had been sitting quietly at their desks for the past 10 minutes, watching the rest of us diligently make idiots of ourselves!!

How did you do on this little video test?  I'm afraid I'd have to be calling my insurance agent about now. (Good thing I don't own a Rodin.)  Kinda makes me wonder what else I may be missing.  Am I really sure about everything I think I'm really sure about??  
I did discover something though.  When I watched the full video, aware that the thief would be there, I was able to observe him AND get the count.  But that was only because I'd been forewarned and knew exactly what to watch for. 


11.15.2008

. . . take the advice of Dr Lo-rah, but I igno huh



                                  Uh . . . ya think?

Dream on.


True story:

The first time I had a flying dream I was in high school. In this dream, I could only fly if I was holding the hand of a certain very popular girl. If you let go of her hand, you would immediately drop to the earth.  Hmph.  High school.

This photo is also from the amazing
Rosie Hardie. Just in case you didn't have time to check out her work last time around, here's another chance. I'm tellin you, she's a find. Her work, that is. Can't say I know Rosie. Though I bet she's a gem. I wonder if she dreams of flying. Probably doesn't have to. You can tell she's cool. 
And popular, I bet.

11.14.2008

Sweet Dreams

Well, I think I'll be off then.

G' night.  Sweet dreams.

Photo credit: RosieHardy.  Go there.  She's amazing.
I really hope that I dream about flying tonight.  Aren't those just the best dreams? Someone once told me that a flying dream means that your spirit has left your body and is really out there flying.  I don't believe that.  I'd never want to leave my body unaccompanied--sounds creepy.   Who knows who might decide to take up residence while you were out.  Well, this is all too weird. 

But I sure would like to fly.  

11.12.2008

Raw Organic Chocolate Macaroons

Oh.  These are just make-you-sing good.   The "Raw" bit means that they're not processed at a heat higher than 115 degrees--which preserves the complete amazing-ness of the nutrients in the ingredients.  So, they not only taste like Eden, they're also good for you!  I made them last night and took them to a pot luck today.  I'm breaking my long post silence because EVERYONE wanted this one for their files.

(Makes 24 to 36 cookies)
3 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups CACAO powder (This is NOT the traditional unsweetened cocoa.)
1 cup maple syrup (real-not Mrs. Butterworth)
1/3 cup coconut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I increased this a little. I like salt with sweet.)

1. In large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. (I found my mixture to be a tad dry--this might be our dry climate--so I added about 1 Tbsp extra coconut butter mixed with about 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup.)

2. Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, spoon rounds of dough onto dehydrator screens. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12 to 24 hours OR refrigerate on a cookie sheet overnight. (I found 12 hours dehydration to be enough--it left a slightly creamy center. 24 hours would probably give a more chewy center.)

I did the math and these have about 80 calories per cookie--plus they have: protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium--and no trans fat. AND they make you faster than a speeding bullet . . . I think. Not bad for a kick-butt good COOKIE, don't you think?

Here's some info I googled up about the general coolness of raw Cacao:

Raw cacao retains the minerals and substances lost in the processing of the beans. Plus it contains a lot of magnesium, which lacks in your usual diet and MAO (Monoamine oxidase) inhibitors, which have rejuvenation effects, suppress appetite and elevate your mood.

Researchers have discovered that the raw cacao, named Theobroma (meaning "the food of the gods") contains substances that are related to the brain lipids anandamine (derived from the Sanskrit work ananda=bliss), and these substances, called N-acylethanolamines have a similar effect to that of some mild illegal drugs such as cannabis. However, cacao will not get you high, but it will make you happy.  Isn’t that what you were going for in the first place, but without the added fats and sugar, you secret chocolate lover?

There are also the endlessly discussed anti-oxidant effects, which are stronger in unprocessed beans. The substances called anthocyaninins, that can be found in generous quantities in raw cacao, have tissue-regeneration and anti-inflammatory properties. They also help collagen formation and the microcirculation (that of the capillaries).  All these positive effects make raw cacao look like the perfect medicine. 

And, all that's in this yummy little cookie. 
You're welcome.

7.27.2008

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night!

I'm so sorry my friends.   But I just don't have anything else in me.  Maybe when this depression lifts I'll be back, but for now I'm going to have to say goodbye and thanks for listening.  xoxoxoxoxo Annie

7.24.2008

Aren't Carrot Cookies diet food?


Again, I'm indulging my dieting fantasies.  (I wonder how many calories I burn when I'm fantasizing?)  I really think that the carrots redeem these little gems, don't they? Carrot cake is my favorite cream cheese frosting transport unit.  I can't get that delicacy into my mouth fast enough . . . Now, think about it, isn't cheese loaded with calcium??  And I know I need calcium.  That settles it. I'm going to hire Martha Stewart as my new diet consultant.  Here's her first recommendation: 
Martha Stewart's Carrot-Cake Cookies
Ingredients

Makes 18
FOR THE FILLING:
2 ounces bar cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
FOR THE COOKIES:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup packed, finely grated, peeled carrots
1/3 cup dried currants
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Make filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and lemon juice; beat until combined. Cover; chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make cookies: In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, and egg yolk. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until combined. Mix in oats, carrots, and currants.
Drop dough by level tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake until edges are crisp, rotating baking sheets halfway through, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Turn half the cookies over, bottom side up; dollop each with about 1 teaspoon chilled cream-cheese filling. Top with remaining cookies, pressing gently to spread filling to edges. Serve immediately.

How embarrassing!


Oh my.
So, here are the ingredients for those amazing chocolate chip cookies. Don't forget to let me know when they come out of the oven!

INGREDIENTS
2 1/8 cups bleached all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 7 ounces
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 - 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)

And of course, the directions are below . . . 
Thanks for the heads-up!  Will you stick around to help me out when I get REALLY old?

7.23.2008

My oh my, do these look good.


These come with the highest recommendation as the best chewy gooey chocolate chip cookie ever.  You can tell I'm on a diet.  I'm vicariously eating.  Obsessing over recipes and pictures of cookies.  So, if you make these, you have to comment and tell me how good they were . . . warm from the oven . . . with a tall glass of cold milk.  And I'll drink my skinny shake and dream.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cook's Illustrated Magazine says:
These truly chewy chocolate chip cookies are delicious served warm from the oven or cooled. To ensure a chewy texture, leave the cookies on the cookie sheet to cool. You can substitute white, milk chocolate, or peanut butter chips for the semi- or bittersweet chips called for in the recipe. In addition to chips, you can flavor the dough with one cup of nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut.

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.
3. [See directions below for shaping cookies.] Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined 20-by-14-inch lipless cookie sheets, about nine dough balls per sheet. Smaller cookie sheets can be used, but fewer cookies can be baked at one time and baking time may need to be adjusted. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)
4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.

STEP BY STEP: Shaping Thick Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. Creating a jagged surface on each dough ball gives the finished cookies an attractive appearance. Start by rolling a scant 1/4 cup of dough into a smooth ball.


2. Holding the dough ball in the fingertips of both hands, pull the dough apart into two equal halves.


3. Each half will have a jagged surface where it was ripped from the other. Rotate each piece 90 degrees so that the jagged edge faces up.


4. Jam the halves back together into one ball so that the top surface remains jagged.

Don't forget to let me know how good these are.  I'm counting on you here.

7.22.2008


I know, I suck at blogging. But, we've been away again. Greg and I just got back from Vail where we got to play for a few days with some of our very favorite friends. It's a group called the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC) whose members are each involved in work that in some way contributes to the growth and well being of humankind and the planet. These are all folks with some truly kick-butt goals who are daily making huge contributions to back up their talk. Every six months we get together for a few days to network, share what we've been learning, and play. Too, too fun.  I have to pinch myself.

Anyway, because I love you, and because you are always so patient with my absences (yeah, I know, you get over it pretty dern quick), I want to share something I picked up last week.  And no Natalie, it's not some strange virus. It's a very simple and amazingly effective breathing technique for handling unwanted emotional states. It was developed by the good people at the Institute of HeartMath. Whozzat, you say? I'll answer from their website: IHM is a recognized, global leader in emotional physiology, stress management and the physiology of heart-brain research. Fancy schmancy, no? I first heard of them years ago in an interview they did on NPR--and was beyond jazzed to meet them at TLC last summer. Their research center is engaged in basic psychophysiology, neurocardiology and biophysics research, and in clinical, workplace and organizational intervention and treatment outcome studies--and not just off in some dusty, dark rent-a-lab all by themselves--IHM works in collaboration with numerous university and health care system partners. In other words, these aren't just a couple of whackos in a diner, they are the gen-you-ine article.  So, now that I've blathered a bit, here's the breathing technique. HeartMath calls it Emotion Shifting with Attitude Breathing.
  • Step 1.  Recognize an unwanted attitude: an emotion or attitude that is draining your energy, such as frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, angst, self-judgement, blame, guilt, sadness--anything that's distressing.
  • Identify a replacement attitude, such as neutral, balance, calm, ease, peace, forgiveness, appreciation, compassion, non-judgement.  Below are some examples of negative attitudes and their possible replacement feelings/attitudes. Remember to listen to your own inner knowing, you'll more likely find the optimum replacement feeling there.
Examples:
Stress/Frustration:  Breathe "neutral to calm and revitalize"
Anxiety/Impatience: Breathe "calm and balance"
Overwhelm/Angst: Breathe "ease and peace"
Sadness/Self-Judgment:  Breathe "appreciation and non-judgment" 
 Blame or Guilt: Breathe "compassion and non-judgment"

Now, here's how you're going to breathe.  Imagine that your breath is going to by-pass your nose and windpipe.  Imagine that your nostrils are at your heart and breathe through your heart.  Take several breaths this way, breathing with intention from your heart area, visualizing the air flowing in and out directly through your heart.  You don't need to monitor the depth or pace of your breathing, this will happen naturally as you keep your focus on breathing from and through your heart.

After you've practiced focusing your breath in this way for a minute or two, bring up the negative emotion you've been experiencing and consciously, with each breath, breathe in the replacement feeling you've chosen--as outlined above in Steps 1 - 3. 

Give this a try.  Seriously, you're going to love it.  It's simple, you can use it anytime and anywhere, and if you'll discipline yourself to work with it whenever you're stressed, you'll gain facility with it and find yourself walking around like a Jedi master.

By now, if you're one of my blog followers, you've probably noticed the synchronicity of my experience this week with my blog post from last week . . . right down to the language I used in that post.  Now, ain't that something?  Do-do-do-do. Do-do-do-do. (Cue Twilight Zone music here.)  We'll have to chat about that another day.  

'Till then, keep breathing.  And remember how much I love you.

"Breathe" poster designed by Matt Willey of Studio8 Design.  Purchase at Magma.com.


7.14.2008

Serenity and Order


I'm going to choose two words: Serenity and Order. Breathe in . . . breathe out: serenity. Breathe in . . . breathe out: order.  

Here's what's up.  My physical world is a mess.   A MESS.  A monstrous, maniacal, murderous, meandering MESS. (Yes, it does meander.  It's evil.  It's got tiny, hairy, black legs.  It's full of spite and malice.) For three years now I've been running from one deadline or crisis to another, juggling far too much and barely surviving by ignoring my own life and house. Mostly, I've only been able to drop by occasionally here at home to do a load of laundry or two and pay only the most insistent of bills. First it was full-time school at UVSC while I was still serving about 20 hours a week down at BYU. Then it was out to Hawaii to take care of Natalie's house and boys while she and Richie did EFY. Then home for a breath or two and away to Arizona for a month to help my mom-in-law deal with some medical issues. Let's see, then where? Back to Hawaii for a month for Lincoln's birth, I think. At the end of one of those jumbled months in there, I moved unexpectedly to Scottsdale to take care of Mom and Dad-in-law--and stayed, full-time, for seven months, and then, after a couple of months to help ease Dad after Mom's death, I moved from Arizona to California to get Dad set up and comfortable in assisted living. Next, out to Hawaii on a sudden emergency, and back to Scottsdale to get the folks' house emptied out--60 years worth of stuff!-- cleaned and ready to rent, and then, Gavin's death.  And the world came screeching to a halt, sending suitcases, laundry, paperwork, treasured possessions, hearts, minds, memories, souls and sanity skidding and crashing in all directions. When I finally made it home last July, it was the first time I'd slept in my own bed in over a year . . . and at that point, all my grieving body wanted to do was just that: sleep, sleep, s l e e e . For an entire year: I ate then slept, then ate and slept, again and again and again. Meanwhile, the piles of un-ironed clothes, stacks of mail and magazines, the towers of who-knows-what-that-is-or-where-it-goes, have multiplied and crept into every corner and taken up residence on every horizontal surface of my life. I feel like one of those crazy pack-rats that gets outed by her kids on Oprah. I don't dare get out of bed in the night to use the bathroom for fear I'll trip and fall into the black hole of one of these piles, and disappear. And then, heaven help me, someone else will have to come in and figure out what to do with all this mess.

So, today I'm choosing two words: Serenity and Order. And I'll breathe into them over and over until I've shoveled my way out. I'm not sure how long it's going to take, but I'll keep you posted. Wish me luck. 

Do you have a word or two you'd like to breathe into?

Battle at Kruger

This video has already been viewed by over 35 million people, so you may have seen it already, but if you haven't, get ready for a thrill.  It's a battle between a herd of water buffalo, a pride of lions and two crocodiles.  They're all fighting over a baby water buffalo who . . . well, I'll let you see the outcome for yourself.  You won't be disappointed.

7.11.2008

The First IT Specialist

This sketch must have been created for my husband, Greg. Stunningly brilliant man that he is, most technology just melts his brain. . . and whenever he has trouble with his computer, the dogs and I have learned to run and hide. Sweetheart, you know I love you. You know I think you're the most handsome, loving, generous, amazing man on earth - but this Bud's for you: 



Oh, and hats off to Lyn. for finding and sharing this little gem!

7.10.2008

Thanks again, Martha.

OMGosh.  How beautiful is this?  Can you imagine these as centerpieces for a wedding?  With -- I don't know -- various sizes of white flowers and lots of casual, trailing green foliage around the bases?  I want to make one of these sweethearts for the table in my entry hall. The simple cake stand will be easy enough to find.  But where to snag a hurricane with glass as beautiful as this one??? Here's what Martha's site says about making this vision:

7.09.2008

Meet Victoria Jacoby


So Heather, I really did try to watch the Japanese game show, and it was interesting (nod, nod, wink, wink) . . . but . . . I ended up surfing over to America's Got Talent, which I've never watched before. Lucky for all of you! Now you get to see this amazing little girl. If you've just eaten, I recommend you wait to watch her. She's quite the thing. I think we should all pitch in and buy her a new costume. What do you think? ">

7.08.2008

Where have you been?


Its been a L O N G time! The old me would have been frantic at not having left a post in such a long time, but, well, she deconstructed about a year ago and this new person (who's very unrecognizable to the old me) is happy to let things go when she needs a break. Thanks for asking about my absence. I love you too. So glad you all have rich and full lives outside of this silly blog!

So, where have I been?

Laguna Beach and a birthday bash for Jen



Disneyland with the Norton Crew


Laguna Niguel for Coleman's christening


Carlsbad to visit Pop




4 wks in Alpine, hosting Natalie and Richie's crew



55th Birthday (yes, I'm that old!)



1 year anniversary of Gavin's death (the 17th of June)



2 wks in Sedona, AZ, training in Sedona Method Coaching



Goodyear, AZ to visit Bart and Gretchen


and finally, home again, to mountains of laundry, mail, dust-and my own pillow.

5.23.2008

Luanne, you're a genius!

Luanne, great guess! Photo number one is a water balloon popping! The picture was taken by Tyler Thomas and can be found on National Geographic's website.

And Lyn, your first guess was the closest. Photographer Stefan Eberhard explains his shot, "This is a manual long-exposure of the moon over one of the rides at our local fair."

Here's the Skinny: I have a widget from National Geographic on my google homepage. Every day I get a new, totally cool picture from them. You should check out their site. Just click here for the SkinnyLink to it!


So sorry. No Friday Fab Five until tonight. I am so outta here. I'm off for Disneyland!!! Hope you're going to have a fun day too! I'll be thinking of you while I'm on Pirates of the Carribean . . . Yo ho, yo ho, a Pirate's life for me! What's YOUR favorite ride?

5.21.2008

What in the world?



It's pretty obvious I'm on vacation here.  I'm so relaxed, I'm only writing for myself, so it looks like the best I'm going to be able to post is pictures.  But here are are a couple of amazing photos off some pretty common stuff. What ARE they?  I'd love to hear your guesses, but first should confess: I had no clue what either of these was until I saw the captions.  I'll post the answers Friday morning. I'll be so impressed if anyone guesses what either one of these is without cheating!  Take your best shot.

Baby sea horses


This one's for you Heather!
(Betcha Shelly's gonna like it too!)

5.20.2008

What a wonderful world . . .


I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I wish I had the time to embed the music to this song for you, but I don't. I am packin' my bags, gettin' ready to fly fly fly a-way. I'm off to snuggle me up some grand babies! Wahoo! But you deserve a little fun too . . . so you just sit yourself back, click here, and close your little eyes while you listen mah man Satchmo sing one of my all time favorite songs just for you. Sweetie pie, you are in for a treat.

Oh yeah.

Photo: A tiny school in the smll fishing village of Akumalu, Mexico

5.19.2008

Meet Cole the Man

I know. I owe you an apology. I wish I could tell you the dog ate my homework on Friday when you were expecting Friday's Fab Five. Truth of the matter is, Saturday was the eleven month anniversary of Gav's departure, and with Mother's Day and all, I was needing a little extra R & R. Thanks for being patient with me, and hugs to all for your kind comments and email. Y'all are the cat's pajamas, the cream in my coffee, the me in my YOW! I'm going to make it all up to you on Friday with five fabulous eats for beautiful, wrinkle resilient skin--I'm even looking forward to that one--but for today, here's a little family dish. (Not as in tuna casserole . . . as in The Skinny on my beautiful family.)
This week aunties, uncles, cousins, friends and grandparents are all joining hands and hearts in honor of our beautiful little Coleman, who will be baptized on Sunday. (Would you just look at that face? Isn't he amazing?) Natalie did this shoot while she was on the mainland a few weeks back, so he's a bit bigger by now . . . but I just had to show off this beautiful family to all my web friends. Here's mommy and daddy, Kevin and Stephanie: and Cole's beautiful Auntie Jenny: Steph and Kev are the most adoring, caring parents you can imagine. Don't you wish every baby could be born into so much love?
Photos by Natalie Norton Photography

5.17.2008

Missing Gavin


Take Care

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away to the next room.
You are you and I am I
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me the easy way which you always used to.
Laugh at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me;
Let my name be spoken without effort.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your heart
because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
Somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and we will be as it was before -
only better.
Infinitely happier and forever -
We will all be one with God.

From my friend Kathy at Beyond Indigo.com
An adaptation of the original poem:
Death is Nothing at All,
Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918), Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral

Please click on collage to enlarge.

5.15.2008

In the beginning . . .

I was interested in seeing how our two Idol finalists looked on audition day.  They've both grown.  David Archuleta's look has gotten cooler, yet he's maintained his humble authenticity, and his voice is magic. David Cook's hair has definitely improved, I've loved being surprised at how versatile he is, and I really love the mellow, dusky side of his voice. Each owns charisma to the T's; they're both savvy entertainers, so it's easy to predict that each will have a great career, no matter who takes it next week. But if I were a bettin' woman, my money'd have to be on the sweet young David Archuleta. I think his win was there from day one . . .



5.14.2008

Welcoming? or just plain Whacko?


I'm still contemplating details about that future dream house  I told you about a few weeks ago.  So, the other day, I visited my friend Judy's website and found this door knob.  It may be just my own weird taste, but I'm actually kinda digging this slightly funky hand-for-a-door knob.  But here's my concern:  Would it make guests feel a bit squeamish?  Tell the truth now.  How would you feel about entering the home of a person who would choose this as their front door opener?  Even if you're normally just a lurker , please comment.  Anonymous is fine.  I really want to know what you think. Seriously.  This isn't a joke. OK.  Stop laughing, will you?

And, for those of you tender hearts who were a bit worried about Lily's surgery . . . she's doing very well and sends y'all thanks for your concern.  She came home sleepy and really didn't want to hear about how much Dublin had missed her.  It took a bit, but he finally calmed down and let her sleep the evening away.  They can catch up tomorrow.

Now, before I run off to bed, I just have one more thing to say.  How 'bout them Davie-boys on Idol??!  We'll talk more about that tomorrow.  G'night now.  Sweet dreams.

I love Heather. I love blogging.


This is exactly why I love blogging. My friend, Heather, posted this beautiful commercial on her blog yesterday, and it completely shifted my trajectory--nudged me back toward sanity. (Notice I did say 'toward' not 'into.') I've been in TV's worst kind of rut lately. I've been using Friends reruns, Medium, American Idol . . . ad nauseum to hide out from the pain of my grief over Gavin's death. Not that a little break from my constant, aching loneliness isn't a good thing. But drowning myself in mindless televised drivel is a completely different ball game, and Heather's post reminded me of this.

I have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies. They're brother and sister and have been together constantly from birth. Today, Lily, the little girl, has gone in to get spayed. Dublin misses her desperately. He looks for her everywhere. He can't seem to get settled, to find a comfortable position. He just wants his sister. Boy oh boy, can I relate. So, I've been giving him little breaks from missing her. I hold him in my lap, I give him carrots to chew, or a favorite bone. These are all healthy breaks. Because I feel so sorry for him, I could be feeding him bacon and beer and letting him chew the furniture, but because I also love him, I'm looking out for him and soothing him through his sadness in ways that nurture his well being and keep my furniture intact.

In a world where we're all facing at least some level of daily pain, struggle or loss, blogging acts as a kind of gigantic group therapy--a healthy way to nurture ourselves through life's grind. We talk about what we're up to, what we're worrying about, what's giving us a little joy here and there, what's getting us out of bed every morning. Last night, Heather's post reminded me that there's a better way to soothe my sorrow over my buddy's absence. She reminded me that the world is a beautiful place: wonderful and strange and thrilling and zany. Maybe I don't yet have the strength to go out into it and take it on face to face, but the least I can do for my aching heart is to stop feeding it bacon and beer TV. It may just be a baby step, but I'm going to remember to change the channel once in a while. Right after Friends.

5.13.2008

Sweet Dreams


Thank you, Master Thoreau, for this little night cap to dream on.
'Night all.  Sweet dreams.

5.12.2008

Ok, ok. I give. I'm IT.

The game is Sixes Tag and these are the rules:
1. you link back to the person who tagged you.
. . . and that would be lyn.
2. post these rules on your blog.
. . . Voila!  Telles sont les r├Ęgles
3. share six unimportant things about yourself.
. . . see below
4. tag six random people at the end of your entry.
. . . see below the above below
5. let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blogs.
. . . you're gonna have to trust me on this one
6. enjoy the results.
. . . oh, all right!

Six UNimportant things about me:
  1. I make most things much harder than they need to be (like writing this list).
  2. I sometimes nap in my car.
  3. Parades make me cry.
  4. I know all the words to most Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee songs.
  5. I really miss Pushing Daisies,  Journeyman and Studio 60.
  6. I've watched more TV in the last 10 months than in the last 40 years.  Combined.


Oh yes.  I almost forgot.  This is what I'm supposed to put below the above.  The Sixes-Tag virus has been passed to: barefoot gypsy girl, heather, ashley, bayley, oma, and kenju.  Please click on their names to visit each blog and wish them a speedy recovery!  

5.11.2008

All is well.

The following is the best Mother's Day gift I ever could have received--from the best daughter I ever could have imagined.  I am so blessed.  So blessed.

Dear Mom,

I'm breaking my "no posts on Sunday" rule for you on this very significant day. It is Mother's Day, yes, but more significantly it's the first such day you have spent without your sweet little boy. I know that he is thinking of you today and longing to be near you just as you long to be near him.

If I may be so bold as to speak for a moment in his behalf:

Dear Mom,

Hi Mom! Thank you for being so wonderful! There could not have been a better mother for Natty and I than you. We both feel so blessed to have you. You gave us your whole heart in everything, and always. What an angel mother you are. I know you miss me today mommy, I miss you too, but remember where I am and all the wonderful things that I'm doing. Remember how happy I am. Remember that I'll see you soon, and mostly, remember that I love you sooooooooooooo much. Ooooh I love you! I am nearer than you know. I walk beside you in the sunshine and I dance with you through the wind. I am forever your little boy, and I love you.


Mom, I'll see you sooner than you know.
Happy Mother's Day!!

Yours forever,
Gavin
AKA: Gavin Son, Gavtron, Gaver Dave, Gabbie, Gavzilla, Venus. . .Unkie

PS. "You're so bamboo tops!"

Mom, we do love you, Gavin and I. So much more than you could ever know. We will all be together again very soon. Thank you for always giving yourself to us completely. Thank you for teaching us to work and to play, to love and to forgive and to accept others unconditionally. Thank you for teaching us to be independent and strong but mostly thank you for teaching us to be humble and for teaching us about He on whom we should rely for all things. . .

We couldn't have asked for anything better, not in our wildest dreams.

I love you Mom!
Happy Happy Mother's Day!
xoxo,
Nat

I love you so much, Natty Gann.  
I couldn't get through this without you.  
You are my angel.

5.09.2008

Friday's Fab Five

Is it Friday again? Already? Wo-hoo! The weekend cometh!
And since it's almost Mother's Day, I thought you might like a SkinnyLink peek at some unique gifts (from maniac to must-have) for the Baby Mamas in your life.
Let's start with the (ahem) indispensable gift for any household with a new baby and big brothers. (Natalie, this one's for you and Lincoln. Steph, you may want to consider one for when Cardon visits. . .) Behold the amazing My First Riot Helmet by bulletproofbaby.net. Yes, friends, this is for real. And believe me, if you grew up in a house with big brothers (and are still compus mentus), you may yearn to kneel before the inventor. Someone call the Nobel committee.

This next find is for all you mamas who are married to men who are poopie-diaper averse. It's the Thanko USB Powered Mask Air Purifier. High tech daddies rejoice! This little sweetheart connects right to your lap-top and features two fans – one on either side of the mask – that draw in a steady supply of air which is then filtered to remove "pollutants." Hmmm. . . and I thought I'd seen it all. Can't diaper without it? Check it out at NewLaunches.com. Oh, and Mom? Be sure to invite his poker buddies over to watch him use it . . .

Oh yes. This innocent little lamb is hanging from the top of a restroom stall door. Mama-mia! What is going on here? Here's the Skinny: You're at the mall with baby, and you need to use the twah-lay (that's French for toilet). . . your only alternative is to enter a germ infested cubicle! . . . EEEEK! What to do with Baby?? Never fear, The Baby Keeper is here! (Yes Richie, this one's for you.) In fairness to the makers of this contraption, I need to let you know that it also functions as a pretty slick baby carrier. Think you gotta have it? Here you go: Mommy Essentials.com. Just don't come running to me when your child outs you on Jerry Springer some day. Remember, you asked for it.


The Congratulations! You get to sit near me! t-shirt.
Imagine flying for six plus hours with 4-year, 3-year, and 18-month old little boys. When my poor daughter and her husband fly to the mainland from their home in Hawaii, they generally limp off that plane looking like warmed-over extras off a Rambo-movie set. And though they do their very best to be respectful of their fellow passengers . . . well you try keeping three little boys quiet in a steel tube for 6 hours and let us all know how that works out for you. This is why I'm buying three of these great baby T's from Milk Bomb. Maybe a little humor will help all the big people on the flight chill a little and just smile through their pain.

Today's final Fab Five recently under went a very smart and tasteful name change, upgrading itself from The Hooter Hider, to Bebe Au Lait. (Excellent move, guys.) I've given several of these ingenious nursing covers to my daughters and they love 'em. Notice how the top of the cover stands away from Mommy's chest so she and baby can keep an eye on each other--while everyone else is allowed to keep their eyes to themselves. These heavenly little creations are da Baby Bomb: They come in a bazundle of very hip colors and patterns, they fold up small enough to fit into a diaper bag, and they're easy to slip on, even with only one hand. Ta-da! Modest munching!


I've been tagged-What does this mean?


Does it mean I wasn't running fast enough?
Hey. . . is this Kissing Tag? . . . (blush, giggle).
Or did the Cryps find my flat surfaces enticing?
If I stand out in my front yard on Saturday morning, is a giddy garage sale-er going to toss Greg a quarter and load me into her trunk?
Oh. No. Wait.  Is it on my toe?   Am I dead?

5.07.2008

What am I going to do?


Dear Reader,
I just received the following email from the winner of the Have You Seen My Dog? contest.  I have also posted my reply.  Do you think the FTC or the FCC or the F-some-other-Big-Brother Commission will get me if I don't award this prize?  These are murky waters I've entered.  I can already feel creepy black critters bumping against my ankles.

Dear Annie,
Thank you for selecting me to be the big human/dog face winner. Except for a deluxe Barbie and Ken wedding gift set (she was bald with three wigs!), I have never won anything else. I KNEW I had it in me! However, seeing that you sent me books already (Thank You by the way), I decline the prize. It does concern me though, that so many people buy dogs which look like them…or do we morph into looking like them? Either way, I’m staying away from Shar-peis


Dear Terry,
I had to smile when you said I'd selected you to be the Big Human/Dog Face winner. No wonder you don't want to accept the prize. It doesn't sound like a very complimentary contest to have won.  I, for one, wouldn't want to be known as the Big Human Dog Face. But seriously now. I send my hearty congratulations on the Barbie and Ken Wedding Gift set. I'm breathless that I even know you. In all my years of Barbie-philia, I never dreamed that such a treasure existed. Wow.
Barbie Wigs. I'd love to just hold one; to feel the thrill of stretching it over Barbie's bald head. And you WON three. You are so lucky. So cool, kid. So groovy.

Now, as for Human/Dog Morphing Syndrome.  This is an important theory and it deserves great consideration.  I'll bet that's what's going on with my droopy body: It thinks I own a Shar-Pei!  This settles it; I am buying a greyhound.

And finally, you HAVE to accept your prize.  I'm sorry, you just do.    My vast, dedicated and trusting blog audience will be so disillusioned if I don't pay up.  And now, they all know.

Love, Annie

Editor's note: The above picture is not of Terry.  Rather, it is- 
Jan Vermeer – A Lady Writing
1665-66, oil on canvas 18 x 16 in.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC