SugarHouse Mama

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmastime Was Full of Yumminess {and No, I Didn't Ask MIL Bertha How Many Pounds of Butter She Used for the Holiday. Learned My Lesson Previously}

Our drive to SD was pleasant {as pleasant as an eleven hour drive can be}. We stopped off in Vegas to visit my grandma and grandpa {Aunt Julie was there too}. We chatted it up for a bit and then hit the road. I was wishing we could have stayed the night, but we had 2 dogs and, as I mentioned, Julie was already there, so sleeping areas were sparse.

The days were packed with family and food - just the way a Holiday should be. We got free tickets to Sea World {thanks Karen!} and I missed our daughter soooo much.

Sea World was especially hard. We thought we'd have Adjoa home in time when we made the plans, and we just knew she would LOVE it. I kept picturing her little face light up as exclaimed "NSU! NSU!" when she saw the ocean for the first time. I walked around the park with that image in my mind and it broke my heart a bit.

Luckily Maddi and Brandon were there to brighten the day. They are a riot, and while Maddi is getting so big and is now a little shy around me, I still see the little 3 year-old that loved me to pieces when Robert and I were dating.

We drove back Sunday so I could get back to the grindstone Monday morning. It took nearly 16 hours with all the traffic. Ugh!

Kingsley took Adjoa to her visa appointment today. The Embassy lost some of the paperwork {between the I-600 approval and the visa appointment} so the interview was not what we had hoped. Kingsley rushed off to get the paperwork redone and will hopefully submit it tomorrow.

The Consulate office told Kingsley that if he can get the paperwork turned in before Thursday, they will be able to give us a visa Friday.
  • We are praying for his speedy and safe travel to and from various offices
  • We are praying the necessary people will be available {and willing to help}
  • We are praying that there are no problems with office equipment like the printers, etc.
  • We are praying that the electricity will be working {seriously. I'm not making that one up}
  • And we are praying that the Consulate office will honor their promise to get the visa done in time

After all that, we will be praying for safe and easy travel for Adjoa and the Westerby's!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BossMan Cookies...In Other Words Cookies Used to Bribe the BossMan

Robert's employer gives the company about 2 weeks off for Christmas - paid. It's awesome {should be the standard for all employers...nudge, nudge, wink, wink}.

The catch: you must be at work the day before the holiday begins.

MY boss doesn't do that. MY boss requires that I be back at work Monday, the 29th. So to make the most of our trip to San Diego, Robert asked his boss if he could make an exception and allow Robert to leave on the 23rd.

Jeff conceded - as long as Robert brought in cookies. These are the yummy cookies I used to bribe Robert's boss into signing off on Robert's extra day so Robert could get paid for his holiday.

They are Martha cookies, from her yummy Cookie Book {thanks for the early and potentially way delicious Christmas present, Eden! hmmm, that sounded like the present was potentially yummy. You know what I mean}

I'll be giving some to my boss never hurts to bribe and butter up a little.

Martha calls these:

Chocolate Crackles
makes about 5 dozen

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole milk {I didn't have whole milk on hand, so I used heavy cream}
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar


Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix on low speed until just combined. Divide dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide each piece into sixteen 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar to coat, then in confectioners' sugar to coat. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days. They are WAY good, I promise. You will want a tall glass of milk with them, though.

Friday, December 19, 2008

24 Hours = All the Difference in the World

I am so amazed and grateful tonight. Not long after last night's post, emails and calls started flooding in. Dozens of people rallied around us in our time of need.

I truly believe God sends others to aide and comfort us in our difficult times. He brings peace in trying times, but so often he uses friends, family, and even strangers to answer our prayers.

A man we don't even know {you know how it works - a friend of a friend of a friend} is a pilot for Delta. We have been told that he wants to give us one of his buddy passes so we can fly to New York and bring Adjoa home on the 5th! He only receives 6 every year, and he is giving one to us!

I love the kindness of God, and I love that so often it can be found in everyday people.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Everything is NOT Coming up Roses but Maybe That's Because it's Winter...or Rather New Year's in New York

So I don't even know where to start but I've been getting phone calls and emails, so I better update my blog.

As most of you know, there was a fellow adoptive mom in Ghana filing some paperwork. We had all our ducks in a row for Adjoa to come home before Christmas. Of course, we needed someone to sit by her on the plane and watch her sleep for half the flight. I figured another mom who has been in my shoes would understand. Not the case. She felt like she needed to rest on the flight back. {I know some of you have already pointed out that we would be meeting the person in NY and that would give her time to rest, but you can't really say that to the person who said 'no, I'm not willing to help you.'} She felt it was the best decision for her family.

Anyway, we put the word out there and had a lot of help from many of you {THANK YOU!}.

We had people volunteer to travel {who were not planning on flying at all, let alone making a 17 hour trip to Africa and back} if we could round up a ticket. We had several people with friends and family flying but they were either on a different airline {we had already purchased her ticket with Delta} or they weren't expecting to travel for a while.

Robert and I are both so grateful for the kindness and selflessness everyone has shown. Even perfect strangers have been willing to help - it brings tears of gratitude to my eyes just thinking about you all.

At this point, our quickest option is the Westerby family. Ginny was planning on traveling with her 8-year-old daughter to Ghana to bring home baby Esther. She volunteered immediately to travel by herself with 3 children! Ticket prices dropped and now they are planning on coming home January 5th!

Another adoptive mother, Lori, offered to bring Adjoa home around the middle of January when she is going to get her son.

Our dilemma now is the airfare to and from New York. Anyone ever flown to or from New York around the 1st of the year???? It's not pretty. It's $700 not pretty, in fact.

We have officially paid more in unexpected airfare than our entire adoption cost.

So we are faced with paying more than $500 above standard airfare to bring her home on the 5th or waiting a few more weeks and saving $500.

A mother in crisis, missing her daughter's first Christmas should NOT be expected to make a decision like that.

Any help/advice you care to offer????

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Say a Little Prayer

I saw this prayer at one of my favorite quilt stores and it made me laugh. I promptly jotted it down so I could share:

Dear God,

So far today I'm doing all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, nasty, grumpy, selfish, or self-indulgent. I have not whined, complained, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. I have charged nothing on my credit card.

But I will be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think that I will really need your help then.

In all seriousness, though, I'm amazed that in spite of our weakness and our failings, God will always support us. Though we fail Him constantly through our imperfections, He never fails us.

During this Christmas season I am particularly humbled that God trusts me so much. I suppose my new-found humility is brought on by the awesome task of motherhood that lies before me. I am grateful and astounded that He trusts me so much to care for a precious gift from heaven - our little girl!

And I think that I will really need His help - but you know what? I also trust Him and have enough faith in Him to know that strength and answers and direction will come.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pope Joan - Donna Woolfolk Cross

So I read Pope Joan while I was in Ghana in November. {Yeah, I know. It's been a while - please don't expect a lot from me on this one, the details are already foggy}

Robert's mom recommended it when we were visiting for Nana's birthday.

It was a great book to take along and read during a long flight. The story is fast-paced and fun to read. Predictable, but still intriguing. I loved the details about Medieval life - Cross has a talent for painting a vivid picture without being gruesome or violent {I'm assuming everyone has a fairly good idea about how violent and gruesome Medieval times were}.

I'm sure there are elements of the Pope Joan story that are true, but I'm not sure I believe the entire thing. I read that a historian said it was a terrible story - that the gist of it is 'don't let a woman become pope, she will screw up.' I tend to lean in that direction.

In the novel, Joan is blinded by her desire to achieve all that is forbidden to her. It seems, at times, she only wants what she can't have. Of course, some of those desires - like education - are good things, but she forgets that there is a time and a place for everything. I admire her desire to rise above - to stretch and grow - but she becomes sort of obsessed with it. And of course, it destroys her.

On the whole, it was an entertaining, well-written, and unfamiliar story. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. I will probably see the movie when it comes out. And I will probably think the book was better.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How is it Possible That I Have the Most Awesomest News EVER and NO ONE is answering Their Phone?!?!?

So I logged into my email account today and saw {buried in a pile of 20-odd new messages since 10pm last night} an email from Ginny. THEY RECEIVED THEIR I600 APPROVAL TODAY! Yeah!

So I did a super-screaming-jump-up-and-down celebratory dance and called Ginny.

She said Lori got her approval this morning too!

I went back to my email to send a quick note to Lori and I saw a Reply from Accra USCIS just below Ginny's email:

Good Morning Jessica Sorenson:

This is to inform you that the I-600 Petition filed for Maame Adjoa Quarshie Sorenson has been reviewed and been approved. The entire case file has since been forwarded to our Consular Section at post. You will be contacted by the Consular Section on the procedure to be followed, to enable you obtain a visa for your adopted child.

In the interim, you may also contact the Consular Section on the following numbers for all further inquiries on this case: Phone – (233 21) 741000 ext 1710, Fax – (233 21) 741426.

Thank you
USCIS, Accra.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recital Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Man I've missed Grosgrain. What a great time to visit her site again--- so many cute giveaways!

Recital Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Dinner Party Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Soooo pretty. Adjoa would look smashing in bright green!

Dinner Party Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Tree Lighting Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

I LOVE this dress - probably because I'm a big fan of Shabby Apple, and here's a little dress modeled after one of my favs from their line.

Tree Lighting Frock GIVEAWAY!!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


So I KNOW I have been MIA in the blogging world lately - actually, I've been MIA in the real world too.

Sorry about that.

I have many, many reasons. Most of which involve no progress on the adoption front. Our paperwork is waiting for approval at the US Embassy. {They need a letter from Social Welfare. Apparently they don't care if the SW gave his recommendation that we leave the country with Adjoa before the adoption, they want the recommendation after the adoption has been granted.}

Kingsley went to Kenya for an international conference regarding issues for orphans, and did not return until today {one week later than he expected to return}, so we haven't even been able to try to get the letter from Social Welfare. This means we won't be able to turn in the letter until Wednesday. Which also means it is highly unlikely that Adjoa will be home for Christmas. We are still wishing, and hoping and praying, for sure - but the days are dwindling fast.

Work has been VERY busy since I returned from Ghana - and the stress of the economy and housing market only compounds the need to make these deals happen. I am very lucky to even have clients to work with so I can't complain that much about it, right?

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that all my late night/2 am phone calls to Ghana, stressing about the paperwork, worrying about Kingsley's whereabouts in Kenya, focusing on business, helping out with some Luckyhill Orphan/School needs during the Holidays caused me to reach my stress threshold and get sick.

That was fun. Talk about bad timing.

I've done my sulking, my crying, my begging, my stressing, my tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth. So now I can blog.

Oh how I've missed you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Pics Around Luckyhill

I don't have much time today, but here are a whole bunch of pics. These were snapped throughout my stay at Luckyhill...

Friday, November 21, 2008


Kathy invited Adjoa and I to come stay the night at their place in Accra.

Real {meaning, not dirt} floors?
Hot water?
An actual mattress?
American-style food?

I had to think about it for, like, one second.

Adjoa and Esther had so much fun playing together. They were a riot. I just wish I had taken a picture or video of them. It's hard to leave your camera out - or even have it handy - when you've got two little kids who are in the mood to play with EVERYTHING.

The next morning, Esther was still sleeping while Adjoa and I were eating breakfast. She started sing-songing I See The Moon it was so cute. I rushed to dig my camera out of my bag to take a video of her.

I'm so happy to finally get her cute little voice on camera! Every time she was playing or saying something before, she would stop when I pulled out the camera.

When we were driving back to the school with Kingsley, Adjoa was telling him "I am Abruni, now!" and she held out her little hand to show him her skin. {Abruni is what Ghanaians call white people}.

She said "I went to Abruni house and ate Abruni food and drank Abruni tea (really, it was super-watered-down mango juice in a sippy cup) so now I am Abruni."

She insisted he call her Adjoabruni - white lady Adjoa.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quick Pics of Adjoa

Adjoa was so cute when I finally got to see her Tuesday night! {Her auntie had come to take her so they could have some pictures taken with her - they wanted to always remember her - so cute! They really love her a lot}

It was pretty late, for her, when Kingsley was able to go pick her up from her Auntie's. She was so happy to see me - even though she had clearly been asleep. She wanted me to hold her and kept turning to look up at me and smile. She played with my hands, tracing her little fingers over mine. I LOVED IT! After a little while, she snuggled up on my lap and fell asleep.

Anyway, Here are a few shots I took really quickly this morning. She was eating {or, as they say, taking} her breakfast.

Eagerly waiting to be dished up.

I know what you are thinking: Nice shirt, Jessica. Her auntie {or was it her uncle?} bought it for her!

Yummy! And yes, those are bread crumbs on her head. They are a really bugger to get out, too. Her shaved head is like Velcro - it attracts everything and it's hard to dig out little bits of....whatever.

I think she's getting tired of me taking so many pictures. It's not my fault. She wasn't exactly cooperating!

And last, but not least, here's a video. Lol. I guess I did go a little overboard, huh? I claim the mommy-eagerness of not having seen your child for 2 months.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Progress at Luckyhill

There has been much building here at Luckyhill since Robert, Lois, and I were here in September. {Wow. It doesn't take me long to slip back into Ghana-speak}
Here are some pictures of the new building {and some of the roofing and other finishing work that Kingsley has been working on}

New road sign. Oh. Yeah, Social Welfare suggested that the school and the orphanage have different names. So the school is now called King's International School and Luckyhill is the name of the orphanage.

Second Story being added to the older rooms. The kitchen and library are off to the right, and the new building is to the left.

Second story addition and the new building. This is so you can get a feel for the layout. I took three pictures panorama-style.

Here is the new building. The home where Kingsley's family and some of the orphans live is visible behind the school.

Kitchen and library. The kitchen is to the left. You can see that a roof is finally being installed.

This is the passage way down to the main school area. The middle and upper classes are held in the main school area by the kitchen. The home is behind me.

Here is another view of the new building, from the other side. The family home is to the left.

The family home to the left, the new building straight ahead, and the rooms for the junior classes are to the right. One of the rooms in the building to the right is where the older boys sleep.

New doors on the junior classrooms. One room is for the older boys to sleep in.
So that's the tour for today. I will post some pics of the children....and Adjoa shortly.

Update from Ghana

You know things are going...slowly, if not well, when i have time to post. ok, so compared to our last trip I define "well" as me not having to run all over the country collecting paperwork for the people we hired to process the adoption (social welfare officer, attorney, etc.)

I successfully met up with Ben Westerby on the flight to Ghana, and we successfully procured a center row each! I made the mistake {again} of taking the malaria meds on an empty stomach {I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you are better off NOT taking your meds if you can't eat anything when you take them - unless of course, you want long, sleepless, bathroom-frequent, hours a head of you}

After I quizzed Ben on the I-600 process {Ginny, he passed with flying colors! Your super-organized binder really helped him, I think}. I stretched out across my three seats and slept - for about an hour and a half, and then couldn't sleep for the rest of the flight.

Adjoa's uncle and auntie were told I was coming and hoping to take her home, so they came to the school Monday to spend some time with her. They wanted to take some pictures with her so they would always be able to remember her. Cute, huh? I am so glad I will be able to tell her about the people who loved her very much in Ghana.

Funny side note: I guess her auntie was disciplining her for something and Adjoa said "I will go! I will go with my mama and eat fried rice!" Lol. at least she dishes it out to others too - not just me!

Anyway, I finally got to see my baby yesterday. She was so happy to see me! She started yelling excitedly for me in the car when she saw me. She would not leave my side at all that first night. It certainly made me feel good!

Staying with Kingsley's family has done wonders for her. She is not nearly as stubborn and she doesn't cry and throw a fit at all. She is minding really well. I sure hope it lasts! Otherwise I might need to hire Gloria ;) Gloria keeps telling me she is an orphan too - an old orphan, but still an orphan. She said I should find someone to adopt an old orphan, because she won't be much trouble! She cracks me up. I sure missed spending time with her.

I haven't really taken many pictures yet. That's really bad, I know. And it's going to make some adoptive parents really mad, but their children simply haven't been at the school. In fact, the only children I have seen so far are Saviour and Godfrid. :( I'm a little disappointed. Oh well.

So on to business. I filed the I-600 with Kingsley and the Westerby's Monday. We ran into a couple other families from Beacon House at the Embassy. It was really funny because I recognized one woman from her blog. Lol. There's nothing like asking someone if they are I didn't want to embarrass her with the details of her life that I knew {Happy Anniversary, by the way!} so I let a lot of things go that I wanted to comment on...

Anyway, they had some really helpful tips for us....AND this will kill Shelley, but all they did was ask for our copies. They didn't really check anything and they certainly didn't ask any questions. It was just like when we filed our I-600A in the States. Simple. Easy. About time!

Frustratingly, the passport still isn't ready. Kingsley got upset with the man who was supposed to process it in September. He withdrew the application and submitted it with another person who has promised it will be done in 2 weeks.

Kingsley wanted me to stay, but that is pretty much impossible. Our hope is that the I-600 gets processed quickly and the passport comes in so she is ready to go home with another family travelling. We'll see.

I'm terribly sad about it, but not surprised. It would have taken the never-done-before type of impossible to bring her home this trip. But that doesn't mean my mother-heart wasn't hoping for it nonetheless.

So that is the update. I will try to get back, but I probably will have no other news that what I have written today....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

That's Right - GHANA!

Ok. I know that post will cause a rush of comments and questions, so I better address them now. {I post-dated my post. Tech-y, huh?}

I flew to Ghana to file our I-600 with the US Embassy. Our hope-beyond-hope is that I will be able to return with Adjoa, but that will take a miracle.

So I'm counting on all of you to pray and pray hard.

Not meaning to be melodramatic or anything, but if she doesn't come home with me, I honestly don't know when she will be able to come home. She would be ready in a matter of days if it doesn't happen while I'm here, but that certainly doesn't mean we can afford another ticket - especially short notice, during the holiday season. {Not to mention that both Robert and I have completely exhausted the time-away-from-work our employers are willing to give.}

Of course, we have complete faith that God will provide a way, even if....

But I'm trying to stay positive. trusting, and hopeful. So let's just pray that it all works out and I can bring our daughter home.

I'll do my best to keep you updated while I'm here.

Anyway, big prayers and best of luck to us!

Guess Where I Am Today...

Things like this prompt my mom to call and tell me she thinks I'm weird.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jane Austen and Baseball

So this AWESOME clip was on The Colbert Report {last night? I'm not really sure. I TiVoed it and watched it today}.

If my world and Robert's world collided it would be this. {ummm, technically that is exactly what happened when we got married, so I guess it's fair to say this is an accurate picture of our world}.

Gotta love Stephen T. Colbert! There's a reason he's one of my TiVo addictions!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Could Call Jessica Jess and Robert Rob

Kids. Are. Awesome.

So over Halloween we had a little get together with Robert's family. {Ok, so a get together with Robert's family is anything BUT little} Nana turned 100 so we had a big family reunion and a party.

Maddy, our neice, and I are pretty tight. Robert lived with them while we were dating so I saw her often. Plus she was about 2 when we met, and you all know the magic I can work on 2 year-olds. Anyway, she used to always beg and beg and beg to come to our house.

During the weekend I asked her if she wanted to come to Utah to see us. She totally freaked out and said she didn't want to live with us. Mom-Amber and I thought maybe the adoption stuff was confusing her a bit. You know, Robert and I just find a kid and are going to take her home to live with us and be our daughter....

That's the backstory.

Amber sent me an email tonight that was pretty awesome. It restored my faith:

So Brandon tells me he wants a knew mom. Nothing surprises me with him. He is always saying new things to see what kind of reaction he will get. So I asked who he would choose for a new mom.

Brandon: Hmmmmmm.....
Maddy: How about Jessica?
Yeah Jessica!
Maddy decides that is a good idea for the both of them.
Me: What kind of fun things would you guys do with Jessica?
Maddy: Wrestle Robert?
Brandon: Robert hurt my arm! And he bent it like this. (Hand goes limp)
Maddy: Hey we could call Jessica Jess and Robert Rob.
Yeah Rob.
Maddy: Rob sounds like robber even though I know he really isn't a robber. {Maybe she should talk to Nana about that. Nana told me Robert stole her curlers.}
Me: So what else would you do?
Piggy back rides on Jess.
Play on the computer.
A few minutes later Maddy opens up her pea pod.
Maddy: Well well what do we have here? Jessica and Robert, Jessica and Robert.
I guess she was naming the peas in the pod after the both of you.
Maddy: Here Brandon I eat Robert and you eat Jessica.

I haven't lost all my charm for Maddy and I've gained ground with Brandon. Life couldn't get much better. Except maybe if it didn't end with a pea being named after me and then promptly eaten.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

So we just had book group. This month we read The Picture of Dorian Gray. Another Halloween book. I'm pretty sure I read this in one of my college classes, but I just couldn't be sure. Either that or I've heard all about it in detail.... I usually remember what I've read though.

I suppose a very real answer to the mystery would be if I was supposed to read it for a college class, but didn't. That would actually explain A LOT.

Anyway, I found this pic of the original Dorian Gray publication in Lippincott's magazine. Fun, huh?

Ok, on to the book. It was really fun discussing this in book group. We talked a little about the book, but the main focus of the conversation quickly became The Aesthetic. We talked about Wilde's ideology that the truest, best art happens when the creator/artist completely removes himself from the work. We spoke about whether or not art reflects the artist or the viewer. It was really interesting and really fun. {Ok. That statement right there proves I'm nerdy. I know I've been hiding it from you, but in case you hadn't discovered it yet, there it is. Unequivocal proof} Of course {with literature especially} it is nearly impossible to think that the author can write and completely remove himself from the work. But I guess that's the ideal, and everyone fits somewhere on the line.

I love Wilde's statement that there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. There is only good writing and bad writing.

I wish more people would judge what they read on whether or not it was well written. {But I guess you have to read it in order to determine if it's well written.....} At the very least, base recommendation of a book, and how you judge it's merits, on how it was written. I'm not saying that's all that is important, but it certainly should be weighed more heavily than it apparently is in today's literary world.

Anyway, we spoke about how the book is extremely moral in nature, even though it deals with immoral characters; we debated who was the most evil character; and we talked about how one sells one's soul. Is it sold in a single moment? Typically not. Rather, it seems souls are sold off little bit by little bit in the daily choices we make.

Nearly every day comes with at least one choice in which your soul is up for barter. Sadly, all too often, it's a teenie-tiny bit of soul - so small that most people don't notice. And then, one day, there isn't much soul left....

Man. That is why I love reading good books. It's so fun to discover those lessons. And I would argue, it adds to the fun when you can discuss them and uncover them further with other people. That's how I ended up with a Major and some grad work in British Literature. I was having fun and the university said "Here you go. It's a degree. Thanks for coming and playing."

Anyway, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a fun book - not for everyone - but fun none the less. Just remember that it's truly is quite moral in the end.

Oh, and if that weren't enough to prompt you to read it, Colin Firth and 'Prince Caspian' {the really super good-looking one from the recent Narnia movie} are in a movie version, Dorian Gray that is slated for release in November 2009. Of course, so far, it's coming out in the UK. We'll cross our fingers that it is released in the US too....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

So it's been two years, folks! YEAH! In a lot of ways it feels like Robert has been a part of my life forever... I know that sounds bad, generally, to say it feels longer than 2 years, but I mean it in the best way.

Robert is such a huge part of my life and who I am that I cannot imagine what my life would be like without him. And I can't really remember what it was before him. He encompasses all the good and all the joy in my life; so every good thing and every joyful moment in my life before him still feels like he was part of it.

I love you!

Here we are, newly married... good times.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I read Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood as one of my Halloween books. I had heard some good things about it so I decided, what the heck, it fits the bill for a Halloween book well enough.

I really liked Atwood's character treatment of Grace. Grace had wonderful depth - your opinion of her innocence changed constantly throughout the novel. Just as it would, I suppose, if you really interacted with her.

The doctor's character was really boring for me. I found myself skimming through the details of his life. He seemed, to me, to be a weak person who simply allows life to happen instead of taking action. Of course, I suppose the same could be argued about Grace.... Somehow, though, it felt different. Most likely because he was educated, and basically a man of means. It's the makings for a good discussion, though: How much of life is destined - What can we actually control in life - To what degree do we allow events to define the course of our life?

While the writing was captivating (Atwood has a simple, direct way of making ambiguous feelings startlingly and almost painfully clear) the ending felt contrived and a little clumsy.

There's no real neat-and-tidy, did-she-or-didn't-she ending to the story. But I suppose the novel isn't about the plot, anyway. How can it be when it's based on a famous story that many people are familiar with? There is a certain unnerving, lovely, freedom in being able to make up your own mind as the reader. There is an unbalanced power in it that is rare and delicious.

My problem is that Atwood seems to lean a little heavily to one side, but still refrains from making a definitive choice. I don't know if I dare commit myself to this, but I think it would be better for the author to completely disguise his/her opinions if the intent is to leave it open for the reader to decide. I'll have to ponder that one.

Anyway, it was a good read, I enjoyed the writing, and there are a few fun plot twists. Just don't read it expecting some answer to whether or not Grace is innocent....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Plum Galette

This is a Martha recipe. I changed it a bit, though. Instead of making Pate Brisee I just used Pepperidge Farm's frozen Puff Pastry sheets. You need 1 box (2 sheets). Let them thaw according to package directions. Unfold the sheets and use the whole square - you could cut it up into individual pastries, but I like making one big treat :)

Plum Galette
makes 2 large pastries

  • 1 box (2 sheets) Pepperidge Farm's frozen Puff Pastry
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or ground toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 5) plums, sliced into 1/2-inch-think wedges
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup plum or red-currant jam

Thaw frozen puff pastry according to directions. Preheat oven to 400*.

Unroll thawed puff pastry sheet on parchment-lined baking sheet. (You might be able to fit both pastries on 1 baking sheet if it's a large one, I had to use 2 baking sheets).

In a small bowl, combine flour, hazelnuts, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt; divide in half and spread to cover the middle of each pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border all around.

Arrange plums in rows on top, slightly overlapping the slices and alternating direction of each row. (you should be able to get about 3 rows). Sprinkle plums with granulated sugar. Fold edges up to enclose plums (I don't know how else to say this - you make a baking dish out of the pastry for the plums...does that makes sense?); brush dough with egg wash.

Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator.

Bake 10 minutes, rotate baking sheet to ensure even cooking. Bake another 10 minutes. Check it often and watch it carefully. Bake until pastry is golden brown and plums are softened. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool to room temperature.

Heat jam in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted. Brush evenly over plum slices (I also like to drizzle it over the crust). Serve up the yumminess.

Robert isn't a big fan of plums, but he likes this pastry. His recommendation is to try it with strawberries. I think making it with pears or a mixed berry would be yummy. Of course, with the mixed berries you probably wouldn't need to drizzle it with jam....

Let me know if you give it a try, or if you change up the filling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shabby Vignettes

So one of my favorite stores {Shabby Apple} is having a fun little contest.

They put together vignettes on their website. You know, to help get women in the mood to buy more than just a dress ;) Shabby is asking customers to put together favorite outfits from their line, name the vignette and submit it to their blog.

I got myself in inspiration mode and put together the following 2 outfits.

BootLegHer {get it? jab, jab.} I love to hoard a bunch of stuff in my purse. And for that reason I require a fashionable tote. None of those tiny clutches for me. My title for this vignette starts at the bottom and works it's way up and is inspired by the trendy and stylish booties. Is that a super foxy boot I see? Oh wait, now there is super foxy leg...and then...super foxy HER!

Sand and Sea Again. The tote. It's much easier to transition between purses when you can just dump ;) I believe this ensemble was inspired by our recent trip to San Diego. Southern California in the fall? Practically as gorgeous as this vignette.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blunt Triangles

I've started gearing up for Adjoa. You know, TiVoing kid's shows and stuff.

Besides Dora the Explorer, who has single handedly taken on Oprah and Madonna {and given them a run for their money, no doubt}, I didn't really know what kid's shows were out there.

So I asked my mom. {Never mind the fact that she has been out of the kid scene as long as I have, she is still my mom and is therefore far more knowledgeable than me}

All my mom had to offer was that I really liked Sesame Street when I was little. {Thanks, mom} I started recording it anyway. I've heard some pretty hyped-up talk about Elmo from the 3 year-olds at church lately.

I only wish I'd seen this before our trip to San Diego.

{No. Adjoa has not joined us yet. Yes. That means I have been watching kids shows without a child in the house...I figured I needed to screen them. Yeah, that's it. Screen them. I'm taking preventative measures. I really don't want to inadvertently hook my child on some TV show that I find annoying...or worse. "I'm a map! I'm a map! I'm a map! I'm a map! I'm a MAP!" is already a level orange threat. That's what I told myself, anyway, as I plopped on the couch and selected the next Sesame Street episode saved on the TiVo}

Anyway. San Diego. Somehow I get the feeling Andi, Sarah, and Jonathan would have gotten a kick out of this song....

I love Sesame Street all over again already.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adoption Decree...CHECK!

I haven't posted for a while, I know. Robert was kindly pointing it out to me last night. I had good reason, though. We were pretty sure we would have an adoption decree today, but as with all things Ghana, we weren't relying on it. {We indeed learned our lesson from the previous 5 or 6 times... 7th time's the charm???} I wanted the good news to have more of an impact. You know, because you all have been checking and checking and wondering why on earth I wasn't posting anything.

Anyway, I just got a phone call from Lois and it is indeed official. We have our adoption decree and we are sooo excited!


Of course, it wasn't easy. Kingsley's fuel pump and filter went out on his car :( which means he is without a car until it can be fixed :( which means until he has the money to do it. So until then, it's back to the extremely slow and unreliable public Tro-tro for him.

Kingsley's friend has Adjoa's passport, so we are hoping Kingsley can meet up with him this week to collect it from him. As soon as that happens, we'll be purchasing another plane ticket and I'll be off!

What a LONG month it has been! But well worth it, of course.

Here's a cute little picture of our daughter {yes Robert, that IS really fun to say!}

I can't wait to kiss that face!

Monday, October 27, 2008


In case you hadn't noticed, I think Kathleen is one superbly crafty chica. I LOVE her stuff. So naturally, I'm oober excited that she is opening a store! YEAH! That means I will have a real shot at owning something made by the one and only Grosgrain {since it seems I will never actually win anything}.


November 6th, huh? Just in time for Christmas....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Safety Dance

I love this song. I always see Turk from Scrubs dancing.... {hmmm maybe I should go find that clip too}

Anywho. Robert sent it to me today, and I know you've probably all seen it before, but it's just soooo funny. Why is that? Why do we think it's funny to watch people fall? I think I enjoy it so much because I feel this great relief that it's not me. It could be. Like most of these people, showing off and trying to be cool has always backfired on me.

So here you go...

Ssss Aaaa Ffff Eeee Tttt Yyyy

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

I don't think I have EVER seen a Halloween costume this beautiful before. My only wish {aside from winning it, that is} is that I had one for ME!

You have to check it out...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hated the Books...

But the movie is going to be AWESOME. And by awesome I mean so potentially terrible that it is going to be awesome.

Seriously, I can't wait. {Well, I can't wait until it's at the $1.50 theater which is sadly no longer a dollar and I can pack up my fellow Twilight Haters...please oh please come Lois I promise it will be good old fashioned snarky fun...because I WILL NOT pay a full 7 bucks to see that movie and most especially when the theater is guaranteed to be filled with people who will give us the evil-eye because we will be laughing at the most, in their minds, inappropriate moments}.

Anywho. Even if you are a loyal lover of the series, you have to admit there is something seriously wrong with what they are doing to the movie.

I submit for examination by the court, Evidence A:

Oh I don't even know where to start. First of all, pretty much the entire point of the book is that what'shisname Edward is supposed to be the handsomest, gorgeousest, modelest dude in existence. Or like unto existence. But Cedric Diggory's character is decidedly unappealing {incidentally CD was hot. Is hot. I swear they de-hottified him in unnatural ways that will surely damage his career. Where was I? Oh yes.} Unappealing. In more ways than I can even begin to express. The tight, low pants. The horrid belt skewed to the right. The shirt. The HAIR. I'm pretty sure they scalped Conan, or at the very least used him as a hair model. Or maybe Donald Trump.

And this is the guy who what'shername clutsy-freak-girl Bella is supposed to be "unconditionally" in love with? Hmmm. Of course, she has a serious lack of judgment proven by the fact that she has romance and creepy-stalkery-obsessive behavior confused. I don't care who or what your reasons are, it is not okay for you to come into my room and watch me sleep at night. Every night. Yuck.

But this is clutsy-freak-girl-who-exhibits-a-serious-lack-of-self-preservation Bella. So she swoons. Directly after her trip to the produce section of Albertson's. Awesome.

Evidence B:

Again. The discrepancy between vampire-hotness {don't any of these people remember Angel? Man I'm soooo glad I have Bones to makeup for that loss!} and this ridiculous now-spiky-haired-we-learned-our-lesson-from-the-EW-mag character. Poor Cedric. I'm sitting here wondering if the writers even read the book. Because I clearly remember about a zillion-ish subtle references to the hotness of Edward. Yeah. Subtle like a brick to the head. This guy looks like he fell into a tub of baby powder.

Oh. and these two people are supposed to be "unconditionally" in love? She looks like she's being kidnapped. Or maybe this is supposed to foreshadow the part where she "unconditionally" loves Edward but is really acting like she's liking if not loving the warm bodied Jacob. Unconditional love my foot.

But hey. I'm thrilled. As far as I'm concerned it will make for perfectly amusing entertainment and it really really helps my standing in my book group. I told them all that Edward was not, in fact, beautiful. Tall-almost-lurpy-greasy-haired-seriously-washed-out-stalker dude? Yes. Beautiful? No.

If you ignore being screamed at throughout the book that Bella thinks Edward is like-so-totally-hot and actually read the descriptions of him then I guess these portrayals are actually quite accurate. And maybe that's exactly what the writers and wardrobe and makeup did.

I've never thought a movie version was better than the book. I'm seriously hoping this holds true for Twilight.

P.S. I'm counting this as a book review even though I read the book a long while ago.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Calorie Cake. I Mean CARROT Cake.

Yesterday was National Bosses Day. So of course, I baked a cake for my boss. {To celebrate his boss-y-ness and bossiness, and also because I'm about to ask for many days of vacation time and he was already giving me grief - in a good natured, but you get my point sort of way - about the vacation time I have already taken off this calendar year.}

My boss is one of those super fanatical fitnessy types. {Yes you are}. So I opted for a carrot cake. You know, because it's healthy.

Here's the yummy recipe in case you are interested. Disclaimer: This is what my cakes will someday look like, of course, but this is NOT my cake. I wish I could claim it, but I can't.

Layered Carrot Cake

  • 1 package (18 1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix. I made my own 'cake mix' this time, but 'tis way yummy with store bought cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • I always add about 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. Because for me, cinnamon and nutmeg go hand in hand.
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup veggie oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots. I prefer baby carrots. They are sweeter, but harder to grate. Watch those filangies.
  • 1/2 cup raisins. I usually don't add the raisins when I bake stuff, but raisins in this carrot cake are scrum-diddly-umptious.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. I really chop the walnuts because large bits of nuts hurt my mouth and I don't like to come across a large nut when I'm chewing something. It makes me think I've committed a baking faux pas, what with their largeness and crunchyness in an otherwise soft, baked good.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting: because cream cheese frosting is the best frosting and this frosting is to DIE for.

  • 1 package (8ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice. Start with 1 and work up from there. You will regret adding too much OJ when your frosting is runny and won't stay on the cake. I promise. It will waste you best laid plans.
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel


In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, and cinnamon. Whisk the eggs, OJ and oil; add to dry ingredients. Beat until well blended. Stir in the carrots, raisins and nuts.

Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350* (that's my degree sign because there isn't one on the keyboard and I don't know what else to tell ya) for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Again, please don't ruin a potentially beautiful cake by trying to frost it too early. It will only end in tears.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar, OJ and peel; beat until smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Store in the fridge.

Here's how my cake turned out. I love the orange peel in the frosting. The frosting is so beautiful it makes a truly pretty cake. {Even if your frosting abilities are not professional in quality} And yes, this is what your cake will look like if you add too much OJ in the frosting or you are trying to frost your cake when your kitchen is a blazing furnace what with that huge south facing window and all.

So Happy National Bosses Day, Boss.

Hope you enjoy the cake - oh, and in case you all were wanting some nutritional information for my healthy carrot cake, there are indeed 544 calories per serving. And there are supposed to be 12-14 servings in a 9-in cake. You might want to dust off that elliptical.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm Manic Today

To combat my sadness I did what all adoptive parents should be able to do when they have the blues... Call their little girl! {or boy or whatever}

So I called Kingsley to, you know, exhibit my American-ness and ask a bunch of nosey questions about when and where and what and who and how.

Luckily Sarah/Zarah/Ajua/Adjoa was right there and wanted to talk to mama.

That's right, folks, she wanted to talk to me. Finally. She has apparently forgiven me for coming and loving her and being wonderful and fabulous and making her love me back and then leaving her behind while I hopped on a plane and returned to the wonders and comforts of American life. It takes a 2 year old 3 phone calls and a couple weeks to get over that.

Anyway. She was wonderful and adorable and not at all her stubborn self but her fun and cute self instead.

Mama {that's me}: Ahhh-Jo-a!!! {in a semi-sing-song sort of way}
S/Z/Aj/Ad: Yes?!?
Mama: How are you?
S/Z/Aj/Ad: I'm fiiiine.
Mama {so thrilled she is actually talking to me I lose my head for a minute and forget she can't really follow if I talk fast & etc.}: I miss you so much! I love you! I can't wait to see you again! I am coming back and I will see you soon. I miss you! I love you!
S/Z/Aj/Ad: Iluvyouuuu
Mama {Wait- what?! Did I really just hear her sweet voice say what I'm thinking she said?}; I LOVE YOU!
S/Z/Aj/Ad: Iluvyouuuuu!
{We did this i-love-you exchange, oh I don't know, five or so times because I just couldn't get enough of it}
Mama: Kisses! {insert kissy noises here - remember the eating her neck picture? I would say kisses and then, ah-hem, maul her with a billion kisses. She loved it and I have the picture to prove it}
S/Z/Aj/Ad: Kiss!

I was so happy I about died. Really. I was smiling so hard I thought my face was going to fall off. Kingsley's son Junior wanted to join the delight and soon pried the phone from my little one and boyishly joyously yelled throughout our brief exchange. It was awesome.

While Kingsley and I finished our boring grown-up conversation that I no longer had a taste for, my little one was clamouring for the phone.

S/Z/Aj/Ad: fante-fante-fante- MAMA - fante.

And so on.

Awesomest {did I say that already?}. Day. Ever.

Joy beyond belief.

Up-down, roller-coaster ride of a day: i.e. Typical Adoption Day When Waiting To Bring Your Joy Home To Cuddle And Squeeze And Love.

I'm Sad Today...

I miss her sooo much today! We are supposed to be going to court any day now and I think it's making me crazy.

"Across mountains and valleys and rivers and seas
This churning and burning and yearning in me"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Literary Works Mentioned in Conference

I stumbled across this post today and thought I'd share. It's interesting to see what literary works the leaders of the church cite in their talks.

There is another post from conference last April...I'll see if I can find it again and link to it as well.

Hope you enjoy!

  • Ballard, Melvin R., Melvin J. Ballard: Crusader for Righteousness, 1966.
    • M. Russell Ballard, The Truth of God Shall Go Forth, Sunday Morning Session
  • Barrie, J. M., A Window In Thrums, 1917.
    • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Happiness, Your Heritage, General Relief Society Meeting
  • Bartlett, John, Familiar Quotations, 17th ed. 2002.
    • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Infinite Power of Hope, Saturday Morning Session - citing Albert Camus
  • Benson, Ezra Taft, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988.
    • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Lift Where You Stand, Priesthood Session - citing Albert Camus
  • Dahl, Borghild, I Wanted to See, 1944.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, Sunday Morning Session
  • Carruth, Gorton and Eugene Erlich, comp., Harper Book of American Quotations, 1988.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, Sunday Morning Session - quoting Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Cannon, Janeth Russell, Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society, 2002.
    • Barbara Thompson, Now Let Us Rejoice, General Relief Society Meeting
  • Cook, John, comp., The Book of Positive Quotations, 2nd ed. 2007.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, Sunday Morning Session - quoting Sarah Ban Breathnach
  • Dickens, Charles, A Tale of Two Cities,.
    • Quentin L. Cook, “Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Eliot, Charles W., ed., The Harvard Classics, 50 vols. 1909–10.
    • L. Tom Perry, Let Him Do It with Simplicity, Saturday Morning Session
  • Gordon, Arthur, A Touch of Wonder, 1974.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, Sunday Morning Session
  • Grothe, Mardy, Viva la Repartee, 2005.
    • L. Tom Perry, Let Him Do It with Simplicity, Saturday Morning Session
  • Kimball, Spencer W., The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball 1982.
    • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Happiness, Your Heritage, General Relief Society Meeting
  • Lee, Harold B., Stand ye in holy places, 1974.
    • Thomas S. Monson, To Learn, to Do, to Be, Priesthood Session
  • Lee, Harold B., Ye are the light of the world, 1974.
    • David A. Bednar, Pray Always, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Marlowe, Christopher, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus,
    • Thomas S. Monson, Until We Meet Again, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Maxwell, Neal A., A Wonderful Flood of Light, 1990.
    • D. Todd Christofferson, Come to Zion, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • McConkie, Bruce R., Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. 1966.
    • Russell M. Nelson, Celestial Marriage, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Monson, Thomas S., Inspiring Experiences That Build Faith, 1994.
    • L. Tom Perry, Let Him Do It with Simplicity, Saturday Morning Session
  • Pope, Alexander, Essay on Man and Other Poems,.
    • Elaine S. Dalton, A Return to Virtue, Sunday Morning Session
  • Rudd, Glen L., Treasured Experiences of Glen L. Rudd, self-published manuscript, 1995.
    • Keith B. McMullin, God Loves and Helps All of His Children, Sunday Morning Session
  • Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de, The Little Prince, 1943.
    • Gérald Caussé, Even a Child Can Understand, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Sandrock, Michael, Running With the Legends: Training and Racing Insights from 21 Great Runners, 1966.
    • Elaine S. Dalton, A Return to Virtue, Sunday Morning Session - quoting Juma Ikangaa
  • Sessions, Gene A., ed., Biographies And Reminiscences From The James Henry Moyle Collection, typescript, Church Archives.
    • Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Lift Where You Stand, Priesthood Session - citing Albert Camus
  • Shakespeare, William, The Two Gentlemen of Verona,.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, Sunday Morning Session
  • Smith, Barbara B. and Blythe Darlyn Thatcher, eds., Heroines of the Restoration, 1997.
    • Quentin L. Cook, “Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time”, Sunday Afternoon Session - citing Heidi Swinton, “I Gently Closed the Door.”
  • Smith, Bathsheba W., Autobiography, ed. Alice Merrill Horne.
    • Quentin L. Cook, “Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time”, Sunday Afternoon Session

  • Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Biography And Family Record Of Lorenzo Snow, 1884.
    • Boyd K. Packer, The Test, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Smith, Joseph, History of the Church, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. 1902-1932.
    • Gérald Caussé, Even a Child Can Understand, Saturday Afternoon Session
    • Keith B. McMullin, God Loves and Helps All of His Children, Sunday Morning Session
    • M. Russell Ballard, The Truth of God Shall Go Forth, Sunday Morning Session
    • Boyd K. Packer, The Test, Sunday Afternoon Session
    • Barbara Thompson, Now Let Us Rejoice, General Relief Society Meeting
  • Smith, Joseph Fielding, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. 1954–56.
    • Dallin H. Oaks, Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament, Saturday Morning Session
    • Russell M. Nelson, Celestial Marriage, Sunday Afternoon Session
  • Thoreau, Henry David, Walden, 1854.
    • L. Tom Perry, Let Him Do It with Simplicity, Saturday Morning Session
  • Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, 1986.
    • Robert D. Hales, Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship, Sunday Morning Session
  • Whitney, Helen Mar, A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, 1997.
    • Quentin L. Cook, “Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time, Saturday Afternoon Session
  • Wilson, Meredith and Franklin Lacey, The Music Man, 1957.
    • Thomas S. Monson, Finding Joy in the Journey, Sunday Morning Session
  • Young, Brigham, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widstoe, 1971.

Ahh, here is the list from April. (cross my fingers that this new rebloging thing works!)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Political Persuasion

I am at a loss. Unless someone, anyone, can provide convincing evidence for any candidate, I will probably "forget" to vote this year. Something I have never done and don't really find at all appealing because then I lose the right to complain when I don't like the way things are going in 2.5 years.

Didn't vote? Can't whine. That's my political motto. Ok. It also applies to American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and any other voting-based-turn-an-average-joe-into-someone-famous-reality show.

McCain: I've never liked him. For many, many reasons. Mostly because he doesn't vote/support his party and then he tries to glorify it by saying he's a maverick. I've never hated the word more in my life. Almost, it's ruining my favorite Mel Gibson movie. Almost.

Obama: Honestly people. He really doesn't have any experience. And the way he talks is so weird. What's with all the pausing and quick-phrasing mixed together? It's hard for me to listen to him. Worse than Bush? Probably not. But only because I haven't had to listen to him for eight years. He is promising an awful lot, too. But I guess that only shows how little experience he has in the US Government. Everyone else seems to know how hard it is to get anything done....

Biden: All I can say on this one is that I think, basically, we are polar opposites. I disagree with nearly everything he consistently supports. Of course, that is kind of hard, since his track record isn't completely consistent.

Palin: I really wanted to like Palin. In fact, I was rooting for her out of the gate, so to speak. I thought she was treated and judged unfairly at first.... And then she started giving interviews. She really doesn't know anything, does she? And what's worse: she doesn't even know what she doesn't know. I absolutely cannot, with a straight face, say that she is at all capable of stepping in. Just in case, you know, a 72-year old man who has already had cancer can't make it a full four years. (I don't think his POW status helps out in hoping he will have an extended life. If indeed, as a POW he suffered poor nutrition, hygiene, etc.).

So where does that leave me? Do I simply vote for the party that most closely reflects my beliefs? That tactic seems to be nothing more than a vain hope that the candidates actually vote with their party. Which, incidentally, seems to be what they are all saying they do not do!

How can I trust anyone who either doesn't have much of a track record, or has a track record that is more flip-floppy than a fish?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bratz Dolls are Evil

So I read this article today. And I must admit I was actually glad there is proof (meaning published books) supporting what I've felt all along: Bratz Dolls are evil.

Before you think I'm being hyper-sensitive or melodramatic let me just say I am serious. Since when is it ok for little girls to watch a cartoon and play with dolls that dress like porn stars? Fishnets: check. Ginormous high heels: check. Mini skirts: check.

And some people thought Barbie was bad. Yeash.

Anyway, the article is actually really interesting. It points out that mainstream culture has been "pornified" (for lack of a better word) and that it is increasingly difficult to guard children against it. Pornographic images and themes have seeped into everyday life so much that - get this - in Florida a judge ruled that "a porn-site operator charged with racketeering and prostitution, could not be considered as behaving outside the societal norm."

The researchers of several books about the topic have found that middle-school and high-school kids who have been heavily influenced by these pornography based images and ideas actually endorse sexual stereotypes more strongly and have a misconception about what it means to be grown-up. They are confused about what is appropriate. (Not really a surprise, I guess). But still scary and sad.

It also pointed out that 70% of girls and 90% of boys aged 13 to 14 have accessed at least once (whether accidentally or not) sexually explicit content. Scary. And sad.

The American Psychological Association found that girls are being stripped of all their value except their sexual use - and that once they subscribe to that belief they begin to self-objectify. (Did you get that? We are no longer talking about men who objectify women, these girls are choosing to objectify themselves!). Consequences of this self-objectification include cognitive problems, depression, and eating disorders. Again, scary. And sad.

I'm just glad there is a wave of people in America that recognize there is a serious problem with the way sexual content and images have crept into everyday life. I hope enough people start listening and wake up to the damage it's doing to children and our society. And I really hope that as a society we choose to fix this problem.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I'm a sucker for a good, 19th century gothic novel, so I loved reading The Thirteenth Tale. A bonus: it was really well written. I was surprised to learn today that this is Diane Setterfield's first book. Wow. I'm going to be looking forward to more writing from her, that's for sure.

Yes, the protagonist is a little melodramatic (but what gothic protagonist isn't, really) and yes, there is a tad too much focus on Jane Eyre. But I still loved reading it.

I intended to read it on the plane back from Africa, but quickly became so engrossed in it, that I devoured the whole darn thing between changing my flight a million times and spoiling Ajua. :)

I stayed up half the night reading while she slept next to me (and I think I will always remember that about this book).

Anyway, if you want a great page-turner to read during the Halloween season, this is the perfect one to choose. But beware: it's really popular at the library, so you might need to get on the list now, or just go buy it.

Oh, and I feel I must point this out: such a lovely cover!

*Sorry there isn't much by way of an actual review, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Attention Everyone!

The Garner Family: Attention everyone!

Hey all - this is my cousin, Katie. She has started a business that she can do from home: cloth diapers.

Now before you cringe and flash back to plastic covers, pins, and the general awfulness of old cloth diapers, check these out. They are AMAZING.

Since I don't have a child in diapers, I'm calling on all you who do to at least consider it. Heck, it's worth buying at least one to try it out.

Besides, it's good for your baby's bum and the environment! Oh. And they are soooo cute!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sarah's Passport!

Word on the street is that Kingsley will be able to pick up Sarah's Passport this week!

We applied for her passport back in June and it's been ready, sitting on the officer's desk for months! They have simply been refusing to hand them out :(

Anyway, we're hoping beyond hope that this promise made to Kingsley comes to fruition.

In other good news: we should know when our 'second' court date is sometime tomorrow!

Winning Streak

So I can't win anything for free - like a drawing or a bingo game, but if something's on EBAY, well, heck, it might as well be mine. I have, to date, never lost an ebay bid. (I also admit I have only bid on a handful of items).

It's not like I just bid extravagantly, either. I study out the other items listed. I factor in shipping. I know what it costs at the store or Amazon or Nextag. I even occasionally make an outrageous bid.

For example, I was checking to see if our carseat was going to be shipped off (I won the Britax Frontier Red-Rock car seat on our registry for $202.50!) I saw a listing for a cute 2T winter outfit that was expiring soon. The current bid was $7. I thought, heck. I'd pay $8.00 for that. So I placed my bid.

And I WON! lol. I seriously thought it would be the end of my winning streak. Nope.

So here's a picture of my newest EBAY score:

Ralph Lauren Scottish Dog Sweater Set: $8.01

Look - there's even a HEADBAND! Won't little Ajua look sooo cute in this? I need some awesome tights and little black Maryjane's!

By the way - another accomplishment today: This is my 100th post! I'm feeling very successful and quite...accomplished ;)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pumpkin Pie and Cocoa Snuggles

Just a quick post today - in honor of fall (and because I promised my mom) I've been binding these two quilts. Correction. I just finished binding them. Now I can move on to the 3 or 4 others I have sitting around longing to be bound.

I like to call this quilt Pumpkin Pie. Because of the pumpkins, of course, but also because the tan and brown center 'circles' look like a bunch of pies all lined up, waiting to be eaten.

Here's a close up - I really loved how the quilting turned out on this quilt.

And another one. All the outside pumpkins are quilted like this...such detail. I love it!

This quilt is all flannel. Robert recognized that this was "pretty" fabric. It's so cozy. I shouldn't say this (it will scare my mom) but Eden thinks this quilt is for her. She has the hunger, Robert said.

Another close up so you can see the quilting. It's a very romantic quilt. Perfect for snuggling up under with a cup of hot cocoa fresh from the CocoaLatte!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See

One of my favorite 'side effects' of the incurable love-of-reading-disease is that you come to know all sorts of seemingly random things. Even if all you ever read were well-written (it's sad that I feel I have to add that qualifier) novels, you would develop a deep well of knowledge. This is fact, I promise.

Snow Flow and the Secret Fan was, pretty much, my first exposure to early nineteenth century China. I was engrossed by the details of the culture, history, and daily life of women. I came to know and understand the culture and traditions on a much deeper level than I had previously been acquainted with.

It's a beautifully written and compelling story about friendships, art, love and regret, and, (oh what the heck), atonement. The narrator, eighty-year-old Lily, is finally ready to tell her story in the hopes that those she has known and loved who have gone before her will hear and understand her. And perhaps even forgive her.

I love the theme of language, specifically the written word, as a means of reconciliation - a facilitator of atonement. Even though it was the secret written language that caused misunderstandings and pain, Lily still reaches out to seek forgiveness through that same medium.

Perhaps it's a good caution to think about what you read: the difference between severing a relationship and healing one is slight.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Open House by Elizabeth Berg

Actually, I finished this one a while ago, but never got around to posting about it. (Adoption consumed my life and blog there for a month or so).

I picked Open House up for two reasons: I enjoyed The Art of Mending and I liked the bathtub on the cover. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, I'm sure - you totally can judge a book by it's cover. Besides, if you've heard it's a good book and you don't like the cover, just look for a different edition. That's what I do. Even at the library. Honest.

Books are so much more enjoyable when they are pretty. (I'm not sure I even have to vocalize this but I will - people look at what you are reading, I promise. You don't want to be caught with an ugly book in your hands. You don't want people wondering why on earth you are reading that horrid book.)

I digress. Sorry.

I enjoy the lightness of Berg's writing. It's still quality writing, just light. I love that her characters are so real - you feel like you could know them. She (the character) might not be you but she seems familiar - like your neighbor or the woman you stood behind in line at the store today. Berg's stories could be anyone's stories. That's the bulk of their appeal.

Comparing the two, I think I liked The Art of Mending more. But that could be strictly because the woman in that one likes to sew - quilts, to be specific. I loved the mending theme.

Open House is still worth the read. The only drawback I had was that there was no real drama. You got the feeling, throughout the entire book, that everything would be ok for Sam, the protagonist. The heroine would prevail. That mystery was never there (I'm the type of reader that thrives on the will she? won't she? mystic in novels) . You keep reading for other reasons: the humor, mostly, and to see just how she will prevail.

I think the best lesson I learned from the book was that when life starts feeling small, when you begin to become consumed by your problems, the best remedy is to open up - open your heart, your mind, and maybe even your house.