Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Steam Festival

We had the privilege of being at Golden Spike's Winter Steam Festival which is always held the 27th, 28th, and 29th of December. This year was the Jupiter's turn for winter glory while the 119 rested in the engine house. It was a cold, but sunny day with engine cab tours, speeder rides, and of course the hand car. The cold air really makes the locomotive steam pretty. The engineer stayed cozy all day due to the wood furnace fire.

Isn't he handsome?

Isn't she beautiful?

All park rangers have their little secrets, traditions, and customs. The fireman cooked a hot dog for me!

Completely engulfed by herself...

K and J (Monday 28 December 2009) and the Jupiter.

Safety first (because the locomotive always wins!)

Does this remind anyone else of Harry Potter?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

K made it home a couple of hours early from the Spike on Christmas Eve. We had the traditional Porcupine Meatballs by candlelight. J enjoyed playing with the domestic goddess hidden deep within by setting a pretty table for Christmas Eve Dinner and then changing it up just a tad for Christmas Day. We are overwhelmingly blessed, had gobs of presents to open and food to eat, and simply enjoyed our time together.

Activities included sleeping in (K dragged himself out of bed at 10:45 a.m. on Christmas Morning--one of J's gifts to him since she grew up with the rule of "no Christmas before 6:00 a.m.!"), watching television (NBA games for K) and DVD's (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency for J), reading The Christmas Story from Luke 2 in the New Testament of the King James Version of the Holy Bible, talking to family by phone, reading books and newspapers, playing Aggravation (K beat J two out of three), and cooking (big thanks to K for all of his efforts in preparing yummy food AND cleaning the dishes).

For Christmas Dinner we had Honey-baked spiral cut ham, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, green bean casserole, crescent rolls, and apricot salad. The apricot salad is a recipe from K's family. Here's the original recipe:


1 can Apricot Pie Filling
2 eleven-ounce cans Mandarin Oranges
1 can Pineapple Bits/Chunks
1 can White Grapes
3-4 Sliced Bananas
2 cups Mini-Marshmallows

Drain all canned fruit and mix with pie filling. Chill thoroughly. Add bananas and marshmallows. Serve.

Well, there's just so much to be said about this recipe! First of all, when I married into this wonderful family and heard about this salad, I was taken off guard. Is there anyone else out there who has never heard of apricot pie filling? Honestly, do waitresses in diners all across America rattle it off on their well-memorized and quickly-recited list of pies? No! I've lived in eight states and one foreign country. People around here grow entire orchards of apricots and I've been making the jam for years. Never heard of apricot pie or filling. Never. Okay, so then I tried some at my first Christmas Dinner on Grandpa's farm. Wasn't impressed. It was too sweet, too much "unmatching" fruit, and I couldn't sort out the flavors and textures. Wasn't sold. One year, Ken made it for his faculty party. We couldn't locate apricot pie filling after searching many stores, so he substituted peach. Not a go.

Fast forward to Christmas 2009. K had a hankering for Apricot Salad. He bought a can of apricot pie filling in Iowa and carried it across the plains. He doesn't even like Mandarin oranges or apricots. We couldn't find a can of white grapes anywhere (another item I'd never heard of...), so K bought fresh (spendy, shipped up from Brazil this time of year). K got an idea to make a last-minute substitution because he couldn't find canned grapes--he bought a can of Bing Cherries instead. So, on Christmas Eve, we drained the oranges, pineapple, and cherries and saved the juice! The juice all mixed together is beautiful and tasty. We mixed in the apricot pie filling and threw it in the fridge overnight. Christmas Day found us slicing three bananas and folding in the marshmallows. It was DIVINE! We don't know if it's the cherries, the marrying of the flavors with the overnight chilling (at the farm, the salad is usually put together that morning and not-so-chilled), or the fact that we put a lot of effort and soul into this thing. While typing this post I had to dish some of the stuff up and taste it again before I could go on. So now you know everything we've learned about this one dish. Definitely picture-worthy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Compassionate Service

In the December 2009 issue of the Ensign, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is quoted on page 62:
"In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance."

I am so appreciative of the love, generosity, and compassionate service I've received during this latest hand surgery episode. My husband has been incredibly thoughtful to supply any need or want I have. My colleagues have been in touch, fifth graders are cheering in my section, friends have stopped by, neighbors have brought meals that weren't really necessary (but you betcha, I ate them), and I will never be able to watch all of the DVD's that folks have loaned to me. It's my second Christmas in a row devoted to surgery and healing, but both years have been filled with peace and calm, patience and compassion.

With just one good hand at the moment, my vision has improved to see the needs of others. When I am well, I hope I can make good on these thoughts to use my hands to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to answer those prayers of the ill and lonely, the heavy hearted. I hope to find myself on the "even greater importance" side of things.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Post

New to blogging...here are a few pics from 2009.

SUCCESS! The finished product!

Concentrating. Decorating.

Rollin' out the dough...

Albacore+Laughing Cow+pomegranate+spinach+4 grams of fiber per slice whole wheat=Yummy+Healthy+Gourmet=Picture-worthy!

These cows on Grandpa's farm in Iowa followed us along the fence line all the way down the road. When we turned to walk the opposite direction, I called out, "Okay, Ladies, now we're going to turn around and walk the other way--follow me!" They obliged.

This is the final board of J's first time winning Scrabble ever.

A perfect peanut butter pie!

This is a butte near Fairfield, Montana.

K's buddy, Smokey.

Big Hole, Montana in October.

J and K at Third Dam, Spring Hollow, Logan Canyon, Utah (October).

Columbine--Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah, July.

K resting after lengthy battle with Thorny New Mexican Locust (North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona, August).

J and K in Washington, D.C. (April).

K's amazing eye for a pretty picture.

J toying with her own photography skills (Salt Lake Temple, March).