Monday, March 31, 2014

and their favorite audience.

All those music lessons... these guys are amazing. 

This is my one of my granddaughters. Although she is only two she knows all about the Piano Guys and loves them.         

She watched a clip of them playing "upside down" and the next time she came to my house she went straight to my piano and said to her dad... "We play upside down like the piano guys!" The crazy part was my son figured out a little melody.
Happy Monday!

Friday, March 28, 2014



Nestled at the base of Mt. Timpanogos in the heart of Provo Canyon, Sundance Ski resort is a fun place to visit no matter what the season. There is a great gift shop with artisan jewelry and very unique clothing. Its worth a visit or browse their online catalog...
and two persistent women

In the Spring of 1885 Mrs. Eliza Scidmore returned to her home in Washington after visiting Japan. During her time there she had seen the cherry trees in full bloom and was smitten. She approached the U.S. Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds, with a proposal to plant cherry trees along the Potomac waterfront. Her request fell on deaf ears.

For the next twenty-four years she would petition every new superintendent but with no success.

What's better than one determined woman trying to make something good happen? Two women, one with a lot of clout!

Eliza finally decided to raise the money
herself, purchase the trees and gift them to the city.

Before doing so she outlined her plan and sent it to the new First Lady, Helen Taft.  Mrs. Taft who had lived in Japan and was familiar with the beauty of the cherry tree, immediately responded.
Dear Mrs. Scidmore,
"Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cheery trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them extending down to the turn in the road... the effect would be very lovely on the long avenue. 
Let me know what you think about this. "
Sincerely yours,
Helen Taft

The day after Mrs. Taft's letter the Japanese chemist, Dr.Jokitchi Takamine, who was visiting Washington, heard about the cherry trees. He asked if Mrs. Taft would accept a gift of an additional 2,000 trees and suggested they be given in the name of the city of Tokyo. Mrs. Taft graciously accepted.

There was great disappointment when the trees arrived and it was discovered that they were severely infested with bugs. To protect American growers it was determined that they should be burned.

Now the threat of a diplomatic disaster must be avoided. The Secretary of State personally expressed his deep regret to the Japanese Ambassador and there was great relief when the parties involved met the news with good will  Subsequently, the mayor of Tokyo offered a second donation.

3.020 cherry trees in 12 varieties arrived in the Spring of 1912 and the planting began. Years later there would be an additional gift of 3800 trees given in behalf of Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Each year Washington DC welcomes the arrival of spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a three week event showcasing the magnificent blooming cherry trees along the Tidal Basin.

The Festival with its profusion of pink, its heady scent and the euphoric walk along the corridor would not be available except for the determination and persistence of  Helen Taft and Eliza Scidmore... two remarkable women in history!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

even if she's small!

There is something formidable about a women when her mind is set.  A woman on a "mission" can't be talked out of it or distracted or convinced to walk away.  The world is a better place because of women like this.

This is not Eva but the hair is similar

I've read the histories of such ladies and have known a few personally, but the other day in the library I saw one who was still very young, a "formidable woman" in the making.  I will call her Eva.

Eva is a "woman" with a purpose.  She is going to be a reader. Every morning she comes up to the library and hands me her finished book. She points out that not only has she finished her book but she's scored 100% on her comprehension quiz.  I smile and congratulate her. She gets a new book and literally skips out of the library, her long dark brown naturally curly hair bobbing up and down. She is adorable.

Her little face is full of light and the look in her eye says... "I know where I'm going and what I have to do to get there!"
Eva has this look in her eyes
The other day I saw a bigger piece of Eva's personality when her whole class was in the library.  We have two big doors, one east and one west.  For whatever reason the younger kids struggle with the doors.  Let me explain...

When a child asked me to use the bathroom I NEVER say no. I just point to one of the doors and say hurry back.  Nine times out of ten they can't open the door because they are pulling on it instead of pushing. I have given multiple mini lessons on push/pull but the struggle continues.

One day last week a boy in Eva's class was struggling with the door as Eva was standing in front of me at the circulation desk. I said to him. Push on it, don't pull.  That just made him pull all the harder.  Before I could stand up to go rescue him Eva let out a big sigh and headed for the door.

"Look" she said... "you're pulling not pushing" Then she took over, turned the handle, pushed the door open and stood there to let him walk through. Then she let out another sigh and rolled her eyes. I couldn't even laugh, I just starred with my mouth open. The thought went through my head... "Sometimes it just takes a women, even if she's small."

Little Eva... I suspect you will be a formidable woman one day.  You might even change the world!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It is still cold and dreary in my neck of the woods. Then a got a surprise as I was driving to work yesterday. I saw an apricot tree in full bloom. It took my breath away. They are the first to "pop" each year and it is a real sign of Spring. What a thrill. 

There is a funny little song that the children at church sing every Spring. Complete with actions it is at least three generations old. Here are the words...

Apricot Chicken Wings

3lbs chicken wings
1 1/2 c. apricot preserves
3 TBS vinegar
2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 glove garlic minced

Put your chicken wings in a deep pan, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Remove immediately, drain and arrange the wings on a cookie sheet.

In a mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients for the sauce. Pour over the chicken and toss. Cover with foil and marinate overnight. Bake in a 300 degree oven, tossing the wings about every 20 minutes.  Cook slowly until the sauce and the wings become caramelized. About 2 hours. Serve with celery.

"The secrets in the sauce!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The valley where I live

As a very young mother I remember facing the daunting task of toilet training my oldest child. He was almost three. I had put this off for a long, long time because I had no idea what I was doing and was doubtful that I could succeed. Imagine my surprise when after a couple of frustrating weeks ... IT WAS DONE!

During the struggle, I was desperate to find some humor and this little poem bubbled to the surface. Its silly and anything but profound but it helped me lighten the moment. The interesting part was that I didn't exactly write it. It was like it was just there and I was the scribe.  Even in this insignificant moment there had been a spark of inspiration.


My mother says today's the day,
She's going to throw the pins away,
The diaper pail and the diapers too,
In fact, my mother says she's through...
With diapering, she'll take a chance
And put me in a "training pant,"
And hope that I don't wet or soil it,
But do my duty on the toilet.

(note - there were no disposable diapers back then)

So what is the "blue-note?"  In artistic circles it is referred to as the moment when creativity begins to flow. We struggle, and quite often find our resources empty. Then suddenly, on a whim of its own, there will be a moment of clarity when all of the elements come together and pure inspiration flows. It is "magical"

Some have described its playing as if the drapes to a great dark hall have been drawn aside, and ideas like an explosion of sunlight, flood into the room.

When Fredrick Handel composed THE MESSIAH, He locked himself in a room for ten days to jot down the music playing in his head.

When Mozart wrote THE MAGIC FLUTE, he was not trudging his way through the rules of music theory to a logical conclusion. No, he heard the finished piece and wrote it down.

"Creativity is a partnership, a dance between ourselves and the muses."

I have heard the ringing of the blue-note many times. Most people think of it as it relates to art, literature and music, but it is not confined to any genre. I had a cookie decorating business for 12 years and it was there among the tips and bags and frosting. And more recently I have experienced its clarity while teaching math.

I have sixteen 5th grade students and we are studying 6th grade math. We are into algebra and geometry. They have known for a long time how to find the area of a rectangle but last week I taught them how to find the area of a parallelogram.

Base x Height = Area

It took a minute... they didn't get it.  Where does the height come from? We went through it several times and reviewed it for several days. Finally, although they didn't completely understand it, they could recite the formula and get the answer.  Then... about a week later I was suppose to teach them to find the area of a triangle. I drew a triangle... we measured the base, made a right angle and measured it and then we multiplied.

Base x Height = Area

All went well until I said ... now divide by two.

"WHAT?  Why do we divide by two... I don't get it."

I started to say. "It's OK if you don't understand the concept, just follow the process"  But then I stopped... I had a "flash"

I drew a parallelogram on the board.  Then I drew a line from one corner to the opposite corner and said... "What do we have?"


You would have thought it was the 4th of July as lights were turning on all over the room. Again and again I heard...  "I get it, I get it. There's two triangles so we divide by two."

There was laughing, there were sighs of relief, there was excitement. The blue-note had rung in math.  It was a moment when real learning and clarity had occurred.

I love teaching. I love it when my students see with "new eyes" and the transfer of information and understanding is complete. IT IS MAGIC!

I treasure the times when I have heard the soft ringing of the illusive "blue-note"... I believe it is truly heaven sent.

Monday, March 24, 2014

One jacket two looks! 

Fell in love with the jacket first... now I'm crazy for the accessories. Oh, the sandals. ENJOY! 

Option #1

Option #2

MICHAEL KORS Sandals from Dillards $145.00

saw a need and filled it... a truly remarkable woman

Life in the mid 1800's was filled with hard work and deeply rooted Christian beliefs. Political passions and a sense of right and wrong grounded these early Americans. But nothing in their lives could have prepared them for what was about to happen ...

The American Civil War 

Approximately 750,000 lives would be lost over a four year period. That is the equivalent of us suddenly losing two million Americans. No one predicted that number and NO ONE was prepared to deal with the casualties.

It would shatter almost every family and change the way the people viewed their government and the way the government viewed its responsibility toward its citizens.

Prior to the war there were no large hospitals, no ambulance system, no antibiotics and no information about the transfer of communicable diseases. There were no national cemeteries, no honoring the dead or pensions for the families. There was also no organized way to record the dead. All of that would change as Americans were stunned by the statistics of war.

People living at this time were keenly aware that life could be short and they had little or no control over when someone would be taken. They valued what they called the "GOOD DEATH" ... passing with loved ones around, final farewells, and being buried in a family plot. People were horrified as their loved ones lay rotting on battlefield and thousand and thousand were buried in unmarked graves. The notion of a "Good Death" was no longer available.

A government clerk working in the US patent office saw this overwhelming calamity and decided she would do something to help. Her name was CLARA BARTON.

When the Civil War broke out, she was one of the first volunteers to appear at the Infirmary in Washington where she cared for the wounded soldiers. When word came of the destitute conditions on the front and the shocking lack of medical supplies, Clara filled three army wagons with supplies and rode into the Battle of Antietam. There she found the surgeons trying to make bandages out of corn husks.

She was referred to as the "Angel of the Battlefield."

She made trip after trip, putting her life in danger while bringing aid to the Union casualties and the Confederate prisoners.. In 1864 as she was nursing a wounded soldier, a bullet tore through the sleeve of her dress. It did not strike her but killed the man she was caring for.

Burying the dead was a monumental task but identifying them was even more difficult. Clara worked tirelessly to aide the friends and families of missing soldiers by locating them among prison rolls or casualty lists.

She established the Bureau of Records of Missing Men and it was with her insistence that as many graves as possible were identified and marked.
By the end of the war she was exhausted. At her doctors insistence she went to Geneva, Switzerland to recover. There she discovered an organization called the Red Cross. She joined their ranks and even helped in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

Beyond her compassionate heart, Clara was a talented organizer. She had put people to work during two wars and now, upon her return and with the financial help of a friend she organized the AMERICAN RED CROSS and served as its leader for the next 20 years. She saw needs, she took action!

She was there in 1881 to aid the victims of a devastating forest fire in Michigan. In 1884 she chartered steamers to carry supplies up and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to help the flood victims and in 1889 she and 50 volunteers rode the first train into Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to assist the survivors of a dam break that caused over 2,000 deaths.

Clara Barton spent her life helping others in times of catastrophe. She was a true humanitarian and a remarkable woman!

Watch this mini-biography about her life...

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Homeward Bound

by Marta Keen Thompson

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. Hope you enjoy it!

“In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing
And the sky is clear and red,
When the summer’s ceased its gleaming,
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure’s lost its meaning,
I’ll be homeward bound in time.
Bind me not to the pasture;
Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling
And I’ll return to you somehow.
If you find it’s me you’re missing,
If you’re hoping I’ll return,
To your thoughts I’ll soon be list’ning,
In the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing
As my journey nears its end,
And the path I’ll be retracing
When I’m homeward bound again.
Bind me not to pasture;
Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling
And I’ll return to you somehow.
In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing,
I’ll be homeward bound again.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Yesterday was the 1st day of Spring. I was a bit under the weather so I didn't post. I'm a day late and a dollar short and I'm just saying... "I hate Spring! 

Now before you write me off completely, let me name a few things about Spring that I LOVE ... 

I love crocus and daffodils ... new baby lambs and little colts... 

pussy willows, lilac bushes, Easter egg hunts, Spring Break and longer days!

What I hate about Spring is that she is a "tease."  One day is sweater weather, the next I'm shivering in my down coat. Blue skies bring hope and excitement and then there's another snow storm. Its enough to give anybody whiplash!

I put up with the March wind and I love the April showers. But when May arrives I think it should be predictably warm. I don't want to plant lettuce and peas in the cold and the poor little tomatoes look pitiful under their cutout milk jugs. The old saying goes...

"In like a lion... out like a lamb." 

The only problem is that here in the Rocky Mountains the 1st day of Spring was mild.... and that means we've got a little "lion" in the forecast. 

The best thing about Spring is...  
Summer's coming!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


"BEAUTIFUL CANDY... too pretty to eat."

Just when you think the world is right side up....  Taking the weekend off.  See you on Monday!


I use to watch the Oprah show religiously. I didn't always agree with everything she thought and said but she certainly paraded some interesting people across her stage.  I was sad when it ended. One show, in particular has stayed with me. Maybe its just a piece of the show... I really can't remember all the details. What I do remember is that she asked this question...

"What three words would you use to 
describe yourself?" 

Her premise was that if you picked your words carefully and accurately it would be a window into who you really are. So three words... I didn't think that would be too hard. The first one wasn't, the second I had to dig a little deeper and the third didn't come for years.

Here are my three words....

First word ... BEAUTY  

In the innermost part of my soul I am visually and thus emotionally motivated by beauty.  I love it in all of its forms, color, nature, fashion, interior design, fabric, art, wood, music, architecture, literature and poignant moments.

"I have always said that the day was wasted if I didn't 
laugh and cry." 

The crying wasn't because I was sad, it was because I was moved by something beautiful. It feeds my soul and motivates my decisions. I remember living in a little old rental house when I was first married. When Spring came I planted petunias in the front flower beds and the owner was shocked... "Why would you do that at your own expense" All I could think to say was because it makes it beautiful. Oprah's formula is right... this first word is WHO I AM. I want to live surrounded by beauty.

Second word ... GENUINE

I want the real deal, no imitations. When we built our house I wanted two things... a wrap around porch and river rock on the front.  I got them both.  I LOVE my rocks because they are real. I scrub them every spring and when I go in and out of the front door I like to brush them with my fingers.
                                                                                                                        MY HOME
I like genuine things but mostly I like genuine people. I am not a person who has "secrets" Ask me anything.

I like the phrase "What you see is what you get" and even if it isn't good news I like people to be straight up! "Two faced" is just so disingenuous!

Transparency sometimes comes with a price. Five years ago a women walked into my workplace and verbally tore me to shreds.  As hard as it was to hear, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Not all, but some of what she said was true. I didn't like it so......... I fixed it. I CHANGED!  Haven't seen her since that fateful conversation but if I ever do... I will thank her. Some of my rough edges are gone.

Third word... HISTORY

I didn't realize that history was an important part of who I am until I went back to work as the school librarian. It was a journey that took me full circle.

I was a very, very, young 17 year old when I graduated from high school and headed to college. I had never really made many decisions... I just did what I was told to do. So when I arrived at Brigham Young University I was thrilled to be on my own. Turns out I wasn't all that good at making decision. First mistake... I played and never went to class.

I remember thinking maybe I should at least make an appearance in my history class. I walked in and surprise, it was the mid-term exam. I FAILED. In fact on my transcript it says... American History "F"  All of that abruptly changed when my mother received a notice that I was on academic probation. I began to study but the "history thing" always haunted me.

Fast forward about 40 years to the library where part of my job is to tell "stories"  I quickly recognized that fantasy and fairy tales were not my favorite genres. What I ran into were stories from history. Real life stories so incredible that if Hollywood had made them up people would say... "That could never happen" But they did happen... they are real.

I have always been a storyteller, now all of that got wrapped around HISTORY. I began to collect real stories and I am passionate about it... just can't seem to stop telling them.

One of the first stories I shared with my students was the history behind the Iditarod Race that happens every March in Alaska. The story of "THE GREAT SERUM RUN OF 1925"  is incredible and I will share it with you on Monday.

So... until then...

I hope you will leave a comment and reveal at least one of the 3 words that describes you...  this could be fascinating.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


PURSE $130.00  Nordstrom (This little clutch also comes in pink and white)

I love scallops and this dress has plenty.  I like that it is very versatile... mix it with the printed handbag and it becomes casual, add a little white shrug or a structured jacket and its more refined. Either way its a beautiful piece.  

Then there are all the shoe options, here are just a few...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


A few years ago a friend of mine claimed that she did not care how she looked. I didn't question her but I also didn't believe her.  This was a woman who regularly had her false eyelashes done and was big on pedicures and manicures. The strange part was that she didn't seem to care what she wore and in her high profile job it was sometimes a problem.

So...  when she said... "HELP" I tried.  I had the best of intentions but I got it all wrong. I remember telling her to buy V-neck sweaters and collared shirts. If I bought a pair of shoes she bought the same pair in her size.  This went on for a while until we looked like fraternal twins...NOT A GOOD THING.

My style on the left... hers on the right.
Looking back I realized we really had very different styles and she needed to be HER not ME.

Everything about this woman screamed softness and femininity.  With her beautiful blond hair she was striking in any pastel, especially pink. She needed ruffles and shawls, swishy skirts and tons and tons of jewelry.

She finally figured this all out on her own... no thanks to me!

So when another friend approached me recently and said, "HELP"  I took a step back. I didn't want to go down that road again. I finally said,

"I can help you with the basics, and I can even give you my opinions but FIRST you need to figure out what your style is."


Classic clothes, that stand the test of time, make up the foundation pieces for this style. With clean lines and a neutral color palette this wardrobe is iconic. Some pieces can last a lifetime. If this is your style it is easy to slip in something unusual once in a while and still maintain your polished look ... its a "class act."

I love casual clothes that still have a sense of style... khakis, a go to leather jacket, even well cut "work-out gear"  Comfort is a very important element but there is no need to sacrifice your persona. Even running errands this woman can still look "put together."

Elegant takes your breath away. With a flair for the dramatic it always makes an entrance. Think of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I have done this on occasion but really it feels exhausting to me. Everyday is a performance. 

With "Fancy Nancy" there's no such thing as too many accessories, ruffles, embellishments or lace. It's the height of femininity. My mother dressed me like this when I was young and although I love to see it on somebody else... I just CAN NOT wear it. I am a minimalist at heart!

Street Style is a very personal way of expressing who you are through fashion. Its edgy, it has attitude and it's an urban trendsetter. From demolished jeans to mixing the un-mixable, it is definitely not off the "rack"

I'm sure there are other categories and probably there's a little of each of these in all of us. 

I've been building a wardrobe for a long time... a mix between CLASSIC and SPORTY. I am beyond bored with all of it... change is definitely in the wind.  I am going to think outside the box and see what I am missing. Should be fun... 

DISCLAIMER - Pretty sure I won't be wearing ragged jeans or a leather bustier!