Friday, November 13, 2009

How to use the Format Painter

Microsoft writing and data programs have a nifty little function that makes it easy to copy custom text formatting such as font type, color, and size, paragraph spacing, and others from one section to another. It is called the Format Painter. If you use lots of custom adjustments like me, this little button will save you lots of time!
Here is what the Format Painter looks like:

How to use the Format Painter in Microsoft and Open Office:
  1. Highlight a section of the text that has the formatting you want to copy.

  2. Click the Format Painter button*

  3. Highlight the whole section of text to which you want to copy the formatting.

That's all there is to it!

Note: The Format Painter is mouse-click sensitive. The first click-and-release you make after you click the Format Painter button uses the copied formatting and empties the Format Painter's memory. If you clicked in the wrong place and released the mouse button, then you need to start over at step one and do the whole processes again.

*Format Painter button location:

  • Microsoft 2007: on the Home Ribbon in the Clipboard box (left hand side)

  • Microsoft 93-2000

  • Open Office

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Snow Queen

I love reading Folding Trees because there are some marvelous images and neat projects there. I saw a post on shadow decorations and really wanted to try it out, but we didn't decorate much for Halloween. I put out a cute little pumpkin from Apple Hill, but otherwise I've been focused on school. I signed up to decorate a car for Trunk or Treat at church, so that I'd get to at least give candy to cute little kids (since we don't get trick-or-treaters). After some pondering and plotting, I finally decided that I would see if I could still fit into my wedding dress. I did fit, so I decided to dress up as a Snow Queen (a good one, not the one from Narnia) and use the shadow decoration concept to create my castle.

I didn't have a lot of time to put things together so Lost Boy stepped in to make my dream come true. He arranged my lighting (a flood lamp plugged into an inverter which was attached to a spare car battery in the trunk) and called me from work to tell me that there was a castle sitting on the table at Mother's for me. I had been planning to cut up a box between errands, but he knew I didn't really have time. When I walked into Mother's house I found a very sturdy, beautifully cut wooden castle cut out bolted to a piece of plywood (so it would stand up). It was lovely!

Nobody guessed I was a Snow Queen, but that was okay. People thought I was a Princess, a Bride, or an Angel and I like all those too. One little girl looked at my trunk and said "This isn't scary at all!" Well, good.

I had some cheap plastic rings left over from Girls Camp, so I took those and put several on my fingers (like the wicked Prince John from Robin Hood). Whenever a little girl in a princess (or bride, or fairy) costume came up, I would give her a piece of candy and then tell her that she looked like a princess (or bride, or fairy) and that she needed a ring. I would hold out my hands and let her pick which one she wanted. That was my favorite part.

I really like the shadow concept for Trunk or Treat; my car was well lit and it was easy to see my decorations. I'm thinking about developing a flat screen to go on the car (maybe a frame with muslin stretched across it. Then we could do something new each year!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Imagine if

Sometimes I wish things could be accomplished by just thinking about them; by imagining the process of completing them. Driving home from school or work would be so much more worth my time! On the way home from work tonight (~30 minute drive) I was attempting to prioritize what I needed to do when I got home. If imagining could make things happen, this is what I would have accomplished:
  • picked up the livingroom
  • sorted some papers
  • brushed and flossed my teeth (I've been chewing gum and sucking on cough drops all day and my teeth are grody!!!)
  • looked up my new Bishop's address and phone number
  • fixed the address on an envelope
  • packed the couch pillows
  • emailed my boss
  • maybe emailed one of my professors
  • gotten at least half way done with my cramming for my midterm in Climate tomorrow
  • cleaned out the humidifier
  • wipe the marker off my dry erase map
  • written this blog.
So far, I've done four of those things and it's been 90 minutes since I got home. Obviously, the imagination could be three times as effective as having to go through the motions!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Time, Sanity, and Perfection

This weekend marks the end of Week 9 in my semester. I have seven more weeks, so I'm just over half done and I'm not sure how I'm going to make it (successfully). My goal is to get Bs (or higher) in all my classes (I really need to raise my GPA). But I'm starting to slip behind and skip classes because I feel like I can't handle the increasing load (and backlog). At least once a week I find myself reminding myself that "this is why I don't take twelve units a semester!" But I'm moving forward and I am still aiming for perfection...

Actually, I'm aiming a little lower than perfection, because I've learned that at some point I just have to accept my good, but not perfect work and move on. Its a time management thing. And a sanity thing.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good Things happen on Fridays

I felt pretty stressed today. But I got quite a few things done, which made me feel good. Here are a few of the highlights from today:
  1. Reading my scriptures first thing!
  2. D&D's netbook (which they kindly let me borrow for the semester)
  3. Turning in my graduation application (on time!) and being allowed to apply for Spring 2010 graduation instead of having to wait for Fall 2010.
  4. Doing laundry (um. I love clean clothes. and Mother's washer and dryer are wonderful)
  5. Turning in an assignment a week early!! (Ok, so I'm also turning in another assignment a week late, but still!)
  6. Making flashcards. (I think I learn more by making the flashcards than I do from listening to lectures and reading textbooks.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Thoughts on Forgiveness

In July I posted about a method I use to study the scriptures. I finished reading all of the scripture references under Forgiveness on my Topical Guide sheet in mid-September. I had a lot of notes of thoughts, impressions, and scriptures that struck me as I was reading. I tentatively allocated ten minutes of my scripture study time to type up these notes. I'm almost done transcribing my notes and am excited to compile everything into the themes and answers to questions I started to notice as I read.

Here is something I rediscovered as I was typing up my notes:

I read 1 Nephi 7:21 in which Nephi forgives his brothers for trying to kill him:
And it came to pass that I did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness. And it came to pass that they did so. And after they had done praying unto the Lord we did again travel on our journey towards the tent of our father.
Pondering on the phrase "I did frankly forgive them" reminded me of a story I heard when I was living in Humboldt. I really looked up to the older girls at church (I was 19, they were 23-ish) and one day Megan Schlutsmeyer told about an experience she had on her mission. She hurt her companion's feelings (not intentionally) and felt she needed forgiveness. Upon being told "it's okay" she insisted that it wasn't. The details of the story are all very fuzzy (it's been ten years...) but the concept of forgiveness she illustrated with her experience has stuck with me ever since.

Saying "it's okay" is like sweeping dust under the carpet. Forgiving someone is like putting Neosporin and a Bandaid on a cut. You can leave a cut alone and it might heal eventually, but if you tend it properly it will heal faster and cleaner.

When it's not okay, frankly forgive.

Forgiveness, like faith, is a choice*.

The more I write, the more ideas I have. I expect myself to write about the larger themes I've noticed in the scriptures. Maybe I will learn more, or evaluate what I think compared to what the scriptures say as I write.

*(Sometimes a hard choice, or one that needs to be made every two minutes.)

Megan - if I've got the details of the story wrong (or spelled your name wrong) please let me know! ♥

Calming down.

Just a quick update to let you know that I have calmed down considerably since I wrote my rant about having to take an Anthropology 101 class. I'm attending class about once weekly and working on crochet projects in the back of the classroom.

I haven't talked to anyone in the administration yet... I feel so overwhelmed with getting homework assignments in on time that I don't feel like going from office to office to track down the right person to talk to. I have talked to my professor a little bit and that has helped too.

I grudgingly admit that this exposure to academic anthropology terms and concepts has enriched my understanding of human geography (in the sense that I can now identify anthropological concepts in geography discussions).

Friday, September 11, 2009

What lights me on fire?

When I opened blogger to post earlier this evening, I didn't intend to rant for two hours about about a GE class. I wanted to tell you that I love geography. I think it is sublime. I love my professors, talking to them lights me on fire.

"This world is made up of regions and each region has its own personality, its own set of significant conditions. A Tibetan yak driver, an Egyptian fellah, an Uros fisherman, an Argentine hacendado, a Kansas farmer, a Peace River pioneer -- each lives in a world whose conditions and outlook are almost completely unlike the others. To apprehend those earth qualities, conditions, outlines, measured components, and interactions that enable us to look understandingly at man in relation to the pervasive elements of his complex regional environment -- these are the most distinctive as they are the culminating purposes of geographical research (1934:4)

from All Possible Worlds by Isaiah Bowman

Why do I have to-- ?

I have really been struggling with one of my classes this semester. We've only met for class three time so far, but it is driving me crazy. My poor teacher. She hopes that we are in the class because we want to learn more about the field of anthropology even though she knows that most of us are in it to fill a GE requirement. There is a good amount of participation in the discussions for the number of people in the class, so I hope some of my classmates are being are inspired and edified. It just isn't working for me.

I've ranted about the class several times in the past two weeks. I was frustrated to discover that a class I'd worked really hard to pass, and only taken to fill the university's Race and Ethnicity requirement, didn't count for anything but units. I had to register for Anthro 101: Cultural Diversity ASAP to jump through the hoop (after all, I'm trying to graduate here!).

I'm frustrated with the course content, which seems empty and circular compared to similar topics discussed in geography classes (see below*).

I'm frustrated by the presentation method (so far: a visceral movie that very clearly made it's point about a perceived problem in our society, and vague discussion management about topics I would rather discuss in a smaller or more controlled setting).

What makes the class worse is the absence, and the presence, of two geography classes:

My Anthropology class shares a day with my Climate class (a geography class), which was canceled on Tuesday because my Climate professor was on a furlough day. But my Anthropology professor has a different furlough day (you wouldn't believe how crazy this whole budget-cutting-furlough-day-thing is - especially for the teachers!). So I only had Anthropology and I was so bugged that I had to go to school and not get to go to my geography class. (I didn't mind sleeping in though...)

Then, today, I had my Seminar in Geographic Thought class. My course capstone. The class that proves I learned something about geography. My professor is a Human Geographer (meaning her specialty is human and cultural geography) so, of course, we tend to focus on the human side of geography in her lectures and discussions. As I was preparing my assignment for Seminar, I realized that the stuff I've been learning in various geography classes for the past three years (especially the human geography classes?) is the *same stuff we're vaguely talking about in Anthropology. Only more interesting! And more concrete.

Suddenly my internal self is screaming: "Why do I have to take this Anthro class? Why-- [hysterical 397 word rant removed for readers' sanity]"

Ahem. Short summary of the rant: I feel I have sufficient life and educational experience to meet the university's learning goal for me without having to jump through this particular hoop. I don't find value in the class. I would rather take something else that offers me greater depth of personal or career development.

Thank you. I feel so much calmer.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What to write about first....

Blog posts have been running around in my head for the past two weeks, but I haven't managed to force them to coalesce into anything concrete. I want to write about my Star Charts and my summer. Lost Boy and I did some political digging last week inspired by some initiatives that may (or may not) be on the ballot in the next California election. I've been having adventures on my bike (Oh! By the way, I got a bike this summer!) and have been feeling stronger and tireder. School started and things fell apart and are turning out how they're supposed to be. I'm bugged about taking a GE class (I probably should not write about that class, but I maybe I'll write about GE requirements). And people are getting married and having babies. Oh! And I figured out how to get a $40 textbook for $6 (University Library. Copier. 8.5"x14" paper. Two sided copies....)

Hmm. I think I have a lot to say. Maybe I better say it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fiance, Fiancee, or Affiance?

I just learned that I've been using the word fiancé wrong!

I just always say "fiancé" when I'm talking about someone who is engaged, but did you know that fiance actually refers to an engaged male? Fiancée should be used if you're talking about a girl. If you're talking about both a male and a female who are engaged, do you say fiancés? Grammar Girl said maybe, and asked "Merriam-Webster Editor at Large, Peter Sokolowski" for his opinion. Grammar Girl found out that:

Peter believes the proper way to identify a group of male and female people engaged to be married is to call them "affianced couples" or simply "the affianced." "Affiance," the verb, is pronounced with the emphasis on the middle syllable: \uh-FYE-unss

So today I learned that Kristi is Matt's fiancée, Matt is Kristi's fiancé, and Kristi and Matt are affianced.

P.S. For randomly relevant grammar tips, get Grammar Girl's newsletter!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Click on the image to feed my turtles.


I'm retiring my a.bowen gadgets, but I really like them, so I didn't want to delete them. These are my rainbow fish. I really like fish. I think for my second bachelor's degree I will study fishology (I can't remember the real word, but I know it starts with an 'h'). This will come after the Masters in Library and Information Science, so it will be a while before I am a fish know-it-all.

On the subject of fish. All my tetras are gone. Two Fish and Red Fish were the last two surviving and I let them go. Lost Boy took me to the river and we sat and looked at the moon for a while before I let them go. I was worried about them going into shock and I was concerned that they might be carrying domestic germs that could affect the river's equilibrium. I hope they at least survived the night, but I decided that an exciting - if short - life in fresh clean water was more than I was offering them at home (I wasn't taking very good care of them). For some reason I was much more interested in my Black Moore, Squishy, than I was in the tetras (I did like Milton though and was upset when he got sick.)

There is a black virtual fish in my gadget in honor of Squishy. You can feed the fish by clicking on the image.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

5 Good Things Today

  1. Nap ♥ I'm sure there will be naps in heaven.
  2. Megan's blog. Made me laugh (and miss my sisters). Meg writes like she talks, I can almost see the arm gestures and the facial expressions. Especially when she is talking about stuff she and Di did together.
  3. Netflix. Firefly Disc 4. I'm so hooked. I know this is the last one. Then I'll watch Serenity, then it will be over. But there is still one more disc left, and it came today!
  4. 21 years ago today Diane was born ♥ I love my sisters!
  5. My cell phone. It let me read to Lost Boy while he was at work. We're reading Genius Squad* by Catherine Jinks. The plot is complex and unusual (Think Artemis Fowl).

*Genius Squad and it's prequel Evil Genius are not Clean Reads due to language.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's in your bag?

Lost Boy and I did some collaging a while back.

It was hard to find stuff I really actually carry.
I did get some good stuff though:

LG Chocolate
To Do Lists
Girl Gear

So, what's in your bag?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Learning from the scriptures

One of the ways I like to study my scriptures is by photocopying a topic from the Topical Guide then systematically looking up the scriptures listed and pondering them. I did this with "Faith" before I served a mission and now I am working on "Forgiveness."

Reading scriptures like this brings some things into focus for me because I'm staying on one subject and reading about it in different contexts. Sometimes the verses all seem to say the same thing and after a while I finally get the message in a way I never would have if I hadn't read them all together. Sometimes I find things that aren't exactly related to the subject I'm studying, but enrich my testimony anyway.

I wanted to share a little gem I found in Psalms today. If you look really close at my photo copy you can see a little star next to Psalms 103:3.

In Psalms 103 King David is talking about the Lord's "benefits". I think he means the benefits the Lord gives to us.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; (Psalms 103:2-4)
What does the Lord do for us? He forgiveth, healeth, redeemeth, and crowneth. I have a richer comprehension of these words now than I did when I was younger. I can't find a word big enough, lovely enough, or profound enough to express the feeling and comfort these words in this contex give me. I almost have an inkling of what David meant when he said "My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning..." (Psalms 130:6)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jazz by Walter Dean Myers

I recently read a children's book called Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers. It is a collection of poems about jazz. It has a great glossary of jazz terms and a brief history of jazz in the back. I think it's a great introduction to jazz for the newbie, but it also has something to offer the more experienced jazz listener/musician.

Here is my favorite poem from the book:
Session I

Bass thumping like death gone happy
Souls dancing in 2/4 time
Lady leans against the upright
Breathing sounds and tasting the rhyme
Of her song

A shaved reed tongue is crying
In the blood dark studio
Drums add bark and grumble
As a trumpet blares something rude
"Let's get it on."

It's a field-holler melody
Dressed in a three-piece suit
A lifetime of could-have-beens
Sliding throught a silver flute
It's our song

I really like the alliteration, the imagery, the three-piece suit, and the flute.

ISBN: 0-8234-1545-7

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Standard Hero Behavior and the little decisions

I recently read Standard Hero Behavior by John David Anderson and particularly enjoyed the following quote.
"In the bards' songs, everything was pretty clear-cut, almost predestined. The heroes rode out of the gates determined and rode back in victorious. Motives were clear: good and evil, right and wrong. Heroes didn't sell boots. Swordsmen didn't take naps. Bullies didn't wear dresses. There was no such thing as a shortcut. It almost seemed as if there was no such thing as a choice. There was SHB*, and everybody stuck to it.
"Outside of the songs, however, there were decisions, which were irritatingly always accompanied by consequences."
At this point in the story, Mason and his friend Cowel have encountered a retired-hero-turned-shoemaker, a narcoleptic swordsman, and a cross-dressing giant. The boys have not had much success on their quest so far and are feeling a little frustrated. I felt impressed with the depth of their complaint. While the clear motives exist, life doesn't often hand us clear decisions or answers. The little in-between choices that make up our minute-to-minute existence are the building blocks of our characters and dictate the success of our quest,

...whatever it may be.

*Standard Hero Behavior

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Graceling Graceling by Kristin Cashore

My review

I loved the story up until the two protagonists discuss the possibility of marriage and decide not to make the commitment, settling on becoming lovers with no long term commitment.

Early in the story the female protagonist gains the strength to be true to herself and to stand up for herself. I liked the model this gives young women. However, when the protagonist discovers intense fears about marriage and the complete commitment it requires and chooses to settle for a less demanding intimate relationship I was seriously disappointed. The feelings the protagonist feels are real and many young women will probably feel them, but the reward for facing those fears evaporates in this story, as does the potential and substance for the symbol and meaning of a ring that influences the plot toward the end of the book.

Book description from Goodreads
"Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight; she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
She never expects to fall in love [...] She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace--or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away. . .a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."

View all my Goodreads reviews.

The Little Red Fish

The Little Red Fish The Little Red Fish by Taeeun Yoo

Book description from Goodreads:
"A little boy enters a library with his grandfather and his little red fish at his side. But when he awakes after falling asleep amidst the library shelves, his fish is missing."

My review

The story is sparse, leaving lots of room to tell your own story about what is happening in the pictures. Lovely book.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

the Unwilling Pearl

"She felt like a fool, let loose, however involuntarily, in a highly organized community which now wished to organize her too: like the grain of sand that gets into an oyster's shell. What if the grain doesn't want to become a pearl? Is it ever asked to climb out quietly and take up its old position as a bit of ocean floor?"

-- Harry Crewe

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, pg 83

Sometimes I don't think I want to be made into a pearl either. Sometimes I just want to be left alone to the quiet rambling thoughts in my head and I don't want to have to be responsible or participate with the world. But when you compare the grain of sand to the pearl, which one is more interesting? Sand may look interesting under a microscope, but a pearl has more of a story to tell. The beauty and rarity of the pearl compared to the grain of sand is incomparable. The sand may be contented to have been left alone, but the pearl's joy is fuller.

As I become a "grown up" I struggle with whatever it is that makes us into pearls. I want to be a lovely, white haired old lady with interesting stories and a sound understanding of humanity and life, but I don't like getting my little grain of sand rubbed so hard sometimes. I know if I get out of the oyster I'll never become who I want to be, so I make an effort to engage. After all, Harry Crewe became Harimad-Sol who was more than she ever thought she would be.

Do you sometimes feel like a grain of sand? Do you see the pearl you can become?

Social Media Deposits vs. Withdrawals

I saw this tweet via @stargardener and have been learning that this is the case on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

"RT @WorkingArtMedia: @MackCollier Think of Social media like a savings account, you have to make deposits before you try to make withdrawals"

I think deposits are things like
  • commenting on someone's status, photo, post, or tweet
  • liking (FB) or retweeting (twitter) things
I think withdrawals are things like:
  • advertising your product or a sale
  • asking for a response (E.g. asking a question, asking someone to click on a link, or asking a reader do an action from clicking to spending money that they wouldn't do if you hadn't asked)
What kinds of actions do you think count as "deposits?"

What kind of actions do you think count as "withdrawals?"

YMCA e-Waste Fundraiser

My nine year old upstairs neighbor is participating in a fundraiser with his YMCA. Their goal is to send kids to jujitsu Summer Camp. When I found out what they were doing for their fundraiser I nearly burst out of my skin with excitement. They are doing a free e-waste collection! I have a box of electronic stuff that just doesn't work anymore. I can't take it to DI or Goodwill, but I haven't figured out where to recycle e-waste or how much it costs. Then, my neighbor knocks on my door and tells me all I have to do is give it to her (the mom) and she'll take it the YMCA. Hallelujah!!!

If you live in the Sac area I encourage you to take advantage of this de-junking opportunity!

Here's the info:

Free E-Waste Drop-Off
Saturday July 11th
9 AM to 1 PM
Northeast YMCA Parking Lot
3127 Eastern Ave
For more info call the YMCA at916-483-6426

They are accepting:
Monitors, TVs, Computers, Laptops, VCRs, Stereos, Speakers, Keyboards, PDAs, Cameras, Telephones, Cell Phones, Printers, Copiers, Scanners, Fax Machines, etc

For your security, all hard drives will be shredded by CEAR Inc. at their secure facility. Visit

The are not accepting:
Large appliances (washers, refrigerators, air conditioners, etc), Furniture, Hazardous household waste

Friday, June 12, 2009 read and remembered.

"It takes intelligence, even brilliance, to condense and focus information into a clear, simple presentation that will be read and remembered."
- Mary Helen Briscoe (1995)

My Applied GIS professor included this quote on an assignment outline last semester. It struck me as an important concept. I want to be intelligent and brilliant. I often go on and on about things in my head, in conversation, or in correspondences. I don't think that pouring myself out in waves of words is bad, however I think there is value in learning how to distill myself into easily conveyed, to the point expressions. In other words, less tangents. Less back story.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alphabet Drawers

I found this set of drawers via @LyndsieRoss on Twitter.

Wow! The first thing that popped into my head was, "This would be great for kids!" Look at all the shapes and textures their little hands could explore. Then I thought, "What would you put in that?" which is a question Lost Boy asks me whenever I want to buy a cool box or organizing gadget. I would put things that start with the letter L in the L drawer. Like a lollipop, a lozenge, a lock, a lady (a miniature doll or toy), a lime (for a day or two), a lid and anything else that my kids could find that started with L (and fit in the drawer). What would you put in this set of drawers?

This set of drawers is super expensive: £2700. That is $4429 (I did the conversion on Wolfram|Alpha). Um. Whoa! Maybe someday I'll make my own set (when I have kids) and just stamp or paint the letters on the front or something. How would you do it?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why you should vote for Homespun Light

One of the very first blogs I started reading was nominated for the June Spotlight at Mormon Mommy Blogs. If you haven't already been reading Emily's blog, Homespun Light, go check it out! Emily is a Mormon Mom with a few young kids and she writes and hosts book reviews for "clean reads." She recently wrote a great post on how to help young children develop language and vocabulary, and she posts fun and uplifting anecdotes about being a mother.

I think she's great. If you agree, hop on over to Mormon Mommy Blogs and vote for Homespun Light in their Spotlight area (right-hand banner, scroll down a bit).

An Avocado from Lost Boy

Lost Boy feels that liking avocados is a serious character flaw.

He married me anyway.

And he brought one home from the grocery store just for me.

I mashed it up and added some diced tomatoes and a bit of salt. We didn't have limon, otherwise I'd have added that too. I brushed some sesame oil (you've gotta try that stuff!) on white corn tortillas with a little salt (but not half as much as the stores put on) and baked them for about 7 minutes (until I couldn't wait any longer to eat them).

So yummy.

Now I am finishing my last bite.

Thank you for the avocado, Lost Boy!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finding Inspiration in Blogs

I am a blogaholic. I like to read blogs by moms, crafty ladies, and LDS women. I often find inspiration for my personal life and trials in some of the blogs I read. Sometimes one blog writer says just the thing to reassure me about something I worry about. Sometimes another blog writer posts about an Ah-Ha! moment she had that I really needed to have too.

Sometimes a friend is diagnosed with a cancer that the doctors say will kill her, and how she deals with it is inspiring.

Dear readers, I give you Kaci Cox.

Posts by Kaci:
My ER Visit
The Diagnosis

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Small and Simple Souls

A friend shared this on Facebook. I am moved by the message and I love the music.

To me, this video says that the best heroes are those who have truly suffered, sacrificed, and therefore lived. The video points out that each of us can be the type of person history looks on and says, "This person made a difference."

What does this video say to you?

Books for Four Year Olds

My four year old niece is coming to stay with us for a week while her mom and dad are away. I'm excited to have her come and I hope that she'll still think I'm cool even though I have hardly any fun kid stuff at my house! I'm a little nervous about how I'll keep a four year old entertained for seven days.

I definitely want to take my niece to the library (my favorite place). But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I don't have a good sense of which books to check out for her! I read lots of young adult books, some grown up books, and some children's books, but I know that my niece's reading level isn't as flexible as mine.

I'll probably look for the Olivia books by Ian Falconer (I ♥ Olivia!). But what other books are not too simple and not too complicated for a pre-schooler?

What books do the four-year-olds you know like to read?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just a little habit.

On the cover of the current edition of Vogue magazine there is a beautiful picture of a lovely woman who is definitely not wearing clothes.

I generally boycott magazines like this by flipping them over so the back faces forward. I do this so I don't have to look at (or be distracted or tempted by) an indecent picture while I'm waiting in line at the grocery store.

The other day I discovered that the back of the Vogue magazine has an ad with a woman as equally undressed as the one on the front.


But not deterred. As Lost Boy and I were looking for a line at the grocery store, I placed a copy of a cooking magazine in front of the indecent Vogue magazines I passed. I'm sure having to straighten out the magazine racks after I've walked by will be a hassle for the store employees, but if Vogue (or any other magazine that puts indecent pictures on its cover) sells less copies of their magazine in the meantime that's just fine with me. I should probably write them a letter so they can be more proactive in not offending me in the future.

Lost Boy and I were waiting in line a little later when a pretty girl with an indecent neckline walked by us. If I thought it was indecent, it was worse for Lost Boy who is rather tall. A moment after the girl passed Lost Boy asked, "Are you going to put a magazine in front of her too?"

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Alma 12

(This is a duplicate post from my family blog)

Last week Darren and I were reading in the Book of Mormon about Alma's mission to the Zoramites. We were reading chapters 11 and 12, where Alma and Amulek are being questioned by Zeezrom and Antionah. I love these chapters! Alma and Amulek are amazing missionaries! I've always loved how Alma (the senior companion) testifies of and reiterates what Amulek (the junior companion) teaches, but last week I found several new things to love about these chapters.

In Alma 12:7 Mormon points out that Alma and Amulek "knew the thoughts and intents of [Zeezrom's] heart; for power was given to them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy." The spirit of prophecy is a gift of the spirit, (1 Cor 13:2, AoF 1:7, Alma 9:21) which I just taught about in Sunday School a few days before we read this verse!

As we were reading chapter 12 Darren observed that all of Alma's answers to Zeezrom and Antionah's questions were short and direct. We timed Alma's responses while I read them out lout. Alma taught principles such as having a prepared heart in one minute, and doctrines such as physical death vs. spiritual death in under four minutes. These four minutes aren't exactly just an overview of the doctrine either. It's powerful stuff! Many of the scriptures we used to teach this principle in the mission field are found within these verses. I think we (as a people) talk about fluff too much when we are trying to say important things. Comments in Sunday School sometimes run up to three minutes long, which, if not done carefully, can totally take over a teacher's lesson and throw it off course. Ok, sorry... that's a tangent. I have opinions about class comments. Comments are powerful tools that most people don't develop or use well. But more on that another time. Alma is an awesome teacher. He answers questions right away and doesn't beat around the bush and preface the answer with back story or unnecessary explanations. He is a great example to me!

Darren and I also had a brief discussion about Alma 12:10 which says that anyone can learn all the mysteries of God. I have a long way to go to get started, but I believe there are people on the earth right now who know a lot more about heaven and eternity than the rest of us. But they can't tell us, because we're not prepared. (See also 1 Nephi 10:19)

Not all of our family scripture readings generate so many thoughts and insights. But for us, at this time, Alma chapter 12 was great!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Proper Order of English Adjectives

I don't think I've posted anything about the Grammar Girl yet. I don't know why. She is my favorite podcaster! Her podcasts are fun, short, and useful. I get her daily email newsletter and the other day this was the topic. The proper order of adjectives for the English language. I had no idea!

Here is the order: Opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Color, Origin, Material, Purpose

For details, descriptions, and helpful examples, go here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

California's Budget Deficit

California seems pretty messed up right now. The economic recession and the state budget deficit are only part of the problem, but they are on my mind tonight. While I was cleaning out my inbox, I found an updated version of the Next 10 Challenge, which is a non-partisan site that lets you make the spending and revenue decisions for California's budget.

Taking the Next 10 Challenge is a good way to find out more about what kind of decisions the legislators are making and to find out more about what your own priorities are. When I took the Challenge today I learned that one of my priorities is education and that I'm willing to pay more in income tax to reduce the budget deficit.

California's current budget deficit will be 22.2 billion dollars in five years if we don't change things. If we do things my way, the deficit will be 6.8 billion dollars. If we do things your way, how will things look? Can you balance the budget?

Book Review: Traffic

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do
by Tom Vanderbilt

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I listened to an abridged audio version of this book. Vanderbilt makes some interesting points and explains common American driver behavior and attitudes. There weren't any tips about how to drive better (which for some reason I was looking for), but it was still pretty good.

View all my reviews.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Junk Mail: Less is More

I don't have a huge problem with junk mail. Several years ago I sent my name and address to the Direct Marketers Association and that reduced the credit card offers and other random advertisements I was getting. But now that I've moved a few times and changed my name I'm starting to get a few little things here and there. I haven't been able to remember where I put the address for the Direct Marketers Association, but today I found this article on Store and Style. They put all of the junk mail management info in one place! Hooray! I think they write their articles just for me.

If you want to reduce the hassle of dealing with junk mail, eliminate some of the paper waste going on in the world, or reduce how much your name and information is flying around out there this is the place to go.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Her Morning Elegance

I saw this on Design Mom and LOVED it! I love to sleep (and not wake up) so the video has special meaning to me (and to Lost Boy). The music is lovely too.

Her Morning Elegance / Oren Lavie

Go here for background on the video. ♥

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Fab Five (a.k.a. Pay it Forward)

I found this on a friend's blog. Yeah, I know it is one of those Forward things (I think they're called memes?), but this one requires action and human connection in real life, so I'm going to do it. I've edited it a little bit (I have a tendency to clean up grammar and formatting ... this one was impressively clean, but I wanted it to have a little bit of my own voice.)


Here's the deal, the First 5 People to respond to this post will receive something made by me, just for you.

There are a few restrictions and limitations (just to make sure we all agree to what is or is not reasonable):

  1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. (But I hope you at least think it's worth re-gifting if you don't like it.)

  2. What I create will be just for you. (I'll probably think about you the whole time I'm making it, unless it gets complicated and I'm thinking about how to fix the mess I made.)

  3. It will be done some time within the next year. (Hopefully by Christmas at the latest...)

  4. You have no clue what it will be... (neither do I!)

  5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

  6. I will send it anywhere! It doesn't matter where you live! (Because I love you.)

Ok, there is just one catch: you must re-post this on your own blog and offer the same to the first five people who do the same on their blog. (I encourage you to personalize your re-post!)

The First 5 People to re-post and leave a comment telling me they did will win a surprise homemade gift by me!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

seize the day. that means today. 01

Writing prompt from m.writes: 01. what accomplishments are you proud of? write about the times you put your best self into action.

One of the biggest accomplishments of my life was serving a mission for my church. I knew what I wanted (to serve a mission) and I did the things it took to make it happen (with permission from Heavenly Father). I was exhausted often, but at least I was exhausted because I’d walked miles, talked to people, felt the spirit, and taught.

More recently, I threw away (i.e. recycled) about eight inches of paper. I have a lot of paper. At least six solid boxes (meaning they’re not mixed up with other things like books or knick knacks). Several years ago I outlined a plan to organize and simplify* my stuff (i.e. paper). Since then I’ve worked on keeping less and on sorting the important stuff out of what I already have. I’ve been slowly improving over the years. But I got married and moved into a very small apartment last year. Our apartment is full of boxes (admittedly, some of them are boxes of books, which belong on shelves, but we don’t have enough shelves … yet) and at least half of my husband’s things haven’t moved in yet. So I’m making a concentrated effort to get through the paper boxes. A few months ago I went through a box and got rid of at least half of it! I was so proud of myself! I did it again with another box, so now I have four more to go!

*I don’t know if there is such a thing as simplifying for me. I like to create systems for organizing things, paper, and data and that seems complex, not simple.

The End of Spring Break

Lost Boy and I just finished Spring Break. Our university has Spring Break adjacent to Cesar Chavez Day instead of Easter. While I respect the Cesar Chavez's sacrifice and cultural contribution I'm a little bugged that all of our friends and siblings have this week off instead of last week. I had only one friend who had break at the same time as me (because she goes to the same university). Sigh.

I thought that I would catch up on my school assignments during Spring Break. But if you have a habit of not doing homework when school is in session, you still have that habit when school is on break.

I did a lot of crocheting though! I made a teddy bear for a cousin who is having a baby soon. It was my very first stuffed animal project! I also experimented with mini-teddy bears for my niece and nephews. I'll put pictures up soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crow's Feet

I saw a bit of Rachel Ray while I was at work today. A woman was talking about her schedule and her career as an early morning news anchorwoman. She said that other women in her career are considering botox or plastic surgery. Aside from anything that invasive she would be willing to try anything to get rid of her crow's feet. She said this sentence in tones that became distressingly emotional at the end. The way she said crow's feet is, for me, associated with deep personal torment and grief. She wasn't being dramatic or fake. She was baring her soul. It absolutely amazed me. I feel sad for her. Not because she has the crow's feet, but because she feels like she has to hide them.

One of the first things I fell in love with about Lost Boy are the happy creases at the corners of his eyes. He is still rather young, so you don't see them all the time. But when he has been out adventuring in the sun and wind, or when he smiles and I'm sitting close enough, I can see them come out. To me they say:

I enjoy life.

I laugh often.

I have experienced things.

I hope I can develop crow's feet like my Lost Boy's. Or like my mom's beautiful ones! I know I need to laugh more and go on more adventures - to experience life; not to just wait for, or stress about, the next big thing. I married Lost Boy because I knew he would take me on adventures, and I've discovered that he is helping me laugh more often. I'm glad I didn't choose a career that pressures me to look a certain way and hide my natural face.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Sewing Angst

I have been dreaming about having a new hip-bag for my geography class. We are going to start collecting data in the field this week and I really want to have a bag that is more functional than a purse, but smaller and more accessible than a backpack. I found a super cute bag at JCasa *handmade and was all set to try it out (with a few tweaks, like adding a pocket inside, and changing the length and placement of the handle). I cleaned of my Door Desk and Lost Boy got out my (very heavy) sewing machine. I set it all up and even got out the iron to press things.

I started having trouble right away. I replaced my needle (which had broken last time I tried to sew) and it promptly broke again on my first stitch. I spent some time examining the machine and figured out why the needle was breaking and how to fix it. Right, everything is good! No. The thread kept snapping. I couldn't sew even a centimeter without broken thread, knots and lots of extra thread jumbled up on the bottom of the fabric. So I got on the internet and looked up my machine, how to adjust tension, and how to thread a sewing machine. I think I did pretty well. I got the thread to stop snapping. But all of the reviews I read about my machine were very discouraging. I have a Necchi 540, which I got for $20 from a friend who owned about three sewing machines. Two comments on the internet said that Necchi was an excellent brand, but that any machine made after the company left Italy was junk. I think my machine falls into that category (from the model numbers and comments). Sigh. It was already past my bedtime, so I stopped for a day or two.

When I tried to work on my project again later, things were even worse. My needle wasn't picking up the thread on every stitch so all the stitches were different lengths. The thread snapped regularly. When I tried to sew my pocket onto my lining, the foot wouldn't close and the needle wouldn't go through. I felt so dejected. My project is dead.

Lost Boy listened to my despair sympathetically. We talked about how my mom sewed when I was little. He helped me realize that I assumed that since I was now a grown up too (like my mom) I expected to automatically have grown up skills (like my mom). But although I did sew a little, I never spent time with my mom while she was sewing to learn how she did it. Also, my sewing spurts have been significantly sporadic, so I never practiced regularly. Still, I think that the machine is contributing to my frustration. When I used my aunt's sewing machine for a project three years ago I didn't have even a third of the trouble I've had this past week. (Maybe because she was there to coach me?)

I am going to sign up for one of those sewing classes at JoAnns and see if that helps. Also, I know a little shop that will let you trade in your sewing machine for a different one. Hip-bag, here I come!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cupcake Apron Giveaway

Stressed Spelled Backwards is giving away a super-cute Cupcake Apron! Details for entering this Giveaway are at her blog, which she updates with scrumptious recipes and yummy pictures every day or two. The Giveaway ends at noon (MST) March 10th.

If you visit her blog now, you'll still have time to remember to enter after you've been distracted by the yummy Big Sweet Berry Popover or the Whole Wheat Muffins!

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Description of Miss Bates

Lost Boy and I are currently reading Jane Austen's Emma. As I read a description of Miss Bates (in Chapter 3) I realized that she has many characteristics that are worth emulating. Here is how Jane Austen describes Miss Bates:
"Her youth had passed without distinction and her middle of life was devote to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavor to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved everybody, was interested in everybody's happiness, quick-sighted to everybody's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother, and so many good neighbors and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to everybody, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip."
The characteristics I see (which I would like to have more of) are charity and gratitude. You can see that she had charity because "she loved everybody," she was interested in the well-being of those around her, and because she proactively looked for people's merits. It is clearly stated that she had a "grateful spirit," but since she viewed herself as being "fortunate" and "surrounded with blessings" it is even more evident that this was a profound factor in her personality. Gratitude causes us to feel happiness, joyfulness, and appreciation. I think that a lot of other positive feelings about both ourselves and others spring from having gratitude. I was to be more like the (imaginary) Miss Bates. I need to be more grateful and cheerful.

I also think that to be "a great talker upon little matters" is a valuable skill. Small talk and chit chat are important to being social, especially when you are first becoming acquainted with someone new, but they are sometimes hard for me because I don't really think about interesting things to talk about.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Giveaway at Homespun Light

I've just started to figure out how blog Giveaways work! Homespun Light is currently doing giving away a copy of Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. You can enter the drawing for the book by going to this page and posting a comment anytime before midnight on March 12th. (Directions for extra entries are explained in the body of the post.)

The cover art is so scrumptious that I think it is enough to make anyone want the book. (Maybe to frame by your bed and pretend you're her?) But if you need to be convinced you want it, Homespun Light wrote a review and synopsis post that will make you want it even more (if you're like me).

Do you think I could get Lost Boy to let me read it to him?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Current Crochet Projects

I have a few crochet projects that I've been working on for a long time. But it seems that the only projects I can reliably finish are humanitarian aid ones. I decided to learn to crochet in 2004 when the church was collecting hand made leper bandages. My very first crochet project (which I finished!) was a leper bandage. In 2008 my ward made hats for newborns in countries where new babies have really low birthrates during Save the Children's Knit One Save One campaign. I crocheted four or five little hats. All my other projects are still undone, or were adjusted (an afghan turned into a scarf for a friend).

Since I now know how to crochet little hats, I started to make one for a friend's brand new baby. But since Baby M. isn't underweight I decided to experiment with adjusting the "recipe" to make a bigger hat. I think I made it too big. The project is temporarily suspended until I find out how big around Baby M.'s head is so I can decide whether to go ahead, or to go back.

Meanwhile, I picked up a long abandoned project and made it past the spot where I've been stuck for the past year. I can tell that my skill has improved since I last worked on this project. I can even count stitches now! (Except when I'm talking or listenining.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Craft Blogs and New Ideas

I started to browse some craft blogs a few weeks ago and now I'm hooked (and inspired)! I think my favorite one so far is The Crafty Crow, I think I add stars to about a third of The Crafty Crow's posts in my Google Reader. I'm inspired by these women and I want to be like them. They sew, knit, crochet, and do crafts with their kids. I want to do that too! I realized that my huge desk (which is currently holding a ginormous computer monitor and a whole bunch of paper) would make a great sewing space. So my plan is to clean it off and set up my sewing machine there. I mean, if it is all set up and everything it will be easier to use, right? Cleaning off the desk will be a big project though, because I have to sort through the boxes by my bed before I can tackle the ones on and under the desk. (Why? Well, I have a plan for the ones by my bed - which is why they're by my bed. The ones around the desk don't have anywhere to go yet.)

Another thing that these blogs inspired me to do is to think about using my blog differently. I have a family blog for me and Lost Boy now, so I've been putting up the day to day adventures over there instead of here. But maybe I could copy all the neat crafty ladies and put up my ideas and projects here! I like that idea. But there is a bit of a problem. I'm super digital and don't spend much time on non-computer related projects. So I'm thinking about posting some of the software tips I know. I think that could be useful. I talked with a friend about a new feature in Microsoft's 2003 Publisher that makes printing address labels really easy and flexible. The only problem is that there is a very real possibility that I'll get carried away describing how to create Super Equations in Excel that I find useful that perhaps no one else will care about. Well, I'm still thinking about it.