Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve here at the humble hacienda.

The list reads something like this:
1. Presents Wrapped - check
2. Prime Rib Roast ready - check
3. Lists made - check
4. Last minute stocking stuffers - not checked
5. Last minute jewelry items - not checked

(Yes, Maggie's Christmas necklace DOES say "I Believe"

6. Cup of coffee - check
7. Ding Dongs - check

So it will be a white Christmas here in Bountiful. This is the scene in the backyard:

In my Christmas mailer this year I wrote "My grown up Christmas wish is that each of us live in gratitude." I hope you will take time to reflect on your life and be grateful for all the blessings God has given you.

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Pretty is as Pretty Does

After visiting Thailand for a few weeks and seeing all the poverty, disparity, and challenging living conditions, I came back home with a renewed sense of gratitude. I am grateful for the simpler things in life that I have always taken for granted. I am grateful for the fact that if I want a box of Ding Dongs, I can go buy them. Further, I am grateful that I have a car to jump in so that I can go and buy my Ding Dongs. I am grateful that I can put half and half in my coffee. All that important stuff aside, I am grateful for my children.

I am grateful for my two beautiful daughters and the joy and happiness their sheer existence brings me. My mom always drilled the adage “Pretty is as Pretty does”. Both my daughters have an inner beauty that makes this mama proud. I am grateful for you two!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rush of the Season

This was the night sky last night. Can you believe how stunning? I saw this tree completely backlit by the setting sun. I stood and looked at how gorgeous it was and remembered that my camera was in my purse. The definition of the tree is perfect, and as the branches extend they almost look ferny. In the rush, rush, rush of the season, it was nice to stop for a moment and see the beauty of a silhouetted winter tree. Take a moment, if even just a moment, to appreciate the beauty of the life around us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Well, I think those of us who have the "artist" in us, and expresses ourselves creatively, want to be recognized in some way or another. Yesterday, when at one of my favorite online supply haunts, the owner of the shop contacted me and asked me if it was okay to have some of my items featured on the front page of her supply catalog shop.

Well I was very flattered to say the least, and replied with a resounding "Golly are you sure you want me?" But this morning, low and behold, there I am right on the front page of her store. Holy cow! I am sure this is subject to change, so I am capturing it here for posterity =)

I am bathing in the sunlight of fame...basking in the glow.... I know, I know I should just totally get over myself right now. But I thought it was kind of cool to be on the front page of a supply catalog!!! I honestly am grateful for the opportunity and exposure! Thanks Susan!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Light Bulbs

There are days in life when a light bulb goes on. And when that light turns on, you see that the room is not necessarily any different than you remember, however, you see it more clearly. Perhaps the absence of light made areas of the room unapparent or less obvious. But when the light switches on, you can’t imagine how you missed it before. Light bulb moment for me over the weekend.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thom Kha GOONG

While in Phuket, which by the way is pronounced poo-ket (for those of you who want to pronounce it using English phonetics - - don’t say it out loud you will come up with a pronunciation that shouldn’t be used in public) we found this wonderful restaurant called Subai Subai. The English translation is Happy Happy. In my opinion, it was the best Thai food on the entire trip.

It was a little hole in the wall place in an alley. The cute little waitress was a pistol. In my pathetic Thai I asked for Thom Kha Goong, which is a delectable soup made with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, mushrooms, and prawns.

The waitress kept repeating that the soup was pronounced Tom Kah GOOOONG... I neglected to ask for the soup “mai phet” which means “not so spicy”. Note all the little flecks of red in the picture of the soup...

The result was this:

Note to self: To avoid the oh so unattractive look of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, remember to say “mai phet” when ordering your Thom Kha GOOOONG.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Elephants of Maesa Elephant Camp

As we were driving up to the elephant camp, I searched back through my memory banks of what my preconceived notions were about elephants. Some of those emanated from a lack of knowledge, and others can just be attributed to stereotyping. Being around them completely changed all of that for me.

These are some of the most interesting, intelligent and sweetest creatures God put on this earth. This is a picture of Duanpen. She was a matriarchal elephant in the group. Look at her sweet eyes, cheerful demeanor, and happy little smile!

Elephants rank high in the world’s most intelligent species. They have behaviors that are not typical in animals such as grief, mimicry, sense of humor, art, memory, and language skills. The skill I saw demonstrated at the camp was art. Yes, elephants do paint! This is a picture of Wanpen painting. He was right in front of us, and had I not seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Elephants are a highly social animal. They love playing together and being part of a community. The mahouts (elephant caretakers) ride the elephants down to the river and they bathe them. The elephants seemed to really enjoy being scrubbed and would lay right down in the river. It was amazing being so close to these massive animals and to see how they live.

They are closest to human in terms of learning. Humans are born with 28% of the adult weight of their brain. This means that the other 72% will grow with them over time. Elephants are born with 35%, the closest percentage to humans across all the of the known species on the planet. Most animals are born with 90% of the adult weight of their brain. This means that those animals born with 90% of their brain mass are born with instinct and little ability to learn. This indicates that elephants have the highest amount of learning to undergo next to humans and behavior is not mere instinct but must be taught throughout life.

These certainly were amazing animals!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

All Things Tinkerbell

Last night/this morning has been All Things Tinkerbell here at the humble hacienda. Yes, folks, that's right... Maycie Jean... Here we have Maycie in her new Tinkerbell jammies:

And then our Tinkerbell slippers, complete with dingy balls...

And of course our very own Tinkerbell pose....

We spent the evening playing with Maycie's new Tinkerbell doll, flying her all over the living room, kitchen, bathroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room, bathroom.

We collapsed in a forest of pixie dust and woke this morning before the sun rose ready to start our Tinkerbell day all over again.

How perfect of a day for this Grandma and her little Tinkerbell...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holy Hill Tribe!

I will be posting over the next several weeks some of my experiences while over in Thailand. When people asked about my vacation, I answered that it really wasn’t a vacation ~ it was an adventure. And that it was.

Part of the purpose of the trip was to buy Hill Tribe silver ~ direct. Some who follow my blog are jewelry designers as well, and we all know about Hill Tribe silver. It is 99.9% pure silver, where sterling silver is 92.5% silver with other alloys added for strength. This is a picture of some various Hill Tribe Beads.

Hill Tribe silver is produced by the Karen Hill Tribes just out of Chiang Mai, Thailand. We had the amazing opportunity of meeting with Niki Passenier, who graciously invited us to her home, fed us a lovely lunch, and we shopped through her silver stock. She deals directly with the people of the Karen Hill Tribes. Her silver is so beautiful and unique.

We also went to several retail shops in Chiang Mai and purchased some beautiful silver. This is Marika and I at one of the shops. All of those clear plastic boxes in the background are boxes of Hill Tribe silver beads. Cue the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire song …. “Heaven, I’m in heaven. And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak….”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thirty Years Later

Well, I hate to admit it ~ but yes, it was 30 years ago that I was a Verdugo Hills Don. What is a Don? Even in high school I wondered what a "Don" was. I still don't have an answer to that question 30 years later. I wonder if anyone knows what a Don is... anyway...

My reunion was a great experience! I saw so many people that I haven't seen in years! I found the perfect little black dress ~ however I think I was showing more cleavage than I wanted, and it was a constant adjustment...but oh well. It was nice to spend time with old friends! This is a picture of my friends Roger Wallace and Danny Gaylord. They were some of my best buddies in school.
This is me and Linda Strandquist. We have been friends since elementary school. We both went to Sunland Neighborhood Church together. Linda recently reminded me of an incident at church when I punched her in the mouth because she was being mean to me. I guess that is what you do when you are in 5th grade and are frustrated. Ummmm I am so glad that I grew up!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mayor Randy

It was Mayor Randy’s birthday a couple of days ago. I called him, got his voicemail, and sang my best Marilyn Monroe version of Happy Birthday Mr. Mayor. Well, not really, but I did call and sing Happy Birthday.

In my ever elusive quest to get organized, I was sorting through some old pictures and came across these. I was flooded with the memory of this trip. And I thought I would share it with you. First – the background…

It was a couple of months before we were scheduled to leave office. The Mayor had decided that he would not run for re-election. And given the nature of politics, I knew the incoming Mayor would choose his own staff. So, the Mayor happened upon some VIP tickets to see a shuttle launch. We all took vacation time, anted up the airfare, and off we all went on a Griswold Family Vacation like none other. Who would have put together this unlikely group? An engineer, attorney, cheerleader, a fake poop salesman, and a human resource specialist? I am going to leave it to you to decide who was who. We arrived in Florida on a Wednesday ahead of a Friday morning launch.

Our first adventure on Thursday was to head over to the Kennedy Space Center. It was here that we saw a really great 3D movie about space.

Sonya and I thought it was a fabulous movie ~ the Mayor slept through it.

Friday came and we got news that the launch was delayed and they were going to shoot for Saturday morning. So we decided to head over to Orlando and went through Universal Studios. It was there that the two most famous Mayors met, Mayor Randy Fitts of South Salt Lake, and Mayor Augustus Maywho of Whoville.

Everywhere we went Craig wore shorts with black socks… what is up with black socks? We totally made fun of him the whole time. I mean seriously….

Saturday morning came and the shuttle was delayed again. They thought they might get an afternoon launch. As the day went on, we knew it wasn’t going to happen. We all piled into the white cargo van and headed for Miami. How much more Griswold could we be? We played car games. We played “I am going on a trip. And on this trip I am bringing (insert something here that starts with an A)”. Then the next person says “I am going on a trip and I am bringing…” and they must recite all the previous contestants entries and their entry with the next letter of the alphabet. If you forget one of the entries, then you are out of the game. I think that Kyle won. But I do know that the Mayor cheated a couple of times. We recited that laundry list of things we were going to bring on the trip several times throughout the trip.

It was Craig’s keen memory that landed us here at Joe’s Stone Crabs in Miami. This restaurant is certainly not to be confused with the chain restaurant. It was a pretty hoity toity kind of a restaurant. Randy left his 7-11 Big Gulp cup in the lobby.

We walked the streets of Miami, and the beaches. We did a little beachcoming, butts up in the air, and saw a little bit of sand sculpting. The Mayor even picked me a coconut off a real live coconut tree.

Then it was off back to the hotel. Craig was the designated driver of the van, however, when he started nodding off, I took the helm. Sonya was the co-pilot and map reader extraordinaire. We made it back to Orlando with three sleeping men in the back seat. We were lost. We couldn’t find our hotel. Lordy almighty. I think we drove around for 30 minutes before one of the guys woke up and guided us back to the hotel.

What a great adventure to watch The Shuttle Launch That Wasn’t. I cherish the time that I spent working for the Mayor. It was by far and away the best job I have ever had. And he indeed was the best boss I have ever had.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What Do Trees Say?

I have a fond memory of meeting a guy (who is now a very dear friend) for the first time. We met at a park right here in Bountiful. You know how first time meetings go... I was a little nervous. We sat in the park and were talking. It was a lovely late summer evening. The wind was whistling through the trees.

**Point of note, I have always loved trees. Perhaps this stems from my time in Brigham City's Parks and Recreation Department where we nurtured and planted trees to become Tree City USA....ya, maybe that was it...**

meanwhile back at the park.... As we talked about the trees, I was really surprised that he had never really thought about trees in the way that I always have... that they are a living, breathing, beautiful part of this earth. They dance, they sing, they weep, they shed, they have their spirit renewed. It was a lovely first meeting for my friend and I and we often reminisce about that day and what he learned about trees.

What does my beautiful 50 year old sycamore tree say to you?

She is saying, "aren't I blessed! Look at me waving in the wind, bending in allowance for whatever comes my way. Rustling my leaves in perfect harmony....and I am smiling, can't you tell? I am dancing with my friend the wind".

Why yes she is....


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Class Reunion

So my class reunion is just around the corner. Okay, I am just going to be honest here… just because I think we are at that stage of our relationship, it is my 30 year class reunion. How is that possible when I am only 26? Uh um. Don’t answer that.

So I have been perusing my wardrobe trying to figure out what I can wear that will make me look like the 26 year old that I think I am. I found in the deep recesses of my closet this darling little black number that I thought would be perfect. I bought it online a couple of years, okay a few years, back for an event. The dress never once slithered over my hips after the day I first received it in the mail, tried it on, then went and ate a Ding Dong. Needless to say, I won’t be wearing that dress.

Why can’t I find something classic… kind of like what Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Well, maybe because I ate that Ding Dong (and subsequent Twinkies) that have led me to the place that I will just have to settle for some layered, ruffled, frumpy frock. I am destined to wear that Gunny Sax dress I just know it…
I wonder if I can lose 37.5 lbs. before the end of October.... probably not...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Unique are You?

Well according to this cool little widget that my mom sent me… I am one of a kind :) Which, most of you who are reading this right now are saying a collective “whew”. Try it out and see how many others there are in the United States with your same name. It is kinda fun!
LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It is Good to Be the Queen

When I was young me and my two brothers wanted a dog. We wanted one bad... But Daddy was fairly reluctant. Then came the day that Mindie came to our house. This cute and darling little weiner. Daddy would not let her come in the living room. Okay, well then she was allowed in the living room, but not on the couch. Then she was allowed on the couch, but not in the bedrooms. Then she was allowed in the bedrooms, but she couldn't sleep with us. Then she became the Queen and she could be anywhere in the house.

In our house it is Maggie. She is the Queen. The Alpha Queen. She was just sitting there minding her own business, going about the duties of her kingdom. You know, sniffing, rolling, just being queenly, when Scooter had the audacity to breathe.

Wait… what are YOU doing in MY backyard?? Ya, you. I am talking to you.

What you want a piece of me?

Who is the queen? Who is the master?

Ya, that is what I am talking about.

You had enough yet sport?

What? You are gonna run away now? Ya, that is what I thought...

Big Baby… No one thinks that’s cute…

It sure is good to be the Queen…..


Being Still

Interesting how an autumn morning, with the breeze blowing through my sycamore trees can make me completely introspective. It brings me back to a place and time in my life when things were so tumultuous, when life seemed so messed up. But this year, I am grateful. I love my life. I love all that is in it. I feel peaceful for the first time in many, many years. On this morning, the breeze is crisp. The contrast of the incredibly blue sky with wispy white clouds and the green of the Wasatch is staggering. The quiet of the day is soothing. All my senses are heightened. I love this day.

Friday, August 28, 2009


It was Ashley’s birthday the other day and we celebrated at J’Amy’s house. We took a couple of pictures of us three girls. Here is one that I just love.

As I looked at it, I was reminded how different my girls are from one another. And not only that, but how different they are from me. We are each so unique in our way of thinking, and I love that about us. I have always tried to encourage my children to be themselves, but always to remember who they are and what they stand for. In fact, that is a sign that hangs above the front door so that when my kids leave the house, it is the last thing they see before leaving the comfort of home.

Some time back I read this poem that really struck me of things that I hope for my kids. I thought I would share it with you.

Take These Thoughts With You On Your Journey To Your Dreams

Don't ever forget that you are unique. Be your best self and not an imitation of someone else.

Find your strengths and use them in a positive way. Don't listen to those who ridicule the choices you make.

Travel the road that you have chosen and don't look back with regret. You have to take chances to make your dreams happen.

Remember that there is plenty of time to travel another road - and still another - in your journey through life.

Take the time to find the route that is right for you. You will learn something valuable from every trip you take, so don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Tell yourself that you're okay just the way you are. Make friends who respect your true self.

Take the time to be alone, too, so you can know just how terrific your own company can be.

Remember that being alone doesn't always mean being lonely; it can be a beautiful experience of finding your creativity, your heartfelt feelings, and the calm and quiet peace deep inside you.

Don't ever forget that you are special and you have within you the ability to make your dreams come true.

~ Jacqueline Schiff ~

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Newer Creations

So with all the remodel going on my creativity has really suffered. The makeshift kitchen has been in the studio. My creative juices just don't flow very well when I am sitting in there and all I can smell is the pizza pocket that Jake just heated in the microwave.

However, I have been able to get a few things out - - - All are available in both of my Etsy Shops. My steampunk shop, which uses watch movements and Victorian style jewelry can be seen here. And my Lilikoi shop, which uses semi precious gemstones, sterling, silver and fine silver can be seen here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 30 of 37

Well it is all coming together! Yay! Here are the latest pictures of everything. The appliances are in, all except the dishwasher. There are some minor punch list items to be done, but all in all I think I am just about there!

Jake even scrambled eggs over the weekend on the new stove…seemed odd, but you never know what a 17 year craves and why he craves it. I think it is kind of like being pregnant.

I soooooo love my new faucet. It is totally the bomb. I am really digging all this counter space too! Having the microwave over the stove is a real bonus.

I totally need my mom here to help me organize. Whenever she comes and stays at my house she organizes for me. I love that about her. I really look forward to her cleaning out my utensil drawer. But the best of all is when she does the sock basket. Seriously, I love that. She is the queen when it comes to organization and I totally need her to set me up…. Maybe I can fly her in for the weekend…. hmmmmmm

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 23 of 37

So here is the granite!! Wow! It has totally begun to pull the kitchen together! Yesterday Mitch the Tile Man (M-TM) came. He started putting my random thoughts into a pattern. We drew it out and before I knew it, it started to be a pattern. Hmmm is this a sign from God? Maybe I should marry this man…. No one ever seems to be able to put my random thoughts and asymmetrical behavior into a pattern… let alone put it into tile. There may just be something to that… anyway, I digress…

Tile on the floor will also need to be patched and I appreciate M-TM’s attention to detail and that patterns should be maintained and matched. I appreciate consistency. And I also appreciate M-TM’s ability to put my rambling, random, asymmetrical thoughts into some semblance of order…. well ..... at least as it relates to tile!