Thursday, January 26, 2012


I've always wanted to be artistic.  I know it runs in my family because I have siblings that are really artistic.  My brother Eric is really good at drawing as is my sister Deanne.  One day I asked Deanne, "How do you know how to draw things so they look like the thing you are trying to draw?"  She replied, "Oh, I just think about it in my mind and then I draw it."  Okay, I do that too, but something happens from my brain to my hand and it doesn't look like the thing I'm trying to draw."  I mean, I know exactly what a dog looks like but I think my brain doesn't add enough details like proportion.  I'm not sure what the problem is but I cannot draw just from my mind.  If I have a simple picture to copy I can usually get it to look somewhat similar to the original, but most people would not want my copy. Sadly I did not get that artistic gene that runs in my family-and it's something I've always wanted.  Giuliana got a gift in the mail from a friend of hers who is a wonderful artist.  He is Giuliana's age and when someone has a birthday or something to celebrate he often draws something for them and gives it to them as a gift.  Giuliana has collected some little drawings from this young man and has them hanging all over her room.  The above picture Giuliana received int he mail yesterday as a Christmas gift.  I was stunned, as was Giuliana.  She loved, loved, loved it!  I started thinking of all the talented people around me  and the things they have created and given to me or let me use for the time being.  As I walked from room to room yesterday I saw my house was filled with wonderful items created by others.  I will share some of them.
Christina, my cute little niece sent me these for Christmas.  She used her artistic skills to make me the cute necklace on the right and then covered a notebook with fun paper for me to use.  I love them both and I will use both the notebook and wear the necklace.  It was a fun surprise to get that.
This is a picture my friend AJ Fowler painted for me when I lived in Italy.  I was her visiting teacher and one day I noticed a beautiful painting of some Texas Bluebonnets in her livingroom.  I told her how much I admired the picture and she commented that she didn't think she did a very good job on it as she is just learning to paint.  It was then I realized that she had painted the picture that I thought was so lovely.  I asked if she would be willing to try painting a picture for me of the Bay of Naples.  She was reluctant but finally agreed-I even told her I would pay her-but she didn't want to be paid.  In the end this is the picture I received.  I love it for 2 reasons, because I loved the way it looked and because AJ painted for me.  I did end up giving her some money for it just because I knew she put a lot of work into it.
My sister Laura made me this cute plate.  It's perfect and I put it out every year at Thanksgiving time.  Laura is really good at sewing and making these kind of craft things and it's always exciting to get something from her.
My sister-in-law Stacey is another artistic person.  I received this picture for Christmas this year and it has been hanging in my house ever since.
 I wish I could keep this but alas, Spencer made this in his wood shop class, so it's really his.  I will just borrow it until he has a place of his own.  Clint made a beautiful chest like this also but he kept his in Utah.  Oh the talent that runs in our family!

Here is a sampler my mom made and turned it into a little quilt.  I love samplers and have spent a lot of time doing X-stich samplers, but this is one of my favorites.
A cute ceramic pot Giuliana created.  You would think this pot was for me since there is a "Y" on it but I'm pretty sure Giuliana will take it to BYU with her when she goes to college!  But at least I get to enjoy it in the house as long as Giuliana lives here.
Okay, this looks a bit cluttery but this is a cute utility box Bryan made for me one year.  It sits atop a desk in Spencer's old room and it was filled with office supplies but it looks like I need to clean it out.  Again, I think someday Bryan will want it back but I'll use it for now.
I have several things Deanne has made me but I'm always in awe of her drawing talent.  Here is a T-shirt she designed for my Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary.  I thought was so cute, although it's a little hard to see from this picture.  Believe me it's adorable.
Maybe there is a wood working gene that runs in our family.  Here is a frame my brother Doug designed and gave to me.  It hold these small church posters that we love.  Giuliana has hijacked the frame and put it in her room, but luckily for me, when she leaves for college, the frame stays!

Here is a metal toolbox of sorts that Clint made in his metal shop.  It turned out beautifully and looks better than the things I find in the store.
So as you can see I am surrounded by incredibly gifted people who share their gifts and talents with me.  Now I'm not trying to say I don't have any talents because I think I do, they are just not those visible artistic talents that I've always longed for.  The past 10 years or so I have tried my hand at crocheting.  I have spent hours trying to decipher directions and practicing stitches.  I am not like my grandmother who can whip out a full size blanket in a weeks time.  My blankets often take 2-3 years to complete and I'm always amazed that I was able to do it.  They are not the best looking blankets in the world but I work at it-what I'm saying is, it doesn't come naturally.  The more I do the more confidence I have gained.  I mostly have made these blankets for my children, but every once in a while I'm brave enough to make one for someone else besides my children.  Here are a few blankets I have made that past couple of years. 
A blanket I made for Giuliana.  It is folded in half in this picture but it was pretty fun to make.
A blanket I made for Bryan for college.  After I was done, I couldn't believe I actually made it.
My most recent completed project.  This is a blanket I made for Spencer for college.  It turned out quite nice.  Even though I need a pattern for every project I do, and even though I can't think of how to do things without directions,and even though I don't know how to put colors and patterns together, I am thankful for the people who do know how to do this and share it with me as it brings me a lot of joy.  Yay for talents!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


 I usually go to the gym several times a week and work out on the treadmills.  This week, however, Giuliana had Monday and Tuesday  off so I had no need to go into the base so instead I told her she could come with me and walk 4 miles on the bike path.  I actually prefer the gym because the treadmills have a TV attached to them, (not that it makes it any less painfull), I can control the speeds in which I walk and I don't have to deal with the elements outside.  Well it was a beautiful sunny day on Monday and although we have had mild weather all winter, it suddenly turned really cold.  It was about 20 degrees outside and the frost on the ground never melted all day. and Giuliana got ready to go.  The above picture shows what she decided to wear.  I was a bit alarmed since it was freezing cold and told her she had to at least wear a sweatshirt which she did but under that sweatshirt is a t-shirt that she thought would suffice.  As you can see below, I'm wearing jeans, with long johns underneath and about 4 long sleeved shirts under my sweatshirt, along with gloves and a hat.  As we started to walk, Giuliana started getting more and more embarrassed.  We would pass a German couple and they would wait until we were about 10 feet in front of them and then they would start talking.  I'm pretty sure I knew what they were saying.  Probably something like, "Look at that silly American girl wearing shorts in this weather!"  By the time we got home, her legs were bright red and she was pretty cold all over.
 I convinced Giuliana to go walking with me again on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, she was doing her "Victorian" day where she was only allowed to wear a skirt all day and not use any modern technology.  So now she is still not really dressed appropriately for the weather but I think she was a lot warmer since she was wearing a down coat and a wool hat.  Once again she felt embarrassed passing people on the bike path wearing a skirt in 20 degree weather.
 We did notice her shadow when we were walking and noticed she made the perfect shadow of a teapot.  I thnk it was that hat that really made her look like that.
 Finally, Judging from how she was dressed to exercise these past days you wouldn't realize how incredibly smart and fashion conscious she really is.  So here is a picture of her in her new glasses looking smart, and looking at her frames you can tell she really is fashion conscious!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


For Thanksgiving 2011 we decided to go to England instead of doing the traditional turkey dinner.  Here are the highlights.
Okay, so it's not the Beatles but it's the closest we got to Abbey Road.  We did however stop off at the British library and see the Beatles exhibit there.  The British Library is pretty amazing in that it has a display of the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, original writings and drawings displayed by Leonardo DiVinci and so much more!  It's an incredible place to visit not only because it's free but it's full of history.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit my favorite thing to look at was the Beatles exhibit.  They had their music available to listen to on headphones too!

Yup, Paul and I decided to take a little side trip to Hogwarts.  Good times.

Here we are in front of the London Eye.  As you can see it's blue skies above and although a bit windy a good day to take a spin on it.  So we did.  It took about 30 minutes to make one rotation around but it was worth the money because you could see for miles and miles.  Unusual weather for London but we were happy it cooperated for us.

Here you can see Giuliana and her friends jumping for joy because this clock is ticking the time down until the London Olympics.  Behind the clock is the National Gallery and we popped in there for a few minutes and saw some amazing Monets and this historical painting below.
Paul was so excited when he saw this original painting.  I think he used to teach about whatever this even is depicting in his History Class at the AF Academy.  Sadly I do not know what it is all about.
Giuliana and her friend Allison eagerly awaiting the start of Wicked!
We found this church building as we were walking to the Natural History Museum.  It is either being razed or renivated.  I'm not sure which because we saw signs that said both.  You can see it looks like there are offices attached to the church so we are not sure what the church used this building for.  Maybe it was the mission office at one time.  Who knows.
Check out this huge ship in a bottle.  It was pretty cool looking and it was by the Olympic countdown clock.
This is a super old graveyard we would pass every morning on the way to catch a train, and then walk by it at night when we were going back to out hotel.    It was pretty scary at night but I loved looking at the names and dates of the people buried there.  There are some really old dates on those tombstones.
Here's my last picture.  Yes, we did see all the historical sites too and so here's the only picture of a touristy site.  I figure everyone has see the historical things a million times but thought I better include at least one picture so I have a record that I really was in England.  This picture was taken from the London Eye and you can see Big Ben, Parliament, and West Minter Abbey.  These are beautiful sites and I thought them particularly beautiful at night all lit up.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at night.  I'm hoping to go back as England is now one of my favorite places of all time!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Plants and Trees

In 2010 I received a beautiful Orchid from the German couple who rent their house to us.  It had 2 beautiful blooms on it that lasted for months.  Eventually, by March, the petals on the blooms fell off, one by one, and I was left with a funny looking plant.  The plant has big green leaves on the bottom and the roots were climbing up our of the pot and then there was this green stick sticking up from the pot.  I was told to just keep watering it once a week or so and maybe it would bloom again.  So that's what I did.  This past October I noticed the plant was changing.  By mid November I had a gorgeous orchid once again but this time with 6 blooms!  I love this Orchid and it brings some cheeriness to the dreary rainy days we often have in Germany.

                                                              Here is a close up view.

Here you can see the big green leaves and the roots trying to escape the pot.  You can imagine what this plant looks like when the blooms fall off.

                                        This is how it looks as of January 4, 2012.  Beautiful!

 We have had a really mild winter so far this year.  This I am happy about.  I took a few pictures in mid November just to show that I still had a Geranium in bloom and still had yellow leaves hanging on for dear life outside my kitchen window.  Sadly the yellow leaves are gone but my Geranium is still alive and thriving on my back porch.

                                Here are my hedges in the back yard.  Quite pretty in the autumn.
 Here is a view out my back window.  You can see the farmer behind us has a Christmas Tree farm.