This is so true. Congrats Nanowrimoers!
Happy Thanksgiving from this smiling girl! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with lots of yummy food. I’ve had quite the busy day. It all started yesterday when I flew to my parents house in Cali. We had a full house so I am at the local Hampton Inn which I love. Very comfortable room and it makes visiting my family more of a vacation than a family visit, which is good!
Then I got a kiwi crate and did a cute craft with my nieces (all 5 are here. So fun!). The craft was turkey namecards and they turned out very adorable.
Then this morning we continued the Thanksgiving festivities with the Folsom turkey trot 5k. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve done turkey trot (last year I did one in Utah, year before in Folsom).
I’m not much of a walker and even less a runner but its fun to get some energy out before the big meal, challenge yourself and help give back to the community. This year I mentioned it early and we ended up with 11 of us attending- Me, Dad, Seth, Megan, Sam, Anna, Madi, Olive, Lucy, Nelle,Isabel. All of the kids did great and everyone finished.
My feet are pretty blistered and body was sore but I’m doing pretty well on the pain recovery. I was feeling strong enough to help out with the kids and I decided to take them to the pool at my hotel to get them out of the chefs hair. It was a lot of fun but I’m definitely very tired!
Once we got home from the swimming we got busy making a huge meal. I was pretty tired but I made the mashed potatoes which you could say is my specialty. The secret is heating up the cream/milk and butter together so they become one liquid and mixing that with the mashed potatoes. Its so creamy!
We ended up with 21 people at thanksgiving dinner and it was quite the endeavor for my Mom and sister. Here are some photos
So it was a very Happy Thanksgiving at the Wagner house and I hope it was the same for all of you. God bless you and your family and let’s have a wonderful Christmas! Love you all!
I used to do this long list of all the things I am thankful for on the blog but eventually you run out of items and end up thanking the in and out crew and the pasta I had for dinner (not that we shouldn’t be thanking those things but not top of my list!). I thought it would be fun to just show in pictures. The faces of people I am thankful for today. Happy thanksgiving!
I know it is near blaspheme for some of you to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving (not sure why but some people become so upset!). Usually I can’t resist turning on some Christmas music or sneaking in a Hallmark movie, but this year Thanksgiving is so late that I decided to abandon pretense and start my celebrations early (or on time really).
This is my first Christmas in my house and in fact last year my life was in boxes and Christmas was extremely stressful time for me. Waiting for your house to be finished is an anxiety sufferers nightmare. Awful. I think that was why I wanted to do it up even more than normal this year. I wanted to make my first Christmas at my house extra special and festive, so all you early Christmas haters will have to deal! 😉
I will have 2 Christmas trees this year. One in my room and the main room. I have set up the one in my room and the other one will be delivered next week. My fake tree had 3 sections of bad lights so I decided to do something different and get a fresh tree. My family always got a fresh tree but I’m usually gone so much in December that it didn’t make sense. This year my family is coming to Utah so I could go fresh!
I am also going to get my tree delivered to my door from Five Star Christmas Trees which I’m very excited about. They are even going to set it up and pick it up which is great because I’m only one person and trees are big! I will post a photo of the fresh tree when it is finished.
I have memory trees with photos and ornaments from all over my life. This year I have a temple square, nanowrimo, disneyland, new home ornaments. I also learned how to decorate a tree on my mission. You put the ornaments on in 3 layers balls in the very back, then filler a little closer, unique special ornaments out front. The balls and filler can be a color theme but then I like the special ornaments to be special and a little pop of different colors.
Anyway, here is my Christmas tree for my room:
I have also been busy adding decor around the house and on the outside (quite the task I might add). I’m greatly proud of it!
So there you have it! Are any of you preparing for Christmas or are you waiting? What traditions make your holidays unique?
My friends who celebrate Hanukkah they are combining Thanksgiving and Hanukkah which is super fun. Check out the http://thanksgivukkah.wordpress.com/ for recipes and ideas. There are a lot of things I’d like to try down the road. Yum!
I love my Christmas house!
This is pretty great. Why men must start reading fiction again.
According to recent statistics, men have all but stopped reading fiction. Do they watch great television? Yes. Do they read non-fiction? Some. But the novel – that great interior journey – seems to have been lost to them.
It wasn’t always this way.
The path from boyhood to manhood used to go something like this: Boys got dirty, played with plastic guns, disturbed bee hives, and wandered the streets of their neighborhoods with their buddies un-chaperoned. By adolescence, they were expected to be rowdy and wild – maybe dabbling in the rebel art of cigarette smoking, drawing a sharpie tattoo, and practicing the skill of talking girls into peeling off their panties (beginning with the whole “I’ll give you a cookie” approach and graduating to “Come on, baby, you’re just so beautiful –I need you!”).
Next, somewhere in their twenties, boys began dressing like men – assertively and with a…
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So I did it! I finished my second year in Nanowrimo. I’m not saying the book is great. It’s not as good as my book from last year but that came from my heart so its hard to compare. Still, I learned something from thinking about my characters and their lives. Little details like how they manage their time or a scene that was captured in a satisfying way.
It may be that I take side characters and flesh them out more. There may be more to say with them than on the 2 main characters. I think it would be fun to right a children’s book from the perspective of the little girl Callie who reads and can’t quite decide what she believes in including Santa. I think there is a story there.
Anyway, I enjoyed writing it and I learned a lot. It has also motivated me to work even harder on my book from last year because I know it is better. I know it has more potential. It’s energizing!
One of my goals for this story was to do a bunch of writing firsts. I had never written complete fiction before and I have never really written poetry before. I had a couplet that I wrote in college and it just about killed me. Very difficult.
So, I did my best and wrote a Christmas poem to share with all of you. It’s not really here for critique. Just a first stab at a medium I love (which reminds me I need to do a poetry post soon). Here goes!:
The Lonely Christmas
The tree and lights, the hot cocoa and marshmallows
The presents and bows, the mistletoe and couples
It was Christmas time and all seemed to be matched
But for me and my ring finger had yet to be catched.
I tried to be cheerful and ignore the stares of pity
But alas I was cold and couldn’t be witty.
Leaving the party I grabbed my coat and hat
And went for a walk to try and find some merriment.
I looked at the snow and it seemed icy and alone
The wind whistled and let out a deep moan.
Out to the street I walked a block or two
Until I came to a church with an empty pew
The stained glass shined on the alter of white
And I asked God ‘why did I have such a plight?’
Why couldn’t I be a mother, wife and friend?
Why did everyone’s life start when mine seemed to end?
No answers came and I couldn’t help but cry
When a man with an old gray coat caught my eye
Even inside he was cold and looked awfully weary
I gave him a smile and said ‘I hope your Christmas is merry’
He shrugged and said with a sigh ‘life had been hard’
Then he showed me an old battered Christmas card.
‘Merry Christmas my dear’ said the writer with a flourish
And then she added ‘our love I will always cherish’
“She left me on Christmas and it hasn’t been the same”
In fact, for years Christmas took the blame”
“I’m sorry” I said “How did you make it through with hope?”
He smiled, laughed “I certainly did sit around and mope
But one day I prayed for God to help me find Christmas again
And He said to me ‘get down to the church and watch who comes in”
So I went and watched for the a spot in the pew to be filled
And each year there appears someone who needs a rebuild”
Then he looked at my eyes and placed his hand over mine
With a pat and a look sincere we went up to the shrine.
Next we lit a candle and the alter seemed ablaze.
Wishes were scattered on papers amidst light rays.
“Take the cancer away” one said, “keep Tom here” another.
“Free Sally from drugs” and “be with my baby, love mother”
“Now look up” the man said. In the glass I saw the Lord on the wall
Feeble and tired, lonely and scared he suffered to overcome our fall
“Look at His face on the cross. His Christmas day was full of pain
So how can we be called Christians if our days are not the same?
He loves us but on Christmas Day He wants us to know
why He and all His followers must have an occasional blow.”
I looked at his face and then at Lord “but how do I pretend to be full of glee?”
The man looked at me and said “You don’t and neither did He”
“But He does know our wishes and He does listen to our pleas.
If that reason alone we should remember He always calms the seas.
Christmas is a time to be merry for sure but its also much more.
It’s to remember why we are happy and sad and then to share.
Transfer our love of the Lord and His great day as our present to all.
And only then will we have a true reason to stand tall.
“You are right” I replied “He is my greatest companion and friend
His gift is for all and brings us Christmas till the end.”
A tear comes out of my eye and the old man gives me a hug.
“Merry Christmas” he says with a wink “There is still time to love”
I look at the old man’s eyes and I think of a girl who is often weary
“I’ll find her and make sure that her Christmas is merry”
I get up to leave the chapel and look back at the old man in pew.
But to my surprise the room is empty and my curiosity grew.
Searching the pews and alter I noticed something new among the wishes
A Christmas card and written on inside said ‘now go find your missions”
As I went back into cold I smiled at the snow and looked at North Star
Christmas wasn’t about what I don’t have but how I could spread joy far
One thing was for sure. If I knew Jesus lived I must make it clear.
“Whether young, old, single or married, Merry Christmas to all everywhere”
Hurray a winner and my first poem! So exciting!
My mind is decidedly random and you can never guess what is going on inside by what’s being said outside. Anyone else like that?
Well, today at church was definitely such a moment. The missionaries were speaking about missionary work and even though that is my favorite topic I found my mind wondering. I think I was hungry but I remembered a talk given by Elder Perry in 2001 (and yet still fresh in my mind. I’m like that. I can tell you all about the lectures from my favorite classes in school and its been 11 years since I graduated…yet I can’t remember where my keys are half the time. Strange!)
Anyway, the talk is called ‘A Community of Saints’ and the main purpose is to discuss how we as members of the church can take the trappings of the church for granted because we are so used to it, but I find that slippery slope to exist with almost anything in life. Familiarity leads to cavalier attitudes and we can sometimes lose what is really most important because we think we are bored or it isn’t living up to our standards.
Elder Perry gives an example that I love. Please forgive the long quote but I think any of us with Moms can relate to a moment when we think our family is so ‘uncool’ but everyone else thinks it’s great:
We all have life events that, when we recall them years later, acquire new and important meaning. When I was in junior high, I was honored by the school administration when I was asked to become a member of the student hall patrol. On the days we were assigned to be on hall patrol, we were instructed to bring our lunch to school and eat it together. It was always a special treat, and there was always a lot of competition to see whose mother had prepared the most desirable lunch. Often we traded lunch items among ourselves.
One day when I was assigned to be on hall patrol, I forgot to tell Mother that I needed a lunch until I was almost ready to leave for school. An expression of concern came over Mother’s face when I requested a lunch. She told me that she had just used up her last loaf of bread for breakfast and would not be baking until that afternoon. All she had in the house to make a lunch was a large sweet roll left over from the previous night’s supper.
Mother made delicious sweet rolls.She always arranged them in a pan so there was one large one across the top of the pan and then rows of smaller ones down the length of the pan. Only the large one remained. It was about the size of a loaf of bread in length but, of course, not in thickness. I was embarrassed to take just a sweet roll for lunch when I imagined what the other patrol members would have, but I decided it was better to go with the sweet roll than go without lunch.
When it came time to eat lunch, I went to a far-off corner so I wouldn’t be noticed. When the trading of lunches started, my friends wanted to know what I had. I explained what had happened that morning, and to my dismay, everyone wanted to see the sweet roll. But my friends surprised me—instead of making fun of me, they all wanted to have a piece of the sweet roll! It turned out to be my best lunch trading day of the entire year! The sweet roll that I thought would be an embarrassment to me turned out to be the hit of our lunch hour.
As I have reflected on this experience, it has occurred to me that it is often part of human nature to attach less value to familiar things simply because they are so common to us. One of these familiar things could be our membership in the restored Church.
I love that last quote “often part of human nature to attach less value to familiar things simply because they are common to us”. Could this not be a problem with Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season? Because the traditions are so repetitive and seemingly ordinary do we forget to remember how special those moments truly are?
For example, most of us expect to have turkey on thanksgiving but usually it is not until it is our turn to cook the bird that we realize how much work it is to make the ordinary turkey!
I’m going to try and keep this in mind during my Thanksgiving with my family and the Christmas season to come- appreciate the ordinary and the common because it will not always be here. I challenge you all to do the same!
So, my brain wandered off somewhere pretty interesting today and I’m glad it did!
Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun. Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then. I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!
So here are the rules to the contest:
All entries must be in by the end of 2013.
They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).
The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.
Make it your recipe, but if it is based off somewhere else tell me.
1 entry per person.
Winner gets 6 month birchbox subscription (3 months for birchbox man). If I get a great response will do 2nd place.
I’m open to any cuisines, and while I’m not rolling in cash, the price is not a qualification for the contest. I’m also just one person so try to keep the recipes down to a normal family size- serve 4.
Seriously guys I need your help on this. Please send your recipes in. I will do my best to judge recipes as quickly as possible and announce a winner in early January.
Fun times! Email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also you can ask my friend Amber I’m good on giving out the reward.
So how are all my Nanowrimo peeps doing? I’m basically finished my story and I’ve wanted to post a section but honestly I don’t feel like any of it is that strong so I was hesitant to do so. I’ve posted a few of them but it was my first time writing fiction and controlling the voices once they had switched places was very difficult.
I’m still mulling over and will do for some time. I plan on using it as a concept and then writing more based on the idea and characters I created. I’ve certainly learned a lot from creating an entire story.
One interesting thing about writing is you can start writing a character that is an aside and the longer you get in the story the bigger the character gets (and smaller in some cases). Has anyone else seen this in your writing? Well, I did. I could end up writing a whole new book about a side character that I ended up bonding with.
The two main characters of my story are 2 women, Marnie and Becca, one is married, Becca, and the other, Marnie, is single. I wanted to create a love interest for Marnie and as any rom-com will show you nothing is cuter than a single widower. I don’t know if that is true in real life but ever since Sleepless in Seattle it’s pretty much a mainstay.
Finally, I ended up with a man named Josh. He’s a single Dad who comes to the rescue of Becca who has kids the same age as his son Ben. Eventually he gets to know both Marnie and Becca and becomes a friend to both and Santa does a little matchmaking! At the end of the book he finally tells both girls about his late wife Mary, and their story together.
It kind of ended up being a love story within a love story and I enjoyed writing it. It’s a tragic love story you might say but I don’t know if any love story is truly tragic. Love gives hope and a complete human experience or at least so I am told. I have yet to experience it myself.
There is also something inherently corny about romance. You listen to anyone’s love story and it seems pretty cheesy but it’s also endearing and joyful, and a Christmas story definitely needs lots of joy!
So, Josh’s love story came together and I’ve decided to share it with you. As a nanowrimo story it is very, very rough so please be nice. I’m not sharing it for critique but more to keep you aware of what I’ve been working on.
Here it is
Josh and Mary’s Romance
“If you don’t mind my asking what happened with your wife” said Becca
“Yes, what happened? Can you talk about it?” said Marnie. She started to talk but Josh was looking at Marnie while listening to her. She started to tear up and that made Becca cry and Josh as he began to tell the story.
“Well, we met at a coffee shop. It was about 2 blocks away from both of our jobs. She worked as a secretary for a big wig CEO downtown and I was in the mailroom at an office building- the one with the triangle top and like 20 floors.
It was quite the job making sure everything got where they needed to go. Sometimes the basement where we would sort the mail would be so hot I would step out to get coffee just to have a break and cool down.
I know sounds funny cooling off getting coffee but that’s what I did. On the other side, Mary was constantly given chores and errands by her boss. She’d get the dry cleaning, pick up her kids from school, even work at the soup kitchen for her boss and sometimes she ended up as hot and bothered as me at work.
Fortunately her boss sent her to get coffee often at the same time I was taking my breaks and I started to notice her. She was pretty with black hair and blue eyes that sparkled like sapphires (I know that is cheesy but it is true) and a great smile.
Sometimes she would wear bright red lipstick and it would make her whole face pop out and I found myself thinking of those red lips all day long.
At the time she seemed way out of my league, like someone from a fairytale or the pretty girl in high school who only dated the captain of the football team”
“So how’d you get the courage to ask her out?” Marnie asked.. Just then I came into the room and Josh smiled as he saw me.
“That’s the funny thing is I never could quite do it. I always worried that she would think I was so forward to ask a girl on a date he had just seen at the coffee shop. Plus, she always seemed very busy so it was hard for me to catch a moment to talk and smooth into it.
However, sometimes I would catch her looking at me and she’d smile and nod. Finally one day she came up to me and said ‘what kind of coffee did you get?’ ‘tall low fat cappuccino with nutmeg and cinnamon. I actually hate nutmeg and cinnamon but my boss likes it so that’s what I have to get’.
I said ‘why don’t you just get something else for yourself and something for your boss?’
She sighed and said that her boss was a real tool and if she didn’t taste the coffee first and make sure it was up to par there would be hell to pay.
I told her that I had worked at a place like that and it was the worst. Then we bonded over our bad work stories. Before you knew it we had talked for 20 minutes and her phone rang. It was her boss and I could tell she was getting chewed out for taking so long. ‘I’m sorry. I will be right there’ she said into the phone.
You could see the weight off a job she hated on her shoulders. It was like a black cloud had settled over the coffee shop. I wanted to make things better for her but before I could offer help she looked at me with a sigh and said “hey would you like to go to dinner sometime. I have a good feeling about you and would like to chat more with you”
“Sure” I said. “I’d love that. Tonight?’ I didn’t want to miss a moment to get to know this person and I’d sat enough times in a coffee shop to know that it was a once in a million girl. It was my chance to make my life happen.
I know I never thought I would feel that way again but lately I’ve been allowing myself to have new experiences and have a window in my heart open for love again. It’s hard because I don’t want to replace her because nobody will but I know she wants me to love. She wants me to be happy. She always did.”
Both Marnie and Becca can’t help but blush at his speech. After all , he was talking about both of them but he kept looking at Marnie so I felt confident that the idea of having both of them in the room for the date was a good idea.
“So we went on our first date and then dated for a 2 months but too be honest we didn’t even need to wait that long. We knew it was right. There was no doubt.
I told my Dad that I wanted to ask her to marry me and he thought I was crazy but he said ‘if you know you know and you have to go for it. We will certainly be behind you. At the time I was a poor guy in the mailroom so I couldn’t afford much of a ring.
I was watching the home shopping network and they had some cubic zarchonia rings and I thought they looked pretty nice and I could pay for one, so I bought it and took her to the coffee shop where we had met. She had the red lips that I loved so much. At first I got really nervous because I knew she could say no and I couldn’t bear it.
When I got nervous she thought that I was going to break up with her. She started to tear up and I thought she was breaking up with me and she said “just spit it out. Just say it!”
I looked at her with surprise and wondered what she was talking about. Figuring I had nothing else to loose I pulled the ring box out of my pocket and showed it to her. ‘Mary, this is the place we met and I remember looking at you and your red lips and thinking I could never get a girl like you.
And then one day you talked to me and we vented about our crazy bosses and it was like you weren’t just the pretty girl but your heart was big and you were funny, everything I could have hoped for.” I told her ‘I love you and I will love you forever. Will you marry me?’ To my surprise she started to cry and took out the ring.
“It’s not a real diamond. I couldn’t afford it. I am sorry. I hope you are not disappointed” I said with hope in my heart that maybe these were tears of joy not ‘I’m going to break up with you tears’ then she smiled, smiled with her red lips and said ‘I couldn’t love it more if it was real diamonds because I love you and yes, I will marry you’.”
I’ve always thought that life was made up of moments, like a collage that we piece together with hopefully enough happiness to make it all worth it. You don’t know how many times in the last few years I’ve thought of those happy moments and they have made it worthwhile. I certainly would never take it back, even knowing the pain that would come. Never”
“So, then you had Ben? Were you nervous about having a baby? How long had you been married?”
“We had been married 2 years and had almost finished our degrees. Mary had 1 quarter left and found out she was pregnant. We were so excited but she was determined to finish school out, pregnant or not.
I’ll never forget her crossing that graduation podium pregnant and glowing, for reason than one. 2 months later she went into labor and we had our beautiful baby boy.
She was the one who thought of the name Ben because she had loved the old Benji movies from the 80s with the loyal, kind dog. After seeing what she went through I told her she could pick any name she wanted as long as it wasn’t something weird like Nature or Canyon. Thank goodness she had more sense than that.”
“When Ben was about 6 months she took Ben in for his check-up. Things had been hard but we were managing to stay afloat. She was doing some tutoring and bookkeeping on the side and I was a marketing clerk at a prestigious graphic design firm downtown.
I knew that Mary had been feeling tired and a little pale lately but I saw all my other friends with babies and they seemed to be going through something similar. I thought in a few months the worst of it would be over and we would be ok.”
“Then Mary told the doctor what she had been feeling and said that there was a pain in her abdomen that wouldn’t go away. She was a tough cookie and hadn’t wanted to make a big deal of it but now that it had lasted months she was worried and asked him what he thought it was. He sent her to a specialist to get some tests and turns out it was uterine cancer, stage 4, untreatable.
We had 6 months to a year to live and so we all the sudden had mere months to enjoy our baby and pile in all the memories we could, at least while her health remained strong enough to do anything. We went bungie jumping and traveled to New York and saw a fashion show.
It was her dream but when we got home from the trip she went downhill fast and in a matter of 2 weeks she was gone. When she was in the hospital she had her red lipstick on and she kissed Ben and left an imprint with lipstick on his bald head. I have the picture here. “
Josh pulled out a photo from his suitcoat and it was a beautiful woman with red lipstick in a hospital gown. She was glowing and holding up her baby with big red lips on the top of his head. It was priceless.
This morning I want to tell my fellow Mormons about something exciting I have discovered. First a confession- for years I have struggled to find a system of scripture reading that worked for me.
As a single adult I would often get distracted from my intent on reading and forget to do it and when I did remember the results were frequently less than satisfying. Maybe it’s bad to say but more often than not I felt kind of bored reading the same material week after week and hearing the same commentary track inside my brain, new insight seemingly few and far between.
I tried different study guides and reading systems but nothing seemed to help, so scripture reading became something I do more out of obedience than anything else and that will only get you to remember so far and help you so much. What to do?
With recent obstacles I had been challenged multiple times to make scripture reading more of a priority. In particular, my bishop asked me to read the Ensign (our Church magazine) each day but if I struggled to read the scriptures how could I add The Ensign on to it?
Well, I have come upon a solution that will sincerely help me and I hope you as well. There is a website called http://www.readthescriptures.com and it is a paid service that makes reading the scriptures and other church materials in an organized way easy. It costs $4.99 a month but I’m very excited about it. Seems well worth it to me.
Here’s how it works:
You log on to www.readthescriptures.com and make an account. Then you select ‘Create a Schedule’. This will take you to the ‘Available Reading Selections’ screen. You can see below that you have a wide arrange of choices including reading your sunday lessons, church cannon and The Ensign. Select what you want to read and then it will ask you how frequently and how fast you want to get through the selection. This will create a reading schedule for you to accomplish your goal.
Each day of your schedule you will receive an email with a link to what you are reading. You then follow the link and it takes you to the scripture or article on lds.org and you can read or have it read to you. Then when you are done you log back on to your email and click ‘Complete’. If for some reason you don’t want to read that section you select ‘Send More’. After selecting complete you will be taken to this screen where you can get an idea of your progress:
It’s a simple system but I think it is really going to help me to organize my scripture reading, be reminded and set goals. They also have journal, highlighting and other services to work with your reading. The fact is I’m a creature of routine and this website is going to help me make those reoutines. It’s pretty exciting.
Like I said, clearly you can get all of this information without the service. You can just read the scriptures in bed at home but I found this way more engaging and helpful.
What do you do to make scripture reading work in your life?