Tag: memories

Memories of My Grandma

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Today I am writing to you from a hotel room in Folsom, California. I am here to bid goodbye to and remember my dear Grandma Judy Wagner. There are few people on this planet that I love more than my Grandma and as one might expect my emotions at the moment are quite tender and overflowing, but I thought I might take a second to explain why I loved her so much.

It’s interesting because we all have those people in our lives who are complicated to love. That are difficult, demanding, frustrating, even cruel but they are a part of our lives so we learn to love them. This was not the case with my Grandma. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t adore her. Sure we had a few mild tiffs but they were always resolved by mealtime and quickly forgotten. She was just so darn lovable.

There are a lot of reasons I loved my Grandma but one of the biggest is that she got a lot of joy out of life and out of introducing her loved ones to what she loved. It’s always been strange to me that she enjoyed morose books like Ethan Frome because whether it was a new place for muffins or a Broadway show her love of what she loved was contagious. When I was 9 or 10 she took me to see Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco, and we both sat mouth agape when the chandelier came crashing towards the audience. It was a magical moment!

When I was 10 I saw Home Alone with her and it is my earliest memory of laughing uproariously at a film. I will always be sad that I never got to go to Hawaii with her because we both shared a love of the ocean and those beautiful islands. I remember many times her coming to visit us in Maryland and since it was the old days when calling long distance was expensive I enjoyed writing her letters for many years as a child.

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My Grandma loved Christmas, Easter, the Rockettes, yummy platters of simple food, theme parties, New York City, Hawaii, tap dancing, Gone with the Wind, cozy detective novels, and getting her hair and nails done each week.

One of the last real conversations I had with her before her heart troubles made communication more challenging I had sent her a cheesy bracelet for Christmas with the saying ‘God couldn’t be everywhere so he gave us Grandmothers’. After she received it she called to thank me, and we chatted for an hour so. We talked about the family, my various activities, and we both said our I love yous. I remember the conversation because I had to step out of a church activity to take her call. Boy am I glad I did! Life is funny like that. It gives you moments of connection that are so easy to miss! I’m going to try and grab them from now on.

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My Grandma loved pomp and ceremony. She loved attending graduations, weddings and celebrating the accomplishments of her family. I am sure more than one of us grandkids have gone through the processional of graduation more because we knew how much Grandma would love it than it was our true desire to so. I think she was just really proud of us and loved being a part of our lives. We loved her right back for it.

When my Grandma first had her heart problems my sister lived nearby. I remember calling her and saying ‘make sure to let me know if I need to fly home because Grandma and I have an extra special bond’ and Megan saying  ‘you’re like the 10th cousin who has called saying that today’ and it was the truth. Everyone felt like they were the most special of all grandkids and the most loved. That’s such a gift. I hope I can love people in that way.

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One of my happiest memories with my Grandma occurred in December 2000. My cousin Lisa and I developed a scheme where we would promise to go to see the Rockettes if my Grandma would go with us to New York. Of course in reality we loved the Rockettes so it was a win-win situation. The 3 of us spent 4 or 5 days in New York City eating pizza, going to shows (Beauty and the Beast, The Music Man and the Rockettes Spectacular) and enjoying Christmas in New York City. Little did we know that Lisa would pass away the next April. Now they are both gone, and I’m so grateful for that sacred time we had together.

Other memories…I remember her calling to cheer me up when I was depressed at work each Wednesday at lunch. I remember swimming at her very unique pool that had a huge shallow end. I remember hearing of her trips and the yummy things they had and looking through her stamp collection (or her collection of Mickeys, Santas, watches etc). I always loved the way her home smelled like a new car and the way you could run through the hallways with glee (to the point once I ran my hand through her stained glass window and had to go to the hospital). I remember going to a family reunion with her brother’s family and how much that meant to her (we had whole lobsters!).

I remember when she was babysitting us, and we brought home a nest of quail a neighbor had ‘given’ us. I remember watching Christmas Vacation and her laughing so hard she could barely breathe when the aunt offers the pledge of allegiance as grace or when the squirrel comes out of the tree. I remember watching Gone with the Wind with her and looking at her beautiful Scarlet O’hara inspired doll collection.

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When I was 8 or 9 she got me my first doll but only did so after I swore I would take care of it. I was a messy kid (and messy adult), and she didn’t believe I was ready for such a special doll. After that, it was most prized, and I’m proud I still have it to this day, box and all! When my little cousin destroyed one of my dolls she had given me I was furious not because of my heirloom but because it was a betrayal of a promise I had made to my Grandma. A betrayal not of my own doing! How dare she!

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t want to be like my Grandma. She was simply the best, and I will miss her dearly. I hope she is enjoying catching up with Lisa up in the Spirit World and that she knows how much I love her.

As for me down here on Earth I will cry a lot today and recommit myself to be more like her. Thanks Grandma for all the memories. I love you!

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15 Years since BYU

It seems hard for me to believe but the next few weeks marks a milestone in my life. It will be 15 years since I graduated with my bachelors degree from Brigham Young University (BYU)! It really seems impossible that 15 years has come and gone.

One of the things I envy about those who have kids is they have more concrete evidence of their growth as people. This person didn’t exist and now they do. I have no such evidence. In many ways I feel the same as I did back in 2002 getting my degree. For all intensive purposes how different is my life? I work every day, go to church on Sunday and develop my hobbies just like I did back then.

Nevertheless, I will always look back at my time at BYU as the happiest time of my life. It was a time of great growth, soul searching and closeness to God that I will never forget. My mission was also an extreme learning experience but that was more polishing. The real grunt work happened at BYU.

After growing up with little church support it was so important to be surrounded by people with shared values. I remember when we said a prayer before my science class and I started to cry. Where else could you say a prayer before a science class? What a liberating and beautiful thing!

Most people probably have grand ideas of what they want to do coming out of college. Not me. I just wanted to finish and have a great life. I’ve never been much of a dreamer in that way. I remember my friend Raelene had this long list of the house she wanted and the other bucket list things she wanted to do in life. That was never me. I was just thrilled to have achieved my dream of going to BYU. I didn’t need anything more.

Since then I have served a mission and had a number of jobs including working as an accounting clerk for nearly 10 years. Now I work from home in marketing and I think that might surprise my former self as I was a very social person back then. Now that social life is mostly fulfilled by means like twitter and facebook. It’s hard to imagine I once didn’t have those tools and survived quite well. I believe 2002 was the first year I ever got a cell phone if that puts things in perspective.

If I could give my young self advice I’d say to be patient and that being single aint that bad. I’d say quit that horrible job in 2005 instead of hanging on until 2007 and being miserable. Don’t be afraid to take risks and make sure you are making memories instead of gliding through life. And I’d say ‘you just lost Grandpa and yep you still miss him all these years later’.

It’s funny because I really don’t use my degree much aside from basic writing, editing and reading skills. However, I am certainly grateful I had my college experience and can look back with nostalgia at such a happy time in my life. I am grateful for all I learned and the person it helped me to become.

I can’t believe it has been 15 years! How is that possible?

Well, all I have o say is GO COUGARS!!

Core Memories

inside out8I just watched Inside Out again tonight.  That’s the first time I’ve seen the same movie twice in one week since Perks of Being a Wallflower in 2012.  That movie I saw 3 times in a week because I kept bringing friends I loved it so much.  In Inside Out there are memories that are a certain color depending on the type of memory it is.  There are thousands of memories but the most important are called core memories.  These key memories are the foundations of the ‘islands of personality’ because each memory started Riley on a path to that personality trait.  It’s seriously so brilliant!

It got me thinking about my own life.  What are my islands of personality?  And also what are my core memories holding up those islands?  You guys have been reading this blog for a while what would you say?  I would be genuinely curious to hear what those are in your mind.

It’s easier to think of eras of my life vs one single memory that changed everything but I am sure those moments exist….Hmm.  You know I was just thinking and in some ways Inside Out is the opposite of Up.  Up is about a man coming to grip with his memories and moving in some way with his life.  Inside Out is about creating those memories and what makes Riley into a full person ready for adventures.

I guess some of my core memories would be getting bullied at school, moving to Maryland, getting accepted into BYU, meeting my friend Emily, the death of my Grandpa and Lisa, my conversion experience when I was 14, my last day on my mission, quitting my job, my first open water race in 2011, last day of my first trip to Hawaii, my first panic attack, and another very tough moment I can’t really talk about. Those are the big ones.

As for my islands of personality, those have definitely changed over the years.  There was a time when friendship would have been the most important and now it is less so simply because I have so few that are nearby and able to see regularly 😦   There has also been times when music was a bigger part of my life than it currently is.  So at this point my islands of personality would be swimming, Mormon faith, youtube/blogging, family, loyalty.   All of that is vitally important to who I am.  I’d have more but there are only 5 in the movie so we’ll leave it at that.

What about you?  What would your core memories be?  What would your islands of personality be? Please share and go see Inside Out!

Cookbooks

Last week I made 2 recipes from a very special cookbook- ‘the best white bread’ and ‘italian chicken’.  Where did I get these recipes why from my very own cookbook. See below:

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a nice big hole in the sleeve for the main dishes. Kind of appropriate.
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Drinks
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Desserts my favorite section and not a bad drawing!
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yummy salads

When I was 17 I was heading off to college I wanted to take my mother’s best recipes with me, so I gathered them together into a 3 ring binder on blue paper separated into categories like drinks, bread, salads, desserts.  The thing that I love is even though it was just for me I did my own drawings to accompany the recipes.   How many 17 year old’s who can’t really draw to save their life do that?

Isn’t it interesting because I could have just written the recipes down.  I’m not an artist so why did I feel inspired to add the drawings to my little cookbook?  Who knows exactly what inspired me but I would like to think it was because I knew that the recipes were special, that they deserved to be memorialized in some way and even if I was the only one who would see the drawings (which I pretty much am until this post) it was still worth it.

And you know what? It has been worth it.  I feel happy whenever I look in my cookbook and see the drawings.  It’s like 17 year old me waiving and saying hello to 33 year old me.  Over the years flour and guck has built up on the plastic covers of the pages and even had several that got briefly melted but I haven’t changed them to new covers.  I like seeing the years and remembering the time I made candy and it melted the on the fudge recipe or seeing the flour and remembering the pancakes that I’ve made over the years.

Other recipes remind me of the cooking contests we used to have (some are actually from the contest like the Green and White Lasagna one below).  That is one of the best times of my childhood cooking with my siblings.  Pancakes also remind me of my Dad and how he tried diligently for weeks to make the perfect pancake.  A recipe for spaghetti  makes me think of my Mom and how we ate pasta and sauce at least once a week growing up.  I also see the apple pie recipe and think of all the family gatherings where my Mother made the perfect pie and wistfully wonder if I will ever have such a culinary moment (her’s are seriously the best)

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Italian Chicken is one of my favorites.
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Even have the butter label stuck on the pancake page1

It’s an amazing thing because at the same time that my cookbook brings back all those memories it is creating new one’s that I will look back on 5 years and see the flour from when I first made bread in my new house or the raspberry pies I made and brought to my friends the Porters. I don’t if I can think of anything else that is both a time capsule of past and present more than this cookbook.

For some reason I had an idea when I was young that this would be important so I not only made such a book for myself but when my sister got engaged I made a similar (if a bit nicer!) cookbook for her.  You see, she and her husband and spent much of their courting time with me and I had done most of the cooking.  At the time I was working and it was fun for me to cook for hungry guests and hear about their plans and adventures.  So, when I made Megan a cookbook it was more based on the recipes that I had made for her and not as much about the recipes Mom had made.

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Megan’s recipe was all based on things that were quick that I had made for them as they were courting and engaged.
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You’ll notice I have hand drawn drawings on Megan’s too. It just makes it more special.
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Chili was a favorite of mine in college. It was sort of dotored up canned goods but always tasty and cheap.
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the cover. So fun.

You will see in hers there is also the hand drawn artwork which I still find amazing as I am not much of a drawer but there was something about making a cookbook that made me draw by hand.  It’s like passing on a bit of who you are with what you cook so nothing else would work but your own hand at drawing.  And maybe the memory of making the drawings becomes part of the time capsule for past and future memories.  I hope it has been that for my sister.  I know she uses it often.

As I was making bread I said to myself ‘I wonder if most people would just look online for such a recipe?’ I’m sure they do and I look online often for sure but I hope that with the advancement we haven’t lost the value of creating family cookbooks, with personal touches of story and art for your life, your family to share and add on to.  Such a legacy of flour and egg cannot be transferred to an email or a pinterist pin.

Food has such a link to our survival, to what makes us literally alive; therefore, the stories it can tell can be monumental or sublimely small.  Without the family, homemade cookbook we lose some of those stories and some of that life.

So make a goal of it this year to write down your family recipes, add some illustrations (you’ve seen mine, don’t have to be so great) and then give similar gifts to those you love for their memories and by transference now your memories.  It’s just a good thing to do!

Don’t get so lost in the world of blogging, even food blogging, that you forget to make things that make memories.  Writing is powerful but so is art and beauty and cooking, so make a cookbook as a gift to your life! You’ll love it!

Ps.  I know there are companies that can make it all professional but I would discourage from that.  Make it you and everytime you see your wobbly version of a salad or a turkey you will smile and say to yourself ‘thanks 17 me love ya’ and those are the sublime moments of life.

Thankful for Faces

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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!

Things that Make Me Smile

Since I just did a post on pain I figured I need to lighten things up a bit.  I do after all smile a lot.

So here are some things that make me happy:

1. Fresh Cut Flowers- I wish I could get them every day or even just go into a little flower shop and stare at them, smelling them and feeling of their cheerfulness.  One of the things I love about New York is the flower shops.  I wish I could find a place like that in Draper.  They have one flower store but it is pretty sterile. I love fresh flowers and wish I didn’t have to buy them for myself all the time.  Someday!

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2. Hallmark Original Movies- In fact I am watching one right now and loving it.  It is called Remember Sunday about a man who has no short term memory because of an aneurism.   He falls in love but is afraid to tell the girl he can’t remember her.  So sweet.  Hollywood romantic comedies/dramadies have gotten so crass and crude.  I love the old fashioned sensibility of Hallmark movies.

3. Homemade Jams- Anything preserved by a loved one is just so wonderful.  I got the cutest stickers for my jam and I’ve felt so good whenever I can give a jar to a friend.  It’s just so personal and delicious.  Makes me smile!  If any of you preserve anything please  share and I am dying to learn how to make pickles, or to can my own marinara sauce.

Cutest labels ever! I guess cute labels make me smile
Cutest labels ever! I guess cute labels make me smile

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Pretty!
Pretty!

4.  An unexpected day off.  I don’t  know of much better than when the boss says ‘take an hour off early’ or ‘take the day off’. Even though I work from home I still don’t get as much time off work as I would like and a free day is so wonderful.

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5.  Necklaces- I love necklaces. Here are some of my favorites.

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6. I love when I’m sitting in church and a toddler eyes me and I can get him to smile and giggle all the way across a room.

7.  The feeling of diving into water and being surrounded by liquid

8. Cooking when I’m either really tired or full of free time.  Most memorable example in this blog:

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/11/03/nanowrimo-the-spaghetti-incident/ 

me and pie

9. Comments on my blog!!  They really do make me smile

10.  A delicious book that you can’t put down.  Just read Guernsey Literary Potato Pie Society and LOVED IT!  I have read it once before but we were reading it for book club but it engrossed me even more this time.  I didn’t want to put id down!

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11.  Entertaining and making everything beautiful.   This is especially nice when I can make the people I love happy and they come to the party.

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12. This painting of Jesus

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13.  Spending 2 hours talking with someone and then looking at your watch/phone and thinking ‘wow we’ve been talking this long’.  (Just happened last night! Actually it happened twice yesterday)

14. Staying in a hotel and getting room service

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15.  Farmers Markets and Bountiful Baskets

All of this for under $40!
All of this for under $40!

16. Teaching others how to cook, swim, about politics, books.  Whatever!

Teaching Taylor and Becca how to cook
Teaching Taylor and Becca how to cook

17. Winder Dairy milk delivered in bottles to my door.

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18. Calls from my nieces.

19. My bedroom

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20. The Mindy Project.  Yes, it’s hilarious

21.  I love ‘a-month clubs’.  Right now I am in a cookie of the month club and it is pretty awesome.  I love not knowing what cookie is coming and will arrive in my doorstep.  I would totally be in more if they weren’t so expensive!

21.  This makes me smile (along with tarts, candies, cookies and just about anything else that is delicious)

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Ok.  I could go on for a while.  There are a lot of things that make me smile.  My life is pretty much 70% smiles, 10% tears, 10% pondering and 10% anxiety.  All in all I’d say I have it pretty good. Wouldn’t you agree?

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Memorable Jewelry

Lately my fashion has been lacking (really for like the last 2 years!).  I just haven’t been able to get my style back since I lost the initial weight.  I like the styles from around 2005 dark or bright colors, structured colors, slimming waist line, lower waist jeans.  It seems like everything the last few years has been very ruffly, light, pale, vintagy and just not me.

Part of the problem is I am always coming from either the pool or the gym.  A lot of my life ends up being in workout clothes or swimsuits.  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  Plus, I work from home so sometimes the motivation to have real fashion just isn’t there.  Especially when I don’t like the fashions anyway.

One thing I have developed over the years is a little jewelry collection.  Nothing expensive but a lot of pieces that have meaning. I wear them and I feel they express who I am at that moment.  They remind me of who I am and help me get through hard times.

I prefer necklaces that are longer (around 18′) and that have one distinct feature so I can wear it with many outfits.  The nice thing about necklaces is that they always fit no matter what size I am 🙂

Here are some of my favorites (all of these I got over time and most under $20)

2 sea glass necklaces. I love the idea of carrying a piece of the sea next to my heart always. Non-elephant piece purchased at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TidelineDesigns.  Elephant from http://www.etsy.com/shop/seaglassgems4you
The moon to remind me to dream big. Purchased at http://www.etsy.com/shop/rainnua
Sloth necklace. Wear it when I’m in one of my workaholic modes. Purchased at http://www.etsy.com/shop/marymaryhandmade
This is probably my most prized necklace. I bought it at a dark spot in 2007. It reminds me to be bold, happy and free.  I bought it at Dear Lizzie in Highland.
I got this one earlier this year when going through a tough time. God is bigger. I hold it close to my heart.  This is purchased from http://therustedchain.com/.  They will stamp any saying on your jewelry.
Swim necklace, need I say more! Purchased at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheRunHome
This is another one I love. It is a mustard seed from Matthew 17:20. “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove from here to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” From http://www.etsy.com/shop/aperfectpeace. I think it was $12

Anyway, what collections do you have? Why are they special to you?  I know its just a material possession but if I lost my bird necklace I would be devastated.  I love it.