Sunday, December 21, 2008


Knowing that one of the jobs on my Christmas list would be to make homemade caramels for Christmas gifting, I brought along my faithful caramel pan.  It was a last-minute decision and so it ended up in the outside pocket of my carry-on.  I'm sure they see a lot of strange things go through security, but they wanted to take a second look at that object.  It took more than a little talking to convince them that I had no intention of hitting anyone over the head with it.  

This pan belonged to my mother, and I have so many growing-up memories of sitting around the table and wrapping the caramels that were cut out of it. This pan has made thousands of caramels and has the cut-lines to prove it.
We've made, cut and wrapped another 700 this week. 


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kankakee Rendezvous

Last night we made a flying trip to Kankakee to meet Quinn, Tif, Clarissa and Clayton. Traveling in 5 degree weather is not the greatest, but it's wonderful that we can both travel just over an hour and be together. We got some dinner, exchanged Christmas gifts, hugs, and Christmas greetings, then scampered our separate directions. They will be in Chicago the day after Christmas in time to pick us up at the airport. Travis and Britt will also be coming, and we look forward to spending time with them!
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Monday, December 15, 2008


Today my daughter-in-law called to see if I had died. It's nice to know that people are still checking. I guess I really do need to post a blog before I head to California TOMORROW.

I had a wonderful time in Boston. Judi Jr. (can you believe our son, Randy, married a girl named Judi. We call them Randy and Judi Jr.) kept the girls out of school one day and we went to visit Louisa May Alcott's home. It was so delightfully authentic. More than 80% of everything in the home belonged to the Alcotts.

It had been forever since I had watched "Little Women" so I purchased the book and DVD so we could all refresh our memories. I had forgotten how good it was. At least that's how the girls felt. The guys stayed upstairs and played their guitars.

I even got to visit my blogging buddy The Big Red. She lives in an old high school that has been converted into condominiums. Her particular apartment was part of the auditorium. It is incredibly unique, just like she is. What a woman! I'd like to grow up to be like EP.

Ostensibly, the reason for my trip to Boston was to attend the Wreath-making party -- a Belmont/Arlington tradition of some twenty-odd years. Remember when I showed the Apple-pie-making video. It took place in this same room and how I wish there had been a video of what took place just minutes after I snapped this photo. Within an hour, several hundred beautiful wreaths walked out of this room and are hanging on neighborhood doors in the true New England tradition. It was an amazing evening of beautiful music, delicious food and creative artistry.

As I mentioned, tomorrow I leave for beautiful sunny 70-degree California (Oh wait, I just heard that it is pouring rain and cold, but since it is 7 degrees warm in Chicago right now it will definitely be better). Don't be alarmed if I don't post regularly. I'm not good at computers at my best, but when I'm using someone else's computer I don't do well at all.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Blessing Day

Yesterday was Burke's big day. He was given a beautiful blessing by his daddy and his name, Burke William, became an official part of the church records. Grandpa was able to stand in the circle and he said that during the blessing Burke had the sweetest smile on his face. Travis and Britt invited two of their neighbor families to come and it was a great meeting for non-members to attend.

Today is my last day to spend here in Columbus. I've done laundry, cleaned the house, and the Christmas decorations are up. Tomorrow I fly to Boston to visit Randy and Judianne and their family.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

There's No Free Lunch

When my younger sister (and the fifth daughter) was born my mother sighed and said, "More puffed sleeves to iron." We don't know much about that kind 0f thing around here, but with five boys in the house, we have no trouble generating dress shirts to iron.
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Friday, November 28, 2008


A number of years ago our family learned to play Sardines. It's been a family favorite ever since, especially for the grand kids. It is a version of "Hide and Seek" played in the dark and in complete silence. While one person hides, the rest of the players gather at "base" and count to 25. Then, with all the lights out, the rest of the players fan out to find the hiding place. If you find the "hider" you join him in the hiding place. By the time the last player crams their body into the hiding space you truly feel like "Sardines."
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

How to Scale Back Thanksgiving

With Britt barely getting back on her feet and with four little boys to care for and all that comes with that, we decided to have a "scaled-back" Thanksgiving this year. Grandpa flew in from Chicago, which was perhaps even more exciting than Thanksgiving itself. We thought about going to Boston Market, but couldn't quite wrap our arms around the idea of having no left overs, or having a house that smelled like nothing better than Cheerios or peanut butter sandwiches, or having no pie for tomorrow's breakfast. My mother-in-law always cooked a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner and I've spent my entire life trying to "measure up," and actually think I've done a pretty good job. When my daughter called this morning I felt a little sheepish admitting that we were having Stove Top dressing, Rhodes rolls, and sweet potatoes from Boston Market. I was somewhat comforted when she told me that 90% of American families considered that to be a "fabulous" Thanksgiving dinner.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Britt had surgery last week and I'm in Ohio doing "The Grandma Thing." This is Burke, whom I'm meeting for the very first time. He's doing a great job of eating, pooping, and burping -- clear to see that he is destined to be a gifted child.

This is Charlie. I arrived sort of in the middle of this sugar crisis. It was a great way to make me feel that I was needed.

During the surgery, a woman from the ward came to watch the boys until I could get here. She told me that she had asked the boys if they would like to read some scripture stories. Four-year-old Theron said, "Sister Dean, we don't read the scriptures. We feast on the scriptures, and if you don't know what that means, it means we study them.

Six-year-old Isaac was looking for a Sunday afternoon project. Here's an example of what you can do with a squirt of glue, paper, and an entire roll of scotch tape. I miss these "creative years."
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

102 years old

November 17th -- my mother's birthday. Today she would have been 102 years old. My mother was a beautiful woman, and while I don't feel that I inherited any of her physical features, I do think I am a lot like my mother in many ways. I often catch myself doing things that cause me to say, "I've turned into my mother."

My mother raised seven children, one of them born with a congenital heart defect that took his life at age 15. It was a time when mothers didn't have cars. They were at home. Mother came pretty close to being a "perfect" homemaker. She baked bread twice a week, washed twice a week (with a wringer washer) and hung everything on the line. Then she ironed it all, including the multitude of starched petticoats her five girls wore during the 50's. She grew beautiful roses and gladiolas. When we woke up on summer mornings we knew we would find her in the garden. She knew how to cook for a crowd and could cook up a dutch-oven meal for 80 in the middle of nowhere. She sewed all our clothes, including our formals and bridal gowns. She could entertain general authorities and political leaders with grace and class, but she could also work on the farm, build a mountain cabin, or run the Stake Primary. We lived in a small four-bedroom home (no family room, one bathroom to share). Besides our own family of nine, she rented the basement apartment to student couples and also took in borders (college students who paid for a room and ate their meals with us). When I see how small the home is now, I'm amazed that she was able to keep it so clean and organized.

Oh mother, when times get hard, I pray that the things I have inherited from you will serve my family as well as you served yours.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dream Pillows

When our children were young their grandma made them each a "Dream Pillow." It was a pillow case made out of Christmas fabric. You were supposed to put it on your pillow on Thanksgiving and then dream about Christmas until December 25th. I started out to be a pretty good grandma, but as the number of grandkids has risen to 16, I realized that I've gotten a little behind. I got three new ones made today.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

What's missing from your record?

Yesterday in our gospel doctrine lesson we talked about 3 Ne 23. The Savior asks Nephi to bring the records for him to look at. He examines them closely and then points out a particular prophecy that was missing. Since prophets have told us that we should keep our own records, I wonder if the Savior were to ask to see my record, what would he point out was missing. I suspect a great deal. Since it's been a while since I shared a journal experience I thought I would share an entry I wrote a year ago today.

"Today was Adams Lindsey's funeral. It was quite a remarkable experience for me. I was struck by several things. It was a very simple funeral. There were only two or three flower arrangements, and they were very small -- not even a casket spray. There were not a lot of tears or drama, but the talks were very inspiring. They caused me to reflect on my own life. I don't feel like I have truly been "tested" in this life. Perhaps my real challenges are still to come. Perhaps they have been here around me and I simply haven't seen them as challenges, but it seems to me that my life has been a constant stream of blessings. When I learn about someone like Adams, who has faced so many difficult things and been so faithful, so positive, such an example to others, I wonder if I would have the faith and strength of character to live as she has. I love the C.S. Lewis quote:

'No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the enemy army by fighting it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have led a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means.'

My life seems to have been filled with gentle summer breezes. Could I walk against a hard wind? Can I resist temptation -- not the easy things like being honest, attending church meetings, paying tithes and being generous to others, but the hard things -- things like being proud, judging others, being impatient, being jealous, comparing myself to others. Will I be able to stay on my feet when the strong winds blow? I worry about this, because as the years pass and age becomes a factor I don't seem to have the stamina and endurance that I used to have. I guess it's all part of the 'enduring to the end' process."

This old "enduring to the end" stuff is way harder than I ever dreamed. Thank goodness there is still time to repent!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Will You Look at That!

I didn't know if we'd ever see gas under two dollars again. It's almost worth driving to Champaign just to gas up!
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grandpa Comes to Visit

Hey Grandpa, meet Clayton Henri Peterson!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Double Birthday

I know this sounds impossible, but I've been working on this blog all day and have nothing to show for it but this picture. Some days things just don't go the way you want them to. Nevertheless, we think November 3rd is a great day for a birthday. Not only is it Heidi's day, our sixteenth grandchild was born early this morning. Happy Birthday to little "no-name" baby boy. More to follow!
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Friday, October 31, 2008

Culinary Cremation

How would you like to carve this pumpkin? It was on display at a wonderful Burlington, VT farm. I don't know if it's the biggest pumpkin in the world, but I do know it's the biggest pumpkin I've ever seen.

We have theater tickets tonight and have invited the friends we go with to come for dinner before we go. We're serving our traditional Halloween dinner. While it's not the best (most gourmet) recipe from my kitchen, you just have to serve this "Culinary Cremation" on October 31st.

Halloween Salisbury Steak

1 round steak, cut into bite-sized narrow strips
2 onions, coarsely cut
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups diced tomatoes (with juice)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 cups cooked rice

Dredge meat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic salt, and Lowry's seasoned salt.
Saute onions, celery, and carrots in butter. Remove from fry pan and brown steak in olive oil. Combine all ingredients. Stuff into hollow pumpkin and cover with pumpkin lid. Place in a baking dish wish about an inch of water. Bake 2 hours or until pumpkin is soft and meat mixture is hot.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uninvited Education

I don’t suppose there’s even a remote chance that “Stop the Hate” (see comment 3 on yesterday’s blog) will ever look at this blog again, but I wish he would. I’d like to share a few thoughts with him.

I was raised in a family of five girls. My mother’s mantra was “Pretty is as Pretty does.” I grew up believing that what you say and what you do says far more about your character than how you look. I also believe that the opposite is true – “Ugly is as Ugly does.” I don’t know how “Stop the Hate” found my blog, but I suspect that he googles the words Prop 8 and leaves his little message wherever he finds a positive word for the Proposition.

I invite you to examine the words in both our messages. Do you find the word “hate” in my post? Was there anything about what I said that made you feel I was forcing my personal feelings or the Bible or my religion (cult) down anyone’s throat? I was sharing my personal thoughts with my circle of close family and friends in what I felt was a pretty innocuous way. On the other hand, “Stop the Hate” forced his way (uninvited) into my personal space to make sure that I (and those who read my blog) finally understand what hate is. And I think I get it. I thought about removing his comment, but decided to leave it so that those who see it can decide for themselves.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes on Prop 8

I'm sorry to ask you to watch another video again today. As you probably know, many of our loved ones in California have been asked to "step out" in favor of Proposition 8 in an effort to protect traditional marriage. We have children and grandchildren who are involved in this effort, and we know something about the sacrifices they are being asked to make. Our daughter recently overheard our three-year-old granddaughter ask her friend, "Are you Yes or No on Prop 8?" I'm sure she doesn't even know what Prop 8 is, but it is evident that it is very much a part of their everyday lives. The opposition is becoming angry and sometimes ugly. Last Saturday, those in favor of Prop 8 lined the Pacific Coast Highway for many miles to show their support. While it seems very far away, what happens in California will affect all of us. The least we could do is to pray for their success.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Date Night

Our weeks are often filled with church commitments. The only evening that we can consistently count on spending together is Monday. We've worked hard to preserve our commitment to Family Home Evening. We read articles together. One of us shares something we've been studying in our personal scripture time. We talk about my upcoming gospel doctrine lesson. But occasionally, we make it a date night.

Last night we went to see a movie -- probably the best movie we've seen in a long time. I recommend that every married couple go to see Fireproof. It's not likely to draw a big box office and may not be in the theaters very long. But it will bring hope to a struggling marriage and make a good marriage better. Don't miss it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dick and Jane

The information about the 2009 Quilt Retreat is already on the internet, and I've picked the quilt I want to make. One of our family rules is that you can't come to the retreat unless you have finished all of your projects from the year before. I started my Dick and Jane last summer and ran into a problem. I had too many other things going to deal with the frustration at that time, so I put it away. The quilt top is done now and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I've just learned about someone in our stake who has a quilting machine. I'm going to look into having it machine quilted. More to come!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Biking Buddies

We biked this morning at Herrick Lake. We seemed to have the entire forest preserve to ourselves. I wonder how much longer we will have beautiful days for biking.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gift of Love

Our neighbor brought this tomato to us from her garden. It's one of the last of the season, and I thought it was a truly unusual gift of the heart. Thank you, Daisie!
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