Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Dear Scooter Badooder,

I'm sorry I didn't really get to say goodbye, but I kind of knew I wouldn't see you again, which is why, on Christmas Eve, I let you sleep in the middle of my bed while I balanced on the edge all night trying not to fall off.

You've been a good kitty these past 13 years. I only lived with you for about 5 of those, and I know we gave you to Mom for Mother's Day, but I'll still think of you as my kitty too. I know I didn't appreciate it at the time, but it was sweet of you to kill all those mice for us and good job dissecting those birds. And then there was that one spring where you managed to bring a praying mantis home every night around 10:30 -- that was fun.

I can tell you've been lonely these past few years without Buddha. Even though he would sort all the "inedible" kibble from his bits and eventually eat all your food, you two got along really well, and now you can say hi to him for me. Buddha will probably introduce you to our two previous cats: Oliver and Kitty. Kitty's real name is Charcoal Tubby Durham but believe me, he'll only answer to "Kitty". Be nice to each other up there. You were all equally important to us. Kitty will probably brag about how he owned the neighborhood, and even all of us -- as we were scared of him a lot of the time, but you can one up him and say how you got us to maintain 4 different kinds of food in 4 different food bowls for you. You can also make fun of him for climbing up on the roof and not knowing how to get down. Oliver wasn't with us for very long, so he may not have a whole lot to say. Don't gang up on Oliver, he's a sweetheart.

Tell the story about when you went missing for two weeks. That's a good one. We assumed you were a rug out on 1300 East, but one night, you just showed up, wondering where your food was, like you just hopped out of a DeLorean* and no time had passed at all. I wish I knew where you were and what you did. Maybe you can tell me someday.

You're a sweet kitty. You were demanding, wanting only running water to drink; needing to sleep on my chest with your face right in front of mine, but I love you anyway.

You always wanted me to be awake when you were awake, even if it was 2 AM.
But I love you anyway.

You chewed up hundreds of dollars worth of clothes, rugs and blankets.
But I love you anyway.

When Oliver died, Dad read to us from Moses 3:5..."For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth..."

I'm not sure if Mom and Dad, or even I will live with another kitty, but we will always remember you and we will miss you.

*kinda borrowed this line from Cameron

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cold Remedies

I am not happy with my immune system these days. This is the second cold I've had in the past two months. I used to NEVER get colds. I think I went three straight years without getting a cold. I was getting more sleep back then though.

Fortunately, this cold is not nearly as bad as the last one. I thought the last one was going to kill me. I had it mid November. That cold was strange, because it hit me every other day. It's like I had a day off from my cold and then the next day it came back with a vengeance.

Because I'm fairly new to the cold, I am completely ghetto when it comes to meds. My two old roommates introduced me to Airbourne and Cold Eeze lozenges. I've had the NyQuil conversation with many people. Most people love it...I hate it. I have this memory of me sitting at my bed when I was about 14 years old, holding a little 1 oz plastic cup with bright green syrup in it trying not to gag at the sight of it. I stared at it for a good ten minutes before I finally took the shot. I hate that feeling of alcohol going down my throat and then having it linger there. I swore I would never drink the devil's poison again.

And then last November, I drank some. My cold was bad. My head felt like it was going to fall off my body and I needed to get through a day of work. I'm a grown up now, it was time to grow up and drink the nasty stuff. It wasn't as awful as I feared but it wasn't good. And I tasted that stuff for the next two days. I've sworn it off again.

Anyway, again, last November I called my sister who seems to be sick all the time now that she has a kid, and told her I had a cold. She said to take Zycam. But apparently it was too late for Zycam. I was past the sore throat stage. Now it was time for Mucinex. I popped one of those right before going out to dinner with friends. I felt great. But the next day I started to act loopy and was told I wasn't answering questions.

Now, about six weeks later, I am currently on Zycam and Mucinex. Only this time I am drinking ALL THE TIME because I figured out the last time I took Mucinex I didn't eat or drink anything that day and so I was SEVERELY dehydrated. I'm feeling a little better, but still kinda dizzy.

Because I'm not used to being sick, I'm not used to all the remedies people have for the common cold, but I'm open to try them. The last time I was sick, Annie gave me some tea that was supposed to soothe my throat. Eh. She also gave me this eucalyptus ball that you're supposed to throw in a pot of boiling water and then hover over it with a towel over your head. I tried it. It did clear up my sinuses for a little while. Some girl in my choir told me to gargle with Listerine. She said the alcohol kills the germs in your throat and that's where the cold starts.

Everyone seems to have different ones. We just had people over for ward prayer. My plan was to stay upstairs and out of the way, but I ended up staying downstairs and talking to people. Here is what I got tonight:

Gargle with salt water (tried that when I was little, made me gag)
Drink the caramel apple cider at Starbucks.

Here's my thing with airbourne and zycam and cold eeze and anything else that is supposed to "shorten" your cold. I use this stuff, but I'm not sure if there's any way of knowing if it works or not. You're only supposed to take a certain amount of airbourne within 24 hours or else it will damage your liver. I will watch the clock, counting down the minutes until I can take the next one. I can take zycam every four hours. I've been taking airbourne AND zycam for the past 24 hours and I'm feeling ok. My throat is still a little raw. I think what's mostly making me feel crummy right now is the effects of Mucinex. Maybe I just have a less severe cold, or maybe if I haven't been taking these remedies, it would be way more intense, I don't know. Here is what I do know: NyQuil makes me gag and say things I wouldn't normally say. Mucinex makes me dizzy, nauseous, and incoherent.

Oh look, it's 10 PM and it's time for another Zycam.

Monday, December 22, 2008

NYC 2008

Special thanks to the following:

Jane and Maria for free lodging and playing with me.
SLCVB for the free Nutcracker tickets.
Annie's client Mary for lunch in Chinatown.
Clay for house tickets at his play.
Our bishop for sponsoring dessert at Carnegie Deli
Annie for inviting me in the first place.

No thanks to the following:

The lady on my flight over who claimed the empty seat between us as her own.
The downpour after the Nutcracker for soaking my shoes
The lady on 96th street for looking me up and down in disapproval. Yes, I know, my red coat did not match my purple skirt. I pack light.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santas and Snowmen

Last month my mom told me she’s ready to go back to her Scandinavian Christmas tree. When I was much younger she had a Scandinavian themed tree but about ten years ago she went to a different kind of theme with “bubble gum” lights and lots of shiny ornaments.

We sat down at her computer so she could show me pictures of all the Christmas ornaments she plans on making for her tree. I made about 6 or 7 of these Santa tomtes with my mom for my tree this year – which is Scandinavian actually, but mostly because I bought my ornaments at IKEA last year. But I love my homemade tomtes.

Anyway, as we clicked through dozens of websites with crafts, fabrics and other ornaments Mom started talking about her mother and the things Grandma would make when she was little. Mom said a lot of the stuff we were looking at was just like it. I don’t think my mom noticed, but I had to wipe away a few tears as a wave of nostalgia came over me and I suddenly missed my Grandma Christensen.

Grandma died nine years ago of ovarian cancer. She was fairly young. I miss her all the time.

I think about my Grandma a lot, especially at Christmastime, since every Christmas Eve was spent at her house. We always had a Christmas program and every year it was a tradition to beg Grandma to sing “Baby it’s Cold Outside” with my Grandpa. She had to tear herself away from whatever was keeping her busy in the kitchen, but she always gave in (that's my mom playing the piano and her bridal picture on the piano).

I had the honor of speaking at Grandma's funeral, and this is one of the memories I shared:

One thing about Grandma was that everything in her house had its place and she knew where everything was at all times. When I was very little, my brother and sister and I were staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s house while our parents were on vacation. Grandma took me into Uncle Tony’s old room to show me a flashlight that she thought I might like to see. She took me to the desk, pulled open the drawer and pulled out the flashlight. Because it was made with clear plastic, I could see the batteries inside. The batteries were blue with pictures of snowmen printed on them. I loved the flashlight and immediately imagined how fun it would be to play with it in the dark when everyone else was asleep. So later that day when she was in the kitchen I took it out of its drawer, brought it into the TV room where I’d be sleeping later and hid it in my sleeping bag.

That night, Grandma came to tuck us in. She felt something at the bottom of my sleeping bag and asked me what it was. I told her I didn’t know and she said goodnight and went to bed. Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping straight through the night so my plans of playing with the snowman flashlight in the dark never happened. When I woke up, I remembered I had the flashlight in there and thought I better replace it before Grandma was up. I felt for it at the bottom of my sleeping bag. It was gone! I panicked as I got up and turned my sleeping bag upside down; shaking it in hopes the flashlight would fall out. It wasn’t there. I froze for a few moments for fear of what likely happened. I tiptoed past Grandma and Grandpa’s bedroom and into the room with the desk where she kept it and opened the drawer to find the flashlight back in its proper place exactly where she left it before. I learned at an early age there was no fooling Grandma.

Sometimes I feel bad for my younger cousins because they didn’t get to experience Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa’s house like I did. But then again, I’m sure their Christmases are just as special to them as mine were to me. I just hope my kids get to spend many, many Christmases with their grandparents.

Last night when I climbed into bed I closed my eyes and tried to remember what Grandma's hugs felt like. And I realized they kind of felt like my mom's hugs. And that made me happy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I was buying evaporated milk a couple weeks ago for a fudge recipe. Sometimes when I make grocery lists, I put down the box or can size I need so I can be sure I get the right amount for the recipe. Evaporated milk is pretty standard: they have small cans and large cans. I found my Carnation evaporated milk and started to put it in my cart when I noticed it was a 12 oz can. I looked at my list and I noted a 14 oz can. I looked on the shelf to see if other brands offered 14 oz cans, but unfortunately, there weren’t any other brands. I asked a guy shelving the cake mixes, “Does evaporated milk come in 14 oz cans?” He clearly didn’t know, because he came over, looked at my can, looked at the cans on the shelf, and then said “Guess not.” Thanks. I guess I didn’t really expect there to be 14 oz cans, I was just kind of verbalizing what seems to be happening with a lot of products: downsizing.

It seems to be the manufacturer’s way of increasing prices without increasing prices. It’s sneaky, but it’s kind of genius. They actually had a segment about this on the Today Show this morning. I think companies know that increasing prices will have a more negative impact on their sales. I’m not THAT picky about my brands, so if Kellogg’s Raisin Bran is even 30 cents less than Post, I’ll go for the Kellogg’s.

Fortunately, I’m a savvy shopper. I don’t know how or when I started looking closely at prices per ounce, but it has changed the way I shop for groceries. I make sure I’m getting the most for my money. And now is definitely the time to do that, as you’ll see Skippy skimping on their ounces, even though the jar will look like the same size. If you turn the jar upside down, you’ll see the bottom is more concave than it used to be. You’ll notice tuna cans are a little shorter, and cereal boxes are a little thinner, or the bags inside are a little smaller – sneaky. Even though your eyes can deceive you, prices per ounce can’t (without a law suit).

Honestly, if their production costs are up, and the natural solution is to make the consumer pay more, in most cases, I would prefer they give me less product than increase the price. I went ahead with my fudge recipe using 12 oz of the evaporated milk. I may have put in a bit less chocolate and sugar and butter to even everything out. The recipe didn’t suffer for it. I don’t really care or notice if I have fewer potato chips or Golden Grahams. I don’t care if my Kleenex sheets are one inch shorter; I probably didn’t need the whole surface area of the Kleenex anyway – as long as I’m getting the same amount of sheets. The downsizing is working on me. I’m still buying their products because they’re the same price (or in some cases, less).

I was a little put off last week when I went to Big City Soup and saw prices underneath the pieces of bread they used to give you for free. You would get bread, 1 oz of Tillamook cheese and some mints. Now if I wanted bread it was going to cost me $1.39. I looked at how much my soup cost and saw that the price went down. Ahh...but the price didn't really go down did it. The cashier asked me if I wanted bread. “Does it come with the soup?” Again, stupid question, because I already knew the answer, I was just making the point that I was hip to their little a la carte scheme. I decided I didn’t want bread. I never eat all of it anyway. I’m really just there for the soup (although I really like that cheese). With tax, my soup cost me $5 even. Nice. So with the bread and cheese, it would have cost me a little over $7. That’s only 75 cents more than I paid in the past when all 3 items came together as a meal deal – interesting that I opted for the lower price for less food.

Come to think of it, I would kind of prefer that restaurants give me smaller portions than increase prices on their dishes. I don’t need that much food – especially at Mexican restaurants. I can name about a dozen guys I’ve been to lunch with that would wholeheartedly disagree with my price/portion philosophy but I am littler than they are. As is my metabolism. If I'm disciplined enough to not overeat, I usually end up taking it home for lunch the next day, but some food doesn’t refrigerate well, and sometimes I didn’t like it and don’t want to eat it again.

I guess the point is restaurants and food companies are being sneaky to get the most out of the consumer. One of my favorite movie scenes ever is in Father of the Bride. Remember when Steve Martin just hits the fan after he starts to come to terms with how much his daughter’s wedding is going to cost? He goes to the grocery store for hot dogs and hot dog buns and starts removing buns from half his bags because he’s angry that hot dogs come in packages of 10 and buns come in packages of 8, so the victimized consumer has to buy two packages of buns in order to have enough for the 10 hot dogs but is left with “superfluous” buns.

I feel like I waste a lot of food like that, especially being single and cooking for myself. I can’t eat a whole loaf of bread by myself (they sold half loafs for awhile, but the price wasn’t worth it). Produce is the worst. Rarely do I eat a whole head of lettuce or all that celery by myself. It’s hard and I end up with wasted food. My sour cream goes bad, my can of refried beans goes bad, my pasta sauce goes bad. I’m not saying I like getting less for my money, but if manufacturers are struggling in this economy, I’d rather pay the same price for fewer ounces than pay more and end up wasting food I couldn’t eat by myself.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Rooty-toot-toots and Rummy-tum-tums

If you haven’t spoken with me or you haven’t noticed the ad on the sidebar of my blog, I have a Christmas concert coming up next week with the Utah Chamber Artists. The concert is on Monday and Tuesday.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for non-degree seeking adults. However, because the executive director is a close, personal mother of mine and I do free design work for them, I was given a limited number of $5 tickets for friends/family who would like to come.

This year’s Christmas concert is at the First Presbyterian Church on South Temple. It’s going to be awesome. I only have ten $5 tickets though. I’m actually not sure if more than ten people (in town) read my blog and are interested in a ticket, but this is what I came up with as far as divvying them out:

Below is a Christmas carol quiz*. Here are the rules:

1. Pick one question that hasn’t already been answered by a previous commenter and if you get it right, and you want to come to the concert, you can have a $5 ticket.
2. Tell me which night you prefer, Monday or Tuesday (both concerts are at 7:30 PM.

Here are the limitations:

1. Only one ticket per commenter. If you want to bring a date, you can purchase more tickets at utahchamberartists.org or from me.
2. You have to pay me by Sunday, December 7th
3. If something comes up and you can't make it, please try to find someone to use it, or try to give me 48 hours notice and I'll find someone who will use it. There’s a reason we do the Christmas concert two nights instead of one.

If there are more than ten comments on here and you still want to come to the concert, I hope you will anyway, even if you have to pay full price. You won’t be sorry. I know several of my blog readers came to the last concert in October and loved it.

1. "The Christmas Song" refers to "folks dressed up like---


2. What were the last words of Frosty the Snowman?

"Hold my beer and watch this."
"Catch me if you can!"
"Ahh, I can't wait to get in that hot shower."
"I'll be back again someday."

3. In "Joy to the World," Jesus is said to rule the world with ---

Truth and grace
Love and hope
Mercy and care
Clout and cash

4. In "The Little Drummer Boy," how does Baby Jesus react to the stylings of the impoverished percussionist?

He smiles
He nods and keeps time with the ox and lamb
He sleeps in heavenly peace
He weeps inconsolably because, like almost everybody else, he too hates "The Little Drummer Boy."

5. When the angels proclaim the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in "Angels We Have Heard on High," they sing, "Gloria, in excelsis Deo." This is Latin for:

Fa la la
Such a glorious day!
Gloria is with Mary in the stable
Glory to God in the highest

6. "Hannuka, Oh Hannuka" tells us to come light---

The Yule log
The menorah
The dreidl
The latkes

7. In "Carol of the Bells," what is it that the "sweet silver bells" seem to be saying?

Merry Christmas
Christ is born of Mary
Throw cares away
Let's eat!

8. "Up on the Housetop" contains a reference to Santa bringing several toys that would not pass muster with child-safety watchdog groups. Which of the following gifts is NOT mentioned in the song?

A whip
A hammer
An asbestos teddy bear

9. In "Jingle Bells," the singer says that one day he went out on the snow and fell on his back. A gentleman then came by in a one-horse open sleigh. What does he do?

He sings a song
He lifts the fallen man and carries him inside
He alights from his sleigh and falls down himself
He laughs and rides away

10. In "Winter Wonderland," the singers build a snowman, and pretend that he is Parson Brown. What is their answer when this fictional clergyman asks if they are married?

Oh, yes
No, man!
Get lost!
As if!

*Quiz taken from the Chicago Tribune.

Oh, and if anyone can enlighten me as to what a "rummy-tum-tum" is I will personally buy your ticket.