Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cattle Ranch

My parents' friends invited our family to spend time at their ranch on Saturday. My mom treated us to one of her yummy soup lunches and then we put on our mud boots and drove out to Utah lake. We loaded onto a hay trailer and a tractor pulled us out to the fields. The hundreds of cattle immediately started running after us and eating the bales of hay that we were sitting on! It was pretty wild.

After feeding and chasing the cattle, we were introduced to calf #571 who was born that very morning.
Back at the cabin, they served us hot chocolate and cookies and sent us home with some fresh eggs. My kids loved every minute of it and didn't want to leave. The ranch owners invited us to come back in the spring - we'll look forward to it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Good Read

I just posted a review of this book on Desperate For a Good Read. This is one book in the charming, funny, easy to read series - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I have read a few books from the series - the first one being my favorite. But I enjoyed The Full Cupboard of Life and was happy to be back in the world of Mma Ramatswe and her simple life in Botswana.

An Interesting Link

C Jane readers may have already seen this article but I thought it was interesting.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wendover Whilrwind

Wes got a lucky last minute invitation to go see Styx in concert Saturday night. He and two friends drove to Wendover for some quick dinner and the show. The coolest thing is that one of his friends (who writes concert reviews for a living - awesome!) is on a first name basis with the band members so after the concert they got to go backstage and meet them. Here is a really fuzzy photo of Wes and T0mmy Shaw - the lead singer. Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whoo's in the Food Chain?

These two joined together to do their science fair project. Their title: "Whoo's in the Food Chain? Discovering the Diet of the Barn Owl." They dissected barn owl pellets (which can be ordered online) which, for those who have not done that before, is no easy task. These pellets are densely packed with bones, teeth, fur, and feathers from the small animals that are prey to the owls. They each dissected 5 pellets and then tried the best they could to identify which animal the bones came from - primarily the skulls. They determined that shrews and mice are the most popular animal in the diet of the barn owl. They did a fantastic job and got an honorable mention award.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rhubarb Slush

My Aunt Vivian passed away on Valentine's Day. Today was her funeral. It was wonderful to see the extended family again. And to hear the many stories and memories of this sweet woman. I remember her mostly from the Memorial Day family get-togethers. After decorating the graves, we would all go to her home for a brunch. And this brunch always included their homemade rhubarb slush. Interestingly, our good friends Susannah and Nathan bought this same home about a year ago. I told them about the rhubarb slush and they had second thoughts about tearing out the rhubarb plants in the yard. They thought they should probably get that recipe and continue the tradition. Susannah even came to the funeral today. So thoughtful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

20/300? Not Anymore!

There is one major difference between these two pictures of my nightstand.
Can you tell what it is?

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Baby Turned Two!

The big celebration is still to come but of course we had to have cake and candles for the kids' sake. SJ didn't care about the cake - all she wanted to do was blow out the candles over and over again.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Seeing the Eagles Wasn't Our First Priority

Saturday morning we were able to do something very exciting. We were able to meet up with an excursion from the Bean Museum at Farmington Bay. They were there to observe the 50 something bald eagles that sit on the ice of the Great Salt Lake to catch fish or to steal fish from the gulls. As I have posted about before, we are really into birds and birdwatching. So going to see the eagles would have been reason enough for us to get up at 7 am on a Saturday morning, bundle up our kids and drive 1 hour to the icy lake. But there was something else about this trip that was even more of an attraction for us. This excursion was being led by Merrill Webb - one of our favorite people. He was our teacher for both physiology and zoology in high school. And it was in part due to our experiences with him that inspired both of us to pursue a future in medicine. He was an excellent teacher. He had the ability to instill in his students an excitement about science and nature and a desire to learn. There was just something about his teaching style that motivated students to do well - to share in his own love for the subjects he taught. And he had a sincere interest in his students and was just as pleased as they were when they accomplished something. Especially when it came to birds. If one of his students spotted a neat bird - he would enthusiastically say, "Good eye Spencer!" (or whatever their last name was). We still quote him to this day when our kids spot something cool.
We arrived to find the group already settled with their scopes in place - spotting an eagle eating a fish, or on the two different species of gulls, or on the tundra swan. And there was Mr. Webb - recognizing us immediately (amazing memory!) and asking about my brothers and my parents. We took a minute to catch up and we were thrilled to hear that he is still teaching. Not at our high school - but at a charter school. There was a tinge of disappointment in his eyes when he told us that he teaches a required general biology course. Of course - the excitement and interest wouldn't be there for the students taking a required science class. If they only knew what an amazing teacher he is and his wealth of knowledge to share! So we spent the next hour or so watching the eagles, sharing memories of zoology field trips, and catching up with other high school friends that came(who were there to see Mr. Webb, I'm sure).

Mr. Webb had a great idea - a zoology reunion - for anyone who took the class! We jumped on that idea and hopefully with Katy Knight in charge - we can organize something someday.
It was such a great experience - seeing the eagles and Mr. Webb. It doesn't get much better than that!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Duck Sauce as art? You decide.

I continue to hold fast to the knowledge that the BYU Museum of Art is a gem. I guess I am a little biased because I worked in their education department during college - and I love how familiar it feels when I go back. And I never seem to lose interest in their permanent collection: 150 years of American Painting.

But I was again impressed this last Friday evening when we went as a family to see the Dan Steinhilber exhibit. Here is the description from the museum website: Dan Steinhilber creates sculptures and installations with familiar materials ranging from soda, Styrofoam peanuts, duck sauce packets, and drycleaner hangers to electric blowers, disposable containers, garage door openers, and plastic tubes. Steinhilber explores light, form, social tensions and everyday experience. I am sure the kids thought of this as just crazy and fun instead of an art experience - but either way - we really liked it. I don't want to describe it in too much detail because the exhibit is small and I don't want to give anything away. But I will share a small tidbit of top secret information Wes discovered that will eliminate some waiting for impatient children. In the room with the peanuts - there is something behind the screen that will make something happen. That's all I'm going to say.

And no, the gift shop is not selling bottles of soda pop. Look closer.

And since the exhibit is so small - don't deprive yourself or your children of seeing the other exhibits and permanent collections.

And it's free!

Friday, February 6, 2009


We have been called to be a Ma and Pa for our stake's upcoming pioneer trek. I have vague memories of when I went on trek when I was 16 years old. Beef broth and a roll for dinner, the women's pull, cooking a turkey over the campfire, and just memories of it being very hard! My sister claims that when she went on trek they had to chase, kill, and pluck their turkeys! Well, times have changed and from what I hear - this trek will be relatively tolerable - especially when it comes to food (sack lunches on a pioneer trek? Whoever heard of such a thing?). But don't get me wrong - I did not sign up for this hoping it would be easy or that we would be well-fed. I know it will be a growing experience mentally, emotionally and spiritually for me and for Wes - and for us as husband and wife. But to be honest I am a little nervous. I need help!
First, I would like to prepare by reading about the Willie and Martin handcart companies. Does anyone have any good recommendations? Or any other reading material about experiences on the trail to Zion? I know there are stories from my own ancestors. Mom? Help?
Second, I need ideas. I am not positive yet what my responsibilities will be as a Ma but I am pretty sure it will involve family home evenings and skits (trying to keep a good attitude about that one) and other activities to help make the trek meaningful to the youth. So all you youth leaders out there - lend a hand! I have never served in mutual and I can't just depend on Weston's scout camp experiences .
Email me if it would be easier.
Much appreciated!!
painting by Cloy Kent

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time to Finish the Basement

Slowly but surely we are making progress on our list of home improvement projects. The basement is next. Last week we cleaned out the basement so the work could begin. But in the meantime the kids (and Wes) have had a blast riding bikes, scooters and the rip stick in the open space. Here are some "before" pictures and I will continue to post updates.

All of the basement junk had to be crammed in the bedroom that's already finished.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A New Dining Option

Allow me to do something I've always wanted to do...write a restaurant review.

We went with some friends on Saturday night to try this new restaurant in Provo: Spark Restaurant Lounge. It's only been open since October and has already changed chefs and menus once but we all agreed - we hoped this place is here to stay. It's a little unexpected - kind of out of place - but certainly a breath of fresh air in Utah county's world of chain restaurants (excepting Pizzeria 7 12 of course). I read a bunch of reviews before we went and a few poo-pooed the place as nothing but a wanna-be. However, most people gave rave reviews of the drinks, food, service and uniqueness. I was looking forward to trying something new!

And when I say "drinks" I am referring to something else a little different about this place. It is entirely non-alcoholic and instead offers quite a large selection of virgin "mocktails." It is obvious that these "drinks" are their specialty and something they want to be recognized for. Afterall - they are open till the wee hours and the word "lounge" is in their title. I must admit it felt a little strange watching my friend drink a non-alcoholic apple martini out of a martini glass with sugar on the rim with a chunk of apple on a toothpick to look like an olive. Huh? And they actually sell grape juice from a winery in California by the bottle! But we just rolled with it and my mango mojito was so yummy I slurped it up before I hit the main course. Next time I want to try the shirley temple with a dollop of cotton candy on top!

Similar to their drink offerings and their chic and modern decor, their menu is unique. For an appetizer, Wes and I shared the roasted cauliflower soup with almond froth. It may have been a tince (my made-up word) too salty but still very enjoyable. Our friends ordered the dueling edamame - a tasty sweet and salty, hot and cold version of this healthy treat and some sort of tuna sushi roll. I didn't pay too much attention to that because I don't like sushi but he said it was pretty good.

The rest of the meal continued to surprise and impress. Not only was the food delicious - but it was presented beautifully. For salads Wes had the mixed greens and I had the frisee with apples, pomegranate seeds and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Delightful. For our main course, Wes ordered a skirt steak that literally fell apart it was so tender. My short rib was not so tender when I cut into it, but it melted in my mouth. It was served with spinach over a creamy potato risotto. Hungry yet? And finally, my friend's salmon was flaky and tender and had a nice flavor. And we were pleased with portion sizes that we could manage and still have room for one of their desserts.

Not to be outdone, their unique desserts were equally delicious and beautiful to the rest of the meal - if not more so. The husbands had the deep fried chocolate with orange coriander ice cream and the wives had the roasted pineapple with pine nut shortbread, toasted coconut gelato, and a ribbon of passion fruit curd. The memories are making my mouth water! (cell phone picture does not do it justice)

Unfortunately the place was not as busy as we would have expected. It did start to liven up as the evening progressed and groups of single adults came into the lounge area for drinks and desserts. It was all a little surreal and we had to keep reminding ourselves we were still going to walk out onto University Avenue. But it was a very enjoyable evening and I would recommend the place to anyone who likes to eat out and try something new!

I couldn't find a website to refer you to - weird! But here's some info:

Open for lunch and dinner (and late for drinks, appetizers and desserts)
Kid friendly - NO
Reservations - YES
Dress - casual
Drinks - $3 and up
Appetizers and salads - $5 - 8
Main dish - $14 - 20
Dessert - $5-8 (?)