28 December 2009

Casey Breaks the Silence

Yesterday my favoritism decision was confirmed. We were sitting in Sacrament Meeting at church and the prayer had just been said on the bread. The chapel was completely silent when from the very back pew we heard the loudest belch ever to come from the lips of a babe. Matt described it as comparable to the MGM lion. Yes, Casey burped so loud that even Mackenzie her older sister could not believe it. She turned to me and asked, "Who WAS that?!" As you can imagine there were a few giggles from the congregation, but mostly from our family.

As the meeting went on, I bent over to have Scott scratch my back. Who should join in on the scratching... Casey! And she's pretty good at it too for a one year old. The loveable Casey was also the highlight of Relief Society, distracting all the ladies with her twirls in the middle of the room that no one could pay attention when Camille Call tried to lead the practice hymn.

Casey returned home for a nap after church with her new boyfriend, Eric, the barbie doll rendition of the prince from The Little Mermaid.

Happy Birthday to Sam today!

26 December 2009

Bonding with the Sitkanese

"oh dear!" says Scott, when he sees this title. That's because he knows that I am going to include a picture of him in this post where he is partially clothed. So fair warning ladies (or Steve Chandler), if you wish to avert your eyes, the aforementioned picture will be at the end of this post. But first you must indulge me as I review our trip so far...

On Sunday we looked at the weather for our drive to Sacramento. We had to drive to Sacramento in order to fly Alaska Airlines to Sitka for Christmas. This is quite convenient as our return trip will allow us to spend New Years with Scott's family. Both families in not one, but two holiday breaks = perfect planning and no family feuds due to sharing. But I digress... the weather outlook for the drive wasn't pretty. Sunday was probably the best day to leave but we both had to stay for work, especially since BYU was monitoring my hours closely this vacation. Monday the storm was moving from the coast inland, and Tuesday, the day we were planning to leave, the snow was going to be upon us and the pass would be clearing up. We decided to leave Tuesday anyway and were lucky to only have poor conditions through Wendover. We flew to Alaska on Wednesday morning, thanks to Robby Bush who gave us a ride to the airport, even though we only woke up five minutes before he came to pick us up.

It is so fun for me to be home again. In Sitka almost everyone knows who I am and vice versa. A lot of people even know who Scott is too, but not vice versa. Scott was taken aback when, at a Christmas party, someone mentioned that they still have a picture of him on their fridge. Of course, I'm sure they meant our Thank You card from our wedding (which is timeless, btw). They didn't say that though... a picture of Scott. Maybe they cut me out? Well to that person, you may really enjoy the picture at the end of this post ;)

All of my family came up to celebrate Christmas this year in Sitka, as it is possibly the last Christmas we will have the opportunity to spend in Alaska. My parents are retiring this coming summer and contemplating a move to the lower 48 to be nearer to grandchildren. We were able to take a family picture during this momentus occasion. Unlike The Kartchners, our family is best captured only during the gag pictures.

Speaking of grandkiddos, my nieces are adorable. Meghan has acquired a Southern accent from living in North Carolina for a year. She keeps saying things like, "Aye caan make tha behad masaellf, Naahna" Translation - I can make the bed myself, Nana. Or "Aye maaye woant to borrowe thaet cuup" Translation - I may want to borrow that cup. It sounds cuter in person. Mackenzie has decided to fight for the title of drama queen, an award that Meghan held as a seasoned champion up until recently. Casey on the other hand is adorable and possibly my new favorite, if I'm allowed to have a favorite Cavanaugh niece.

First of all, she naturally has a hair do like my sexy cut and doesn't even need to try at it! She has a bottomless stomach, like I sometimes have. And she likes to make random poses and only changes her pose when someone notices. She and I are destined bosom buddies.

Today we took the girls to the Hames PE center in Sitka to swim. Scott played basketball while we swam. In fact, this is around the time when I explain the picture. When we went to the gym, we saw a poster saying that there are Saturday pick up bball games between 5 30 and 7 00 pm. This is exactly what would make Scott's Christmas vacation to Sitka a success. So he scoped it out and decided to pay the cover charge to enter the weekend tourney. They started out with only a few guys, so they decided to play shirts and skins. As you can imagine, this is a once in a post missionary lifetime opportunity for Scott to play skins, and so he did.

WARNING: here comes the picture. Scott finished the competitive games this evening and said to me, "I feel one with the people of Sitka now. I could live here." I'm glad, honey, that taking your shirt off with the young men of Mt. Edgecomb boarding school helped you to connect more to my roots. He'll feel much more at ease downtown, now that he's played some ball with the locals.

Sorry, it had to be documented. Merry Christmas from Alaska!

19 December 2009

Hillbilly Christmas

You would think that in this economy my BYU department would not be having multiple Christmas parties... but oh, yes! We did. There was one party at the beginning of the week with light refreshments for people to mingle during work hours, one party with a fancy catered dinner for current employees and retirees and spouses where people get all dressed up in fancy sparkly things, and one lunch party with a "Hillbilly" theme. How in the world do you throw a Hillbilly Christmas party?

Let me tell you, the people of BYU Counseling and Career Center know how it's done. There was a backyard gift exchange, grub...
... a watering hole, and a wall with pictures to demonstrate "You know you're a redneck if...". Prizes were given for the worst wrapping job, so I made an attempt. Of course, I have almost zero ounces of redneck inside of me (more like 50% Alaskan relaxin'). So my present turned out more like Redneck chique, but I still won second place.
Your holiday meal on wheels (aka roadkill and a part of my white elephant gift to give)
I lost to the gift wrapped in a trash bag and bandaids for tape.
Jason picked my duct taped gift and was unsuccessful in trading it. Mwwaahaha!

We ate Hawaiian haystacks and had our White Elephant gift exchange complete with Rock, Paper, Scissors challenges. I had heard rumors that the psychologists in our department could get a little risqué with this part of the event; but the only scandals I noticed were in the intern skit, and that could be ignored. Overall the Hillbilly Christmas was creative, enjoyable, and I'm walking away with an interesting gift - someone's left over law fair swag. Gotta love my job for the swag!

18 December 2009

Holiday Recipe: Cheddar Bacon Cheese Ball

As a treat to share with Scott and my work colleagues this year, I made cheddar/bacon cheese balls. Everyone LOVED them and I have to admit, it tasted awesome. People kept telling me how impressed they were that I made a homemade cheese ball. Well let me tell you a secret, *it is one of the easiest things to make and the ROI is huge!

I am a firm believer that there should be more cheese balls in this world, so dazzle your friends and family at your next holiday gathering and whip up this recipe:

1 box of cream cheese
a few cups of sharp cheddar cheese
a sprinkle (or SEVEN!) of packaged bacon bits

Set the cream cheese out on your counter for a few minutes before starting so it warms enough to be mixable. Once it's ready, empty the cream cheese packet into your handy dandy stand mixer with paddle attachment, and start your engines! As the cream cheese is mixing, add your cheddar cheese.

You may not be a fan of the sharper cheese taste on it's own, but the cream cheese mellows it out. For me, the sharper the cheese, the more I'm in love with it! Tillamook is my favorite brand. (Go west coast!) So for this cheese ball I try to get the best flavors so you can taste the cheddar-goodness in the cheese ball.

Then, while the mixer is still going, sprinkle in bacon bits to your hearts content. I also LOVE bacon. It makes everything taste better. Without bacon we wouldn't even know what a water chestnut is! (Jim Gaffigan)

When the cheddar and bacon are thoroughly mixed into the cream cheese, put the mixture in a bowl, cover, and let it cool in your refrigerater. It's easier to make the ball shape if the mixture cools a little first. Then when you're ready to eat, take the mixture out, ball it up, and roll it in pecans (if desired, makes it look extra fancy).

That's it! The KitchenAid really did all the work for me. I got three medium sized balls out of this recipe - one for Scott's work, one for my work, and one for my mouth!

I'll probably make this recipe again when we have our DIGIORNO House Party. Just yesterday I found out that I was accepted as a finalist to throw the party. This will be my first house party ever and I am excited to make it fabulous! Of course, there will be photos and maybe video to share in blog world after the event. This gives me something to look forward to for after the holiday season.

14 December 2009

Laughing Like a Little Girl

Want to hear Scott laugh like a little girl? Try watching Swanson's new Christmas Commercial with him. It's contagious!

This particular YouTube clip is missing the last naked-turkey-in-the-shopping-cart bit, at which Scott laughs heartily. Besides the hilarity of a headless running turkey, I'm fairly impressed with this actress' curious eye brow raise. I would guess that that sweet skill won her the role as Woman Shopper who should be buying Swanson without msg.

Merry Christmas from the Chandlers!

11 December 2009

That’s Disgusting Google!

Any of you use iGoogle on your daily internet perusing? I almost like it as much as I love Smashing Magazine Monthly Desktop Wallpapers. iGoogle allows me to add my own theme (currently Food Networks, 12 Days of Cookies) and a myriad of gadgets to make my day more exciting. I love the themes that change when you leave Google for awhile and then come back, like Google’s Asian Fox Tea House. With Gadgets, at a single click of the mouse I can see my email inbox in condensed form, a new Word-of-the-Day, the weather and time, and even be like a virtual Josh and Chelsea and keep track of a “pet turtle” on my iGoogle. Not quite as cool as Franklin the tortoise, but Scott can have his Donatello.

Well, about a month ago I decided I needed to update my work computer by adding a festive Thanksgiving desktop wallpaper from Smashing and a new iGoogle theme. I clicked on the hyperlink to change my theme, and the most popular themes came up first. To my shock, in the middle of the usual Google pop-up of themes was photo of a woman in the nude covering herself with her hands. Sitting amongst my coworkers on the honor code campus of BYU, I quickly changed my screen. How embarrassing! I don’t want anyone to think I am purposefully looking at porn EVER, much less at work. That is definitely a personal violation, AND violation of company policy as an employee. I’m surprised BYU internet would even let an image like that pass through. Sure there are a billion pornographic images on the internet; in fact it is unfortunately one of the most profitable internet industries and often on the top search topic list, but I was not expecting nor did I want to see pornography on my iGoogle.

As I considered how I should navigate iGoogle themes without having to again encounter this woman in need of clothes, I realized the implications of this theme. How many other average American employees are changing their iGoogle this very second and violating company policy by accident? How many thousands of children look at iGoogle, and click on that link to change their theme? No one should be forced to unknowingly pull-up and view pornography, especially children. I was disappointed in Google for allowing this theme to be published, and thought much less of the company for having placed it on the home page where there is no choice to censor.

I became determined to write about it. Google should know that they violated my rights and that my opinion is not as positive as it once was. Not many had commented on the theme when I wrote my comment, so I added my meager voice to those who had already spoken against the home page appearance and hoped that Google would make a change in their policy.

Today I decided to change my iGoogle theme again, and again I was disappointed and disturbed by woman without wearings. I decided to check on my comment to see if Google had responded, or if it was deleted. It was not deleted, but rather followed up by many new comment threads most of which were not in conjunction with my thoughts on the theme. One person told me to get a life. One person called me a Boob and said “of all the wrong, misery, evil, and pain in the world, you want to complain about the side of a breast?” Another added a comment, “its not like kids dont see a lot of nudity. i am sher thay see it all the time. And posting bad comments about it is not going to do anything. And kids will see nudity eventually.”

Now I’m disappointed in Google AND the world! Who’s teaching literacy in America?! And more importantly, why don’t we consider pornography to be among all the wrong and evil in the world when the addiction to pornography can “undermine social stability.” Why is the world okay with exposing the next generation to pornography at an early age, because “they’ll see it eventually”; risking their distortion of relationships and family, and the addiction and violence that is likely to ensue?

In conclusion, one of the most recent commenters said that only non-good looking people would make a comment like mine. To that commenter I’d like to say

Take That!
WoRk IT!


Obviously these commenters don’t have their facts straight.

09 December 2009

Obama's Promise of Peace

We all know how I love to blog about Obama issues! Well two news stories hit the stands recently where I have strong opinions. Of course it becomes necessary to blog out my feelings. These thoughts primarily come from my background in business and global issues (Thanks, Ms. Will) - so if you've read my Obama or business blogs before and didn't enjoy them, I forgive you if you stop reading now.

As part of the festive holiday season, where wishes for world peace are more meaningful than the trivial answers of spring beauty pageant contestants, and powerfully sung in our favorite Amy Grant Christmas melodies, Obama has given some speeches and is preparing to receive an award for what he hopes will be a plan to bring peace to our nation, and subsequently the world. There has been much criticism around Obama’s plans, especially since there hasn’t been much in the way of results or action yet. I would like to add to that criticism my yays and nays.

Let’s start with what I don’t like… the Auto Bailout.

Saying this will put me on the naughty list of the 240,000 people in Detroit that could lose their jobs, but I think the auto industry of the United States should be left to their own demise. How much money has the government already put into domestic automobile manufacturers that has, in essence, been wasted considering that the companies still need billions more? Hypothetical question for which CNN has a prediction - $130 BILLION! Um, yeah... not worth it.

In my opinion, a primary reason why our economy remains in such a struggle is because we are not letting capitalism do its proper work. If our cars and gas guzzling trucks and SUVs cannot compete with the technology and consumer image of foreign cars, why are we still trying to pump out the same ol’? The market is telling GM that it wants something different. Sure, GM has tried new tricks to captivate an audience, and has used tax payers money in the attempt, but we still see the company asking for more bail.

My solution – let entrepreneurs redefine the domestic auto industry and energy crises. Keep only what works, and if you can’t do that without getting rid of the junk, toss it out all together and start over. History is history, and the United States can, in the future, be known for manufacturing something new and innovative. There will be temporary unemployment and a need for shifting skill sets, but in the end we as a country will be more educated and better off for the trade.

Now for my mixed peace feelings – Obama’s getting a Nobel Peace Prize, already?

Even Obama admits that he hasn't really done anything to deserve an award for peace based solely on a speech given to military cadets. However, the words he delivered were well spoken and in need of being said. Obama announced at West Point that he is increasing the number of troops to Afghanistan in order to promote peace, finish what Bush started, and help the healing in a war torn nation. Afghanistan has been left in ruins after our destructions, battles from other countries, and internal violence. The country has little left in the form of government, citizens live in fear, and amongst this fear and deteriorated infrastructure survives a hidden terrorist band that’s main reason for existence is to destroy the United States.

With this problem before us, Obama suggests sending 30,000 troops more to Afghanistan for 18 months to help reconcile the nation.

Here in lies the peace plan conundrum: I am a firm believer that wars should only be fought for the reasons of protecting family, home, and freedoms. In these battles, if you are on the winning side, you are responsible to help rebuild what you have torn down. Otherwise, if you wage war only to return triumphant and gloating, you leave the destruction to fester the same problems you fought against in the first place. (Is that cryptic enough?) Basically, we began the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect our freedoms and family (good reasons), and while we don’t want to prolong our presence there, we need to make sure we stick it through to the end. This means helping to establish order again. (I’m not suggesting democracy, just order in a peaceable form.)

Though I am the sister of an Airman in reserve, and I certainly don’t want to see any more deaths of U.S. soldiers; I respect the battles that were fought to protect us and my greatest desire is to never fight them again.

So here I go, adding “world peace” to my Christmas wish list. While I’m not so sure that means more Ford Fusions, I agree with Obama that in order to achieve, or even come close to obtaining some measure of peace, it means a little more time in the trenches.

07 December 2009

Where's my creativity?!

My friend Stacy invited me to go with her and her sons to the Festival of Trees this last weekend in Salt Lake City. Her sister and niece were performing in dance groups at the festival, and she had an extra ticket, which was lucky for me. I hadn't ever been before, so I no idea that the festival meant extraordinary genius and charity from people in the Salt Lake area towards the Primary Children's Hospital (sponsors of the event).

There were over 800 themed Christmas trees decorated and donated to this weekend's event, as well as quilts, gingerbread houses, and wreaths. As I walked through the never-ending aisle ways of trees, my only thought was "Why am I not this creative?!" One thing I discovered, was that the newest Christmas tree topper trend is curly cue wire, FYI. I took pictures of some of my favorite trees, or trees that reminded me of friends and family, because the only way I could EVER produce this sort of creativity is to copy someone else's ideas.

And before I show you my favorite trees of the tour, I have to give major props to the giving people of Utah. We visited the boutique that is part of the Festival of Trees, which was filled with every type of craft and quilt you could imagine. When I asked the boutique worker about the hundreds of quilts we were ogling, she mentioned that everything sold at the Festival of Trees boutique was donated! AMAZING!

And now for my favorite trees...

Nightmare before Christmas - Upside Down Tree!
Mooo-y Christmas
All Sports Christmas

John Deere Of course!

Can't have Christmas without Dr. Seuss' Grinch

Children's book classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar

And, my all time favorite of the day - the Fanciest Nancy Tree
(the purple boa wrap, Paris ornaments, and curly cue top help make this one the winner in my mind)

My love for themed Christmas trees has been confirmed! I've been thinking that I might do one for a few years now. I was contemplating a Colts tree for Scott this year, since Austin Collie just joined his favorite team. But my idea of "themed" never gets as detailed or magnificent as those above. I have some big stockings to fill when it comes to decorating!

Have you ever done a themed tree?

02 December 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

Well it was a fast move and we survived! The weekend after we heard about the open apartment in our Relief Society President's basement, we moved in! Our home teacher was nice enough to gather together some of our great ward buddies with trucks and trailers (not that we own many large amenities), and "the men" moved one big load to our new place in less than one hour. We then made small loads in the Matrix, getting all of our possession from our previous apartment and into our new apartment by Saturday night.

I made one last stop to our apartment to gather our laundry (our new apartment is being furnished with a new washer/dryer this week... and until then we are dirty) and any last little nic-naks left over. As I folded our whites in our old closet of a bathroom, I heard a noise that had become more common in our old place...yelling in Spanish. This time it was out on the front lawn, and I'm not going to lie, I was imagining what kind of weapons could be whipped out at any moment in this obviously domestic dispute. This image was not based on precedence, but prejudice... I admit. Needless to say, I tried hard not to draw attention to myself until one apartment door was slammed and a car was heard screeching out of the parking lot. I then quickly packed every last crumb we owned into my car, and haven't returned since. We were able to get our furniture set-up and some decorations on the wall before leaving for our family filled Thanksgiving.

I got some Christmas decorations up when we got back from Thanksgiving.

Scott is really proud of our Family is Everything wall which he arranged, ALL by HIMSELF!

Thanksgiving was a TON of fun! The Alaskan parentals came to Sacramento to check out the area for potential retirement communities. They want to live near the Princess (that's me, if you haven't seen my tiara). And since Scott and I will most likely end up around the great city of trees, home of the Governator, my island parents decided they needed to research the radius. We drove around Apple Hill and Old Auburn, after my parents had already visited more northern cities like Redding.

We also made a dizzying tour down the windy road to Cool. I don't recommend the trip if you get car sick or fall asleep in cars, because if you blink at any point, you may just miss the city of Cool. Fortunately, my dad the driver kept his eyes open and stopped for me to take this most awesome picture.

Pretty sure you can see the other edge of Cool at the back of this picture.

The vacation was great! It was probably the first Thanksgiving I've had with my parents since high school. Turkey was amazing, as was the ham, pomegranate salad, rolls, cheescake, pie... the list goes on. I got much needed rest and now we are home again to work and finish out the semester.

Can't wait for Christmas!

Hey, and how do you like my new Christmasy blog theme? It was overdue for an update.