30 September 2011

A Conference Weekend

Thank Heavens it's Friday, and for more reasons than one! I am so excited for this weekend, as we approach the 181st Semiannual General Conference! Conference weekend is the best. Not only does "attending church" involve my pajamas and usually a yummy homemade breakfast, but I am able to listen to the prophet speak. I've already loved all the talks shared in the Relief Society broadcast last Saturday.

To gear up for conference I read this story from a BYU devotional by the prophet, President Thomas S Monson:

On one occasion many years ago, while visiting the Indianapolis Stake, I remember President Low, who was with Purdue University there, saying to me, “Brother Monson, would you like to come out to my home and stay with us Saturday evening, or would you prefer to forego the 40-mile drive and stay here with my counselor in Indianapolis?”

I responded, “Well, President Low, it’s late at night, and, if it’s all the same to you, I’ll stay with your counselor here in Indianapolis.”

The next morning President Low greeted me at eight o’clock and said, “Brother Monson, you made an inspired decision.”

I asked, “How’s that?”

“Well,” he replied, “we have a son away attending the university, and our anticipation was that we, of course, would have you occupy our bedroom on Saturday evening. But unknown to us and totally unexpectedly, our son returned home from school at two in the morning, came in the front door, walked up the stairs to our bedroom, turned on the light, and yelled, ‘Surprise!’ ”

I’m not certain who would have been more surprised on that occasion had I stayed with the stake president—the student or me! I think it’s rather a good thing we didn’t find out.

I most definitely laughed at my cubicle imagining that scene!

The only downside to this weekend is that we don't have BYUtv at home. Still, I think we're going to try out streaming live on the internet this year. I'll let you know how it goes. Enjoy your weekend!

28 September 2011

Willamette Valley Fruit Company - Salem

I forgot to mention that Stanley made one more stop with us on our trip to Salem, Oregon - the Willamette Valley Fruit Company, which is located in between Salem and Silverton. I had heard about WVF Co from my young women at church. They told me about the AMAZING hot chocolate and smoothie milkshakes. They also mentioned that the cafe has a happy hour where most everything on the menu is $1. From their drool and googlie eyes, I knew that I needed to sample these local delicacies. I drug Scott along with me... He was not dissapointed.

We ordered a Forest Berry pie Frostbite, which is basically a milkshake with a slice of pie jumbled up. We were given so many options of pie to choose from, but decided on Forest Berry because it included blueberries, blackberries, and boysenberries. Mmm! Can't pass that up! We also ordered a turkey bacon ranch panini.

All the food was so delicious Scott didn't even mind that I took this rather unflatering photo of him. He kept saying, "Who was the genius that decided to put pie in a milkshake?" I tried to tell him that Sammy's in Provo, UT had that menu item while we were living there, but he didn't believe me until his cousin confirmed.

Another reason to visit the Willamette Valley Fruit Company this Fall is for their corn maze and Harvest Festival. The maze and festival don't begin until October 1, but it looks to be a rare treat. WVF Co is partnering with Salem-Keizer Education Foundation and Marion-Polk Food Share to help promote the NO Hungry Child campaign. A worthy cause! They even designed their maze this year based on the campaign logo, which you can see on the WVF Co home page. If you're interested in attending and live nearby, I have a $1 off coupon that I received at their cafe. It's all yours since we have a HouseParty, the OSU v BYU game, and other weekend appointments in October!

26 September 2011

Flat Stanley Visits Oregon

Our young friend Natalie, aka Natto, sent Scott and I a letter from her elementary class in California asking if Flat Stanley could come and visit us in Lebanon. Flat Stanley's been around... in the blogosphere, but if you haven't heard of him before here's the rundown: in the book, Stanley becomes flat, and his family decides to send him to visit cousins around the states. I haven't read the book so I can't be very specific, but I understood that Flat Stanley wanted to visit the non-international Lebanon.

I also understood that I needed to provide clothes for Stan the man, as he came without. Tsk tsk. The day that I received the letter, I brought Stanley to work with me, and of course, he became a Beaver Fan. The great state of Oregon is, after all, nicknamed the Beaver state.

It was necessary to then take Stanley to the football stadium. There was a light drizzle so Stanley came prepared.

Wherever we went that week, Stanley went also. Stanley visited Scott at the newest medical school in Oregon...
We went to Salem because Scott needed to visit a Mens Wearhouse and can you believe there isn't one nearby?! There wasn't one in Salem either. We had to go up to Kaizer. While we were in Salem though, we tried to bring Stanley to the state capital building. I figured the elementary kids back in Cali would eat that stuff up... but we couldn't find the building! I was looking for a dome. We didn't realize we should have been looking for an angel?!

Flat Stanley returned in a business envelope back to school. We hope that there he gives rave reviews of Oregon, with all it's sheep and berries... and beavers.

23 September 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Sourdough Starter

Sourdough bread is delicious! This fact was not always plain to me. I never understood as a child why my parents would choose sourdough, or rye for that matter, over white bread. There is something incredibly comforting about white dinner rolls. I would like to say that it is scientifically proven that when you're younger you only use a few taste buds, but I've never heard that from a published source. It has only been my experience that children are very picky, because my brothers and I were very picky eaters. Over the years I began to appreciate new flavors.

Now that I'm an adult not only does sourdough bread taste fantastic, but the process of making sourdough fascinates me - to think that natural yeast exists and can be cultivated and fed to produce a leavening agent and new flavors in baking! I've thought about having a sourdough starter at home for awhile. My first inkling of the idea came when I bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The book explains about natural and store purchased yeast and how bread rises, as well as how to get that crispity crunch, like the European artisan bread, with very little effort. I highly recommend the book, though you could most definitely survive on just the basic recipe, or one page in the book. New sourdough ideas came after owning the book for awhile. My friend, Kami, posted that she was doing a sourdough class in Arizona.  I wish I could learn from someone experienced how to keep a starter and make that sour taste!

I am an impulse buyer at times, especially when items are already on my mind. This was most definitely the case when I found a San Francisco Sourdough Flakes packet at a local gardening supply store. I brought it home this summer when I was bored and looking for new hobbies, and it has been bubbling and emiting sour odors happily since then. I read internet articles about sourdough and researched recipes. I fed my sourdough starter every day, which involved removing one cup and adding in a half cup of bread flour and a half cup of warm water. Some times I would use that one cup I removed to bake beautiful loaves of bread or attempt sourdough pancakes.

Most of the time though, the cup I removed went down the drain, literally.
I starting thinking of ideas for how to more fully utilize the benefits of my sourdough starter. I could bake bread every day and give it to my neighbors.... but that would require a lot of baking time which I didn't have. I could take that cup removed and give it to my neighbor to start their own sourdough starter at home... but then all of Lebanon would be in my same predicament. My best idea - share it!

So I started a group - The Sisterhood of the Traveling Sourdough Starter. A group of medical school wives I'm friends with share calendar access to schedule a week with the sourdough starter in their home. These ladies can bake sourdough breads and waffles and pancakes to their hearts content for a week, and then pass it off to someone else to feed and enjoy. It's only been a few weeks, but so far I'd say it's working quite well! I've heard that everyone is enjoying yummy bread in their homes, and when I pass along the starter at the beginning of the next turn it's still bubbly and stinky. All good signs!

21 September 2011

Kitty Hunt

We're going on a kitty hunt.
Gonna catch a fat one.
I'm not afraid.

This girls scout song was going through my mind on Saturday when I called my mom in Southern California, and she told me they were going on a kitty hunt. A Californian safari,  of sorts. A few days ago my parents received a flier on their door saying that Jackson the cat had gone missing in their neighborhood. The owner was offering a $1000 reward.

Neither the cat part, nor the reward part really sounds like my parents cup of tea. I'm sure they just put the flier aside with a little laugh, thinking, "Poor Jackson needs his medication."

My parents frequently take walks in the evenings, and that particular evening they went walking around a university campus nearby. When they got to the fish pond, my parents were surprised to see Jackson, a big fat grey cat who had obviously found his food source. They recognized him from the flier and started to follow him. Jackson would run around the corner, and when my parents followed Jackson was waiting for them... only to run away again. Not only was Jackson full, but he wanted to play a little cat and mouse... where he was the mouse. My parents could never get close enough to nab the cat and return it to it's owner. So instead they gave the owner a call to verify Jackson's whereabouts.

That weekend, my parents had the grandgirlies over for a sleepover. They showed the girls the flier and the girls were more than excited to search for the cat the next morning, especially if there was a reward involved. So my parents made a game of it, and gave all the girls some cat food (Lucky Charms cereal) to nibble on and tempt the cat once they found him. They walked over to campus where my parents had last seen Jackson.

On their kitty hunt, Meghan, Mackenzie, and Casey found...
The fish pond where Jackson had been. There were turtles in the pond, but no kitty.

And a mushroom.

Sadly, they did not find Jackson on their kitty hunt. Though, was that really the point?

19 September 2011

Halloween House Party

Are you planning to throw a Halloween Party? HouseParty announced last week that they are offering a Monster Halloween HouseParty HouseParty... which means that it's a Halloween party to promote House Party as opposed to a sponsored product. I saw this announcement in my email last week and had to pass it on to all those who want to give their Halloween party a boost! I would probably have a Halloween party myself, except we've been accepted to host the Spin Master Board Game HouseParty on October 14! I'm so excited!!

Speaking of parties, today is my best friend, Maura's birthday! Happy Birthday!!

16 September 2011

Trilingual Home

Long ago when I was on study abroad in Paris, I attended church in the Versailles Branch with Maria Babin and her family. We loved attending the branch, walking past the chateau every morning on our walk from the RER. All the members were so welcoming to us students.

I recently discovered Maria's blog about life in France and her video from mormon.org about her trilingual family. Loved the flashback from my time in Paris! Take a look!

14 September 2011

Touchdown, Scott Chandler!

If there has ever been one thing my husband has wanted me to blog about, it is the two touchdown passes "he" received this last Sunday.

He tried, without adequate words, to describe the joy of hearing his name announced on national television as having successfully completed two touchdowns. His smile would not stop!

His favorite lines that night as he talked with family:

"I have a secret to admit... I'm not really in med school. I've been playing with the NFL for a couple of years, and I just couldn't keep it silent any more."

"I was on fire tonight!"

"Do you think my friends from high school will think I made it in the NFL?"

"Another touchdown by Scott Chandler!"

Scott is the proud owner of Scott Chandler's college card because his good friend, Doug, once gifted it to him. Unfortunately, Scott was not fast enough to pick "himself" up in Fantasy football after this week's scores. His uncle commented after the trade, "I know that you will serve me well."

12 September 2011

Couponing in Small Town Oregon

When we decided to move to Oregon for medical school I remember bragging to friends that our small town in Oregon would likely have very few coupners. I was so excited to rake up all the savings and have full shelves of products on promotion to choose from. I think I was also imagining a native coupon tree where I could freely grab local newspaper inserts on Monday.

Upon arrival this summer, I staked out my favorite coupon spots and searched for Oregon and Pacific Northwest couponing resources. As far as couponing goes Lebanon, Oregon is home to a Rite Aid, Walgreens, Safeway, Bi-Mart, Mega Foods, and Walmart as well as mom and pop stores. Oh, and an Ace Hardware. It was on my first couponing trip that all of my tiny Oregon town couponing dreams were crushed. It was Monday at a pharmacy, the shelves with promotional items were bare, and there was a lady standing next to me with the same coupon in hand.

I have come to discover that there are MANY couponers in small town Oregon. In fact, I even went to a garage sale one summer day where all the items being sold had been bought (or more likely were free) with coupons. The gall!

My coupon tree didn't exist either.Our local library receives a few daily newspaper subscriptions and has a bin for all the newspaper ads. I was so excited to discover this, but then shortly thereafter found that if I came after noon on a Monday that the inserts were gone. There are others who knew about the library resource as well. Newspaper subscriptions seem tricky for our situation. We live in a large apartment complex 15 miles from the nearest printed newspaper and 60+ miles from the nearest major printed newspaper. I don't really trust an accurate delivery, and newspaper coupons are where it's at!

Here are the best resources I have found for couponing in Oregon:

The Krazy Coupon Lady - These ladies post nation wide deals, and what I love most about their posts is their method for letting you know when there's a good deal!

Frugal Living NW - There are specific deals for Northwest stores that vary from nationwide circulars. This blog will keep you updated on those.

The Frugal Find - I use this blog for their coupon database and Winco updates. We do have a winco in Corvallis, which can be a convenient errand after work. I have yet to find a good resource for any grocery store besides Safeway or Winco.

The Oregonian - I've heard this is your best resources for coupon inserts in the Portland area. We have a local newspaper, but often the inserts are a bit on the slim side.

MyPoints.com - I use my MyPoints account to download available coupons from Coupons.com or Smartsource. All the same coupons area available through MyPoints and I receive points towards rewards by using the MyPoints printouts.

Though my utopia of small town quiet couponing was dashed, I still occassionally have some "Free" time!

The other day I bought three individual bottles of Simply juice and a Diet Coke  for 2 cents at Walgreens! It would have been free or better except for Oregon's bottle cap tax, but I'm not complaining!

09 September 2011

Dancing Oaks Nursery - Monmouth

One day at work a VP from the Foundation came up to me cube to tell me he had found my blog. Ah! Sometimes I forget that my blog is traceable, even though I purposefully made it that way to share information. In any case, he recommended a few places he knew in the area that were "blog worthy." One of which was the Dancing Oaks Nursery in Monmouth, Oregon.

We decided to bring our friend's the Nelsons to Monmouth with us for a blogging tour with Burgerville's birthday and nursery visit.  The town of Monmouth is not large at all, but the city limits spread out a bit, which we discovered when driving out to Dancing Oaks. The long roads surrounded by hay fields seemed never ending, and I was sure I was leading my husband to the middle of nowhere for blogging's sake. But finally we found the private road of the nursery and drove up over a mountain and into a hidden valley. Even then, when we arrived at the clearly marked nursery, we felt a bit like we had intruded on someone's home.

Dancing Oaks is a large garden set around a beautiful cabin, which is rented out to guests. It was an adventure even finding where the business part of the "nursery" began. We finally found the store front and were directed to some of the tourist attractions in the garden...

Like the giant leaves (thanks for posing, Chase!)...

and Jurassic Park

It was a beautiful garden, but I would say you'd have to be pretty passionate about plants to drive all the way out to Dancing Oaks. Luckily the Nelson's were there and my husband was feeling adventurous. They made a game of pronouncing the scientific names of plants and commented on how that must have been the inspiration for Harry Potter spells.

07 September 2011

A Burgerville Celebration

Happy 50th Birthday, Burgerville! Back in May, during my first visit to Burgerville, I saw a flyer announcing where and when Burgerville would be holding birthday parties. By coincidence, Scott's birthday will be the same day as the Albany, Oregon Burgerville party and I had had big plans to celebrate both birthdays together. Of course, I realized that was rather selfish of me AND it so happens that Scott will be out of town that day. So change of plans!

I quickly figured out where the next nearest Burgerville was located - Monmouth!

The retro menu with 1961 pricing was not as tasty as we had hoped, especially when we brought friends to introduce to Burgerville. We had fun, all the same! And now we can do something a bit more special than onion rings for Scott on his birthday.

05 September 2011


We were able to spend a day and a half with Scott's family in Prineville as part of their yearly reunion to the reservoir. Scott and I had tentatively planned to go that weekend, but we were unsure if Scott would be able to get enough studying done ahead of time to justify the trip. He has been studying non-stop, and as an anatomy facilitator he sometimes feels like he never gets a chance to study ahead for himself. The week of the reunion Scott assured me that he would be able to get plenty of study time during the family trip by giving physicals to all his cousins, aunts, and uncles. As you can imagine, that didn't happen.

Instead, Scott successfully got up on the wakeboard. He was gone from dawn until dusk on the water. I was worried he would never come back to eat! In lieu of study time, Scott named all the muscles that ached from his boating adventures. After the winding drove home we both collapsed in bed from fatigue. What a great Saturday in the sun! We were mostly sad not to have more time to play with the fam!

02 September 2011

Failure, Imagination, and Harry Potter

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's 2008 Harvard Commencement address | Harvard Magazine

"We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already." - J.K. Rowling @ Harvard.

My mother often sends me links to articles and videos. This one must have come from her, and of course I opened the link just after viewing the last of the movie series in the theater. J.K. Rowling would be happy to know that her words were remembered at least one more time by myself. Her commencement speech, given in 2008, was added to my inspiration list.