Dear Sisters

Dear Sisters
Highland 12th Ward Sisters

Monday, October 10, 2016

Stingy Jack...The Story of Jack O' Lanterns

 Punkin Love...
What is it about the sight of plump pumpkins in an autumn garden that so gladdens the heart?  At summer's end I crave the golds and oranges...the changing colors.  The sky seems bluer and the light of the sun slants golden across the face of the mountains.  In the farmers markets, bins and tables are piled high with pumpkins of every shape and size.

This morning the air was a bit crisper and I got the sudden craving for my mother's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Pumpkin recipes are all over Pinterest...fancy cheesecakes and even Pumpkin Snickerdoodles!  In my sentimental heart, nothing could ever take the place of Mom's cookies.  I shared the recipe last fall when my blog was new.  Stay'll find it here again after the story of "Stingy Jack."

Stingy Jack...
Halloween originated in the Celtic lands of Ireland and Scotland.

The phrase "Jack o' lantern" was first used to describe a mysterious light seen flickering over the marshes at night.  When always seems to be just out of reach.  The phenomenon is also known as "will o' the wisp."

I had always heard that many of our Halloween customs originated in Ireland...especially that of the Jack o' lantern.  So I thought I would find out a little of the history of our pumpkin friend.  I found the legend on Stingy Jack on many websites, but the story on was a little more complete.  The following info is taken from the site...

Vintage Postcard...Scottish?
The Legend of "Stingy Jack"
People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern." 
A traditional Irish turnip jack-o'-lantern from the early 20th century. Scary, isn't it?
From the Museum of Country Life, Ireland.

From the legend of Stingy Jack came the Irish tradition of placing Jack- o'- lanterns made of turnips and other vegetables in windows or by doors on Halloween.  The Jack-o'-lanterns are meant to scare away Stingy Jack and all the other spirits that are said to walk the earth on that night.  It wasn't until the tradition was brought to the United States by immigrants that pumpkins were used to make them.  I read a comment on a blog from Scottish reader who said that until a few years ago, pumpkins weren't as readily available as they are here.  He said that many people still carve faces into turnips on Halloween.  He admits that pumpkins are much easier to carve!

Modern Turnip Jack o' lantern.

Well...that's the story of Jack o'lantern.  I had never heard the story of Stingy Jack.  I have always loved Halloween but never took the time to learn more about it.  There is a lot more information about the Celtic celebration of "Samhain."  It might be fun to do a little more research...after I make my cookies of course!

This is the prettiest pumpkin...makes me want to bake!

Mom's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies...recipe makes a lot!

Mom's Cookie Recipe


1 Cup Butter or Margarine
3 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 16 oz. Can Pumpkin
2 Tsp. Vanilla
2 Tsp. Cinnamon
2 Tsp. Nutmeg
5 Cups Flour
2 Tsp. Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
Nuts and Chocolate Chips (As many as pleases you!)

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen.  If you freeze might be able to enjoy them throughout the fall season.  Take some leaf-peeping!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Tomato Season...George's Chili Sauce!

It's Tomato Season!
Cutest tomato label ever!

Hello, sisters. Have you ever noticed that when you plant tomatoes that there is either too few...or too many?  I have the sinking feeling that this is the year of "too many."  The weather has been perfect for and sunny.  Now the plants are full of quickly ripening tomatoes...and I am not exactly in the mood to spend days huddled over a steaming canner.  Lucky for me, my husband George loves the "scientific process" of canning.  He'll do all the peeling and chopping...which I hate...and I will prepare the bottles and get the water bath canner steaming.  Fair trade I think!  In a few weeks we will make a few batches of raspberry jalapeno jelly.  You can find the recipe here: Raspbery Jalapeno Jelly.

 Of Course I Can!
She looks a tad shell-shocked if you ask!

Homemade Chili Sauce...
Yummy...better than store-bought!

George's Chili Sauce Recipe
Yield:  about six pint jars.
4 quarts peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes ( about 24 large)
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped sweet red peppers (about 4 medium)
1 hot red pepper (we use the dried pepper flakes)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons salt
3 Tablespoons mixed pickling spices
1 Tablespoon celery seed
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
2 1/2 cups vinegar

Combine tomatoes, onions, peppers, sugar and salt.  Simmer 45 minutes.  Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag; add to tomato mixture; cook until very thick, about 45 minutes, stirring frequently

Prepare home canning jars and lids according to manufacturers instructions.

Add vinegar to tomato mixture; cook to desired thickness. Remove spice bag.  Carefully pour hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch  head space.  Adjust caps.

Process 15 minutes in boiling water bath canner. well as delicious!
Use for crockpot meatballs...serve over rice!

Better than Manwich for sloppy joes...a favorite late summer supper treat!

If anyone has a favorite recipe using the fruits of our gardening, I would love to share it here.  Also, the link to the August provident living goals will be found on the top right side of the blog post.  Summer goes by way too fast and in only a few weeks the kids will be back in school. Late summer is my favorite part of the season.  I love the sleepy feel of these hot August days and the bright drooping heads of the roadside sunflowers.  They and I must be in need of a good siesta!

Happy August, Sisters!
PS...This is a repost from 2013.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

Road Trip Time...Emergency Car Kits!

On the road...
It's road trip time here in Utah.  What could be more fun than to discover America in the family truckster?  But we all know that disasters can happen any time.  We've all been taught to have disaster and evacuation kits prepared.  We've learned how to deal with prolonged power failures and what to do in the event of an earthquake or devastating storm.  But what about when you are away from home...on the road somewhere?  I've read stories where people were stuck in snow storms or stranded in the desert when their cars broke down.  Many of the stories had tragic endings which could have been prevented by having an emergency car kit.

Having a well-stocked car will give you a lot more peace of mind and help you to stay calm and focus on what needs to be done.   Prepare your car now, by keeping your gas tank above half-full, check the weather and road conditions before a trip and keep up on the car's maintenance.  You may not have the chance to return home for your 72 hour evacuation you may want to keep a smaller version in the trunk of each of your vehicles.  I started with a medium size duffle and a couple of milk crates that will fit across the back of the cargo area of my SUV.  The car kit pictured is from  Emergency Essentials.

Car Kits might include...
  • Emergency car tool kit which includes battery cables and a small air compressor. 
  • Road atlas 
  • First aid kit.
  • Windup radio/cell phone recharger.
  • Flashlights, headlamp and extra batteries. 
  • Auto Buddy tool...this is a light, flasher, window breaker and seat belt cutter.  I keep this in the driver's side door.
  • Folding shovel, window scrapers, lock de-icers.
  • Jack, lug wrench, tire gauge and a fix-a-flat product.
  • Gallon each of windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze.
  • Bottled water and 3600 calorie food bars.  (Coast Guard ones are good)
  • For warmth:  hand and foot warmers, 10 hour heat candles, water proof matches, extra hats, gloves, and ear warmers.
  • For rain:  umbrella, rain jackets.
  • Quilts or blankets.  I have a heavy denim one.
  • Extra cash (small bills and coins).
This is just a basic list...what I started with.  I am sure there are other things to if you are traveling with children.  It's hard to prepare for everything...but you can prepare for the most likely.

Don't let this be your next family vacation! =D

Have fun this summer, Sisters!

PS...Send me a Postcard!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Play Houses For Big Girls...She Sheds!

I Want A Playhouse!

Paula's darling Chawton Cottage.
Paula's playhouse is in the backyard of her historic Payson home.
Paula's blog post is here Building Chawton Cottage.

My friends are starting to build back yard playhouses for themselves.  "She Sheds"... a name I am not fond of...are popping up all over Pinterest and the blogging world.  I set out to do a post on gardening and made the mistake of spending too long on Pinterest.  "Gardening" led to "Flowers,"which took me to "Fun Containers for Flowers" and on and on until I got to "Fun Garden Sheds to Decorate with Fun Containers for Flowers."  You can see where I made my!

I am a bit envious of my friends.  I once had a "She Shed" of sorts.  George built it as an addition to a new garage some years back.  It had a lot of cupboards and counter space with floor to ceiling shelves.  I spent many happy crafting hours in my little potting shed.  I decorated it with vintage thrift store finds and had shelves full of craft supplies.  The downside was no running water, heat or air conditioning.  Gradually my projects started moving back indoors.  George built me a craft and sewing room downstairs and my little playhouse became storage.

My "She Shed" today.
We are re-doing the concrete of the covered porch due to damage 
done by the aggressive roots of a large willow tree.

The following are some pictures of darling little garden houses that any grown-up little girl at heart would love to play in...or just dream in. The styles are as varied as the imagination of the women who love them.  I've included links to a few of them.  Gardening as a means to an end...becoming more self sufficient...doesn't mean we cannot find joy in the process.  My bad knees restrict a lot of yard activity for me, but I just love visiting a beautiful garden.  The little girl in me still dreams of a "Wendy House."

This rustic shed is my favorite. Jenny's Garden Shed 

This could be the retreat of a novelist...writing the next "Gone With the Wind."

This darling Victorian was created from an outhouse blueprint.

The blogger who built this lovely hideaway named her "Miss Potter."

This lavender dream house would be perfect for my granddaughter
 Macy who loves purple and lots of bling.   She Sheds  

This would be a fun retreat for a Harry Potter fan.
I can see the Weasley's living here.

No link, but I really love the shingles.
I would love a craftsman-style play house!

Here are some links to three of my blogging friends' posts.  Dorothy loves dolls and dachshunds.  She just moved into her new retreat which she has filled with things she loves.  Her little dogs love to curl up and nap in little dolls beds.  Her link...Dorothy.

Kim K. lives in Michigan on a wooded lot.  Her hideaway is in a tree house.  Red mushrooms and gnomes hide in her garden.  Kim's She Shed.  Kim has just decorated a darling lakeside A-frame cabin with vintage camping gear...she really has two playhouses!

And finally...what can I say about my friend Jann?  Jann lives in Alpine and is one of the most creative...and energetic...people I know.  Her home and garden decor varies from week to week.  I'm lucky to finally get the last vestige of Christmas off my front porch, while she has created beautiful vignettes in her flowere beds.  She's now in the process of adding a "She Shed" to her garden.  I cannot wait to see what she does with it.  Here is a link to Jann's post about more fun garden houses. She Shed He Said

Here is a German "Gartenhaus." 

Sisters, our female ancestors often found joy in their labors.  Life wasn't just work and drudgery. Throughout time, women have found ways to beautify their homes and matter how humble.  It's fun to dream about spaces just for us...but it's also fun to add little touches of creativity to the spaces we have.  Pinterest is just full of ideas to choose from.  Some are so easy...even I can do them!

Fun and fast...I added succulents to colorful old tins.

Or this idea from Pinterest.
The color just blows me away!
(I wonder where they found those tins?)

Provident Living....Wonder Box/Oven

Picture from I Will Prepare 

This week's RS newsletter had information on the Wonder Oven or Wonder Box.  I am posting the link to the site with the instructions for making one of these.  The site is called I Will Prepare and the link is here...Wonder Box/Oven.

Thanks for visiting, Sisters!

PS...May Provident Living Goals are located top right.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mountain Monograms...U Ever Wonder Y?

Mountain Monograms!
Pleasant Grove's "G" with Mount Timpanogos looming above.

[Dear Sisters, I thought you might enjoy a bit of local history.  I'm sure you have noticed all the letters on the mountainsides here in Utah.  This is how they came to be.]

For as long as I can remember, the big white "G" on the mountainside east of my hometown of American Fork, Utah has been a part of the landscape of my life.  Every time my parents would take us on a drive we watched for the "G" that presided over the neighboring town of Pleasant Grove.  I always wondered what it meant.  What did that big "G" stand for?  One late summer night I looked out the window and was amazed and enchanted...the "G" was all aglow. That was when I learned that the "G" stood for Pleasant Grove High School and that it was all lit up for Homecoming.
The "G" from the hiking trail.

According to Wikipedia, in 1921, a group of seniors put a block letter "G" on an unnamed peak west of Mount Timpanogos.  The first time it was lit was in 1929.  There was once a Pleasant Grove holiday called "G Day" when the letter would be lighted and the townsfolk would celebrate.  The holiday was discontinued due to revelers causing damage to the football field.  Recently students raised $5,500 in a "Light the G" fundraiser to keep the icon lit on special occasions such as homecoming and graduation.

Why a G instead of a P?
It bothered me a lot back then, that Pleasant Grove used a G instead of a P.  It just didn't make sense to me.  I was doing some research online today and I think I may have come across the answer.  In the high school's early years, their mascot was known as the Pleasant Grove "Grover."  in 1959, the mascot was changed to the "Valkyrie" and eventually became the "Viking" which is the mascot today.

Distribution of Mountain Monograms Across the West
Notice the line of dots along the I-15 Corridor.

Mountain Monograms
The hillsides and mountainsides of Utah and other western states are peppered with big block the Block U of the University of Utah and the giant Y above Brigham Young University. Lately I have wondered why there are so many of them?  I wasn't even aware there was a term for such things...Mountain Monograms.  A definition from Wikipedia states "Hillside letters or mountain monograms are a form of geoglyph (more specifically hill figures) common in the American West. These are typically created and maintained by schools and towns.  Ranging in size from a few feet to hundreds of feet tall, they are an important part of western culture, symbols of school pride and community identity.  Water towers play a similar role in other parts of the country.  There is a popular myth that hillside letters were built so that early pilots could identify towns from the air in order to drop off "air mail."

The Big "C" in Berkley, California

Berkley's Big "C"...The First Mountain Monogram
According to online sources, the first three mountain monograms erected were due to class rivalries at universities.  The first letter was built in 1905 on Charter Hill overlooking the UC Berkley campus as a means of ending an unruly rivalry between the classes of 1907 and 1908.

The "Block U" of the University of Utah.
Size...a little over 100 ft. tall.

The "Block U."
A few weeks following the (1905) building of the Berkley "C,"  class rivalry between the sophomore and freshman classes of the University of Utah produced a hillside "U."
Students Repainting the "Block U."

The "Y" of Brigham Young University
The "Y" is 322 ft. in height and 120 feet wide.

"Y Mountain."
The following year, 1906,  Brigham Young University proposed the first 3-lettered hillside emblem, "BYU." After building the letter "Y", the school decided that it would be too much work to build the remaining letters.

Students apply hot lime...1908

Dr. Harvey Fletcher, the renowned scientist who graduated from BYU in 1907, wrote about the first Y Day in 1906, "The students stood in a zig zag line about 8 feet apart stretching from the bottom of the hill to the site of they.  The first man took the bag of lime, sand or rocks and carried it 8 feet and handed it to the next man.  the second carried it another 8 feet and handed it to the third man and thus the bag went up the hill, each man shuttling back and forth along his 8-foot portion of the trail."

This year Brigham Young University became the owner of Y Mountain.  Representative Jason Chaffetz sponsored a bill that was passed by Congress, allowing BYU to purchase the 80 acres surrounding the "Y."

Hillside Letters Across the West...
Even the fictional western town of Radiator Springs has a mountain monogram.

Closer View.

Hillside letters have been a part of my life for so long that I really didn't pay much attention to them any more...until recently.  Pulling out of the drive-thru of the Boulder City Mickey D's, I noticed this on a rocky mountainside:
Boulder City, Nevada.

It was like a bolt out of the blue...there had to be a story in these letters that seem to be everywhere! On my drive home I noticed letters on the hillsides of Parowan, Beaver, Fillmore, Nephi and Payson...and there are many more.  There are an estimated 72 hillside letters, messages and acronyms across the state of Utah...over 500 across the West and Canada.   For example, there are 81 in California, 45 in Nevada, 59 in Arizona and 34 in Idaho.  The densest concentrations are found along the Mormon Corridor in Utah, Idaho and the Los Angeles Basin.

Hole N' The Rock...tourist attraction near Moab.

On your next vintage vacation in the Old West, keep your eyes peeled for hillside letters.  They could be found in any little town with a big hill or mountain nearby.  I can't wait for my next car trip!

Note: The link to April Provident Living Goals is on the right hand side.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Easter Week Activities...Keeping Christ in Easter!

Easter Week
Palm Sunday...Triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

"It is fitting that during the week from Palm Sunday to Easter morning we turn our thoughts to Jesus Christ, the source of light, life and love.  The multitudes in Jerusalem may have seen Him as a great king who would give them freedom from political oppression.  But in reality He gave much more than that.  He gave us His gospel, a pearl beyond price, the grand key of knowledge that, once understood and applied, unlocks a life of happiness, peace and fulfillment."  President Dieter F. Uctdorf.

Palm Sunday marks the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Jesus Christ.  As He entered the city He was welcomed with praise and with people holding palm branches, hence the name "Palm Sunday." In John 12: 12-13 it is recorded: "On the next day much people that were come to the fest, when they heard Jesus was come to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord."

Easter Week

Since November, I have been reading "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage.  When I was a Beehive, my bishop told me it was one of the most important books for me to read and every time he spoke with me he would ask if I had read it yet.  Looking back, I am surprised he thought I was smart enough to understand it.  Now that I am an adult, it's still a more difficult book than I am used to, so it has taken me a while. I only read one chapter at a time so I can think about what I have learned. My timing has been such that as Easter approaches I am in the chapters that chronicle the last week of the Savior's life.  Reading them is like walking with Him on his final journey as His earthly mission comes to a close.  I feel like I am getting to know and understand Him better.


Starting a new Easter tradition...
There is a growing trend within the church of families observing Holy Week, following Christ's footsteps into Jerusalem, to the temple, to the upper rooms of the Last Supper and into the Garden of Gethsemane. Beginning with Palm Sunday, some parents have created activities for their children that help them celebrate a more Christ-centered Easter.  

I came across an LDS blog with a lot of ideas for parents. The blog post is called:  Holy Week: A Christ Centered Easter Tradition for LDS Families.  It looks like it could be a fun way to bring the focus back to the Savior.  There are lots of suggestions for activities, songs and even a Passover meal. The blogger also suggested the following book:

Happy Easter 1960

This is how I remember Easter Sunday when I was very young.
I wanted a purse, gloves and hat to wear to Sunday School.

Chicks are a symbol of Easter.

Easter symbols are so commonplace that we often don't even think about what they mean. Candy eggs, bunnies and baskets in bright colors are everywhere.  I miss the soft colors of my childhood Easters.  I loved chocolate eggs with icing squiggles and those beautifully decorated sugar eggs with scenes of bunnies or chicks inside.  But I was terrified by the idea of a giant rabbit coming into my house!  Our children may wonder what bunnies and eggs have to do with Easter and the Savior's resurrection.  We can teach them what the symbols stand for.  I found a Primary related blog that defined some of the most common symbols.

Easter Symbols

  • Baby Chicks - New Life
  • Bunny - New Life
  • Candle - Jesus, "The Light of the World"
  • Cross - Jesus' Victory Over Death
  • Egg - Spring
  • Egg - Jesus' tomb
  • Flowers, Daffodils and Tulips - Spring and New Life
  • Easter Hats and New Clothes - New Life or Rebirth
  • Lamb - Jesus, "Lamb of God"
  • Hatching - New Life or Rebirth
  • Lilies - Purity of Jesus or New life.
  • Palm Leaves - Jesus Arrival in Jerusalem
  • Pretzels - Arms Folded in Prayer (German?)

Butterflies symbolize three stages of Christ's life.
Caterpillar...His life on Earth
Cocoon...Crucifixion and Burial
Butterfly...His Resurrection.

Have a Blessed Easter Sunday!