"A (wo)man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of (her)his life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of beautiful God has implanted in the human soul."- Goethe

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Claws and Other Awesome Traditions: Did You Know?

You may already be aware that Scary Claws visits our house every October Eve (September 30th, folks) and leaves us frightening decorations and wonderful props for our costume room. It's because we're so wicked, and he only leaves presents for bad girls and boys. Sometimes, when we're excellent examples of the Halloween Spirit, Scary Claws visits us every night for the 13 nights before Halloween, too.

You may also know that every year we gather with the Nielsons for the Crazy Halloween Dinner, where nothing on the menu appears as it should and that we have an unspoken rule to never repeat a costume.

Did you also know that another tradition we have is carving apples? Well, you'd better believe it, because it's the honest truth, and it's been around for nearly two decades. Observe:

There are lots of pros to carving apples instead of pumpkins.
  • First, you don't have to work hard to get the guts out only to work hard to carve the dang thing.
  • Second, apples are smaller than pumpkins, which means less work in the long run.
  • Third, if you mess up on your masterpiece, an apple is cheaper to replace than a pumpkin.
  • Fourth, the cleanup from apple sculpting is minimal compared to the juicy newspaper mess that results in pumpkin carving.
  • And fifth, apple sculptures increase in awesomeness the longer they sit out to dry.

In fact, that's the whole purpose of carving apples: to see how decrepit your sculpture becomes after a few days of windowsill dry-time. What Halloween traditions does your family have?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scared to Death

Last year, we got this awesome resin angel on discount because it had a chipped piece, but that only adds to the character when converting such a lovely lawn ornament into a creepy headstone. It has been an excellent member of our cemetery family. This year, Kirk suggested I have at it and work my artsy magic. With pleasure, I'm sure.



Ahh...that's much better, don't you agree? I used India ink and dripped it strategically to get a morbid result. My sister helped me paint it, and she was very patient when, in my infinite excitement, I dripped permanent ink on her several times. I hope any rain will help weather and grunge the ink. What do you think?

Friday, October 28, 2011


I'm so stoked for this year's Big Read! Each year, our city library participates in the Big Read, which focuses on one select novel. (I usually get a free copy of the highlighted book from the library. Big plus, right?) This year's selection is Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, an incredible author. In preparation for this awesome event, I recently re-read (or listened) to the novel.

There is so much goodness in this book, and it is inspiring as well as interesting There are so many good lessons to learn from reading Gilead.

There are many many themes and quotes to delve into while reading this book:
  • Death: is like going home, material things vulnerable to humiliations of decay, difficulty in making people care about old things
  • Blessing: the power behind it, grace, forgiveness
  • Fire: sparks will fly, fire settling into itself, fireflies, the cemetery at sunset, burning the negro church, a coal on the lips, lightning fire, nothing cleaner than ash but it affects the taste, satisfaction of burning away frustrations
  • "Some people just go around trying to get their faith unsettled."
  • Feeling the poverty of your remarks in a situation that is difficult to describe in words
  • Taking pride in having hard hands
  • Being the beloved
  • Pleasures found where you'd never intentionally look for them
  • Visions and Prophets: "Without vision, the people perish," "An impressive sun shines on us all," memory/retrospect, the difference between the scribes and the prophets is that the prohpets love their people, the purpose of a prophet is to find meaning in trouble
  • Choices: "One lapse of judgment can quickly create a situation where only foolish choices are possible," nursing a grudge,"A little too much anger too often or at the wrong time could destroy more than you can ever imagine."
  • Being lost: prodigal son, lost coin, lost sheep
  • Water: baptism, sprinklers, water droplets on tree, baptising the cats, sprinkling vs. immersion
  • Sacrament: bread, communion with an ashy biscuit, ritual
  • War vs. Peace: scriptural support of either opinion, punishments for war as plagues, honor in war
  • Sorrow: forgetting it means we forget how we lived, worshipping sorrow, the sacred mystery in it, the value in suffering
  • Kindness: things that are kindly intended but not considerate, the love of doing kindnesses that are dangerous or exotic, judgment, covetousness, having to tolerate kindness from others
  • Transformations: coming quickly and uninvited, change vs. fate, judgment, forgiveness
  • "There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life: each one of them sufficient."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Farewell Summer

Thanks for the adventures, Summer, I miss you already. Same time next year, okay?

(All products from Close To My Heart)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tuesday's Hike: Mt. Timpanogos Summit

There were thousands of people on the trail when we went on Labor Day, which was great because we never lost our way and everyone was so encouraging to everyone else. I saw a huge bull moose and a couple of mountain sheep while traipsing along on the trail. I always think of seeing wildlife as a big bonus to any hike. While we were at the summit, some rain clouds were coming our way, and people in our group could hear the high electrical buzz that accompanies lightning. Luckily, though, nary a lightning bolt struck our party.

Watching the sun rise while high in the mountains is one of the most rejuvenating experiences I think a person could ever have, and the day we went, this particular sunrise was gentle and breathtaking. I think that just seeing and experiencing that added five more years to my life. The weather was on our side all day long, which made our hiking experience highly enjoyable. I'm going to go on this hike again, for sure.

Things to know about this hike:
  • Parking for this hike is on the Alpine Loop, so you have to pay to get into the canyon
  • There are two ways to get to the Summit: through Timpanooke Campground or Aspen Grove (we went by way of the former)
  • I'd take a Sharpie with you so that you can claim your place on the summit's shack
  • Time: 8-12 hours, round-trip (our group did it in 9 hours, including breaks)
  • Location: Alpine Loop
  • Difficulty: difficult, requires preparation
  • Hazards: wildlife, snow fields, rock slides, steep inclines, streams to cross (10 +)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


We just got back from Baby's First Out-of-State Trip. Can I just say that it is nice to get away, breathe some different air, and come back ready to face things with renewed energy? Open-skied Wyoming is where we went, and I think I could stay there the rest of my life! I love the open spaces and the genuine atmosphere. There is no pretense, and I love it.

While enjoying the best of company, we also enjoyed the lovely fall foliage at a place called Scott's Bottom, which is pretty much the best name ever. Good thing Scott was willing to share his lovely bottom with us!

Where do you go to get away from it all? Do you prefer to get lost in big crowds of people or take a desolate road to the middle of nowhere?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It Just Feels Good

It just feels good to clean up a space or do something I've had in the back of my mind for a while. Recently, I did something that seems frivolous, but makes my space feel so much better. I can breathe better without all the clutter, and can focus on more important things.


I know! Can you even tell the photos apart from the advertisements? Me neither.

I've wanted to cover my fridge magnets for the longest time, so that they would coordinate with my kitchen and not distract so much from my photos. Try not to judge me for that.

Well, I realized that I didn't even want anything decorative on my fridge. I just wanted photos. (Why didn't I think of this before? Duh!)

So, I snipped up all our fridge magnets (you know, the free ones that come with the phone books) and used them to turn all my photos into magnets...and I added just a few more photos that I liked.

Now I can always rearrange my pictures now that they're magnetized, and we don't have to pick up fallen photos every time we open our freezer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I-Spy with My Little Eye

My sweet grandpa would play the I-spy game with me on long car trips (even though he cheated!), I grew up spending hours perusing I-Spy books, and even though I'm considered an adult, I still like the hidden picture puzzles. Dorky, I know. I suppose that's why I got so excited about this idea. Making I-spy wall art is a great way to stimulate a little (or big) person's brain while using up all of the ugly knick-knacks that accrue in the average craft supply.

As promised, here are step-by-step instructions for making your own fantastic I-spy wall art:

1) Choose or make a template of a basic shape or image (I recommend a skull, but if your baby's a wuss, you could try a butterfly, I guess)

2) Trace your template with pencil onto the paper you want as your background

3) Fill in your traced image with found objects, knick-knacks, and useless kitsch (make sure you take a picture of how everything fits together or you will be hating life later on)

4) Remove objects and spray paint (I recommend an awesome color like red) in several coats, if necessary

5) Punch holes along traced template lines, erase the pencil lines, and stitch (I stitched in the same color as the found objects so that the image was better-defined)

6) Using the photo you took earlier of object placement (you took one, right?), permanently attach all the little pieces to your base. This part blows, I'm not going to lie. Putting the thing back together is like playing ultimate I-Spy and isn't fun at all, but completion is possible! Don't give up!

7) Frame, hang, and enjoy!

 I have this fantasy of spending hours in my daughter's room, picking out things we find in these wall hangings together. I can just hear her tiny voice say, "I spy with my little eye...a balloon," with me searching for the right one. That's years down the road, but I sincerely hope such a moment comes to fruition.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spooky Addition

It's no secret that Halloween is the most beloved of holidays for this Baxter family. Each year, Kirk builds a new Halloween prop to frighten and delight our senses. This year, he created nothing less than a full-sized toe-pincher coffin. Gnarly, right?

I fit perfectly inside it, isn't that creepy? If I need to be buried anytime soon, I can rest assured that Kirk is well-prepared for such an event. I will only start worrying once Kirk constructs a headstone for me with my death date on it. Until then, though, we're embracing this wretched holiday with all our hearts...and brains.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


My mom makes up words, which I'm generally okay with. Shakespeare made up words, and I think he was a genius. When my mom makes up words, though, they are of an entirely different caliber. I mean, who can hold a light up to "morbid-y"?

When I told my mother my plans for wall art for the nursery, she made up the word "morbid-y" in order to describe her feelings about my choice of decor:

I don't know...I think it helps develop an intelligently realistic and mature perspective at a young age, so I'd label it as "progressive-y." What do you think? (Stay tuned for upcoming step-by-step instructions.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oh No! Not You Again!

Those crazy Nielsons crashed another Halloween dinner this year, and they are getting out of control, I tell you what. Introducing...

Waldo. Thank goodness he was finally found. It turns out that his cardboard camera was the most delicious thing for dinner.

Madame Ting-ting sang a fun gong-shi song to entertain the guests and impressed all by counting in Chinese and saying essential phrases like "That's too expensive" and "Let's make out."

The mad Scot made an appearance.

It looks like Uncle Cletus gained some weight since he last graced us with his presence, but we still love him anyway because he's family.

I never knew the ancient peoples of America had spectacles, be it appears to be true.

A fat-bummed monkey was seen waddling around the premises.

I wish I had a giant set of dominoes like the one that attended our dinner.

A bossy pilgrim...but we thought she was a witch so we had a trial then dumped her in a pond.

Here's a cowboy. I know, it's hard to tell, but it's only because he couldn't find his hat. When he puts on his black shirt, though, he's a bumblebee.

Hairy Kendall

Sweet Alyssa

And someone who introduced himself as "I'm tired!" Doesn't that look like the comfiest costume?

Anyway, it was a lighthearted festivity, and we enjoyed everyone's company regardless of how true to character they stayed. Does your family have any awesome Halloween traditions? I'd love to hear what they are!