Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Toaster?

Christmas Lists.

Some people love them.  It gives the buyer an idea of what to buy with minimal brainpower involved.  This is good in my book around the holidays.  If I am going to spend money, I'd like to spend it on items that are needed/wanted. 

Some people hate them.  Considered crass to be so presumptive that people care to know what you want.  I know people who are so passive aggressive that they deliberately avoid any items that they know a person wants.

I guess I am in the middle.  I appreciate knowing that he bride and groom are registered at some local store, but I might want to give them something that I think they will need and they haven't even thought about yet.  Just because they are registered is not a mandate for me.

But it sure is nice to have some ideas when you enter the somewhat frightening world of retail sales.  It was with this thought in mind that I asked my children to produce Christmas lists this year. Parker's lists usally include many items with caliber numbers that I can't remember.  Colby loves games, but when I get to the store I get overwhelmed by all the shiny covers and titles dribble out of my brain.

And then there is Reed.  This year he asked for a toaster.  How many 14 year olds do you know who want a toaster?  Of course it was not just any toaster.  It was a special toaster from MLB that burns a team logo into the side of the toast.  Can you imagine?  I have been expecting this rabid sports fanatic to eat plain toast his whole life?  What a bad mom.

So, like any other mother of a toast-loving Boston Red Sox fan, I ordered the toaster.  Reed was thrilled on Christmas morning.  That is not an exaggeration.  He was stoked and he had it out of the box and was making toast on the next "break".

We had a great Christmas.  And now we have two toasters.  What more can we ask?

Monday, December 26, 2011

And pondered them. . .

Luke 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart. ...

I love this verse about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She was a woman who had found favor with God and he had blessed her to be the mother of the Savior.  What a mind boggling thought.  I bet there were days when she didn't feel like it was such a blessing.  I imagine she was a bit put out when her 12 year old wasn't where she thought he was supposed to be.  And it probably was hard when he was out teaching the Gospel.  I imagine the neighbors had plenty to say that she had to hear and defend.  I cannot imagine her grief when her perfect son, The Perfect Son, was crucified.  How could she have understood in her immense grief the gift that he would be to us. . . to me. . . more than 2000 years later.

I am so grateful for Jesus Christ.  I feel joy at the thought that he was born and died that I might return to my Heavenly Father.  What an amazing plan.  I am grateful for his sacrifice for me- especially since I am often so unworthy of his great love.  It is such a blessing to have the love of Christ and Heavenly Father in my life on a daily basis. 

As I ponder these things in my heart throughout the coming year, I hope that I will be a better wife, mother, friend, and follower of Christ.  That is my gift to him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Party Planning

It was a party.  Daniel and Tanika decided just a couple of weeks before Christmas that they wanted to get married on the 23rd.  On the 15th a location was booked and the race was on! DiAnna, Ed and I are a force to be reckoned with once we are all headed in the same direction.  The menu was planned, food purchased, and decorations gathered.  It was a beautiful event and the food was yummy. Here's a few helpful hints that we learned.  I am putting them here so that I will always be able to find them!  They are useful for any large gathering. 

1.  Have a meeting up front with everyone so that you are all on the same page.

2.  Find the inspiration piece.  DiAnna and I found one stem of absolutely gorgeous silk flowers at Michael's that gave us the look.  There was only one stem, so we had to use it carefully and build everything else around it.

3.  Use what you have.  DiAnna's mom collects old-looking clocks.  I had lots of glass containers and candle holders.  DiAnna's mom also has a treasure trove of ribbon, silk flowers, and other odd craft items.  We had some old picture frames and baskets.  I had pieces from an old Christmas tree.  All these things combined with some photos of the couple, a few quotes about love and time, a can of champagne spray paint and a few cans of spray snow added up to some beautiful decorations. 

4.  Figure out how much food you need for your particular army and then reduce by about 1/3.  Ed and I always worry about running out of food because we didn't get any food at our wedding, but we had way too many leftovers at this event.  (And most events we do!!!)

5.  Borrow what you can.  We borrowed some beautiful serving platters from a friend.

6.  Buy what you will use again.  We bought some chafing dishes for a great price.  It made the table look professional, we didn't have to worry about the meat cooling off, and we get to use them at the next party.  Now we need to plan a party!

7.  Be careful about using real candles.  All containers must have bottoms to catch the melted wax.  Them, leave everything in the car on a cold winter's night and the wax will pop right off the glass in the morning.  I used a scrubby sponge to get the wax residue off and all is well.

8.  Glitter is beautiful, but hard to clean up.  Our ribbon had glitter on it.  But mostly off it.  Maybe I wouldn't do that again.  But I do love glitter. . .

9.  Get kitchen helpers.  DiAnna's neighbors came and made sure that platters and punch bowls were full.  It was nice to sit and enjoy the event without worrying about what was happening in the kitchen.  Colby was a big help. . .in my apron.

10.  If you are doing the cooking, keep it simple.  Do a meat that has built in portion control- like a chicken breast or pork medallion.  Buy the rolls.  Don't worry about fancy toppings and such because they worry people.  Simple, clean food.  Easy. (And 1/3 less of it! Remember that!)

11. Why not cupcakes for a wedding?  It was awesome!  Everyone had their choice of flavors, they were easy for the bride and groom to handle, and it was an impressive display. 

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Rice!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


"I miss Mayberry. . .
Sittin' on the porch drinkin'
ice cold Cherry Coke
where everything was black and white.
Picking on a Six String
Where people pass by
and you call them by their first name
Watching the clouds roll by. . .
bye bye. . ."

I woke up this morning feeling a little blue.  And then I clicked on my blog so that I could follow my bloglist to check up on some friends and family.  The song that played from my playlist was "Mayberry" by Rascal Flatts.  And then I felt more blue.  It's a feeling that comes over me once in a while.  Almost always at Christmas.  And then comes the guilt of "Why should I feel blue?  I have a great life."  But the fact of the matter is that this feeling has nothing to do with my life now.  It has everything to do with the memories of my life as I was growing up.  And the people who sourrounded me in my youth.
Kaye with Santa c. 1972
Well, I didn't grow up in Mayberry.  But it could have been. 

Skowhegan, Maine was not a fancy place to live in the early 1970's.  Lots of people worked at the shoe factories and at small Mom and Pop type stores.  K-Mart didn't open until the early 80's. We lived in a large, old house with a huge attached barn.  In the shed that attached the house to the barn was a 4 holer!  I always wondered about 4 people actually using it at the same time. . .  The basement had a dirt floor and was pretty scary.  My dad and I turned it into a spooky Halloween maze when I was in 5th grade.  We had a formal living room that was called "The Blue Room."  We really only ever went in that room at Christmas! 

This was Bruce's graduation in 1972.  You can see the house, the connecting shed which was two stories high, and the barn.  L to R  Jim Foster, Marguerite Martin, Ernie Hunter, Vesta Horr, Amanda Martin, Steve Hunter, Bruce Foster, Ginny Foster, Kaye, Ralph Fullerton (This means that Herky and Thelma were taking pictures!)

My parents were both teachers.  Mom taught Special Ed.  Some years she had Resource students and some years she had the more profoundly handicapped students.  She was very patient with them and helped me learn to not be afraid of people who were different,  Dad taught junior high metals shop.  He didn't really believe in limits and he had those kids doing all sorts of projects that JH aged students would not be allowed to do now.

My parents were active in the community.  They were on every committee and helped with every celebration.  My mom was very active in BPW (Business and Professional Women's Club).  My dad took photos of every event for the little community newspaper.  They served the Centenary United Methodist Church in many ways.  And better yet. . . they taught me to do the same.

This is my Dad, Herky Foster, playing Santa and passing out candy canes at the end of one of my dance recitals for the Bradley Adams School of Dance. 

Our home was open to whoever needed a place to be.  I remember holidays with lots of family members around.  My favorite Christmas memories are from when I was about 5-9 years old.  Aunt Thelma and Uncle Ralph always stayed up at the Towne Motel, which I thought was very fancy. Some years there were random people at our house on holidays who just needed a place to be.  I remember the excitement of going to the tiny little airport in Waterville, Maine to pick up Steve as he came home on leave from the Army or to pick up my other dad, Rod, who was flying in from somewhere exotic like Minneapolis or Los Angeles.  Jim came home from New York, looking a lot different than the clean cut young man who had graduated from Kents Hill.  As my brothers got married and started having children, it was a celebration when they came for Christmas.  Their wives helped incorporate new traditions into our family.  Those were years of transition though, as some of the older members of the family were no longer with us.

Jim Foster

Christmas was always fun.  The tree was set up in the Blue Room.  It usually had blue lights and ornaments and LOTS of tinsel.  I have always loved shiny things! 
Kaye in the Blue Room before a recital

On Christmas Eve we would have our feast.  It was usually roast beef and it was one of the few times during the year that we ate in the Dining Room. 

From front left, around the table- Ralph Fullerton, Ginny Foster, Kaye Hunter, Rod Hunter, Steve Hunter, Amanda Martin, Herky Foster, Jim Foster, Marguerite Martin, Bruce Foster

Dad (Herman Foster), Nana (Amanda Martin), Mrs. Rogers, Mary Rogers

After dinner there was lots of visiting.  I am sure that the ladies washed the dishes.  I remember watching Christmas specials.  Around 11:00pm we would head to Centenary United Methodist Church on the Dr. Mann Road to attend the Christmas Eve Service.  My favorite part of that service was that the last candle of the advent candles was lit that night.  Then, that symbolic light of Christ was passed throughout the congregation until everyone in the congregation had a lit candle.  This was done while singing "Silent Night."  Then the challenge was to see if we could make it all the way home with at least one lit candle.  Can you imagine? 

We would get home, light another candle, and put out treats for Santa.  By that time it was so late that I didn't have too much trouble falling asleep!

Christmas Morning began with me running through the house with bells to wake everyone up.  No matter when I got up, my mom always seemed to be up before me.  I wonder now if she ever went to bed?  I know that she and Aunt Thelma stayed up and wrapped the stocking stuffers and such. . .

In our family, someone always played Santa.  There was no rush for the tree- it was a measured event.  Santa would choose a present, being careful to try to evenly distribute each person's gifts, and give it to the person to unwrap.  Everyone watched the present being unwrapped.  This was sometimes torturous because Aunt Thelma the Thrifty saved every bow and every piece of tissue paper.  She saved the big pieces of wrapping paper, too, so I liked getting small gifts because we didn't have to wait for her to fold everything!  Christmas morning went on for hours and hours.  It was truly an event.  We would stop for treats and sometimes meals, but it was all about presents!

Marguerite Martin, Kaye, Ginny Foster, Jim Foster, Amanda Martin, Steve Hunter, Ralph Fullerton
Late afternoon on Christmas Day was the time for phone calls to those family members who were not with us that year.  There was an informal line by the phone (and I do mean THE phone which was wired into the wall. . .) of all the people who wanted to say hello to the missing family member.

Time marches on and things continue to change. Most of the people in these photos and in my memories have passed away.  Although Jim lives here in Lehi, my other brothers are spread across the country.  We are not a close family, but I think  about them every day. 

I wonder what my children will remember about their childhood Christmases?  Will they remember the year that Santa's footprints were all through our house?  Will they remember the year we got caught in the blizzard in Chicago?  Their memories will be very different from mine because the world and our traditions  have changed so much, but I hope they will be as precious as mine. 

I feel better after  walking down memory lane.  These people may be gone, but they are certainly not forgotten.  I think I'll go call Aunt Thelma and maybe do some cooking like Nana and Aunt Vesta would have!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eagle with a Broken Wing*

My son Parker finished his Eagle.  This is a major accomplishment and we are very proud of him.  Each young man who sets the goal for Eagle Rank has a different challenge.  There is always some part of the process that becomes a stumbling block.  For some it is a certain merit badge or the daunting 100+ hour project.  For Parker the biggest challenge has been in completing all the paperwork- otherwise he could have been done a year ago!!!  But, it finally got done.  Phew.

Parker's project was to build a fire ring and seating area in one of the city parks.  He had a car wash to raise the money for the project and then worked with the Fire Marshall and the Parks Department to get the project rolling.  It was a good project and he did a good job getting it organized. 

Last Thursday night he passed his Board of Review.  It is an interview with seasoned Scout Leaders to determine if the young man possesses the qualities that BSA expects from an Eagle Scout and if they understand the values and principles of the BSA and have incorporated them into daily life.  Parker passed with flying colors. 

*His wing isn't really broken- but he's been in a sling for two weeks.  Parker has a "separated shoulder" from a questionable move in his last wrestling meet.  Hopefully it wasn't his last wrestling meet!  It is healing and now we are moving into physical therapy.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I just don't get the whole shoe thing.

There.  It's out. 

I know that there are women out there who absolutely love shoes. 

They cannot resist a great sale and they know all the designers.

They long for shoes in every color and style. 

They have shoes in many heights that go with certain outfits.

And shoes that change heights!

I see these women. 

Some of them are even my friends.

And I must horrify them.

Because not only do I not love shoes.  I hate them.  I have a few pairs of "dressy" shoes, but I NEVER wear them longer than the three hour block of meetings at Church.

I have two pairs of shoes that I wear 99% of the time.  Well, at least in the winter.  Here they are.
Yup.  Birkenstock clogs.  Brown and black.  That's it.  I wear them with jeans, cords, and skirts.  Now. . . I will admit that I wouldn't mind having more colors.  I have several pairs of Birkenstock sandals in various hues.  But these shoes are about pain.  And the fact that I don't have any when I wear them!

So girls, you won't have to fight me at the big sales.  They hardly ever have 11's anyway!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Real Life Day at the Collins' House

Last night Reed decided that he needed a chocolate snack.  He couldn't eat a bowl of M&M's because they have caffeine and he is trying to lower his caffeine intake. . .  So, he decided to make a cake.  He did it all by himself and it came out great. . .at about 9:00pm.  He was all ready to make frosting when I suggested that he just spinkle some chocolate chips on top. 

After we all gorged on a couple of pieces of chocolatey goodness, warm from the oven, I asked him to make sure that he put all the ingredients away.  I glanced around and thought he had. . . a thought that haunts me now.

I had to take Parker to the doctor this morning.  After x rays it was determined that he has a separated shoulder from the wrestling meet on Friday.  He's out of commission for a few weeks-  in a sling which is designed to produce sympathy from Mom and possibly girls at school.

I dropped him back at school, ran to WalMart to buy him pants for tonight's choir concert, and headed to the JH to pick up Reed.  When we got home I realized that the dogs had gotten into the trash. . .again.  Totally my fault.  I know they can open the cabinet and I usually put the bin on the counter before I leave.  Then Reed found it in the living room.  The bag of chocolate chips.  Or should I say, the empty bag that once held the chocolate chips?  Not some namby pamby 12 oz bag. . . not for our family!  The massive bag from Costco.  It had been 1/3 to 1/2 full.  Now it was empty.

I have two dogs that are twins.  Lewis is slightly larger than Clark, but they are both over 50 lbs and Lew is probably pushing 60lbs.  He's a real Collins.  Anyway, how do you know which dog ate the chips?  I smelled their breath.  Oh, yes I did.  I could smell the chocolate on Lew, but I wasn't sure about Clark.  Reed thought we should make them throw up.  He has never actually seen this happen so he didn't really know what he was getting into.  A tablespoon of salt down the throat usually makes a dog regurgitate whatever is in his stomach.  It worked for Lewis.  And there was chocolate.  Quite a bit of it.  I was starting to think that maybe Clark hadn't gotten into it, but I felt like I should make him throw up.  Salt again?  No.  This time I went to the big gun- hydrogen peroxide.  That produced an effect in about 5 seconds.  Quicker than we could get him outside!  It was wildly effective and he had eaten a LOT of chocolate. . .

Then comes the panic.  Do I take them to the vet?  What if they puke in the car?  How much is that going to cost?  Can I get charcoal slurry at Petsmart? (No- I checked)  So I did what anyone in my situation would do.  I called my husband.  He thought they would be fine.  I agreed and we hung up.  About two minutes later I was fretting when I got the text asking if they ate all the chips from the bag on the counter.  Yes.  Maybe you had better call the vet.  Ok, I think so, too. 

After I checked my bank account I called the vet.  She was concerned about the amount of chocolate until she heard that they were Irish Water Spaniels.  (As in biggish.)  She was glad that I had induced vomiting and she thought they would be fine.  I should expect diahreah and hyper activity. 

So, all in all just a regular day.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why Can't It Be Easy?

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is over already.  Isn't it amazing how a meal that takes a good three days to prepare turns into leftovers in about 20 minutes?  We cleaned up and got out of dodge.

We went to the cabin for the weekend, and had a wonderful time.  Ed and I discussed it this afternoon and we could not get over how well the boys got along and how helpful they were.  It is entirely possible that they are aliens.  Or that the turkey was drugged.  What ever happened, I hope it sticks.  It was a lot of fun.  We had beautiful weather and it was quiet.  What a blessing it is to have a great place to get away from "life" for a few days.

Since the Fairview/Mt. Pleasant area isn't exactly a shopping mecca, I didn't do ANY shopping.  OK. . . we did buy 4 3/8" wooden pegs for a total $.60 but that is not what I think of shen I think of Black Friday.   I have not bought one thing for any of my children.  Or my husband.  I have been teasing the boys that we are having a homemade Christmas and that if I can't make it, they aren't going to get it!  Parker immediately directed me to a kit that allows you to build a muzzle loader.  Very creative for a 15 year old!  Can you imagine me building a muzzle loader?  I'd have to tole paint it or something.

This afternoon I packed away all the Thanksgiving decorations.  I have been editing my decorations, so anything that I don't absolutely love is being donated to the DI.  That made it a lot easier to pack away the decorations because everything fit in the tubs.  "Editing" is such a refined word for "chuckin' stuff."

Then it was time to start thinking about Christmas decorations.  Last year we bought a 12' pre-lit tree.  We have a 16' peak in our family room area, but in the only place we can put a large tree, the height is apparently 12'!  The tree touched the ceiling and we couldn't even put the angel on!!!  I don't know what the heck we were thinking.  Maybe we were suckered into the whole "he who has the biggest tree, wins" thing.  I just don't know.

Anyway, I wasn't happy with the tree, but I didn't say anything since we had just bought it.  Today though, I fessed up.  Ed suggested that I put it on KSL classifieds and in 2 hours and 22 minutes it was sold!  Ed thinks I sold it for more than we paid, but I can't really remember.  I hope I did!  We bought it so late in the season last year that it was on clearance.  For those of you who don't remember last year's Palm Tree, you may need a refresher.  Anyway, I had the tree packed up nicely in two rolling garbage cans so that no dust or spiders could get in- I think that helped the sale.

I still have our 10' tree that we used for 6-7 years.  It is not pre-lit, which is why we bought the new one.  I put it on KSL, too, but if it doesn't sell I might put it up again.   I have found about a zillion strings of lights in the garage during my editing, so if I have to go back to my old tree, I'll have lots of lights to choose from!   I wish Christmas trees were easier to deal with.  I love the beauty, but hate the hassle!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Chinese" Thanksgiving

So, we kind of like to live life on the edge here.  This Thanksgiving was no different.

We were all a little "blah" about Thanksgiving because it was going to be just the six of us.  Usually Aunt Judy comes and spices things up.  Last year we added the Tuckers and Mr. D.  Anyway, it was looking to be a dull year.  On Tuesday I went shopping and had everything that wasn't perishable packed in a laundry basket to go to the cabin. . .

On Tuesday at about 5:30pm Ed called from work.  It had been a rough day.  The Chinese delegation that they were working with had some concerns that came out at the last minute and were causing issues.  Things were back on track, but. . .  the delegation had decided that they had too much work to do to go to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend.  That's about when I started laughing hysterically because I KNEW what was going to come out of my husband's mouth next.  We had talked about it at the beginning of October, but then the plan was nixxed.  Yup.  Could we have Thanksgiving at our house?   For 30 people?

Of course!  I didn't even hesitate once I stopped laughing!

The furniture was cleaned out of the family room and packed wherever it would fit.  Our original plan was to have the children eat in the dining room and the adults would eat in the family room area.  Rob Stapleton and Colby showed up with tables, chairs, and a map of the layout.  The engineers even map out Thanksgiving!  Anyway. . . once the table and chairs were situated, I talked to Janene and we made food arrangements.  By the time I went to bed yesterday, the table was decorated and all my preliminary chopping was done.

This morning was really easy because everything was so well planned.  I am a list maker for a reason!  And yup. . . I even labeled the serving bowls with post-its because when it came time to serve everything up it was easy for people to help. 

This was potato time.  Reed was cutting up the potatoes while I was filling the big pot that is sitting on the floor.  I was not randomly spraying water!
This was just before Reed cut himself.  Not badly, but Colby took over cutting after that.  Let me just tell you that Cutco knives are SHARP!!!!
Ed was peeling the potatoes.

 Cooking potatoes for 30 is quite the undertaking.  We used our turkey fryer.  It is a wonderful cooking device, but we have NEVER used it to fry a turkey!  Maybe someday. . .

And this is Colby cleaning up after the great lentil spill of 2011.  We did a quick vacuum through and cleaned the bathrooms.  That's all the cleaning I had time to do for this event.
This is our impromptu table for 30.  I had to use paper tableclothes from Costco because I couldn't find enough flat sheets in the right sizes.  The 7 yards of burlap camoflage the joints of the six folding tables and make it look more cohesive.

Here's the mantle.  I love my new circle mirror.  I got it for 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  After 8 years of having the same art up, I needed a change.

When we decided to have everyone at one table, I didn't have enough silverware.  I rolled plastic utensils up in turkey napkins with a ribbon tie.  It looked fine.  I'm not Martha Stewart.
I bought flowers at Costco and arranged low bouquets for the table. 

Split peas and lentils.  Colby was in charge of this project.  When he broke the second bag of lentils on the stairs, that layer got really wide.  And that's why he had to vacuum!
Here's the crowd as they were passing the food.  Some things vere even got passed!  It was such a zoo that I couldn't control it.  I would do that part differently in the future- couldn't do a buffet because there wasn't room for people to move in and out.
Say cheese!  According to this picture we had 31.
This is about two seconds after the last photo.  Apparently everyone wanted to eat!
Chatting in the living room.
Part of the crowd hanging out at the big table.
Stan holding court in the living room.  Explaining the 60/20/20 Theory. 
Nelson, Henry, and Gary.

Regina and Wendy were great company.

Becky.  I'll leave off her last name 'cause she's famous!!!
Blaine.  That IS a smile by the way.
Cameron and Colby.  The college boys.
Little Eddie.  The funny of the day was "When he gets bigger we will call him Ed." 
For those of you who know my Ed, this will probably be funny to you, too. 
We never got a smile out of him all day!
Jill and Janene.  Sisters who saved the day in the kitchen!
Craven came for dessert and chatting.  He always looks like he is up to something.

I had to put this in because I think it's the only picture I took of anyone eating dessert!  This little guy had his tonsils out last week, so he didn't eat much.

 We received some lovely gifts from our guests.

This is a glass horse that is a replica from the Yang Dynasty.  I think it is pretty cool and probably pretty expensive!

I absolutely love this home decoration.  It is a piece of silk embroidered with plants and ducks.  The craftsmanship is excellent and the silk is so fine that it is translucent.  What lovely reminders of a special Thanksgiving. 

It was a fabulous day and a Thanksgiving to remember. My boys all three said that they thought it was fun to have so many people over for the feast. The thing that I will remember most is a comment from one of the Chinese men who has actually lived in the United States for 20 years.  In all that time, this is the first Thanksgiving feast he has eaten.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve him, his family, and his colleagues.  It was truly a special occasion, but it made me realize how much we need to reach out to those around us. 

I am so grateful for my many blessings, but today I am especially grateful for my new friends.