Category Archives: Things That Make Me Happy

214/365 The Middle Child Graduates!

The year is 2007. The person is my middle child, now a young man. The situation is high school graduation. Such a proud moment!

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59/365 What Is It With Hats? pt 2

Composite Photo of Hats

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I name my hats. Or, rather, they tell me their names. Meet (top) Bette and Matilda, (middle) Fiona, and (bottom) Brad and Bianca.

I am not a portrait photographer by any means. I’ve just learned over the years that I am my best model because I do what I tell me to do. I have also learned over the years that I look best smiling. Serious expressions make me look quite frightening, like I’m dead or something.

It’s not often that photographers include themselves in their own photos. It makes sense since they are usually behind the camera and not in front of it. It takes forethought to create a photo with the photographer included. I set out to make these photos of my hats and I had a lot of fun doing it so I am pleased to show them.

365/342 Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple

Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah

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You wouldn’t expect to find a Krishna temple in the midst of Mormon country, now, would you? But here it is and it is beautiful and peaceful. I have long since left my Mormon heritage and journeyed a bit through some of the Eastern religions/philosophies, and although I do not ascribe to any religion and have fashioned my own spiritual philosophies (play well with others, do not run with scissors), I love finding beautiful places of worship.

I first discovered Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple (link takes you to their photo gallery where you will find stunning photographs of this temple) when I visited my parents in 2004 for their 50th Wedding Anniversary. I entered the temple and was greeted by a very quiet, but helpful person who gave me a short tour. Upstairs they have a meeting room where I sat and meditated for a while. It is a beautiful place. The next time I visited my parents in 2009, I had to go again and that’s when I took this photo.

When I think of my upbringing in Mormonism, I think of being taught that Mormonism is the ONLY true religion and everyone else is deceived. I was discouraged to even look at any other religion, so to find the Krishna Temple in rural, Mormon-dominated territory with MY DAD speaking highly of it tells me that the religion I left has changed to some degree. And that makes me happy.

365/343 Childhood Home

Brick House I Grew Up In

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Imagine six wild children running in and around this tiny brick house! I loved this house. I loved the porch where I sat and watched thunderstorms roll through and saw the rain pour down and yet I kept dry. I loved the living room chandelier and the fireplace and the high ceilings and the worn, wood floors; the living room where I watched my mother lay out fabric and pin crisp patterns to it and cut out a soon-to-be new dress. I loved the pantry just off the kitchen with plenty of cupboard space and its roll-out bins for flour—and for a child hiding in a game of hide-and-seek. I loved the bedroom where I sneaked mandarin oranges from the pantry and hid them on the windowsill behind the curtains only to have my mother, outside in the garden, discover me. I loved the tiny bedroom closet where I laid down pillows and blankets and turned out the light so that it was pitch black and slept curled up and happy.

Outside I loved the Catalpa tree on the right where we installed a swing for summer fun. I loved the lilac bushes in the back, with a hollowed out center where I hid when I wanted to get away from all the inside rambunctiousness. I loved the back yard with the lawn and garden and rocky, weedy expanse that opened up to every other neighbor’s back yard. We called it the short cut; the short cut to the park, to Bright Spot—the neighborhood hamburger stand—to Firestone Tires where we played on the old tire hill. I loved the old barn/garage that my dad dusted with saw wood to keep down the dirt we kids tracked into the house because we loved playing in it.

I loved the outside back bedroom that fulfilled multiple functions throughout our time there; my uncle’s bedroom as he went to college, my mother’s chinchilla room, storage, my first kiss (I was seven). I loved scampering up the tree in the back beside the house and climbing onto the roof and gently tiptoeing up to the very top (so my mother wouldn’t hear me on the roof) and feeling like I owned my neighborhood, the community, the world.

Childhood is a magical time where the world is new and everything is impressionable. I loved my childhood home. I hope my children loved theirs.

365/350 Happy Birthday!

Birthday cake and candles

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Today is my son’s birthday and although we celebrated his birthday a couple days later the year I took this photo, I wanted to say “Happy Birthday” today.

Guest Blogger: Rick Walton—Why Picture Books Are Important

“Andthekitty andthekitty andthekitty andthekitty….(*deep breath*) JUMPED!” so exclaimed my two-year-old daughter twenty-odd years ago when I read to her “A Dark Dark Tale” by Ruth Brown while listening to Alan Parsons “Tales of Mystery and Imagination.” I timed it so that the kitty jumped at the same time the music built to a resounding clash, after which my daughter WOULD NOT PUT THE BOOK DOWN and she told everyone about that kitty while clutching that book. This is one of many memorable experiences I’ve had with picture books.

I would like to introduce you to my friend and children’s book author, Rick Walton (link takes you to his page at Amazon.com). Rick is the author of over 60 children’s books, which include poetry, jokes, and, of course, the picture book. Today he wrote a beautiful post on why picture books are important and why they are for everyone. EVERYONE. That includes children, young adults, and yes, even adults. (That’s me! Yay!) When you finish reading his post, please add a comment about your favorite picture book memory. I know you have one.

Rick Walton:

It is picture book month. And so, I am required by law, as an official author of picture books, to climb on top of my soapbox and explain:

Why Picture Books Are Important,
And Why They Are for Everyone

Picture books are often seen as literary baby food, the stuff we feed children until they have the teeth to eat real food.

I would argue, however, that picture books are not baby food. They are not just for young children.

In fact, I would argue that picture books are perhaps the most important literary format that we have.

Here are 10 reasons why I believe this:

1. They are the first books that children fall in love with, that turn children into lifetime readers. Lifetime readers become lifetime learners. Lifetime learners become lifetime contributors.

2. Picture book language is often more sophisticated than the first chapter books that children read, and therefore an excellent way for children to learn language. It is here that children, and others, can learn vocabulary, imagery, rhythm, shape, structure, conciseness, emotional power.

3. The picture book is the most flexible of all literary formats. You can do almost anything in a picture book. This flexibility encourages creativity, in both writer and reader. It broadens the mind, and the imagination. And given today’s challenges, we desperately need more creativity, broadened minds. Imagination.

4. The picture book, with its interaction between text and illustration , with its appeal that the reader analyze that interaction, helps develop visual intelligence. It helps us look for meaning in the visual. And since most of us are surrounded by, and inundated by visual images our whole lives, visual intelligence is an important skill.

5. Some of the best art being created today is found in picture books. Picture books are a great resource for art education.

6. The picture book appeals to more learning styles than any other format. It is read out loud for audible learners. It is written and illustrated for visual learners. It often asks you to interact with it physically for kinesthetic learners.

7. In fact, the picture book, of all formats, is probably the best format for teaching an idea, getting across a point. Because picture books are short, all messages, knowledge, ideas expressed in a picture book must be boiled down to their essence. They must be presented in a way that is impossible to misunderstand. If you want to learn a difficult subject, start with a picture book. If you want to express a powerful message, a picture book is one of the most powerful media for doing so. Many middle, upper grade, and even college instructors have recognized the value of using picture books in their teaching.

8. The picture book does more than any other literary format for bonding people one with another. As a child sits on a lap and is read to, as a parent, a grand parent, a teacher, a librarian reads to a child, extremely important connections are made, bonds are formed, generations are brought together.

9. The picture book also has the broadest possible age range of audience. Few four-year-olds will appreciate a novel. But many grandparents enjoy a good picture book. I have read picture books for upwards of an hour to groups including toddlers, teens, parents and grandparents, where all were engaged.

10. The picture book is short, and can fit easily into the nooks and crannies of our lives. Five minutes here, 10 minutes there, plenty of time for a complete literary experience.

Picture books are poetry, adventure, imagination, language, interaction, precision, and so much more.

Picture books are not books that children should be encouraged to “graduate” from.

For picture books have something important to say, to give, to all ages, all generations.

Picture books are not just books for young children.

They are books for everybody.

I want to thank Rick for granting me permission to publish this wonderful and well-thought-out article on the importance of picture books. Please take time today to pull out your favorite picture book and revisit it and the memories.

Things That Make Me Happy: Finding the Perfect “Something” at a Perfect Price

Patience. It took me a year to find the perfect piece. I wanted a pot rack so badly but I didn’t want to spend a fortune on it and it had to be simple to assemble. I wanted it to look like it had been crafted professionally, which meant not any piece would do. It had to have substance to it and it had to fit my personality.

DIY Pot Rack by Matt

Small wooden, ladder-type attached to the wall

I hunted through my favorite Goodwill stores weekly, religiously. Initially, I had in mind a small, wooden ladder attached to the wall and the pots would hang from the steps. I thought that would be perfect; creative and funky. But it had to be the right ladder. I never found a ladder—ever. Not even close. Perhaps because a ladder isn’t my personality?

At times I almost found what I wanted. Almost. There were a number of almost-new wooden shelves that could work. But some had heart cutouts and I have an aversion to the heart shape (you won’t find any hearts in my house…except the one that keeps me alive), and others, well, they were just shelves. Nothing interesting.

I told myself, “You’ll know it when you see it, Dezra.” I would see an interesting metal piece, pick it up, and ask, “Are you the one?” And it would whisper back, “I don’t know, am I?” I would put it down and walk away. My philosophy is, if it is the one, it will continue to speak to me after I leave. Then I walked out the door and forgot all about it. “Nope, you aren’t the one,” I whispered to the air.

After a year of searching, I got desperate. I live in a small apartment and my pots and pans take up prime shelf real estate. I needed to make room and I had a bare wall just waiting for a pot rack.

So Friday while making my grocery list, I jotted down “Pot Rack.” On Saturday I went to a Goodwill store and within minutes I walked out.

Whoa! Wait a minute! I walked out—with a pot rack holder!

What? How did that happen? What happened to, “Are you the one?” What happened to, “I don’t know, am I?” What happened to if it is the one, it will continue to speak to me after I leave? I left, and there it was with me. A pot rack holder. And there was my receipt, $5.99. And there I stood, wondering how it happened. And a huge smile spread across my face. Because, yeah, it’s metal and it fits my personality.

Now, all I need are the S-hooks. I wanted to make my own so that I could have various lengths. I opted for copper wire because I can distress it to better fit in with my decor. I found it by-the-foot at Ace Hardware. I bought 10 feet.

Total cost of my pot rack (excluding hardware to fasten it to the wall since I already had that at home) was $11.89 plus tax.

Not a bad price for year-long patience.

DIY Pot Rack

Now all I need to do is paint the wall or something

Things That Make Me Happy: Humor

I woke up this morning, poured my coffee, and grabbed a….oh no! What is this? My bananas! They’re TALKING TO ME!

My Bananas Are Talking To Me!

They must have had too much to drink!

I'm Watching you

Too much of that Appletini, I see.

Eat More Peeches

Sneaky. Trying to deflect me by putting me on to the "peeches"

Get away from the computer and no one will get hurt

Now they've gone too far.

Banana being peeled

Who's hurting now, huh? Huh? HUH?

Banana being eaten

Oh, yeah, that's what I mean.

Banana peel being thrown away

Don't get between me and my computer

People are afraid of bananas and I get that. Bananas hang out in gangs. They wear near bullet-proof outer layers. And when you get wild and bite into them without peeling them, they are nasty. But I’m not afraid of them. I don’t care how much they’ve had to drink. I don’t care how threatening they become. Bananas are really very yellow. Keep that in mind the next time you walk into their ‘hood in the grocery store. Then pick a bunch. And grab some “peeches” while you’re at it because peaches don’t talk back. At least, not that I know of. I’ll find out tomorrow….

(Banana idea inspired by The Bloggess.)

Things That Make Me Happy: Quirky Family

Last night in a phone conversation, my dad said, “Every night before I go to bed, your Mother says, ‘I’m going to attack you.’ Then she hugs me and kisses me.”

My mother.

Say "hello" to my 88-year old mother. "Hi, Mom!"

My father.

Say "hello" to my 82-year old father. Hi Dad!

My family

Mom, dad, brothers and sister. Strange bunch of characters, right?

Yes. My family makes me happy, quirks and all.

Things That Make Me Happy: Crockery!

Cupboard full of crockery

What's in my cupboard

I love crockery. I love the clacking sound it makes as I pull it out of the cupboard and the shattering sound it makes if I drop it. I love the hefty feel, the comfort of something solid in my hands. And I love the patterns. I’m crazy when I go into second-hand stores. I pick up stray crockery like children pick up stray kittens. I have to rescue them!

But I’ve been good since I moved into a one-bedroom apartment. I got rid of most of my crockery (ouch!) and kept what was meaningful to me. So here are my sets:

Colorful set of crockery

My everyday ware! Love the colors and the shape

Black and White Dinnerware Set

Picked up during my black and white phase

Green and white set

I wanted to add color to my dinnerware so I started with green.

green and white bowl

I loved the green inside and the white outside. Very elegant.

The salad plates I’ve paired with this set aren’t really part of the set…and they aren’t complete. I don’t have FOUR! I only have THREE! But I had to buy them anyway because they’re so colorful.

Single plate

Pattern is called Roxy. It's by Tabletop Gallery. If you know where I can get just one more.....

Fall and Thanksgiving crockery set

I have had this set for years. I picked it up during my fruit motif phase. I use it primarily in fall.

I figure I have 28 dinner plates, 19 salad plates, and 24 bowls. And that’s not counting my Christmas dinnerware.

I would like to say I don’t know why I love crockery but that’s not true. I grew up with a very pragmatic mother who didn’t spend money on needless items. And she had no aesthetic bone in her body so she bought the most boring white and brown Melmac set she could find and we used it until I moved out. I hated it. It spoke of poverty. It spoke of pragmatism. It spoke of ugly. I didn’t want that in my household.

So I buy crockery to feel secure. I buy it and it makes me happy.

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