Feb 232014

Welcome to my orchid growing hobby.  No, I don’t have a huge room for growing orchids.  When we became ‘Empty Nesters’ and moved to Utah, we downsized to fit our new lifestyle.  It would be nice if growing orchids was as easy as growing a bloomin’ onion, but the dry climate of Utah adds a special challenge.
Orchid Hobby
I’ve loved these unique flowers since my first prom date, when I received an orchid in my corsage.Orchid Hobby Room

My “orchid room” consists of a large plastic container, lined with heavy plastic to hold water. This plastic liner can then be easily replaced when it becomes dirty.  A plastic ceiling grate or grill was cut to fit on top of the container, so the plants can sit above the water and receive needed humidity.  Shining down on the flowers are two Fluorescent lights – one regular and one warm or grow light.  An automatic timer takes care of producing each day of artificial sunlight.Orchid Hobby close up

My flowering Phalaenopsis or moth orchid’s only care is a watering “weekly and weakly.”  This means the flowers are given water each week with a weak amount of orchid fertilizer.  Some growers recommend placing three ice cubes around each plant weekly, which is the equivalent of 1/4 cup of water.  Apparently the ice cubes melt so slowly that the temperature doesn’t affect the plant.

If the orchids are to receive light from a window sill, it’s recommended that the windows should be cleaned frequently.  Well, now you know why I don’t keep them on a window sill.

For more information on growing orchids, click to the  Just Add Ice website.  What flowers challenge your green thumb these days?

Feb 132014

A look back to a special time in my life as an Olympic volunteer, when Salt Lake City hosted the Olympics in 2002. Olympic Torch
The 2002 Olympic motto was Light the Fire Within and the Cauldron was created with the Fire and Ice theme in mind. Designed to look like an icicle, it was made of glass which allowed the fire to be seen burning within. Small jets sent water down the glass sides of the cauldron to give the effect of melting ice.
Olympic rings with Airforce one President plane
Air Force One landed with President George W. Bush on board. To be visible across the valley, the illuminated Olympic Rings were displayed across an area the size of ten football fields.
Olympic opening trade center flag
The tattered flag was recovered from the World Trade Center ruins after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York City. It was carried into the opening ceremony by eight athletes escorted by New York City firefighters and Port Authority police.
Olympic chair lift from tents toshovels
Every morning our course crew teams were sent up the mountain at Snowbasin in Ogden, Utah to prepare the Women’s and Men’s Downhill courses. We looked like Blue Smurfs skiing to our designated areas.
112 clean course between racers
This is what you didn’t see when you watched the Olympics. We were a small part of the many volunteers making this the best possible Olympic event ever. I’ll never forget how dedicated these volunteers were to work for “free” just for the pride and love of the sport, country, and the fact that the world was watching us.
Olympic day with Wisconsin skiers

All volunteers received extensive training on being helpful and friendly to the visitors. Being part of a photo op was the easiest part of my job, since these three guys were visiting from my birth State of Wisconsin.
Olympic Mascots with Mitt Romney
The three Olympic mascots are: Swifter, a snowshoe hare. Higher, a coyote. Stronger, an American black bear. They are based on a Utah legend inspired by petroglyphs from a Native American tradition. Mitt Romney was the President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and more recently the Republican nominee for president of the United States.
037 Kari's view of mountains
023 sunrise





Since our days began as early as 4 a.m., we enjoyed beautiful sunrises at the top of Snowbasin Ski Resort. My daughter Kari stands near the starting gate of the Woman’s Downhill course and a view of what the Olympic skiers saw on their way down the mountain.
Olympic Volunteer party 1
After the Olympic and Paralympic games ended, the volunteers came together one last time. This special night was given to honor all the dedicated volunteers, with a concert on the Olympics Medal Plaza.

What is your favorite Olympic memory?

Feb 042014

As a young boy, John Pollack built boats from scrap wood that eventually sank.  He dreamed of building a boat from something that couldn’t sink….corks.
CorkBoat John Pollack
Over the next 25 years, he never stopped saving corks.  His book, Cork Boat, is a memorable account of making his dream a reality.  His 27 foot boat is made of 165,321 corks, large rubber bands, fishnet and heavy cord.

My grandsons made their cork boats on a much smaller scale, since we don’t drink that much wine!
Cork Boat finished
Cork boat assembly
Cork Boat assembly 1


They each decided how big to make their boats by gluing rows of three or four corks together.

After many warnings of what happens when hot glue touches fingers, they became very adept at using my glue gun.

Wooden skewers pushed easily into the corks for masts and swizzle sticks became rudders.

Foam sheets from Michaels Craft Store were cut and glued to the base.


Then the boy’s creativity kicked in by adding a foam crow’s nest, helm, cannon and flags.


Finally we had to stop making boats, when we ran out of corks and hot glue.Cork Boat foam sheet assembly


Cork Boat ready for launch




Now off to the bathtub to launch the fleet linked together with paper clips.
Cork Boats flotilla
  Camp Grandma is always looking new craft ideas.   What’s your kid’s wintertime favorite?

Feb 012014

Will there be six more weeks of winter or an early spring?  Will Punxsy wake up to his shadow?
Groundhog Club for Punxsy Phil Groundhog Day Puxsny
Groundhog punxsutawney phil in a can The origin of Groundhog Day began with the celebration of Candlemas Day in medieval Europe.
Candles were blessed and handed out on a day that was midpoint between the first day of winter and the first day of spring.

In Germany, the hedgehog was chosen for predicting the weather.

When the German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, they continued this tradition with a groundhog, since hedgehogs weren’t available.  In 1886, The Punxsutawney Spirit printed the first official observance in its newspaper.

We’ve celebrated Punxsutawney Phil’s debut on Groundhog Day ever since.

This tradition isn’t totally goofy, since animals are sensitive to the thawing of soil and other signs of spring.

If you’re not crazy about a cuddling a rodent on this special day, the “groundhog in a can” souvenir is available at this Punxsutawney website.


This is a recipe that allows you to play with your food.
The tootsie roll groundhogs pop up from the cookies with the help of your pinky finger.groundhog cookies recipe
The kids will love biting off the heads of their groundhog/dogs with this meal theme. Hotdog Groundhogs

The hot dog groundhogs can be placed inside cornbread muffins, a snowy mound of mashed potatoes or baked biscuits.


What fun ways do you celebrate this day?

There are lots more fun recipes at this website:http://www.sheknows.com
Enjoy many other great trips on the Photo Mondays link

Jan 112014

SpongeBob Squarepants has always been my grandson’s favorite cartoon character.  So it wasn’t a surprise that he requested this theme for his birthday party.Spongebob Squarebants cake Spongebob birthday cake Spongebob Squarepants eyeball
Two chocolate cakes (his choice) were baked in 9 x 13 inch pans for the head and body.

Fondant used for the white eyes, teeth, red tongue, with blue fondant eye balls give him that smiling hello to the partying kids.

Mini donuts created his shoes and pant tops. Large pretzel rods were covered in fondant for his legs and arms.

To keep my fingers from looking yellowish red for the next week, I wore disposable gloves while mixing the colors into the fondant.

Fruit rollups created the tie & belt on chocolate frosted pants.  Rice Krispie treats shaped the hands and fingers and covered in fondant. Wilton’s food writer pens gave an edible birthday message on the fruit rollups.

Blue jello jigglers held the candles and gummy bears were added for snacking until the cake was cut.

Here’s looking at you grandma!  Half the fun of eating the cake is picking out what part they want to eat.

My inspiration came from the many great ideas shown on this Coolest Birthday Cake website.  I’d love to hear about your cake creations and any questions or suggestions you may have for shaped cakes.

Jan 032014

Did your kids get everything they wished for this Christmas?  This true story will tug at your heart and is a must read to share with your children.
Christmas from heaven 1











Colonel Halverson was one of the pilots airlifting food to war torn, Soviet-blockaded Berlin, Germany after World War II had ended.  On a snowy Christmas eve, thirty children were more concerned about freedom than food or gifts.

Blog - christmas from heaven







They had little to eat, yet they didn’t ask or beg him for anything.  Still being Christmas Eve, he dug into his pockets and only found two sticks of gum.  He broke the gum into four pieces and passed it through the fence.  One by one, each small nose was pressed to the paper, breathing in the minty smell.  An idea formed in his mind.

  Christmas From Heaven










From what began as 2 sticks of gum, grew to dropping over 23 tons of donated candy.  His father always said “From little things come big things.”

As Colonel Halverson explained, you wouldn’t want to be hit by a piece of candy dropped from a plane, so he devised parachutes out of handkerchiefs.  “The Candy Bomber” is now a spry 93 years old and still fits into his World War II uniform. His recent interview with Nicea on Good Things Utah, Channel 4 television is very inspiring. 

What’s your favorite children’s book?

See more pictures at the Someone in Mind blog and how much her children love the Christmas from Heaven book.

Dec 282013

Yule logs, candles and anything else made with fire created cheerful warmth for families during their holiday season for centuries.early electric tree Christmas Lights at the ZooChristmas zoo lights
The tradition of placing small candles on trees began in the 19th century in Germany.  They were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached by pins.

Around 1902, small lanterns and glass balls held the candles.

Trees were brought into homes right before Christmas and candles were lit for only a few minutes each night.  Buckets of water and sand stood nearby in case the tree caught fire.

One of Thomas Edison’s inventors created the first string of electric lights in 1882.  The red, white and blue bulbs were the size of walnuts and very expensive.

In 1917, after a tragic fire in New York at Christmas time was started by candles, affordable tree lights were invented.

Our family tradition, during the long and dark nights of the Christmas holiday season, is visiting the Hogle Zoo.

While most of the Zoo’s animals are sleeping, we ooh and ah at all the millions of lights that decorate bridges, trees and pathways.

Hot chocolate kept our grandchildren warm, while watching polar bears and seals play in the pools.

What holiday lighting displays are you enjoying in your area of the world?


Dec 192013

Camp Grandma had the kitchen table covered with the grandson’s latest holiday craft projects.
Christmas craft house grandkids

Christmas craft house pretzel

Christmas craft house

Christmas crafts

Christmas craft cookie men

Christmas craft pretzel houses

Christmas craft houses

Instead of making gingerbread houses, the kids were eager to try making pretzel log cabins.

This was their chance to build houses similar to when they built cabins with Lincoln Logs.

Snacking on pretzels is another reason why making gingerbread houses, wasn’t their first choice.

This crafty blogger at Sweetopia has house templates to share and many great ideas for uniquely decorated houses.

After downloading the templates, the patterns were then cut out of cardboard.

The grandkids spread “mortar” on the cardboard house shapes made from flour and water glue.  The large and small pretzels were stuck onto the “mortared” cabin sides and roofs.

After a few hours, the cardboard shapes were dry and ready for assembly.  I wish the grandkids could have glued the sides and roof together, but we had too many collapsed disasters in the past.  So, my handy glue gun made quick work of forming the Christmas Cabins.

White frosting added snow to the roofs.  The frosting also helped fill in any areas where cardboard edges were showing.  Then the tasting and sampling began while adding candy canes, m & m’s, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, etc.

The next Camp Grandma project involved making teddy bears and ornament shapes out of cinnamon, applesauce and glue.

By mixing 1 1/2 cups each of cinnamon and applesauce with 1/8 cup glue, our kitchen smelled like Christmas time.

After rolling out the mixture between two pieces of wax paper, the boys used cookie cutters to shape the ornaments.  A drinking straw was poked into some of the soft shapes, so they can be hung with a ribbon.  Drying time was reduced by placing them in the oven on the lowest heat setting for a few hours.

All my grandsons love to ski.  So, it made perfect sense to stand the little bears on pretzel skis.  Now they could move them around their pretzel log cabins.

My handy glue gun came to the rescue again, for permanently attaching the pretzel skis and poles to the bears.

Parchment paper covered large trays, so the grandkids could add their wintry scenes around the cabins.

These creations wouldn’t win prizes at some fancy contest, but are priceless to this Grandma for the fun we had making them.

What homemade decorations are displayed in your home this year?

Nov 222013

My husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale model train room at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  How we have created the waterfalls and other scenes are shown hereTrain Room RR MuseumTrain Room scenic painter Train Room scenic painting

We found donated, non-working trains stored away in old boxes.  They deserved to be seen and enjoyed.  So, creating a railroad museum allowed these antiques to be displayed.

I’ve never considered myself an artist, but the walls needed some painted scenery for the trains to travel past.

A (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks doesn’t allow me to reach portions of the wall.

Train Room scenery Great Salt LakeI had to devise my own “painting wand” out of a paint roller extending rod.  Masking tape holds an artist brush to the rod and allows me to add mountains, trees and clouds on the walls.

HO model trains pass by the Kennecott mine on the upper level and vignettes of our West Valley City and surrounding areas on the lower level.

We recently added the Great Salt Lake scene with its historical Saltair and Antelope Island.  Sail boats launching from the marina are included on the lake.

Trains, both real and make believe, hold so many wonderful childhood memories.

I would love to hear about your favorite recollections of watching or playing with trains.

Nov 062013

Cookie House Chimney GhostAre you getting tired of eating the candy corn left from your Halloween Trick or Treating yet?  cookie house witch

Decorating a Fall themed Snickerdoodle/Gingerbread house with the kids, is a fun way to use some of that left over candy.

Mini Trix crackers were used for the roof’s shingles.Cookie House Broom

The witch is a Pez candy dispenser.  She has a Nutter Butter cookie body with candy melt frosting and a red licorice belt.

The tutorial and templates are included on the first snickerdoodle house made with the grandkids linked here.

We had fun decorating this house on a local television show called Good Things Utah.

The broom is a pretzel with shredded wheat and frosting decoration.

Crushed Oreos decorate the path.  Some left over cookie pieces were used to create a bench.

cookie house turkey owlFor a Fall themed look, the Turkeys are oreo and nutter butter cookies.  Some M&Ms made noses and the turkey waddles.

The owl is nutter butter cookies with shredded wheat for feathers and wings.

The Snickerdoodle house has been a fun project with the grandkids during one of our Camp Grandma craft activities.

What projects have you kept the kids busy with?

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