Wednesday, September 30, 2015


A rare lull in business, on an early Monday afternoon
I had heard of the glories of Leatherby's, but never tasted it before our latest visit to the Salt Lake City area.

Peggy and I unexpectedly found ourselves having dinner and ice cream there before driving back to California.

We had merely stopped to refuel prior to our departure, and... there it was... the Leatherby's sign! I couldn't contain my glee.  "We have to stop," I said.  "It's right there.  It's fate!"

Peggy quickly agreed.  After all, we both reasoned, it was nearly dinnertime.

The Leatherby's Crew at work
So, we entered the near empty restaurant and ordered hamburgers.  The meal deal came with a scoop of Leatherby's homemade ice cream.

Banana split art on the wall
The hamburgers were delicious.

Then came the ice cream!
Peggy enjoying her scoop
It was good.  It was really really good.
This was ONE SCOOP!
The "single" scoops were huge.  HUGE I tell ya!
Yours Truly
I was happy to finally have had a chance to try this Utah favorite!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Women's Conference

President Dieter F. Uchtdort
The pure love of Christ is “what makes us happy,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught during the General Women’s Session of conference held on Saturday in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

I was able to attend the session, which was broadcast world-wide, in my Whittier Stake Center with hundreds of other women - my dear church friends.  This session of conference was for all women - ages 8 and up, and it was a delightful experience.

Sister Rosemary Wixom
General Primary President
She focused her message on each individual's Divine Nature
We received many wonderful messages from the Church-Wide General Presidents of the Primary, Young Women and Relief Society.  The best, however, we all agreed afterwards, was President Uchtdorf's concluding remarks.

“As I pondered what I should say to you today, my thoughts turned to the way the Savior taught,” he said. “It is interesting how He was able to teach the most sublime truths using simple stories. His parables invited His disciples to embrace truths not just with their minds but also with their hearts, and to connect eternal principles with their everyday lives.”

Following that example set by the Savior and recognizing that President Thomas S. Monson often teaches through stories that touch the heart, President Uchtdorf shared a story of a girl named Eva.

“There are two important things you should know about Eva,” he said. “One is that she was 11 years old in this story. And the other is that she absolutely, positively did not want to go and live with her Great-Aunt Rose. Not at all. No way.”

Carol F. McConkie
First Counsellor in the Young Women's General Presidency
She spoke about faithful sisters being involved in the work of Salvation

Because her mother was scheduled to have a surgery that required a lengthy recovery, Eva’s parents decided that she would spend the summer with her Great-Aunt Rose.

“In Eva’s mind, there were a thousand reasons why this was a bad idea,” President Uchtdorf said. “For one thing, it would mean being away from her mother. It would also mean leaving her family and friends. And besides, she didn’t even know Great-Aunt Rose.”

But no matter how hard she tried to change the decision of her parents, she packed her bags and went with her father to her Great Aunt Rose’s home.

President Uchtdorf explained that “from the moment Eva stepped inside the house, she hated it.” Great-Aunt Rose lived alone — other than her gray cat — and had never married or had any children. Eva quickly noticed the old books, strange-colored bottles and other things in her relative’s home.

“Even the house itself seemed lonely,” President Uchtdorf said. “It was way out in the countryside, where the houses are far apart. No one Eva’s age lived within half a mile. That made Eva feel lonely too.”

At first Eva’s thoughts were focused on her mother, and she would oftentimes stay awake at night, praying that her mother would be well. When word came that her mother’s operation was a success, Eva’s thoughts changed as she began to think of enduring the rest of the summer with her relative. As the summer continued, she began to notice things about her aunt. Eva watched as her relative sang, laughed, read her scriptures and prayed.

A beautiful choir performed

“Over time, Eva made a surprising discovery: Great-Aunt Rose was quite possibly the happiest person she had ever known,” President Uchtdorf explained.

Although Great-Aunt Rose had never married, had no children, and had a hard time doing simple things such as tying her shoes and walking up stairs, she still managed to find happiness. She would find happiness in nature, in conversations with other people, or even in the process of making marmalade from oranges.

“Soon Eva made another startling discovery: not only was Great-Aunt Rose one of the happiest persons she knew, but Eva herself was happier whenever she was around her,” President Uchtdorf said.

With the end of the summer approaching, Eva asked her aunt a question she had been wondering about for weeks: “Aunt Rose, why are you so happy?”

Her aunt took her to a painting in the front room of her home. It was of a girl in a pioneer dress skipping along a bright blue path.

Her aunt explained to Eva that there were many dark and dreary days for the pioneers — their life was hard — but the painting represented being bright and hopeful, moving forward and upward.

Sister Linda S.Reeves
Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
She counseled us on the importance of Virtue and Enduring to the End

“Eva was silent, so Great-Aunt Rose continued, ‘There is enough that doesn’t go right in life, so anyone can work themselves into a puddle of pessimism and a mess of melancholy,’” President Uchtdorf said. “ 'But I know people who, even when things don’t work out, focus on the wonders and miracles of life. These folks are the happiest people I know.’ ”

Great-Aunt Rose taught Eva that God created His children to have joy, and that through trusting Him, He will help all notice the good, bright, hopeful things of life. She also taught the young girl that things don’t necessarily happen instantly, but that most good things take patience and work.

When asked how she was able to be happy, the older woman shared that she could either be miserable in her situation, or, make the choice to have faith. Through discovering faith she was able to have hope, which led to confidence in the Lord that “one day everything would make sense.”

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson
Young Women's General President worked with my cousin Marit in the Swedish Temple
Sister Oscarson conducted this meeting

She taught Eva that as she relied on the Savior, she was able to see how to be happy in the moment — not just looking forward to happiness in the future — and find joy in life. Through filling her life with meaningful things — not just things to keep her busy — she was able to experience the heart of Christ’s gospel — love.

President Uchtdorf recounted the woman’s words, “You see, everything else in the gospel — all the should and the musts and the thou shalts — lead to love,” he said. “When we love God, we want to serve Him. We want to be like Him. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs.”

And that — the pure love of Christ — the wise woman said, is what makes someone happy.

President Uchtdorf
President Uchtdorf concluded his talk by saying, “As you walk along your own bright path of discipleship, I pray that faith will fortify every footstep along your way; that hope will open your eyes to the glories Heavenly Father has in store for you; and that love for God and all His children will fill your hearts.”

God didn't design us to be sad!

Who am I really?  I am a child of God.  Therefore, what?  

Therefore, I can serve.  
Therefore, I can smile.  
Therefore, I can trust.  
Therefore, I can hope.

Watch and/or read the messages from this historic conference at this link:

Text from the Deseret News Article
Photos from

Friday, September 25, 2015

Nils and the Baby

My nephew Nils
What is it about men with babies?  It always melts my heart.  Take your average manly man and add in a small, cute, baby, and you have an instant "Awwwww" moment.

Uncle Nils and his dad are playing with baby Annika in these photos.  They were making her laugh.

I love it.

Later, I saw Nils out on the deck, still holding the baby.

They were having some alone time.  Okay, it may have been a photo op with Annika's mommy standing with a camera at the foot of the stairs, but it was still adorable seeing them together.

I think Annika enjoyed all the attention too.  She has a great Morfar (Mom's dad, or grandfather) as well as three studly uncles.  Lucky kid!

I wish they all lived closer to me.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Huntin' Gators!

My brother recently visited Florida and took a trip to the swamp.  On purpose, I might add.  The "lake" he took a tour of has approximately 2,000 gators.

My brother having fun
That's 2,000 more gators than I ever want to meet up with.

"Most of the time," Jay said, "it felt like you were in the middle of a nice grassy meadow, but really, if you stepped out onto it, you would step through the grass and right into waters infested with all kinds of icky things..."

So they didn't do that.

It looks like grassland, but it isn't!
The captain of the air boat, Captain Dennis, had a dry southern sense of humor.  "If anyone gets an arm or a leg bit off on our trip, I've got some Band-Aids in a cupboard back there," he quipped.

Yeah.  Real funny until someone gets an arm or a leg bit off.  I don't think Johnson & Johnson makes Band-Aids quite that big.

Note to self: Keep your arms and your legs inside the boat at all times!

It isn't unusual for people in Florida to wake up in the morning and discover a gator on their front lawn, said Captain Dennis, who added, "Often times, you also find ya gotta get 'cha a new dawg."
Jay and Captain Dennis
I'm glad my brother made it back with arms and legs intact!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Dear Friend

My good friend Meldee and I
We thought we were just taking a photo of the two of us old, dear friends.

My good friend Meldee and I being photobombed by my brother...
It wasn't until I blew the photos up that I even saw we had a photobomber!

...not once but twice
 What do you do with little brothers?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Rocky Cola

The Hot Fudge Sundae - An American Classic
Following the WCT's Saturday night performance of Little Shop of Horrors, I and my friends Peggy and Brian went to the local hang-out: The Rocky Cola.

The Rocky Cola is a cheery, downtown Whittier 1950s-style diner with great burgers and desserts.

Peggy and Brian
Of course, as it was 11 pm, we were mostly interested in capping off our fun evening with their desserts!

A peanut butter malted
 Hmmmm.... what to choose?  I opted for a delightful hot fudge sundae, while Peggy chose the "Gold Brick" sundae - which was basically the same, only with caramel sauce.

Both were excellent!
Hot Fudge and Caramel sundaes
It's fun to go out with friends like Peggy and Brian.  We always have a good time.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Relief Society in South Jordan

My sister-in-law, Kirsti, the current Relief Society President (far left of the group by the window), confers with her counselors 
I love attending my church in different places throughout the world.  There's something comforting about hearing the same lessons, and feeling the camaraderie of the Saints as they gather in various buildings throughout the world.  I've been to services all over Europe, England, and the United States ,and on our recent trip to Utah, got to attend with my family in South Jordan.

During Relief Society, we had a tutorial from the First Presidency about our Sabbath Day observance.  Our church leaders are urging members of the Church around the world to improve our observance of the Sabbath day.
One little attendee didn't find it all as interesting as we did!
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that Church leaders have felt the importance of encouraging families and individuals to rethink and refocus their efforts on what they do on the Sabbath day. “Our whole desire is that throughout the Church, we focus our Sabbath day worship on the Lord,” he said.
“God gave us this special day, not for amusement or daily labor but for a rest from duty, with physical and spiritual relief,” Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles continued, in an address titled “The Sabbath Is a Delight” during April’s general conference. “I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal.” 
This program was a poignant reminder that our Sabbath day worship (or lack thereof) is a sign to God of how much we love him.  We keep the Sabbath day special, and dedicated to Him as a sign that we are His people.  It is an important gesture on our part.

I enjoyed being able to keep the Sabbath day by attending services with my family - a rare opportunity!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Grilling on a Lazy Afternoon

Master Griller, Jay
One of the fun things about visiting family is that you usually don't have to cook.  I left that up to my brother, who obliged us with some typically American delicacies: hamburgers and old-fashioned tube steaks!

My Feast
Add in some pasta salad, watermelon and chips, and you've got a summertime feast.

Daniel with Olaf, Kirsti
It was so much fun. (Even if Rachel looks like she's giving me the stink-eye, she really wasn't... I don't think!)
(Left to Right) Kirsti, Jay, Linnea with Annika, Christian and Rachel
We sat out on the deck and enjoyed a beautiful late summer afternoon.

My good friends Don and Meldee
Good food, good friends, loving family - what more can you ask for?

Daddy Daniel with Livia
Maybe some more watermelon, please!

Fredrik captures the watermelon
Hope you have a delightful weekend, wherever you may be in the world!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Chocolate

The Chocolate
A dessert café
No trip to Utah should be complete without a visit to The Chocolate for dessert.  I had long heard about this place, but had never had the opportunity to visit.

We were able to pack the whole bunch of us into a couple of cars and head over to the West Jordan site (there's also a location in Orem, Utah) for a delightful dessert time.

My brother and Peggy peruse the menu while I watch Annika be cute
The Chocolate in West Jordan isn't imposing in the least.  It is housed in, literally, an old house - one of those typical, 100+ year-old Utah homes with lots of nooks and crannies.

Peggy goes off to find a seat

You order your dessert at the front counter and find yourself a seat.  Every room is painted a different color.  Every room has a variety of seats and tables for you to choose.

We were led to a back room.  The whole bunch of us barely fit, but it was quiet and private.

The signature house dish:  A Warm Cazookie
I ordered a Cazookie -  a warm chocolate chip cookie the size of my head, topped with a rich vanilla ice cream.

Yes.  It was delicious.
Linnea chose her favorite, a Madagascar Vanilla cake
Everything looked very yummy.

The cakes were to die for
I should at this point probably explain that there are some great photographers in our family.  This means that, although I am not one of these great photographers, just bring out a camera and watch our family members start posing.

Christian immediately pulled a GQ pose as I pointed my lens in his direction.
Christian going GQ on me...
He has a great deal of savoir-faire for being 13, don't you think?

And then his older brother Nils did the same thing:

.....just like his brother Nils
Maybe it was the sugar talkin'?  In any case, they crack me up.  I love my family.  

I also love warm chocolate chip cookies... perhaps not with the same degree of ardor, it's a different sort of love... but... well, you understand!

Now I just wish I had one of those 'The Chocolate' franchises closer to my home in California!  (Anybody?  Hint!  Hint!)

For more information on this dessert café chain, visit