#Givethanks Day #1: I’m Grateful for My Delights of Autumn in Utah 2020

Before vivid autumn 2020 in Utah slips away into faded drab end-of-November, I just have to share my delights of the time. This is my first fall here in five years so I am reveling in the season after moving back from southeast AZ. This morning, I watched President Nelson’s invitation and message to give thanks every day for the next seven days on social media. So here’s my Day #1 of #givethanks.

I wonder if there’s significance in the prophet choosing to give his message on the 20th day of a month in 2020, at 11 AM, with an 11 minute message? Hmmm…

Number the Stars Musical. We attended this after one of my longtime friends, KeeNan, said that her daughters were in it, as part of their homeschool community. Oh how I have missed homeschoolers’ plays while in rural AZ, when they were only once a year in my group/commonwealth/”liber community.” Now that I’m back in Utah I am in the land of numerous homeschool groups and plays. I invited my mother-in-law, knowing how hungry she was for an outing after being cooped up in the lockdown at her retirement center. So we drove the 90 minutes to see it, north of where we lived and homeschooled our older children, for 11 years, in Layton UT. The drive was SOOOOO worth it. We were richly rewarded with such a beautiful evening of wonderful acting, dancing, and singing. Those youth just shone with the light of Christ. It was put on by this group here and I think the script was the same as the one in the video below. I remember well when the girl who played the star of the show was born, as I’m friends with her mom. We were part of a “Moms as Mentors” group that met weekly to discuss TJEd principles. We were pregnant at the same time and gave birth, each with a daughter, within a week of each other. It was fun to see this young woman, 14 years later, so beautiful and articulate and practically all grown up.

Walks in my neighborhood. Probably the biggest disadvantage of fall in AZ is that the beautiful autumn colors aren’t very vibrant and don’t last long. It’s hard to find the bright red. The reds, yellows and oranges don’t last long before they fall off. So I’ve enjoyed seeing all the trees turn and stay neon colors in my neighborhood when I go on walks.

THM skinny chocolate in Greek yogurt and pumpkin pie spice

I learned about this idea from my friend Tammi, who does the YouTube Channel, “Keto in the Chaos.”

Here’s her official recipe for Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt:

1 c 0% plain Greek yogurt (Celestia’s note: I use half full fat Greek yogurt, because it’s so much more deliciously creamy, and half 0%)

1oz pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 squirt liquid stevia

Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Top with Sugar free whip cream

I eat two bowls of this a day (minus the whipped cream), I love it so much! But I also add chocolate. I do a tablespoon or two of pumpkin puree in my Greek yogurt, add 1 or 2 squares of my version of Trim Healthy Mama skinny chocolate, pumpkin pie spice and stevia (use your own sweetener of choice). Dig in! The photo above shows squares and no chocolate “dust,” the dregs of the jar where I store my chocolate, and the photo below shows another serving with the dust. So yummy!

BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, all 6 episodes, whew!

Over the years I thought I had seen this whole thing. Turns out, that was just my wishful, addled, and overactive imagination, LOL. I’ve read the book, listened to the book on audio, heard girlfriends, sister and sis-in-law talk about the BBC version, read about people’s raving reviews on blogs, as well as debates about which version is best (BBC vs. Keira Knightley version, which I have seen) and watched parts for date night. Combine that with all of my mommy brain loss and fog from old age, homeschooling seven children and moving occasionally. I got sooo confused and deluded.

I finally watched MOST of all the whole thing at my recent birthday retreat with some girlfriends. While nodding off during Episode 5, close to midnight Saturday, I had to say I would wait for the last episode after I got home. I’m watching it tomorrow! So delightful!

But why does Lizzy/Jennifer Ehle get to be the only Bennet sister who gets to wear lipstick? And why does the actress who plays Jane look so, stupefied, or dare I say, moon-faced sometimes? After watching it, I have to admit I want to get a bonnet, smile radiantly indulgent at everyone, put on a high-waisted dress and go visiting all day, playing whist while I flirt with wit. Minus all the heaving bosoms.

I’m finally starting to understand why best-selling author Shannon Hale has crushed on Colin Firth for years. Before watching, I didn’t think he was all that great-looking, but as the series progressed, his broodingness grew handsome on me. He kind of reminds me of Maurice Harker.

The Lost Family by Libby Copeland. I read this with my friend Michelle because she recently had her DNA tested, knowing that she was adopted at birth. In September, I saw a poster at my local library saying that the library was hosting a “meet the author” night over zoom to discuss the book and ask her questions. So Michelle and I attended the zoom night. It’s a great book, one that I indulged in late at night and in the morning, climbing back into bed after scripture reading, to snuggle under covers (my youngest is 11 so I can do that) when I just had to find out what would happen next. It did get a bit redundant with the author repeating the theme of “What information should we keep private?/Are these DNA testing companies selling too much of our data?” to the point of ad nauseum but overall it was a great page-turner. I did sometimes skip the technical, non-story parts to get back to the cliff-hanger story and the other stories within the story.

The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are

Encyclopedia Brown. It’s become a nightly ritual to read this with my little guy, my youngest boy, every night. A chapter or two. The author wrote so many volumes that it will take us till he goes off to college to get through them all. It’s always fun when I can easily crack the case! And maddening when I feel dumb after not solving.

See the source image

I do chalk up most failed nights to the fact that we are reading at 10:23 PM sometimes and are sleepy. I’ve given up on having early bedtimes! I’ve never been good about it and with child #7, I’ve given up. It’s just hard these days when I have college-attending kids dropping in at any time, even after I go to bed. I hear footsteps as I’m lying in bed and get scared half out of my wits thinking it’s a robber until I realize it’s one of my sons, come to fetch laundry or grab food. Anyway, I feel delighted when I come across chapters I remember reading and solving as a girl and when I hear my visiting 19 and 22 year old sons say they remember some of the solutions. Admittedly, some of the cases’ solutions involve prior knowledge that the reader might not have, but usually all the clues are embedded in the story and require general knowledge.

See the source image

Picture book bios. We revisited the above book, which I found a few years ago, and then scouted it out this fall at my new library. I love that it’s a true story about two brothers! It also involves following your mission. Every week when I go to the best children’s library on earth, I head to the 921+ section to find picture book bios. Here’s my list here. They are my favorite type of picture books. (Wordless books are my least favorite. Ugh. ) I’m going to keep adding it to it as I find more.

A Simple Commonwealth School (a type of homeschool group)

It’s been so nice to be part of a commonwealth that is a bit more simple than all the other ones I’ve attended for 14 years in three different cities. In this one, it’s so simple: one class in the morning for everyone, according to their learning season, then lunch, and then the moms’ class after lunch while the kiddos play. Boom, we’re done! That’s our commonwealth day. Then I just get to drive 5 minutes back home. I’m crying tears of joy after driving 90 minutes one way to do a commonwealth, which we did the past three years.

See the source image

Berry picking. I’ve always wanted to pick berries ever since reading Blueberries for Sal with my olders when they were little. My sister in Maine has tons of pictures of picking strawberries there that always look so idyllic. My dream finally came true when my friend Becky told me about this berry patch in Mapleton UT.

So when I found out that the theme for the month of our commonwealth for September was “hard work” I thought, “Ooh, let’s take the boys berry picking to that place Becky told me about!” My girlfriend Katie and I mentor a boys’ “love of learning,” ages 9-11 class. Off we went. It was truly magical. So much so we went there for two weeks’ worth of classes. It was so worth it to talk to the farmer and take a tour of the homestead.

Meeting the Candy Bomber. God is indeed in the details of my life. Out of all the places I picked to live in Utah, God landed me in a place where I could end up meeting the Candy Bomber. I can only chalk that up to God’s omniscience and loving kindness.

Apple crisp. Apple crisp is just so much easier than apple pie and tastes pretty much the same. I had fun serving this to my BYU-attending son and some friends he brought over one wonderful September Sunday night after the Face to Face broadcast in September for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sweaters. Yay! With cooler weather coming in September, here in Utah, I can wear sweaters sooner than in AZ! Like the adorable sweater below I found while thrifting.

Thrifting. I’ve blogged already about how much I love thrifting. Here on the Wasatch Front, I am in thrifting heaven! I can drive 20 minutes or less to at least 4 thrift stores, whereas before, in AZ, that drive only took me to one. So far this fall I’ve found the following: a marriage kit by the Gottmans, Can You Beat Ken? trivia board game, black winter boots to replace my old ones where the sole of the heel had fallen off, a pretty black skirt with a slightly flaired hemline to fit my new size after losing 40 lbs (this link here explains how I did it), soft gray ankle boots for only $4, brand new area rugs, worth $44 each with the department store tag still on, but on sale for $10, and like new black and white Vans for my little guy for only $4. Plus the cute outfit above. Sweet!

My birthday retreat in the mountains with friends. You can read about that here. So fun!

I agree with the prophet in his video message earlier in this post. “Counting blessings is far better than recounting our problems.” It’s so true! When you feel tempted to complain, say something positive, involving gratitude instead. You’ll see it attracts more positive things into your life. Thank you President Nelson for inspiring us!

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