Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Album Wrap

Yesterday was the last day with the whole family home. We recorded three more songs and called it a wrap. That is 11 songs recorded in 7 days! Dad and I were very doubtful this could be done, but when the hearts are willing (and they all were), anything is possible!

I took a video of the girls doing an acappella version of Just a Little Talk with My Jesus. This video is especially great for the sheepish grin from Crystal at the end. She was thinking about that high note she didn't quite reach!

We celebrated all our hard work this week by going out to Tony's Hibachi grill, where we enjoyed the flaming food.

It was also a goodby party for Crystal who left this morning at 7:30 to return to Colorado. 

One of the new things Whistling Prairie tried out this year was playing handbells. We borrowed a set from my choir director for our recording. We recorded a medley with piano accompaniment (yet to be added). This rendition of Silent Night is from that medley. Last night after Crystal packed her bags we gathered once more around the bells and sight read music just for the sheer joy of it! Brittany says it's like a puzzle, trying to fit all the pieces together just right! 

Pearl Strings Friends and Family

The Pearl Strings had their friends and family concert Sunday night. We went through most of our Christmas numbers. One of my Favorite is O Beautiful Star of Bethelehem, which I've posted here.

In Jen's 'spare' time she made us all bowls at the pottery studio. Each was beautiful and unique, just like the ladies of the Pearl Strings!

Whistling Prairie also did a number from their upcoming album to be released next Christmas. We did a combination of Joy to the World with Wildwood Flower arranged by Brittany. It was a great musical evening, and I'd post more if I had the time to edit the videos. It has been a great week of musical fun at the Bush house.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Record Day

We started recording our new CD today, and actually completed our first 4 songs today! We're feeling really good about ourselves. Here's where the work really starts for Ed!

Crystal is playing a lot of pennywhistle this year, but we still needed Brittany to add a second pennywhistle on the Cradle Hymn. And what song would be complete without an autoharp? John was willing and able to help out with that.

Amanda's big accordion made it hard for her to get anywhere near the snack table!

I'm playing a lot of guitar, which is appropriate, considering I've been taking lessons for a couple of years now. The lessons are paying off and I'm feeling more confident and have more ideas on how to play certain chords.

We also took some publicity shots for our album next year. It's just a boatload of fun wiggling our heads and having Google's Auto Awesome animate the shots.

I don't know if I like the pictures on the stairs or in front of the fireplace better. Any suggestions for next year's album cover?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sixty one Christmases

Christmas morning is not what it used to be! By the time the 'kids' came downstairs it was broad daylight!

Coda says, "You got all these presents and nothing for me?" Thank heavens Lenny had given her a new purple monkey!

Ed and I looked cute in our matching jammies!

For dinner we had fondue. We had lots of dips and sauces. The baba ghanoush was a new experience for us, but we all loved it. The cheese dip turned out great, as well, and chocolate dipped fruit and cake was a perfect way to finish up!

This was my sixty-first Christmas, but only my sixtieth birthday! I have to say every one is better than the one before! We're at a wonderful stage of life and are so appreciative of our family and friends and the opportunities and experiences we've had throughout the years.

I should be happy about the newest addition to our extended family, who was born yesterday. Little Noah, in St. George, UT, made my sister, Joan a grandma. I have to admit there is a side of me that doesn't want to share my Christmas birthday with him--as if it takes away with my own specialness! Perhaps by the time I meet him I'll have time to adjust to the inevitability and rejoice with him in our specialness together! After all, sharing a birthday with Jesus is what made the day special in the first place!

Okay, Noah is kind of cute! I've got to get me one of those (grandbabies, that is)!

Christmas Eve

We had just enough snow to make Christmas Eve feel magical. The flakes were even big and fluffy enough to make a giant shadow on Ed's cheek!

Whistling Prairie spent several hours in the basement where the magic kept on rolling. We worked out several of our arrangements for next year's Christmas CD.

Brittany and John brought a Christmas tradition from John's family to Maryland--Mexican pozole. We all assisted them as they cooked dinner. We were happy Miss Carol could join us again. The sopapillas were the perfect dessert, especially covered in honey!

We read the Christmas story and sang a few Christmas songs.

Lenny and Kay dropped by after their church services, and brought us 8 dozen cookies! That should last us a few days!

Amanda, Brittany and Crystal favored us with a rendition of What Child is This, reprising a cut from last year's Christmas album.

After the party we cuddled up and watched the movie, Elf, (or closed our eyes while everyone else watched Elf). Then, all the children went to bed and waited for Santa's arrival!

Together Again With Mah Jong

Everyone is home again. Amanda arrived on the 22nd, having driven cross country with the help of Adam, a friend from Duluth. Brittany, John and Crystal arrived on the 23rd from Utah and Colorado. After a hearty bean soup we all settled down to a friendly game of Mah Jong. We learned how to play it in China, and some of us needed a refresher course. We had a spot of Chinese herbal tea to get us in the spirit. We took turns winning, which made everyone happy!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

B4 Christmas Party

The Big Bush Basement Band had our Christmas celebration last night. We added a cellist and Ian brought his full sized bass. We played Rudolph and We Three Kings. The kids enjoyed playing drum, tambourine and finger cymbals on We Three Kings.

We also played some bell music with the music on the TV while we waited for our hot water to boil.

We then went upstairs for cookies and hot chocolate. They are a fun bunch and talked a mile a minute! I enjoyed their stories, but had to tear them away to finish up. We had some of the kids play a few solos, and had just enough time to play through our songs again. It was a fun end of year celebration. It made me pause and reflect on our humble beginnings. We've grown and learned a lot in the past year. Who knows where 2014 might take us!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ringing in Christmas at the Mall

The Freedom Area Ringers played at Westminster Mall last night. The acoustics weren't great, so we adjusted the bells to ring loudly. That was a little different for us, but I always like loud. It was fun playing in a public place. It made me want to put out a hat.

Afterwards we went to Casa Rica with the Gadberrys and the Sheppards. It is a pretty good restaurant in the mall that serves Mexican and Indian food. Something for everyone! Five of the six of us went Mexican. Guess who opted for the VERY spicy Indian vindaloo! (Don't guess anyone named Bush!)

Carol of the Bells for Guitar

I've been learning more classical guitar arrangements the past six months. This arrangement of Carol of the Bells is what I've been working on for Christmas. It's not perfect, but I've come a long way!

I played it for Coda, who just sat on the couch listening. It was then I noticed a little shiny wrapper on the floor.

Coda had found one of the chocolate ornaments left over from Activity Day. It must have been low on the tree. Fortunately, it was hollow, and the dog seems to be fine. She was really sorry...sorry she got caught!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Activity Day Christmas Party

This afternoon we had our Activity Day Christmas party. We had a great time, starting out in the basement with a bell choir. We had enough bells to play melody as well as chords on a selection of Christmas songs. I had colored the note heads in Finale to match the bell colors, which really helped a lot. Ed rigged the TV to serve as a giant computer monitor, and we lined up in front of the basement TV. After the girls caught on with the first song, they were quite good.

We then went upstairs where we had hot chocolate, cookies and grapes and shared our favorite Christmas books with each other. At the end each girl got to search for three chocolate Christmas ornaments to take home. Thanks to the luncheon ladies for hanging them on the trees this afternoon! I only wish I had taken a video of them, so you could see how cute and clever they are!

Visiting Teaching Luncheon

June and I hosted our annual Visiting Teaching luncheon today. We had the people we visit teach as well as our visiting teachers over. Even Mary was able to sneak over for a few minutes from her teaching job at the middle school. It was so festive. It is nice having time to just sit and talk. I took advantage of the ladies' goodwill and had them tie some strings on my ornaments for the Activity Day girls, who were coming over later in the afternoon. Might as well have both parties on the same day, since the house was clean!

The menu was ham and cheese quiche, strawberry spinach salad, croissants and carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting! It was so good that Ed and I had it again for dinner!

Pearlies at the Senior Center

The Pearl Strings played their Christmas Program yesterday at the South Carroll Senior Center. One of the band members is just about old enough to be a full-fledged member there. (Hint: you have to be 60 years old.)

We met early and went through all our songs in the conference room. Then we were hungry so we purloined some of the day old turnovers set out as bingo prizes. (Will play for food.)

We had a rollicking good time, despite a bit of a rocky start. We really love the songs we're doing this year. And we've come to a place where we're really much more comfortable with being on stage. This was the band laughing at me when I realized I couldn't play Blue Grass White Snow without my picks on. 

Here is our program: 

Santa Set   
  Up on the Housetop,
  Santa Claus is Coming to Town        
  When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter
Blue Grass, White Snow           
Winter Wonderland      
Christmas Dinner           
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Instrumental
The Bell that Wouldn’t Jingle 
All I want for Christmas is You          
O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
The Christmas Waltz     
Medley of Christmas Songs 
   Here we Come a-Caroling
   Joy to the World
   Deck the Halls 
   Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Silent Night/Peace Peace  

Afterwards we went over to Panera and talked about how wonderful we are. Okay, really we wrote out a list on a napkin of songs we want to do next year.

It reminds me of a line in a Nitty Gritty Dirt band song, "It's great to be a part of something so good that lasted so long." We've got a long way to go towards hitting their 20 years together, but nevertheless, it has been great to be a Pearlie!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ringing in the Season

After church yesterday we ran over to Winifred Manor for our first bell concert of the season. This picture has ghost arms for Tricia and me. I'm not sure if it means, "Look how fast we ring," or "Look, my camera wasn't set right!"

We played:

Do You Hear What I Hear
Rise Up Shepherds and Follow
Still, Still, Still
Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown was a little difficult, but we did our best performance of it ever, and we were very proud! See how Mickey, Tricia and myself are so happy (relieved) afterwards!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Harper's Birthday

Yesterday was Harper's 3rd birthday, and we celebrated by taking the dogs for a walk in the snow. It hadn't snowed this much last winter, so this was our first experience on the fire road in the snow. Other than the "trudge" effect of wearing boots, it was very pleasant! We had a fun time trying to corral the dogs for picture taking!

When we got home we sang Happy Birthday and Suzanne gave them each a Frosty Paw doggy ice cream, which made them VERY happy!

While Coda and Harper were busy eating their ice cream Suzanne, Carrie and I had a craft afternoon--more fun with alcohol inks. We may have made a few Christmas surprises!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Caroling Cubs

Cub Scouts or Activity Girls--take your pick! We had both last night. I'm working with the 8-12 year old girls at church and we were making ornaments yesterday. Guess who came Christmas caroling to our door--the Cub Scouts!

It was a nice surprise for us, and the girls especially liked the cookies they brought! It turns out they just can't get enough sugar! I was just glad I'm teaching the girls, who know how to smile for the photo. It was a problem just getting the boys to hold still long enough to get a photo!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Icing on the Snow Cake

We're having a little more snow today, just to top off what had melted from Sunday. I'm just having more fun playing with Auto Awesome in Picasa. Look how cute Coda is in the snow!

And she's just as cute with the stop motion. Look how good she is to pose for me and give me different angles! She's a top dog model!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowy Sunday

We got our first snow of the season today. It's been a while since we've seen this much snow, as last year we hardly got any snow at all. I just found out why there is animated snow falling in my picture. Picasa added it in their AutoAwsome feature when I uploaded it from my tablet. Very interesting!

I stayed home from church sick today, and it wasn't snowing when Ed left at 9 a.m. After Sacrament meeting they sent everyone home, so I was surprised when Ed woke me up at 11:30 to find it had snowed while I was sleeping!

In about 6 hours we got 6 inches of snow.

Happily, I was too sick to help clean the driveway, but Ed did a good job! Coda wouldn't even go outside to help him!

I did make myself useful in the house, however, cooking up a nice pot of hot stew, which we enjoyed when Ed came in from the cold! It was nice being snowbound!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fun With Activity Days

We made personalized ornaments for Activity Days on Wednesday. Here's mine. They were somewhat cuter with 8-12 year old girls' pictures on them. It was an interesting project. Using polymer clay and t-shirt transfer paper, you just rub the picture onto the clay and bake it for 5 minutes, and voila! It transfers the ink to the clay!

I wrote my name on the back before I baked it, then painted it and baked it for another 5 minutes. My partner, Heather, made the cute ribbons for the tree hangers.

We finished just in time to take all the girls over to feed the horses. Unfortunately, the horses were happily in the deep grass in the big pasture and wouldn't come in! The girls got to feed them a carrot or an apple, and after they went home I put a rope around Mr. Genes and brought him (followed by Bali and Bamby) back to the barn! It was hard finding those wily horses in the pitch black night!

Thursday morning all was forgiven. I took this picture because I'm feeling so bad about the weather in the west and mid-west! I see you've hit negative temperatures. I was out at the barn at 7:30 a.m. with no jacket on. It was 55 degrees! We've been loving it!