Family Home Evening Treacle Toffee

One of the main ingredients for Family Home Evening must surely be the treat. On Sunday, I spied an old can of Lyle’s Black Treacle (by appointment to Her Majesty) on the pantry shelf and prised open the lid, which had printed upon it, “BEST BEFORE OCT 2001” and “DISPOSE OF ON EXPIRY.” The contents still looked quite serviceable to me so I searched the web for a treacle toffee recipe.

Melt 4 ounces of butter in a pan and then add 1 pound of dark brown sugar, 4 dessert spoonfuls of treacle, 4 tablespoons of milk, and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir until the sugar dissolves, turn the heat low and boil for 30 minutes. Pour into butter-greased pan and place in refrigerator to harden.

I only had 0.8 pounds of light brown sugar but when you are using treacle 10 years past its expiry, who cares? Another google gave me the insight that a dessert spoon is of a size between a teaspoon and a tablespoon (but closer to a tablespoon). So I merely dug out 4 tablespoons of treacle with an extra scoop to empty the can — after all, it was past its expiry.

The 30 minutes of boiling wasn’t working for me so Megan put a candy thermometer in the pan and we waited until the temperature reached 270 degrees Fahrenheit. That fixed it and I poured most of the gooey mess into a large flat baking dish and saved the rest to fix the leak in the roof.

On Monday, after hardening, I broke the toffee in pieces, ready for family home evening. Paul had some of his tasty cookies as backup, in case I burned the treacle.

Treacle toffee
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Model Railroad Festival

At the model railroad festival

One of the several rooms with layouts at the Ogden Union Station

Today we visited the Ogden Union Station to attend The Hostlers Model Railroad 2011 Festival. There were HO, N, G, O and S scale layouts in several rooms. During the three day show over 8,000 people will visit (it seemed like all of them were there right at the time we arrived).

The Hostlers Model Railroad Club was founded in February 1988 in Ogden and has now grown to over 180 members.

We headed straight for the model railroad layouts. There was a lot of them to see.

Watching the trains

Watching the trains: Bryson, Sarah, Adelaide, Cassandra, Jill, and Aurora

Lego display

There was even a large Lego Layout

Watching Trains



Climbing on Trains

At the Union Station are locomotives that were designed to pull large trains over steep Western terrain. The 833 steam engine (at left in the photo below) is a Union Pacific Northern. This 4-8-4 saw both freight and passenger service between Utah and Wyoming. Also featured is a restored Red Cross Hospital Car, Railroad Post Office Car and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Cauldron Car.

Ogden railyard

The Ogden railyard has trains that you can climb on

Inside the steam engine

Here is what it looks like on board a steam engine

Union Station train

They'll let anybody drive a train

Riding a Train

It is fun watching the model trains and climbing on some old full-size trains. But there is nothing like a ride in a train.

Aboard the train

All aboard the train

Riding in the train

Riding in the train even if it is just around in circles


The Long Train Movie

If you don’t have a movie for the evening then perhaps you could try this video. It doesn’t have much of a plot but there is one exciting part where one of the guard posts is knocked over. You can then watch it being put back in place. This video can also be used in place of a sleeping pill — no prescription needed. They way it works is to count the rail cars instead of sheep.

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Paul Tackles Old Age

Jumbo remotePaul seems to think my eyes aren’t able to see quite as well as when I was his age. So for his latest project he programmed a jumbo universal remote that Megan bought from Deseret Industries. It cost $1.50 because the battery cover was missing. But there is nothing that Paul can’t fix with a little duct tape.

At the moment the remote will control the television and the VCR. It also controls the family room and stair lights because Paul thinks my legs aren’t getting any younger either.

Paul figured if he gave me the remote directly I would be offended and wouldn’t use it so he left it laying on the couch. Right on cue I picked it up and started trying the buttons. Tonight I looked on the remote hoping to find a jumbo “PP” button — the one that will turn off Paul’s Projects, at least for a little while.
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Sledding Near Miss

Sarah, Bryson, and Aurora ready to sled

Sarah, Bryson, and Aurora ready to sled

There was snow on the ground so Adelaide, Sarah, the grandchildren, Jill, and I went sledding. We picked a very small hill for the grandchildren and took our cameras. Click on the images to enlarge. The videos are usually not visible in a feed reader. In the screencap below I have circled a girl in pink at the bottom of the hill. Keep your eye on her when you play the accompanying video of Bryson and I sledding.

Sledding near miss

Sledding near miss

Adelaide took the photograph below as we narrowly missed the little girl in pink. You can see how close we came. I still had the camera rolling.

Near miss, different angle

The near miss, taken from a different angle

Aurora in the snow

Aurora in the snow

Bryson with a snowball

Bryson with a snowball



Adelaide, Aurora, and Cassandra sledding

Adelaide, Aurora, and Cassandra sledding

Sarah and Bryson sledding

Sarah and Bryson sledding

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Rick Needs

Rick needs

Rick Needs

I last tried this in 2008 and it never fails to amuse me. It seems to work for almost any name. The idea is to search on Google with the words Rick needs, but substituting in your name. Then examine the first ten hits and extract the essence of the results and compile a list of what you supposedly need.
Here are the first ten Rick needs that Google listed when I searched tonight:

  1. What Rick needs. [This is my 2008 post.]
  2. Rick needs a massage.
  3. Rick needs a sparring pal.
  4. Rick needs to get his own show on Oprah.
  5. Rick needs numbers. [Rick went swimming with his phone and needs to rebuild his phone list.]
  6. Rick needs chord inversions.
  7. Rick needs an expert weapon smith.
  8. Rick needs moral support. [After rotator cuff surgery.]
  9. Rick needs more babies in Connecticut.
  10. Rick needs solid breath.

Interestingly, one of the commenters on the original 2008 post made a prediction that did indeed come about:

Over time, the browser will shift and new needs will appear…perhaps listing the rick’s needs sets about filling needs? (Galveston Wizard Comment)

Comparing the August 2008 results with today’s it looks like the only thing I still need from 2008 is a massage.

Try your name and see what you need. Then share the results.
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Daniel Bearing Gifts From Afar

The real deel

Daniel in the real deel

Daniel brought back from Mongolian some traditional garb gifts. He allowed us to try on these Christmas presents ahead of time. First up is Daniel wearing a deel that appears similar to a caftan. Deels in blue, olive, or burgundy, made from cotton, silk, or brocade, reach to the wearers knees and fan out at the bottom.

The deel looks like a big overcoat when not worn. Instead of buttoning together in the middle, the sides are pulled against the wearers body, right flap close to the body with the left covering. On the right side of the wearer are five or six clasps to hold the top flap in place. There is one clasp below the armpit, three at the shoulder, and either one or two at the neckline.

A deel is usually worn with a large belt, usually made of silk. The area between the flaps and above the belt creates a large pocket in which Mongolians keep many things.

Jacob and Rachel wearing Mongolian clothes

Jacob and Rachel wearing traditional Mongolian garb

I brought out my old crusader sword to assessorize my Mongolian vest, which prompted Daniel to draw his Genghis Khan dagger. The clothes were made by one of Daniel’s investigators, since baptized.

Crusader sword and Mongolian vest

A Crusader sword goes well with my Mongolian vest

Dressed Mongolian

Left to Right: Daniel, Jake, Rachel, Jill, and Rick

As an alternative to the above photograph, take a look at this.

Mongolian fight

Mongolian fight

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Spiral Jetty At Rozel Point

Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture constructed in 1970 by American sculptor Robert Smithson. This is a view of the Jetty from the dirt road.

Last Tuesday afternoon found Paul and I heading north to visit Spiral Jetty at Rozal Point. It was a warm day for Northern Utah in November. We drove past the Golden Spike Visitors Center and followed the signs to Spiral Jetty. The dirt road was being graded in places as we traveled closer to the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Google Maps on my Nexus didn’t know about Spiral Jetty but responded to Rozel Point.

I took several photographs of our visit. Click on the images to enlarge.

In 2008 it was announced that there were plans for exploratory oil drilling approximately five miles from the jetty. The news was met with strong resistance from artists, and the state of Utah received more than 3,000 e-mails about the plan, most opposing the drilling. Shown here are the remains of prior exploration just a few hundred feet from the Spiral.

Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty forms a 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the lake which is only visible when the level of the Great Salt Lake falls below an elevation of 4,197.8 feet. Paul stands by the Spiral entrance to give you some perspective on its size.

Spiral Jetty

Due to a drought, the jetty re-emerged in 2004 and was completely exposed for almost a year. The lake level rose again during the spring of 2005 because of a near record-setting snowpack in the mountains and partially submerged the Jetty again. Here are the ruins of a building right by the Jetty. Whether it was built by the pioneers or was used for oil exploration, I know not.


Notice how sand has filled in the spaces between the rocks. The current exposure of the jetty to the elements has led to a controversy over the preservation of the sculpture. There is a proposal to restore the original colors with the addition of more rocks, noting that the Spiral will be submerged again once the drought is over.

I did a 360 degree video at the top of the hill overlooking the Spiral. The issue of preservation has been complicated by ambiguous statements by Smithson, who expressed an admiration for entropy in that he intended his works to mimic earthly attributes in that they remain in a state of arrested disruption and not be kept from destruction.

I shot this on our return. It was a smooth ride once we were a few miles from Spiral Jetty. The wipers quit working so the windshield had to stay dirty.

Spiral Jetty

The Spiral is built entirely of mud, salt crystals, basalt rocks, earth, and water. This is the end of the long arm of the Spiral as it makes its first curve.

Spiral Jetty

At the time of its construction in 1970, the water level of the lake was unusually low because of a drought. Within a few years, the water level returned to normal and submerged the Jetty for the next three decades. Seen here is Paul standing on the innermost spiral.

Spiral Jetty

Lake levels have receeded and, as of fall 2010, the Jetty is again walkable and visible. Originally black basalt rock against ruddy water, it is now largely white against pink due to salt encrustation and lower water levels.

Spiral Jetty

The Spiral was financed in part by a $9,000 grant from the Virginia Dwan Gallery of New York. A 20-year lease for the site was granted for $100 annually.

Spiral Jetty

The only other visitors were a couple walking south of the Spiral towards the waterfront.

Spiral Jetty

Paul stands by a relic of some past exploration activity.

Spiral Jetty

To move the rock into the lake, Smithson hired contractor Whitaker Construction's Bob Phillips of nearby Ogden, Utah, who used two dump trucks, a large tractor, and a front end loader to haul the 6,550 tons of rock and earth into the Lake. The Lake edge is currently several hundred feet from the Spiral.

Spiral Jetty

Smithson began work on the jetty in April 1970. Construction took six days. Smithson died in a plane crash in Texas three years after finishing the Jetty.

Spiral Jetty

The sculpture is currently owned by the Dia Art Foundation of New York, acquired as a gift from the Estate of the artist in 1999.

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No Bears At The Zoo

Rocky Shores at Hogle Zoo

Rocky Shores will open Spring of 2012

We discovered at our last visit to Hogle Zoo that Tuff, Cubby, and Dale had been moved to the Oregon Zoo. Construction is proceeding on the Rocky Shores Exhibit, an extensive multi-animal habitat featuring polar bears, sea lions, seals and possibly other bears. According to Hogle Zoo:

Guests will experience unprecedented environmental immersion through realistic, cutting-edge habitat design. Educational information about the animals what they eat, their behaviors and instincts, and their future survival will be presented through interactive technology and innovative educational programs, adaptable for Zoo and classroom use.

Rocky Shores will be the largest exhibit ever created at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and is a major step in its transformation to a 21st century zoo. (Hogle Zoo)

Rocky Shores construction

On our visit to the zoo on Wednesday Aurora and Bryson also saw the animals, rode the train, and clambered in the playground.

Zuri with mother

Zuri the baby elephant

Aurora encounters the Aldabra Tortoise

The shells of the Aldabra Tortoise are not very hard. Giant tortoises are slow moving, non-aggressive animals. Most of their time is spent foraging. Although the tortoises are primarily vegetarians, they will eat decaying animal matter. Paths to and from their favorite feeding and drinking areas are scraped into the soil by the massive shells. These tortoises can weigh up to 550 lbs. and shells up to 55 inches long. They live up to 200 years.



Splashing water

Train ride

Watch the video and see how intent Bryson is as he rides the train.

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Give Your Tree A New Look Videos

Steven visited yesterday evening and with his brothers gave my tree a new look. We made three short videos so that you can see how it was done. Slash and Drag would be a good name for the process. The first video shows Steven and Jake Slashing. Next we have me Dragging the branches away for later disposal. Lastly Jake (he really likes to pan) illustrates on film our handiwork, ready for Jill to see in all its glory.

If you cannot see the videos, click here.

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