Friday, November 30, 2007

Tori Concert

Do you think just like that
You can divide
This
You as yours
Me as mine
to before we were Us
if the rain
Has to separate from Itself
does it say "pick out your cloud?"

---Tori Amos from “Your Cloud”


Last night we attended the Tori Amos concert here in Salt Lake. Mike willingly went with me even though he had no idea who Tori was or what her music was like. To prepare him for the concert I played a few of her CDs beforehand. After popping in the CD Under the Pink, I was immediately taken back to 7th grade when I first heard the album. Strange how, with each album we listened to, a scene from my life played out in my memory. I remember many a day going home after a bad day at school, putting on one of her albums and laying on my bed just listening to her and that piano. I believe many of her songs literally got me through some of the most turbulent times of adolescence. I admired how fearless she seemed, exposing so much of her life through her music and lyrics. I adored her words and her talent. But I was a different person then. After listening back on her old music this week, I felt that perhaps I had outgrown it or that I had outgrown her. My taste in music has changed over time, just as my life has. I started to get the feeling that maybe her concert wouldn’t be as momentous as I had hoped. But as soon as the opening song reached my ear, I knew that her music, and yes, even her idiosyncrasies, still had a place in my heart. I may not agree with a lot of her ideas anymore, but I still appreciate her talent, because she undoubtedly has a rare gift. And the fact that Tori’s music has secured a spot on my life’s soundtrack won’t ever change.

So, the concert was amazing. It was my first Tori concert and she puts on an excellent show full of intense energy and fierceness. Her opening act was a solo guitarist by the name of Yoav, who had a remarkable sound. I told Mike that we needed to buy his E.P. and we had just enough cash to purchase it. I am eagerly looking forward to his upcoming album. Tori opened her show with Cruel from the album From the Choirgirl Hotel. After a few numbers in a silky green dress and dark hair (not sure if it was a wig) she went and changed into the most hideous silky, full-body, animal print get-up and orange hair. But I couldn’t hold it against her, because I mean, come on, she IS Tori Amos afterall, and she can get away with wearing just about anything. So, needless to say, I forgave her quickly and enjoyed the show. She played a lot of her old stuff, which made the crowd go crazy. She performed many of my personal favs, including Mother, Caught a Lite Sneeze, Cornflake Girl, and Precious Things. I also remember her playing Crucify, Pretty Good Year, Amber Waves, and Smoky Joe. She ended the night with Hey Jupiter, after a second encore. It was awesome to watch her play her “baby,” (her grand piano) as if it had been attached to her since birth. On some occasions she straddled the piano bench with one hand on the grand piano and the other on the keyboard behind her. Even Mike couldn’t disagree with her astonishing musical ability. We both had a great night….

Which is more than I can say for Conor and Jessica, our lovely downstairs neighbors who offered to watch Vessel for us. Apparently Vessel was quite the beast last night. According to Jessica, he was fine until he started to get tired, but he just wouldn’t go to sleep. He fought and fought to stay awake which made him downright angry I guess, and the exhaustion finally took over and he had a melt down. He cried and cried for nearly 2 hours until Jessica decided to take him up to our apartment and put him in his own familiar bed. He sobbed for about 5 minutes and then he magically fell asleep. We happened to walk in the door not more than 5 minutes after he eventually crashed. We met a frazzled Jessica sitting on our couch where she told us the story. This is a first for Vessel, so I feel very sorry that it had to happen to our friends. Lately Vessel has developed separation anxiety and has become very apprehensive towards strangers. My little boy is changing so rapidly. But it’s times like last night that I think we scare our childless friends from ever wanting to have children of their own. Sorry guys.

Anyway, here are some pictures and videos from the concert. Enjoy!




video

video

Uh-Oh Mommy...

Ever since Vessel became a part of our family, the number of things in our house that have been stained, smeared, stretched, ripped, and broken have increased by nearly 100%! Okay, I don't know the actual stats, but it's quite a bit. Here's a lovely example:

Mom's praying angel statuette from Mexico given to her by her best friend Candace is now in 2 pieces.

Moral of the story: Don't let your kid play with your sentimental breakables.
My excuse: Didn't know he could even reach it, the little booger.

You know it's going to be a good day when....

...you pour yourself a bowl of chocolate Marshmallow Mateys and the marshmallow to cereal ratio is exceptionally higher than usual. Mmmmmm, marshmallows......

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Weekend and Stuff

On Saturday our friends Bekah and Chris from the Boise area paid a visit to our humble abode. Chris and I have been friends since high school and have kept in touch over the years. He married his awesome wife Bekah while Mike and I were in Japan. This past weekend was our first time meeting eachother and I have to say, it was not awkward in the least. :) It was like we had been friends forever. Well, we knew each other through blogging, emails, and such...so it didn't feel like I was meeting a total stranger.
And they came bearing gifts! For awhile Bekah had been talking about a secret crochet project on her blog and I was completely touched to find out that she was making it for me. I had no clue. She made me one sweet looking beanie with a matching short scarf. The girl is talented I must say. She also crocheted Vessel some poo (yup folks, you read it correctly..POO) and stuffed it. It looks just like the Japanese cartoon swirly poops! It is the coolest thing ever. We laughed so hard about it! Vessel really likes it and has been playing with it for the past 2 days. They also got Mike the DVD Evan Almighty, so we will watch that soon and I'll have to give it a review on my entertainment corner blog.


I really love the design and colors she used.

Unchi! (a.k.a. "poop" in English)

Vessie playing with his new found friend.

They are the most thoughtful people ever, am I right? I wish we lived closer. I'm glad you guys stopped by on your long journey home!

The rest of the weekend went pretty fair. I finally got my new shirt I ordered from Layers in the mail. I went to Robert's craft Saturday night to pick up some nifty boxes to use for my YW lesson. I swear I could spend all of my money at the craft store. Just let me loose with a thousand dollars in that place and every penny would be gone, no joke. I spent the rest of the night painting the boxes and tying bows on them for the girls. Well, that's a lie. I spent most of my night playing Dr. Mario with our downstairs neighbor Gavin. I am obsessed with that game and I am always bound and determined to beat him! I mean, sure I've beaten the guy before, but it was pretty much not due to my skill, but rather due to stupid mistakes he made during the game. Here I was thinking I'm all hot to trot, but Gavin is pretty dang good. He's also competitive. But I like the challenge.
Sunday was so-so. I taught the YW lesson and later that evening we went over to the Green's to watch Church Ball, which, by the way, was the corniest show I've seen in a LONG time. I also played more video games with Gavin. I'm pretty much a total gamer now, but not quite as much as Mike.
Things here have been going pretty well. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas is well on it's way. We've been trying to figure out what to do about a Christmas tree this year. We're just afraid that Vessel will pull it onto himself trying to grab the ornaments. Although, Chris mentioned we could buy a little gate to put around it to keep Vessel away. Mike joked that it would have to be an electric fence to keep him from getting near the tree, and it's true because that kid is so curious right now and wants to get into everything. Our fake tree finally gave up the ghost last year, so we will probably buy a real pine this year...that is if we get a tree at all. Maybe we can just get a small one and put it on one of the end tables out of reach. Also, I've been trying to figure out what to get Mike for Christmas. We've both decided to avoid the overabundance of gifts this year. We were thinking one gift each, maybe 2 tops, and then a few things for Vessel. So yesterday I was probing Mike trying to find out what he wanted so I'd have somewhat of an idea and he told me that for his gift he wants me to donate to a charity or to a homeless shelter. I thought that was a great idea since both of us want to shy away from all the Christmas gift hype this year and really focus on the true meaning of Christmas. I haven't even been out shopping this season. The stores are always a madhouse this time of year and I can't stand all the crowds of people and noise and lines. *grumble grumble* I'm planning on making most of my gifts anyway, so I guess it doesn't really matter. :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Food is Good

Here's a plate o' food for ya. Turkey with cranberry relish, stuffing, sweet potatoes, dill carrots, frog eye salad, mashed potatoes, and a roll. That was just my first plate.

Baby's first Thanksgiving! I got these for Vessel because I thought it would be really funny for him to eat Thanksgiving dinner out of a jar. But alas, he ate what we ate, as he usually does at the dinner table.

Pie sampler plate. C'mon, you gotta try 'em all, right? Karen's delish homemade pumpkin pie, Mike's chocolate cheesecake, pecan pie, and another pumpkin pie. See, I had to compare the store bought pumpkin pie to the homemade pie. Consider it a science experiment. Don't judge me....I like sweets, okay?

Here we are on Thanksgiving day, happy as can be.



Thanksgiving Treats!

Cranberry Relish with Ginger


My husband is wonderful. He's always willing to cook, and I think it's awesome that he loves to try new recipes. So for thanksgiving he decided to make cranberry relish instead of that horrid cranberry sauce out of a can. :) It turned out very good. There are several alterations to this recipe, but this is the one we used.

Cranberry Relish with Ginger

The lively, clean flavor of fresh ginger is compatible with most fruits. In the market, look for ginger that is hard and heavy, with an unbroken peel that is thin, light colored, smooth and shiny. To prepare ginger, peel it with a vegetable peeler or paring knife before using as directed in a recipe.

Ingredients:

1 orange, unpeeled and preferably
organic, scrubbed
2 bags (12 oz. each) fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger

Directions

Cut the orange (with its peel on) into 16 chunks and discard any seeds. Working in batches, combine the orange chunks, cranberries, sugar and ginger in a food processor. Pulse to chop finely and evenly, stopping once or twice with each batch to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.

Transfer to a storage container, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to develop the flavors. Bring to room temperature and stir well before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

Make-Ahead Tip: This relish improves when made in advance, since the flavors have more time to marry. Prepare it up to 3 days before serving.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series,Thanksgiving,by Michael McLaughlin (Simon & Schuster, 2001).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dill Carrots

Dill Carrots


I got this idea from the Jeppsons when they had us over for dinner last week. They served dill carrots but they tasted different than any carrots I've had. Melissa told me the secret (Alma's grandma used) is to boil the carrots in Sprite. After boiling until done, strain and add butter and dill, then stir. Yum-O!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake
Richer than rich; for chocolate lovers only.

I was so impressed with Mike this Thanksgiving. He decided he was going to make a chocolate cheesecake to take to his parents house. He and Gavin went shopping for the ingredients together and came back to our apartment to make the delectable treat. I didn't have to worry about a thing. The boys were mixing and melting and stirring and baking....and Mike even cleaned the kitchen when he was done! Gavin was happy to take a cheesecake home to his wife Tracy, and Tracy didn't complain. Neither did I. It turned out delicious.

Taken from the Joy of Cooking

Prepare and bake a chocolate crust or buy one (we used a store bought Oreo crumb crust.) If you make one, bake it in a springform pan.

Have all ingredients at room temperature, 68 to 70 degrees F. Place a loaf pan or cake pan filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven to moisten the air. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place in small bowl:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped. (We used Ghiradelli baking chocolate bars.)
Add:
1/3 cup boiling water
Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. In a large bowl, beat just until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds:
1 pound cream cheese
Scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters well. Gradually add and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes:
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat in 1 at a time, just until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beaters after each addition:
3 large eggs
Beat in:
2 cups sour cream
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

Add the warm chocolate mixture and beat on low speed just until well blended. Scrape the batter into the crust and smooth the top. Place on baking sheet. Bake until the edges of the cake have puffed but the center sill looks moist and jiggles when the pan is tapped, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn the oven off, prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon, an let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove to a rack and let cool completely in the pan before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 hours before serving. The flavors are even more intense after 48 hours.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thankful

Since Thanksgiving is this week I thought I'd share with you all some of the things I'm thankful for.

1. Obviously my life wouldn't be the same, let alone as good as it is, if it wasn't for Mike. He does so much for our family. I'm thankful that he works so hard in school and at his job, and at his calling, and as a father, and as a husband, and everything else he is and does. He is always willing to help me with anything, he supports me, he is emotionally there for me, he shows me affection, he changes dirty diapers, he cooks, he cleans, he washes the dishes, he displays patience and honesty and love. He is funny and smart and I love having conversations with him and he is spiritual and sweet and good looking, and he totally completes me in every sense of the word. So I am thankful for him.

2. I am thankful for our son. I believe Vessel was meant just for us. Vessel is very special and he brings so much joy into our home and into our lives. Vessel has a mild temperament which is good because I don't know if I could handle a really wild child right now! I am thankful that Vessel has always been healthy and strong, even in the womb. He brings a smile to my face everyday and I am thankful that I was blessed to be his mom.

3. I am thankful for the gospel. For some people, church and religion have no significant meaning or serves no purpose in their lives. For me, I couldn't live without it. I have known the feeling of being without the church in my life, and have known the feeling of it's presence, and I much prefer the latter. I am thankful for my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Without it I don't know what I would do.

4. On that note, I'm thankful for being able to serve with the young women and the YW leaders in our ward. Being a teacher has helped me in so many ways. I have opened up more and gotten better at public speaking, I’ve made many friends, and I have learned much more about the gospel through my calling.

6. I am thankful to live in America. I know that the leaders of this country and the government can be quite awry at times, but I am thankful for this land despite all that. I am thankful for the many freedoms I have. I think the good things about living in this country far outweigh the bad.

7. I am thankful for the beautiful planet. Sometimes I look around and can't believe how beautiful it is. The flowers, the trees, the sky, the clouds, the snow, the rain, the animals, the soil, the rivers, the mountains, EVERYTHING. I love everything on God's green earth.

8. I am thankful for friends. For the first time in my life I can say that I have really good friends (this includes family as well.) Friends who genuinely care about me and my well being, friends who don’t judge or criticize me, friends who are there for me through ups and downs, who make me laugh, who are fun to be with, and who help me want to be a better person.

9. I am thankful for my body. Sometimes I really take it for granted and I know I shouldn't. I can jump and dance and sing and play with Vessel and participate in sports, and do the things that I love. I am also thankful for my senses. To feel Mike’s touch, to smell the rain, to taste chocolate, to view beautiful pieces of art, to hear music, and so many wonderful things. Even when I am sick or hurt or don’t like what I see in the mirror some days I am still thankful for my body. I am also thankful to be a woman.

10. I am thankful for all the kind people that I meet.

11. I am thankful for always having a warm bed, clothes, and food. I feel very lucky.

12. I am thankful for indoor plumbing.

13. Even though I don't like school sometimes, I am thankful for the opportunity to further my education. It truly is a blessing that we've received scholarships and grants to pay for most of our schooling. It has been a great experience to take classes and to learn and grow and develop new interests. I am thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Book Review--For Those of Us Who Struggle with the Past

     For a long time I’ve struggled with the idea of forgiveness and I believe for many years it was this way because my definition of forgiveness was so distorted. Growing up I was taught to “forgive and forget,” and this seemed so impossible to me. Although I tried hard to forgive, I could not forget past wrongdoings or betrayal. I held on like the last leaf that holds to the barren branch of winter. I could not let go. I would not let go. And then I read 2 books that helped me.
       
     The first book is Forgive for Good by Fred Luskin. This book put things into perspective and addressed my misconceptions of forgiveness. It made me realize that forgiving is not forgetting. It made me understand that forgiveness does not have to mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is not for the offender, but instead, it’s for the offended. It is a means to find peace within ourselves when the anger and hurt of the past has tattered our souls. I really liked this book because it was very easy to understand. The simplicity of Dr. Luskin’s words and methods were a key component for me because I can’t stand to read a bunch of medical jargon that doctors or psychologists sometimes add in the pages of their works. Although he uses examples and analogies (which I liked,) Luskin gets right to the point. I know that I can have unrealistic expectations of others. Luskin talks in depth about unenforceable rules and how to stop setting rules for other people. I think it’s fair to say that most people want to control everything that happens in their lives, and when things do not go the way they expect, it makes them angry, myself included. I love how Luskin highlights the fact that we can't control how other people act, but we can control how we react to them. I can’t force others to love me, to treat me fairly, or to never hurt or lie to me. I can't force others to give me time, affection or attention. But I can give to others those things. That realization really gave me a sense of empowerment.
 
     The second book I would recommend is Forgiveness is a Choice by Dr. Robert Enright. He suggests similar, yet different, methods of coping with anger. He also discusses a number of problems associated with harboring anger. He says that “anger affects our bodies,” distressing our adrenal levels, heart rate, blood pressure, digestive functions, and so on. The anger, if kept inside, eats away at the body and mind like a disease. There have been times that I have been so upset or emotionally hurt that I have physically made myself sick. A lot of those physical ailments other people can’t see just by looking. But when we have pent up anger it shows in our countenance. Just like when we are happy we sometimes have a jump in our step, we might smile, or we are kinder to people without even realizing it. When we harbor anger, (whether recent or lodged deep in the back of our minds) it shows on our outward appearance. We don’t smile, we might slouch, and we might just put out a “vibe” that says we’re not happy. People are extremely intuitive and can tell when something is bothering someone without them verbally making it known. There have been times in my own life when things weren’t going so well, and it was amazing to hear people comment on how I looked different (even though I wasn’t trying to look upset.) The same goes for when things were going really great in my life. People would say “you are just glowing.” I assume emotions have a way of leaking out into the way we carry ourselves and act, even when we try to suppress them. Many actions are subconscious of the thoughts going on in our minds. Unless we are really good at acting, harboring anger will show itself on the outside one way or another.
 
     Hopefully I’m not giving the wrong impression. These books are not about suppressing anger, they are about controlling anger. Enright states, “Anger, like other emotions, must be controlled. Suppressing legitimate anger is unhealthy. Continually venting anger is also unhealthy.” We need to find the balance in ourselves.
      
     So there are 2 options. Forgiving and moving forward with life is one. The less than healthy alternative is staying angry, bitter, unforgiving and completely miserable with life. I’ve come to find out that this alternative doesn’t help me or anyone else around me. I’m really learning that we aren’t forced to feel the way we do. We can take our circumstances and make the most of them. I believe people are not given anything in life that they are incapable of handling. It’s just that some people choose to handle their severe circumstances in remarkable ways.
      
     When my mom died unexpectedly, it was an enormous wake-up call for my family. Some realized that life is too short and decided to start living life with more meaning and purpose. Others in my family still have anger issues and resentment. Nobody knows exactly why some things happen to them, but I’m a firm believer that certain things happen to specific people for a reason. I should count my blessings and realize there’s option 1 which is to forgive, progress, and make the best out of bad situations or option 2 which is to remain stuck in the past continually reliving anger from minor grudges for the rest of my life. And I’m sure some of you might say that you don’t hold a grudge. Well, I thought that too, but I was wrong, or in denial. These books opened up my eyes and I’m glad I read them.
 
     One thing I thought that was really interesting was how Enright emphasized the importance of teaching forgiveness at a young age. I agree with this because if we can instill proper forgiveness principles in young people they will be able to apply the methods by the time they hit their teenage years. Now that I have a child, I want to set the best example I possibly can and foster love and affection at a young age so that as Vessel and my other children grow into adolescence they will be able to offer love and forgiveness freely instead of out of obligation. For instance, I have been around parents who teach their children it’s a must to ask for forgiveness or to apologize for doing something wrong. My sweet one year old was pushed over by an older play mate once and the mom of the bully told her child “Say you’re sorry or I’ll take that toy away!” (or lose some other privilege.) Even at this age that mom is teaching that there has to be an incentive for apologizing (not because it would be the right thing to do) and my son, although still very young, is seeing that forgiving must involve an apology. It’s easy for kids to grow up thinking that way and when they become teenagers it is already a learned thing to expect an apology or reconciliation to take place or to forgive because “that’s just what you do” or “because I said so and I’m the parent.”
 
     It’s always been hard for me to want to forgive others, especially if they weren’t apologetic. I want them to acknowledge the hurt they caused and feel sorry for it. But now I’m starting to see from reading these books that forgiveness doesn’t have to follow an apology. Forgiveness of someone doesn’t even have to be known to the other individual. Forgiveness is merely a tool that fixes the hearts of those who hurt. So I am trying hard to focus more of my attention on fixing myself, regardless of what the other person may or may not feel.
 
     There is another author, McKay, whose work I’ve been reading that has helped me lately as well. He says that “anger destroys relationships…The tissue of a relationship gets thickened and scarred. And finally you both become insensitive to pain and pleasure.” He also states that letting it out doesn’t get you what you want. “What you want is to be listened to, appreciated, cared for. Anger gets you coldness, withdrawal, and anger in return. Letting it out feels good. But it's like smoking crack: a five-minute high, followed by depression, pain, and emotional bankruptcy.

     This statement seems very true as I’ve experienced both ends of the stick. I’ve “exploded” on people before, basically letting out all my anger and frustration and it usually gets me nothing good in return. When others let out anger on me I become distant and cold towards them to protect myself. But keeping the anger in will only eat you up inside, so what do you do?

     I think you have to find a happy medium, as Enright suggests. You have to let the anger out somehow, but shouldn’t “explode” on other people. McKay suggests channeling your anger. Use the energy of feeling angry to do something positive like exercising, working in the garden, creating something, writing, playing music, etc. He also recommends listing the positive and negative consequences of getting angry or “letting it out” and at the end of the exercise you are supposed to ask yourself “Did anger get me what I wanted?” Enright talks about journal writing, which for me has been very therapeutic. I don’t share my journal with others, since it’s really for my benefit only. Channeling the anger through writing, art, or exercising has been a way for me to get the energy out without destroying a relationship (in most circumstances. I’m still working on it!)
It has been extremely difficult in past situations, but I am now carefully choosing what my mind will “rent space” to.  

     The forgiveness process isn’t easy, nor is it short and simple, but it is one of the most beneficial concepts I have ever learned. And these books have really contributed to my progress.
If you are curious about anger management and forgiveness techniques, or if you're curious to know what anger style you display check out this site.

To read pages from Luskin's book, click here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Love

Here is my beautiful wife and awesome son. This picture was taken just before church. I love 'em both so much. Psh, they're the best!


Good as New

This chair used to be my mom's when she was a child and then it was mine when I was a child, and now it's Vessel's! It used to look like this, but we decided to strip the stain, sand it down and repaint it. The stepping stool was also mine as a child, but given to me as a gift from someone else. We thought we'd make it go with the chair. This project took longer than expected, considering that we wanted to give it to Vessel on his birthday. The sad thing is, we were so close to having it done by then, but since it wasn't, we slacked off and barely finished it this week. Thinking it would be less boring, Mike and I decided to paint it 2 colors instead of one. After taking the slats off and sanding it all down, we first put the white coats on (which actually turned out to be eggshell) and then the red. After several coats and touch ups, we finally put on the Shellac, or the sealant. Then we nailed the slats back on and viola! An awesome chair just Vessel's size! I'm sure a professional could've done a lot better, but bear in mind that we have never done something like this before. However, it was a fun project that Mike and I could work on together and a piece of history we could pass down to our son. We love it!

Our Little Helper

Ves has been climbing into the dishwasher (to help us clean the dishes of course) for months now, but I finally got it on camera, and in his birthday suit no less.

Wrangler Butts Drive Me Nuts!

Don'tcha just love the Wrangler diaper cover?

Cowboy Vessie!

Killer footwear, eh?

On his horse "Taffy."



Friday, November 16, 2007

Relationship to Food

So as I was browsing my SIL Karen's blog, I saw she had a post with 10 weird facts about her relationship with food. She didn't tag me by name, but she said if anyone reads it to do it. And I'm not one to pass up the opportunity to talk all about myself, so here ya go. :) I tag Mike, Tracy, Gavin, Bekah, Chris, Annika, Carrol, cousin Tracie, and Shelly-Chelle.

1. I love getting food samples at the grocery store. One afternoon I went to Harmon's and practically ate lunch there from the multitude of sample stations set up all over the store. And, because I'm pathetic, I'll usually go back and get another sample when the server's not looking.

2. I love to munch on crunchy food. When I want a snack I usually go for something crunchy. Like banana chips, apple chips, potato chips, tortilla chips (hey, I like chips,) cereal, vanilla wafers, goldfish crackers, Milano cookies, toffee, carrot sticks, etc. Even when I eat ice cream (my all time favorite food) it's much better for me if it's got something crunchy in it or if it's in one of those crunchy waffle bowls or a sugar cone.

3. Lumps in food gross me out. Who likes lumpy gravy or lumpy pudding, or lumpy anything for that matter?

4. I am desperate to try some chocolate covered bacon. Salty and sweet....what a great combo!

5. I hate to cook. I can do it, and when I do it usually turns out fine, but it's not my favorite thing in the world.

6. Even though I hate cooking, I enjoy watching cooking shows. I'm really starting to like Nigella Lawson. Maybe it's because she likes chocolate covered bacon. :)

7. So once in awhile if I have nothing else to do on Wednesday night I'll watch "Kitchen Nightmares" while Mike is at class. Let me tell ya, that show seriously makes me reconsider eating out at ANY restaurant.

8. This week I watched "Criminal Minds" and it was about the detectives honing in on a kidnapper who they later learned was a cannibal. Before knowing who the killer was, the detectives got together with the local church to search for one of the missing neighborhood girls. Well the killer (a member of the congregation) just happened to show up to aid in the volunteer search that day. But instead of going on the search with the rest of the group, he was in charge of making BBQ for the group to eat when they got back from searching the woods. Well, he ended up feeding that missing girl to the whole congregation, including the priest. When they finally realized who the killer was, one of the detectives questioned him in a room with the priest there. The killer said something to the effect that he had done a lot of bad things and he didn't feel like God's spirit was with him anymore. The priest tried to offer some consoling words by saying "God is in everybody." The killer just smiled and said, "So is _________." (name of the girl he fed to the people.)

My stomach was in knots and doing somersaults for the rest of the night. You know, I am sometimes paranoid that someone will do something bad to my food, like hock a loogy in my sandwich or something. But I have never thought that someone was probably feeding me a human being. And now I'll never look at barbeque the same again, let alone eat it.


Looks like I could only think of 8 things. Sorry to let you all down.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Classes

Last week I determined my school schedule for January. I’m signed up for statistics (my only required class) and my other four classes are electives. I decided to sign up with an aerobics class because not only did I need an extra credit to fill, but I think I’ll be more motivated to exercise if I know I’ll be getting a grade for attending class. I’m also taking mediation, a drawing class, and an honors class called technologies of the body. Here’s the description of the class:

Technologies of the Body The body is continually being negotiated in a landscape of ever-changing signifiers, including enhancements, exchanges, modifications and inscriptions: all instances of how we engage in 'body-work'. Bodywork includes various forms of alterations and transformations, for example, reductions, piercings, tattoos, injections, and transplantations. These practices alter and construct how the body is read, and consequently, what the body signifies. The body as a cultural signifier also includes capacities of the virtual body with the arrival of computerized, robotized, digitized, and postmodern bodies. The aim of this course is to consider and examine the argument that participation in these contemporary technologies has significantly transformed the experience of what it means to have a body. The consequences of the intersections-between technology and the body-will be explored and critically analyzed.

It sounds interesting right? If it wasn’t for Mike I wouldn’t have known it even existed. He’s the one who suggested I apply for the Honor’s program so I could be eligible to take one of the cool classes the department offers. And only the best of the best professors are allowed to teach honors courses (according to Mike), so I hope I don’t regret registering for this class. My back-up classes (in case I decide against any that I’m already signed up for) are hip hop dance (don’t judge me) and Acting 1033, at which Mike will mock me for taking both, so let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that.


Another week has begun

Another week has begun. Where did the weekend go? It was a great weekend, but went by too fast. One of my friends started a monthly get-together, appropriately named “girls night in,” where about 10 of us women get together at someone’s home to work on our projects, eat, and basically just talk all hours of the night. So on Friday a few women, including me, brought our scrapbooks, one brought some needlepoint, another worked on painting, another was sewing something special to give as a Christmas gift, and one filled out some baby shower invitations. It’s not very often that I feel comfortable with a big group of women, but I have to be honest and say that I had a fabulous time. I saw a side of some girls that I had never seen before. It was great just being able to have adult conversation (which is a must when you’re with a kid all day long) and talk freely about pretty much any topic. Nothing was taboo. Overall, I enjoyed learning about other women’s lives and was happy to find out that other women have several similar ideas and experiences as me. And besides eating and laughing together, I was actually able to make progress on my scrapbook (something I never get a chance to do when it’s just me and Vessel at home) and swap ideas with fellow scrapbookers. Thanks to my honey for giving our son a bath and putting him down for the night so I could go have some fun. :) The host of this month’s “girls night in” decided she wanted to do the pencil test on one of the pregnant woman in the group as a means to finding out the gender of her baby. If you read my “10 unknown facts” post recently, you’ll remember that I’m superstitious, and this little pencil test is no exception. I remember my mom doing the test on me as a young girl, but with a needle instead of a pencil. Oddly, I don’t remember the results. So out of curiosity I had my friend dangle the pencil lead above my wrist and tell me my pregnancy future, if you will, and according to the pencil I’m only having 2 boys. Psh! We’ll just see about that. For one thing, I was kind of planning on having more than 2 kids, and for another I KNOW I’m going to have a girl SOMEDAY. I just have to. Pencil, why do you have to mess with me? Anyway, has anyone ever heard of this pencil test who wouldn't mind sharing their experiences/thoughts on it?

On Saturday a friend of mine who is so sweet watched Vessel for us so Mike and I could attend a temple session. We went with another couple and it was a really good session. In fact, one of the best I’ve had in a long time. And it made me feel happy the rest of the day. After picking up Vess, we went out with the same couple to have some Indian food (Mike’s favorite.) By the time we got home Vessel was so exhausted that he took a 2 ½ hour nap, which was fine by me, because I needed a nap too. I have not taken a real nap in months, and let me tell ya, it felt SO NICE. That night I made spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast, which turned out okay, but for some reason I can never get my meatballs to maintain their “ball” shape when I cook them. Does anyone have some tips for me? After Vessel was down for the night, Mike and I watched a movie, ate ice cream and snuggled. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kid, but sometimes I really can’t wait for 8:00 to roll around so Mike and I can just have some alone time and talk or so I can finally work on my neglected projects.

On Sunday, Vessel was a demon, and I mean that. The poor kid caught a mild cold plus he’s getting his molars, and on top of that I think he’s having a growth spurt. So he’s been really irritable and uncomfortable the past few days. I know something’s not right when my seemingly mellow, happy, content child is shrieking and whining non-stop all day. It’s like he turned into a completely different person. I had a feeling he was teething again because he’s been drooling excessively and putting his fingers in his mouth, and sure enough I looked at his gums and I can see them starting to bubble up. So right now he’s just one snotty, slobbery mess. The reason I think he’s having a growth spurt is because he’s eating more than usual and it doesn’t seem like he’s grown for some time, (or maybe I just don’t notice him getting bigger because it’s so gradual.) But in any case, if it is a growth spurt, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s in some pain. As a child Mike would cry and complain about his joints, bones and skin hurting when he was going through a major growth spurt, so I’m sure Vessel could have a similar experience. I hope he gets feeling better soon.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Hooray for Dan! (UPDATED)


*UPDATE*---Here is a video David put together for those who could not be there. Good times, good times.


Last night we went to the Bates' house because Danny wanted all the family to be there when he opened his mission letter. He has been called to serve in the Guatemala, Guatemala City North Mission! He will report to the Guatemala MTC on February 27th. Mike and I are very happy and excited for him and also very proud.




Tuesday, November 6, 2007

10 unknown facts about Mike

Ok, Jamie wanted me to post 10 things that people don't know about me. Well, I've gotta say I'm pretty transparent and shallow, so if you already know this stuff you can just give yourself a pat on the back and we'll all move on. Deal? Here it goes:



#1: I am emphatic in my opinion that yellow is a girl color, and no one is going to change my mind.



#2: I wore Jamie's socks like three times in the last week (see, I'm already grasping).



#3: Although I consider myself a relatively generous tipper, I receive NO satisfaction from it. In fact, I do it 100% out of a sense of obligation.




#4: I detest Bic pens. I have to use my "Primary Pen" at all times. I always have an ink/pencil lead refill on hand in case of an emergency.



#5: I don't have the ability to wear business casual clothing. I either have to be in a suit or be totally casual. (sure, I have some khakis, but I don't have it in me to take the next step and tuck in a pink button-down or something).



#6: I follow the speed limit when I'm driving 99.9% of the time and consider it a moral issue.



#7: I hate graduation ceremonies so much that I have only attended one besides mine from high school. I'm not even going to my own when I graduate from the U.



#8: I don't like to bask on the beach. I have to be doing something more exciting or I get really annoyed.



#9: I don't watch sports AT ALL, and I don't care about team rivalries or any of that stuff. I'll play the games, but I can't stand watching it for any period of time.



#10: I have a journal, and I have a crazy mental block from writing negative thoughts in it. I'll complain and whine on the internet to complete strangers, but I'm always totally optimistic when I write in my journal.

So there ya go. I don't know if anyone is going to learn anything useful here, but at least it's done, ne?

Mystery

After my mom passed away I found this quilt in her closet. There are 48 embroidered quilting blocks, one for each state (excluding Hawaii and Alaska) and the state flower. It has a peach background and backing (my mom's favorite color.) It looks like a lot of work went into it. The problem? I don't know who embroidered the quilting squares. It is still a mystery to me. I've called numerous family members to find out if they know. I called my great aunt Ludeen thinking that her mom (my great grandma Jessie) might have embroidered them because I know she made several quilts and embroidered items. I described the quilt to Ludeen and when she told me she also had a state flower quilt with the same kind of pattern that her mother Jessie helped her set, I thought for sure that my great grandma had done it. I then called my aunt Ella (my mom's sister) to find out if she knew anything about it. She told me that her grandma Ames (my great grandma) made each grand-daughter a different quilt top and that my mom's may have been the state flower quilt top, but wasn't sure. I then called my other aunt to find out if she had any information. She agreed that my great grandma Ames had made a quilt top for each girl and that all the grand-daughters just had to finish the quilt themselves (like add the batting, backing, and finish the edges.) I vaguely remember my mom talking about a quilt she needed to finish when I was younger, but I'm not sure who helped her finish the quilt. And I still don't know who embroidered everything. I wish I would've asked my Mom this before she passed away, and my 2 grandmas that would have the answer have also passed away. It's frustrating because it's such a neat quilt and I'd love to know who in my family background made it. Here's my advice: talk to your parents and grandparents now! If you have old things like this, find out who made them, ask questions about your genealogy, take an interest! I wish I would've then, but now it's too late. *sigh*

Here are a few of the quilting blocks:

(Idaho--my state baby! Woot woot!)



The quilt laid out on our bed:

Ghoul's punch

I know Halloween has passed, but maybe you could use these ideas for next year!

For our Halloween party we concocted our own punch and put it in a punch bowl with these "bloody" frozen hands. It was quite spooky, let me tell ya.


Frozen Hands: Carefully pour cranberry juice cocktail (or juice of choice) into 2 or 3 clear plastic gloves.* Fill the gloves so that the fingers can move easily. Tightly seal the gloves with rubber bands. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Freeze until firm. Use scissors to cut the gloves off the frozen hands. If any fingers break off, add them separately to punch. Blood oranges add to the appeal of the punch as well, as indicated by the picture I got from the Better Homes and Gardens website. :)

*Note: Be sure to use gloves without powder. Or, rinse powdered gloves thoroughly before using.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Scaredy Cat Ice Cream Cake

I made this cake for Vessel's birthday party and it turned out really cute!

Ingredients
  • 1 15- to 21-1/2-ounce package brownie mix
  • 1/2 gallon chocolate ice cream, softened
  • 1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (I used chocolate graham crackers, but I think Oreos would've worked better.)
  • 2 blue corn tortilla chips
  • Tropical-flavored rolled fruit leather
  • 2 large white gum balls (I couldn't find gumballs so for the eyes and nose I just used fondant dyed with food coloring)
  • 1 large orange gum ball
  • 3 pieces green apple-flavored twist candy, halved lengthwise (I couldn't find the licorice like it shows on this recipe so I found some sour, gummy candy strings that worked just as well.)
  • Purchased fondant*
  • Yellow paste food coloring
  • Orange paste food coloring

Directions

1. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, allowing foil to extend over edges of pan; set aside. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions using the prepared baking pan. Cool brownie in pan completely. Use foil to lift brownie from pan onto a cutting board. Remove foil. Using the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan as a guide, cut a circle from brownie. Place the brownie circle in a 9-inch springform pan (eat remaining brownie scraps or save for another use). I used the remaining brownie pieces to dip in the chocolate fountain later that night. Mmmmmmmm!

2. Spoon softened ice cream over brownie in pan, spreading evenly. Cover and freeze for 2 hours. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs over top of ice cream.

3. For ears, press in blue tortilla chips. For cat eyes, press a small cutout piece of fruit leather onto each white gum ball; press into cake. Add an orange gum ball for the nose. For whiskers, add green twists, trimming as necessary. For mouth, color about 1/3 cup fondant yellow and another 1/3 cup fondant orange. Alternate 2x1/2-inch pieces of the colored fondant on a piece of waxed paper, placing the pieces close together. Roll out fondant to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out a "smile" shape; place on cake. Cover and freeze cake until firm, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

4. To serve, remove sides and bottom of pan and place on a platter. Makes one cake (12 servings)


A Walk in the Park

On Saturday we took a walk through a park near Mom and Dad Bates house and took some pictures. Danny, Kathy, AJ, Mom, Dad, and Whitney were all present. I love the beautiful fall season.


My boys.