Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I really like setting and keeping goals, but I've never been really big on the "New Year's Resolution" because they always seem to sputter before the end of January. That's why I had to laugh when I found The New Year's Resolution Generator to help.

Now, when I sputter in February, I won't feel so bad. Especially, since I've decided to FROST CUPCAKES. Actually, I may be able to really succeed in this one.

My Family Tree

I've had questions about the cool family tree from my last post. I'm working on a group of pictures for the living room right now with this as the centerpiece. It's a real work of art, in my opinion, that I purchased from a small online retailer called My Tree and Me. Jen is the proprietor who says this about her work:
I became interested in my own family history when my first child, Finley, was born. As a new mother, it felt incredible to take my place in the long line of mothers who had come before me. And in the more challenging moments, it was comforting to think that all of these generations of parents had raised children, day-by-day, year-by-year, through the highs and lows, and they made it through! I didn’t want to lose that sense of connection. By graphically interpreting our history, our family tree serves as an emotional reminder that we always have the wisdom, humor, and experience of generations to draw upon.
She has several designs, but I fell in love with this one, partly because I love the little, blue bird, but also because it sports the same color scheme that we already have going on in the living/dining area of the house.

The process was easy. I selected the design I wanted and paid for it. Then, Jen sent a spreadsheet for me to fill in with the pedigree chart information. She created a draft of the tree with all my names filled in and sent it to me in .pdf format to review and make sure everything was correct. When I gave her the thumbs up, she finished it and printed it and sent it to me in a mailer.

I'll post more pics when I finish getting everything hung on the wall. I need one more frame before I'm really ready, but I'm very close.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Music Monday -- Bon Iver

I think I missed the Bon Iver boat when it left the port. I have heard about the band for quite some time and never really sat down to take a listen. After continued mentions of them, I finally gave in and it made me very happy. The album For Emma, Forever Ago is just real, great, indie folk music with a lovely voice. It's not music to keep you up, but definitely great to keep you entertained.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Project 2010

I always love a project. I don't always finish, but having a project to work on is always fun. I also think family history is important, but I'm really not interested in genealogy by itself. So, I have two things I'd really like to do. One I'm fully committed to and the other, well we'll just have to see.

My first project is to write some personal history. My blog is a bit of personal history in real time, but I'm going to spend time writing about memories and growing up. My commitment is to write something at least once a week. It doesn't have to be super long and drawn out and I'm not going to write about a whole year each week or anything crazy like that. It might be something small, like writing about my first memory or a things I loved to do on summer vacation or a trip I took as a kid. By committing to this small step, I think I can accomplish something important for myself, and maybe I'll even do more. I'll also share some of my writing here on my blog. I'd also like to collect photos that go along with what I write, so I may have to take a photo vacation to Boise at some point to collect the pictures that go along with my memories.

My second project is a little more challenging. I have an ancestor who wrote a personal history. Then another relative put it together (mostly as it was written, but not exactly) in a book called The Trios Pilgrimage. I've read the book a couple of times and I would love to read the actual manuscript and then write my own rendition of the story. Challenge number one is finding out who has the actual manuscript and then figuring out how I can get either the manuscript or, preferably, a copy of the manuscript. I'm hoping my mom can help with that. The second challenge may be reading the manuscript depending on how it was written. The final challenge will be having the discipline to do my own writing.

We'll see how far I get with both of these, but I think it will be fun. And I just followed the first rule of starting new projects. By writing it down, it's already twice as likely to happen!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

It's been a beautiful day. We woke up to open presents and then the DH cooked up venison steaks and eggs for breakfast. We had the brother, SIL, and nephew over for a nice Christmas dinner and it turned out fantastic! We had a smoked turkey again and I just can't get over how much I love it. The SIL made the best scalloped potatoes ever, and we had a nice time stuffing ourselves.

We also had presents for them to open and the nephew seemed to love everything. However, the tribble was the highlight. The DH had gone to the EMP and Science Fiction Museum and thought that the brother would appreciate it. He thought it was good, but the nephew really loved it, at least while they were at our house. It was fun to find things for them to enjoy and we enjoyed the giving.

After everything else had died down for the day, I spent some time reading Christmas letters from my extended family. I'm grateful to my dad for pushing me and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins on that side of the family to participate in this annual tradition. I'm so blessed to know some wonderful people in my family and, since we don't see each other often, it's a blessing to catch up in letters once a year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Traditions

This evening, the DH and I will go on the Christmas Ships. We've done this every year, except last year when we got snowed in, since we've been married. It's a tradition that we came up with together and we've enjoyed it each year. The Christmas Ships are a fleet of Argosy cruise boats that are decorated with Christmas lights and the ships have choirs on them for entertainment. Then, they go around Lake Washington with a bunch of private boats that are decorated to the nines floating around with them. It's similar to going on a drive to see the lights, but we get to just hang out in the boat and the cool light displays come to us.

On Sunday, we did what I think will become a new Christmas tradition for us. We went to the Northwest Boychoir Festival of Lessons & Carols concert. The music was beautiful and it really put me in the Christmas mood. The concerts are held in area cathedrals and end with two concerts at Benaroya Hall. We chose the performance at Trinity Lutheran church in Lynnwood and thought the venue was fantastic. The acoustics were perfect for the choir and there was not a bad seat in the house. I especially enjoyed the format where the congregation gets to join in the singing. Maybe that's why I thought it really got me in the mood.

Monday, December 21, 2009

We Finally Trimmed the Tree

Happy Solstice! I love that the days will start getting longer again after today. The ancient pagans celebrated solstice with an evergreen tree, and that was the precursor to our Christmas trees.

The DH and I finally decorated our tree on Friday night. We put on the lights, the cool gold star, and our collection of all kinds of ornaments that we've gathered through the years. We even found some presents to put underneath. We're getting close!

Saturday Sweets

Last week, I felt the need to make some treats to give to friends, so I went nostalgic. This is one of my favorites from growing up and it always makes me think of my Grandpa D. This is pecan brittle, and it tastes amazing.

When I was young, my mother made this every year at Christmas time and sent a box to my grandpa in Arizona. It was one of his favorite treats that she would make. The batch doesn't make a lot of candy, so 90% of it would be packaged up to send South and the small remainder would be divided between all the six kids in my family. That meant about two pieces each. It was never enough!

Now I find that even though I could make a whole batch for myself, in theory, it's too sweet to keep.

The pecan brittle is basically just sugar and butter cooked to a hard ball stage and poured over pecans. However, even in its simplicity, it's easy to ruin. I think that's a metaphor for something. Maybe you can tell me what.

I've now made four batches and two made great brittle. The first was perfect. The second, the butter and sugar separated and wouldn't go back together. The third I burned. The fourth was perfect again. I only wasted one pound of butter. That's actually not too bad for this recipe.

After making the first batch, I packaged it up in bags to give to the ladies that I work with in my church position. It was fun to have something I made to give them.

The rest of what I made with go to more friends in the next day or two.

If you want to try this, here's the recipe:

Pecan Brittle

½ pound butter
1 cup sugar

Lightly butter a square 9x9 pan. Spread pecans on bottom of pan in a single layer. Cook butter and sugar in heavy pan. Stir all the time it is cooking. Cook until light brown in color and starting to smoke. Pour over pecans and let cool. Break into pieces.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Life is Good

These are a few things that made me happy today:
  • The electrician fixing the lights in the kitchen so I can see when I cook and the house won't burn down
  • The turquoise scarf and red shoes -- those colors are my favorite combo right now
  • Giving gift cards to the PMs at work
  • Finally decorating the Christmas tree
  • Working out so hard it hurt
  • Meeting all my deadlines at work today
  • Crocheting more than halfway around a baby blanket for Patrick's niece
  • The awesome candy mouse that one of the PM's daughters made for all of us at work today

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Thrill of Hope

I'm not sure I can even express how much I love the song O, Holy Night. I love to sing it, and more than anything, I love to hear it in unexpected places. I few days ago, I was in the grocery store and not really paying much attention to the music playing. I couldn't find what I wanted and was becoming increasingly frustrated. I'd already been to more than one store. Standing in the baking isle, I suddenly heard "Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! Oh, night divine, the night that Christ was born." That part always gets a little louder than the rest, and it always gets to me. I'm reminded of why I am a Christian. I get a "thrill of hope" and feel the rejoicing that comes from knowing that Christ was born so that I, and the weary world, could rejoice in knowing that he came to the world for us. For all of us.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Music Monday -- More Christmas Tunes

When it comes to the more traditional Christmas music, I definitely have some favorites there. It's still not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or Andy Williams.

My current favorite is Kathy Mattea's Christmas album, Good News. My favorite song is called Brightest and Best, but it's not on YouTube. The only song from the album is Mary Did You Know, but I love that song and if you haven't heard it, you need to. It's beautiful! Of course, embedding is disabled, so you'll just have to follow the link. I promise that it's worth the effort.

You can watch this too, though. It's beautiful, but it's not Kathy Mattea.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dulcet Tones

On Friday, last week, the DH and I went to see Renee Fleming at Benaroya Hall. I wouldn't say she's my idol, but just about as close as you can get when it comes to multiplying the vocal talent. She is breathtaking.

The program included a bunch of 20th century pieces in the first half. Although I appreciate the skill required to perform those (and it is a lot of skill), it's not music that I enjoy listening to. Perhaps that just speaks to my laziness, but I enjoy a good melody.

The second half started with a group of Strauss lieder and it was exactly what I wanted to hear. Every note was perfection. By the time she'd gotten through the songs, I was so happy that we'd come to hear her.

If you're interested in hearing classical vocal pieces, I highly recommend Renee Fleming. She is likely the most talented soprano performing right now. What a delight that I got to listen in person.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

The wreath went up on the front door and the DH put up lights on Saturday, but there was nothing inside to put us in the holiday spirit. Fortunately, we were able to go to the Sunday broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Devotional on Sunday to help get us in the mood, but last night, when we finally put out a good portion of the Christmas decorations, it really started to feel like Christmas. And, although he's been saying it's too early, I think I could have talked the DH into putting up a tree last night if we'd had the time. It will have to wait until Saturday though. Once we have that, I'll really be in the mood!

We set up the Santa collection on the side table:
And put out the nativity and hung our stockings with care. I know the DH doesn't believe it, since I'm such a plant killer, but I just love having poinsettias in the house at Christmas time.
I hope you're getting in the mood too!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Small Talk

It's when you talk about the weather, or "how about those Mariners, this year?" Well, baby, it's cold outside! Can you even believe how cold it is? I sure am happy to have my furnace for inside and a warm coat for outside. I was laughing when the DH said he thought it was too cold in Boise at Thanksgiving. We're at least 20 degrees colder here now than we were there.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Music Monday -- It's Christmas Time!

Being sick for the last week really put a damper on my Christmas spirits and general holiday prep. This week, it's time to get on with the Christmas spirit, start listening to holiday music, and decorate the house. The DH has been holding out, but I'm sure we'll finally get a tree on Saturday.

When it comes to Christmas music, I hate the "classics" and don't want to hear it. I enjoy the three or four songs the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings for the Christmas devotional, but I would never put on a MoTab Christmas CD to listen to for pleasure. For me, it needs to have some kind of interesting spin or not sound too traditional.

One of my favorite albums is called Navidad Cubana by a group called Cuba L.A. Of course, they're no where to be found on YouTube. The music is fun and jazzy, but with a definite Latin beat.

I also enjoy the Brian Setzer Orchestra album, Boogie Woogie Christmas for some of the same reasons. The music has a decidedly non-traditional beat and makes Christmas time sound fun. I mean, who couldn't get hyped listening to something like this?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Faith, Poetry, Love, Romance

I just love this time of year. It is the time of faith, poetry, love, and romance. The Christmas season abounds with wonderful things and I'm so happy we're here again. I've already started a few projects that I hope to get done and I'm looking forward to all that the season has to offer -- even if we end up with snow!

Technically, advent started on Sunday, but since I'm not Catholic I'll start mine today with this:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Music Monday -- Mindy Smith

I really enjoy some acoustic loveliness. Mindy Smith delivers in spades. I have the album One Moment More and have enjoyed listening to it for the five years since it came out. She's technically in the Alt-Country genre, but I find that it sounds like a mix of pop-country and acoustic folk. Though, come to think of it, that's a lot of what alt-country is. I highly recommend listening to the nicely produced tracks that you can hear on iTunes or Amazon, but the video below gives you an idea of Mindy's style.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday is Sweet

While home for the Thanksgiving holiday, the SIL introduced us to a fantastic recipe from Williams-Sonoma. We had all the traditional parts of the Thanksgiving meal, but added Chocolate Pecan Pie this year. I'm not the biggest fan of regular Pecan Pie, so I wasn't sure about it, but it turned out tasting so good. I highly recommend it. And if you're not afraid of making a pie crust, it's not even that hard to make.

Chocolate-Pecan Pie
9 in pie shell
1 ½ C pecans coarsely chopped
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ C unsalted butter
½ C dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350, rollout pastry into 9 in pan. Trim and flute, bake partially and cool completely. Reduce oven to 325sprinkle pecans and Chocolate chips evenly, beat rest and pour over top, bake until firm, about 50 min.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So Thankful

I've been posting on Facebook each day (or at least most days) this month about something I'm grateful for. It's been nice, but doesn't really communicate the magnitude of my gratitude for all I have.

I realize that even when there are things in my life that I don't love or that I think are going poorly, I am so much more blessed than I can even imagine. I don't even know what it means to go hungry or be without a roof over my head. I'll say that's why I don't camp. It's to show my gratitude for having a roof over my head. I also am pretty far removed from disease and other calamities in the world. My hangnail is not a problem and neither is the inconvenience of waiting in lines or being without WiFi for a few hours.

I hope all three of my readers have a wonderful holiday and spend it with people they love.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Music Monday -- Wailin' Jennys

Last week, when I installed Windows 7, it did a number on iTunes. I had to do quite a bit of maintenance and totally rebuild my iPod playlist. It was actually pretty cool to rediscover some music I've purchased, but not played much. One of those discoveries was the Wailin' Jennys. I have the album Firecracker and it's got amazing melodies, great playing, and tight harmonies. They fall under the roots moniker, but I thought they were folk, so what do I know? As I've been listening to the album, it makes me think I want more. Take a listen for yourself. This song is Begin. Good stuff.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food, But Not For Thought

The DH's birthday was Thursday, but we're celebrating like rock stars tonight by singing karaoke with a few friends. To go with the theme, I had to make food--specifically a cake--for the party. I'm definitely not the most creative in my family when it comes to cake decorating, but I think I can hold my own. I just go for simple designs.

Tonight's cake is a microphone. To make it, I baked a yellow cake mix in my smallest mixing bowl and a loaf pan. This gave me the basic shapes I needed to work with. You can see here how I've trimmed them to make the shape of a microphone.After getting the shape just right, I put a crumb coating on with white frosting and put them in the fridge for just a few minutes. Then I broke out the black food coloring. That's fun to work with.

It only took a tiny bit of food coloring to get the gray for the ball of the microphone. Then I put white sugar on it to make it look silvery and shiny. It took a TON more food coloring to get it to black for the handle. Then I used black licorice for the cord and the switch. This is how it turned out.
And as if the day wasn't pretty great anyway, totally unrelated to the cake and party, look what came in the mail! I have to wait until June, but it will be worth it. I've been listening to U2 for more than 20 years and wanting to see them live for just as long. Finally, I get my turn.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday's Food for Thought

Do you consider yourself courageous? I don't. I seldom feel courageous and I too often feel fear. The fear is not always founded in realistic concerns either. The fear of heights, that has become more intense and even weird to me (seriously, where did it come from?!?) is based in no real event or situation that I can recall. It's just worse all the time.

I felt a little courageous when I took the job I'm in now, but it was a pretty comfortable at the same time. I was going back to something I knew well and I also felt that my previous job had done a lot to prepare me for it.

Tomorrow, I'm going to have to face my fear. I'm going to sing karaoke. Pray for me.

When do you feel courageous? Or do you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's November and I'm Feeling Crafty

Last weekend, I really got into the crafty mood. I'm thinking about all the great things I can make for people for Christmas. Honestly, I probably won't do even half of what I've thought up in my crazy brain, but it's still fun to think of all the possibilities.

The crafty mood was sparked by a church activity that included a few cute crafts. I did two things. The first was a wood block with vinyl lettering on it. It was super easy, but took forever because it needed two coats of paint and three coats of clear lacquer before putting the letters on it. I like how it turned out.
The second craft was doing etching on a glass pan. When I said I wanted to do this one, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had to use a stencil to write the words backwards on contact paper, then use an Exacto knife to cut out all the letters, then put the contact paper on the pan, put etching cream on it, wait the allotted time, and wash off the etching cream. That stenciling backwards is harder than it may sound. Or maybe it sounds really hard and that's exactly what it was. And time consuming. But it turned out just fine.And then, finally, I just had to go out and find flannel for a blanket for Patrick's niece who is pregnant with her first baby, a little boy. I'm planning to do a patchwork quilt with the rag seams on one side. This is the combo of fabric that I bought. It was so hard to find five fabrics that coordinated for a boy. There are hundreds of choices got girls, but really not so much for boys. I think I did OK. The baby is due on Christmas, so I need to get cracking on this one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Monday -- Part Deux

Over the weekend, the DH and I went to the symphony and enjoyed Carmina Burana. It's some amazing music by Carl Orff. This includes both vocal and symphonic music. The text for the vocal music is taken from medieval texts found at a monastery. When Orff had this performed for the first time in 1937, it was like a revelation. No one had ever heard anything like it before. It's pretty powerful stuff. What we heard on Saturday did not disappoint. We had seen it before (and I have performed it before), but this was the best we've heard so far.


Music Monday -- Feist

When I was looking at Sesame Street videos and ran across Feist singing 1234 with the muppets, it reminded me how much I like her style. I have the album The Reminder. It's got intesity, but with a spark of whimsy. I can listen to a whole album from her without getting bored. The music can really stick with you too.

This clip of My Moon My Man is a great example of her style.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday's Recipe

At least this is only one day late. Still, I'm really slacking! I'll try to be better next week.

Yesterday, I did my shopping for the week and got pretty excited about doing some actual meal planning. Nice idea, huh? It's been rainy and cool and looks like we've got at least a full week of rain ahead. That always makes me think that soup would be good, so I made sure I have everything I need for Taco Soup in the pantry. It's super easy to make and takes almost no time at all to get done and taste good. Also, it's one of those recipes that you can use whatever you have around if you don't have the exact things it calls for. Any old canned thing will do (within reason). Also, I think Fritos are the only correct chip to eat with Taco Soup.

Taco Soup

1 pound hamburger
1 onion chopped
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 can whole tomatoes
1 16-ounce can corn (I use ½ cup frozen corn)
1 small can green chilies (I never use this much – put a little in and then taste it)
1 package taco seasoning
1 can small red beans
1 can chili beans
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown hamburger and pour off grease. Add rest of the ingredients and simmer. Garnish with chips, grated cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

Friday's Food for Thought

It's getting worse. Now I'm TWO days late!

Work has got me thinking about delivering and receiving feedback. I work with a few folks who get really mad when they get feedback on their work that is not what the client's want or isn't at the quality standard that we have set. I work with others who crave feedback and feel like they're not getting enough (usually because they're doing what they're supposed to and we're all too busy with the people that need corrective feedback).

I had a situation shortly after I started work at Microsoft where I did some really bad managing of a particular resource on my team. She wasn't doing her job that well, but the way I handled it was really bad. She actually complained to HR, so I had a lot of explaining to do. My manager called me into her office, outlined exactly what I had done that was a problem for HR, then talked to me about what I could do differently and what I could change about my management to completely avoid getting that far down a negative path with anyone in the first place. It was fantastic! I was so grateful that she took the time to help me instead of just telling me what a bad job I did. I learned a lot from that experience and I believe that it shaped me into a much better manager than I ever would have been without that happening. I was so grateful for the whole turn of events once I'd gotten through it.

As hard as it is to take, I'm one who really does want the corrective feedback when I do something wrong. What I wonder is, how do I help others to see that the corrective feedback might be just the thing that takes them from bad to good, or from good to great? This is my new challenge.

How do you feel about getting critical and/or constructive feedback? What makes it work for you or not? I'm really curious.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Over the last couple of weeks, the DH has really wanted to go see the movie Where the Wild Things Are. I had heard a couple of mixed reviews, but I'd also seen some footage of the filming of the movie and I was definitely intrigued. What I didn't know before we went to the movie, was that the DH had never read or seen the book. He had no idea what the story was about. He had expectations. It reminded me of the last time I went to a movie that a friend said was the BEST MOVIE EVER MADE. And yes, she said it in all caps. It was good, but not the best ever, so I came away disappointed.

We saw the movie last Saturday evening. We enjoyed Thai food before going to the show, and the show was pretty amazing from a cinematic point of view. I loved the fort that Max and the monsters built on the island. Visually, I thought it had a lot of impact. As far as the book goes, it's pretty light on plot, so Spike Jonze didn't have a lot to go on. I think he fleshed it out as much as anyone could without completely deviating from the original. Because the original story doesn't have a lot of development, I didn't expect that out of the movie either. Unfortunately, the DH thought he was going to get a full-blown plot. Not so.

Overall, I thought the movie was good. The time that Max spends on the island includes a lot more than you find in the book and it explores complex negative emotions that young people have. There's some fun in there too, but be prepared for some heavy stuff at times. The good news is that Max ends up at home eating his warm dinner in the movie just like in the book.

If you're thinking about seeing the movie, but haven't read the book, check this out. It's good to have appropriate expectations.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunny Days, Sweeping the Clouds Away...

I'm not sure which came to Boise first, PBS with or without Sesame Street, but I don't remember a time without the show. I watched it regularly as a child. It was just a staple of television and it was great. We also had a Sesame Street album that we played a lot. I'm sure my mom got tired of some of those songs, but we all knew the words and could sing along, and we loved it.

I had no idea that it might be subversive or thought of as cutting edge. It was just plain fun. It was one of the first actual children's television shows meant to be educational. It's good stuff. The best part, of course, is the series of outstanding guest appearances that they've had over the years. I'm sure there are many more clever ones, but here's some fun music by Feist. She's great.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Music Monday -- A Story

This part has nothing to do with music, but it's background and critical for your understanding of the story. I got my brand spanking new copy of Windows 7 last week. It's very shiny and pretty. I'd like to install in on my super fast computer, so I can abandon Windows Vista forever. Background complete.

This weekend, I spent quite a bit of time doing computer maintenance and organizing the files on the computer, because I have to move absolutely everything to a backup location. One of the things I noticed is that we have music in several locations on the computer, so I wanted to consolidate everything into one folder. Everything we have purchased from iTunes since obtaining the current computer was in one folder. There were over a thousand songs in there. (You can do the math, and you don't need to tell me that it's OBSCENE! I can't believe we've bought that much iTunes music either.)

I went to grab all the new iTunes music and copy it over to the other major music location on the computer and dragged it over and let it copy. Then it was gone. Completely and utterly not-to-be-found on the computer. It knocked the wind out of me and I was beside myself. The songs weren't in the trash, but no amount of using the search feature would uncover the whereabouts of said music. I spent a good part of the day yesterday fretting, searching, and swearing at the computer (but mom, it was just the tame kind of swearing -- gosh darn it and all that -- don't worry!). I walked away from the computer at intervals thinking the music would magically appear if I took some time away and then came back. It wasn't there. It was so gone.

At some point, I realized that files don't just disappear. It just doesn't happen that way. I took a deep breath and realized that I must have dropped the files in one of the folders within the huge music folder. This is where I need to explain that every artist has its own folder and every album has its own folder in the artist folder. Then all the songs from said album are in the album folder. We have HUNDREDS of albums from HUNDREDS of artists, each with their own folder. The list of folders was so long it made me tear up. I started at the top and opened every folder in there.

I finally found my lost music somewhere in the P's. It may not have taken a full hour, but it felt longer than that. The good news is that I found my obscene amount of lost music and then finished organizing all of it. The bad news is that between our photos and music, it wouldn't all fit on the external drive we have, so I have to buy more storage tonight to copy everything onto before I can install Windows 7.

Now, for your patient reading, this is your reward. I know you'll like it. It's the best song to get stuck in your head EVER! I'm sure you'll thank me later.

It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

I spent the day at the Mission home in Zurich, Switzerland before my parents and Granny arrived. It was the last official day of my mission. I had a short interview with a Mission President happy to see me leave. My greatest offense was my apparent allegiance to the former President he replaced the previous July. I had an amazing experience in Switzerland, but I was tired and ready to go home.

My parents had already started laughing at my unintentional mixture of English and German. I'd become quite fluent in German and all the English speakers there spoke German as well, so we had a natural mish-mash of the two languages when speaking mostly English. The quizzical looks on my parents' faces were the first inkling I had of my need to re-train my brain to English. That fluency in German is what made the events of the evening so strange and surreal.

After dinner at the Mission home, I went to a hotel with my parents and we turned on the TV. There was a German-language news show on. I was completely confused. All my life, the cold war had raged. Stories of the splitting of Germany and specifically Berlin were ingrained in my world view. What I saw on the TV, however, was a huge party near the iconic Brandenburg Gate. There were people on the Berlin Wall. I was immediately worried that there had been a mass uprising and hundreds would be reported injured or killed by the East German police. What I heard, however, was celebration and the announcement that The Wall was no more. All of the people on the TV were celebrating--not fighting or running from the law. I was astounded. It was breathtaking.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November -- National Adoption Awareness Month

My friend Megan is passionate about adoption and she and her husband are looking to adopt a child into their beautiful family. My friend Andrea adopted two wonderful sons and I have very fond memories of the babies that stayed with our family for a few days when I was young as they waited for their new homes to be ready. I also became a little more passionate about adoption myself after teaching school at a summer school program for at risk teens. Watching them parent was very worrisome to me and I know they weren't getting all the support they needed to be successful parents.

The point of this post, however, is to drive traffic to Megan's adoption blog. She's holding a contest, but I'd be happy to post about her site even without the contest. Also, if you know of anyone who is in a situation that they may need to consider adoption, please think about directing them to Megan's site as well. You never know how you may be able to touch someone's life profoundly for good.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Comfort Food -- Beef Stew

Well, the rains have really started in the Northwest now, so I really needed some comfort food this week. On Thursday, I decided that beef stew was in order. The DH was glad I got that bee in my bonnet because he really likes the stew I make. I don't have an exact recipe, but here's the gist of it.

Beef Stew

2 lb stew meat (it's by all the other cuts of beef and says "beef for stewing" on the package)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 white onion
2-3 stalks of celery
1/4 C olive oil
2 T. butter
3 large potatoes
2-3 cups of diced carrots (I use a medium size bag of mini carrots or 3-4 large carrots)
flour, salt, and pepper
Red wine (I have no clue what I buy, but it's always cheap)
2 Quarts Beef stock
2 tsp Sage
Bay leaf
More salt and pepper

Get out a big ziplock back and put about 1/2 to 3/4 C flour, 1-2 T Salt and a few teaspoons of pepper in it. You can put some cornstarch in there with it too if you like. It makes the stew get a little thicker. Mix that all together and then throw all the meat in the bag. You may want to cut the meat into smaller pieces before dredging in the flour mixture, but that's up to you.

In a large stew pot, mix olive oil, butter, garlic, onions, and celery and cook on medium-high until onions are transparent. Pull meat pieces out of bag and put into pot and brown with the stuff that's already in there. This takes 10-15 minutes and you can chop carrots and potatoes while the meat cooks.

When the meat is brown, pour in 1-2 cups of red wine. It should boil up really quickly and you'll smell the alcohol burn off. Scrape the bottom of the pan while the wine boils to get the yummy flavorful bits from the meat off the bottom of the pan. This is critical to the tastiness of the stew.

Pour in Beef stock and add carrots, potatoes, bay leaf, and sage. This is a good time to add a bunch more salt, maybe a couple tablespoons, and some pepper. My mom always worries about putting too much salt in and it's rubbed off on my. I never put quite enough in, but everyone can add their own at the table.

Let all this simmer together for an hour or two. You can thicken it more with some corn starch if you'd like. If you do that, then put 2-3 T. cornstarch into 1/4 of COLD water. Make sure the water is cold and the cornstarch won't get lumpy. Then pour that into the stew and let it boil up again to thicken.

Eat with some crusty bread.

FFT Friday -- In Memoriam

I know -- a day late -- AGAIN!

I was so shocked by what happened at Fort Hood this week. It breaks my heart to think of it. I'm so grateful for all those brave folks who are serving in the military and my prayers are with the victims of the violence there. In my blog reading, I found this beautiful tribute to military personnel. I also pray that there are no repercussions in the Muslim community in and around Kileen, TX. Although the shooter was part of the Muslim faith, his community would not support nor condone such behavior. I'm also thinking about my good friends, the Cornwall's. Nathan is stationed at Fort Hood, and although he was not part of the situation there, it still happened near their home and in a place they thought was safe.

In a perfect world we would have no war and no need for a military. We don't live in that world, so I am very grateful to our military. What are your thoughts about the events of the week?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Big Relief Society Event

For the past two years, I've been working with the rest of our stake relief society presidency on the idea of bringing Sheri Dew to Seattle for a fireside for our stake women. Sheri Dew is an outstanding speaker and always has a strong, positive impact on her audiences. As the CEO of Deseret Book, she's also a great role model for women like me who don't find themselves staying at home with children. The logistics for getting her here were crazy and mostly out of our control, so we were thrilled when we finally had the date in place and could finalize plans.

Part of the work was in getting posters, handouts, and tickets for the event and inviting two other stakes and making sure everyone understood all of the details and where and when things were happening. It was a lot more work that I even expected it to be.

Then, just a week before the event, we found out that Sheri Dew may have had to postpone due to the sickness and imminent death of a very close friend. All we could think of was that we would have to figure out how to communicate changes out to over a thousand people and figure out how to reschedule and to what date. It was difficult not to think about the potential issues, even though there was only the slight potential rescheduling. We also kept thinking, what if no one shows up. Or, what if twice as many people show up as we can accommodate in the building? We all just kept the panic at bay and tried to go with it.

In the end, none of the "worst case" scenarios happened. We had a pretty full house, but didn't need any overflow. We also had everything fall into place just as we had planned and it turned out fantastic.

In the end, the other really great part of the event was the wonderful message that we heard from Sheri Dew. She talked to us about the importance of knowing who you are, how much influence you have over the many people you come in contact with, and how important both of these things are. Her presentation was outstanding and I really took her message to heart. She also talked some about how we spend out down time and reminded me how important it is that I spend my computer time doing things that enrich me instead of just waste my time. All good stuff!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Life of Pi

This weekend, I finally finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It honestly felt like one of the longest books I've ever read. The book came highly recommended by several of my friends, so I really looked forward to reading it. I have to say that it did not meet my initial expectations, but that it was well-written and I would recommend it (mostly).

I found the first section of the book to by highly entertaining and engaging. This is where Pi Patel is still living in India and his father is a zoo-keeper in Pondicherry. Martel uses the language to his advantage and he is a fantastic story teller.

The second part of the book, at the length of a few hundred pages, is the telling of Pi's adventure at sea in a lifeboat. This truly was years long in the reading. Perhaps that was part of Martel's method, since it must have felt like a lifetime to the young boy, but I got bored and lost patience. I only picked the book up to read because I was flying for several hours. I had to force myself to keep reading. The writing is still good, but the story just wasn't compelling enough to keep my interest for such a long telling.

The final section of the book is very short and happens after Pi lands on dry ground. It was interesting and tied the story together.

All in all, I thought the book was good, but I didn't find it to have the profound effect that I was given the impression it would deliver. It also says that it will make you believe in God, but I didn't think it would have that impact on anyone. In the end, it's a nice story, a little long, but pretty good.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Whip It! The Movie Review

Last week, the DH and I met up with some friends, ate some Chinese food, and then went to the movies. We decided to see Whip It! and we were not disappointed. I don't think this will be a spoiler. The DH and I both really liked the movie. It's especially nice when we both do.

Seriously, we loved watching the roller derby, because it's just really fun and dangerous looking. I'm pretty sure I never want to try it, but it's great to watch. I guess the one part where Drew Barrymore's character gets a double bloody nose wasn't that fun to watch, but most of it was.

The better part was the story of Bliss and her journey and especially her relationship with her mom. The reason it was so good, was that it was actually complicated. It wasn't bad mom with misunderstood daughter or good mom with bad daughter or anything that easy. I love that they didn't make it easy and therefore too Hollywood. In the spirit of now ruining it for anyone, I'll also just say that the movie isn't totally predictable. I'm so impressed that we got to see a movie that made us think and actually kept us talking about it a couple of days later.

And for you protective types out there, Bliss falls in love and spends a long evening at a swimming pool with her new beau, but any mischief is purely implied. You don't get to see any skin that a bathing suit covers and the worst thing in the movie is a few times that they swear. There is some underage drinking and the theme is complex, so I think the PG-13 rating is more for overall content than any specific thing. That was pretty refreshing, to be honest.

Even a couple of days later, one of us will say, "you know what else I really liked about that movie...?" Maybe that's my very favorite part.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Music Monday -- Adele

I heard Adele for the first time on the radio singing her single Right as Rain. It's a great song and it really turned me on to her music. She has a great voice that is reminiscent of the old jazz singers. Plus she has a bit of soul. I have a real soft spot for the song Make You Feel My Love and she does a great rendition of this song. I also like her song Chasing Pavements. Her album is called 19 and is pretty good stuff. Take a listen!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm Feeling Spooky!

Unlike some people in my family, I'm not usually one to dress up. However, this year I volunteered to help with the games at Trunk or Treat, so I thought it might be a good idea to get creative and wear something in the spirit of Halloween. I was inspired by my nephew M and his mummy T-shirt (which is the most awesome T-shirt!).

I got a cheap white turtleneck and some gauzy fabric and went to work.
Two hours later, I had this!

And the DH was just as scary as he ever is...

FFT Friday -- We Hope

I know it's a day late, but here it is. I've been thinking lately about how polar our political system has become and how hateful politics can sound. I think there is an element of the Right that is trying to push us farther apart, when in fact most people would consider them closer to the middle if they didn't hear so much hateful and dividing rhetoric.

Having already been thinking along those lines, I enjoyed Maira Kalman's latest post, E Pluribus Unum. It is a reminder to me of all that is good and important and historic about our political process. I wish more people understood the whole political process a lot better. It might decrease some of the hatred and fear-mongering. Or at least, it would make a lot of people less suseptible to the influence of others and help them think for themselves.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Music Monday -- Sarah Jarosz

I just discovered Sarah Jarosz and how I found out about her is a little embarrassing. She was featured in Oprah Magazine. I know. How lame am I? The thing is, she's great! She plays mandolin and has a mellow, bluesy, not really blue grass kind of sound. I bought the album Song Up In Her Head and have thoroughly enjoyed it so far.

The only problem is that I couldn't find anything quite as good as the music from the album on YouTube. I think you may have to take my word for it, but the music is beautiful. This gives you a taste, but it's even so much better.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Comfort Food -- Chicken Bundles

As the weather starts to feel more like Fall, it makes me turn to thoughts of comfort foods. I love Mac n Cheese, Beef Stew, and Chicken and Dumplings when it cools off. One other great comfort food recipe is Chicken Bundles. They taste great and really hit the spot on a cool, crisp day. Here's the recipe!

Chicken Bundles

3⅓ cups diced, cooked chicken
6 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon lemon pepper
4 or 5 green onions, chopped (include part of tops)

Mix butter and cream cheese in a mixer until well blended. Add lemon pepper and mix, then add other ingredients and mix well.

Make your favorite roll dough or use store-bought dough. Let rise once and then roll out into as you would for rolls, but make it thinner and in a rectangle. Cut into about 4-inch squares. Put ¼ cup of chicken mixture in middle of square and bring corners together and seal making a bundle. Dip in melted butter and roll in seasoned breadcrumbs. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375° for about 15 minutes or until golden. Top with chicken gravy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

FFT Friday

What makes you laugh? There are a couple of things that I can hear over and over and never get tired of. It's like the 13-year-old in me will never die. I guess that's a good thing. This is one of those things that I laugh at every time. Funny stuff.

And the only thing funnier than a nail salon... is bibity, bobity, bacon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ahh... Fall

I just had the most wonderful mid-day break. I left my office and walked over the hill into Fremont. The air has just a hint of coolness, the skies are overcast, and the leaves are all turning to yellow, orange, and red. I walked along the tree-lined sidewalk enjoying the fresh air and thinking how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful place.

I bought lunch at Homegrown. I think I may be in love. The menu looked amazing from top to bottom, but in the end I got grilled cheese. I know you're thinking I'm crazy, but it was Beacher's Flagship cheese, caramelized onions, and some kind of red pepper aoli sauce. It came with homemade potato chips with salt and pepper on them. The whole thing was so divine! I must return to try other things on the menu, but for now my tummy is very happy.

I took a different route to get back to the office and walked along the ship canal. While I was waiting for the light, a man walked up and made conversation with me about how perfect the weather is today. It made me think that I work around a lot of really nice and friendly people. Then I smiled and crossed the street. I think this day must just be making people happy. Several people said hello as I passed them on the sidewalk and it just felt really good to be out and about on a lovely Fall afternoon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Music Monday -- Iron & Wine

I'm back from a very hectic week last week and hope to resume blogging more often now.

Early last week, I was on and looked at some of my recommendations. Usually, I already have most of the things they recommend, but this time I happened upon a band called Iron & Wine that I hadn't heard of before. I listened to a few of the tracks and really liked what I heard. As a result, I ordered the CD Our Endless Numbered Days. It arrived on Saturday and I've been enjoying it even more than I thought I would.

The music is fairly mellow with a slight Southern Rock feel to it. It's definitely not music you "rock out" to, but that you listen to on a rainy afternoon or have playing in the background as you work on a project.

Naked As We Came is the second track on the album and I really enjoy the music. I hope you do too.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Music -- A Little Bit Country

With apologies to my family members who hate Country music, I have a soft spot in my heart for it. When I lived in Boise and Hip-Hop was starting to make it big, I just couldn't tolerate the pop music stations that played so much music I didn't like. I turned to the Country stations for solace. Mind you, I didn't have a CD player in my car at the time either. These were extenuating circumstances. I still can't stand the super-twang, which any real Country fan will tell you is the only true Country music, but there are several bands and artists that I still enjoy listening to quite often. I love Trisha Yearwood and Wynona Judd. They really know how to tell a story with music that sticks with you. More recently, I've enjoyed getting to know Brandi Carlile. Her voice is beautiful and she has great arrangements. Take a listen. It's pretty good stuff.

Note: the official vidoes are better, but won't let you embed. You can find this song with higher sound quality here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I spent some time with my two nephews in Utah this weekend. These two guys are a hoot and we had a great time Saturday aftenoon playing at Discovery Gateway. M and E are five and three years old respectively. They're smart and they like to have a good time. Here are a few of the funny things we heard:
  • LA-AME! (I said this once and M thought it was cool and kept saying it the rest of the day)
  • I LOOOOOOVE my new walkie-talkies! (The DH and I gave M these for his birthday, so after he said that, Annzie asked if he like the Where's Waldo book that she gave him. He didn't think it was that great. Then today, he had on a mummy shirt that we sent. He told Annzy that it was better than the Where's Waldo book too. Hysterical!)
  • You're the king of stupid! (This was actually said by M the day before we got there. Apparently he heard it on Schreck 3.)

Both M and E wanted to stay at Discovery Gateway all day. We only ended up being there for about four and a half hours, but to them it probably felt like 15 minutes. They were so sad we had to leave, but we had to get them fed dinner eventually. They have a farm area with a life-size horse for kids to get on and E decided it was his horse. He spent so much time stacking hay bales, putting away hay bales, putting on the horseshoes, then taking off the horseshoes, and getting on and off that horse. I knew he loved playing cowboy, but I had no idea how much. It was just joyful to see the boys use their imaginations and enjoy themselves.

But here's the real kicker. I've been around a lot of kids. The whole time we were out, all six-plus hours, there was no fighting and no melt-downs. Even when we had to leave, there was a tiny bit of whining, but that was it. Maybe we just got them on a good day, but that was absolutely great!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday FFT -- What Is Real?

I've read a talk given by Elder Bednar about Things as They Really Are several times now and I've learned quite a bit from it. He talks about what is real and how important it is to live in the real world and not let yourself fall into activities that remove you from what is real (like spending way too much time writing and reading other people's blogs).

Unfortunately, what is real is often also full of emotions that are difficult to process and it makes going to what is not real seem a lot easier. That way, maybe you can just avoid the emotions. All in all though, that's a bad idea. Today my heart is very heavy and I'm feeling the emotions. I'm praying for my newest nephew, born early this morning and now at Children's Hospital in Salt Lake. I'm praying for my dear brother and sister-in-law, who I am sure are feeling far more emotion right now than they ever knew they would. Please join me in feeling what is real. And if you're so inclined, please say a prayer for baby Nolan and his parents.


Nolan Ray Robertson died late Friday evening.

When I let myself feel it, the sadness washes over me. I ache for my dear nephew, his brothers, and especially his parents. And I know that what I feel pales in comparison to their sorrow and grief.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I Love Lardee

I was just introduced to My Milk Toof blog and I love it. You have to see it. It's just fabulous and I highly recommend it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Music -- Whip It!

This weekend, I spent some time listening to the new Whip It! Soundtrack. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I heard the soundtrack was good, took a listen, and bought it. I've really been enjoying the music. It's not hard core punk rock, but definitely has a punk rock feel that reminds me of high school and college. I'm thinking it will be great music for the gym too. The song below is "Dead Sound" by The Raveonettes.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


This weekend is LDS General Conference. It means listening to church in my pajamas. I love this twice-yearly event and have a couple of traditions associated with it. The first is watching or listening in my pajamas. The second is eating Pumpkin waffles. The waffle tradition started when I lived in Utah and spent conference morning at my friend Camille's house. Her whole family would come over and we'd all eat a big breakfast that included these great waffles. The DH and I will be eating them tomorrow. They're totally worth every bit of effort to make.

Pumpkin Waffles

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1½ cups milk
1 cup pumpkin
¾ cup margarine
1 tablespoon vanilla

Combine first 6 ingredients. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks slightly. Add the milk, pumpkin, margarine and vanilla. Add the flour mixture. Fold egg whites into pumpkin mixture and then bake in waffle iron.

Buttermilk Syrup
1 cube butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon Karo syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine first 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil in extra large pan. Remove from heat and sir in baking soda and vanilla. Mixture will fizz to twice its height. Let set, stirring occasionally until fizz is gone. Serve hot over pumpkin waffles.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Change of Seasons

Iosh, I just love the Fall. This week, the weather totally changed from Summer to Fall and I'm in love with it. I'm not quite sure why I so enjoy the crisp mornings, cloudy days, and shortening evenings, but I do. I like the way Fall smells and the way it feels. I even like the rain, so Seattle's Fall weather works for me. I also enjoy looking forward to Halloween and the upcoming holidays. I'm also a sucker for back-to-school time and really miss that new beginning each Fall. I loved school for all the many years I was either a student or a teacher and I still love shopping for school supplies. That may explain the volume of sticky notes, pens, and notebooks that I have. Someday, it may wear off, but not any time soon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My New Favorite Pizza

I love this place! If you're in the area, you need to try Delancy in Ballard. I became enamored with the idea of the restaurant reading Orangette's blog. She has a great foody blog and then found out that she was opening a restaurant with her husband. They make their own yummy dough, have an amazing brick oven that the husband built himself, and bring in some of the best cheese ever.

They didn't have a sign up yet, so you have to know where you're going, but it was totally worth the taks of finding. When the DH and I went there, we shared an appatizer of copa and pickled peppers, and then had a wonderful pizza with a very simple sauce, fours kinds of cheese, and their homemade fennel sausage. We also sat at the bar and got to watch them making the pizza. I enjoyed every bite of the pizza and we had a lovely time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spaaaam, Beautiful Spam

I get the biggest kick out of some of the subject lines I see when I go to delete the rubbish in my Spam folder. Once again, I have to share! I promise you, I did not make any of these up. I did, however, change the order (and delete the ones that weren't funny) and it sort of tells a Spam story.
  • Man, don't sit there
  • You annoy me by this
  • Go and sit somewhere else until you can speak nicely
  • I felt hands helping me to sit up
  • I flung myself out of my seat
  • and began to hover slowly across the ceiling toward me
  • Striding down the hall in her nightgown and cap
  • But then came the day that Chiang vanished. He had been talking.
  • Lying in his grave
  • Gleeming angrily
  • He saw it was open
  • There for the night
  • Bro, we're missing you!
  • Guy, don't leave without me
  • Immediately afterwards she remarked
  • The first daughter wanted a brocade dress
Seriously, do the spammers really think these will make me want to look at the e-mail and click the random links? Someone must be doing it or they wouldn't keep spamming me with this stuff. Hopefully you find it as entertaining as I do though.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Music Monday -- Barcelona

Last week, I went to an event sponsored by a local radio station. They had two live bands and a bunch of food and free CDs. How could I resist? The headlining band was Carbon Leaf, an old favorite of mine, so I was pretty happy to go. I hadn't heard of the opening band, Barcelona, but I was pleasantly surprised by the set they played. They opened with a song heavy on strings (with a string trio on stage) and then started to really rock. It was a lot of fun. I hope you like this song, because I've been enjoying it and the rest of their album, picked up that night.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baking Goodness

I don't know what came over me, but I volunteered to make 100 rolls for the Women's Broadcast dinner this evening. I don't think I realized it would be two batches instead of just one. I decided to work from home on Friday thinking I could get both batches done, but then I had to go in for an hour in the middle of the morning and that messed up the schedule for one batch. In the end, I made one batch on Friday and then got up early to make the other batch today before scooting off to the church for a baptism at 10:00.

These rolls really are super easy to make. The best trick of all that my mom taught me is to use the pizza cutter to slice the circle of dough into triangles to roll up into crescents. It's brilliant. I wish I could have thought it up, patented it, and gotten rich off of it. Maybe it's not that kind of idea, but it sure makes these rolls easier.

Evelyn's Rolls

2 tablespoons yeast (2 packages, not rapid rise)
½ cup lukewarm water
(Optional - 1 teaspoon sugar for the yeast to eat)
1½ cups milk
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
7-8 cups flour (no more than 8 cups)

Mix yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Heat milk and margarine together until the margarine melts. Combine eggs, sugar and salt, and add milk mixture. Mix in the yeast. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix - dough remains sticky. Let rise until double.

Take ¼ of the dough, roll out into a circle (⅜- to ½-inch thick), and then cut like a pie into 8 to 10 wedges. Roll from the wide end to the tip, and shape into crescent rolls with the tip on the bottom. Let rise 1 hour. Can set for 5-6 hours. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush tops with butter as soon as you remove them from the oven. Makes about 36 rolls.

Friday, September 25, 2009

FFT Friday

How much cognitive dissonance are you able to tollerate? I've been thinking it about it lately in regard to work and other activities. Is it possible to love and hate something at the same time? Or can you participate in activities that are good in some respects and not others?

For reference, I'm thinking about things like how hard I want to work to get my team to improve their performance when I'm not sure I'll be able to give them raises at the end of the year (not is it OK to lie or cheat). They want that as a reward for the extra effort they put in, which is totally fair, but I may not have the option to give that to everyone. This is one of the fights that goes on in my head.

There are many more, but sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks about this stuff. It first came up in a Victorian literature class and it's been somewhere knocking around since then. It's fairly normal to have some cognitive dissonance, but we also naturally do things to decrease the cognitive dissonance in our lives. Usually, we either disavow ourselves of some notion or we lie to ourselves about it.

So, is there any aspect of your life where you live with cognitive dissonance? I'm curious.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Music Monday -- The Shins

I first heard The Shins on the radio, but fell in love when I got the Garden State Soundtrack. After that, I had to have an album. I bought Chutes Too Narrow and enjoyed the whole thing. The disc ended up as one of the five in rotation in my car and I listen to it fairly regularly. I love the upbeat tempos and generally positive ethos of the music. It's the kind of thing you listen to turned up loud with the windows rolled down.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Sweets

Carolyn asked for my Gingersnap recipe after trying them at the Duchess' bake sale. I can't take credit for the recipe, but I will say that they're the best Gingersnaps I've ever made. They come out chewy and stay chewy even the next day. So delish!

¾ cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 egg
½ cup molasses
4 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Mix in the molasses. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. Chill. Make into balls and roll in granulated sugar. (I use the large crystal turbonado sugar with vanilla for fun.) Bake 6-8 minutes at 375°.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes I Actually Complete That Idea

The DH and I have been married just over four years now. When we planned the wedding, I put aside a few things that I wanted to put in a shadow box. It took me some time to actually buy the shadow box, but I think it happened at least two years ago.

This evening, I finally put the shadow box together and here it is!
This includes parts of our wedding announcement, the rose the DH gave me when he proposed, one of our engagement photos, and the little frame my mom put together with our wedding date in it as a favor at our wedding luncheon. I think it turned out OK.

And here it is in its new home on the shelf in my office. It looks great here and I spend enough time in the office to be reminded of that

Thursday, September 17, 2009


It's true. The VitaMix is considered the best blender by Consumer Reports. It's hard to believe that I may actually buy one of these.

The DH and I have gone through three blenders in our four years of mariage. It's actually a little entertaining at this point. The latest is one with a square top with completely perpendicular sides that just doesn't do the J-O-B. And this is the one we bought after the last one started smoking. We don't allow smoking in our house, so it had to go.

Buying a VitaMix is especially funny to me, because we all got such a big kick out of it when my grandparents bought the VitaMix. You would have thought it could make dinner for you. Unfortunately, we got dinner made in the VitaMix. It can heat what's in there, so grandma made soup. Then she blended it. Yes. She blended the vegetable soup to a puree so we would eat all the vegetables. It tasted even worse than it looked. On the upside, I think we got ice cream out of the VitaMix too. It wasn't all bad.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Past Weekend in Boise

This past weekend, the DH and I flew off to Boise to visit with family and enjoy the activities there. We arrived late Friday and didn't do much but chat that evening before hitting the hay. Saturday, on the other hand, was jam packed with fun!

I dropped the DH off for a massage and went to the Farmer's Market down town. It's such a great vibe there. I perused all the produce, artisan breads, baked goods, crafts, and a wide variety of specialty foods. I couldn't leave without stopping by the Mennonite's pie stand and buy a cherry pie for Pops. He was thrilled that I'd made it there.

After picking the DH up from his massage, we headed to Ethan's big soccer game. He's six and plays on a boys team. Today was his day to play goal keeper. We got a kick out of watching him (no pun intended). His team is good enough that goal keeping looked pretty boring. He said he had a good time and he was excited that we came to watch, so it must not have been too bad.
After the first soccer game of the day, we went to Julia Davis Park and looked around at the booths at Art in the Park. It's a large arts and crafts festival that the art museum puts on every year on the weekend after Labor Day. I have fond memories of participating when it was a very small festival. Now it's grown to six or eight times the size it was when I was young. I still enjoy it just as much and it was fun to take the DH there.

After spending some time at the park, we headed back West and went to Abby's soccer game. She plays with the 10 and 11 year old girls. As luck would have it, she was playing goal keeper for part of the game as well. She looked great out there and she really knows how to hustle. It was cool to see her Dad giving advice from the sidelines too.
After that game, we headed back home and the DH and BIL went to the Boise State vs. Miami of Ohio football game while we went to dinner and then headed back to Art in the Park. I ended up buying a couple of things there, including a set of chimes as a house-warming gift for a friend at work. After all that, we were exhausted and headed back home to relax.

Sunday was spent going to church, relaxing, and having my all-time favorite meal. In the early Fall, my mom makes the best fried chicken and serves it with new potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, and whatever else is in season. It all tastes so good and fresh. I'm not sure if I love it most because we don't eat it just any old time or because it really is that good. Whatever the reason, I promise it was worth looking forward to.

The DH and I flew back Sunday evening and enjoyed sleeping in our own bed again. I love to travel and I love to come home.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Music -- Sasha Lazard

I've been listening to Sasha Lazard for years and wishing she were more prolific. Her album Myth of Red is fantastic. It's opera meets pop and sounds great when she does it. The video below takes some time to get going, but wait it out. It's totally worth it. I promise! A review of this album states:
An ambitious fusion of opera arias, Russian folk tunes, and art songs with beat-driven electronic soundscapes, the album largely succeeds in bridging incongruous musical worlds.
Is that enough to get you interested?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baked Eggs

This week, we had the missionaries over for dinner, so we decided to make breakfast for dinner. We knew we could get everything together fairly quickly, so it would be easy to feed four young, hungry men without too much prep time coming straight from work. We made baked eggs and pumpkin waffles. Both were a big hit, but I have to really recommend the baked eggs if you're ever cooking for a group. They're SO easy and taste great.

Baked Eggs

12 eggs
12 strips bacon
Mrs. Dash (or other seasoned salt)

Spray cooking spray in the cups of a muffin tin. Place one slice of bacon around the sides of each muffin cup. Sprinkle a little Mrs. Dash in the bottom of each muffin cup. Crack one egg into each muffin cup, being careful not to break the yolk. Put a dab (less than a 1/2 teaspoon) butter on top of each egg. Salt and Pepper each egg. Put in 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until eggs look cooked. Eggs can easily be removed from the muffin tin with a large spoon and will keep their shape.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday FFT

It's eight years from the terrible tragedies of the 9/11 terrorists. I remember the day vividly. It was so surreal. I wake up to the radio each morning, and time it to hear the news while I'm still waking up. The news made no sense that day. I darted out of bed and turned on the TV. It made less sense. I got ready for work in a fog, not quite believing what I had heard and seen.

At work, there was a TV set up in a conference room. We wandered in and out of the conference room throughout the day, watching the news in disbelief. I cried with Gianna as we tried to process what we were seeing and hearing, still not quite ready to accept the reality of it all.

I read some of the Views of a Day in the New York Times today. It was good.