Friday, August 29, 2008

Perseverance

I've been writing long posts lately. Too long, perhaps. So today, I will confine myself to a simple toast: to the Republic!

Sorry. In fact, what I will confine myself to is an observation that sometimes I'll be sitting somewhere (reading, perhaps, or working on the computer), and I'll be really, really uncomfortable. And all I would have to do is shift around or uncross my legs or whatever, but I don't. I sort of want to, but I don't. I just stay like that, getting more and more uncomfortable, until I absolutely canNOT stand it anymore, and then I'll finally get creakily to my feet, feeling like an eighty-year-old woman.

Is it prodigious laziness, or remarkable tenacity? You decide.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rah, rah, rah-rah-rah

picture from here

Today is Thursday. Do you know what that means? 48 hours till BYU Football begins.

In honor of that, do you want to hear a good story?

I've loved football (BYU Football, specifically) ever since I was about 8. My brothers took me to the games and patiently explained what was going on until I understood it, and they taught me other important things, like singing the fight song, not leaving early, and saying "I have MINE, but not yours!" when asked "Do you have our tickets?" I don't think I've missed a home game since then---and I've either watched on TV or listened to all the away games on the radio. I go to the Cougar Sports message boards. I read the media guide cover-to-cover. I want to use "Cougar" for one of our kids' middle names (vetoed by Sam so far, but he's weakening). I think Bronco Mendenhall is as good as a General Authority. And so forth.

(That's not the story, it's just background.)

So I'm a real fan, not just someone who goes to the games to socialize or who (gasp!) only follows the team if they're doing well. I'm not really an expert on football; there's a lot of technical stuff I don't know, but I do love it.

Now. When I started dating Sam, I soon discovered he was practically perfect in every way. Handsome, smart, funny, humble, talented, interesting. Except! He didn't watch football!! He had sworn off it after his mission. This was not because he was a wussy pretty-boy, but for the noblest of purposes: he didn't want to be one of those swearing, couch-sittin', wife-beater-wearin', football-obsessed lunatics. (I flatter myself that I am not one of those either, but I could be wrong.) He figured (understandably) that his (future) wife would appreciate this abstinence from sportsdom as a rare and unparalleled manly sacrifice.

Unfortunately, he was dating the one woman who thought it was a cryin' shame and possibly evidence of some mental deficiency.

However. Sam was a good enough guy that I would have married him anyway. Even if I had to give up football for him. But instead, for my sake, he underwent a drastic transformation. He started watching and listening to all the games with me. He became conversant in football jargon to the point where he could correct the TV Commentators. He began reading the football message boards. His football-loving soul, long dormant, awakened and began to flower! I think he started trying to get re-interested in the game just for my sake, but luckily he started liking it on its own merits as well. Now, whenever I want to know who the best new recruits are, I am the one asking Sam. When I'm not sure about a rule, he can enlighten me. When Game Day dawns and I bounce out of bed at 6 a.m. in excitement, he's already up wearing his "Y" shirt.

And I'm so proud and happy and grateful! Every time we're sitting at the games together, or listening to the post-game show, or having a conversation about what our expectations are for the Defensive Line this year, or discussing the merits of running the 3-3-5, I just think to myself, "What did I ever do to deserve this guy??!!"

He is the best.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pie


All of our meals look the same these days. Tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, and basil. Oh, and sometimes chard. Then they're either combined with quinoa, rice, noodles, broth, or, as they were last night, pie. Mmmm! The lighting is not spectacular in these pictures, sorry. But the recipe is great. Here it is. Don't be alarmed by the long list of ingredients, it's really not hard to make. Also, one of my favorite things to do for a picnic is to make these into individual, hand-held pies. Just spread filling on small circles of dough, fold them in half, pinch the edges, and bake. Yum.

Cherry Tomato, Cheese, and Zucchini Pie

Crust:
2 1/4 c. flour
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
pinch of sugar
1 t. coarse salt
3/4 c. cold butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 to ½ c. ice water


Combine flour, cheese, sugar, and salt in bowl. Cut in butter until mixture makes coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk. Drizzle in water until dough just comes together. (I usually use the whole 1/2 c., or even a tiny bit more.) Form a ball. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate till cold, about 30 minutes. (While it is in the fridge, make the filling.)

Filling:
Chop up a bunch of vegetables (onion, zucchini, squash) and saute them in olive oil until golden brown. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Turn off the heat and stir in two big handfuls of cherry tomatoes. I cut them in half first. Stir in a heaping 1/4 cup flour, ½ c. grated parmesan cheese (high-quality, naturally), 1 T. sugar, and as much fresh basil as you like. Stir it all together and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Roll out the dough into a big circle, much bigger than your pie pan. Then put it in the pie pan, top with the filling, and cut 7 slits evenly spaced around the pie crust. Fold the flaps over so they become the top crust (as shown above). To make it browner you can brush the crust with a beaten egg before baking. Bake at 375 for 45 min. or until golden brown.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Multi-tasking, hoofing it, slogans

1. What do you think of this? A toaster slot for your computer. If I didn't have hungry boys to feed I would totally do this for my breakfast every day. Awesome!

2. I've been hearing a lot of the phrase "step foot," as in, "I wouldn't step foot in that evil capitalist bastion Walmart if you gave me a million dollars." I realize this brands me as a grammar nerd, but shouldn't it be set foot? Although "step foot" conjures up quite an amusing image, like someone doing the hokey pokey.


3. I drove by the hospital yesterday and saw the following on their sign:

"Varicose veins . . . not always just a cosmetic issue."

What's going on? Are health problems now meriting their own political slogans? Or marketing campaigns? I guess I can get on board with that.

Herniated disks . . . ruining a generation, one back at a time.
Tachycardia . . . the future is now.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome . . . it's the digestion, stupid.
Mumps . . . chubby cheeks you can believe in.

4. Another advertisement I saw recently: "Teach your Children to Pray the Soft, Cute, Cuddly Way! www.prayertimecritters.com." Wow!! Amazing. Here I've been teaching my children to pray the cold, ugly, prickly way all this time. If only I'd known something like this was available!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Needed

As if it weren't enough to have three boys pulling on my hand and saying "Mommmee?" at me all day (okay, one of them doesn't actually say that--but he definitely cries at me in a meaningful manner)---not to mention being the resident authority on all kinds of household-ly details ("How much soap do I put in the washing machine?" "Where does the pie pan go?" "Does this cup need washing?" "Do we have any more toilet paper?")---there are now some other boys here (really boys, they look about 17--one still has braces and the other one has his poor scrawny chest on display and is hugging his unlit cigarette to him fiercely, like a security blanket) moving the pile of dirt off of the street and into our yard.* Which is good.** But they keep ringing the doorbell. The cigarette one stands there awkwardly while the braces one mumbles, "Hey, sorry to bother you . . . "
"Yes?" I say.
Braces: Um . . . do you know, do you have any of that um, brown hose stuff?
Me: You mean the drip line?
Braces: Yeah, that stuff there [gestures feebly]
Me: No. Don't you have any?
Braces: Um yeah, we would have to go to the store and just get some, so, I was wondering if you had some.
Me: No, sorry.
Braces: Oh, okay.
20 minutes later.
Ding-dong!
Me: Hi! What's going on?
Cigarette: [averts eyes]
Braces: Um hi, we were just wondering, do you have any more of that brown bark stuff?
Me: The mulch?
Braces: Yeah, that mulch stuff on top there [gestures feebly].
Me: Well, no. Our builder is the one that put in the front landscape, so we don't really have any of those supplies.
Braces: Oh, okay.
20 minutes later.

Ding-dong!
*I promise I am not making this up!!*
Me: Oh, hey guys!
Cigarette: [gazes across street]
Braces: Hey, sorry to keep bothering you.
Me: No, that's okay. What do you need?
Braces: I was just wondering, um, do you need the dirt on, like, both sides of your house?
Me: Yes, that's right.
Braces: So, like, that side, and then that side too? [gestures feebly]
Me: Yeah, we need it everywhere that the drip line goes. Just basically in our whole yard. Both sides.
Braces: Okay, I was just, uh, trying to make sure I got everything, 'cause I keep forgetting stuff, so . . . I just wanted to make sure.


They reminded me of two little kids trying to get out of going to bed or something [now how would I know about that?]. "I need onnnne more drink!" "I just need to go to the bathroom!" etc. In fact I tried to go outside and bring them a drink, but now they seem to have disappeared. Hmmm.

Anyway, it's nice to be needed. Right?

*That must be the longest sentence ever.
**"To break up lengthy sections of prose, vary your sentence lengths." English minor to the rescue!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ken's always been such a wonderful ambassador for the sport*


*from "Strictly Ballroom." Sorry, not really related. It just got into my head because I was thinking about "sport"

I know everyone else in the world has probably already written about this, but don't you love watching the Olympics? We were afraid we wouldn't be able to see what was going on, since we only get 2 visible channels on our TV. But luckily channel 5 is one of the good ones. I don't even care what event is on, I love it all. Here are some of the things I love:

1. The guy who is the announcer for the gymnastics (Todd? Andrew?) and he always says things like "Whoooa! Dis-AS-trous!!" and "Oh no, that was a HUGE error!" when the gymnasts do some invisible mistake. [Except to me it sounds like "That element is *cough cough cough* what a disappointing *cough cough* extremely difficult dismount *cough cough* tragedy." (thanks Sam)]


2. I love it when they cry. Happy crying, that is. When they're so surprised and happy that they won. I also like it when someone is really, really happy to get the bronze, instead of disappointed with it.

3. "Gleb Galperin." Gleb??! What a great name. There are so many great names.

4. So I mentioned something about the medley relay (in track) and Sam was wondering what it was (400, 200, 200, 800 m.--I don't think they do it in the Olympics though), and he THOUGHT it was like the swimming medley, which has a different stroke for each leg of the race. So he was trying to figure out what it was: "What do they do, like, running backwards, hopping on one foot, skipping?" Then we were imagining Usain Bolt having to skip around the track. Awesome.

5. That commercial where the guy in China is watching the pretty girl and he trips over a food cart and all this stuff comes crashing down on him and then he goes to the doctor and the doctor is that same pretty girl. Just kidding. I don't like it. But I saw it so many times, I feel it's a part of me. So I guess I do kind of like it, actually.

6. I love trying to tell if a dive was good or bad. You start to sort of feel like you can tell because you're listening to the commentators saying things about it, so you look for if there's a big splash or not, or if the legs were together, or whatever. It makes you feel kind of cool.

7. Michael Phelps. Come on. How could you not love that guy?

8. I wish they showed more events during the evenings. I really want to see things like ping-pong and rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. ESPECIALLY synchronized swimming. I've heard it made fun of so often, and yet I've never seen it! Last night they were going to show it after midnight, so we stayed up to watch it, but then we fell asleep before it came on. Woke up to see the pole vault at like 2 a.m. Sad. :(


9. Oops, #8 was not something I love. I'll make up for it on this one. Because I looooove the Olympic music. I wish they played more of it, instead of just the beginning fanfare, but it still gives me chills every time.

10. Getting mad at the judges. Yes! The hint of a scandal. Are they cheating? Merely incompetent? Biased? It makes me mad, but deep down I'm happy because I like getting all righteously indignant about it.

11. The French guy, Jacques What's-his-name, president of the IOC. Usually this only happens to me with German accents, but something about his French accent makes everything he says sound like it's a joke, part of a Monty Python skit or something. "Yes, eet is very-very important to us that we have all of ze rules followed to, ah, ze letter. Zees is of ze utmost importance. Well, of course, zat goes weethout saying."

12. What it is called---the "stro motion" camera? The one that freezes the person (usually in diving) at each different stage of their motion, so you can see exactly how they got from one point to another. I love that! It's so cool.

13. All the track events. Finally I've gotten to the point where I don't start feeling sick and nervous every time I see a track meet. Now I just love feeling like I have some knowlege about what's going on.

14. Those cheesy "human interest" stories they do. "For some, the Olympic dream came easy. But not so for this young diver. Bob?" "That's right, David. Jimmy grew up in this inner city neighborhood [shot of graffitied wall with crack vials by it, sad music in background] where there were no swimming pools for 14 miles. He used to ride his bike past the street gangs [shot of gangly kid on bike] to get to his lessons. In fact, his mom told him he had to quit because they were out of money, but Jimmy would not let his dream die. He dug this makeshift swimming pool in his back yard with his bare hands [shot of puddle in backyard] just so he could practice his scissor kick. Later he was discovered by a talent scout [happy music] and the rest is history. Inspiring." "Wow Bob, that really is inspiring." "Yep, some amazing kids in this group, David."
Okay, I know they're so nerdy, but sometimes they bring tears to my eyes anyway. :)

15. They call it "sport" instead of "sports." As in, "Reaching the highest echelons of sport." Lovely.

I wish we had the Olympics every year. What's your favorite part?

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's a hard-knock life

I don't what I did to deserve this, but my kids love helping me clean. (Actually, I kind of like cleaning too. Not all the time, but often. So I don't usually have a problem acting cheerful about it, especially since we moved into this house; there's something I just like about knowing that no one else's dirt has been in here. Only our own dirt [which is ample]. [Speaking of ample, doesn't that hymn "Lean on my ample arm" sort of bother you? Not that I don't agree with the sentiment, but 'ample' just doesn't seem like a good description of God's arm. A sturdy German housewife, yes.])

The boys do have their own chores, and they'll do those if reminded, but I'm talking about helping me with the "grownup" things. And I've been sort of sneaky about how I treat it (cleaning). I act like I'm really reluctant to give it up, like I'll preface it by saying, "I think you are getting old enough to do this, so I guess I'll let you give it a try just this once," or I'll say excitedly, "Guess what I'm going to do today??! Well, I'm going to clean the counters, and if you guys are good, I will let you help." I don't know if they're just not smart enough to see through it or what, but they will say to me, "Can we sweep the floor today Mommy?" or "Can we wash the tables?" And often I'll reply, "Well . . . I don't know . . . maybe I should just do it after you go to bed." "No, no, we want to help you!!" "Well . . . all right, but you have to do exactly what I say."

It takes longer with them helping, but honestly, give them a rag and a spray bottle and they are happy to help forever! Then of course when we're done I make a big fuss over it all ("WOW! Doesn't this look great? I LOVE having such a clean floor! Can you believe how good it looks? We'll have to show Daddy! Let's take a picture!" etc. etc.) and say, "You guys did such a good job, maybe I'll let you help me again next time!"

I was thinking today, as I was walking around the floor pointing out dirty spots with my toe and the boys were scrubbing them off, that they reminded me of those poor little orphans in "Annie." Except my boys are more serious about it. Didn't those girls always look like they were having too much fun during their chores?



I could get used to having all this slave labor. (Can't wait to add Malachi to the work crew!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alphabet Days

For the past six months, Sam and I have been doing something SO fun. I don't know if it would be fun for other people too, but I'll post the idea just in case. Here it is: Every weekend, we do something that starts with a different letter of the alphabet. In order. We take turns being in charge of what we do, and it can be small or big or whatever, but it has to be something we've planned specifically for this, not something we would have done anyway. (I think I got this idea from a book, but I can't remember where.) We've done some as dates, and some as whole-family activities, depending on what they are.

Anyway, we have absolutely LOVED it. Our kids are too little to really get into the alphabet thing, but they've had a great time doing the activities, and I imagine that with older kids it would be fun to let them be in charge of planning a letter too. It has really been fun to challenge ourselves a little and get outside the kinds of things we normally do.

Coincidentally, it takes exactly 6 months to get through the alphabet (26 letters, 52 weeks, see?), so this can keep you busy for a whole year if you go through twice, switching letters the second time.

Here are the things we've done. You'll see that some are really good and creative and some are just silly. But that's part of the fun of it. :)

A--Apple Fritters.

We just got them at the grocery store and had them for breakfast. Yum.
B--Ballet--Sam and I went to see Ballet West doing "Cinderella." I love ballet! (Good job, Sam.)

C--Create something together--we drew up a landscape plan for our future backyard. We talked about what kinds of things we'd want, and drew it out on graph paper, and Sam helped fill it in on the computer.

D--Daisies and delphiniums--Sam brought me a beautiful bouquet of these flowers. Not really an _activity_, but we were sick that weekend, and anyway, who could ever complain about getting flowers?

E--Elephant Emmys

--okay, this is a silly one. We each had to submit something (art, poetry, or whatever) on the subject of "Elephants with Eating Disorders" or "Elephants and the Environment." Then we had an awards ceremony. I must say that my poem on the subject was very raw and moving. I will refrain from posting it here, but above is Sam's contribution.

F--Arena Football--we went to a Utah Blaze game. Have you ever seen indoor football? It's really fast-paced and fun.

G--Gem and Mineral Show--This is a free yearly show in Spanish Fork. They have all kinds of rocks to look at (and buy). The boys _loved_ it.

H--Handles/hardware

--Yes, sometimes our activities were based on expediency. We went to IKEA to pick out hardware for our kitchen cupboards. A trip to IKEA is always kind of an adventure, though, right? We enjoy it. We also went to a play at the Hale Center Theater in the evening. (It was "She Loves Me." Have you seen it? One of my favorite musicals.)

I--Interior Design--Sam and I both kind of get into this kind of thing, so we just went to the library and checked out a bunch of interior design books and then read through them together, talking about what we liked and didn't like.

J--Junk--We went through the house, gathered up tons of stuff we don't need or use anymore, and took a huge load to D.I. Our ward was also having a swap meet, so some of the less awful stuff went to that.

K--Kiwi--We made fruit pizza with kiwis on top. Yum!

L--?--I'm terribly sorry, but I've forgotten what "L" was. Something fun, I'm sure. :) I was writing them down, but for some reason this week got skipped.

M--Moving--Well, this one was a cop-out. We just happened to be moving that weekend, so we called it "M" for moving and were too worn out to do anything else.

N--Nibbles--This was fun--we went to several different restaurants and just got an appetizer at each place. Our boys LOVED this. They are always begging to do it again.

O--Outdoors

--We had a nice, lazy Sunday picnic. Walked around the lake. Enjoyed the sunshine. It was wonderful.

P--Potstickers--There's a Chinese restaurant we found that has the BEST potstickers. (It's called David's Kitchen, up on 33rd South. Actually everything there is simply delicious.) "P" was a lovely excuse to go there.

Q--Quiz

--Sam and I wrote up quizzes for each other, on any subjects we could come up with. Some questions were hard, and some easy. But it was quite fun to test our knowledge. And for dinner Sunday, I made quiche.

R--Romantic ramen--Sam made Ramen noodles for our dinner. By candlelight. On the nice dishes. How romantic!! We also each were assigned to do a 5-minute oral report. Mine was on the Rorsharch ink-blot test and Sam's was on rugs. Very enlightening.

S--Stargazing, salt flats--This was a super fun one. After dinner, we drove way out west to the salt flats, laid our blankets out, and looked up at the stars while we talked and told stories and ate the cookies we'd made earlier. The stars are SO pretty out there, and we don't really see many stars here. So it was a great night. Another one that the boys really loved.

T--throw --we had another picnic at the park and then played all the throwing games we could think of. Football, frisbee, catch, etc.

U--Unlimited--we had lunch at a local pizza buffet. Our quantities were limited only by our appetites. (And those are big.)

V--Verse--we had to write bad poems. They were, indeed, very bad. I won't subject you to them.

W--Wall-E, Water day
--Friday night Sam and I went on a date to Wall-E (yes, the kids would have liked it, but I didn't want to hold a fussing baby and a squirmy two-year-old and end up going out and missing most of it), and then Saturday we spent all day doing water things: going to the swimming pool and the splash pool, walking by the lake, and paddling around in the inflatable raft we borrowed from my mom.

X--Xeriscaping--You know what this is, right? Water-conserving landscaping? We picked out some native plants that we like, and planned out our rock wall, etc.

Y--Yummy Yellow desserts
--we had a party with a few of our neighbors where we ate desserts that were yellow. They were quite delicious.

Z--Zoo
--well, what other option was there? I guess we'll have to think of something different for next time we do "Z"--but our boys love the zoo, of course, and it's nice to have a reason to go.

So, we're now starting on Round 2. Try it yourself if you want! It doesn't have to be stressful or anything, because you just tailor the activity to what you're in the mood for/feeling up to that week. We've had so much fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ice Cream Contest

I entered this contest with the above ice cream. Rosemary-lime Sparkle. It's really, really good (am I being vain? Well, if you wish you can make it and see for yourself)! It's also quite good with basil in it, but I prefer the rosemary. Yum! The recipe is also here, but perhaps I'll post it in a better format later. Anyway, you may vote for me if you are so inclined.

[Don't you always feel like you sound too perky when you use exclamation points? But how else to express the exhuberance I so often wish to convey? :)]

Update: here is the recipe:

Rosemary-Lime Sparkle Ice Cream
7-10 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups club soda

Strip rosemary leaves from stems and place in small mixing bowl. Add the sugar, milk, and cream; stir to combine. Put bowl in refrigerator and allow flavors to blend for 30 minutes.

Pour rosemary-cream mixture into a blender; blend till smooth. (The rosemary leaves should look like fine green flecks in the cream mixture.) Add lime juice and club soda. Stir well.


Process in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately, or place in freezer to ripen for a few hours longer. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Puffer Fish

I've been kind of down the last little while, so I will now display some of my finest accomplishments.

These are pictures I drew in the margins of my papers while I was sitting in classes at BYU. Look at all those crescents! And of all shapes and sizes! (Magnificent!) I was much more pleased with my doodles once I settled on this form as my "go-to" creation. I didn't have to worry about coming up with some horribly misshapen person or animal, but yet I could enjoy an intricacy not provided by simple spirals or other geometric shapes.



These are puffer fish. My friend Rachael drew the first puffer fish during our biology class, and after that we were on a never-ending quest to draw perfect ones. Certain pens were better for the purpose, we found. Many of these pictured here are not spiny enough: that is, they look a little too full and fluffy. Some are quite good, however. Once Rachael sent me a whole card full of puffer fish for my birthday. That was a good day.

Anyone else have any good doodles? Or perhaps you didn't sit through as many boring lectures as I did? If there are any, I would enjoy seeing them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Soda or pop?

I haven't been feeling very loquacious lately. (Verbose? Wordy? Is there an equivalent word referring to writing instead of speaking? Dictionary.com to the rescue!: "Wordy . . . may, in addition to indicating an excess of words, suggest a garrulousness or loquaciousness: a wordy, gossipy account of a simple incident. Prolix refers to speech or writing [aha!] extended to great and tedious length with inconsequential details: a prolix style that tells you more than you need or want to know.)

Well. Anyway, here's a map for you to look at. From
this cool site.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's a veritable, vegetable, paradise!


I've never really been that great of a gardener, but at this time of year, I start to get so inspired. It's just so FUN to cook with stuff you've grown yourself. I feel paternal and protective towards our veg, like the people in Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. (You've seen it, haven't you? I love that movie.) All this garden food is just so . . . beautiful!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

True or False?

Sam's getting ready to teach a class at BYU this semester, and it's had me thinking about tests. So many bad tests . . . luckily the specifics have faded (along with most of the knowledge that was being tested), but didn't you hate teachers who abused the True/False test? Asking questions like, "True or false . . . ALL protozoa can be categorized under the classification protista." Or, "True or false . . . the ONLY time Falstaff makes an appearance in Shakespeare's works is in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Or, "True or false . . . Heber J. Grant said that the family is the MOST important key to our salvation." Please. I hate it when the teacher's whole purpose is to trick you.

Anyway, Abe and Sebby and I sometimes play this game in the car called "the true/false game," and it's lovely. The questions that the boys think of are so funny. And although I sometimes miss being in school, when I reflect on the fact that this is the only kind of test I have to take these days, I am suffused with gratitude. So, without further ado, I present:

A True/False test you are guaranteed to pass: (actual questions by Abe and Seb)

1. (Abe): True or False: There's a merry-go-round in the middle of the road, right in front of you.

2. (Seb): True or False: There's a zoo in the road in front of you, and it's made of plastic.

3. (Abe): True or False: There's an elephant in the road, and it's coming right towards us, and it's going to get right in our car.

4. (Seb): True or False: There's an elephant in our car right now, and it's made of plastic.

5. (Abe): True or False: There's a big letter Z on the mountain.

6. (Seb): True or False: That Y on the mountain is made of white.

7. (Abe): True or False: There's a big, huge, monkey sitting on the seat, and it's eating a banana, and it's from the zoo, and it's going to be our monkey for the rest of the whole world.

8. (Seb): True or False: My brown monkey is blue.

9. (Abe): True or False: The whole world is blue.

(End, accompanied by raucous laughter)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sight, touch, sound, and . . . taste?

08/08/08. I'll probably get an email from my brother Kenneth tomorrow, saying, "If anyone had contacted me yesterday on 08/08/08, I had a fabulous prize ready to send---too bad no one remembered." That's the sort of thing he's always doing.

If I could have a fabulous prize, perhaps I'd choose one of these lampshades (I really like them!):


And here are a few other interesting things I've run across:

This bathmat made of rocks. I think it would feel good on your feet.

Piano doorbell! Wow. I especially like this commentary:

Musical doorbells are annoying enough, but what if you gave your visitors the freedom to express themselves creatively? That's exactly what designer Li Jian had in mind when he came up with the Pianobell. Unless you are friends with a lot of talented musicians, I don't see much of an upside here.

And this. A bunny mixer. Maybe it's nerdy, but I just like it, I can't help it. I want to paint a little bunny face on my hand mixer now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Death by garage door

Something about the motor in our garage door is broken. You have to push it up and down by hand if you want to get out. Naturally, I accompany this action with dire warnings about how Abe and Seb should leave that job to the adults.

Still, as you can imagine, I was somewhat alarmed to overhear the following:

Seb: Can you close the gawage, Abey?

Abe: Sebby! No! I can't touch the garage door! It will kill me! And it will kill you, too, Sebby! It will kill both of us if we touch it!

Seb: And it will kill Mommy, too.

Abe: No, it doesn't kill Mommy. She's not a kid, she's an adult.

Seb: Yes, it DOES it kill Mommy!

Abe: No, Sebby!

Seb: Yes, it DOES kill Mommy!

Abe: Well, it might kill Mommy, but it kills us too!

"Party Central"

Maybe you've already seen it, but this is my favorite blog lately. It shows (very bad) photos from actual real estate listings, and they're so amazing. The glowing prose accompanying this particular photo was: "Party inside the spacious living room or on the covered patio; great place to invite friends over for good times." Awesome!

Anyway, that looks like my kind of party. I love hosting parties! However, whenever we've attempted parties in the past, I feel like everyone must think we're SO nerdy (which is why we probably just need to embrace it; hence our upcoming [as soon as Megan's twins grow up a bit] Jelly Banquet--you are all invited; details will be forthcoming as soon as a date is set), but really for me, all a party needs is some yummy food, modest hilarity of one kind or another, and that's it---it's fun.
We had a "yellow dessert" party a couple weeks ago, which included the following delicious offerings:




The food was yummy, and we invited some of our neighbors, and it was pretty fun, but like I said, we're sort of nerdy and I had the feeling they were thinking, "Well? Is this it?" I think they were used to, I don't know, more exciting parties.

Anyway, my new resolve, strengthened by the sight of that fabulous get-together shown in the top photo, is to a.) just do the kind of
nerdy things we want to do, without regard to Societal Norms, and b.) invite people who will have great, nerdy ideas of their own.

If such an event sounds enticing, this is your cue to invite yourself over. All we need is an excuse, and not really much of one at that, since as I said, I love parties!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Names


Megan's post made me think of how often I don't really read people's names in books. Well, if it's a normal name like Beth or Joel or Belinda, I read it, but if it's anything weird, or something I haven't heard before, I just sort of look at it, and I take note of it in my head, but I don't say it in my head, if that makes sense. For example, anytime I've read a fantasy book and then I'm trying to talk about it with someone later, I'm embarrassed, because I realize as I'm trying to discuss the plot, I don't really know what anyone is named. I just know Sa------ or Ne------ and I never really bothered to figure out what the rest was. Even in the Lord of the Rings books, I was surprised when I saw the movies and heard "Denethor" or "Eowyn" or whatever, because those were just "that guy that starts with D" and "Eo-something" in my head.

On a vaguely related note, I learned that Evelyn Waugh is . . . a man??!? What on earth? Not that I've ever read any of . . . his . . . books (okay, one), but I've heard the name a lot and always assumed he was a woman. And you know what else? He married a woman named Evelyn!! Weird. Once I knew a guy named Darrin Allison and I always wondered what would happen if a girl named Allison fell in love with him. Would she marry him and brave being Allison Allison forevermore? Or skip her chance at happiness with him and move on? Or I guess she could keep her maiden name? Anyway it didn't end up mattering since I think he married a girl named Lisa. So there you go.

Further reading: http://wesclark.com/ubn/ --check out "The Cream of the Crop"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Horizons, and, a naked child

Here's something that has always impressed me: when people know their way around a town so well that they can use phrases like "the diagonal," "the 215," "the old fairgrounds" etc. I fancied myself quite an expert on getting around in Provo, so I am now quite pleased to be learning my way around what is (to me) a new, and quite confusing jumble of cities and freeways. In fact the other day I wanted to get across the valley, so I hopped on "the 215" (see?), not totally sure where I'd come out, and got to my destination with (nearly) no trouble at all. I've also added I-80; as well as Bangerter Highway, of course; to my repertoire. I try to take a slightly different route every time I go out. Sure, I've gotten lost a few times, but it's a small price to pay for starting to feel like one of the natives.

In other news, today at the swimming pool we four were the only people there for about a half hour. [Note: I can't tell my two older boys apart when they're in the water. Is that bad?] It was so fun. And probably lucky too, since at one point I heard Sebby saying (what I thought was), "Can there just be playing boys in the swimming pool?" I said, "Yes, that's right," and then looked over to see Seb standing there naked with his swimming suit around his ankles. And realized that what he'd said was "plain boys." As opposed to boys in swimming suits, apparently.

Also, I really like this picture:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cookie Experiment


Here I am with the eagerly-awaited results of those 36-hour cookies I tried. They were pretty good. Very good, in fact, but I don't think they are truly my favorite cookies ever. (Many others have tried this experiment as well; I don't pretend to any special expertise except that I really, really like cookies.)

Here's what I thought about the recipe: (find it here)
  • I liked the the extra amount of salt---and it was coarse/kosher salt (not sure if that made a difference). It called for 1 1/2 t. instead of the more normal 1/2-1 tsp., and I really could taste it in the dough. I liked the interesting dimension that added to the cookies' sweetness. As far as the sea salt sprinkled on top of each cookie, it wasn't as noticeable as you might think. It wasn't offensive or anything, but I think the extra salt in the dough made more of a difference. I might try just doing one or the other next time.
  • I baked some cookies at about 30 hours, then more at 48 and 72. I didn't really notice much difference between the 3 times. The 72-hour ones maybe were a bit more toffee/caramelly tasting, but also a bit more crispy. And even the 30-hour ones had that same toffee flavor. It's quite yummy. When cooked the right amount of time (I did 16 min. instead of 18-20---maybe my cookies were smaller or something?), the outside ring of the cookie has a nice, deep, caramelly crunch to it, with the inside still staying soft. But my favorite cookies achieve that same flavor by the inclusion of toffee chips. So, next time I might try making my favorites, but letting them have an overnight resting period, to see if that intensifies the flavor even more, and if it's worth it.
  • I didn't do the 2 kinds of flour---there didn't seem to be any reason for it. I did add quite a bit more flour than the recipe called for---I think. I don't have kitchen scales or anything, so I'm never really sure how accurate my measurements are. I debated whether I should add more (I was trying to be faithful to the recipe after all, or it wouldn't be a valid trial), but I finally just thought I should follow my instincts. You know how you sort of get a feel for how the dough should be. I just added flour until the dough looked and felt right to me.
  • I didn't use "high-quality chocolate." Perhaps if I had, I would have been way more impressed.
All in all: a good recipe, but not my favorite one ever. Still, we are happily devouring the cookies.

Hard Work


Friday night found Sam and me engaging in the romantic activity of raking out the dirt in our yard to get it ready for sod. We had a leaf rake and a tiny metal rake, neither of which worked very well at all, especially since our yard is so rocky (a couple different guys from sprinkler companies that came to give us bids said, "Did you have these rocks brought in?"). Only one of us could really work at a time (the leaf rake having been retired in disgrace), and it was taking forever, and finally we had the bright idea of asking if our wonderful neighbors had a spare rake. I love our neighbors. Even though they only moved in about 3 weeks before us, they still brought bread over when we moved in, and they're always coming through when we need them with things like laser levels and sugar and such.

So, naturally, not only did they have another rake, but Mike said "I have two: one is a metal garden rake and one is a landscaper's rake." Landscaper's rake? Never heard of it---but as it turns out, it was exactly what we needed. The raking went SO much faster after that. It was like a wonderful miracle rake from heaven. (Let that be a lesson to you. Use the right tools.)

The next day we got the sod laid. Have you ever laid sod? It is a hard, heavy, hot job, even when you begin at 5:30 a.m. to avoid the heat. But I feel a lovely glow of satisfaction as I look out at our poor, dry, stripy little tract o' land.


I hope it grows!