Monday, April 30, 2007

best recommendation ever

I had read the previous books in the series, so when I saw that Elaine had purchased this one I asked to borrow it when she was finished reading. This is how she left it on my desk.

And she has never been more correct.

Friday, April 27, 2007

a tribute to the things that you have done

Thursday: Commencement
Somebody took this picture from his seat on the front row. Standing behind the podium is President (of the LDS Church) Hinckley. To the left of him is President (of BYU) Samuelson. To the left of him is Vice President (of the United States) Dick Cheney. Quite the powerhouse lineup. I was sitting in the stands behind the speakers, way, way, way up at the top, where they put the people who come in almost late, and where your chances of getting a nosebleed increase by 64%. Luckily, I was spared.

I had been worried about the response of the BYU community to Vice President Cheney, so I was relieved when he entered the building behind President Hinckley and President Samuelson and everyone in the building stood and clapped and cheered. It was almost overwhelming. I was on the verge of tears many times during the ceremony, both from the optimistic spirit in the building, and from pride in my own, good-looking graduate.

Friday: Convocation
Let it be stated that convocation for the McKay School of Education was one of the most boring meetings I’ve ever attending. And I’m Mormon, so I’ve attended my fair share of meetings. It was a good thing that Scrumptious Cupcakes was there, and that I had thought to put a stash of fruit snacks and chocolate covered macadamia nuts in my purse. You know, for the children. I was so glad that I had talked Somebody into leaving the ceremony as soon as he had crossed the stage (he was the ninth person across the stage) because there were almost 900 graduates behind him. We had time to go around campus with Scrumptious, who was graciously willing to take the pictures, and still had time to spare before the ceremony ended almost 90 minutes after we left. We only know that because we were waiting for the post-graduation reception. Because, you know, there were brownies there.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

bring your good times, and your laughter, too

To celebrate Somebody’s graduation, we hosted a small gathering for his friends. The gorgeous early spring weather held long enough for us to enjoy dinner in the back yard. Thank goodness.

Our practice recipes paid off, our friends seemed to enjoy themselves, no one ate nearly enough food, and good times were had by all.

Yield: 8 Servings

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup half and half
Melted butter to brush shortcakes
Ice cream or whipped cream

Heat oven 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half. Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Cool and eat with berries, ice cream and/or whipped cream.

Sweet and Tangy Loose Beef BBQ
Yield: 28 servings

7 pounds beef chuck roast
1 can beef broth
1 sliced onion
3 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1- 455 ml (about 15 ounces) jar chili sauce
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced

Place the roast into a slow cooker along with the beef broth and sliced onion. Cover, and cook on LOW for 8 hours, or until beef can be easily shredded with a fork.

Shred the beef, removing fat as you go. Remove 1/2 cup of the broth from the slow cooker, and reserve for later. Combine all remaining ingredients in sauce pat and heat through to combine flavors. Stir into meat so that the meat is well coated.

Cover, and continue to cook beef in slow cooker on LOW for an additional 4 to 6 hours. Add the reserved broth only if necessary to maintain moisture. Serve on toasted French bread.

We cooked the meat and made the sauce the day before, combined them and stored them in the refrigerator overnight, and then just placed them in slow cooker on the day we were planning to serve. The meat can also be reheated in a pan on the stovetop in about 10 minutes if you don’t have time for it to reheat in the slow cooker. Meat reheated in the slow cooker will be slightly more saucy.

you can't always get what you want

Somebody is graduating today. And I have some thoughts.

1. Will people please stop talking about how mad they are that Dick Cheney is speaking at Commencement today? If you oppose all that he stands for; if seeing him makes you sick; if you think he is the devil; if you are afraid he will shoot you, then stay home. Don't attend. Don't watch. Why is this so hard? And why am I so embarrassed of my fellow students? Do you really think he is going to take this opportunity to spout political opinuindo? Why can’t we just believe he will congratulate the graduates, wish them success in their future, and sit down?

2. Somebody and I have been cooking up a storm every night this week getting ready for his graduation celebration. My mom was supposed to arrive today and I was going to pick her up from the airport while Somebody was at Commencement, and then everyone would come over for food and fun. I had been worrying yesterday evening about how the timing was all going to work, and if I could get it all done, and was planning on making a detailed timeline first thing this morning, and was just praying that somehow I would have the time and energy to finish it all.

My mom called this morning to let us know that she was actually not going to be able to come because the small cold she had been fighting the last several days had blossomed overnight into a much more aggressive cold, and she felt too sick to get on a plane and travel all day, then be busy with graduation, then spend two days with my nieces and nephews. I can see how that would be completely overwhelming if you weren't feeling well. I also think that, while we are all sad that we won't see her, no one is more disappointed about the missed trip than my mom.

What her not coming means to my schedule, though, is that all of a sudden I have two extra hours in my afternoon. Is that not what I had been praying for? More time? And while at first I was just disappointed and frustrated at the last minute changes, I also have to acknowledge that I am watched over, and that my needs are known. And while this is not the answer to my prayers I was looking for, it is most certainly an answer.

3. I woke up in the worst mood this morning, and I have no explanation for it. You'd think a free half-day of work, plus knowing there is no work tomorrow, plus having friends over tonight would cheer me up. There is no reason for my grumps, and I wish they would go away.

4. Somebody is graduating! I could not be more in love. And I could not be more proud.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

more than semi-homemade

We spent most of April eating really good food. What can we say? We are suckers for fine cuisine. Luckily, we both enjoy cooking, love to spend time together in the kitchen, and have started experimenting with new recipes. As with all experiments, some are more successful than others.
Here are some of the things we have tried this month.

Homemade Pad Thai

Sushi Rolls

Apple Pork Chops, Fruity Couscous Salad, and Sautéed Green Beans

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

interview with a texan

Janssen was recently interviewed on her blog by another blogger. She offered to interview anyone who was interested with five questions of her choosing, and I took her up on it. Here are her questions and my answers.

1. What names do you like that you would use for your future children?
Boys: Travis, Noah, Kyle, Dennis (Say it fast: Dennis Shoe. Man, I crack myself up.)
Girls: Kate, Claire, Christine, Lillian, Aida, Bailey

2. Cake or cookies?
Cake. But I have to tell you, this one took a lot of thought. As the reigning Queen of Cookies in the Harman, I initially thought that my preference leaned toward cookies. But, think about it. Cookies are a snack. A quick nibble. A stolen kiss. A passing infatuation. It’s good while it lasts (sometimes VERY good), but you never really have to get very committed. Cake you actually have to form a relationship with. You pick out china and silverware. Cake also has options, baby. Besides picking the flavor of the cake itself, you get to choose fillings and frosting. Yum. Just picture a three-layer decadent chocolate cake, filled with strawberries and cream, and smothered with a rich fudge sauce. You have a piece of this cake on a plate, and as you use your fork to slice off a piece, the entire moist cake kind of gives in to your pressure. Then you’ve cut through and get to raise a piece of eatable heaven to your mouth. A little frosting gets on your lips, but enough makes it through to complete the taste sensation. You contemplate moving to be closer to this cake. You’ll give up your job, if that’s what it takes. You know you and the cake have a connection, and you need to see if the relationship has lasting potential. You not only finish every bite, you scrape off the crumbs, and then use your finger to get the last of the frosting off the plate. You’re in love. You’re committed. Cake. I’d choose cake.

3. If you had to choose one state in the US to get rid of, which one would it be?
Tennessee. Why? Does anyone even live there? Although, if we got rid of Tennessee then where would country music go? Probably to Alabama, but that's fine with me.

4. Rain or snow?
Snow, because you can ski and sled and make snow angels. Also because very rarely do you have a lovely spring picnic foiled by snow. You generally know it’s coming and can plan accordingly.

5. What great classic book have you read that you thought was highly overrated?
I’ve never read anything from the real classic collection (Plato, Herodotus, Homer, Sophocles, Aristotle, etc.), but if I had to choose from among the books that most of my friends have read and loved, I’d have to choose Little Women. I just don’t get it. I don’t even really like the movie very much. Blah blah blah, a bunch of girls growing up, blah blah blah, a cute boy next door (why, hello there, Christian Bale), blah blah war, blah blah death, blah blah weird artsy guy, blah blah. I just. Don’t. Get it.

So, do you want to be interviewed?

Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Let the games begin.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

eight months

We celebrated our eighth month anniversary last week. I know. We are still so newly married that we are still counting the time in months. We are so lucky. Somebody surprised me with these:

We didn't think that tulips continued to grow once cut, but we were happy to be proven wrong.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

the name game

I'd like to state up front that my comments here should in no way be taken as an announcement of any kind.

Over Easter dinner on Sunday my cousin Alison told me that her sister (the older one, the one that I'm closest in age to, one of my favorite cousins) just had her second daughter. Good news, right? And then Alison told me the new baby's name. And it was my name. MY name! The name I chose years ago for my own daughter! Clearly I had laid claim to that name. It's mine. MINE! But, apparently, no, it's not. It now belongs to the new-born daughter of my cousin, who has every right to use the name because, well, she had a baby first.

What is it about being a girl that made me choose years ago the names I wanted for my children? Even before I knew what their last name would be, I had my choices firmly set.

In related news, knowing the pain of growing up a Jennifer, I found this article amusing. Why isn't the name Jennifer coming back into popularity? I can't use it, but I encourage all of you to seriously consider it. I mean, think about it. It's definitely feminine. Everyone knows how to spell it. It will remind you of me. Pretty much it's a win/win.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what the name was. Because then you might steal it, too.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

in memory

The Easter Picnic of 2006 was a landmark event. It was the first family activity that I took my brand-spankin' new boyfriend to. I still remember that as we were unloading the car, my brother-in-law came up and whispered, "I understand that he is someone who might be a permanent part of our family." And it turns out that he was. Or is. So, in memory of that event, I'm posting the picture we took in 2006. Our first picture together. The one where we both felt very awkward and look like we would rather be bathing in the salt water than cementing our relationship.

And our semi-recreation at the Easter Picnic 2007.

And here we just admit to being, well, married now.

By the way, Somebody wanted to wear the same outfits this year that we wore last year, just to fully recreate the experience. Apparently he got outvoted.

masters of our craft

Colored with Martha's "silk tie" technique:

Normal dye, dropped on eggs sitting on napkins. Genius:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007