Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Can Too Dunk!

My mom has told me a story about when I was in nursery. This is the 18 mo - 3 year group for children at my church, for those of you unfamiliar with this term in relation to people. I don't remember all of the details, but the story basically involved me teaching all of the other kids how to dunk the graham crackers they gave us as a mid-church snack into the little cups of water and then eating them soggy. I'm not sure where I learned that particular trick, but I still really enjoy dunking things. But not basketballs. I would probably really enjoy that trick if gravity didn't have it in for me like it does, but alas... I see no dunking of basketballs in my future.

I've spoken with several people that asserted that they have a harsh anti-dunking policy for themselves. Some people are very much against the crumbs, floaties and/or sinkies that are considered inevitable and acceptable occupational hazards for those of us who are habitual dunkers. Some people make a few exceptions. Like for Oreos, but only the name-brand kind, and the like. I like to consider myself a fairly open-minded person, and started to declare myself an equal-opportunity dunker, but realized that I don't like all dunking equally. Indeed, my preferences vary greatly depending on the dunked item and dunking medium in question. I think this means I'm dunkist. Sad.

Anyhoo... I started to ponder all of the things that I have dunked, and decided to make a dunking enjoyment chart. The columns are things that I have been known to dunk, and the rows represent the things I dunk the other things into. The number of hearts represent how much I enjoy that particular dunking combination. I wanted to use little smiley faces, but I don't have photoshop on my 6 yr old laptop so I can't get a higher resolution chart right now. Besides, the little white smiley faces ended up looking like blobs, and the little black faces looked like pumpkins. So little hearts it is!

You might notice some interesting things. Like for instance, that I really enjoy dunking saltine crackers into chamomile tea. Strange? Probably. This stems from the 15 months I spent in Argentina as a missionary for the LDS church. Chamomile tea is common there (té de manzanilla). When I first arrived in Argentina, my first missionary companion was an Argentine that didn't eat breakfast. I have always been a big breakfast eater, so I had to fend for myself. I didn't really know Spanish very well back then so it was a struggle for a bit. I found sweetened té de manzanilla and saltine crackers (with or without dulce de leche) to be a satisfactory breakfast. It grew on me, and I enjoy it to this day.

Milk and Hot chocolate (preferably with a little Pero mixed in to cut the sweetness just a bit) are fairly interchangeable with a few exceptions. Milk is superior for bread dunking (especially chocolate milk... Mission influence again. Chocolate milk and fresh bread was my regular dinner for 6 months or so), but hot chocolate is better for ladyfingers and shortbread. Bits of buttered toast should only be dunked in soup, just like french fries should only ever be dunked in a milkshake/frosty. Preferably chocolate. I don't dunk donuts. Even Dunkin' Donuts donuts. Call me crazy, if you must. Just doesn't do it for me.

And despite the original use of water as a dunking medium, it ranks pretty poorly now that my dunking world has expanded to include so many other things. It'll still do in a pinch, but it is not preferred. I have dunked my phone in water, but that was entirely unintentional. And not very tasty. So it didn't make the chart...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Favorite Picture of Dad...

I absolutely love this picture. It is just so representative of my dad. He sure loved his sheep! I took this picture a few summers ago back in Clint, TX. The grandkids were there and he went and got a baby lamb for them to play with. It was super cute. Yesterday was Dad's birthday, and I've been remembering him and his big heart and gentle spirit.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How to clean your basement

1) Find a cool place to live right next to a huge park.

2) Make sure whoever installed the sprinklers for said park does shoddy work.

3) Move into house that has incorrectly installed sprinkler main for the park right next to basement window well.

4) Lie in bed listening to peaceful sound of rain early one morning. Preferably a Tuesday morning at about 7 AM.

5) Wait... it's not raining! Run down the stairs to discover 6 inches of standing water in your basement.

6) Put shoes on. The window well filling up with water will put enough pressure to break even a double-paned window.

7) Quickly move everything irreplaceable up to your 2nd story bedroom.

8) Keep removing the leaf bits/other debris that keeps clogging the drain. The drain that is stationed at a high spot on the basement floor.

9) Carefully pick up all visible shards of glass and place in unused plastic trash can.

10) Not-so-quickly begin the process of moving everything else upstairs.

11) Take a breakfast break.

12) Feel overwhelmed. Carry one thing around while you pace the basement trying to figure out what to do next.

13) Greet the landlord and his general-contracting/carpet cleaning buddy, Von, as they come survey the damage.

14) Direct the extra hands the landlord brings in to help move stuff around.

15) Move love-sack into upstairs hallway (where you will have to jump over it every time you want to go in or out of your room) to make more room in the living room for boxes.

16) Once basement is empty and the cement has sucked up all the water it can, sweep to get as much debris off of the floor as possible.

17) Watch an episode of Scrubs and eat lunch while Von 'power cleans' the basement with his carpet-cleaning equipment.

18) Begin long process of washing all fabric items that got flooded.

19) Leave carpet-drying fans in basement for 4 days straight.

20) Step back and enjoy how clean your basement is!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not to drop names or anything but...

So guess who I got to hang out with last night? Brandon Sanderson! He's an up and coming Sci/Fi-Fantasy author who I discovered a few years ago. And it turns out that he lives just around the corner from me. I just got invited to a book club and this month's book was Brandon's first published work, Elantris. I had read it before, and while it doesn't quite grip me the way that his newer trilogy-in-progress (Mistborn) does, it's still a good piece of work. And it's a stand-alone book which is refreshing to me in these days where it seems every writer feels compelled to write books that only come in packs of 3 or herds of many, many more than that.

So we all read the book (and some of us finished it) before book club last night. I have never been a part of a book club before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. There were eight or nine people there total, including Brandon and his wife, Emily. I don't think they are a regular part of the book club, but one of the girls is the VTer of Emily and so decided to pick his book to read, and then somehow he got roped into coming along. It ended up being a lot of fun.

Brandon is a very nice, very down-to-earth kind of a guy that obviously loves what he is doing. He has put a lot of thought into these stories and patiently endured over an hour of questions and comments from our little group. He was very gracious at accepting our criticisms too. Maybe having his wife there kept him on his best behavior, but I get the feeling that it's just because he a decent sort of chap. A big nerd, admittedly, but a good guy all the same.

He explained some of the thoughts and feelings he's had on writing book #12 of Robert Jordan's extensive Wheel of time series. He was chosen by Robert Jordan's widow after his passing to finish off the series. A daunting task, especially knowing the kinds of fans that have followed this series for the last 18 or so years. According to Brandon, people are mostly supportive. There have been a few threats of what people will do to him if he screws it up, but having read the 4 books he has published as well as the copy of "Dragonsteel" that resides in the HBLL, I have confidence that he will do a fantastic job. Maybe not what Robert Jordan himself would have done, but good nonetheless.

The book club should be fun. People were great, and I was the youngest one there! Not that that's a huge thing, but it's kind of nice to be 28 years old and the youngest one in a group setting in Provo. We're reading Robinson Crusoe for next month. Odds of the author being at that one are pretty slim. I'll let you know how it goes in any case.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Think Greek!

Hi. My name is Karen. (hello Karen) And I am a food addict. (clapping)

I seriously love food. And as a way of enabling my habit, I celebrate cultures that celebrate food. Take the Greeks for example. Every year they hold a festival in Salt Lake City that revolves around food. Oh, there are some people that dance way off to one side of the ginormous tent they have set up, and you can take a tour of the Greek Orthodox church (not so common in Utah), but mostly people just come for the food. And some tasty food it is. Mmmmmmm

The end of the food line was outside the ginormous tent and had so many people in it that it reached the end of the tent and then wrapped around for about half the rest of the outside the tent line. Nicole, Sara, Caren, and I wandered around until we realized that yes, this was the food line. We got in the line, wrapped around, finally got in the tent, got to the other side of the tent, went through some crazy switchbacks, and finally got into the cafeteria-style food serving place. We all loaded up our trays with things like Domathes, Fasolakia, Kefthethes, Gyros, and Spanakopites, and Diet Coke. We payed the nice little greek ladies, and made our way close to the little dancing stage way at the other side of the parking lot turned greek madhouse.

We took a seat, admired our food for a bit, and then started to gorge ourselves silly. After the main course we took a little break and watched the dancers. And made some observations of our own. Some of the greek men got really into the dancing. They were stomping and jumping and doing the greek man version of a kick line. The expressions on their faces were all kinds of intense. It was great! The women did their fair share of jumping around, and had some great moves too. You maybe can't tell from the picture but it struck me that traditional greek costumes for women don't seem to include... *ahem*... adequate support. If you know what I mean. If I had been contemplating learning greek dance before, this was enough to dissuade me. Seriously...

After our bellies had rested for a good 15 minutes or so, I went off to get some dessert. I couldn't decide, so I got one of each thing they had at the dessert stand. Don't worry, I did share!

All in all it made for a fun night. It was fun to see Caren again, and I'm glad Nicole is back from her years up north! And it was fun to get to know Sarah a little bit better! I only wish I didn't have to wait another year for it to happen again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Quick Trip

Because it's summer, and because we live in beautiful Utah, we decided to go camping about a month or so ago. There was quite a group that we pulled together, and we had decided to go up to Mirror Lake up past Heber. We all work and have school and the like, so we were going to meet at 5:15 to leave at 5:30 so we could drive the hour or two up to the mountains, and then hike to a lake and set up camp before dark.That was the plan.

Unfortunately, things seldom go as planned. Due to peoples' lives being crazy, we left an hour or so late from Provo and we headed up the canyon. We were meeting up with someone a little past Heber, and he was running a little bit late so we decided to go back into Heber to pick up a quick bite to eat. We parked along the main strip next to a variety of fast-food places and split up. Some went to Wendys, some went to Sonic, some went other places. Because this was going to be quick, right? The whole concept of fast food. But no. It took 45 minutes for people to get their food at Wendys, and somewhat less than that for those of us who chose the Sonic option, but regardless, what was supposed to be a quick detour ended up taking an hour.

Well, with spirits still high we collected our extra person, dropped his car off in Kamas, and headed towards our destination. A half-hour later we go under I-80 and realize that we had missed a turn off way back when. The only one in the group that had actually gone up to Mirror lake had gone 6 years earlier and wasn't 100% clear on the directions. So a different car took the map and the lead and headed back.

We found the turn off we had missed and headed up into the mountains. We finally reach the parking lot at the trail head about 11:00 and we load up, take a quick picture and head off.
Ten minutes later: But wait... this doesn't really look like a clear trail. Are we sure we went the right way? Nope. We totally had gone hiking off randomly without a trail. We all backtrack and then re-start the hike. On the right trail this time.

So some people in the group were pretty experienced backpackers, and some of us are decidedly not. But everyone was really good about keeping the group together for the first few hours of hiking. About 2-ish, when we figured we were getting pretty close to where we would be settling down for the night we decided to split up. The 'fast' hikers were going to go ahead and set up the tents and get a fire going, and the 'slow' hikers (and those nice enough to stay with us so we didn't inadvertently wander off a cliff or something) were going to haul our worthless carcasses the rest of the way somehow. Fast forward about 40 minutes. We were sitting down, taking a rest and eating a few well-deserved granola bars and fruit snacks, when all of a sudden a few guys from the 'fast' group come upon us from behind. Without their packs. Somehow they had gotten off of the trail without realizing it, but had run into a nice little lake so had decided to set up camp. After quite awhile they realized that the rest of us hadn't made it there yet, so they sent a few people to investigate. Who found where the trail had turned but they hadn't. So they continue up the real trail and find us. We had hiked about 20 or 30 minutes more than we had to. *sigh*

We hike back, and help finish setting up camp. It's around 2:30 by the time we all settle down around the fire. Some of us busted out the S'mores making goods, and others bust out the tinfoil dinners they had carted in. We all had a good time and don't make it to bed until around 4 in the AM. Wherein we discover that we had miscalculated the tent/people ratio. Four girls ended up sleeping in a 3 person tent. Yikes!

My sleeping bag says it was rated to 30 degrees, but my feet were cold pretty much the entire night, and the ground was really hard. Which explains why I decided to give up on trying to pretend to be asleep around 7 o'clock. I was the first one up and decided to go and wander a bit with my camera. I had a lot of fun with my macro setting and got some really great pictures just as the sun was coming up. After an hour or two I headed back to camp, and joined the others in their breakfast efforts. After which we packed up camp and hiked out. Because we were meeting our ward group to go inner tubing down the Provo River at 3. Where I almost got myself killed... but that's another story for another day!

It was a quick trip, but ended up being a lot of fun! Good times!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Simple Beauty

I just have to share this picture with you guys. This is the first time I've ever started my own tomato plants from seed (that I purchased here), and this is one of the varieties I'm growing. It's called 'Black Zebra' and I think it's super pretty. And tasty! Gotta love summer!!

An Ode to last week...

If you can smile when things go wrong
And say it doesn't matter,
If you can laugh off cares and woe
And trouble makes you fatter,
If you can keep a cheerful face
When all around are blue,
Then have your head examined, bud,
There's something wrong with you.
For one thing I've arrived at:
There are no ands and buts,
A guy that's grinning all the time
Must be completely nuts.
(Quoted by Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional, 1989)

Along the Road
I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser,
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow
And ne'er a word said she;
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!

Robert Browning Hamilton

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed.

[The fact is] most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. ...

Life is like an old-time railway journey -- delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed.

The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride"

Jenkins Lloyd Jones (as often quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley)

So yeah. This has been one of those weeks. They happen every now and then and help me to appreciate the good ones. I'm glad they only happen every now and then...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


So I really like playing Settlers of Catan, especially with the Cities and Knights addition, but it can be tough to get people to come and play with me (especially when I beat them), so I've been looking for alternatives. I recently found a website where you can play "Xplorers" (Settlers) or "Tolouse" (Carcassonne) as well as a few other games. You can play with other humans in either three or four player games, or you can play with "bots" that always sport the names of various charcacters from "Friends". And you can play just for fun, or you can play to be ranked. And there are tons of variations of the board that you can play on. It's pretty great. In a time-wasting kind of a way. :)

When I first happened upon this website, I started at the top of the page, with the ranked tournaments, and when I got totally rocked 5 or 6 times in a row, I decided that I needed to bone up on my playing strategy, so I went to the non-ranking pages and have been working my way through all of the different maps one by one, playing against bots. Don't be lulled into complacency by thinking you're at an advantage with your real brain and all. Those computers can be pretty crafty. I'm winning against them about half of the time (and I may be being generous here) these days, but they still give me a run for my money.

So if any of you are fellow fans of Settlers, I strongly discourage you from checking out this website if you ever want to be productive in the presence of a computer again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


This is not a post about me complaining. This comes to you all more in the way of a confession. Remember a few posts back when I was making fun of the people that got all dressed up to go see Prince Caspian? Yeah, well I went dressed up to a movie this summer. Turns out, if you catch me in the right mood, and have a group of people that will do likewise, I'll dress in something most people would find really embarrasing and go out in public. (People in my ward can attest to that. March of the Penguins ring a bell for anyone?)

As part of the Facebook Group, Summer Blockbuster Midnight Movie Madness (or something to that effect) I went to see Dark Knight on opening night up in South Jordan with a group of people. And we dressed as superheroes. We had Catwoman, Robin, Batgirl, and Super Karen. Yeah, I just made up my own superhero. Heaven forbid I conform, even in the superhero realm. In case you are wondering, yes I did make the costume myself. Anyone that wants to make their own spandex catsuit can find pretty good instructions here. Good times.
In case any of you have wondered, this is why my Blog is called Super Karen. I guess it's one of my alter egos. I've made a few other versions of this costume (and won two different halloween costumes with them) so this costume is version 3.0. And the best one, I think. I didn't have time to work up a logo or whatnot to sew on my chest, but I'm really not sure that I'll be wearing this in public any time soon, so I may not even worry about it.
Well there it is. My hypocrisy. For all the world to see.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Archuleta-inflicted Hearing Loss

My TV watching happens in spurts. I'll have seasons of shows where I'll watch religiously, but then I'll skip the next season or so. I've only seen seasons 1, 4, and 5 of '24', for example. When it comes to reality shows, if I don't start from the very beginning of the season, I'm just not emotionally invested into the outcome of the show, so I don't watch it. The only seasons I've watched of American Idol were #3 (where Fantasia won, but I enjoyed Jennifer Hudson and Jon Peter Lewis most) and #4 (where Carrie Underwood won) and the current season with the battle of the Davids. I watched every episode this season, many of them with my good friends Robin and Sarah.

So when the American Idol Live tour was coming through Salt Lake, we just had to go. It was a blast! Even the performers I had very low expectations for (Chikezie, Ramiele, and Jason Castro) sung well, and were pretty entertaining. Quite a few of the performers commented on how loud the crowd was. Which means we were louder than they were used to? We were the 10th show they did, so you wouldn't think they would be super surprised at people yelling and screaming.

They had the top ten perform in reverse order, and each performer did three songs. Well, they had some big screens up, and would show some promo footage of the contestants, and some commercials that they had made. Since David Archuleta is from the area, the noise level pretty much doubled whenever he had a bit in one of them. He came in second overall, and so after Sayesha (who ended 3rd) got done with her last song, the crowd went wild. She kept talking and talking. Couldn't she tell that all we wanted was a little David!?!?! But NO! "Is she still talking!?" Finally she got the hint (with the crowd chanting a name that was not hers) and left the stage, and then cute little David Archuleta came up out of the stage behind a grand piano. The crowd went W-I-L-D. It was seriously one of the loudest environments I've been in. Including drum line practice in the band room. YIKES! You could barely hear the poor kid sing at times. But they let him sing four songs. And he got all choked up and bashful just like on TV! It was fun!

There had been some speculation by the media as to the reception David Cook would receive, having beat out the Utah boy, but he got a really loud reaction from the crowd, too. Just a smidge quieter than Archuleta's.

So by the end of the night I was hoarse from screaming, had ringing in my ears from the noise, and felt oddly relaxed as a result of the vibrations from the bass that shook my whole body. I'd say the night was a success!

There is a Green Hill

Being in a BYU single's ward as I am, and seeing as most of us don't have a whole lot of family close by, we don't have Family Home Evening (FHE) with actual family, but rather are split up into groups with a "mom" and "dad" called to preside over the group, and make sure there is some form of organization and structure to the weekly gatherings. In my ward we meet all together once a month, split up and go to the Bishopric's homes once a month, and the other Mondays we just meet as individual groups (we have 4 in our ward).

This month the FHE gurus decided to have a bake-off, with a homemade Thai dinner for the winning group. Sister Sorenson is Thai and cooks some amazing food! I have been privileged enough to have recently partaken of her cooking, so I wasn't necessarily dead-set on winning. To give other people a chance to experience the goodness and all. And I just really like feeding people, so I went a little overboard as usual. I made a chocolate cake that I put green shag frosting on, as well as some frosting daisies that I had left over from a different cake project. I titled it "There is a Green Hill". I made some tarts with some excess jam from last week, and an almond crust. There was the old standby of cinnamon rolls that I've made often enough that I don't even need the recipe anymore, and I threw in some cream puffs I had made for a dinner I went to on Sunday. Amy Norton and I were the only ones for our group that made anything, and there was lots of stuff there, some of which was really prettily presented, but we're both good cooks so we felt pretty confident in our offerings. Amy brought a chocolate-raspberry mousse cheesecake thingy and home-made thin mints. Awesome!

So we had Bishop Sorenson, President Baker, and Bro. and Sister Andersen judging the competition. They had official judging hats to make sure that everyone knew they were serious about the whole thing. And they were. Very serious while judging. After they judged presentation, difficulty, and originality they got to taste everything. And so did we. I especially enjoyed the lemon meringue pie, and the assortment of chocolate goodies brought. Oh, and this raspberry cheesecake thing with a fresh raspberry sauce to drizzle over it. Yum!!!

We were all biting our nails, but they finally tallied up the results and the overall single winner was Anamae Anderson who made one of the fantastic lemon meringue pies. But there were two entries that won the contest for their entire group. And they were.... (drumroll please)... The Green Hill cake (also referred to as the Grassy Knoll) and the jam tarts! That's right. I totally won for my group! It was awesome. Anamae gets to come with our group when we get dinner since she won for herself. I consider my self-awarded "Domestic Goddess" title officially defended!

A Frenzy for Stephanie Meyer

Those of you who aren't into the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer (affectionately referred by me as "the sparkly teenage vampire love books") probably missed the biggest event of the summer. No, not the American Idols Live tour (which I did go to but haven't blogged about yet), and not "The Dark Knight" (which I went to dressed as a superhero.
Coming soon to a blog near you). The biggest event of the summer (for many, many screaming women between the ages of 12 and 74) was the release of the 4th and final book in the Twilight Series... Breaking Dawn! There were all kinds of release parties, the biggest at the local Borders. Seeing as this was a vampire book, some brilliant person at the blood bank even organized a blood drive in the Borders parking lot that evening. So great!

While I have been known to read me a good book from time to time, its usually something I do alone, not really sharing these experiences with many people. In fact, talking about my favorite books with people sometimes really bugs me. People pronounce names different than I do in my mind (i.e. wrong) and even though I can be fairly excited (in my brain) about some of the books I read, it somehow seems a lot weirder when people form this excitement into words. Part of this may stem from the type of people that seem to be really into the kind of books I normally read. I don't make my own chain-mail in lecture classes, I'm not much for LARP-ing, and I only wear capes and/or cloaks as part of a costume that I'm wearing for a special occasion (like Halloween. Or superhero movie premieres) Long story short, I don't usually purposefully congregate with my fellow Sci Fi/Fantasy readers. Well, unless there is a book signing by someone like Orson Scott Card or Brandon Sanderson. Such occasions are totally worth putting up with the cape-wearing LARPers. But seeing as I had no other plans last Friday night, I thought I'd swing by the local Borders to see what was up. I (being a much less devoted fan than many out there) didn't even get there until 11:30 PM. And consequently had to park roughly 3 blocks away behind the movie theater. By this time the blood-bank people were already packing up, and there were a local folksy kind of band playing for the horde of mostly women, the most enthusiastic of which were wearing red and black. The spokesperson for the band sounded a little dazed whenever she addressed the crowd. She didn't really know anything about the book that was being released, and obviously couldn't comprehend why hundreds of people would stand around for a stupid book.

I wander into the bookstore and get my wristband that tells me where to get in line at midnight when they can start selling books to people. I was number 1061! And there were plenty of people that got their little wristband after me. Since I was not the posessor of a wristband numbered under 100, I was supposed to go and wait outside with the other 968 people waiting for a book. Instead, I walked right past the bookstore employees like I knew what I was doing, and once inside, I pulled a book off of the bestseller shelf, found myself a corner, and started reading. This book was quite snarky, and seeing as it was fairly late in the evening, there were parts of it that were really funny to me. But much of the book didn't do much for me. Moral of that particular book: Vegans are skinny. That's what I get for reading non-fiction when I have an entire bookstore at my disposal. That's one hour of my life I think I'd like to have back. Well, about the time I had skimmed the last few chapters, I got up and checked out what number had actually purchased their Breaking Dawns. We weren't even to #300. And it was already 12:45. I came, I saw, I partook of the ambiance, and then I left. Yeah, just like that.

And it's now Tuesday and I still don't have the book. Go figure...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bar Party!

So two of my good friends, Brian Christensen and Kari Baardson (They're #1) took the Utah Bar exam on Wednesday, so we decided to throw a Bar Party for them. Amy Norton and Julia came up with some very clever ideas for refreshments. We had candy bars, lemon bars, a salad bar, an open bar (so to speak. Stocked with such Mormon-friendly drinks like lemon-lime soda, juice, and sparkling cider), some Law & hors d’oeuvres, a time to grill (hamburgers and hotdogs), The Firm (jello), and twelve angry cupcakes (a spoof on the movie twelve angry men. I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard that it’s pretty good).

I helped out by making some of the hors d’oeuvres and the twelve angry cupcakes (complete with little cardboard jury box and racial diversity). I made two kinds of savory cream puffs, and mushrooms stuffed with zucchini (from my garden!), shallots, garlic, and little shrimp with a mixture of mozzarella and gruyere cheese on top. I was a very picky eater when I was a child (what child besides myself didn’t like French fries!? Weird) and never thought much of either mushrooms or shrimp. I volunteer for Chef Jim Light up in Salt Lake every now and then, and he has helped to expand my culinary horizons a bit. He has made both shrimp and mushrooms that I have really enjoyed, so I thought I’d give it a shot myself. It turned out pretty good! Some people REALLY liked them. I’d still have to say that it’s not my absolute favorite thing in the world (no pork-products involved, after all. Though bacon would make just about anything taste better. I might have to throw some in next time J ) Amy made these little things that were basically little squares of puff-pastry with some mozzarella, homemade pesto, and half of a grape tomato baked in mini-muffin tins. I couldn’t get enough of them! One of the cream puffs had chicken and almonds, a bunch of spices, and a touch of worcestershire sauce. The other ones were rosemary with a little bit of gorgonzola, and a whole lot of mozzarella and gruyere cheese on top. It was a first for me to make cream puffs that weren’t sweet. I think they turned out pretty good, but there are things I would do next time to tweak them a bit. They flattened out for some reason, especially the ones with the cheese. I probably put way too much on there, but I love cheese! Especially gruyere. Gift Idea: If any of you are around for my birthday in November, you can just get me a block of the cave-aged gruyere from Costco. It would keep me a happy camper for weeks! Yu-ummy!

Many people came to the party and we had some great times talking. Rob graciously offered to grill the meat for us, but was wearing a new shirt, so he took it off to avoid getting it messy. Watching other people watch him was one of the highlights of my evening, I must say! Good times! Rob never fails to liven up whatever situation he finds himself in.

Well, it was fun. Congratulations one more time to Brian, Kari, and anyone else who survived the taking of the Bar Exam this week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We Be Jammin'

I summer. I really do. The warm sunshine, all of the fun things to do, and most especially this week, fresh apricots! There's nothing quite like a perfectly ripe apricot, so fresh that it is still warm from the sunshine. mmmmmm....

Problem is, I don't have an apricot tree from which to partake of their deliciousness. Luckily, I'm fairly shameless when it comes to asking for things that I want, so when I drove past a house last Friday that had a huge apricot tree in their backyard that was just loaded down with little orange morsels of goodness, I decided that I would swing by the next
morning and ask them if they would mind me picking some, with the idea that I would either pay them for what I took, or just do some extra picking for them so they wouldn't have to do quite so much themselves. So I packed my handy-dandy ladder into my little car and headed on over. The people were super nice, especially considering that they had every right to have considered it a bit rude for me to have invited myself to their house. I picked one grocery sack full, and grandma took it inside to start making some jam, and I picked steadily from about 10 to noon, being joined at different times by the lady of the house, her husband, and her sister. I did leave more that I had picked for them, but I ended up taking about 4 plastic grocery bags full of apricots home.

So many apricots! I've already dehydrated some, have munched on a lot, will be canning some of them whole, but I'm going to jam a most of them I think. I got through two batches of jam last night! I have some extra jam I didn't have room to process in the canner, so I may have to make some little tartlet shells to put it in!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Way, hey, blow the corn down!

So both Saturday and Sunday evenings ended up being rainy and windy. The rainy I'm down with, seeing as I know I live in a desert and appreciate rain, and also because if water comes from the sky, I don't have to water my garden as often. Not that I mind hauling the hose to my little patch of garden and walking to the train tracks to turn the water on and off, but it's nice to have a break every now and then. Even though it had rained, I went to check on my garden. OK, I admit that the sunshine of this morning made me forget that it had rained just a few hours before so I went to water my garden, only to find the ground sufficiently moist in and around all of my plantitas. I walked the length of my garden, even picked a zucchini that was getting a little large, and cried out with dismay when I got to the far end of my garden. I have six little rows of corn planted, and as of Saturday Morning they were all standing taller than I am, but this morning the end three rows were all laying down flat! So sad! I tried to pick them up, but having had a taste of laying down, they didn't want to exert the effort it took to stand up. So I found a rock-buddy for each lazy corn stalk. Seriously, I got a bunch of double-fist sized rocks and stood each corn stalk up, and put a heavy rock right next to each corn plant. I'll go back tonight to make sure that the corn is still upright. I have no idea if this will keep my corn up, or if bending so close to the roots has already doomed those ones, but it kind of hurt me to see my corn laying down so sad-like. Turns out white people just don't do corn-rows well. I did the best I could, promise! (The pictures here are from July 10th. Corn is still happy and tall)

So My garden is doing well, for the most part. The bugs seem to like some plants more than others. For example, the green peppers, and the beets have a few leaf-holes, but the tomatoes are pretty much untouched. The canteloupe leaves have so many holes that they look like lace, but the winter squash is healthy, and bug-unfriendly for some reason. Oh well! We're supposed to do the whole organic thing, so we're not allowed to use pesticides or inorganic fertilizer and whatnot. So I went to the gardening store a few weeks ago to see what was available. Seeing as how, months later, I realized that I should be making some attempt at fertilization. I did use compost at the beginning of the whole gardening process, so that probably helped in minimizing the damage from the lack of proper nutrients and whatnot. So I wander around the store for awhile but none of the fertalizers were labeled 'organic' so I asked one of the gardening-store guys about organic fertalizer. They gave me some flak, and went on a bit about how the inorganic stuff is so much better. I explained the whole community-garden thing, and after they couldn't convince me to sneak out at night to use the stuff they thought I should, they pointed out the bone meal and fish emulsion to me. Bone meal for phosphorous, which is good for fruit production, and fish emulsion for nitrogen for leafy greenness.

A word on fish emulsion. It is pretty nasty stuff. It's a thick unhealthy-brown liquid that smells foul. The garden store guy described it as "smelling beyond-foul. It smells as if you took a Utah Lake carp (utah lake having a reputation for being rather filthy) who had a bad case of gas, and then letting it sit in the sun for a few days before putting it in a blender. But trying my best to keep to the organic thing, I bravely purchased a little bottle of the fish gunk. I also ordered some seaweed extract stuff from Burpee's website. So I went and sprinkled some bone meal around my plants, and diluted some seaweed powder into a spray bottle and sprayed around the base of my plants, and then put a few tablespoons of fish yuck into a 5-gallon bucket which I then filled with water and poured out the base of my plants. Organic Fertilization... Check! I'm not sure that it did all that much, but I'm fairly satisfied with myself having done it, so there you go.

I have lots of baby plants: tomatoes, beets, green peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, ornamental squash, pumpkins, watermelons, spaghetti squash, and corn! The only things I've eaten so far have been peas, lots of yellow squash and zucchini, and a few beets. My heirloom tomatoes are doing pretty well, and my winter squash has pretty much announced it's domination of the entire garden. Lots of fun stuff will come from those vines, I'm sure.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Spark in the Dark

Here's another funny story for you.

So I spent the 4th of July weekend at my Mom's new house in St. George, helping her move in, re-paint the rooms that were wild colors (like pearly salmon, and bright royal blue), and making several Wal-Mart runs for things like groceries and new trash cans. It was fun, and the house is super cute. Jared (my 2 yr old nephew) spent the day with us because his mom and sisters and Audrey all drove up to Provo to see Hannah Montana at Stadium of Fire, and Jared just would have gotten cranky. So he spent the day with us, riding his trike and playing with the hose in the back yard.

We all took a break the evening of the 4th to go to a "Neighborhood BBQ" around the corner. It was fun, the people there are really nice. My mom has pretty much moved to Mayberry. Seems like a fun neighborhood. We ate burgers and patriotic jello and talked to people while Ron and some other men launched water balloons at the Bishop's house and Jared went down a blow-up water slide, getting soaked for the 3rd or 4th time that day.

When people started busting out their little stashes of fireworks, we stayed and watched for a bit, but then headed home to light a few fireworks of our own. Ron and Verenda went and finished up some painting while I went out with Jared and started in on the 'poppies' (the little paper twists that pop when you throw them hard at the ground) and the sparklers. Once I showed him how to face downwind so the sparks weren't flying at his face, he had a lot of fun with them. He got to waving them pretty vigorously. So much so that at one point a small bit of red-hot sparkler flew down the front of my shirt and burned itself out between the girls. Ouch! I wasn't wearing a low-cut shirt or anything, I think the trajectory was just right for it to make it in the gap at my neck and land further down that I would have thought probable. I know it wasn't a paper spark like go up from fountains and such because it took a good number of seconds to burn itself out between my skin and clothes. Both of which have little holes burned in them now. Luckily, it seems to be in a fairly non-sensitive area, so other than the initial burning, it is a pretty pain-free injury. But makes for a decent story!

Beware of 2 year olds bearing sparklers!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Taste of 1986

So as I went to water my garden yesterday, I noticed little blackish things dotting the ground around where we turn the water on, and after a brief moment of confusion, I realized that they were ripe mulberries that were dropping from a nearby tree. Seeing as this is a tree in a vacant lot, it doesn't really belong to anyone that lived nearby, or it could be that other people have no interest in eating mulberries. In any case, there were a lot of ripe berries within easy reach, so I spent a few minutes helping myself to a tasty finger-staining treat. The taste really transported me back in time.

Growing up I had a best friend named Von Richardson. He was one of the younger kids in the Richardson family and I remember many fun times spent at their house. They had pet snakes, and raised mice in the barn to feed them. They had goats that we used to sit and watch the older boys milk. They were so skilled that they could aim a teat and fire a deadly-accurate stream of milk right at the mouth of a waiting cat. I was pretty amazed. I even got to try my hand at milking, even though I was probably only 5 or 6 at the time. I remember that it was a lot harder than it looked. They had a greenhouseish type of room built off one side of their house, and we used to sneak little sprigs of parsley and snack on them when his mom wasn't looking.

Amidst all of the other wonders at their house was a big mulberry tree that was super easy to climb and produced tasty little berries. Von and I spent many happy hours up in that tree munching our little hearts out! Well, as we got a little bit older (6 or 7) his mom started being concerned with us spending the night at each other's houses (being of the opposite sex and all) so I didn't get to spend quite as much time over there. I got to see Von at school and church, so I didn't really miss him all that much, but I sure missed those mulberries.

I finally badgered Von enough about it that he brought me a bread sack with some mulberries in it for me one day. We lived pretty rural so the bus ride took and hour and my siblings and I were the second ones on the bus in the morning, but we picked up Von and his siblings about halfway through the ride. So he handed me this sack on the bus one morning, and I was super excited. I munched contentedly for most of the rest of the bus ride. That is, until Von smirkingly informed me that he had put a little goat nugget (goats poop little spheres like rabbits) in with my berries and asked if I had found it yet. I was totally grossed out and didn't eat any more of the mulberries. I was probably pretty mad at him, but I probably deserved what I got. What with the nagging and all. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buckle Up!

So today as I was driving to school, I noticed this bumper sticker on the back of the car in front of me.

It made me giggle, then it put me in the mood to watch alien movies. But not the scary hack-em-up and suck their brains out kind, but rather the kind with little cute alien flying robots.

Or aliens that love Reese's Pieces (just shows that aliens have good taste),

Or the kind where people really are sucked out of their cars and beds and stuff, but where they aren't the scariest part.

Or where some radom kid gets to pilot an alien spaceship.

Or where weird alien pods make old guys feel young again.

Or where aliens are family.

Yeah. I'm totally going to have to watch me some aliens sometime soon.