Sunday, November 23, 2014

Truth is reason, truth eternal

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. When possible on Sundays, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. With respect to your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

We believe that truth can be found in many places - good books, science, and even other religions. When we call ourselves the one true church, it means that we believe that we are the only church with the whole truth of the restored gospel, as preached by Jesus Christ during His ministry on Earth.

We don't just look to our own people for truth and understanding though. I've heard C. S. Lewis quoted in General Conference, and we're encouraged to get an education as well study our own faith for ourselves and come to our own testimony. I've personally read various Eastern philosophies and I love talking to Muslim, Catholic, or even non-religious friends. Truth comes from all sorts of sources.

And sometimes it's nice when something from my own faith is quoted outside of that context. The school I work at is an Islamic school, and just this week I noticed that Gordon B. Hinckley, a former prophet and President of our church, is quoted on an inspirational note in the hall.

Truth is truth, no matter its source.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

There can be miracles, when you believe

For the record, I love Prince of Egypt. I've been telling Blake, occasionally, for the last two and a half years we should watch it together sometime. Of course, I love musicals in general, as well as good animated films. I also love me a well choreographed fight scene, after taking two semesters of stage combat in college.

For our weekly date, Blake and I went to see Mockingjay Part I this morning. (Yes, a morning matinee, then Costco for lunch, which is totally a date my 80-year-old grandfather would take my 77-year-old grandmother on, so basically we're the oldest 30-year-olds I know.) One of the trailers was for the newest Ridley Scott film, Exodus: Gods and Kings.  It wasn't exactly the following trailer, but close enough.

So then we had the following conversation:

Me: Yeah, I don't think there were epic battles between the Israelites and the Egyptians in the Bible story. Granted, we only believe in it as far as it is translated correctly, but that wasn't in the Bible, right?
Blake: I don't think so.
Me: So I'm not so sure about this movie.
Blake: Well, there probably wasn't singing and dancing either.
Me: *raspberry*

So, as it turns out, I appreciate gratuitous musical numbers way more than gratuitous battle scenes. Discussing this again on the way home, I mentioned that Val Kilmer and Ralph Fiennes voice Moses and Ramses, respectively, in Prince of Egypt, so I think I won a few more points in the Reasons Why Blake Should Watch It With Me.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Just one step, look at where one step leads you!

This may be my second year at the school, but I still don't know my way around the entire building. I was given a tour as part of my signing of my original contract and again during orientation, but it wasn't until two weeks later I finally felt confident enough to say from most of my routine places that I knew how to get back to my office from just about anywhere. It took me at least four days to find the women's restroom on my floor. I didn't even know about the administrative supply closet that I am allowed access to until the beginning of this school year. Now, I think I could get back to my office, but that's because anywhere new would only involve a few steps of backtracking to familiar territory, rather than the whole route.

Yesterday, I figured out where the "green room" is. I knew we had at least two gyms. I couldn't tell you how to get to the girls' gym with very much certainty, but I think I could find the boys gym. They're probably right next to each other, but I have yet to fully investigate this. I go different ways to get to them if I need to.

But yesterday, not only did I find the green room, but I discovered we actually have practically the equivalent of an athletic compound. Of course, leaving the green room, what I thought was the door to the stairs was actually a closet. So I have some work to do. There are several rooms near the gyms for health and physical education. Rumor is that there is even a weight room. We only have a few sports teams, but they actually have a fair amount of space, and I might need to explore this more, just to satisfy my own curiosity. I do know that some of the locker room space is actually being used as office. I wonder if that guy ever gets lonely. I actually haven't seen him in weeks . . .I also wonder if we have any other locker rooms, because the ones I know of don't seem to be in use.

I certainly don't know where everyone else's offices are, but I found one of my friends' offices last week when I was turned around trying to find one of the second grade classrooms.  It's a big and confusing school and there is not actually a lot of reason for me to know where everything is. The only reason I needed the green room in our PE wing was because of an after school Zumba class, which is not part of my regular duties, but something I'm happy to be a part of!

This was a high school in the county before our school rented the building, and there always some quirks to an old school like this. Rumor is that we'll be moving to a brand new building in a few years, and I'm sure I'll get lost there too!

Now, a mystery I'll probably never solve is why and how these books magically appeared in my office when I wasn't looking . . .

Half a set of 1992 World Books and other assorted reference material. Yay!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trapped in the closet

Three years ago, I posted about my least favorite chores and said, "I really hope I marry someone who doesn't mind sweeping and mopping."

I found that post while randomly surfing through my own blog the other day and realized that my wish had come true. I did indeed marry someone who doesn't mind sweeping and mopping! That, my friends, is a major blessing in my life. And, he hates cleaning toilets, but I don't, so guess what one of my chores is?

I do think that I get the better end of the deal on vacuuming too. Currently, I hide in the office with Malcolm, while Blake vacuums.

Malcolm does not like the vacuum, at all, and we don't really trust him in the office without supervision. So, Malcolm and I hang out in the office while Blake vacuums, and it's usually followed by some Malcolm and Blake reunion time, as evidenced by this series of photos from July.

Malcolm waiting in the closet for the vaccuuming to be done

Hugs!

Malcolm hugs are an experience

And might involve a nose or tongue in the face

Piggyback rides are fun too! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy birthday to you!

First things first, it is not my birthday! This is just a post reminiscing about birthdays.

Growing up, birthdays were always celebrated, but only on odd-numbered birthdays did we have friend parties. The rest, we had family only celebrations - usually dinner and cake and ice cream and singing, and presents of course. Certain birthdays also meant certain life milestones. Here's how I remember my birthdays.

1 - I don't remember this one, but there's some cute photo and video evidence of me in a paper princess hat eating cake.

2 - What do you expect me to remember? I was 2, and my parents had another newborn. Not as many photos and made up memories.

3 - My first memories are of my 3rd birthday - we had some friends over and a circus theme. We made playdoh animals and put them under strawberry basket cages. We had a circus parade. My aunt painted our faces. I received a mini-trampoline, a hamster I named Caramel, and a blue fuzzy elephant puppet. Likely, many of my memories have been supplemented/created by photos.

4 - No specific memories.

5 - Same.

6 - I got my first bike! Well, my family knew by then that we were moving to Texas in a few weeks, so I got a coupon for a bike! The bike we bought after the move.

7 - Would have been a friend party, but I don't remember it.

8 - I got baptized! My grandparents gave me my first set of scriptures.

9 - Pool party!

10 - Nothing specific.

11 -  Another friend party year.

12 - I got to start Young Womens! That's the female youth (12-18) program at church.

13 - I got to start wearing makeup! So, my birthday party was a Mary Kay party. Immediately after, I went with my friend Leslie to her house and jumped into the pool. Didn't remember that I was wearing makeup until after that first jump.

14 - It was either this birthday or the previous Christmas I was promised a bedroom door, instead of just the open walkway/laundry between my room and my sister's. This never happened, because we moved to Utah in August. My bedroom there had two doors! One to the basement, and the other to my actual room. I actually had a door in the room in the Texas house, but it was to the front of the house. I think the section of the house our bedrooms were in was actually a converted garage and they ran a daycare out of it, so the front door in my bedroom was, for the previous owners,the daycare door. You had to go through Sisterpants' room to get to the backyard, and I had to go through her room to get to the rest of the house. This doesn't have anything to do with birthdays anymore . . .

15 - Second co-ed birthday party! My 3rd birthday was co-ed too, but the rest were not, as I recall. I remember playing games and hanging out in the front yard and a little drama happening when my ex-not-my-boyfriend showed up with some mutual friends.

16 - I went on my first date that night! We went to the school dance - I asked him. It wasn't an official date dance and he went to another school, but it was still officially my first date. I didn't get my driver's license until August, since I had to take driver's ed in the summer and then learn how to drive a manual first.

17 - I went to see Pearl Harbor with a couple of friends.

18 - For as big a birthday as 18 is, this one was kept pretty low-key. I think my soon-to-be-boyfriend (we made official in August) was involved in the family celebration though.

22! My last birthday in Utah!

How did your family celebrate birthdays?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

All About That Bass

I love when writers, authors, musicians, and other artists take something the general population is already familiar with and redoes it in a new and interesting way. Fractured fairy tales, modernization of stories told in the past, gender swapping, and so on. This is why I love watching the television show Once Upon a Time. Yes, it's basically Disney writing their own fan fiction and it's pretty darn ridiculous most of the time, but it's a lot of fun.

Interestingly, I don't actually get into actual fan fiction, especially the sort you might find online at livejournal or Tumblr. Maybe I'm a snob, but for me to be interested in a retelling, it usually has to be to legitimately published material.

I just love variations on familiar themes and characters and the interesting ways people more talented than myself can interpret them. My love also to extends different cultural interpretations of familiar stories.

Really, this topic cannot be covered in a single blog post, but suffice it to say - I love covers and retellings and reimaginings. And for the rest of today's post, we're going to talk about musical covers.

It's not enough, for me, for a musical artist to just sing the same song in the same way. What I really enjoy is when they take a song written in one genre and redo it in a completely different and unexpected way, usually in a different genre

I think my first introduction to musical covers was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, who had some ska/punk versions of Broadway showtunes. I already loved showtunes, and I was starting to discover ska, so it was a fantastic musical marriage. .
Like Belinda Carlisle's 80s pop hit "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" redone as a piano ballad. I heard the original on the radio a few days ago and didn't like it nearly as much, and I usually love me some 80s pop. I almost think it was supposed to be a piano ballad from the start, Belinda Carlisle just didn't know that.

 Here's one I found just yesterday. I loved them on The Sing Off and this is an adorable cover.

Postmodern Jukebox just gets me, with so many different pop songs done in a variety of ways.

Carolina Chocolate Drops does a really interesting version of Hit 'Em Up Style
Some of my favorite cover groups are The Baseballs (German rockabilly band covering American Top 40), The Puppini Sisters (Andrews sisters sound-alikes covering Top 40), and Pomplamoose (real life couple doing cool instrumentations of popular songs).

I'm really just scratching the surface on my favorite covers. I'm sure I'm leaving out something amazing. Please let me know if I am!

How do you feel about covers? Any favorites?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Swing your razor wide, Sweeney!

Shortly after meeting Blake, I learned that he hated shaving. He'd shave for dates and church, but that was it. Work didn't require a clean shave, so usually got away with only shaving once or twice a week. It got to the point where I could tell what day of the week it was just by looking at his beard, and it grew in quite fast. I could even look at photos and tell which day we took it on. Eventually, once he was in school, he started shaving for his internships, but he still wouldn't on days he just had class.

Until about a year ago. Dismayed by the price of razors, he decided there must be a better way. Lo and behold, there is! Blake now shaves exclusively with a double-edged safety razor. He bought his razor and a sampler pack of blades, and he was kitted out with the rest of his gear for Christmas last year.

And thus began his great shaving experiment. Now, he shaves every day (except Saturdays), tries out a new brand of blades every two weeks and uses a variety of soaps, aftershaves, and other supplies. Best of all, he loves it! He also blogs about his experiences, reviewing each blade, soap, or other supply as he goes. It's been a very enjoyable hobby for him to do to counterbalance the rigors of law school. While I had gotten used to the daily scruff, I certainly don't mind the clean shaven look and feel either.

I highly recommend checking out his blog and you can do so here: Man Over Bored.

He has, however, been asked to grow out a beard again at some point next year, maybe while he studies for the bar. It's likely he'll have to shave everyday for the Big Lawyer Job we hope to find soon, but I'd like to see the beard again before that happens.

What do you think - facial hair or no facial for you (on you or your significant other)?

Scruffy face! I think this was a Saturday . . .(At Lincoln's Cottage in DC - January 2013)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When we're helping, we're happy and we sing as we go!

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. When possible on Sundays, I discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. With respect to your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

When I started the Sunday Series, I posted every week for awhile. I've covered lots of gospel and church related topics, and fielded a few questions. I will continue to do so, but things are, admittedly, sporadic most of the time now and I may not get to every topic I ever could.

Fortunately, the church has some fantastic websites wherein anyone could learn just about anything they wanted to about the gospel and how the church functions. I highly recommend exploring them!

Mormon.org is geared more towards non-members of our faith and you can find a lot more basics here, as well as profiles of members.

LDS.org is aimed more at members, but it has an absolute wealth of resources available, including all church publications.

If you ever want to go to a meetinghouse and attend services, you can use the Meetinghouse Locator to find a building and the times of their services nearest you!

As always, if you ever have any questions of me, please don't hesitate to ask!

Nauvoo temple, July 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Look, I made a hat, where there never was a hat

Continuing the theme of developing my inner domestic goddess, today I got my craft on.

My ward (congregation) had a women's Super Saturday activity. The church's women's auxiliary, Relief Society, used to focus even more on homemaking skills - cooking, crafting, parenting, etc. - even to the point of calling informal meetings held on days other than Sunday Homemaking meetings. It changed to Home Family and Personal Enrichment meetings when I was in my late teens. In recent years, it's just been changed to activities or meetings. These meetings or activities don't have to focus on traditionally feminine homemaking type skills, and I enjoy when they don't.

But I also enjoy when they do!


Today, I was able to visit for a few hours with church friends, which is especially nice now that I work in the nursery and the only ward member I regularly get to talk with there is my Blake. He's wonderful, of course, but part of the reason for meeting regularly with others is the fellowshipping with others.


And I was able to do it while getting my fingers covered in modge podge and paint!

I made our first Thanksiving decoration:

A simple Nativity:


I especially like nativities wherein Mary (or Joseph, in the case of this one!) is holding the baby Jesus, because, let's be honest, would you really want to put your newborn in a food trough any more than you had to? A high school friend's mom made that point to me once and almost exclusively owned nativities like that. I may add fabric of some sort for a head covering.

And two framed temple silhouettes, one of DC (the first temple we attended together and frequent now) and Logan (where we were married):
Red and green background for our wedding colors!



It was a great and productive morning!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Eat eat eat the menu

In recent months, I have discovered that I really like making my own food staples. Sure, it would be a lot easier, and not terribly more expensive, to buy them at the store. However, when I make it, I know what goes in it (no secret chemicals or preservatives here!) and it just plain tastes better. Blake likes to say that it was made with that most special of all ingredients - love - which makes anything taste better.

I don't make everything from scratch . . . yet, but I'm pretty proud of what I've started making routinely so far. Nothing seems terribly complicated or difficult, at least to me, so it's pretty easy to whip together when I have some down time at home.

The first thing I started making to replace a frequent purchase is bread. The recipe I have is only one hour start to finish and really tasty. We learned the last time I made it that it works out a lot more successfully when you remember to add the yeast. Blake even took a turn making this once and it turned out great! 

It's especially yummy with the strawberry freezer jam I made. 

Another favorite is salsa. I've adapted a recipe from my mother-in-law and Blake and I both really, really like it. Her recipe calls for specific brands of canned stewed tomatoes, but I stew my own tomatoes. Admittedly, that's a little complicated, but after tasting this salsa, it's worth it. 

We also make our own refried beans in the Crock-pot. It's six ingredients and an all day process, but with our immersion blender, I don't think it could be any easier. We make a batch of these every few weeks.

Homemade chicken stock is also really easy, and I like that I am in better control of how much sodium is in there. Answer: no added salt.

Now, it may not be a staple, but I also like baking cookies. This weekend is malted whopper chocolate chip cookies, thanks to some leftover Halloween candy.



I also plan to make some more bread and salsa this weekend. I look forward to figuring out what other traditional staples I can replace with homemade!

(This is post number 600!)