Wednesday, May 26, 2010

RIP, George

Today is a very sad day in our family. Hans' family cat, George, who they have had for 18 years, passed away. He's been ill for some time. Just last weekend when we were visiting in Houston, we noticed he did not look well and seemed to be in pain.

It's a horrible thing to lose him. Hans can't really remember a time without that cat. And Oliver thought George was his best friend (I'm not sure George agreed). We are glad he's no longer hurting, but sad to see him go.

We'll miss you, kitty.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Calling Austin crafters

I want to make this.

I saw a how-to article about it on a blog a couple days ago. I love the colors and how pretty it is and immediately thought how much Hudson would love it. As you've seen, he loves to climb up on top of things. He thinks he's the King.

The instructions seem pretty straight forward and I think I can handle it. But not being much of a sewer or quilter, I'm not sure where in Austin is the best place to find good fabric. I know some of the basics - Hobby Lobby, JoAnns, Hancock - but was hoping that some of you crafty people (I know I have sewers lurking here) might know some off-the-beaten path places with stellar fabrics. Let me have 'em!

Thanks for that

Last night I was driving home and dealing with a couple particularly stupid Austin drivers. You'd think that at 2 a.m. you wouldn't have to deal with that crap, but welcome to Austin. The guy in front of me clearly didn't know where he wanted to go and he kept slamming on his brakes at every street like "Is THIS the one I want to turn on?" I noticed that now instead of shouting "good gracious" or "holy crap" or something of the like, I have developed a habit of saying "Good night!"

Happy Birthday, Mr. Taylor.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I love to see the temple

We went to Houston this weekend to visit Hans' parents. We've only ever done sessions at the San Antonio temple, so we decided to squeeze in a quick session at the Houston temple while we were in town.

It's so pretty! We really loved the grounds and how pretty it is on the outside. We also particularly liked that they have sessions every hour and you don't have to make an appointment! That was awesome.

I want to take a page from Jared Mockler's dad's book and see if we can visit every temple.... ;)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Here's how you remember

Monday, one day.
Tuesday, two days.
Wednesday, when? huh? What day?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Add to your reading list

Do it, now!

All week I have been devouring The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I have been reading each night until I can't keep my eyes open anymore, reading while I brush my teeth, reading on the treadmill at the gym. It's so good! It's so good, that I was sad when I finally finished last night - I wanted more.

It's hard to explain what it's about without giving too much away. A quiet biographer, Margaret, is asked to write the history of the world's most famous living writer, Vida Winter. Miss Winter's sordid past reads like a ghost story inside an insane asylum. Today, Miss Winter's mother, sisters, uncle, father - everyone - would be prime Jerry Springer fodder.

The plot just sucks you in. It unfolds slowly and subtly, making you wonder if there's something that you're missing. There is. There's an amazing twist at the end (which I'm proud to say, I caught onto a few pages before it happened).

Most of all, the writing is absolutely beautiful. The description is rich and imaginative, the language just flows. It makes you want to have a love affair with words.

If you haven't read it yet, I recommend you pick it up. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Hudson wanted to go out on the porch. It was sunny and he likes to lounge in the light. I pulled back the curtain that covers the porch door and reached for the handle of the sliding glass door. Oliver comes running, full speed, from somewhere (the bedroom?) and crashes head first into the still closed door. He bounced back with a loud bang and fell on his butt looking dazed. He's confused, but fine. And he's supposed to be the smart one.

It made my day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A baking fool

Aside from massively cleaning this weekend, I also did a ridiculous amount of baking.

That would be about three dozen pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, two loaves of banana nut bread, and about three dozen vegan chocolate orange ginger cupcakes.

Don't worry - aside from one of the loaves and a couple left over cookies, none of this is actually for Hans and I. We're not THAT bad.

The bread and cookies are for Elder Banda who is celebrating the big 2-6 next week. They're two of his favs so I sent off a big box of them to him.

The cupcakes were to celebrate Jenn and Jared's engagement. We had dinner at his parent's house yesterday and that was our little contribution. The recipe is *supposed* to be vegan, but we cheated a little. We didn't use soy milk or vegan margarine.

The recipe was surprisingly easy, and would have been quick if we had a zester..... trying to "zest" an orange peel with a grater = not so good.

The frosting was the best part, also very easy to make. Hans likes that the best and is just eating the leftovers straight from the bowl.

Maybe I'll let my oven have a little rest this week. If it's lucky.

Vegan chocolate orange ginger cupcake recipe here.
Banana nut bread recipe from this cookbook.
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies is my mom's recipe :)


Big congratulations are due to Hans' mom, Karin! She has been working on her college degree for the past few years and on Friday she finally graduated! We are so proud of her and wish we could have been there for the celebration. Way to go, Karin!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sparkle sparkle

I spent four hours cleaning our apartment yesterday. I don't think it was this clean when it was first built.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wouldn't surprise me at all

Today I was standing at the meat counter at Central Market waiting for the guy to weigh out a pound of ground lamb. I was wearing my Stanford t-shirt and he nodded at it and asked, "Did you go there?" I answered yes and after a moment's pause asked "Did you?" He shook his head.

As I was driving home I thought about this brief encounter. Was that a stupid question? He's a dude working at a meat counter at a grocery store. He probably makes $10-$12 an hour and if he's lucky, he works full time. Would a guy with a Stanford degree be working that job?

The answer was, clearly, that it wouldn't surprise me. In fact, it brought to mind an article in the Daily Texan last week that so ticked off some of my fellow Plan II alumni that they actually emailed us all and asked us to write in a response. I did not. The author, a Mr. Player, wrote that though only a junior he was already questioning his choice to major in Plan II. He met a cashier at Whole Foods who asked what he majored in and then responded, "Hey, that was my major, too!" He says it scared him - would he not be able to find a job after graduation?

A few days later I saw this article (is there a reason why this is smacking me in the face continuously this week?) on why kids from Harvard head to Wall Street. No, I didn't go to Harvard. No, I'm not on Wall Street (I wish I was sometimes!) But this particular section struck a chord:
"The typical Harvard undergraduate is someone who: (a) is very good at school; (b) has been very successful by conventional standards for his entire life; (c) has little or no experience of the “real world” outside of school or school-like settings; (d) feels either the ambition or the duty to have a positive impact on the world (not well defined); and (e) is driven more by fear of not being a success than by a concrete desire to do anything in particular."
 Yup, that sounds like me in a nutshell. The thing I was best at was learning. That's why Plan II was a good major for me, and I certainly obtained a well-rounded education. That's why I pursued an ivy-league graduate education. I learned much during my five years of higher education and feel like a more learned person because of it.

But what did it prepare me for? While I enjoy the work that I do, I get paid peanuts compared to most Stanford graduates. I'm not entirely sure my graduate education even really helped me land my job - I think an undergraduate education would have been sufficient enough for my current position.

Recently I was speaking with someone who is a high school graduate, no college, applying for a job as an administrative assistant. She will make more per year than I. And while I'm happy for her, it sometimes makes me wonder if my well-rounded education was worth its value. Why didn't I do something more practical, like get a degree in math, or accounting, or education, or engineering?

I guess I could always go work at Central Market, if it comes to it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A roly poly problem

Every night, dozens of these little guys invade our apartment. I mean dozens!

Last night while I was brushing my teeth, I counted 9 from where I was standing. 15 from where I was saying my prayers. I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and stepped on two. For the most part, they're gone in the morning, except for the ones that die or are too dumb to get out. But every night they're back with a vengeance. Why?

Hans looked them up online and it says they like damp, cold places. Why they like the carpet in our warm bedroom I don't know. I'm pretty sure they're invading the whole complex - every night when I get home from work, the hallway leading to our door is carpeted with them. I think maintenance is sweeping them out early in the morning because the hallway is pristine by the time I wake up. I'm wondering what we can do to get rid of them... salt? It's so gross!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"You only made two of these?"

At the Alamo Drafthouse last weekend I tried a wonderful pizza topped with goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes, among other things. I have always been a fan of both of these things, but hadn't tried them together before.

After the very yummy pizza, I looked on for other recipes combining goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

Today I tried this one and was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was. I had to go to Central Market for ingredients - it calls for boneless, skin on chicken and my local HEB doesn't carry that. I asked at the meat counter at CM and they were able to pull some out of the back for me. Excellent. They also had a nice selection of sun-dried tomatoes at CM.

You pull the skin back off the chicken and put the goat cheese and tomatoes right up against the meat. Then you stretch the skin back over everything, trying to cover as much of the meat as possible. You rub each piece with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In hindsight, I might try doing the season before adding all the cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Then, you just bake for 35-40 minutes at 375 and voila!

I didn't get a chance to taste it before I dashed off to work. Normally, Hans isn't too adventurous with food, so I wasn't sure how he'd feel about this recipe. But I'm sitting at my desk and get this text message saying "You only made two of these?!?! This is wonderful!"

I think he likes it. I have to say, I gobbled it down pretty quickly myself. The combination of the tomatoes and cheese was wonderful and having the skin stretched around the chicken during baking really kept a lot of moisture in. I like that it tasted fancy, but was incredibly quick and easy. And if Hans likes it, it's a success!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pride and Prejudice (no zombies)

This weekend was a "stay in and lounge on the couch" kind of weekend. Because my hubby is so wonderful, he let me pop in my favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice. I think he actually enjoyed it, too! Even though I'm not a huge fan of Keira Knightly (she puckers her mouth too much!!), I liked her as Elizabeth. I think that this version was well cast and I really like the music. The cinematography is really nicely done, too.

I have always heard, though, that the BBC mini-series version of P&P is much, much better. So we decided to give that a try to compare as well.

We didn't make it all the way through. No, not because it's six hours long. I can't put my finger on it, but something just really rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe the girl who plays Elizabeth? Or maybe it's actually Mr. Firth himself. As much as I think he's a jolly, good-natured guy, I don't see him much as a Darcy.

I think I'm going to make many enemies with this post - everyone seems to prefer the BBC version! What's so great about it?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hour and a half of pure happy

That's what we got on Friday night when we went to see the Focus Films documentary Babies. We saw it at the Alamo while enjoying some yummy pizzas and there weren't even that many people there.

There's virtually no dialogue and I'm not even sure there's a real story line, but I do know that I smiled the entire time. Like, my cheeks hurt when I left the theater.

The movie follows four babies in four different locales - San Francisco, Tokoyo, Namibia, and Mongolia. The Nambian baby, Ponijao, and the Mongolia baby, Bayar, stole the show. They were hilarious (I think Bayar was my fav.)

Even though there wasn't much of a story line, it was interesting to see how they were all raised so differently. The American parents were making sure no harm came to their little baby girl while the Namibian baby was eating dirt, drinking stream water and letting a dog lick inside his mouth. As we left, Hans remarked that babies are a lot sturdier than we think they are.

You can't see the movie and not leave feeling good. We both had kinda crappy days on Friday and it definitely cheered us up. Who doesn't love babies?

Funny name, amazing yumminess

When I told Hans I was trying a recipe for Whoopie Pies, he laughed. A lot. Like an immature little boy.

But I got the last laugh because these are to die for.

This recipe came to me from Gourmet, via the Kitchn. It's very easy.

I found the Dutch-processed cocoa at Central Market in the bulk foods section. I didn't print out the recipe and I thought it said 1/2 cup mounds of batter, but it says 1/4. That's why mine are gargantuan. Don't do that. I think 1/4 is probably too much - these are pretty rich. Hans and I shared one last night and didn't even finish half! So tasty.

DO try these - you won't regret it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quote of the Day

"And God remembered Rachel..."
                                   ~Genesis 30:22

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade pop tarts

A couple days ago, I came across this blog post from the Smitten Kitchen about homemade pop tarts. Hans and I are both big fans of the toaster pastry so I figured I'd give it a whirl today.

I did the cinnamon sugar variety. It said to bake for 20-25 minutes, but I did mine for at least 30 and wish I would have had time to go longer. They didn't brown around the edges the way I wanted. Using a pattern made cutting each piece out of the rolled out pastry much easier - I just cut a rectangle out of cardboard and then placed that on my dough. I should have rolled the dough thinner, though. Next time. It was pretty good, especially the pastry part. The cinnamon sugar did seem a bit dry - maybe next time I'll try the jam/jelly recipe. But it was fun, easy, and tasty!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Christ was the epitome of service. His life was filled with examples of helping and serving others ... When we serve others, we forget our own problems, and by working to relieve the pain or discomfort of others, we strengthen ourselves."

All Things Work Together for Good, Elder James B. Martino, April 2010 General Conference

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


No, we're not having any yet. Calm down.

We're just super excited to see this movie, coming out this Friday. Anyone care to join us?

Quote of the Day

"From that experience, I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen—patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn’t appear instantly or without effort."

"Sometimes it is in the waiting rather than in the receiving that we grow the most."

 - Continue in Patience, President Dieter F. Uchtdor, April 2010 General Conference 

Monday, May 3, 2010

New mantra

I have been seeing it everywhere. I think the universe is trying to tell me something - maybe I should start listening....

Confession: I have a problem

You're probably thinking, "Ya, she has many problems."

You would be correct.  But today, we are just talking about one of them.

I have this problem where I start a good book and just won't stop. Even when I have stuff to do. Even when I'm tired. Even when it's the middle of the night.... I have been known on many occasions to read until the sun comes up instead of putting the book away for another day.

That happened last night. After dinner, Hans and I curled up on the couch to read. I picked up The White Queen at Half Price Books a few weeks ago nd finally decided to give it a try. I got sucked in and read the whole thing (it's over 400 pages).

The book is historical fiction (very fictionalized) about the Cousin's War in England in the mid-1600s (yes, I'm a nerd, get over it). The Lancaster and York houses are fighting over the throne. The York Queen, Elizabeth, has two young heirs to the throne when her husband dies. His brother takes them and confines them in the Tower of London and they are never seen again. All that's actually true - historians really don't know what happened to these two princes.

The boys disappearing happens about halfway through the book and I really want to know what happened. I knew that historians have never conclusively said, but I figured that since this is fiction, Ms. Gregory will make up some plausible explanation or put forward one theory conclusively. So I keep reading, because I really want to know!

And then it just ends. She offers no theory or explanation which is wholly unsatisfying. I imagine she was trying to keep it historically accurate. But I wanted some fiction! Some explanation! I can't believe I stayed up all night and I still don't know what happened to Edward and Richard. Lame.

Incidentally, last week I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love and it took me the course of a couple weeks to do so. It was a wonderful book, definitely more substantive than The White Queen, but didn't hook me in the same way. Weird, huh?

I'm gonna go snooze now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bro time

Yesterday, I had to work. Ya, not so fun.

But it did give Hans the chance to spend some time with his brother. Karl and his friend Mark drove down from Killeen and they all went golfing. The sun was pretty intense and Hans looks like a lobster now. I think they had a good time though! It's always nice to see Karl.