Monday, February 25, 2008

It's Oscar Night!

Okay, people, let's talk about the Oscars. I don't know why we have such a fascination with Oscar night, especially considering that we only saw two of the nominated movies this year (yes, that's right -- Ratatouille and Enchanted). But that never stops us from putting the kids to bed early, busting out the Jelly Bellies and popcorn, and hunkering down on the couch for a long night of awards, movie montages, and my continual frustration that the producers of the show refuse to let people finish their speeches. ("Oh, oh wait, the music's starting . . . uh, okay, uh, just one last thank you to my . . .[drowned out by music]")

Highlights of the show for me:

Jon Stewart -- one of the best and funniest Oscar hosts, with the exception of maybe only Ellen Degeneres (do you remember when she was vacuuming the carpet down on the front row of the audience saying, "I had no idea this would be part of my hosting duties"?)

Here are a few of my favorites from Jon (we're on a first name basis):

"Even Norbit got a nomination, which I think is great. Too often the Academy ignores movies that aren't good."

Responding to Javier Bardem delivering half his speech in Spanish, he said, "I took Spanish in high school. I believe he told his mother where the library was."

"They said that having the Oscars helped end the strike. So before we spend the next four to five hours giving each other golden statues, let's take a moment to congratulations ourselves."

Anton Chigur - "combining Hannibal Lecter's murderousness with Dorothy Hamill's wedgecut".

"In case you're wondering what we do in the commercial breaks, we sit here making catty remarks about the outfits you're wearing at home."

He told the audience that there were 3 pregnant women there tonight, and then opened an envelope to reveal that "the baby goes to . . . Angelina Jolie!"

Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard won best song ("Falling Slowly" -- very cool song), but Marketa was cut off by that blasted music before she could say a word. In what must have been an unprecedented event, Jon Stewart had her come back out on stage a bit later so that she could actually give her acceptance speech, which, by the way, was one of the best of the night. Bravo to Jon Stewart!

Javier Bardem gave a very cool acceptance speech. Plus, I love when the actors seem genuinely excited that they have won, yet are not too flustered to actually say something worthwhile . . . albeit, some of it in a language I don't speak. And let's face it, he's just really hot.

Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill were hilarious when they presented as "substitutes" for Halle Berry and Dame Judi Dench. They kept arguing over who was more "Halle Berry."

And just as a side note, I do love seeing the best and worst dressed of Hollywood. My top pics:

Best Dressed:
1. Jennifer Garner
2. Katherine Heigl
3. Penelope Cruz
4. Hillary Swank

Worst Dressed:
1. Anne Hathaway (what is up with the red Hawaiian lei draped across your chest?)
2. Diablo Cody (I'm glad she won, but clearly, this was her first time at the Academy Awards. I guess what can one expect from someone named after the Devil?)
3. Jennifer Hudson (There are dresses that are meant to accentuate the chest . . . but they aren't meant for women who clearly already have one.)
4. Tilda Swinton (Honey, wearing what looked like a black, satin toga was flattering to neither your complexion nor your figure.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why does everything taste better frozen?

Okay, so I've discovered a very strange phenomenon involving my freezer. No, it doesn't magically produce German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream upon request . . . although if it did, I would be a much happier (albeit larger) woman.

Here is what I've found: tons of food actually taste better frozen. And not the things you'd expect, like, say, ice cream sandwiches or fruit smoothies. Years ago my sister Nicole showed me how Hostess snacks (you know, Ding Dongs and Twinkies) taste much better if you throw them in the freezer for a couple of hours. In fact, I never even liked Twinkies very much until I was shown this clever little technique.

Well, now I'm beginning to find that the frozen factor works on a variety of baked goods. A few weeks ago I was forced into making some banana bread by some bananas who were threatening a full-scale rotten revolt. I really didn't want to make the aforementioned banana bread, though, because of a pre-existing condition I happen to have. It's called "If it's something sweet, and it's in my house, I will eat it" disorder. So after making the bread, I gave away a few loaves, let the fam eat some, and put the rest in the freezer so I wouldn't eat it all that day.

Today, when I pulled a loaf of the banana bread out, I found that you can totally cut it into slices right from the freezer, and it is DELICIOUS. I was ready to devour the whole loaf. I didn't. (But only because the kids were watching. It's harder to get away with stuff like that now that they've gotten older.)

Other food items that adhere to this mysterious anomaly are cake, chocolate chip cookies, M&Ms (but not Snickers . . . unless you want to chip a tooth), chocolate chips, sugar cookie or other varieties of cookie dough (roll into a tube and wrap in saran wrap, like you're going to just slice them off to cook later, but actually just eat raw . . . no one will ever know), and any Little Debbie snack items.

What I have learned from all of this, though, is that now not even my freezer is a safe haven to store food I know I shouldn't eat. Sigh . . .

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Which Jane Austen Heroine are You?

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

"You are Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility! You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply and love passionately."

Huh. Didn't see that one coming. I had no idea I had such a captivating singing voice . . .

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Look, it WAS a good Valentine Activity!

Observe Marley patiently frosting her cookie while Lucy's cookie is nowhere in sight. Lucy can only be trusted to frost one or two cookies because she eats them immediately. Well, immediately after she eats all the frosting I put on the knife for her, that is.

Holy Crap, These are Good Cookies

Conversation with myself last night:

"We've got the kids some Valentine treats. We really don't need to make sugar cookies this year. In fact, it's better that we don't because they'll already have all those treats from school. They really don't need any more. Plus, if we have cookies around, I'll just eat them. We definitely won't make them."

Conversation with myself this morning:

"Hmmm, maybe we should make sugar cookies."

"No, we really don't need them."

"But the kids love to frost and decorate them."

"NO. If we make cookies, I'll just eat all of them."

"But . . . it would be a fun little Valentine's activity with the kids."

"And they are the yummiest cookies ever."

"And Valentine's Day only comes once a year."

"You will totally regret this if you make cookies."

Several hours later:

"Hey, girls! Do you want to make some Valentine cookies?"

The thing is, these really are the best sugar cookies you will EVER taste. I found this recipe called "Big, Thick, Soft Sugar Cookies" a year ago, and I have never gone back to my old recipes. They are absolutely incredible, especially with cream cheese frosting (the only kind I use on sugar cookies). So here's the recipe for all to enjoy (or avoid, as the case may be).

Big, Thick, Soft Sugar Cookies

1 c margarine, softened

1 c +1 T sugar

3 whole egg yolks

2 whole eggs

3/4 tsp. vanilla

3 3/4 c flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Cream margarine and sugar; beat in eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to margarine mixture; mix well. Chill at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375. Roll to desired thickness -- 1/2 inch is good -- and cut shapes. Bake 8 minutes (do not overbake!) Allow to cool completely on racks before frosting. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Some days deserve ice cream, right?

I left the house today without making my bed, and it really, really bothered me. I started worrying that I may have OCD tendencies. Then I realized that the rest of the house was a mess, and that didn’t seem to trouble me too much. The problem was that I was late getting to Larrin’s school for her awards assembly. After dashing madly around the house, grabbing a kid here and there to make sure she had a clean face, or at least shoes on, I started herding them all out to the car.

When I went to put my own shoes on, though, I found I didn’t have any clean black socks. So what the heck, I was in a rush, so I just threw on a pair of my 7-year-old’s that happened to be sitting on my dresser. Of course, I forgot my camera in the process, but it was really hard to focus on anything else when I still had wet hair and socks sliding down my ankles (no, they weren’t meant to be ankle socks).

At the assembly as I watched all the smug, well-prepared parents (who were probably not wearing their children’s socks) jog up to the stage to take pictures of their award-winning children, I felt a twinge of guilt. No camera. But at least my hair was starting to dry. So when Larrin ran back to me and asked if we could go out for ice cream today to celebrate her awards, no can blame me for saying “Sure, we can.” Right?

I think we could all use some cookies and cream right now.

Things Left Behind

Almost 8 years ago, we moved to Greenville, North Carolina. When we first got there, I was horribly homesick, and the great adventure of moving across the country had lost its novelty during those first few months. I had a new baby, for the first time in my life I wasn't working or in school, I didn't know anyone, and I had no family nearby.

North Carolina felt like an entirely new culture . . . one that I really didn't understand. And forget trying to figure out how to get around out there. Roads and streets are all named (not numbered), and they loop and circle crazily about, sometimes crossing back over streets that they previously ran parallel to. I literally felt lost there.

And to make matter worse, we moved there in the dead of summer. The humidity was so stifling, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I won't talk about what it did to my hair.

But then, of course, I started making friends. And then I began to figure out how to get around. I got a job teaching a couple of nights at the community college (and discovered yet another new culture). I got used to things that seemed so strange at first, and I began to fall in love with our new home.

Now we're back in Utah, something I dreamed about for seven years, and I realize how much I miss about North Carolina. I never thought I would feel homesick for Greenville, but there are many days when I wish I could go back . . . at least for a visit.

Things I miss about NC:
  • The mild, mild winters where usually a warm jacket is enough. I didn't have a constant fear that my children were going to freeze in the night, and it only snowed maybe once a year . . . just an inch or so, for fun.
  • When it did snow, everything shut down or was canceled -- school, church, meetings that were unnecessary in the first place, work, you name it. And everyone freaked out and bought out all of the milk, bread, and eggs at the stores. I loved it.
  • The way complete strangers call you 'sweetie,' 'hon,' and 'sugar.'
  • Being only an hour away from the beach. Sigh . . .
  • Being only 4 or 5 hours from Washington, DC -- one of my all-time favorite cities.
  • Going to pig-pickins (for non-locals, that's a BBQ where a whole pig is cooked in this huge grill thing that looks a lot like a barrel on its side)
  • How adults are called Miss or Mr. [insert first name] by those who are younger than they are. I really liked that sign of respect without the formality of going by last names. For example, my kids called our neighbor 'Miss Larrie.'
  • Wearing sandals almost all-year round. It did actually get cold in the winter, but the winters are pretty short, and I could get away with not having to wear socks for most of the year.
  • Low cost of living -- our mortgage was almost 1/3 of what we pay here (and we only gained about 400 sq. feet here!)
  • Our bishop. Totally inspiring man, plus he had the greatest NC accent. I could listen to him talk forever.
  • Our running route. We could go right outside our door and run through the greatest neighborhood (with no hills!) for any variety of miles we wanted to go.
  • The trees that went on forever. Going down the freeway, you would be surrounded by walls of trees on both sides. So cool.
  • Going on girls' weekends at the beach house (thanks Amy!)
  • The gentleness and warmth of the people.
  • All the friends and wonderful people we met while we were there. I miss them so much--I just wish I could have taken them with me.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

From Consequences

"You are forever standing on the brink, in a place where you cannot see ahead; there is nothing of which to be certain except what lies behind. This should be terrifying, but somehow it is not."
-- Penelope Lively

Some things you should probably know about me

1. I really hate when people spell my name wrong. I know it's not their fault; I shouldn't expect them to just know that there isn't an 'e' on the end of my name. But it still bugs me, especially when people in my own family (i.e. my in-laws) still spell it wrong.

2. I'm a converted Democrat. I really thought I was a Republican all the years I was growing up, but these last few years of really looking into my political beliefs has caused me to denounce my childhood political affiliation.

3. All it really takes to get on my good side is to make me laugh. I've always been a sucker for a great sense of humor.

4. Once you're in, you're in. It would take a lot for me to stop loving any friend once we have a friendship.

5. I do not like anything spicier than, say, ketchup.

6. I do not approve of gum-chonking, especially if you are within a 10-foot radius of me.

7. I had straight hair when I was a kid -- it didn't actually go curly until I was in middle school. However, in a bout of insanity the year I was interning, I did actually cut my hair extremely short and straightened it every day. The lesson learned: I was given curly hair for a reason.

8. Italian food and citrus fruits do not go together. Stop trying to put pineapple on my pizza! I don't put oranges in your spaghetti.

9. My current favorite shows to watch are The Office and Flight of the Conchords. Will someone please intervene and stop this writers' strike madness??

10. Jenni told me my blog does not have to be all about my children, so if you are expecting to see a whole bunch of pictures and amusing little anecdotes about them, I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place. Although, they'll probably manage to sneak their way on here every once in a while (mostly because I don't really have any pictures that they're not in).

11. I love getting emails from people, but I'm kind of crappy at responding very quickly. It's a curse, I know.

12. I refuse to forward any email that tells me that if I don't forward it to 10 people then I will die a cruel and untimely death, I will somehow be transformed into an anti-Christian or non-patriot, or all my loved ones will be cursed with 12 years of bad luck.

13. I love, love, love to read. My favorite is fiction (especially young adult fiction), but I've been trying to branch out lately with more history, politics, and biographies.

14. We moved around a bunch when I was really little, but as an adult, I've only lived in two states: Utah and North Carolina.

15. Last fall I ran my first marathon with Ellis and my sister Joey! (And this from a girl who couldn't run the mile in Jr. High and avoided P.E. like it was it was the plague.)

16. I don't like Precious Moments figurines. I'm sorry. I just don't.

17. I have loved U2 since I was in high school, and it is still my favorite group.

18. I am definitely a night person, but it's very frustrating to me because I also want to be able to get up early. Invariably, though, I stay up late, so I get up just in time to wake up Larrin for school and then go back to bed until Lucy wakes up around 8:00. And it still feels early to me.

19. I don't think the library should charge you $1.00 for every day you forget to take back your DVDs. I've probably paid them more than Blockbuster.

20. I have a serious chocolate addiction, and I don't care what people say about dark chocolate being better for you. It will never taste as good as milk chocolate. So stop trying to convince me.

True Friends

So, I dedicate this first posting to my two great friends Jenni and Carillisa who inspired me to create my own blog. Last night we got together for dinner and a whole schload of talking after not having seen each other in probably seven years. It made me realize how very lucky I am to have such fantastic friends whom I still love and love being with even after such a long separation.

I think that we certainly change greatly from who we were (or at least how we acted) in high school, but I think in some ways, we are exactly the same. And I love that. As we talked and talked last night, I kept thinking of how we used to do this exact same thing at the CougarEat at BYU every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after the Family Science class we all had together our freshman year, and it even felt the same. We have changed, of course, but those changes that have come with marriage, family, and experience are those of greater confidence in ourselves and who we truly are, and an understanding of what's really important to us. And believe me, after reminiscing about some of those high school dramas last night, it's not what we thought it was when we were teenagers.

And I have to say, that there is nothing like your friends to make you feel great about yourself. No matter how many times your husband tells you you're not fat, you don't really believe it until you hear it from your girlfriends! (That drives Ellis crazy.)