Misc.

There are a lot of people painting things on buildings in London, particularly in Eastern London. Of course everyone used to hate it but now it’s become really celebrated and coveted. Some of the graffiti looks nicer than others.

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Caught red-handed! Although it was fascinating to watch. How does someone get a spray can to paint with such precision? Also, I like bees.

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Y is for York!

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Some of the graffiti art is teensy tiny. This artist, Ben Wilson, paints on smashed pieces of gum.

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Graffiti isn’t the only thing on the walls of London that’s interesting. There are historical plaques all over the place. I liked this one in particular; nothing like a 400 year old pesthouse. Of course the pesthouse is long gone. It’s now a car park. I wonder if once we’re dead we can look back in history and watch things unfold. Because I bet life in the 1600′s was pretty interesting.

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I don’t know why I find the idea of a milkmaid so charming, but I do. Sadly the milkmaids were nowhere to be found.

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And while this isn’t technically a wall, it’s still a vertical surface. I totally dig this door knocker.

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There was just no end of cool stuff to see in London.

I went to see that new Jackie Robinson movie yesterday. I snuck out in the middle of the day and went to the fancy theatre that has super cushy recliners. It was all fine and dandy until I spilled an entire Coke Zero on my pants. But I’m a tough broad so I just ignored the soaking wet denim. I was actually wearing a raincoat but do you think I spilled the Coke on that? Of course not.

The movie was good, if formulaic. It’s always so crazy to see how racist people used to be. (I’m sure there are still incredibly racist normal people–normal, as in “not skinheads”–but it’s got to be pretty underground.)  When I see movies like 42 or The Help it’s very hard to understand that’s how things were for black people not that long ago. Part of me wonders if was really that bad because how could people have been so hateful because of someone’s skin color?

I grew up in a different environment than most white people, I guess.  Detroit, where I was born and raised, is mostly black. I lived in the first suburb north of the city. It was lower- to middle-class and was probably the first stop when people wanted to move on up from Detroit proper. I would say that the schools I went to were pretty evenly split between black and white, especially as I entered my teen years. Unlike the South, though, there really was no sort of “us vs. them” mentality. The most popular boys in my fifth grade class were Jahmod (A black kid) and Jason (a Jewish kid). (Oh yeah, there was a huge Jewish population in our town too. Which meant white Christians were totally the minority. We loved Jewish kids because that meant we got a whole bunch of Jewish holidays off of school too; not just the regular Christian ones.) Being Mormon and white? Super minority. I was pretty much the only one in middle and high school.

The mall closest to our house was called Northland and was the first modern shopping mall in America.  I remember going there and being the only white person I’d see. It didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or weird; it just was the way it was. I took Mister to that same mall when we went back to visit Detroit for my dad’s funeral back in the early 90′s. Man, did he almost have a heart attack! Being from Portland, OR, he was never exposed to many black people. He thought for sure someone was going to attack us. I just laughed and told him how I’d been shopping there dozens of times by myself at night. I can only blame the media for giving him the idea that young black men are all thugs; how else would he have developed that opinion?

We had lots of black people at church. Our bishop was eventually a black man, as were some of my primary teachers and Young Women Leaders. Our ward spread deep into Detroit and we had a real variety of members.Not just blacks but some members of Arabic descent too. It all seemed completely normal. I don’t recall the race card ever being mentioned.

When I look back on the relations between blacks and whites growing up, I wonder if maybe I was just clueless. But I remember blacks and whites sitting at the same tables at lunch; blacks and whites going to dances together and hanging out. Maybe our town was unique or maybe I just remember things differently, being a white girl.

 

*Yep, that’s me, Jennie Hildegard Davis, in the third row of the school picture; rocking the braces and feathered bangs. Viva Eighth Grade!

 

I will be writing in a candidate on my ballot today: Jed Bartlett. Why, oh why, can’t the most fantastic president who ever lived be real? Mister and I have been watching West Wing reruns lately just to make ourselves sad.

Mister and I don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on many issues. We’ve had some rather . . . strong disagreements. I really try not to talk about politics with him since his temper runs high whenever anything involving taxes or President Obama are mentioned. I’m the one getting the last laugh, though, since he found out on Friday–after early voting was over–that he’d have to be in Louisiana today and therefore not able to vote. Too bad for you, honey!

So please make the effort to vote. We may have an electorate but most everyone has other issues that need to be voted on. Your vote does count!  I’m going to finally study the issue and write it down on a crib sheet before I go. Or I might just vote the way I’ve done in the past:  elect the person with the name I like the most.  Just kidding! (Sort of. Not really.) I keep seeing signs around town for some candidate named Vik Vad. I have no idea what he’s running for but I only hope it’s something in my precinct. That name is awesome!

P.S. I’m not writing in Jed Bartlett. I’m voting for an actual candidate. Unless Jed Bartlett were running with Sam Seaborn. Then I totally would.

Number one news story: It’s hot in most of America. Good thing air conditioning was invented. I realize that a lot of people are without power and that it’s really sweltering. But up until about fifty years ago, that would have been the norm. Not only would it have been 90+ degrees, you would have been wearing a corset and a few layers of clothing too. Now that would be horrible!

Not to seem unsympathetic but in Austin we had 90 days of temps over 100º last year. And no rain storms to help us out a little.  But it’s Texas so we just shrug our shoulders and head out to the pool. One morning last summer we went to the outdoor history farm/museum. (You can’t just quit doing stuff when it gets hot. You simply get used to having sweat roll down into your butt crack.) There was an exhibit of photos featuring the family on that very farm during the turn of the last century, dressed in full Victorian regalia. “Oh man, it would have been awful wearing so much clothing in this weather, ” I lamented. A lady standing next to me (wearing tiny shorts and a tank top) piped up, “Oh, it wouldn’t have been that bad. The chemises they wore under their clothing got wet with sweat which kept them cool.”

I just looked at the lady. I did not slap her or tell her she is an idiot.

Because I am Mormon I wear a chemise under my clothes all day every day and, sweaty or not, it does not keep me cool. Nope. Not at all.

But I’m just happy because I don’t live in Arizona where it’s 110º. Although people always say it’s not so bad because it’s a dry heat. Whatever. 110º is hot!

I also don’t live in the Middle East and have to wear a burqua. But if I did, I would for sure be wearing a bathing suit under it.

Let’s all just agree that air conditioning is a glorious miracle.

It’s March. It’s 80°. All week long.  Does this mean I can wear sandals?

You northern-y people are saying “Of course! 80 degrees definitely means sandals!”  But there is some unspoken code in warm-weather places. Growing up in Michigan I don’t know this code. In Michigan I wore snow boots with my Easter dress every single year.

But when it’s 80° in Texas, most people still wear pants. And if you’re wearing pants, you’re probably not wearing sandals either.

So are sandals like white shoes, dictated by the calendar?  Or are they for warm weather, no matter what the time of year?

Pros:

I’m tired of ballet flats

My toenails are cute

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Cons:

My sandals are all in a box at the very tip top of my closet. A mighty heavy box.

 

What say you?

This is what I’ve been thinking about lately:

People never use the word “marvelous” anymore. I think it’s a shame. What a great word! As a matter of fact it’s marvelous. So expect to hear it a lot more on this blog.

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My New Year’s resolutions have gone outstandingly well except one: to not sleep on top of my arms. I got in the habit of this while I was pregnant. I’m a stomach sleeper and when my belly got big I’d sleep on my arms to sort of cradle it and buy myself a few more weeks of sleeping in that position.  But now it’s just a bad habit and I can’t stop! Even though my arms go numb every single night and I’m sure I’m causing some sort of damage to them.  It turns out that keeping resolutions while you’re fast asleep is a smidge difficult.

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I’ve been watching and rewatching Downton Abbey so much that I’m a little peeved that nobody dresses me in the morning. My husband hates Mary and thinks she’s the devil but Mary reminds me a lot of myself, so I don’t know what to think of my husband hating her. He must just think I’m a super sweet, cheerful person. (Not sure how that’s possible but that’s the only explanation, right?)  If you’re not watching Downton, you are the only person in America who isn’t. Just so you know. And for heaven’s sake, don’t watch it on Netflix; the picture quality is really terrible. Get the BluRay. So much better.

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I’m starting to get back into cake decorating. I was doing it a lot several years ago but wedding cakes were really freaking me out so I sort of quit. Then I had a bunch of babies and while you might think a woman with six children would be the perfect person to make lots of cakes since she has an excuse, it turns out she is much too tired for that sort of thing. But I’m starting to get back on the bandwagon. I did a really fun cake this summer for one of India’s friends and I’d forgotten how much I like it (and hate it. It’s stressful.)  I’m doing a few master classes with some pretty well-known people in the cake biz in February. Hopefully this will get me psyched to be up to my elbows in buttercream again.

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It’s Girl Scout cookie season again here. For some super bizarre reason the cookies in Texas have different names than they did in Oregon and Michigan. Tagalongs are called Peanut Butter Patties. Who wants to eat a cookie that’s called a “patty”? Gross.  Samoas are called Caramel deLites. While I think “caramel” is a good move, “deLite” makes it sound like diet food. I wish, little Girl Scouts, I wish.

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Is there anything better than clean sheets tucked in extra tight? And to you naysayers who think tight sheets will give you ingrown toenails, you are dead wrong (and crazy). I’ve never had an ingrown toenail in my life.

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The other day at a church activity a girl was asked what one food she would take with her to a desert island.  I’ve thought a lot about my answer because I like to think about that sort of earth-shattering stuff. If I could get away with it I would say chips, salsa and guacamole from Chuy’s.  That’s more than one food but if you consider something like, say, spaghetti and meatballs which has lots of components, then chips, salsa and guac should totally be allowable.  If only one food were allowed I would say a deep dish pizza with sausage, black olives and mushrooms.  In either case I would require a supply of thoroughly chilled Mtn. Dew to go with.

 

 

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We were walking along and saw a bed. In the woods. So I had Mister take a picture of me on it. That is all.

Remember all those months ago when I went to Utah to film an episode of a show on BYUTV called Fresh Take? No? You can read about it here.

The show is finally going to be on! June 16th (tomorrow evening, as in Thursday) is the lucky day that you will actually get to see me blathering on about blogging. I can’t really remember what I said. I don’t think it was funny. But I do remember that my hair was cute. You can check the BYUTV schedule to find out when it will be on where you live (make sure you enter the proper time zone. In the Central Time it’s on at 8:30 pm)

Now I just need to find somebody with cable who will let me come over and watch it.

UPDATE: if you missed it, you can watch it here. I like the blurb for the show: “some of the most influential writers in the blogosphere . . . ” Well, if you say so! And my hair that looked so cute in real life? Not so cute on TV. And I have beady little eyes. And a whiny voice.

I have written nearly five different blog posts over the last week. Long ones. But I’m really disliking all of them so they will stay tucked away in my Drafts folder for now. You know how sometimes you want to eat something but nothing sounds good? It’s like that. But with words.

I also took some pictures. I have two cameras (well, three if you count my iphone). One fancy Nikon that makes me feel like a photography poseur every time I take it out (photography remains a puzzlement to me no matter how many books and tutorials I read.) I also have a trusty little Fuji that I still like a lot even though it’s four years old which is like four decades old in the point-and-shoot world. Most of my pictures were on that camera. And it has a dumb little connector that I must have to download pictures onto my computer. Guess where it is? Wrong! It has actually vanished into thin air. So no pictures.

Here’s what I will tell you: it has dropped 11 degrees in the last hour. I don’t like that sort of thing. It makes me edgy. Like a big storm is a-brewin’. Which it probably is.

I’m Mormon. I may mention that a lot but Mormonism is kind of different than many religions because it is NOT a Sunday-only kind of church. It takes a big time commitment. Also, we don’t have a paid clergy which means that your average Joe-blow is in charge of everything. Including the sermons on Sunday. Everybody gets a turn standing up in front of the congregation and talking about an assigned topic. Usually a husband and wife will split the duty. Also, a teenager or two will have a little mini-sermon at the beginning. One guess as to who will be speaking this Sunday. Me! And my assigned topic is fasting. Fasting! Which is not exactly my favorite thing to do. (Surprise, surprise.) My husband gives lessons every morning to the teenagers of our congregation (yes, the teenagers go to church every morning before school. See the above mention about Mormonism being a big time commitment.) He’s really good at throwing together something really thoughtful and interesting. Not me. I’m just hoping most people will zone out during my talk, which is usually what I do.

I made flour tortillas for the first time on Tuesday and not only are they really easy, but they are frighteningly good. Like, so good my kids were just eating the pile of them after we were done with our tacos. Speaking of tacos, this is one of my most favorite recipes. It requires zero cooking skill but is outstanding. People always ask for this recipe. Honestly, these are more like wraps than tacos, so call them whatever you want. They are good enough to serve to company, but easy enough to make them for your family dinner. One warning: this meat needs to spend all day in a slow cooker (aka a Crock-Pot), so plan accordingly. These feed about 4-6 people.

If I were a super blogger I would post pictures, but Pioneer Woman I am not. So you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Cranberry Beef Tacos
1 1/2 lb. beef chuck steaks (not a chuck roast. Totally different.)
1/4 cup lime juice (bottled is fine)
1/4 cup chili sauce (I had no idea what this was the first time I made these. Turns out chili sauce is a condiment near the ketchup.)
1 packet of Taco seasoning (or 2 Tbs if you use the big Costco canister)
Can of whole cranberry sauce
fresh green onions
fresh cilantr0 (must be fresh!)
tortillas (I like flour but corn is fine too)
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar is good, but mozzarella would work in a pinch.)


Put the steak in the crockpot. Let it warm up while your making the sauce. Combine lime juice, chili sauce and taco seasoning and pour over the steak. Flip it a couple of times so the steak is slathered with sauce. Then put the lid on and turn the heat to low for 7-8 hours. If you forget to start it early in the day (which I do about half of the time), you can cook it on high for 4-5 hours. It will be fine.

When it gets closer to dinnertime, you’ll make the sauce to be served on the tacos. Many kids balk at the idea of putting sauce on things. I totally understand being a sauce-hater most of my life. But this sauce is different. It’s sweet and yummy. It makes me so mad that a couple of my kids won’t eat it that sometimes I will mix a bunch of it in with the meat just so the taste is there.

Sauce
In your blender put:
Cranberry sauce
3 green onions (cut off the roots first)
4-6 stalks of cilantro (it’s one of the rare herbs where more of the taste is in the stem than in the leaves. So just throw the whole thing in.)

Puree until smooth. (This makes A TON of sauce. You can use it as a marinade for something else later on.)

After your meat has finished cooking it will just fall apart. Use a couple of forks to shred it. (I do it while it’s still in the crockpot. Mix it up with the juices in your slow cooker and transfer it to a bowl. (If you have sauce-a-phobes, stir in about 1/4 cup of sauce at this point). Otherwise you will:

Spread a spoonful of cranberry sauce on a tortilla, top with shredded beef and some grated cheese. Roll up and swoon.

Snippets

November 10, 2010 · 6 comments

in IMO, Misc., TV

I finally finished knitting my one sock. Socks take forever! What was I thinking? Maybe I should donate the sock to someone with a peg leg; it will save me from having to knit its mate.

It seems to me (and my nether regions) that Charmin has been revamped. It is so soft I just can’t quite get over it. I’m off to Costco to stock up. I’m terribly afraid of running out of toilet paper, so we have large stockpiles. If you live near me, do not assume that I will share with you if the world ends or we have an influenza epidemic/ice storm/truckers strike. I will not. I will be miserly and chuckle softly to myself while you have to wipe your heinie with leaves. You could have been buying toilet paper all along but instead you bought lots of Christmas decorations and signed your kids up for the fancy football league. Serves you right! Uhhh, what was I talking about? Oh, toilet paper. Charmin is good. You might want to buy a little extra.

I feel slightly better about the whole Country Music issue since I saw Gwyneth Paltrow singing at the CMA awards last night. Even though she looked like she belongs in a big city. And probably has never been to most of the states in America where Country is popular (just jumping to conclusions here, but she eats macrobiotic and is married to a rock star. You decide.)

We own eight waffle irons. Mister is just a teensy bit obsessed with making waffles. We have a big Square one, one that makes waffle sticks, two belgian waffle makers–the kind that flip over when there’s a beep, and four Texas-shaped. It’s a little crazy. Ironically I don’t even like waffles.

It’s amazing how cold 75º can feel when you’ve been sweating your brains out for the last five months.

I found out yesterday that in order to even apply to grad school for a degree in architecture (my lifelong dream which you can read about here), I have to have taken calculus and physics (insert primal scream). My immediate thought was, “guess I’ll never be an architect.” But I refuse to be intimidated by numbers! Math will not win the battle! (wait, physics isn’t even math, right? It’s science? But it has numbers? Can you see the disaster this is shaping up to be?) I may have to spend a couple of years catching up at the Community College, but I think I’m going to do it! But I may not so don’t hold me to it.

I have watched every season of Mad Men in the last month and am finally up to Season 4 (remember I don’t have TV so I am the last person to know about good shows). Every night the people in my dreams are smoking and wearing 60′s clothes. I have several things to say: 1) Joan is my idol. She sounds so sweet but is tough as nails. She’s also a full-figured gal who rocks it to the max. 2)Does any woman ever say no to Don? There has got to be at least one female who sees through his skeezy ways. I had high hopes for that teacher last season, but no. What happened to her anyway? Is she coming back? 3)Betty Draper (that cold, dysfunctional fish) said my favorite line ever in TV:

Guy at riding stable who has a crush on her: “You are so profoundly sad.”
Betty: “No, it’s just my people are Nordic.”

Speaking of full-figured gals, when I gain weight, I gain a lot in my chest. Small-chested girls, listen up: big boobs make you look fat. The only way to not look fat is to wear tight clothes so that people can tell that you really are thin everywhere else. But tight clothes makes you look slutty. So these are your choices: fat or sleazy. A plastic surgeon is not going to tell you that.

*If you’re looking for the chore chart, it has morphed into it’s very own post. I’ll put it up tomorrow.